Archives for May 2014

On the Road: Little B Goes to Boston (And, Some Travel Tips)

This past weekend, we took B on her very first trip! As I mentioned before, this broke my self-imposed rule of not traveling before she could drag her own suitcase through the airport. But, Original Bridget had her doctoral hooding ceremony in Boston and that seemed like a pretty special occasion that we couldn’t miss.

Prior to our trip, my biggest worries were that B would not be able to sleep in an unfamiliar place and that we would be “those parents” on the plane. You know, the ones that you give the death stare to because their baby is having a meltdown that cannot be stopped. Luckily, both of these fears turned out to be totally unfounded.

B was awesome on our short flight to Boston. We were able to distract her with a bottle (which is also said to keep baby’s ears from popping during take-off and landing) and a few of her favorite toys and books.

20140518_111012Peeking out the window before take-off

On Friday, we had a carb-laden breakfast at a cute little cafe by our hotel and took a leisurely stroll through Boston Common and the Public Gardens.

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Getting ready to head out for the day!

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She was pretty mad that we didn’t share our pastries

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Make way for ducklings…and for B!

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She was so excited to be outside that day.

Then, it was off to Bridget’s hooding ceremony. My BFF put in a lot of hard work during the last few years as a PhD student in the Clinical Psychology program at Boston University, and I was happy that we could be there to celebrate her accomplishments. B did get a little whiny during the ceremony, so we actually watched Bridget receive her hood on the monitors outside the auditorium. But, it was exciting nonetheless and I was in good company as there were many other moms, dads and grandparents bouncing babies around in the hallway.

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Current and (hopefully) future PhDs!

On Saturday, we met up with Bridget and her family for a lunch at Quincy Market and a trip to the aquarium. We thought that B would enjoy the opportunity to see the real-life versions of her favorite creatures from the “Under the Sea” themed Baby Einstein collection. She was actually pretty into it! We spent a lot of time peering into the Giant Ocean Tank that stretches from floor to ceiling in the center of the building.

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A delicious lobster roll lunch

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She was chatting away to the fish 

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Penguin friend

B was a champion on our Sunday morning flight home, too…until the last ten minutes or so. Then, see got pretty vocal, due to a combination of a delayed naptime and an extremely dirty diaper. I was so glad to get off the plane, but not thrilled to find out that some of the bathrooms in Philadelphia International Airport do not come equipped with baby changing stations. I’ll spare you further details of this last leg of our journey. Needless to say, we were all glad to head home after that.

Of course, one trip doesn’t make me a baby travel expert. But, I thought I would share a few things that I took away from this experience. Maybe this will be helpful to you in case you are planning a getaway with your little ones this summer:

  1. Order baby items in advance and have them shipped to your final destination.

Packing light kind of goes out the window when you are bringing a baby along. Most baby gear items are huge and awkward to carry and then you have to pack extra of everything—baby food/formula, clothes, etc.—to account for travel delays and messes.

In the end, we had one bag for her clothes, diapers and wipes, our umbrella stroller, a huge diaper bag (Chester surprised me with this for Mother’s Day, after I wished out loud for a bag that could hold a camera and baby stuff. He’s the best at buying presents) and a smaller filled with toys/books for the plane. Oh, yea, then, Chester and I had a bag with all of our clothes.

To save some room in our luggage and to keep Chester’s back from completely giving out, I ordered baby food and formula from Amazon and had it shipped to our hotel a few days before our trip. This way, we would not have to worry about these items exploding all over our clothes in transit and we would not have to cut into our vacation time by running errands to pick up these things once we got to Boston.

  1. Bring the baby carrier.

It is a lot easier to navigate airport security, crowded subways and busy streets while wearing the baby. Being close to you can calm them down in unfamiliar surroundings and they can still get in a nap or two during excursions.

We have the Ergo, which seemed comfortable for B and was easy on my back. Plus, it was quite a workout! I was feeling every muscle in my body—in a good way—by the end of the first day. I might cancel my gym membership and wear a 20 pound sack of flour strapped to me at all times instead.

We used B’s stroller exactly once during the trip. We put her in it for a ride on the T, and she promptly freaked out. Back into the Ergo she went, and the stroller became a cart around the aforementioned gigantic diaper bag. If I knew that would happen, I would have left the stroller at home.

  1. Pack your patience.

Unfamiliar surroundings and people and disruption to routines can be a bit stressful for a baby. Be prepared for everything, from a little bit of extra fussiness at bedtime to full-on meltdowns. Sometimes in public.

Yes, it can be embarrassing. But, the golden rule of parenting (at least according to me) is to just do the best you can. Babies just do crazy things sometimes and most of them would act the same way in a stressful situation.

The nice thing about our trip was that we spent much of it with close friends, so they didn’t think our baby was an annoying little brat (at least I don’t think they did!). But, you might also find that complete strangers are more understanding than we give them credit for. When B got upset on our flight home, a sweet lady came up to us as we got off the plane, told us that B was beautiful and that we were lucky she had such strong vocal cords. Now that’s a positive spin if I’ve ever heard one.

So, find a quiet place, calm your baby down and move on. Everyone will get over it.  Enjoy the happy moments and don’t get bogged down by the challenging ones.

  1. Be prepared to travel differently.

When Chester and I traveled alone, we used to pack as much as possible into each day. We might leave the hotel at 8 a.m. and not come back until 10 p.m. Unless you want a really cranky baby on your hands by noon, this is probably not the way to go.

Don’t overschedule your days. Stay on top of the baby’s needs for food, diaper changes and sleep and build time in for these things. Everyone will be happier.

You might end up doing nothing more than strolling through a park all day and eating takeout at the hotel for dinner while the baby is sleeping. But, those might end up being some of your favorite days ever.

  1. Don’t make things harder on yourself than they need to be.

I think this list makes it clear that traveling with a baby presents some challenges, but there are plenty of shortcuts you can take to minimize them. Baby food in pouches travels well and is easy to dispense on-the-go. And, you can buy disposable, pre-sterilized bottles so that you don’t have to do dishes while you are trying to get some relaxation in.

Transportation is another thing to consider when traveling with a baby and all of their gear. On this trip, we decided not to bring our car seat and use public transportation. Yes, Boston has a pretty reliable, reasonably priced public transportation system that gets you just about anywhere you need to go. But, as we were hauling our portable Babies R’ Us on the bus from the airport, we quickly realized that taking a cab would have been a lot easier.

Of course then, we would have had to haul around yet another item. Six of one, half a dozen of the other, as they say. But, my point is, this might be the time to splurge on things that make your life easier.

The bottom line is this: traveling with a baby is really not that bad. So, get out there!

It was so nice to change of scenery and a few days of quality time together as a family. Now that Chester and I have one trip with B under our belts, I feel a lot more confident that all of us can handle being on the road together. In fact, we have already started planning another short trip for the fall and can’t wait for more adventures together.

 

For My Mom.

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Dear Mom,

I hope that you know that not a day goes by that I don’t think of all of the things that you have done for me, and continue to do, even though I’m a grown-up now. But, as you know, life gets crazy, and sometimes I forget to say all of the things that are floating around in my head out loud. So, since today is your day, here is a short list of all of the things that I owe you a long overdue thank you for.

Thank you for always telling me that I am capable of doing anything that I want to, even on the days when I feel like I can’t do anything right (and there are lots of those lately).

Thank you for being the voice in my head that keeps me in line. Whenever I have to make a difficult decision, I think to myself, “what would mom do?” or “what would mom think if I did that?” and usually that’s all I need to make the right choice.

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One of the few times that I ignored your voice in my head. I knew you would not be happy with my choice of four inch heels while 8 months pregnant. I wore them anyway.

Thanks for reminding me to always double bow my shoes. As you know, I’m clumsy, and this has probably saved me from a multitude of accidents.

Thanks for the snow day picnics on the living room floor. Sorry about the mess. Actually, sorry for all of the messes. I know that the fact that I never learned how to make my bed or keep my closet organized was an endless source of disappointment. I am sure you are delighted that this is Chester’s problem now. (There are however, some of your neat freak tendencies that I’ve inherited. For example, whenever I see a rug with fringe on it, I can’t resist the urge to comb it—with an actual comb, if available—so that it lies perfectly straight).

Thanks for not helping me with my homework in grade school. I know that I was annoyed by that at the time, it taught me how to think on my own, learn from my mistakes and stand by the things that I put my name on.

Thanks for the Friday nights that you let us pile into bed with you and watch TV while we shared a big bag of popcorn. Those were some of my favorite times, even though Michael never sat still and I got mad that he interrupted the shows.

Speaking of Michael: thanks for making sure that I didn’t kill him when we were little. I kind of like having him around now (Also, I don’t understand how you handled two kids under two. One wears me out sometimes).

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One of the few photos of the three of us that I have, where we aren’t making the most awkward faces.

Thanks for dropping off my graphing calculator that time I forgot it in high school. I was mortified when you walked down the hallway yelling my name, while wearing your rattiest pajamas and pink foam curlers in your hair. But, I’m pretty sure that ended up being one of the few math tests that I actually passed.

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This look is actually less embarrassing than the one described in the above incident.

Thanks for holding our family together when things felt like they were falling apart. I still think back on those times and just don’t know how you did it. No one has more grace in stressful situations than you do.

Thank you for forgiving me when I became a bratty teenager and said the most horrible things to you. It was probably easiest to take my frustrations out on your because I knew you loved me unconditionally. It wasn’t nice and you didn’t deserve it. I’m sorry.

Thank you for making me take out those student loans in college. Like the no-help-with-homework thing, I found it annoying at the time. But, it helped me build my credit, realize that my education was a huge investment that I had to take seriously and taught me a thing or two about managing money when the time came to start paying them back.

Thank you for helping me be independent enough to make my own decisions but connected enough to know that you are only a phone call away when I need you. When something good happens to me, you are one of the first people I tell. When life is too much to handle, I call you so that you can tell me everything will be okay. And, you always answer (okay, maybe you don’t always answer because you have trouble working even the most basic cell phone sometimes. But, you call me right back and that’s all that matters).

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Thanks for being the best Granny to B. When I found out I was pregnant, one of the things that I was most excited for was that you would get to be a grandmother. I love how her eyes light up when she sees you. There are many days that I still feel guilty that I went back to work after she was born, but knowing that she is with you makes me feel a bit better. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you are willing to spend five days a week with her. Hopefully it’s not as stressful as dealing with the craziness at the bank. I’m looking forward to all of the memories that we will make with her as she grows up.

I’m sure that there are loads of things I’m forgetting, but the point is this: if I can even be half the mom to my children that you were to me and Mike, then I think they will turn out alright.

You are the best. Enough said. Even at 31, I still need you. And, I’m sure that I always will.

Love,

Lauren

Little B: Eight Months

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As usual, we have had a busy month!

B is now eating solids three times a day. While we still are making some purees, we have been incorporating more finger foods since she is definitely eager to feed herself and sometimes will only eat if she is in control of the spoon. I know it’s important for her to gain some independence, so I try to ignore the mess on her face, clothes, hair and the floor surrounding the high chair.

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Her table manners need work

New foods this month included mangos, yogurt, rice cakes, cantaloupe, Cheerios and bits of cheddar cheese. She also tried, but was not at all keen on, asparagus and pasta (what the heck?! She’s part Italian!). The Cheerios are, by far, her favorite. If they don’t show up on her tray at every meal, she cries until she sees that yellow box come out of the cabinet.

In terms of other milestones, her two, bottom front teeth finally broke through! I had been able to see the outline of them since she was born, but was beginning to think that they would never make their appearance. There were a few days where she seemed extra fussy and spent a lot of time chewing on Sophie the Giraffe, but fortunately, we did not have any major disruptions to her normal routine (including sleep!). Hopefully, we are this lucky as the rest come in.

She still has shown no interest in crawling forward. I don’t mind, though, because the backwards scoot is endlessly entertaining to me. If she is on her belly, she can pull herself into a sitting position and she uses people (and, as of yesterday, the crib and couch at my mom’s house) like a jungle gym to pull herself into a standing position.

Waving is one of her favorite skills to show off. She pumps her arm vigorously up and down whenever someone enters or leaves a room and whenever we visit with the “baby in the mirror.” She responds to her name and has added a few new sounds to her repertoire, including “da,” “pa” and “ra.” When she gets sleepy, she closes her eyes and babbles to herself. Like the doting parents that we are, Chester and I praise her for nearly everything she does. We say “Yay for B!” and she breaks into the most adorable, shy smile and soaks it all up.

Her least favorite things at the moment are having her face wiped and diaper/clothes changed. I think she hates having to stay still for these tasks, and no amount of songs, peek-a-boo or goofy smiles and noises can distract her. Now that it’s warmer and we have the windows open more, I can’t imagine what the neighbors think is going on in our house.

We had a lot of fun celebrating B’s first Easter last month. She fell asleep during mass, but woke up in time to participate in her first Easter egg hunt (By which I mean that I carried her around, filled her bucket with eggs and then helped myself to the chocolate inside). She received FOUR Easter baskets from various family members, all of which were overflowing with books, toys, and other treats. Spoiled much?

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the day:

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One of her Easter baskets, from Grauntie


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Considering the spoils of the egg hunt

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She is such a love!

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High-Fives for Uncle Mike

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Predictably, the big yellow box was her favorite present

The best part of my day is when I walk through the front door at 5:30 p.m. and am greeted by my smiling, bouncing baby girl. I miss her like crazy during the day, and live for the couple of hours at night where we play, read stories, and catch up on snuggles. She is learning and doing so much, so quickly, these days. It’s hard not to dwell on the fact that I will might miss some of the big milestones coming up, like her first steps or first words. I keep meaning to ask my mom not to tell me if she does these things while I’m at work. Maybe then I can trick myself into thinking that she is just waiting for me to witness all of her big firsts.

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Enjoying a nice day in the city, in her big girl stroller

We have another busy month ahead of us, including Little B’s first plane ride to Boston to celebrate Original Bridget’s graduation from her PhD program. Yes, I am breaking my own rule of not traveling with a child until they can drag their own suitcase through the airport. But, B just seems to love being out and about on adventures lately. I’m optimistic that she will do well on this short trip and she will become my and Chester’s travel buddy sooner rather than later. Stay tuned!