Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hey there


I am still alive... and I have a long list of things I want to write about. I am just having a hard time finding the moments when I am not completely exhausted.

But, if you are so inclined, Kristin, from Not intent on arriving, interviewed me for her Writer Wednesday section. I feel so honored and excited to be feautured there.

I found Kristin  by following her from comments on Lauren's blog. She is an avid traveler and a poet, and as someone who loves to read and wander the world, I really like her space. Thanks for having me!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Traveling with babies


 The first time we put little baby Y. on an airplane and took her with us across the ocean I was a bit terrified about what might happen / how she might take it.

She is now 17 months and she has been on a total of 8 flights, on short and long distances. I am by no means an expert, but I am a lot more confident now than before that first flight, so I thought it would be handy to put together some tips:

- bring a swaddle blanket that the baby has been sleeping on for a couple of days. It will smell familiar and help your kid adjust to the new environment. I actually like bringing two, one for a familiar smell in the airplane (particularly on long flights) and one for the crib once you arrive at destination. A little piece of home will help them transition to the new situation easily.

-the sound of the turbines is the most magical and strong white noise we have ever experienced. It always manages to soothe the baby to sleep when the time comes.

- as for the diaper bag, bring the minimum essentials while being prepared for all the possible scenarios (but if you forget anything don't worry... you will be able to find what you need at the airport, if overpriced. On one of our flights to Mexico we were offered sterilized baby food (pots) by the airline, eventhough we had our own food. She was distracted by having something new to try and actually ate it). This means bringing: all the diapers you need for the duration of the travel time + an extra two. An extra outfit for the baby, and extra t-shirts for each of the adults traveling with the kid. A pacifier (if you use one), favorite toys, water, food for a day. I use my diaper bag as a carry-on, my wallet and passport also go there. Make a small diaper-changing set with everything you need (diapers, changing mat, wipes, diaper cream) so that you can quickly take it out before each change. A diaper bag or backpack with compartments makes it easier to organize everything. Bananas, avocados, pieces of cheese are great snacks that I always like to bring with me. Bibs and muslins to clean up messes are always a must.

-most airlines will let you bring an umbrella stroller that you can keep with you until you board and check in at the gate. This is great, but, even more useful than the stroller we find a baby-carrier indispensable. It will let you be hands-free at crucial moments (like passport control) and babies love to nap in there. We love the Maxi-Cosi Easia and the Lillebaby (specially comfortable these days, when she's gotten bigger, she can be carried in the back and have much more of a view). 

-airports are fun for babies: all the new people and toys (read: magazines, airplane safety cards, bottles of water). They will be amused by the new scenario and also get pretty tired from all the stimulation. In our experience this makes for easier naps, however we do have a very social baby who enjoys looking at everything, waving at everyone, being out of the house.

-have baby suck on the pacifier or breastfeed during take off and landing. We have not had problems with her ears, but we've done this for prevention anyway.

-for long distance flights, if your baby is 10 kg or under you can ask for a crib. This one has been very useful for us. When she was small she did sleep there, later, it worked as a play pen, a place where she loved to sit and stretch. I strongly recommend asking for it, if possible. 

People tend to like babies and, at least with us, have been very understanding. Travel does get harder once they are at that awkward stage where they can crawl but not walk yet... they want to be on the move but can't and won't be happy staying in your lap. Smaller babies (up to 6-8 months) are way easier, because all they need is milk + rest + some distractions and they love to be close to the parents anyway.

I always thought the actual travel was the hard part, but actually what has proven to be trickier is adapting to the new environment / jet lag. It normally takes a couple of days of playing at 3 am, but trying to get on the local schedule, doing as the locals do and going with the flow makes for enjoying travel with small kids.

*The comments on this (lovely) post (about traveling with baby to NY for the first time)  have a lot of handy tips for traveling with kids and babies.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Celebrating Summer and Light


 A few days ago I was contacted by Paperless Post** to ask if I wanted to participate in a collection of inspirational posts about celebrating the Summer and I thought it was a really nice idea.

Summertime is one of my periods of the year. The warmth and the long days are definitely worth a celebration, particularly in the Northern hemisphere.

I remember celebrating 'la noche de San Juan' -St. John's Eve- when I lived in Barcelona. It is a truly magic night. People go to the beach, set up huge bonfires meant to scare evil forces away, party the whole night and enjoy the light. Reading a bit further I found out this was a christianized pagan holiday in honour of the solstice, marking the longest day of the year. It is a night where fairies and other creatures of the underworld are believed to run lose, among which La encantada, a young, beatiful girl with long hair appears near caves or water streams, combing her hair, carrying a mirror. The legend, dating back to medieval times, is associated with Lamia and other folkloric creatures (like mermaids or the greek nymphs) and symbolizes fertility and youth. The mirror she holds is a symbol that represents a door to other dimensions. On St John's Eve, anything can happen.


Marking the seasons brings us to the moment, makes us reflect where we are.  Lately, I spend life running constantly, doing those everyday things to keep us all going. I reach the end of the day quite tired (brain dead would be a more appropriate term). But occasions like this are perfect for taking a pause, for remembering to appreciate the light around us, to celebrate the little things: taking long walks, painting my toenails bright and shiny, admiring the beautiful peonies that only bloom at this particular time.

Do you celebrate the summer solstice?

* Painting of Lamia by William Waterhouse
**This is a non-sponsored post, I just thought it would be fun to participate in a series focused on celebrating summer time.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A flamingo-themed nursery

This post was due ages ago. I never shared Y's. nursery, but we put so much effort in it that I thought it was as good a time as any to show it to you!  


When we started putting our baby’s room together, we didn’t really have a colour scheme, except maybe: "mix all the colors". Little by little, though we found the bits and pieces that “glue” it all. We first chose the fabric for the curtains. These were actually a project for January Joy,  but we ended up asking our local Turkish tailor to make them because it turns out we are both completely clueless with the sewing machine .


We also had a pair of flamingo wall-stickers that we got in Barcelona just before I moved to The Netherlands. At the moment we did not know where they would end up, but we knew they would be a part of our home together. When we were dating (and still now, when we travel) we visit zoos whenever we can and we always end up taking a photo with the flamingos, so they are a bit special to us.


For the furniture, we knew we wanted colourful items, which are often difficult to find, or else, they are called "designer items" and are priced accordingly. At the baby shops everything was in the boring tones of white, grey, wood or black and the ready-made rooms were extremely expensive anyway. We chose a simple drawer chest (a Hemnes, from Ikea) to be used as a changing table, that we found in red, score! We have added some porcelain knobs in different patterns to give it a quirky touch (found here). We liked the ones from Anthropologie, but after a bit of searching we were happy to find a great selection of porcelain knobs at a local source and at accessible prices (€2.95 per  piece).


As for the walls... we wanted to continue with the flamingo theme.  I had a postcard from the famous ‘American flamingo’ painting by John James Audubon, and a Mexican flamingo-maraca that we put by her small bookshelf. My mom quilted her a lovely Flamingo-and-chick blanket, to go with her light blue crib that we first saw during a day excursion to Ghent. 


After searching quite a bit  (read going crazy) on Pinterest  I found some quite unique vintage Alice in Wonderland prints  on Etsy, from a 1950’s edition illustrated by Marjorie Torrey  that we hung on one of the bare walls.


Choosing the frames was kind of hard, but in the end we settled for good old  Ribba’s from Ikea that  the husband managed to convert into transparent "floating" frames by using glass in the front and in the back of the frame, so that the original pages of the book are still readable from the back. 


When she was born she received a WWF flamingo plush from a dear dear uncle and now she has a yodeling dancing one that she loves to play with.  Oh, and let's not talk about the flamingo-obsession that started with her birth. We have quite the collection of flamingo paraphernalia: onesies, leggings, shorts, a sweater, toddler-sandals, postcards (that I am hiding from the husband, using them as bookmarks), a lovely winter-hat, a couple of dresses, a t-shirt....

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Papadag (Daddy day)

This post has been written by the husband. Though he has written a couple of other posts he will most likely not be a regular feature, but maybe now and then we'll get to hear M's voice (If i can convince him to write more!)


When we found out that Amanda was gonna start working full time we had to look for a daycare for Yulia. Normally daycares in the Netherlands have  huge waiting lists, but luckily, we found a really nice one that was able to take Yulia on short notice. Their philosophy however is that no child should be in daycare for more than 4 days, so we had to find a solution for the 5th day. Since 3 of the 4 grandparents live in Mexico and the grandmother in the Netherlands is still working. We had to find a different solution.

So we did some calculations in Excel and we came to the conclusion that I would be able to take a papadag (daddy day). A papadag is a day (or in some cases more than one) in which the dad stays home and takes care of the child(ren).


My first day I was a bit scared. Sure, I had taken care of Yulia before. I knew how to change her diaper, give her food, entertain her, but I had never done one full day of baby tending. I didn’t know how to organize myself and the day in such a way that stuff would get done and Yulia would be happy. Also, Amanda advised me to go to a playgroup that Yulia loved and Amanda attended with her every week. I didn’t like the idea of going to a place with only women talking about women stuff.

Up until now  I have had four daddy days and I love it. I love our morning walk to the playgroup, I love playing and dancing with her at the playgroup, I love having fancy lunch with her at M&S and going home to play some more.

During the playgroup I talk to the different moms (there are 2-3 dads as well), nanny’s and au pairs and during her nap after playgroup I have time (2 hours) to run errands (Amanda edit: this means going to the french bakery and getting éclaires). I know that Amanda is going through a huge change and misses Yulia a lot, but I am very happy that I get to spend quality time with my amazing daughter.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

5 years


 I can't believe that 5 years ago today, on a Monday morning (not a Sunday), the boy and I got married for the first time (the second ceremony would take place later that year, in September).

I still remember how emotional and happy we felt that day. We were supposed to be going almost by ourselves, only joined by our witnesses, 4 of our best friends, but when our parents and close family heard the plan they were like nuh-uh, we are coming as well.

We felt so happy. So fresh and ready to take life together.

Marriage is hard, last night at 3 a.m. we were screaming at each other eventhough (or perhaps because) we were both more asleep than awake. I am not proud and every time we fight I can't wait to make up again because staying angry kills me inside.

There is always a new day and we keep coming back to each other. I admire M. so much and he pushes me, inspires me and makes me be a better person everyday.

My best friend is staying with us and we spent the day visiting Rotterdam, walking in the rain and then having celebratory tea and crêpes Suzette.

I hope we will be blessed with many more days together.

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