Thursday, December 22, 2011

Meeting Santa

Visiting Santa at a local mall is very much an American commercialized event. I have yet to see any type of Santa (or Father Christmas as they call him) at any main mall area in England. Shopping malls are not as common in England to begin with but then additionally, Father Christmas tends to reside and have visitors at his "Grotto." Just out of interest I looked up the history of the Grotto online and as it turns out, the Grotto actually began as a British tradition and then grew to America and Australia, where visiting Santa has become more commercialized in the mall as opposed to just the Grotto area within one department store.

So, today we took Crosby to experience the American version of visiting Santa at the local mall in the US. Since it is just days before Christmas, the lines were alive and well so my mother agreed to go early and stand in line for nearly an hour before we arrived with Crosby. Total time spent in line waiting to meet the big guy in red was nearly 2 hours so it was a good thing that we had the tag team approach.
Upon arrival and while we waited in line, Crosby was very busy watching all of the other people in line and at the mall. She brought along her favorite stuffed animal to keep her company. Almost to the front of the line with Gram, Crosby seemed to really like watching the other children go visit Santa. All smiles in her pretty Christmas dress before meeting the big guy in red.Santa left his chair and walked over to us at the front of the line, to introduce himself to Crosby. She was slightly hesitant when he approached us but wasn't too shy just yet.The plan was for Gram to place Crosby on Santa's lap, while Scott was trying to get her attention by me while I snapped the photos of her first visit with Santa. It did not go as soon as Gram set Crosby down, she immediately curled up into a ball and tried to climb as high up back onto Gram as she could!So, then we decided to make a switch and see if Scott's presence would be a bit more reassuring to Crosby with Santa. It was not really the case. Crosby started to curl up in a ball again, this time right up against Dad.And then there were screams and tears....And more hiding in Dad's coat.

Sorry Santa, it looks like Crosby wasn't too smitten with you this year. We hope you will still visit her on Christmas Eve and hopefully next year she'll be more thrilled to sit on your lap and tell you about her year because she is a good little girl.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Transatlantic Travel with an Infant

Since Crosby's arrival, we have kept up with some travel, although admittedly not nearly as much as we used to do before her arrival. With each trip we take with her, we think to ourselves, the last trip was so much easier.....

She is just more active, more mobile, has a more set schedule, and also eats real food now. While some of these things make it a bit easier to travel with her, they also can be a bit challenging as well. For this most recent transatlantic flight we took from the UK to the US, I wanted to make sure I had enough food and snacks prepared for her during our trip. I always find that on the flight from the UK to the US, I end up eating 4 or 5 meals that day because we gain an extra six hours due to the time change. It was a bit tricky to figure when I should feed Crosby and how often she should eat, but I wanted to be prepared with lots of healthy snacks and meals, and of course extra of everything, in case we would be delayed at any point.
So, I packed the following: cucumber slices, breadsticks and spreadable cheese, a few packets of Ella's baby food for back up, "Puff" snacks (US product), dried cranberries, whole wheat breadsticks, an avocado, a hard boiled egg, dried strawberry snacks, string cheese, green beans, and chopped strawberries. Sounds like a lot of food for a little baby but I am glad I had it all for her. I ordered a child's meal on the plane but it was just like the adult plane food - not really anything great to eat, so it was much better that I had plenty of fresh food on hand for her. However now that I have so many extra things to pack for my child, it seems my bag never has anything for myself in is just filled to the brim with the "in case we need this for the baby" stuff! I would say I feel like a pack mule when I travel now on these transatlantic flights....

While the flight to the US was a bit more difficult than previous flights in that Crosby really wasn't interested in staying in her seat for the full 8 plus hours (and who can blame her, it's no fun for an adult!), the most difficult part of this trip so far came after our arrival in the US. We were staying with Scott in a hotel for a few days while he went to work for some meetings. I think it was the first and last time Crosby will be invited to stay with him on a transatlantic business trip! With Crosby being just a little bit older and on more of a good sleep schedule, she had a more difficult time shifting her schedule this time around. The first night in the US, she woke up at 2:30am and was ready for breakfast and playtime since her body thought it was 8:30am UK time. When we kept trying to get her back to sleep, there were lots of screams - er, for about 3 hours - and needless to say, I am sure we were not popular guests in that hotel as a result.
The scene at 3am in our hotel room: Crosby sitting on the chair eating cheerios off of a cutting board.

Up until this trip back to the US, we have (very luckily) not had too many issues with Crosby adjusting onto CMT from GMT. Unfortunately this trip it has taken her a good 5 full days to get back on track. Lesson learned that it is much more difficult to be in a hotel room with an infant who is fighting jet lag versus being at a house where there is space to play and eat snacks, etc. It was also very nice to have grandparents or other family members available (as Scott would say they are saints) who were with us to get up in the middle of the night to entertain our jet lagged child, so we could get a little bit of rest after walking around like zombies for the first few days back home.

Traveling back and forth on a transatlantic level is part of what we will continue to do since we live away from family but it has gotten more challenging with each trip we take. I am trying to enjoy the time we have now at home but am also dreading the return flight journey and the jet lag issues we will face once we are back in England where we will not have the extra help from family (going East seems to take even longer for Crosby to adjust back into....).

So I wonder, is it fair to travel like this with a child? I know there is no serious damage but it does seem to take its toll on her for about a week on either end of the trip. And at what point in the future will it get easier to travel with her? Or is that time now and I just don't realize how easy it is now compared to what it will be like in the future? I really don't know, but I guess time will tell....

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Baking Ingredients

I bake quite a bit during the weeks leading up to Christmas each year. It's become a new little tradition for us in that I bake huge trays of cookies for Scott to bring in to his office for all of his co-workers to enjoy. Then, I make bags filled with homemade treats for co-workers, neighbors, friends, etc. I used to do this before Scott & I met and then once we got married, my list of people to bake for has expanded to include his colleagues as well. I love planning the items I will make, and I do try to plan the list out in advance, so I can then go shopping to stock up on all of the baking supplies to ensure I don't run out of some important ingredient in the middle of my baking frenzy.

This year I was contemplating making these chocolate mint brownies as part of the assorted baked goods / cookies on the trays for Scott's office to enjoy, but I wasn't sure if I had seen peppermint extract on the grocery store shelf here before. I looked in my pantry and did not have any, so I went to the local Sainsbury's to see what I could find.
I was surprised of course to see the peppermint extract labeled as "AMERICAN" peppermint extract. Why is it American and not just Peppermint Extract? I did find it amusing from my standpoint, because of course I am an American who would be using it to make an American brownie recipe!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Every time I pass the "waffle" sign at the grocery store here, I think I am going to see some frozen type of Eggo waffles here, but I don't (I should know better by now).
The "waffle" sign refers to all of the potato waffles for sale in that aisle.
I have no idea if these waffles are supposed to be eaten at breakfast or dinner, but I finally bought some and we had them as a side dish for dinner last night.

My verdict is that these are the equivalent to American tater tots or something quick along those lines. They claim to be made of mashed potatoes in the shape of a waffle and that is how they tasted too. I have no idea if these are sold in the US or not, but I am always surprised that frozen waffles are not sold in the UK, since they are so popular in the US.