Update! Travel Planner Essentials & More

Hi everyone I know it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged but as always, I’ve just been busy. I’m headed to Hawaii again and I’m hoping to do another “What’s in my travel planner bag” video. I did one before and that was just for shorter trips.

For some reason WordPress won’t let me embed this video, you can see it here though.

This is a different situation. I’m going to my house. So I have supplies there, as well as space to work. When you’re in a hotel you generally want to pack light. But when you know you’ll have space to work, it changes things a bit. Now granted we’re going out to pack up the place and turn it into a vacation rental. So I don’t want to pack too much stuff. In the past I’d have probably packed more cause if I didn’t want to bring something home to my mainland house, I’d just leave it. In theory I can still do that. But I don’t want strangers touching my stuff. Some of our neighbors have just installed a proper lock on the closet under the stairs. I may do that myself.

I may want to turn this into a series. I’ve seen some seriously great videos on this in the past. This one is my favorite.

Hopefully I can eventually create a system as great as this lady by popfizzpaper.

I stay with my BIL a lot and we have a bedroom there. I’m free to leave things and he’s encouraged me to do so. I really need to bring a coat and maybe a cardigan to leave there.  But beyond clothes I’d love a few crafty things. I want a few washi cards, some blank stickers, one of my favorite pens, and scissors for sure. My BIL somehow manages to exist without scissors. He does have one pair but they’re horrible and never in the same place twice. He’s a school teacher but has virtually nothing in the way of office supplies. So I really want to make a very small kit to leave there. I plan to use one of those Freckled Fawn poly zip bags. They’re the size of a 1 quart ziplock. So not super big, easy to store, yet still plenty of space to hold all of my essentials. I managed to carry a ton of stuff in a bag half the size, so I should have everything I need and more in a bag that size.

I’m happy to keep the original video up, just so people can see the evolution of my planning style. I love watching these videos but too often people show what they’re planning to bring and you never know what they actually used. I’m all about traveling light. So I want to be able to show what I actually used, and what I’ve phased out over time. I feel like that’s the information people really need.

I’m also hoping to do some journaling/scrapbooking. I bought a Zinnydori because I wanted something personal size, cute, and with plenty of pockets for decorating on the go. I also bought a Polaroid Zip pocket printer. I’ve been trying to use it but have so far been failing. I think the trick will be to actually carry it with me. When I went to Disney I carried just a passport sized notebook in my bag. I wrote the days schedule in it, then as I went about my day I added little things my son said, happy moments, sad/frustrating moments, stickers, etc. I really think doing this with my actual travel notebook and just carrying my printer with me will mean I get things recorded the way I want them and not result in just a pile of memorabilia that collects dust. I also think it’s kind of a cool way to engage my son while we’re waiting for food in restaurants, or taking a break someplace. Obviously I’m going to need to bring some washi, pens, stickers, tape runner, etc. with me. So I’ll be putting together a pocketbook sized stationary case. I may or may not get a video of that shot. But I’m hoping it happens.

On an unrelated note I bought another Elevé leotard. I decided to buy one of the Ready To Wear styles. I bought one in a limited edition fabric that’s exclusive to the RTW line. The particular style I bought is also limited to the RTW line. Naturally I’ve already contacted Elevé to ask a million questions. They know I’m writing another review and tried to answer to the best of their availability but it’s still a very new line so some things may change. I will share everything they told me though. As the RTW line ships right away it’ll be in Hawaii a day before I arrive! I decided to have it shipped there as I wanted to be sure I’d get it right away and I didn’t know if it’d get to me before I left. I’m so excited to get it! So like last year all my pictures will be in my crazy purple bathroom, lol. I’m not sure what other leo’s I’m going to bring. In addition to my review I may end up doing a post on what I pack when I’m going to go to class while traveling. How I care for my leo’s, how I pack them, shoes, and more.

So keep an eye out, more posts will “finally” be coming. I’m sorry I’ve been slacking so much. I’m just trying to do too much, too often and getting burnt out. I have a goals list that’s way too long. I really just need to pick one project per month. Otherwise nothing is going to get done. I have sewing projects (tulle skirts for my friend and I!), a dollhouse I’ve been building, a coat I want to sew, as well as some button downs. I really need those button downs before fall comes and our leaves have been changing for weeks now… As time allows I’ll be blogging about all of it. And as always, please feel free to comment and let me know if there’s any specific project you want to see covered here!

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Much To Come

Sorry all, there won’t be much of a post this week. I just got back from my trip the day before yesterday and I’m still very disorganized. I’m the sort of weirdo who can’t let anyone else do their laundry because they’ll do it “wrong”, so I totally suffer for it. I’m currently staring at a pile that dwarfs myself. I’m scared. Laundry nightmares aside there’s a lot of good happening. My hair is currently a shade I’m calling “blurple” and my husband suprised me with a couple days in New York on my birthday so I was able to get fitted for pointe shoes (again). The pointe shoe drama is real people. I’ve been burning through a pair per class and at $75 a pair that’s starting to hurt. I visited (in no particular order) Gaynor Minden, Grishko, Capezio, Yumiko, and Sansha. I bought quite a bit and I’ll be sharing all of it with you just as soon as I can. I’m trying to ease back into my schedule, class is tomorrow and the next day, hopefully I’ll have time Wednesday or Friday to take some photos? I really don’t know though. I’m still just a smidge under the weather. I don’t know if any of you remember, ages ago when I did my pajama pant tutorial I mentioned I was writing it from bed because I was sick? Yeah, it’s like the world’s most hearty virus. It’s held fast and resisted everything I’ve thrown at it. I’m feeling a lot better, well enough to go to class and I no longer think I’ll infect those around me. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve been contagious for some time, I think I’m just still somewhat congested for no real reason at all. Despite that, I’m trying to get more rest, just in case. So while I don’t want to outright promise a new post next Monday, I do want to say the next one I put up will be seriously awesome for my ballet readers. 🙂

Fingers crossed for next week!

How To Travel With Makeup

This is a common question asked online in forums and on beauty blogs, what do you pack for cosmetics when you travel. Well, I travel a lot and I like makeup. I forever find myself answering this question online other places and it just gets too long. So I’m going to do it once here, and be done with it. It’s taken me years to work out this system and I honestly hope it can help some of you who might still be carrying a lot. I used to be a super heavy packer and though I still am to a degree, I’m a lot better! Here’s a list of everything I carry for cosmetics and application.

-A Unii Palette stocked with my favorite powder cosmetic shades

-Two eyeshadow brushes from Sephora

-One Sonia Kashuk blush brush

-One retractable powder brush

-One foundation brush

-One eyelash curler

-Setting spray

-Eyebrow gel

-Concealer

-Sunblock

-Foundation

-Powder

-Mascara

-Eyeshadow primer

-Eye makeup remover

-Vera Bradley Medium Cosmetic Bag

And that’s it! It might seem like a lot but honestly, it really isn’t. Just take a look!

 

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See, it’s really not that much. I really love my Unii pallets, I have near a dozen of them. I like to fill mine with eyeshadows that I already know will work well together, and enough shades that I could do a few different looks. For the most part I stick to neutrals though. I generally don’t have time to be messing with brights while I’m on the road! I try to be sure whatever blush I pack will work with any eye look I might come up with. And I think I should mention that when I get to my destination all of these things live in my cosmetic bag, but they generally don’t travel in it. If I’m going by air anything liquid will obviously have to be packed separately. Even though I have NEXUS I could always be pulled aside for extra screening because the TSA likes to make their own rules. So I keep my liquids separate and easily accessible for that reason.

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When it comes to tools I try to keep it to a minimum. I have two eyeshadow brushes and I can generally do any look with just those two. I’ve found over the years, having a dozen brushes at your disposal is nice and makes things go faster in the morning. But it’s a lot to carry. And if you have to, most people can more than get by on just a few. So I have one general application brush that’s smaller. And a larger one for either blending or for doing an all over wash of color (using a somewhat shimmery light color allover the lid will make you look more awake when you’re jet lagged, it’s also quick and easy to do). I bought mine at Sephora (you can find them here and here) and I specifically picked these ones because of their shorter handles. They’re not travel sized so they’re nicer to use, but they fit in most every bag I’ve ever used. My foundation brush is by Pixi and I bought it at Target but you can also find it here. My blush brush and retractable powder brush are Sonia Kashuk from Target, I just manage to squeeze that blush brush into my bag but it’s worth it. It’s not the nicest brush I’ve ever used but I just can’t find one with the same shape and bristle density that I like better so I stick with it. I’m not willing to carry another bulky brush around so I used a retractable brush for my powder. The one I have is so lightweight it totally makes up for the size being a little larger than I’d like. You can find the blush brush here and the powder brush here.

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When it comes to primer it seems like Too Faced and Urban Decay are forever throwing “deluxe trial sizes” at you. So I usually carry one of those. It saves just enough weight and space that I save those smaller ones just for travel. Mascara is another one that every brand on earth is just dying to give away. There was one year I didn’t even buy mascara. I had enough of those travel sized ones I’d gotten for free that I just used those. I keep them for travel now as well. There’s usually more than enough for a week or two. My eyelash curler goes because I can’t use mascara without it. I used to have a travel sized one and it was okay. But I just felt like a full sized one was easier to use and really wasn’t taking up that much extra room.

Now when it comes to packing all this up I like Vera Bradley’s cosmetic bags. I use a medium size and it’s perfect for holding everything I need, plus the inevitable extras I toss in there (usually fancy hair clips). These bags are machine washable and lined in plastic. Have you ever had something break or leak in your cosmetic bag and it just ruined the bag? Yeah, buy one of these and never toss a bag again. I love them.

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This one is called “Make Me Blush” and I bought it when the pattern was brand new- in summer of 2010. I could really do with a replacement. Not because it’s wearing out, not at all. It actually still looks brand new, you’d never guess it was is as old as it is looking at it. I’m just getting a bit bored after all these years! Most of my Vera bags are really old and you’d never guess it. They say they’re made of cotton but I’ve yet to wear one out. This one gets a ton of use and it’s been more places than many humans but it still looks like it did the day I bought it. I don’t think I’ll ever purchase another brand for cosmetic bags so long as I live. And I know some of you may think “Granny” when you see that quilted paisley but that quilted fabric is a New England favorite I’ll have you know! Also, it’s slightly padded which means I’ve never had anything break in here. Leak, yes. But powder cosmetics? Nope, nothing’s ever smashed! This is why I also tend to put any expensive hair things I might be carrying in here. The bag keeps them safe.

Vera Bradley does make another bag now, it has a separate pocket for brushes and after staring at it for some time I took the plunge and bought it when my favorite print was discontinued and went on clearance.

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It’s pretty cool. They do have a larger size which is great if you’re still struggling to pare things down. But I went with the medium size since it’s what I’m used to. It is still a smidge bigger, by an inch in both width and height if I’m not mistaken. I love that I’ll be able to stay even more organized now. I typically keep mesh covers over my brushes to protect the bristles and keep things a bit more clean but now I won’t be forced to. I’ll even be able to keep my bandaids in the little zip pocket. I hate how they always end up crushed at the bottom of my current bag. But now they’ll be safe. 🙂 I also hope my blush brush will fit. If it doesn’t it’ll be a really sad day. I won’t mind having two for everyday, but I will be forced to find a new travel brush. The pockets do seem generous though. They have a video on the site showing Real Techniques brushes in there and they have some crazy wide handles. So I could pick up one of those at least I know it’ll fit! And if you really feel like you have to have a lot of brushes, you might be able to fit two eye brushes per sleeve. And having that extra room in the main compartment because the brushes are no longer in there will be nice. Depending on how much room I gain I might now actually be able to do away with my jewelry pouch (I no longer carry a roll unless I’m going to be in formal wear). I like to use just tiny pouches like what you’d get if you bought a charm at Tiffany’s (you can also just ask for some when buying anything) and I put them into a velvet lined, leather pouch (Pandora used to go all out with their Gifts With Purchase!). But I may now be able to do away with that pouch which would make me very happy. Anything to lighten the load!

So there you have it. Exactly what I bring when I travel and how I carry it. This set up has worked well for me for years, hopefully it can help some of you out there that don’t travel very frequently or who do but need to find ways to pair down what they bring. I’m actually in Hawaii this month and this is exactly what I’m bringing. I’ll still be posting while I’m away and stay tuned for next week because I have some big news!

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. 🙂

Traveling With Toddlers

I don’t have time for a full post right now, but wanted to let people know this is coming. This topic was requested and I’m happy to oblige. I travel a lot, as in I just spent the last two weeks in Vegas and Boston and I’m going to Hawaii the end of the month. I always travel with my 17 month old so I’ve learned a lot about traveling with toddlers and infants. Hopefully my first real post in what will be a series will be up within the next couple of days. I do already have something written, but I looked at it this morning and hated it. So that’s being revised. So posts are coming, keep a look out!

Guess I Still Won’t Be Eating At Disneyland

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There’s a saying I’ve had for years, and I’m reminded of it now. “That really burns my toast”. I don’t know where or when I picked it up, but it seems appropriate for so many situations. This is one of them. 

I heard back from Disneyland. To say I was unimpressed with their response to my genuine concerns would be the understatement of the year. It felt rude, and like a slap in the face. They clearly do not care. Here is their response to my email.

 

Thank you for your e-mail to the DISNEYLAND® Resort.

We apologize for the disappointments you mentioned in your e-mail.  In
recent years, there has been an increased public awareness of food
availability and preparation due to food allergies.  As a result, the
Resort has expanded its alternative food offerings, including a greater
number of vegetarian and gluten-free items.

Since tastes vary from Guest to Guest, we are constantly faced with the
challenge of providing our Guests with a wide variety of foods, and it
concerns us that you state you were unable to find anything for
consumption while you were here with us.  Please be assured that we have
shared your comments with the Food & Beverage management team as
feedback such as yours is taken very seriously.

For future visits, questions regarding accommodations for special
dietary needs while at the Resort Theme Parks, including product
availability, preparation methods, and ingredient lists please contact
The Chef at (714) 781-3569.  The Chef may not be available to answer all
calls immediately, however, The Chef will answer all messages left on
voice mail.  For restaurants at the Hotels of the DISNEYLAND® Resort,
please contact The Chef’s Office at (714) 956-6719.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write.  We hope you will have
the opportunity to visit the DISNEYLAND® Resort again soon and trust
your visit will be pleasant in all regards.

Sincerely,

Demosthenes Miles
DISNEYLAND® Resort
Guest Experience Services

 

There is absolutely no way on God’s green Earth they “expanded their alternate food offerings”. If that were true I would have had an easier time eating at the park, not a harder time. I think it would be fair to say that their staff would have gladly informed me of these options instead of saying “What?” whenever I asked what’s gluten free. So if they have new gluten free foods available it’s the best kept secret in the park. 

As for their comment about tastes varying, I agree. However I think it’s important to point out my problem was not with finding something I like, but something that was safe- big difference there. Being gluten free isn’t a lifestyle choice for me. If it was I would have given it up years ago. Jealousy is not an emotion I’m very familiar with, but I think it’s fair to say that’s what I’m feeling when I watch those around me bite into a pretty cookie and I don’t even get some sad looking one. Or maybe it’s just plain sadness. I don’t know, I just know being gluten free isn’t my idea of a good time.

I think it’s great they gave me the number of The Chef, whoever that is. But is he going to hold my hand as we stroll through the park? Will he go back into the kitchen to whip me up a little something when I start getting peckish? Will he ensure the staff that’s already back there has been safe all day so the place isn’t some cross contamination nightmare? If the answer to any of these questions is no then I don’t expect him to be much help. 

I seriously doubt they are taking my concerns seriously. If they were they wouldn’t have written such a ridiculous response. It doesn’t actually address my complaint, it just says “we have plenty to pick from, sorry you’re so picky”. They didn’t mention if things have changed at Disney World as well, even though I asked them point blank. I will call that number and I will expect real answers from whoever picks up the phone. If not I’m going to be really, really angry.

As I mentioned in the previous post we have an annual passport and it wasn’t cheap. My husband and I are planning a trip to Florida in February. I think we should go and try to get our moneys worth out of the tickets. But if I run into the same problems at that park I don’t see the point in renewing our passes next year. Why would I want to give more money to a company that doesn’t care about it’s guests? If I can’t eat, or eat without issue then my visit will not “be pleasant in all regards”. 

And for the record I’m not a jerk. I know preparing special meals takes extra work and I was always grateful for those who put that extra effort in. I will happily wait while you preheat the deep fryer, or cook my pizza separately. I will wait as long as you need me to so the chef can come out to talk to me. I will eat at off peak times. I will pay more for my food because I know it costs more. I just want it to be there for me when I need it. I could understand if I were whining about the lack of vegan ice cream options, but I’m not. I just want lunch, I didn’t think that was too much to ask. I guess Disney disagrees.

 

 

Planning To Eat Gluten Free At Disneyland, Think Again

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This past week I was in California and got to spend a little time with the mouse. I love Disney, I always have a good time and this trip was no exception. However there was one thing that really threatened to ruin my trip, and in fact there were a few sad moments. They all concerned food. As anyone with Celiac disease knows eating while away from home can be stressful. Disney has (in the past) been great about this though. They used to be very Celiac friendly, not so much anymore. Before I used to just stop into City Hall and pick up a print out, a list with all the restaurants and food stands in the park on it and it listed everything that was safe. Well this trip I was informed they change vendors so frequently they couldn’t possibly keep up with the list (it was updated monthly though virtually nothing on it has changed over the years). I was told all I had to do was stop by restaurant or stand and I would be told what was safe. I was so excited, it seemed like they were getting even more Celiac friendly. I was wrong…

On more than one occasion I was met with the blank stare. You know the one, it’s the one that comes right before people say “huh”. And in that moment you know things will end badly for you. Either you will be instantly turned away, or because they don’t know anything about gluten they aren’t being careful about cross contamination and you’re basically gambling with your health by eating there. An annoyance in the real world, but in a theme park it’s a disaster. My only option beyond eating in their resultants is to lug a full days worth of food with me. Not really practical and could lead to spoilage in summer.

My best experience dining was at the Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square. Although I’ve had a good experience there in the past and that may play into it. The waitstaff knew what I was talking about and got the chef straight away (he was also knowledgeable). Ariel’s Grotto was sort of okay. The chef didn’t seem overly enthused he had gluten free diners and had to think about what was safe, not a great sign. The waiter had a full on deer in the headlights look when we told him we were GF. Not that we should have had any issue as we had to make reservations in advance and we told them two in our party couldn’t eat gluten. Apparently they didn’t think it was worth making a note of that.

In the regular fast food type restaurants it was hit or miss. The chef was standing there in one place (can’t remember where we were but they had roast beef and turkey, plates or sandwiches on GF bread or regular) and he was friendly and knew what we were saying (even if the waitstaff seemed a bit confused). One of the servers at Taste Pilot’s Grill seemed to know what were were asking too. But later in that same park at the hot dog place (near the Monsters Inc. ride) they were trying to ask each other what was safe and one person said only the plain hot dog with nothing on it. We didn’t eat there because I hate hot dogs (though I was so hungry at that point I would have considered them) and they didn’t seem confident. We finally ate at Lucky Fortune Cookery and none of the sauces were safe. They said I could have the meat plain and they had a GF lemon sauce that wasn’t listed. We picked that because I was starving and they put the sauce on the side, I’m so glad they did as it was basically lemon concentrate and the last time I checked that isn’t a sauce. Food stands were even worse. I had people tell me nothing was safe, others just handed over products expecting me to somehow know it’s gluten status by just looking at it. And one person just handed over the ingredient list for the turkey legs. It had been ripped off the cardboard box they apparently come in and had no company info or brand name on it. 

So basically Disneyland is no longer Celiac friendly. They decided to stop making any effort and do not bother to educate their staff. You eat there at your own risk. If you’re willing to google allergen statements while waiting in line for rides then you can have the occasional treat (like I did for their frozen bananas- safe by the way). But I feel like I shouldn’t have to do that. It’s stealing the magic. Disney said they started becoming food allergy/intolerance friendly because they cater to all kinds of people. And if they can accommodate a child with a life threatening illness then they could surely produce safe food. That it wasn’t fair for some guests to watch everyone around them eating cookies, candy apples, and even just basic foods like pizza and burgers. That guests with allergies should be able to have a chicken nugget like a normal person. I always loved that about them and now it’s over. I’m back to feeling like a burden and a freak when traveling. That my dietary restrictions will once again dictate where we eat. That those with me will now feel bad for grabbing a snack when I can’t have one. I’d say it was nice while it lasted but I’m so blinded by anger I can’t.

 

I have not been to Disney World in a couple of years. I plan to go sometime in the new year. If the dining conditions are the same you can be sure I’ll write about it here. I also plan to contact Disney to complain and ask why they basically did away with something so many people and families rely on. I will post their reply here as well.