Family and the holidays

family and the holidays

Every year around the holidays you begin to read many posts and blogs about the stresses of gathering together as a family.  So I thought I’d be a little different and rather than point out the annoying quirks of my family members, I’d write about the joy of reunited with those we love.  My husband and I are parents to one year old (he turns one is december) and we’re also expats.  So the only family members we have around are ourselves, our little family of three (four with our beautiful canine fur baby).  So any time family or friends decide to come into town we couldn’t be more happy.  We have an open door policy, everyone is welcome to come see us at any time they wish.

When you live far away from your loved ones you realize that there really is nothing more important than family.  With a new baby that becomes increasingly evident.  There is no greater joy than seeing a grandparent enjoy their grandchildren, especially when they only have the one.  We wish that family get togethers were annoying, because that would mean that we see them far too often.  But in our case the complete opposite is true, we don’t see our family nearly enough.  Family members are the ones that are there for you no matter what goes on in life.  They are the ones who love you and support you through all of your ups and downs.  Spending time with them and creating memories is a true blessing that we welcome with open arms.  I love Christmas, it’s my favourite time of year, and the idea of spending it without family is a sad and lonely prospect to me.  That’s not to say we haven’t done it, because we have.  And we still have a great time just us, but we have an even better time if we’re surrounded by those who love us the most.

So whether it’s us travelling to see them, or them coming to us, any time we can spend with our family is a truly joyous and positive occurrence.  If you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by your loved ones then please count your blessings.  No matter how much they may get on your nerves, having family who loves you, wants to spend time with you, and is close enough to do so, is the greatest gift you can receive this holiday season.

Oh boy, here we go…

No tantrums allowed

My son will be turning one in december so until now we’ve been living in the bliss of baby world where true disciplinary actions don’t really need to be taken.  But starting a couple of week ago we began to see the rise of the toddler behaviour that will need to be corrected.  Mainly, the frustration tantrum.  My generally well-behaved, calm little boy has begun to throw small fits any time something doesn’t quite go his way.  If he pushes his toy and it doesn’t move, he cries; if he pushes his toy and it goes the opposite direction that he wishes, he cries; if another baby takes the toy he was playing with, he cries; and so on, and so on.

On the one hand, the way he throws himself to the floor to cry is seriously cute, but on the other hand we simply cannot condone this behaviour.  So here we go, venturing down the path of teaching discipline.  It’s a tricky road to walk because there is only so much that a one year old can yet comprehend, however we don’t want to simply allow the behaviour to continue under the excuse of “he’s still just so young.”  And being new parents means that we are often left wondering what to do and how to correctly handle the situation.  So of course we ask advice from our parents, our friends who are parents, or we take to the internet to see what advice we can find there.  In the end we go with our gut feeling, but seeking out advice has been a big help.  By being open to other points of view you sometimes hear an idea that you had not thought of, and it’s worth considering.  And while we are only just beginning down this road we have discovered that for the most part our instincts are usually quite good, but baking it up with a little bit of research does give us a boost of confidence that we are doing the right thing.

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

Time to plan his first birthday

1st bday planning

I can hardly believe it, but the time has arrived, my precious little angel is soon to turn one year old.  It feels like just yesterday that I was shedding tears when I heard his first cry as he entered this world.  This past year has been one of the most challenging, rewarding, full of love, years of my life.  I have relished every moment of it and the thought of my baby already being one makes me excited and sad at the same time.  But putting all of those emotions aside it’s also time to get down to some serious business, planning his first birthday.

When I first thought of his big day I just figured we’d do a quiet celebration at home with just any family members that happen to be in town (we’re expats so it’s often just us), but then the planned was to travel home for Christmas and his birthday.  So with that plan also came a big, and I mean big, party to celebrate his birthday as well as show him off to all of our family and friends that still have not met him.  I had everything planned out, down to the last detail.  While it was a large party it was an easy one for me to organize because I did it with a planner since I had to plan from another country.  But then life stepped in and as it turns out we cannot travel this year and will be spending Christmas here.  So I cancelled everything I had planned and found myself back at square one.

So here I am, at the beginning again, trying to figure out what I can do to celebrate our little guy.  Since my husband and I had both gotten excited over the idea of a party we now want to continue with that idea, however since we are staying put this year it also means that it will be a much smaller party.  Smaller is good for the budget, but also more complicated because of location.  There are a lot of places that are great for birthday parties but they’re just too big for what we need or simply not age appropriate.  That being said we’ve decided to go with the park that’s close to our house.  It’ll be nice to be outside, there are swings for the kids, and best of all I won’t have to worry about things breaking in my house.  Keeping it small also means that I will be testing out my DIY skills when it comes to the decor, so Pinterest has become my best friend as of late.  Then there’s the menu.  What should I serve?  Should I make it or buy it?  What about the cake?  What do I get for party gift bags?  So many details that on their own doesn’t seem like much when you start to add them up it can get a bit overwhelming.

I have a general idea of what I want but nothing is set and the party is in just a few weeks.  So it’s time for me to sit down, make my lists, and get to shopping.  The last thing I want is to be running around at the last-minute trying to pull this party together.  So this weekend is dedicated to getting all of my decoration purchased (or at least the materials that I need in order to make them all over the next few weeks), decide on the food, beverages, cake, party gift bag, and of course his present.

Family holiday

vacation

So we just went on a little family vacation.  It wasn’t a very long trip, just about a week, but the getaway was needed.  It was also our first shot at travelling with an energetic almost one year old.  The last time we travelled our son was only a few months old so it was easy, he pretty much just slept everywhere we went.  This time he’s older, mobile, full of energy, and needing to be entertained.  So suddenly travelling as a family has become a vastly different experience.  A fun, exciting, chaotic, stressful, dynamic, and thoroughly joyful experience.

We spent about a week in Washington DC and were lucky enough to stay with friends.  It was so nice to spend time with great friends that we hadn’t seen in some time whilst also creating some wonderful family memories.  Our friends have an 8 month old baby which just made for so much fun and adorable photos of our two little guys playing together.  Our days were filled with lots of baby laughter, and just a few tears.  Of course having two babies hanging around meant that there was no fixed schedule, unless you count feedings and napping as a vacation schedule.  For the most part they were happy to nap out on the road, but we made sure to get home early so they could each get a good nights rest.  No more late nights out when you have a couple of babies with you!

We live in Puerto Rico so this was our little guys first experience in the cold weather, and lets just say he’s not a huge fan.  When we arrived and walked out of the airport into the cold night air he was taken aback and gave us quite the look of shock and horror.  He got cranky when we put a coat on him and the look of shock made its appearance every single time we went outside!  Even when we were indoors his discomfort continued.  His crawling and general ruckus was much more low key as apparently wearing long pants just slows him down.  And socks, no way!  If he’s inside there is no way he’s having socks on.  By the end of the trip he did get more comfortable in his cold weather clothes but my little Caribbean boy definitely prefers the heat and his shorts.

The plane ride wasn’t too bad.  The way there was a night flight so he was cranky as all he wanted to do was stretch out in his bed and sleep.  He did manage to sleep but if he did wake up he cried, and no parent enjoys that when they’re on the plane.  On the way back it was a morning flight so he didn’t sleep too much, he was full of energy and wanting to play.  Fortunately he was quite well behaved, he was content to just play with his toys and eat his snacks.  Unfortunately for the couple next to us their 16 month little girl cried pretty much the entire way.  She, and her parents, did not have a good flight at all.  I tried to be friendly and help if they needed something but we all know that being the parent of a hysterical child on a flight is just so stressful.  The look of exhaustion and relief on their faces when we deplaned  was just heartbreaking.

I’m so glad we got to enjoy some time away as a family, and share that time with some really great friends.  Especially getting to know their little baby, kids grow so fast that I’m so thankful we got to experience him as a baby! 🙂

Autumn
Beautiful autumn colours. This was one of my favourite parts of our trip, it’s been far too many years since I’ve seen this!
the favourite bear
Little man’s favourite bear all buckled up and ready for take off!
playing on the plane
Entertaining himself on the plane. We had a couple of crying moments but for the most part he did really great!
Christmas tree
Beautiful Christmas tree at Mount Vernon

In Flanders Fields. Remembrance Day

Every year, in Canada, November 11th is Remembrance Day (Veterans Day in the USA), and it’s a day to commemorate the members, both past and present, of the Canadian Armed Forces.  Also known as Armistice Day, it marks the date and time when the armies stopped fighting in World War I, on November 11th at 11am in 1918 (the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month).  Many people wear poppies before and on Remembrance Day as a sign of their respect and support for Canadian troops.  Poppies are often handed out for free but a voluntary donation is usually given in exchange.

The poem In Flanders Fields was written by a Canadian officer during the first world war and is often recited in for Remembrance Day.  I remember learning the poem by heart when I was a young girl in school in Canada.

Remembrance Day

Blogger of the week!  Thank you to The Baby Spot

  
I’m very excited to let you all know that Life With Waldo has been featured as the blog of the week at The Baby Spot!

If you haven’t checked out this online magazine yet then I suggest you do it now. It’s a great source of information for all things to do with pregnancy, baby, and parenting.  They cover all subjects from fertility, to product reviews, to parenting tips, and much more.  And while you’re there don’t forget to check out their other featured weekly bloggers!

Thank you to The Baby Spot, I’m honoured to be featured by such s great publication! 

Rock the mom bod

rock your mom bod

Not long ago I wrote a blog post about being proud of my c-section scar (read it here), and this got me thinking a little bit more about my body.  Yes, I’m proud to own my scar, but am I proud of my post baby body?  Most days I’m ok with it, but some days not so much.  How sad is that?  The most positive thing that came to mind was most days I’m ok with it, well that needed to change.

So naturally I started doing a bit more exercise, I say a bit because the truth is I have a very energetic 10 month old who never sits still so chasing after him is exhausting enough on its own.  So as I’ve been doing these exercises I’m glad to say that I have begun to notice a difference.  If I’m being completely honest the difference I’m seeing is so far not noticeable to anyone else, but I have no problem with that.  You see the thing is, me not feeling great about my post baby body has nothing to do with what other people may or may not think about how I look.  I’ve never been called overweight, I’ve never received an unwelcome comment about me looking different since having a baby, and my wonderful husband still tells me I look beautiful all of the time.  But I felt different, I felt like I hadn’t put in enough effort into recuperating my pre baby body.  The simple act of taking control is enough for me to boost my self-confidence and feel good about how I look in my jeans.  Yes I still want to lose a few pounds, and I know that I will, but focusing on how I feel is much more beneficial.  When you do something that will boost your energy, or boost your mood, you no longer focus as much on what you see in the mirror.  And let’s be honest, giving birth and being a mom means you grew a human being inside your body, you fed that human, you give everything over to that little creature to make sure they’re happy and healthy, that in itself is a pretty amazing thing.

So stop fretting over the image in the mirror and focus on creating a positive energy.  Start eating more healthy meals, or take up a class at the gym, or just start taking your little one for walks around the neighbourhood.  It doesn’t matter how you go about it, as long as your focus is on feeling good.  My body has been through a lot, it’s time I thank it by being kind to it.

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

Searching for the changing table

where are all of the changing tables

Ok parents, let’s be honest about something for a minute, how often have you been out with your baby who needs to be changed and there is no changing table to be found?  Depending on where in the world you live this may or may not be a huge problem for you.  But for me, even when I have travelled, I have yet to find a city where this is not an issue.  How is it possible that in 2015 I still cannot go out with my baby feeling confident that no matter where I go I will have access to a change table, let alone a clean one!  Just yesterday I was at a brand new shopping centre that has “family washrooms” that even include those adorable little toilettes for toddlers, but do you think there was a changing table in there?  NOPE!  Not long ago I went out for brunch with some fellow moms and of course the time came that my baby boy needed a change, and guess what?  No change table!  The bathroom wasn’t even large enough to get the stroller in so that I could use that to change him and still maintain some privacy.  Every time I travel home to El Salvador I have to stop in Panama for a connection, well that airport has been under renovation for a long time so there are a lot of improvements, and yet there is not one change table in the entire airport!  I have checked in several washrooms and not one!  My only hope is that by the time I have to travel through there again then maybe they will have finally installed some.  And if this is a problem for me as a mother, just imagine what it’s like for a father.  It’s unbelievable that today it is still assumed that a baby will only be out with his/her mother so of course men do not need a change table in their washroom.  There is no reason why my husband shouldn’t be able to change our baby regardless of if I’m there or not.  Or what about a dad simply wanting to take his baby out without mom coming along?  What about a single dad?  What if the child has two dads?

In the past I’ve seen reports of people complaining because they witness a parent changing their baby in a public area.  Well guess what, most parents would prefer to change their child in private but if you do not have access to a clean changing area then you have to get creative.  And no, I absolutely will not change my child on the floor of a public bathroom.  Would you change yourself on the floor of a public washroom?  Probably not, so don’t expect a parent to do so with a baby.

It’s just crazy to me that we still cannot rely on something so simple like a change table in all public washrooms.  It seems to me that in 2015 it’s about time we acknowledge that parents and babies have the right to enjoy a normal life outside of the home.

Planning for a trip with a baby

planning for a trip

We are planning a quick family getaway in mid November and it has is become clear just how much trip planning changes when you have a baby to consider.  Prior to having a baby any trip was all about the excitement of seeing something new and just going with the flow.  Now that we have a little one I have to plan out so many more details.  So here are some points that I have found necessary to take into account.

Where you will stay.  For this trip we are fortunate enough to stay with some good friends who also have a baby.  This works out great since they too live in the baby world, plus the little ones will be able to play together which is fabulous.  But wherever you decide to stay just make sure you also have somewhere safe for the baby to sleep, ideally a crib.  Most hotels do provide cribs which is great, but in my experience you should always take your own fitted crib sheet.  It has happened to me on two occasions that I call the hotel ahead of time to ensure that they have a fitted crib sheet and yet when I get there it turns out that they do not.  So it’s best to bring one with you just in case.

Climate.  If you’re travelling somewhere with a climate different to your own then you’re going to have to get appropriate clothes for your baby, and we all know that baby clothes are pricey.  I have been faced with this issue on this trip because we are going somewhere cold but we live in the Caribbean so I have no winter clothes for my baby.  To avoid spending a lot of money on clothes he will only use for a few days I’m keeping the items to a minimum.  Luckily he is a very clean baby so this shouldn’t be an issue.  The only things I’ve purchased are two long sleeve tops.  He already has a couple of cardigans so I plan to just use those over his other shirts which should be fine.  Fortunately another mom friend of mine has a warm coat so I’m able to borrow that for the trip.  Always ask around if you can borrow items from someone, but if you have to purchase look for clearance items or bargain shops.

Supplies.  All parents know that a baby requires a lot of supplies (diapers, food, wipes, bottles, etc.) so planning ahead helps.  Make sure to take enough to cover any situation like a flight delay, but if you can purchase things when you arrive to your destination then that will make packing a lot easier.  If you use specialty products that aren’t easily available then you should take those, but if you’re flexible on brands then you can likely get most of what you need wherever you go…unless of course you plan on going to a very secluded location.

Toys.  A baby needs entertainment so you have to take some toys along, but consider the wisely before packing everything you have.  Toys take up a lot of space so just take a couple of his or her favourite items.  For this trip I plan to bring one book, his teddy bear and one other small toy.

Activities.  When you have a little one you need to find activities that are baby friendly, so it helps to do a little research before you go.  But let’s not forget, sometimes a baby has other ideas so don’t get fixated on a plan.  Have a good idea of what fun family things you can do, but be flexible and don’t worry if the plans have to change.  In the end the most important thing is that you’re spending time together as a family and you’ll have great memories of this for years to come.

I have found that by keeping all of these things in mind I can avoid over-packing and unnecessary stress and simply focus on the joy and excitement of travelling and spending time as a family.