Thursday, August 30, 2012


These past two weeks have been a whirlwind! Forgive me as I catch my breath.

After much planning and anticipation two of our dearest friends were married two weekends ago. The wedding and reception were beautiful. Husby was the best man, so *very* involved, leaving me juggling home duties and Lil’ O’s care for the couple weeks, especially the immediate week, leading up to the wedding. No wonder I got sick. Sigh. Thankfully, my MIL and parents helped tons during the wedding weekend so Husby and I could enjoy the festivities, but also keep Lil’ O happy, not too overstimulated and on his daycare/naptime schedule. We did mix it up a bit and bring him to the rehearsal dinner to meet everyone, but I left with him early so he could get to sleep. Lesson learned from leaving that venue: do not carry the 20lb kiddo in his car seat while also wearing high heels. Sore back, strained arms and bruises result. Noted.

Then, last week I had a super crazy work week, which included a quick trip to NYC. The trip was a blast, but also my first time away from Lil’ O. I think I managed ok, but more on that in a future post I’m sure.

So, that’s a quick snapshot of the whirlwind. More soon, but taking this week to get back in the swing of things and recalibrate. Phew!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First-Time Air Travel with Baby

I knew the day would come that we needed to travel with Lil’ O, but was still dreading it. Husby and I saw some brave parents traveling with their babes over the Christmas holiday when I was still pregnant – some were newborns, still fresh, cuddly and warm, others were toddlers and on the move. We knew as we watched those parents that our days of speedy travel were coming to a close and our next flight would be with our new babe in our arms.

At the end of July, the day immediately following my birthday, it was time. The annual summer trek to Minnesota is near and dear to both me and my husband, but especially to Husby, and was especially important this year since we missed participating in this week of family bonding last year. Plus, the added element of Lil’ O finally meeting some his family, including his adorable cousins, upped the ante. We had to be there. Nevermind that air travel from San Diego to the Twin Cities was daunting or that we’d need to drive another four hours to get to the lake home. The fated day of traveling with baby had come.

Now, this is one of those examples where a lot about my husband helps balance me. Before dating then marrying Husby I was super Type A and intense about everything I was involved with – not necessarily a bad thing, but not very balanced. If summer travel had been left to me, we probably wouldn’t have gone. Not because I didn’t want to be at the lake or see family, but simply because the thought of all that travel with a five-month-old baby was (and remains) scary. We did it though and have survived to tell the tale!

Despite our thorough planning, there were of course some bumps in our travels, and not just from turbulence. There were also some challenges once we were at the lake home and spending a week outside of the comfort zone we’ve created for ourselves with Lil’ O. Thankfully, much of the baby paraphernalia that help us care for Lil’ O was already at the house thanks to my wonderful MIL and amazing SIL. Here is a rundown of our top challenges and successes from our week of travel and how we managed to cope and adjust. I hope they’re helpful to others prepping to travel with baby.

Challenge: Travel with baby means travel with car seat and stroller.
Solution: I desperately wanted to leave behind these key baby items, but all the blogs and forums I read said to absolutely bring our own. Thank you collective parenting wisdom of the internet! Evidently renting a car seat with our car rental could pose numerous issues, including our lack of familiarity knowing how to install the seat, a possibly dirty and germy seat, and introducing yet one more foreign element to Lil’ O when he’s already out of his comfort zone doing something all new. So, we brought our own and besides having a bit more to carry it worked out really well! We flew through security, even with the extra items. We bought a cover for the car seat base and seat in advance and once at the gate Husby got gate check tags for those bagged-together car seat items and our stroller frame. We dropped those off as we boarded and picked them up once we landed. Easy peasy! And, since it was our own well-loved seat, base and stroller combo, we knew exactly how to use it all and quickly install it into the rental car. Score! Love when early preparation and research pays off.

Challenge: Take-off and landing on a plane is hard on baby ears.
Solution: I’d also read up on this one before we left, so we were armed with bottles and/or pacifiers at the ready for the ascent and descent both ways. Happily, we learned that the change in pressure doesn’t bother Lil’ O too much—he was too focused on his bottle.

Challenge: Lil’ O is used to sleeping in his crib and in the dark, not in my arms on an airplane with people waving at him.
Solution 1: This was the moment that we’d been dreading and it didn’t disappoint. Once Lil’ O got tired on the plane, he gave us all his normal “I’m tired” cues, but we couldn’t put him in his crib or a Pack and Play. All we had were our arms in which to hold him. As his cries got louder and I got the distinct deer-in-headlights look, my husband wisely discerned that desperate times call for desperate measures and whipped out a bottle. I was reluctant but didn’t have any better ideas, so I dutifully fed Lil’ O a small bottle that he didn’t need. Thankfully, that little bit of food calmed him (yes!) and got him so milk drunk that he started to doze (hallelujah!). Once he finished the bottle, I quickly inserted a pacifier and in his sleepy stupor Lil’ O didn’t notice the difference. He then proceeded to suck and soothe himself to sleep while laying peacefully in my arms. He stayed that way the whole flight there.
Solution 2: We tried the same thing on the return flight, which was an evening flight and we thought would work well since Lil’ O would think it was time for bed. Wrong. Though he was tired, he again didn’t understand why we wouldn’t just put him in his crib. We tried the bottle trick that worked so well on our first flight, but there was no repeat performance, just frustration from Lil’ O. Since he was at least tired, he was mostly calm in my arms and found my voice soothing. I then proceed to calmingly say “Boom, boom, boom, who is a wonder / Boom, boom, boom, you are a wonder” over and over for the next thirty minutes. I tried changing it up, but he liked the boom, boom, boom sequence better than anything else I tried, so I stuck with it. Soothing mommy voice and strategic use of the pacifier ultimately worked. I then used all of my yoga skills to cross my legs such that my lap was as big and flat as possible and he splayed out across me and slept for the remainder of the flight. Phew.

Challenge: High heat and humidity, both new for our SoCal baby, caused Lil’ O to be irritable.
Solution: Poor guy was so hot! The lake home has no AC and temperatures reached into the 90s with some strong humidity. We were hot too, but this was Lil’ O’s first real encounter with heat and humidity. He didn’t like it, especially when trying to nap. So, solution time! The basement was the coolest part of the home, so my SIL and BIL graciously let Lil’ O sleep in their quarters for his evening nap. Thankfully that didn’t interfere with our nephew’s napping and it helped Lil’ O tremendously. We spread out a blanket on the floor, moved the monitor downstairs and left him to it. He fell asleep quickly and without complaint. Yay! Fun surprise, though, is that we found without the constraint of crib walls our little guy rolled over and woke up on his tummy twice. Rolling, here we come! Other than napping, we simply tried to spend as much time as possible with Lil’ O in the cooler basement or out near the water when there was a strong breeze. Thankfully the heat broke after a couple days with a loud thunder storm in the middle of our fourth night.

Challenge: Once the heat broke, Lil’ O was still fussy.
Solution: Sigh. Well, at least now we knew his fuss wasn’t just the heat. Seems little man is teething something fierce. We came prepared with kiddo Tylenol and were forced to use it (though sparingly) for a couple days while at the lake home. It thankfully did the trick.

All in all it was certainly more stressful than previous vacations, but not too bad. Lil’ O got to meet more of his family, Husby and I got a little time to rest and relax (see previous post for those glorious moments of peace and fun), and we have now entered the corps of parents who travel with kids. Hopefully our next travel trek, which will be for Thanksgiving and amid masses of other traveling families, will go even more smoothly. Here’s hoping and praying.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Minnesota Summer Vacation

Each summer it’s our goal to meet my husband’s family at his parent’s lake home in Minnesota. We’ve successfully joined his parents, siblings and our nephews there most summers. My husband grew up spending his summers on this lake and it’s one of his favorite places in the world. I’ve in turn tried to make it my own and though lounging for a week isn’t how I grew up vacationing – I come from a see-new-places, tight-itinerary, road-trip type of family – I admit it’s very special to reconnect with family all together for a week each year without the distraction of holiday obligations that come when we visit for Thanksgiving or Christmas. As the family has grown, there’s more and more to do and it’s gotten louder and louder. Thankfully the lake home is a beautiful log home that’s so much more than the “cabin” we call it. The family crew has grown to include my husband’s parents; his older brother and his wife and two boys; his sister and her boyfriend; me and my husband (aka Husby) and now our little guy, Lil’ O. It’s a full house!

I’ll feature our first air travel with Lil' O and lessons learned in getting to the cabin in another post. For now, here are some of our favorite highlights from the week and pictures!
  • Lil’ O got to meet his family! They all adore him. :)
  • We got to meet some new cousins, once removed, who are the coolest girls ages five, eight and ten I’ve met.
  • I picked wild raspberries that Grandpa used in delicious pancakes the next morning.
  • Husby went fishing with his uncle, nephew, brother and sister, plus his sister’s boyfriend. They didn’t catch much due to the heat, but they had fun, especially since it was our nephew’s first fishing expedition. (He’s five.)
  • I rode a bike (a real bike, not a stationary bike in a gym) for the first time in years and didn’t fall, though it was close at least once.
  • Husby and I got to leave Lil’ O with grandparents and we strolled through town, just enjoying being with each other.
  • We also left Lil’ O with adoring grandparents to go for a canoe ride to see the sun set over the water.
  • I read a book—a whole book!—and caught up on some magazine reading.
  • I experimented a very little bit with my fancy new DSLR camera. (I’ve actually had said camera for over a year now, but until I can actually use most of the settings, it’ll remain classified as “new.”)
  • There were games played by all and enjoyed with good wine (and chocolate).
  • As a family we went in waves and completed a puzzle. Fittingly, it depicted a log cabin and lake at sunset.
  • There was lots and lots of good food. My post-baby diet took a nosedive during vacation week thanks to all the yumminess, but I’m now back on the low-calorie-and-exercise bandwagon (this weekend’s Great Harvest bread purchase notwithstanding).

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Ack! I’ve done it. I’ve started a blog. This has honestly been a long time coming, but has until now only lived in my head. My goal is for this to become a space to share my journey as a new mom, specifically on how to balance this amazing new role of “mom” while maintaining an individual identity with hobbies, a job, and friends (not all of whom are necessarily parents themselves and so have a different threshold for baby talk).

My new man Lil’ O is five months old and an absolute joy. I’d love to have had the energy to start this blog earlier and have shared all about the transition to new mom, going back to work and the journey to date. If I were a new parent or newly prego with my first, I’d want to know how somebody balanced the birth of their child since birth. I’ve clearly missed writing about that chapter. Sorry. I’ll try to reflect on some of those early months, but in all honesty I’m only now starting to feel balanced. Those early months are a fuzzy haze in my memory – a cloud of tired recollections of feed, change, carry, maybe sleep. Oh, yeah, and diapers. As I said, it’s fuzzy…I don’t do well without sleep.

Now that Lil’ O is indeed sleeping through the night (thank you dear Lord!), I’m starting to reintroduce social engagements, activities and hobbies. I’m also starting to let some things go. My home will never be 100% clean and I’ve left the house without makeup a few times now. I’ve also started a rule that if I go to yoga, I’m allowed to wear my yoga clothes all of Saturday. Trust me, it’s a good incentive to get to early morning yoga class. So, I’ve added some things, but I’m also saying goodbye to the pursuit of perfection. All in the quest for balance, aka rocking the new mom role and maintaining sanity. Tips and tricks in the journey welcome! Hope I’ve got some worth sharing here as well.

Family portrait by Myra Lucina Photography