Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Flying Alone With A Baby...How I Survived

I recently flew for the first time with a baby. I googled "flying with children" a 100 times and read a 1,000 tips on how to survive this adventure. Here's my own tips to surviving flying with a baby.

First of all, here's a bit of background. My daughter is 10 months old. My husband was busy and couldn't come with so I was flying alone. My flight to my destination was direct and about 2 hours and 50 minutes. The flight back had one connection and the first leg was 2 hours and the second 1 hour. My layover was about two hours. Oh and I hate the TSA and their screening. :)

My daughter with alllllllll our luggage

My tips for flying with a child...

1) Beg to have someone help you to the gate.

Post 9/11, it's a bit harder to get permission to have a non-ticketed passenger past security; however, I have a few friends that got it done within the past year. I didn't have anyone to help on the way to my destination, but I did have my brother assisting me on the way back...THANK GOODNESS....and let me tell you why.

2) Security screening is by far the worst part of the flying experience ESPECIALLY WITH A BABY.

I had two terrible experiences with security. First, I was at a small airport when I was flying out. Which was nice since the lines were fairly small and I didn't feel quite as bad holding up everyone.

This is what luggage I was traveling with: Baby in Ergo baby carrier on my chest, diaper bag backpack, rolling luggage for carry-on, stroller with car seat snapped in. Every bit of that had to go through the x-ray machine.

If you had someone it would make it much easier to get everything on the belt, but when I was alone, it was quite difficult to lift every thing on to the belt. Also, security required me to take the carrier off and hold my baby. Then you have to get all that stuff off the belt, while the person behind you is ticked you're taking forever.

Definitely wear slip on shoes and be prepared to move quickly, and get dirty looks. Now, on to the bad experience with security....

3) If you formula feed or have pumped breast milk, be prepared to be hassled!

Per many websites, since I formula fed, I got the ready to feed bottles that are nipple ready. If you use formula I would definitely recommend it! Made feeding on the airplane much easier and less messy. If you nurse, bring a blanket & safety pins to create a screen in your seat if you aren't comfortable nursing so close to someone.

On the way down I had a bottle prepared from powder ready for the flight. Since this wasn't a sealed bottle, they had to test it and make sure it's formula. They also insisted on taking all the formula and re-running through the scanner, then make a mess of my organized diaper bag by throwing it all back in.
And, they didn't secure the caps all the way and spilled formula all over the bag and my stroller.

On the return trip, I talked to the security agent before entering the x-ray line and she suggested I remove all my liquids/formula in put it in a separate bin to prevent them from having to search them again. Great.

Not so fast.

Not only did all my bags get pulled aside, but since all the formula was ready to feed, they gave me the option of either a) opening it all and testing it all. (which of course would make it all go bad within two hours) or b) search every inch of my luggage and doing a pat down.

What would you do? I chose of course to do the pat down (not much of a choice to make...I have to have the formula). So, I turn to hand my baby to my brother and the security guard says, "Not so fast. You can't give her to your brother because he has been cleared and you'd contaminate him."

Whoa, wait. What am I supposed to do with my daughter?!?

She then explains I can set her on the ground while I do the pat down. No. I'm sorry. I have a ten month old that crawls. Then she says that I can put her in the car seat, but she can't wait for me to strap her in. I instruct my brother to watch her. And imagine this, my formula did not hold explosives. Strange huh.

4) Wear your baby unless you can use a stroller

When I started planning for my trip, I knew this. 1) I didn't want to check my bag 2) I needed a car seat at my destination 3) I needed a diaper bag. So that meant that I was for sure going to have a backpack, a rolling suitcase and a car seat. (Plus a shopping bag as a personal item on the way home) Now I started problem solving and realized that if you added the stroller (which you can gate check with the car seat for no charge), I would actually be in better shape than if I were to forgo the car seat.

I put the rolling suitcase on the car seat that was clicked into the stroller. I put the backpack in the basket under the stroller and wore my baby in a Ergo carrier (which I would highly recommend...the best part is the nap head cover and the zipper pocket in the front..perfect for ID and boarding passes)

You can't wear the baby carrier during take off or landing. So, I kept

the bottom part buckled and just unhooked the shoulder straps. Otherwise, my baby slept the entire flight in the baby carrier.

5) Always read the airline's website!

On my way to my destination, I flew US Airways. US Airways allows you to gate check a stroller OR a car seat. However, I didn't have a problem (maybe since my stroller doesn't work without a car seat.) Plus they consider your diaper bag to be your "personal" item.

However, American Airlines allows you to check both a stroller and car seat. Plus, American Airlines will allow you a personal item in addition to a diaper bag. This was a lifesaver since I had so much extra stuff....the grandparents spoiled the grand baby!

6) Don't be afraid to ask for extras (especially at the gate!)

I'm usually a person that doesn't ask favors while flying. I take what I get. However, the desperation of flying alone with a baby definitely motivated me to ask. Most airlines don't pre-board people with babies anymore. They often want to pre-board their first class or frequent fliers instead.

However, when I asked US Airways, they helped me pre-board (even attempted to break down my stroller!) and they also checked my bag at the gate for free. (which makes it easier to manage with one less bag!) On the way home with American Airlines, the gate person was AWESOME!!! They not only helped me check my bag (again for free). But they also made room for my brother (who wasn't supposed to fly back for a couple more hours) and also moved us so we were next to one another.

7) Schedule flights during nap time

I know this isn't always practical; however, if you can, try to fly when you're baby will sleep. I found that my daughter was entertained by the new experiences through security and waiting to board, but got restless on the plane. I waited to feed her until we were taking off (this is supposed to help with air pressure...although I found she didn't mind if I didn't). Then she was instantly sleepy, and slept (basically) for the entire flight.

8) Prepare for both a fussy and a sleepy baby

I am a serial organizer. I make tons of lists and everything in my diaper bag must be organized. For this trip, I got a carabiner and hooked it to my diaper bag backpack. I hooked toys to this carabiner. Then when I got on the plane, I took that carabiner and hooked it to the pocket. I chose a few important things and put them in the pocket, so if possible, I wouldn't have to get into my backpack.

My "important" things were:

A bottle for take off & a bottle for landing
Wet wipes (for spit up or if I needed to do a diaper change)
My Kindle
Toys clipped to the pocket.

Since I was lucky and my daughter slept the entire way, I could read my Kindle. Plus, since I baby wore her, I had two hands free. If I hadn't prepared for a sleeping baby, it would have been a really long flight. I've heard that wrapping toys make the toys last longer. I think this is a great idea, except my daughter eats wrapping paper and pukes it up.

9) Great tips I was given

Here's some advice I found throughout the Internet that was helpful.

A. I normally cloth diaper, but used disposables on the trip. However, since I knew that I might not be able to change my little one if she got a soiled diaper (take off..landing), I put a cloth diaper PUL cover over the disposable. This would contain any explosions.

B. Buy the important stuff there. Just bring what you need for the flight...plus some. You don't want to end up with a delay and have no way to feed or change your baby.

C. If your child is old enough for snacks...get something that takes a while to eat. That's usually a pretty good distraction.

D. You may or may not need your child's birth certificate to fly. I've heard of people asking for it, but I didn't have a problem. It's better to be safe than sorry with that type of thing.

E. I brought a large blanket and created a mini play pen with me and the stroller and bags blocking the way. This way my little one could crawl around during delays.

Crawling around at the airport

F. Don't forget to have a change of clothing for your little one and yourself in easy reach. I've heard several stories of moms getting puked on.

G. Find the family restrooms if possible. This was one of the only ways I could go to the restroom and still change my little one.

H. Moms stick together and don't let other people's reactions bother you. I generally found people helpful and nice.

F. Pray. ;)


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Project ADD


When I moved into our current house, I said to myself. I WILL NOT PAINT. Well. My husband decided to go on this Spring Break goose hunting trip and by a chance, my work schedule wouldn't allow to go with nor watch our daughter. So off goes my husband and daughter for the weekend. I knew that I should use this alone time to do a big project. Painting my craft room (which you know I complain about the color all the time) was the best choice.

Craft Room--Before

One of my trash-tastic reality tv show stars once said, "When you go to hell, they make you move sh*t.".....Moving IS hell, but I've decide that real hell has you first move everything, get it into it's proper place THEN move it all in order to paint. My poor husband is coming home to a larger mess than when he left!

It doesn't help I have project ADD. Painting is especially hard, because while I wait for a coat to dry, I start something else and forget about the painting. This is literally how my day went.

Box-in with paint in craft room. Start the drying process. See director's chair sitting in craft room. Wrangle out from under a mountain of fabric (dump fabric on ground)...haul downstairs to spray paint.

Directors chair--Before

Realize that drop cloth has been hibernating in the shed, I head to the shed. As I grab the drop cloth, I see a left over dryer pedistal. --See, my washer died on me last November, and as a Christmas gift, I got a new one from my parents. We were hoping for a set, but weren't fast enough on Black Friday. My dad made me two pedestals, but since we only got a washer, we had one left over. He put it in the shed in case I needed it later.--- As I look at this pedestal, I realize that I had been sketching this exact thing for an ottoman! So I grab the drop cloth and the pedestal and drag it to our back deck.

Now I realize that I need to sand both the chair and new ottoman find. I run down to our basement and open my tool box and grab my electric sander. When I open up the tub that keeps all my tools, I also find paint supplies I could use upstairs. Then I see some yard decorations I had gotten for my birthday gifts. So I balance all these things upstairs. I sand the podium and sand and spray the chair.

I run downstairs for some more sandpaper and see some old plant pots. And some spray primer. Fantastic. I can use these for something. So I bring the pots upstairs to paint them with the spray paint. Since my lawn ornaments are now out, I may as well put out all the solar lights I bought the other day while the spray paint is drying (not realizing that the paint upstairs is ready for another coat)

I go up front and put my different lawn ornaments in the ground. I notice that there are lots of papers sitting around. So I gather those up for the trash. I notice the house numbers are kinda boring. So I grab my hammer, pull them down and take them in the back to paint. Everything gets another coat.

I then see the spray primer and decide to prime the basement door my in-laws installed a few months ago. Then it's really stinky in the house, then I have to open some windows. Just when I'm about to go back to the painting in my craft room, my phone goes off and one of my good friends is in the hospital ready to have her baby! (Soooo exciting!) Then I remember that I'm only half done with her baby gifts, which are in the pile up in the craft room. Then I rush upstairs and start painting furiously since I need to put the room back together so I can get back to sewing!!!!

So. Hopefully I'll have some "Afters" to post soon!

And congrats to my friends Kelsey and Bill. You'll be wonderful amazing parents. I'm so excited to see your bundle of joy!


Monday, March 14, 2011

My New Obsession...MyDeco Moodboards


I had to share my new obsession....MyDeco! I love it for two reasons: Real 3D rooms. You can create or upload your floor plan and try out colors, furniture, dimensions or even purchase the furniture you use! When I was I little (I mean like really little...from second grade through fifth grade) I would use this notebook to make floor plans for houses. (Usually with some crazy room like the cotton candy machine room). So this is a completely grown-up, technology-infused, play toy.

MyDeco Design Tools

The second reason (and the one I've been playing with for hours) is the Moodboards. They are FANTASTIC. Why you ask? Well wonderful reader, let me tell you. If you are anything like me, you often find a website or blog or something that features something you love. A picture of a room, or product or fabric. If you're like me you try to bookmark it, or copy and paste it or something. Usually it gets lost, and its rediscovered weeks after a purchase and make me quickly regret my purchase. No more I tell you!

With the MyDeco Moodboard, you can clip a picture the minute you find it with a button that is added to your web browser tool bar, and it goes to your Moodboard clip art album (You can even add a description like where to find the item, or why you love it). You then use these clippings to create a "Moodboard" and really bring a room together. I had planned on this big painting project...then I found this. Hmmm...paint later?

My "Purple Bedroom" Moodboard


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

DIY Wednesday: Childproofing

Hello There,

My project this week was trying to get my daughter's room a 100% childproofed. Thus far, everything was secure and baby ready except this metal shelf I had in her room. Since she has started moving around, standing and pulling everything down, it was about time I took care of that shelf. I would cringe every time she crawled towards it.

You can buy childproofing kits for dressers to secure them to the wall. I looked around, but no local store carried these kits. I would have had to order the kit. Once you figure in shipping and the price of the kit, I was looking at around $6.00. I decided to do my own childproofing for $3.00.

The new improved safer shelf

I got two eye loop screws, screwed into a stud and zip tied the shelf to the screws. The result was a sturdy shelf that I don't have to worry about.

Eye loop screws ready to go

Zip tie before I cut off the extra (I would have gone with clear, but I had the yellow already sitting around)...just try to tip over that shelf!


Craft Room Chaos

Hi There,

Over the past few months, I've periodically posted about my craft room. Ironic enough, it's the one room in the house that I thought needed the most work (my creative space is the least creative?!?)

First, I've bought/been given/made storage and organization. Some key things given to me are an armoire and a desk. I got the armoire from a friend that was moving. It was going to go in our daughter's room, but the room was too small. I knew I could use it in my craft room. It ended up being the hub of fabric storage. I also got a desk as a Christmas present from my sister-in-law. It's worked fantastic for my sewing. It's also nice and modern. I bought two cheap bookcases and some pantry storage baskets. I have re purposed my kitchen island as a cutting table and utility room plastic drawers for storage.

Gifted Armoire...Soon to be renovated!

Now that storage is almost done, I need to focus on the large elephant in the room: the wall color. It's a dark forest green. Thankfully it's a sun room, so the color doesn't darken the room too much, but it needs to go. I have been trying to figure out a color scheme that fits in the new black furniture (It's the only black furniture in the house! Everything else is white or a warm brown).

I found some fabric that is going to be my craft room inspiration. The green, black and cream large floral print is perfect. The green is going to be the wall color, the black is in the furniture, and the cream is going to come through in the repainting of the armoire, island and other storage.

To be honest, I've never done green. I always have stuck with blues & browns. I'm trying to branch out, but still keep everything in sync.

Fun, Modern & Sophisticated?

I've never done green before....we shall see how this experiment goes!

The question is, how do I paint the room with all the craft room junk still in there...and do it quickly with 1 or 2 coats? Time to do some Googling about painting!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gone Junkin': Display Units

Good Afternoon!

I'm a frequent thrift store shopper. I think it's a great place to look at random stuff and get some ideas. This trip I was looking for old picture frames for another project I have in mind. (Which I actually ended up not getting since they wanted 5$ for a frame...seriously?!? I don't even want the glass!)

However, I found some goodies for my craft business!

First up, display shelves!

These little Ikea cast offs were only $2.00! They will be great to display items when I start going to craft shows.

Great buy for only $2.00!

Shelves covered in fabric with random craft room things being displayed.

Isn't that fabric fun? I just got it for the curtains in my kitchen. I may actually get to make them in the next year if I finish my husband's long overdue Christmas present. Ha!

Second find, photo tree!

At the moment, I'm going to use this photo tree for displaying something...I'm thinking something small like baby leggings or bibs. This little gem was also $2.00.

What to use it for...hats? Bibs? Baby legs?

Third, old plates!

I had two pillar candles in our bathroom that were on paper plates. Not exactly display worthy, not to mention they didn't fit on the shelf. I was going to buy a candle plate, but they were $5.00. And they were just so simple..no point to spend that kind of money on something so simple and small. So, I got some thrift store plates for $.89 (Yes, less than a dollar!)

They look pretty good on the shelf now...at least a bit better than paper plates! Oh and that bathroom. It's a dream bathroom, but I think I'm going to paint it to match my personality more. I like gray and I like red. However, its not cheerful enough for me (I need cheerful since it's usually winter outside!)...so I have can of oops yellow paint (mistint...75% off) I plan on using in the future.

Oh and one last find, a Baby Toy!

I don't usually get toys from thrift stores or garage sales. I'm a bit of a germaphobe and I just can't handle the germ aspect. However, I decided that if I disinfect the toy, why in the heck am I worried so much? And considering how cheap toys are second hand and how fast babies outgrow them, I may as well get over it.

To disinfect toys, you just need to use a gallon of water to a 1/4 cup of bleach. I rinsed the truck, wiped it down and let it dry. If you're crazy like me, you can even get into the corners with Q-Tips.

She absolutely loves it, and I only spent $2.00.

Thanks Mom!


DIY Wednesday: Baby Food Jar Use #1

Hi Everyone!

I'm on a personal mission to find functional uses for baby food jars. When I google "baby food jar crafts" I generally get loads of campy craft uses. Don't get me wrong, when my baby is bigger, I'll probably do all sorts of odd crafts with her. (Color sand jars or snow globes anyone?) But until then, I will try to find more functional uses. It's hard to throw away these glass gems since it's so expensive to purchase glass (and not to mention the environmental aspects of throwing it in the trash).

Up first, Ribbon Holders.

This was my ribbon board before the baby food jars. (Click here for the tutorial to make your own ribbon holder.)

Not bad, but it was a pain to get the ribbon off the dowels if I didn't have the ribbon spool. So I decided to grab some stiff metal wire I had sitting around (found by the beads). I left a little sticking out, wrapped around twice, then made a hanging loop. Pliers really help get the wire tight.

Ribbon holder after the baby food jars

Much more organized! I tried to organize by color and design. I have more to put up, but it's a pretty good start. And I'm not wasting those precious baby food jars!

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