Sniper Fire in L.A. : A Babymoon Story

If you recall, while I was pregnant we were living with Tyler’s parents. We were desperate for a vacation, a weekend away from work, from our roommates, from everything. Knowing this would likely be our last chance to get away just the two of us for… a while, we decided to go for it. We would have loved to make a trip down to Mexico and lie on the beach, Tyler consuming copious cocktails at the all inclusive, while I drank mocktails and tried not to get sunburned. Alas, we were still looking for a house and trying to save money, and there was the whole Zika thing to keep an eye on. So we decided we’d fly down to Santa Monica for our babymoon.

sniper fireWe got permission from our doctor and booked flights during my second trimester (hands down the best trimester, 9 out of 10 pregnant ladies agree). It was springtime, so we anticipated decent weather, and little to no crowds. Of course the weather ended up being freaking gorgeous back home (although I would have complained about the heat had we been here). There was a thick marine layer keeping us from getting too warm or sun burned- it was perfect. We booked this airbnb a few blocks up from the beach, which was awesome and so were the hosts.

We spent some time each day chilling on the beach, although not much swimming as the water was still a little chilly; but we got to nap, see dolphins swimming, and let my belly be free.

Our plan for the second night was to go watch a Dodger’s game, but didn’t take into sniper fireaccount how long it would take to get there. Tyler, checking out the route the previous night at 10pm had an approximate time of 40 minutes from our Airbnb to the stadium. But that LA traffic is truly as nuts as they claim it to be. We ended up giving up after 2 hours in bumper to bumper traffic and heading to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We searched out Jeff Bridges’ star, dodged street performers, andΒ watched a couple nice young men comply with commands as they were taken into police custody.

The next day we planned better, and left for the game 4 hours before it began.

YES, 4 HOURS.

sniper fireWe ended up getting there really fucking early, but the alternative was sitting in traffic and missing the game again if we left any later. We got to watch some warm ups, and scope out the food and drinks. I ate my way through the innings; garlic fries, hot dogs, rootbeers, ice cream, you name it, I ate it. Despite my large-ish size I still had a psycho superfan ask me to get out of her seat (a stool, in a common area, that she was not using). I didn’t argue or point out the fact that I was pregnant or there were seats a little further down, because she looked like a maniac. Head to toe Dodger’s crap, glittery patterns, I’m fairly certain the stadium had thrown up its garbage all over her.

The next day we headed to Venice Beach, stopping at In’n’Out Burger on the way. We hung out on the beach for a little while, dozing in and out of greasy consciousness and letting the sun keep us warm like a pair of old cats. After some lounging we decided to walk around the little stores near the beach and grab something to drink. While walking on the outside of a FLAT sidewalk, I looked up into a store front and that’s where things went sideways…

sniper fire
R.I.C.E.

I caught the edge of the sidewalk where they had planted a tree. My ankle rolls completely, my knee gives out, I let out a yelp and start falling forwards towards the ground, arms flailing slightly behind me. Tyler standing next to me, completely stunned, watches as gravity and momentum take control. He will tell you, it was as if I had been hit by sniper fire. There was no warning, you didn’t even hear the shot before I started to go down. Like a scene from Saving Private Ryan (without the honour), I fell towards the earth; my belly and torso leading the charge, my limbs and head wildly trying to catch up.

As I fall forward, I notice an object in my trajectory; a vintage children’s tricycle. WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT DOING THERE?! Somehow, I manage to get my hands in front of me; landing on all fours over the tricycle, like some sort of fucked up National Geographic documentary. My belly thankfully only mildly hitting the tricycle. To my rescue came my husband, and what looked like an Outlaw Motorcycle Gang member. They helped me up and hid the strain of helping me over to a chair. I try to keep my crying to a minimum, and thanked the leather-clad good Samaritan for his assistance. I tell Tyler I’m done, its definitely a sprain and that I need some ice. He ran off to get me some ice, and once that was on my pudgy, bulbous ankle, he went to get the car.

I apologized for ruining the trip, pointing out that I had even worn proper shoes to avoid this from happening. We went back to our digs for some old fashioned RICE magic. We debated between ordering a pizza from Domino’s or sticking to our plan of going out for a nice seafood feast.

sniper fireEventually we left the house and arrived at, unbeknownst to us, a super chic restaurant. They had valet, they had sexy servers and clientele; we had no reservation. I was wearing one flip flop and only a tensor bandage on the other foot. No crutches, sporty shorts and a t-shirt. Tyler essentially, dressed to match. They said we could sit on the couch and if a table came up we could move. The couch was perfect given my ridiculous state. When the server came over to take our drink order, I was sprawled across this couch. My foot elevated on the coffee table and all the pillows piled up behind me. Tyler was no better, slouching so much he was becoming one with the couch. You could see her think “Dear God, what am I in for?”.

These couches were for people to sit and have a cocktail while they waited for their table; and here we were, 2 people acting like this was our God damn living room. Sexy singles and classy couples came through, dressed to the nines. They squished politely onto the other couch, avoiding us at all costs. We told our server we were fine to stay here, and I think she eventually warmed up to us; especially after we explained what had happened. We ate our delicious seafood, and lounged like we owned the place. Eventually we hobbled out of there with less fucks than we had coming in.

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Traveling while Breastfeeding vs Formula

There are probably about a billion posts on this, but I figured, why not add mine to the mix? Traveling can be stressful without a baby. Add baby to the mix and boom, more stress. More crap, more sweat, more benefits? Ha, that’s a stretch. But there is a lot of great experiences. One of the most hotly debated experiences of motherhood is: breastfeeding vs formula.

We did a couple mini roadtrips while I was exclusively breastfeeding and they were pretty okay; could have done with less crying to be honest, but what can you do? Literally everything, we tried everything. Anyways, our trip to Crete started with me breastfeeding and mixing in some formula, and ending with him exlusively on formula.

The benefits are obvious for breastfeeding exclusively and traveling:

  1. Less stuff to haul around
  2. Less stuff to clean and sterilze
  3. No need for boiled/bottled water
  4. Antibodies for baby if you pick up something on the journey
traveling while breastfeeding vs formula
There are worse places to breastfeed

I wasn’t stressed out either way, if he wanted to keep breastfeeding that was fine, but I was ready to be done as long as he was. Luckily for us, he took to the forumla right away, and he didn’t have any stomach problems from it, no apparent allergies etc.. Given the time change and fatigue, my boobs packed it in mid trip. I could have forced it, but as I didn’t care, I let them do what they wanted. Plus it was like 40 degrees and I wasn’t interested in having him on my body like that all the time. Can you say sweat city!?

The benefits for traveling with formula were actually pretty good (for me).

  1. I could actually relax on the holiday! Dad could take over some feeds!
  2. He could eat in his stroller, on the couch, or highchair instead of being attached to me in the heat.
  3. I didn’t have to whip my boobs out in unfamiliar places. (Greece is very family friendly, and I doubt I would have encountered any issues if I was breastfeeding in public, but it was just nice to not have to)
  4. I could stop worrying about the sunscreen I was applying to the area and baby’s exposure to it.
  5. Could stop worrying about alcohol completely. (I was never “worried” but now it was a non issue)
  6. If you are driving, you don’t have to stop to breastfeed, you can just pop a bottle in their mouth.
traveling while breastfeeding vs formula
Dad taking a shift as the feedbag

Prior to this trip I had kind of hoped to be able to breastfeed all the way through, just for the lighter bags. In the end I’m really happy with the way it turned out. If I’m traveling while breastfeeding in the future, and it would depend on the baby’s age; I will definitely bring a bottle and a small pack of formula, just in case the milk bags can’t keep up. I would rather enjoy my vacation and give my baby formula, then stress out and start pumping like mad to get things going again.

traveling while breastfeeding vs formula
finally taking some ownership in his own meals

Obviously this is a personal choice and it depends on how mom is feeling and on the baby. For me, breastfeeding wasn’t easy right off the bat, and we had to work hard at it. Eventually we found our groove and we made it to the 9 month mark before adding in formula and switching over.

Once I stopped breastfeeding I felt like a weight had been lifted. I could get help with the feeds and my body started to feel like my own again; the aches and pains associated with postpartum started to slowly fade. And cuddling with him while he eats from his bottle is now my favourite time; especially right before naps and bed. Prior feeds at these times were a chore for me because it was like I was already doing it constantly (given his short attention span and laziness towards eating). Now that I can share the workload throughout the day (or he feeds himself) I can fully enjoy those quiet moments just the two of us.

This isn’t a pro breastfeeding or pro formula post, but a personal experience post. Basically, if you think you can’t travel because you’re using formula or because you’re breastfeeding, stop worrying about it! There will always be a million reasons to not do something (or to do it) but just do what feels right for you. The important thing to remember is that the baby is well fed, regardless of the source, and that Mom is healthy and happy with her decision. Everyone else can fuck off.

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First Camping Trip with Baby

We took our nearly 11 month old camping. Ya. I’m sure some of Camping Trip with Babyyou are scoffing at us right now. How could they think that would be fun after traveling with him to Crete? Well, to be honest, we didn’t think it would be fun. We thought of it more as a right of passage. It seems like all our friends and relatives have a story about the first time they took their baby camping. None of those stories sound like overly pleasant experiences, but everyone looks back on them with the haze of nostalgia and it seems nice. So ya, we went on a camping trip with baby.

I distinctly remember a conversation with a friend that went something like this:

“We took her camping when she was 1, because you have too.”

“You don’t have to do anything.”

And yet, here we are having gone camping with our baby… didn’t even listen to my own advice!

Camping Trip with BabyTyler had 10 days off, so after we got back from the Okanagan, we showered, slept in our beds for one night and headed 5 minutes down the road to Cultus Lake. Some precautions were taken to try and make this trip as smooth as possible.

  1. We booked only 2 nights – Why book more when the first night could be hell and you just want to come home?
  2. We booked 5 minutes away from home – same theory as #1, what if you want to bail out after an hour? Also, what if you forget something ?(formula, for example)
  3. We reserved a site close (but not too close) to bathrooms with running water and showers, just in case Callahan needed a real rinse.
  4. We were sleeping in Ron Burgundy– I haven’t slept in a tent since I hiked the Inca Trail in 2010, and I’m okay with that.
  5. I precooked and prepared everything, (but the bacon and eggs). Nothing needed to be warmed up unless we wanted to be fancy.
  6. We went and got a pack’n’play, there will be no co-sleeping on what is barely considered a full-size bed in the back of the van.
  7. We waited to leave the house and check into our site until after Callahan had his last nap of the day.
Camping Trip with Baby
whatever keeps you from eating rocks

Callahan spent every single minute he was free trying to eat rocks. Not just pebbles though, the biggest, sharpest ones he could find. He was also experiencing real shoes while walking for the first time, so things were a little wobbly. We had brought some of his favourite toys, which got so dusty and dirty that a few of them have now been deemed “outside toys”. To be honest, Callahan was almost deemed an “outside toy”. He was fucking filthy. I didn’t even bother changing his clothes the second day (or third morning). What was the point? He was just going to get those all dusty too.

camping trip with baby

I packed a crib sheet for the pack’n’play for naps and bedtime. When he was awake, we had the sheet off and the pack’n’play out on the site with us. Thinking this would be a good way to contain him, with all his toys, and he’d still be part of the group… WRONG. Every second he was in there he was letting out battle cries and chucking his toys overboard, while trying to climb out. This is why it has taken us this long to buy one of these things. He’ll sleep in them no problem, but there is a zero percent chance he’ll chill in there and play.

camping trip with babyOverall, the first day went by without a hitch. Callahan took a little longer to fall asleep than he would at home, but not by much and then slept until 7am!! We were so relieved! He went down for his morning nap with no problems (yay again!!).

After lunch, we went for a walk, settling on the Seven Camping Trip with BabySisters Trail. We had forgotten our water bottles and decided we didn’t want to do anything too strenuous. Once we were done the loop, we walked about 300m up the horse trail before turning around. We had been stung by stinging nettle. We googled what the dock leaf looked like (thank you cell service!! my memory had faded since childhood) and found some to rub the sting away. Thankfully Callahan didn’t get any stinging nettle spots.

When we returned, he struggled with his afternoon nap, and had a complete meltdown at bedtime. Seeing as he had started teething again over the weekend, I gave him some advil and hoped that would help him settle easier.

He cried until he vomited, and then promptly fell asleep.

We learned some valuable lessons the first night (even though it went well) that we implemented the second night:

  1. You cannot get in and out of the van quietly if all the doors are closed properly. This meant that we had to remember to leave the back door open a crack so we could crawl into bed.
  2. If you close all the doors when you are putting him down, you are locked in until someone can save you. This also applies to middle of the night pees; the door should be closed properly in case a bear comes poking around, but there is no way out in a bladder emergency.
  3. The campsite needs to be “bare” when you go to bed. Which meant we had to shove all the food and food prep stuff in the front seat BEFORE Callahan went down. We kept one small cooler bag out with our evening snacks and beverages in it. It was small enough for us to slide under the bed when we crawled in for the night.

Despite our efforts, he woke up at 3am and wanted to play. We offered him a bottle which he crushed in record time; he then managed to fall back asleep until 6am.

Unfortunately, Tyler could not fall back asleep after the late night wake up; it meant he bailed out of the bed early (more room for me!!) Camping Trip with Babyand had most of the site packed up and breakfast ready to go for when we woke up. I scarfed down my breakfast and then we started loading up the van. We probably would have left earlier, but the van doesn’t really follow the “quiet time” hours when you start it up.

We got home in 5 minutes, unloaded everything, started the laundry, gave Callahan some grub, and had him napping by 8am. Tyler and I followed shortly after.

Camping Trip with Baby
That’s a big ass tree!

All in all, I’d call this camping trip with baby a success. We were riding high after the first night went so well; it was only reasonable to be knocked back down a peg the second night. We’ve already been discussing how the van could be made more accommodating for future family camping trips (bigger bed for mom & dad), but have yet to make any more plans of this nature.

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Lessons from Our First Trip with Baby

If you’ve read our previous posts, you’ll know that our trip to Crete had some ups and downs. Our flight to Crete can be read here and is best summed up as, tired. Our first few days on the island, were disappointing (you can read about them here), and can be summed up as, tired. Our middle few days were great (you can read about them here), and can be summed up as, tired… I think you get the picture…

Traveling with a baby is tiring.

We have always liked to think of ourselves as low maintenance, no expectation, go with the flow travelers; so we thought that same attitude would help us cope with traveling with a baby. WRONG. I mean, sort of. We were on the right path, but we just weren’t low maintenance/flowy/expectation-less enough. Does that make sense?

Lesson 1: You WILL be tired and there is nothing you can do about it, unless you have help with you.

In the past, we would regularly show up in a city, having done enough research to find our accommodations. Then, we would just walk aimlessly. There was rarely any one site, we HAD to see. We ate when we were hungry, we waited in lines if we felt like it, we napped and watched TV if that’s what suited us. On this trip we rented a car, and booked our accommodations in advance. We researched what we wanted to see and came up with a general itinerary. There was Plan A, and Plans B-Z.
We were going to walk aimlessly, and we were going to chase beaches. Surely, a 9 month old would love that?!

Yes, he did in fact love this. But he also loved napping, or not napping, depending on what suited him. We were so tired, because we started off jet-lagged, without any sleep (seriously read this post and you’ll understand), and it took several days for him to adjust. We meanwhile, drank 14L of coffee every day. He woke up early and multiple times a Our First Trip with Babynight, meaning we were constantly in the negative sleep bank. When we headed out to a site/beach we always left early so that his first nap was in the car. What that meant, was while he was sleeping peacefully, we were on high alert for crazy drivers, single lane roads, herds of goats, and cliff faces. We’d arrive at our destination, just in time for him to wake up! Now, he’s ready to go full speed, and we’re even more tired. We’d chase him around the beach, or walk with him in the stroller, and then drive home in time for his second nap… repeat cycle….

We actually managed to accomplish a lot more on this trip, day-to-day, than we had expected, because of this method. We were tired, but we managed to do everything we had set out to do. I heard from multiple people, who have all corroborated the same story- travel somewhere easy (same time zone etc.) and travel with extended family. Bring Grandma and Grandpa, Aunts and Uncles, other kids etc. basically anyone who you can pass your kid off to once a day (or more) and get a break, whatever that break may look like for you.

Lesson 2: No Age is the Right age, but the right age is probably not your kid’s age.

We also suspect, that the trip might have been easier if he had been a little bit older or younger. We don’t know which is better, but ideally, your baby is not mobile yet, but is definitely sleep trained (or at least has sleep coping mechanisms). Or your baby is no longer a baby… Would this have helped? Yes, no sand eating, no worrying about falling, maybe they have all their teeth already, or simply you can reason with them? HA YA RIGHT!

Lesson 3: Don’t pack anything you haven’t tested out at home first, and then pack over and over and over and over again.

Our First Trip with Baby
Pack light for your small car & sanity!

I love packing bags for trips. It’s like a puzzle that can make or break your trip! High Stakes people!! I read 8 million different blog posts about what to pack; handy gadgets, crap you don’t/do need. Honestly, I don’t know why people bother traveling if they are going to haul that much shit around. We always pack as little as possible. I like to open my bag and not be bothered by 17 different decisions, when I could be out exploring. So I research everything in advance (what will the weather be like, does it swing hot/cold morning to night, does the hotel have AC, what customs, if any do I need to respect with my attire, how much walking will we be doing, will we have fancy nights out etc.) I think this is all fairly normal research, Tyler thinks I’m insane.

We were entitled to 2 carry-ons, plus a diaper bag and a purse, and we were only going to bring two roller suitcases as checked bags, plus the stroller; and that’s what we did. On the way home, we even donated some stuff so that we could abandon our cheap diaper bag, and have less stuff to carry. We opted not to bring our car seat which was genius; and used an umbrella stroller for its lightweight/smallness. We made sure everything could do double/triple duty. We brought sink-sized laundry detergent. This was still a lot of stuff for us, but in the end. Everything got used multiple times, if not daily.

Lesson 4: Don’t stay too long or too short, its anyone’s guess what the right amount would be.

On previous trips to Europe, we would always save up our vacation time and go for 5 weeks. To us, this made the flight and jet-lag worth it. This time around, we knew we couldn’t afford it, and that we would be tired. (See first lesson). So we planned for 17 days including travel. This seemed reasonable, we guessed we’d manage about 10 days without anyone being jet-lagged. Which was about right, but again, oh so tired. This is a tricky one to get right I think (unlike the rest of our traveling lessons haha)
you need to know what you’re capable of solo, as a couple, and then take into consideration HEAVILY what you think you can reasonably manage with a baby. We have since said that ideally, we would have stayed 3 weeks to a month, stayed in one or two locations rather than traveling around, and invited friends/family to come with us. Two weeks was fine (too much) with the two of us, because of the jet-lag.

Our First Trip with Baby

Lesson 5: Drink every day, but don’t be hungover.

This one speaks for itself….

 

 

Lesson 6: Seek shade, wear SPF 50, reapply, and cover up.

If you’re going somewhere sunny and hot, don’t be careless. A burnt baby is not going to be pleasant, since a burnt adult isn’t pleasant. Thankfully Our First Trip with Babywe didn’t run into this issue because I am a sun protection psycho.

Lesson 6a: There is no such thing as a base tan/burn. Any tan/burn is skin damage. Straight up.

Lesson 7: Make sure you’re eating, not just the baby.

You know what’s stressful? Traveling. You know what makes things worse? Hunger. Make sure that you have food for baby; but make sure you take the time to stop and get food for yourselves. When shit hits the fan, which it will at some point, you don’t want to be hangry and dealing with a baby. When we ran out of formula we had about a 2 hour trip in front of us, with one serving of food for the baby left. We stopped at a restaurant before starting our hunt, fed him his last serving of formula, and ate a bunch of food ourselves. He fell asleep in the car with a full belly, and we managed to keep our cool until more formula was secured. All because we had eaten sufficiently. Can you imagine how easily this could have spiraled out of control?

Lesson 8: Don’t get the shits, drink drink drink that potable water.

Don’t get diarrhea. Seriously, just don’t. At the very least don’t get it bad. Just make sure you are drinking lots of water, if the water needs to be boiled, boil it or buy bottled. We probably drink more water on vacation than we do at home, because we don’t want to get dehydrated and ruin our trip. Plus sometimes you eat new foods and it upsets the system… cue the need for more water. We made sure that we each had a 1L bottle of water whenever we left the hotel, and that we had 2L of boiled or bottled water for Callahan’s bottles.

Lesson 9: Clear up space on your phone & leave the big camera at home.

This next lesson will only be pertinent to a few people… You know that ginormous semi-pro/pro camera you bought before the baby? Ya, don’t bother bringing it. A baby means you have more stuff than normal, or that you’re carrying the baby, or baby wearing the baby… see where I’m going with this? I used to bring my camera with my most versatile lens (and I Our First Trip with Babydid on this trip too) and take 200 pictures per day. This trip? I took 200 total on my camera. I also had a waterproof camera that I took about 20 pictures on. Do you know how many I took on my phone? About 2500. And then there are the pictures Tyler took on his phone. I even did direct comparisons of Β my phone and my DSLR, honestly I can’t tell the difference between the two. There are a few situations where my phone was actually able to get a better picture. It seems like a great idea, you want to get some AMAZING shots of your child in foreign lands (and feel like your old self again), but honestly it’s a bitch to haul around. Your phone is always in your pocket anyways. Buy a waterproof case for your phone if you feel the need to bring it in the water, but for sure, make sure you have a protective case because you’ll drop that bitch at least once a day in the juggle struggle of baby vs camera.

I think that sums up our lessons from this trip, I’m sure there are others, but just remember above all else; it doesn’t matter how disastrous it seems to be going, take a deep breath, let things go, and know that as long as you all make it home alive and mostly intact, you will not regret going.

Our First Trip with Baby

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