Roadtrippin’ :: Tips For Road Trips With Baby

After mastering the art of flying with an infant, it was time to tackle the next travel hurdle: a road trip with baby.

We were taking turns driving.

I can report back to you that we recently survived our first road trip with baby and dog to SoCal. An infant in the backseat doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go further than the pediatrician or the mall. Even though we were a bit nervous and expected the worst, we ended up having the best road trip of all times. Or maybe it was because we expected the worst…?

Personally, I am not a huge fan of long road trips unless they are part of the journey. And that’s where Paul’s and my opinion go different ways: Paul wants to get to the destination quickly with as little stops as possible. I, on the other hand, prefer to take it easy, stop frequently at rest areas to enjoy some yummy, homemade snacks, get out of the car for a few minutes, stretch my legs and let the dog run around, and I drinks lots of liquids and don’t care if I have to stop every hour to pee. Needless to say, lots of fighting happens in the car. Especially on longer trips.

This time we had to figure out a fight-proof plan. With baby and dog on board, I certainly didn’t want to end up arguing over how many breaks we would or wouldn’t take. Now let look at the Thrasher Road Trip Tips, shall we?

First, we agreed to remain flexible and make the ride part of the journey and enjoy it as much as possible. There wouldn’t be a limit on pee breaks, coffee breaks, nursing breaks, diaper changing breaks or any other breaks. If the usual trip would turn into an all-day ride, so shall it be. We usually try to not leave Emma in her car seat for more than 2 hours in one stretch (unless she’s fast asleep) so our breaks included not only a few minutes of leg stretching for Paul and me, and playing catch for Griffin, we also let Emma lounge around on a picnic blanket for Emma.

Leave with peace of mind and create a packing check list so you don’t have to contemplate the whole time if you forgot anything. What always helps me is to go through a regular day and night routine with Emma and think about the ‘tools’ I need. Remember things like bulb suction, thermometer, baby food including feeding utensils, a night light (to plug in at your destination) and flip flops. (We always forget our flip flops when we leave on a rainy day.) A packing list written once is a suitcase quickly packed every time. Believe me. Martha said so.

In regards to timing, we decided to follow Emma’s schedule as much as possible. When we missed our original departure time (because someone still had to finish packing), we allowed Emma to take her next nap in her crib and planned to leave as soon as she woke up. That way she would be well-rested and happy instead of tired and cranky. Try to stick to her bedtime routine: Change her into her pajamas, read a book or sing a song, say your prayer or do whatever you do to tell her it’s time to sleep.

Then, I prepared lots of fresh food-to-go: chopped fruit, pasta salad, chilled drinks, crackers, the usual selection of Haribo candy, enough water for Griffin and a decent amount of bottled organic German breast milk – all stored conveniently in a cooler on the backseat. All this helps avoiding fast food chains and overpriced gas station snacks. The breast milk was for ‘emergencies’ when she started to get cranky and we didn’t want to stop. Otherwise, I nursed.

Since we had to manage to fit Griffin, Emma, car seat, cooler, breast pump, beach gear, and duffle bags for everyone in the car, we decided to invest into this cargo roof top box. Thankfully, we didn’t have to take our massive stroller since Paul’s mom has a simple Snap’n'Go for us that we attach to Emma’s car seat when we’re in SoCal. But we knew eventually, we’d have to bring it along.

Next: Turn the backseat into an amusement park so Emma wouldn’t get bored. Between a comfy one-piece outfit (skip those cute but unpractical outfits, traveling is not the time to make a fashion statement), sun shades for both back windows, a genius toys-on-a-string solution (see photo below), a box with more toys, a sippy cup with water and freshly pumped breast milk, Emma definitely traveled first class.

Emma is ready to go.

Keep smiling! Take a fully charged camera and Flip to document Baby’s first road trip. We surely captured some great moments and have a couple of fun snapshots to share.

Bedtime routine at a rest area at sunset. Emma was excited!

Any tips or genius ideas you wanna share about successful roadtripping with a baby or toddler? Bring it on!

Thrasher Summer List

(Catalina) Island in the sun.

Let’s set boring to do lists aside and make a summer to do list. The only rule: It has to be fun!

Here’s ours:

  • Take Emma to SoCal
  • Take Emma to the pool
  • Take Emma to the beach
  • Go to Tahoe for vacation
  • Have more fun with her whale shaped baby pool
  • Build a patio in our backyard
  • Get a porch planter with new plants
  • Have a cookout in our yard or somewhere else
  • Go to an outdoor festival
  • Check out at least one local museum
  • Have a picnic
  • Join a playgroup and go at least 3 times
  • Learn four new children’s songs (German for Mama, English for Papa)
  • Take a ferry
  • Take a family photo outdoors with Griffin
  • Go fishing
  • Go camping
Signed and approved by all family members.

Little Miss Sunshine :: Sunscreen For Babies

Apparently, it was four degrees warmer in Daly City than in San Francisco today. Ha, take that, you haters! :-)

My little Miss Sunshine and me.

On that note, allow me to preach a bit about the use of sunscreen for your baby’s sensitive skin.

It used to be advised that you should not use sunscreen on babies less than six months old, but the American Academy of Pediatrics now states that sunscreen is probably safe to use on younger children, especially if you just use it on small areas of your baby’s skin that is exposed to the sun and not protected by clothing, such as the infant’s hands and face.

Still, younger children should be kept out of direct sunlight because they can burn easily and may not be able to handle getting overheated as well as older children. So even though it is likely safe to use sunscreen on kids less than six months old, it is safer to keep them out of the sun. ~ Source: About. Pediatrics.com

I am an avid advocate of using sunscreen instead of body lotion during the summer months for myself. That way, you get enough moisturizer for your skin but more importantly, you’re already protected before you step out into the sun. And for Emma I’m doing the same. I don’t care if we just head to the mall – I want her to be protected even on the short way from the car to the mall. I believe an adorable sun hat should be an essential item to your diaper bag during those summer days. And here’s why…

Ultra cool UPF 50+ sun protection hat by Comfykid.com

What Is Sunburn?

Sunburn is the result of an ‘overdose’ of UV rays. A first degree sunburn is not noticeable while you’re in the sun. It only shows through a painful, itchy red rash on your skin later. Often, you only see the damage after you brought baby back into the shade. A sun burn can be pretty painful for your baby, and the implications can be even more serious: Dermatological studies show that frequent sun exposure and sun burn in their early childhood can lead to a higher risk for skin cancer.

I have to admit that it happened to me, well, Emma. She got sunburned. I never felt worse in my life when I saw her cheeks turn red after a sunny day during our Easter vacay in Germany. And I did use sun screen! I guess I didn’t use enough or she had wiped it off and I didn’t reapply it soon enough. Lesson learned. For sure.

Should Baby Be In The Sun At All?

Baby skin is extremely thin and sensitive. Therefore, babies should never be exposed to direct sun light. Their skin is still in the process of developing a protection against UV rays. Only 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure (without sun protection) is enough, to burn baby’s skin. Especially, between 11am and 3pm, when sun rays are most intensive, you should keep baby in the shade (or inside).

So The Shade Is Safe, Right?

Not so fast. Even on a cloudy day, you should keep an eye on baby’s skin. Clouds don’t detain UV rays, the ones who cause sun burn. Who would have known? Parents also often underestimate the intensity of sun light in Spring and Fall. The proper use of pretective sunscreen doesn’t just apply to the summer vacays at the beach but also to play time in the sandbox, the playground, the Sunday picnic with the family or a visit to the zoo.

And did you know that Baby besides being protected from the risk of getting sunburned can also benefit from chilling out in the shade? – 10 to 15 minutes of indirect sun light already prevents Vitamin D deficiency.

Cover Up!

You may not think about the fact that UV rays can get through normal clothing and burn the skin. Clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 50+ can offer extra protection and peace of mind. The outdoor experts at REI have a thing or two to say about that.

Don’t forget about baby sun hats with a bring. They can be worn in the water or anytime there is direct exposure to the sun to protect your baby’s vulnerable scalp. Go ahead, add those cool shades to baby’s beach outfit. But make sure the sun glasses offer 100 percent UV filtration.

Adventure BanZ Baby sunglasses offer 100% UVA/UVB protection.

How To Use Sunscreen?

  1. Sunscreens should block both UVA and UVB rays. These are called broad-spectrum sunscreens, which should also be hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic so it doesn’t cause a rash or clog the pores, which can cause acne.
  2. Shake the bottle well before you squirt any sunscreen out. This mixes up all the particles and distributes them evenly in the container.
  3. Most adults should use about 35 ml or 1 oz. of sunscreen to cover their whole body. That’s the same amount that would fit into a shot glass. It’s also about the same as an adult handful. Remember, most people don’t apply enough sunscreen. It’s OK to use more than you think you should.
  4. Apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before going out in the sun. This gives the ingredients time to attach to the skin.
  5. Cover all of your skin that’s exposed to the sun. This includes your back, ears, behind your knees and your legs.
  6. Some studies say it’s a good idea to reapply your sunscreen after you’ve been in the sun for 30 minutes. This makes it more likely you’ll get the places you might have missed.
  7. Definitely reapply the same amount of sunscreen every two hours, even if you haven’t been sweating or in the water.
  8. Reapply sunscreen as soon as you get done swimming, toweling off, or sweating heavily. Yep, the whole 1 oz.

Happy tanning!

 

 

Disclaimer:

The opinion expressed in this post is my own. I am not a doctor and claim no medical expertise. What works for me, may not work for you. Blog owner will not be held liable for the use of any information found on this blog post.

Top 15 Reasons Why I Love America :: My Life Abroad

Here is my Top 15 of things I love about America…not to be taken too seriously and in no particular order.

  1. Complimentary toilet seat covers in (nearly) every public restroom.
  2. Movies coming to theaters on their actual release date.
  3. People picking up their dog poop. (I’m not naming a country I recently visited where it seems to be common to just walk away without removing your dog’s stinky business.)
  4. Drive-thru’s.
  5. Chilled tab water served as soon as you sit down in a restaurant (slices of lemon, orange or cucumber optional).
  6. Free refills.
  7. Bottled water: I love being able to get a bottle of water at nearly every single store in the entire United States.
  8. 24/7 opening hours: In Germany, I could easily starve on a Sunday due to the lack of food in my fridge and no open grocery store to save me.
  9. Bagging groceries at the store: “Need any help out, Ma’m?” “Sure, why not.”
  10. The position of traffic lights: You can see them way better from your low-riding sports car if they are positioned across the street/intersection from where you stopped.
  11. Right turn at a red light (unless stated otherwise).
  12. Acceptance of debit cards anywhere for any amount: Ok, the (ab)use of credit cards has brought America into this financial mess but if you’re responsible and stay within your financial means, the accepted use of plastic as payment is quite nice.
  13. The One-Dollar bill: Coins are just clutter in your wallet.
  14. Advanced use and offers available on the internet: Forget privacy issues, I want free shipping, free returns and easy check out processes.
  15. In God We Trust – the official motto of the United States of America.

Now tell me, what are your favorite things about America?

 

Home Is Where The Heart Is :: My Life Abroad

(This post is dedicated to my Mama, my sister Meike, my Oma and my faithful friends Philipp, Mobbel, Anabel, Diana, Wiebke & Wiebke and Antje.)

The Germans have a wonderful word to describe “home” or the “feeling of home”. It’s called “Heimat”.

Heimat is a German word that has no simple English translation. It is often expressed with terms such as home or homeland, but these English counterparts fail to encapsulate the true meaning of the word.

“Heimat” is a German concept. People are bound to their ‘heimat’ by their birth, their childhood, their language and their earliest experiences.
Source: Wikipedia


My recent trip ‘back home’ to Germany brought up this question again: What is my ‘Heimat’? Is it my new home – the United States of America? Or my home country – Germany?

After over 5 years of living abroad, miles away from family, friends and childhood memories, I can finally say that my ‘Heimat’ is…America.

During our last trip to Germany, I actually got home sick. As in, I missed America. In all its glory and imperfection. That was a first. Don’t get me wrong, I still love and dearly miss my family and the few remaining, faithful friends I have in my home country but I can now say that my new ‘Heimat’ is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

 

"What do we leave behind?" from the exhibition at the Emigration Museum Hamburg.

‘Heimat’ is not only a place, ‘Heimat’ is simply the place where one feels home. But what creates that feeling? Even after all these years living in a foreign country, I have these moments where I get really excited about my immigrant life. I call them my ‘America moments’. I stand still for a second and remind myself of my journey and all those who supported it. I look around and think about how my life has changed. I smile. I have come so far (literally) and have accomplished so much (with the help of many).

So I guess the feeling of ‘achievement’ plays a big role. And then there’s the change in me which plays an even bigger role. In Germany, I didn’t know who I was, what I wanted, where I should go. I was depressed, angry and felt empty. In England where I lived for almost two years, I remained restless and searching for something better. In America, I found Jesus and therefore answers to all those questions. I’ve become a new person and left the old Wiebke behind – at least the bad stuff, the junk, the baggage. That void inside of me was finally filled.

Thesaurus offers another word for ‘achievement’ – arrival.

Maybe that’s what makes me love America so much? Maybe it’s not only about friends, family or things? Maybe it’s more about the change in me and the peace I’ve found? Maybe I have finally arrived?

But then, if ‘Heimat’ is all about feelings, emotions, peace, then this all makes perfect sense. Doesn’t it?