Up in the Air with Baby Lo

marloweplaneBefore we had a baby, flying was a way of life for us: we’d been all over the US on lots of planes over the last 7 years. But flying with a baby sparked fear in me! How many times have you been on a flight, when the hum of the aircraft is all you hear as the plane begins to ascend, everyone collectively holding their breath until you’re smoothly in the air? And then, a baby starts crying. And you think, “I hope that baby doesn’t cry the whole time…”

I didn’t want to be THAT mom, with the crying baby. So I Googled it and researched every blog that shared tips and tricks for babies on planes. And here I am to share them with you!

1.) Plan your trip during your child’s happiest time! Lo is great in the mornings so I knew a morning trip would be best for her.

2.) Get on the plane LAST. Do not get on early! Take all of those precious moments to change the diaper, get the bottle ready, and walk onto the plane after everyone else- and if you’re traveling with your spouse, send them on early to put away the bags.

3.) Have a bottle or pacifier ready for take off and landing. The sucking will help avoid the painful ear popping. Or if you’re like Lo, you’ll sleep through landing and not even realize it’s time to get off the plane.

4.) Nonstop flights and layovers both have advantages and disadvantages. I thought nonstop was the way to go, but that can leave you with a cranky baby and three hours left. The layover flights were nice to get out, stretch your legs, tire the baby out and get back on an hour or two later.

5.) Don’t let the fear of your crying baby stop you from traveling! A flight attendant said to me once, “Babies have the right to fly too!”, which solidified my confidence in taking her on the plane. Lo has the right to travel just as much as anyone else, and will be a better traveler at age 5 than many people are at 20! Plus- people understand a crying baby. I’ve even handed Lo over to a seat mate for a change of scenery- at 32,000 feet, they aren’t going anywhere with your kid! A nice break for mama and a smile on a new friend’s face.

6) Pack smart. When traveling with the baby, remember that the car seat can be checked for free- Delta checks it at the gate but American checks it with other luggage- and use a nifty car seat bag (I got mine on Amazon) to keep your car seat clean. Pack enough diapers,and two pairs of clothes, but keep your carry-on limited to your diaper bag only- you don’t want to be heaving carry-on suitcases into the overhead bin while wrestling a baby in the narrow aisle. Save everyone the trouble and just check the bag, and stick the diaper bag under the seat in front of you.

7.) Purchase pre-made formula for your trip! Trust me on this one. Not having to put the scoop into the canister of formula and balance it over the narrow bottle lip will be invaluable up in the air. It’s a tad more expensive than regular formula but it’s worth it. You CAN take formula or breastmilk (and bottles of water) through security- just take it out with your other liquids and allow them to swab the outside of the bottles.

8.) Wear your baby! Skip the stroller and use a baby carrier through security and throughout the airport. The jostling will likely put the baby to sleep while you trek the airport, and you won’t have to break down the stroller. I recommend the LilleBaby baby carrier, which has amazing back support.

BONUS: TSA will likely let you wear the wrap or carrier through the security checkpoint as long as you allow your hands to be swabbed and you don’t set off the alarm when you go through.

9.) Have a sense of humor. While descending once, Lo started crying, after a perfect trip. And Adam started bouncing her on his knee while singing the theme song to “Bonanza”. For whatever reason, she loved it! She giggled and charmed her way back into everyone’s hearts. I just had to laugh at the absurdity of it, but when you’re in such a closed space, you can either laugh or cry… I choose to laugh!

Lo has been on SIX planes by SIX months old and she is an expert traveler! It’s a big, beautiful world out there… travel with your Littles and show them everything you love!

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Stock Your Freezer: Meals for Busy Moms!

14-freezer-slow-cooker-meals-2

Let’s talk busy weeknights. Since becoming a mama, I value easy, weeknight meals that are pre-prepped and even semi- homemade! And the best way to get dinner on the table quickly is a freezer, crock-pot meal. For me, the easiest way to do this is to choose a variety of meats and ingredients that can be used in several meals.

Recently, we visited Adam’s cousins who are preparing for their first baby in February! I asked what I could do to help her get ready, and we came up with the freezer meal idea. We went shopping together  and after 2.5 hours in the kitchen, we had more than ten meals prepped in the freezer! And get this- we only spent $85. Please note: we used two very large chicken breasts per recipe, which is more than enough for 2 people in the household. Adjust for your own family size!

I’m going to share links to all of my favorite meals below, and here are 6 tips to help with your freezer meal planning!

  • Freezer Meals should be Comforting: I don’t like to make “healthy” freezer meals. Everything I make is warm your insides kind of meal from the crockpot. The more you look forward to the meal, the more you’ll actually use what’s in the freezer.
  • Outsource anything you can: Whether this is chopped, frozen onions, or having your husband chop the meat while you assemble, use all the help you can get!
  • Semi-homemade is the way to go for me: I used pre-made spaghetti sauce, frozen meatballs and cream of chicken soup. If you don’t like these ingredients, you can make your own versions easily!
  • Leave the veggies on the side: I don’t put veggies in my freezer meals because many of them will get too soggy in the crockpot; I suggest adding them toward the end of the cooking, instead.
  • Shop the sales or use a wholesale club (BJs, Costco or Sams) for your meats! On this shopping trip, we scored reduced chicken breasts for $8.61, and it made four meals!
  • Re-stock as you go! Adam’s cousin Kira had a great idea to replace the freezer meals they used: every time she went to the store, she’d buy ingredients to pop one more freezer meal in the deep freeze, and always have something available for a quick meal!

BONUS TIP: Label all of your bags first with the name of the meal, any directions you’ll need to cook it, and the date. Freezer meals are usually good for up to 6 months!

THE PROCESS: I started by getting my meatball dishes out of the way first, because they only needed to be added in with sauce, labeled and laid flat to freeze. Next was the ribs- toss those bad boys in the bag with your bottle of BBQ sauce and you’re done. Beef stroganoff is next, and you’ve got four freezer meals down already!

If you have someone helping you, get them started on browning the ground beef and sausage for the  burritos while you assemble the other dishes.

Then, I went with the chicken dishes because they also just needed to be put into the freezer bags with their respective sauces. The most time you’re going to spend is on your ground beef, enchiladas and beef dishes.

Here are all of my favorite, (semi-homemade) freezer meals: perfect for a cold, wintry day, or a busy weeknight when you’ve got a million other things to do and don’t have time to fret over dinner!

  1. Meatballs & Pasta Sauce– or you can just use a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce!
  2. Sweet and Sour Meatballs – frozen meatballs + Kikkoman sweet & sour sauce & chopped garlic
  3. Country ribs (ribs purchased for $7 at Aldi) – ribs + BBQ Sauce
  4. Beef stroganoff (stew meat purchased for $6 at Aldi)
  5. Cream cheese ranch chicken
  6. Teriyaki Chicken
  7. Salsa Chicken
  8. Lemon Garlic Chicken
  9. Taco Bake
  10.  Beef enchiladas– I used ground beef instead of shredded! (this made 2 pans)
  11.  Sausage egg and cheese burritos
  12. Baked Ziti

The main takeaway to freezer meals is: HAVE FUN! Cook what you like to eat, and cook smarter, not harder. Don’t get carried away with fancy recipes, which will add time and money to your budget. Just keep them simple and enjoy a warm meal at the end of the day!