Thursday, September 06, 2012

Traveling with baby

Traveling with baby

Air travel with babies (kids) is never easy. When I used to travel for work, I would carry one small bag that fit into the overhead bin and call it a day. I had the TSA checkpoints down to a science, such as undoing my shoes and already getting my little toiletry baggies out before I even got to the conveyer belt for the x-ray machines. But baby has changed all of that. Now I'm that harried, haggard person standing there in line hoping that you all won't be mad at me as I rummage through the diaper bag to find all the food that I now need to declare, figure out what to do with my toddler who wants to toddle and not stay put, and then handle the stroller and the carseat expertly with one hand. Seriously, babies have a lot of gear and even traveling light, you can't avoid most of the stuff.

Here are some products I used on my most recent travels that made life a lot easier (note: I'm not sponsored by any of the products I'm mentioning and I don't get any commission etc if you click on the links, which lead to Amazon, btw).

* Enfamil Premium Infant Single-Serve Powder Packets: I usually pour pre-measured powder into bottles and then add water as needed, but one thing I found with travel is that with all the hectic running around, bottles aren't always dry when I need them to be. So now I use these pre-packaged packets where I can dump the powder into the bottle of water when needed and not worry about lugging around the giant tub of formula around. It also means that if a bottle is wet when I hit the road, no worries, since I'll be putting the powder in just before baby needs it.

I've really only used Enfamil so I have no idea if the competing brands like Gerber and Similac have such a product, but it's worth checking into. Also, these are pretty pricey compared to powder tubs (which are pricey to begin with!) but are worth it for the convenience. 
There are also pre-made formulas out there in single servings, but I avoided them after hearing a horror story from one of the moms in my playgroup. Apparently, TSA needed to test the formula after they opened it, she had to dump it out and as a result, she had no food for the flight and had to go home. I do expect TSA to have to test powder (though on 6 flights so far -- 3 roundtrips), the most TSA has done is look at the tub of powder and wave a wand at it. However, even if they take a scoop of powder out for testing, the remaining is still good to use. So I'd avoid the pre-made formula, just to be safe.

* Medela Steam Bags: These bags are great for sterilization on the road. All you need is some water and a microwave and a lot of hotels now have microwaves in the room. I know sterilization isn't particularly necessary anymore but it's just something that I feel good about doing, especially when I know that the bottle cleaning might not be going as well as it might at home. And it's a decent value -- about $5 for 100 uses.

* Plum Organics Baby Food: I just used Plum Organics extensively (they were on sale at Babies R Us for a $1/pack -- usually run around $1.50 to $1.60 normal price), so hence my recommendation. There are other brands that come in a sack like this. The bottom line is that these are super easy to travel  with since there is no worry about glass breaking and baby can easily suck the food out of the package so there's the added benefit of not needing to travel with silverware and dishes.

I packed enough food for the flight into a small generic cooler bag and purchased a bottle of water after passing through security. Incidentally, on one of my flights, I pre-filled the bottles with the appropriate amount of water and  went through security and they let me through. I believe TSA allows you to bring as much food and water as required to feed the baby for the flight, but still be prepared to dump any water out or have TSA look/scan the food appropriately. 

Once on the plane, I put the diaper bag up in the overhead bin and then put the cooler on the seat next to me. That way I had all of the food right there and I wouldn't have to bother my seatmate to get it. I also purchased a new toy for the flight but baby wasn't particularly interested in that or in any of my Kindle apps that I downloaded for her. She just wanted to pull magazines etc out of the seat pocket in front of us.

On my next trip, I plan to use the Travelmate and see how it works. Currently, I'm using a Graco Infant Carrier with the infant stroller frame (BTW, this stroller is awesome; I didn't know about it until after baby was born but it really is life-changing compared to the behemoth travel system stroller we purchased). We'll see how that goes!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The Craigslist Experiment. Check this out: a guy set up a fake job ad on Craig's List etc to discern WHO his competition in the job market is. The results are a bit sobering. And on a related note, here is an interesting article: Why Good People Can't Get Jobs.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

In Memory

Today's Bollywood song is in honor of legendary star, Rajesh Khanna, who passed away today.

Saturday, July 07, 2012


How about this for a look: a Gummy Bear dress? It's colorful, though I think it would probably get squished once you sat down. And possibly pretty sticky too. Though, if it has those Coke bottle ones, I'm totally sold and will be wearing it to my next red carpet event.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Music time

I just realized I haven't posted a music video in a long time and when going through and trying to fix my iTunes, I came across a song I haven't heard in a while: "Desi Girl" from the film Dostana. This song is so much fun, so catchy and infectious. And no, there's no one quite like a Desi girl.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


I realize my previous post might have sounded like I was anti-breast feeding, and I'm not. It's just that it's difficult, far more difficult than I expected, and it does feel like a marathon -- just one more mile to go, one more, if I can make it to that next marker. We've all been in that position and I wrote that post at a time when I was really mentally, physically and emotionally struggling with breastfeeding. I think we owe it to women to be truthful about the experience, that it's NOT for everyone, and it's not the end all and be all if you don't breastfeed. I think this last point is really what I wanted to get at.

There's such pressure and guilt put on mothers by society and other women regarding this topic that any deviation for whatever reason feels like a major failure. It's not a failure to say breastfeeding isn't for you. Feeding is such one piece of a complex algorithm on how one raises her (and his! fathers included!) child and there's no surefire way that everything you do is going to be exactly right on setting your child on the way to Bill Gates awesomeness. There are so many questions to answer along the way, so many decisions to be made. So as plaintive that post sounded, I needed to say what I said, and I'm calmer and more reassured about the decision I made. And that's all any parent can really do.

Friday, June 15, 2012


I've been hemming and hawing over this one for a while and have finally decided to post it*: The Case Against Breastfeeding. I've been of two minds because I do think there are some definite benefits to breastfeeding (I can't speak to the accuracy or completeness of Rosin's 'findings' in the article), but there are downsides to it that are rarely discussed. Instead, you get these lovely pamphlets and books with pictures of mothers staring beatifically at their children and all is well with the world. Just master the right hold, go skin to skin, and voila, life is good and wonderful and your child will grow up to be Bill Gates.

 I'm still trying to gather my thoughts on the subject, because this is an intensely personal choice and I'm still trying to understand how I feel. What I will share is that I didn't have the beatific experience that everyone seems to emulate and that it took a lot of support from various parties to get me through the first 10 weeks. Around months 7 to 8, I felt that tug of, "Okay, I've reached my goal, let's get on with life. I want to wear a dress again." And then I felt immediately ashamed, as if my desire to wear a dress trumped the well-being of the child. I didn't necessarily feel closer to the baby because of the breastfeeding. I mostly felt a bit of panic, some frustration, some angst -- why isn't this working? Where is the milk they said would be coming in days? Why won't the baby latch? Isn't it instinctive? Didn't I follow all the rules?

The rules, mind you, came from a breastfeeding class and as a result, I had made up my mind prior to delivery that the baby would a) not have a pacifier and b) no bottles and c) no formula. Within 12 hours of birth, all three rules had been broken; the lactation consultant was confuzzled and told me she'd be back in the morning to try again, but not before she bottle-fed the baby a bit of formula. And she came back twice the next day and again, the baby wasn't interested in nature's best and instead, once again, there was formula in a bottle. On the third day, the day I left the hospital, another consultant came, and after an hour, told me, "You may need to just pump. Some babies take time to get it." Her tone of voice made pumping sound like a weekend in the Swiss Alps.

 So we rented the hospital grade pump and retired the one I had bought -- a rather inexpensive double electric, bought on the premise that it would be used sparingly. Instead, I was hooked up to this loud, monstrous yellow box 6 to 8 times a day at 15 to 20 minutes a pop, sometimes as long as 45 minutes. And then there was the cleaning and sanitizing of all pump parts and bottles. It was enough to make anyone go crazy. When I couldn't pump enough milk, which happened more than I liked, we supplemented with formula. And I kept trying and trying to get the baby to latch. Week 10, I was about to give up and give in and lo and behold, the magical latch happened.

 I made it to the six month mark, pretty happy that I was a) disengaged mostly from that pump, b) had less bottles to wash on a daily basis (and oh, the dishwasher basket saved my life for sure) and c) it was relatively to easy to feed the baby when the baby was hungry, regardless of where I was. But something changed after I hit the six month mark. Was it that I had reached the goal set by the AAP -- six months of exclusive breastfeeding?** Or may be it was the baby was getting wiggly and knocking my cover off in public. Or that it was getting hot in the summer and I was tired of wearing the same old t-shirts and skirts and wanted back into my pretty dresses. Maybe it was the baby always seemed hungry (at six months, the baby regressed to newborn sleeping habits) and I felt like a nursing zombie. Still, I made it through month six because then I thought it was cruel to wean a baby just like that. And the pediatrician assured me that the baby would lose interest as solids were introduced.

But not losing interest fast enough for me. And that's when I realized I had come to the end of my rope. I wanted off the nursing bandwagon quickly and as minimally traumatic to all parties. And yet, even though I had made it longer than most women, I still felt guilt. My heart and mind were no longer in the process and I found myself reaching for the bottle and formula often. Suddenly breastfeeding no longer seemed easy and I wanted my life back.  

* I'm pretty sure I haven't posted this one yet as an LoTD, though it's been on my 'to do' list for quite a while. I find the article provocative in every way and it's never far from my mind in its dissonance from what society/culture dictates. If this is a rerun, I apologize. ** I always had to supplement with formula, but I would say at the 6 month mark, the baby was on 80% breast milk and 20% formula.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

LotD: Everest 2

I thought this was an interesting post on how much it costs to climb Everest. It's certainly not cheap! The skinny answer is that it will cost you around $83,000, if not more. Puts a bit more perspective on the people who actually make the climb -- it's not just having a dream, it's putting money where their mouth is.
LotD: Everest Edition

Check out this article about the four people who died on Everest this past weekend. What's astonishing is the enormous line of people -- 300, per the article -- who are lined up to make the ascent. Truly amazing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Happy Valentine's Day! In honor of the pink and red, I bring you my favorite cultural commenter, Jon Stewart, weighing in on the recent birth control controversy. The most important point regarding the issue is at the very end.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Vagina Ideologues
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Monday, February 06, 2012


I think, I think Celo Green was on The Today show this morning. I'm starting to suspect my deep thought from yesterday is indeed true. Celo Green is property of NBC!!! If anyone can confirm, please let me know as I just saw the tease for his appearance. If it is indeed true, bottoms up!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Deep thought of the Day

Does Celo Green live at NBC? So far this year, we've seen him on the following shows, all NBC:

* The Voice
* The Today Show
* Parenthood
* The Macy's Parade
* Super Bowl Half Time Show

He may have also been on America's Got Talent, but I can't quite remember. The point is, Celo Green is on NBC a lot, so I don't know why I was surprised when he showed up during halftime during tonight's ballgame. Next time you see him, specifically when you see him on NBC, take a drink!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Deep thoughts for today

Remember this post? It was something I took to heart and followed. I swore off most news sites, contenting myself only with what was on the "Today Show" and for those of you who watch that, you know any real news content ends after 7:20 am. In general, the less I know what goes on in the world, the less anxious I feel. After all, I'm a rehabilitated journalist -- I know that "what bleeds, leads"; it's been a good change now that I'm unaware of all the Very Very Bad Things (tm) that happen in Sweat Sock City.

This week, for personal reasons, we made the decision to keep the television off. J, of course, watches in the morning when he wakes up and starts work. Once I wake up, we turn it off. We have been television-free now for four days (if you don't count J watching the news from 6 am to 7 am). The end result is a surprisingly calm household and better sleep and we both finished 400+ page novels in a matter of days. And oh, all evening chores such as cooking dinner and doing the dishes (among other things) were done. We were actually discussing the other day how much we enjoyed not having the television on. Big change for this former fanfic writer, huh?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


It's been a while since I've posted about Everest. Well, actually, it's been a while since I've posted much of anything. I'm going to try to be better about the posting, but no promises. Anyway, here is a neat Everest-related post: 360 panoramic view from the summit. No reason now to climb it yourself just for the view!

Friday, January 27, 2012


I'm about to go on a screed re one of my least favorite companies in the world, and how (in the words of Mitt Romney) I wish I could fire them. But while I was striving to bring myself down from red hot fury and frustration, I found this stunning story a girl who has only ever eaten chicken nuggets -- a real life Super Size Me. Scary, scary.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What the heck?

"Entertainment Tonight", that self-serving and glossily packaged entertainment 'news' program, has been airing clips about the filming of the epic movie Titanic as its angle on the recent cruise ship disaster off the coast of Italy. It strikes me as misguided, even a bit callous, as the anchors breathlessly describe the hardships and intricacies of the movie filming as compared to the ACTUAL SINKING OF A SHIP. Yes, poor Kate Winslet was cold while filming, but she did not DROWN. Old interviews from actors are dredged up and they talk about the 60 degree water, the 40-foot drops they had to make and it's all fascinating and interesting stuff, it really is. But the fact remains that "ET" is serving up a decade-plus old disaster movie (albeit real life disaster) as its hook/comparison to a real life tragedy. The more they milk the filming of Titanic in relation to the Costa Concordia, the more disgusting and annoying it becomes. If you can't cover a tragedy properly, then it's probably best to move on and not do it at all.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


"Is It Time For You To Go On An 'Information Diet'?"
"Our bodies are wired to love salt, fat and sugar. ... Our minds are really wired to be affirmed and be told that we're right. ... Who wants to hear the truth when they can hear that they're right? Who wants to be informed when they can be affirmed? What we do is we tell our media that that's what we want to hear, and our media responds to that by telling us what it is that we want, and sometimes that isn't what's best for us."