First Flight/Vacation with Baby

Our first big family trip was planned to introduce Baby to my husband’s side of the family in northern Washington. I love that area of the country. The first time I ever visited was long before I met my husband. When I flew in all I saw was green. Green soggy earth. I loved it. The temperature never rose about 75 and never fell below 50.  It was my kindof place. The land of North Face, serious coffee addicts and fresh flowers.

I always look forward to adventures in the Pacific Northwest, though this particular round would be obviously different with Baby in tow. We planned a noonish flight for Daddy’s work schedule and in the hopes that Baby would sleep through her first flight. I woke the little one up around 6am and began running her ragged. By the time we left for the airport she was dead weight in our arms.

I had a minor panic attack as we went through the security checkpoint when the TSA man wanted to steal Baby’s food but my panic must have made him rethink it because he let a couple small jars slide instead. We made it to our first/only layover with no problems. Infact, Baby was voted cutest baby of the day at Denver International Airport by the TSA ladies and managed to stop a small crowd by hanging onto Mommy’s carry-on luggage like a monkey as we jogged to the next gate.

Our second flight was delayed and Baby was wide-awake by the time we boarded. Only plus of the incident was that my husband and I were seated one in front of the other on the plane and just bounced her from seat to seat. By the time we reached Seattle, Baby, Mommy and Daddy were exhausted. We met a relative for dinner and Baby and I fell asleep at the table. I remember very little from that night.

The next morning we went to my favorite site in the city, Pike’s Place Market. No matter how many times we visit, it is the first and last place I want to go. Though I would fully recommend the tourist trap to any adult visiting the area, I warn parents with small children to be weary. The crowds can be crushing and scary at times. And it is very easy to become distracted by tiny asian women popping in and out of huge flower stalls filled with giant blooms. We downsized our giant BOB stroller for a small folding travel version for this trip and yet we still had trouble getting through the crowds. But a benefit of the stroller was that at the end of our morning market stroll, we carried baby and piled the stroller high with 7 fresh bouquets for less than $50. It was amazing. I grinned and pet each bouquet like a crazy person. If ever I leave the midwest, it will be for a small condo in downtown Seattle within minutes of the masses of fresh flowers and determined asian ladies.

Preview of “Seattle1”

From the moment we left downtown Seattle, it was a week packed with family time. We drove from home to home meeting and greeting cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great grandparents.

Preview of “Seattle2”

One of our last days in Washington, we met with my Husband’s parents and took Baby on her first ferry ride. We rode out to the San Juan islands and explored Roach Harbor. The island lifestyle is so prevalent in the area that I instantly wanted a boat. I wanted to live like the old retired doctors and lawyers of the area with their Sperry shoes and sassy boat names. We strolled through manicured gardens and tried Lavendar gelato. We watched rainbows emerge above the Puget Sound and laughed as the little ones pointed out various sea life. All in all it was a great day trip for any small family. The local restaurants and stores catered to tourists with a great selection of food and souvenirs but the atmosphere was more relaxed and upscale then the grungy streets of downtown Seattle.

My recommendation if you’re in the area, is to get out of Seattle. Load up that stroller and take a road trip north to the small towns of the islands. Spend a little bit of cash on the ferry and watch seagulls, otters and sometimes whales as you relax with your favorite little one.

Preview of “Seattle3”

One of the last day trips we could work into our busy family-visiting schedule was to Leavenworth, Washington. The town was a few hours from where we were staying with family, but my husband and I couldn’t resist the allure of authentic German food. Ever since we visited Germany on our honeymoon, we have desperately sought out authentic German food and beer. Obsessed seems too weak of a word.

The entire town is stylized as an old German village with the architecture of each building crowned by authentic looking murals. We spent the day eating spaetzle, schnitzel and drinking German beer. We walked stony trails along a small mountain river and explored cute Christmas stores. We chose a family Christmas ornament and watched Baby drool over sweets at a candy shop. Again, I would adamantly recommend a day outing with your small family to this small town. There are many little restaurants (not all German) that were family friendly and inexpensive. On our way out we snagged flavored brats for the ride and took in our last mountain views.

Preview of “Seattle4”

Our last full day in Washington, we spent exploring the State Fair with the in-laws. Baby and her cousins oh’ed and ah’ed at the assortment of alpacas and cattle on display. We watched a costume contest for show dogs while the bigger kids rode rides. We shared snowcones and explored craft displays. It was a day of quality family time that Baby greatly enjoyed.

The next day we said our goodbyes and drove into Seattle for lunch. We ventured back to Pike Place in search of fried halibut and chips. Perched in a huge window, enjoying our fried food and listening to the hustle of the city, we stared out at the Puget Sound and watched cargo ships lazily float by. Baby was entranced by the huge ferris wheel rotating near by. Mommy and Daddy sighed, mentally preparing for another round of flights on our long way home.

Preview of “Blog Signature”

2 1/2 Week European Vacation Packing List

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Our European Honeymoon

Prior to our honeymoon, I read blog after horrible guide book on what I should pack for our 2 1/2 week european backpacking adventure. My version of backpacking had always been camping oriented, so trying to plan for this particular trip had been confusing.

I read several tips on how not to look “American” across three different climates and a number of different countries. But here’s the funny thing, currently in Europe the fashion is Americana. So whileIharped on my husband about packing his nice slacks and I packed cute little dress after cute little dress, denim was in. Tshirts with dumb English slogans and Lady Gaga paraphernalia were everywhere.

All the same, there are ridiculous amounts of literature on how not to look like a tourist while in Europe. The basics:

1. No “American” tshirts. (I interpreted this as College wear. Anything that has some stupid slogan, any random branding, any ‘I heart’ whatever tshirts or sports memorabilia etc.)

2. No white tennis shoes or baseball hats.

3. Wear lots of black. Europeans like black. (This is true.)

4. No fanny packs. (But seriously…fanny packs are never okay.)

5. Fitted clothes over slouchy. (This goes for the guys too.)

For further info check out Conde Nast’s Etiquette 101: Dress Codes.

For all the research I did though I could not find one sample of a packing list for such a trip. For that reason I’m posting several lists. The first is what I actually packed. The second list is what I bought and then had to pack or ship home. The starred items were indispensable.

What I Packed:

*1 Pair of black skinny jeans (Cannot emphasize enough how perfect these were for the trip. Easy to dress up or dress down. Fashionable but classic. Always looked good.)

*1 Pair of dark denim skinny jeans (Again, perfect.)

*1 Pair of black Coach tennis shoes (Comfortable but not too casual for exploring museums/ruins etc.)

1 Pair of black ballet slippers (Wore these twice in Scotland and quickly realized they were not indestructible.)

*1 Pair of brown knee-high Born boots (Saved my freaking life!)

1 short, black ballet dress

*1 short, green dress (Super cute. Wore it several times.)

1 long, black sleeveless dress (Never wore it.)

*1 black long sleeved cardigan with little pockets (Lived in it.)

*1 Black short sleeve shirt

*1 White short sleeve shirt (This was perfect for photo ops in colorful places.)

1 Blue/White striped short sleeve shirt

*1 Black tank top (Went with everything. Easy and comfortable when traveling.)

1 Green tank top

*1 Long sleeve white shirt

*1 black Northface jacket (Always travel with it. ESPECIALLY if exploring some place like Scotland or climbing a mountain in Germany.)

1 brown skinny leather belt

*Ridiculous amounts of socks

*Appropriate amounts of underwear

*1 Floral infinity scarf (Made it easy to change up my outfits when I was feeling monotonous.)

*2 Pairs of sunglasses (Could have done with one but I love me some sunglasses)

*1 Black Marc Jacobs sling bag (Large enough to slip my large camera in but small enough that it didn’t draw attention to us as backpacking tourists)

My badass camera

*1 small, cheap folding backpack (Best to pick this up at a travel store for a few $’s. You won’t feel bad trashing it and it folds up to the size of a wallet. We used it to pack sandwiches for day hikes etc)

*1 Pair of pretty but cheap earrings you’re not concerned about losing.

*My work/man ring in place of my engagement ring/wedding band

1 Pair of khaki Bermuda pants (I wore these once because my husband insisted they looked comfortable. I hated it. I felt slouchy and uncomfortable among the fashionable European women.)

1 Pair of jean shorts (I rarely wore these except in southern Italy.)

*1 Bikini

Things I bought THEN had to pack:

3 (Yes, 3) dresses

2 scarfs

2 (adorable) sweaters

3 tshirts (I’m obsessive about tourist tshirts. Totally lame but love them.)

*1 stocking cap

*1 pair of gloves

1 super short skirt for the beach

*1 sun hat (This was so Italy! Loved it.)

*1 black blazer (Wish I had purchased this earlier because it was so perfect for travel!)

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Rome, Italy 

Looking back I would have packed less tops and less dresses. The great thing about our planning was that we were able to stay on a DOD (Department of Defense) military resort in Germany and washed all our clothes about half way through our trip. So in theory I could have packed half of what I did. The issue ended up being that we were travelling over three very different climates and had to pack for each. In fact, in Germany not only did I do laundry but I sent back a small box of thicker clothing that I knew I wouldn’t wear in Italy.

The bottomline is layer, layer, layer. Plan in layers and if your planning allows, slowly ship back clothing and souvenirs as you change climates. A couple of tank tops, a couple of shirts, two dresses, one sweater and a multi-purpose cardigan would have done it.

But hey, you live, you travel and you learn.

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Florence, Italy

Pinterest of Interest Thursdays

Just a few awesome Pinterest Finds I stumbled upon today. None of those great looking links that promise DIY riches and lead to no where.

All these links have been followed up on by this girl. So check out these finds.

Check our this Packing List for 3 weeks of travel in one carry-on case. Take it from a perpetual traveller. This is a good list.

Secrets to Making Eclairs. Step by step directions WITH pictures.

To be honest I’m not a big fan of Lauren Conrad. All the same, this Wedding Planning Timeline is easy to follow and accurate. You know that overwhelmed, “My wedding is in how many months?!” feeling? This will help.

Bear hat

The Burton Bear Cowl Knitting Pattern. I love this. LOVE IT! But ofcourse I can’t knit so…

These First Birthday Photos article has some great ideas for little girls photo sessions.

Undecided.

When my husband and I first met we found a mutual love for travel. Since then we have travelled all over the world. Our first trip together was after three months of dating and we road-tripped for a week in the deep south. (Completely recommend New Orleans for a new couple. So romantic and outrageous.) Soon after that we were in Seattle, Alaska, Phoenix, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Colorado, Scotland, France, Germany and Italy. It’s been amazing. We are so spoiled. Two young people making good money individually and with no debt to speak of.

Last year we had our daughter. An amazing blessing. Love her so incredibly much that I barely missed traveling. When I was pregnant I couldn’t even drive for too long because I was so sick and had a high-risk pregnancy. After I had her, the physical problems continued on top of stress from my husband being relocated for his job. So there I was (am) in our house alone with a newborn and so severely anemic I could barely walk up the stairs without assistance. Luckily for me, I have family all over and they came to the rescue without much more than a word from me. But since we’ve gotten my health sorted out and I’m starting to get a handle on this Mommy business, I’m itching for my old traveling days. I want to take my daughter and explore the world!

The catch? My husband’s new job, while a good one, only allows for two weeks a year of vacation time. That includes individual days off. That’s insane. Another stipulation is that he has to split the two weeks up. One week in the first 6 months of the year. One week in the last 6 months. This year our vacations have been scheduled as soon as Baby was born. In April, my husband’s grandparents are driving up to spend the week with us. We’re not going anywhere. Sigh. In August, we’re flying out to Seattle to visit the rest of his family and introduce them to Baby. Sigh again.

I realized my vacations were going to be horribly lame this year and said as much to him the other night. He surprised the shit out of me but admitting I was right (what?) and saying, “You get to pick the vacations for next year.” (WHAT?!)

And so I sit. Pondering. Where should we go? Where is a good family vacation spot for a little girl who will be 1.5 to 2 years old? Is Disney World too hard on them at that age? Is it too hard on me at my age? Aren’t cruises good for toddlers? But am I going to be puking everywhere? Are we going to sink? Get taken over by pirates? Have to pee overboard when we get stuck in the ocean somewhere? What about Europe? Should we go back? Oh, I loved Europe. I’m destined to live in Scotland one day. It’s my spiritual home. But again, does a 2-year-old lend herself to traveling abroad easily? Does that whole “you don’t pay for a seat if they sit on your lap” thing apply to a 13 hour flight? How bad would my legs hurt after that? Will she get stolen and sold into sex-trafficking? Will I have to go all “Taken” on someone’s ass? Cause this crazy bitch will.

Hm….suggestions?