A Week of Money: Where we take the red-eye to Europe.
??:?? — The fire alarm goes off. WTF. WTF!!!!! The whole apartment is flashing, the noise is unbearable. Oh.. for the love of…. #%*&#%*#&%(#% Baby Bun snuffles and wakes up, poking his head up. I quickly shush him, hold a hand over his exposed ear and pat his bum back to sleep.
??:?? — It’s finally off. We didn’t go downstairs although the mother in me screamed: OMG WHAT IF WE ALL BURN TO A CRISP!?!?!? My partner sleepily tells me that these false alarms are normal. But when is a false alarm no longer one!? I am too tired to argue/
6:30 a.m. — Baby Bun slept in a little later due to the fire alarm waking him up a couple of times. I. am. DEAD. DEAD TIRED.
6:32 a.m. — Oh great. No milk in the fridge. Right. We’re leaving on vacation this week, so we’re trying to eat everything in the fridge. ARG. Today will be a Starbucks day. I dun care.
6:35 a.m. — I start on the dishes. Also don’t care (today) my partner is sleeping. I need to wash all of them and get the place clean for him to cook this week. We’re flying in the middle of the week, so he only needs a few lunches made for us. Apparently his plan is to make pasta and tomatoes. I wonder how I am going to not starve at work, and I suspect I will be making a trip to the grocery store to buy a supplementary meal.
6:55 a.m. — Dishes washed, now I’m drying all of them.
7:15 a.m. — My partner gets up as I finish drying the dishes. I put them all away and the kitchen is clean for now.
7:18 a.m. — I quickly log in to do emails, re-check ALL of my credit cards to make sure the balances are cleared off (do not want a due date to come sneaking up on me in the middle of our trip without the internet), and I realize I have a bill due at the end of the month I forgot to clear. My brain is all fuzzy this month and I must have forgotten it. I transfer over $200+ and clear it.
8:08 a.m. — Baby Bun hops around and doesn’t seem to want to leave the apartment; very cutely, he wants to stay in with Daddy instead…..oh is it finally happening? OH THE HAPPY DAY when he will prefer his father over me and want to stay with Daddy all the time to learn how to ‘be a man’, which I hear happens around the age of 6, based on this book Raising Boys.
8:09 a.m. — I clarify that he DOES NOT want to go out on the metro and ride trains all day. He perks up his ears and says: “TRAIN!?!?“… That’s what I thought. I take him out of the chair and we go to get ready.
8:21 a.m. — He’s bouncing in the hallway he is so excited. I hand him the metro map to look at and follow the path of our trip all around the line.
8:34 a.m. — Er.. where’s the bus?
8:47 a.m. — Oh. We literally JUST missed the bus by 4 minutes. The next one is in half an hour. I wish I had known that before I sat down, I would have taken the other bus or walked to the metro instead. Oh well. I settle in, because the bus will be here in 10 minutes and it’s not worth the walk with a toddler to the metro if the bus will be here.
9:01 a.m. — The bus shows up and Baby Bun is just radiating with joy at the idea of riding a bus and then the train. Oh the simple life… to be a child again. $2.25
9:27 a.m. — Whenever I see grown women with scrunchies, it makes me cringe. Sorry. It does. I feel like it looks so juvenile compared to just a plain hairband.
9:29 a.m. — On the bus, I glance down and see a woman wearing flip flops.. and her feet have clearly been ruined from wearing too high of heels for far too long, with that bone jutting out in a scary manner.
9:31 a.m. — We hop off just before the station so I can get a Starbucks Chai Latte. I decide on two breakfast sandwiches too because they don’t have my favourite (and really, the only decent one to eat) Chicken & Artichoke hot sandwich. I’m sure that chicken is partly soy protein which is fine with me, as there is no way REAL 100% chicken can stay that moist and juicy with such a good texture. $14.89
9:35 a.m. — We head to the washroom to wash our hands before eating.
9:44 a.m. — Baby Bun scarfs down his half of the meal (basically a whole sandwich) and says: “More? More? Morrrreeeee???“. I look at him with mock horror and tell him no, we’re about to go on the train. He forgets about stuffing his face and tries to get out of the chair.
9:47 a.m. — ON THE TRAIN! AT LAST! I take the long way around to go to a metro station so we can stop and buy more yoghurt as a treat this week. I brought my insulated bag I bought last week along with two little ice packs to keep it all cool. The bag works like a charm and two 500g jars fit in there like it was made for it. Sweet. I had to buy a little packet of unsweetened almond milk for him as well. $13.57
9:51 a.m. — I prudently search out a bathroom before going back on the train. With a toddler, you need to constantly go to the washroom even if you don’t think they would need to go, because we almost had an incident on the bus where he just peed all over me halfway through our ride. He managed to hold it together so we could exit the bus at our stop and get to the nearest tree.
10:03 a.m. — Back on the train, I take the long way around again to get to another stop, and we hang out at the interchange station to watch the trains a little bit more. Baby Bun grips his metro map in his chubby little paws and points out all the stations excitedly. He can’t really pronounce the words properly yet, but we practice anyway. If he can’t say the word, he turns to me and says: “Mommy?” and taps his index finger on my lips until I say the words for him.
10:38 a.m. — We finally get to our stop before taking the bus to get home. He starts getting cranky, and I tell him he can nap on me. He hugs me tight, I pat his bum and he doesn’t fall asleep but he calms down against my chest. I remember when he was a baby and I used to do this, I love that we still have this warm, cuddly time. His arms are tight around my body and his eyelids flutter up and down but the cars are zooming by so fast (Grand Prix fever) that he can’t really sleep.
11:12 a.m. — FINALLY. THE BUS. I was about to just sit there and let him nap but he probably wouldn’t have slept comfortably. I tell him we can nap on the bus. $2.25
11:58 a.m. — He is still not asleep. Okay. I guess he just needed cuddling and a little catnap..? Or whatever he did? He is now FULL of energy and we walk home. Walking home, I observe that dandelion fluff looks so starry and pretty like a fairyland. I love the smell of lilac bushes perfuming the air.
12:12 p.m. — In the door, we wash our hands, and settle in for a fresh lunch of pasta. It isn’t bad, it’s quite yummy but it needs herbs and vegetables and more STUFF. I can’t live on this during work. I’m going to be hungry in 3 hours again. My partner already ate and he is in the middle of repainting the bedrooms again.
12:46 p.m. — Baby Bun sits at his little toddler-sized table and is STILL eating. He isn’t very hungry, having had a full breakfast sandwich from Starbucks in the morning, so I can understand that. Still, he packs away a solid amount of food (as much as I ate) on top of that. I’m both amazed and horrified at his eating prowess at 3 years old, and am anticipating the day he will turn into a pre-teen (or earlier than that!) and start demanding A LOT MORE FOOD… this is what all the other parents have been warning me about teenage boys.
12:47 p.m. — I take away his pasta (he’s just picking at the last forkfuls), and we read The Three Questions, a great philosophy book for kids, and the one he has requested the most thus far.
12:54 p.m. — I skip at least a quarter of the book in the midst of pretending to flip the pages, JUST SO he can get down for his nap sooner. He NEEDS TO NAP NOW BECAUSE I NEED A BREAK. (Parents: You know what I am talking about…. )
12:57 p.m. — I hear him squealing in protest as I close the door gently. Too bad kid, it’s Mommy Time now. I log in to schedule more posts, make sure everything is checked off my list, and review my packing list for Europe (anyone interested in that, by the way? let me know.)
3:21 p.m. — Baby Bun is STILL napping. See. SEE. I KNEW HE NEEDED TO NAP.
3:24 p.m. — OK if he is not up by 3:45 p.m. I am waking him up. He can’t over sleep either. Arg. This delicate balance …. although I ponder taking more Mommy Time to myself so I can continue scheduling more blog posts, as we sort of need to start shifting our sleeping schedule to be a bit later in anticipation of our upcoming trip to make jet lag a little less unbearable. Our flight is at almost midnight, so if he doesn’t get at least SOME sleep in, we will all be cranky with a cranky child. Not an ideal situation.
3:42 p.m. — Ah. Speak of the little devil. He’s awake now. We cuddle and get kisses. I give him milk, and I look around, thinking it might be a nice time to take him downtown on the bus / train again as I had promised. I really do love this child.
4:15 p.m. — We are on the bus again. $2.25
4:25 p.m. — I have no idea how people do makeup on the bus. Doesn’t it become difficult to achieve a straight line when doing eyeliner?
4:27 p.m. — Wish I could be the type for tiny slip dresses. I just find them too revealing for my own personal taste and skinny spaghetti straps are awful on me.
4:55 p.m. — We’ve spent the last half hour watching trains, and Baby Bun loves it. Now he wants to ride each line up and down all the one from one stop to another. LOL
5:35 p.m. — We’re on the train home, finally. I feel like I have so much to do but in reality I have nothing to do for our upcoming trip. $2.25
6:07 p.m. — At home, I do a quick once over and create a new list to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. I really hope he travels well.
6:37 p.m. — DINNER!!! Baby Bun is so full from eating the bun from earlier that he only eats half of his grilled chicken (breast) on bread. I take the leftovers.
6:39 p.m. — I go to pop the rest of his bread into my mouth that the chicken breast was sitting on and he looks up at me, points at my mouth , and starts hysterically crying. Oops. He wanted to eat the bread but doesn’t like chicken breast. I mean, really! Picky, picky.
6:42 p.m. — I carefully extricate one of the untouched pieces and Baby Bun INSISTS on the other. I sigh and give in. If he wants to eat bread that’s already been in my mouth, by all means, take my germs. Goodness knows I have had plenty of his germs sneezed into my face via less elegant means.
6:57 p.m. — I spend the next 2 hours creating a Father’s Day collage for my partner on behalf of Baby Bun as I always do. It’s usually photos of him and Baby Bun together. I save it in a draft in my email as I will be on vacation and plan on sending it the day of while on vacation if I have wifi access.
9:35 p.m. — Bedtime. It was hard to get him down. Finally. I feel rather nervous about leaving on my trip, and it’s just high-strung anticipation at this point.
Spent: $35.21 – Two bus rides for trains in one day? what a lucky Bun he is.
??:?? — Somehow during the night, he flips around and kicks my face repeatedly. It’s like getting punched with tiny little cloth-covered fists.
??:?? — Baby Bun wakes up in the middle of it asking for milk, then his blanket fell off him, then he wants to sleep on Mommy, now he wants water, and now he has to go potty.. OMG. OMG.
5:58 a.m. — I wake up with a slightly puffy face. All my wrinkles are gone, but I suspect I am on the verge of having done a little too much over-exfoliation. I make a note to not scrub my face vigorously until it heals.
6:06 a.m. — Baby Bun insists on going to Europe today. I tell him today is Work + School day and TOMORROW it is Airplane Day. He nods but…. then in a flash of insight, says: TODAY TOMORROW????… (meaning: I want today to be tomorrow)
6:19 a.m. — I check my emails. I know it is a marketing ploy to get you to get into the store to buy something but Starbucks has a double star day today. I contemplate going in to buy a Chicken & Artichoke sandwich (have been craving one) and/or a piece of cake. Oh and maybe a drink. That’ll be my dinner for tonight as I suspect my partner will not want to cook anything and we’ll eat leftovers in the fridge.
8:08 a.m. — We’re going to school and work. YAY! A break for me!! (Who has ever said they have wanted to go to work so badly before!?).
9:18 a.m. — My partner emails me to ask what the deal is with checking the internet when we’re abroad. He doesn’t want to carry his Macbook Air (too heavy). I tell him I’ll bring my iPad mini then, as it is lighter, and check emails periodically if we want to.
10:22 a.m. — I want another mug of tea but can’t handle too much caffeine in the morning. Two cups is my max, so I make a mug of caffeine-free lemongrass tea and love the vanilla smell. Mmmm…
12:18 p.m. — Lunch time. I desperately need it. It never fails to amaze me that people who have been supposedly experts in their jobs for their entire careers miss on the basics of their actual job. :\
12:20 p.m. — I read up online that lemon grass tea has a lot of health benefits. “Lemongrass is used for treating digestive tract spasms, stomachache, high blood pressure, convulsions, pain, vomiting, cough, achy joints (rheumatism), fever, the common cold, and exhaustion. It is also used to kill germs and as a mild astringent.” Whoa.
12:23 p.m. — I then remember the mosquitos attacking me (mostly and only me) in Europe and start researching bug sprays. I don’t want to use DEET on myself (for Baby Bun’s sake as we cuddle a lot), and I find an article about bug sprays with citronella being bunk.
1:02 p.m. — I peel and eat my afternoon fruit (banana) and decide I prefer them when they’re slightly green and not quite so mushy.
1:04 p.m. — A banana piece falls off and smears itself down my dark navy pants. Great. I have to remember to dry clean these at home some time. Maybe today.
1:24 p.m. — A co-worker comes by and I learn a new French verb: taquiner which means to tease. Hmm. Must figure out how to use it.
2:18 p.m. — I set up my out of office messages on my email for the office, my business and personally, and decide it is not worth the trouble for my telephone as it is VOIP and I’m afraid of re-configuring it (read: screwing it up).
2:22 p.m. — I check the time and decide I’ll do the pharmacy run to get Ricola right away instead of waiting until I have Baby Bun. I don’t know what he / the weather will be like at that time, best not to wait.
2:48 p.m. — It is hot as hell outside. I come in from a 15 minute walk to buy some Ricola for my throat (and the plane), and melt into my chair. Gat damn. $4.59
2:49 p.m. — I packed for a super rainy day with rainboots, an umbrella and a coat, and I don’t need ANY OF IT. Murphy’s law I guess. Whenever I walk, I always seek out shade. I hate sweating, I hate humidity, I hate the heat. People think I’m weird but I really just don’t like getting warm.
4:01 p.m. — I finally manage to log into the last remaining credit card I haven’t checked after being unable to for the past 2 days. I see the balance at $267.11. A lot of it must have been from the travel insurance ($82.66 total), and my payment of my aunt’s telephone and other bills which I’ve decided to take on monthly.
4:10 p.m. — I log into my other bank account and clear it immediately before my trip. My money must have come in from selling off my investments, my cash flow is near non-existent these days because it takes 60 days before I see my first paycheque in my bank. This is the life of a freelancer. What’s nice is when you stop working and the money keeps rolling in from the last payments.
5:35 p.m. — Baby Bun Pickup!
5:57 p.m. — I pick up my cleaned UGG boots on the way home – they look like new! .. and they are very comfortable and warm for drier winter days. I ponder getting them Vibram soled, I know they exist in winter boot form but I hate all the laces and am too lazy for that $55.64
6:17 p.m. — At home, I nervously re-check my packed list, and sit there thinking about if I have missed ANYTHING.
6:37 p.m. — Dishes can wait until tomorrow. Bedtime.
??:?? — Baby Bun seems to think my face is a perfect place to kick at night. He is CONSTANTLY shoving his feet into my face. I am super careful to shove him off me and twist him around so his head is beside mine rather than the other way around.
5:59 a.m. — I wake up having dreamed that I sat with J. K. Rowling and discussed which house the Sorting Hat would have put me in. Baby Bun squealed for milk before she told me. *sigh* For sure it wouldn’t be Slytherin at least because I really hate snakes.
6:18 a.m. —I try on a brown leather belt with my striped dress and realize it is glazed (faux?) leather and it is peeling off. It looks terrible.
6:22 a.m. — I find a brown Sharpie and attempt to fill in the cracks but it looks worse than before. I really don’t want to get rid of this belt, maybe I can find a belt replacement for just the middle part.. it is so cute as-is….
6:32 a.m. — I squeeze into my dress and regret having had it tailored in. WHAT WAS I THINKING BEFORE CHILD!? Ugh. Need to lose the 10 – 15 pounds so my clothes fit again, I really love this outfit. I suck it in and decide the uncomfortable, structure feeling of a non-stretchy jersey dress is worth the hassle if it looks this nice. I was thisclose to buying muu-muus from now on, or very loose blousy types of clothing that I can belt at-will.
6:58 a.m. — Baby Bun most definitely doesn’t want to go to school today. I’m frustrated and dissolve into yelling at him because he just WILL NOT LISTEN no matter how nicely I ask. I use all the parenting tricks of getting down to his level, explaining, explaining some more, using the carrot method “want to go to the park after school?“, and trying to make it seem fun but nothing works. I end up as a red-faced sweaty, Monster Mommy, screaming at my toddler and it is only THEN that he listens to me. Finally. And waits nicely on the chair.
6:59 a.m. — As I am walking with him to the elevator and calming down, I reflect that you can do everything as a parent and sometimes the only resort is to scream at them because you DO NOT have half an hour to nicely explain how life works because you need to go to work.
7:00 a.m. — The couple in the elevator are dead silent as they see my stress mount by arguing with a toddler. I close my eyes and put my fingers to my face in stress. I remember to at least wish them a good day before I leave and they give me sympathetic smiles and good byes. I am sure they have children or know of their existence as unpredictable monsters.
7:55 a.m. — Tea. stat.
8:15 a.m. — This girl passing by can barely walk in her 5″ wedges with a micro mini skirt. I’d be too nervous / conscious of flashing someone with such an outfit.
10:18 a.m. — I head into a meeting and come out relieved, the next task will not be as daunting as I thought. I can relax on vacation now.
11:02 a.m. — I remember I have to pay my half of the groceries and household bills my partner covers (~$900). I am not going to be able to write my partner a cheque for last month’s bills in time while I wait for my investments to sell, so I will have to do it when I get back.
12:08 p.m. — Lunchtime. I consider going out but decide against it.
4:14 p.m. — The day passed by in a blur. I was working right up to the last minute. I hate leaving things undone before leaving. I shut down my laptop and leave the office a bit earlier so I can grab Baby Bun and get home to do things as we fly tonight.
4:44 p.m. — The bus breaks down halfway home and I am stuck behind it. Of all the days!!!! ARRRRG.
5:35 p.m. — I start on a huge load of laundry like a madwoman, getting in the door later than I wanted. Baby Bun stress-peed all day and has gone through all of his clothes and pants, so I redo everything. I can’t leave that stuff to fester and rot with the smell of pee for 3 weeks.
5:58 p.m. — My partner shoots me an annoyed look and asks why the hell I am starting laundry when it’s so close to going to the airport. I am too tired and busy to tell him off and I just leave it. We have plenty of time to get this stuff done before being at the airport. It is a red-eye flight and I cannot leave that stuff to stink.
6:17 p.m. — I start on the dishes after I go through my list and make sure that things are done. We can’t leave dirty dishes in the sink to smell.
6:27 p.m. — My partner hooks the cars up with a cable to keep the battery alive and I start cooking the eggs and eating the last avocado.
6:47 p.m. — After dishes, eating the last eggs with an avocado, I wash my face and then pack my moisturizer and my things I had to wait to pack until the last minute.
6:57 p.m. — My partner spends the next 15 minutes leisurely wiping down every single dish, not wanting to leave it out to dry for 3 weeks. Oh NOW there’s no rush?!? I help.
7:02 p.m. — My partner takes out the garbage and the recycling and I finish drying everything. I finally get it all done and start dressing Baby Bun.
7:17 p.m. — I misheard my partner that the bus would leave 15 minutes before and anxiously, I start speed walking Baby Bun to the stop. I then realize we have 25 minutes halfway through our walk and I relax. My partner shows up 15 minutes later.
7:37 p.m. — We are on the bus and I’m dizzy and tired. I just want to sleep but our flight is at midnight. I don’t know how Baby Bun will fare. The fares to get to the airport are the 24-hour all day fares that cost $10, they don’t specifically say “airport” though. It was very confusing when I bought them. $10
8:07 p.m. — We get to the airport and hang out after checking in (we managed to score 3 seats together). We drink the water we brought to stay hydrated and then go through security with empty bottles. Baby Bun is having fun in a new place but doesn’t seem to grasp just how awesome an airport is.
8:37 p.m. — It sort of amazes me each time how inefficient people are with this step that they KNOW is coming. Just put your liquids in a quart-sized bag ready to go and then wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Don’t wear ANY jewellery (pack it in your purse or bag) and keep ALL laptops in a sleeve ready to scan, out and ready to go. How hard is that? We breeze through security in 30 seconds.
8:55 p.m. — The security guard is in a bad mood and barks at me (a mother struggling with a toddler and bags) to shift my bins down. Isn’t he there for that?!? I mean why hassle a mother with her hands full?!? Another passenger kindly helps me. I thank him, and shoot the guard a dirty look.
9:45 p.m. —Baby Bun is starting to get tired and it is showing in his moody attitude but once he is in the airport he is so wound up with seeing everything that he goes into overdrive. He is WILD.
9:55 p.m. —I try and shove him in the Chimparoo (love this baby carrier) to sleep but he isn’t having it. I give up and my partner entertains him at the kid’s section to give me a break before we board.
9:59 p.m. — I wonder if I should buy a meal. I’m starting to get hungry. I decide to suck it up and eat one of my Ricola sweets.
10:02 p.m. — I look down. People keep giving us looks with raised eyebrows. When we travel we don’t care and dress like hobos. Loose pants and shirts, Birkenstocks and Tilley hats, ZERO makeup. It is a FAR FAR cry from what I normally wear.
10:10 p.m. — Baby Bun is running around like a banshee like all the other kids at 10 p.m. who can’t sleep and are too excited to be in an airport.
10:15 p.m. — We hear lots of calls for people missing their flights. I feel bad for them.
10:17 p.m. — Baby Bun makes a break for it and runs away from us off to another part of the airport, not knowing the situation. I drop everything and sprint with my socks on and I grab him back to make sure I don’t lose sight of him.
10:19 p.m. — My partner takes Baby Bun back to the play area they have and he has fun. I guess we will just deal with the jet lag and the crankiness when it hits but not right now. I think preschool has been helping Baby Bun because he is starting to play with other kids. It is so weird to see him grow up.
10:29 p.m. — I try and turn my brain off. I will have zero internet access for 3 weeks and I’m looking forward to it but every time I do something I want to blog about it and tell you guys! This is going to be hard to live in the moment. I create a new list in my ToDo app called “Ramblings” where I will make notes about the entire trip as it happens.
11:31 p.m. — Flight attendants in 5″ heels? I’ve seen everything now.
11:45 p.m. — I catch Baby Bun, and he squeals “NO!” as he sees me pull out the Chimparoo and he falls asleep on my chest about 15 minutes before boarding and we wait for the last possible second before getting into our seat.
11:55 p.m. — Boarding as the last ones!
12:45 p.m. — In the air now.Baby Bun sleeps on my chest as I loosen off the Chimparoo and strap myself in. Apparently babies are allowed to sleep on your chest in a burping position and as long as you’re buckled in. Baby Bun has a blanket over his face until the lights go dim. I’m sad he’s missing his first foray into the air but it is too late. The three of us sit together and the woman in the fourth moves to be with her husband as there are more free seats, and we get the whole row to ourselves!! How lucky.
1:05 a.m. — I shift him off me as he starts to wiggle on my chest and put him on a makeshift pillow out of clothes and blankets, and remove his shoes. I’m glad I dressed him warmly and brought my standard cashmere travel wrap because it is COLD …. My partner shivers in his linen outfit, he forgot his jacket.
Note: We already pre-converted to have 4000 EUR for the trip (each of us paid half), so in a sense, I’ve pre-paid everything.
??:?? — During the 8 hour flight, he wiggles back on and off my chest repeatedly which means he sleeps fairly well and I don’t sleep a wink. I catch very few Zzzz’s and resign myself to not sleeping until tomorrow “night”.
??:?? — He wakes up half way through the flight as another baby is WAILING bloody murder and looks at my seriously, saying: Baby wants Choo! (Translation: Baby wants to sleep in a Chimparoo, not that the baby wants Jimmy Choo shoes (LOL) which is what I told him to GET him into a Chimparoo when he was whining at me at the airport). I smile and pat him back to sleep, asking softly if he wants to nap some more, he replies with a soft “Yes, please..“, and closes his eyes.
??:?? — He sleeps the entire flight there with very little of no waking (5-6 times?).
??:?? — They come by with the dinner tray and I snag 3 hot chicken sandwiches, presumably for Baby Bun, my partner (sleeping) and myself, at first. The orzo pasta is disgusting. I take a bite and the rest of it goes back.
??:?? — The sandwiches are surprisingly good, and as good as a Starbucks one although the bread was a terrible choice they should have taken the pita; it would have been less mushy. I save aside the dark chocolate covered raspberries for when Baby Bun makes me furious, and I can eat them to calm down.
??:?? — I’m still hungry so I eat my partner’s sandwich. He wouldn’t have eaten it anyway, and won’t mind.
??:?? — I’m STILL hungry (just like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, can you sense a trend?) so I eat Baby Bun’s sandwich too while it is still warm and plan on buying him a meal to make up for it. You can’t keep warmed up chicken out for too long anyway, it should be refrigerated, I tell myself as I scarf it down.
??:?? — Satisfied after 3 sandwiches I fall into a light sleep and wake up with a crick in my neck. Ouch.
??:?? — Baby Bun whines and shifts, so I quickly make a little blanket tent for him to let him sleep underneath, across two seats. His legs are over my legs and he is sprawled out between us. I wrap the Chimparoo around Baby Bun like a blanket and also tried folding it into a pillow for him to sleep on. He is a wiggler so nothing really works to keep him in one spot.
8:08 a.m. — They come by with the breakfast cakes of some cinnamon, orange, raisin concoction. I eat my share and save the other two slices for the last leg of the trip for my partner (if he wants it) and Baby Bun.
8:38 a.m. — I start coughing in the cabin from the dry air. I hope I’m not getting sick. I try to fall back asleep, one more hour to go but can’t do it. I’m sad Baby Bun missed his first flight takeoff… But I’m also glad he fell asleep before boarding because it was SO MUCH EASIER to handle him than when he is overtired, cranky and overexcited all at once.
8:39 a.m. — I try to watch David Blaine’s Beyond Magic instead but keep getting interrupted with advertising. Ugh. He is INSANELY good.
8:41 a.m. — I snap a few shots of Baby Bun and my partner on the plane, sleeping away.
8:47 a.m. — The plane finally descends and I eat the second piece of my gingerbread cake because I’m a pig. Oink oink.
8:49 a.m. — I decide I’ll eat the third slice too and be done with it. No sense in letting it get squished.
9:09 a.m. —The plane lands and Baby Bun is still sleeping. I carefully bundle him up and try to Chimparoo him but he wakes up and doesn’t want to sleep. I groan because he only slept about 7 hours instead of 9 and will be a monster.
9:28 a.m. — We breeze past security after waiting in line, and escape the luggage claim area as we have NOTHING checked in. We only brought 3 backpacks, the third one being super light for day jaunts with Baby Bun.
9:38 a.m. — We take the train to our destination and Baby Bun falls asleep on my chest on the way there and sleeps another hour or so.
10:59 p.m. — We arrive exhausted and tired at Tante A’s home and I can’t seem to stay awake. I think the scopolamine patch is REALLY making me drowsy and I keep dozing off on the couch while Baby Bun plays around and clings to me. He’s nervous around all of these new people — aunts, cousins, uncles.. a dog..
11:20 p.m. — I eat some dried sausages on bread, take a cup of milk and a few handfuls of cherries from the tree in their backyard.
4:56 p.m. — The day passes by with Baby Bun being too shy to use his second language and warming up by dinner to start speaking it a little more clearly, but not really. I fall back asleep on and off during the day, I cannot seem to control my drowsiness. This patch has knocked me out, but not as badly as Gravol where I struggled every minute of the day to stay awake for more than a minute or two.
8:17 p.m. — For dinner Tante A makes a delicious Basque Chicken. Baby Bun devours 2 chicken legs and at least a whole potato. He then attacks a bite on an apricot, has a few handfuls of cherries and bites a few pieces of watermelon.
8:27 p.m. — Baby Bun wheedles a piece of cake out of his aunt by asking for it very nicely with gestures. He eats the entire thing happily, unwilling to share with his father but I managed to eat the last bite (he offered it to me).
9:37 p.m. — Baby Bun asks for his father (finally! maybe he realizes which parent is more capable to navigate a country where English is almost non-existent).
9:47 p.m. — I leave a tired Baby Bun clinging to his father like a koala bear. I go to wash my face and get ready for bed, to which he nods and parrots back “Mommy go wash face!!!” (Read: I wasn’t abandoned.) I am only gone perhaps 10 minutes at best and I can hear Baby Bun sobbing and crying bloody murder. Well, that didn’t last long. I go back out and his tear-stained, pink face stares up at me and he reaches out for my arms. I take him from my partner and explain that I went to go wash my face, and he parrots it back to me. Being in a foreign country with new family you don’t even know is very hard. I feel for the little boy, when he also asks to go home repeatedly.
10:08 p.m. — We both say good night, and we turn in “early” at 10 p.m. or so, I’m exhausted. Here in Europe they don’t seem to sleep, and I am tired way earlier. GOOD NIGHT.
10:00 a.m. — We wake up (well Baby Bun wakes up) around 10 a.m. in the morning, both of us having slept for about 12 hours on and off. I feel awake but still get a bit drowsy from the medication I took for motion sickness
10:08 a.m. — I take Baby Bun quietly into the kitchen to fix a breakfast of sausages, bread and a banana. He eats his banana happily and takes a few pieces of sausage and meat. He is in a better mood today after having slept
10:10 a.m. — His uncle comes in and hoists him up on his shoulders before he even knows what’s up, and they go downstairs go look at the fish in the backward pond. Baby Bun squeals with delight as he smacks the water repeated and splashes everyone around him. His uncle is delighted; I suspect he always wanted a little boy even though he had never once said it and loves his daughters very very much.
10:27 a.m. — We go back inside and I try to get Baby Bun to interact with his cousins but he is too shy to approach them or use the language. I spend the next 2 hours speaking to them in English as they are very eager to try out and remember it for when they start university and find a career. Speaking English opens a lot of doors and they’re eager to leave for another country.
10:48 a.m. — A cousin and his daughter show up unexpectedly to shoot the breeze and they don’t stay long, but plan on coming back later for a meal with everyone. Baby Bun is shy but he does the proper greeting of kisses if he is held up to their height and asked (and maybe wheedled with cake into doing).
10:49 a.m. — They go down to pluck some cherries fresh off the trees to give to their cousins to take home. Baby Bun LOVES that cherries grow on trees, free for the taking. His eyes widen in delight as he calculates how much he can eat in one go if he stands by the tree and makes us pick & cut them up for him. They also find a trove of wild strawberries and give him a few to eat.
10:51 a.m. — My partner walks in and Baby Bun is relieved to see another familiar person. He runs and hugs his father and clings to him on and off during the day which is a nice welcome change for me, as I am usually the one he clings to. Tante A informs me that my partner was EXACTLY the same when he was younger — he clung to his mother all day long and did not like strangers or changes to anything. New things scare him.
12:28 p.m. — I end up falling asleep on the couch and when I wake up, a signature dish of his family (rice with duck), is on the table with a freshly picked salad (lettuce from their garden) and a huge bottle of wine.
12:31 p.m. — I refuse the wine but take 4 helpings of the duck with rice. My partner scarfs it down too and Baby Bun amuses and delights everyone especially his Tante A when he asks for more, ending in a meal where he ate 4 rather decent-sized plates of it! They’re delighted with his appetite. He then hassles his father for cherries, grown in a tree in their backyard and eats another 10 cherries or so. He is STUFFED to the gills.
12:41 p.m. — They’re all pleased with how well he eats, and love that he is a picky eater in the sense that if something is not as yummy, he will eat it but not ask for more. He also just doesn’t want to try octopus, or any kind of seafood (all the more for us then).
12:54 p.m. — We finish cleaning up and I go to get him down for his nap. I consider napping too ..
2:20 p.m. — When Baby Bun wakes up, he bounces around and hugs me tight (I am his #1 most preferred Post-Nap person followed by his father).
2:28 p.m. — We give him a little snack of fruit and his aunt and uncle offer to drive us up to go look at their farm. We accept, happily but remember to pack some snacks and water just in case.
2:31 p.m. — We walk around their farm, where they raise ducks, chickens, lots of different fruit trees and grow their own vegetables (definitely no pesticides used here, truly organic). Their vegetables are tomatoes, green onions, carrots, eggplant and lettuce.
2:37 p.m. — Baby Bun is scared and delighted by the chickens. He points to one and makes us laugh by saying: Yummy chicken! … He eats all the animals just very little of it when we aren’t on vacation but these next 3 weeks will be the food highlight of his life, guaranteed. You can’t get better than home grown, truly organic meats, fruits, wine, and vegetables.
2:39 p.m. — We stop by the grocery store on the way home and I pick out a mango to share with Baby Bun (something they don’t grow but I am craving). When we get home he hassles me until I cut it and feed him pieces of it. It cost quite a bit (4 euros).
2:49 p.m. — After the mango I take a nice long shower for as alone as I can be (Baby Bun stayed with his father), but just as I get out of the shower, Baby Bun comes running, looking for me. He doesn’t seem to like to be far from me.
3:29 p.m. — Our dinner tonight will be “light” because tomorrow they plan on buying a lot of meat and grilling it. We finish off the rice with duck from this afternoon, and have some light salad. Baby Bun manages to charm another piece of homemade cake out of his Tante A.
3:45 p.m. — Listening to Collective Soul – She Gathers Rain, brings back warm memories of my youth. I always feel sunshine on my face, and feel a warm burst of happiness in my heart.
5:40 p.m. — After the dinner he spends the next hour kicking a ball back and forth with his cousins, the first time I’ve ever seen him play with others voluntarily. Must be a family thing. I’m beaming with happiness.
5:50 p.m. — A uncle stops by with a case of potatoes and beans, they trade food amongst them so often that they don’t need to really pay for anything. In return they’ll give them cherries and whatever else they want from their garden that they don’t grow themselves.
8:45 p.m. — He falls asleep readily that night, content with the farm visit and food.
Spent: $6 (4 EUR conversion)
9:09 a.m. — Baby Bun wakes me up at 9 and we go to quietly have breakfast — a banana and a few slices of bread and sausage, and a little cake he wheedled again out of his Tante.
9:11 a.m. — I remember to give the rosaries to his family my mother bought for them blessed by a priest in Vatican City. Tante A kisses the picture of Papa Francisco and thanks me.
9:29 a.m. — I prep the bags again, we are going to another family member’s place for a week by bus.
9:38 a.m. — Tante A cooks a deep fried chicken dish with some fried potatoes and green beans. Baby Bun refuses to eat more than a few bites because he already stuffed his face this morning. He eats a few bites of a peach and 15 cherries instead (his favourites!).
10:18 a.m. — We get on the bus and on the way there I realize I should have worn my motion sickness patch instead of tossing it. You can wear it up to 3 days or 72 hours, and just save it aside on the plastic when you need it again for short trips. It is a little too late, I forgot about this and tossed it in the garbage when I came, but I had a second one for the way home. Too late. I’m already carsick and we have 4 hours to go. I slap it on when I can but when we go to change buses, I’m throwing up and feeling nauseous.
11:22 a.m. — I finally get back on the bus and readjust my patch for the rest of the trip. It goes well but now I’m super drowsy. I can’t stay awake, I’m a bit dizzy and Baby Bun is demanding attention.
12:08 p.m. — I foist Baby Bun off on my partner but that only lasted 20 minutes.
12:28 p.m. — Baby Bun sits beside me on an empty coach (it is just the 3 of us!) and is excited by everything and super wiggly.
2:18 p.m. — We finally reach our destination and take a bus to his mother’s place. We arrive and my partner starts up a huge barbecue of shrimp, and pork filets. I don’t like the pork much but Baby Bun seems keen on eating them as he won’t even TRY the shrimp. This is one of the first times I’ve seen him refuse anything, all the more for me I guess.
7:22 p.m. — We eat and drink well into the night until Baby Bun gets grumpy.
10:02 p.m. — I bundle him off to bed and fall asleep immediately.
11:37 p.m. — I wake up with a start, I hear my partner talking to some other guy in the hallway, thanking him for something. I hear silence and fall back asleep wondering if I dream it, or if a cousin came by to visit or something.
8:08 a.m. — Baby Bun wakes me and I can’t locate my partner in bed. Strange. He didn’t sleep in our bed? Where did he sleep? Upstairs? I find him sitting, completely drunk out of his wits on the bed, trying to unbutton a shirt to go to sleep. Then I realize: HE HASN’T SLEPT!? OMFG. OMFG.
8:11 a.m. — I am both horrified and amused in equal parts. After drinking with the family he must have decided to go out to the bars and drink himself into some sort of stupor. This doesn’t happen often but it does happen at least once every time we visit his home.
8:12 a.m. — I sigh, undress my partner like a toddler, bring him to the bathroom, and force him down for a nap the same way I’d scold Baby Bun if he refused to nap. Baby Bun is scared and clings to me, not knowing who this father is, completely sloshed with zero of his wits and comprehension. I guess we all need to let go once in a while.
9:18 a.m. — I decide to take Baby Bun out for an excursion with Mamie (grandmother) and we head to the local market. €1.45
10:02 a.m. — There, we poke and prod all the wares before settling on some carrots, baguettes, slices of ham, cheese, strawberries and figs. €5.60
10:08 p.m. — Baby Bun is super grumpy and keeps asking for water. We finally buy him a bottle too, after using strawberries as a bribe to get him to behave. €1.50
12:28 p.m. — We get back home by bus again. €1.45
1:08 p.m. — I prepare a short meal with ham and bread. The strawberries are a hit and miss. Mamie offers sugar to put on top of them (a French thing, they always eat strawberries dipped in sugar), and I refuse because we don’t need it. If it isn’t sweet all the time, then we can appreciate them when they really are good.
1:48 p.m. — We finish eating, Baby Bun gets more gifts of clothing from the family (we will need a new suitcase for all of this) and I remember to make a note to browse the children’s books here for Baby Bun.
1:52 p.m. — We head downstairs and find my partner awake. He is somewhat sober now, having flushed the alcohol out of his system mostly, and I lapse into French to explain what happened because I’m so used to it now that I don’t switch to English unless necessary (e.g. I cannot locate the word in my brain or don’t know it).
1:59 p.m. — I hustle Baby Bun down for a nap and sit on the bed beside him — it is a new place and I don’t want him to wake up scared and alone in a new house. It can be hard on a child.
4:18 p.m. — I ended up taking a 2 hour nap with Baby Bun. My partner comes in and is about to go to the grocery store. We get ready and go out as well as an activity and get to the bus. €2.90
4:25 p.m. — We arrive at store and Baby Bun gloms onto a book of shapes and forms and refuses to let it go. I pick out another book of a bear in a library and buy it for him. €17.90
4:28 p.m. — I find some chocolate milk in glass bottles and choose them for myself (my partner won’t drink them and Baby Bun can share). They’re on sale. €2.98
4:37 p.m. — We go and buy the rest of the groceries of vegetables and some sausages. €15.78
4:47 p.m. — We realize we missed the bus so we go and my partner picks up some pre-cooked shrimp. We eat a snack of that (about 1kg for €10) and Baby Bun refuses to even try (“Suit yourself!“, I say as I gobble down his share). €10
4:49 p.m. — I take some adorable shots of Baby Bun with my sunglasses on. Trop mignon (Translation: Too cute). Everyone stares at Baby Bun and bursts out in smiles at this kid giggling like mad with my sunglasses.
5:09 p.m. — We finally go and take the bus back and Baby Bun is quiet. €2.90
5:39 p.m. — We reach home and I take Baby Bun out for a tour of the garden and we wash our clothes à la style ancienne meaning with a rough stone slab, some savon de Marseilles (fresh lemon-ish, clean scented Marseille soap) and Baby Bun has a blast splashing water everywhere.
5:49 p.m. — Baby Bun gets ANOTHER present from his Mamie of clothes. He has gotten at least 3 presents so far, all clothing and one impractical gift of a mini accordion that is STAYING here permanently because I am dang sure not going to lug that thing back to Canada and listen to it. No siree Bob. I am far too polite to say this however, and just say that it is very heavy to pack and we traveled lightly.
The exact accordion in question:
5:59 p.m. — Back at home it looks like a major storm is brewing so we decide not to grill and eat outside today. A light meal of only vegetable soup turns into an omelette with sausages, and prawns with a side of pasta.
6:02 p.m. — Baby Bun is refusing to eat anything (A FIRST!) but the wheel-shaped pasta pieces so I have to pick out all the wheel shaped pieces for him, by hand. OMG.
6:22 p.m. — He spies my partner’s omelette and eats half of the omelette by himself and a few bites of bread instead. Pasta is not his thing, eggs are apparently.
7:02 p.m. — My partner prudently stays away from the wine, Mamie makes a joke about how we don’t drink wine for breakfast, making a joke that my partner is on his breakfast while we are all having dinner.
7:22 p.m. — After dinner, Baby Bun hassles my partner for some yoghurt (which he finally gets by needling him) and we go to read books and play with stickers in the room before bedtime. I gave him a 50 stars on a page and he peeled every single one off meticulously and gleefully places them on the page in various places. He finishes after 15 minutes and asks for more.
9:22 p.m. — At bedtime, he refuses to sleep and I take him to the potty one last time before he finally falls asleep, exhausted.
9:48 p.m. — I fall asleep, willing myself not to scratch my bug bites, they LOVE my blood here.
Spent: $99.93 (€62.46)
The first few days are always rough. I hope they get better, but traveling with this particular child was not that terrible as long as it was overnight and he could (and wanted to) sleep the way he did. We also got really lucky with having the whole 4-seater row to ourselves.
One major tip for parents with children? BUY THEM A SEAT if you can afford it. Having that space, and the choice to have more space for them to sit independently is a real boon for traveling. I cannot imagine having to hold him on my lap the entire 8+ hour flight. It would have been torture.
I’ll do a post with notes on traveling with a kid if anyone is interested — what worked, what didn’t…