Where Is Super Mama When You Need Her? :: Parenting Challenges

I don’t have to deal with crazy deadlines, ever-changing briefs and tight budgets anymore like I used to when working at an ad agency. Now, I’m facing different kinds of challenges like how do I get my baby to like bath time, when and how often and how much do I feed her solids, how can I explain to my DH that Emma shouldn’t be playing airplane with him half an hour before bedtime, what can I do to teach her to fall asleep by herself, when is the ideal bed time and why is she suddenly throwing a fit every time I want to change her diaper.

At only 6 1/2 months, Emma already learned to pull herself up. According to her crawling is for babies. Of course, Papa and Mama are mighty proud of our Super Baby.

BUT, after we finally gained control over Emma’s sleeping patterns and taught her successfully to fall asleep by herself (as in: no more rocking, nursing or singing to sleep and no more checking in on her in the middle of the night – yeah!), we are facing a new challenge: As soon as we have put her down to sleep, she pulls herself up on the rail of the crib and just stands there. Since she hasn’t learned yet how to get back down, she eventually gets frustrated ‘up there’ and starts crying. Yeah, we’re not so proud anymore.

So we’re basically back to checking in on her and putting her down. We do that over and over. How fun.

Enter Super Mama with the solution: A sleep sack or wearable blanket or however you wanna call it.

Sleep sack by Steiff.

I love these things! Emma always used to wear them at night time but then I thought it would keep her from rolling on to her tummy. Her favorite sleeping position. So I stopped putting it on her.

Today I had the genius idea that a sleep sack might keep her from pulling herself up on the rail since her legs would be kind of ‘swaddled’. Ha, it totally worked! She is now peacefully snoozing on her belly. In her sleep sack.

Here are a couple of other Mommy Challenges that I faced and eventually tackled:

  • Hating bath time: I used warmer water and put a wash cloth on her belly to calm her down and keep her warm.
  • Falling asleep while nursing (and not getting a full feeding in): Undress baby and use a wet wash cloth to keep her slightly uncomfortable.
  • Teething pain #1: Put a schnuller (pacifier) or wet wash cloth in the freezer. Makes a great teething toy.
  • Teething pain #2: Elevate the head part of her crib mattress a bit. It takes some pressure off her gums which are causing her so much discomfort.
  • Frequent night wakings: I’ve written a gazillion blog posts about how we solved that problem.
  • Making sure she wouldn’t be afraid of water: I never covered her face when washing her hair. I obviously made sure she wouldn’t get shampoo in her eyes but it taught her that running water over her face is not a bad thing.
  • Congested nose: We set up a warm mist humidifier in her room.
  • Not taking the bottle #1: Make sure the milk is warm enough.
  • Not taking the bottle #2: Don’t wait until she’s too hungry and frustrated before you try giving her the bottle.
  • Sleeping in a new/foreign environment: Have her sleep in the travel crib a few days before you leave for your trip so she can get used to her interim bed.
  • Freaking out over all the stuff that’s going wrong: Look at the things that are going well and give yourself some credit. Motherhood is the most challenging job you can ever sign up for.
I’m not writing about this to brag about my fantastic mothering skills. I’m still learning so much every day. I’m sharing this stuff so you can take it as an inspiration for solving your very own Mommy Challenges. Some of those tips I got from my experienced mommy friends so I can’t even claim to be the brain behind all of this. As always, I like to invite you on my journey because if someone already made a path, why not walk on it.
Ok, now YOU tell me how I can avoid those diaper changing fights with Super Baby before I have poop all over me. Please. Thank you very much.

 

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?

 

Flying With Infants

 

We recently had a death in our family. It was a tragic accident and we’re still trying to understand how and why it happened. It was no question for us that we would go to the funeral in SoCal. So the big question was – car or plane? For me, it was a big decision to make. But after talking more with my mommy friends, I was encouraged to take the plane. Apparently, at the age of 2 months it was perfect to fly with Emma.

Since we were only going to L.A., we’ve decided against purchasing an extra seat for Emma. It was too expensive and we didn’t feel that it was necessary.

Either way, get ready for some really good advice. Some I found on websites, some I got from experienced mommies. Some I followed, some I didn’t. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment. Other mommy readers will thank you.

Enjoy your first flight with baby! We certainly did and are now anxious to take Emma on her first international long-distance flight to Germany.

Planning Your Trip:

  • The safest way to travel with in infant is to use a car seat and to book an extra seat.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has recently updated recommendations of things you as a parent can do to make the trip safer, easier and less stressful. The TSA website has several short videos for parents and caregivers of infants, toddlers and school-aged children to view to help simplify the process of proceeding through the checkpoint. You may want to check it out!

  • Some airlines require a birth certificate for your infant. Check ahead of time.
  • To help decide whether or not to book a full child’s fare for a toddler, see how long you can last with him on your knee in the armchair at home. Then make your choice.
  • Ask if your flight is full when checking in. Some assistants will block out the seat next to you in a less full flight or offer you the option of seating next to a vacant seat. This is particularly valuable if traveling with a toddler under 24 months without a seat.
  • Check that your airline allows you to pre-book baby bassinets before the day of travel – not all will – some only allow pre-booking for infants of 8 months and less, otherwise you must wait until check-in to see if a bassinet is available.

Bassinet are not available on every flight and not every airline allows you to book them in advance.

  • Pack things in see-through plastic bags (not just liquids), so that the security personnel don’t have to rummage through everything and contaminate pacifiers, nipples, and teethers when searching your bag.
  • Wear flat shows – no laces!
  • Have baby wear a one-piece to allow for easiest diaper changing.
  • Work out responsibilities clearly between parents before setting off.
  • If you’re visiting friends or family, find out if baby gear is available to you so you won’t have to carry it with you (ie. borrow a stroller or car seat, have your mother-in-law buy diapers, wipes and other inexpensive baby supplies for you so you don’t have to waste unnecessary space in your luggage or avoid scrambling to find a drugstore at your destination to buy diapers when you arrive).

At The Airport:

  • Allow plenty of time at the airport for check-in, and connecting flights. Remember how much longer it takes to achieve anything with kids in tow and apply the same formula to your travel plans.
  • Smile sweetly and helplessly at everyone and you may get help and be able to jump the line.
  • Get on the plane first and off the plane last to get a better chance of assistance from cabin crew.
  • Look out for fast track customs and immigration check points for those traveling with infants.
  • It’s different from airport to airport but be prepared to remove baby’s jacket as well.

Diaper Changing:

  • It’s a good idea to have a fresh diaper just before boarding.
  • Pack a small bag with just one diaper, a few wipes, a perfumed nappy sack and some rash cream if needed and place it in the seat pocket in front of you. Keep the bulk of your change things in your change bag, but place the change mat or towel, one diaper, a small pack of wipes, tube of cream and nappy sack in an accessible place (e.g in a polythene bag) near your seat. This is all you will likely need for a simple change and will save cluttering the tiny space in the aircraft washroom – you will know when the time has come for all your resources to be called for!

 

Stylish Diaper Changing Kit by Kalencom

  • If you choose to change your baby in the bassinet or on your seat, you will not be the first to do so. Remember to be sensitive to your neighbors, however, and to the cultural sensitivities of your airline.
  • Wrap soiled diapers in one of the perfumed diaper bags, and dispose of in the bin in the toilet.
  • Some planes have a larger bathroom at the very rear of the plane with a correspondingly larger change table. Wait for this to become free if you have a larger baby to change, as airplane change tables are small.
  • On some airlines the cabin crew will prepare the change table in one of the toilet cubicles for you if you let them know that you need to use one. That’s a real help is you have a squirmy, smelly bundle to hold while wrestling with lowering a change table in the tiny space of an airplane bathroom – so the first time you need to make a change on the plane, ask an assistant where they prefer you to make the change, and take any help offered.

Nursing:

  • Nurse baby during take off and landing to avoid blocked ears from cabin pressure. Hold off on feeding baby before you board the plane to ensure she’ll be hungry.
  • Keep two diaper pins attached to your diaper bag. If you can get a window seat (most people will trade you) you can take a blanket and attach it to your seat and the seat in front of you for a privacy screen. People may even help you attach the pins when you’re flying alone.
  • Bring a small pillow for extra support (Boppy pillow may be too big).

Sleeping on board:

  • Try to keep baby awake as much as possible so she’ll be tired for the flight.

Getting Around:

  • An infant baby carrier is really helpful so that you can carry baby while you push a luggage trolley.
  • If you bring your stroller, obtain a get check tag from the ground personnel and only ‘check in’ your stroller at the gate when you reach the aircraft. Make sure to fold it as airport staff may not know how to handle your stroller and damage could be done.

Staying Sane:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help (especially, if you’re travelling by yourself).
  • Be prepared to lose stuff (and don’t get fussed when you do).
  • Discuss any concerns or fears with your travel partner and work out a plan for efficient team work (ie. one gets baby through security, other one manages carry on luggage).
  • Treat any time to relax as a bonus.
  • Keep smiling at your baby.
  • Keep track of baby’s regular routine using a dual time clock, and gently adjust baby’s routine as your holiday progresses.

And here’s my favorite piece of advice:

Ignore rude people, especially those whose job it is to help. Only you can know the right way to handle your child. And don’t worry about being ‘THAT’ parent whose baby cries on a plane. YOU know that you’re doing everything possible to calm her down.

All snuggled up and ready for take off.

Happy San Franniversary!

(This post is dedicated to my Mama who always supports my crazy dreams, believes in me and loves me for who I am.)

Five years ago, I arrived in San Francisco with nothing more than two large suitcases and no place to live. Little did I know that God had an intense plan for me.

My suitcase was packed with dreams, expectations and hope. I can’t say what exactly I was hoping for but I had this dream of a new life in California. Someone said ‘California is not a state. It’s a state of mind.’. This pretty much sums up my idea of the Golden State. I was hopelessly in love with the romantic idea of emigrating and finding whatever I was searching for in America.

I moved across the pond – 5514.31 miles (8874.18 kilometers) away from home – leaving friends and family behind to embark on a new adventure that turned out to be so much bigger than I could ever imagine.

I was definitely searching for something. I just couldn’t define what it was?! For some reason I thought that moving further away from home and all things familiar to me, would allow me start over. Was I secretly running away from myself? My past is (was) paved with regrets. Failed relationships, fall outs with close friends, trouble with the family, and the worst: an empty heart.

I guess a life thousands of miles away from home, would appear to others as brave, romantic and inspiring. Though all it was for me was an escape. There is a beautiful word in German that describes this feeling perfectly – ‘Fernweh‘.

So here I was in San Francisco. Meanwhile, I had found an adorable studio in San Francisco’s Marina neighborhood, I had settled into my new job and started making friends. Nonetheless I struggled with this emptiness I just couldn’t explain. I was truly lost, slightly depressed and looking for purpose in all the wrong places.

That’s when God started calling me. Believe it or not, He sent an angel to come and rescue me. And since God has a sense of humor, He introduced me to my angel at a bar.

Fast forward.

I have now been married to my angel for over three years, found my salvation and God-given purpose, raised a rescue puppy, started my own business, moved into a house and am now expecting a baby.

I am indeed living my dream.

Photos taken at the Emigration Museum in Hamburg, Germany.