5 Tips for Flying with an Infant


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On our last flight, some well-intentioned elderly traveller cooed “Oh, your son is so cute! Is this his first flight?” No, as a matter of fact, it’s his third. Or his tenth, depending on how you count layovers.

At the ripe old age of four months, Miles has already done an inordinate amount of traveling. On my first flight with him, I was terrified. What if he cries on the plane? Will he cry on the plane? What if I have to run to my gate? What if our flight is cancelled and I’m stuck in an airport? What if I drop him during turbulence?

Now, we are a bit more experienced and I find traveling through airports with him to border on pleasant. Mark and I both love to travel and family is spread far and wide, so I’m sure we’ll continue to learn as he gets older. But here are a few suggestions for traveling with very young infants.

1. Travel with your stroller.

I will never fly again without my stroller and carseat if I can help it. I only took my front-pack with me through security on our first flight and regretted it. Even content babies can grow restless in a wrap or front-pack after several hours and leaving your stroller behind leaves you with few options.

Kudos to the airlines on this point. Most of the airlines allow parents flying with an “infant in lap” to gate-check a stroller (and attached carseat) and to board with an extra bag. I have never used the extra bag allowance (more on this in a minute) but traveling with the stroller is a life-saver. Even a small baby gets heavy after three hours in a large airport! Taking my stroller through security makes traveling more pleasant for both me and Baby. He gets to wiggle around and stretch and look around while I have the freedom to juggle our stuff and navigate terminals without carrying everything and everyone.

2. Travel with your front-pack.

Always carry a front-pack or wrap with you. If, for some reason, the airline refuses to let you take your stroller through security or doesn’t return it to you at the gate (or it gets damaged!), you have a back-up. Also, Miles seems to fall asleep (sometimes) better in a front-pack than in a stroller. Having another option for a fussy baby in an airport is always nice! There’s one other key reason for carrying your front-pack, so on to #3…

3. Put Baby in the front-pack before boarding the plane.

This is my go-to system now:

  1. Travel through airport with Baby in stroller.
  2. When boarding is announced, put Baby into front-pack.
  3. Un-assemble travel system and fold stroller at the gate.
  4. Board plane with Baby in the front-pack.
  5. To depart, reverse the process.

This system has eased a number of issues I was experiencing. For one thing, it’s hard to juggle a baby, a bag, and a front-pack! Putting Miles into the front-pack meant that I had two less loose items to worry about as I boarded. Secondly, Miles is more secure (and safer!) when I board with him attached to me.*

4. Either nurse or provide a pacifier or bottle during take-off or landing (if Baby is awake). 

Some kind mothers gave me this tip during our first flight. It has worked flawlessly. The sucking that babies do during nursing or holding a pacifier helps to equalize their ear pressure. I try to time nursing so that Miles can eat while we’re taking off and landing, but I also keep pacifiers on hand as a backup. A bottle has worked just fine also.

My only caveat is this: if your baby is sleeping, don’t wake him up. If he or she is asleep and starts to rouse or look uncomfortable, try to provide the pacifier, but don’t rouse a sleeping baby at the beginning of a flight simply to try to get him to eat or suck on a paci.

5. Maintain a calm, positive attitude. 

I have had almost entirely good experiences (minus the one detailed below) with airport staff and fellow passengers. I really do feel that I’m able to set a good tone for my interactions with security, airport counter staff, and other passengers at the beginning of the interaction by smiling, staying calm, and maintaing a light-hearted attitude. Moving efficiently, but avoiding stressful rushing is key to getting through security without a crisis. Don’t panic if there is a holdup (security, for instance, generally asks to inspect my bottles of breastmilk, which takes a few extra minutes.). Also, your baby will be calmer if you keep your cool. They can sense stress!

I had originally intended to include all of my tips for traveling with an infant in a single post, but it was getting quite lengthy, so I’ll include the rest of my tips, along with a handy printable packing guide, in part 2 next week!


*The last time I flew, I had one issue with this. Miles will consistently fall asleep in his pack almost immediately, so I like to leave him in there as long as he’ll sleep (which might be the entire flight). But on our last American Airlines flight, the flight attendant asked me to unbuckle my front pack. He said that “those things” (meaning the front pack) “weren’t approved for take-off and landing”. I hope the look on my face fully conveyed my disapproval at doing anything to disturb a soundly sleeping four-month-old. I simply unbuckled the strap around my neck and did my best not to jostle Miles and the attendant seemed satisfied. 

But has anyone else had issues holding Baby in a wrap or a front-pack during a flight? The was the only time an attendant has said anything to me about it, so I doubt it’s an airline or FAA policy. I feel like he’s safer inside my pack during take-off and landing because he’s secure if turbulence occurs. Any experiences with this out there?



Conversations About Joy – With Katy


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On Monday mornings around here, we are chatting about joy. Grab a cup of coffee and join in the conversation!

Katy is another friend from D.C. and a fellow blogger as well. Katy’s blogging at Dave and Katy is so refreshing – I love reading her posts about hospitality, decorating, and goal-setting. Randomly, Katy and I also both lived in Jackson, Mississippi for a few years long before we met (she lived in a little house that sits right across from my freshman year dorm!) and we have several mutual friends and acquaintances. Katy is alway full of enthusiasm and wise insight and I was thrilled that she was willing to participate in this project.

1. Are you naturally a joyful person?

I wouldn’t describe myself as naturally joyful. I view joy as more than happiness or bliss – it is having a steady contentment and trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness even in the worst of situations.   I am sometimes happy, sometimes unhappy – but finding joy in all circumstances is far more difficult – and far more unnatural because it means I have to give up control! Joy is often a choice and I have failed at living joyfully just as many times as I have succeeded.  However, the longer I live, the more I have seen the Lord’s goodness in my life and the more joyful (and trusting) I become.

In a smaller sense, I think I am fairly good at finding daily joys. I am always going to have bad days, but even the worst days can be made a little bit brighter by a good book, good conversation, yummy meal or glass of wine.

2. What brings you the most joy?

I feel joy when I am in close communion with the Lord and am trusting His plan over mine. Particularly, I find joy in remembering His faithfulness in times past or watching Him answer prayers.

Additionally, I am a people person, and I love quality time with others. But as much as I love people, I also find joy in having a little time each week to myself. Choosing joy is easier when I have not over-committed myself and feel well rested.

3. What is something “little” that regularly brings you joy?

Little things that bring me daily joy include good conversations, a glass of chardonnay, quality time with my husband, time spent outdoors, girls nights, Christmas lights and a seat on the metro (boring but true).

4. What is currently your greatest obstacle to joy?

I have 3 main obstacles:

  • Lack of Trust and Anxiety. My main obstacle to joy is worrying – joy means being content even when I don’t know the plan or like the circumstances which means giving up control – and we all like feeling in control (or at least I do!)
  • Having a misconceived perception of what joy is. I used to think that being joyful meant I was happy, so I would feel like a failure for not always feeling happy in hard times. But learning to choose joy and contentment during all circumstances has been freeing . . . I can feel upset or disappointed but still choose to be content and joyful!
  • Doing too much! Is it just me?? Or do we all grow weary when we over-commit?

5. How are you pursuing joy right now? 

  • Remembering the Lord’s past faithfulness. One of my obstacles to joy is not trusting that the Lord has my best interest at heart, so when I am struggling with joy, trust or hope, I remind myself of the many times He has been faithful. This keeps me joyful . . . and hopeful!
  • Gratefulness. Focusing on my many blessings keeps me joyful by reminding me what God has given me instead of focusing on areas of my life that may feel lacking. Also, when focusing on blessings that I have and others don’t have, gratefulness motivates me to think of others instead of myself — and focusing outward generally promotes joy over self pity.
  • Turning worries into prayers. Another obstacle to joy for me is anxiety, so when I start to worry, I try to stop my mind from spouting off a list of worries and instead turn those worries into prayers.
  • Going to bed early when needed!  (Or remembering that I get a new day tomorrow!) A few years ago, I really honed in on Lamentations 3:22-23 that reminds us that the Lord’s mercies are new every morning, so when life throws a stressful or hard day my way and I am struggling to remain joyful, I remind myself to survive the day and get to bed as soon as I can so I can wake up and receive my new mercies!
  • Finding little daily joys. You can’t control everything about life, but you can choose to do something every day that brings you a little happiness — read a good book, eat a piece of chocolate, go for a run, order takeout, call a friend, etc! Make sure your days have at least one bright moment!
  • Not over-committing! Sounds simple enough, but this one is so hard for me! I am still working on this area! I feel happier and more joyful if my schedule is not too jam-packed.

6. What is the key to a joyful day for you?

Joy is often a choice, but there are ways to make that choice easier. My key to a joyful day is to remain in close relationship with my Savior and others and make sure my body and soul find rest – whether that means time at the gym, time reconnecting with my husband, reading, watching my favorite TV show or an taking an early bed time.  Part of finding rest is taking time to enjoy the daily mercies and gifts I’ve received!

Thanks, Katy!

If you haven’t already, read about the first conversation in this series with Rachel or the second with Erin.

Weekend Links

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Saturday mornings are my favorite. Since August, due to either houseguests or our combined travel schedules, this household hasn’t seen a quiet family Saturday morning, so I’m savoring today’s quiet.

Have you listened to ‘Serial’, the podcast that’s changing podcasting, yet?

One of my pet peeves is buying a big bottle of salad dressing. Especially for weeknight dinners, I prefer to use a simple vinaigrette recipe.

Have you ever recorded a week in your life? I’m thinking about trying this memory-keeping project next week.

How many of these habits do you practice?

Since we’re in our current rental for about 14 more months, I’m spending more time thinking about our decor so that it doesn’t feel so temporary. This roundup of rental tips was enormously useful.

Some great photography tips for your phone. (via enJOY it.)

Some helpful photography tutorials for your camera.

Hitting “publish” is always scary. I thought writing in public was one of those things that gets easier with time, but there’s always that hurdle. I still have that pile of unfinished drafts that I think are too dumb or too boring to publish and there’s that nearly inevitable moment of panic before I send a big memo or key email at work. There’s that sinking feeling when the typo is discovered too late. Thank goodness this is normal.



Conversations About Joy – With Erin

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On Monday mornings around here, we are chatting about joy. Grab a cup of coffee and join in the conversation!

Erin is a friend from D.C. I was always inspired by the monthly (weeknight!) open houses that Erin and her roommates hosted. These “Margarita Mondays” were their way to practice hospitality regularly and I’m so grateful for the fun conversations, gatherings, and memories that resulted. Erin is one of those people that always has something thought-provoking to add to a conversation, so I was thrilled when she agreed to join this conversation.

Are you naturally a joyful person?

I’m not sure how to answer this question. Are any of us naturally joyful? If you look at people, or even at babies, it seems pretty clear that our default setting is selfish and sinful, if some less so than others. Nevertheless, I do try to choose joy in every situation, seeing the glass half full, if you will.

What brings you the most joy?

Definitely people. But also running, yoga, cooking, bike rides, and any kind of outdoor adventure.

What is something “little” that regularly brings you joy?

A good cup of tea or coffee. And my yellow bike.

What is currently your greatest obstacle to joy?

 Me. My paralyzing fears and belief in my own performance, instead of God’s faithfulness and favor, constantly cripple me and keep me from joy.

How are you pursuing joy right now?

The best way I’ve found to combat the problem of me is through tapping into the wonderful, overarching promises of God and dwelling on the future completion of his redemption of me and of the world. For me, this has meant changing my routine to spend some time with God every morning. 

Another practice that I’ve found comforting in the midst of some uncertainty recently is to look back through old journals, pictures, and cards. The Bible often tells us to “remember.” Reminding myself of the ways, big and small, that God has been faithful to me in the past has been a good way to bolster my hope and increase my joy in the present and for the future. 

 What is the key to a joyful day for you?

Again, I think it’s spending some kind of time in communion with God- prayer, Bible, fellowship with a friend. You wake up and the world would tell you to hurry up, move fast – your life is based on your performance and people are already way ahead of you. God, on the other hand, says, “Be still and know that I am God.” “Come to me and your yoke will be easy and your burden light.” Remembering those promises and choosing to believe them each day- even in the face of the world’s very loud lies- is the key to joy.

Thanks, Erin!

If you haven’t already, read about the first conversation in this series.

Weekend Links


Happy Friday, friends! I’ll be restarting the series on joy on Monday.

The beginning of this week was busy – Miles and I were traveling and a big contract at work was concluding, so there was no interview this week, but I’m excited to share another conversation with you next week!

What are you doing this weekend? Mark’s sister is coming for a visit, so we’ll probably go explore downtown Bryan and enjoy the cooler weather. While you’re relaxing this weekend, enjoy some of these links.

A sweet video about balancing parenting and an intense career.

Have you ever used a ladder to decorate?

One wine-taster talks about losing his excitement for wine.

Stretches for people who sit all day.

Shakespeare’s best lines.

The perfect sandwich.

The making of Gone with the Wind.

(Photo: One of our shots from our trip through Germany last spring.)

Conversations about Joy – With Rachel

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On Monday mornings around here for a few weeks, I will be having chats with friends about joy. Grab a cup of coffee and join in the conversation!

For the first blog in this series, I asked Rachel from Balance and Blueberries to participate. Rachel (who was one of my bridesmaids) has the most exuberant spirit. She has more energy than almost anyone I know! Even when she’s stressed or overwhelmed or sad, Rachel still has such a passion for life, maybe even especially the little things that fill normal days. So here is Rachel’s take on joy:

Are you naturally joyful?

I’m totally a glass half full kind of person. I tend toward the positive, and naturally look for the silver lining.

What brings you the most joy?

The people in my life, hands down—my husband, my family, my friends.  Without relationship, this life would be a joyless existence.

What is a little thing that regularly brings you joy?

Connection—I am so grateful for the close relationships I have, and connecting with those people brings me a lot of joy. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming—a text, a phone chat , lunch,  a coffee date, a newsy email.

When do you struggle to find joy?

When I’m too busy and my calendar has a thing designated for every waking hour of every day for days on end, I find even the things I once enjoyed become a burden. Bob Goff says, “The battle for joy is usually fought on the pages of our calendars.” What truth! When I’m rigidly scheduled, I do this, do that, do the next thing, and fall into bed exhausted when I get home. I don’t have time to spend with my husband. I don’t have time to stop by my mom’s house for lunch. I don’t have time to meet a friend for coffee. So what do I think I accomplish with all the hustling? I’m not sure, but I’m definitely not adding to my joy! 

How are you pursuing joy right now?

I’m simplifying. I’ve dropped a couple of my freelance gigs, which has done wonders in the calendar department, and thus the joy department! I’m also becoming much more selective when it comes to projects or gigs I accept. I’m working hard to put my people-pleasing ways behind me and to keep my priorities in line.

What is the key to a joy-filled day for you?

 “This is the day the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Ultimately, it’s a choice. Spend your days looking for the things which bring you joy and you’ll find them—they’re there. Even in the mess and the busyness, they’re there.

Thanks, Rachel!

Links for Your Weekend

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Happy Friday! How has your week been? We’ve been juggling some colds around here – no fun! But everyone seems to be on the mend. Mark is in and out a bit this week with travel for interviews and work, while Miles and I are excited to go visit my side of the family next week.

Sharing a few links from around the web that I’ve found encouraging, interesting, or inspiring is one of my favorite parts of each week. Have you read anything interesting this week?

Also, I’m starting a new series on Monday. I’ve been asking lots of people about joy – whether it comes easily, how to pursue it, the challenges of maintaining it. I’m so excited to start sharing these conversations with you!

Until then…

How smartphones are killing conversation. This is a tough one for me, since my job lives and dies by technology, but it’s a good reminder of the intrinsic, eternal value of face-to-face communication.

This sweet video about an afternoon ritual makes me want to gather some friends for tea.

Multiple uses for that expensive vanilla bean pod.

Hotels that boast libraries.

Setting a table correctly.

Weekend Adventures: Georgetown

Weekend Adventures: Georgetown

Weekend Adventures: Georgetown

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Mark’s Fall Break spanned Thursday and Friday of last week, so we put some carpe diem into practice and left town. We visited Austin for a few hours, exploring Barton Springs and walking around the grounds of the State Capitol before meeting a friend for dinner.

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Mark even practiced some baby-wearing. We love our Ergo!

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My family has deep roots in a little Texas Hill Country town called Georgetown. I have lots of early memories playing in the childhood hometown of my grandparents. Georgetown used to be just another little cute town, but now Austin has grown so much that Georgetown feel like a sort of extended suburb of Austin. We drove up to Georgetown late Thursday night and woke up early. After some Texas-shaped waffles, we were ready to explore!

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There is an idyllic square with stores that brim with cute antique furniture, old books, and adorable tea towels. A grand old courthouse sits in the middle of the square. (My great-grandfather was once a judge there and his picture is still inside! Hashtag family history.)  We also visited the home of my great-grandmother and took some pictures of Miles on the enormous Southern front porch. (His toleration for the photo-shoot was short-lived, clearly…)

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Mostly, though, there are THE RIVERS. It’s really one large river (the San Gabriel) and a smaller fork. There are lots of fun parks scattered throughout the city that center around little cement dams built on the river during the Depression.

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It was so fun exploring the parks where my grandfather and dad played as teenagers. We even dipped Miles’ toes into the clear water, although he didn’t seem to be a huge fan.

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Weekend Links


Happy weekend! Anything fun in store for you? Mark’s Fall Break fell over Thursday and Friday so we took our weekend early and took a little road-trip around the Austin area. We explored,, met up with some friends and extended family, and spent some time in Georgetown, a gem of a little Hill Country town where my dad’s family has deep roots.

Saturday is finding us back hard at work. I’m catching up on my email backlog and Mark is putting in his reservist time.

Would you teach your infant to swim? Mark and I both love spending time around the water and we both think it’s so important to teach water-survival skills to children early…but THIS early?

This video of 7-year-olds at New York’s finest restaurant is seriously hilarious.

Some food styling tips.

A unique method for inspiring dinner conversation.

I’m obsessed with this leather bag.

I cannot wait until we have a yard and I can raise chickens.

The “Why” of Memory-Keeping

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Taking photos, journaling, blogging, methods like Project Life, – anything that helps to record precious memories is a form of memory-keeping.

But sometimes it’s important to step back and remember the “why” of memory-keeping. Especially when I don’t have time to do a lot of elaborate memory-keeping, when I only have time to actually take photos but none to edit, organize, or journal, reminding myself why memory-keeping is important for continual motivation.

Two quick caveats:

1. Sometimes memory-keeping seems to fall into the category of “things Moms do to keep busy” category. I firmly believe that memory-keeping is important for everybody (tweet This). Memory-keeping might look different if you are single or don’t have children or if you are a young guy, but everyone should record their memories in a way that is meaningful. I’ve recorded memories for as long as I can remember, but my process has changed countless times over the years. Journals, simple photo albums, blogging, notes on my computer, elaborate scrapbooks, albums printed by services like Snapfish, and systems such as Project Life have all played a role in my memory-keeping.

2. Memory-keeping looks different for everyone (tweet this). For some, memory-keeping involves a simple journal. For others, it is associated with elaborately designed photo albums. For others, it’s blogging. For some, it’s a process like quilting or art journaling. Maybe it simply means taking photos and storing them digitally. Or maybe your memory-keeping involves videos or recordings.

Our “why”- our motivations – defines our process, our goals, and our markers of success (tweet this). It’s difficult to stay motivated in any area – relationships, careers, or hobbies- without a defined “why”. (More on that later).

So here is a list of seven reasons for my memory-keeping, part of my “why”.

1. Memories are defining. What I’ve done, who I’ve known, and where I’ve been have helped shape me.

2. So Protecting memories from disappearing is worthwhile. The things we’ve done and the paths we’ve walked are meaningful, so recording those memories and protecting them from disappearing is a worthy goal.

3. Memories are motivating. Seeing where my family and I have been helps encourage me to continue working towards where we are going. Remembering struggles overcome and good memories made helps encourage me (and them!) to continue pressing on.

4. Memories bring joy. A few weeks ago, I bit the bullet and ordered about 300 prints of digital memories. Mark and I had fun browsing through the pictures. Seeing Mark become excited over memories that I’d recorded reminded me that memory-keeping is something that can be so simple but is something that can bring immense joy.

5. Memory-keeping helps me prioritize and make choices. As I make choices about how to spend time, knowing that I’m recording memories for our family helps me prioritize well. When I’m choosing between two options, sometimes I ask myself where/how the best memories will be made. Another way that Mark and I phrase is with the question, “What is the best story?” This method of choosing has hurled us into all sorts of ridiculous situations (traveling to Albania at 6 months pregnant, ending up in Italy with nowhere to stay, living with three roommates for the first year of our marriage…), but we rarely regret making a choice that will leave us with a good memory!

6. Memories remind me of lessons I’ve learned. No one wants to repeat mistakes. Journaling and other methods of processing my memories helps embed lessons I’ve learned and keeps me from repeating mistakes, while encouraging me to continue repeating good patterns.

7. Memories remind us of our blessings. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 34:8, which begins, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Memory-keeping is a way for me to remind myself of the blessings God has poured out on me and my loved ones. It’s a method of relishing the good things that have happened and encouragement to look forward to the good things to come.

What is your “why”? I’d love to challenge you to write out 5 or 10 reasons or motivations behind your memory-keeping. Or share in the comments or on Twitter (@emilyamccord).