Friday, December 23, 2011

the truth about taking your 13 month old on a plane that passes the international date line

We did A LOT of research to prepare for our trip to and from Walt Disney World. We were looking at 11 hours from Narita to Orlando and 14 hours back in the same direction, with layovers in each direction. What can you say, we flew the cheapest way possible.
There is so much information out there and it's hard to know who to trust. I wouldn't say you should trust us over anyone else, but just in case you need a little more advice or just a bit of encouragement feel free to read on. It's best to lay out what we found most encouraging and then let you know what really happened.

Some research (that we found helpful):
  • EVERYONE, even the most holistically organic, natural people said to invest in Benedryl. Advice taken.
  • EVERYONE said to buy 1 new toy for each hour you expected your child to be awake. Advice taken - mostly.
  • At least 3 bloggers said to individually wrap each toy. With the intentions that unwrapping would eat up some time. Never got around to it.
  • 3 bloggers recommended this toy: Lauri Toys Toddler Tote. Advice taken.
  • EVERYONE said to buy Gerber Puffs. We bought these instead: Happy Baby Puffs & Happy Tot meals.
  • EVERYONE said buy a big water after security. You will use this to not only keep your baby hydrated but to clean their sippy cup. DO NOT clean sippy cups with airplane water. Airplane water is NOT SANITARY and the crew usually only stocks enough for service.
  • Many blogs said to spend the extra money and buy your baby their own seat. Advice not taken.
  • Every blog had a great packing list. We'll let you know below what we packed and what we actually used.
Our experience:
We bought the Benedryl and we used it. We gave her a small dosage right before her usual bed time and she slept for 6 hours! One the first flight. On the second flight, not so much. The dosage helped, but she only selpt for 4 hours. However, she naturally fell asleep later and slept for another 3. DO A TEST RUN AT HOME.
We only bought 3 new toys:
  • The Toddler Tote (mentioned above) is great because it doubles as 3 or 4 toys. Ella loved the puzzles, but the pegs were a bit too difficult for her tiny hands.
  • Doodle Sketch. AMAZING.
  • Leap Frog Junior Tag Reader and 3 books. However, Curious George Colors was the favorite.
We got an iPad. We had been toying with the idea for several months, but this trip finally sealed the deal. We bought a cover that lets you stand the iPad on it's side like a TV, loaded up a handful of her favorite Yo Gabba Gabba episodes (and a few of our favorites too) and the rest was history. On the first flight she watched the three episodes, twice. This ate up approximatly 2 hours. Amen.

Never got around to wrapping the toys because of, well life. However, I could see this would be an excellent idea for parents with children who understand what opening a toy means.

Snack food = awesome. We always bring our own snacks like bananas, nuts, etc. Plane food is so boring and full of sodium so adding in some natural favorites always helps. It just made sense to pack Ella the same goodness. Happy Baby products are our favorite.

Buying a seat. We are indiffrerent on this idea. Here are the reasons. For this flight, we didn't even think about it. If you buy your own seat (on American Airlines) for a child under 2 you must have a car seat. Since we don't have a car, we don't have a toddler car seat. On the flight back we lucked out - we were sat in a row with an empty seat. However, Ella still needed to switch from lap to lap to keep her entertained. It was great for sleeping hours because she was able to stretch out, but if we had paid we would have had the car seat; so she wouldn't have been able to lay down. If you are an American living in Japan with no car this could end up costing you more hassle (and money), but if you have a car seat and your kid likes sitting in that seat for 10+ hours, go for it!
Now for some things we discovered on our own:
TOYS: Everyone tells you to pack plenty of toys, but no one talks about what happens when your kid drops those toys on the ground. We all know those airplane rows are cramped - but imagine being a 6' tall guy trying to bend over and pick up a toy in a dark isle while the guy next to you is sleeping. Not a good situation. So, be prepared to drop toys - and to loose toys. It sucks. If you are lucky the person behind will pick them up for you. Thank you random person!!

SOBA NOODLES: If you fly a Japanese airline you will most likely get soba noodles at some point. Don't eat them - save them for your child. We gave Ella Soba and she ate/played for 1 1/2 hours! Not flying Japanese? Pre-cook some of your childs favorite noodles and pull them out about 2 hours into the flight.

ASK: Ask for everything and anything that might help your experience. Ask for the crew to hold your food until your child is asleep. Ask the gate attendant to hold a seat in-between you and your husband in the hopes it will stay empty. Ask for the last row in the plane - you won't feel as bad when your child is craying because there are less people around to bother. And once your child goes to sleep, ask for a glass of wine.

DOWNSIZE. We bought ONE large piece of luggage that doubled as a backpack. It was key that we packed as few suitcases as possible. We bought an small stroller so that we could check it at the gate. We bought a new carry on BAG. Bag is key here. If you bring everything in a bag you can stuff it under your seat which equals easy acess for toys, food and diapers.
Packing List for the Plane:

As promised: what we packed and what we used.
  • 1 diaper for every hour on the plane, this left plenty for layovers. Just enough.
  • 1 package of wipes.Plenty.
  • 2 sippy cups. Used both.
  • 5 small towels . Used all.
  • pair of PJ's. Didn't use.
  • 2 plain white onesies. Used 1.
  • 1 extra pair of pants.Used.
  • 3 bibs. Used all.
  • snacks (mentioned above) plus a banana, cheese sticks and pre-made grilled cheese & peanut putter sandwiches. Everything was eaten
  • toys (mentioned aboveUsed all.
  • iPad.Used!
Well, we hope that this provides you with some helpful bits of advice. If nothing else we'll never forget what we read on one blog: Just remember that your flight will end and the plane door will open. You will get off and you will have a great vacation. If all else fails - just tell yourself that!
First day at Magic Kingdom! Proof that your flight will end, the door will open and you will have a great vacation.

Friday, December 16, 2011

uncle nate walks!

Congratulations to Uncle Nate! He graduated today from the University of Little Rock. Keep your ears and eyes open for his documenting, reporting and general awesomeness!

Workin' hard amidst Occupy Protestors

In case you were curious, we purchased a Kammok as his graduation gift. No better gift for an outdoorsy, earth and human respecting adventure guy who needs to take a load off! Buy a Kammok today!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

follow ups are good for happiness

Ella Elaine is updated. I hope you enjoy my follow up thoughts on joining Mommahood.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mt. Fuji

The saying goes, "A wise man climbs Mt. Fuji once, a foolish man climbs Mt. Fuji twice." I would extend that to say, "An even more foolish man drives 2 1/2 hours with a 1 year old for a picnic at Mt. Fuji."

Well, that is what we did! On Ella's first (!!!) birthday we rented a van, packed snacks and drove almost 3 hours to the 5th station on Mt. Fuji. The 5th station is the point where all of the trees dissapear and you feel as if the whole world is below you. We ate lunch as the clouds swirled around us and believe it or not, we did something even more magical - we toasted our sweet little girl's first year of life.

{sweet Ella}

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nagashi Somen

If I had posted about this food adventure when it happened I would have started off with how miserable the heat was that night. Now that some time has passed I can't remember the heat all that much - but I can remember how great it was to have our first bamboo somen noodle eating experience, or "splashing the noodles" as Ayumi calls it. The actual name is nagashi somen and you can read about it here, if you like.

We all sat in front of the Chiba house (Ayumi's family home) on our little yellow crates and watched as Ayumi's Mom and niece splashed somen noodles into the freshly cut bamboo stalk. Little by little they came down the bamboo "slide" and we picked them up with chopsticks. After which, we dumped them into our bowls (pictured above).

It was speed eating at its finest. We thought we'd grown accustom to eating quickly but couldn't begin to keep up with slurping our noodles in enough time to grab the next. We quickly learned, like many eating exeriences in Japan, it wasn't so much about how fast we ate but the time we spent while eating. As the sun set, we splashed noodle after noodle, toasted sake and listened to Ayumi's Mom tell us story after story-understanding every 5 words or so. It was one of the best nights we've had in Japan, thus far.

{Our hosts: Ayumi's Brother, Sister-in-Law, Mom & Niece}

{Ayumi & Ella-chan}

{Something looks farmiliar!}

Monday, October 31, 2011

we ditched the picnic...

...and hung out on the lawn instead! One day we packed up sandwiches and drinks and walked to our local park. Amazingly enough, it was the same day some classic rock, English singing locals showed up at the random amphitheatre for a Sunday afternoon practice party.

{Hanging out in Mikasa Park}

We're back!

There are a few things I am trying to get back into, one of them being posting about life! So, I will spare all excuses and I am just going to start a series of posts to catch our dear friends and family up on life! In the midst of our workaholic lives we have managed to get out and discover some great things. Maybe that is why I haven't blogged...I've been too busy discovering what to post about, yea. . .that's it. Anyhow, hope you enjoy the posts throughout this week!

{Ella-chan looking out over Yokohama}

Friday, August 12, 2011

Current Happenings

Check out these awesome new vending machines! Spotted at Shinagawa station.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer Festival

Ella-chan's school hosted a summer festival this weekend for family and close friends. Two great things happened. Ella got to wear her first Jinbeh, a summer style kimono (altered into a tiny person size) AND my co-workers son won a giant (real) live beetle. Gross. I felt so bad, but he seemed pretty happy about it. Most Japanese boys seem very happy about beetles and bugs in general. The older kids did tiny people versions of ceremonial traditions and then everyone played games and won toys, lots of fun toys!

This is Ella's favorite teacher!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Zushi Beach

Remember how I stated: I promise to get out and discover more of Yokosuka? Well, I ventured out to Zuzshi Beach one day. Bags packed and ready for a fun, relaxing day at the beach. It didn't occur to me that it was the worst day to head to the beach with no plan. Marine Day. I love that Japan pays homage to the mother mother nature that surrounds it! Too bad I didn't get there in the morning... far as the eye could see.

In Our Kitchen: Mango Salsa

There were no decent avocados at the market one day, so I switched it up a bit. Delicious!

In case you are curious:

(2) Mango's: diced

(1/4) Onion: diced

(1) tomato: cored/diced

(2) cloves garlic: minced

(1) tbl sp olive oil

(2) jalapeno: diced

Salt, Pepper & cilantro to taste

*we added a table spoon of Meyer's Rum-it was awesome.

...and here is my best flower arrangement from July!

3 Decades

We had a fun, at home celebration for Brando's 30th birthday. I surprised him with grilled bacon burgers, corn, and tomato's - and of course chocolate cake. Ella and I gave him a classic, acoustic guitar and he was shocked! Even though we didn't have a huge party it was a great time. Willett Style.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ella Update

Holy 9 months! Where has the time gone. Long gone is the time of daily updates, even weekly updates for that matter. My apologies dear friends. What I can always promise is the sharing of amazing new things as we discover even more about Japan!

Ella is 9 months old today. A Tuesday, she was born on a Tuesday. 6:32 p.m.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kitty Cafe

At long last we sought out a Cat Cafe! Thanks to our good friend Laura, who was in town for business, we found a great one in Shibuya. How hilariously brilliant is this concept? You pay for increments of time and get to sip a latte while you hang out with nearly 15 cats. It makes perfect sense for all of those people that can't have a pet in their building. Everyone loves some form of a furry animal and why not get that chance to enjoy it?! Being that I am highly allergic and we had Ella in tow, we maxed out at 30 minutes, but it was well worth my throat closing up.

As we understand it there are also bunny and dog cafes out there. Looks like we have a new mission.