Friday I’m in Love: Flamingos

In just over a month we’ll be having a baby girl. I decided we’d go very girly for her room colour – possibly to make up for the fact that I haven’t had a typically girly colour in my bedroom since I was 14 (once I painted over my childhood pink, I’ve had green, blue, blue and yellow, mint green, yellow, and now asparagus green…I don’t count the sick peachy colour that came with the temporary digs we occupied for a year while searching for a house to buy).

When picking the actual colour, I wanted something bold and colourful. Something that shouted out GIRL, but that wasn’t the typical pale baby pink. I drew my inspiration from this painting/print by Elise Blaha Cripe, and ultimately went with Benjamin Moore’s Coral Gables.

It’s stunning, and a little in your face. I love it. Once the room is actually complete, I’ll share it with you (for now, it doesn’t look at all like a nursery, as I’m using it as a temporary, somewhat bare and echo-y office).

In the meantime, though, I’m loving everything to do with flamingos and colours inspired by them:

Friday I'm in Love: Flamingos

print | science print | dress | headband | shoes | pillow cover

Cute? Too much? I’m thinking so long as I don’t go overboard (think plastic lawn flamingos) I should be ok!

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Travelling with a toddler

Our recent trip to Pompano Beach, Florida was our first time really travelling with the little man. Sure, he’s already proven himself to be extremely road-worthy, but this was our first time flying with him.

Admittedly, by air travel standards, it was short – only 3.5 hours on a direct flight from Montreal to Fort Lauderdale. But still….we had to go through all of the hassles at the airport, go through a take-off and landing, and manage an extremely squirmy and active little man on our laps for the duration of the flight. So it’s nothing to sneeze at, either.

While I obviously don’t think one round-trip vacation makes me an expert on travelling with a little one, I did think it could be useful to share my experiences flying to, and staying in, a sunny destination.

Palm frond

Here goes:

Flight Time

If at all possible, try to time your flights with naptime. On our way down to Florida, this didn’t happen. Our flight was in the early morning and Boo was wide awake and super active for the entire duration. By about the 3-hour mark he had had enough and got cranky, and started making escape attempts.

The flight home, however, coincided with Boo’s naptime and though he didn’t sleep the entire way he did nap for a large part of it. That rest prevented him from getting too restless or cranky (though because he was travelling on our laps, and of course he fell asleep on top of me, it completely prevented me from being able to use the restroom….a very big deal when you’re 6+ months pregnant. But I digress).

Airline Seats

I’m still undecided as to which seat on the flight was more convenient – the aisle or the window. On our way down to Florida we had the aisle seat, which made it super easy to head to the restrooms to change diapers, or to pull out supplies from the overhead bin. It was also much easier for Boo to make his escape attempts under Daddy’s legs and down the aisle.

On our way home, we had the window where it was easier to keep the little man from escaping, and easier to position myself for his nap. But we felt sooo bad every time we had to ask the guy sitting in the aisle seat to move so we could go to the bathroom or dig out supplies (we tried to have everything on hand…but there’s always something you forget….or the sippy cup falls to the floor and rolls away, never to be seen again, and you need to get your backup).

Toys & Entertainment

We brought way too many carry-on toys for the little man. In my defence, this was because Boo didn’t have his own checked bag – he shared one with me, and I just didn’t have the space to pack most of the items I intended for him to have over the week, so I dumped them into his carry-on. My little man has an extremely long attention span and a very serious addiction to Sesame Street…I bet we could have gotten away with his Elmo and Cookie Monster figurines, and just a few songs and video podcasts for the entire flight.

That being said, he did make his way through all of the toys I brought for him during our week-long stay. Obviously, it helped that we were staying in one place only and were renting a car. Had we been moving about and using public transportation, it would have been impossible to bring as much as I did.

What did I bring for him? Let’s see…

  • My Pal Scout (indispensable in the morning, as it keeps the little man occupied until a reasonable hour, and for diaper changes – for some reason Boo becomes a complete nightmare at diaper changes whenever we’re on vacation, and he needs a good distraction)
  • Elephant lovey (for sleeping with and sucking on)
  • Handmade stuffed monkey (as a back-up…which we needed when Elephant got peed on)
  • Small bucket and shovel (for the beach)
  • Small ball (for playing catch)
  • Small set of wooden dominoes (in lieu of building blocks) – these mostly got strewn about, and thrown in/out of the portable crib, but Boo totally enjoyed doing it
  • Stacking cups (because they’re light, and the boy likes to stack)
  • Ziploc bag filled with random Sesame Street and animal figurines

Boo playing with Scout while wearing a diaper on his head

I know, I know…too much stuff. But it was all very light. That is, until I packed some food for the little man…

Food

If your child is under two, you’re able to bring food – most notably liquids – that are exempt from the 100ml security restrictions. I brought yogurt, drinkable yogurt, several fruit pouches, and one toddler meal to get us through each travel day. Because yogurt is dairy, I also had to bring an ice pack. It got heavy. Fast.

But considering Boo’s aversion to table food, I saw no way around this one. The little man had to eat.

If bringing food for your little one (or, I’d imagine, formula or breastmilk), be prepared to pull it all out when you go through security. Depending on if the security agent has children or not (!) they’ll either examine each item extremely carefully and rub it down with one of those weird little sticks to determine if there’s any contaminants on it (Montreal), or they’ll look at it all and kinda go “yeah yeah…it’s baby food.” (Fort Lauderdale).

Stroller

A good stroller is golden. I’d considered bringing our super light and super small umbrella stroller but it just wouldn’t have been enough. Instead we brought our everyday stroller (still a lightweight umbrella-style stroller, but much more robust – we use the Hauck Torro). It has a HUGE sun canopy which proved absolutely necessary in the hot Florida sun, reclines significantly to allow for naps, has a decent basket underneath in which we could throw supplies, and proved sturdy enough to allow a piece of carry-on luggage (or my purse/camera bag) to be draped over the handles.

Boo napping in his stroller

Though it did not in any way meet Air Canada’s gate-check stroller guidelines, nobody even batted an eye at it, as it still proved much smaller than most strollers we saw around the airport. I wrapped a bungee cord around it to ensure it didn’t pop open by accident, and checked it at the gate with no hassles.

Diapers

Though our condo had an in-unit washer/dryer, there was no way I was bringing my cloth diapers on vacation. So if you’re going somewhere you know you can buy diapers, just bring enough to get you through a day or two – i.e. until you find somewhere to buy more. We basically packed our bags, and then stuffed diapers into whatever space we had left. A few days into our trip we stopped at Walmart and bought the exact same brand we use at home for significantly less money.

Having said that, it was helpful to have “mini diaper packs” – a ziploc bag containing 2-3 diapers and another ziploc with a handful of wet wipes – in multiple carry on bags. This way, no matter who was taking care of the diaper change, and no matter what bag was most handy, we always had supplies on hand. I had one of these packs in my purse, in my carry on, and in Boo’s carry on.

Swim diapers

Before our trip I spent far too much time and energy debating between disposable vs. reusable swim diapers. Ultimately, I opted for reusable ones. I already had one from last summer that still fit, so I bought one additional (larger) Bummis Swimmi. Boo would wear one pair, and we carried a spare just in case he had a poop…luckily, or because I generally know my son’s schedule, we never had any cause to change him at the beach or pool.

Once back at the condo, I’d wash/rinse the diaper out, and hang to dry until our next foray into the water.

Boo in the surf with Daddy

The only catch with swim diapers is that they don’t hold pee. Considering we had a ways to go to get to the beach (we had to walk through the resort and cross the road, then through another part of the resort before getting to the hot hot sand) we initially made the trek in a regular diaper, and changed Boo at the beach. But it was a huge hassle. For the rest of the week we opted to put the swim diaper on immediately, and put a towel underneath to catch any accidents.

Bibs, Sippy cups, spoons, etc.

I only brought enough food to get us through the first day of travel. Once we’d arrived, our first order of business was to find a grocery store and get supplies – for ourselves and for the little one. We were lucky to be staying in a condo with a full kitchen, so there was no need to worry about where to put everything.

What I didn’t want to have to buy, though, were re-usable things like bibs (I brought a few of the plastic variety, so I could just wipe them down), sippy cups (I brought two – one for milk and one for water), and toddler spoons (I brought three – enough to get through a day of meals). For everything else, I just worked with what was provided in the kitchen, except…

Hook-on High Chair

I knew beforehand that the resort didn’t have highchairs available for use within the units. I also knew we’d have a full-sized kitchen table. Considering Boo’s mushy eating requirements, I knew I’d need to have some kind of highchair for mealtimes. So before leaving I bought the Inglesina Fast Table Chair. It’s not the smallest or lightest hook-on out there, but it’s also not the biggest/heaviest. It folded up small enough to easily fit in my husband’s suitcase. And it was a Godsend. I loved it.

Its design is such that it works on a large variety of table types, including round tables which is was what we had in the condo. It was super easy to attach. Super easy to detach. And pretty easy to completely disassemble and wash when we had a diaper accident (I love that you can disassemble and wash the fabric seat…not all hook-ons allow you to do so).

Boo excited in his hook-on high chair

….and that’s about all I can think of. There were, of course, other small items to remember. Like reserving a car seat at the same time as making our car reservation. Discovering that the resort only distributed portable cribs on a first-come first-served basis, and then miraculously (luckily) getting the last one (we’d already determined that, had there been none left it would be cheaper to buy an inexpensive one from Walmart over renting one from the vendor recommended by the resort).

What worked best for us was generally just remaining flexible, and going with the flow….something I usually have a very hard time with (I used to be the mega vacation planner, with itineraries, and maps to/from every attraction, etc.), but which I’ve gotten much better at. With Boo it really isn’t about what I want to do, anyway, but rather what he’s up for, and what he’s enjoying. When we discovered he loved the water so much, we didn’t see any need to fit in any big ticket activities…we just enjoyed the water with him instead!

Boo at the splash pad

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My favourite pregnancy side effect

With Boo I mostly had the typical, and well-known, pregnancy side effects. Odd cravings. Heartburn. Aching back and hips. Constipation. Sleepless nights. The usual.

My pregnant belly

This time around, though, I’ve got itchy armpits.

Yep. My underarms are constantly itchy. So itchy that it’s completely distracting and driving me a little crazy. There’s nothing I’d like to do more than just scratch them. All. Day. Long. It can get so bad, it feels like they’re burning, and I sometimes think I could scratch myself raw. It’s awful.

(Is this too much information? Feel free to stop reading right here if it is. But I gotta keep going…I can’t help but feel some other itchy-underarmed pregnant woman might find comfort knowing she’s not alone in the itchy armpits department.)

So rather than just bitch and moan about it – which I did at my last doctor’s appointment, to which I received the (not) helpful response: “There are lots of strange skin sensitivities during pregnancy. Don’t worry about it!” – I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands…especially as I’ve since developed a rash. I’m trying to eliminate additional causes of irritation.

So what additional causes of irritation did I eliminate?

Shaving. Running a razor blade against my sensitive underarm skin can’t be great. So I haven’t shaved since we got back from Florida. Seven days into that experiment, and I was still as itchy as ever….so I took the next step.

Anti-perspirant. About a week ago I decided my deodorant could be an irritant. I stopped putting that on too. To combat the “no deodorant” experiment, I’ve upped my shower frequency (obviously, I’ve been showering regularly…but with a toddler to run after all day, they’ve generally been opportunistically taken at night, once he’s in bed, and I’m not busy doing something else…now I’m making a point to absolutely take a shower, rather than only opportunistically take one).

I’m also applying anti-itch cream.

This combination of no shaving, no deodorant, and anti-itch cream seems to be helping. The itch is mostly gone. In fact, sometimes I’m not itchy at all. The rash is still there, but it isn’t as angry looking. So we’ve got progress. I’m even starting to consider re-introducing shaving and deodorant (it is summer after all). We’ll see.

And now that I’m not so distracted by my underarms? (Okay…so admittedly, I’m now somewhat distracted by the thought I might smell…I keep checking on that. So far, so good. But see above…I’m getting ready to cave.) I can get back to focusing on my heartburn, sore back and hips, and on stuffing my face with whatever it is I’m craving.

Ron Swanson s Breakfast. Ron Swanson gets the munchies_70b0b8_3295412

(I could eat bacon and eggs everyday, for every meal.)

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Friendly vs. not so friendly people

We recently spent a week in the US….it was a very pleasant experience. Not only because of the hot balmy weather and the ocean view, but because of the people.

Americans are friendly.

It could be that having the cutest toddler on earth (!) makes them a little more inclined to be friendly with us, but I don’t think that entirely accounts for how easy it was to smile and engage in small talk with complete strangers.*

Boo Boo smiling at the park on Pompano Beach

I mean just look at him….he’s adorable.

Everyone seemed willing to at least smile and say a quick hello. Many were happy to chat and engage in actual conversation for the duration of…whatever it was we were doing…riding in an elevator, checking out at the grocery store, watching our kids play in the park, riding an airport shuttle, whatever.

It was so nice.

And a nice change.

Once back home, we immediately saw and felt the difference. It only took….10 minutes? We jumped in an elevator at the Montreal Trudeau airport with Boo’s stroller, smiled at the other parents already inside and said hello. They ignored us, and shifted their gaze so as not to make eye contact. Locals.

Montrealers aren’t friendly. Though there are, of course, exceptions, I generally find them to be downright unfriendly. Often rude. And totally unapproachable.

It’s not just me who thinks so. A recent survey released by Statistics Canada suggests that the people of Quebec are less sociable than other provinces, and that they trust strangers, neighbours, whoever, less. Overall, Quebec came in dead last in a number of categories meant to determine how friendly and outgoing they are.

So yeah…not exactly sure where I’m going with this.

Maybe it just serves as a good contrast as well as an explanation why I can’t make any mummy friends at the park. The friendliest folk I’ve encountered have been grandparents (from a different, and probably friendlier, generation), and dads (because let’s face it…I’m pregnant and have HUGE boobs…of course they’re smiling at me).**

What about you? Have you noticed a difference in friendliness between Quebecers and elsewhere (anywhere)? Am I nuts? Or am I on to something here?

* Even a rough looking leather-clad biker took one look at Boo, smiled, and told me I had a “beautiful child”.
** It’s also got me wondering, yet again, why the hell do I live here? (Answer: my husband….though many might consider me crazy, I don’t particularly like Montreal)

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What we’re reading in May

So….it’s still May for a few more hours.

This month I treated myself to a book I’ve been wanting to read for quite some time. It’s come highly recommended all over the place, and I’ve wished for it here and here hoping someone might get the hint. Nobody did. So I finally bought Amy Poehler’s Yes Please for myself to bring on vacation to Florida:

Amy Poehler's Yes Please

It was a heavy book to bring along, but whatever. We weren’t exactly packing light, anyway.

And would you believe that I actually found the time to read? Spending all of that time in our condo for Boo’s naps afforded me the time to sit out on the balcony and read, while sipping juice (a beer or rum punch would have probably been far more satisfying, but alas…..pregnant). At night, while the hubby put on terrible reality shows like River Monsters, I read some more. It felt great.

And the book? It’s actually a rather strange book…but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It’s part memoir, part advice column, part comedy act, and part something I can’t quite put my finger on. I discovered there’s much more to Amy Poehler than SNL and Parks and Recreation (which I kind of knew already since I’d discovered Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls), but this book helped pin that down.

Part of that “something” was her motto for women, in general: “Good for her! Not for me.” No matter your choice – to have children or not, how to have your children, how to feed your children, how to raise your children, whether to work or not, etc., there’s no need for comparison. “Good for her! Not for me.”

In the book Amy comes across as genuine, mostly down to earth, intelligent, and funny.

It was a great and easy read.

Sandra Boynton's The Going to Bed Book

Boo has (finally?) started to lose interest in The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Don’t get me wrong – he still loves it – but he’s added a few new books to our rotation, including Sandra Boynton’s The Going to Bed Book. It’s a cute, and (very) short read, which makes it a perfect bedtime story, that leaves us both satisfied.

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