Saturday, July 11, 2015

Traveling Baby Chapter 2 - Getting on the Plane

It was finally here, the day before our trip to NYC for my brother’s wedding. I went through my packing list for baby boy a few (10) more times. If you are curious, my packing list is at the bottom.

After dinner the night before, hubby double-checks the flight loads (for those of you who don’t have to play the standby game, this is what tells us if we have a chance of getting on our flight, or if we should just give up now) and made a few back-up recommendations. We will likely get there on the flight we want. YES!

Then we discuss our plan of attack for the morning.
  • Step 1 – 3:15 a.m. hubby wakes up (barf!)
  • Step 2 – 3:30 a.m. I wake up (those 15 minutes help)
  • Step 4 – Hubby makes breakfast, packs snacks and I pump
  • Step 5 – We run silently around the house like crazy people. Side note, I think parents could carry out all kinds of burglaries or special ops after living your life to not wake your sleeping baby.
  • Step 6 – WAKE THE BEAST! Quickly put him in his flying outfit (yes, I had a special outfit for flying and it said something about being Daddy’s copilot) and get him in the car. You have three minutes to do all of this while he is still groggy before the meltdown starts. It’s only 4:30 a.m.
  • Step 7 – Pray all your stuff is in the right bags and load them in the car. Don’t forget the baby!
  • Step 8 – Feed your screaming child as you drive to the airport. Start the countdown until he needs to eat again and pray for no massive messes before you get on the plane!

At the airport I feel like I’m carrying out an intricate balancing act. Baby is in the stroller I’m pushing in front of me, my roller suitcase is behind me and my diaper bag is on my back.

WARNING – Make SURE your boarding pass says “Infant in Arms” or they will NOT let you into security. I don’t even want to talk about that.

Weave in and out of the security line ropes with all your crap in front of and behind you. Have fun!

When you get to the part where you take out your stuff for the x-ray, collapse your stroller, load your bags on the x-ray machine belt, take off the car seat, and grab your baby people will glare at you! It doesn’t matter if you are trying to disarm a bomb people, everyone behind you (all 2 of them) hate you for taking 10 seconds longer than they think you should. Meanwhile, you feel like inspector gadget with all your crap and like a serious badass as you take care of business alone.

Get through that metal detector (that’s right, no weird body scanners for you!) and then reassemble all your belongings. But this time, you do not care one bit that the people behind you are annoyed. You are just beginning your trip.

Say “Hello” to hubby who managed to park the car, ride the terminal bus from the parking lot to the terminal, go through security and get your boarding passes while you accomplished only one thing.

Then, get on the plane and hopefully fly peacefully to your destination.

My packing list
  • Birth certificate
  • Breast pump and pieces
  • Ice packs
  • Bottles
  • Bottle cooler bag
  • Baby carrier
  • Eight onesies
  • Three swaddle blankets (one for each night)
  • Three bibs
  • Five burp cloths
  • Four pairs of socks
  • Dressy outfit
  • Three plastic laundry bags
  • Ten diapers (buy more when you get there)
  • Wipes (buy more when you get there)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Traveling Baby Chapter 1 – Preparing for our First Family Flight

I love to travel. I love my new son. Therefore, I must learn how to travel with this little adorable nugget of mine.

I’ll be honest, the thought of traveling with my nine-week-old son gave me anxiety. I can see why other people opt not to do it. However, when your little brother is getting married in NYC and you are in the wedding, oh, and your hubby is a commercial pilot, you must suck it up and get on the damn plane!

Probably four months before baby boy’s arrival, I started asking other pilot wives and reading other blogs like Have Baby Will Travel about the adventures of non-rev with a baby. I got great advice, like:
  • Take zip lock bags in case a diaper/spit-up explosion happens
  • Buy diapers when you get there and just pack what will fit
  • Get a cover for your car seat so it doesn’t get damaged when you gate check

Once little man was in our lives, though, other questions and concerns surfaced, like:
  • How the hell am I going to keep this little guy on his sleep schedule?
  • As his source of food, how do I do this? Should I bring my pump and tools (yes, yes you should!)
  • He hasn’t had all his vaccines!! What if someone sneezes on him? (you punch them in the face!)

All that craziness rolls around your head, and then you think about all the passengers who will automatically hate you for procreating and bringing your child on the plane. Ugh! The anxiety is back!

I made a list of everything I would need, from his birth certificate (this is a rumor, you don’t need it – check with your airline!), to how many onesies he could destroy in a day times three. My hubby wanted me to practice feeding him in public with my cover. I opted not to and regret it. It wasn’t easy, but he didn’t starve!

We ordered the car seat cover (definitely do this!) to protect it from being totally destroyed, or worse, dirty, from being stored with the luggage.

Check, check, check!

Now all that is left is getting on the damn plane! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Rapid-Fire Recap -- What the Hell Has Been Going On?

Woah…did you miss me? Did you notice I was gone? Ehh, no biggie!

The world of travel changed for this pilot wife and her hubby over the past year. Let’s recap:
In January 2014, we moved from Arizona to my home state of Ohio. Sold one house, bought another, I changed jobs, hubby transitioned to a new aircraft, and life was all around chaotic.

We took a trip to Chicago in April of 2014, which was a blast! I saw family, explored the city on my own (I’ve always wanted to do a trip alone so this kinda checked that box) while hubby was still flying.

Then, in late-August, we went to Arizona to see friends and family, and then up to the San Francisco-area to see more friends and family. My heart ached because I miss the West so much, but that is another story.
We had a blast and no real non-rev issues! (virtual high-five!) We also had the opportunity to tell a few friends and family that we were going to have a baby! It was early so we didn’t tell everyone, but we had to tell some (ahem…most) of them! My husband’s grandparents, both in their mid-90s, were still living independently at the time (more on that a few paragraphs down) so it was great to spend time with them. After that, we headed north to wine country and to stay at his cousin’s guest house and relax, and to learn that our baby would have a new cousin! Hubby’s cousin was expecting their second two weeks before our little one was due!

Once we got home, the fact that we were becoming parents really sunk in. No more weekend trips on the fly, saving money for baby boy or girl was a priority, and life was going to change big time. We were excited, but I get VERY stir-crazy if I don’t have trips planned. I felt a little trapped in Ohio and with a very cold, grey, long winter, I was really exhausted by the time the sun finally came back. There were even times I would take the dogs for a walk in 10 degree snow (with my massive belly) because I had to get out of the house!

In November, hubby’s grandfather had heart surgery. They weren’t sure if he would go for the surgery or not. Being mid-90s with other medical concerns, it was either risk the surgery, or enjoy the next few months that would definitely be his last. I am glad they risked the surgery and gave him more time, but it hasn’t been easy. He suffered a few strokes during the surgery, but it was an overall success considering. In mid-December, it was decided that my hubby needed to see his grandfather ASAP because it wasn’t looking good. I decided to go with him. It was exhausting. We left early one morning, two leg-trip, and got into San Francisco as planned. We saw his grandparents and dad. Despite the exhaustion, I’m glad we both went. About 24 hours later, we headed home on our cross country trip. Going home was WAY harder and after a three hour nap in a Charlotte hotel (from 1-4 a.m. -- practice for baby!!), we finally got on a flight home. After that, I didn’t go anywhere for the duration of the pregnancy. Thankfully, grandpa is back home, but they have full-time help (which they hate), and have lost some of their spunk. But they are amazing people and I can’t wait to see them again this fall!

April rolled around and our baby boy made his arrival one week late, but healthy as an ox…and about as big as one too!

So there is this pilot wife’s year in a recap! Obviously, many other things happened, but these are the biggies and I’m sure this next year will be just as exciting, minus the baby. We are good with one child and two dogs for now! 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Dear Non-Pilot Wife Friends: We Are Not Blowing You Off

A few months ago I experienced something I seriously dislike; having to tell a friend I couldn’t do fun couple activities, repeatedly, for several months! Every time this sweet friend and her husband had something fun in mind, I had to sadly say that the hubby was working. He was working ALL weekends at the time. And, I am NOT someone who likes to turn down social engagements…at all!

I don’t necessarily think that my friend thought we were blowing them off, but I sure felt like we were. So it got me thinking about the fellow pilot wives out there also trying to maintain some sort of social life with couple friends.

Everyone and each lifestyle comes with its own challenges to living the life we want, but how are we supposed to build relationships (particularly if we move every five or so years because of changing bases) with couple friends and family-type friends when we have the kiddos, when we are always flying solo?

I’m grateful for friends who understand, and particularly those who are fellow pilot wives when no further questioning is needed as she explains they can’t do dinner tomorrow because her hubby just got done with a 4-day, has one day home, then leaves for a stand-up. Gross!

There is also the added layer of them being gone all the time and trying to get them to leave the house. My husband does not want to leave our home, even to go out to dinner (he would prefer take out) when he is home. He doesn’t spend that much time in our house anyway, so on the few days he is home, he isn’t leaving unless it is life or death. Try explaining that to everyone!

Being comfortable doing things solo is a must when your husband is gone almost half of the time. Thankfully, there are friends who understand, don’t mind us being the third, fifth or seventh wheel, and never leave us out because we aren’t the full package every time.

I’m just grateful I’m past the point where friends and their significant others thought I was making a man up because he was never around!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Table for One in Chicago

As the wife of a commercial pilot, I am well-acquainted with doing things solo. I have attended parties, weddings, holiday gatherings, “couples” nights, and everything else possible as a party of one. However, until recently I had never traveled solo.

I met a friend of mine in Portland, OR a year ago for a girl’s weekend. She arrive the day before me and just hung out in Portland. She explored, ate in restaurants, talked to people and shopped solo and had a great time. I felt a little jealous! I never before thought of traveling like this. In the back of my mind I always wanted to do a trip alone, but figured I wouldn’t because between my hubby and friends, someone was always down for a trip.

Such a beautiful, fun and friendly city
Then we moved to the Midwest and I needed to fend for myself in a strange place (with shitty weather) and after not seeing hubby for more than two days out of 30, by April I decided we needed some time together. I decided we should visit Chicago. Hubby is based there so I could easily take a short flight to the Windy City and meet up with him for a romantic weekend.

I flew in a on a Saturday and he had to work until Sunday. So off I went, from O’Hare to my downtown hotel, on public transportation, meeting new people along the way. I loved my hotel and the neighborhood. I needed to go do stuff on my own; but what?

After a cocktail and salad in my hotel restaurant (which were amazing), I silently made fun of myself for not leaving my hotel. Why was it so hard to walk out the door and explore? I read a great review about the best Mexican hot chocolate in the city (America) so I decided to walk a few miles on a Saturday night while everyone around me was walking to a late dinner with friends or waiting to get into a club for a bachelorette party (seriously, I walked past like five parties doing this!).

That’s when it got weird—but not for me. I surprisingly didn’t care that the server/host/floor manager at this adorable little casual dining establishment was visibly confused by my “nope, just a party of one. Yes, I want to eat here” (followed by me saying internally ‘because eating outside on the curb like a party-of-oner should, just wouldn’t do, pal’). He sat me at a counter space with my amazing glass of Mexican hot chocolate while I waited for my order of three churros. Yes, three. Don’t judge me.

Best meal ever---EVER!
When my churros arrived, I immediately drifted off into a lovely deep-fried, chocolate- and pistachio-coated heaven.  I no longer noticed the way-too-drunk tables, who really were entertaining to watch. And the two girls next to me who kept staring at me, I reasoned they were just jealous of my fabulous food and shoe choice and smiled.

The next morning I walked around again to a new part of the neighborhood. I found that no stores, not even in Chicago, stock gloves during late-April despite the fact it was freezing. Then I found out that the Chicago Magnolia Bakery is good, but New York’s is better, and that enjoying a city—or any new place—solo is fun! You can see and do what you want, relax and talk to new people, and it’s a great experience. But then I saw my hubby walk up to the hotel and I remembered that I also really, REALLY miss him when he is working and I still love seeing him in uniform, and despite the fact I now have another opinion to take into account for shopping, eating and destinations, I have a lot of fun with my pilot.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

5 things I learned from moving across the country

I was bound to learn a thing or two during a cross-country move at age 30. I learned a few things when I did the move the first time at age 22, so it was only logical that I would take away a few nuggets from my journey home to make me a wiser individual.

It is also extremely hard to list just five takeaways from this monstrous adventure. Moving sucks regardless of whether you are moving a block away, or across the country, or like friends of ours, across the world (I can’t even imagine that and they had two kids!). What I learned during my adventure, though, assures me that I am stronger, a better juggler and more organized than even I imagined.

Without further ado, my top five list!

5. Dogs take up a lot of valuable vehicle space. At first, I thought I would have a decent amount of space in my car to bring certain things with me. Movers were packing and hauling the majority of our belongings, but hubby and I would take the rest in our respective vehicles, on our individual trips. But two dogs (50 and 60-pound dogs) need at least a little space, water bowls, food bowl and food, a maybe a chew toy since the drive is really, really dull for them. I love about 30% of the space in my car to my dogs. And how did they thank me? By releasing some of their worst silent but deadlies ever while we were in a small space.

4. You truly find out who your friends are. I expected to spend time saying goodbye to people but some friends really surprised me; in a good way. There were those that didn't really have time to say goodbye, and though it was sad, it was OK. Then there were those friends that wanted to say goodbye a few times and check in and make sure you were OK, and stop by and help pack your TV. Those are the friends that made me happy and sad at the same time. It was hard to leave these special friends, but felt so good to know we had built those relationships.

This beautiful view is Northern Arizona and the beautiful
vistas were over shortly after this
3. Highways are built in the most boring areas! Why can’t I find a quick, safe, efficient route from Arizona to Ohio that takes me through the most scenic parts of the country?  To top it off, we drove out during the third and final installment of “Polar Vortex 2014” so everything was dead, frozen and miserable. Yes, even the street signs were miserable with that nasty cold weather! It’s boring, it’s flat, it’s brown and I don’t remember most of it because I kind of blacked it out! New Mexico was beautiful, but after that…not so much.

2.  It is possible to become exhausted doing nothing. Sitting in a car for 12 hours can be exhausting. It isn't because my dad (a.k.a. my copilot on this adventure) wasn't great company. It is just exhausting seeing signs that say you are still 300 miles away from St. Louis. The radio in my 2001 CRV worked, but the tape deck (YES – TAPE DECK) wasn't used. That meant we had to listen to radio stations in the abyss of I-40. Oh, and I know what you are thinking, “Why didn't you use one of those iPhone adapters?” I didn't use one because the charger/cigarette lighter didn't work and the last thing I want is to have a dead phone while I’m driving across the country. Surprisingly, there are a lot of Country (good for me), Classic Rock (good for dad) and NPR (good for both of us) stations everywhere!

1. It never really “sunk in” what was happening. People asked me every day if it had “sunk in yet” that I was moving that far away, or that I was leaving my Arizona life behind. To be honest, I was so busy during January packing and preparing for the move to really have time to stop and reflect. I tried to give myself the opportunity to freak out or to allow the enormity of everything to “sink in” with multiple solo hikes and even on that 28 hour drive. It never did, and it really hasn't. We've lived in Ohio for three months and I never had that “Oh my gosh, I moved across the country!” moment. Life just keeps moving and you have to move with it. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

We F-ing moved across the country!

It still doesn't seem real. I can't believe that we sold our house, packed up our life in Arizona and moved to Ohio!

I waited 8 years to take this pic!
Thanks Hobby Lobby ...
It all happened kind of fast. We had been talking about moving back to the Midwest...well...since I met my hubby about eight years ago. We knew we wouldn't live in Arizona forever, but hadn't figured out our next step. Then, something clicked and we both knew we had to move on. Arizona had given us so much: we found each other, we added our fur babies to our lives, we bought and did work on our first home, we started careers, we built networks and made lifelong friends.

Finally, though, we made the decision that it was time to make a move. Fortunately, being married to a commercial pilot meant he had a job wherever we moved. Unfortunately, he was transitioning to a new aircraft at the SAME TIME we had to move for my new job. I had to be at my new job by February 2nd and hubby was in ground school from Jan. 2 - Feb. 21, which meant I had a lot to do solo. Don't get me wrong, hubs was great from afar and did a lot when he was home (when he could come home, for like an hour and then go back), but I had a lot to figure out and quickly.

One week in Ohio - this happened
But we made it! We - the dogs and I - arrived in Ohio as did our stuff, all in time to start my job on February 2nd. The hubby arrived about a month later. We both drove, we both had to shovel our first snow in years (might have been hubby's first snow-shoveling experience ever), and we are starting to figure out our new life in Ohio!

So far, it has been pretty good! I have seen my family a few times and the weather is finally starting to be more tolerable in Ohio the same time it is about to hit 100 in Phoenix. Making friends is harder the older you get, but we are getting there.

Oh, and we found a house already! Ha! We sure do move fast when we make up our minds!