Saturday, June 30, 2012

Flying for 8+ hours with a toddler: Easier than I thought it'd be

In order to get to Spain, we took a two hour flight from Chicago to Newark, NJ, then a 7.5 hour flight from Newark to Barcelona.  We were in Barcelona for 3 days, then took a 1.5 hour flight to Valladolid.  During our stay in Valladolid, we took a couple of car trips that were at least one hour each way, and also a 3 hour (each way) train trip to the beach in Santander on the northern coast of Spain.

On the way back, we had to fly back to Barcelona from Valladolid, then from Barcelona to Frankfurt, Germany, and then an 8 hour 20 minute flight back to Chicago.  Yikes!!!! Even now, I can't believe that we did all of that!

Evie had never flown before this trip.  I know, I know...I like to start with the high ropes course.  I was as prepared as I thought I could be: plenty of diaper, snacks, entertainment options, etc.  Of course, none of those things will work when you're dealing with a fussy toddler, but Evie was a trooper, and I learned a lot about my own levels of patience.
At El Parque Güell in Barcelona

A few things helped us more than I thought they would though.   First of all, when flying for extended periods of time with a toddler, tiring them out at the airport is key.  We ran Evie from one of the terminal to other during each layover.  It worked well for us on our way to Barcelona: she slept for 6.5 hours of the 7.5 hour flight!  On the way back, we had less luck, but we tried our best.  Fortunately, she wasn't too fussy and I was able to walk around the cabin of the plane for most of the flight.  I don't know what I would have done if there had been more turbulence...

Second, I never would have believed in the kindness of strangers to entertain my child.  From the soon-to-be grandma on our first flight who played peek-a-boo with Evie for at least half an hour, to the elderly Spanish grandma of 5 who held Evie for an hour of the train ride to the beach, it seemed like everyone was understanding of fussy babies and willing to help out if they could.  I will remember to pay this forward!!!

With my dad in the Plaza Mayor of Valladolid
 Overall, I was really impressed by others' attitudes towards my toddler being on their trans-Atlantic flight.  There were only two instances of people being snide or rude throughout the whole trip.  One was just a man on a train who did a lot of eye rolling and huffing.  The other was a woman on our first flight to Newark who said, "I guess you haven't heard of the Benadryl trick."   (Make sure that you picture this woman's lips pursed and very judgy wudgy looking as she says this.)  I am not going to drug my child for a two hour flight.  I will admit that I brought a bottle of the stuff along just in case it got really bad.  I was fortunate that I never had to use it though.

It wasn't all easy.  I had to hold Evie for about 16 hours straight on the way back because she refused to go by my dad, or go in her stroller in the Frankfurt airport.  Trying to entertain her on the long flight from Frankfurt to Chicago was tough too.  But really, the whole ordeal was better than I thought it would be. 

Have you flown with your child?  How did it go?  Do you have any tips for me in the future?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Asking the interwebz for some help

I had a cute post all planned for today.  After being gone for 2 and a half weeks, I was all ready to tell you about how amazing our trip was, and show you pictures of all of the cool things we saw and did...and then I tried to go grocery shopping this morning. 

I'm afraid that Evie has officially entered the "terribles twos."  The tantrums have been manageable, and mostly in the privacy of our own home until recently.  Also, until recently, they haven't been violent towards anyone.  She has hit me a few times in the past couple of months, and we took it very seriously.  We created a timeout space, and put her there whenever she was violent (mostly hitting, biting a little bit).  It was relatively few and far between, I think we put her on timeout a total of 3 - 4 times between April and June 10th.

However, while we were gone on our trip, the episodes of violence grew exponentially.  She had a violent outburst like this about every other day.  I chalked it up to being in a strange place, away from her father, etc.  I disciplined her as much as I could, but these incidents often occurred in public, which means no timeout space, and the whole world is watching (read: judging) how you react.  Being in a different culture, where I'm unsure of the social norms for disciplining your child in public made it even more difficult. 

I was hoping that it would be better when we got home, but this morning at the grocery store, she bit my hand so hard that she left a bruise.  She was upset that I strapped her into the shopping cart.  Fortunately, I hadn't really started my shopping yet.  I immediately carried her out of the store.  We went to the car in the parking lot, where I attempted to explain to her that she hurt me and that biting is wrong.  I say "attempted" because I felt like she got her way in the end: she didn't have to ride in the shopping cart.  I feel completely defeated.  In her mind, biting equaled getting her way. 

So, that's where my plea for advice comes in.  Does your toddler have outbursts in public?  How have you handled it?  We need to act immediately.  She needs to learn that sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do, and biting/hitting are not the appropriate reactions. 

Please tell me about your system for dealing with tantrums in public.  I'd love to hear any suggestions that anyone can give me.  I promise a cute post from our trip over the weekend....  :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

So many things to write about...

Well, we´ve moved on on Friday from Barcelona to Valladolid.  Barcelona was great, and I have a ton of pics to post, but no way to post them.  Expect a photo dump post upon return to the U.S.  ;) 

Anyway, we arrived in Valladolid (a small-ish city of about 400,000, northwest of Madrid) on Friday afternoon and we were greeted at the airport by our host family.  They are a mother, Marta, father, Roberto, and three sons, Iván (8 years old), Sergio (7), and Lucas (2).  They are the most outgoing family ever, which is awesome, but it´s been overstimulation overload for Evie since we got here.   I´m used to my relatively quiet house with one child....this is the home of three extrtoverted boys.  Evie has been having problems settling in for naps and bedtime, which we haven´t seen in a while.  It´s been a little frustrating, but I know we´ll be alright. 

Marta and Roberto are awesome.  They have treated us like members of the family since we stepped off of the plane, and the boys are so excited to see Evie and teach her how to play in Spanish.  It´s amazing how much she has picked up in a just a few days.  In English, she counts to ten (she always misses 9, but it´s close enough ;), and she´s already trying to count in Spanish.  She misses more numbers, but I can´t believe that she´s even attempting it.  She says hola and gracias readily, and last night at dinner she said, "I want agua."  That´s better spanglish than some of my!!!

Our biggest hurdle is how much I think we both miss M.  We have been skyping almost daily, but it´s not the same.  I felt horrible that yesterday was father´s day and we were 4000 miles and 7 times zones away.  Since the time we left, and especially since we´ve arrived in Valladolid, Evie has been really clingy.  She won´t let me out of her sight.  If I leave the room to even go to the bathroom (God forbid!), she screams.  It makes me feel awful to think that she´s so afraid that I´m going to leave her.

There is so much more to tell you, but since I began writing this post, Evie has woken up for the day (at 9:15...thank you jet lag!), and I have to get her going.  We are going to meet my dad at his hotel and then run some errands.  I´m on my last diaper, and I´m out of travel size shampoo!!  I´ll write again as soon as I can. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Estamos aqui!

Well, we made it to Barcelona. The trip actually felt pretty easy compared to what I had mentally prepared myself for.  Overall, Evie was great, all of our flightswere on time and everything that I expected to go wrong didn't.  

Updating from my tablet will be difficult because it's a touch screen and it's annoying to type 
on here. We have free wifi at the hotel though, so I'm trying to make the most of it.  I'll have to steal my dad's laptop when I have a chance, but right now I'm going to go enjoy an afternoon siesta with Evie. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Four Posts for the Price of One!

This seemed like the easiest way for me to get caught up with what our life has been like lately.  So, here it goes...

First, we've been up to a lot.  Last weekend, we were really busy, but a highlight was going to the local "Breakfast on the Farm."  Evie had a great time.  M was raised on a farm and these types of events (including the county fair) were a major part of his childhood.  He loves taking Evie to them.  We've already made plans to go to the Wisconsin State Fair in August!

Evie playing in the "corn box" at the Breakfast on the Farm

We have been working on some home improvement projects over the past few weekends.  We are still considering putting our house on the market sometime this summer.  It's a big decision.  There are a lot of pros and cons to weigh, and I feel like I change my mind every day.  In the past month, we have painted the master bath, and repainted our living room.  (Sorry, I only have before and after pics of the bathroom.)  We are probably going to be getting new carpet sometime this summer too.
Mirror wall before and after

Shower wall before and after

The walls were just plain white, and I had red rugs and a red shower curtain.  Now the walls are blue and a new coat of off-white, and the accent color is chocolate brown.  I really like how it turned out!!

Today was my last day of school with my students.  I have to go in tomorrow to finish up grades and give my room a thorough cleaning.  On Friday, I have about 10,000 errands to run, and I have an OB appointment.  Saturday, we are going to a Brewer game with some friends to celebrate my birthday (I'll be the big 3-0 on Sunday!!  Yikes!!!!).  On Sunday we have to go my our nephew's 2nd birthday party, and finally on Monday, my dad, Evie and I hop on a plane to spend 16 days in Spain.  Whew!!!

To say that I'm feeling a little overwhelmed is an understatement.  I do not regret my decision to take this trip with Evie.  In all honesty, I never would have gone without her.  This is an amazing opportunity that just sort of fell into my lap, and I can't pass it up.  I didn't plan on being pregnant, but there are pregnant women all over the world, I'm sure I'll be fine.  :)

I will be trying to post while we are gone, but it might be more difficult than I think it will be.  I have about 15 posts (no exaggeration!) rattling around in my brain lately.  I hope that I am able to write more now that school is out.  But at the moment, sleep wins!!!

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Monday, June 4, 2012

15 Weeks

15 weeks.  I feel huge.  Seriously, I can't believe that I still have 25 weeks left to go.

15 Weeks.  Boy, do I feel pregnant.
Weight gain/loss: +3 lbs. from last week.  (Yikes!)  Up 6 lbs. total from my pre-pregnancy weight, but still 2 lbs. below my pre-pregnancy weight with Evie.  (Woot!  Woot!) 

Fruit of the week: This week baby is the size of a lemon.  

Feeling: Exasperated, but it has nothing to do with the pregnancy.  At this time next week I will be 4 hours into an 8 hour flight across the Atlantic...with a 22 month old child.

Sleep:  Reasonably well.  I am really looking forward to relaxing afternoon siestas in Spain.  :)

Food cravings: Nothing really sticks out this week.  I must have mint chocolate chip ice cream in the house at all times.  I don't eat it more than 2 -3 times a week, I just need to know it's there.

Movement:  I thought I felt a little more movement over the weekend, but nothing is confirmed quite yet. 

Maternity Clothing: Loving the maternity clothes!!!!  I feel like they make the bump look bigger though.  M told me, "No, they just make it look better."  He's really figured out how to flatter a pregnant woman this time around. 

Gender? Thinking about it a little.  We didn't find out with Evie, because I didn't want to find out.  M wanted to though, and I always told him that next time I was pregnant we'd find out.  Now that the possibility is only a few weeks away, I'm realizing that I really want to be "Team Green" all the way.  Not sure what's going to happen yet.  : /    

What I miss?   Just feeling "normal."   

Best moment this week: Seeing Evie's reactions to the animals when we went to the local "Breakfast on the Farm" on Saturday morning.  We are going to a birthday party at the zoo on Sunday, and I think it will be so fun to see her oohing and ahhing over all of the animals.  

What I'm looking forward to:  Getting out of the country for a while.  I really can't wait for all of the awesome food, living the culture, and speaking the language that I love! 

Next Appointment: This Friday, June 8th.

P.S.  To all of my Wisconsin readers - Please get out and vote tomorrow.  If you don't know what's happening, you must be living under a rock!!  Come out and vote anyway.  ;)