Category Archives: Travel

West Virginia: A Travel Scrapbook

We are home at last after a whirlwind 4 days in West Virginia!  We spent most of the trip visiting family and I am so thankful Annabelle’s great-grandparents were able to get to know her better.  I look forward to one day being able to bring our entire family together to the place I call home.  We were so busy that I almost forgot to take photos at all, but here are the ones I managed to get– our travel scrapbook.

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After two days of gloomy rain, the weather was absolutely beautiful for the last part of our stay.  We definitely took advantage and hiked the neighborhood every chance we got.  Try pushing a stroller up and down hills (something we don’t have in Texas) for 40 minutes– one of the best workouts I’ve had in a while!

tudor's biscuit world

This was the reason I had to exercise: Tudor’s Biscuit World.  I rarely eat gluten.  I don’t really like biscuits.  But there is something magical about Tudor’s that finds me starting my day, every day, with greasy, fluffy deliciousness when I’m in West Virginia.

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Annabelle stole the show everywhere she went and managed to convince everyone in the family to play “bouncy bounce” with her– though maybe not as high as Uncle Phil could!

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Annabelle decided that this weekend was as good a time as any to master pulling up onto furniture.  Most of it was not exactly “baby-friendly” but we made it without any major boo-boos.  Very exciting to watch her determination!

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Four generations: Granny, Mom, Annabelle, and I — so glad to be able to have this time with our family (including aunts, uncles, and great-grandparents not pictured here.)

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The beautiful West Virginia State Capitol building.  When the sun hits the gold dome it is a sight to see– I love this view!

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Annabelle and I had lots of special time together– but we were ready to get home to Daddy and Lilu!

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The airport here is tiny– and on top of a mountain!  This is the edge of the runway right before we turned around to takeoff back to Texas.  It’s always an adventure flying in and out of Yeager Airport!

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Our last view of the West Virginia hills– until next time!

baby travel

My Top Five Essentials for Stress-Free Airplane Travel with a Baby

Yesterday was Annabelle’s first time on an airplane, and we made it to our destination without any accidents, major meltdowns, or breakdowns.  We might have just gotten lucky (hopefully not, as we still have the flight home on Monday), but I thought I would share what are my five essentials for stress-free travel with a baby.

A Seat — This is important for both safety and practical purposes.  Yes, if the plane falls out of the sky we’re all in trouble.  However, if the plane skids off the runway (as happened to a commercial airliner last week), an unsecured lap baby might be the only one to be injured.  Not a chance I was willing to take to save a couple hundred bucks.  Second, holding a baby who LOVES to stand, jump, roll, and reach for things on the ground for three hours would be physically exhausting.  I did get Annabelle out for a while to stretch, but her seat gave her a place to relax and let my arms have a break.

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Sippy Cup — Friends suggested I nurse during takeoff and landing to prevent Annabelle’s ears from popping, but since she had an assigned seat I would not be allowed to do so (I believe it is a liability issue.)  Annabelle ditched her paci months ago, so that idea was also out the window.  She’s fairly new to the sippy cup, but I filled it with water and helped her get going.  She drank and chewed on it as we ascended and showed no signs of obvious discomfort.  (The picture below is immediately after touchdown– somehow that put Annabelle to sleep–the only shut-eye of the trip– flying was too exciting!)

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Snacks — I was prepared to nurse if necessary, but let’s face it, West Virginia isn’t a major travel destination so our plane was tiny.  Trying to finagle a twenty pound squirmy baby and avoiding getting hit by the beverage cart or flashing everyone would be tricky.  I fed her some of my burger at the airport to fill her tummy with protein and brought a variety of snacks for the flight.  Puffs, teething biscuits, and fruit melts kept her satisfied.

Paci Wipes — I keep these in the diaper bag from back when Annabelle HAD to have her paci, but would frequently drop it.  If there’s no soap and water nearby, these really come in handy.  It was actually ME who dropped the lid for her sippy cup which rolled all the way under my seat.  Fortunately a quick swipe with the paci wipe meant I could make sure her cup stayed clean for when it was needed during our descent.

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Trendy Teether — One of my top five must-have baby products is the Zipadee-Zip.  I love it so much a wrote an unsponsored review a couple months ago simply because I wanted share what has been a total lifesaver for us.  Stephanie from Sleeping Baby was so kind as to send us one of their new creations, the Trendy Teether, which is a teething necklace for mom to wear.  I knew it would be perfect for traveling, as I could toss it around my neck and not worry about Annabelle dropping it, or it falling out of my purse like other toys.  As soon as Annabelle saw it she HAD to get her hands on it and she clutched it pretty much the entire flight– a total hit.  It’s not obvious that it is a baby toy– one of my relatives saw me take it off to hand to Annabelle and commented “ahh, so that is actually the baby’s necklace!”  Annabelle is cutting tooth number seven at the moment, so she is brutal on toys, but the Trendy Teether is very durable.  I’ll definitely be using it on a regular basis!

Obviously I was also equipped with a fully-stocked diaper bag, extra toys, books, and a blanket (though our plane was HOT), but the above items were what I relied on most heavily to make it to our destination with a happy baby and sane mommy.  I got lucky, as Annabelle did not mess her diaper, but she also did NOT nap, so it took a little work to keep her occupied and in one place for a long stretch of time.  Flying with an infant really isn’t that bad IF you are prepared, so hopefully my experience can help some other brave mamas in their upcoming travels!

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Traveling with Baby: The Night Before

Getting ready to go out of town is always stressful.  I thought that doing so with a baby would be doubly stressful, but here I sit relaxing on the eve of our departure.  Tomorrow morning myself, mom, and Annabelle are flying to West Virginia (which will always be our home base) to visit family.

Our bags are packed, save for a few toiletries I need in the morning.  Diaper bag is fully stocked with diapers, wipes, a spare change of clothes, towel, and plastic bags for dirty diapers.  My gigantic purse is stuffed with baby books, snacks, toys, towel, wallet, lip gloss, and sanitizer– quite different from its usual contents!  Annabelle and I are sharing one suitcase– an amazing accomplishment for a notorious over-packer.

Somehow I’ve managed to get the house in good shape, finish all the laundry and clean the turtle tank.  It’s so nice to come home to a clean house, so hopefully hubby will keep it that way while we are gone.

Speaking of hubby, this will be the longest we have been apart in over three years.  That will be the toughest part of the trip for me, though I know it must be worse for him since he will be home alone!  I’ve told him it will be like a mini-vacation and he can sleep as late as he wants, but somehow I think he’d rather have his girls around.

My number one travel tip and what I think made such a big difference in my level of preparedness is a packing list.  I started earlier in the week and within 30 seconds I had filled an entire notebook page.  At first it looked daunting, but it was a breeze to go down the list and tuck everything into my big suitcase.  I also made a to-do list of household and administrative tasks I needed to get done before leaving, as well as a couple of things for hubby to take care of (don’t worry, just minor stuff like taking out the trash on pickup day.)  I think I’ve become the queen of list-making!

I’m still rather impressed that I’ve gotten so much done– I actually feel like I’m ahead of the curve– I’m hoping it doesn’t mean I’m forgetting something!  And when I think ahead to tomorrow and the unknown of flying with a little powerhouse who might not want to sit still for three hours, and WILL need to nurse at some point whether it be airport or airplane, and always takes an afternoon poop, well, I think that tonight might have been the easy part!

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Traveling with Baby: Buying Tickets

In the next two months I will be taking Annabelle on two plane flights.  The first, which I am calling our “practice run,” is a short, direct flight from Houston to West Virginia to visit relatives.  The only things that worry me at all about this trip are (1) it is her first trip EVER by car or plane longer than one hour, and (2) Daddy will not be with us to help carry luggage and hold the baby if she gets restless.  However, my mom traveled with three kids many times, so I’m sure between the two of us we will be fine.

The second trip, which DOES make me a little more nervous is to the Bahamas for my sister’s wedding.  The first leg of the trip is again a direct flight, from Houston to Nassau.  However, the wedding is not on the big island.  No, my sister selected a remote, private beach resort on tiny outlying Cat Island.  Absolutely stunning in photos, but requiring a second flight on a completely separate Bahamian airline.  From what I’ve been told, a 30-seat turbo-prop (eek!!!)

I made the decision for both trips to buy Annabelle her own seat so she can ride in her carseat.  Honestly, to me there really was no decision to make.  Even rough turbulence could toss a lap baby out of a parent’s arms, and a preventable injury was not worth saving a few hundred dollars.  I know this is a hot-button issue among parents, but this is my opinion.  We waited so long to have Annabelle and went through such heartache the year prior, that I could never forgive myself if anything happened because she was not properly restrained.  (Stepping off soapbox now.)

I’ve already booked our international flight, but last night my sister texted to encourage me to go ahead and book the Bahamian leg of the trip, as these small planes fill up quickly.  I got my credit card handy (no American Express– dang, there goes a thousand dollars in potential points!)  However, when I entered in the ages of all our passengers, Annabelle was not given the option of buying a seat.  The website simply stated that no seats are allocated for infant passengers.  WHOA. I feel much safer in the big commercial jet from Houston, and she has a seat on that trip.  But the little puddle-jumper crossing ocean waters to a remote island doesn’t think she warrants a safe place to be strapped in?  Not cool.  I cancelled my booking so I could call the airline in the morning.

Lively, loud island music blared in my ear as I waited to speak to the airline representative.  I suppose it is a nice departure from the usual elevator music that I have become so accustomed to in my MANY calls to insurance, doctors offices, the healthcare marketplace, etc.  Fortunately, the wait was brief.

“Hi, I was trying to book an upcoming flight from Nassau to Cat Island with my one year old daughter, but the website wouldn’t let me buy her own seat.”

“Oh no, infants are not charged to fly.”

“Right, but I WANT to pay so she can have her own seat.”

“Oh but she can sit in your lap for free.”

“I’m not comfortable with that at all.”

“No?”  Pause.  “You’re not?”  The confusion was obvious in her voice.  Apparently no one has ever expressed this concern before.  “Um, do you mind holding for a minute while I speak to a supervisor?”  Apparently permission is needed for me to pay for a child that would otherwise be riding free.  After a few minutes, “Ok, you can go ahead and buy her a ticket.  Just check the box that  says she is over two years old.”

“And the computer will let me do that if her birthday doesn’t match?”  Silence.  “Ok, well I’ll give it a try.  Thanks for your help.”

So, I’m about to attempt to purchase a ticket for my “two year old” daughter and hope that we don’t have any problems when we show up in a foreign country with a passport that very obviously states a different age.

This adventure is definitely TO BE CONTINUED…