The Traveling Toddler: Adventures with The Little Man

“You probably shouldn’t put your drink there,” I warned him, “He will grab it!” “Oh that’s ok.” He assures me.

Have you ever traveled with a baby? A toddler? If so, you know that even a couple-hour car ride can mean a peaceful nap, but any longer and you better be prepared to read, sing, feed, change a diaper, read, sing, feed, change a diaper at any given time.

We weren’t driving this trip either; we were flying. That’s not even the best part; our flight tickets are standby. So if anything can go haywire, it probably will, and I not only must improvise at any moment to entertain the little man, but I also get an audience of spectators.

Nothing better than a free, last minute, random, spur of the moment, all-day travel excursion alone with a toddler. Anything for Grandma!

Did I really attempt to fly unassisted with a 13 month old?

Yes, yes I am a little crazy! This trip is giving “flying by the seat of your pants” new meaning.

The ultra- planner in me started packing at the beginning of the week. We were leaving the 80 degree sunny Southern California on our way to 24 degrees and snowy Idaho. As if remembering all the extra gadgets and books wasn’t enough, I needed to pack triple the clothes so my poor little munchkin wouldn’t freeze.

I wake up extra early on Saturday morning so I can load the car and finish all the details before driving to the airport, and of all mornings the little man wakes up early. He pretty much wakes up between 7:30-7:45 every morning, but its mornings like this (or Sundays when we need to be to church on time) that he decides to change things up. This day he woke up extra early: 6am sharp!! Time for Daddy duty!

We get in the car a few minutes early to my surprise so I decide we should grab a quick bite to eat. We order. We get our food, but wait…they’re running behind of course. We pull into the drive-thru overflow parking space A couple minutes later, they bring out the rest of our order. We’re on our way.

About 30 seconds into our drive, I notice we are going a different way than usual, but since its my husband’s neighborhood he grew up in I hesitate to say anything. Men always know the best way, right?!
I’ working on this self-control issue I have, so I decided to put cold water on the boiling curiosity.

Finally I ask gently, ” Why did you decide to go this way…” I’m trying, really I am! He explains how he didn’t want to turn left to cross traffic…” We were supposed to actually turn right, but I accept the answer.

Fighting my control-freak nature, trying not to get frustrated, I start eating really fast, feeding the munchkin, and shuffling through by bag nervously. Finally, about five minutes later we’re now driving south west and the airport is north east, I can’t help myself:

“Ok, I don’t mean to question you,” I interrogate ask calmly, “but why are we going this way? Ontario Airport is off the 60 freeway, since when do we go this way to get to the 60?”

“Ontario? You said nothing about Ontario!” He answers, “We always fly out of Long Beach!”

He quickly turns around and we try to “laugh” it off, after all we did leave a little early. I’ll be gone over a week; now is not the time to argue over something so silly.

He turns and says, “I’m ready for my sausage biscuit now” as I look down at the empty wrapper in my lap, chewing the last bite in my mouth, I guiltily realize that I was in such a hurry I ate his sandwich instead of mine.

“Oops! I still have the McMuffin… (insert scrunchy face)”

He is so bummed! “I don’t want the English muffin, I was really looking forward to the biscuit.”

I_really_feel_terrible, but I look at the time and we’re now 30 minutes behind schedule. I rudely tell him to stop acting like a child and we can’t stop to get him another one. Wow! That turned bad really quickly. Insert foot in mouth!

I apologize.

We arrive safely at the airport. We unload my two suitcases, one carry-on, my diaper bag/personal item, stroller, carseat, and a munchkin. We kiss and say good-bye. I check in.

After a long wait through the security line it’s finally our turn. I hate this part! Since the first time I traveled alone, at 15 years old, I get randomly searched every time I fly somewhere. No surprise, they pull me aside wipe my hands to test for unnamed “residue” and sure enough the alarm goes off. They take us to a private room. I unstrap Daniel from my carrier and place him in the carseat. I get pat down. All clear! This is why I don’t eat fast food! The only thing on my hands from that morning was the food I ate, and it was so greasy it set off the security alarms; disgusting!

Now, it’s waiting time. I went to the desk to find out how full the flight was and they told me there was one seat left, but I was seventh on the standby list. The sweet ladies asked why they didn’t put me on the flight that left 30 minutes prior? I kindly said I wasn’t sure, but inside was screaming, “If they didn’t make me get searched from head to toe for 30 minutes maybe I would’ve made it here sooner!!” It wasn’t looking promising, but we decided to pray instead of worry. Regardless of my negative human internal dialogue, I was confident we would get on because I know how cool God works, but He does tell us to ask Him to intervene, so I did.

An hour later I hear my name called. We got a ticket. “Thank you Jesus that in spite of my horrible attitude and desire to control everyone else when I can’t even control myself, you allowed me to get on this flight so I can go see my mom.”

We board the plane trying not to hit people in the head with my bags as we squeeze through the tiny aisle to find we we’re given a middle seat; at least we got on!!

Fortunately to my right was a nice lady, who I quickly learned was a mother of two teenage girls, and to my left was a young guy in college.

We take off with ease. The little man does great through the take-off and is just hanging out by my feet reading books and exploring everything around him. It’s now time for the lovely flight attendants to bring beverages and snacks. The lady next to me and I decline, knowing they would get knocked all over us by my little investigator, but the guy next to me orders his ginger ale.

“You probably shouldn’t put your drink there,” I warned him, “He will grab it!” “Oh thats ok.” He assures me.

Within seconds there’s soda all over the poor guys lap…I felt so bad, but…I warned him!

Breathe! We arrive at our first destination, Seattle, get lunch, change planes, and a quick hour flight later head to baggage claim in Boise and are greeted by my mom “Grandma Linda.”

Let the vacation begin! The anticipation of a relaxing week did not disappoint! We had such a great time! I hadn’t seen most of my mom’s side of my family in almost five years. It was so refreshing to catch up after so long. We watched football, played in the snow, ate good food with good company, saw life-size ice sculptures, fireworks as good as Disneyland, and so much more.

We finished our trip with a quick stop through Northern California to see my sisters and nieces and aimed home early the next morning.

I am so refreshed!

On the flight back the little man passed out in my lap and I started to read Dr. Kevin Leman’s “Stopping Stress before It Stops You”. How fitting! So far I’ve learned (paraphrased), life doesn’t give us stress, it gives us pressures, and whether we handle the pressure appropriately or not will determine if we have stress.

This information would have been helpful prior to the beginning of my trip, but now that I’m rejuvenated and have a clear head, I’m excited to learn different tools to apply in this next season life is taking us into. The first tool is having the right perspective. Onward I read…

Until my Munchkin’s next nap time: I encourage you to evaluate your perspective. I hope you’re able to step back and look at your circumstances, better than I did, and choose to breathe through them and smile, instead of getting easily frustrated. I encourage you to rid the negative self-talk, and rather than running from life’s disheveled circumstances, laugh and embrace the crazy!

What are some of your crazy travel stories? Any advice for a mom that will always be on the go?

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Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

I consider vanity and pride as unattractive as obesity; why are they the primary motivation of diet and weight loss? Shouldn’t the focus be a healthy, long life? The irony is that in California we live amidst these polar opposites everywhere we go. In one aisle of the grocery store is the lululemon wearing gym rat buying protein powder, quinoa and waterproof mascara for her cardio days, and in the next is the 300 pound woman with a cart full of Cheetos, potato chips, and the rest of the processed food aisle. Our health should be the priority, not the way we look, yet the easiest way to conclude if someone’s “healthy” is by looking at them, right?

Not necessarily. I know so many people who are bikini ready, yet you should see the junk they put in their body. That being said, quinoa is delicious and I love me some Cheetos puffs! It’s about balance and lifestyle, not a quick fix. After gaining close to 50 pounds during my pregnancy, there is not a day that goes by that I’m not asked with shock and dismay how I look the way I do already. This is a little awkward. After getting over the awkward I figured maybe I should pass on some helpful information on what I do. I probably won’t be posting any bikini pictures for you so let me just paint a mental picture for you: I’ve been back to pre-pregnancy weight since 10 weeks postpartum; and now after only six months, with toned abs, arms, and thighs, my husband told me that this is the best shape he’s ever seen me.

I want share with you my journey of getting healthy again after having my baby boy. I am writing to help you on your journey and share some tips to encourage you that it is important to be healthy, but that doesn’t mean you have to have a six pack. In a book I’m reading it talks about how women were designed with a “padded physique” for cradling babies. What a refreshing perspective! You can eat what you want, but sometimes that means you need to change what you want. Its kind of strange too that as you make small additions of cleaner foods to your meals, the bad foods don’t sound as good. You can’t expect to be healthy eating burgers, carne asada burritos, fries, pizza, and potato chips every day, but in my opinion they each have their time and place! My husband and I are foodies, he’s a chef, ’nuff said!

Keep in mind that many studies have shown that high sodium and fatty foods are linked to anxiety, depression, and mental illness, and foods packed with Vitamins B, C, D, and E actually boost the serotonin (the happy hormone as I like to call it) in your brain and decrease stress.

Prior to getting pregnant I prided myself on eating healthy and exercising, but never being obsessive about either. I HATE diets and think extreme workouts are kind of ridiculous. Rarely do they actually produce a healthy lifestyle. Typically they result in over committing and then failing because they just aren’t feasible to maintain on a regular basis. I do admit I was a fan of P90X and got incredible, very quick results; however, the reality is I never could stick to the actual calendar, because I-have-a-life-to-live.

When I got pregnant I was determined to stay healthy and exercise so my baby would get all the nutrients he needed in utero. I had been juicing for a couple months before getting pregnant and was excited to introduce all the amazing nutrients to my baby. Then the toilet seat reality hit me smack in the face with what I call “all-day” sickness; whoever called it morning sickness was a moron, I’m just sayin’. As soon as the juicer turned on the smell of vegetables sent me running to the bathroom. No onions, no fresh vegetables, no coffee! My munchkin wanted beef and cheese. I had to start every morning with eggs and either bacon or sausage. Trust me, I tried everything, but he wanted protein protein protein!!!

I couldn’t keep a prenatal vitamin down if my life depended on it, and all it took was me trying to get off the recliner after five minutes to raise my heart rate. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t sitting around my whole pregnancy eating bon-bons watching soaps on tv. I was working on my feet up to twelve hours in a day sometimes and doing squats and labor stretches any chance I had. Nonetheless, I was sick everyday up until 23 weeks and on and off my whole pregnancy. My body ached, and all my preconceived notions on how I would do things were being thrown out the window one by one.

All these details aside, again, I gained almost 50 lbs during pregnancy. People don’t believe me because apparently being 5’9 you can’t see the extra pounds as much, but 50 lbs is 50 lbs!

So, how did I lose it?
1. Take Baby Steps:
(I am breastfeeding, which I cannot deny has helped, but lets look at some other things you can do too). After being medically cleared to exercise at six weeks I decided to just start walking. After not really exercising much in nine months I needed to start slow. What I found out quickly was by just getting out of the house for a short walk actually helped me feel better too. The postpartum emotions didn’t seem as bad and that heavy depression cloud that lingers for most moms became thinner and thinner as I got some sunlight on my face and got my body moving.
2. Use your lifestyle to your advantage:
For me it’s my baby. I turn on music. I love to dance, he loves to watch, and while he’s cracking up I’m getting cardio in (and legs and core). I have several other exercises I have created that I’ll have to share another time. You just have to find small shifts to make your daily routine more active. Maybe it’s doing sit-ups or leg lifts while you’re watching your favorite show or reading a book, doing squats while drying your hair, something, just find something that works for you.
3. Make a small food adjustment:
Add more veggies, shrink your portions a little, maybe you need to increase them, eat out one or two less meals a week. What works for you? No more excuses! We all have small shifts we can make.
4. Balance-redefined:
Whenever I’m having a really hard day, feeling exhausted or anxious, unable to figure out the source of all the frustration, it usually boils down to something in my life being out of balance. What I’m finding, is that having balance doesn’t mean equal time and energy put into everything, it means figuring out the most important things and the most necessary and putting them in order. In the past, the first thing to go was exercise time. If it wasn’t apart of my daily routine, like a dance class or walking from the parking lot to the store, as soon as life got busy, the gym or workout video seemed impossible to maintain. Living a healthy life really is this simple equation: a healthy mind means healthy body, healthy body means healthy mind. Even if its stretching (and breathing) for ten minutes before starting my day or walking around the block, moving is key. Watch and read things that are positive or inspirational. fore its a daily devotional reading and avoiding violent movies and the news. What we put in is what comes out; that applies to food too. Change to snacking on hummus and pita chips or Greek yogurt, granola, and fruit instead of chips and salsa or Cheetos. Don’t forget to spend time with friends and family in the meantime; they are key to sanity!
5.Smile:
Right now! Try it! See you feel better already, don’t you?

Well, until my munchkin’s next nap time, I hope this encourages you to make small changes to discover the healthier you!

What pointers do you have for me?

What’s your success story?

Do you have some healthy recipes to pass on?

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My new favorite: Vanilla Greek yogurt, granola, cashews, strawberries and blueberries drizzled lightly with honey- less than 250 calories, could be breakfast, snack, or dessert:)

Opinions: No one wants them, but we’ve all got them

Venting…Ready….GO! People are really opinionated! It doesn’t matter if I even know the person, people are ready and willing to share their plethora of vomit wisdom and knowledge even if you don’t ask for it. Scccrreeech!! Time for the breaks before I lose you. Can I let you in on a little secret? I am too. Eeeekk! I said it!

Ugh! So, I had an epiphany: the things I despise about myself, I am so quick to criticize about other people. I have, however, been on a mission to change my negative, critical way of thinking for a few years now, but there’s still pieces to chisel away.

This epiphany, fortunately, was a quick reminder of how important my support system is to me. I have those friends I call when I’m having a really rough day; those friends I can call on a great day who will be excited with me; friends I call when I need to vent about rude comments I get from people, like, “Enjoy your pedicure now, because once your son gets older this will never happen!” and they’ll give me some humor to lighten the mood; others who know when to listen; others who have the perfect wisdom, experience, and encouragement to offer like, “the only reason you care so much about what others say is because as moms we put enough pressure on ourselves, we don’t need others to do it for us.” They remind me, and all my opinions, to breathe, and see the good intentions in those “opinionated people.”

Then there’s my best friend, who I proudly call my sister, who knows which of the above I need and when, without me even opening my mouth. (Thank you for that, Em!)

Then there’s my amazing sister, who I call my friend, who also falls into most of the above categories. I love that I can call her to tell her about the goofy, awkward, overly concerned customer service I received, and she knows I’m not judging the poor guy who asked five times if I needed to talk to the supervisor about not being satisfied, simply because at the register I decided I didn’t want to buy that $40 bathing suit…and…we laugh!

Here’s another lesson on giving myself some grace: 1. For not being perfect, as much as I’d love to always be right, I know I’m not (shhh don’t tell my husband I admitted that); 2. For caring unnecessarily about strangers opinions, or anyone’s for that matter; 3. For giving my opinion when it isn’t asked; 4. For being hypercritical of myself and circumstances, trying too hard to control everything.

My friend gave me some great words last night, ” We aren’t meant to control balance every part of our lives, so why do we strive so hard to achieve it? Instead, we should wake up every morning asking, ‘what is my purpose for today?'”. After all, in order to achieve “balance” something’s gotta give. So why stress about it every day? Just let go! Ask God! Let God!

I was looking at my son’s precious prints and it reminded me. We’re all unique. We were given our own design to make a mark on this world. We have one life on earth to live out a purpose. Here’s my point: I want to be the person anyone can call for any reason and know without a doubt I will be the one to listen, encourage, offer advice (using wisdom to know when it’s warranted and when to keep my mouth shut). I want to help people; be a light to people, be a mentor, be a friend. I am a work in progress, but aren’t we all?!?

Until my munchkin’s next nap time:
I hope my transparency will help you find peace and joy in your circumstances! If you’re looking for that support system, I’m here for you. I may not have all the answers, but we can learn together. In the mean time, smile! It’s amazing what a smile will do.

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Scream, Cry, or Laugh: Mom on the go

Warning all readers! I have been asked by several friends to write about my working-mama-on-the-go-pumping. So, this is about me, a mom on the go, who pumps on the go…so if you’re not a Mama (or a husband who could learn some perspective on what working Mamas do in order to feed their children)…well, you might want to skip over this one.

I have the Madella double pump with the on-the-go travel tote. I highly recommend this pump by the way!!!! I’m a hairstylist with back to back clients and few breaks during the day, so being able to pump both sides in about 15 minutes saves me a lot of pain, if you know what I mean?!? They sell these amazing strapless bras that can hold the pump attachments; I can pump hands free. Not only do I pump with speed, but in that short 15 minutes, I also get to scarf some food down. Now that’s efficiency Mamas!

Now on with my story:
On any normal day I dread saying bye to my munchkin, so you can only imagine after a long day how eager I am to come home and see his precious little face; with this anticipation, every spare second counts. With unpredictable Southern Ca traffic it can take up to an hour and a half to get home. Can you see where this story is going? I have mastered pumping “on the go” like the tote promises.

So there I was sitting in my car, no one was around (I double and triple checked!), all businesses had closed, I locked up the salon. Time for set-up: put on “hooter hider” as my friends call it (aka nursing cover), put pump attachments together, start driving, and begin pumping once I get to the freeway.

I’ve timed it perfect. I pump while on the freeway because its less likely that anyone will notice what I’m doing. I’m usually done pumping by the time I exit the freeway for my last 20 minutes of driving. I detach one side on the first red light, the second at the second red light, take apart all the pump pieces at the next, then off comes the bustiér, I readjust my shirt, take off my cover, and am done and ready to give my baby kisses as soon as I park my car.

I was a frustrated, in a hurry and a little anxious! I had started work before my baby had woken up in the morning and I was running late getting out of work. Missing him like crazy, I’m rushing which is never a good thing! My cover is in place and I get ready to “set-up”. This was one of those pre-summer evenings where, even though it was after 7pm, the sun was still lighting up the sky.

All if a sudden this truck pulls up to the curb facing the wrong direction, and there’s a man and woman staring into my car. “What the heck are they doing? Why are they on the wrong side of the road, and why, of all times and places are they in front of me? They’re messing with my flow! Literally! Go away!” Then sloooooowwwwwlllyy they get out and start unloading, staring at me the whole time like I was doing something wrong. I mean…I was getting ready to pump…but they couldn’t really tell, could they? Was my gray and white zebra nursing cover that obvious?

I then realize its the business owners from the photography studio upstairs. Great! I’m going to have to see these people again! I wait a minute for them to leave before proceeding. They don’t leave. Come on people! I want to go home!! Go upstairs already!!

They leave finally. I finish set up. Start my car. Pull out to drive. Dang it!!!! The sun is in my eyes and I was in such a hurry to get out the door I left my sunglasses on my work station. Do I bear the pain of the setting, beating, Southern Ca sun in my eyes for an hour? Or can my nursing cover wrap around me enough to just run in a grab them really quick? I choose the latter.

With milk now dripping all over me…wait, how is milk dripping? Aahh! I didn’t put the bags on? At least I hadn’t started pumping that way or I would’ve been a mess…and us Mamas know how precious that liquid gold is for our babies! We don’t want a drop wasted! Especially since I felt like my supply was dwindling.

I grab my glasses, speed walk to the car, check my surroundings, off I drive. Let the pumping begin!

Oh, you think it’s over…not yet! I pull up to the house after not having enough red lights (you never catch them when you need them!), and I hurry as fast as I can to put everything away and go inside. Rrriippppp! Yep, I rip one of the storage bags at the top so now I can’t zip it. Lets see, can I make it inside without spilling? Of course! I’m the master of making one flawless trip inside (because two trips is unthinkable); however, it looks more like a balancing circus act than a graceful catwalk. I hold my salon bag with my teeth, prop my purse against the wall with my knee, sling my tote over my arm, hold the open and ripped plastic storage bag in one hand, carefully pull the screen open and prop it open with my hip, begin the classic search for my house keys in my abyss purse, pull them out, open the door and walk in to my baby’s smile welcoming me home. All of this without spilling the milk or setting anything down on the cement like any normal person might have done. Success! Haha, not so fast!

Eager to hold him, I rush to put everything down and wash my hands. All I have to do is finally pour this milk into a new bag. I proceed to pour. Ta-Da! I’m ready to seal it. Label it. Freeze it. Yay! Its Cuddle Time. I grab the new, now filled bag, and I somehow manage to knock it over and spill half of it all over my in-laws’ white carpet.

Holding breath to prevent screaming something regrettable! Tears streaming uncontrollably! Exhale! Remember labor instructions during intense time of stress: take a deep cleansing breath.

“Breathe! You can’t control anything but your reaction,” I tell myself. I walk into the next room to be greeted by my bundle of joy and realize he’s completely unaware of any of this chaos and irrational emotion. Yet another reason to breathe…and smile, because THAT’S how I want him to see his Mommy after being gone all day. I reach out and get my long-awaited hug and slobbery, drool-filled kiss. Mission Accomplished!

Yet, another reminder to breathe, let go and let God…

Until my munchkin’s next nap time: slow down, breathe, smile and laugh at yourself.

I know I’m not the only mom this crazy. Do any of you have pumping-on-the-go stories? Let’s hear them!

Wake up and…Breathe!

WwwAaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh! Waaaaaaaa! Aaaaahhhhhh!

This is how my morning started at 2am. Any mom knows, with the reality of waking up many times at all hours of the night, the exhaustion that comes with the no-sleep followed by no-sleep pattern. But there is something about the 2am mommy shift that is the worst; hence starting my morning with a homemade venti iced mocha!!!

I bet you’re tired just reading about it!

My happy little guy always wakes up with a big smile on his face, so to hear that screeching cry this morning made my heart break for him. So then at 4:30, 5, and 5:30am when he woke up to my husband and in-laws getting ready for their day, there was no putting him back to sleep again.

[My husband and I moved in with his parents shortly after finding out I was pregnant. I’ll tell that story another time. Before you feel sorry for us, it’s been more of a blessing than anything! I’m so grateful for them! I am not, however, loving that everyone in the house gets ready so early and so loudly in the morning!!!]

Ok so back to my story… My little guy is wide awake and ready to play, like everyone else in the house, not phased at all by the broken up sleep. Momma over here on the other hand is a walking zombie. Dilemma: do I try to play with him and risk dropping him because I’ve nodded off unintentionally or let him play in his crib with some toys and hope he falls peacefully back asleep. I choose the later. Feeling guilty, I keep waking up startled every so often to check my video monitor to see how he’s doing. Finally, about an hour later, after dreaming he has been the world record baby for figuring out how to climb out of his crib at 4 months old, he has managed to flip himself over, spin the opposite direction, kick all of his covers off (it’s freezing by the way), and fall back asleep. Again, feeling guilty as I’m bundled under a sheet, 2 comforters, and 3 blankets, I peel my motionless body out of the warmth and go cover him up and curl myself back in bed.

He manages to sleep about 45 minutes and then decides its actually time to be awake now. Out of bed I roll. I put on my happy face, which went from fake to genuine as soon as his toothless smile melted my heart. We rose with the sun singing our morning tunes, “Arise, shine, the morning has come…”, “You are my sunshine” “In the morning, when I rise…”, and “On Mondays I am happy, on Tuesdays full of joy…”. I have found that if I can’t muster up the strength for my own energy, I must put on a smile, sing with this voice only my son can love, and hope someone left some spare coffee in the carafe for me to indulge on a morning like this.”

After doing our morning routine of exercises, massage, A,B,Cs, counting, tummy time, and stretches it was time to feed him and I course… He passed out! 🙂 Now hyped up on caffeine I’m thrilled that my phone rings and its my sister. On a morning like this the best person to hear from is my sister and friend, a mommy to a precious and overly eccentric, energetic 2 year old little girl and a beautiful newborn daughter who is probably just as happy as the eldest, but seems to cry more often than the first because, well, now there’s two to manage not just one. My sister is one of the strongest, most caring and nurturing women I know, and her wisdom in Mommy craziness, always assures me that I’m doing a great job. I told her how terrible I felt for leaving him by himself in his crib. This morning her kind words were, “I’m convinced this is why God made children’s memories nonexistent before the age of three. So parents can make mistakes while honing their parenting skills, and their kids will not remember any of it!” Now, that’s grace at its finest!!

I know someone out their needs to hear that too, so whoever it is I hope you’re encouraged! As nuts as life might be, please take time to breathe, and please, share your thoughts with me! I’m new on this journey and would love to learn from you too!

Until my munchkin’s next nap time… Happy Thursday!