Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Baby's First Plane Ride

We made it home safely from our trip to Boston last week, WHEW! We were so nervous about taking a 1-year-old (a usually cranky, and now mobile one) on a plane for a 5-6 hour flight. Fear plagued us for weeks before the trip, and we spent hours doing research, creating toys, and going over scenarios in our heads. Call us crazy, but we just didn't know what to expect! Long gone are the days of sitting on a plane and watching a movie, snoozing, and snacking on peanuts.

Our flight left Phoenix at 7am, which meant waking the baby at 4:30am to make it to the airport. Not fun, but luckily the night before we got her to bed at 6:30, so she didn't miss *too* much sleep. Once that girl is up, she is UP. And we didn't expect her to sleep on the plane, because that's just not her. We arrived at the airport early and got our tickets.
Morning sleepy fat-face!
I wore Pip in my Ergo the whole time, even though she got a little bored, hungry, and started to fuss. After getting our tickets, we went through security. We had packed so that Daniel could pull out all of our liquids and such while I dealt with the baby and the diaper bag. I forgot to do my part though, and I didn't pull out the medicine or snacks we had in the diaper bag... and they still went through just fine! (SIDE NOTE: My neighbor is a TSA agent and informed me that the actual liquid limit is 3.4oz, so our applesauce squeeze pouches were fine!) They didn't make me remove the baby when I walked through the metal detector, but a female agent did take me aside and swabbed my hands and tested them (what are they looking for?). We also had two full water bottles in the side pockets of my diaper bag, and once they passed through the x-ray machine, a TSA agent took me aside again to test them. All he did was put them into a little square machine, give it a few seconds to scan, and got an OKAY sign. Then he handed them back to me and said "Have a nice flight". That was WAY easier than we had expected!

Once we got to our gate (with an hour to spare), we let Pip out so she could walk around, eat, and look out the windows. She was already starting to get fussy, since she had been up for awhile! We pulled a parent card- and we gave her 1/2 tsp. of Benadryl. We had spoken to our doctor the week before about helping her sleep on the plane, and he recommended it. We weren't sure if it would work, but it was worth a try (DISCLAIMER: It is not recommended before age 1. Talk to your doctor before you do this!). Before we knew it, we were called to board- they board travelers with children SO early! Next time, I may opt out of boarding early, because it is easier to keep her entertained in the airport than in the small confines of a plane.

We left Pip in her pj's for the first flight and changed her at the airport before our second flight.
 When the plane took off, she calmed down- the white noise of flying seemed to help. The flight was packed- every seat was taken so we were unable to block an extra seat in our row. We had checked the car seat at the gate and just dealt with it. Pip spent some time looking around, eating a few snacks (Belvita biscuits, apple, protein bar), and she did begin to fuss a bit. Since we were in the back of the plane (when you travel with littles, sit in the back. You're near the bathroom, snacks, drinks, and there are usually other littles around!), there were a few babies around us that were Pip's age. One of them fell asleep and her mother offered us her DVD player with Baby Einstein videos on it... this helped for a good amount of time! Unfortunately, all the videos and games on our iPhone and iPad didn't work on the plane- such a bummer.
My two loves!
 Miraculously, she fell asleep in my arms for about 45 minutes! THANK YOU GOD. When she woke, we were descending into Minneapolis. We chose months before to do a layover- that way we could break up the long flight and give the baby time to run off some steam in between. Unfortunately, our layover only gave us enough time to use the bathroom and get to the next plane, and board 5 minutes later (again, maybe wait next time...). We didn't even have time to eat lunch- good thing we packed lots of snacks!

On this flight, we had to breakout the toys and distractions. We had a whole row to ourselves (YES!), but that still didn't convince her to sleep. We still can't decide if it was better or worse... the extra space was nice, but it almost gave her too much freedom and room to roam, that she was unhappy when we stopped her. We started with shoes and necklaces, which are always a hit. When she got bored of that, we read some books- she was so cute sitting in the chair between us sucking her thumb and looking at a book!

When these became boring, we pulled out our little *free* and genius toy... A plastic water bottle with 7 clothespins in it! Since Pip is 1 and is now working on concentration and fine motor skills, she LOVED this. It kept her busy for a good 15 minutes, and she would take a break for a few minutes and then go back to it! She would get frustrated occasionally and cry out for help, but then she would get it again. Still worth it. I highly recommend creating one of these if you have a 1-year-old (she loves it at home too). By the way, it feels strange packing a bunch of toys to play with while on a plane, but it has to be done!

I should also say that the water bottles we packed were for formula, and she did have a bottle off and on to calm her during the flight. BUT we also used them for us, because having an open drink on a plane with a baby = REALLY bad idea. I missed my tradition of getting a ginger ale on the plane... And don't spend your money on a coffee in the airport unless you can finish it before getting on the plane- too hard to juggle a hot drink and a baby who won't stop reaching for it.

Our other genius toy was the best $1 I ever spent... a pack of Mickey Mouse stickers from the dollar store. These were PERFECT for her age, since she is learning to do tasks and doesn't stick things (most things) in her mouth anymore. This kept her so quiet and focused. We just used the hard card stock that came in the pack as "paper" and handed her individual stickers to stick to it. Again, this got frustrating for her every once in awhile because the sticker stuck to her finger and she couldn't get it on the paper... baby problems (oh my, does she ever have my personality!). I also pulled a mom trick that egged my husband to say "Oh, I see what you did there..." and started ripping the stickers into smaller ones (to last longer) and use the "outer" white sticky part as well. She didn't seem to notice that Mickey was missing from those stickers.

Now THAT'S a cute kid!
Finally, we made it to Boston, after traveling most of the day and only having a 45 minute nap (for her- we didn't get a nap! Silly...). But she was a trooper and she made it. And WE made it!

She did great on the trip and really was happy and enjoyable with all the time in the car, at festivals, fairs, walks, etc. We were so proud of her- but more on that part of the trip later.

The plane ride home was rougher- our first flight was 1 1/2 hours which wasn't too bad, but she was a cranky pants already. We tried to keep her happy with stuffed animals and books, keeping our "reserves" for the long flight. Our second flight was 4 hours... YUCK. And she did not do too well. We used all of our toys and tricks, lots of food, and she still made herself known on the plane. AND we did the Benadryl trick, with no success this time. At one point, I looked at my husband and said "will we get through this alive?". The good news is that we made it home and most of the people on the flight have already forgotten the crying baby (I hope). Plus, we as the parents probably thought it was much worse than the other passengers did.

Trying to get this moving baby to hold still is almost IMPOSSIBLE now!

Our lifesaver on the second flight was our Ergo. Pip hasn't fallen asleep on me in months (besides on the flight there!) and really fights it- but she will fall asleep on her Daddy in a second. Poor Daniel spent most of the flight wearing her in the Ergo and standing near the back of the plane (again, choose seats near the back when traveling with children!). She fell asleep once on him, but was awake most of the time. Luckily, she was quiet and seemed pretty happy on him. Thank you, Daddy.

 I also learned how to change a diaper with the baby standing on my lap, because the bathroom didn't have a changing table pull-down (WHHHHHAAATTT?). Letting baby look over your shoulder or down the aisle helps to entertain them, and the air vent and buttons above can waste some time too. You gotta work with whatcha got!

I don't know how eager we are to take her on an airplane again anytime soon (Sorry Hahna- we can't visit you in Japan yet), but we DID in fact live through it. Hooray!

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Letter to the New Parent

Today I paid a quick visit to my birthing center. I had left a mirror there a few weeks ago and happened to being the area. When I stopped in, there was an orientation class going on with all the new parents-to-be. I tried to go in quickly and stealthily, but I couldn't help but notice the deer-in-headlights look on all of their faces as they listened to the nutritionist talk about food and pregnancy. I smirked to myself a little bit, because almost 2 years ago, that was me sitting in that chair.

I remember listening as intently as possible to every word they said, trying to hold back tears (why was I crying? Hormones? Fear of the unknown? Excitement?)  and hold it together to get through my classes or appointments. Sure I was scared! As a first-time parent, you have no idea what to expect, no matter how many times *seasoned* parents give you advice!

So, in an effort to not give you any more advice, let me just tell you this: it is every bit as scary as you think it is. It is every bit exciting as you think it is. You will laugh, you will cry, you might yell and you will probably cry some more. I'm talking pregnancy, birth, and postpartum here. Every fear that you have is legitimate and may even come to pass once your little one is here. Giving birth is hard, but it's possible. Having a newborn is HARD, but it's doable (and it doesn't last TOO long). Being a parent is hard- as it stares me in the face every day and I have to make decisions that I never even dreamed of facing.

Every day is a new challenge and a new joy. I remember sitting up late at night with my fussy newborn and dreaming about what life used to be and where I would be if I had made different choices. I tried not to regret having her, but sometimes you just have those depressing moments when your life gets turned completely upside down by your little red-faced human. I longed for the day that having a child would feel "normal" for me, like I always thought it would be. I would go to grocery store without her (occasionally) and think "no one here knows that I have a tiny baby at home"... it was a weird feeling. Who was I now?

And then today, I walked confidently into my birth center with my cute dressed 1-year-old on my hip and a smile on my face. I glanced at the dazed parents-to-be and felt their fears, insecurities, and unsettled nerves. I knew that feeling. But I also had an empowering moment of feeling "I have arrived".

Today I realized that motherhood now feels natural to me. I am not sure when it happened, but it did. I see my life running errands with a little one, rocking her to sleep every night and spending every day exploring together. I used to feel so ill-equipped and fried that I wanted to get away from the baby, and now her presence brings me joy and rest.This is now normal.

So to all of you expectant first-time parents, don't try to figure it all out before the baby comes. Don't plan out what your life will be like or how baby will act. Don't feel bad if you don't immediately feel bonded with your baby or natural at parenting- I didn't either. Just give yourself a break, because before you know it, parenting will feel natural to you as well and your little one will fit into your family so perfectly.

And watch for that moment... there is nothing better than the feeling that "I have arrived"!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The New Meaning of Fun

"The baby is asleep!?! Wanna watch the last 3 episodes of Parenthood and if we have time the next one of Breaking Bad?"

This was our conversation last night. And last week...

"My Dad said he wants to watch the baby for us... what do you want to do? Go out to eat I guess? But we could just take her with us...? No, we need a date... don't we?"

Becoming a parent brings a whole new meaning to the word FUN. What used to be fun for you? Late nights on the town? Pool parties? Vacations? Camping? Now, all of these things are still fun- they haven't changed. But YOU have changed. You probably don't have the time (or money) to do all of these things- besides, it's too much time away from the baby or you'll be paying an arm and a leg in childcare.

Occasionally you will have a great date night, maybe a vacation, girl's nights... and they will be super fun, but when I now think of the word fun, I picture something else.

I picture my daughter laughing for the first time.
I see her crawl in the grass for the first time.
I think about our first 24 hours away from her, and how we packed as much in as possible.
I think of corralling and entertaining 3 babies while their mommies paint pumpkins. 
I watch her face as we visit the aquarium and she squeals at the jellyfish.
I think of the look on my husband's face and the immense joy I feel as she takes her first steps.
I think about seeing her "morning fat face" smile when she wakes up.
I think about the rare date nights and discovering again how much I love my husband.
I think about when she won't stop giggling and pretending to bite my hand in the grocery store.
I think about very slow walks to the mailbox.
I think about sharing a cookie.
I think about taking her on her first vacation and experiencing new things with her.


All the other parts of life have fun weaved through them, but there is nothing that compares to seeing life FOR THE FIRST TIME through your child's eyes. Believe me, nothing.  And some of these moments probably last less than a minute, but they are etched into my mind forever.

My new meaning of Fun may sound boring, but many of you probably agree with me. These things bring joy to my heart, and that is fun! I love our fun.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sleep Training... Ugh.

This may not be for all of you. That is my disclaimer. I am a firm believer in baby sleeping in her own room in her own bed, and sometimes using the cry-it-out method, but I seem to be a bit more gentle than others. Once they are old enough and big enough, sleeping through the night (7:30pm-7:30am) should be encouraged because sleep is so critical for babies- really for all of us. We decided to use a simple comfort/cry method to wean her from her night feeding. We knew she would cry- babies cry! But we always made sure it wasn't a hurt or scared cry. She was usually just tired and wanted attention. This is what worked for us.

Piper is a year old now. I told myself that I would give her a full year to wake at night and not worry about it until then. She now takes a bottle, only wakes once (sometimes none!), sometimes won't eat during the night, and is big enough to sleep through. So when my husband offered to help me, I took him up on it.

The first night that we planned for my husband to get up with her came- and she slept through on her own! She hadn't done this in months! Figures.

The next night was rougher. She and Daddy were up from about 4:30am to 6:30am. Our plan was for him to go in, comfort her, offer water from a sippy cup if needed, and put her back to sleep. It didn't go so well. He came back to bed and we listened to her wailing on the monitor. I told him she may want him to stand there and rub her back and reassure her. He said that she just wanted attention, and that it wouldn't help. I said that she didn't know how to put herself back to sleep yet, and she needed a little help while she learned. He went back in. She continued to cry. I finally hit a breaking point and stormed out of bed. I made a bottle and opened the door to her room to find her quiet and Daniel rubbing her back. I waited in the kitchen for a few minutes and eventually went back to bed. She was finally asleep, and my husband was very tired.

The third night she slept through the night. She's such a little teaser.

The fourth night she woke up at 3:50am, a pretty normal time. Daniel went in, comforted her and came back to bed. She was quiet for awhile. I had taken a Benadryl the night before because I had terrible allergies, and my head was a little groggy. I kept hearing her fuss on and off. I reached over a few times to Daniel and asked if he was going in. As soon as he would get up to go, she quieted. He never went in again that night, and she slept until morning! Hurray! We're making progress!

 This went on for almost 2 weeks (as in, her sleeping through the night!), until she got sick... then it was a night awake like no other, I had to sleep in her room and get up often... After that, she went to waking once a night and NEEDING a bottle. Last night, she slept through the night again. Yes! We're well on our way!

So this is where we are. I am beginning to realize that her sleeping through the night may never be a 'permanent' thing- children get sick, or scared, or wake just because and need their mommy. And I'm okay with that. But for now, mommy is getting a few more zzz's which makes this household a whole lot more lively and happy!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why I Don't Watch Love Movies

“So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day."

Name that movie... if you guessed Noah from The Notebook, you are just as much a sap as I am! How many of you have watched this movie more times that you can count? Then you will be happy to know that it is *NUMBER 1* on many "most romantic movie" lists.

10 years ago (am I already old enough to say that!?), I was a swooning teenager who couldn't get enough of these love movies. I watched them constantly, memorized the lines, prayed that God would bring me a prince or at least a polite Englishman (ha), and couldn't wait until I would meet "the one" and he would sweep me off my feet and we would live happily ever after.

 "I kneel before you not as a prince, but as a man in love... But I would feel like a king if you, Danielle de Barbarac, would be my wife." 
- Ever After

Then Daniel came along. A long-haired, motorcycle-riding, rough-housing, trouble-making, never-had-a-long-term-girlfriend kind of guy. And I fell HARD. We were long-distance (how romantic!), and I looked forward to the phone calls and emails that professed his undying love for me. But the problem was, they did not say the things that I expected- the things that I wanted and dreamed of. Why? He wasn't doing this right.

 "You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how."
- Gone With the Wind

After many disappointing conversations and visits, I started investigating. I knew I loved him, but he wasn't all that I expected. And our relationship wasn't like the movies. WASN'T LIKE THE MOVIES! That's it! I wanted Daniel to say these jaw-dropping one-liners that I was used to. The ones that made me want to melt into his arms and kiss him. The ones that gave me warm fuzzies all over and butterflies in my stomach.

“Winning that ticket, Rose, was the best thing that ever happened to me… it brought me to you..." -Titanic

And then I came to a painful realization- my husband (boyfriend) was not an actor, and we were not in a movie. He was not reading a script of the perfect thing to say or being instructed to look wistfully into my eyes. Or how about the kiss where they hold your face? Don't get shy, I know that you all know what I'm talking about! And why didn't Daniel do any of these things? Because he is a REAL man. What I mean by that is that he is not in a movie. Because here's the kicker - real men are not like men in the movies. I know- super disappointing. Go cry now and rejoin me when you're ready. 

“Isabella Swan, I promise to love you every moment of forever.” 
- Twilight

So this is where I came to the conclusion that movies, books, shows... all of those things were feeding my mind an incorrect view of what a man is and what a man should be. And yes, men can be romantic at times and sweep you off your feet, but they're not always good at it. They don't say the right thing at the right time. They don't see the moment in a fight (like you do) where they could tell you to shut up and grab your face and kiss you...and all your anger melts away (am I right?). They don't always plan spontaneous dates and getaways, or cuddle how you'd like, or woo you into the bedroom... and let me be the one to tell you, IT'S OKAY.
“You erased me from your memories because you thought you were holding me back from having a full and happy life. But you made a mistake. Being with you is the only way I could have a full and happy life. You’re the girl of my dreams… and apparently, I’m the man of yours.”
- 50 First Dates

Now don't get me wrong, my husband has every ability to be romantic and sweep me off my feet. And those are glorious moments! But the right man for you will not say all the right things all the time, he will simply say that he loves you and will always be committed to you. He will not make all the fights better, but he will pray over your relationship and ask God to direct his steps. He will not run to you from afar in slow motion, but he will be overjoyed in his own way to see you return. 
"I would rather have tasted her lips just once, touched her skin, one time, and made love to her for one night, than spend the rest of my life without ever knowing that." 
-City of Angels

Some men have a quiet and fierce love- it's a comfortable love. Daniel and I have now been together for 8 years, so there's not as many fireworks and butterflies, but I never doubt his love for me. He often says the wrong things (sorry, babe), but he tries (or he's just looking for a laugh and we both . He works hard to provide for our family, he sees my needs and does his best to meet them, he loves our child, he trusts God with the direction of our life. He is everything that I need him to be and everything that God created him to be. He is "the one" for me.                     

                        "I'd rather die tomorrow than live a hundred years without knowing you."
                                                           - John Smith in Pocahontas

So I have stopped watching love movies. I haven't seen a love movie in a long time... I'm not sure how long. Every once in awhile I'll drag him to one, but afterwards I usually feel unsettled and left wanting. Sometimes I'll catch a chick-flick with friends, but I try not to because it makes me feel less-than. Early in our marriage, Daniel would come home from work and I would tell him all the things he wasn't doing right, or that I didn't feel loved, or that I needed more from him- usually just meaningless complaining. Looking at me with understanding, he would say "Babe, did you watch a love movie today? Remember, I'll try my best, but I can never be that guy". And he was right. He wasn't doing it all wrong, he just wasn't the perfect man I just saw on TV. And he shouldn't have to be that guy.

"I guarantee there’ll be tough times; I guarantee that at some point, one, or both of us is gonna wanna get out of this thing; But I also guarantee, that if I don’t ask you to be mine, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life... because I know in my heart, that you’re the only one for me."
-Runaway Bride

Ladies, we are holding men to much too high of standards now-a-days. Now, don't get me wrong- there are certain standards for a husband that should always be upheld and never compromised- but being insanely romantic and expecting wonderful quotes is not only unfair to them, but more of a fantasy. Movies have led us to believe that unless our man is like Noah (or Jack, Henry, or Edward) he is not good enough. And THIS IS WRONG. Please don't hold your man to standards that he will never be able to live up to because it simply may not be him- or who God called him to be. 
  "A name makes no matter to me, as long as I can call you my own."
- A Knight's Tale
So, if you can fill your mind with love movies, books, quotes, scenes... and not have unrealistic expectations of a man, then by all means, do it. But I cannot. And I choose not to fight that battle. Heck, I even got frustrated once that my husband is not from the South with that awesome accent! Ha! It doesn't work in this household to expect something of my husband that he is not. He knows what I want and what I need, and he does his best to provide it. He wants me to feel loved and cared for, and he strives to do that. 

"I would rather fight with you than make love to anyone else."
- The Wedding Date

Single ladies, please focus on what REALLY matters when looking for a husband. Not his accent, his words, or the fact that he built you the exact white house with blue shutters that you dreamed about together years earlier (get the reference?). I challenge you to stop watching the love movies, and discover what a real man is.

And married ladies, TELL HIM WHAT YOU NEED. Don't expect him to "magically know" like all the men in the movies do! Men are not as emotional as we are- they usually don't pick up on cues and just don't know! Be black and white with them, and tell them what you want and need. You will both appreciate it in the end. I challenge you to stop watching the love movies- and learn to love your husband for who he is.

"Why do you want to marry me anyhow? So I can kiss you anytime I want!"
- Sweet Home Alabama