10 months old!

This little bug is now 10 months old.

abby bootsabby 3

I’m solo with her this week while JR attends a conference in DC.  I love the extra one-on-one time, but it’s also tiring!  She keeps me on my toes, or hands and knees, really, because she loves to chase me crawling around the living room.

Last week we tried (tried being the key word here) to use a babysitter in the evening.  I had to be at a work event at 5:30, and JR had to be somewhere for about an hour at the same time.  Our nanny, Vjosa, wasn’t able to stay late, so we asked our back up sitter (L) to come over.  We haven’t used L in months, because we’re boring and we don’t go anywhere.  I stopped at home quickly to go over things with L and see Abby for a few minutes.  L was already there with Vjosa and Abby was not having it AT ALL.  In fact she didn’t even want me, she only wanted Vjosa.  Of course, Vjosa had to leave and so did I, and it was hard to say goodbye because she was pretty worked up and crying.  I ran into JR outside of our place as he was headed in and I warned him it was not good in there.   He said, well there isn’t anything we can do because we both have to leave, I said I understood but I just felt bad about it.

About 10 minutes later, on my way to my meeting, JR texted me.

“I stayed. Paid L and she just left. I couldn’t leave her.”

So, yeah.  If you’re keeping score at home, it’s Abby -197, Parents – 0.

Other than scaring off babysitters, she’s been so much fun lately.  Her favorite (and only) word is Dada, and she can give kisses, hugs, and high fives.  We’re working on blowing kisses.  She loves to Skype with her grandparents, aunts and uncles.   It’s so cute to see her face light up when she hears the Skype call starting.

Here are some of my favorite recent pictures.

Studying the menu carefully at Pinocchio.  She decided on puffs, cheerios, steak and veggies.

pinocchio 2 abby pinocchio

 

Valentine’s Day outfit and enjoying some snacks.

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Being silly, and with Vjosa, who we will miss dearly.

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Sorry for so many blurry pictures – she rarely sits still, and I’m a terrible photographer!

 

Another post about traveling with a baby

We arrived back in Kosovo last week, and we’ve spent our time dealing with a sick baby and getting over jet lag.  It seems like we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now because we all slept great last night.

Our return trip was mostly uneventful.  Even though we mentioned to our families – more than once – that we had limited space in our luggage and apartment for toys, we were still left with an alarming pile of stuff.  We managed to cram this pile of toys

toy pile

into one of our suitcases, and we only had to mail back one good sized box full of books and puzzles.   I finally realized that one of my biggest stressors when traveling (spell check tells me this is not a word, but I’m leaving it) is having so much stuff to lug around the airport, and on and off each airplane.  It’s overwhelming.  Funny that it took me this long to figure it out, but I think it was partly because previously I flew solo with just one small carry-on earlier in the month.  After we checked in, I put Abby in my Beco (baby carrier/baby wearing, whatever) and we put my purse, JR’s shoulder bag, the diaper bag, and my carry-on bag on top of the stroller/car seat combo, and I started pushing that while JR managed the two bigger carry-ons.  That’s 6 bags, plus a stroller and car seat, plus a baby to carry through several security checks, planes, and airports.  It’s a lot.

We connected in Newark, and had to take a shuttle bus to Terminal B.  When we exited the bus at the door to Terminal B, the employee said “Didn’t they tell y’all that there isn’t an elevator here?”bored employee

Um, no, no they did not.  If they had, probably we would have found another route.  The bus had just pulled away, and we are standing there with all of our things piled on our stroller, as she continued to stare at us.  JR said, well what would you suggest we do?   Her response involved waiting for some other shuttle option to pick us back up, take us back to where we started, and we could find an alternate route ourselves.  Helpful, that one.   I loaded as many bags as I could on my shoulders, JR did the same, and then while I had the baby he picked up the stroller and car seat and we hoofed it up the two flights.  Not ideal, but we managed.

Regardless of the troubles we had, Abby made herself comfy on the plane.  Here she is hanging out, and playing peek-a-boo with some kids behind us.

abby plane 1abby plane 2

When we finally landed in Kosovo, only 1 of our 4 checked suitcases came out at baggage claim.  I was kind of over it at that point and just wanted to go home, but we had to wait over an hour to make a claim for the bags.  I figured there wasn’t anything in those bags that we couldn’t live without, and hopefully they’d show up soon.  At that point I didn’t realize that my winter coat, hair dryer, the baby’s thermometer, and various other necessities were in fact in those bags.  Thankfully, they were delivered to our house the next day without any other issues.

Of course, with so much stuff and such a long trip, we expect a few problems but this trip was pretty decent.  I wrote out a long post several months ago that had tips for flying with a newborn and I never published it.  You can find it here.  Now that Abby is older, the focus is on less stuff overall but more toys and food.  Also, a tip if you use a stroller bag for gate checking.  In our experience the stroller in a bag is just confusing, and the employees are more likely to lose it or place it with regular checked luggage since they can’t tell that it’s a stroller within the bag.  From now on we’re going to skip the bag and just collapse the stroller right before we board the plane. We gate-checked our stroller but it was nowhere to be found on the tarmac when we departed the plane in Vienna.  After realizing that the stroller must be with the other baggage, JR quickly ran to the tail of the plane to wait for the baggage coming on the conveyor belt.  Thankfully, he recognized it and was able to grab it from the baggage guys.

Surely one day we’ll get the hang of it.  Right?

Traveling with an infant

Note:  I wrote this back in the summer after our first experience flying with the baby.  Not sure why I never published it, but here it is.

I was very nervous about traveling with Abby.  When we left Ohio she was not quite 7 weeks old – which is very little to be going on such a big adventure.  Three flights, a 24 hour delay, and two days later, we made it home and she didn’t show the slightest bit of stress.  Adjusting her to local time was an entirely different issue.

I spent a lot of time online reading up on suggestions and tips for traveling with a baby.  I found it very helpful, and I think our preparation helped keep me calm (okay, by the end nothing about me was calm, but that wasn’t because of the baby) and made the trip much easier.

My packing list for the baby:

1. Stroller.  We have the City Mini GT.  It’s a bigger stroller, but we love it and felt it was necessary for the uneven pavement and roads here in Kosovo.  Many people recommend taking an umbrella stroller for airport travel, but Abby is still too little for one of those.  It was really helpful for moving through the airport, especially because we had Abby’s infant car seat with us and that beast is heavy.   We also have a Stroller Bag – so just before we boarded each plane, we collapsed the stroller and gate checked it.  (As you may recall, that didn’t turn out so well for us on Turkish Airlines, but I digress).

2. Car Seat and Base.  Our car seat is the Britax B-Safe.  Abby had her own ticket for each flight (per the travel orders from JR’s work) so we knew we would be taking her car seat on the plane with us.   However, I did not know what to do with the base of the car seat.  We had used it constantly in Ohio, because we were always on the go, in and out of the car.  I didn’t want to buy a separate base and ship it to Kosovo becasue those things are pricey.  I also didn’t want to try to pack it in one of our bags.  We had 5 checked bags, our maximum allowance, and each bag was stuffed to the brim and weighed 49 pounds (50lbs is the max).   So, when we boarded the plane, I had Abby in my K’Tan and we carried the car seat attached to the base – so basically to anyone else, it looked like just one piece.  We quickly realized it would be next to impossible to get the seat belt around the car seat when it was attached, so we took the base off and placed in an overhead bin.  I’ve heard that you can gate check the base without charge, but I wasn’t sure if that would work.  Ideally, we won’t have to fly with the base again because it was just one more item to carry around, but we had to get it home with us somehow.

3.  Baby carrier.  We have two carriers – the K’Tan and the Beco Gemini.  I love them both for different reasons, and the K’Tan is the one we used while traveling.  It’s similar to a Moby Wrap but far less complicated.  There were several advantages to wearing Abby through the airport.  I did not have to take her out or do anything special when we went through security, but they did have me use a metal detector instead of the body scanner.  Oh, and they ran a wand over my hands and checked the results of that, but no one touched the baby, and I didn’t have to fuss with getting her in and out of her stroller.  And of course, it allowed my hands to be free to carry other things, and eat when we stopped.

4.  Boppy pillow.  I was a little torn on bringing this.  On the one hand, it was just one more thing to carry, and we seriously had SO.MUCH.STUFF.  On the other hand, it gives your arms a nice break when you are holding the baby or feeding her.  We didn’t know how much time Abby would spend in her car seat and how often she would want to be held.  Luckily for us, she really did sleep most of the time in her seat.

5.  Diaper Bags.  Yes, that’s plural, because we have a bit of a war on the homefront over who has the better diaper bag.  I used mine primarily as a purse and also I had back ups in it, and we used JR’s for all the necessities.   We packed about 20 diapers (which at first seemed like overkill, but when we were stuck in DC and doing a count of our remaining diapers, unsure of when we’d actually arrive in Kosovo, I wound up going on a last minute diaper run just to be safe).   We also had several bibs, burp cloths, multiple changes of clothes for Abby, and a change of clothes for each of us (that was in case she spit up or pooed on us, but turned out to be handy when we had to overnight in DC anyway).   Extra ziplock baggies for dirty clothes, and small trash bags for dirty diapers.  We also had a few small toys. Oh and we packed at least ten pacificers, just in case we lost 9 of them.

We debated on the best way to take Abby’s formula and bottles with us.  We bought Similac Ready-to-Feed bottles.  They are a bit pricey, but it was very convenient (although each pack of bottles only comes with one nipple and they don’t tell you that on the box.  Luckily we had extras at home from the hospital).   We also had a few extra bottles and formula on hand just in case, but this meant we didn’t have to measure out and mix bottles on the flights.   One security guard commented to me that the bottles were just under the size allowable, but honestly I thought you were permitted to take any amount of formula/food for the baby, so his comment surprised me.

I also carried the most recent medical records for me and Abby, as a precaution.

Misc. Tips

– It’s a good idea to feed the baby or give the baby a pacififer during take off and landing to help their ears.

– When you need to change a diaper on the plane, try to take just the necessities to the bathroom (changing pad, wipes, fresh diaper and trash bag) because it’s SO TIGHT in there and there really isn’t room for a big diaper bag, nor is there any place you’d want to put that down.  Because gross.

– It’s not a bad idea to become a master at changing your baby while holding her.  That came in handy more than once.

– 55 minutes is probably not enough time to make a connection in Dulles, especially if you are carrying around all of the items mentioned above.

– Hope for the best, plan for the worst.  And whenever possible, drink a margarita.  🙂

 

 

6 months old!

It’s hard to believe Abigail is already six months old.  On the one hand, I feel like we’re really getting the hang of this parenting business and we have some good routines in place.  On the other, sometimes your baby goes from sleeping like a dream to deciding that 4am is a great time to wake up and play.  So, we still have a few things to work out.

From this:

abby hospital930 digi

To this:

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She’s changed so much just in the last several weeks.  She loves to be on her stomach, and she’s getting so strong that she tries to do push-ups and planks.  She is incredbly close to crawling, in fact the other night I was so sure she was about to crawl that I contemplated ever so slightly pushing her over so she wouldn’t crawl while JR was out of town.  She can also sit up by herself for a few seconds at a time, although she tips over pretty easily.

We are working on feeding her baby food.  I had grand plans to feed her an avocado as her first food, but since I’d never purchased (or eaten) one before, I wound up purchasing a bad one at the store that we had to throw out.   So we went with applesauce and bananas, and she was not that interested.  Determined to use my fancy baby-food making machine, I bought a sweet potato (for the first time in my life) and very closely followed the relatively simple instructions to turn it into a puree.  I was beyond proud of myself when it worked – I was pretty much Tom Hanks in Castaway.

castaway

Nevermind that the machine did all the work and Abby wanted nothing to do with said sweet potatoes, it was a big moment for me.  She actually hasn’t been interested in any of the foods we’ve offered so far, so I guess we’ll have to keep trying.  Or she’ll just drink forumla til she’s in kindergarten.

Here she is, less than impressed:

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We celebrated Halloween with an adorable elephant costume and some of JR’s famous pumpkins.

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pumpkin 1 pumpkin 2

Now we are looking forward to seeing our families and friends in Ohio in a few more weeks and celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with our sweet baby girl!

Adventures in Babysitting

I know, I know you aren’t supposed to call it babysitting when it’s your own baby.  But it made me think of the movie and I loved that movie.  I don’t understand why Elisabeth Shue wasn’t a bigger star.

Anyway, two weeks ago when JR left for training in DC, I tried to be all positive mental attitude “you can do this!”  In reality, I felt more like this:

elisabethshue

 

steve-carrell-nooo

For the most part, things have gone swimmingly.  Abby is smiling, giggling, and showing a little more personality each day.  It’s clear she adores me.

more abby

But we’ve also had our share of mishaps, including one coming home from grocery shopping.  Let me back up though, to a time when I was pregnant and my mother texted or e-mailed me DAILY to tell me about certain specific baby items that I simply HAD TO HAVE in order for me and the baby to survive.   She was particularly stuck on me having a grocery cart seat cover for Abby.

grocery

(note, that is not my kid)

My initial response was “Why would I need that?  Why would I ever take my baby to the grocery store?”  My mother was appalled to say the least.  Horrified even, that I would deny her future grandchild a weekly trip to get groceries.  We went back and forth, round and round for a few days.  My argument was simple.  I’m a creature of habit.  Almost every Sunday morning, around 9am, I drive – alone – to Viva Fresh and buy groceries for the week.  Before Viva Fresh, it was the Giant store in Alexandria.  And before that, the Kroger  in Columbus.  JR isn’t even invited.  I like to do this by myself.  So, why would I take the baby?  Wouldn’t it be more logical for the baby to stay home with him?  The funny thing is that my mom was seriously perturbed by the whole thing and the baby wasn’t even born yet.

Neither of us could see the other person’s point of view.  At this time, we have no shopping cart cover for poor Abby.  However, I did take her to the grocery store last week.  I had to because apparently you can’t leave them home alone at this age.

The trip itself was fine.   Except that her infant car seat is SO HEAVY.  It’s supposed to be super convenient to take her in and out of the car, but there is nothing convenient about feeling like my arm is going to fall off.   She also takes up the entire space of the shopping cart, so I had to strategically place groceries around her.

abby viva

When we arrived at home I surprised myself by successfully backing into our garage, something I’ve never been able to do before.  I was feeling a little proud and maybe even smug.  I figured I could carry Abby (in the ridiculously heavy car seat) and all the groceries through the garage and up the stairs in one trip.   Well, trip I did.  I made it a few steps before catching my foot on the uneven surface in our garage and me, the bags, and the baby went sprawling.  She was the last thing to drop and she landed totally upright (unlike me).  I turned around to check on her, worried that she’d be screaming in a second because it had probably scared her, but my sweet girl was fast asleep and still snoring.  Couldn’t be bothered, that one.  Meanwhile, I was feeling like

ross

Not my finest moment.  I’ve also had a few hiccups with bath time.  Bath time is super easy with two people, and JR and I have a nice system that works for us.   On my own it’s a different story.

Last night I carried her into the bathroom and turned on the water.  We have a detachable shower head:

shower head

So I took it down and laid it in the bottom of the tub to wait for the water to get warm before I filled her little baby tub.  I would have just stayed in the bathroom and taken her clothes off there, but I suspected she had a dirty diaper so off we went to her room to get changed.  When we returned to the bathroom, I was in for a surprise.  The shower head had flipped over so that the water was spraying directly up from the tub and all over the bathroom.  A full on rainstorm in the bathroom.  There was SO MUCH WATER.  All I could do was laugh and carefully make my way to the tub to turn it off, getting us both a bit wet in the process.  Mind you, she’s naked.   I think she may have peed on me during the chaos  but I can’t be sure because I was pretty wet from the shower head anyway.  Sigh.

The important thing is that we both survived, and JR is coming home TOMORROW!!

laughing

Weekend at Lake Ohrid

Continuing to cross places off of our Balkan Bucket List, last weekend we drove to Ohrid, Macedonia.  So we loaded up the car (and I mean loaded -we still haven’t mastered packing light with Abigail in tow) and drove about 4 hours to Lake Ohrid.  Our inn was located in the old town, which was very neat for walking and sight seeing, not so great for driving and unloading your car.  I nearly cried when the lady at reception told me the parking spot was very, very far away.   Luckily, JR is a great sport and he did all the unloading, and then went to park our car.

In spite of the parking issue, I highly recommend Vila Mal Sveti Kliment for lodging in Ohrid.  The room was small but adequate and very comfortable.  In the future, we’ll try to get rooms that have a separate bedroom/living area, or are a bit larger.  It’s kind of hard to do much when the baby goes to sleep at 8pm, and we are whispering and hanging out in the dark!   The Vila makes their own wine, and had a nicely stocked mini bar.  Unlike the US, I find mini bar prices here to be very reasonable, so we took advantage by drinking wine in bed to the light of our iPhones while Abby snored up a storm.   I’m not cut out for room sharing with that one.

Here are some pictures from our weekend:

ohrid 1 ohrid 2 ohrid 3 ohrid 4 ohrid 5 ohrid 6 ohrid 7

 

Romance in Paralia?

No.  The answer is no.  But our hotel room really was intended for L-O-V-E.  Check out this bedspread in our suite!

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We decided to visit Paralia, Greece for the 4th of July weekend.  Paralia is pretty much the closest decent beach for us, about a 4 1/2 hour drive going through two borders, Macedonia and Greece.  That drive can be a bit longer if you make 3 2 wrong turns.  (I’m directionally challenged and we’re buying a GPS with a European chip).  Luckily for us, Abigail continues to be an excellent traveler.   We made a pit stop to feed and change her, and then continued on our way.  And to my absolute delight, the gas station in Macedonia sold Snicker’s Ice Cream bars!

The weather was beautiful and as always, we love the beach.  It was extremely crowded but still nice to get away!  This was the view from our hotel balcony.

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Oh, and there was a man selling donuts on the beach.  Let me repeat that for you.  This fellow (and many more just like him) walked around the beach selling fresh baked, big-as-your-face donuts for 1.50 euro.  Aces!

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On the recommendation of the hotel staff, we went to a restaurant a few blocks away called Poseidon.   We had a nice family dinner on the beach.  If you can’t tell, Abigail is hidden away in the carrier and she let us have a peaceful meal, for which we are very grateful.

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This was our first beach experience as a family and it was quite different than what JR and I are used to.  Usually JR and I are out all day enjoying the sun, water and drinks with a possible break in the afternoon for a short nap before dinner.   Like everything else now, Abigail dictates our schedule and we only stayed out a few hours during the day and underneath the umbrella for most of it.  Even though it was a very different experience, we loved sharing the beach with her for the first time.  JR took her to get her feet wet in the Aegean but got a little excited and put her in up to her chest.  She didn’t enjoy it as much as JR did, so the experience only lasted about 20 seconds.   We’ll do better next time.

And a few more cute pics of Abby at the beach.

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By the time we got home on Sunday, she was tuckered out.  But she can’t wait to visit Greece again!

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