Saturday, May 16, 2009

Road Trip with a 6 month old "Are you crazy"

When my husband suggested we go on a road trip, my first reaction was "are you crazy?"  Prior to the arrival of our son, we had gone on two road trips and two other vacations.  Both of our road trips ended disaster: driving between 18 and 24 hours straight either through a raining mountain pass in the middle of the night or a complete whiteout snow storm in the middle of the night.  And now that we have a child, my husband wants to have another one of these adventures, he must be crazy.  But somehow he managed to talk me into it and with Tavish just having turned 6 months old we were about to take him on a road trip.  We decided on an epic 12 day trip that would take us to Montreal, the Maine Coast and Boston.
Here are a few tips to road tripping with a 6 month old
1)       Invested in a GPS especially if you are anything like me - a terrible navigator (I swear the GPS has been a marriage saver).
2)      That being said make sure you write down the directions to all of your hotels and make sure you know how to spell the road name.  While the GPS is great but it won’t help you find Main St. as opposed to Maine St. unless you know which one you want.
3)       Make lots of packing list so you don’t forget anything and make sure you have enough room for everything your baby will need.  Holy crap do you need a lot of things when you travel with a baby.  Our SUV was full, we needed a playpen, stroller, car seat, carrier backpack (best thing ever), travel high chair, toys, clothes, diapers, wipes, food, cooler, food mill (I was determined to make as much baby food as possible), play mat bag (also a great investment) and many other little things.  While we may not have needed all that we brought most of it came in very useful.
4)      Spread out travel days with touring days.  We would spend a day traveling with a few days of touring.  Tavish was a great sleeper in the car so he could catch up on sleep the days we traveled.

5)      During travel days stop often to stretch out both your legs and your babies.  We found lots of interesting places to stop and some of our favourite memories are at impromptu locations.  
6)      Keep your normal schedule as much as possible.  Tavish did not have a set nap schedule when he was 6 months old but we kept his bed time the same and he was really good and rested for our trip.
7)      Bring movies, games, books, or other things to keep entertained at night.  Our son has always gone to be around 7-7:30, we when he was done for the day, so were we.  We brought movies and a portable DVD player so we could watch what we wanted, lots of games (cards, Dutch blitz, settlers card game, and other small easy to pack games).  We also used the time to just chat and spend time together.  If our room had a fridge we would buy ice cream and have a nice dessert just the two of us.
8)      Make your own breakfast and lunch.  It saves you lots of money, and you always have food on hand if you can’t find a good place to eat. Plus it’s healthier than eating the crap they serve at most attractions.  Every 2 or 3 days we would go grocery shopping, and we had a cooler that could plug into our car, also most of our hotel rooms had a fridge.
9)      Travel in September (after Labour Day) most of the attractions are still open but less crowded and few school groups.  We were the only people at a few of the museums we went to and we had lots of fun playing with the hands on activities without having to share.
10)   Backpack carriers are a must if you like to spend time outside.  We used the backpack for everything: hiking on the beach, touring museums, playing mini golf.  Tavish loved being up high  and seeing everything and you have much more mobility than a stroller.  Also it’s much easier on your back than a front carrier.
11)    Bring your own high chair (if you have one, and preferably one with toys).  We had bought a travel high chair just for the trip.  We never had to wait for a high chair, it was always clean and we never had to worry about picking toys off the floor.
12)   Dining tips with a 6 month old – we always fed him just after we ordered so by the time our food arrived he was done eating and happy to play with his toys and we could enjoy our meal without having to feed him every other bite (note: this will not work with older babies especially ones who eat normal food).
13)   Finally remember that you are on vacation and it’s okay to spend a day doing nothing. My favourite day was we just hung out on the beach (I think Tavish liked it too – can’t beat sand for a yummy snack)
We had a great trip, we had just the right amount of planning and free time.  With the lists we made for packing we did not forget anything (over packed just a little – we only used our stroller once and it took up a lot of space).  Tavish seemed to enjoy the trip and 6 months is a great age to go on a road trip.  He was happy to be in the car, happy to see the sites, slept in the carrier or stroller when he was tired, and easy to feed.  We have no plans to take him on a long road trip anytime soon as I think it would be much different with a 13 month old but we do have other trips and our first camping trip planned so I will post more travel tips soon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Fluffy Background

Well I thought I would give a bit of background into my cloth diaper experience.  A few years before I had kids, I went to a get together with a few of my high school friends (two of which had kids).  I was shocked to see one of them using a diaper that did not look like what I imagined cloth diapers to look like and they sure weren’t disposables (they were bright orange).  And so I was introduced to Fuzzy Bunz, cloth diapers.  A year or two later, I found out that I was pregnant and the first thing I did was buy one Fuzzy Bunz (Orange) and one Happy Heiny (Forest Green).  They were the cutest things ever.  My husband was not sold on cloth diapers at all, he thought they would be messy, hard to use, and most of all expensive (at about $20 a diaper they are not cheap).  I still wanted to cloth diaper (CD) but never brought it up again until we went to a baby show in Toronto.  At the baby show there were lots of vendors selling cloth and I picked up one more diaper (variation of the Monkey Doodlez in lime green).  The man selling however had my husband convinced that getting started CDing would cost about $2000 (Holy Crap that is a lot of money and would we really spend that much on disposables?).  Granted we did want more than one kid so the next child it won’t cost as much and cloth is better for the environment (I like to be as environmentally friendly as possible but we could compost our diapers here) but still that’s a lot of money. I knew there must be a cheaper way to CD and I did find a Work-At-Home-Mom who made cloth diapers that were much cheaper so I bought a 4 pack variety pack of diapers (4 different styles of diapers). 
I only had 7 diapers when my son was born and I had no idea what I was going to do with them.  My son came home from the hospital in disposable and wore then for the next few weeks.  The cloth diapers were much to big (even though I bought small ones and my son was 8lbs6oz when he was born) but Finally one day when I was bored I decided to put my son in the Happy Heiny.  It was a bit big but if fit well enough and so I decided that I was going to do cloth diapers part time (only at home and not at night).  A week later there was another baby show and I was introduced to Bum Genius (BG) diapers.  The thing that helped convince my husband (who really cares more about our bottom line than the environment, while I am the opposite) was that these diapers were one size (OS – meaning that they grow with your baby from 5lbs to 30lbs but the 5lbs they will still be giant on your baby).  With OS diapers they would reduce the cost of cloth diapering by 2 or 3 times (most sized brands come in S,M,L and XL). We bought 6 of them and they worked great (I had come to think that it was normal for cloth diapers to leak a lot because most of my other diapers leaked) no leaks, no blowouts, they were awesome.

I still had no idea what I was doing.  Where did the dirty diapers go (I needed a pail), what should I line the pail with (I needed a wet bag), what if I wanted to use them when I went out (need a travel wet bag), how should I wash them (they were starting to smell), what should I wash them with (they were starting to leak)?  Finally I joined a CDing group on Facebook and wow was there a lot of info.  Everything from what the different kinds of diapers were to how to wash them, what to wash them with and what not to do (we were doing a lot wrong which is why they leaked and smelt so bad).  We were using dryer sheets (caused the leakage), only washing them once with bad detergent (they now get washed 3x with Ecos detergent and tea tree oil).  I found websites to buy wetbags and more diapers and so an addition began J.  We went from only using cloth part time to only using cloth (disposable only when we went away and when the diapers were in the wash).  I began buying any cloth diaper I found that looked cute, I found lots of on-line stores and went a bit crazy (my husband had to perform a cloth diaper intervention and I had to try to stop buying fluff).  However, my husband also fell on board with the whole CDing thing (other than the excessive buying of diapers), mind you he only using the BG brand of diapers and refuses to use any diaper that has snaps. 
Things were going great until we had a leaking set back, every night our son would wake up soaking wet.  He would leak through the diaper, his sleeping sack, and sheet, Every Night.  We started putting him in disposables at night (he leaked though that too).  Eventually we found a solution to that (I stopped the night-time feed) but now we are back to disposables at night (so sad about this and if you have any suggestions let me know but my diapers are clean, and well stuffed with hemp insert at night). 
Tavish has been in cloth for just over a year now and other than the night-time (now) they are amazing.  Some brand work better than others (for us anyway), we use all sorts of diapers (one-size, sized, pockets, all-in-ones, hybrids, fitted, pre-folds and even g-pants with cloth inserts) and we just bought him his first pairs of cloth pull-ups.   I love finding more people who are interested in cloth and 3 of my friends have recently converted to cloth.  In my next fluffy blog, I will go over some of the types of diapers, and what you need to get started.  Cloth diapering is not that hard (especially now that many kinds are just as easy as disposable and easier if you use a liner). I will also go over some of the pros and some of the cons (not many).  I am excited to share my story and I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Intro and Air Travel Tips

Well I guess first of all I should introduce myself.  I am Amie and I am a mom to a 13 month old boy named Tavish (born March 20, 2008).  I am currently not working but I am hoping to find a job in September.  I finished school when I was pregnant, I defended my master’s thesis when I was 5 months pregnant, and completed my masters when I was 8 months pregnant (I procrastinate a lot).  I studied fish biology but I am not too sure if I will be able to find a job in that field so we’ll see what happens.  As for this blog I plan on writing about my adventures with my son but I would like to focus on 3 things, travelling with a little one (we are going on a few trips this summer), cloth diapers (I am a huge advocate of cloth: it’s good for your baby, good for the environment), and job hunting.
Air Travelling with a Baby
Both my husband and I love to travel and it’s a good thing because both our parents live across the country from us.  My husbands parents live in Winnipeg and my family lives in Grande Prairie, AB.  Tavish has become quite the little travelling in his 13 months.  Our first trip was to Calgary for my Convocation when Tavish was just over 2 months old.  It was just Tavish and me on this trip and I made the hugest mistake possible by not bringing a stroller with me (my aunt was letting me use hers there).  Not having a stroller in the airport was a giant pain in the butt.  I did bring a baby carrier but with a diaper bag, coats, the carrier, and Tavish going through security was such a stress.  Other than that hiccup it was a great trip and Tavish slept on the plane the whole time.  Travel Tip: bring a stroller.  
The next trip was to Grande Prairie for my brother’s wedding (Tavish 4 months old) and I brought the stroller this time and the flight was a success (I few to GP with just Tavish but flew back with my husband).  Travel Tip: when you are flying Westjet always book your seats at the back of the plane with one parent on the isle and the other by the window chances are no one will sit in the middle and if there is someone there (never has been with us) I am sure would be more than willing to give up the middle seat.
Our next trip was to Winnipeg to visit Kyle’s family (Tavish 6 months old) and a friend told us the most wonderful thing: if you are on a direct flight with Westjet you can ask to hold a seat for your infant and you can bring a car seat without having to pay for it if that seat is available (see travel tip above on how to have your family sit together).  It was a great trip and a great flight because Tavish was in the car seat (so much easier).  Our family then took a road trip but I will leave that story for another day.
Our latest trip was to Washington DC.  My husband was there working so I thought I would join him for the weekend.  Tavish was 11 months and just starting to walk, I had the stroller with me and lots of food and toys but he really wanted to walk.  He was really shaky on his legs and bailed big time into the metal ledge around the windows just before our flight was to board.  I was pretty frantic trying to get him calmed down and get all our stuff packed before boarding but we did make it (blood pressure was pretty high I’m guessing).  He was pretty good on the fights but he sure had his moments;  it is so much easier to fly with a 2-6 month old than it is an 11 month old. Travel tips for an 11 month old: bring lots of snacks, bring lots of toys (only give one at a time and expect them all to land on the floor at some point), have a window seat (he loved to open and close the shade and hit the window and better the window then the person next to me), ask if the flight is full and if it’s not see if they will hold the seat next to you, and expect a melt down on the plane (there is not much you can do about it but look apologetic and you won’t get so many mean glances.  As for our next trip I am planning on taking my son in a few weeks back to GP by myself and then on to Calgary, should be an adventure.  We are also taking a family trip to Florida with my in-laws but again I will save more of that for another day.  
Well I look forward to hearing your travel tips and telling more stories about travel, cloth diapers and job hunting.