Busy, Busy, Busy

As you may have guessed from the title, I’ve been busy. My BIL just left yesterday after coming to visit us for a week. I saw my MIL twice in that time, and met new (to me) family friends I’ve been hearing about for more than a decade. We also started house hunting again. We did buy a home previously but have been renting since the move to the mainland. Our rental is up the end of the year, so we feel like it’s time. And although I wasn’t looking to fight with my spouse I’ve found house hunting is the best way to go about it. So if you’re looking to shake things up in your relationship hit a few open houses and watch chaos ensue. Your welcome.

I do have some things planned for the blog. Here they are, in no particular order.

*Reviews of new Eleve and Yumiko leotards.
*The sewing of my Merida costume
*How I deal with the move

I can’t say for sure when these will go up. Right now I’m still waiting on the leotards, but the orders have been placed. Two are from Eleve and one is from Yumiko, all are styles I don’t currently own. So you’ll get my thoughts on them and some more photos. I know my Yumiko posts have been very popular so I’ll review them as soon as I can. Promise.

My Merida costume does need to be done before our trip to WDW in September so you’ll probably see that sooner rather than later. I don’t plan to start it until next month, but who knows. I may do that as one big post or break it up, but I’ll be taking photos as I go. It won’t be a proper tutorial, but you’ll get some photos and maybe a bit of inspiration in time to make something yourself for Halloween.

I’ve moved so many times in my life I’ve lost count, but it’s more than a dozen. I still get uber stressed out by the process, but I’m hoping things go smoothly this time. Over the years I’ve found little ways to make the process easier and thanks to the internet I’ve come across even more. Hopefully I’ll be able to share some of them with you. I know some people think moving with an infant or toddler is hard but I don’t see that as being an obstacle. My son’s traveled so much putting him to bed in a strange bed, in a strange room has never been an issue. It’s his normal, so I’ll discuss it with him and show him his new room beforehand. But it would shock me to the core if he had difficulty transitioning. So I’m afraid I probably won’t be able to help those looking for tips to ease the process for kids, just grown ups.

I still haven’t decided how much I’ll share of my new home on here. I know showing photos of every room and even offering a floor plan is something soooo many bloggers do, but that’s not me. No, I don’t want anyone to know just how far my room is from my son’s. What rooms he likes to play in, and where the backyard is. Or what lovely things I may own, or the exact times I’m out of the house. I realize this makes me the odd woman out, but what can I say, I dare to be different. I’ll probably post photos of some spaces. Ever look at Pintrest and wonder who’s cabinet under the kitchen sink really looks that perfect, mine does. And some things deserve to be shared. So if I put together a space I’m particularly proud of I’ll share it. Or show swatches so you can get an idea of my color scheme. But you’ll never get a play by play of the home building process and detailed shots of every room.

So keep an eye out for future posts, there is more to come. It’s just a matter of finding the time to do it all then write about it.

DisneyBounding, A DIY Aurora

I’m headed back to Disney World the end of the month and have decided to take up DisneyBounding. For those of you who are unfamiliar you should check out the official Tumbler page. Now you can just pull together a look from your closet, but if you’re like me then you’re never content to leave anything alone. So I decided to whip up some quick and easy circle skirts in the “right” colors. Here’s some of the fabric I bought,

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As you can see I’m all set up for several princesses. Now I know most costumey tutorials out there will show you how to make a dress, but I’m going to show you skirts and I’ll tell you why. You see that yellow up there, it can be the bottom of Belle’s ball gown, or Snow White’s dress. That blue up on top, well that could be for Belle’s peasant dress, Alice’d dress, or Cinderella’s gown. Separates just give you so much more flexibility. I’m also thinking of branching out into half aprons. Basically I would make a skirt in a common color like pale blue. Then the overlay would just tie on over it. A white apron for Belle/Alice, something with glittery snowflakes for Elsa, pale blue triangles for Aurora, you get the idea. Today we’ll just be making a basic skirt with an overlay attached.

First pick your fabric. I’m starting with an Aurora inspired skirt so I picked the pink. I bought all of my materials at JoAnn Fabrics and the overlay is being made out of their “fancy” tulle. You might not be able to see it super well in the photos but it has this fuchsia metallic sheen to it. It’s not over the top and is only visible in certain lights but it’s very pretty.

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Part of keeping the whole thing super duper simple is adding an elastic waistband and not hemming it. Now tulle won’t unravel, but the taffeta I used underneath will. So I opted to use my serger. If you have one I suggest you dig it out. If you don’t then you’ll have to put on a proper hem. It’s not the end of the world, it’ll just take a little longer. I have no desire to hem something like this so I picked a colored thread for my serger that matched. Underneath the overlay you really can’t tell unless you’re looking closely. JoAnn’s was having a sale, 50% off all thread so I took this as my opportunity to stock up.

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I have like four more colors (hangs head in shame).

Now to make the skirt I simply laid my material out on the floor. I ironed it so I’d know it was perfect on the folds and so I’d have guide marks when it came time to serge the bottom and add the waistband. I suggest you do the same.

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If you look closely you’ll see my marks. I used a Sharpie that was almost the same color as my material. You can use disappearing ink pens but this took me a while and I like a clear line. I used the measuring tape you see in the background to make those lines. I just lined up my 0″ mark to the corner and swung the tape measure around while I followed behind with my other hand using the sharpie (I’m ambidextrous). For the bottom of the skirt my arms weren’t long enough so I just made a series of dots and connected them after.

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Here it is all cut out. To do the overlay I just folded it in quarters again and laid this on top of it. Then I just cut it out using this as a guide. Now keeping the two fabrics together is a pain in the neck while sewing. They slip and slide and tulle tends to stretch. So I hand basted them with a dark thread. I like to sew fast and sitting around fiddling with pins is only going to make me angry and fed up. So hand baste and save yourself a world of trouble. It’s faster, easier, and more precise than pinning.

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Hopefully you can see the thread I used, it is navy. Look how perfect you can get it basting it. It’s very satisfying. Now once you’ve done that pop it on the serger (or your regular machine) and sew the two layers together. Now is also the time to serge the hemline or add your hem. Once that’s done we’re going to add the waist band.

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Measure where you want the skirt to sit on your waist and cut the elastic an inch or so shorter than that measurement. Then sew it as I’ve shown. Now we’re going to pin it to the four corners.

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I just used my Sharpie again to make my marks on the elastic (fold it in half, mark both ends, use those marks to fold in half again and mark those ends- POOF, your four corners). Then I pinned it to the places that had the crease from earlier still ironed in. Now you’re going to want to use a zig zag stitch on your regular sewing machine. You could use your serger if you like but I found I just like the way it comes out better on my regular machine. To sew it, the circle you’ve cut out is going to be big enough to accommodate your hips (so you can get it on) but the elastic is much smaller, so it doesn’t gap at your waist. You’re going to need to stretch the elastic as you sew. Just pinch the fabric by your pins, stretch until the skirt fabric is almost completely taut and hit that pedal! Even though it’s a curved line it will go straight and I’ve never had to stop and adjust. This whole thing took me about an hour and a half, that’s complete with far too many goof off breaks.

On me two yards nets me a knee length skirt (I’m 5’10” with a 37″ inseam). If you’re making this for a small child you can totally get tea length. If you’re an adult who would like a longer skirt it’s easy. Just get twice as much yardage and sew it together in the middle to make one gigantic piece of fabric. Then just go about constructing the skirt the same way. It’ll be twice as long and also much fuller! This really couldn’t be easier!

Sorry if this was a bit confusing. I’m best at doing, not teaching. This blog is more of a record for myself and if I can help others out it’s a bonus. If this was really too confusing for you here’s a link to the site I used. Just click on the (incredibly helpful) measurement chart and it’ll take you there.

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Here’s my finished look!

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It’s simple, really comfortable, and pretty cute. I probably won’t wear this combo but it gives you an idea of what DisneyBounding is if you didn’t click the link above. It’s creating an outfit that’s inspired by Disney characters. So if you’ve ever seen someone in the parks in regular clothes and though, “Hmmm, she looks just like (insert character here)” they’re probably DisneyBounding. And now I’ll be joining in on the fun!

I did make one other skirt with four layers of a different tulle. Can you guess who this look represents? ;)

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Tightly Wound Would Be An Understatement

I don’t really have time for more than a quick post tonight. I’d much rather be sleeping but I can’t. My calves are still killing me from ballet class last Tuesday. And instead of stretching I opted to play. I had lots of fun visiting with friends and then family, and spent much of today vegging out. I know better, I’ve always known better. But do I get off my butt? No. Now I’m dealing with a huge knots in my right calf and a slightly smaller ones in the left. If I don’t do something soon, they’ll start to spasm. From there it’s just a nightmare trying to get them to stop and relaxing the muscles becomes impossible for some reason. Fortunately my latest Amazon order came in!

I didn’t have a yoga mat here so I went ahead and bought a new one, as well as a matching storage bag, a yoga strap, and a massage stick. I bought this super pretty yoga mat from Amazon, it’s the Radiance pattern.

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The photos do not do this mat justice. The color contrast is so much more pronounced in person and it really is lovely. I had previously purchased the Neo Baroque mat in teal and everyone at my last studio was in love with it. Prior to that purchase I had no idea mats came with prints. They’re so pretty now, they actually make you want to exercise just so you can look at them. I also bought a yoga strap since my local Target only had boring old beige. Amazon had a purple one, also by Gaiam for less than half of what Target wanted. Can’t ask for more than that!

One of the things I’m most excited about is The Stick.

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I got the 17.5″ one and I think it’s the perfect size for pretty much everything. I can do my back (one side at a time), my shoulders, thighs, and most importantly my calves with just that size. Target sells similar products for about $10 less but I’ve heard good things about this product and nothing about the Target brand. I can say though I see why people say nice things about this. It’s made of a straight plastic core with wobbly plastic beads and the Target ones seem to have stationary beads. I feel like the movement allows them to conform to the shape of my body better than just some rigid stick. And by them having a bit of room to move I know they’ll glide easily as I roll it around. I really can’t say enough good things about it. Also the core seems to have just a bit of give which is great if you’re like me and are likely to apply too much pressure. It’s lightweight enough I may consider packing it for trips to Disney or anywhere I think I may do a lot of walking, or just spring for the smaller 14″ one. My calves tend to get super tight and I’m always stretching my legs and feet. When I don’t (like after long plane rides) I tend to suffer spasms, sometimes minor sometimes not. So a tool like this would be invaluable on the road. I so wish I owned one of these years ago. I know my son does too, he keeps stealing it. :)

There were a few other little things I picked up but they’re not worth getting into right now, I’ll save them for a later date. Right now I need to try and get in a bit more stretching so I can get some sleep. Hopefully when I get out of bed tomorrow I won’t have a repeat of today where I felt like my heels couldn’t touch the floor, ugh…

Sewing A Ballet Leotard

I did it, I’ve sewn my first leotard! It went really well, and I’m a bit surprised. I’d never worked with stretch fabrics before, let alone something as crazy as spandex. But it was easier than I thought it would be and I can’t wait to make my next one. I hope to try out a few different styles, the first one was pretty basic. I want to just start by saying this isn’t a very detailed tutorial. I just didn’t take enough photos for that and I’m not always great about remembering all the details of my sewing projects as I tend to make things up as I go. But I hope this can help people out since there’s really nothing about making your own leotards online. Especially ballet ones. There are some skating costume and gymnastics outfit tutorials, but for ballet I’ve only found one. I hope to make more of these and I’ll try to take photos of the process with those if I make a different style. Just to sort of ensure something’s out there for people who want to sew their own. The first thing I did was make a paper pattern. To do that I needed to prepare my paper. I could buy paper, but why when Amazon is happy to send me that stuff for free. :)

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This is the packing paper Amazon sends in their boxes. It’s a great size, thin enough to pin through easily, and of course you can draw on it. Also I don’t worry about messing up and “wasting it” because it was free and they’re only too happy to send me more, lol. It does usually show up pretty wrinkled but I just iron it on medium high heat, no steam. You may still see a few wrinkles in the photos but I promise you this was 100% flat.

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After I ironed it I laid my best fitting leotard onto it and traced the shape.

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The front part gave me a bit more trouble cause I couldn’t fold the rear fabric out of the way to do the crotch. So I laid a scrap piece over the front and used my finger nail to press a line into it around the edge of the crotch. Then I marked the beginning and the end, cut it out, and laid it over the pattern I was making and traced the line. Presto! Perfect pattern lines without the hassle.

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After I cut out my pattern I cut two front pieces (it was a smidge sheer), and a back piece. I used a rotary cutter to cut out my fabric, I would never have tried this with regular scissors the fabric was too slippery for that and the likely hood of error was too high. After I had my pieces I hand basted the two front pieces together and then basted the front to the back. At this point I tried it on and it fit well. I had already made a practice one with plain jersey so I suspected it would fit, but this fabric didn’t have as much stretch and when you double it up it can make it stretch even less though this particular fabric seemed to still function fine.

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I decided to use FOE on the leg openings. I liked it and it looked really pretty, but I felt like there was too much room in the rear so instead of grabbing my seam ripper, pulling it off, and cutting down the openings I decided to just fold it over.

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As you can see (seam on the left) it looks fine and fits much better. Though I’ll be making adjustments to the leg openings in the future it fits okay. I just forgot that my butt is flat and my leotard had a bit too much room in that area before I made the pattern. It’s okay though, those adjustments are easy.

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Here it is, the finished garment. The crotch looks weird because I didn’t bother to move my dress form’s pole, it looks better on me. ;) I used FOE for the straps and I like the way it looks.

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As you can see I used the FOE to bind the back as well. I could have just hemmed it but I thought this looked better.  It was also much easier.

All in all there’s a lot I’d change in the future. I dislike the top of the front it didn’t come out well, and I don’t like how the straps are attached. But for my first attempt at something I’ve never made, with a fabric I’ve never used, I think it’s pretty good to get a wearable garment. I wore it to class today and it was very comfortable, I felt like I was wearing nothing. I’m very happy with that, I want to be focused on my dancing not some rubbing seam or loose strap.

I did order a bunch of swatches from Spandex World and despite a small hiccup I hope to have them by next week. The next one I make will be a solid color with contrasting straps. The fabric I got for this came from JoAnnes and I really like it. It’s “Performance Spandex” and wasn’t labeled as being for dance but it works very well for it. It was very fast drying and comfortable, but it was also thinner. I would use it again.

Quick Update

I just got back from Hawaii and I was too busy for blogging whilst there. But I did get the fabric and I did complete my first leotard! It wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be either. So stay tuned a post with photos of my process and how I did it are to come!

The Making Of A Leotard

I’m headed back to Hawaii for a bit this week and whilst there I’ll be taking class again. I’m a bit sad that I can’t wear my new Yumiko, but I expected to be taking class here, in the winter. When I got sick plans changed and it’ll be a while before I can wear it. A leotard with long sleeves, in 80 degree weather, in an un-airconditioned studio just seems risky health wise. So I’m stuck with my stupid boring So Danca camisole leo (that admittedly fits better than all the others but the quality is seriously lacking, and again- it’s boring). I do have a really pretty Gaynor Minden one, so I’ll probably make the most use of that one and keep the So Danca as backup. There is a small problem with my Gaynor Minden leo, and it’s something others have complained about as well. But I’m going to tell you how to fix it!

This is my pretty leotard.

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If you click on the picture it’ll take you to Discount Dance. I first saw this there but they didn’t have my size in store and I didn’t want to buy it online. So when I was in NYC I stopped into their boutique and bought it in person. The ladies there are lovely and I highly recommend stopping in to try stuff on if you’re in the area (pointe shoe fittings are by appointment though!). 

I really love this leotard, but can you spot the problem? Yeah, it’s low cut (like so many leotards) but the stretch lace is, well… Stretch lace, and it stretches- a lot. By the end of class, with all the sweating, it has a tendency to sag dangerously low. And unless you’re looking to do an entirely different form of dance, you need something to wear underneath it. Even then, I still feel compelled to yank it up because I don’t want to be flashing everyone my entire bra. I had planned to sew those ugly plastic straps into it. I had some (came with a strapless bra) but tossed them when I was cleaning out my closet cause I was never going to use them. I’m glad I did cause while I planned to buy more but got lazy and that gave me time to find a better solution. 

I was watching First Position and noticed the straps on Miko’s competition dress (Don Quixote Kitri variation) blended in really nicely with her skin. Much better than those clear straps, which lets be honest, are obvious. Upon closer inspection I realized they were made of fold over elastic (or FOE). If you’re not familiar FOE is the stuff those fashiony headbands and hair ties are made out of. You can buy it on Etsy, Ebay, and at most sewing stores. I just so happened to have some black FOE laying about for another project that was sidelined. It’s basic, Dritz, and seems better quality than the stuff they make those hair ties out of. 

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I held some up behind the lace and it blended really well. I cut the pieces and plan to hand sew them on after my son goes to bed. Hopefully it hold up well but I won’t know until after I wear it to a class. Obviously I won’t jinx it and go braless, but if it goes well I probably could. I do wish Gaynor Minden thought about doing something like this in the first place though. It’s gets a fairly high rating on DDS but the sagging is a known issue. It seems like more of a ballet inspired piece than something that was intended to wear in class. They do actually show the model wearing it with jeans and say it works great to go from the studio to dinner. But I don’t know who does class, gets all hot, sweaty, dusty, then just tosses on a pair of jeans and goes out to a restaurant. I think it’s unrealistic. 

 

The last thing I was going to talk about today is making leotards. There’s almost nothing online about actually sewing your own leotards. Which is weird because you can find way too much about pretty much anything else you ever wanted to know about but there’s nothing on this. So I’m going to try and help fill the void. 

I’ve already prepared the paper I’m using for my pattern pieces and traced my leotard. Despite my loathing for my So Danca one it is the one I used to make the pattern with. I mean it’s a good basic leotard, it fits really well and is reasonably flattering. However the dye still runs on it. One drop of sweat and my tights are covered in black dye, I’m sick of that stupid leo ruining them. And despite treating it like glass (hand washing it in stone cold water the second I get home and letting it air dry) it’s loosing it’s stretch. It was not worth what I paid for it, but if I can successfully use it as a pattern then as far as I’m concerned it’s redeemed itself. And it’s basic shape will enable me to modify it to make a few different styles quite easily. Also it’s long enough, I have a hard time finding leos that are long enough. My Yumiko is, but only just, and it’s difficult to gauge with the GM one due to the lace issue. I have a couple of cotton ones that were but for some reason they shrank. I hand washed them in cold and drip dried but they still shrank a ton. I’d say I just gained weight, but I didn’t get taller. It was like every time I washed them I lost another inch or two and eventually it couldn’t stretch enough. :(

So I told Chicken Little we’re probably going to take a field trip to the fabric store tomorrow. Assuming I actually get out there I hope to make at least one leotard before I fly out. I have a 50% off coupon so it makes sense to at least buy the fabric. If I can make it in the next two days then I’ll be able to test drive it during class and let everyone know how it goes. I’ll take photos and try to get a tutorial up before then though. I’ve already taken photos of the pattern making process. Assuming all goes well I plan to try and branch out into some of the more exciting stuff. Spandex World has an epic selection and I’d love to have at least one or two leotards that incorporate that patterned mesh like in Eleve Dancewear leotards. I like the fabrics they use but I’m not really a fan of most of their styles so I can’t see myself buying from them. I might also want to have a leotard with long sleeves, not just 3/4. And if I want them long enough then I’m either going to have to make it myself or commission it on Etsy and I rather just do it myself.

So here’s to hoping I get to the fabric store tomorrow!

Traveling With Toddlers- Mama’s Bag Of Tricks

I wanted to split what I bring in my bag into two parts because it’s just too overwhelming for one post. So here’s part four!

In the past year and a half a lot has changed, I phased out a lot of things and added in some new stuff. I’ll talk a bit about all of it.

 

My son is breastfed, obviously not exclusively anymore but he was. So I can’t help you with bottles and the like, but I can offer tips on nursing on a plane. First tip would be to buy an actual nursing top. I know not everyone has nursing clothes whatever the reason, but if you haven’t yet I suggest you splurge. Nursing in tight corners is annoying and sometimes difficult, so I recommend doing anything you can to make things easier. Milk Nursingwear is a brand I enjoyed and they’re not ridiculous in their prices. I didn’t like the company (difficult to deal with and sent me a dress that reeked of cigarette smoke- they did not apologize) so I suggest you look for their stuff on Amazon or go second hand because the clothes are actually pretty good even if the people who work for company are horrible.

Even with the nursing clothes I used a nursing cover. It just made me feel more comfortable and my son really liked it under there. Sometimes he wouldn’t even be eating, just snoozing. He liked being able to see and smell me, but the darkness and the fabric made him feel snug. I had a few different ones but I loved Bebe Au Lait covers the best. The corners have little pockets and have built in burp cloths, yet somehow it didn’t take up more space than my other more basic covers. The fabric was also just nicer. 

I used a Travel Boppy a lot too. It was a good place for my son to snooze and it made breastfeeding in those tight airplane seats a lot easier and more comfortable for the both of us. When he was really tiny I could have gone without it, but as he got bigger it was sort of non-negotiable. The armrests started to get in the way and this kept him from having his head jammed into them while eating. My husband liked to set it up, velcro the flap to the bottom and rest the whole thing on his lap. When he was tiny we would put him in it sideways and then as he got older we put him in the middle. Both ways worked great and he really liked napping in it. It was also nice that we were able to zip it up, and stuff a swaddling blanket and burp cloth in the dip, then velcro the flap over it. Back in those days we traveled with a lot of burp cloths and it was nice being able to stash an extra few right where we’d need them most. And I recommend this Boppy even if you bottle feed. It’s just a more comfortable place to keep your baby if you’re not paying to bring a carseat on-board. 

I also liked the Munchkin Disposable Changing Pads. Even now I keep one in my plane backpack, though it’s rarely used these days (you’ll find out why soon!). Sometimes planes don’t have changing tables and with a smaller baby there’s really no need to use them anyways. If you find yourself without a proper changing table I suggest taking one of these and putting it on top of the seat back trays and changing your kid that way. It’s easier on everyone, trust me. Then just stick the diaper in an airsickness bag and toss it when you get the chance. 

These are the things I got a lot of use out of back when my son was tiny. Now that he’s bigger I find myself needing different things. Gone is the nursing cover and now we use pouches and real food. He doesn’t need to be laid down for diaper changes as he either uses the potty or we have him standing up. Here are the things I use and love now!

 

We like to use Happy Baby food pouches.

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Many of their pouches are gluten free and my son really likes them. It’s fast and easy to feed him on the go with these. We do have reusable pouches as well but I’d have to find someplace to wash and dry them while traveling or be okay with tossing them. And as it’s usually $30 a for a set I’m not okay with treating them as disposable. So we just buy the disposable ones in the first place. The bonus here is that the more your kid eats the less your bag weighs too!

We also like Happy Baby Puffs.

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They have almost no calories, a fun crunch, and my son likes to feed them to himself. If he finds that entertaining then so be it. We can kill quite a bit of time just letting him feed himself these one at a time. He also likes shaking the container, instant rattle!

Some of you may be familiar with Bentos, if you are then this will be an obvious thing to pack. If not check this out!

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(photo is a link to eBay)

I own this box in pink and it’s awesome because it’s lightweight and folds! It’s a little smaller than a thinnish paperback book, but it holds a lot. You could easily fit a full-sized sandwich and some fruit or veggies and dip in there, maybe a couple of Babybell cheeses as well. I don’t bring this as often as I should but I had misplaced it. I found it today and plan to pack it for our flight at the end of the month. Snack boxes on the plane will run you around $6 but you can make your own for far less and you won’t have to worry about what’s in it health or allergen wise.

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I love Take & Toss containers. They’re cheap and weigh nothing. The colors are bright so I can find them easily in my bag and when they get grody I can just toss or recycle them. I also don’t care if they get lost or tossed on an airline floor (is there anything grosser? Ewwwwwww!). I usually don’t loose my stuff but I have managed to misplace a few of these. I really need to remember to buy more the next time I’m at the store. We’re down to two…

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These Sippy Cups are a Godsend. They’re so cheap, yet I’ve never had a single one leak. Sometimes because of the way my son uses them there will be a drop or two in the spout but never had they leaked, even when upside-down in my backpack. I love them for that. We have four left I think. Sadly we lost a couple to mold (my son hides them and they didn’t get washed before we went away). They’re so inexpensive I didn’t worry about it and just chucked them. I also put them on the top rack of the dishwasher to no ill effect. I don’t think I’ve ever hand washed one actually. But they always come out clean. We’ve tried other brands too, but they either leak or my son can’t/won’t use them. So yeah, these get my Mum seal of approval.

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These are the diapers we use with my son. They’re Huggies Slip-On’s and I love them. When my son started in them he was a Size 3, which you can’t find in stores so you’ll have to buy them from Amazon. They also used to be Winnie The Pooh characters and for some deranged reason they switched to Mickey. So when my son’s 3’s are gone we’ll have to make the switch to Micky and Pluto. For me that kind of stinks because the Tigger’s on the 3’s were a big draw for my son. It really helped to motivate him to want to use the potty instead of his “Big Boy Pants”. But either way these are amazing! When he needs to use the potty they just slide down like Pull-Ups but they have velcro at the sides for “regular” changes. They’re also less expensive than Pull-Ups and I hope I won’t have to use them for that reason. But these are great for on the go changes. No changing table, no problem- regardless if I’m in an airplane bathroom or in my own at home. So, even if you’re a Pampers fan (or you use cloth) consider these for the plane. They’ll make your life so much easier. I don’t even bother to take my son to the bathroom half the time, I just scoot over and stand him on the seat. I pull the new diaper 3/4 of the way up, un-velcro the old one, then just yank it from between his legs, and then pull the new one the rest of the way up. I’ve found that helps if he suddenly starts to go, it’ll go straight into the new diaper most of the time. 

Last up are these little baggies. 

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These are the Arm and Hammer Tiny Trash Bags. Most of you probably know about these, and they’re worth carrying. I usually just pull a few off the roll, fold them up, and stick them in a pocket. They open to a decent size and fit quite a bit, they really came in handy during “the explosion” on that ill fated trip to Florida some months back. So even of you don’t normally carry them I suggest grabbing a refill pack (you don’t need the dispenser, it’s just added weight). You’ll be glad you did when your kid pukes, dumps juice, or something even worse, in flight!

 

So that’s all for now. I’m not sure what I’ll post about next, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something. If there’s a specific aspect of traveling with toddlers and infants you’d like to hear about feel free to just ask. I’ve probably done it!

 

 

Traveling With Toddlers- Keeping Them Entertained

We’re now onto round three of my Travel Tips series. This is probably going to be the post that most interests people. 

In the past year and a half we’ve had a lot of different “experiences” in-flight. For the most part (I’d put it at 85-90%) of the time, my son behaves. He just knows the drill now. When he was younger he slept for most of the flight. But as he’s gotten older I find him staying awake more and more, regardless what time it is. I’m not surprised though, he’s just not one of those kids that’ll fall asleep on the couch. He wants to be in his crib, carseat, stroller, or maybe ergo- nowhere else will do. Although he can’t really resist turbulence so I usually hope for a bumpy flight. ;) In the event I don’t get lucky I do have a few tricks up my sleeve and I’m happy to share them with all of you!

The first and most obvious thing would be crayons and some paper. They’re popular with pretty much every kid, and there’s a reason every restaurant offers them. Coloring is a fun, quite activity you must be seated to do. Right now Target has some travel packs in their Dollar spot. They come with four crayons, a coloring book (that’s also a story book) and stickers. I plan to buy a few more. They also have some full size (but quite thin) coloring books that come with bonus stickers. I know they have/had Frozen ones, my husband bought me one, lol. They also have Crayola four packs that come in different varieties like glitter, pastel, and neon. So you can feel free to make your own for pretty much the same price. 

Next up would be these fun little dolls. 

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(Buy Them Here)

I bought mine from Target but you can get them lots of places. My sister in law actually asked me why I was buying my son a “girls toy” but I don’t see it that way. Toys are toys, when I was younger I remember being jealous of my boy cousins on holidays when they got things like remote control cars. I never got them because they “weren’t for girls”. Sorry but no. Besides, I’m just looking to keep my son busy for a bit and these fit the bill quite nicely. When you’re on a plane it’s not about only pulling out gender specific toys, it’s about using what works! These are small, weigh almost nothing, and my son had fun trying to figure them out. He liked taking her dress on and off and making her dance and talk. The package says for 3+ but he understood how they worked right away and I’m not worried about him choking while sitting on my lap. So these were a good buy, I’ll probably get a couple more to rotate with in the future. 

Next up would be these fun little play phones.

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(Find Them Here)

These are around $4 at Target (I think) and we have a few of them. Frozen, Planes, and Princesses, my son looooves his princesses- they’re enchanting, lol. These do make noise but I find they’re really pretty quite and no one has ever mentioned the noise. I’m not sure anyone beyond our seat can hear them. So while they don’t light up or do anything crazy they’re a good, tiny, lightweight, reasonably quite toy. My son loves to talk on the phone and he’s more than happy to pretend when we can’t do the real thing. 

If your child takes a pacifier I cannot recommend Wubbanubs enough.

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(Buy Them Here)

These thing are amazing, from the newborn stage and beyond. My son loves his and we own about two dozen of them and counting. He likes the pacifier part (he likes a pluggie but he doesn’t “need” one if you will) but he loves his little animal friends. He calls them his babies and it’s the cutest thing ever. He always has one attached to his stroller and carseat and he sleeps with at least three of them. So it’s a good toy/soother on flights. I use TripClips to secure them to his clothes (attach them to a leg, otherwise they fall off!) and he can snuggle/suck whenever he feels the need because he knows his buddy is close by. It’s actually pretty funny to watch him reel his little guys in with the TripClips.

Now I know this next one is likely to be controversial with a lot of parents, but I pack my son an iPad. We travel so much we ended up buying him his own for his first birthday and while he does use it at home sometimes it pretty much exists solely for flights. We have books, movies, tv shows, and apps on there for him. We don’t use it on every flight but I like knowing it’s there. My son is a big Daniel Tiger junkie and I always have at least four episodes downloaded. I also keep a few episodes of Curious George and at least one movie (he likes The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Frozen, basically anything with a lot of singing). It will keep him happy for at least two hours and he plays while watching. Add to that the drawing apps, books, and more, and we’re often good for even longer. So even if you’re on the fence I say bring one if you have one, it’s a good last ditch tool if nothing else. 

 

Now I’ve tried a lot of things and here are some things you might like but I don’t use anymore. 

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These glitter wands can be found on Amazon and in stores for around $6. My son really likes them and has four full sized ones he plays with a lot at home. I bought him a much smaller one (about the size of a pen) for the plane thinking he’d like it just as much, but no dice. He just kept tossing it on the floor, and my kid doesn’t really do that. I know a lot of babies his age do, but he figured out cause and effect a very long time ago and knows I’ll just take anything he drops. So usually he just hands stuff back if he doesn’t want it, but this one he kept chucking. I don’t know why he hates it but I can’t get the big ones through security and I’m not interested in it getting lost on the plane. You’re kids might like these, and maybe my son will change his mind when he’s older but until then it’s a space waster.

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Meet Francis. My son has quite a few stuffed animals including this little guy. But while he may play with them at home on occasion he wants nothing to do with them on the plane. He has a tiny Jellycat Lamb that’s about the same size as his Wubbanubs that he really loves, but even him. He just can’t be bothered with stuffed animals in flight. So unless you’re child has a special stuffed animal they can’t be without I suggest skipping this one. It’s just likely to take up space and get filthy. 

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This is a VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels toy and my probably one of my son’s most favorite type of toy. I buy them from Amazon mostly because you can’t beat their prices and selection. We got our first in Quebec and it’s an ambulance that sings in French. That was the only one he wanted to play with for about six months (despite the fact I went out and bought him half a dozen more). We actually used to bring his ambulance with us but we had to stop. They do make noise and some of them are quite loud (not all, it’s very inconsistent). Initially he didn’t care if they were turned on or not, but now he brings them to me and asks me to turn them on. He doesn’t like taking no for an answer when it comes to these for some reason. And since I’m not willing to get into a fight about it at 30,000 feet, they stay home. If your kid doesn’t care then I actually think they’re a good toy. They fit well into tiny hands and they’re not too heavy.

 

So that’s pretty much it for toys and activities I suggest. Now these are just things that do, or did work for me and I make no guarantees your kid will go for any of it. But if nothing else consider this a good jumping off point for finding things that work for your kid. Target’s dollar spot usually has something that’ll keep a kid entertained and it’s all $1-3 so if stuff gets broken or lost it’s not earth shattering. I try to avoid bringing special toys and my son has gotten used to leaving pretty much all of his stuff at home. So we don’t have fights about what stays and what goes and I don’t think we’re likely to in the future. It’s just the routine I’ve established with him. So the next time your out and about check out the little toys they have by the register, or when they have stocking and basket stuffers in the big box stores around holidays. These are the little things I usually buy and so far so good.

Next post will be about the things I like to bring to make my life easier while traveling with a toddler.

 

Traveling With Toddlers- TSA

So here we are, round two. TSA, the glorified security guards that supposedly keep us safe in the sky. It can be a nightmare to get through the line without a hassle as a solo traveler. Add infants and kids into the mix, well…

My husband and I never had issues getting through TSA pre-baby, that all changed 24 hours after they carved that kid out of me. It’s really kind of amazing. My son was flown to a bigger island for medical care and I had to fly commercial. That meant TSA. Well, at 10pm on a Thursday, in an empty airport, on an inter island flight, in a wheelchair, covered in bandages and hospital bracelets I looked like a threat. My staples set off the metal detector and they decided to pat me down. I cried in pain throughout the whole thing. It’s been downhill ever since.

TSA will tell you, you can bring anything you need for your baby. Baby food, formula, breastmilk, etc. In fact on one such trip the man on one side of the metal detectors told us we could have all these things, and the jerk on the other said we couldn’t. Apparently it’s at their discretion. They can and do make up rules on a whim, and they do it Every. Single. Time. So here are a few tips to make getting past these lunatics easier.

Clothing

I used to wear a floor length nursing dress I bought at Target. It was comfortable, enabled me to breastfeed discreetly, and had no metal. Well here’s the thing, dresses swing and that apparently confuses the backscatter machines. The last time I wore that dress they scanned me twice with “objects” flaging in different spots. Since there was no way in hell I was having another pat down I hiked that dress up to my thighs and asked them exactly what they thought I was hiding and they let me go. After that trip I went out and bought my only pair of yoga pants. They’re tight so they know I’m not hiding anything, and they don’t move. I wear those with a tight t shirt. I feel embarrassed to be out in sweats, but if it keeps me free of assault I’ll wear them with a smile on my face. For my son I try to make sure his clothes have as little metal as possible. So no onesies with extra snaps, or tiny blue jeans. Just simple tee shirts or basic onesies, and sweat pants for him. I also put him in Robeez since I know they have no metal and he’ll probably be dancing on my lap very soon. I wear no jewelry beyond my wedding rings (real metals can set off the machines if there’s enough of it) and I take my son’s cross off of him.

Carry-Ons, Liquids and Bulky Items

I carry as little as I possibly can with me. Before we used to bring the stroller and it could be a pain to put through the machine. If you have any of the Bugaboo models they can fit through the machine and that’s a lot faster than bulky ones that have to be checked by hand. We also have their travel bag and we would just send it through the machine folded and pack the stroller up at the gate. Now since I’ve taught my son to ride on the suitcase (he stands and holds onto the handle) we check the stroller and carseat at the ticketing counter. If you don’t absolutely need your stroller I suggest you do the same. We get through security much faster. I take out all liquids and I put those along with our baby food pouches into the same bin. If there’s other things in there they sometimes get mad, so just keep it separate. They will hassle you over the baby food every time. They will tell you they have to open every container or pat down one in your party (they don’t, they’re just trying to scare you). So if you can go it without I suggest you do. Put everything in your bags. Even if your kid whines for that special bear, pack it anyways. You can’t have anything in your hands as you pass through the machines and it’ll ensure it doesn’t get filthy or lost.

TSA PreCheck

This might be a waste for you. My husband and I actually went to sign up for this. The guy who did it was soooooo unprofessional. He and the entire office reeked of cigarette smoke (because he took smoking breaks while we were waiting) and had me fill out the customer satisfaction survey in front of him. I don’t give a damn though, I answered honestly. And after that I was approved almost instantly- yet I still wasn’t able to go through the PreCheck line. Something they don’t tell you is that it’s not a guarantee. The TSA “agents” I talked to started by saying it was like 99% of the time you’ll be able to go through the faster line and by the end they said it was more like 70% so who knows. Just don’t plan to show up to the airport an hour before takeoff. Cause if your number doesn’t pop up on your ticket and theres a long line you’re going to miss your flight. Also, if you have a lap child your number won’t pop up on your ticket. This is despite the fact children don’t need a number until they’re 12. So unless we buy my son a ticket every time either my husband or I will still have to go through the regular line. I’m pretty mad about this since I had to pay for them to do a background check on me- something they don’t even do on their own employees! So just be aware of all of this before you take time off of work and pay to get this intermittent service.

Kids & Patdowns

I prefer a DIY approach to this. If you don’t want TSA patting your kid down I highly suggest you do it yourself while you’re waiting in line. I reference my brother. Every time my mother asks him if he’s emptied his pockets, and every time he says he has- then he suddenly remembers the $10 worth of loose change and other crap he’s carrying. So if you’re kid has pockets assume there’s something in them and make them show you, or better yet check them yourself. Too many TSA agents have been outed as being on the Sex Offender registry. It’s pretty horrifying they can’t do simple background checks on their own people, but I guess that would cost too much money. So unless you want your child being felt up by some random perv check every pocket, put them in crocs (no jibbitz) or other shoes you’re positive have no metal, make them take off anything they don’t truly need, no dresses, loose tops, or extra layers. Stay safe!

 

That’s it for now. Mother’s Day is this weekend in the U.S. so I’ll be celebrating that with my family. The end of the month I’m going to Hawaii for a bit, then I’ll be back. Hopefully I’ll have some time next week to get my next post up. I’m thinking that one will be about the things I bring to keep my son entertained on the flight. Until then, Happy Mother’s Day!

Traveling With Toddlers- The Terminal

Okay, so this is going to be the first in my series about traveling with toddlers. Many people wonder what to do with them once you get through the random assault that is TSA, and now you have hours to kill before your flight. Well, I’m going to help you. The answer is simple, explore.

So many airports now are trying to become “interesting” and “fun”. Now I know most people don’t think of them that way, but they can be. With all of the stress associated with traveling and the new security measures it’s in the airlines best interest to try and make up for some of the discomforts. So money has been poured into many airports to try and make them destinations in their own right. That might sound crazy but it’s true. If you can pick which airport you fly into and out of, and where you might have a layover they want you to pick their airport. So if you’ve noticed a lot of new construction in your local airport and new shops opening up, this is why.

First thing’s first. If you don’t travel much it might be worth it to you to Google your airport, as well as your destination and any layover airports. They have websites and they list what’s available. Some places are better than others, and some terminals more “fancy” but there’s usually something to do in each one. It might seem weird to research where you’ll be since it’s only a few hours, but if you have a pack of kids you’ll be glad you did. Here’s the link to Sea-Tac’s amenities site, http://seatacshops.com This is just one of the airports I visit most often, but most have a section devoted to entertainment.

A lot of families just go straight to the gate, drop their bags, and sit there till boarding. That’s fine, if everyone is tired or the plane is about to start boarding soon. But if you have hours to go it might be a mistake. I never mind seeing kids act like kids at an empty gate, but I hate it when they’re running riot in a packed one. So find out if your local airport has a playspace. Most do and they’re very much like the ones you see at shopping malls. They do still have the same rules as mall parks (only for kids under 42″) but no one is going to be giving you the stink eye if you’re kid is over that height (so long as they’re not playing rough, obviously). So find a safe play area and let them get that energy out there as opposed to a packed gate, or worse- the plane.

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(Sea-Tac Kidport, photo from Sea-Tac’s website)

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(Logan International’s Kidport, photo’s are from Logan’s website)

 

 

Sometimes the play areas aren’t close, or there isn’t one at all. No problem. Get out there and look around. Ride the tram, the moving sidewalks, visit the shops, or just take a stroll to see if you can see any planes taking off. The airport I was in in Vegas last week had a great fish tank my son loved and we never would have found it just sitting at the gate. They also had art installations, my son liked “Desert Wildlife” by David Phelps, they’re four oversized sculptures that appear to be coming out of the ground. That’s of course just one of over a dozen exhibits in this airport alone. Most airports showcase art exhibits, take your kids to go find them. Even babies can enjoy the overhead ones, many are often on the ceiling, hanging above like gigantic mobiles. I counted six different ones on McCarran International’s website alone! 

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(This photo is from Mr. Phelps own website)

Depending on how long your traveling you might have to eat. If you want to bring snacks I support you. As someone with Celiac disease I often have to bring food with me, but I try to travel light. (Remember TSA liquid rules and places that have agriculture restirctions when packing your lunch box!) In years past most airports were gluten haven, with nothing beyond the occasional overpriced apple of packet of chips to supplement what I brought from home. But that seems to be changing. There’s a Wolfgang Puck at Sea-Tac that has a great chicken dish and french fries that are totally safe! And this is just one of the many places I’ve found in the past couple of years that I could eat at. So don’t rely on snacks alone. If you have the time consider getting a real meal. Yes, it will be pricier, but your stomach and your nerves will thank you. So will your kids, because a well fed child is a happy child. There was an article on Baby Center recently that actually advocated withholding liquids from your children. Sorry, but that borders on abuse in my opinion. Heaven forbid your child has to engage in normal bodily functions while away from home, I feel bad for that authors kids. Feed your children, give them something to drink. Just don’t give them anything carbonated, it can cause gas pains in flight. Plain water, milk, and juice is fine, but sports drinks often contain hidden caffeine and can act like a diuretic so keep that in mind. Image

(Wolfgang Puck Express, photo from WP’s website)

It’s also worth mentioning that there can be lots of things for adults to do in airports. I like to go to Butter London’s only salon and get a manicure whenever I’m at Sea-Tac. They always do a great job and there’s no chemical smell since Butter doesn’t use the harsh stuff! Many places also have spas where you can pop in for a manicure, waxing, massage and more. While I’m relaxing getting my manicure my husband usually takes my son to the play space to burn off some energy. It’s a great way to start the trip off on a relaxing note. Especially since I know my son is going to spend the next several hours tap dancing on my lap…

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(The shade I’m wearing is Come To Bed Red, Leslie always does an amazing job!)

So that’s pretty much it for what to do at the airport. Eat, explore, and try to relax. I promise you, the space between TSA and the plane is the easiest time you’ll have when getting to and from your destination. 

Upcoming posts will be about going through TSA, packing, and wrangling tiny insane people inflight. :)