Travel

A Morning at the Fort Worth Water Gardens.

October 25, 2017

Fort Worth Water Garden

Fort Worth Water Garden     Fort Worth Water Garden

Fort Worth Water Garden

Fort Worth Water Garden

When the deep heat of summer really hit, we became hard-pressed to convince ourselves to do anything but spend almost every afternoon at the pool. This made for grand summer memories, even though Mark was essentially immobile for quite a bit of it due to his car accident.

The hours in the water paid off – Miles can swim without any assistance or floatie support and Violet is comfortable and can at least lift her head out of the water when she face plants into an area deeper than 3 inches. 

Fort Worth Water Garden

Fort Worth Water Garden

The immobility this summer though meant that we didn’t spend as much time exploring new local spot as we would have liked. Now that the weather is cooler, the pool is closing, and Mark is more mobile, maybe weekends will hold more exploring. 

A few weeks ago though, in a completely unplanned turn of events, we were forced to spend what ended up being 7+ hours in Fort Worth waiting for some paperwork to process. As we scrambled to figure out how to keep two wiggly toddlers occupied for a bit before an attempt at car naps, the Fort Worth Water Gardens popped up in a Google search of the area. 

Fort Worth Water Garden

I was shocked to discover that we had been missing out on such a gem – Mark grew up in the area and had no idea it even existed. 

The Water Gardens consist of three water formations surrounded by slabs and steps that create this visual of mountains, forests, and deserts. Because the whole area is set below the street level, even though the park is located in the heart of downtown Fort Worth, it feels like you’ve magically fallen into some sort of alternative world. You can’t hear any traffic – just the sound of rushing water and the kind of silence that normally I’ve only experienced outside the city in nature. 

Fort Worth Water Garden

Fort Worth Water Garden

No swimming or wading is allowed, but Miles and Violet dashed around dipping hands and toes in. 

Miles and I hiked down the stone steps to the bottom of the Active Water display and soaked in the sight and sound of water pouring down all around us.

Fort Worth Water Garden

Fort Worth Water Garden

If I had a novel and a notebook instead of two busy toddlers, I would have spent more time at the Aerated Water display, but my two little guys quickly became bored with the fountains because they weren’t able to touch anything in this area.

Fort Worth Water Garden

Fort Worth Water Garden

We spent the most time in the Quiet Water area, which was enormous enough to give my little ones a sense of freedom while they wandered around touching the wet “canyon” walls and splashing their toes in the artificial streams. 

Fort Worth Water Garden

Fort Worth Water Garden

If you are in the DFW area and want a unique backdrop for engagement photos, family photos, or just a fun outing, I highly encourage you to check out this hidden gem!

Continue Reading

Travel

26 Tips for Flying with Toddlers and Babies.

June 15, 2017

Toddler Travel Tips       

 

Flying witha toddler - 7

 

Flying with a toddler - 8 

 

My 2 and 1-year old have flown quite a bit already. At last count, Miles, who will be 3 soon, has been on 28 flights while Violet has been on 13. Most of them have been domestic flights and none of them have been overseas. But we definitely have had time and practice for establishing a system and “best practices” for our time in airports. 

 

Our last flight was maybe the first time I’ve flown with one or both of our little ones and felt like “Hey, we’ve got this!” Mark and the rest of us flew out on separate flights, but went to the airport together and were able to spend our pre-airport time in one of DFW’s airport lounges which made the whole trip a lot more exciting and fun (even for the grownups;-))  . I am that crazy mom that never lets my kids touch the toys in the waiting area or the play area of the restaurant or whatever, but in line with my philosophy about normal household rules being suspended during air travel, I let Miles and Violet play in the kids area of the lounge and they went to town on the fun toys and cushions. 

 

I realized it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything about traveling with little guys, but I feel like we do it constantly, so here’s a random collboration of some of my best tips. I’ve also written about flying with infants here and here before, but flying with two toddlers (mostly as a solo parent), is a different ball-game, so it probably merits its own list.

 

I’d love to hear from you – what did I miss in this list? What is your best tip for flying (especially solo!) with little guys? 

 

Flying with a toddler - 4

Flying with a toddler-9

 

Planning

 

1. When traveling, I read somewhere once that the easiest way to deal with schedules and naps when traveling is to stick to a regular schedule as closely as possible and to use the time-zone of the destination.

2. So if we’re flying during naptime, I plan for naps on the plane. It’s a great way to kill time. The caveat is that my babies have always been pretty reasonable about falling asleep on the plane if it’s near naptime or bedtime. If your toddler or baby will not nap on an airplane, then fly early enough to make naptime irrelevant or fly late enough so that they can nap before-hand.

3. Once we land, we use that time zone. So if we fly from Dallas to California and it’s two hours early, bedtime is still as close to 8:00 as I can push it (even though the little guys will feel like it is 10:00). There is obviously always some flexibility here but it helps to have the new time zone as a goal-post and kids normally adjust to a new time zone very quickly. Adding an extra meal or a snack into the day sometimes helps get us to a bedtime that’s later than it should be.

We have never been one of those families that buys the seat for the infant. If you are, you’ll want to bring your car-seat on board instead of your stroller (see below). All of the advice below is applicable mostly if you have an infant-in-lap or an infant-in-lap and a toddler in a seat.

 

Flying with a toddler - 1

 

Packing

4. Most airlines will let you carry a dedicated bag for each child for free, plus your personal bag and/or carry-on. My advice? Don’t. Unless you have one adult whose entire purpose is that of a sherpa. The last thing you need when flying with little ones is a ton of stuff to juggle. I normally carry one generously sized personal bag and put everything we need for the flight (AND ONLY THE FLIGHT) in it. Sometimes I tuck a small purse inside so that I can more easily access my wallet and personal things, sometimes not.

Less is more. Unless you are going to be on a looooong flight, be brutally realistic about how much stuff you need in that one bag

5. Essentially, DO carry:

Enough bottles, formula, milk etc. for the actual flight time as well as the pre-boarding and luggage-waiting (and post-airport drive if that’s long).

  • A couple of diapers and wipes
  • An extra onesie or small outfit, because they day you don’t will be the day you have a disaster during take-off. Also, if you have plans immediately after landing, you can easily change their clothes and shed the airplane yuckies without digging into your luggage.
  • A FEW familiar toys for the flight. Wooden bead necklaces, small board books that can be cleaned later, and our Viking vehicles are always a big hit, as well as any naptime toys or blankets that are the norm (if you want the kiddos to nap)
  • Small snacks. It’s easy to go over-board here. Snacks are essential but small kids eat small portions. Bring food that isn’t sticky or ultra-messy. Goldfish, cheerios, pretzles, dried fruit, etc. Double points if they can hold it while they eat.
  • Anti-bacterial wipes. I love these.
  • Empty water containers to fill after security for the little guys. We have these toddler-size Contigo jugs for water. They never leak and even Violet, who refuses to use a straw, likes to use hers.
  • A water bottle for the parent or parents. 
  • A phone charger.
  • Your phone.
  • Headphones if your kiddo will wear them. 
  • A trashbag (see below)
  • An empty ziplock to store anything particularly soiled
  • A nursing cover, blanket, or sarong for nursing babies.

6. DO NOT carry:

  • An absurd number of diapers that you will never use. The likelihood is that you will not be stuck in the airport for 3 days. If you are, airport shops carry diapers. Plan accordingly.
  • Tons and tons and tons of extras. The frustration of sorting through too much stuff will always outweigh the convenience of that one tiny thing that you brought just in case and actually used that one time.
  • Toys that make noise.

7. The one thing I do always pack is a trashbag, because who wants to use those airport changing pads? This probably makes me the weirdest parent in the world but ohhh my gosh never. I find a dark empty airport corner, lay out a trashbag, lay the changing pad on top of it, and voila. Diaper changing station. When we’re done, I just flip the trashbag inside out so that it’s ready for another emergency change if one arises.

8.We normally check our carseats with our luggage. Is this remotely risky, since the airline could lose them? Sure, but they could lose them at the gat too. If we were traveling overseas, we might not do this, but for domestic flights, it has never been a problem. If the toddler (Miles is) is big enough to require a purchased seat, I just let him sit in the seat, buckled, without a carseat. If your children are the kind that will happily sit in those little stroller wheely things and you can check your stroller, or you definitely want your toddler in a car-seat, great. I always prefer to fly with my ultra-light, collapsible stroller.

 

9. This is where the magical carseat bags come in handy. I love ’em. I’ve tried a few different brands, but these bags are cheap, durable, and great. Use them a few times and then replace them. I love arriving, knowing that I’m puting my kids in clean {to them} carseats, rather than seats that have been touched by who-knows-who and placed who-knows-where. Yeck. If you are concerned about your carseat getting tossed around, just attach some packing material to it inside the bag to cushion any falls.

10. TSA will let you carry bottles through security. They get a little annoyed once you start hauling jugs of milk for toddlers through, but if you have a baby and a toddler, you can normally pull off an extra cup of milk (I like to bring my own along because it’s hard to find whole milk in the airport EXCEPT at Starbucks, which always carries it). However, if you pack things in small amounts, they won’t even make you open the bottles. For two toddlers, I normally take two empty water bottles/cups to be filled after security and two milk cups, which TSA check’s with their little magic wand things.

11. I also never travel with my computer in my carry-on these days. 1. It’s a completely useless appendage on the plane with two little ones and 2. It’s another thing to pull out during security. We don’t own an iPad (yet?), so the only electronic I have with us is my iPhone.

 

Flying with a toddler - 2

 

Flying with a toddler -5

 

Security

12. Go through the Global Entry process and get TSA pre-check approved. Children under 12 can fly with parents or guardians that are TSA pre-check approved

13. Make SURE that the gate agent places your pre-check approval on your boarding pass, “infant on lap” on your boarding pass if you’re flying with a child sharing a seat, and “pre-check” on the boarding passes of any other children under 13. We’ve experienced several variations of mistakes made on this front. One of them resulted in me waiting in line at security with a toddler and a six-week-old, discovering that my infant wasn’t on my boarding pass at all, and returning to the front desk after waiting for 20 minutes in a security line. NOT FUN.

But once you are TSA pre-check approved, security becomes SO much easier with little guys. You just literally walk on through. They check the liquids and the stroller. Bam. All done. 

 

14. Buy a light stroller. We like to keep our baby equipment pretty minimal, so our main stroller is this double Zoe, which is light and easily folded and unfolded with one hand. It makes flying with two minis a cinch. If you normally use a heavier stroller, make sure you travel with one that is light. Several of the airlines have changed their stroller regulartions and will only let you take light small strollers to the gate. On our first flight with Violet, American Airlines had just changed their rules and took our stroller, leaving us to carry both kiddos through DFW.

 

Boarding

 

15. If you have a toddler that can walk, use the time right before boarding to let him run, jump, spring, whatever. Burn some energy. 

16. I normally change baby diapers immediately before boarding so that I can avoid an in-flight change if at all possible.

17. I also normally do a quick assessment of my bag at this point to make sure the things I need at the beginning of the flight haven’t shifted into the dark depths of my bag.

 

18.If you have a baby, board with him or her in a carrier or wrap so that your hands are free for your toddler, stroller, bag, whatever. Our Ergo has been ridiculously valuable for this – I have used it for boarding past 1 year with both Miles and Violet. I put Violet on my back for the first time during this last trip and she loved it. If your kiddo will sit contentedly on your back, even better.

 

19.Miles normally sits in the stroller until the end of that boarding passageway. He has flown a ton and is super accustomed to boarding and all of that, but if you have a toddler that tends to run, this is where it’s a good idea to maybe hand him off to the flight attendants while you fold up the stroller. Either way, fellow passengers are normally enormously understanding and helpful for those occassions when I’ve needed an extra hand.

 

20.Once we get to our seats, OCD parent that I am, I whip out an anti-bacterial wipe and wipe down the backs of the seats, the armrests, the window (BECAUSE THEY WILL LICK THE WINDOW) and the trays. Am I weird? Oh yes. But it gives me a slight peace of mind on the flight to know that I at least tried to clean off the millions of creepy airplane germs as Violet frantically tries to eat the armrest.

 

Flying with a toddler -3

 

Flying

 

21.The airlines won’t let you keep an Ergo or any kind of carrier with a clip or buckle attached during take-off. When I’ve had little babies, this has been an issue because sometimes they’re asleep and WHY WOULD YOU WAKE UP A SLEEPING BABY AT THE BEGINNING OF A FLIGHT? If this happens, just unlatch the latch behind your neck. Your baby will think he or she is still cozy and secure and the attendants can’t argue with this.

 

22.The beginning of the flight is the best time to nurse or give your baby a bottle if it coincides with their normal schedule. It will alleviate any ear pressure during take-off and mine normally fall asleep which is a double win.

 

23. Now that Violet is older and only nursing during a couple specific times of day, our system is a little different. Miles gets headphones (wireless – how cool is my 2-year-old) and my iPhone once we take off. He snuggles up with his paci and stuffed elephant and tends to be perfectly content that way for at least an hour. This is what happens when you starve your children of technology during normal days.;-)

 

24. Unless it’s time for her mid-day nap, in which case she’ll nurse and fall asleep, Violet is pretty content to play on my lap, read a book with me, sing, snack, whatever. She’s 14 months though and this is honestly THE WORST age for flying. When they don’t have their own seat, they want to crawl and climb, and they can’t move. It’s torture for everyone involved. Just keep them occupied and entertained. Snacks always help. At this age, a bottle or paci during take-off will still help with ear pressure.

25. If you can take advantage of airport lounges, do so. Depending on the individual airport USO policies, military families can often access the USO even when not flying with a military spouse. Check the benefits list on your credit card. You may be able to access one of the other airport lounges. The extra space to let little ones burn off some pre-boarding energy, the slightly-more-private space – totally worth it with kids.

26. Make flying fun! Bring snacks and juice treats that aren’t usually allowed. Break the household electronics rules. Sing. Play silly games. Chances are that your little ones will love flying. It’s a huge adventure for them. They love the activity, the vehicles, the novelty. Miles talked about our last flight every day for two weeks before we boarded. Just relax. Flying with kids can be stressful and it is definitely a lot of work, but with a little preparation (and a lowering of all germaphobe standards, Hi Self), it can be just another memorable experience you and your little ones get to enjoy together. 

 Hungry for some more ideas? Hailey writes a lot about their family’s current travel project and this post about a day in Paris with a toddler is full of great general trips for traveling with toddlers while Ashley Ann’s posts about traveling with her kids are just incredible, period. 

 
Flying with a toddler - 6
 
 

Continue Reading

Life | Travel | Uncategorized

Adventures in Mexico (with a toddler): Cancun.

February 16, 2016

adventures-in-mexico-cancun_pinterest  adventures-in-mexico-cancun_3

During the last week of January, we finally made our family trip out of the country happen. Mark and I had both wanted to travel with Miles internationally while he was still in the “only child” category. We were also long overdue for a family vacation.

While we originally had more adventurous plans in store, we settled on Cancun and the Riviera Maya – the combination of reasonable costs, ease of planning, and the short plane flight was too tempting.

We picked our dates and booked flights. (Note for next time: Although we were constrained by our dates and needed to book when we did, we realized later into the trip that prices fall in the Riviera Maya fall pretty dramatically around the 1st week and 2nd weeks of February.)

We aren’t really “resort” people and get antsy after a few days in one place, so we wanted to stay in a few places and explore a bit rather than committing to one location for our entire trip. After a lot of “research” (Hi, Trip-Advisor), I was able to find quite a few family-friendly small hotels or bed-and-breakfasts available, even during such a busy travel time. We booked all of our lodging through Airbnb and voila! Trip planned.

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

adventures-in-mexico-cancun_6

Our stay in Cancun sandwiched the rest of the trip – we knew that we didn’t want to spend a lot of time in such a big tourist destination, but we also didn’t want to push ourselves to travel a lot in one day with a toddler. So we booked our first and last nights close to the airport and had about a day on each end to explore Cancun itself.

On the first afternoon, we drove our rental to our first stop – Bed and Breakfast Cancun. I was a little nervous because it was the most inexpensive of our lodging choices (and I felt responsible since I had picked allllll of our lodging!), but our time there was phenomenal. From the second we walked in the door, we felt right at home. The owners, a Canadian/Mexican couple, were warm, informative, and fun. They also were terribly sweet to Miles (even though I found out they didn’t normally allow children, whoops!).   Veronica, the hostess, cooked us delicious omelets both mornings of our stay and even kindly let me use her washer and dryer.

adventures-in-mexico-cancun_2

adventures-in-mexico-cancun_7

Our room was immensely comfortable and impeccably clean. Once we settled our things, we drove out to the hotel strip (about 25 minutes away), to find the beach. We bought Miles some toys for the sand, relaxed on a little strip of sand that we discovered, and then headed to Mocambo’s for dinner. Our first dinner in Mexico was so memorable and delicious. Miles couldn’t get enough of the ocean and hung over the balcony railing staring at the water for the entirety of the meal. (One of the perks of toddler schedules, we’ve found, is that we tend to arrive at restaurants early enough to get prime seats ahead of any crowds.)

adventures-in-mexico-cancun_4

The next morning, we headed to the Puerto Juarez pier for our ferry to Isla Mujeres.

I’m jumping ahead a bit, but I wanted to note one other great thing about the Cancun portion of our trip. When we came back through Cancun, we had a little more time to kill. We ate lunch outside at El Fish Fritanga and escaped the heat by visiting the stores inside Plaza Kukulcan for a bit, but after a little of Googling, I was so excited to find this list of public access beaches (here’s another helpful one that I found later as well). We only had time to explore Delfines Beach and we weren’t really prepared to swim that day but the thrill of finding some unhindered access was exciting, nonetheless.

Miles was getting a little tired of the vacation routine and loved just playing on a regular playground – but while he did that, we got to soak up such an amazing view! I wish we had discovered the fantastic public access earlier. If we ever return, we’ll definitely make it a point to visit Delfines Beach with our bathing suits.

Next stop, Isla Mujeres!

adventures-in-mexico-cancun_9

Continue Reading

Travel

San Diego: A Secret Garden

August 4, 2015


San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

I don’t think any of us realized the magic of the backyard as children. We played loud rambunctious games by day and louder, wilder games after dark, by the light of just a few flashlights. Meanwhile, despite the risks posed by more than a dozen small feet and curious helping hands, my grandfather patiently cultivated the yard. Growing, growing, growing – while the small people that terrorized the yard grew, the garden grew too.

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

Tomatoes, zucchini, nasturtiums, sunflowers. I’m sure Grandpa grew other things through the years, but those four were permanent watchmen of the house and the Pacific ocean shining behind them in the distance.

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

And then, as all great art does, the backyard garden outlived its artist’s hand. Surviving the perils of small children, changing caretakers, unfamiliar neighbors, new freeways, building traffic, ever-expanding congestion – it’s still there, just behind the wooden fence. A few fruit trees have been added. Plants have been moved around. But little of substance has changed.

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

Tomatoes, zucchini, nasturtiums, sunflowers – the old guards are still there. And the Pacific ocean shining under the San Diego sun is still just down the street. Maybe there’s a metaphor buried here, a tale of art or beauty or time. But to me, the garden just means I’m home.

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

Continue Reading

Travel

My Best Packing Tip.

July 16, 2015

 San Diego garden | The Orange Slate

Downtown Plano | The Orange Slate

I used to be a chronic over-packer and although my days of absurd over-packing are behind me, I still have a long way to go when it comes to being a super efficient, minimalist traveler.

Traveling with a baby comes with its own set of challenges and extra gear, but traveling solo with Miles so many times has also made me wary of being overly optimistic about what I can carry through the airport with a 20 pound baby in tow.

Even the basics that I used to toss into my carry-on bag (laptop, thick book, sweater) I now skip. It’s a little absurd to think that I’ll be able to work on my laptop (or read a book!) while holding Miles during a flight and I never get cold on flights anymore thanks to my little snuggle-buddy. Also, there is one perk of always traveling with a baby – I can always wrap up in the sarong* or blanket tucked into my diaper bag if I start to get chilly!

I plan to post about what I do carry in the airport when traveling with a baby later, but today, I wanted to share my best tip for packing (or for combatting OVER-packing) with you.

Ready? Once I’m completely packed and everything is set to go, I pull one outfit out of my bag.

Easy, right? I always assume I’ll be wearing more outfits than I end up wearing in reality. What actually happens is that I cycle my favorite/most comfortable/most washable clothes for the entire trip. So removing one outfit from my bag, no matter how carefully I packed, helps reduce the unnecessary pieces that I bring on the trip.

I’m always grateful for the extra space and always wonder why I thought I’d wear that removed outfit in the first place.

What’s your best packing tip? I’d love to hear! Bonus: If you share your best tip in the comments, I’ll link to your blog or Instagram in this week’s Friday links.;-)

*Ever since Miles started to get really curious and busy, he’s hated nursing underneath the nursing cover. Although he doesn’t need to nurse as often when we’re out and about now, I’ve started to carry a sarong (UPDATE: a muslin blanket like this would work too!) everywhere with us instead of my infant nursing cover. It’s been a fantastic solution! Carrying it around has come in handy when we’ve needed an impromptu stroller cover and picnic blanket as well.

Continue Reading

Travel

Adventures on The Big Island: Greenwell Farms

May 26, 2015

    Greenwell Farms Coffee | The Orange Slate

Hat and Coffee | The Orange Slate

 Greenwell Coffee Farm | The Orange Slate

One fantastic part of my visit to Hawaii was the tour of the Greenwell Farms coffee farm. On a morning during our vacation that threatened to be unfriendly to beach dwelling, we trip-trapped up the road from Kona to the beautiful farm. Tours are (generously!) free and run daily from 8:30-4:00 at intervals of 15ish minutes so pressure was low.

The tour was fun, informative (although the guide was occasionally difficult to understand), and brief. Many of the coffee plants have been there for over 100 years and the current owners are descendants of the original farmers, transplants from England during the mid-19th century. The farm’s coffee is now shipped all over the world. It’s also sold online and through their Coffee Club.

Coffee Jars | The Orange Slate

Coffee Sign | The Orange Slate

Our guide showed us much more than just coffee plants – the farm boasts banana trees, mango trees, breathtaking flowers, and the largest avocado tree I’ve ever seen. The farm sits on a bluff high above the Kona coast and the view of the west side of the island is magnificent (especially during morning hours).

Our group drank its weight in the (again, so generous) delicious and free coffee samples while we relaxed under the giant avocado tree and over-grammed our day. The beautiful lawns, stunning views, and abundant foliage made beautiful backdrops for lots of fun pictures. The staff was so kind and friendly, even to our somewhat rowdy bunch.

Coffee Cherries | The Orange Slate

Coffee Cup | The Orange Slate

If you visit the Kona side of the Big Island, I would definitely recommend a visit to one of the hundreds of coffee farms near Kona, and I’m sure that you won’t find a more pleasant one to tour than Greenwell Farms.

P.S. If you’re traveling to Hawaii soon, there is also no better guide than Hawaii The Big Island Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook. Local tips, secret spots, and hidden gems – both of our trips to the Big Island have been vastly enriched by this fantastic resource.

*Some links are affiliate. Thanks for supporting The Orange Slate!

Continue Reading

Travel

5 More Tips for Flying with an Infant

November 25, 2014

Slide1

 

11-25-14_1

Last week I shared 5 tips for flying with an infant. Here are five more. What did I miss? Share your tips for holiday traveling with a baby in the comments!

6. Pack carefully.

Careful, organized packing is probably the most essential step to flying with a young baby. Here is what I pack for Baby to ensure a stress-free flight:

  1. One full extra outfit (onesie and pants or pjs) for Baby, along with an extra onesie/bodysuit.
  2. 1 extra diaper for every hour you’ll be traveling, plus 2. (So if you leave your house at 8:00 am and plan to arrive at 2:00, bring 8 diapers. Layovers or cancelled flights become a lot less fun quickly if you run out of diapers and airports aren’t known for their abundance of baby supplies (why is this?). 
  3. Pacifiers. If you’re baby takes one, bring them. Again, pack several. 
  4. Changing pad. Those rubber, washable, foldable changing pads are lifesavers.
  5. 2 blankets. (Airplanes are grimy places. The likelihood of one blanket making it through the airport disaster free is slim.
  6. Bottles. Even if your baby nurses, it can be a lifesaver to have a bottle on hand during travel. Security guidelines normally ask you to show the bottles at security. If they are over 3 ounces, they test the liquid (without touching the milk). I just normally try to bring a couple of small bottles instead of one big one to avoid the hassle of the testing.
  7. Any diaper ointment.
  8. A few small wet baby washcloths in a Ziplock. 
  9. An empty large Ziplock to hold dirty washcloths, dirty clothes, diapers, etc.

(You can also download a printable version of this list.)

Airline guidelines allow traveling infants an extra bag of their own. However, unless you’re traveling with another adult, this can be it’s own disaster. I normally bring only my small cross-body bag with my wallet and other essentials, my Ergo, and one bag – packed as lightly as possible-  for both of us. That way, I can put Baby into the Ergo and then I only have one bag to carry.

When I pack for myself, I bring as little as possible. A sweater, some makeup, my wallet. I’ve quit bringing a book (!!) because the likelihood of me actually reading while traveling alone with Miles is just none. Zero. Nada. I am normally working so I do normally pack my computer, but a tablet is less bulky. I also always bring my phone charger.

7. Put important documents like IDs and credit cards in an accessible place. 

Nothing makes me more frantic than losing my ID right before I go through security. Before you get to the airport, pull out your ID, boarding pass or check-in information, credit card, and a little bit of cash and tuck it in some secure, external pocket. Once you are through security, re-pack your ID but leave your card and cash and boarding pass in an external (secure) pocket that you can access with one hand.

8. Dress comfortably.

I hate dressing for travel like I just woke up at summer camp. On the other hand, traveling with a baby makes comfortable clothing even more important. My go-to travel outfit is a pair of skinny jeans, flat shoes, and comfortable, cool top. If the weather makes traveling without a coat questionable, bring a light coat that can easily fold into your bag.

8. Dress Baby comfortably. 

I always put Miles in something that covers his legs and feet and normally something short-sleeved. Depending on your baby, this will vary. Miles tends to be warm-blooded and gets very irritable if he has too many layers on, but I don’t like his legs and feet to be exposed to all of the griminess of the airport and security. Also, having something comfy covering his legs makes the Ergo a little more comfortable for long periods.

9. Avoid hot liquids.

This is one of my pet peeves. Sane, level-headed, regularly decent parents forget that they have an infant strapped to them and don’t have a second thought about purchasing a tall cup of scalding liquid from the airport Starbucks. Liquid burns can be deadly for small babies. Infant skin burns much more quickly than adult skin. Burns are also much more likely to happen if you have a wiggly baby and are moving them around between the carseat and the carrier or baby wrap. Please do your baby and yourself a favor and purchase your coffee and tea iced during travel.

10. Be a Tiger Mama.

This one can be hard for me because I hate to be mean or grouchy. But you DO NOT have to let random strangers touch your baby. And they will try. I normally don’t mind people reaching for his sock-covered toes as much as I mind them reaching for his face. Figure out what  you mind and don’t mind and draw the line. If someone is trying to touch your baby and it makes you uncomfortable, say so. Stand by with something along the lines of “Sorry! I’m a pretty cautious mother and he has a sensitive immune system (which is true of all babies!). I appreciate your kindness but please avoid touching him.” Will it be awkward? Possibly. But that’s ok. There are lots of germs in airports and you never know what someone is carrying. It’s ok to be protective of your young baby. (On the other hand, if you’re not a super protective mommy and don’t mind if the occasional well-intentioned person reaches out to pat your baby, that’s ok too.)

 

 

Continue Reading

Travel

5 Tips for Flying with an Infant

November 20, 2014

11-19-14-3

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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?

 

 

Continue Reading

Travel

Weekend Adventures: Georgetown

October 21, 2014
Weekend Adventures: Georgetown
Weekend Adventures: Georgetown

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

 

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

  Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

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…)

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

 Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

   Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

  Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Continue Reading

Travel

Regarding Our Summer Up North – A Short List

June 22, 2014

     IMG_8011

1. Just over two weeks ago, a moving truck came to take away our belongings. We fought D.C. traffic for one last time and headed away from the East Coast. The last two weeks have been the epitome of unabated vacation bliss as we’ve basked in the flawless early Michigan summer.

photo 1-5

2. Drinking morning cups of coffee on the back deck of my parents’ home is a luxury that never grows old.

photo 1-6

3. I woke up from a nap one day last week to find that Mark had driven an hour away to purchase five ducklings. They’re precious and soft and captivating and my mother calls the “Hippy Ducklings” because we have absolutely no idea what we’re going to do with them in six weeks. And who knew that ducks grew so fast?

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

4. There are few more peaceful ways to pass a cloudy afternoon than fishing on the Boardman River boardwalk in downtown Traverse City.

5. We celebrated our first anniversary with an afternoon spent exploring the beach and pier in Manistee followed by a lovely dinner at Bluefish. In some ways, I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by. In other ways (all good ones), it feels like Mark and I have been married forever. I can’t wait to see what Year 2 holds for us.

photo 3-4

6. Our little guy is due in just over two weeks. We are beyond excited to meet him.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Grownup summer vacation is a true luxury and we are soaking up every minute of this unscheduled, unhurried time. What are your vacation plans for this summer?

 

Continue Reading