Have Baby, Will Travel- traveling with an infant under 6 months

First post in awhile! Life’s been pretty busy with five kids, go figure 😉
I’ve actually written a few travel posts previously because I love traveling and we frequently travel with our kids but, let me tell you, I was quite stressed about traveling with a five month old! We had a trip to Florida planned when Jules was about five months and then a trip to Puerto Rico planned a few weeks after that, just shy of her turning six months. What did I really need? How would I keep her on any type of schedule? Would it be enjoyable for any of us?
Well, after the two previously mentioned trips, I’m here with exactly what you need and what worked for us.
The Gear, Specifically For Babies 6 Months and Under~
Infant car seat and base
Snap and go (or similar)
Large bag to gate check car seat and base
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Travel Sound Machine- a lifesaver!
Packing for the Baby
I packed each “day” outfit, complete with socks and a headband (of course), as well as pajamas, separately, each in large ziplock bags. At this point I didn’t see a need for “night” outfits for her.
I also packed in 4 separate ziplocks—
1. Three extra complete outfits
2. Swimsuits, swim diapers (two for each day), her sunscreen, and her bug spray
3. Bibs (two bibs for each day)
4. Medicine (thermometer, teething tablets, gas drops, cough syrup, vapor rub, saline spray)
Ziplock full of medication- none of which we needed, thankfully!
In our checked bag, I packed an entire, unopened can of powered formula, her daily food (not much at this point), extra spoons, an entire unopened pack of diapers and wipes, the mat that she loves to lay on, and quite a few toys. I picked up this mat for our PR trip and I can’t say enough about it! It was perfect for her at six months because she was rolling all over the place and it’s huge. I can see us using it later at the park and beach as well.
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Jules on her favorite mat in Florida, before she was rolling over
Traveling
First, check everything you can. We checked our own bags, including a suitcase packed exclusively with the baby’s stuff mentioned above and her travel crib (I highly recommend the Lotus crib- super light weight and very easy to put up and take down). We carried on a very well-stocked diaper bag, plus a backpack with extra bottles, formula and the ziplocks with the medicines (all under 3.5 ounces) and the extra clothes just in case we were delayed or our bags were lost.
We elected not to buy her her own seat. I figured at this point she’d be in my arms regardless. I was lucky enough to have a friend who had a spare infant car seat and snap and go so I borrowed that instead of bringing our own. Most people will need to bring their regular car seat and base and snap and go, which would still work beautifully. We used this throughout the airport and gate checked it right before we boarded the plane. We put the car seat and base in the travel bag to keep it clean and prevent damage.
On the plane, she was pretty good. We timed the flights to coincide with her nap time so I fed her during take off and she fell asleep shortly after. Normally she sleeps for two hours but she slept for about 45 min both times (one sleep cycle) and then was up. I don’t normally use pacifier clips but they are so necessary when traveling so the damn pacifier doesn’t keep falling on the floor. I definitely had to walk her back and forth a bit when the crankiness began but overall all she did great.
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I’m in love with this travel crib!
Schedules
I am the first to admit I can be a bit neurotic when it comes to schedules (this is what works for us; no judgement whatsoever to all the non-scheduled babies and mamas!). Jules is a great napper and sleeper and I attribute that to her consistent daily schedule so I wanted to keep to it as much as possible without sacrificing our vacation. Here’s what worked for us~
  • 7:30am- Wake up at normal time. Because there was an hour difference in PR, that meant an hour later- score!
  • 7:30-9am- After her morning bottle, I’d get her dressed and take her down for a walk around the hotel while I grabbed coffee and breakfast. We’d check out the beach and pool area and it was nice and quiet. This was actually one of my favorite times of each day.
  • 9am- Time for her morning nap. I’d put her down, then quietly sneak out for my alone time by the pool/beach (leaving my hubby sleeping- must be nice!)
  • 10:30- she’d typically wake around 11 so I would come back up at this time. By now, my husband was up and ready to go down to the pool. He’d leave, I’d get her up and fed and then bring her down to hang with the family at the pool/beach. We’d all have lunch and by the time she was ready for her afternoon nap around 1, I was ready for a break from the sun too. I’d put her down and read my book or take a nap, depending upon how many cocktails I enjoyed by the pool 😉
  • 3pm- She’d wake up, have her bottle, and then we’d do our afternoon activity (we checked out the rainforest and Old San Juan in PR and visited family in FL)
  • 7pm- Dinner for all of us. I’d already have her in PJs and feed her her bottle at dinner. She’d typically fall asleep during our dinner but transitioning her to her crib wasn’t an issue.

DSC_0381Exploring the rainforest

Bottles
This was the part I had the most difficulty wrapping my head around before the trip for some reason but it really wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be. I picked up this great travel bottle washing kit and drying rack and these microwaveable sterilizing bags and packed enough bottles for a full day, plus one, which meant we had to wash/sterilize bottles every day. I designated my husband in charge of this and he did great. He set up a nice area on the counter (bathroom in FL/small kitchen in PR), using lysol wipes to wipe everything down, and made space for clean/dirty bottles. Then, every night, he’d wash the bottles in the sink and then sterilize them in the microwave using the bags. It worked perfectly. We stocked up on bottled water upon arrival and filled the bottles with water so they were ready to go for each feeding. She is ok with taking bottles at room temperature so we didn’t have to worry about heating them.
Fun?
My final concern was would these trips even be enjoyable. Admittedly, traveling with a young baby is definitely more work and not as relaxing. However, what can compare with your baby’s first time going into a pool or watching their expression as waves touch their feet for the first time? Nothing! The older kids had a blast and we created some very special family memories, which to us is the point of family trips. It was fun and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
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First time on the beach
I hope these tips help if you are planning a trip with a young baby.
xo,
Tanya
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Southampton

Many moons ago, in what seems like an entirely different life, a girlfriend invited me to spend a weekend in the Hamptons. I was conflicted- how could I hop on a plane for an indulgent weekend away? This isn’t what single mothers do! But then I thought, when will I ever get another opportunity to go to the Hamptons? That was all the convincing I needed. Bags were packed and the rest, as they say, is history! (For those that don’t know, that was where my husband and I began our relationship)

When I pictured, “The Hamptons” I pictured Puff Daddy, glamorous parties and ultra-luxe clubs. I was confused as we pulled into the town and a family of deer ran across the road. We were in the middle of nowhere!

I quickly learned what the Hamptons is really all about- relaxation. For the hurried souls who call NYC home, a reprieve is needed where they can decompress. Yes, there are fabulous parties, amazing restaurants and clubs, and I’m sure P Diddy is there often but all of this is contained in quaint towns with corner grocery stores and lots of trees.

The Hamptons are a group of villages and hamlets in the townships of Southampton and East Hampton. I just spent a week in Southampton and thought I’d share some of my favorite places.

Friday evening we ate at Tutto Il Giorno, owned by Gabby Karen, Donna Karen’s daughter. That may be the draw for some but the food holds its own. The risotto was the taste of summer and, paired with a glass of Whispering Angel Rose, sitting outside under the stars, I felt myself exhale.

The next day was mainly spent on a float in the pool. We dragged ourselves inside for a nap and awoke just in time for dinner. Georgica, an East Hampton staple, is as hot as ever. The restaurant turns into a club around 11:30 so make a late reservation if that’s all that’s on your agenda for the evening. We wanted to check out Nammos, formerly Nellos, so we left when the party was just beginning.

I had heard great things about the food at Nammos, but the lounge wasn’t too exciting the night we were there. It was a bummer for a Saturday night.

Sunday’s plans got moved to Monday due to the rain. We took the ferry over to Shelter Island to eat at Sunset Beach (you can stay there too!). Great food and an amazing experience. Maybe I like it because it reminds me of St. Tropez; it’s filled with beautiful people, cool lounge music is playing in the background, and the sunset is really unbelievable.

The last restaurant we visited was Osteria Salino in Bridgehampton. This place was the find of the trip! Everything was fresh and oh, so good!

Here’s a few more of my favorite spots…

Book Review- French Kids Eat Everything

Have a picky eater? Or are you a picky eater? If so, you simply must check this book out! The title caught my eye in the window of a bookstore. I’m notoriously picky and, unfortunately, my youngest is taking after me. I was ready to do something about it and this book came at just the right moment.

In this book, French Kids Eat Everything, the married, mother of two, recounts her experience of living in France for a year. She has come up with ten food “rules” and goes into great detail about how she formulated them, as well as her experiences, challenges, and successes.

I happened to be smack in the middle of this book when we took a trip to St. Barth’s. Primarily a french island, I had tons of opportunities to put into practice what I was reading all about. “You don’t have to like it but you do have to taste it,” applied to all of us (I tried tuna tataki, lobster risotto, and even foie gras!). Will I be ordering any of these any time soon? Probably not, but I set a great example and my little one ended up devouring fried shrimp. I said no to quite a few snacks and look forward to implementing le goûter (a scheduled, afternoon snack) once the school year starts.

Most of the rules are common sense when you stop to think about it, but the problem is, we often don’t stop and think about our eating habits and the habits our children are forming. I know snacking isn’t good for my daughter’s dinner appetite but I didn’t connect the dots that it may be the reason she’s not open to trying new things. And I certainly didn’t realize how many times she needed to taste something before she accepted it! This book definitely opened my mind on how I eat and how I feed my family.

Bon appetit!

Tanya

If you only do one thing this week…pop a bottle!

Champagne. What symbolizes fabulousity more eloquently that a glass of bubbly?

My love affair with Champagne began when I was too young to admit at a relative’s wedding. My grandmother thought it would be ok if I had a glass to toast and I used that excuse with practically every other relative there.

When I was older, Champagne was equated with nights out on South Beach when someone (definitely not me in those days) splurged on getting a table. It was luxury in a bottle to be sipped and enjoyed while adding to the fun of the evening. Carpe Noctum!

While traveling in France this summer, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Champagne, the only area that truly produces Champagne (anything from any other region is sparkling wine). My biggest question was how Champagne was made differently than wine so here’s the basic 411. (Below are all pictures from the trip)

Champagne is made from either Pinot Noir, Pinot Meuiner, or Chardonnay grapes.

In the beginning, the process is much like making wine. After pressing the grapes, yeast is added. The juice is then put into stainless steel or oak fermenters.

This is where fermentation occurs. Yeast converts the sugar from the grapes into alcohol. Unlike wine, Champagne then goes through a second fermentation process where CO2 is created. The bottles are filled and capped during the second fermentation process. The CO2 can’t escape and produces bubbles. At this point, the bottles are on their side.

Years ago, bottle turners used to turn the bottles slowly over an extended period of time until all the dead yeast (it would be very cloudy looking) settled in the neck of the bottles (machines do this now). This process is called riddling. The top of the bottles, which are now upside down if you’re following along, are placed in a sub-zero saline solution. The solution freezes the yeast plug. The bottles are now turned upright and the yeast plug is popped out. This process is called disgorging.

At this point, the champagne is ready to be aged. Unlike wine, which does some barrel aging in addition to bottle aging, Champagne is aged exclusively in the bottle. For Champagne to be considered a vintage, it has to age at least three years.

We now have Champagne but it’s undrinkable because of the high acidity. The key is to balance the sugar and acid. The grapes from this area are somewhat bitter to begin with- they have high acid levels and low sugar. A mixture of sugar and Champagne is now added to the bottle and, depending upon the amount, a Brut, Extra Dry, Doux, or a Demi Sec had been created. The champagne is corked and ready to go!

Champagne comes in many, many sizes but here are the most common.

187 (single serve)

750 (standard bottle)

1.5 liter (Magnum)

3.0 liter (Jeroboam)

There’s quite a few larger sizes and Jay Z’s Champagne, Armand de Brignac, just introduced a thirty-liter Midas. That’s forty bottles of standard Champagne! It sells in night clubs in London and NY for $150,000.  Who’s turn is it to buy?! 😉

Champagne doesn’t age like wine, so drink up! It’s great to celebrate a special occasion with a bottle of the bubbly but any day that ends in a y is a good occasion too (it also goes great with popcorn for an extra special movie night).

Here are a few my personal favorites at various price points.

Mumm Cordon Rouge $35

Pommery Brut Apanage $40

Perrier Jouet Cuvée Belle Epoque (also known as PJ Flower) $125

Laurent Perrier Brut Rose $90

Nicholas Feuillatte Palmes D’or $150

Angel (owned by Mariah Carey) $300

Armand de Brignac Blanc de Blanc $450

Cheers until next time,

TFab

Plan a Trip With Your Children to Somplace You’ve Never Been

I didn’t get to experience family vacations as a child. Money was tight and, understandably, traveling didn’t rank as high on the priority list as making sure the bills were paid. I’m not quite sure where I got the travel bug from but, for me, there’s nothing better than traveling to an unfamiliar place and experiencing new sights. I made this a priority and planned for it, using my yearly income tax return to pay for a family vacation. You can’t put a price on memories and experiences and I feel that money spent in this area is money well spent.

“5-4-3-2-1…New York, Here We Come!” I can still hear my oldest, then five years old, shout as we made our way through the mid-town tunnel. Our first trip was to New York. We left the little one at home because she was just a few months old. To this day, this remains the best trip I’ve ever taken. Seeing New York City for the first time and sharing that experience with my daughter, so young and curious about the world around her, has now become a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my days. Over the next few years we took a cruise, rented a beach house in Ft. Myers, and went skiing in Vermont (my first time seeing snow and getting on skis was another amazing experience I got to share with the girls), and took quite a few trips to Disney. Nowadays we are blessed to be in a situation where we do a whole lot of traveling sometimes more than we’d like. Even so, throughout the past year I felt I was missing out on that special bonding and excitement that the girls and I had shared so I decided to plan a weekend girls trip to Washington, D.C.

When planning a trip to an area I’ve never been, I make sure to do my homework. First and foremost, I ask my friends for advice on visiting the area and jot down their recommendations. I then check tripadvisor.com and look for travel blogs about the city that I’m visiting. I then take my list and think about my children. What will keep them engaged? What will be meaningful and what will they enjoy?

For this trip to D.C, I decided upon the Monuments by Moonlight tour which was amazing and served as a great way to see the monuments and memorials without a whole lot of walking. With so many museums to choose from, I had to really do my research and narrow it down to three that would be interesting for all and unique to Washington. I chose the American History Museum (The Spark Lab keep them busy for an hour+), the Holocaust Museum (the children’s exhibit only), and the Spy Museum (so, so cool!) We walked the streets of Georgetown and grabbed dinner and cupcakes (Sprinkles, not D.C Cupcakes~ the line was ri-dic-u-lous!) to enjoy later in our hotel room.

We were just there for the weekend and although I could have fit more in, I make it a point to leave a little down time on our trips. Day-to-day, the girls don’t spend a ton of time together and on these trips they just have each other. One of the highlights for me was when my younger one decided to take a bath in the “sick” tub (as in uber cool) and my older one went in to help her wash her hair. Hearing them talk about their life plans and their bucket lists at ages 12 and 7 put a smile on my lips as wide as the Potomac River.

Stop procrastinating and plan the trip you’ve always wanted to take with your children. Each stage passes with the blink of an eye so now is the time. If finances won’t allow for something this year, begin planning for next year. Enjoy the process~ the anticipation is to be cherished and appreciated as well!

Two Jam-Packed Weeks~ The Darby and Magnolia Bakery, Samsung Hope for Children Gala, and The Borgata

The first two weeks of June have been busy, busy, busy!

First up, we had B’s birthday on the 2nd. What better way to celebrate a fabulous person than to attend a fabulous affair, and the Perrier-Jouet 200th Anniversary Cocktail Party, held at Mondrian SoHo, fit the bill perfectly. There we met the absolutely stunning Susan Sarandon and sipped on one of my favorites, PJ Fleur, throughout the evening. I mean really, who looks this good at 64?! Time to stock up on the La Mer, ladies!

On Saturday evening the party continued at The Darby. This swanky restaurant is über trendy and so much fun with it’s lux decor and live music. A carrot cake from Magnolia Bakery and one more birthday wish ended the birthday festivities for another year.

Two days later, we attended the Samsung Hope For Children Gala at Cipriani Wall Street. This amazing event is geared towards raising funds to support educational and health programs for children throughout the world. A-list celebrities were everywhere! The keynote speaker was Bill Clinton but we also heard from Demi Moore, Jennifer Lopez, Jason Myraz, John Legend, Harry Connick Jr., and Tim Baxter, President of Samsung Consumer Electronics. The clips were touching and it felt great to be in a room with so many people who are making sure they are paying their good fortune forward. Below you’ll see my pictures with NASCAR driver Jimmy Johnson (taken for my dad who is a big fan) and Chris Noth, who will always be Mr. Big to me 🙂

Lastly, we spent this past weekend in Atlantic City. It was my first time visiting the city and, not counting the ridiculously long drive (FIVE HOURS!!!), we had a great time. We stayed at The Borgata and enjoyed a delicious dinner on Friday night at Old Homestead. Seriously, it may have been the best chicken I’ve ever eaten and we all know I’m a chicken connoisseur 😉 On Saturday we checked out the boardwalk and did a bit of shopping. We got home relatively early on Sunday so I could spend some time with my sis who came to watch the girls for the weekend and spend a few days visiting.

xo,

Tanya

Jimmy Johnson

Susan Sarandon

Chris Noth

Becoming an Organized Traveler

During the last year, my traveling as jumped from once or twice a year to once or twice a month. Needless to say, I have the art of traveling down pat. As I prepare for yet another upcoming trip, I thought I’d share some of the tried and true tips that have made traveling a bit easier for me and my family.

Packing:
•    I’m a list-maker and here is a time where it is imperative. You must plan your outfits! Ladies, we know that if we don’t organize, we overpack, throwing random tops, dresses, and shoes into the suitcase while thinking, I may wear that…maybe. Take fifteen minutes, stand in your closet, and choose your outfits. I do this two days before a trip so that I can have the most up-to-date weather forecast.
•    Pack from your last day forward. What I mean is put your last day’s clothes in the suitcase first and go backwards so you’re not tearing apart your suitcase on the first day.
•    Wear your boots and jacket on the plane to save room in your suitcase.
•    If you travel frequently, keep a toiletry bag packed and ready to go. I also keep a few ziplock bags in there so that the morning of, I can throw any liquids (remember, 4 oz or less!) in. I store the ziplock in my purse for easy access when making my way through security (you don’t want to have to open your suitcase). I also make it a point to buy my moisturizer in 4 oz or less bottles- it makes traveling that much easier.
•    Don’t waste space by packing shampoo, conditioner, or lotion if your staying at a nice hotel or with a friend. Their brand will be fine for a day or two. (Hotel conditioner also makes for a great shaving cream!)
•    For face wash, I used to keep my fav in a travel bottle but I have recently found an easier solution. Say Yes to Cucumbers Facial Towelettes are fabulous! They are 98.7% natural and biodegradable so they’re a great eco-friendly choice for girls on the go (I will also admit that I’ve been known to use them when I’m not traveling on those late nights when I don’t have the energy to really wash my face, they’ve been a lifesaver).

Travel Day:
•    Comfy clothes, slip on shoes, and a light jacket (planes can be cold) are a must for everyone
•    Make sure all travelers have things to do on the plane to keep themselves occupied
•    Eat a healthy meal before traveling
•    Take a bathroom break before arriving at your gate (although for some kids, going to the bathroom on the plane is inevitable because of the “fun” factor)

On the plane:
•    We all love Jet Blue because of the tv, but you can also use your time on the plane time to catch up on your reading or, my new favorite thing to do, edit home movies. Make sure your laptop is charged, sit back and get those movies ready for prime-time viewing. You know that’s been on your to-do list…
•    Take an immunity enhancer. Traveling can wear down your system so it’s best to be as preventive as possible.
•    Drink water, spritz your face, and moisturize your hands. I love the travel-size Evian bottles that they sell at Sephora. This will keep your skin hydrated during the flight.
•    Make healthy snack choices. Nuts, pretzels, craisins (new on Jet Blue flights!) are much better choices than the cookies. Even better, pack your own snacks so you really know what you’re eating.

Once you arrive:

  • Always use the same combination for hotel safes
  • If you’re in an area you’re unfamiliar with, use your phone to take a picture of any maps. Then, instead of walking around with your face buried in a map (it screams tourist!), just look down at your phone like everyone else. 😉

Tips For Kids:
•    Make children pack their own suitcases. Dedicate 30 minutes to this. As always, kids do best with very clear directions. For example, tell them to, “Lay out three pairs of pajamas”. Notice how I said lay out. Yes, let them pack but, of course, approve of all choices. You don’t want to get where you’re going to find your child has thrown together mismatched outfits. Go through each category (pajamas, underwear, socks, day clothes, night clothes, and any specialty items) and have them spread the piles out on the floor. Once they’re done and you’ve checked, instruct them to fold and place the clothes neatly in their suitcase. Believe it our not, kids are usually very excited to pack  because it elevates their excitement about the upcoming trip.
•    If you travel frequently, a child-sized suitcase is a must.
•    Encourage them to pack a carry-on bag for the plane. My girls don’t leave home without a portable dvd player (if we’re not traveling on a plane w/t.v’s), a chapter book (I always make them read a chapter before any electronics are removed from the bag), fully charged ipods and game players, and a notepad and colored pencils for drawing.

*Note- I do not charge electronic devices. This is their responsibility. Yes, even my six year old. I do give them reminders but, if they don’t, then they can read the entire time. I’m sooooooo mean, I know, but responsibility is hard to teach and this is one great opportunity!

Finally, don’t forget…
•    chargers for your phone, laptop, camera, and the kids electronics
•    hair supplies personally, I always bring my curling iron, brush, pins, and a travel-size hairspray
•    a travel steamer (hotels will have an ironing board but, in my opinion, nothing beats a steamer)
•    over-the-counter medicine Even though I rarely use or give to my children, I never travel without advil, children’s tylenol, something for upset stomachs, and band-aids.

With all these tips, your travel should go a bit smoother. Here’s to a fabulous trip!

xo,

Tanya

Memorial Day- NOLA Style

New Orleans has been on my travel list since I first saw Interview With a Vampire way back when I was in High School. Oh, how time passes! Anyway, when B and I were discussing what to do over our Memorial Day adult weekend, NOLA was suggested and quickly decided upon.
After I gathered input from a few close friends, I planned a great weekend getaway. Listed below is how we spent two days getting acquainted with the Big Easy.

We stayed at the Windsor Court in the French Quarter to be close to all the action. It was absolutely perfect. Now mind you, this is an old hotel so don’t expect perfection. If you’re looking for that, I’d suggest the W, one of my all-time favs in any city. We were looking for something more authentic and the Windsor Court was just what we were looking for.

Due to our late arrival (our cancelled flight led to six hours of touring Miami International Airport), the only thing we did on Friday was enjoy a few classic New Orleans drinks (recipes below!) at the Column Hotel in the Garden District, followed by dinner at Lilette. I heard about Lilette at the James Beard Awards a few weeks ago and was lucky enough to score a reservation on a Friday. The food was delish but the waiting 30 minutes for a cab we could have done without…

Day 2 found us wandering aimlessly down Royal Street, stopping and browsing in the many antique shops and art galleries. B picked up some cuff links and I my very first set of pearls. I guess I really am grown up! At Jackson Square, I had my palm read~ “I can see you losing twenty dollars in the very near future”~ and then it was off to Bourbon Street to Pat O’Briens to have a famous headache-inducing Hurricane. Can you say sugar overload?! We ended our night  at Tipitinas, a very hip live music venue.

Sunday morning we enjoyed a late brunch at Commander’s Palace, which I have to say is a bit overrated. We strolled down Royal Street again and managed to squeeze in a mani/pedis at the mall before our flight home. Short and sweet, it was a great introduction to a city I am looking forward to visiting again soon.