Monday, April 29, 2013

Travels with Baby #5

The Moby Wrap and the baby carrier are two things every new parent should invest in, especially if they want to travel (I imagine it's important for me to note I'm not endorsing or promoting these two products, they're just some examples, I'm sure there's other (cheaper) options out there).

As soon as Norah was big enough (a month old or so) we started carrying her around in the Moby Wrap. In fact, we brought it with us on our tour of southern Ireland when she was about 10 weeks old and it made the trip a whole lot easier. Pros: the baby gets real secure and it's like cuddling. Cons: It gets hot and sweaty and tends to gradually loosen as the day goes on, meaning you have to stop and adjust.

Can you spot the baby?

How about now?

It was really windy where we were and Norah Grace was just the right size, so I wore her in the Moby Wrap under my wind proof jacket (not zipped all the way, of course--baby's gotta breathe).

 Then she out grew the wrap and we picked up the carrier the last minute before leaving for a cruise. It was well worth the investment. A lot of the areas we went would have been too tough for a stroller and being able to put Norah on our back made it a lot easier to get around.

She can be worn on the front, too. Pros: With two people it's easy to put on and stays tight with prolonged use. There's also a flap that folds up to offer her head support so she can sleep. Cons: the sternum strap must be buckled whether when baby is on your front or back. When she's on your front, you have to somehow clip it between your shoulder blades. With this in mind, it can be tricky getting this one on right by yourself.

There are a few general things to keep in mind in when considering a carrier or wrap:

1. While it true that having your baby strapped to you makes going over rough terrain possible, you're kind of stuck if baby decides to throw a tantrum.

2. Baby can reach what you're eating (along with facial hair and glasses). Don't forget.

3. If you're travelling internationally, keep in mind gender roles where you're headed to. I generally don't believe in gender roles, but if you're headed somewhere where men are expected to epidomize masculinity and women are supposed to be gorgeous examples of femininity, us guys should think twice before wearing baby around in the wrap (unless you feel like being the butt of all the jokes and jeers from your fellow manly men).

So, the two aren't without their flaws, but I would recommend both the wrap and the carrier to anyone.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Trial Days

This week Amy took her class on a four-day trip to a small town just a few train stops from the middle of nowhere, Germany, leaving Norah and I to fend for ourselves. And, as chance would have it, Norah's daycare called Tuesday morning telling me I had to come pick her up because she, um, had stomach issues that required a whole new outfit getting put on. I brought her to the doctor, who basically said she had a stomach bug, and kept her home Wednesday and Thursday. She hasn't acted sick at all, so I think these past two days were more like two sample average days of what being a stay at home dad would be like.

On day one, I made up a batch of whole wheat pancakes and froze whatever we didn't finish. Turns out she likes hers with either maple syrup or a little bit of nutella. Freezing whatever baked goods you don't finish is a really good idea. You just let it sit on a cooling rack until it's cold, then freeze it on baking paper before throwing it all into a freezer bag. Just warm it up for a quick, decent, breakfast. That's what we did for morning number two, as well as Friday morning when Norah went back to daycare and I went back to work.

You can see from the first picture that hair hair is getting pretty crazy. I managed to give her a little front pony tail type thing to keep it out of her eyes. Norah doesn't really like anything on her head, so I learned the trick is to sneak it on her while she's occupied with something else. She sported the unicorn look until about lunch time when it fell out while she tackled me.

Both mornings we went to the playground after breakfast. I lucked out big time with the nice weather. I can imagine how rough it would be not being able to go outdoors. This toddler loves going outside and has loads of energy, so when she gets fussy we can head right out and everything is good in the world again. Being stuck inside because of the cold, miserable weather would be really hard, especially without a car or anywhere to go that Norah would enjoy.

Norah's a pretty independent little girl. She decided to take her breadroll somewhere else for a little picnic on her own.

During my hiatus from blogging, quite a bit has been happening in the world of Norah. She is now a walking machine. No more crawling. She just walks and walks and walks. She'll be running in no time.

I really liked doing the stay at home parent thing. It's a difficult job, what with getting done everything that needs getting done around the home (most of which you can only do while the little one is sleeping, something I came to know as The Great Nap Time Race), being responsible for another human life that is incapable of taking care of him- or herself yet manages to be a slave driver of a boss, and doing their best to remain sane all the while, stay at home parents don't have it easy and it isn't for everyone and that's okay.  I'd like to give it a try, though, at some point. See how I enjoy it for longer than two days.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Daddy the Adventurer

I wrote most of this post back in January but never published it. The craziness of my life caught up with me and blogging just fell by the wayside. Life is still crazy, but I think the occasional blog post is good for me.

With no further delay, I bring you Daddy the Adventurer.


Something has been on my mind for the last few weeks, something significant, and I thought I'd share.

I've always had adventure on the brain. When I was little, snowstorms were blizzards in the arctic and a four foot deep hole in the backyard was an archaeological dig (I'm sure my parents loved that one). A stick was a machete I used to chop through thick jungle brush and a sleeping bag transformed into a spaceship that took me deep into the unknown. Once I hit middle school, a map of the Appalachian Trail hung on one wall and a topographical map of Mount Everest on another. They were goals.

Then I grew up a bit and started going on real-life adventures--like hiking the mountains of Fiji and New Hampshire and kayaking the waterways of upstate New York and off the coast of Maine. I loved it.

A few months ago I started a post like this one and got a bit down right around this point in my reminiscing. My adventurous life and dreams of long trails and tall mountains were gone. Something best forgotten about. I love my life with my wife and my daughter and they're worth all of it. Still, though, I left behind a large part of myself and kind of missed it.

My friend Phil, world traveler extraordinaire, came to visit at the end of November on his annual trip around the world and regaled us with tales of his many adventures. Bit by bit, story by story, I grew less and less jealous of his life and my pride and confidence as a family man grew. He alternates his time between living in Alaska and travelling the world. Ten years ago I would have given everything I owned to live like that.

Now I would trade the adventurous lifestyle I had idolized for so long for just one day with my wife and my daughter. There's no contest.
But getting married and having kids doesn't need to mean that new dads and moms should forget who they were. We're still that person...there's just more to us now. We take who we were and mix that in with who we need to be for our families and we prioritize our time. If something's important, you'll make (not find) time for it.

I still want adventure and I do need it from time to time, but running off and hiking for weeks through the mountains? No thanks. If I left today for a month I could miss my daughter's first full sentence. I'd go to sleep in a hut to the sounds of snoring men instead of in my own bed, next to my wife. A few days away from time to time to climb a mountain or two is all I need. I don't really want any more than that.

There's nothing hazy about my priorities.

We've all got different identities, different roles. Father, mother, teacher, brother, sister, etc, etc, etc. I see myself first and foremost as Craig the family man. I like getting Amy flowers and playing in the park with Norah. I'm going to grow old with my wife and go on daddy-daughter dates for the rest of my life and that's what I want.

Okay, I'll probably end up going on short backpacking trips in Scotland and on the Pacific Crest Trail, but the hope is that Norah wants to come. That counts as a daddy-daughter date.

But you know what? If she has no desire to carry a pack for days on end--okay, I was going to say we could do something else, but I'd carry her stuff for her. Well, if she doesn't want to travel or walk for miles and miles or spend weekends rock climbing then that's okay.Whatever she's into, I'll cheer her on. And Amy and I will keep travelling until we're old and grey, always up for new experiences to add to the life story.