Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Are YOU ready for the BIG one?

This is #1 in a series of posts with a practical tip buried inside:

We had a 5.4 earthquake here in the Greater Los Angeles area today. We are fine, thanks for asking. But the hot topic seems to be earthquake preparedness: Are you ready for the BIG one??? My mom calls from Boston to see if I'm ok. "Yes, Lulu and I barely noticed." Then she asks, "Where would you go? What would you do?" "Well, " I say, "I think I would shelter in place considering I live in a city of about 8 million people who all have about two cars a piece. If everyone got in their car to escape, I don't think we'd collectively get further than our driveways." "Oh", she says. Then I suggest, "Well, we live so close to the beach, I could walk down there and maybe they would evacuate us via the water." Then she exclaims, "NO, not the beach! Tsunami!" Ok, I guess she has a point.

I have a couple 5 gallon jugs of water for my water cooler, I get this delivered bi-weekly mainly so I have emergency water. We have a decent supply of canned foods and a manual can opener. A radio that doesn't need batteries, a camp stove, a good variety of non-perishable snack foods and a flashlight. We should be good for a few days. If we are at home for the BIG one.

But, what, if you are in your car, not close to home, when the BIG one hits? If you are the typical Angeleno, you very well could be in your car, stuck in traffic and wearing flip flops. Yeah, not exactly practical footwear if you need to get out and walk. So here is my practical tip: leave a pair of sensible shoes in the trunk of your car in case you have to get out and walk when the BIG one hits. I have a pair in the back of the minivan.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wiseguy at my door

Joe walked in and looked like he'd just walked off an episode of the Sopranos--sounded like it, too. In his e-mail, he'd offered to meet in a public place--I said no need. He paid in cash and took everything.

He oohed and ahhhed over my Ralph Lauren sleepers and was impressed with my selection of European baby clothes. I explained my MIL lives in Sweden. He was interested to hear about European sizing. Finally, I had to ask where he was from, the accent was familiar. "Rhode Island", he says.

Ah-ha! My tribe! I spent my formative years in Providence, RI. We went back and forth about all the Only-In-Rhode-Island stuff People-From-Rhode-Island talk about when they find themselves face to face with one of their own Far-From-Rhode-Island. And yeah, the Italian Food in LA sucks. Find me some decent marinara sauce. Please.

We had only exchanged e-mails previously. On a hot tip from one of my mommy message boards, I heard about this Joe, a guy who buys baby clothes to re-sell on Ebay. I was all over it, dying to unload Chip's 0-18 mos wardrobe. I asked why he offered to meet me in a public place, which I had thought a bit "odd" when I read it in his e-mail. He tells me that when he talks to moms on the phone, he has found out that his voice and accent are somewhat intimidating. So he has gotten in the habit of offering to meet someplace neutral. [Ok, I guess he does sound really intimidating] He explains he just likes selling baby clothes. He paid cash. I ask no more questions.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Flying with Junior

Since Chip and Lulu have racked up quite a few frequent flier miles in their short lives, I'm frequently asked for tips on "flying with baby". I should charge you for this info, but, I'm feeling generous, so here ya go, for free, my tips gathered from my many jaunts in the friendly skies (yeah, right):

1. At security you will need to take baby out of car seat and put that and stroller and EVERYTHING through the x-ray machine. You carry baby in your arms thru metal detector. I’ve even had TSA ask me to remove my baby’s shoes. Be prepared and just take your time and don’t stress about people in line behind you.

2. bring stroller and car seat to gate even if you didn't buy them a seat, there may be an empty seat and you will be happy to have the seat.

3. You don't need the car seat base so leave it at home (most people don't realize this!). If you have an infant seat, just put the seatbelt over the top on the slots. (for car and plane)

4. If the plane is full, you can gate check the stroller (you always check this) and carseat. You get a gate check at the counter by the gate, stop there and ask for it. Also, ask at gate about seats, they may move you to a better row that has free seats b/c you have baby. Always, ASK! When you get to the door of the plane, leave the stroller folded there and somebody will come up to grab it to put under plane. Try to get car seat on plane anyway, get a stewardess to stick it someplace if poss, otherwise, gate check it. Take off anything that could get lost like toys and cupholders. I have been lucky w/ both babies in that I've always gotten empty seats when I had the infant seat. If airline doesn't have "preboard" for people w/ kids, ask if you can anyway.

5. Give your baby a bottle or breastfeed upon take off and landing to help w/ the pressure in her ears.

6. There *should* be a changing table in one of the bathrooms. Ask the stewardess which one. I have heard some planes don't have one, I've never had that problem. If it "works" ie: alone in the row or husband to help, I try to change the baby in the seats because the changing table is a pain to have to schlep to, etc.

7. Pack a big ziploc bag (gallon size or so) and stick a couple diapers, small pack of wipes, changing pad, etc whatever you would need for a quick change and reload this bag when you get back to your seat in preparation for next trip to bathroom. This can be a mini diaper bag to just carry in your hand to the bathroom so you don't schlep stuff you don't need. But, bring MORE diapers than you think you'll need, just don't schlep it all to the bathroom.

8. bring changes of clothes for YOU and BABY. I've heard of many accidents that get mom, too.

9. Formula is no prob to carry on. If you need bottled water for formula, buy in airport as you can't count on a thing from the flight attendants, esp if they run out.

10. If you are flying alone, don’t hesitate to ask stewardesses to hold your baby while you go to bathroom.

11. When baby is past infant car seat age, consider getting a “sit and stroll” which is a car seat that converts to a stroller, it’s an all-in-one for travel. Further ideas to consider: get a CARES restraint harness that harnesses baby/toddler in airline seat, check car seat as luggage—you don’t have to have it to fly.

12. When baby is past formula and breastfeeding you can’t count on milk on the planes. Buy milk boxes that don’t need to be refrigerated from if you have a Trader Joe’s nearby they have great ones (Green boxes). I like this Trader Joe’s the best because the hole on top is easier to pour into a baby bottle.

13. Security doesn’t tend to hassle you about milk, juice, snacks, etc when you are traveling with a baby. A trick to getting water thru security is to put it into a sippy cup. Anything in a sippy cup tends to pass muster w/ TSA.

14. Consider apologizing in advance and being positive to those around you if you fear you will have a fussy baby. It catches them off guard and then what are they going to do??? Give you a hard time? You already apologized!!! Hahahahaha! Have a great trip!

Now that you are all set to fly with Junior, visit UpTake.com to figure out just where in the world you will go!

Friday, July 18, 2008

And what does your husband do?

Nothing like a Mommy Group stroll along the beach to give you a dose of perspective. Yesterday, I was on my weekly stroller push with an assortment of moms who get together informally each week to walk along the beach. I was pushing Lulu in the Bob, talking away to this mom and that mom. I pulled up alongside someone I hadn't had the chance to get to know. Conversation turned to her husband and something about working strange hours and so I asked, "What does he do?" She replied, "He's on the bomb squad." Me, "Really???" She recounted being disoriented when she woke up the other night and he wasn't home yet. So, she had called him and found out he was working late on an arson investigation. Hmmm...The next time I'm annoyed my husband isn't home I think I'll take a few seconds and think of my fellow moms who never know when or if their husband will be home. I am extremely grateful for all those dads AND moms out there who do jobs that keep us safe and protect our way of life.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Traded my BMW for a Minivan

The BMW suddenly was so small. When I had JUST ONE BABY, I could get by fine. Still room for an adult to sit in the back seat, stroller fit comfortably in the trunk. But, then I GOT PREGNANT AGAIN when #1 was just 10 months old. Nine months later, I had two babies in the backseat. It was time to start to let go. Gosh, I loved that car. Stickshift, powerful engine, zipped in and out of traffic and all around town. I didn't want to be one of THOSE moms. THOSE moms drove minivans. That wasn't ME. But then I started to dream....My nights and days were full of one obsession: SLIDING POWER DOORS.

That's all I wanted. SLIDING POWER DOORS. I had to have them. The baby in the infant seat, the toddler squirming around, my arms full, my backbending gymnastics trying to weasel them into the BMW. If only I could have those SLIDING POWER DOORS, my life as a mom would change. I would be at peace.

So, it happened. I traded my BMW for a minivan but still look wistfully in my rearview mirror at the BMW life I left behind.

But, oh, yeah....I love those sliding doors.