29 October 2018

Traveling Internationally...with a Baby

Dun dun dun.

Okay, really, there's no call for such drama or exaggeration. People fly around the world with their babies every day. But I will say I was just the tiniest bit nervous ahead of the trip. Some babies are big cuddlers, who just love to stay in mommy's arms.

Cyrus is a big adventurer, who loves to crawl to the far corners of the earth. So...I knew that traveling for a week in places where we mostly wouldn't be able to put him down and let him get some exercise might be a bit of a challenge.

But it went fabulously! Here are some of the factors, most of which are highly impractical to replicate, that helped make this baby's first international trip so smooth.

1) A stroller.

We didn't actually own a compact stroller ahead of the trip. Strollers are ridiculously expensive in Malaysia, and we have a borrowed one that we use for walks around the neighborhood, but it's quite bulky and not great for traveling. We decided to buy whatever really cheap compact stroller we could find online for the trip, and we ordered one from Malaysia's version of Amazon...and it never arrived. Even after the still hasn't arrived. I don't think it ever will. This is why I don't shop online here.

Anyway, we had asked around about possible places to buy an inexpensive stroller before we bought the one online, and shortly after we'd placed the order, some friends stopped by and said, hey, we have this super cool ultra-compact stroller that we got in America, do you want to borrow it for the trip? They showed me how it folded up, and I was in awe. It is amazingly small!

It's the gb Pockit stroller, and guys, it's amazing. We didn't even have to gate-check it on the airplane because it fit under the seat as a small piece of hand luggage.

Cyrus spent a good part of the trip falling asleep in the stroller. For a trip that involved taking airplanes and then public transportation all over the city, this was the right stroller to have on hand!

2) Ergo Carrier

I'd put an Ergo 360 on my "wishlist" of sorts before he was born, because I wanted a carrier that could be used at many different ages so that we could have only the one carrier, and one that could easily used by different adults of different sizes. My aunt and uncle gave it to us, and we've used it a lot!

We used the carrier on days when we were going to parks or islands, places where a stroller was not convenient to have. Carrying Cyrus in the Ergo is much easier than carrying him in your arms for long periods of time. A high-energy TWENTY POUND baby...yep, the carrier is the way to go. He also likes to fall asleep in the Ergo.

3) An Ultra-Friendly Baby

Sometimes I suspect that this baby loves strangers more than his own family, because he sees his own family all the time and they are a little bit boring, but strangers are new and exciting. He smiled at all the strangers in the elevators, in the metro trains, in the buses, everywhere we went. He was constantly making friends. The flight attendants gave him a kitkat bar (that was confiscated and eaten by Angel because kitkats are not part of a seven-month-old's diet) and took selfies with him.

Also, we went to Disneyland. We weren't really planning to meet many characters, because shows, parades, and rides were a bigger priority, but then we kind of accidentally met Chewbacca, and Captain Hook, and Cyrus loved them so much that we kept bringing Cyrus to meet more characters when we had the chance.

This kid has never even seen a movie. For all he knows, these are just especially strange-looking strangers. But he loved them! It was the funniest thing. I have more photos of him meeting Disney characters, but for this post, I'll just share one story.

Very close to the end of the night, I was holding Cyrus outside the bathrooms, waiting for my sisters to come out. We looked across the walkway, and there was Frollo, in a little garden, meeting guests. Cyrus spotted him, and started smiling, so I walked a little bit closer to the Exit gate of the garden and held him up to see, with no intention of going in, because the Entrance gate was far away and I was just waiting for my sisters so that we could go back and join the rest of the family. But then Frollo spotted Cyrus. And it was apparently love at first sight, because Frollo walked all the way away from his little photo-taking spot, and Cyrus got even more excited when he came closer, and they held hands over the gate, and then Frollo opened up the gate and led me and Cyrus (holding hands the whole way...Cyrus holding Frollo's plastic hands...) down the path to the photo-taking spot and they spent time posing together.

I mean, would you look at that? He was so ridiculously happy and overjoyed. Even I don't know anything about Frollo. I was told he's the villain in "Hunchback of Notre Dame," I've never seen the movie. But from now on, I will always associate this character with this funny little moment that Cyrus had of being so excited and happy to spend time with...Frollo.

I need to get me a baby who looks at me the way my own baby looks at...Frollo.

So, pro-tip. Occasionally, you might have a baby who excessively loves meeting giant cartoon-looking people. This seems strange, but don't be alarmed. It was one of the most unexpected joyous things of our trip.

4) A 5.5 adult to 1 baby ratio.

We were traveling with my family, which was especially fun because I got to experience Disneyland and the rest of Hong Kong with my little sisters, but also, it's super convenient to have so many big people to take care of one small one. Grandma hung out with Cyrus while the rest of us rode roller coasters. We had many arms to hold him and carry him on long bus rides.

It rarely ever seems to happen that adults/almost-adults far outnumber children, but that's the perk of being the oldest grandchild and having teenage aunts around to play with you.

5) I've decided that 7 months is a brilliant time to travel. 

Several factors make it good. One, he can eat other foods besides milk. This was very useful because not all moments while traveling are convenient for breastfeeding. Two, he can't walk or run yet. He loves to crawl, and pulls himself up on all manner of furniture, and climbs onto low footstools or mattresses on the floor (danger baby!) but babies are much easier to contain in the pre-walking days. I'm sure that by the time of our next big adventure, he'll be toddling all over the place.

Another perk of traveling with a baby is that they're pretty much free to take with you. ;) Just the baby food and diapers and apparently they need those just as much when they're at home, too.

04 October 2018

Life These Days: September 2018

One of the most thrilling events of the last month was: We went to the circus!

An actual, real-live circus. Trapeze and high-wire and jugglers and clowns, all that sort of thing.

It was quite fun to watch a live performance. I feel like you normally think of aerial artists as the kind of act you might randomly see on a TV show, but live, it's especially fun and especially awe-inspiring. Our family left the circus all promising to work out a little harder because we know we certainly do not have the muscles it would take to twirl ourselves around while hanging onto a silk mid-air, or else to hang upside down by the tops of our feet.

Angel's gotten more into the swing of things at work--grading tests, lesson planning, getting involved in extra-curriculars, etc. He's hosted special taco parties for all of his Spanish classes, courtesy of a wife who knows how to use the internet to learn how to make crockpot carnitas. We ended up buying ALL of the packages of flour tortillas (about 14 packages of 10 tortillas each) at a little shop that's known for selling western groceries, leaving the owner saying that he wasn't sure when or if he'd make another order for tortillas. Please. Just order the tortillas. Trust me. Adjusting to the new job and new schedule is a big part of life right now, but I absolutely love having Angel come home every day and asking how the day went and his answer being, "Perfect! I love my job!"

September brought the Lantern Festival--there's always a lantern walk and a party for kids in our apartment complex, so Cyrus got to go to his first Lantern Festival, although he did not particularly appreciate it that he was not allowed to touch paper lanterns that have lit candles inside them.

At some point in late September, Cyrus took off crawling, after about two weeks of puttering around crawling only a step or two at a time. This has opened up a whole new world for my life looks something like: I'm in the bathroom, putting my makeup on, and the baby crawls over from the living room and peeks his head around the door and grins at me. Or, I see Angel to the door and say goodbye as he heads off to work, and in that minute, Cyrus has crawled across the entire living room and halfway across the kitchen, aiming straight for the trash can, which is almost always his ultimate prize. Mostly, he crawls over to stuff and then tries to climb it. I can always hear when he's crawling because his little knees squeak across the tile floor, but as soon as the squeaking stops, I come running, because, odds are, he's decided to practice his mountain-climbing skills against the wall, couch, chair, table, stroller, high chair, bed, etc.

He's so much fun to play with! Most of the time he seems big, but when he's crawling and sitting and trying to climb on stuff, he looks so small to me! It's funny how such tiny humans can already have ideas about going off on big adventures to go and try to grab the trash can before being caught.

As for me, I haven't learned any amazing new skills recently, but I love my little routines. Keeping the house neat, spending afternoons with the kids at my learning center, talking lesson planning and big dreams with Angel, bringing baby everywhere I go--It's the best! And once in a while when I get a little more sleep than usual, I feel like I could legit take on the world. So many aspects of our lives and habits have changed since 2018 began--it almost feels like an entirely new season of life, and there are so many things I'm thankful for! One thing I'm not thankful for at the moment is elevators. We live on the fifth floor, and the elevator near our apartment and the parking lot has not been operating for about two weeks. Which is no big deal, 5 floors aren't too bad to walk up and down, and Angel usually takes that option rather than walking all the way around the building to the other elevator...but I usually leave the house by myself, carrying a 20 lb. baby, a diaper bag, purse, and likely something else, at which point, I fervently begin to hope that some very talented elevator technicians are able to solve the elevator problems in the near future. This is the point where my mom always says, "This is why I always want to live on the ground floor."

How was your September? Have you ever been to the circus?

Linking up!