Love You Forever

I heard this saying recently, and it has really resonated with me: The days are long, but the years are short. As a mother of two young boys, my days are always long. Not in the sense that I get bored and have nothing to do–I don’t think any mom would claim that lie–but long in the sense that it is just one thing after another and never a moment to just breathe and soak it all in. But, at the same time, I look back at even a few months ago and I get nostalgic at how much my kids have grown and changed. The days are long, but the years are short.

Today I was having one of those “long” days. David was throwing an unbelievable temper tantrum over my refusal to let him accompany me outside in the freezing wind to scrub dog poop off of my shoe. I know, I’m a terrible mother. And when I came inside from my 3 minute foray with a scrub brush, his room suddenly looked like this:

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The screaming and the crying and the throwing of things was starting to make my blood boil. I could tell that we both needed to just calm down a bit, so after the screaming and the crying and the throwing of things subsided I invited David to cuddle up on his bed with me so we could read a story together. This is the book he chose:

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I’ve read this book probably a thousand times and yet, somehow, it still makes me cry every time I read it. I usually can make it until the last page before the tears start, but today was different. Maybe it was because Jacob’s been giving me the good ‘ol wakeup call at 5:00 every day for the past 2 weeks, or maybe it was just because I was emotionally spent from David’s last tantrum. For whatever reason, though, I opened the book and just started crying (confirming David’s suspicion that I really am a nut job).

You see, the book starts with this mother. She’s so in love with her baby boy. Every night she rocks him to sleep and as she does she sings, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” Sob.

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Then her boy grows. He gets into mischief and causes her grief (sound familiar?). But still, every night, she sneaks into her room and sings the same love song to her bigger boy.

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And that really got the waterworks going, because it so reminds me of my bigger boy:

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David insists on falling asleep with his bedroom light on so he can read books until he passes out. And every night I sneak into his room, pry the books out of his limp hands, cover him up, and kiss his sweet, peaceful face (I also usually snap a photo because he’s just so dang cute when he’s sleeping).

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Well, the book continues with the boy growing and changing and becoming a man–and still, the mother sneaks into his room at night and sings him her love song.

Then one day the mother is too old and frail to sing to her son any more. So instead, he holds his mother and sings the same love song to her. Gulp.

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And the story ends with the son returning home to his brand new baby girl, to whom he sings, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”

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Yes, indeed: The days are long, but the years are short.

When the story was over, David snuggled up to me and said, “I love you, Mommy.”

I love you, too, David.

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.

A Dozen Ingenious Ways To Entertain Your Kids At the Doctor’s Office

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I recently took Jacob to the doctor for his “well baby” check up and, as always, we had quite a wait for the doctor. It never ceases to amaze me that, even with an appointment, we can spend up to an hour waiting to actually do the checking-up that we are there for (which, by the way, only takes about 5 minutes of the doc’s time). With two kids under the age of 3, one hour of waiting can seem like an eternity. I’ve come up with a few ideas that help the time go a bit faster:

1. Blow up a (clean) exam glove and tie it off at the wrist. Use this as a balloon/ball/chew toy. For a little extra fun, you can fill it with water instead of air to make a squishy water balloon (it feels really neat! Just don’t let your kids chew on this one, please…).

2. Get a wooden tongue depressor and a paper cup from the exam room (they’re usually in plain view, so I consider them fair game for the taking). Poke the tongue depressor through the bottom of the cup–the cup can move up and down the stick, which is apparently quite entertaining to 9-month old babies.

3. Bring crayons and color on the paper exam table covering. There are lots of fun activities that you can do here:

  • Bring toy cars. Use the crayons you brought along to draw roads on the exam table for your cars to drive on.
  • If your kids are a bit older, you can play games like tic-tac-toe or hangman.
  • Trace your child’s body and let him color in his features, clothes, etc.
  • Draw shapes, letters, animals, etc. and have your child try to guess what you’re drawing before you finish it.
  • You (or your child) can objects that you find in the room (the bottom of a paper cup, your wallet, his shoe, etc.). Have your child decorate the shapes.
  • Draw 2 or 3 sketches of common objects and have your child make up a story that involves all of the drawn objects. Or, work together to come up with a sentence that uses all of the objects. If you have a reader, have him help you write the sentence below the pictures.

4. Read books.

5. Play with Play-Doh.

6. Bring a Ziploc bag of Legos and build something together.

7. Play doctor–this is even more fun if you are the patient and your child is the doctor

8. Eat a snack.

9. Have a scavenger hunt using the charts hanging on the walls: Who can find a picture of a hand? Who can find the letter E? Who can find a smiling baby?

10. Wad up some paper towels and have a “snowball” fight (lay out some ground rules first for this one or it may get a bit out of hand!).

11. Fill the sink or a paper cup with some water and play “sink or float”. Take turns putting small objects in the water (a cotton ball, a crayon, a paperclip, a penny). Guess if the object will sink or float, then put it in the water to see what happens.

12. And, if all else fails, hand over your iPhone and let them watch Blue’s Clues 🙂

May Day Paper Flower Craft

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Today is May 1st, otherwise known as May Day, otherwise known as ding-dong-ditch-flower-day. When I was growing up I loved the tradition of picking flowers from my mom’s garden then leaving them on our neighbors’ doorstep. We would ring the doorbell and then run away to hide behind a bush while we waited for the unsuspecting inhabitants to discover their floral offerings.

I wanted to introduce David to May Day this year but, unfortunately, I don’t have any flowers growing in my garden (or lack thereof). Unless you count dandelions, which are actually a weed. So, no, I don’t have any flowers to leave for my neighbors.

Instead, we decided to make our own bouquets. This is a simple craft that I used to do with my first graders. When I was working with the older kids (older being 6-year olds vs. my 2-year old) they could do this whole project on their own. David was able to help with parts of it, but I did the vast majority of the crafting. The bouquets turned out really cute, though, and I am so excited to deliver them this afternoon!

Flower Bouquet How-To:

  • Gather your materials. For each bouquet you will need:
    -1 sheet of green paper (I used green computer paper, but you could use any kind you have)
    -either one sheet of white paper (painted or colored with crayons/markers) OR scraps of colored paper (construction paper or scrapbooking paper would both work well)
    -a writing utencil: pencil, pen, crayon or marker
    -scissors
    -stapler
    -glue/glue stick
  • If you are painting your paper, go ahead and start painting. Use lots of colors and cover the whole page. I chose to do this instead of pre-colored paper because David enjoys painting and it’s one of the only steps in this craft that he could do independently.
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  • Let your paper dry completely. While it is drying, fold your green paper in half horizontally (“hot dog-style”). Starting at the fold, draw lines every half-inch or so to about 3/4 of the way down the page. Draw flower shapes on your (dry) colored paper. You could draw any type of flower that you like, but I just stuck with the classic daisy.
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  • Cut along the lines on your green paper, making sure not to cut all the way to the edge of the paper. Roll up the green paper with the un-cut end at the bottom to make a sort of tube. Secure the base with staples. Put your hand in the center of the “tube” and press the strips of paper out.
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  • Cut out your flowers and glue them to the ends of each stem.
  • Enjoy your beautiful bouquet!

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This would also make a cute gift for Mother’s Day. Hint, hint, Daddy!

Reasons My Kid Is Crying

Last week my sister-in-law sent us a link to this blog called “Reasons My Son Is Crying”. It’s pretty stinking hilarious. Basically, the boys’ parents just post photos of the ridiculous things that their toddler is crying over. It’s really funny but, the reality is, any parent of a 2- or 3-year old knows that life with a toddler is just a series of tantrums, almost-tantrums, and just-got-over-tantrums.

Since David throws a fit about once an hour, I thought it would be pretty easy for me to do my own post on the ridiculous reasons my kid is crying. Turns out, I was able to snap all of these photos in just a few days–piece of cake. And, since it’s a lot more fun to laugh at a crying kid than to join him, here are are the reasons why my kid was crying this week:

dontwantmyhoopdownstairsHe wants the net on his basketball hoop to be “tangled”.

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He wants the string off his balloon.

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He doesn’t want me to sing Jesus Loves Me.

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He wants me to put the basketball hoop in the other room.

youtookawaymyhoopHe doesn’t want his basketball hoop in the other room.

photo (2)He wants to throw his brother’s toys outside to the dog.

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He wants to sit on his bed (note that he is sitting on his bed).

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His basketball hoop doesn’t fit inside a box.

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Daddy tried to say “Hi” to him.

And, last but not least…

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The dog won’t sit for him.

It’s tough being a toddler, but somebody’s got to do it. Thanks for humoring us, David!

Easter Lily Handprint Craft

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I enjoy making gifts for the important people in my kids’ lives. Just a little something to show that we’re thinking of them and that we are grateful for all that they do for us. Easter seemed like a worthy occasion, so David and I went to work.

I used to make these Easter lilies with my first graders every Spring after we read the book The Parable of the Lily. It’s a wonderful story about how something ordinary and unexpected (like a flower bulb) can turn into something beautiful (like a lily). The story parallels the Easter story and has a great message about grace and forgiveness.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find my copy of the book this week, but I thought it would still be a fun little project for us to do together while baby brother was napping. David is still pretty young to do a project like this, so I ended up doing most of it. He helped out wherever he could, though–his favorite parts seemed to be helping to trace his hand and trying out the hole punch. Here’s how we made the lilies if you want to give it a go!

What you need:

  • white paper (I just used computer printer paper)
  • green paper (I used green copy paper, but construction paper or scrapbooking paper would work just as well)
  • small piece of yellow paper (or color a bit of paper yellow with a crayon)
  • crayon or pencil
  • scissors
  • tape
  • glue
  • hole punch

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What you do:

Trace your child’s hand onto the white paper. If you want to make more than one lily, you can fold the paper in half (or, if your child has tiny hands like mine, you can even fold it into quarters) before you trace so you can cut out multiple handprints from one piece of paper.

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Use the scissors to cut out the handprint. Then, use a pencil to curl each finger down.Roll the handprint into a tube shape and secure with a piece of tape.

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Use the hole punch to cut out small circles of yellow paper. Glue the yellow dots into the inside of the white handprint flower.


Roll a tube out of a strip of green paper–this will be your flower stem (you can make it as long and as wide as you want). Secure your paper tube with a piece of tape. Cut out leaves from your green paper scraps and tape them onto the stem. Put a dollop of glue on the bottom of your flower (“runny” glue works better than a glue stick for this part) and set the flower on top of the stem. Let your flower dry completely.

If you want, you can finish off your flowers with a card.

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Here are a couple of ideas for the text of the card:

1.
This isn’t just a lily
as you can plainly see.

I made it with my hand,
which God made a part of me.

It comes with lots of love
especially to say,
I hope you have a very
special Easter Day!

2.
A piece of me I give to you,
I used my thumb and fingers too,
To make this lily just for you.
It doesn’t smell, it doesn’t grow,
I made it because He loves us so.
Remember that on Good Friday,
Jesus died to wash our sins away.
They buried Him and 3 days passed,
He arose on Easter Sunday at last.

 

Ta-da! A beautiful and simple craft that will brighten anybody’s Easter!

 

How I Trick My Kids Into Doing What I Want Them To Do

I have this fantasy that some day I’ll wake up and my kids will just do what I ask them to do. Happily. Without running away or throwing an angry screaming fit about it (You want me to stop what I’m doing and wash my hands before lunch?! These sweaty sticky hands?! These grimy little hands that are busy throwing a basketball into my hoop for the 10,000th time today?! How dare you!!!). But, until that day, I’ll just trick them into obedience. Here are some of my favorite ways to throw them off guard just enough to make them do what I want them to do.

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Deception:
When I’m brushing David’s teeth or helping him floss I’ll say something along the lines of, “I bet I can open my mouth bigger than you!” or “Can you roar like a lion?” or “Can you make your mouth as big as a wide-mouthed frog?”. Then, when he’s got his mouth gaping open, I’ll rush in with the toothbrush and get the deed done.

Reverse Psychology:
“You can’t smile for the camera. Don’t do it! Noooooooo! Don’t you dare smile!”. And he smiles.

Say What?
When David is getting too loud my first inclination is usually to get louder. But what actually works better is a whisper. I’ll start whispering random things to him in an “excited whisper”–like what I’m saying is really important. He usually catches on after a few seconds and starts trying to listen to what I’m saying. The cutest thing is that when I’m whispering he always responds in a whisper, too. Now we’re having a whisper conversation instead of a shouting match!

Give them “choices”:
“Do you want broccoli or green beans with your dinner?” versus “Do you want vegetables with your dinner tonight?” (because, duh, no they do not want vegetables with their dinner tonight–but that doesn’t change the fact that they will get vegetables with their dinner tonight).

Make it a game:
When we have a particularly messy house (OK, we have a particularly messy house by about 4:00 every day) we’ll play “secret scrap” (or, in David’s case, “secret ball”). I’ll find a secret item that he has to find and put away, and if he does he gets a prize (usually a sticker or a hand stamp).
*Note: I don’t actually have a secret item in mind when we start the game. I just wait until I’m satisfied that things have been cleaned up and I tell him that the last thing he put away was the secret scrap.

Distraction:
The other day David was having a temper tantrum in the car (this happens quite often–you know, if I don’t sing the correct song or I don’t sing it in the correct way or I quit singing songs or I sing them too loudly or…).  I just shouted over the top of his protests “Look! A schoolbus! What color is that light over there? Hold your breath through the tunnel (really just a freeway overpass). How many square signs can you find?”–and I just kept going until he started answering my questions. Then he wanted me to ask more questions. So I did. And he answered them. Temper tantrum: over.

Competition:
David doesn’t have any older siblings and Jacob is still too young to be any competition yet. But David has an older cousin who he looks up to and adores. And sometimes I use that to my advantage: “Guess what? Cousin Noah uses a spoon and fork at the dinner table. He doesn’t even throw food when he’s at the table! In fact, I happen to know that cousin Noah keeps his face and shirt clean when he’s eating!”. Now David wants to use a spoon and a fork better than Cousin Noah and keep his face and his shirt cleaner.

Encourage them to exert their independence:
David is two-and-a-half, so feeling like a “big kid” is kind of a “big deal” these days. I’ll say things to him like, “Wow! You’re such a big boy now–I bet you can even help do the Velcro on your shoes like a big boy!”. And, you know what, usually he can.

Now, these are some handy little tricks of the trade, but they do not work 100% of the time. Even with those odds, though, I’ll take any help I can get!

Traveling With Bebe, Part 4: How To Get Through Your Flight (Plus 40 Activities To Entertain Your Baby or Toddler During The Flight!)

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Boarding and Take Off
They will usually invite families traveling with young children to board the plane first. Use your best judgment on this one. If you have a content little baby and think you’ll need some extra time to jockey you and your belongings into position, then go ahead and board early. But beware. If you have a crawler or a toddler who doesn’t like to sit still for more than two micro-seconds, stay in the comfort–and space–of the airport for as long as possible before boarding the plane.

If you are lucky enough to be bringing your car seat onto the plane with you, try to set it up in the window seat so you’re not blocked in. If you’re bringing baby on your lap, most airlines will allow you to keep him strapped into an infant carrier during the flight (with the exception of takeoff and landing times).

During takeoff, try to have your baby sucking or chewing on something. This will help their tiny ears adjust to the air pressure changes. You can nurse your baby, give baby a bottle or a pacifier, or have your toddler chomp on chewy snacks. An added benefit to nursing during takeoff: baby may actually fall asleep. Hello, peaceful flight!

If your little one still gets plugged ears during the flight, try the “cups method” for popping their ears:
-Get two plastic cups (one for each ear), some boiling water and a few paper towels. Just ask your flight attendant for these supplies–they’ll hook you up!
-Dampen the paper towels in the boiling water and place one inside each cup
-Hold the cups containing the dampened towels over the ears for a few minutes.
The steam from the boiling water will generate a small pressure vacuum that will unblock the ears and help relieve pain.

During The Flight
Your baby’s age and mobility-level will determine a lot of what will make your flight time go smoothly. If you have an infant (under 5 months old) who can’t really move yet, your flight should be pretty easy. He’ll probably fall asleep during takeoff or at some point early in your flight with all of that lovely white noise that goes on in an airplane.

If you have a baby who is able to roll over and/or sit (approximately 5-7 months), he’ll probably be content sitting on your lap for a good chunk of time. You can entertain him with songs, books, ripping pages out of those magazines that are in the seatback in front of you. You can nurse him (or give him a bottle) and he may even doze off. If he starts to get fussy, you can bounce with him in the aisles or walk back to the galley with him (usually the flight attendants will take pity on you and let you hang out in their space).

If you have a crawler–or, God forbid, a walker–good luck. That’s all I have to say, because it’s probably going to be a rough flight. Babies who are mobile but have not yet attained an attention span of more than 1 minute are very difficult travel companions. They want to move, and being strapped in to a car seat or a baby carrier for hours on end is not their idea of a happy day. Bring lots of yummy snacks, new books and toys that they haven’t seen before, and a lot of patience. Be prepared to spend a good portion of your flight walking up and down the aisles and/or sitting cross-legged in your seat so your baby can play in the 4 square inches of floor space at your feet. And, if all else fails, just remind yourself that it will all be over soon and you’ll be enjoying that special place that you’re traveling to!

Here are some of my favorite activities to entertain a baby or toddler while on the plane:

  1. Read books
  2. Sing songs and lap bounces
  3. Recite Nursery Rhymes (brush up on these ahead of time)
  4. Do finger plays with the accompanying hand motions
  5. Eat special snacks (I’ve heard that a ring pop can entertain a 2 year old for hours)
  6. Play with window decals on the window (find them on clearance after holidays)
  7. Color with crayons
  8. Magna Doodle
  9. Paint with “Magic Paper” that turns colors when you paint with water (Crayola Color Wonder and Color Magic)
  10. Play with wiki stix
  11. Play with clay or play dough
  12. Play with sticker activity books
  13. Do a lacing project
  14. Play with apps on your iPhone or iPad (I hear the “Duck Duck Moose” and “Peekaboo Wild/Farm/Forest” ones are great)
  15. Watch movies or TV shows on your iPhone or iPad
  16. Go to the bathroom and make silly faces in the mirror
  17. Make a shaker out of two plastic cups taped together at the “mouths” and filled with airplane peanuts (your flight attendant will probably have all of the necessary supplies)
  18. Play with magnet sets
  19. Sort snacks or toys into piles (based on color, size, shape, type, etc.)
  20. Let them braid my hair
  21. Before you leave for your trip, make an “I Spy Bottle” to play with
  22. Draw pictures for your little one and make up stories to go with them
  23. Crumple up and tear paper
  24. Draw letters, shapes, etc. and have your little one trace them
  25. Play with toy cars and airplanes
  26. Do a puzzle
  27. Read the airplane safety pamphlet together and locate all of the exits on your plane, practice buckling seat belts, etc.
  28. Play with Legos
  29. Play Peek-A-Boo
  30. Count things
  31. Visit with other passengers (only the ones who invite you…some people on planes really don’t appreciate happy visits)
  32. Play with ice cubes in an empty cup
  33. Make origami or paper fans with pages from a magazine
  34. Do seat exercises with your baby
  35. Use pipe cleaners to create models of shapes, animals, etc.
  36. Play with a flashlight (yes, there’s an app for that)
  37. Use your camera (or the camera on your phone) to take silly photos of yourselves
  38. (Before or after your flight) Visit the captain in the cockpit (you may even get one of those cool “wings” pins)
  39. Crinkle water bottles
  40. Play “guess which hand it’s in” (“It” can be a snack–if they guess correctly, they get to eat it)

One other little note here. Most people on the plane will be compassionate to your cause and they’ll be willing to help you out if needed. The flight attendants are usually very helpful and will bring your baby juice or water for her bottle, and some will even stop to play with her or hold her so you can go to the bathroom. So, when your baby starts fussing and you start to stress out, just relax. You’re not the only one who’s ever brought a crying baby on a plane and most of the other people remember the days when THEY were the ones holding the crying baby (or are thanking their stars that they are not yet the one who has to hold a crying baby).

Well, that’s it for my tips on flying. Tomorrow we leave for Ireland with baby J, so hopefully I can take my own advice and have a smooth flight! I’ll do another post after we get back from Ireland to let you know how all of this played out on an international flight. I may be MIA on the blog for the next week or so while we’re traveling, but I’ll be sure to update with lots of photos and fun stories when we return. Until then, Bon Voyage!

Traveling With Bebe, Part 3: Getting Through The Airport

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Yesterday I showed you how I pack for a trip. Today, we get to go on the trip–hooray! I love traveling, but I have to admit it–traveling with kids can be a bit challenging. I used to look forward to the plane ride when I’d get 3 hours all to myself to catch up on reading all of those celebrity magazines that I only read when I’m at an airport. Now, I get to spend travel time anxiously anticipating my child’s every potential need and/or desire before they realize it and throw a temper tantrum at 30,000 feet. Or, I get to spend 3 hours bouncing a baby up and down the aisles as I get nasty stares from that old man who wants to leave his foot dangling out in the walkway right where I can trip over it. Yes, traveling with kids is exhausting and it tests your will as a parent, but in the end it’s always worth the effort. And, there are things you can do to make things go more smoothly for everyone. Today we’ll focus on getting through the airport so you can actually make your flight!

Arriving At The Airport
Always allow a bit of extra time when you’re traveling with kids. It will take you longer to physically move through the airport with little ones and all of their accompanying “stuff”. Plus, you’ll want some extra time to feed, do diaper changes, and run off some energy before your flight. I always bring a small stroller with me, even for my toddler who can walk, because sometimes it’s just easier (or necessary) to strap a kid in and run to your gate. I also try to check in for my flight and print our boarding passes before I arrive at the airport. As long as we’re not checking any bags, this allows us to go straight to security when we arrive–this gives us one less line to wait in and a few more minutes to get where we need to be by the time we need to be there.

Getting Through Security
Getting through airport security with a baby is a bit like competing in a triathlon: it requires training, endurance, speed, and the ability to perform a number of ridiculous tasks. I’ve got this down to a bit of a science now. I always bring baby’s car seat and stroller with me to the gate because you can check them there for free. Plus, if there happens to be an empty seat on your flight, they’ll let you bring the car seat ON the plane so you can let baby have his own seat next to you for free (this will give you empty arms and your baby will have a chance to take a nap in his own space. Glorious.).

The trickiest part of going through the airport with little ones is security because you have to put EVERYTHING through the metal detector (including strollers and car seats, baby not included). Here’s what I do for the baby: I bring a snap-and-go stroller with my “personal item” (a diaper bag) stored underneath it and the car seat snapped on top. When I flew by myself, I decided not to check a bag so I brought a nice rolling suitcase that I could drag behind me. I put the baby in the Ergo carrier as soon as I got out of the car so I could walk through security and not have to jostle him out of the car seat there (I have never had a problem leaving him in the Ergo through the security section, but maybe some airports will make you take baby out for further inspection. Perhaps junior is carrying a samurai sword under his onesie–you just never know).

Once at the security checkpoint, look for a family line. Some airports take pity on parents lugging children through the airport and they give you a little star treatment with a special, shorter line. Kind of like a fast pass at Disney–but instead of flying on Dumbo at the end, you get to walk through the magical metal detector.

Now, get a whole stack of those bins that you’re supposed to empty your pockets into. Excuse yourself to the impatient lady standing behind you, and take over the floor. If you plan on carrying baby through the metal detector in your arms, lay down a blanket or your jacket and set her down in one of the bins so she doesn’t roll away as you’re getting everything ready. Put the diaper bag in one bin. Put your liquids and any other questionable materials in another bin (by the way, if you’re traveling with a baby you are allowed a certain amount of liquid formula or breast milk through security, and I think even some water for you to drink as a mom. Check with your airline or the TSA website for more details). Put your shoes (I hope you’re wearing slip-ons or flip-flops, because good luck untying your shoes with a baby already strapped to your chest!), jacket, loose change, watch, etc. in another bin. Fold up the stroller and put it upside down on the conveyor belt. Make sure the handle is all the way down on your car seat (it won’t fit through the “security tunnel” if it’s not just right) and put it on the conveyor belt. Put your suitcase and all of your bins on the conveyor belt. *Make sure you got your baby out of that bin if you haven’t already!* Run back and forth like a mad-man trying to push all 30 of your items through the conveyor belt so you don’t cause a back-up. Hold baby, and walk calmly through the metal detector–no need to alarm anyone at this point. Yay, you did it! Now, go retrieve your pile of items that have already started spilling onto the floor on the other side of the conveyor belt and start putting everything back together again. Whew!

At The Gate
After you get through security, the rest is pretty easy. Get to your gate a bit early and check to see if they have any empty seats so you can bring your car seat on with you. This will make a world of difference, so it’s always worth checking once you’re there.

If you have a crawler or a toddler, encourage him to run/jump/climb/dance down the hallways–whatever it takes to burn some energy before the long flight ahead. Get a snack or a meal. Change diapers and use the potty yourself–bathroom runs and diaper changes mid-flight are difficult at best. Basically, do anything now that you’re not going to be able to do once you’re on the plane.

We’re almost to the good part now: actually flying to your destination. Check back tomorrow for my tips on flying with your little one!

Traveling With Bebe, Part 2: Pre-Travel Arrangements and Packing

IMG_2635Booking Your Flight
Try to schedule your flight for a good time of day for you and your baby. I have found that it’s best to assume the baby will not nap on the plane, so plan accordingly (nap time + no nap = fussy baby, so try to avoid in-flight nap times). Try to schedule your flight for the morning so you can arrive in your destination before baby’s usual nap time. Or, if you still get 2 solid naps out of your little one, you can try the evening after nap #2, but still try to arrive before baby’s usual bed time. Obviously if you have a really long flight this logic won’t work, so just try to travel at the time of day when your baby is usually happiest (for us, that’s the morning).

If you can choose your seats ahead of time and will be traveling with a “helper”, choose two seats together (the best scenario is to find a row with only 2 seats so you don’t have to split the row with a helpless stranger). I like to sit on the aisle so I can get out easily to tend to baby’s needs, but some people prefer the window seat so they can entertain baby with the view. Also, the back of the plane is usually more kid-friendly–fewer passengers choose the back of the plane so there are usually more empty seats and you’re closer to the bathroom (for diaper changes) and the galley (if you need to stand up and bounce baby around for awhile).

If you will be having a layover, always opt for the longer time over the shorter time (i.e. take the 90 minute layover instead of the 60 minute). It takes longer to get from point A to point B when you’re carting along a stroller, car seat, diaper bag, carry-on, and an infant. Plus, you’ll want some extra time to do diaper changes, use the bathroom, get snacks, and get some wiggles out before the next leg of your journey. Short layovers always induce panic, so just don’t do it.

If you are traveling with a baby under age 2, It’s also a good idea to call your airline the week before you travel to confirm that you will be traveling with a lap infant. That way they can ensure there will be an extra oxygen mask at your seat and that you are seated in an appropriate spot (babies aren’t allowed in exit rows).

Packing
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare–you travel to some far-flung destination with your child, everyone arrives safe and sound, and then you realize that you forgot IT. You know, that one thing that your child NEEDS to survive, that thing that you NEED for your sanity, that very important thing that unless we find it NOW our entire trip will be RUINED!!!! So packing is very important. There are a lot of little things to bring with you when you’re traveling with young ones, and if you don’t pack them, nobody else will.

I have learned that I need to organize my packing well in advance of our travel. Otherwise, that shirt that I needed will be in the dirty laundry hamper or that baby food I needed will already have been eaten. I usually start packing bags about 3 days before we leave. This allows me to have everything I need in one spot, clean and organized. It also allows me a day or two to remember that thing that I forgot.

I keep a packing list stored as a document on my computer, then I print it off before I pack for a trip. Our list is broken down into what each member of our family (including the dog) needs for travel–whether we’re going for an over-nighter or a week-long vacation, we still need to bring most of the same things. If there is something on my list that I don’t need for this particular trip, I just cross it off my list before I start packing. If there is something additional I’ll need for this trip that is not on my usual list, I add it to the list before I start packing. As I’m packing, if I think of something else I might need, I also add it to the list. Then, after each item has been packed, I cross it off the list. Since I pack a few days ahead of time, there are usually a few items that have to be packed last minute (like our toothbrushes and my son’s “lovey” Mimi). I highlight those last minute items on my list and keep it with the bags. Then, at “the last minute”, I grab all of the highlighted items and toss them in the bags as we’re loading up the car. Yes, I realize that I sound really anal about all of this. But it works and I’ve never forgotten Mimi or my underwear.

And now, dear reader, you will get a glimpse into my wonderful world of packing. I don’t include our everyday clothes on this list because I pretty much know that we’ll all need pants and shirts while we’re traveling. Here is my essential packing list, well-refined from years of implementation:

Mom and Dad:

  • Camera
  • Meds and vitamins
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Laptop and charger
  • iPod and charger
  • Sunglasses
  • Hats
  • Running gear: shoes, pants, shirt, socks, bra
  • Swimsuit and flip flops
  • Nursing pads
  • Breastpump and bottles
  • Coats
  • Hair straightener and makeup
  • Sunscreen
  • Entertainment: books, load apps and music
  • Passports

Dog:

  • Food
  • Food bowls
  • Treats
  • Leash
  • Toys
  • Dog bed
  • Pills
Boys:

  • Diapers and wipes
  • Mimi and Gigi
  • Swaddling blanket
  • Extra baby blanket
  • Spit up rags
  • Baby monitor
  • Pac ‘N Play
  • Toys and books
  • Booster seat
  • Bibs
  • Baby food and spoon
  • Sippy cups
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Tylenol
  • Snot Sucker
  • Pacifier
  • Snacks
  • Diaper bag
  • Stroller
  • Ergo
  • Coats and hats
  • Copies of birth certificates
  • Passports

Before we leave:

  • Take out garbage
  • Empty diaper pails
  • Turn off heat
  • Check mail
  • Run dishwasher
  • Lights off
  • Doors locked
  • Garage closed

Prepping For Travel Day
Time is of the essence when you’re traveling with young children. You get about 1 minute per year of their age before some earth-shattering disaster erupts in their world. I try to make our time in the airport go as quickly–and as smoothly–as I possibly can.This means calling the airline a few days ahead of time to notify them that I’ll be traveling with a lap infant (and making photo copies of his birth certificate in case anybody actually questions that my 6-month old is actually older than 2).

This means checking into my flight and printing our boarding passes at home before we leave for the airport. This means practicing how I will carry all of our stuff through the airport (yes, I’ve actually been known to do a trial run in our house with the luggage before the big travel day). This means loading our car as much as possible the night before we leave and keeping good notes on what still needs to be packed so we don’t have any last-minute forgettings of vitally important equipment (like the time I had to wake two sleeping babies at 5 AM to rush a laptop to the airport). Anything you can do ahead of time to minimize time and stress on your travel day is time well spent!

Think ahead to what will *potentially* entertain your baby or toddler on the plane, and make sure you’ve packed it. Snacks are usually the best bet–especially if it’s a special treat that they don’t get to enjoy very often. Also pack a few novel toys that he’s not already bored with. And, if you have a 2-year old boy, maybe even stash some earplugs for you and your fellow passengers. Just sayin’.

Travel Apparel
What you wear on the plane will make a big difference in your comfort on travel day. Here is, in my opinion, the perfect outfit for flying with a baby:

photo (15)

  • A long-sleeved v-neck that is easy to pull down for nursing. Sleeves can be rolled up if it gets hot or pulled down if I’m feeling cold (temperature regulation on planes is always pretty wonky, so I like to dress in layers)
  • A nursing tank (underneath the t-shirt)
  • An extra-large scarf: it can keep me warm, I can pull it off and use it as a lap blanket if my legs get cold, it works as an on-the-go nursing cover, and it makes for a quick game of peek-a-boo if baby gets fussy. And it’s kinda cute.
  • Stretchy leggings that I can pull down easily to pee if I need to carry the baby in the Ergo with me into the cramped little airplane bathroom. Plus they’re oh-so-comfy.
  • Shoes that I can easily slip on with one hand during the security check. No laces, buttons, snaps, etc.
  • I’d probably also bring a light jacket with me in case things get really chilly.

For baby: Dress him in something comfy that is easy to take on and off (if you need to do an in-flight diaper change you’ll be glad you choose a no-fuss outfit). Think: elastic waistbands or zippered pajamas–leave the cute outfit with a thousand buttons in your suitcase.*Note* Not all airplanes have changing tables, so you may be doing mid-flight changes on your lap!

Now that you have your bags packed and your clothes laid out, you’re ready for travel! Check back tomorrow for my tips on getting through the airport with little ones.