Hora feliz con ninos

14 Apr

My baby has survived infancy, toddlerhood, and preschool. She started Kindergarten in 2015, which put a serious cramp in our happy hour action because she was EXHAUSTED after school. Six hours is too long for 5 year olds. I can (and will–oh, yes I will) opine about school another time. Right now, I want to write about being happy.

I probably had postpartum depression. I most certainly struggled with a major depression between my daughter’s 2nd-5th year, and I’m still figuring out mood stuff and self care. I’d love to have a series of “Really Good Days” like Ayelet Waldman but unless one of you sends me a little blue bottle that’s going to take some effort. Even if you do, which would be creepy (but cool!) I still need to work on building a happy life.

We just returned from 7 weeks in Costa Rica. I’m not going to say every minute of every day was pure bliss, but I was happy a lot of the time. I need to break down why I love travel so much (for myself, though I might subject y’all to some of the navel-gazing) but right now I really want to share my brilliant travel hacks.

Pack light

This isn’t exactly original advice, but there’s a reason so many people recommend traveling carry-on: it’s awesome. It doesn’t have to be hard, but it takes some planning and trial-and error. The goal is to pack only what you and your child(ren) can carry by yourselves, from plane to bus–upstairs, downstairs, in the rain, on the sand. You’ll save time and money, and you’re going to learn what you really value and need.

Plan

  • How will you ditch extra stuff?
    • ship it home (this is a great way to unload cold-weather gear when you’re moving on to warmer regions)
      • NOTE: shipping is expensive and can be time-consuming.
      • You almost always need your passport at the post office–plan ahead.
    • give it away (ask around–does anyone need or want your hoodie?)
    • throw it out (you do not need to bring that half-full tube of sunscreen home)

I try to avoid carrying any toiletries if I’m going somewhere that I can buy them–especially if my first stop will be a hostel or hotel that provides the basics. It’s cheaper and much easier to buy a bottle of shampoo or sunscreen than to check a bag. If you’re going somewhere really remote and/or have extremely special needs and 3oz of product won’t last your entire trip, consider shipping yourself your special products in advance.

Souvenirs & gifts

Your friends and family back home would rather get a postcard in the mail than anything you’re going to haul home. If you’re committed to supporting the local economy & really really really want to purchase a gift or momento, ship it back. Don’t carry it around in your luggage. Yes, it can be expensive to ship things. It’s also expensive to check bags.

Some of our favorite souvenirs: free maps of the small towns we visit, coasters, stickers…flat, light stuff. I’ve started collecting bottle caps from my favorite beers. Every member of our family is allowed to buy one thing during a trip. Coming home from Costa Rica,we brought a stuffed bat & the kid got a stuffed sloth. We also grabbed some coffee and chocolate at the airport store for teacher gifts.

We do not bring home nature items: shells, rocks, etc are part of the ecosystem. They need to stay on the beach. The kid likes to collect her favorites during a trip, then make a big ceremonial fairy castle the night before we leave.

We take a ton of pictures of the cool stuff we see and do, and keep notes and journals. We’re not going to forget just because we didn’t buy that shirt, or the hammock chair.

Laundry

Most of us don’t go on vacation because we want to do laundry in exotic places. However, even if you pack your entire wardrobe (not recommended), you’re going to need to wash clothes. I buy the smallest possible amount of laundry detergent (dry) and a package of clothespins, then wash laundry in the sink wherever we’re staying. Many places have laundry service, which can be a life-saver if the climate (or your time) doesn’t allow for line-drying.

Happy Hour travel essentials

In the purse/pockets/diaper bag–carry with you always

  • multi-function tool with a minimum of scissors & bottle opener
  • plastic utensils & cloth napkins, small snacks
  • hygiene supplies: roll of medical tape, mini-pads, alcohol wipes, large bandage, small bandage, ziplock bags
  • entertainment: ballpoint pen, paper, playing cards, tiny toys
  • ID, a little cash & your bank card

In the swim bag/at the beach (use a tote, backpack, plastic bag, large purse…)

  • sunscreen stick
  • towel
  • water bottle (your fancy insulated bottle or reuse a plastic bottle)
  • extra plastic bag for storing wet clothes/sandy shoes
  • dry shirt or dress for the kid/s (who WILL complain of “freezing” the very moment the sun comes down, before or just as your drink arrives)

Random notes

I dislike wearing wristbands, so I cut them off while I’m out wandering and then reattach using the medical tape. The medical tape is also useful for small cuts. Use the mini-pad as a sterile gauze pad for larger injuries, using medical tape to keep it in place. Large bandages are very useful; small bandaids only exist to help someone feel better about an owie.

Entertainment

On the beach, in the forest, etc we do what we’re there to do: hike, swim, build castles, look at animals, play with rocks & sticks, talk to people, play with animals, daydream…there’s really no reason to pull out an electronic device unless you’re taking photos. (In my extremely biased opinion.)

I’m not a complete Luddite (obviously) but I don’t want my kid (or myself) plugged into a phone all the time. We don’t give her (and we don’t use) devices in public places, with the exception of transit (bus or plane) and even then limit the time. Screen time during this last trip was pretty much reserved for siesta–the hottest part of the day. We hung out in the hammock with a book, game, TV show, or homework activity.

Since we also don’t carry a lot of paper books, it can be challenging to keep ourselves occupied during the many situations where we had to wait. Since we only have one kid, we needed activities that everyone would enjoy (or at least not hate).

Some games we played with the almost-8 year old during long restaurant waits/layovers/hotel stays, etc:

  • gin rummy
  • UNO (oh, how I LOATHE the UNO box)
  • dots
  • tic tac toe (sparingly)
  • chess or checkers (we actually bought a mini chess set this trip)
    • draw a board on a piece of paper if you don’t want to carry a board–which you don’t

 

 

 

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I got wet, Mama!

25 Aug
I got wet, Mama! by melissajonas
I got wet, Mama!, a photo by melissajonas on Flickr.

Before the kid, Georgetown was our go-to destination. There are a handful of very good bars on Airport Way. Unpretentious, reasonably priced, good food, excellent beer and lots of pinball. Also, alas, almost all 21+ only.

Don’t despair, parents. G-Town has plenty to offer for those of us dining & playing with ankle biters. Sylvia’s Friday routine (in this order, always): Circus School, sushi, playground and the beer store for a be-bop.

Circus School is SANCA. Amazing instructors, classes for all ages.

The Cutting Board is delicious and very reasonably priced. Lots of veggie options, too. They welcome kids & even have small plastic cups & child-sized chopsticks. Bonus for the digger-obsessed: there’s a HUGE construction project underway–lots to watch.

Georgetown Playground is one of the few SE Seattle playgrounds with a spray park AND mature trees.

Georgetown Brewery fills growlers fast & cheaply and will give your kid a lollipop if you ask.

Other places where kids are allowed in Georgetown: Calamity Jane’s, Stellar Pizza (aka Stella’s), Dog’s Dream pet supplies, and Full Throttle Bottles. We occasionally visit Fantagraphics and the coffee shop (salted dark chocolate covered graham crackers–yow!). I haven’t tried the newer diner.

Summer blog reading

12 Aug

Love this post from PhD in Parenting. “Cocktail of Judgement” describes the latest “Mommy War” between two groups that I didn’t realize were rivals: Pot Smoking Moms vs Wine Moms

I’d rather hang out with either than Sober Moms. 

Maggie at Mighty Girl has added a new feature: Mighty Thirst. Incredible drink recipes. Check ’em out. 

Booze Bombs

6 Jul

I’m behind on all my favorite blogs, so I missed this post from Mighty Girl. Since Seattle is just starting to enjoy summer this is actually perfect timing.

I’ll bet this would work well with Apriums, small plums, or large strawberries. I’ll try and report back next week.

Shots in ‘Cots:

They’re easy to make. Three steps:

1. Test your apricots to make sure they’ll stand up on their bums.
2. While your apricot is standing on a flat surface, take a metal cap (I used one from a booze bottle), and press it into the stem end.
3. Use a knife or small spoon to pull out the top and the pit beneath.

Thanks, Maggie!

Backyard edition HHH

28 Jun
High Chair Happy Hour by melissajonas
High Chair Happy Hour, a photo by melissajonas on Flickr.

What makes it happy hour? I took the photo & left the mess while I enjoyed my beer.

Healthy Happy Hour

25 Jun

When my toddler helps empty the recycling and holds up a bottle saying “Mama beer?” I feel a motherly pang. However, when I search my conscience I realize that I’d rather my child find beer bottles than pop cans. She sees the adults around her cook and eat healthy foods and enjoy snacks in moderation. She watches us drink water and coffee and beer/wine (and occasionally cocktails, which is her only reference point for juice). We’re healthy, loving, responsible grownups who actively engage with smart, physically active kids. Even digging deep into my mom psyche, I can’t feel guilty about alcohol being part of our lifestyle.

I didn’t drink while I was pregnant. I intended to, but as it happened I had a huge aversion to alcohol–that’s actually how I realized I was pregnant. My pregnancy nausea was moderate but persistent and pretty much everything except really spicy teriyaki set me off for a very long time. After the nausea was (mostly) resolved, even smelling alcohol made me queasy. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to enjoy a glass of wine with my sweetie and a little relieved I didn’t have to deal with people giving me dirty looks while I drank it. Both scientific evidence and several thousands of generations of humans (including our own) show that it’s safe for the average pregnant woman to consume some amount of alcohol without causing serious harm to her fetus. There are always exceptions and I’m not here to debate the issue–though you’re free to do so.

This post in The Awl is a lovely summary of how morally/emotionally fuzzy the issue of drinking while pregnant can be: “Moderation has served me well in life up to this point and I’d like to think that I have good instincts. What are instincts in a pregnancy, though? We’re told to listen to the voice inside of us that says when it’s time to relax and take it easy, when it’s time to call the doctor. But my instincts also led me to think I know my body well enough to know how to treat it when I’m pregnant which includes drinking. Which is or isn’t wrong. So should I not have listened to myself? Or listen at some times and not others?”

The science on drinking while nursing is much more clear and the evidence is overwhelming that moderate alcohol consumption does not harm a breastfed infant.. Alcohol content in breast milk is the same as alcohol blood volume (ABV). Even if your ABV is high enough to impair your ability to drive a car, your breastmilk will not significantly harm your baby. Alcohol inhibits production and some studies show that babies will refuse the breast if significant amounts of alcohol are present in the milk. If you’re pumping and storing milk, there’s a chance you’ll expose the baby to more total alcohol than if you’re nursing directly. There is no need to or benefit from pumping milk & disposing of it. “Pump & dump” does not clear your system of alcohol.

Here’s the bigger picture: if you’re drunk enough that you’re seriously worried about alcohol content of your milk, you’re probably too drunk to safely & responsibly parent. Forget about nursing–you probably shouldn’t be holding an infant or caring for a young child alone. If you’re concerned about your alcohol consumption (amount and/or frequency) talk to your health care provider–not your pediatrician.

I’m not joking when I say beer makes me a better parent. When I’ve had a beer, I’m more relaxed and find it easier to let the little things (messy play, a little whining) go. When I’ve had a beer, I can laugh more freely and forget how irritated I was about the kid not napping or the rice burning.  Continue reading

The Other Happy Hour

22 Jun
The Other Happy Hour by melissajonas
The Other Happy Hour, a photo by melissajonas on Flickr.