Thursday, October 25, 2012

Travels With Baby #3

So far, Norah Grace has gone on a driving tour of southern Ireland, spent weeks relaxing and visiting family in the US, walked around Trapani, Sicily, and backpacked her way from east Germany to the south, including a night in Austria. She's stayed in bed and breakfasts, hotels, motels, and tents. She's taken trains, planes, cars, buses, and one boat (a hydrofoil ferry--she loved how fast it went). She's a well traveled nine month old little girl. The easiest trip was Ireland, when she was just three months, because she had the opportunity to sleep in the car seat whenever she pleased.

Trapani was tough. We thought just bringing the wrap was the way to go. It would be easier than the stroller, we thought. She'll just sleep in it while we carry her, we mused. We can stick to our normal ways of traveling and she'll go along with us, we assumed. Learning experience.

The long weekend backpacking in Salzburg, Austria and Bavaria, Germany had its ups and downs. Overall, I enjoyed it, but have you ever tried sleeping in a tent with a seven month old that likes to roll around all night and wake up from time to time to hang out for a bit? It does not lend to a long, restful sleep. A big downside of camping with a baby: limited options of retreat. There's no quiet hotel room for baby to nap in.

Our next attempt: a cruise. Tomorrow we head off to Venice to cruise down our way down to Greece and Montenegro. This seems to be a good idea, in theory, at least. We get to see the sights, have multiple eating options, and retreat to the stateroom is always possible. Plus, tag team parenting. One parent can hang out with her in the room and the other can head off to read or eat or see what this "happy hour" thing is that people are always going on about. We're hoping for a playroom to give our little girl a place to burn some energy off in. If not, she can always army crawl her way down some cruise ship hallways. We'll see if this works. I'll let you know how it goes.

Travels with baby tip number three:

Pack for convenience. Amy had the idea to pack up Norah Grace's clothes in freezer bags, each labeled by which day they are to be worn (with a backup clothes bag, of course). This saves time while traveling and gives you a convenient place to bag up dirty clothes.

Monday, October 22, 2012


"Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"
-Mary Oliver
(White Mountains, New Hampshire)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Travels with Baby Tip #2

The world is huge and full of amazing places you want to visit during your life. Each one of these places is made up of sights and sounds that draw you in and entice you to fill your camera's memory card to the brim There's so much to see! You just want to spend the day go go going (which we talked about...slow down, people) and seeing everything, but there's a catch.

The boss (a.k.a. the wonderful little baby).

Don't rely on your baby to want to do everything you do. Her interests, attention span, tolerance of crowds and loud noises, the length she can go without a sleepy-eyed breakdown--these are just a few of the ways you and your baby differ (probably). So, prioritize and compromise.

Baby's fresh off a nap, new diaper and a bottle. You've got an old city center and a museum to see before baby starts to fuss for another round of r & r, maybe about three hours. What do you do? My advice: when baby is at his or her best, that's when you can generally get away with the most. Give them a book or a quiet toy and hit up the museum. Besides, when they're wide awake, they can much better appreciate all the colorful paintings and old-as-the-hills-statues. When baby's getting towards the just-give-me-my-bottle-and-let-me-sleep time block, it's usually a good idea to be somewhere where retreat is an easier option. Walking around a city center you can just head back to the room, even if you need to take a tram or taxi (or just walk a bit) to get there. From a museum you need to navigate a maze, walking past all those things you didn't get to see on your own time, while your baby is the only one screaming throughout the building. Which sounds more enjoyable?

(Cliffs of Moher, Ireland)

That was the prioritize bit. The second part of this advice is compromise. If you know you're risking a tantrum, do you really need to take the boat ride or is the view of the cliffs from the top beautiful enough to satisfy your taste of awe? You'll need to think of your baby's needs and personality and find something that works for you both. Compromise. And you know what, in a few years your little one may love playing pirate on a sightseeing ferry. You can come back.

If you just won't feel happy about your trip unless you take the ferry, climb the tower or go in the pyramid or whatever, then ask your partner to hold onto the baby for a while and meet up with you later. You can always return the favor. (This is assuming there's more than just you and the baby traveling. If it's just the two of you, give the baby carrier a try. Not only could you see what you want to see, you'll get a workout while you're at it. Just don't rely on baby sleeping in the carrier. We made that mistake. And don't forget, if you're on a small boat, retreat is not an option.)


One thing to remember with all this advice I give is that these aren't laws and differ by age and baby. Norah Grace was just three months old when we went to Ireland and we did go on the ferry ride. She slept in the baby wrap beneath my jacket to protect her from the cold wind. We actually found this age the easiest to travel with because she would sleep in the wrap.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Travels with Baby #1

Before baby came along, our travel pace was go go go. Take a long train ride, follow it with some type of public transportation and top it off with a night or two at a hostel or cheap hotel. The following day would see us trekking all day around a city, soaking up the sights and checking out the landmarks. We'd stay one last night and head off to the next location the following day. I suppose you could call those days our "self employed" days. Then we got a boss.

The boss sets the schedule. You can't come and go as you please and you can't set your own break times. Try to do so and they'll make your life miserable.

When we traveled to Sicily in June, we thought we would just bring Norah Grace in her carry wrap and leave the bulky stroller at home. She would come along with us while we toured the sights and just sleep when she was tired.

We learned the error of our ways real quick. Babies need their quiet time. They need their nap. If they don't get it on their own terms, it can be very stressful for everyone involved.

So, travels with baby tip number one:

Do your best to stick to the baby's normal nap/feeding time routine, no matter where you are in the world or what you're doing. If you need to stay an extra day to make sure you see all there is to see, then so be it.

*Travels with Baby for Men (a sub-tip)--In the Sicilian culture, men are macho. They must exude masculinity. Keeping that in mind, I recommend against being the one carrying the baby in the chest wrap. Especially at the beach. Just pay your partner back with back rubs and loads of compliments.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Travels with Baby

"You better get all that traveling out of your system before you have kids."

It's a doom and gloom prophecy, camouflaged as advice, that's preached to expectant parents the world over. The well-wishers want us travelers, us adventurers to get all our traveling and adventuring out of our systems before we have a baby, because once that baby comes...poof! You can no longer travel, you can no longer spend your life as it is meant to be spent--living.

When we believe this "advice," we internalize it and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Backpacking trips in Italy suddenly turn into a week at the shore. Flights to other countries turn into drives to the next state over.

This change is not a law. It is not something we need to resign ourselves to. The days of traveling do not need to end when a baby comes along. We can still travel.

All this comes with an asterisk, though. A big one.  

While new parents can still travel (without dropping baby off with the grandparents first), things have to change to make it possible and enjoyable for everyone involved. From here on out you'll be finding tips on traveling with a baby on A Life in Awe. The tips will change as Norah Grace changes and grows, so "Travels with Baby" may get changed to "Travels with Kid" and eventually on to "Why Won't my Teen Travel with Me?" I'll share with you what works (and doesn't work) for us in hopes that you'll find what works for you (or at least find humor in our own misadventures). And if you have your own ideas or stories to share, I (and everyone else) would love to hear them.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Rainy Days

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.
- Dr. Seuss

Friday, October 5, 2012


Only those who look with the eyes of children can lose themselves in the object of their wonder.
 -Eberhard Arnold

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


The leaves are turning their perennial reds and oranges and yellows and my breath comes out in white puffs when I take the dogs out for their morning walk. Autumn is in the air. Although the bees and mosquitoes haven't gotten the memo that summer has officially drawn to a close, I've been in jeans and khakis for weeks now. Miss Norah Grace is sleeping in her footed pajamas, which is quite possibly the cutest thing ever, and Amy has discovered the wonder of a decent softshell jacket.

Norah is now eight and a half months old and still seeing so many things for the first time. She scrutinizes it all, each blade of grass she pulls from the damp ground, each bright leaf that falls beside her. It's amazing to see and such an amazing concept for someone who grew up where the year broken into four distinct parts: seeing the seasons for the first time. Everything is new to Norah and the most fun part is that she'll probably forget all about it and find everything just as interesting next year.

The changing of the seasons is one of nature's great wonders. Introducing a child to the changing of the seasons is another.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Funny Faces

This is the first in a new series on here that I'm calling bits of awe. Simply said, they're snippets of the world and my life than awe me. There's no need for anything long and drawn out. Just something quick, something concise, something that puts my thoughts into words. And sometimes words aren't enough, no matter how much someone flips through a thesaurus, and you may just get a photo and not much more. I encourage you to check in often and, as always, I encourage you to share what awes you.

The bits of awe come in no particular order, just the latest bit of amazing I've been thinking about in my life.

Bit of Awe #1

The funny faces Norah Grace makes.

Now she makes faces to get us to laugh and I assure you, pictures of these facial expressions will make it to the blog. This picture is an earlier one of Norah Grace getting away with sticking out her tongue when the grandparents weren't looking.