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party time

Today is Baby Beez’ first birthday party.

She doesn’t turn 1 until Labor Day, but we are having the party early because people like to go out of town for Labor Day weekend.  Her party is a very casual picnic at a local park.  The weather seems to be cooperating. That’s good….I didn’t have a rain plan, and we can’t move the party to our house because the basement carpet is all ripped up thanks to last week’s flooding, and the place still smells like mildew.

The party luckily takes minimal preparation.  We picked up Sesame Street decorations last weekend, I’m going to Costco to get food this morning, and we’ve got cake for grown ups and a smash cake for Baby Beez.

Even though I’ve been too busy to even THINK about the party, I have party anxiety. I’m worried I forgot to invite someone, or that some friends might be annoyed or disinterested about attending a 1 year old’s party.  Thanks to college, law school, synagogue, and being busy around Pittsburgh generally, I’ve got a number of different groups of friends, and the circles intersect at different places.  I get worked up over the “oh if I invite this person, I need to invite these other three people, etc etc etc” line of thinking.

I keep reminding myself that THIS IS A 1 YEAR OLD’S BIRTHDAY PARTY.  They are usually small family parties anyway. When have I ever gotten offended about not being invited to a 1 year old’s birthday party? (answer: never). So if I missed someone on the invitation list, IT WILL BE FINE.  We’re not talking about a high society, black tie party. This is a picnic in the park, with Sesame Street cake plates. CHILL OUT.

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10 thoughts on vacationing with a little peanut

Traveling with a small child is difficult.  I’ve got a good handle on packing and coordinating all the millions and millions of things you need to care for a baby, but even with an entire suitcase of toys and enough graham crackers to feed an entire kindergarten class, it’s hard to keep the wee one in a consistently cheery mood while traveling.

The last couple of years Mr. Beez and I have been fortunate enough to take some nice international vacations.  This year, in part because of money and in part because of Baby Beez, we pared things down considerably. We visited my family in California in February to celebrate my grandparents’ 60th Wedding Anniversary, we had a long weekend in Orlando in July, and then we had a long weekend last weekend in Myrtle Beach.

The Orlando trip was so-so.  We had a day in Daytona Beach that was fantastic.

Baby Beez loves the sand.

Other than driving out to the beach, Orlando doesn’t have much to offer for kids under 3.  Myrtle Beach was much better for us.  Our hotel was right on the beach, we went to the Outlets for a bit, and we also went for a stroll on the small boardwalk.

Between these three trips, I’ve learned a few things about traveling with infants (or at least about traveling with my infant).

1. Get a hotel room with a balcony and a nice view.  Unless you’re traveling with a babysitter, you’re not going to be able to go anywhere after the baby goes to bed.  Mr. Beez and I lead hectic enough lives that spending an evening watching TV in a hotel room is welcome and relaxation, but it was especially nice to sit on the balcony and watch the ocean.

2. Expect to get take out for dinner.  Baby Beez usually crashes out between 7 and 8 pm.  During our Orlando trip, we made a few foolish attempts to go out to dinner with Baby Beez in tow.  Her meltdown inevitably came right around our entrees being served.  This resulted in us taking turns shoveling food in our faces as fast as possible, and rocking and soothing the baby.  Mr. Beez and I both have a very low tolerance for fussy babies, including our own, in restaurants.  This was no fun.  During our Myrtle Beach trip we mostly did take out.  Aside from an episode where I called the wrong location of a restaurant with our order and we unnecessarily spent an hour in the car, take out worked much much better.  We were able to get Baby Beez into bed when she was tired and eat like grown ups, and without the stress over disturbing other diners.

3.  Expect your sleep will be interrupted.  Baby Beez has been sleeping through the night probably since she was like 16 weeks old.  She’s almost a year now. I’m not used to this wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night garbage anymore.  When we’re traveling, she wakes up and gets disoriented and upset.  I wish I had brilliant advice for coping with this, or better yet avoiding it, but I don’t.  Mr. Beez and I pretty much split the middle of the night childcare, but it still sucked.

4.  Bring what you need for the airplane, and buy the rest there.  Unless you’re going to an all inclusive, there’s probably going to be a Target, Wal Mart, Walgreens, CVS, grocery store, whatever nearby.  You can get the diapers, wipes, baby food, etc you’ll need for the whole trip once you get there.  It makes things a lot easier, and you don’t have the stress over forgetting something, because you’re already planning that you’ll have to get most things there.

5.  If you’re visiting family, see if they’re willing to ask around to borrow baby stuff.  Smaller babies need a lot more stuff than bigger babies.  When we visited my family in February, Baby Beez was small enough that playmats and exersaucers were a big part of her activity.  My mom asked around and was able to borrow a pack & play, carseat, playmat, infant tub, and exersaucer.  It was such a help.  We could have made it fine without most of these things, but bringing them with us just wasn’t an option, and having them available made life so much easier.

6.  Umbrella stroller.  Best invention ever.  It’s so light and easy to transport, and they’re so cheap that you don’t have to worry about it getting stolen or broken.

7.  Don’t expect do a whole lot.  Baby Beez naps a lot. Most babies do.  She usually takes 2 naps a day that are 1-2 hours each.  We can consolidate them into one nap with little objection from her, but that nap is going to be a long one.  As much as I like to go-go-go-go during vacation, that’s just not an option.  I used her naptime to nap, read, look at the internets, and watch TV.  Going into the trip knowing we were going to have a large chunk of mandatory downtime helped me feel like we weren’t missing out on something.

8.  Remember to bring the swim diapers!  Swimming is probably the easiest and most accessible vacation activity.  Almost every hotel has a pool.  Baby Beez loves the water, and I love our swimming time together.

9.  “Kid friendly” doesn’t necessarily mean “baby friendly.”  I didn’t really think it through when we decided to go to Orlando.  I assumed that since Orlando’s such a kid-oriented place, we’d easily find tons of things to do with Baby Beez.  Well, babies can’t really do much.  She’s too small to ride on much of anything at an amusement park,  she’s too small to watch any kind of show, and she’s too little for most of the kid activities you’d find in hands-on kids places like children’s museums, etc.  We had much more success in planning activities on our Myrtle Beach trip, because I had a much better grasp on what she can do– pretty much go swimming with me, play on the beach, ride in the stroller, and play with her toys.  We focused our time on those activities, and had a much nicer trip.  Here we are riding the (enclosed) Sky Wheel in Myrtle Beach!

  

MAMA IS SUPERIOR.

10.  I want this list to be 10 items long. But I can’t think of anything else.  Oh yeah, remember to take pictures.  We got super cute pictures of Baby Beez when we went to Daytona Beach, but when we went to Myrtle Beach I completely forgot to take any pictures of Baby Beez on the beach.  Whoops.

But here’s a super cute picture I took in our hotel room when someone was very tired but did not want to go to sleep.  This picture makes me smile so big

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Teaching children gratitude

Baby Beez will be turning 1 on Labor Day.  With her upcoming birthday party, I’ve been fielding questions left and right asking “What does she want for her birthday?”

Before I get into the more thoughtful questions, Mr. Beez and I are getting Baby Beez this awesome dino scooter for her birthday.  I’m totally excited about it.  Posting it here doesn’t ruin the surprise. She can’t read. Or use the internet. I think.

This question is so much trickier than it looks. There’s the obvious issue of how you determine what a pre-verbal infant “wants” (or if she wants, or is even capable of wanting anything), but that’s the least of my worries since it’s pretty obvious she’d be happy with anything. Actually, she’d be the most happy with a Costco pack of Kleenex that she can pull and pull and pull out of the box. Or a basket of clean, folded laundry. She’s a champ at destroying that. We are fortunate in that she really does have everything she needs.  The only things that I could think of that she could really use (a sandbox, and baby gates) were quickly picked up by other family members.  The child doesn’t want for anything.

The harder issue is that I want to teach her gratitude.  I want her to learn that she should not expect gifts, and that she should be thankful for what she has.  Gratitude is too abstract for her to master for a long time, but we need to start laying the foundation for it now with appropriate conduct.  This is sometimes very hard for me, because I know that I have a very bad habit of spoiling her.  It’s not uncommon that we’ll be walking through a store and something colorful will catch her attention, and then I buy it for her because she likes it.  She’s too young to ask for anything, and she wouldn’t know the difference if I didn’t buy those random toys for her.  This bad habit is completely my fault and I need to knock it off before it fosters bad behavior.

I read this article about teaching gratitude, and I’ve never been entirely convinced that forcing your kid to eat scraped toast because there are starving Armenians is an effective method to teach gratitude.  It is absolutely worthwhile to be conscious of suffering in the world, and that there are others who don’t have as much.  You can teach about these issues separately, and appropriately.  Looking to the suffering of others to justify your own satisfaction troubles me.  I feel like there has to be some way to teach gratitude without relying on “At least you’re not so-and-so, they have it so much worse.”  If you have this answer, I’m all ears.