Sunday, June 26, 2011

Toddler Travel

Hello from San Francisco! We arrived yesterday afternoon after a two flight travel day. I'm traveling here for a business trip and Aaron's mom and Ava are with me. It's a mix of business and pleasure since they are with me and Michele is watching Ava during the work week while I'm working in our Social Media Lab office in downtown San Francisco.

Michele is calling herself the "Granny Nanny" which is funny! I packed and organized two nights before our trip which took the pressure off of the night before. Our flight departed at 8am so we had to leave the house at 6am, which meant I woke at 4:30am to make sure that I had everything ready. Packing took a lot of thought because I had to take stuff for my business trip (work clothes, laptop), baby stuff (clothes, diapers, medication, my breast pump and supplies), not to mention own personal things. I had some great advice from friends who have traveled with their small children and babies. Since Ava is younger than 2 years old, she can fly for free on my lap, but I had to bring her birth certificate for documentation at check-in. Thank goodness I read that ahead of time because we wouldn't have been able to board our flight without it.

I am by no means an expert on toddler travel, but here's what has been working for us:

  • Nursing at take-off, landing, and in-between: With the air pressure changes of air travel, nursing helps the baby's ears normalize. Not to mention, nursing is a baby's comfort and when they're in a strange place, their mother's breast is the safest place they know. I brought a familiar small blanket from home, which was helpful.
  • Pashmina scarf keeps you and baby warm: I have a large wool pashmina scarf, which is perfect for wrapping up the baby while nursing or carrying her around.
  • Your favorite baby carrier: I love my ring sling and used it on the plane to loosely wrap around Ava while we both slept on the plane. I didn't want to let go of her while I slept and risk her falling off my lap so I adjusted it so she was secure, but cozy. I used my soft structured carrier (in the picture) for walking on the city streets and the airport. It's very nice to have your hands free and your baby close and lower profile than a stroller.
  • Lightweight carseat: we just got a second carseat for Aaron's car that is safe, but light. We were able to easily place it in the cab to head to the hotel and it's also fun for Ava to play in. Kids love playing with buckles! We were planning on putting it away, but she's having so much fun with it in the hotel room. A friend lent us a backpack that holds a carseat, which was very helpful because of all the luggage we had to haul.
  • Lots of snacks: I packed some containers with Ava's favorite non-perishable snacks like dried cranberries, puffs, yogurt melts, and pretzels. My downfall is that I wished I packed a protein snack for me to keep my energy especially being vegetarian and nursing.
  • Smart packing: I tried to scrutinize everything that I packed to see if I really needed it. I packed enough outfits for Ava to have fresh clothes and kept a change of clothes in our carry on with extra socks just in case we lost them on the way. I packed my bottle brush, small sample sizes of dishwash soap will come in handy to wash Ava's sippy and the bottles that I pump into.
  • Diapers for 2 days: Our family is now a cloth diapering family, but on this trip we're using disposable. Cloth diapers take a lot of physical space and time to wash the diapers. It would be fine for car trips or weekends, but 5-days on a business trip, disposable diapers are much easier. I picked up a small pack of diapers at the store when we arrived. I carried a few diapers with a small wipes container on the plane and stuffed extras in my other carry-on and more in the checked luggage. It's good to have extras in case of delays. I packed extra wipes in a resealable bag for refills.
  • Bring baby pain reliever, diaper salve, and sunscreen: A friend brought up a good point that it's hard to find baby items (especially your favorite brands) when you're at a hotel or airport. I packed these items, which have come in handy.
  • Buying supplies at arrival: Before our trip, I scoped out a nearby Whole Foods store. We walked to the store and stocked up on food that you don't have to heat up for breakfast and snacks such as bread, peanut butter, fruit, yogurt, and soy milk. We also grabbed plastic utensils, paper plates, and napkins for the hotel room, which have been very handy.
  • Refrigerator in your hotel: The hotel housekeeping brought one up to our room since our room didn't have one. We are keeping Ava's milk and our food in the fridge. Our only wish is if our hotel had a microwave to reheat leftovers.
  • Fun new toys: Aaron stopped at the dollar store and got some fun toys for Ava to play with on the plane. He got some Sesame Street flash cards, which she liked. We used the "barf bag" for Ava to put things in and take them out. At her age, this is very entertaining!
  • Low key plans on arrival: I didn't make any plans on Saturday because I wasn't sure who we'd feel with a long day of travel. The only plan was to settle into the hotel and go to the store to buy our supplies.
  • Adjusting to time zones: A friend suggested that I try to reset Ava's home schedule for naps, based on the time that she wakes every day. It has worked for us so far. We usually go with the flow with her natural nap schedule anyway.

Today we're meeting family and friends today in the park near the Golden Gate Bridge! I'm excited because my step-mom and brother haven't meet Ava yet! And my bio-mom hasn't seen Ava since she was 5-weeks old when she came to visit us in Indy. We have some of my oldest friends coming to visit us for our bring-your-own picnic fun this afternoon.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

15 Months

Ava turned 15-months last weekend and there's so much going on in her world right now. She has just taken her first steps just a week after she started standing up on her own. Since she was later to develop those skills, I think she just put it all together so quickly once she got the confidence to try. She observes the world around her closely and then cautiously tries them on her own when she's ready. Ava is on her own schedule!

Here are some pictures of our play date at the park with my friend's 18-month old daughter. Ava got to ride in a swing for the first time! She loved it. She even walked in the grass, which I was very excited to see since she only took her first steps the day before.

22lbs 2oz (gained 1 lb in 3-months)
32 inches long (grew 1 1/2 inches in 3 months)
46 1/2 cm head size
Clothing - 18months to 2T on the top, 12/18-months on the bottom

I just took Ava for her 15-month check-up. She was very upset during the appointment, but her pediatrician said that it's very common for 15 and 18-month old babies to react that way because of their stranger anxiety. Even before the shots, she got very upset. We nursed through the beginning the the visit so she could calm down and then after her shots, which put her to sleep. Poor girl! The doctor and staff were amazed to see her relaxed and sleeping in her sling as we were leaving since she was so upset before.

I always say, thank goodness for nursing! In fact, I'm happy to report that she's extremely healthy. She's never had an ear infection in her life or anything other than colds and some elevated temps. And at 15-months, we're nursing while we're together that I still express at when I work in the office. At daycare, she has made the switch to sippy cups and eating a really good lunch and snacks. She's never had cow's milk since we're nursing. But she does well with water in her sippy and still ramping up on drinking expressed milk in her cup. She tends to take smaller amounts of milk now, but we nurse a lot when we're together. I save all the extra milk to donate to the milk bank for the babies.

Ava is very vocal and expresses herself by talking and singing. Listening and dancing to music is one of her favorite activities. Her favorites are the Veggie Tales songs, especially the theme song. She sings the song all the time and points to the iPod so we'll turn on the music. Aaron and I can't get the song out of our heads, but it's worth it because she loves it! Today, at Meijer, we saw a box of Veggie Tales fruit snacks and when she saw the box, she started singing the song. It was so cute!

New words:
  • Bena - her favorite and she says it at daycare all the time
  • Stop - to the babies that are bothering her at daycare
  • Go - when we're getting in the car
  • Bye-Bye (with the hand wave) when we're going somewhere
  • Jacob - Ava's friend at daycare and she says it really well!
  • Ma - that's me
  • Da - Aaron
  • "That?" - when she's pointing to see what something is and we do this over and over again!
  • Uh-oh - she says that when she drops something.
  • Light - she pronounces yight
It's funny that she doesn't have a word for nursing yet. She just either points to my boob or pulls at my shirt when she's desperate. Usually, I can read her body language before we get to that point.

What Ava is eating:
  • Fruit and yogurt smoothie: We share a breakfast smoothie together. Her favorite is berry, but she also likes the banana-pineapple with OJ.
  • Yogurt-mashed banana combo: and sometimes I add almond butter. I mix in a dab of maple syrup because I use plain yogurt. She also likes vanilla yogurt with unsweetened apple butter.
  • Fruit: peaches, orange slices, plum (new), my homemade cinnamon applesauce, and freeze dried strawberries.
  • Snacks: yogurt melts, puffs, graham crackers, cinnamon school book cookies from Trader Joe's, honey wheat pretzels.
  • Dried fruit: cranberries and pineapple
  • Veggies: Beets, zucchini, carrot-apricot puree, sweet potato (sometimes I add mashed black beans), and a combo of potato, leek, and pea.
  • Meat/protein: just started to eat chicken (pureed). I mix in lentils in her food too.
  • Bread: she just started eating bread a little bit.
Breastfed babies get a sampling of family foods from the flavors in their mother's milk. They say that after an hour of a mother eating a banana, its flavor is in her milk. I guess it's not a surprise that Ava loves fruit and yogurt so much because I make a smoothie every morning and eat lots of fruit. We always have seasonal fruit on the dinner table and offer it to Ava to try. It takes us many attempts to get her to warm up to new foods so we offer her what we're eating and see what sticks. It's still hoping for her to like avocado! Her way of eating is interesting. You give her a large piece of food and she breaks it up with her fingers and mashes it and then puts the small pieces in her mouth. Lots of food ends up immediately on the floor so it's a good thing for Bena! We call her the hoover!

Ava enjoys the outdoors, especially with her Daddy and Bena. She loves watching Aaron throw the ball for Bena in the backyard. Aaron pulls out the playpen and she stands in it happily watching the fun action. We've had lots of rain powerful storms this year and she likes to watch them on the front porch with Aaron. Sometimes we all sit out there together. We're hoping to get a porch swing so we can sit out there together.

Overall, we're having a great time. She's really enjoying her Daddy-time!