Saturday, January 31, 2015

Look Who's Talking: 15 months old!

Hey everyone! Forest turned a whopping *15 months old* on Friday and we are celebrating in the usual style with a guest post from the one and only Forest Alexander. Please put your hands together and give him a warm welcome on the blog today. 

Hey y’all! How have you been? I’ve been so-so. I finally caught a break from incessant teething only to become one of the many victims of this year’s flu season. Whatcha gonna do? Other than that, month 15 has been pretty stellar. Here is a snapshot of my current likes and dislikes. 

1) The flu. 
Wowza. It takes a pretty powerful virus to make me want to curl up in my mom’s lap and sit still all day, but that flu is some serious stuff. It’s not messing around. 3 days of fever, aches, chills and cold baths was total misery. Not to mention that I had to stay quarantined in my house for a few days after the worst had passed just to make sure no one else caught the bug from me. Those were my Mom’s orders. If it were up to me I’d take all you suckers down with me. Misery loves company and what not. 
2) Getting my diaper changed. It’s not as if I’ve ever particularly enjoyed this necessary evil, but recently it’s really been chapping my butt (No pun intended. Ok pun slightly intended.). 

That's really all I've got to complain about today. Once you have a bad health scare, you start appreciating more stuff in life. On to the good stuff!

1) Anything that can be pushed, pulled, or rolled.
Literally, any of the above three things is a hit with me. Ball? Awesome. Toy car? Super. My very own wheely suitcase? Hours of fun.  

 2)Eating with a fork.   

I can have the absolute yuckiest food on the world on my plate. I’m talking broccoli, strawberries, carrots, the worst! But then my mom hands me a fork and suddenly those gross foods go through a Cinderella transformation and magically turn into tasty gourmet delicacies. I’m telling you, a fork makes everything taste better. 

3)The word ‘no’ (as long as I'm the one saying it). I’m not entirely sure what it means but I sure like to say it ALL. DAY. LONG. It’s really charming. Just ask my mom. Do I want carrots? Hmmmm…let me think about it. NO! Do I want to hold mommy’s hand. Hmmm…that’s a tough one... NO! Do I want to take a happy nap? NO! NO! NO! a thousand times NOOOOOOO! 

But then sometimes I get on a roll with saying 'no' that I get a bit tripped up and will actually say no when I really meant to say yes. Like apparently when your mom asks if you want crackers, it’s not a trick question. And even though the word 'crackers' sounds a lot like 'carrots' they are actually two different things completely. So if your mom asks you if you want crackers, do yourself a favor and answer Yea!Yea!Yea!  

 4) Giving myself a standing ovation. 

Look, my self esteem is pretty fragile after some 3 month old won over me in this year's Gerber baby competition. There’s always someone younger, am I right? Ageism at it’s worst. Anyhoos, my mom telling me I’m the cutest and smartest and fastest baby on the planet 10 times a day is definitely not enough to pull me out of this hole I’m in.  Somebody’s gotta to be there give me some appreciation when I successfully complete a puzzle or narrowly escape death by safely climbing off of a two foot tall fire place. 
Might as well be me giving myself props in case my mom is too busy  posting cute pics of me on Instagram to notice. 

5) Climbing on (and off) anything remotely climbable. 

This is my newest hobby. Combine climbing with pushing a toy on wheels? Well, that’s the dream, folks;  That’s the dream. 
Ok guys, that about wraps up today's musings. See ya when I’m 16 months old! Have a great February! 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tahoe Trip!

Meeting friends in college is pretty easy. You are constantly exposed on a daily basis to people in your peer group so organically over time friendships naturally and effortlessly emerge. When you exit college and enter the workforce, it can get a bit trickier as not all of your coworkers necessarily share your interests or life stage or either. It’s even harder to meet good friends if you are married because not only do you have to find someone that you connect with, you have to find someone who is married to someone that your spouse can at least tolerate spending the evening with. It can get quite complicated. 

We’ve been fortunate to meet at least one compatible couple in every city we’ve moved to. In Aberdeen we met several as well as having plenty of single friends who were totally ok with hanging out with old married couples on the weekends. And then we had a baby and things got of kind of weird. Just kidding...our single and no-kids couple friends didn't kick us out of the group and were totally tolerant and accommodating to our colicky newborn. Seriously I could not have survived without their support and how those childless friends anticipated our every need in those first few weeks of parenthood I will never understand. God bless them. Anyhoo, I've gone off on a tangent....

Unfortunately, we were uprooted when Forest was still a newborn and transferred to beautiful Northern California. Now we were faced with the task of finding not only a new friend for me, but a friend who was preferably married to a potential friend for Jonathan and who also procreated a potential friend for Forest near or around October 2013, preferably an (over)active baby boy. Tricky business. 

We’ve been crazy fortunate in our move to San Ramon that I have met several mommy friends with tots around Forest’s age, but we really hit the jackpot when I clicked instantly with a new mom in our mom group, Pinthip, who just so happened to have a busy boy just 3 weeks older than Forest. And as luck would have it she had a hubby that shared several interests with Jonathan (i.e. golfing, skiing and drinking beer) so it has been a fun match all around. 
Our first 'triple' date at the pumpkin patch.
We were thrilled when Dave and Pinthip invited us to spend a long weekend at Dave’s parents’ cabin up in Tahoe. We had been wanting to explore this area of North California and were glad to have some ‘locals’ to show us around. 

We drove up on a Thursday night after the hubbys got off of work. I was a little nervous because we’d never really driven with Forest at night before. It was a 3 hour drive from San Ramon and we were departing right around little nugget’s bedtime. He fussed for a few minutes before falling into a deep sleep. He even remained asleep during a gas stop which was pleasantly surprising.
We arrived at the cabin in Truckee at about 10 pm at which point both babies woke from their slumber. We let them play around a bit while setting up their respective sleeping spaces. I was hopeful Forest would go right back to sleep but we weren’t so lucky. It was understandable as he was in a new place and probably a bit scared and confused by this change in his routine. 

It took about an hour of intermittently reassuring and soothing him but he finally laid down and went to sleep in his pack n play. I was certain he would wake up throughout the night so I slept very fitfully. Well the joke was on me because he slept til nearly 7:30 the next morning. Jonathan barely got to tell him good morning before he and Dave were off to the slopes at Sugarbowl. 

Despite sleeping “late” Forest was still a bit cranky pants so we stayed near the house most of the day. We managed to get out to a nearby playground and hit the grocery store for essentials, but mostly let the boys play and explore the expansive backyard. 

They even found a scrap of snow! 
That night we ordered take out and then hung out in the hot tub once the babies were put to bed. We all slept much better that night! 

The next day the husbands decided to forego skiing to spend the day with us. We just did some more backyard exploring in the morning so that Forest could have his morning nap before a jam packed afternoon. 

Future heartbreakers.
Bryce (their little one) is a much more flexible sleeper and managed to take a nap in the car on the way to our first stop and stayed asleep while we ate our lunch at Dave’s parents’ condo on Donner Lake. 
Once Bryce woke up we walked down to the lakefront for some exploration and photo ops. 

Then the boys enjoyed some relaxation time and some brewskis while Pinthip and I chased our rambunctious boys up and down the halls of the condo complex. Hmmmm…it seems like the boys were having more of a vacation than us at this point:)

I love Bryce's face in this one. He is like 'Who is this crazy kid?!?!?'
Next we headed up to the Northstar ski resort just to explore the grounds and scope out the sight for future ski trips. Jonathan and I were really impressed. If we had a zillion dollars we would surely invest in a place here! 

They had all sorts of dining and shopping options, plus live music around an ice skating rink, and at 4 o’clock they have a s’more bar around the fire pits. Plus they have sledding for the babies/toddlers and skiing for the older kids. We have already decided that Forest will be in ski school as soon as he’s old enough which at most of the resorts in Tahoe means 4 years old, though I did see that Heavenly resort offers lessons starting at 3 as part of the daycare option. It’s certainly something I will be looking into so that maybe Momma can have a bit of vacation time in the future… 

Anywhoos, Northstar was great. After scoping out the village we hitched a ride in the gondola up to the Ritz Carlton where there were more dining and drinking options. 

 After spending some time at the Ritz, we decided to head towards home for dinner. We headed to Safeway to pick up some steaks to grill and then put the boys to bed a bit early before curling up to watch a movie. 

The next morning was basically just packing up and cleaning the house pretty early to try to beat the Sunday traffic out of Tahoe. 
Jon keeping the boys occupied while the house gets cleaned. Doesn't he look cute with two babies?;)
It must have worked because we didn’t have any issue on the drive home. We were all pretty tired after basically a month of traveling and/or sickness so all 3 of us crashed hard for an afternoon nap once we got home. We had such a great time and hope that we behaved ourselves well enough to be invited back     (*cough* Forest *cough*). We are also happy to be home and hopefully healthy for a few weeks. 

Next up: we are starting to plan a trip to Yosemite and possibly Mammoth for March. Any tips for us?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Flying with a "Pre-toddler"

Flying with a baby is a pretty intimidating task for a new parent. Forest had his first transatlantic flight when he was only 4 months old and I was totally stressed beforehand. All my veteran mommy friends kept telling me that 4 months was a great age to travel with a baby because they weren’t mobile yet and that traveling would only get harder as they got older. In some ways, I can definitely see how it gets harder as they age, but in other ways it’s also easier. 

For one thing, as a 14 month old, Forest requires much less stuff than he did as a young baby. A few food pouches, a sippy cup and a tablet loaded with episodes of Mr. Rogers are about enough to survive with on a reasonably lengthed flight. Whereas, as a tiny baby his stuff took up nearly two carry-ons. However, now that he’s super energetic and mobile, it’s certainly more challenging to keep him entertained and confined. 

I seriously can’t complain about Forest’s traveling behavior. He’s an all-star. But even with the easiest toddler around, it’s still not exactly fun. On our trip home there was another 14 month old baby sitting caddy-corner to us and a girl around 2.5 years in the seat in front of us. The two 14 month olds were both angelic but the 2.5 month old had a total meltdown screaming the word NOOOOO! over and over for about 30 minutes. I wish I was exaggerating. 

I was tempted to judge, but then realized that as each day goes by, I have less and less control over my child. By the time he is 2.5 years old I am sure meltdowns will be inevitable and I can only pray that they won’t occur while we are trapped a plane. I’m told once they hit the age of 4 it becomes much easier. Only three more years….

Anyhoos, here the saga of our plane trip home and back:

Usually I would always advise to take a direct flight if you have the chance,  however, the only direct flight offered from SFO to MSY is the red eye and I could just see that going disastrously. We decided the lesser of two evils would be to fly during the day and connect in Houston. Our flight being at 2 pm allowed Forest to have his morning nap before heading to the airport.

We hired a driver to drop us off at the airport, which makes things a ton more convenient with a baby in tow. We bought Forest his own seat this time around just because he is gigantic and squirmy and our flight time was longer than 3 hours. We decided to bring his infant car seat rather than his convertible car seat simply because it was easier to tote around and he seems to sleep better in the infant one. He only has about one inch to go before he outgrows it completely so I think we will have to retire it now. 

We didn’t travel with a stroller simply because we were going to visit our parents who each have a stroller we can use while visiting. Going through security is always a bit stressful, but with a baby they usually let us go through the minimal security line so we don’t have to take anything out of our bags or take our shoes off or anything. Jonathan wore Forest in the ergo carrier which made for hands-free airport mobility. We opted to eat a big lunch before boarding the plane since we knew our layover in Houston would be too short to eat anything.  Luckily the SFO airport has plenty of high chairs so that worked out great. 
We also let Forest run around a bit before boarding to try to get some of his crazy energy out. Our plane was huge so it felt like an international flight. We all had our own tvs and our family had the entire middle row. We put Forest in the middle so that Jonathan and I both had an aisle seat. 
During takeoff we gave Forest a sippy cup of milk to help him clear his ears. I’m assuming it worked since he didn’t have any issues.  On the flight he took a decent nap while I got to actually watch a movie. Woohoo! Of course, all I did was watch the Disney movie Bears to see if it would be something that Forest would like. Oh, the sacrifices of parenthood:) 

The flight was going really well, but there was only one problem- we were landing 30 minutes late which would mean we would surely miss our connecting flight. As soon as we landed I called my parents to tell them the issue. They quickly discovered that our flight to New Orleans was also delayed a few minutes so we stood a chance of making it. 

We were really stressing as our plane took forever to de-board and we were at the back of the plane. We had to make it to a different terminal so we had quite the sprint ahead of us. Jon agreed that he’d take Forest in the Ergo and try to run ahead to stop the plane while I followed behind with all of our carry-on bags and the carseat. 

I was so worried that we would miss the last flight to New Orleans that night that I turned on the burners and ran my heart out. I balanced the car seat on my head like one of those tribal ladies in Africa and dashed for my life. I actually ended up passing Jonathan and Forest along the way. I thought I would have an asthma attack as I neared the gate but it was worth it because our flight hadn’t left yet. Apparently, they were trying to wait for us. Awwwww. Thanks United! 

However, I could see the perturbed faces of the other passengers as we boarded 20 minutes late and had a baby in tow. Fortunately, Forest was an absolute angel on the 45 minute flight so all was forgiven by the time we got to NOLA. We were pretty sure our bags wouldn’t make it on the plane with such a short connection, which was really unfortunate since I had offered to check my carry on back in SFO since the flight was full. Sure enough, they didn’t arrive but the United baggage claim attendant said that they should arrive on the next flight that night and would be delivered to us by the next day at lunch. 

Fortunately we were going to my parents’ house so we could borrow essentials from them, and we had carried a change of clothes and all of Forest’s nighttime essentials onto the plane with us. We kept expecting our bags the next day since the United tracking page told us they were out for delivery. By that night they still hadn’t arrived and I had to borrow clothes from my mom for a dinner out in Baton Rouge. The next morning we headed to Target to buy a few little things to tide us over, and good thing too because our bags didn’t arrive until that night. 

Thankfully, our trip back to San Francisco was much less eventful. My dad dropped us off at MSY around 7 AM (sniff, sniff). After an emotional goodbye we checked our bags and went through security. The security staff was a bit rude and told us we were holding up the line with all of our stuff, but I promise we were going as fast as we could. 

Because Forest had his own seat we took advantage of him having his own carry-on so we did have quite a few bags, but still, we were obviously going as quickly as possible with a baby in tow. Some people…. I know I used to be just as non-understanding before I had kiddos so I try to give rude people some grace, but it just added to the stress. Especially since they pulled Jon aside to do the hand swipe and then didn’t have anyone ready to swipe him so I was left to grab all 5 of our personal items/carry ons plus the car seat by  myself which led to some more sighing and foot tapping from the lady behind me. 

Sheesh people! I thought I remembered Louisiana people being friendly! I guess at 7 AM they are still a bit grouchy. Or maybe I was the grouchy one and took it a little too personally. Hmmmm…I guess that’s a possibility! 

Anyways, once the security madhouse was behind us we got something to eat before letting Forest run off some steam before boarding. He was having a ball pulling his carry-on around the airport and looked like a little miniature business man. 

So stinkin cute. 

However, after stalling the boarding process til the very last second (no sense in keeping him confined any longer than necessary) we had to take his carry on from him which elicited his worst tantrum ever. We got a few more dirty looks from passengers waiting to board and I was getting nervous about the 4.5 hour flight ahead of us. However, I had nothing to worry about. 

The flight took off right around Forest’s nap time and since he was tired from waking up early he blessed us with a 2 hour nap. A 2 hour nap! On a plane! If you know anything about Forest’s daytime sleeping habits than you know this is nothing short of a miracle. I actually read my kindle for so long that a little warning about resting my eyes popped up. I’d never seen that warning before because since birthing Forest I have never had 60 minutes straight to blissfully read a novel. It was awesome! 

By the time he woke up, we had about 1.5 hours left to entertain him. We brought small books and flashcards on board but also downloaded some Mr. Rogers episodes and Peekaboo apps to keep him entertained in his seat. He was easily cajoled into keeping quiet and still.  I mentioned earlier that there was a 14 month old girl sitting across from us. When we were getting off the plane a passenger told her grandma (who she was traveling with) that her granddaughter was the best baby on the plane. At that moment I got Forest out of his seat and kind of held him over my shoulder for a minute and the same passenger said ‘Oh, I didn’t even know there was a baby in that seat.’ Mmmmhmmmm, who’s the best baby on the plane now???? 
Just kidding. They were both all stars and I was super impressed that the baby girl managed to nap in her grandma’s lap while the aforementioned 2.5 year old threw her gargantuan hissy fit. No way would Forest have slept through that commotion!

There was no drama with our bags on this end and our driver was there waiting to help us with our bags and take us home. Forest fell asleep again on the ride home (seriously who is this kid???) which made it an all around easy journey. 
Unfortunately he struggled with jet lag for about 3 days where he was waking up at 5 and then not napping very well, but don’t worry, we got him back on schedule just in time for him to catch the flu and throw everything off track again…..