Monday, October 28, 2013

Parenthood: Late Night Wedding Receptions and Toddlers

Last week I wrote about flying with a toddler for the first time. As with all new experiences, it posed some challenges, but it was good experience overall.

As I mentioned, we spent a long weekend in Canada where we attended my cousin's wedding.

Before heading to Toronto on Friday, we stopped to visit my Nana (on Thursday) and then spent the night at one of my aunt's houses.

Jack had fun playing with my sister's kids as well as playing with some of my younger cousins.

In addition to traveling solo with my toddler, I had the added responsibility of several freelance projects and was grateful to have family who were willing to watch Jack while I snuck off to find internet and wrap up some of my work.

Once we were at the hotel in Toronto, Jack was happy to jump in the pool with his cousins as well as run wild with his first cousin, Levi.

The wedding day was a challenge. It was cold and rainy and my sister had a migraine (and she was also traveling without her spouse).

While she crashed in our room; my mom, my nana and I watched the kids in the lobby. Hotel lobby's and toddlers are not a fun combination.

As the day went on, more relatives appeared and we somehow managed to get all of the kids ready and to the wedding on time.

The GPS on my phone would only work when I had wifi. This meant finding where I needed to go while I was still at the hotel and then hoping I didn't get lost or go off of the map as I drove around the greater Toronto area.

The wedding took place in the afternoon and was beautiful. Brianna, my cousin, was a perfect princess.

After the wedding, it was back to the hotel. Jack fell asleep on the drive back so I sat in the car for over an hour in order for him to get a good nap before the wedding reception.

After a quick snack, we headed to the reception. It was a full course meal with lots of visiting and dancing. The kids loved the dance floor.

The wedding was a lot of fun, but also stressful. It was the first time I have really felt that I am an old mom.

Without Daniel there to be a second set of eyes on Jack, I found myself constantly on the run to keep up with him.

Jack wanted to be on the dance floor. He wanted to watch the band. He wanted to get into the box of props for the photo booth. He wanted more ice cream.

A couple of times I stopped to talk with a relative and realized that Jack had disappeared.

Thankfully there were plenty of family members around to help bring him back to me on the occasions where I struggled to find him.

Daniel and I love new experiences, but we have a saying that there are things in life that we are glad that we had the opportunity to do, but that we would never do again.

Attending a late night wedding reception without a spouse to help watch my child falls into that category. It was fun, but totally exhausting and nerve wracking. I'm glad I went but I wouldn't do it again – at least not by myself.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Flying with a Toddler

Sorry to be MIA for the last week. My life has been cah-ray-zee and I feel like I am in a perpetual state of playing catch up.

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of flying with Jack for the first time. We flew from Huntsville, Alabama to Buffalo, New York with a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina on our way to Toronto, Ontario for my cousin's wedding.

Originally Daniel was going to come and we were going to drive up. In a lot of ways that would have been simpler, but it would have also been a harder trip. Plus we are trying to get our house on the market and we both felt like he needed to stay behind to wrap up some projects.

Since we live out of our suitcase during the week, weekends are the only time we can make any progress on the house. It was a tough decision but we think it was the right one.

Upon deciding to fly, I did some preliminary research on flying with a toddler. The biggest things I gathered were 1) use suckers (or a paci) for take off and landing; and 2) don't be afraid to break your normal rules (like screen time or letting your child use their paci for more than just naps).

I used both of these ideas and the traveling part of our trip was incredibly easy.

We had an early morning to flight to catch (we left our home by 4am), so I hoped Jack would sleep on the first leg. It turns out that flying is super exciting for my little one and he would not nap on that first flight.

In Charlotte we had 10 minutes to run from Terminal E to Terminal B to catch our connecting flight. Thankfully I had my umbrella stroller stored in the overhead compartment. I also had an Ergo* baby carrier, so I opted to carry the stroller and strap Jack to my chest. We literally ran through the airport.

At the time I was annoyed about the short layover, but I think it was actually a blessing because we didn't have time to be bored (we had the same thing happen on the return). I changed Jack's diaper right before we boarded our second flight (but ended up having to change a dirty diaper mid air – I was surprised that the lavatory had a changing table!). 

I decided to do the early boarding for families with small children on all of our flights and this worked out well for us since it was easier to get settled and it gave Jack a chance to play with the lights and air above the seat.

For the flight, I put a backpack in the overhead compartment and had a smaller shoulder bag that I filled with snacks (suckers), his paci, water, my Kindle, a small blanket, a diaper and changing pad as well as a coloring book and a couple of small toys (anything I thought I might need during the flight). The ONLY things we used from my carry on were the snacks/water, his paci and the suckers.

I guess my biggest piece of advice for flying with a little one is to know your child and pack accordingly. I have a really laid back kid. He was happy to sit in my lap. I told him ahead of time about take off and landing. We talked during each experience. I told him what to expect during security checks and it was all smooth sailing. I had extra stuff just in case, but we really didn't need it. The traveling part of our trip was truly a breeze. The rental car and car seat; my cell phone/data/gps NOT working in Canada; and going to a wedding WITHOUT my significant other; well those things were way more challenging...

*The Ergo is fabulous, but the stroller was the best because I was able to hang my shoulder bag on the back of it. Plus Jack was happy in the stroller and it was nice to have for the wedding reception.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Crow Creek Pumpkin Patch 2013

One of my favorite things about being parents is that we do stuff that we would never consider doing when it was just the two of us. 

Last year was our first year to go to a pumpkin patch (we actually visited two, Crow Creek and Burt's Farm) and this year we decided to use Daniel's day off for Columbus Day to go back to Crow Creek.

I kind of hope that going on Columbus Day becomes a tradition, 1) because Daniel has the day off and the farm wasn't very crowded and 2) it was nice to do something on a day that also happens to be Canadian Thanksgiving. I hope that as Jack gets older we are able to celebrate this Canadian holiday even if it is in a smaller capacity.

The pumpkins at the farm this year were kind of small, but we still enjoyed the experience. The Crow Creek Pumpkin Patch includes a hayride out on the farm to the pumpkin patch to pick up your pumpkin as well as a corn maze, a small petting zoo and several play areas.

Jack wasn't so sure about the animals and was actually nipped by one of the donkeys. If I recall, I got nipped last year. Overall I think he enjoyed the experience.

I am looking forward to growing our traditions as Jack gets older. 

For dinner tonight, Jack helped me make a pumpkin pie. I wanted to have something that reminded me of Thanksgiving. I am looking forward to going to Canada this weekend for my cousin's wedding and seeing a lot of my relatives. 

On a sad note, three different people I know lost loved ones today; including my Nana whose brother, my Great Uncle Dean Hotchkiss, passed away. He is the first of my Nana's six siblings to pass, so she and my other great aunts and uncles are on my mind today.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Jack is 23 Months

I missed Jack's 22 month update. Life has been incredibly busy, but Jack has not stopped growing and changing. It is getting hard to keep up with how much he is learning on a daily basis.

Since it is only one(!) short month until he turns two I thought I would show some current pictures as compared to months ago. It is so hard to believe my little boy was ever so small!

I don't even know where to start. Jack is stringing more and more words together. New phrases include, "Oh my goodness" and "Ride Four Wheeler?" He names everything he knows whenever we are out and about. I spend a lot of time explaining differences of everyday items. Jack made the connection that all things that open must be doors. So right now we are working on differentiating between what a door and a lid is. He's a pretty smart cookie.

Jack is able to connect sounds with things that have engines. He can discern (by sound) the difference between a truck, a car, a plane, a fire truck and a motorcycle. I don't know if this is normal for his age but we are impressed parents.

Jack has been able to do stairs since he was 10 months old (scooting down backwards) now he can walk up and down without holding the wall or a rail. This makes us nervous at times, but he is really pretty careful. Yesterday we were outside on our porch and realized that we weren't sure where Jack was. We soon discovered that he had walked down our big brick steps into the back yard. We had a little chat with him about why that wasn't ok.

Since Jack doesn't have a sibling to imitate, I have caught him imitating Sophie on occasion. He actually tried to lick milk off the floor the other day after watching Sophie do it. I have also seen him sniffing rocks and the carpet. Silly boy. I think it is time for a little more human interaction.

Jack continues to be a trooper with our constant traveling. Next week Jack and I will actually be traveling to Canada for the weekend by plane. Daniel is sad that he won't be able to have this first plane experience with us. I think we will be ok since Jack is such a good traveler and loves to watch airplanes. I am praying the trip goes off without a hitch. I'm looking forward to seeing my extended family at my cousin's wedding.

My next update will be about a two-year-old! Crazy.

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...