Monday, December 12, 2011
Yes, at the tender age of 28 I finally became a passenger in a plane. It was awful. The first flight (just over 90 minutes) wasn't so bad. I had room for my knees, the girls and I were situated together so we flipped up our arm rests and had a lot of room. The noise of the engines was very loud...I didn't expect that. The second flight (nearly 8 hours) was awful. I have bruises on my knees from them hitting the back of the seat in front of me (it was only Jocelynn...no biggie), I couldn't get my seat to tilt back for most of the trip. B/c my knees were stuck in Jocelynn's seat I couldn't put my tray all the way down...So my stuff was tilted a bit...and I just ended up sharing Anicah's tray when I could. I didn't sleep.
But from start to finish, here's a look at our journey from Drum to Germany:
Last week of November - spent on the floor on blow up mattresses that deflate every 3 hours. One of us would wake every few hours to re-inflate the beds. I spent a lot of time at the laundrette b/c our washer & dryer (as well as all of our household goods) had been picked up and we were eating off paper plates, and on the day we left threw out all the towels & sheets we'd been using.
First week of December - Hotel living from here on out. We spent a few days in Watertown, so the husband could finish up the out processing...and we could be nearby in case we had to return for anything. The hotel (Best Western Carriage House) was super cute, the staff was friendly & helpful. We took a walk a few blocks down to see the Fall/Winter market in the Paddock Arcade (oldest operating mall in America if I'm not mistaken). We moved on to Syracuse, just to be a bit closer to our target City of Newark, NJ. At least if it snowed, we'd be about 2 hours closer to the next destination. Four or 5 days in Syracuse, we visited with friends, did some last minute shopping...and further purged our luggage of things we wouldn't need/couldn't use after getting to Germany (or could easily replace). We did hang out in the mall a bit, and saw Arthur Christmas in 3-D. It was a DELIGHT. Loved every minute of it. :)
After we left Syracuse, we headed to Newark to pick up a rental car & drop our own vehicle off at the POV shipping place. Due to some rain & time issues we weren't able to drop our car off that night. We weren't staying in Newark b/c the hotels seemed kind of trashy & a bit expensive. Also...Jersey smells bad. I'd already set up a reservation at a hotel on Staten Island...too bad I didn't anticipate the TOLLS. Ugh. New York charges $12 to keep New Jersey out. It must be working, too...b/c the traffic wasn't as bad as we expected. Our hotel on Staten Island was a little cramped, but we'd only be there for a day & a half. My parents flew in to Newark on the morning of the 7th to have one last visit with us before we left the country. B/c of the cost of the bridge toll, we stayed in Newark for the day. Husband just *had* to stop at a White Castle for lunch. It was...gross to say the least. They put cheese on a chicken sandwich!! The sliders were...weird and I hate onions & they seemed to be in every bite. I did enjoy the 'limited availability' sweet potato fries. After lunch we found a movie theater & saw the new Muppet movie...I'm not a Muppet fan...The girls enjoyed it, though. Not quite sure what to do after that, we eventually found a bowling alley! We'd previously taken the girls to an alley in Syracuse & they did pretty well considering. So this was their second time...and Memaw & Pepaw played, too.
We decided after bowling to pay the damn bridge toll & head back to Staten Island for the night. Pepaw & the husband found a pizza place & brought some really good vegetarian pizza back to the hotel. Aunt C showed up the next morning (she's in Jersey!) and we had breakfast at IHOP...which is the first time I remember eating there. It was okay - but the hashbrowns weren't very good.
We get to the airport. In Newark, it was mostly uneventful. A little boring, even. On the flight to Charlotte the man sitting in front of me leaned his seat back as soon as the plane was in the air. I mimed licking my finger & then sticking it in the guy's ear (he was SO CLOSE TO ME) to my husband. He didn't think I was funny. We get to Charlotte...Santa is there in a small golf cart thing. Anicah is excited, Jocelynn is annoyed. Husband goes in search of food. He doesn't bring back any napkins. Or straws. The girls are bored, I bring out our bookbag which has been filled with stickers, coloring books, crayons, activity books, etc and find something for them to do. We have about 3 hours total that we have to wait in Charlotte.
Then we get on our international flight. Aside from being uncomfortable like I mentioned above, I'm also plagued by gum the whole time. Someone must have dropped some near the window, where I set something down. When I picked it back up I had gum strings sticking to everything. My hands, pants, backpack. And it was obviously not gum from my family...it smelled like licorice. We had minty & fruity gum. I tried to face forward & get comfy. Once Anicah fell asleep I picked her up & tried to hold her so I could utilize her seat space to stretch out a bit. It didn't work. Nothing worked. I could only stretch out my left leg...so my right leg was all crampy & sore after...and that knee has the worst bruises.
We arrive after what felt like eons in Frankfurt. Mind you, I maybe slept a few minutes every so often. I did get a little sick feeling as the plane landed...I couldn't orient myself by looking out the window...b/c there was lots of clouds or fog or something. Not knowing how close I was to the ground, I am not sure what it could have been. We get off the plane and none of my family has gone to the bathroom since Charlotte (the girls b/c they fell asleep, me b/c I couldn't get out of my seat after Anicah was asleep). We find a public toilet. Then we get through customs...None of it was very eventful. Then we looked around for someone that might be meeting us - we saw no one & headed to find a USO. We show up there with about 8 other people. A guy comes out & says, "No one came to get you?" Then the guy that was "waiting" for us says, "Oh, I was there...you just didn't see me." Whatever. Does it matter after the fact?
Then we go up an elevator, up an escalator & into a weird partitioned area to wait. AND WAIT. We got off our plane just before 11 in the morning. We didn't leave that area until about 5 pm. And every time they called a list of names to be bussed to their bases...We thought each time we would be the next one! We were the very last ones to leave. We weren't exactly sure what to do...most of the time they would give us little break times to let us know that they wouldn't be calling names to line up for a bit...and the girls and I took one break to look for food at the airport. There was surprisingly little on our side of the airport available, 2 Starbucks, 1 real restaurant, a juice/cafe place...and of course my girls were not interested in anything. They settled on a plain bagel (for Anicah), and an egg & cheese focaccia (for Jocelynn) from Starbucks and I got them a juice...which I had been warned about...but wasn't juice, it was like sparkling juice. It was carbonated & not sweet...and the girls didn't want it. Luckily the USO had a small table there with lemonade.
We sat there for about 7 hours.
We finally were able to leave...I got into my seat on the bus...And I fold down the tray in front of me to find...GUM. Again. Then I left a very important packet of papers on the bus when we got to our destination...And we were finally given temporary lodging. It's very cute...but I'm reminded why I am so vehement about not living in an apartment. I feel like I am constantly getting on to the kids to stop moving around so much & making noise. If I can hear people - surely they can hear us. And I feel like I don't want to create excessive noise.
Anywho. That's how things went. ...For the most part.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Momma Must HAVES!
First time momma? Second time...More? STEP-momma? Friend of a momma?
At some point we'll all end up in the baby section of a department store wondering, "Is this really...for what I think it's for?" or "I HAVE TO HAVE THIS! IN EVERY COLOR! NOW!"
There is a LOT of info out there for mommas (and gift-givers). You can google and find must-have lists, registry lists, to-do lists, not-to-do lists, etc. Well, I have my own little list.
For the hospital: Go basic. Most mommas will spend only about 48 hours combined in labor & delivery. Don't worry about carting your personal hygiene products with you unless you have some kind of allergy or sensitivity. You will be provided with a body/hair wash, toothpaste & brush, etc. Use the mesh panties - at least you're not leaving body fluids all over your own. If you insist on your own undies, don't bring your Victoria's Secret. Bring pairs that you intend to have the grossest period of your life in! You probably won't be allowed to use your own socks or slippers - you'll be given goofy socks with no-slip designs on the bottom. Don't bring your own nightgown - again, bodily fluids will be the theme of the day & you can toss it in the bin before you go. Quick tip: Wear one with the opening at the back, then put another on with the opening at the front to move around! It will be like having a robe. It gives the medical staff easy access to your bod to let them check things out & you can easily slip it off a shoulder for nursing or skin to skin contact.
Have with you: Basic hygiene items the hospital may not have. Deodorant, hair clips/holders/brush, glasses (if you wear contacts still count on glasses b/c they may become uncomfortable after continued use & you don't want to try to deal with a brand new baby in a fuzzy midnight feeding - this thing is too new to work blind!), nail file/clippers (just in case, a snagged nail can be annoying). Slip on shoes, in case you need to leave the room for a stroll around the building (although I wouldn't go with flipflops your staff might consider them a tripping hazard). Some comfy pajama pants or yoga pants to feel a little more covered for visitors or for trips out of the room. You don't need a huge bag. Think overnight...Think simple. If you live near the hospital you can always send a family member by to bring you personal items. If your husband will be rooming in with you...He should also remember at least a clean pair of undies & a shirt.
A tip for the baby bassinet: BRING SIGNS if you plan to breastfeed or want no pacifiers given. The hospital may have some of their own they'll put on it, but I imagine they become like white noise over time and are easily ignored. Make them about the size of a 3x5 card & have tape to stick it to the side of the bassinet.
To go home: an outfit for baby (all other clothes will have been provided up to that point by the hospital), something appropriate for the weather. An outfit for you: You'll probably still look & feel about 4-6 months pregnant. Don't wear anything that puts too much pressure on your belly, pubic area, or your perineum. All these places may be sensitive. A stretchy bra will be helpful as well. You might be a little engorged or at least sensitive and hard wires or stiff padding may be uncomfortable.
THAT'S IT for the hospital. Really. Do your hospital tour if you know where you'll deliver so you can get an idea what the room is like so you know if you'll be able to have some drinks or snacks on hand. Not all hospitals will allow this, so find out FIRST.
STUFF FOR BABY:
A newborn needs very little. Onesies, sleepers, socks, caps, & diapers. At first you might go through a couple of onesies a day. You'll lose socks like crazy, so buy cheapies at first. Don't spend a lot on super cute decorated socks until you can go a whole 8 hours without losing a sock! The hospital probably gave you some diapers & wipes before you left, go ahead & take them with you. Baby will probably need to be changed every hour or two at first. At the most, before or after every feeding. Don't go nuts on teeny sizes. Baby will probably be in size 2 diapers before the end of the first month. Not necessarily because of weight gain, but because of the amount going into them. One-size cloth diapers may be too large at this size for baby to wear with a onesie snapped over. Some leg covers (like Baby Legs or Little Legs) will be helpful at this stage. You can also buy newborn size covers for this stage.
If you're bottle feeding: a pitcher to mix the formula in for about 12-24 hours worth might be helpful. Rather than mixing each bottle individually. You will probably be feeding the baby 2-4 ounces every 3-4 hours.
Breastfeeding: No real supplies needed except your tatas! If you're considering a breast pump do your research about open & closed system pumps...As well as how much you'll use it. A manual pump could work just fine for a little relief or pumping your excess for an extra bottle or two. An electric pump is helpful if you intend to go back to work or will need to pump a lot for being away from baby. Keep in mind, pumping can effect your supply! You might not want to use one right away. Nursing 'on demand' helps get your supply started & after the first month or so you may recognize patterns in baby's nursing & realize they have scheduled themselves. There are lots of breastfeeding pillows on the market. Not all of them work, and sometimes just a pillow from your bed can be just as useful. Unless you start to experience problems nursing, consider leaving the special pillows at the store.
A small bathtub (go cheap, they won't use it for long) might be helpful if you don't have a sink in your house big enough to bathe baby in.
Pack & Plays are great now b/c they often have a changing table & bassinet option for them. They are good if you are tight on space, want baby to room in with you...or you just haven't found the perfect crib yet. I do think a crib will be important after the first 3 months or so, but if you haven't found one at the time of baby's birth - don't fret. One of these simple P&Ps will do the work to start.
Car seat - Infant rear facing car seats have changed a lot over the last decade or so. You can get one that rear faces up to 35-ish pounds. If you have one seat, you can order extra bases to go in other cars, that way you won't have to worry about reinstalling it for everyone's vehicle (mom, dad, grandma/grandpa, caregiver, etc). This can double as a seat for baby when they first start eating food, wait until baby can really sit up & then instead of an expensive, space wasting high-chair, you can use a booster that straps to an existing chair & have your baby right at the table with you.
Swings & bouncers are kind of an individual taste thing. Before buying one, borrow one from a friend. Some babies hate them, other babies love them. Don't spend your money on one until you know your baby will use it.
Wraps & carriers are kind of like swings & bouncers. I prefer a soft wrap like a Moby for the early days (one size fits all, so dad can also baby wear). I would stay away from something like the baby Bjorn. They're not comfortable for anyone. Find a store with a Moby or several different styles of GOOD carriers & see if they'll let you try it on. Your life will be CHANGED. The purse-style slings are just plain dangerous, find a different style.
If you go the wrap/carrier route you can nix all travel systems, strollers, & forget about carrying around your car seat everywhere. The wrap will keep you hands-free to shop, stroll, or do your regular everyday things.
Baby toys: Babies. Don't. Care. About. Toys. They will be just as happy playing with a wooden spoon with a ribbon tied to it as an expensive rattle. If your family & friends want to buy heaps of toys for the baby...Tell them to buy toys for an older baby (9months+) and you can save them & bring them out as your baby gets bigger. A few soft or squeaky toys will be great for baby during tummy time, or when they first start playing on the floor but all those things with bells & whistles, lights & blinking things...More annoying than fun. A few board books, a soft bear or bunny, and a couple of squeaky toys will be enough at first.
Clothes: After the first month or two you'll notice baby is big enough to start filling out their clothes! But unless your baby has a full time job, I wouldn't spend the money on a lot of fancy outfits. Stay basic. Cotton pants & shirts/onesies. If the weather is particularly chill, get some of those fleece hooded zippy-up things. The ones that make baby look like a squishy, soft snowflake. Shoes are kind of useless since babies don't WALK...Wait for those until they're about 6-8 months & will get down on the floor.
After the first 8 months: When your baby hits the 9 month mark they may start walking & moving around a lot more. This is when you should invest in a decent stroller - based on your needs. Umbrella strollers pack well, but if you need something sturdy to do a lot of travel with, make sure the wheels are tough, that the height of the handles is good (you don't want to be hunched over for 3 miles). Think about the kind of terrain you'll be using it in, etc. Talk to your pediatrician about shoes, certain kinds of shoes are better for new walkers than others (and not the kind from our parents' generation, either!).
After that...most everything is optional. You'll know what your child will & will not tolerate as far as stimulation so you can avoid clothing & toys that they won't enjoy.
Enjoy your baby! :)
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
I'm a little frustrated...and a little nervous. And a lot unsure.
I was expecting to leave this place soon...and things are still on track for that. Only, now we don't have a destination. And that's pretty scary.
Monday, March 21, 2011
If you've seen this: New AAP RECOMMENDATION Then you might have some vague idea about why I'm having the following rant...
I have been a Florida driver. It gets INTENSELY hot inside cars...which means the car seats are intensely hot. It can be 120-140 degrees inside the car on a good day. And it takes MUCH longer to get air to the kids (unless you throw the windows open, which aren't necessarily helpful when it's 98* outside) when they rear face! Most of my trips were under 10-15 minutes...so the car doesn't cool down at all while we're in it...unless you're sitting in the front seat, or the back-middle. I drove a 1994 A/C-less Volvo in FL. I have a Blazer now (for the non-city driving in upstate NY)...and if I had a 3rd child, we'd need a bigger vehicle due to the size of car seats.
I have nothing against SAFETY. My kids were intensely carsick when rear-facing. It cleared up the minute the were forward facing. Which is more dangerous: A CONSTANTLY distracted/frustrated mother with screaming infants in the car? Or the mere possibility of a high impact incident from BEHIND at speeds over 30 MPH?? I used to work for an insurance company...I know the risks of car accidents. I would never want my children to be hurt, but I am VERY glad I don't have a child under 2 anymore (3.5 & 7). I don't know if I could follow laws about this. (Remember, right now it's simply a recommendation...not a law in my state.)
Oh...and the reason ADULTS under 4'10" (or high schoolers under 100 pounds) don't need a booster is b/c they can ADJUST THEIR OWN DAMN SEATBELTS, folks! The AAP & highway safety is assuming younger kids (like those under 10 years old or so) can't/won't adjust their own seat belts and could be injured by putting the belt behind them or letting it slip over their necks.
I do have an issue with the costs. I got my first infant carrier as a shower gift from a family member, my second from a local Sheriff's office...and eventually was able to purchase others. It wasn't that we didn't plan well enough to afford our children, circumstances beyond our control kept us from having enough in the bank to spend $80 or $120 on ONE item and also being able to afford food or keep our power turned on! It seems like more & more the things we're REQUIRED by law to have are getting more expensive, but it's not as if we're getting more for those extra expenses. It feels like a racket! Also...some people are assuming anyone can just run to the store & get what they need! I live 90 miles from a major baby store. The department stores near me carry basic styles of necessities. I would have to drive 3 hours round trip OR pay about $40-60 in shipping charges to get the kind of carseat that can extend rear-face, or the 'slim' models that allow 3 seats across. There's no guarantee when I get to that store that I can find what I'm looking for! So far...my children have been kept safe with the minimum, and I'm okay with that. I am glad I don't have to make these decisions or deal with these problems right now...and I am grateful my children have survived my clearly awful parenting for giving them only the bare minimum.
...End rant. For now. ;) Forgive the way it's written...it's sort of "in response" to a lot of comments I have been reading about why every parent who waivers a little on whether or not they want to follow this recommendation wants death for their child. I certainly love my children and want them to be safe. And so far, the "bare minimum" of requirements or the law has kept them that way. I know every child has not been saved by these minimums...It's regrettable. Though I am sure there will never be a time in our future when every injury & death will be prevented due to safety regulations. Alright...I'm ready for the backlash! Comment away on how much I must hate or wish for the deaths of my children. I can take it.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
For Valentine's day I had a cutesy little flower-pop craft. It's flowers poked onto the stick of a lollipop. If you need more info, lemme know - but it was kind of easy! :D
I figure we're a few weeks out from St. Patrick's Day, but since I have plans for that, I'll post them now & maybe revisit them a little closer to the big day.
Also, next week is "Mid Winter Break". In case you don't remember how I feel about MWB, let's review last year: Worst Week Ever. I'm hoping this year is better...the husband is home, we have a few play dates set up...I have more friends (yay!)...and we're anticipating a tax refund (we hope, the irs.gov page wasn't really clear). So it might not be that awful! If there's no followup to this - presume awfulness! ;)
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Here's what happened instead. I present to you, "The Table", a story in pictures.