Tuesday, September 30, 2014

First family vacation (and plane, and beach!)

And we're back!

Hans asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate my birthday (it was kind of a big one... let's call it 29 Part II) and I said I wanted to take a vacation with just our little family. Being the wonderful husband that he is, he whisked us away for the perfect week in Southern California.
This was Em's first plane ride and Hans and I were both pretty nervous about it. If you're a total newbie at the flying-with-infant game, maybe you can learn from our experience. It didn't go terribly for us, but we definitely made a few missteps on the flight there that we corrected on the way back.

  • For most airlines, a stroller and a car seat do NOT count as your carry-on or checked baggage. So you can bring those for free. We decided not to check either of them because I was worried about damage to them. I have had friends that checked their stroller and got pieces snapped off or found little cracks in their carseats. So we decided to gate check.
  • We bought a little bag that has wheels to put the car seat in. This was to help protect it as well as make it easier to navigate around the airport. I can't imagine lugging that thing around without the bag.
  • Since Em was only 18 months at the time of flying, we opted to save $$ by taking her as a lap infant. This is despite the fact that everything we read said the safest way for infants to fly is strapped into their car seat. So here's what we did: When we got to the gate, Hans talked to the agent to ask if there were any free seats and if we could bring the carseat on and put it in an available seat. Our plan was to just gate check if nothing was available, but on both flights we were able to bring it and they even moved seats around a bit so we could all sit together. Em freaked out during the first flight, so we only had her in the car seat during take off and landing, but on the way home she stayed in it happily for the whole flight.
  • Bring plenty of snacks and drinks. It's no secret that going up and down can be hard on the ears, especially little ones. We had her eat and drink both times (again, on the second flight!) and she did great. I brought a water bottle (empty) and added water once we were through security. You can bring baby food (and breastmilk and formula!) even over the limit, you just have to declare it to the agent. I had several Plum pouches and the agent said it was fine.
  • Despite my preference for non-electronic activities for my little one, I gotta say that the iPad saved our lives on this flight. She spent most of the flight there watching Lilo and Stitch and most of the ride back watching Curious George. I had downloaded several apps for her, but she only seemed to like Sago Mini Monsters (we played that one a lot!) and Monkey Lunchbox (really loved it, but got a little frustrated that she couldn't quite get the hang of it).
Our main mistake on the first flight was that we had her looking at the window as we took off. She was all excited as we taxied down the runway, but as soon as we left the ground she got so scared. She clung to me whimpering for the next two hours, even after we shut the window and moved her away from it. Every time she looked toward the window, she cried. On the return flight, we kept the window shut from the second we got on the plane and we kept her sufficiently distracted (Annie's Cheddar Bunnies are our secret weapon) during takeoff so she wouldn't realize we were climbing altitude. Has anyone else experienced this? It's amazing the things that scare our little ones that we wouldn't expect. 

Altogether flying wasn't the miserable experience I was expecting. It's definitely different from breezing through solo and sleeping on the plane. But manageable. 

And the best part? In just a few hours we were in glorious California. We spent about half the trip just hanging at the beach. At first Em didn't like it much - the waves kind of scared her as they rushed up. To be fair, the tide was very strong and the water pretty choppy. We bought some clearance beach toys at Target and that worked wonders! As much as she didn't want to go near the water, she was determined to fill her little watering can with water.
Aw, such a sad face. Poor sad baby wants water but doesn't want to get in the water.
No mama, I didn't eat any sand...
Starting a rock collection with Bapa
Oh good. Mud in the hair.

Stay tuned for more fun from our trip!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Love list: Pumpkin Everything

Ah, it's getting to be that time of year again. It's cooling down outside and that means sweaters and boots and hot cocoa and fires are just around the corner. It also means that Pinterest looks likes this...


All kidding aside, I'm guilty of being a little too obsessed with pumpkin everything. It's one of my favorite things about fall! So today's Love List is dedicated to the season of pumpkins. Bring on that orange-y goodness

1. Bath and Body Works Pumpkin Cafe
Em and I went in and smelled all the pumpkin candles last week. I wanted to buy them all, but managed not to. I couldn't even pick a favorite, but I narrowed it down to Spiced Pumpkin Cider and Pumpkin Cupcake. I didn't see the sugared donut or marshmallow ones there, but I bet those are good! Guess I'm just gonna have to get them all :)

2. My mom's pumpkin cookies
These are up there in the runnings for best cookies of all time. The recipe is hiding in my email... I may have to post it one day. They are so soft and delicious. Yum. Now I need to make some.

3. Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte
As good as Starbucks' pumpkin spiced lattes are, a). they are expensive and b). they have way more calories than necessary. I've been making them at home (trying different recipes, they all seem about the same!) and they are so tasty!

4. Jamba Juice Pumpkin Smash
This is one of my favorite things ever. Seriously. I look forward to it every year. It is worth the drive. And the cost. And the calories. If you've never tried it, you MUST!

5. Pumpkin Enchiladas
We tried this recipe from Fry Sauce and Grits the other night and there were no leftovers. And I have request from both the hubs and the brother to make it again soon. Between the pork and the pumpkin sauce, it both tastes and feels light. You don't get that heavy, greasy feeling that you sometimes have after eating enchiladas. And it's really nice to enjoy the savory side of pumpkin, too.

Bonus: Five pumpkin recipes I need to try!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Spiritual Thought: Speaking of Jesus....

This past week, our Sunday School teacher was telling us about how when she and her husband moved to Texas for the first time, one thing that really surprised her was how common it is in the South for people to talk openly about Jesus. She said on their first date night out, an older couple struck up a conversation with them at dinner and invited them to attend their church. She said that in some ways it shamed her a little bit, because it made her wonder if she is that open and willing to talk to others about Christ.

I loved this story. I relate to this story. I am more than happy to speak of Christ in certain settings or when asked, but otherwise I often feel hesitant to start the conversation. Thanks, Sis. Whiting, for the encouragement.
So today I just want to leave you with my small testimony. I believe in Christ. He is my Savior, my Redeemer, my brother. He has done more for me than any man ever on this earth. He found me in my darkest moments and brought me into the light. Through his sacrifice, I was able to become clean and to continue to change and improve every day. I am so thankful for his love and for all he has done for me. I believe in Christ.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Just a glimpse

We are running around like maniacs getting ready for our trip, but here's what our life has looked like lately (according to my phone!)
This jumpy things are her very favorite.
First time trying the paint room. Messy, and awesome.
Fill, dump on floor, and repeat.
I just love Aubrey's face in this one. Like, "What the heck is wrong with this kid?"

In swim lessons she is learning how to blow bubbles and kick at the same time. It's really helping her keep her mouth shut underwater - thank goodness.
Delays bedtime with kisses. Smart girl.
Hans and I snuck out for a late night date last week. Yum! And yay for a built-in babysitter

More stall tactics. And they work. Because they're funny.
This is how she plays catch. I have no idea where this comes from, but when you tell her to put her arms out and catch, this is what she does. What the heck?
Yes. Just, yes. I love that cheesy grin.
Tried to take some Sunday selfies. No luck. 
Aloha, baby! Em is ready to party.
Party all day, erryday.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mama Monday: Flying with the kiddo

Happy, Monday everyone! Thanks to everyone who participated in our first giveaway. And the lucky winner is...

Sara Shawcroft!

Congratulations! I will be contacting you shortly to get your contact information to send the busy bag to you.

Today for Mama Monday I am seeking help from you traveling mommies out there. We are getting ready to take Punkito on her first plane ride and I am a little nervous about it. She's generally pretty well behaved in church, at restaurants, and on long car trips to Houston. I'm just having visions of her being THAT kid on the plane.

So I'm trying to put together a bag-o-goodies to help us survive. We will be bringing Em's busy bag, of course, and a ton of snacks. But we are also venturing into letting her use the iPad for the first time. We don't really let her use our iPad or iPhones much - mostly to listen to music or Facetime with her grandparents and that's about it. But if anything warrants tech help, it's a plane ride. Tonight I've been adding baby things to our iPad and so far I have:
  • A few episodes of Curious George
  • Lilo and Stitch (her current fav movie)
  • And a few apps recommended by friends
Sound touch
Sago mini monsters
Monkey lunchbox
Fisher Price Let's Count
Toca Boca Doctor
Wheels on the Bus
Fisher Price Funny Animals
Fisher Price All-In-One
Mommy friends, what other suggestions do you have? What are your little ones favorite apps? Thanks for your help, and wish us luck!