Monday, August 22, 2011

A Baby in Barbados

We spent the other week in Barbados and it was Crosby's first time to go in the ocean. We thought she would love it, since she loves the pool. Boy were we wrong! As you can see, our sweet (normally very calm daughter) was almost hysterical when Scott tried to take her into the ocean.
Maybe on our next beach vacation she'll like the ocean better...or perhaps she's just like her Mom and likes the beach, but doesn't like the mess of the sand, so she'll happily stay by the pool!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Crosby does Oxford

Today Crosby & I took a little road trip down to Oxford for the afternoon. We had lunch with my cousin and her boyfriend but before we went to lunch we took a brief stroll around the city since it was a lovely day outside.
Crosby in Oxford. Maybe someday in about 20 years she will return here as a student, and I'll have the photo to say "remember when..."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How quickly that feeling fades....

My little stinker baby tonight who is still wide awake at 10pm from jet lag! After she spent an hour screaming in her nursery, I finally brought her downstairs with me, but am making her rest on the couch in the hopes she will soon fall asleep.

Just a few days ago on Monday, we returned from a lovely relaxing and very nice holiday in Barbados and yet somehow the feeling of being completely relaxed and at ease seems to be fading all too quickly.... Nearly 36 hours after we touched back down in England, Scott turned around and flew back to the US for work, leaving Crosby & me here for a bit. It's amazing how quickly all of the laundry from our vacation has formed a huge mound, how tiring it is to be dealing with a very jet-lagged baby who is completely off schedule (and as a result I am off schedule since I was up with her at 11pm, 3am, and 6am again last night/this morning!), and how much I need to do to get things in order for our visitors we have arriving nearly 24 hours after Scott lands back in England next week! Temporary single parenting is part of what I knew I would encounter with Scott's job over here since he is traveling more frequently now.

However, these are most definitely the times when I do wish there was not an ocean between my family and me so I had someone near enough to come visit while Scott was away, or that I could go visit them without enduring a transatlantic flight.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Flying with an Infant

We have encountered many people already who continue to say something along the lines of "I cannot believe you are traveling with an infant!" While, yes, traveling with a child is VERY different and more consuming than traveling solo or just with the two of us, it is part of why we loving living abroad so we would be silly to halt our explorations now. Besides, we hope that if we start traveling with Crosby at a young age she will learn to be a good little traveler as she grows up. At 6 months old, she has already logged over 16,000 miles in the air. I am not sure I logged that many miles in my first 10 years of life!

This past week we went to Barbados to attend the wedding of some (American) friends who live in London. They had a destination wedding and we thought it was a perfect excuse to make a vacation out of it! Since we were not able to just leave Crosby with Grandma & Grandpa near by due to the ocean in between us, she traveled with us. Plus, I am not sure either of us wanted to be away from her for a full week, so we knew she would come with us for this trip; she's still too little to be away from us for too long.

It was almost easier to get to Barbados from the UK than it would have been to get there from the US. We had a direct flight from London Gatwick straight to Barbados. The airline choices were either Virgin Atlantic or British Airways. Unfortunately, we are a United/Continental family, so we didn't have status on either of those airlines that flew to Barbados. We decided to give Virgin Atlantic a shot since we had heard good things about them.

Traveling with Crosby at 6 months old was more difficult than it was at 3 months. Of course I didn't realize how easy it was at 3 months until we flew at 6 months and realized in retrospect, it was a piece of cake at 3 months because she didn't do much at all! While I am sure 6 months is easier than it will be at say 1 year, she is starting to be interested in more things, so sitting still is not always as entertaining for her as it used to be. That being said, Crosby is a terrific traveler so far. She doesn't scream on the planes, she deals well with the pressure of the flights, and overall she is really a good baby. We are very lucky. We also travel with anything and everything we might possibly need in order to be prepared (or should I say I travel with it all since somehow my carry on ends up being Crosby's bag!), so I would like to think that part helps a bit too.

Overall, I am not sure about the hype around Virgin Airlines. We thought it was ok, but now find that having status on one airline carrier makes it difficult to fly any other airlines since the service levels are not as high as they are when you are a preferred customer. While Virgin did offer the complimentary bassinet for babies under 19 lbs, they would not confirm it in advance like Continental & United did for previous flights. Plus this bassinet was basically a cardboard box with plastic lining.
Virgin does offer these nice little welcome bags when you board the aircraft, similar to the business class kits that are offered on other airlines with eye masks, socks, a toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. so that touch was nice. Scott let Crosby play with it all and even dressed her in the gear before putting her in the bassinet!
As you can see, Crosby filled up the entire bassinet, so this was our last transatlantic flight to request and use one of these. She really didn't sleep on this flight because the straps that attached this bassinet to the tray that came down from the wall, were in her face when she was at the bottom of the bassinet. A different set up than the other bassinets we have had where they attach directly to the wall and do not have straps over the main parts.
So, most of the flight was spent on either Dad's lap or Mom's lap. Luckily, Crosby was entertained just by watching the images on Scott's tv screen.
And then when the flight attendants handed out pretzels, Crosby played with the bag for a long time. It made noise and crinkled so it appeared to be a fun toy for her.
The flight was not full on our way over so she even got to sit in her own seat for a while which she enjoyed. Her little stuffed lamb sat on her tray so he didn't get lost.
Finally after about 6 hours of being awake during the flight, she finally got some sleep on Dad's lap!
Let's hope Crosby's good flying record continues for a long time into her future.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Food Adventure Begins

Today Crosby started solid foods. I gave her sweet potatoes as her first food. As you can see, her reaction was not one of immediate love....
It was rather difficult to capture her very vibrant expressions but I was laughing with each bite she tried to eat and then spit out. You would have thought I were trying to feed her dirt with her uncertainty of the food!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Baby Food

In less than just two weeks Crosby will be six months old and it will be time to start introducing solid foods into her diet. I cannot believe she is nearly 6 months old! I remember thinking I had so much time before I introduced her to food and here it is upon me now. Some people do introduce food a bit earlier to their babies (between 4-6 months) but we have decided to wait the full 6 months because there are some dairy, fish, and egg allergies on Scott's side of the family and my sister was just recently diagnosed with celiac disease. While there is no way to prevent Crosby from inheriting any of these genes that could cause the allergies, I have been advised that breast milk only for the first full six months is the best shot at protection against such issues. So, I have stuck with it and hope it is giving Crosby the best start at a good healthy diet.

We are headed on another family holiday soon and so as soon as we return from that trip, I will begin the food adventures. In order to prepare for Crosby's first foods, I have been scouring the shelves at the grocery store and doing quite a bit of reading online. When I took Crosby to the pediatrician back in the US (at 3 months of age), the doctor gave me this leaflet as a guide to introducing foods into Crosby's diet:
There is quite a list of items to avoid - some until she is ONE year old and others to avoid until she is TWO years old. The other bit of advice listed there (and also given here in the the UK) is that babies should be introduced (early on) to only one food at a time, most especially if there is a history of allergies in the family. I have seen various advice on the "wait time" in between foods - anywhere from 2-4 days before introducing the next "new" food is what I have read.

Now comes the confusing part for me. Here in England, I have not found any plain baby food at the grocery stores - just one food item at a time in baby food form. So, unless everyone makes their own baby food, how is it possible to introduce just one vegetable or one fruit at a time???? (*Minor exception - Ella's organic pouches have just released plain apples, plain pears, and plain mangoes)

As seen at my local grocery store:
The Plum Brand foods - no plain foods there - all mixed varities!

Ella's Kitchen offers a mixed strawberry & apple pouch as a "first food" which is another point of confusion for me since the US pediatrician said no strawberries until age 2. Here, a first food is between 4-6 months. Confusing, right?

And then beyond the "First foods," come the stage 2 foods which are more like little meals for babies. I never thought about the foods in the US before until I started looking at the foods here. These baby foods seem to be very culture specific.
Hence the Fish Pie with mash (very British) and the Beef Stew with Spuds. Sounds like pub fare to me!

Annabel Karmel is considered to be one of the baby food "experts" here in the UK. She is widely known and her books are all over the baby shops and bookstores here. After reading her website, I am now just more confused on which standard I will follow for introducing foods to Crosby. As a prime example, the first photo from my US pediatrician says fish should be avoided until a baby is over 1 year of age. However, Anabel's website has this recipe and information under the foods for 6-9 months age:

It’s important to encourage a liking for fish early on. This Salmon Puree baby food recipe is quick and easy to prepare and combining it with root vegetables is a good way to introduce fish to your baby. Oily fish like salmon, trout, tuna and sardines are especially good as they contain omega-3 essential fatty acids which are very important for visual and brain development. Tinned tuna however does not contain omega 3s only fresh tuna.


200g carrots, topped and tailed and sliced
125g salmon fillet, skinned
60ml orange juice
40g grated Cheddar cheese
a knob of butter
2 tbsp milk

And of course then the baby foods contain fish and other items that I am not sure are in US baby food....

Personally I am a bit disgusted by baby food. My thought is that I don't eat meals out of jars or little packets, so why would I want to give my baby her first foods from them? Fish or lamb sitting on a shelf in a packet? Can it really be that healthy?

So, I am making all of my own baby food so that I know what goes in it and can control the quality of food she eats early on. It is simple to make and I have already made and frozen: peas, sweet potatoes, pears, apples, and mangoes in anticipation of Crosby's first foods. This way I can also introduce one food at a time to ensure we are able to catch any food sensitivities when they occur. There is no guarantee but I hope I am giving her the best start possible. Plus, I want my little girl to be a good, healthy eater which I think includes lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins. We will forge through this next stage as best we can but it is a bit confusing that different countries have different advice for such tiny people. I guess both are probably right and wrong to some extent - after all, both countries continue to grow their population so something is working!