Posts Tagged ‘Vacation’

August 25, 2013

Airborn Toddler

Yesterday was our first cross-continental flight with a toddler. It was safe to say I was a more than a little nervous about it. Dreading it might be a more apt description. Flying with toddlers is rumored to be more difficult than flying with babies (they have opinions and preferences now! And remaining seated and still and using indoor voices are typically not among them.) Our last east coast venture resulted in a diaper blowout during each leg of our return trip. What would be in store for us this time? The answer was not much.

Here’s what I learned about flying with a toddler.

There are a 101 ways to entertain a toddler with plastic cups. Wowza. We asked for a spare cup thinking it would make a good snack bowl to help keep the mess contained. Nicki loved the concept and was grabbing puffs with doubled handed glee the way some of us (*cough* me *coungh*) eat popcorn. At one point we started mixing snacks – cheerios AND gold fish crackers. The novelty of the different snack combinations in the same bowl fascinated Nicki.

snack bowl

We also turned the plastic cup into toys. We put them on her feet like shoes and “hid” things in them. At one point we were holding them to our faces to make funny sound. Hearing Nicki ‘sing’ muffled by the cup? Priceless. They were great distractions and a source of entertainment for both of us!

You can get away with packing a lot less stuff than you think you need, and you will be grateful you did. Nicki’s at that stage where she’s walking, but can’t walk the length of the airport. So we had to carry her, our bags and the car seat. Everything seems twice as heavy when you’re stressed.

We opted not to bring many diapers again since they’re bulky. I brought a day and a half’s worth, all overnights to minimize the number of necessary diaper changes, with the intention of picking up some more at the store first thing in the morning. The downside to this approach was the local drug store didn’t have the brand and style of diapers we prefer (Huggies Snug and Dry tend to fit Nicki best, we’ve only had three blowouts, including the two from our last flight, since 4 weeks old.) But holy mother of expensive! I guess I now know why all those online diaper cost analyses are so high.

We also mostly passed on toys since they didn’t really keep Nicki’s interest for long last time we flew cross country. The name of the game was small and easy to tuck away into the corners of our suitcase. Daddy bought some new squirting bath toys which we served us well for both bath time in the hotel and a non-bulky distraction on the plane. We also brought the headbands she likes to play with. That was it. For in flight entertainment we let her destroy the sky mall magazine and put the extra plastic cups to good use.

The only thing we found really necessary to pack for Nicki was clothes and food for the plane. Toddler food, baby sun tan lotion, diapers and wipes tend to be sold everywhere. Even our hotel gift shop sells baby sun tan lotion.

The Miami International airport is deceptively long. The extra cost of buying diapers in the convenience store this morning was worth it.

Do not, repeat NOT, feed the baby solid foods the day before the flight.

Happy Little Frequent Flyer

I thought I was being all clever putting Nicki in overnight diapers for the plane. Airplanes have such small changing tables in the restrooms, and with the possibility of turbulence I thought we the extra time an overnight diaper might buy us might be a necessity to get us to our layover destination. What I did not count on was poop. Oh, and there was poop. Lots of poop. On both legs of our trip. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Overtired parents

The day started out way too early. We had a 7:30 am flight, which would not be a problem pre-baby. When I booked the flight, however, I forgot that it generally takes us (or at least me) 2 hours from waking-up to out-the-door these days. I also forgot that the airport is about an hour away and that we were up late last night finishing up packing (and laundry and dishes, etc.) It was also the Saturday before New Years, one of the busiest travel days. Mommy did not plan the start of our travel day well, and she paid for her mistake with sleep deprivation.

Fussy baby won’t sleep.

Our trip out east went beautifully. Nicki fell asleep on the first leg of the flight, and was in a well rested happy mood on the second leg. (If she was going to only have one good travel day, I’m glad it was the one out east! Otherwise, our whole trip I’d be worrying about the return.)

This time? I knew we were in trouble when we had to wake Nicki up to go to the airport. She was so comfy and warm in her sleeper, and so unhappy about having to get out and have her diaper changed. Overtired and fussy, she wasn’t happy about the long security line to check a bag.

Nicki usually falls asleep when being rocked. The light vibrations of the car can also do it. She fell asleep during takeoff during our first flight. Since the flight was so smooth, she didn’t stay asleep and couldn’t go back to sleep. Once she was up, she was up. And cranky.

It wasn’t until we arrived at Las Vegas and I got out the ergo that she took a little cat nap on me. And by little I mean just enough that she wouldn’t fall asleep on the second flight until we were halfway through our final descent. She stayed asleep until our luggage came off the carousal. This second cat nap was just long enough to keep her from going to sleep on the drive back to the house. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s one ten minute name, one half hour nap, and one 15 minute name.

Fussy Baby won’t nurse

Another thing that went well on the trip out was nursing. It was my first time nursing outside the house, and also my first time nursing with a nursing cover. Neither seemed to bother Nicki. She was a champ. We had expressed breastmilk and formula (first time mom is always over prepared!) The formula was never used, but the expressed breastmilk looked like it was going bad well before the four hour mark, so we decided to skip expressed breastmilk for the flight home.

This time? She wasn’t having any of it. Not one drop. We tried to nurse four separate times. Not only did she refuse, but she would grab and pull at the cover while screaming at the top of her lungs. If anyone at the airport didn’t know we were trying to nurse, they did after that! Good thing Domingo insisted we bring four bottles of emergency formula. She consumed the fourth and final bottle on the drive from the airport home.

Lessons Learned

(1) Don’t plan the flight too early. The day runs much better when the baby gets a full night of sleep.
(2) Overnight diapers are the way to go (but they aren’t full proof.)
(3) New toys only help for a few minutes. Keep a set of five toys (new or not) and cycle through them to keep baby distracted.
(4) Try not to take the baby out of the carrier close to landing, she will not want to go back into it!
(5) Relax. Much like weddings, something will go wrong no matter how much you plan. It wasn’t all bad, and now she is sleeping quite soundly.

August 9, 2011

Returning Home

We’re finally home! Actually we were home for two days between China and Las Vegas – but that’s splitting hairs. Our overnight flight from China landed at around 10am, after 14 hours of flying and a four hour layover in Japan. I made the rookie travel mistake of thinking “I’ll just take a cat nap”. I woke up five hours later. It took me until Tuesday to really adjust back to California time, just in time for our trip to Vegas.

(Photos from the trip in our family album)

China was fun. We were there for the SIGIR conference, but managed to take an extra day to sight see. (We had to see the great wall, I mean how often to get to go to China?!). It was my conference, so Domingo relaxed and spent most of the day working in the hotel room. Next, we were in Vegas for Domingo’s conference, and it was my turn to hang out in the hotel all day working on my paper. I had a paper deadline which I needed to focus on. To add insult to injury, this was the view from the hotel.

Yes, the Vegas gods were mocking me.

We did manage to see a few shows in the evening. I love Cirque du Soleil! I love Vegas, but jeepers is it expensive. Our trip to the great wall, which included 4 hour round trip transportation, guided tour of the Ming tombs and lunch cost less than any of the shows we say in Vegas!

The iPad ended up being very worth it, even the $100 case came in handy. We only took it to China (editing a 9 thousand word paper on an ipad would have driven me insane!). I got a few important emails while we were out that I needed to respond to, and the keyboard made it much easier. The iPad also made for a great entertainment device on the plane. I had plenty of games and video lectures to keep me entertained. With fourteen hours in the air, that’s a huge deal. It was small enough that it fit easily on the tray table, even when I had the case folded to look like a laptop. I almost snapped my laptop in two a few years ago when the person in front of me decided to recline and the tray table lip caught the top of my computer. Not cool.

March 13, 2011

Hawaiian Adventure

We’re back from our vacation to Hawaii. It was great! Warm weather, warm water beaches. Seriously why can’t California’s beaches ever get that warm? We returned to the same location as last time, even the same hotel since it was just a stone’s throw from the beach.

(Photos in our family album)

We were there for a week, flying back on Saturday. We got to the hotel early Thursday night (around 8ish). We wanted to get up early the next day to drive to the valley of the temples. Domingo had his Droid and was checking the news when I was putting together our final plans for our final day. Earthquake! A 9.0 had rocked Japan. We immediately turned on the news, which was already talking about a possible Tsunami for Hawaii. The watch turned into a warning, and we were instructed to stay put in the high rise hotel.

We had five hours to prepare. We knew we were safe in the hotel, the tsunami that hit Hawaii would be no where near the size of the one in Japan. The news had emphasized that the hotels in the popular tourist areas were we were were well equipped and preformed drills to prepare for Tsunami. Still, I think it would be foolish to stay Domingo and I weren’t at least a little nervous about the Tsunami. The video from Japan was heartbreaking, and the same geological event that caused their tsunami was sending another one towards on. The civilian defense sirens were going off every hour, and the police bull hard telling people to seek shelter were not exactly settling.

The Tsunami ended up bouncing between the islands, so even though the main wave was gone we weren’t aloud out of our hotel until about 7:40am, and not in the water until 11:56. Once the adrenaline had passed, we enjoyed a peaceful final day, even if it meant we didn’t get to visit the valley of the temples.