Posts Tagged ‘ Airplane ’

My TV Addicted Toddler

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect

I’m getting closer and closer to having an official television addict. Hope to have mission accomplished by our next flight in about 6 weeks. This last one showed great promise, ie: tantrums on takeoff and touchdown (when DVD players aren’t allowed). Once airborne, there were chunks of quiet time–mesmerized by Baby Einstein videos–followed by throwing objects when it ended.

Things that still need to be refined: teaching her to not take her headphones off. This will eliminate the meltdown that happens from lack of sound. Making her understand that the eject button is her worst enemy. When pressed it leads to reloading the whole DVD, which leads to great frustration when I can’t fast forward through the FBI copyright warning.

There are a few more, but all in all, I think she’s getting it. We’ll practice more in the coming weeks from home since I find feeding her is far easier when she is watching television. In 20 years she can blame me at her Video Anonymous meetings, but until then, I’m taking the road of least resistance.

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September 11th: The 10-Year Anniversary

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

I was in the air when the first plane hit. Three minutes later I landed in Newark, oblivious to the world collapsing.  Twelve hours later I would make my way to our apartment and fall, sobbing into my husband’s arms. Oblivion replaced by sorrow.

We had just moved to New York City 3 weeks prior.  Phil was about to start his Master’s in film at Columbia.

My flight on September 11th was supposed to be at noon. I was traveling home from a Food Network appearance in Cincinnati.  For some reason at the last minute I decided to change to the 6 a.m. flight. Unbeknownst to me, karma was on my side.

As our plane descended I distinctly remember looking out the window and seeing the towers. I remember feeling so lucky—so alive–to be living in this great city and starting this new adventure.

At that point in my life, kids were not part of the plan. I had no interest.

In the days following the attacks, I mourned like the rest of the country. Shell-shocked by the hate, inspired by the love.

Years went by and September 11th became part of me, just like it did for most of us. It was always there, serving as a timeline in life. “That was before 9/11.” or “That was after 9/11….”

On December 2, 2009, Fia came into our world. The cocoon we created during our stay in the hospital was nothing short of magical, even surreal. It was a bubble of warmth, safety and love.  I felt panicked when it was time to go home. I knew nothing about taking care of a baby.

Phil and I gingerly loaded her into our rented car. I got in the back with her and we began the trek from 168th and Broadway to Brooklyn. It was snowing. Phil drove about 40 mph down the West Side highway. We were paranoid new parents.

When we passed Ground Zero I looked out the window and began to feel a heaviness like I’ve never felt before. It was deep and sad. It carried the responsibility and burden of bringing a life into this world.  It said, “This is a dangerous place full of hate. Why did you do this to something you love so much?” It said, “This is an unworthy world. You are selfish.” Had I been standing, this profound pain would have taken me to my knees. I tried to push it away and force happy thoughts. As I looked down at my tiny, sweet baby I thought, She has no idea what her world outside the womb is.  But it’s my job to teach her. And love her no matter what.

I believe it was at that moment that the real burden of parenthood began.  I carry it with honor, understanding and respect. I’m on my 21st month now and will continue to carry it as long as I’m lucky enough to walk this world. This is life and it is fleeting. It is only by the grace of god, go I.

First Moments

First Moments

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Babies on Board First Class

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Flying first class is a treat. Who wouldn’t love to do it? But unless you have miles or elite status on the airlines, you pay a pretty penny. And for most of us, it simply isn’t worth the cost.

Recently two airlines decided to ban babies from first class.  More are considering it. And the polls in both these highlighted arguments are strongly in favor.

In my pre-baby days I would have absolutely 100% applauded this decision. And I must say, I agree with it 90% now. I mean, if I paid thousands of dollars for a ticket and had to contend with a screaming infant, how could I not be furious? (there is a tiny part of me that thinks, “But what if she were really good on the flight? But it’s not something you can predict.)

Fia has been on about 30 flights so far. Every family member is a plane ride away and my husband’s work often takes him to LA for chunks of time. So she’s even made the cross-country flight twice. But she was smaller–about 6 months. And slept most of the way.

Now, at 19 months, it is simply not fun to fly. I dread it.

If you are bold (or oblivious, or unconcerned) enough to think first class is your “right”–even with the chance of your baby melting down–then I have two suggestions:

  • Should your child act out, be willing to trade your seat for someone in coach. I find bulkhead to be pretty great, because you can put a blanket on the floor and let them crawl a bit, without kicking the seat in front of them, etc. It may even calm them down.
  • Divide and conquer with your spouse. One of you sits in first class with the baby. The other in coach. If your baby begins to scream or fuss, then take him to the back. At least this way you’re covered.
One of our better flights

One of our better flights

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Flying with Fia–not so fun

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

I think I have to stop flying–at least until Fia learns to love television. Neither scenario thrills me. But at 18 months, it is becoming exhausting. I don’t dare take a night flight, because if she doesn’t sleep everyone will despise me. Plus, she is a very specific sleeper. (For naps: only in stroller in bathroom with lights off and fan on. At night: only in crib. She can also climb out of the pack n play, which now makes hotel stays difficult.)

So daytime flights are it. Problem is, it’s her time to be on the go. But on the plane, she has to sit. I don’t let her roam around, crawl on the floor or kick the seats in front of her. That would make me the person I used to hate. I refuse to be that oblivious/obnoxious parent. She’s allowed to crawl on me/my seat and that’s it. However, it’s soon going to drive me to drink…or at least drink more than I already do.

Case in point: On a recent flight I took this self-portrait.

Why flying with a baby isn't so fun

After 2 hours of trying to get her to nap, she finally succumbed. I was both shocked and victorious. Problem was, she slept on me. There I sat for 90 long minutes, scrunched against the window, knees up, legs spread. I looked like I was at the gynecologist or giving birth.  I sat right by the bathroom, so many a passenger got a glimpse.

I also had this stupid cough that came out every time I lied down–or scrunched– as the case was here. I knew I couldn’t chance my stomach lurching up and waking her. I managed to reach into the diaper bag with one arm and find the organic lollipops to suck on. I had searched all over town for them– much to my husband’s annoyance. At least that mission wasn’t a complete waste of time.

My tip of the day from this trip: don’t wear jeans with holes in the crotch. That was my only saving grace. And don’t travel alone with an 18-month old. Wait until they are well on they way to becoming addicts of television or better yet, portable video games. And by the way parents of older babes–when does that milestone happen? I need to have some sort of travel to look forward to.

fi in suitcase

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What Travel Does For Me…And Fi

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Before I had Fia, travel was my lifeblood. It sustained me, gave me purpose and left me humbled. No matter how harried or remote the trip, I would always come back grateful for having gone; for having left my comfort zone and experienced life a different way. It never let me down.

From the moment we started dating, Phil and I were on the same page. We wanted big careers and a life of globetrotting. We implicitly agreed that kids weren’t going to be part of our equation. To make a long story short, it was upon our return from Mali, West Africa a few Christmas’s ago that we realized maybe life wasn’t all about exploring the next country. Maybe it was about creating and adding more to the life we had here. And perhaps in the process, god-willing, raise a good child who would do good things.

So now we have Fi. And my globetrotting consists of taking her to Kidville for wiggle-giggle, keeping her from getting mangled by the cat or falling on the steps, and all the other joys that go along with parenthood.  And I dig it. Far more than getting my passport stamped. But now I am realizing I can have both. No need to choose.

When I took a trip to Belize a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure if I’d be homesick and heartbroken leaving Fi. Turns out I was neither, but unlike other trips, I didn’t want to race off to another country or adventure before returning home. Five days was the perfect amount of time and just enough to make me feel alive again in my travel shoes.

It was also important for me to know that Fia could survive without me for that short time. In fact, I had my blackberry all programmed to send and receive texts, thinking I’d torture my sitters hourly. No such luck. (I’m sure they were quite saddened). We were 3 hours away from the airport in the middle of the rainforest. And once I accepted the reality that there would be NO SIGNAL, I immersed myself in all the joy and empowerment that travel brings to my life.

(Once a day I borrowed someone’s computer at the lodge in exchange for a drink and did a quick check of email. Click here to see what was happening on the home front.)

On the drive to Black Rock Lodge we passed little villages, roadside stands, and fruit and vegetable peddlers. We saw people walking along the side of the road, and waiting for the bus (many don’t own cars).  Just day-to-day activity. Life. But it was that, and things as simple as billboards and store signs that re-ignited something dormant in me.  It’s different. It fascinates. It stimulates.

Once there, we were truly in the wilderness, at a place that is completely self-sustaining, meaning they generate their own electricity and grow their own food. Check out the website to see how they do it. (Luckily they do bring in alcohol and had a fully stocked bar).

One of the women who worked the reception desk was 8-months pregnant. She had a lively spirit. Good juju. She was married to one of the managers and they live in a cabin on the property.

“How are you going to get to the hospital when you go into labor?” I asked, barely able to mask my alarm (the 7-mile road off the main highway is barely that—it could better be described as a rocky, pockmarked bike path).

She shrugged and said, “Well, hopefully I’ll labor here for awhile, and we’ll leave in time to get to the hospital.”

Of course.  What is wrong with me? I’m rusty. I had to pinch myself to remember that most of the world isn’t privy to weekly ultrasounds, hospitals within five minutes and the insistence on getting a “private bed” after delivery. By most standards, Belize is up there. She had had an ultrasound (they’re having a girl. Congrats!). And they do have the capability to perform C-sections, etc.  So while it’s different, (and I think fair to say, more bare-bones) it’s not without modern amenities.

As I hear the whir of my washer, I laugh at how good—no, I shouldn’t say good, that’s relative—about how easy I have it. In Belize, this is what we passed one day.

Baby in a Bucket

Baby in a Bucket

It’s brilliant in that it reminds me why travel is so crucial to my life. It snaps me out of my mom-self world and into one where Exersaucers, bottle sanitizers and wipe warmers aren’t part of the vocabulary. I need to make sure I never lose that perspective or become so self-absorbed that my awareness for the bigger picture disappears.

My hope is that when Fia is a little older, she’ll understand why occasionally Mom needs the adrenaline rush that comes from setting foot in unfamiliar territory. And I hope she’ll want to strap a bag on her back, take my hand, and go crossing borders with me. I bet she’ll love it as much I do.

Quick Update: Before I left, I wrote about how worried I was that Fia would miss me. I’m happy to report that she didn’t! As for that magical reunion when I thought she’d squeal with delight? Well, that didn’t happen either. I got home late and picked her up out of her crib. She looked at me, blinked, and then fell back asleep. The next morning (at 6 a.m.), my grand entrance was met with her usual crib stance, hands out, calling for the cat. Seriously. Wayne Sanchez even trumps me when I go on vacation.

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