Traveling with Wee Ones

Hello! Thank you for visiting my blog. I am getting started on this blog by writing about parenting experiences I have encountered so far since having my son. One experience that we are lucky to have encountered many times in the last couple years is travel.

Now I will admit when I first had my son I told everyone they could come see him in Alaska, I was staying home. But one thing led to another and when Kent was 3 months old we packed up everything we own (only a slight exaggeration) and went on our first flight to Washington so that Kent could meet my dad and grandma for the first time. We were nervous but then Kent slept the entire flight and it was a piece of cake! We then wondered if we were onto something and went ahead and booked some more trips. In the last twenty months we have taken Kent on 18 flights and not only did everyone survive but we learned some good lessons and really enjoyed ourselves. What I have done to make this easy to read is to par our lessons learned down into 4 categories.

Airplanes – Most of our travel is via airplane since we live in Alaska

Luckily, travel by airplane has been fairly easy for us so far. Kent is great about sleeping most of the flight and my husband had a unique year where he traveled a bit so we were upgraded to first class on several flights. A couple things we do are pretty basic but I will share anyways. First when we book the flight we choose the window and aisle seat. We did this before Kent just because open middle seats are the last to fill so we have a better chance of having a row to ourselves and if the seat does get filled the person in the middle seat is always happy to switch seats with us so we can be next to each other. However one of the best things we have found is to just talk to the gate agent before you get on the flight. We fly Alaska Air and they are awesome about keeping the seat next to a lap infant open if possible, but it helps to ask them. If you tell them you have a lap infant they can tell you if the flight is full or they can keep the seat open for you. We just use the empty seat for the extra space and comfort but the other option is to bring your car seat on and have your kidddo strapped in during the flight. Since we haven’t gotten into this yet I don’t know much about which car seats are good to bring on the flight. We will get into this world when we have to buy Kent his own seat.

Other plane tips we have learned is to gate check our stroller and car seat. The first flight we took we were mostly carrying Kent so my husband wore him and I carried the backpack. This all sounded good except it meant I had a heavy backpack when I was going through some postpartum back pain. Also when our stroller came out at the end of the trip one of the connector pieces was broken so we were not able to connect it to the car seat. The good news is that Alaska Air replaced the stroller but what we learned is that we need to gate check the car seat and stroller so we can A. use the stroller to carry our stuff through the airport and B. it gives it less chance of getting broken. We also learned for our Britax stroller we need to take off the connectors to the car seat just to ensure nothing gets lots.

Everything we do on the plane is typical kid stuff, bring lots of snacks, some new and exciting toys that are not easily thrown (we have a thrower). Bring a bag of pacifiers if your kid likes them, don’t worry if one rolls under the seat, leave it behind. Let your child make sweet eyes at the people around you as they board so hopefully they will be accepting if you have a yeller later in the flight.

Road Trips  – Our road trip advice is from only one trip, but it was three weeks, so we learned a few tips. The first thing is to keep things as comfortable and familiar as possible. One way for us to do that is to bring our mirror that fits on the seat back and gives us a glimpse into what our son is feeling. This works well for us especially because Kent uses sign language to communicate and the mirror helps us to see what is going on and help him stay happy! We also make sure to have lots of drinks and snacks in a cooler within reach to ensure nobody gets hangry.

The road trip we took last summer was in the Florida heat with our one year old so the schedule that works well for us was to get up in the morning and play and then drive during nap time and the heat of the day. We then arrived at our destination in the afternoon and could hang out and play in the water. The only time this became problematic was when we tried to stop for lunch in the heat of the day and learned that we couldn’t have a picnic with our kiddo in over 100 degree heat.

Hotels

The hotel stays were a big learning curve, and again I know this is all pretty basic but its good stuff to think about before you take a trip. Our biggest lesson was that we needed a separate space for our kiddo to go to sleep. There are several options for this, we have put his pack and play in the bathroom, closet and in our favorite scenario the separate bedroom. Our favorite option was to have a separate bedroom and living space so that Kent could sleep in the room while we hung out in the common area then when we were ready for bed we would move his pack and play into the living room and go to bed in the bedroom. Kids sleep heavy so we were able to move his bed while he was sleeping in it no problem. These suites also allowed us to have some normal eating patterns and cook our own food which we really appreciate when we were trying to keep some routines with a toddler. When we weren’t able to get a suite the next best option was a balcony. We would put Kent to bed in the main room and then sit outside with some drinks and a card game and enjoy some alone time while Kent falls asleep. Our last option that worked for us at the hotel is to have a room close to the common outdoor space. We had a great time in the Florida Keys when we realized our video baby monitor would reach the pool/bar/outdoor games area. We were able to put Kent to bed and walk outside and have a little date all while watching him snooze on the monitor!

Other

I asked my husband what he learned about traveling with Kent and his response was to wear pants that don’t button or zip. I stared at him for a moment before he explained he was talking about having to go to the bathroom with a baby in your arms. I love that man 🙂

My other advice is to keep a light heart with your partner if you are traveling together. There are going to be crazy moments and you just have to be in it together and laugh about whatever you are going through. You don’t have to do big crazy things, you just need to enjoy spending time together.

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

― Maya Angelou

Getting Outside

These days Alaska doesn’t see the negative temps that were commonplace when I moved here almost a decade ago but we still get pretty chilly in the winter. When I first moved here I made the choice to invest in some nice warm clothes and that made getting outside even when it was negative temps, not too bad.

Funny story – my second date with my now husband was to go cross country skiing. On the night we were to go out it was -20. I was struggling with my heat in my house so when Kris showed up I was sitting with my hands expertly slid in between the metal bars on my space heater. But as it was only our second date neither of us wanted to be the one to cancel the date or suggest an alternative plan so out we went skiing in the sub zero weather!

Back to present day, I now have a 20 month old kiddo to keep warm and those nice warm clothes I invested in? Well that was 40 pounds ago and since I gained some weight I have been too stubborn to buy new quality clothes in my new bigger size. But I know how very important it is to my mood and wellbeing to get outside even when its chilly, so this is what I am working out.

How do I do this? Well first I make sure my child has nicer clothes than I do. I know people say its tough to buy nice clothes for small people because they grow so fast, but my kid is small and doesn’t grow that much so he stays in clothes for a long time and we have the benefit of nice hand me downs. In the pictures below Kent is wearing Patagonia or wool long-johns, a fleece mid layer, and a synthetic down puffy suit. When its really cold he hangs out in his down sleeping bag in his stroller. We make sure to keep his skin covered or pull down the cover on the stroller if the wind is chilly. We also routinely check his skin on his neck or sticking our hands down his shirt to make sure he is staying warm. Pro tip – this doesn’t work if your hands are cold, and you will make your child very upset.

The challenges we have had with Kent is keeping his hands warm. Gloves are a pain in the neck when it comes to kids and Kent seems to be chilly even when we buy nice ones so our best solution has been to use a suit that can tuck his hands in. Then his body heat keeps them warm.

It takes some effort but when we get him bundled up like this he seems to stay warm and happy which allows us some time outdoors to explore. Today it was 7 degrees at the Alaska Conservation Center and nobody else was out, but we enjoyed tromping around on the ice saying hi to the animals.

My clothes is another story that is ongoing. As much as I have said my intention for the new year is to work on my nutrition (ignore this weekend where I ate out every day) I do believe I finally need to buy a couple quality pieces of clothes at my bigger size. While I want to eventually fit back in my smaller nice clothes, it is worth feeling good right now! I’m looking for some wool pants and a nice mid layer right now and will be sure to share when I find them. Today I made due with wearing some of my husbands nice warm clothes, they were a bit baggy but they did the job!

How are you getting your kids outside when the weather is so cold?

Healthy Eats

This year my intention is to take care of myself. One of the ways that I am doing that is to eat more whole, healthy, and nutritious foods. This takes time and effort as eating whole, healthy and nutritious foods requires planning, shopping and cooking. I only really enjoy one of those things…

This is why I needed some healthy eating in the New Year!

To help me achieve the other two I am utilizing my local grocery store’s pick up program. Usually on a Saturday night I sit down and plan out the meals for the week and then I use the app on my phone to scan through coupons and put in my order (yes my Saturday nights are rockin!) First thing Sunday morning after my one year old has woken me up nice and early I head to the store to pick up my groceries. I will let you in on a little secret, I actually love this time. I take my cup of coffee with me and hope that the store takes a little while to get to my order because it gives me time to drink my coffee in my warm quiet car and read Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper. I love her. I use her books, journals and Sunday Papers to focus on my mental game – more on that in post to come.

Once I have my groceries now is the hardest part, actually cooking. I do not have a natural love of cooking but I will say at times I do enjoy parts of it. I have found my biggest hurdles are creativity and following a recipe. Right now I am working on a couple new recipes at a time and have found some real winners in my last Clean Eating magazine. The first one I made was roasted purple potato, turnips, parsnips and celery root with a basil, lemony sauce. It was a hit, even my one year old liked the tangy sauce. I found that I really like roasted parsnips and turnips which are more nutritious than plain roasted potatoes so I have been buying them every week since. The celery root was a bit of a mystery, however it turned out good once I figured out what it was but it is a bit pricey at my store right now so I probably wont buy it every week.

My next recipe wasn’t so much a recipe, but I saw it on the Today show and made a version of it for lunch all week. Its red quinoa with black beans, roasted sweet potato or butternut squash, avocado (frozen from Costco!), tomatoes and a little bit of balsamic glaze. Its veggies, its healthy carbohydrates and all whole nutritious food, love it!

Lastly but probably my biggest accomplishment was shepards pie and a brussel sprout salad. The pie had a lot of steps and included a cauliflower and parsley topping. It took some time but oh man was it good. My husband is pretty anti-cauliflower so his is the white version which had some instant potatoes on it.

Side note – we have a deal, if I sneak cauliflower past him I get a foot rub, but if he figures it out he gets a free pass to order from his favorite dive Chinese shop.

The brussel sprouts were delicious but that may have something to do with the fact I added more bacon than the recipe said and cooked the sprouts in the bacon grease, so they may have not been quite as healthy as the magazine intended… but man is bacon good!

I am still working on drinking all of my water and keeping my foods whole and healthy, but I am feeling good about this start and will continue to share my cooking triumphs with you. Someday I will have to share some of my cooking disasters with you as well, spaghetti squash pad thai, butternut macaroni, cauliflower rice taco skillet…

Happy New Year!

2019! I am so ready for a new year. I know its just another day but there is something so refreshing about a new beginning. 2018 had some wonderful moments, my baby turned 1 and learned to walk, run and talk. Our family went on our first big trip together, a 3 week road trip around Florida. I competed in a Women only triathlon. All wonderful things. However I also lost my sweet baby, my best friend moved away and in midst of it all I lost my focus and forgot about taking care of myself. It was a tough year.

But now its 2019. New year full of possibilities. My dreams for this year are 3 fold. 1) a happy healthy baby 2) together time for my family 3) focus and dedication to taking care of myself. Thats what I want most in the world.

I have some control over these items, so my next few posts will be focused on how I am working towards these items. I hope you have a wonderful New Year.

Hello world!

Welcome to Mama Drinks Coffee. My name is Kayse and I am a mom to one little boy and another baby who will always live in my heart.  I love being a mom and talking to other moms about how we raise our babies and grow our families.  I am a working mom living in Alaska, I love my job and chose to continue working after having my son.  I am hoping to use this platform to talk about some of the celebrations and challenges in raising babies.  I want to talk about child development as well as my own development as a mom.  I want to grow a community of like minded individuals who are all striving to be the best version of them while living this crazy life.  I hope you will join me feel free to jump into the conversation.