Traveling with an Infant (Baby’s First Flight)

Tyler and I love to travel which is a good thing since his family lives in Tennessee and all of my family reside down in California.  Addie’s first trip (and subsequent two trips) were planned before she was born.  First stop – Nashville.

How the heck do you travel with an 11 week old?  Is it safe?  Can it still be fun?  I vote yes.  Actually, this is probably the easiest flight we’ll have.  Some things I learned about traveling with an infant from our first experience + some advice from other moms and dads that I’ll turn to in the future.

Getting Through the Airport:

  • Be flexible.  Throw your BabyWise routine out the window for the duration of your transit because airports and plane rides are way too fun and stimulating for your baby to sleep all the way through.
  • Respond kindly when the elderly tell you that your daughter is very “handsome.” (And apparently, I need to dress Addie in more pink until her hair grows out.)
  • Carseats and Strollers are hecka expensive so protect them with travel bags when possible.  Some airlines offer these bags for $1 per item, per flight which you can purchase when checking in at the counter.  Worth it. (Thanks for the tip, Tyler and Kim Gorsline!)
  • Dragging along the carseat base is worth it.  Stow it in the basket of your stroller and connect it to your carseat before leaving it on the jetway.
  • Easiest way to get through security with a baby (whether by yourself or traveling with a companion) is to “wear” your baby in a carrier.  If you have your baby in a carseat/stroller, you must remove them to pass through the checkpoint.  If you wear your baby, they just swab your hands with a wand or some magic wizard paper and send you on your merry way.
  • Think carefully about your shoe choice.  I mistakenly wore snug, tall boots and had to concentrate prettttty hard to not topple over when taking them on and off while having Addie suction-cupped to my chest in her carrier.
  • When purchasing your obligatory airport Starbucks coffee, order a grande in a vente cup.  They’ll look confused when you do this but the extra room in the cup will keep your caffiene from spewing all over your precious cargo when stowed in your stroller cup holder. (Credit for this wisdom goes to Ginger Schilperoot)
  • Once you arrive at your gate, ask them for “gate check” tags for stroller/carseat.  You can bring your goods down the jetway, right up to the point before you step onto the plane.  They’ll be waiting there for you there as you deboard the plane.
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Our “handsome” daughter not sleeping while we strolled

While on the Plane:

  • Ask for help.  People (husbands included) love helping moms with their hands full of baby + baby goods.  And when your husband offers to change the diaper, let him.  It’s his adventure, too!
  • Changing a diaper on a plane — I totally googled that before we left.  Ever noticed a changing table in the bathroom on an airplane before having a kid?  Yeah, me neither… but it’s in there!  We love our BRICA goPad Diaper Changer which holds some diapers, wipes, plastic bags (for dirty diaper storage when you don’t have access to a trash can), and a fold out changing pad.  I’m not a germophobe but it was nice to have the pad between that airplane changing table and Addie’s baby butt. Having the diaper changing clutch made it easy to grab the baby and go rather than shleping the whole diaper bag into that tiny airplane washcloset.
  • Mama sits on the aisle, especially if you’re nursing or have a fussy wee one so you can get up easily and bounce around.  It was also nice to nurse with the privacy of the aisle on one side and Tyler blockading me on the other side.  I’m not ashamed of nursing my baby but it’s more comfortable for everyone involved if my suckling child’s head isn’t hitting some stranger in the elbow.
  • Nurse, bottle feed or pop in a pacifier during take off and landing.  It apparently helps your babe’s ears regulate the change in cabin pressure.
  • Babies can’t hang out in the Ergo (or other front facing baby carriers) during take off or landing.  This one doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  The stewardess said if we stopped abruptly, the baby would be smashed between me and the seat in front of me — but how is holding the baby against my chest any safer?  Will I throw the baby up in the air and then she’ll land safely in my arms after deceleration? Whatever.  I’m just bitter because I hate getting reprimanded.
  • Use your dismantled baby carrier as a pillow between your arm and the armrest.  Addie slept for a good portion of our 5 hour flight and the support kept my cradling arm relatively comfortable.
  • If you’re flying alone, find a kind looking “grandma” type of person to sit next to who can help when you’re in a pickle. (Thanks Samantha Weinhausen!)
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Right before I got reprimanded for being an infant-wearing liability.

What to Bring on the Plane:

  • An extra set of clothes for your baby and an extra shirt for yourself/anyone else holding your baby.  Addie doesn’t spit up much so we took a gamble and did not bring extra items for ourselves (this is as close to the casino as I’ve gotten since the day before Addie was born, so sad.)
  • A blanket, maybe two.  Airplanes get chilly.  It’s no coincidence that the body language for “I’m cold.” and “I’m angry with you.” are the same.
  • A kindle or iPad for yourself.  Something you can operate and enjoy with one hand as the other may be occupied with a snoozing babe.
  • A book or two, a toy or two.  We brought too much stuff.  Adeline is 11 weeks old and could have been entertained with our fingers.

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Our next adventure will be our trip to California for Thanksgiving at which point, Adeline will be 18 weeks old.  I’ve been told that adjustments will need to be made as she gets older so more learnings to come in November!

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Strolling the Poo Poo Point Trail with a Baby

Yes, that’s actually what it’s called.  Addie’s first day hike was along the Poo Poo Point trail.  How apropos for a newborn.

Here’s a handy tip: the Poo Poo Point trail (PPPT) is NOT the same as the better-known trail UP TO Poo Poo Point.

Our intention was to take Adeline, her Uncle Travis and Aunt Maggie up the novice 0.8 mile trail to the Poo Poo Point lookout, brew some backpackers beer and recline in our A-lites, soaking in the sun and the incredible view.  So being the party planner that I am, I read off the directions to the trail head for The Poo Poo Point trail (MISTAKE) and after a quick nursing session in the backseat of the car, off we went.  Addie’s first hike!  I could hardly contain my excitement.

Pretty quickly, we all sensed something was off.  Turns out the trail we were on did not lead us to the point in 0.8 miles but rather in 7.4 miles with over 1,800 feet in elevation gain. Umm. K.

Not to be braggy, but Tyler and I have definitely hiked more than that in our heyday but this scenario was a bit different.  We had intended to do this “quick hike” which I was sure Addie would mostly sleep through in the Ergo and then head off to a tried and true winery nearby.  It was the only sunny day of Maggie and Travis’s visit and we wanted to make the most of it.  So we decided to give up the Poo Poo Point dream and veer off onto another trail we came across called ADVENTURE TRAIL!  Well, that sounded even more perfect!!

Except “Adventure Trail” quickly turned into “Puget Power Trail” (yes, that was its actual name) which followed some towering power lines along a flat and brown gravely service road for 2 miles.

I think I was the most disappointed hiker in our group.  Addie’s first hike was supposed to be grand, full of wonder, PERFECT.  Except that’s not real life, is it?  We ended up somewhere we didn’t plan.  But after those two miles or so of power lines, we spotted another trail head – one that looked like it led into a forest of old growth and a soft, damp trail.

I don’t even know what that trail was called but we walked a few yards in, set up our hammock and chairs and sat back to enjoy.  It wasn’t the perfectly orchestrated hike I had envisioned but I should probably wise up quick to the fact that most of what you lay out as a parent will not go as planned.  And I could either a) sulk, unleash my frustration on those around me and be full of regret or b) adjust, make up songs with my husband, brother and sis-in-law about power lines, and allow God to take us somewhere unplanned.

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Strolling into Mamma Melina with a Baby

Maternity leave has been dreamy.  I’ll be real, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go down.  I have had a job non-stop for the last 15 years and I’m not exactly what you’d label an “idle” person.  Sure, babies are a sizable amount of work but they also sleep.  Like, often.  What would I do with all of the newborn nap time?  Sleep?  Meh.  I’m not much of a napper.  Watch Bravo TV until my eyes bleed?  Sure, I’ve done that here and there.  Could newborn nap time have more purpose?  This question is still a bit of a mystery as I try to find the balance between “resting” and serving others with this insane gift of spare time.  I am #blessed to be off work until January 11.  Lots more strolling and contemplating to be had.

One big benefit to this chunk of baby-bonding time is coupled with the fact that my husband’s job is extremely flexible so he can sometimes join our strolls, creating impromptu mid-day dates.

Background: By nature, I desire stability while Tyler has always been more comfortable as a risk-taker.  Becoming a real estate broker was pretty risky and it took a lot of faith and prayer for me to get 100% on board.  Had I known it would be such an ideal fit for Tyler in every which way, I wouldn’t have dragged my feet.  And had I thought about what it would mean for his ability to spend so much time with me and Adeline, I would have ordered his first set of business cards years ago.

Today was one of those flexible days for Tyler so he joined us for a little stroll around University Village.  Once we had our window shopping fill, we decided to grab some dinner down the street at Mamma Melina.

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When it comes to happy hour seating, Mamma Melina has two options – 1. the bar area (which technically doesn’t allow minors, no matter how cute – see above) and 2. two couch seats which both happened to be occupied.  The rest of the restaurant was empty (apparently, no one else eats dinner at 3:52pm… wutt?) so the bartender/waitress went out of her way to get us happy hour priced seating in the main dining area.  Her words: “I refuse to turn you away – we’ll make it work for you three.  You deserve this.”  What a lovely way to be greeted as new parents!  HERO TREATMENT!  I will take it.

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There was plenty of room to park our stroller right next to our table.  Oh, and free street parking plus a free 3-hour lot underneath the restaurant.  Quality, substantial, well priced happy hour food plus adult beverages running from 3-6pm (longer on Tuesdays and Thursdays).  The best part of having a little impromptu date night with your newborn at Mamma Melina? Hands down – the art that’s uniquely displayed on the ceiling!  Perfect for newborn gazing from a reclined stroller.

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Side note: Tyler drew a fascinating parallel between a) newborns strapped into car seats which are snapped into strollers and b) old men snoozing in La-Z-Boy recliners on casters.  Next risky business venture? Possibly.

Mamma Melina offered us a place loud enough to belly laugh and not get starred at but quiet enough to hear each other the first time (a delicate balance for a date night choice).  While Addie snoozed, we reminisced about our teenage years with braces (I dutifully wore my rubber bands, he did not), what it will be like to travel to Nashville in October with a baby (he will masterfully pack and prepare our gear, I will bring a boatload of snacks), and how good prosciutto is on pizza (duh).

Strolling into MiiR with a Baby

After hitting up the Kirkland waterfront, my sister (Shari, 32), niece (Meredith, 6 months), my husband, (Tyler, almost the big 3-0) and our daughter (Adeline, 3 weeks old) headed back across the 520 bridge to Seattle onward to the neighborhood of Fremont.  We had recently discovered a newly developing area of Fremont worth a little stroll.

Destination: MiiR. Purpose: Beer for a cause.  How very Seattle of us.

MiiR has been made known for their cool bikes and trendy bottles paired with deliberate and sustainable giving.  Tyler had heard that they opened up a flagship store where they sold their products in conjunction with inviting their customers to pull up a chair, enjoy a coffee or a draft brew and either a) work remotely (again, how very Seattle!) or b) split a French Toast Mighty-O doughnut with a loved one.

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Obviously, MiiR will continue to be a dreamy place for #daddyaddie time.  See above.

Disclaimer: this place is “baby-friendly” as in no one checked Addie’s ID at the door but their aesthetic is oober young/hip/trendy (think crisp white walls + white counter tops with succulents on the tables.)  They did have changing tables in the bathrooms though. In fact, they were the HIPPEST changing tables I had ever seen – super modern, stainless steel, rectangular.  No koala bear stickers to be found on those bad boys.

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It is a fairly quiet place so if you’re looking for a spot to bring a cranky baby or some white noise rather than white-everything-else, you may want to consider the outdoor seating area.  Indoor seating should probably be reserved for napping newborns as to not tick off the Warby Parker-wearing telecommuting graphic designer fiddling away on his MacBook Pro at the table next to you.

I’m one of those PNW hippies that believes talking to your child about real things very early on is important for their development.  Or maybe it’s just good for my continued brain development as a temporary stay-at-home mom to take a break from baby-talk and discuss the alleviation of poverty and the concept of clean water with my 3-week old.  In addition to the aforementioned cold brews, doughnuts and outdoor seating, my favorite part about our visit to MiiR was explaining to Meredith and Adeline how MiiR operates, using the illustrative wall visuals to animate their concepts. Start ’em young, I say.

And keep mommy’s brain from turning into mush by continuing to do kid-friendly yet adult things with sweet Adeline.

MiiR offers you a trendy and clean space to sip on an adult beverage without forcing you and your newborn into a dark bar at two o’clock in the afternoon.  The tables and chairs are spread out enough to easily maneuver a stroller around.  And I know you’re curious about those LEGIT stainless steel changing tables in both the men and women’s restrooms.  And did I mention the doughnuts?

PS: Tyler said I should also mention that in the future, while I stroll, Adeline will ride the MiiR Bambini.

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Strolling the Kirkland Waterfront with a Baby

Addie will become quite the jet-setter over the next few months due to a) her bi-coastal grandparents/extended family and b) her parents’ seemingly unquenchable wanderlust.

Pause: do babies accrue frequent flier points?  Hm. Probably not since we don’t have to buy her an actual plane ticket until she’s two.  All in due time, Adeline Grace.

Before our first family-of-three journey to Nashville in October (Tyler’s hometown) or San Jose in November (my hometown) or any other destination, we were fortunate enough to have our entire immediate family make the journey to the PNW within her first 6 weeks of life.  How loved this little girl is!  Between visits from my parents and Tyler’s parents, my oldest and only sister, Shari and her six month old daughter, Meredith came into town.

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I think it’s the coolest that Meredith and Addie are six months apart, nearly to the day.  My sister and I were pregnant at the same time which made for some hilarious and hormone-riddled late night/early morning text messages.  (Real example: “Do you ever just get tired of being pregnant? Sometimes I just want to lay down on my back.  Instead, I will watch some Top Chef on my side and dream of our fridge delivery on Friday.“)  She also sends me oodles of clothes as Meredith outgrows them, right as Addie fits into them.  Shari will forever play the older sister card as I encounter the same child-rearing questions she faced, just on a six month delay.

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So where do you stroll with a two week old and a six month old?  Seattle summers beckon waterfront visits all over town.  We journeyed over the 520 bridge to Kirkland which is about a 15 minute drive from Seattle.  Kirkland has a uniquely chill Eastside vibe.  Its “downtown” features oodles of restaurants, art galleries, independently owned boutiques, and the only Eastside downtown frontage along Lake Washington’s shoreline.

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Kirkland’s “beach” (my snobby California self hesitates to call it that) was indeed a perfect place to walk with a newborn and an infant.  After strolling along the flat, paved shoreline path, we ventured up to my favorite sandwich shop, Homegrown. Turkey, bacon, avocado on wheat bread = YUM.  Wide doorjams and a large outdoor patio made it easy to roll in and out with our strollers.  Oh, and free parking!  Kirkland is one of the few larger cities in Washington that doesn’t empty your wallet with parking meters.  And ya’ll know how much I like free.

May I disclose that this was one of my first “public” breast feeding attempts?  Just being real here.  There were a ton of benches on the waterfront and lots of kiddos running around.  Glad to report it wasn’t a complete and utter failure (do I dare make an “udder” joke??  Oh, wait I JUST DID.)

Strolling for Things I Don’t Need

Part of my new routine as a temporary stay-at-home mom includes a substantial morning walk.  I have hopes of getting back to my relatively fit and healthy self in a reasonable amount of time post-pregnancy.  Since I don’t love the gym, we walk.

Also, can you call something a routine if you’ve only done it three times?  I vote yes.

My walks take on different purposes depending on my mood.  Sometimes I walk to explore a park.  Other times I stroll to gawk at the ridiculously large and historic homes in a particular neighborhood.  But I like my morning walks to have purpose.

Before I had Adeline, I was a once a week grocery shopper.  It would seriously irk me if I had to stop at QFC on my walk home from the foundation on any given day for a forgotten ingredient.  Now, I’ve found myself spreading out my shopping to give myself an opportunity to “do something” each morning.  For someone who loves the most efficient everything, this has been quite the newsflash.

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This morning, I decided to strap Addie in the Ergo (which I’m still mastering how to do gracefully by myself. Currently, I resemble a cross between a novice contortionist and a cat that doesn’t want to be picked up).  Once she was securely fastened, we headed out the door to the main drag in Queen Anne.  Destination: Bartells.  Task: Purchase hair dye.

Because I’m not actually a redhead.  Shh.

Lucky me, my favorite hair dye was on sale for $7.99, a savings of $3!  I love saving money even more than I love walks which is why my next action made no sense.  I strolled a little too slowly down the hair care and styling isle and paused to look at the curling irons. I grabbed the most expensive one and walked decisively to the cashier.  $36.20 later, I am now the not-so-proud owner of a professional grade 1 1/4 inch curling iron.  A device I don’t need nor really have space for. Also, did I mention I already have a curling iron?  (BUT THIS ONE WAS CUTER!)

I get why homemakers sometimes find themselves with a plethora of “stuff” – it’s so easy to look for ways to fill the time.  Let this be a warning to myself for all of my future walks – try not to buy things you don’t need because you’re a little bored.

And if I can’t be trusted to walk with a relatively high limit credit card, it may be best to bring only enough cash for my pre-planned purchase.

Strolling Chateau Ste. Michelle

Weekends for a real estate agent are typically scheduled with client tours and open houses but last Saturday, my husband Tyler had a rare but true laymen Saturday with no appointments.  We took full advantage of it, packing an “everything but the kitchen sink” picnic and headed 20 minutes outside of Seattle to Woodinville (after consulting my Baby Wise schedule, of course).

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As it turns out, Chateau Ste. Michelle is a perfectly lovely place to stroll with a newborn!  Lots of easy parking, tons of wide open, manicured grass, stroller-friendly pathways and of course, a full blown winery with an entertaining gift shop to boot.  Plus, it’s free aside from the optional wine purchase.  I am all about free fun.

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Tyler scouted the perfect spot to lay out our Seahawks blanket (sidenote: WordPress does not agree that “Seahawks” is a real word. Get with the 2014 Superbowl program, WP!)  We kicked off our shoes, sipped our crisp Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay out of our plastic cups and just starred at sweet Adeline the way only new parents do. We will definitely be returning here soon to try out some of their other wines and snap more family selfies.

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