A Mainely Relaxing Vacation

Last week we took our first vacation with James.  We traveled to Maine, a location we chose pretty randomly based on where Southwest flies, wanting to go somewhere we’ve never been, and the presence of a national park.  I choose many travel destinations based on national parks as exploring new (to me) ones is one of my all time favorite things in the world.

It did not disappoint.

Months before the trip, I was really looking forward to it.  My parents traveled with us and I would talk on the phone with my mom about how much fun it would be.  Weeks before the trip, I wasn’t so sure.  I was still excited, but all of the travel logistics seemed really daunting.  James is not one to sleep on the go, he barely sleeps on road trips, so I had visions of him awake for all of the flights and getting crankier and crankier.

Thankfully, that was not the case at all!  I think the three things that made flying relatively easy for us were:

1. Fly when baby is tired: We had to wake up at 3 AM for our first flight.  This was exhausting, but it worked so well, as James slepts for half of the first flight and most of the second flight and was in a great mood for the rest of the day.  for the return flight, we left at 5:30 PM and he slept for almost all of the flights home.  I couldn’t believe it!

2. Bring forgotten favorites: I’ve read the tip to bring new books or toys for baby on the plane, but the thing is James doesn’t really like new stuff.  He isn’t generally interested in a new toy until it’s been on his shelf for a few days and he doesn’t love a book until we’ve read it a few hundred times.  So about a week or two before our trip, I put away all of his favorite books.  When I got them out on the airplane, it was like Christmas morning.  He could NOT have been more excited to see his favorite books again.  They kept him happy for all of his awake time on the flights.

3. Bring small finger foods: I think snacks keep everyone, children and adults, happy when traveling.  For us, puffs, cheerios, and peas helped the most because he eats them one at a time so it takes longer.  We brought more substantial food as well, but he tends to inhale things like pouches in about thirty seconds.

Those three things made the flights pretty easy!

We stayed in AirBnBs for all except the last night of the trip.  Both houses we stayed in had a great outdoor area with lots of grass.

Also, staying in an AirBnB allowed us to hang out after James went to bed, rather than sitting in silence so as not to wake him.  The only downside to renting houses was that they were not nearly as dark as James’s room or a hotel room, so he woke up around 5:30 every day when it got light.

This wasn’t totally terrible, as it allowed us to see some of the things that get really crowded, like popular beaches, when they were almost completely empty.

We were definitely tired by the end though.  When we stayed in a dark hotel room the last night, he slept 12 1/2 hours until 7 AM.  It was glorious.

Honestly, I had read that traveling with babies / small children is more of a trip than a vacation, but with a few exceptions, this was one of the most relaxing vacations I’ve ever taken.

I tend to be very go, go, go when traveling because I want to see everything, but having a baby who naps twice a day really forced me to slow down and spend time reading outside in the beautiful forest where we were staying and simply spending time with my family.  It was wonderful.

We didn’t do as much hiking as we normally would, or see every little thing there was to see, but we did get to slow down and really experience somewhere new.  We got to just be there, instead of rushing around and it was wonderful.

We just booked our next trip, to see family in Wisconsin, and I cannot wait!

Do you like to travel?

Are you go, go, go on vacations or more relaxed?

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Lessons from Running and Parenting

I was on a great, but very hot, run last saturday and my mind started to wander to all of the parallels between what I’ve learned in running and parenting.  So maybe these are just life lessons?  I don’t know, but as soon as I started thinking about it, I thought of so many things that apply to both.  Of course I forgot half of them by the time I got home, but these are the ones I remember.

Do what you can sustain

I believe it was this book (which I don’t love) that said “start as you wish to go on” or something like that.  In regards to parenting, it meant don’t start a bunch of bad habits that you’ll just have to get rid of later.  I definitely did this with letting my little guy fall asleep while he was nursing.  I honestly don’t necessarily regret this, because the memories of him sleeping on my chest are some of my favorite from his newborn days, but I am also really glad we broke the habit before it became a big issue.  We’ve also mostly avoided a bottle and a pacifier, in part because I didn’t want to have to deal with weaning him off of them some day.

With running, I need to work on this in terms of pace!  I’ve never been good about this, but it’s gotten so much worse now that I run less often and am more excited to run.  I go out way too fast at a pace I can’t sustain and then feel like I’m going to throw up for the last mile.  I honestly often recognize this at the beginning of the run, but am having too much fun going fast (for me) to care.  Still, as I start to do longer runs in the next few months in preparation for my half marathon, I need to work on starting at a pace I can sustain.

Take a Break

There were SO many times right after James was born that my husband would try to get me to go lay down or take a break while he hung out with the baby.  I almost always said no.  I didn’t want to miss anything (story of my life).  I felt like James spent so much of his awake time eating and I wanted to be there for the other stuff he did (like open his eyes occasionally…) too.  I now realize that I am a much better and happier mom when I take breaks.  This can mean ignoring the house work that needs to be done during nap time on occasion, or asking my husband if I can go lay down for 15 minutes.  It usually doesn’t take long for me to feel refreshed and semi-energetic again.

The same goes for running, especially in this heat!  I will often finish faster and go further, and certainly feel better, if I take a 1-2 minute walking break when I need to.  This is especially true as I start to increase distance.

Gear is not the Answer

Oh my goodness it is so tempting in both parenting a baby and in running to get all of the gear and gadgets to solve the problem at hand.  I find though that I do better with fewer, higher quality things that I really want.  I never bought a baby swing or bouncer because James didn’t cry much and we didn’t need them, but I knew I wanted a great stroller I could run with.  I know it’s important to have good quality running shoes to avoid injury, but I don’t really need anything else to run.

Consult the Experts but Trust your Gut

This is definitely a hard one for me.  When all else fails, google it.  It is so amazing to have endless information available at the click of a button, but I know I also need to filter it for myself to determine what works best for my body / my baby.

Numbers and Tracking are Useful to an Extent

I’ve always loved math and I really love numbers.  I can easily get caught up in tracking paces or nap lengths to the point where it is unhelpful.  I think numbers are a useful reference and tracking details can be helpful on occasion, but only to a certain extent, because we are not robots.  I may not be able to hit a certain pace on a certain day just because a training plan says so and my baby may not get the “minimum” amount of sleep every day because I can’t force him to sleep, I can only give him the opportunity.

Preparation is better than Planning

This one is really hard for me.  I am a major planner and always have been.  I try to prepare rather than plan though, because running, babies, and life are unpredictable.  I’m trying to remember this and to be more flexible.

Fartlek!

This is what made me think of this topic in the first place.  I want to parent like a fartlek.  A what???  You can read all about it here if you’re not a runner / not familiar with the term, but basically it means “speed play” in Swedish.  A fartlek is a more fun, flexible way of incorporating speed / making progress than say interval training.  To me, it’s like running as a kid, sprinting all out and then slowing down when you’re tired, rather than tracking each speed interval to the second.  It’s less rigid, less scientific, and more about heart.

Do you like to run?

What’s a parenting / life lesson you’ve learned from a hobby?

 

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Six Baby-Friendly Places in Austin, TX

We moved to Austin 4 years ago and one thing I love about living here is that lots of people come to visit!  We’ve gotten to see so many friends who were in town for one reason or another, or who had always wanted to come to Austin and seized the chance to visit.

Today I wanted to share some of my favorite baby-friendly places here that will still give you that Austin vibe if you’re in town.  I’ve always lived in central or south Austin, so that’s where these are focused.

Moontower Saloon

Located in South Austin, this is a great place to go if you’re visiting with small children, but still want to see some live music.  This is a mostly outdoor venue with tons of shade from live oak trees and water misters and fans to keep everyone cool.  Every sunday afternoon, they have live music (usually at 4 PM) and you’re allowed to bring children on Sundays.  This place has a great, very “Austin” atmosphere.  We’ve been going almost every week and love it!

Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza / Jester King Brewery

This has been one of my favorite places since way before we had James, but it is also very family friendly.  It is a pizza place on a farm just outside of Austin and there is also a great little brewery that shares the location.

Seating is all outside and very spread out under a pavilion and in a field.  There are also lawn games set up and they sometimes have live music.  This may be my favorite pizza ever, it is SO good!

Deep Eddy

I briefly mentioned this place last week, but it is a really nice pool right on the Colorado River.  I believe it’s spring fed and it is zero entry, so great for kids.  I had actually never been here until recently because we used to live right next to Barton Springs, so always went there, but I think I may like Deep Eddy even better.

Unlike Barton Springs, the pool is paved, and because it has a big shallow end, parts of it are not as cold (Barton Springs is spring fed and SO cold).  It is super family friendly with lots of kids around.  The parking lot here fills up on the weekend, but there is plenty of parking around in the neighborhood.  If you go here, I definitely recommend hitting up Juiceland on your way out, I love their juices and smoothies!

Zilker Park / Zoo

In addition to being a huge park with plenty of space for picnics / playing catch / crawling around, Zilker has some hidden gems.  It has a really cute little free zoo with rescue animals.  This is by no means your typical zoo as it only has native Texas animals, but it’s free, so definitely worth stopping by.

Zilker also has a train that goes through the park (we haven’t done this yet, but are thinking of doing it for James’s first birthday) and it has some great short hiking trails over by the zoo.  I’ve never seen these trails crowded and there are some pretty nice views.

Kerbey Lane Cafe

Austin is so casual and so many places have outside seating, that almost any restaurant here is somewhat baby / kid-friendly.  I love Kerbey Lane though because as soon as baby is eating finger foods, you will be able to order them something.  They have lots of breakfast sides, so you can easily order one scrambled egg, or toast, or fruit for a little one.  They also have a kids menu and we just discovered kids eat free on Tuesdays!  This was also one of my favorite restaurants before having a baby.  They have breakfast all day (as in 24 hours) and $2 mimosas.  Everything on the menu is good.  It does get really crowded at brunch time on the weekend though, so I recommend checking it out for dinner or during the week.  There are several locations now.  The original (not surprisingly, the one on Kerbey Lane) is the cutest and has the best vibe, but they all have delicious food.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

This is somewhere I didn’t discover until we moved further south last summer, but I love it!  This place has beautiful trails and a really great kids’ space where children can water the flowers, build structures out of bamboo, etc.  I also love the Arboretum trail, which leads to a big space full of wooden swings under oak trees.  There is an admissions fee, but it is worth it!  It is especially beautiful in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom, but this is also when it’s the most crowded.

Honorable Mentions:

Clarksville Splash Pad – This is a really nice park and splash pad in a cute neighborhood that is worth checking out.  At least during the week, this is surprisingly not very crowded.

Phil’s Burgers – At least the South Lamar location has a nice playground and is attached to an Amy’s Ice Cream (delicious).

Book People – This is a great bookstore right next to the flagship Whole Foods near downtown.

McKinney Falls – This is a small, but really great, state park within the Austin city limits.  It has some trails, but most people go for the swimming holes.

Austin Greenbelt – This is a trail running all throughout Austin with many different entrances.  At times, there are great natural swimming holes along the trail, but they dry up when it doesn’t rain.

Lady Bird Lake / Town Lake Trail – This is a nice trail for running, walking, or biking.  It does get crowded on the weekends, but has some nice views of the skyline.  You can also rent canoes or kayaks at several points along the trail.

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