Baby Flyer Blog’s 2017 Gift Guide

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Is it really that time of year again….really??  Spoiler alert- yes it really is.

The holidays are just about cleared for takeoff, so as we put together our lists, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite things currently, and from the past year.  This time around, we’re combining ideas for any Baby Flyers in your life, both at home and on the go.

If you’re looking for ideas for baby’s first year, or your frequent flyers, check out last year’s gift guides:

2016 Gift Guide For The Baby Flyer

2016 Frequent Flyer Gift Guide

Sites and Services

As well as getting the baby, flyer, or friend in your life ‘things,’ sometimes it’s fun to think out of the box and get them (or yourself) services or memberships that they’ll appreciate.

Expert Flyer

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Expert Flyer is a subscription site that allows you to crack open the airlines’ booking and award systems, and use them to your advantage.  It allows you to find real time flight and seat availability, compare flights and schedules, and make informed choices about your flights.  In addition, it allows you to quickly search many of the world’s major airlines for award and upgrade availability.  You can specify dates, and types of awards.  Also includes a fun feature that sends you automatic alerts when the flight or space you’re searching for becomes available, or when your upgrade clears!  The best feeling is to get a text saying your seat back in coach has just gone vacant….meaning your new one is now up front!

Since it’s a detailed program that uses the airlines’ own codes, some learning is required to get the full benefits of a membership, but it’s time well spent.  We’ll be doing a tutorial series on Cruising Altitude in the new year.

Basic features are available for free, but the real useful tools come with a premium subscription, which is billed annually or monthly.  I don’t book flights without checking with Expert Flyer, and use it almost daily.

CLEAR

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CLEAR lines are popping up in airports around the country, including LAX, SEA, DFW, and many more that we frequent.  This service is a re-vamp of an earlier venture from several years ago.  CLEAR members fill out an application, and then do a quick bio-metric data session (fingerprints and iris scans) at an enrollment center, located at their local airport.  After that you not only are done pulling out your ID to go through TSA, but you will be escorted to the front of either the PreCheck or regular priority line, depending on what’s printed on your ticket, by a friendly CLEAR employee.  This can save LOTS of time and hassle.  We’ve given the program a detailed review HERE on Cruising Altitude.  To get a discount, sign up with a Delta frequent flyer number (make one if you don’t have one, you don’t have to actually be flying Delta), and if you want to add family it’s only $50, and all minors traveling with you are always included free!

For the Baby Flyer on the go:

Kids’ Headphones

Kid Headphones

If you’re going to be traveling enough, getting a pair of these can make long haul flights and drives much quieter.  They’re sized for little ears, and decibel-limited, so they stay in the safe range.

Color Wonder Pad and Pens

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This is a great product for keeping little ones occupied without the mess.  The pens only color on the special paper, but the colors are bright and do the trick.

Pura Kiki Kids’ Water Bottle

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Baby Flyer loves this cup.  It comes with both the sippy cup top, and a straw.  She’s never really liked most sippy cups or bottles, so the straw is perfect.  It keeps water cold for a long time, and minimizes spills.  Pro tip- take it on to the plane empty, and fill it from a regular water bottle, or ask the flight attendant to fill it once you’re at cruise.  The spill-proof top seals well enough that the pressurization affects it.

Reusable Snack Bags

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The less plastic in the trash, the better! These bags are simple and useful, and can go in the dishwasher when needed.  Great for travel, or just packing something for lunch.

EZPZ Travel Placemat

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We have both the regular and travel size of this place mat, and it’s a great idea.  It sticks to most table surfaces, and keeps food (as much as possible) where it’s supposed to be.  Easily goes in the dishwasher, or wipes down.  The travel size comes with a carry bag.

Phil & Teds Travel Bed

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We’ve recommended this product as part of other posts before, but in going over the items that we couldn’t travel without, this travel bed comes up every time.  It’s light and easy, and extremely pack-able.  We’ve taken it on quite a few trips, and it’s survived well being checked with our luggage in it’s included carry bag.

Cosco Senecra Car Seat

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Once again, this is an item we’ve mentioned before, but it remains one of our most used favorites.  We’ve even started using it at home when we need to quickly take the baby in the ‘other car’ or in an Uber.  It’s light, installs easily, and meets all safety standards for planes and regular installation.  Plus, it’s extremely reasonable in price, so it makes it affordable to have a dedicated travel car seat.

Baby Flyer’s Other Favorites:

Learning Tower

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This was our answer to the 5pm cranky toddler.  The learning tower lets the little ones get up to counter height to hang out and “help” around the house.  Baby Flyer loves it, and has mastered washing her hands….and making a pretty darn good kale salad.

Native Shoes

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Ready to fly!  Hanging in the Admrial’s Club.

Baby Flyer LOVES shoes, or as she says- ‘Shuuus!!’  She loves hers, ours, everyone’s.  She can walk in heels as well as we can, even if it’s just shuffling around the house.  These shoes, though, really are a favorite.  They’re a good rubber material that is easy on/easy off, but stays secure.  Even better, you can just rinse them off in the sink if they get dirty, and have been holding up well.  She was so tickled with them when we got them, she refused to wear her old shoes anymore, and wore these out of the store even though they were a size too big.

Baby RayBans

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On park patrol….

Okay, yes, we’ll be the first to admit this was a bit of an impulse purchase.  However, these sunglasses are up to the same UV protection as adult sunglasses, which is good to have in LA.  Plus, they’re completely adorable, and Baby Flyer seems to understand.  Even though these are probably on the big side for her now, she’ll grow into them.

From all of us, we wish you a very happy holiday season, and an adventurous new year!

MPicLeaves

~CET, CAR, and Baby Flyer

 

Friday Favorites- Part 2

It’s Friiiiiiiday!  Even better, it’s Friday of a long weekend.  Believe it or not, we’re actually keeping it local this weekend, and are really truly looking forward to some downtime at home to get things done, and enjoy our local neighborhood for a change.

So, without further ado, some of our current favorites:

Phil and Ted’s Travel Crib

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This crib we recently discussed in our Europe trip report (so far).  It’s easily one of our favorite buys to make travel with our little one easier.  We can’t overstate how much nicer it is to travel with than a full size pack n’ play, and Baby Flyer seems to sleep as well in it as she ever did the pack n’ play or hotel cribs.  Honestly, some of the only (!!) times she really slept though the night this summer was in this crib.  We woke up one morning on our Europe trip and had to check on her to make sure she was still okay since she hadn’t been up at her usual 3am that night!

It only weighs about 8-9 pounds, and disassembles into a bag you can easily put over your shoulder, or even zip into a car seat bag (along with the car seat).  We hauled it though Europe to three cities, and it was no worse for wear, even being checked through on some of our flights.   Plus, it’s smaller than the alternatives- such as the Baby Bjorn crib, and is priced competitively.

Bambo Nature Diapers 

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Okay, so when we first had Baby Flyer we were entirely sure that when she wasn’t wearing her washable and oh-so-trendy cloth diapers, she’d DEFINITELY be sporting these eco-friendly, bleach free ones.   Spoiler- it didn’t entirely go that way for awhile.  Honestly as brand new parents, some things just seem easier than others, and we’ve been through plenty of Huggies.  For the tiny ones, the Bambo just didn’t seem as snug, and we chickened out.  However, on our recent trip to Copenhagen, we needed to replenish our our supplies and they were one of the only options.  What’s more, everything there was biodegradable, and green approved (the Danes are better people than us, let’s just face it).

As it turned out, they were great!  They lasted a totally respectable amount of time between changes, and fit well.  We had to buy a sizable pack, so we are still using them in our day to day, and yes, we do feel just a little less guilty on trash day.

Ittikid Scandinavian

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Baby Flyer walking the streets of Helsinki in her “Raddish Dress”

Ittikid is a US online retailer of fun Scandinavian designed baby and kid clothes.  Their catalog is full of bright patterns and soft fabrics.  Baby Flyer has several outfits from their collection, and we love how she looks in them!  They’re also pretty unique, and so we get some compliments on her ‘look,’ both at home, and on our travels.

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Her Ittikid ‘house dress,’ leggings from Tea, and Keen baby sandals

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Trying out the local transportation in Copenhagen.  Stylin’ sweatshirt from Ittikid

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Playing in Tallinn, Estonia – Romper from Ittikid

Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee

CARAMEL-copyWe’ve been just a little obsessed with this stuff this summer….maybe.  It’s a great treat when it’s hot out, and comes in a bunch of flavors.  Our current favorite is the caramel.  It’s concentrated, so it lasts awhile and mixes well with milk or water.  We’ve recently been adding a splash of it into regular brewed iced coffee as a treat for a little flavor.

Bonus Favorite, Baby Flyer’s Pick: Douglas Toys ‘Sassy Sak’ Puppy

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This toy is a little silly, but she loves it so, so much.  She’s also currently learning to say dog (pronounced ‘Dogdo’), so that makes it just a bit extra cute.  ‘Dogdo’ has been out on the town lately traveling well in it’s bag, usually along with Baby Flyer’s cell phone (a permanently dead iphone4), and any number of small trinkets.   The perfect accessory for a Baby Flyer on the go….

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Have a great weekend & let us know some of your current favorites!!

~CAR, CET & Baby Flyer

Summer In Scandinavia Part 1- Gear Up & Go!

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In case you missed it, be sure to read the preview post about this trip here: Summer in Scandinavia Preview

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Our flight up to Chicago from LAX- Baby Flyer’s first 787 Dreamliner flight.  (She slept through most of it)

We had a good (if a little tiring after a late arrival and short night) day in the Windy City.  We made the most of our time- we took the train into the city from our airport hotel, and walked the few short blocks from Washington station to Michigan Ave.  We hadn’t been up in time for breakfast at the hotel, so we stopped off at Le Pain Quotidien for some brunch.  Baby Flyer hasn’t been feeling restaurant high chairs lately, so luckily they had a booth for us, and we all managed to eat a good meal.  Next up, we crossed the street to Maggie C. Daily park.

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We visited here last time we were in the city, and Baby Flyer wasn’t walking yet, so she couldn’t do much exploring on her own.  It was also November, so the park was cold and quiet.  This time, it was a different experience.  We both thought she would be entertained for a while since the park has so many different sections and attractions.  

However, this was one of those moments that encapsulates family travel with young kiddos.  This time around the park was full of kids, mostly older than she was, and she wasn’t really enjoying the vibe.  We played on the swings for a bit, and climbed up and down some grass mounds, and then decided to move on. 

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We ended up walking up the waterfront toward Navy Pier, which we hadn’t done before, and made our way to the canal where the boat tours leave from.  At this point Baby Flyer needed a nap soon (and some air conditioning) so we bought tickets for the next river and lake tour.  There are several tour companies that offer similar trips, for around the same prices.  We didn’t have any trouble just getting a ticket a few minutes beforehand on the fly, which was nice.  Most offer some form of an architectural tour, and a lake tour.  The one we took, though not branded ‘architectural’ still hit the highlights of Chicago’s skyline, and given that it was a hot day, it was nice to get out on the lake. 

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We’ve always been curious about these on our Chicago trips, but never quite coughed up the time/money/planning to go.  This time it was a great option.  Baby Flyer LOVES boats, which is good, because we had a lot of them planned throughout the trip.  She had a great time looking around on deck for the first half of the tour, and then we took her downstairs for a nap for the second half.  True, you can’t see nearly as much from below, but the air conditioning was great, as was not having a cranky baby for the rest of the day. 

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From there, we headed back toward the train station, and stumbled upon the world traveler’s best friend when you need a good but easy dinner in a different city- Vapiano!  Vapiano has locations throughout Europe, and the US.  It’s a counter-order, first come first serve for tables place, which rescues the wandering traveler without a reservation.  Plus the food is really quite good, and especially abroad- reasonably priced!  

Now, we’d like to be able to say that Baby Flyer sat nicely in her high chair and let us have a relaxing meal, but that would be a large departure from the truth, which is also why Vapiano is a good choice.  It’s just a little less formal, so if say…your kid wants to spend the whole dinner being helped to climb up and down the stairs from the bathroom while you each take turns quickly eating a slice of pizza, you won’t be all that ashamed. 

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“The Vapiano card” – you order from different stations and scan your card as you go, then check out on the way out the door.  Nice when baby is tired and you don’t want to wait around for the check. 

After we’d had dinner, and Baby Flyer climbed the stairs at least 40 times, we took the train back to our hotel for the night and got organized.  For this trip, we worked hard to lower our ‘luggage footprint’ since we’d have several transitions between cities, including 8 flights, a round trip ferry, and many trains and trams.  

Before, we’d been traveling with a pack-n-play when we needed a bed, and either our britax b-agile, or our summer infant 3D umbrella stroller.  These are fine for simple trips, but for this one we swapped them out for a Phil & Ted’s Traveler crib, and a Baby Jogger Citi Mini Zip with a carrying backpack.  What a DIFFERENCE!!! 

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The Phil and Ted’s bed is SO light- 8 lbs, y’all!! It sits easily on a rolling suitcase, and has a carry strap as well.  The mattress is like a thermarest camping pad, so it rolls up small.  It sets up in just a few minutes, and Baby Flyer seems to sleep in it as well as she ever did in the pack-n-play.  It’s best if you can put it on carpet though, for a little extra softness. 

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As for the City Mini Zip, we agonized over a travel stroller for quite awhile, and we’re down to the Citi Mini Tour, or going all out on the Babyzen YoYo.  The Mini Tour definitely is the lightest, with the easiest fold, but it seemed like Baby Flyer was a little cramped in it, and she’s not a huge kid for her age.  As per the dimensions, she shouldn’t be, but it is generally a smaller stroller (which is the point).  The YoYo is quite nice, which it well should be for the huge price tag.  When push came to shove, we didn’t feel like we liked it $300+ more than other options, and we didn’t have luck finding one used in time for the trip.  Besides, there’s a certain arrogance on the part of a company to try and sell you a $400 stroller- and not include he seat!  Yes, that’s right- the frame is $400, and if you want your kid to be able to sit in it, that’ll be another $100.  

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The City Mini Zip when folded- reasonably light, around 17 lbs.

We ended up with the Citi Zip because CAR stumbled upon it at Home Goods, of all places.  It was new & heavily discounted.  It folds down nicely, though not as tiny as the City Tour.  In the backpack though, it was comfortable to carry, even decently long distances.  We didn’t try to carry it on the planes, but on the bigger ones with space, it would have fit sideways in the bins.

*Spoiler alert here- we took the stroller on a weekend trip to Seattle and loved it, but after bouncing it over cobblestones in Europe, we didn’t think it fared as well.  Overall, it worked fine for our purposes, but it didn’t seem to take ‘off-roading’ easily.  More on this later.*

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In the end, we got all our luggage down to one carry on size roller, one cabin bag, the bed and stroller backpack, one mid size roller, plus a diaper bag.  It was an amount we could wheel and carry fairly easily, even on 20 min walks to and from train stations.  Once the bigger items were checked, we were going pretty light in the airports.  

What was also different for this trip is that we made the decision to not bring our trusty Cosco travel car seat.  It’s light as car seats go, but bulky, and we just couldn’t justify the hassle since we weren’t planning any rental cars in Europe.  It did mean that we didn’t have the option to take a taxi or Uber (though we heard that in a pinch many European taxis may have a car seat of some kind stashed in the trunk).

We did a mix of checking and gate checking the stroller, and Finnair checked both it and the bed for free as ‘baby items’ even though Baby Flyer didn’t have her own seat.  Baby Flyer wasn’t a big fan of any stroller- travel or otherwise- then, so much of the time it was nice to get rid of it at check in and carry her to the lounge and plane. 

And the nitty gritty of all that, is coming up.

~CET, CAR & Baby Flyer

Up next- Summer In Scandinavia Part 2: Well Connected

Zoom Zoom Zoom

 

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Baby Flyer met ‘Bluebell’ a few months ago now.  When we were expecting, knowing CET’s  passion for travel, CAR’s mom wanted to buy Baby Flyer a suitcase.  Through CET’s travels, she had seen kids with Trunki Ride-On suitcase in different airports, and she instantly knew which suitcase she thought Baby Flyer should have.

Trunki is a pretty fun idea- it’s a ride-on or push-along kids’ suitcase that fits nicely under standard airplane seats, or in the overhead bin.  They come in all kinds of themes and colors.  “Bluebell” the pony comes complete with a saddle and ‘tail.’

We waited to introduce Baby Flyer to Trunki until she was around 13 months because it didn’t seem to be all that useful when she was really small.  However, once she started loving to push anything with wheels around the house, and we were headed up to Seattle for the weekend, it was perfect timing! We thought ‘Bluebell’ would give Baby Flyer some independence. Boy did she love it!

She pushed it all around the Centurion Lounge in the Seatac Airport. They had recently opened a new area with included additional seating and a bar so Baby Flyer had even more space to cruise around.

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We used it to hold some toys for her for the weekend, keeping it fairly light, and sticking with our shared suitcase method we typically do for our clothes.

‘Bluebell’ fit easily in the overhead bin as advertised, and proved to be a trusty travel companion. Baby Flyer was too young to ride ‘Bluebell’ through the airport on this trip, but once she’s older, we expect she will. She’s gone on a few short ‘rides’ through our house and has enjoyed them tremendously. Plus it’s so darn cute!

 

Happy travels!

~CAR

Friday Favorites

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Pack it up!  Time for a weekend ‘up north’!

Happy Friday!  Hope you all are getting ready for a great  weekend! We’re headed to Seattle on Saturday to visit CET’s family. Of course we are looking forward to seeing them, but also some tall trees, ocean views, and hoping to take Baby Flyer to explore the tide pools and sand flats during low tide.

We’re jumping on board the Friday Favorites train this week! Personally, I love to hear about recommendations of products people truly use and enjoy, and places they frequent.  Below you will find a few things we’re loving and as always, we would love to hear what you’re loving below in the comments.

S’well water bottle

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I received this water bottle as a present for my birthday and it is super! I never appreciated having cold water as much as I do now. It really does keep my water cold and is so refreshing after a hot workout. I haven’t tried it with a hot beverage yet, but I’d expect similar results. I have the 17oz bottle, and my only complaint is that sometimes I wish it was bigger. The price is a bit steep for a water bottle, it’s worth it! It’s also something to keep in mind when looking for a present.

Also, the company has excellent customer service. The o-ring on my top fell off earlier this week. I emailed them asking if there was any way I could purchase the lid instead of a whole new top. They responded almost immediately and we exchanged a couple emails and later that same day, a new complimentary o-ring was in the mail. I love to support companies with good customer service.

Water proof outdoor blanket

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We have found this reusable outdoor blanket so handy since having Baby Flyer. It’s easy to clean, water resistant, durable, and easy to fold and put away. We often go to parks and sometimes meet friends at the farmers market and having a dry and clean place to sit is a nice option. I find it to be fairly compact. We are heading to a wading pool this afternoon and I brought it with us. It can comfortably fit a couple adults and kids sitting up. We haven’t used it yet but it comes with a cooler that attaches to the bag when it is folded.

Reusable sandwich bags

bagsWe’ve found these bags to be pretty handy, especially when traveling. We have room for improvement but we try and be conscious of our water and use reusable containers whenever possible. Huge fans of Mason Jars and PYREX in our family. But sometimes I want something less bulky than a container so I’ve been using these bags to carry Baby Flyer’s treats. They come in a 3 pack with three different sizes. On one trip, I push smaller bags of different snacks inside the larger one and it seemed to work well. Her snacks stayed organized and having different snacks to offer kept her entertained.

El Dorado Nature Center

If you are ever in Long Beach, I can’t recommend the El Dorado Nature Center enough! It is such a nice change of pace and environment than the typical landscape we have around here. There is a .25 mile paved trail and 1 and 2 mile dirt loops. The dirt is packed and we have never had a problem pushing our BOB Revolution on it. You walk next to and over streams, through groves of trees and fields. The landscape is constantly changing and I’ve never felt like I was always walking in the sun. There’s plenty of shade throughout the trail. It’s fairly well marked too!

Patagonia Sun Hat

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Just a little throwback – Baby Flyer last summer on the island!

Baby Flyer always has one of these hats! She pretty much constantly wears one when she’s outside in the sun. Right now we have two- I keep one in her stroller and the other in the house/my diaper bag. They have a wide brim so they really do block the sun and shade her face and they are made of UPF fabric. The Velcro closure underneath her chin helps keep it on. They are reversible and dry quickly after getting wet. I really can’t recommend them enough!

Those are ours for this week, what are your current favorites?

Thanks for reading & have a wonderful weekend!

~CAR

Inside Baby Flyer’s Suitcase- South of the Border Edition

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The view from Villa Del Palmar- Nuevo Vallarta

We’re currently lucky enough to be on a week’s vacation at the family timeshare (massive thanks to Baby Flyer’s Mema and Bumpa, CAR’s parents, for being timeshare booking experts) in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico!  We’ve decided to embrace the fact that it’s summer, and we’re going to be making the most of Baby Flyer’s last few months as a lap infant.  We’re relaxing in Mexico, then headed to visit family in Seattle, will follow it up with a trip through Scandinavia (there will be updates), and finish the summer with a long weekend in Santa Fe, NM.

Back to the purpose of this post, we thought it would be fun to show you what we packed for Baby Flyer, since we get plenty of questions about what we bring on trips. We will probably be spending most of our time relaxing at the resort. Or as much relaxing as you can with an active 17 month old, so her suitcase is full of ‘resort ware.’

We believe there are different types of vacations and it’s alright to enjoy them all. Sometimes we do lots of exploring and see new things, and other times we soak up time as a family and enjoy the water and being in one place without as many appointments and expectations.

For all of our trips, I’ve been sharing a medium sized suitcase with Baby Flyer.  It seems more simple to have one suitcase to wheel around than two, especially when flying by myself.  I always seem to under-pack for myself and over-pack for Baby Flyer.  I never know how many outfits she will need in a day.  Some days she is fine with one and other days she needs two.  Luckily for this trip, the condo we’re staying in has private laundry, which is a huge benefit with a little one.

It’s the last minute items that always fill up our suitcase.  Things like her white noise machine, monitor (we just packed the monitor portion), eating mat, sleep sack, snacks, running shoes, and nebulizer to name a few.

For this vacation, I expect that we will spend a lot of time in the water, in the shade by the pool, and up in the room.  We are meeting my parents, sister, brother in law, nephew, and niece.  We haven’t all been together since October so I think we are all looking forward to it!

FLYING

Baby Flyer typically flies in pants with either a long, or short sleeve shirt.  It’s comfortable and convenient for changing her diaper as you only have to pull down her pants and there aren’t any snaps.  She wore a pair of Robeez soft soled moccasins which are softer and less clunky and seemed for comfortable for when she stood on our laps during the flight.

SWIM

Baby Flyer has fair skin and so we try our best to keep her covered up as much as possible, and have her wear protective swim clothing and sunblock.  Luckily she is excellent at wearing her sun hat without too much complaint.  The velcro closure under the chin has helped us keep it on.  It may have been a help that we’ve been putting a hat on her since she was a baby…maybe?  Sunglasses are a different story.  We haven’t had as much success, even though she does like to play with them.

All of these swim outfits have UPF fabric so we don’t have to worry as much about the parts of her body that are covered up.

I had wanted to buy Baby Flyer a pair of Native sandals but they didn’t fit her feet.  Her feet are pretty small, she just grew into a size 4, but they are still a little chubby.  I ended up finding a pair of Teva Water Sandals at the Nordstrom Rack for a good price.

Our whole family uses Coola sunblock.  We just love it!  It doesn’t even feel like you’re wearing sunblock when you have it on.  We use the Coola Mineral Sport Sunscreen and the  Coola Mineral Matte Finish Face on us, while we bought the Baby version for Baby Flyer.  Both apply so evenly and thinly and we find that they protect our skin.  I tried the Beauty Counter stick face sunscreen and didn’t find it protected my skin as well and always left it feeling sticky, like I could tell I was wearing sunscreen, and was hard to wash off.  However, I have friends who love it.  To each their own.

DRESSSES

Baby Flyer tends to wear a lot of casual dresses so we packed quite a few.  Even though Mexico is hot and humid during the summer, we included a couple pants as options to wear with the dresses if she needed them.  Not pictured, we also packed a pair of white shorts to wear under some of her shorter dresses.  Sometimes she’s interested in her taking off her diaper so covering it up helps keep it on.

A family friend has an online Scandinavian children’s clothing store, Ittikid, so some of her dresses are from her shop.  We try to support her whenever we can plus the clothing is cute and always so soft!

ROMPERS

I packed her a couple of rompers.  Baby Flyer had this Patagonia romper last year and we bought it at the end of the season when it was on sale for this year.  We love her Patagonia hat!  It’s UPF fabric, velcros under her chin, is reversible, and has a wide brim.  It literally goes everywhere with us and was a no brainer to pack it.  Her Keen sandals have been working out well so far this summer.  We had a coupon for the Nordstrom Rack and found a pair in her size there, so we only had to pay $9 for them.

SHORTS

JULY 4TH OUTFIT

Baby Flyer’s Mema found this top on sale at Old Navy and thought it had a perfect hint of patriotic flair for the 4th of July.

It may seem like Baby Flyer has a lot of shoes, however, up until two weeks ago she only had one pair of sneakers.  Just recently she outgrew them so we bought her two pairs in a size 4 for her to grow in to.  We also wanted something that would give her a feet some air since it’s warm in the summer where we live.

That’s pretty much the run-down!  We’re in Mexico for a week, so reviews and updates to follow from the beach!

~CAR & Baby Flyer

 

Product Review: Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit

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Baby Flyer in the Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit.  It looks silly but it helped all of us get some much needed sleep!

It seems like an appropriate time to review this product, since our baby finally outgrew even the largest size.  We’re sad about this because we loved this silly, adorable thing.  Like, really loved it.  We loved it as much as we (used to) love sleeping at night.

We should start by saying that when Baby Flyer was a newborn, we were avid swaddlers.  We had several kinds- first the blankets, then the wraps and pods, then the sleep sacks.  In short, Baby Flyer spent her first about six months sleeping like a baby burrito.

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A Baby Flyer Burrito

But like all good things, swaddling only is an option for so long.  Baby Flyer never really was a roller so we got a couple extra months of swaddling in, but eventually she was too crafty and could break herself out of even the strongest wraps.

And thus, the ultimate “now what”?  She still needed some containing to get a good night’s sleep, since her grabby little hands would inevitably wake her up if she was left to just sleep in PJs.  Enter the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit.  The Suit is marketed as a “swaddle transition” and it’s a pretty apt description.  While it doesn’t hold baby’s arms down as firmly as a swaddle and allows them to move a bit more, it will dampen their involuntary twitches and movement while they’re sleeping, which helps minimize middle of the night wake ups.

It’s pretty warm too.  Though Baby Flyer wore it in a variety of temperatures and didn’t seem to get sweaty or over heated.  In warm weather she could wear it with just a short sleeve onesie and socks, while in cooler weather we dressed her in her full PJs under it.  We do have central AC and heat at home though, so in general her room is pretty comfortable.  They make both the original and fleece versions, but living in Southern California we only tried the original.

We actually ended up having two of these, one of each size.  The small fit her from about 6-9 months, and the large from 9-12 months.  She pretty well slept in the Suit every night.  We just stopped using the large a few weeks ago, and transitioned her into a wearable blanket.  The transition’s going…okay so far.  We do miss the suit sometimes, even just for how cute our little ‘spacesuit baby’ looked in it.

In short, all babies are different in their preferences for sleeping, but we found the sleep suit to be very worth the price.  It even made it onto our short list of bulky things that still ended up on the ‘to pack’ list.  We’d definitely recommend it to anyone needing a swaddle transition option, or if you’re looking for a unique but very practical baby shower gift.

~CET & CAR

** Note: This post does include affiliate links.  However, we received no compensation in advance of writing this post, and we have used this product personally and prior to becoming an affiliate.**

 

One Week of Green Chef

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A week’s worth of dinner, Green Chef style.

We tried Green Chef for the first time a few weeks ago.  I’ve heard about various online meal services but this was the first time trying one.  My sister and brother in law, recent empty-nesters, have been using this service all fall and rave about it.  They love the quality of the food and feel like they are eating in a restaurant multiple nights a week.  I will say it makes meal planning a breeze.

We were flying back from Chicago late in the day on Monday and I wasn’t sure if I was going to have time to go to the grocery store during the week so I thought that it would be a perfect time to try it.  Live and learn, but I didn’t know the delivery days for our area and that you needed to order at least a week ahead, so when I placed my order on Wednesday, the earliest I could get it was Thursday of the following week.

The Basics:

Green Chef is certified organic by CCOF and provides fresh and sustainably sourced food.  The food has no synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms, artificial ingredients, and growth hormones or antibiotics.  There’s no commitment and you can skip a delivery at any point.  The food is sent in insulated, refrigerated boxes.

They have two person and family-style meal plans and you can choose a menu that fits your diet including omnivore, carnivore, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and paleo options.  What’s great is that you can further refine omnivore after placing your order to select which meats you want.  I’m a pescatarian and do not like most shellfish, so I only selected fish for the meat for our order.

The selection of meals for each week are posted the week before.  It gives you an idea of what could be sent but since there are more options than the three, you don’t know which specific dishes you’ll get.  You can’t individually select which meals you want.

The three meals we received were (photographs courtesy of Green Chef)-

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Chinese BBQ Salmon with black rice, bok choy, bell pepper, and carrots.

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Cauliflower Mac & Cheese with kale, breadcrumbs, and sun-dried tomato tapenade.

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Picadillo-Stuffed Peppers with cotija and rice, olives, capers, beans, and almonds.

What You Get:

One box with all the ingredients for the three meals, minus some basic items like olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Everything else that you need is included.  The packaging is biodegradable, and the ice packs are reusable.  Everything stayed very cold and I wasn’t worried that anything had spoiled.

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The recipe card tells you the ingredients, items you’ll need from your own kitchen, a description of the dish, nutritional information, length of time for cooking, and how to make the meal.

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Each recipe has a color and the ingredients have a sticker that corresponds to the recipe color.  This was really helpful and kept everything organized.

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Experience:

The recipes take anywhere from 30-40 minutes to make.  I found some of the dishes took longer than the recipe states and used some new to me multi-step cooking methods so I had to reference the instructions multiple times while cooking.  CET loved the two-part method for cooking the salmon.  First, I fried it on the stove top skin side up then I flipped it over, topped it with some sauce, and put it in the oven to finish cooking.  The recipes seemed to call for more olive oil than I typically cook with so I used less when I could.

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The servings were very generous!  Each recipe says it serves two, but we never finished it all in one night.  We typically had enough left over for at least one lunch the following day.  For instance, this serving was about a quarter of what we made.

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It’s fun being surprised by what you’re sent.  It got us out of our cooking rut and encouraged us to try new dishes that I probably wouldn’t have selected otherwise.  For instance, CET doesn’t like peppers so I tend to stay away from stuffed pepper recipes.  In this case, I’m glad I didn’t because it was one of my favorite dishes they sent.  The rice and filling was plenty as a standalone meal and the roasted pepper was really just an addition.  CET enjoyed it as well and Baby Flyer liked the rice and loved the green olives.

Tips I Learned Along the Way:

  • At least in our area, they only deliver on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Check to see if you are on the same delivery schedule.
  • You need to place your order a week before the day you want your meal delivered. Likewise, when you want to cancel it, they need a week’s notice.
  • You can easily select your own dietary preferences by signing up for the omnivore plan and opting-out of the meat options you don’t want. To do this, you log intoGreenChef.com, go to your Account Info (https://greenchef.com/#/my-account/account-info) and click “Edit” next to “My Plan”.
  • If you want to select which meat you want, choose omnivore and after you have completed your order you have the chance to refine your selection further.  I knew this was an option but it took me a while to figure out how to do it.  I thought I needed to do it before placing my order.
  • To cancel your order for an extended period of time, you can do it by logging into your account then clicking this link- https://greenchef.com/#/cancel before the weekly cutoff time (7 days prior to your delivery at noon EST). You can reactivate your account anytime by logging into your account and selecting the reactivation button.

Overall, we really enjoyed our experience and were impressed with the quality of the food.  The produce was fresh, directions clear, and dishes tasty.  To us, it seemed like a treat.  We probably won’t be doing it weekly but think it would be fun to do once a month, or a perfect idea for after a trip when you’re still settling back in.  Or, perhaps, for those post-holiday burn out weeks when coming up with a meal plan is just about the last thing you want to be doing.

If you want to try Green Chef for yourself, you can get 4 free meals by using BabyFlyerBlog’s link.  Let us know in the comments if you’ve tried this, or other meal services.  We’d love to hear your experience!

~CAR

2016 Gift Guide for the Frequent Flyer

Believe it or not, the holidays are quickly approaching.  I’ve already seen a few holiday lights and Christmas trees in our neighborhood, which means it’s time to get moving on the holiday planning- flights, and otherwise.  With the off and on warm temps we typically have in SoCal, it always feels like the holidays sneak up.

We’ve already posted our ‘Gift Guide for Baby Traveler,’ so here’s the follow up holiday gift guide for the frequent traveler in your life, with or without a baby along for the ride.  If you’re in the market for luggage, in addition to travel accessories, you can check out CET’s full rundown on her luggage picks over at Cruising Altitude.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones

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These headphones don’t need much of an explanation or recommendation.  They’ve been the gold standard in the noise-canceling industry for years, through several incarnations.  They block a lot of the ambient cabin noise, making it easy to listen to music or hear your television.  One downside is they can be bulky when trying to sleep, so luckily, they now also offer an earbud style.

Sockwell Compression Socks

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Whether you ascribe to the idea that compression helps prevent DVT or not, these socks are great for flying!  They aren’t as tight as some athletic compression socks which makes them comfortable to wear all day, and they provide support, as well as keep your feet comfortably warm.  CET loves them for long flights and will typically pack a couple pairs if she is traveling for multiple days.

Barefoot Running Shoe

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What’s great about these shoes is that they are undeniably pack-able.  They’re light, and flatten so they don’t take up much space in your suitcase. While they aren’t making the exact pair CET has anymore, these are the ‘new model.’

Cocoon Grid It Cord Organizer

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CET has used this for years, and finds it’s great for keeping all her cords organized.  Her SmartCharger fits in it, as well as phone chargers, extra usb cords, power strips, converters, and anything else.  If you don’t have enough electronics in your carry-on to need all the space, you can also pack just about anything you can think of in the elastic straps, and they’ll keep it organized and accessible for you.   Fits easily in the seatback pocket.

SmartCharger

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This little brick comes in handy all the time while traveling when you don’t have easy access to an outlet.  It will charge any device with a USB cord, and has about enough in it to charge up your phone.  We’ve used it to charge our phones and CET’s wireless headphones, among other things.  It also works as a back up charger in the stroller at home when you forget to plug in your phone before a long walk.

Power Strip/Surge Protector

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Once again, we use this on just about every trip.  It’s great for when we want to charge both our phones at the same time and there is only one free outlet, both in the airport, and hotels.  It charges plenty of things at once, since it has 3 regular plugs, and two USBs in addition.

Packing Cubes

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We love them!  At first I was skeptical when CET started using them, but after seeing how organized her suitcase stayed and how easy it was for her to unpack at our destination, I asked for a set for myself.  We’re planning on giving a few sets of these as presents this year.

Ginger candy

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Last and maybe least in price, but not popularity, Ginger candy is a sweet treat when flying.  They can help sooth an upset stomach and even warm you up if you get a tad chilly on the plane.  We usually have a bag of it in our carry-on.

Happy Shopping & Safe Travels!

~CR