12 Días en España con un Bebé

“Have baby. Will travel.” This was the mantra going through my head in the days leading up to our big overseas trip to Spain. Sure, I’m adventurous… but I’m also conscientious and a people pleaser. I was already dreading the stare downs from other passengers when I boarded the plane with a 7-month-old. I geared up with a bag of 20 toys for distraction, 10 pacifiers, and a jumbo bag of ear-plugs to pass out in a 3-aisle radius. He surprised us all, and even got some praises from fellow travelers. Even with the teething and his first cold, he was a total champ as we schlepped him all over northern Spain. The travel bug must be in his genes.

Following is a photo recap of our trip…

Day 1: Arrived in Bilbao (northern Basque region of Spain) while our luggage took a mini-break in Paris. We wandered the streets in a fog, and tried to figure out what we could stomach for our first meal. Squid served in its own ink or sardines atop a mayonnaise spread? Tough call. How about a baguette and cheese in our hotel room?

Day 2: We fulfilled Carl’s dream of watching the Vuelta a Espana (one of the big bike tours, similar to the Tour de France). We hung out at the 500 meter line in the 90-degree heat, rubbing shoulders with the other fans. Afterwards, we toured the Guggeheim Museum and decided that their collection of modern art was perhaps a bit too modern and not enough art. The structure of the building was incredible though.

Day 3: We rented a car and loaded up our GPS and got to know the lovely British woman navigator who we nicknamed Pippa Middleton. (Her Spanish was terrible, but for the most part, she kept us on track.) On our way to our next destination, we drove along the coast to a medieval village called Santillana del Mar… supposedly one of the most beautiful in Spain (which is probably why it was bombarded with tour buses = bummer). We enjoyed the windy cobblestone streets and a siesta break of hot chocolate and churros before we hit the road for San Sebastian. Oh.. and that night we ate dinner (with Noah) at midnight. We are such good parents.

Day 4: We settled into our apartment across the street from the beach in the amazing town of San Sebastian. Our first day there was the day of a huge regatta race, which brought in thousands of Spanish fans. The race was not much to look at, and we were a bit perplexed by the whole thing… but later realized it was just another excuse for people to party. The old part of town was packed with crazies… which of course we were a part of as we had pinxtos (tapas) and sangria. This time, dinner was at 9pm. Parenting of the year award, right?

Day 5: A perfect beach day and lounging in San Sebastian. I discovered that I’m just not mature enough for topless beaches. Enough said.

Day 6: Most definitely my favorite day of our trip. We took a drive to the wine region of Spain – La Rioja. Pippa (our GPS)  did take us the long way over a windy mountain pass, but she did provide some breath-taking views of vineyards and olive trees. We spent the afternoon in another medieval village called La Guardia where we sipped wine at a cafe (it’s cheaper to order wine than water here), and toured the underground caves of a winery. The good news is that the tour buses didn’t know about this place, so we pretty much had the village to ourselves.

Day 7: Timing our meals and trips in Spain was more than difficult for us with the siesta thing… oh, and having a baby. But by day 7, we were smarty-pants. During siesta (around 2:00pm – 7:00pm), we took a 30-minute drive to France to little ocean-side town of St. Jean de Luz. The place was hopping. Stores were open. Crepes were being handed out left and right. And we made sure bebé fit right in with a red beret. By the time stores were closing up in France, we drove back to Spain as siesta was ending and life was coming back to the city of San Sebastian. Perfect.

Day 8: We said good-bye to San Sebastian, and packed into our tiny Skoda for our road-trip to Barcelona. We stopped in Pamplona for our own running of the bulls. But the only bull we came across was this cute one:
We definitely pushed the bebé’s limits that day (and mine too). 7 hours in the car and hungry and shrieking… stuck in major Barcelona traffic… and a frustrated Pippa who could not find our apartment on a small alley off of Las Ramblas. I would say this was my one big breaking point in the trip. But I’m here to tell you that we all survived… and I still believe it’s possible to travel with a baby.

Day 9: Are you still with me on this journey? Impressive. We met up with Carl’s parents for a few days together in Barcelona. We walked Las Ramblas and the open-air market where we picked up fresh food for our dinner that night. If only we could do that every day. Carl and I ended the day at the beach with a dip in the Mediterranean.

Day 10: Places to put on your bucket list – La Sagrada de Familia – Gaudi’s architectural masterpiece of a cathedral. We toured the cathedral in the morning and were in awe of the creative genius.
As new Gaudi fans, we had to see his house and creations at Park Guell…
And then we took in the rest of the sights of Barcelona on a double-decker bus. We feel like we got a good overview of this amazing city, but just scratched the surface. I must come back. (Plus.. I need to do some serious shopping there… which was just not possible with bambino in tow.)

Day 11: If you’re still with me in this post, you deserve a prize. I bet you’re glad we didn’t go on a 40-day trip.

We left Barcelona in the wee hours of the morning for the airport (as people were just coming home to go to bed after dancing all night). We lucked out and had a 24-hour layover in Amsterdam, so we were able to visit with Carl’s relatives. This was a huge highlight of our trip. I feel so blessed to have married into such an incredible family. They spoiled us with yummy Dutch food and we even got to tour our cousin’s work at a Gerber daisy farm.
We soon learned that my Dutch-language skills were severely lacking. The words Carl had been teaching me could only take me so far in conversation. I mean, what can you really talk about when the only words you know are car keys, wallet, sunglasses, sleeping bag, and slippers? Fortunately for me, their English was impeccable.

Day 12: A 10-hour flight in a middle seat with a baby. Sounds fun, right? Thank goodness for a bassinet and nice travel companions. We were all crawling out of our skin by the 8th hour, but again… we have a little travel-monkey on our hands. Carl and I were giving each other high-fives when we landed. We did it. We traveled with babe and would do it all over again. And… in terms of family bonding, it was a great way to spend Carl’s paternity leave.


Baby CEO

Will you hire me? What are my strengths and weaknesses, you ask? Here you go..

  1. I really love paper and spreadsheets… but I mostly like to gnaw on them.
  2. I can sit up in a chair and look important…. but sometimes I crumple over on top of myself when I’m tired (so that may not look good in meetings)
  3. I love to add my thoughts to a conversation… but I sometimes struggle with volume control.
  4. I look really sharp in a button-down and khakis… but I still wet myself.
  5. I can lighten up the mood and make you laugh during these tough economic times… but I will have no solution as to how to fix the problem.
  6. I love Blackberries and iPhones… but would rather slobber on them than make important phone calls.
  7. I have really cute toes… but I don’t wear shoes, so I may be breaking the dress code.
  8. I can start work really early… but I’ll need to take a few naps during the day.
  9. I’m really good with people… but sometimes I spit up on them.
  10. I like to work as a team…. as long as that team includes my Sophie and duckie.

 

Seven-Month Musings

Let the food eating begin. Sure… we started with the standard bland rice cereal at 6 months, but the good stuff really kicked in at 7 months. I’ve been giving each new food a star rating out of a 5-star scale, along with first impressions. Here are the results:

  • Rice Cereal: 2 stars. What is this weird stuff?
  • Sweet Potatoes: 5 stars!! Why have you been holding out on me?
  • Bananas: 5 stars!! I will cry if you stop for a sip of coffee. More! More!
  • Peaches: 1 star. Gag. Stop with this tart business, lady.
  • Carrots: 3 stars. Hmm. Complex flavor. Like orange.
  • Applesauce: 4 stars. Dessert for breakie. I like.
  • Peas. 1 star. Can there be a negative rating? Blech!
  • Blueberries. 3 stars. I like it… but why do you get the coffeecake version?

And then… just like that, the little dude decided he was done with this food business and is back on an all-liquid diet. I even tried the pricey Ella’s Organic special puree pouches and he shakes his head like he’s saying “no” to cough syrup. Sigh. His pediatrician is going to get tired of hearing from me. But hey, she’s the one who signed up to be a baby doctor, surrounded by new Moms who have no clue what they’re doing.

500 Hairs

There are many things that have happened to me during pregnancy and post-pregnancy that I was not prepared for. I’m just going to believe that my friends forgot to tell me these things, or they thought it would be fun for me to discover them on my own. Like, for example, the hair loss.

It all began at about 3 months post-pregnancy. (I’m not using the word “post-partum”… cause what does that really mean, anyway?) While I was nursing, I’d start combing through my hair with my fingers and have clumps of hair in my hand. I started to just shake them onto the rug by my feet, but each brush of my hand revealed more and more hair. So, I began to make piles of it throughout the house (to collect later of course… because if there’s one thing a new mommy is good at, it’s cleaning the house, right?). Poor Carl would sit down in his chair in the living room and find one of my hair balls sitting politely on the coffee-table staring back at him, and he’d say “What’s this?” Oops. Sawry.

All the hairs that didn’t come out while I was pregnant, were now exiting my scalp with a vengeance. It’s like they couldn’t wait to get rid of me. And this went on for 3 months. I recently read that post-pregnancy, you can lose up to 500 hairs a day. Yes. 500. A normal person loses up to 150 a day. Who knew? (And who was the crazy intern who had to count all these hairs to come up with this scientific fact?)

I think I’ve now turned a corner. I even got a new shorter hairdo to clean up the mess of the Mommy-hair I had left. But during the crazy hair-loss stage, I feared I might start to look like my bald little baby and thought I should see what I’d look like with no hair. I know you want to see that picture, so here you go.


There’s no question. He’s much cuter with no hair.

But what would he look like with hair? I still can’t tell what color hair he’ll have since it’s all just peach-fuzz right now. So, like any other normal mom, I put some wigs on him to find out. Cast your vote. Do you like brown, blonde, or green?

Six-Month Musings

 

So, he’s a half now. When people ask me how old he is, I like to say, “Oh, he’s half.” It’s much more entertaining (for me) than saying that he’s 6-months old. The biggest milestone at this half-stage is that he’s discovered his hands. Well sometimes he doesn’t quite know that he has hands as he hits himself on the head and looks at me with a queried look, as if he’s thinking who is hitting me, and when are they going to stop? But most of the time he is grabbing at anything, my hair (which I might just shave off), my earrings (goodbye dangles), my nose (I’ll keep that, thank-you), Sutter’s ears, my glass, my book…

It seems like his hands are constantly in motion. At times he’ll have both hands thrusted straight out in front of him, rotating them in graceful circles as if he’s conducting an orchestra. But what hits my heart is when he reaches up to me from his crib and hugs my arm close to his cheek.

“Happy half birthday to you. Happy half birthday to you.
Happy half birthday sweet baby boy, happy half birthday to you!”

 

Five-Month Musings

I thought I’d share some of my musings thus far while he rests through this post. Is that okay with you little baby? Oh wait.. I don’t want to wake you.

I have fallen in love. As you sleep in my arms, I am mesmerized by your delicate hands, long eyelashes, and soft skin. You are a miracle. How is it that I am blessed to call you my baby? How is it that God formed you and knew you in my womb?

It has been an amazing thing to discover that I absolutely love being your mom. I love kissing your toes and nuzzling your neck and giving you zerberts on your tummy. I love dancing and singing and making funny sounds for you to hear you squeal with glee. I love watching you stare out the window or seeing yourself in the mirror as you discover new things about your world. I love hearing your sweet breath or your baby babble as you try to keep up with conversation. I love how you kick your legs with excitement. I love that you totally trust me and don’t even hold on as I carry you throughout the house. I even love waking up for you before the sun comes up so I can see your sweet face.

I still can’t believe you’re here, yet I also can’t imagine life without you.

In Anne Lamott’s book, Operating Instructions, she writes about some of her first moments with her son. I completely resonated with her observation and couldn’t have said it any better.

“None of us could take our eyes off him. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He was like moonlight.”

Bonding and Barfs

It’s an amazing thing, the bond between a mother and child. I don’t think I’d put up with a friend, co-worker, boyfriend, parent, or spouse who barfed on me once a day. I mean, I’d be nice to them and buy them birthday gifts and stuff, but the barfing business would have to stop.

Four-Month Musings

 

 

 

Can you believe I’m 4-months old already?

I don’t know why, but every time my Mommy puts me in these overalls, she starts singing “The Farmer in the Dell.” She also came across this video, which she is quite disturbed by, and has vowed never to show me anything sung by the Wiggles. That’s okay, because she sings to me all day long. Don’t tell my Daddy, but she likes to sing me every song from the Sound of Music. (He might think she’s tricking me into believing that movie is the greatest movie of all time.) Every night she rocks me to sleep as she sings “Edelweiss.”

To her dismay, I’ve started to put my fingers in my mouth right after eating (this is not because she is singing me songs from the Sound of Music or because I’ve developed a baby eating disorder… I just want to put everything in my mouth right now). So, my Mommy has re-entered the world of spit-ups and has resorted to smelling like cheese or finding strange globs on her shoulder.

I’m also doing a better job holding my head up. My doctor said my head size is in the 90th percentile. I don’t know what that means, but my Mommy said that’s a lot of brains to hold up for a small body. I just smile and giggle, and she kisses me on the cheeks again and again and again. All is well.

 

Three-Month Musings

I have a new favorite thing.
Laughing.
Sometimes my Mommy and I just stare at each other and giggle.
All she has to do is blink at me and I start laughing.
My Mommy and Daddy are pretty funny.  Just last night they had a dance-off in the kitchen while I just smiled at them in my bouncy seat. It’s good to be 3 months old.

Here I am in action. (Please excuse the silly sounds my Mommy makes in the background. She’s a little embarrassed.)

Sometimes I cry too.