How to Survive Flying With an Infant

When my husband suggested we go to Arizona to visit him while he was training there, back in November 2014, I was excited and scared all at the same time. I went back and forth between yes and no for weeks. Of course I wanted to see him, and more importantly I wanted our son to continue to bond with his father, but I wasn’t sure I was ready for a coast to coast flight with an almost six month old. One thing was for sure, I knew I couldn’t do it alone. And I was right, there is no way I could have lugged Jimmie, plus all of our stuff, through airports, all by lonesome. Along with the help of Jimmie’s grandparents and a few must-have items, we survived our first big trip, to and from Arizona. I’ll even admit, I’d would have done it over and over, in a heartbeat, to see Jimmie and his daddy fall in love again.

Here are few (okay more than a few) items you NEED (besides a few extra pair of hands) to survive airports and plane rides with an infant:

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1. Munchkin Formula Dispenser Combo Pack (two) – I recommend this combo pack so that you can pack various proportions of formula. For example, you may want to try to give your baby a small bottle when you’re taking off and landing, therefore you should keep small proportions in the single serve formula container. I also recommend two sets because you will want to have more than enough formula for your entire flight plus extra in case of delays.

2. JL Childress Gate Check Bag for Umbrella Strollers – I didn’t want to bother with our big stroller on vacation, therefore, I opted to bring an umbrella stroller. This bag was great for storing the stroller during flights. We would put the stroller in the bag right before the flight and then leave it at the end of the walkway as we entered the plane. The bag kept the stroller from getting dirty and scratched, it also made it easier to spot after deboarding the plane. The bag has a handle that makes it easy to carry if you don’t want to put your baby in it right after getting off the plane. (I kept Jimmie in the Ergo when getting on and off the plane.)

3. JL Childress 6 Bottle Cooler – I want to start off by saying I used glass bottles and this bag only held four. With that being said, I also stored one single serve formula container; two, three servings formula containers (mentioned above), and a bib in the bag. This bag was perfect because it kept all of my feeding items together in one spot. Another thing to remember is that you can fill your bottles with water (or breast milk) prior to security, but they must be checked in a special machine after you go through the metal detectors. The bottle bag made it easier to hand over the water filled bottles without having to dig through any other bags. (The cooler also comes with a ice pack.)

4. Jeep Car Seat Travel Bag – Jimmie sat on my lap or his grandparents’ laps during the entire flight. We checked his car seat in as soon as we arrived at the airport. I’ve heard they will give you a trash bag (sometimes?) but I really didn’t think a trash bag was enough protection for our car seat. I ended up buying this bag and I was really happy with it. I even ended up throwing random stuff in with the cars eat on the way home because we somehow accumulated a few things in Arizona that were not going to fit in my suitcase. It has a shoulder strap and a handle for carrying purposes.

5. My Little Seat – This travel high chair is a must have! I know it isn’t for the plane, but I figured I would put it on my list because it is just that awesome. I honestly think everyone who travels with kids should own one of these. It comes in a tiny carrying case that is easy to throw into any bag. We used it at our kitchen table in the house we rented for the week. It was great to have Jimmie sitting with us at the table instead of in his car seat low on the ground. You can’t just lug around a full size high chair when you are flying somewhere. This is the perfect solution. This could be used in an airport if you have long layovers and have time to eat in the food courts.

6. The First Years Pacifier Gumdrop Wipes – Pacifier wipes are a waste of money, except when you’re flying. Little did I know until right before flying, that you can’t wash things (besides your hands) in the airplane bathroom sink. Every time Jimmie dropped a toy or pacifier, I used these wipes to clean it.

7. MAM Phase 2 Teether – This teether kept Jimmie entertained while flying. I hooked it onto a MAM pacifier clip and it was pretty much all he played with while we were in the air because he couldn’t throw it on the ground. Plus, he was teething, so it was kinda perfect. I also hooked a MAM pacifier on the other end which kept his ears from popping.

8. Clorox Travel Wipes – I was the crazy mom that cloroxed my seat, tray, arm rests, etc. Sorry, not sorry. Buy them at the dollar store, not Amazon. This price is crazy!

9. Skip Hop Duo Special Edition Diaper Bag – This bag was perfect for the airport and for the duration of our trip. It wasn’t too big, or too small, it was just right.

10. Ergobaby Original Baby Carrier – Do not go through security with your baby in a stroller. I repeat DO NOT go through security with your baby in your stroller. TSA will make you take your baby out of the stroller, fold up the stroller, and then carry your baby through the metal detector. Instead of all of this craziness, just carry your baby in a baby carrier. Taking off your shoes, taking your tablet out of your bag, while trying to fold a stroller is not an easy task!

Jimmie was perfect on all four of our flights. I downloaded a few TV shows and FREE Fisher Price apps for him, but he really didn’t seem interested in them on the plane. (The apps are awesome and are worth downloading and checking out.) He was just content cuddling. I only ended up feeding him on one takeoff. During all of the other takeoffs and landings he just sucked on his pacifier, or slept. (He literally slept during one takeoff).

I hope my list helps you and encourages you to travel with your baby. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly somewhere else with Jimmie in the near future. I really want to show him the world.

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March 2016 Fit Snack Subscription Box Review

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Spring has arrived and so has my March Fit Snack box! This month’s Fit Snack box was stocked with great post-workout snacks, as well as, snacks for busy people on the go.

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Bulletproof Coffee: I haven’t tried this yet, but I am always up to try new coffee. The coffee is made with grass-fed butter and XCT oil for more energy and improved performance.

Oh! Ganics Oh! Bar: Not a fan. I was afraid to try it because it look chewy and I was right. It was way too chewy for me. It is organic and made with mint, a whole banana, dates, and pineapples.

Crazy Richards PB Burst: Natural peanut butter with Burst Blend for energy. I can’t have peanut butter or else I’m sure I would have enjoyed this on a sandwich.

Back Attack Snacks: Chocolate Almonds sound good! Sadly, I can’t eat them. Highest quality almonds with no added sugar.

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Fru-licious Ice Pops: 100% natural ice pops. Great for kids since summer is right around the corner.

Kutoa Nutrition Bar: For every bar you buy, Kutoa feeds a hungry child. Sounds like a win, win to me. The nutrition bar in my box was chocolate banana. My husband said it tasted better than your average protein bar.

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Ips Chips: I usually like all of the Ips chips flavors, but this salt/pepper blend was not a winner in my book. Ips chips are full of protein. Who doesn’t want to eat protein chips? They are also half the fat of fried chips.

Love Grown Foods: I really like the Love Grown Foods brand. I like how healthy their cereal is and my son gobbles it up. The Power O’s are made with navy, lentil, and garbanzo beans.

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Lesser Evil Good Cookie: Healthy cookies are my jam! Lesser Evil cookies are low in sugar and high in protein. Yum!

I really enjoy trying new, healthy snacks from Fit Snack every month. As a busy mom, trying to eat healthy is easier said than done. I like not having to worry about shopping for healthy snacks since I get a ton each month in the mail. Not only can you have your Fit Snack box sent to your house, you could also send it to your work. You can stick the box right into the desk for easy snacking throughout the month. Nothing beats not having to go to a vending machine for a bag of chips.

If you have never heard about Fit Snack, please check out another one of my posts about the amazing subscription box company based out of Colorado. I love how each box comes with new exercises, workout tips, and coupon codes for some of the snacks in the box.

For your chance to WIN a free Fit Snack box, head on over to their contest page here. There is a chance to win every month. Enter today so that you can start snacking healthy tomorrow!

I was sent a Fit Snack box in exchange for an honest review. All of the options are my own. Thanks Fit Snack!

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Book Review: The Faces of Strangers by Pia Padukone

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Two boys. Two completely different countries. One amazing opportunity. It is 2013, Nico, also known as Nicholas, is running for New York City mayor. On election morning, Nico receives a  surprising phone call that could change the course of his life. Flash back to 2002, when Nicholas applies to an exchange student program for his junior year of high school. After being accepted, he is told that he will be living in Tallinn, Estonia, with Paavo and his family for one semester. Then, Paavo will travel to New York to stay with Nicholas’ family for one semester. The two boys, although very different, form a bond that will unite them forever. Their experiences will shape their future in a way that they never thought was possible,

The Faces of Strangers by Pia Padukone is a fascinating book. I usually try not to judge a book by its cover, but this one caught my eye right away. The rainbow of colors are beautiful and bold. Even though I liked the cover of the book right away, I was a little leary about the story line. I don’t usually choose books that are about politics and I rarely find myself reading a book that is set outside of the United States. To be honest, I never heard of Estonia before. Estonia is located in Europe. It is beautiful and surrounded by water. I’m glad I gave The Faces of Strangers a chance. The book hardly spoke about politics and I learned so much about Estonia. I need to continue reading books outside of my comfort zone, I am always pleasantly surprised when I do.

There are quite a few main characters in The Faces of Strangers, not just Paavo and Nico. Both of their families play a huge role in their stories. Nora, Nico’s sister, has a rare disease called prosopagnosia, which is a face recognition disorder. Her story is incredible. I had never heard of this disease before. Paavo’s sister, Mari, is an international model. Paavo’s father, Leo, is Russian. He married Paavo’s mother, who is Estonian. He struggles with his Estonian citizenship, even though he has lived in the country more than half of his life.

I have always been intrigued by exchange students. I was good friends with two in high school. I honestly couldn’t comprehend how hard it was for them until I moved to Korea. Even though I wasn’t an exchange student, I was an adult, I still felt out of place and homesick.  I was surprised that Nico was allowed to drink while he was in Estonia. You’d think there would be program rules about that. Nico’s experience in Estonia was explored more than Paavo’s experience in New York City. I would have liked to read more about how Paavo felt about New York and America in general. I know what it’s like to be a fish out of water in a foreign country, but I don’t know what it’s like to be a fish out of water in America.

The Faces of Strangers is an unique and enjoyable novel. I felt attached to the characters quickly and was sad to see the story come to an end. As for the ending, I was disappointed. I really think there could have been and should have been more to it. With that being said, maybe the author was leaving it open for a follow up novel, something I would definitely want to read. (I know I always have hopes for follow up novels when I am left unsatisfied.)

The Faces of Strangers is Pia Pidukone’s second novel. Her first novel, Where Earth Meet’s Water, is inspired by her real-life experiences. She avoided death at three major horrific events: 9/11, the 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and the Boston bombings. You can read more about Pia Pidukone’s two novels and her life experiences here and on her official website.

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Book Review: Bradstreet Gate by Robin Kirman

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From Goodreads:

Georgia, Charlie and Alice each arrive at Harvard with hopeful visions of what the future will hold. But when, just before graduation, a classmate is found murdered on campus, they find themselves facing a cruel and unanticipated new reality. Moreover, a charismatic professor who has loomed large in their lives is suspected of the crime. Though his guilt or innocence remains uncertain, the unsettling questions raised by the case force the three friends to take a deeper look at their tangled relationship. Their bond has been defined by the secrets they’ve kept from one another—Charlie’s love and Alice’s envy, Georgia’s mysterious affair—and over the course of the next decade, as they grapple with the challenges of adulthood and witness the unraveling of a teacher’s once-charmed life, they must reckon with their own deceits and shortcomings, each desperately in search of answers and the chance to be forgiven.

All things must come to an end. My 2016, streak of loving (or at least enjoying) every book I have read is finally over. Bradstreet Gate by Robin Kirman was a big disappointment. I was really excited to read a murder mystery set at Harvard. I thought, “Oh, this is going to be juicy!” Wrong.

The book started off okay. Ten years after a mysterious murder at Harvard, Georgia, one of the three main characters, is getting ready to pick her husband up from the hospital. Just as she is feeding her baby, a reporter shows up to question her about the murder and the lone suspect that was never charged, which happens to be her ex-lover. The novel then goes back in time to the events leading up to the murder. Once the murder happens, there are a few chapters about it, and then the three main characters continue on with their lives.

I’m not going to lie, I read half the book and then skipped to the end. I could not handle anymore character descriptions of Alice, Charlie, and Georgia. I did like Georgia as a character, but that wasn’t enough to suffer through the boring chapters about Charlie and Alice, anymore. Everything was so detailed and drawn out, it was exhausting to read. The last twenty pages brought the story back to where it began, with Georgia. From there, I was able to push through to the end. The end, by the way, is  just as bad as every other part of this novel. (Assuming the pages I skipped were as dull as the first 150 pages that I did read.)

I really thought Bradstreet Gate would be based around the murder investigation of Julie Patel. That’s not the case. The investigation is just a tiny detail in the grand scheme of things. The lives of Alice, Charlie, and Georgia are the bigger picture. The bigger, boring picture, that is. All three characters have family issues. Georgia has moved from town to town for her entire life. Her father, a famous photographer, was accused of taking inappropriate photos of her when she was a child, which is a whole other story in itself. Charlie grew up in a small military town with a father who likes to berate him for his goals. Alice is the most dysfunctional. She has always looked older and has been feared by her peers. Her family is from Serbia. Her mother barely speaks English, and refuses to learn, and her father died when she was young. So many damaged lives in one story. It was just too much.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

brightFrom Goodreads:

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

Be still, my heart. How can one book tear me a apart and warm my soul all at the same time? All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is one of the saddest novels I have ever read. Yet, at the same time, I found myself laughing and smiling throughout the entire book. It is a story of adventure, tragedy, love, heartbreak, and everything in between. To be honest, I knew I wanted to read this book because it was so popular last year; I had no idea how depressing it was until I started reading.

All the Bright Places goes back and forth between Violet and Fintch’s perspectives. When they meet on the bell tower, a very unusual meet cute, Violet and Finch notice each other, for the first time, beyond their typical high school stereotypes. Violet is popular and Finch has been labeled a “freak” since middle school. Their very unusual friendship turns into something more while they are “wandering” around Indiana.

I adore the project that Violet and Finch are assigned in history class. How many of us have yet to discover all of the great things within the state we live in?  What an amazing opportunity for high school seniors to get out there and explore their state before they potentially go away to college. Violet and Finch go above and beyond the assignment requirements and wander to more than just two unique places in Indiana. They start their quest by traveling to the highest point in Indiana. I have always wanted to go to Indiana since my grandmother grew up there, this book inspired me to think about making a whole vacation out of it. Check out this pinterest board for wanderings in Indiana created by the author, Jennifer Nevin. I love when books continue to impact your life after you read them. That’s inspiring.

Although All the Bright Places is a fun book, it is also very, very serious. Both Violet and Finch have emotional issues that they need help with. They are both depressed for significantly different reasons. Along their journey they help each other through their pain with post-it notes, songs, and friendship. But sometimes, someone just can’t be helped, at least they don’t believe so.

Bullying is real. And I know there are campaigns and health class lectures and counselors, but kids still can’t grasp how their words and actions affect one another. All the Bright Places is very similar to The Fault in Our Stars and, my all time favorite book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It has a message that is so powerful and life altering. It is one of those books that I can see myself reading again and again. All the Bright Places could be the ticket to showing someone that there is so much happiness in this world: so much to live for, so much to do. It could also stop a bully from continuously torturing someone. The message in this book could potentially change someone’s life, forever.

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” Cesare Pavese Pg. 315

Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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It is the summer before senior year. Emily’s best friend, Sloane, has been missing for two weeks. Her and her family disappeared one day and never came back. Sloane’s phone is off and there are no cars in her driveway. Where did they go? Just as Emily is about to tell her parents what happened, thinking they can help, she receives a list from Sloane in the mail, with no return address. Sloane has been sending Emily lists for as long as they’ve been friends. Usually, Emily isn’t able to complete any of the tasks, but this one seemed different. She thinks that maybe if she does every item on the list, she will find Sloane. And so, a summer of unknown begins.

  1. Kiss a stranger.
  2. Go skinny-dipping
  3. Steal something.
  4. Break something.
  5. Penelope.
  6. Ride a dern horse, ya cowpoke.
  7. 55 S. Ave. Ask for Mona.
  8. The Backless Dress. And somewhere to wear it.
  9. Dance until dawn.
  10. Share some secrets in the dark.
  11. Hug a Jamie.
  12. Apple picking at night.
  13. Sleep under the stars.

To you and me, this list may seem confusing, but Emily knows what every item means.

What a fun book. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson is one big crazy summer adventure. When Sloane leaves Emily behind with no explanation, she feels all alone. Emily has every right feel this way because Sloane was her one and only true friend; something she didn’t realize until she was gone. Once Emily begins checking things off Sloane’s list, she starts making friends in unexpected places. Emily is extroverted. She is used to tagging along with Sloane and being known as “Sloane’s friend.” Emily’s summer slowly turns into a season of stepping outside of her comfort zone.

Since You’ve Been Gone is the first Young Adult book I have read this year. I really enjoyed Emily as a character, as well as, Frank Porter, one of her unexpected friends. Frank is the class president and on his way to being valedictorian. He is “perfect” in every way. When Emily goes “apple picking at night” at an orchard where everyone parties, Frank saves her when she desperately needs help. In return, Emily starts running with him. Their awkward friendship made the book even more interesting.

Even though I liked the whole book, including the ending, I just keep thinking there is a lot of things left unsaid. I wish there would have been one more chapter at the end to tie up some loose ends between other characters that weren’t present in the last couple of chapters. I can’t wait to read more of Morgan Matson’s books. Since You’ve Been Gone flowed a lot like one of Sarah Dessen’s books. Her books are usually about friendship, summer, and love, just like this one.

Friday Five

  1. Sunday is the first day of spring. When did that happen? And…it’s supposed to snow…I don’t even want to talk about it. What I do want to talk about is free Rita’s Water Ice. I will be getting mine before the snow. And if I have to, I’ll eat it by our fire. So there old man winter, take that!
  2. This will be my last Bachelor comment of the season: Can you BELIEVE Ben picked Lauren? I would have sworn up and down that him and Jojo were going to “live happily ever after.” I wasn’t going to watch the next Bachelorette season because I thought the new Bachelorette was going to be Caila, but since it’s Jojo, I guess I’ll watch. I need some kind of summer entertainment, right? I do hope Ben and Lauren get married though, they seem to be in love. Even thought Ben loved Jojo, too….
  3. This article had me crying before Jimmie even woke up the other morning. The days are going by so fast. Jimmie will most likely be in daycare come September. And as excited as I am to go back to work after not working for 4 1/2 years, I’m going to miss my baby boy so so much. I am a long time fan of Jessica Garvin and her blog Little Baby Garvin. Lately, I haven’t been digging her blog. But this post was right on point. Mommy guilt hits me all day, every day. Do I play with Jimmie too much? Not enough? Where is the happy medium? But then I think…Does he laugh? Does he smile? Is he healthy? Then I must be doing something right.
  4. I tried out this  zucchini tots  recipe, from Skinny Taste, yesterday when my parents came down for lunch. They were really, really good. My advice: Double the recipe. I could have had SO many more. Jimmie liked them too but he preferred the french toast, recipe compliments of Little Baby Garvin. The overnight french toast was tasty, but it stuck to the pan, hardcore. (Even though I did spray it.)
  5. Jimmie has finally adjusted to DST. We had a rough couple of days with nap refusals. I was starting to think he was going to regress back to January when he didn’t nap for three weeks. But alas, we are back to sleeping soundly. Well, he is at least. I’m hoping to finally get a good night’s sleep after we move. Or, at the very least, in June on our vacation. Something to look forward to, right?

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    The simple things in life: feeling the wind in your face.

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He gets a snack before bed now (instead of milk). I’m pretty sure it is his new favorite time of day.

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Brothers at 22 months