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Thursday, January 27, 2011

international travel alone with a toddler...part 2

The Airport and The Flight...

When we arrived at Roissy Airport (aka Charles de Gaulle) we went directly to ticketing.
TIP: The baby doesn't need to wait in line with you but does need to be present when you get to the front of the line as the Security Agent needs to see the passports as well as the Airline Agent.
The Airline Agent gave me a Access N1 which is priority through security. I was able to bypass the line and it was wonderful!

I brought with me 1 liter of milk and about 4 pom potes (apple sauce in 90 gram packages). I forgot to take out my liquids (personal as well as M's). I didn't realize until later but they didn't even check them at all! We placed all of our items on the belt and went through without any troubles.
TIP: A good idea is to keep the baby in the stroller until you have placed all your items on the conveyor belt (including coats, shoes and scarves). Then take the baby out and fold up the stroller and send it through the conveyor belt.
I walked through the metal detector with M in my arms but toddlers can walk through the metal detector alone. But since we were traveling alone I did not want M to go AWOL.

After passing security we found a place that M could run around before the flight (our flight departed at noon). I wanted to wear him out so after our lunch on the plane he would be ready for a nap. M found some friends to run around with.

We were one of the lasts to board. After take off M did not really eat well. He refused to eat or even try the pasta. But he enjoyed the bread, cheese and fruit. Since we bought a seat for M he was entitled to a full meal - if he was a lap baby it would depend on the generosity of the flight attendant. He did eat the snack (Pizza) they gave out before landing.

M was great the entire flight. He did not squirm or try to walk around the plane. I kept him occupied with the toys I brought for him but the most helpful was the Sticker Activity Book!
TIP: Bring out only 1 toy per not bring out all the toys at once

Nap time was a bit difficult since we didn't have much space. Luckily the 3 seats next to us were empty and after calming him down a bit (with a video of Lion King...yes had to bring out the big guns ;-) he was ready to stretch out.

Toys that worked for my 18 month year old and those that didn't:
  • Playmobil 1-2-3 figurines - YES
  • Duplo/Legos - NO (M was really into Legos at 12 months - 15 months but recently he doesn't seem to be into them very much)
  • Modeling Clay - NO (only because I brought a generic brand that was too dry on the return flight I am bringing only Playdough!)
  • Activity Sticker Book - YES most helpful (Stickers were special and could be reapplied multiple times)
  • Colored Pencils and Paper- YES (he is still small and had more fun putting the pencils back into the box than actually drawing ;-)
  • Pipe Cleaners - NO
  • Toy Car - Didn't need to bring it out
  • Magnetic Fishing Game- NO
  • Small books - YES
M really enjoys puzzles and trying to figure things out right now. For the return flight I'll have to find a few little toys he might enjoy better.

Getting through Immigration and Customs was a breeze as always. Since he was in his stroller and a bit drowsy. For customs I only checked one small bag so pushing his stroller and pulling the small bag was no problem. But trying to find the connecting flights terminal was a bit hectic at Chicago's airport. There weren't enough signs indicating where we should go. I had to ask but then it was a snap. I had M play again before our connecting flight. Then once on the next flight we settled in a watched the rest of Lion King. He fell asleep within 10 mins. And slept through until the flight landed.

In part 3 I will post about adjusting to the time difference.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

new year's resolutions...

Usually I do not make new year's resolutions because it is so cliché...but what are they really?  GOALS and what is wrong with some new goals for the year?!?  NOTHING!

2011 Goals
  • Work on my jewelry making (try some new techniques and medias)
  • Lose weight/Exercise (which is on everyone's list haha!)
  • Read more
  • Study French more (not just classes but on my own and read in French also)
  • Speak more French at home with F
  • Walk more outdoors (the problem is that M is refusing to sit in his stroller AND to hold hands while walking!)
  • Write a Blog Post weekly
  • Be less frumpy...I have been in a style rut lately...well since M was born...and more so since we moved to Paris.  Yes in the Fashion Capital of the World I am the most unfashionable person in the city limits!
2011 Goals for M at home with me...I want to be able to give him the following:
  • engage M in meaningful/imaginative play
  • read more to M
  • expose M to beauty (art, music, nature)
  • progress M's language skills (and hopefully F and belle mere will do the same in French)

Monday, January 10, 2011

international travel alone with a toddler...part 1

M and I went ahead of F to the US because we wanted more time with Family and Friends.

Part 1 Preparing...

This was not my first international flight nor M's. But our first "sans" F and originating from European side (which is much more difficult since we are not flying overnight like the from the US therefore we are awake most of the flight).

First I did some research on packing, what food to bring and how to occupy a baby during the flight...

PACKING - 3 words LIGHT LIGHT reason is because we are alone and second reason is in order to bring back A LOT of stuff from the US ;-)
  • Checked luggage - We only packed enough clothes to get through one week since we will be staying with family and a washing machine is readily available. I checked a small suitcase (carry on sized). I brought the smallest bag possible because when you arrive in the US you have to go through customs with all of your luggage in hand. No matter if you have a connecting flight or not (more to come on this in Part 2). F is bringing the large suitcase (virtually empty) so we can fill it up with clothes, English books etc...
  • Carry on luggage - I choose a backpack and a long strap purse in order to stay hands free to catch a runaway toddler! Following is what I brought on my carry on luggage
    • Computer with Chargers and adapters
    • Video/MP3 Player in case I need to calm down a little one (I have checked my plane only has overhead monitors)
    • Blanket
    • Sweaters
  • Stroller - we rolled our stroller all the way to the gate and checked it at the gate
  • Car Seat - we decided it would be best if my sister bought one in the US and we kept it there for future visits (or future children!)...M still has about 15 more lbs until he grows out of this new car that will be at least 1 year we hope. We plan to visit the US at least 2 times per year so a $85 car seat is worth it in my eyes. For others who do not have this situation you could rent one with rental car agencies OR I have read you can rent car seats and other products (pack and plays) from the web in most major cities. If you are going to Paris you will not need a car seat...Public transportation is wonderful!
M's TOY BAG - After researching how to occupy a baby/toddler on a plane I decided to make M a Toy Bag. Below is what I put in the bag. The trick is to bring out one toy per hour.
  • Playmobil 1-2-3 figurines - they are intended for 18 month + children...there are some other versions for older kids
  • Duplo/Legos - also for under 3 years old
  • Modeling Clay - I was going to bring Playdough but the container is just too big...I know they do sell smaller versions. But I had some generic clay individually packaged so I brought 2 of them.
  • Activity Sticker Book - In French for 2 years plus but we did a few lessons and he did pretty good
  • Colored Pencils and Paper - I choose pencils because I find that they are less messy...and I don't want to worry about him drawing on the tray table or window etc...
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Toy Car
  • Magnetic Fishing Game (I just brought a 1/4 of the game)
  • Small books
  • Milk - 1 liter of pasteurized milk
  • Baggy of Cherrios
  • Baggy of Dried Cranberries
  • A few Bananas
  • A few Clementines
  • Some kid cookies (has less sugar)
In my next post I will let you know how the flight went and a few tips that I discovered...

    Friday, January 7, 2011


    And we're off!

    On vacation again :-)

    Visiting some family in DC then off to Florida for 3 weeks to see friends, family AND MOSTLY THE SUN!

    These past 6.5 months here in Paris has been a big adjustment to living in a cold climate, learning a foreign language and discovering how to be stay at home mom/wife (I'm still perfecting this!) we as a family need a little sun, some English and stay at the rent's house for a few weeks and veg ;-0

    Can't wait to just soak up that Vitamin D

    Here is a pic of a place we USED TO call it's VACATION

    I'll try to keep up on the blog while away...with tempting photos of sunny beaches and fun outdoor activities

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    a french new year's eve and new year's day...

    We decided to stay at home and relax this year since M and I are heading to the US (before F he will join in a week) for 3 weeks!

    We made a Swiss/French winter dish called Raclette.  Raclette is melting of a special kind of cheese onto assorted deli meats (fancy my mind at least), potatoes, small pickles (NOT sweet ones!) and usually pearl onions too.  In the old days they would melt and scrap off the cheese but now we use a Raclette machine and place the sliced cheese for a few mins and pour the melted cheese on the accompaniments.   It's DELISH!

     I have no clue what types of cheese I bought...I just know 3 different kinds and 200 grams of each (which was plenty for all 3 of us (including the bout chou) for dinner and lunch!  Being in France helps since I just asked the fromagerie what I needed.  He recommended a few and I took them all!

    For the meats it was easier since I asked my belle-mere what I should get.  She recommended de la viande des grisons (this one is a type of cow I think...), jambon de bayonne (similar to prosciutto), rosette coupée finement (kind of like salami but better), saucisson à l'ail (garlic sausage), andouille de guéméné (it's pork but the sausage is pressed together hard to explain google it!), jambon blanc (white ham - or traditional sandwich ham).   I took 10 slices of each and we had plenty for the dinner and lunch as well as some still in our fridge!

    As for the NYE shows on the TV...they were not live (this is what F said)...and no live shots of the Champs-Élysées or any fireworks (on the TV that is!).  Also the shows were far from spectacular.   They were mostly B or C actors/singers.  No Jay-Z and Beyonce singing with Dick Clark (or now should I say Ryan Seacrest).  Anyway enough of the boohooing...Bonne Année ~ Happy New Year!

    For New Year's Day I made some Overnight French Toast...hmmmm...miam miam it was good!  We have some leftovers for tomorrow!

    Later on we met up with F's parents and old friends of F's to go to Cirque d'hiver!  It was so magical and M had a great time seeing the Lions and Tigers.

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    a french christmas

    Yes we had a Very Merry and WHITE CHRISTMAS!

    Oops his head fell off
    Back on top

    That's better
    Christmas PJ's

    M's Christmas Pile

    Our Christmas Pile haha!

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    winter is here!

    Here are some pics of Paris with snow ;-)

    It doesn't happen very often...but when it does the city shuts down!  Yes for 4 inches of snow it shuts down...don't ask why they don't even know why.

    And a pic of our Charlie Brown Tree...which are common here.  We put it on a stool to make it look tall :-

    a french thanksgiving

    The French do not celebrate we decided to celebrate ours the Sunday after Turkey Day with another Franco-American couple and their 2 boys.

    I made roasted turkey breast, Grandma's stuffing, mashed potatoes and a green bean casserole.

    It was my first time making a Thanksgiving Meal and it was excellent...not overly fancy but just down home comfort food!  Just what I needed to remind me of home :-)

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    November 2010

    Other than London and Thanksgiving there wasn't much else we is a mini photo shoot I had with M ENJOY!