Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On Air Travel with an Infant


DOMESTIC FLIGHTS

We were forewarned that flying with an infant would present new challenges. What to do if she was unable to equalise the pressure in her ears? What if she screamed for the entire flight? What if she became frightened by the sound of the engines? How would we manage if she became ill? How could we ensure her comfort whilst she sat on my lap?

Thankfully, we packed for as many different scenarios as possible, with our central focus being on helping her to equalise during ascent and descent.

Here's what we included in our carry-on luggage:

Natural rubber teethers x 2 (a spare in a clear container) and a clip to tether to her clothes
Baby bottle with filtered water
Large muslin
Cardigan
Spare napppies and baby wipes
Hand sanitiser
Soft baby rattle
Spare change of clothes

Her first flight was, thankfully, a breeze. She breastfed during our taxi to the end of the runway and was asleep before the rumble of the engines and the familiar feeling of inertia pressed us firmly into our seats. We flew domestically, a short flight of only 45 minutes from take off until landing. She slept for the entire duration and only blinked as our fellow passengers began to disembark at our city destination.

The return flight was however, a very different story. A storm cell passed overhead as we arrived at the airport. As predicted, this caused a short delay to our flight and so we retired to a food court where Byron and I dined on Mexican fast food in front of floor to ceiling windows overlooking the grounded planes and dismal, grey sky. Love breastfed as I picked at vegetarian nachos and slept for almost 45 minutes (if you're familiar with baby naps, you will know this to equal one sleep cycle).

As soon as we entered the aircraft it became apparent that there was something seriously wrong with the air-conditioning as it was like stepping into an overcrowded sauna. This then created fresh challenges as we needed to remove a few clothing layers, which can be quite tricky with a wriggly baby in a confined space. Thankfully, we had dressed her in sensible layers, which buttoned down the front, rather than needing to pull a sweater off over her head.

The infant seatbelt was very easy to use, it has a small loop stitched into the centre of the belt, which slips over your own seatbelt so that in an event of an emergency, you only need to unclick your own seatbelt and hers will slide right off.

We didn't request a bassinet as Baby Love is generally more comfortable in my arms, which is where she needs to be in order to breastfeed and let's face it, the bassinet is unfamiliar in appearance, feel and scent.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts and planning, babies just don't feel comfortable on planes. The descent can be particularly challenging if your baby won't drink (either formula or from the breast) and so, small sips of water really do help her to equalise her ear pressure.


INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS

I've compiled a very handy list for international plane travel with your baby. The list is divided into PLANNING and PACKING, with a link to a video we created, detailing our own experiences flying to Borneo with Baby Love.

PLANNING

Travel documents
Eat a light meal
Hydrate
Medications/ Supplements
Sunscreen
Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS)
Claiming Duty Free
QR Code App
Go to the Toilet
Rest
Share Travel Itinerary with Friends/ Family
House Minding
Online Check-In or Arrive Early to Check-In
Reserve an Aisle and Window Seat
Request to Block Middle Seat
Multi Plug Adapter

PACKING

5,4,3,2,1 Packing Rule
Non-Plastic Reusable Water Bottle
Fresh Water
Baby Formula
Carry On Luggage
Water
Natural Baby Wipes
Hand Sanitizer
Non-Aerosl Face Mist/ Moisturiser
Lip Balm
Eye Drops
Toothpaste & Toothbrush
Nappies
Layers
New Toy/ Baby Mobile Apps
Camera
Laptop
Spare Change of Baby Clothes
Baby Carrier
Camera + Charger, Spare Battery, Memory Cards
Laptop + Hard Drive
Baby Care
Pack Extra:
Nappies
Wipes
Socks
Singlets
Baby Carrier (We Used Ergobaby and Sakura Bloom)
Travel Padlock

Be sure to check out our video on our YouTube channel and please share with us your top baby and toddler travel essentials in the comments below.

HAPPY TRAVELS!


As a side note, I cannot quite believe how much Baby Love has grown from her first flights, back in April (pictures 1 and 2) to her most recent flights (picture 3) at the beginning of August. Has it really been four months?!

Friday, August 14, 2015

33/52 Happy First Birthday Sweet Baby Love


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Happy first birthday my little Love. Your Papa and I are so very grateful for your bright, bubbly laughter, your natural curiosity for all animals and the world outside, your gorgeous wide chocolate eyes, your warm cuddles, your husky first words, your wobbly (assisted) first steps, your kindness towards others and your youthful, happy personality.
You're a bit quirky, a bit cheeky, very funny and oh! So lovable.

This has been the greatest year of our lives and we owe it all to you. Thank you for teaching us patience and how to love more deeply than we ever imagined possible before you came into our lives.
Here's to many more birthdays! I hope they are as fun as your jungle party!

Happy birthday!

Joining Jodi and friends

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Economical Winter Heating


Keeping warm without blowing the budget... How can it be done? I had written this post a few weeks ago, but then the air began to feel warmer with the first hint of spring. Suddenly, we find ourselves in the midst of another winter snap and I feel that now is the time to share these helpful tips.

A little while ago I posted a question on my Facebook page, asking 'What are your best tips for keeping warm, whilst keeping heating costs low?'

Answers included:
• Two dressing gowns, ugg boots and a wheat bag with a hot drink lol
• Wheat bag,massive blanket and warm bed socks knitted ones are the best!
• Hot water bottle.. :)

The general theme of adding layers of clothing or blankets with the addition of a small item that can be reheated to provide additional warmth were very useful suggestions, but what about heating the entire home?

• Taking advantage of the Sun's rays is probably the best, most economical heating idea to date. Each morning I open the shutters and blinds on our north, west and eastern facing windows to allow the natural light to spill in and naturally heat our living areas and bedrooms. I make sure to close the blinds and shutters again at sunset to retain the heat.
• Close the door! Keep doors and windows closed when you need to prevent the freezing air from entering your home. This tip is also useful if you have a fire, heater or air-conditioner running and you don't want to waste your money on heating unused guest rooms.
• Door snakes/ draft-stoppers. These underrated items came in very handy when I lived in Armidale during my university years. Not only did they prevent the chilly winter draft from entering my home under the front door, but they also prevented heat loss to the spare rooms and around the window sill (in older homes). Here's a handy tutorial on how to make your own.
• Slippers and socks. Keep your tootsies warm with thick, woollen socks, or knitted ones as suggested by my friend, Candice.
• House orientation. For those who are in the exciting design stages of their family home, the orientation of the home takes into consideration the position of your home in relation to the seasonal variations of the Sun's path and prevailing wind patterns. The yourhome.gov.au site contains helpful information to ensure your home is energy efficient.
• Tea. I was't much of a tea drinker when I was younger but will never pass up the opportunity to gently cradle a steaming hot cup of tea during the autumn and winter months.
• Layers. Think scarves and beanies for outdoor adventures. Tuck singlets into pants (and pants into socks before bed), spare your shorter midriff baring clothes for the warmer months. Sometimes gloves, thick socks and jackets are also required. Try to maintain your warmth from bed to breakfast. If you allow yourself to cool before adding layers, then you may find yourself reaching for the heater or air-conditioner remote sooner and we're trying to avoid overuse of these heaters.
• Wash your clothes in the morning to ensure you make the most of the available warm light to dry your clothes. Clothes dryers are expensive to run. We avoid using one altogether by drying clothes inside on clothes horses on rainy days. Keep the clothes horse by the window or near your internal heat source (but not too close to avoid fire danger).
• The humble oven. I like to bake, especially in the cooler months but why run the oven for one cake? If I play on baking, I try to be organised so that I can bake my cake, then roast my dinner vegetables immediately afterwards to take advantage of the preheated oven. The heat emitted from the oven itself warms our combined kitchen and living areas and who doesn't love the smell of dessert or dinner baking away?
• Lay an extra blanket over your baby's floor mat to keep them warm on the ground as they play.


• If you are clever enough to work out how much electricity you use during daylight hours and you have a home solar system, try to consume as much of your solar power as possible during the daylight hours. Use the oven during the day, set a timer for your washing machine, switch off unused appliances at night. Solar Choice is a useful site to help you to figure out the size of the solar system required to power your home.

Possibly my favourite tip for saving money during the cooler months is by booking your family holiday! Confused yet?


With the money you can save by following these helpful tips, book early bird travel specials and travel during next year's winter. You could avoid heating your house altogether as you splash about in the tropical waters of a pristine island paradise, like we did recently with my younger sister, Crystal.

Please feel free to share this post and your own economical winter heating tips in the comments below.

Bella xx

Sunday, July 26, 2015

30/52 Going Tropical


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Baby Love: This is her reaction to discovering a secret beach after trekking 45 minutes through the sticky, warm jungle in the Ergobaby... Ahh the joys of splashing about in the crystal clear waters of this Malaysian island paradise!

Sunday, June 21, 2015


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Sniffles

Our home is warm. The shutters and blinds are drawn just before the sun dips low in the sky to maintain the heat in our bedrooms and the upstairs lounge. Garlicky pumpkin and potato soup bubbles away on the stove top whilst Byron plays with Love in her new playpen. She seems content to sit in his lap as he turns pages of her books.

Every few minutes or so I stride across the room, wielding a soft tissue to dab at her tiny nose. No wonder she was restless last night. I didn't sleep a wink either, some kind of evolutionary keen mama hearing prevented me from relaxing as I watched over the rise and fall of her body's outline in the darkness.


Despite the nasty cold, she's still as sweet as usual. I hope it passes soon.

Get well soon, baby girl.

xx

25/52 Typically Red Pixie Hat


Oh how adorable our little Love looks with her soft chocolate locks poking out from beneath her new deep red pixie hat. Many thanks to the lovely Greer Worsley for hand knitting this beautiful woollen hat in time for our chilly wintry beach walk and also to Jodi Wilson for hosting the Typically Red giveaway on her blog, Practising Simplicity. Don't you just love the colour? I've posted more photos here.

Oceans of love,

Bella xx

Saturday, June 20, 2015

We Have a Climber : Baby-Proofing the Home

When I was a young girl, my mother took me to see the circus when it came to town. I recall driving passed as they were setting up the big top and my mother telling me that the animals and trapeze artists were here to perform a stupendous show. It was a travelling circus and we lived in a small seaside town so it was a popular event to attend. Tickets cost more than a movie admission or entry to the annual town show, so it was considered a treat.

On the afternoon of the show, my mother dressed me for the occasion. I cannot recall the clothing she chose but I do remember that there were several outfits reserved for special occasions and it was one of those. Excitement gradually bubbled up from deep within my belly as the giant red and white tent came into view through my backseat car window. The suspense caused my heart to pound as we circled the temporary carpark on the grassy reserve.

After climbing out of the car, I remember holding my mother's hand as she led me through the crowd towards the main entrance. I recall seeing some other kids from school with their families, the setting sun, some food stalls, some elephants secured to metal pickets with ankle collars and heavy chains near large semi-trailers and lions pacing, heads lowered behind thick cages. Up ahead we could see the ticket booth and a long queue. I also recall seeing smaller cages with people crammed inside, screaming as they shook handwritten posters stating something about wild animals belonging in the wild, not in cages.

Those people seemed sad and angry. I remember asking my mother what they were doing and her shushing me, and hurrying me along in front of her, grasping my hand a little too tightly for my comfort. She told me not to look at those people.

Of course, being told not to look at those angry, sad faces made me curious and so I stared at them in bewilderment as my mother half-carried me, half-dragged me inside the humongous tent.

When the lights dimmed and a single spotlight shone down on the Ringmaster as he announced the various acts, I continued to hold onto her hand. At the intermission, I met up with a girl from my grade in school. We played around under the elevated seats, racing between the metal bars, giggling hysterically. At one point my mother found me and scolded me for missing the show which she had paid 'good money' for us to see. We returned to our seats for the next acts. Lions leaped through hoops, elephants balanced on blocks of wood, which teetered on metal cylinders. A small boy, probably about my age made three failed attempts at a double backflip in the air, missing the catcher's waiting arms on the trapeze. Each time he fell gracefully to the net and climbed the ladder to the top of trapeze platform to a rolling drumbeat. I recall thinking that I would like to fly on the trapeze, to juggle five shiny swords at once and to breathe fire.

More animal acts followed and as the crowd gasped and cheered with the baby elephant as it ran about the ring, being chased by a man with a whip I recall feeling pity for the scared little animal.

That was the first time in my life that I remember feeling like what was happening to that elephant in front of me was wrong.

It would be another year or two before I would understand what those people in their makeshift cages were doing. They were protesting for the rights of those poor circus animals. Wild animals belonged in the wild, not in cages.

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170/365

It starts innocently enough. She simply pulls her tiny body into a standing position, using the louvres as rungs on a ladder...


The giveaway is her bubbly big toe. Such a beautiful, flexible big toe rising...


Next, she splays out her tiny toes, like the limbs of a sugar glider as it takes flight.


Before I've had time to react, she has started to climb. Nowhere is safe. Time to baby-proof this house.

We've turned a corner. More specifically, Love has rounded that corner at top crawling speed. It seems like only a week ago that she began to drag her tiny body by first crossing her arms out in front of her, grasping her blanket and pulling her body until her shoulders were above her elbows, occasionally using her tiny toes to propel herself forward; the creeper. I managed to capture that first crawl with a time-lapse movie on my iPhone, which you can see here on my instagram @seaandsalt.

She then progressed to the wounded solider, the same movement but dragging one leg behind her. From this position, she discovered she could balance on both her palms and her knees, with her body parallel to the floor. Soon she began to rock until she figured out that she could get around on her hands and knees and so she swaps between the wounded solider and the criss-cross crawl. You know the one, where she moves the opposite knee and hand in unison. No sooner had she mastered the crawl then she was across the room in a flash. She's stealthy too, a little quiet blur that can cover more ground than any normal human. She's a curious, fast baby crawling blur.

She can pull herself up too. She's not quite standing unaided but she'll use anything, anything to assist herself to the standing position. Shutters, the dehumidifier, the cat, Papa's face (by grasping his nose and hair), the free-standing butcher's block in the kitchen (with the sharp metal edges), the clean, unfolded mound of washing in the basket... Here I was thinking that she would progress to her first steps in a month or two but she did that at the same time! Stepping by steadying herself on her cot rail, or the lounge.

No, no. This girl won't settle for walking. She needs to climb.

And so at ten months we reluctantly purchased a baby barrier, a playpen, an enclosure. I was against it at first, I felt guilt-ridden on the way to inspect it. I ended up sitting in the backseat of the car to breastfeed baby Love in the warm winter sunshine as Byron carried the brightly coloured wooden structure back to the car. On the way home I bit at my fingernail as I watched her sleep peacefully. She's not meant to be in a cage, I thought to myself.

'Are we doing the right thing? I mean, I don't want to become complacent and place her in her playpen whenever I need to hang the washing or cook dinner or fold the washing' I said to Byron.
'You won't', he soothed me. 'It's just to protect her when you need to be away from her for a short time.'

He assembled the six rail sections on the kitchen floor. Initially, Love played on her blankets as the midday sun filtered through the windows but her interest in what we were doing peaked as he started to screw the rail brackets in place. Our little super-baby came scampering across the floor, narrowly missing the corner of the bulky butcher's block leg in her haste. All six sides were slotted together to form a large hexagon. Both of us, her parents, were seated inside as our baby began to climb the blue rail from the outside. I laughed at the irony of two parents seated inside a playpen as the baby tried to scale one edge to climb in, shouldn't it be the other way around?

As expected, Love tried to assist with the screwdriver. She's a helpful girl. Then she tried to chew it. She's also teething.

When it was securely fitted together, we carried the tri-coloured hexagon across the room and lowered it over her blankets. Byron then lowered her inside and she sat inside happily playing with her cardboard books, oblivious to the fact that she was, for want of a better word, contained.

My guilt washed away when I realised that she was happy to do her own thing anyway. Byron then lowered Coco dog into the playpen (is that some kind of dog rite-of-passage?) and she sat on the border of one of the corners, facing the baby with a concerned expression, possibly hoping to be rescued by me.

After Byron left for work and I had successfully, without interruption scrubbed the kitchen, cooked our lunch and dinner, unloaded the dishwasher and sung to Love every nursery rhyme that has miraculously been stored in the darkest holes in my mind (where was this amazing memory ability when I had my statistics exams?), I climbed in to join her. Sure, I watched her as I moved about the kitchen but she didn't seem to mind being in her playpen and so my body language didn't betray my fearful thoughts that I might be treating her like a wild animal broken by circus cages.

We sat together, her preoccupied with her toys, turning to show me what she was holding from time to time with a serious 'Oh' or 'Ooo' sound. I kissed her head, talked to her, read her stories and folded the washing from inside the playpen.

I may never take her to the circus but we will take her to see animals in the wild and in rehabilitation programs, beginning with the wild orang-utans of Borneo next month.

We will teach her that animals belong in their natural habitat, that those habitats should be protected and that our environment is worth more than any temporary financial gain.

We will also continue to baby-proof our home in the safest ways possible to keep her out of harms way.

Do you have any handy baby-proofing or child-proofing ideas? Any money-wise, thrifty tips to keep your little ones out of harm?

Please share in the comments. I'd love to hear what works best.

Bella xx

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