Thursday, April 28, 2016

Life Lately Round 2

Another life lately post because well, it has been awhile since I have posted and it has been a crazy two weeks!

If you follow along on Instagram you've seen that our Peanut got sick -- she ended up having Roseola (super contagious and extremely common in kiddos under five) which is a very high fever for 3-4 days followed by a rash.  Sadly, you only know it's Roseola once the fever breaks and the rash appears.... So when your child has a 104 fever that isn't going down or breaking with Tylenol or Motrin, isn't eating and just wants to lay down, you end up on the ER :(  We had wonderful care at the base hospital but it was just awful watching our little one get poked and prodded in hopes of ruling out anything major.  Luckily everything came back normal, so she was given fluids and monitored.  They were very close to keeping us overnight because her fever was not breaking, but the doctor could tell how tired Trevor and I were, knew that we lived very close and also knew we'd return if anything got worse.  Serafina was so snugly and only wanted to be held by me so she and I watched a lot of Daniel Tiger and read a lot of books for a few days.  She nursed almost constantly which was good because it kept her hydrated but it was a rough few days for all of us.

We were so thankful that Serafina got better by the time our Household Goods shipment arrived.  For those non-military people (and me before this move) that is basically our whole house -- furniture, clothes, kitchen stuff, everything that we didn't bring with us on the plane or have in our express shipment.  So this meant we were finally, after exactly two months, sleeping in our own beds!  I have never been more excited to see my own bed.  And after using the pack n play for two months, I was shocked at how big our crib was -- Serafina looks so tiny sleeping it!  We've been unpacking and organizing the past week.  We are done unpacking, just need to finalize organizing a few spaces, hang pictures -- do the little things that will continue to make this house our home.  I will do a post about our house soon.

Here are some pictures from the past two weeks...

Stay tuned for a post on Feria (spring fair) which is in Rota this weekend -- I am borrowing a dress from a friend so I am pretty excited!  Follow me on Instagram if you want real time pictures of everything going on this weekend!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Travel Tips {Plane Travel}

Another series on the blog -- this time travel related.  We plan to do our fair share of traveling while living in Spain, so my hope is to use this series to show you some tips and tricks we learn along the way! First up, plane travel:

I've had a few questions from friends about flying on the longer flights with Serafina.  And since we hope our friends (and family) with kids come visit -- this is for you!  There are plenty of flying with a baby/toddler/kid posts out there -- my personal favorites are Stephanie's posts about flying with an infant (I read and reread these the first time I flew with Serafina by myself).  I am no expert as we have only done one long haul flight with Serafina, but we have flown many times with her and most of those flights were 4-5 hours.  All these tips and tricks have worked for us on our flights and in the airports, keeping Serafina entertained and keeping her parents sane -- so here you go:

[And these tips are mostly for kids aged one to two years old -- once they hit that moving stage, you have to be a little more creative on entertainment.  Once they hit three, the tablet is your best friend!]

Gear -- Stroller + Carrier
We have a ring sling (which cannot go through security because of the metal ring, so I recommend packing this one) and the ergo 360 which is what we use when traveling.  Even if we have a stroller with us, we still wear Serafina through security and walking through the airport.  We use the stroller to hold our bags.  We received this stroller from our cousins who were no longer using it.  This stroller is perfect for travel -- it is large enough to hold our bags and its a great stroller to use when you arrive at your destination but also small enough that is folds up well and can easily be gate checked (which is what we do and what I recommend).  While expensive, we would have never bought this for ourselves but we are so thankful we have it -- it has become our "umbrella stroller" but still allows me to walk the cobble stones with ease!
[note: in the states, I can always wear Serafina through security no questions asked, they just require you to get your hands swabbed.  In Spain, I had to take her out of the carrier which was a pain and not something I expected.  I have been told that European airports are pretty hit or miss with babywearing -- so be warned that you may have to take baby out.]

Books: We packed a ton of books because Serafina loves reading and could seriously sit and listen to her favorite books for hours.  We knew it would calm her down while also entertain her.  We purposely picked books that were her favorites, but also ones that we could read over and over again without going crazy.  Our current favorites are Little Owl Lost and Barnyard Dance as well as any lift the flap books.

Toys: We also packed a few toys that were on the smaller side, that we knew could entertain Serafina while also not annoy us and the passengers around us (so we went for toys with minimal or no noise). Fred has been a favorite from our very first plane ride with Serafina when she was three months old -- and he has been on every trip since!  We also brought these wooden blocks emptied into a small make up bag (that I got at Target for like $2).  While Serafina didn't play with this on the plane, it was amazing to have during our long layovers in the airports.  She spent a lot of time sitting on the floor putting the blocks in and out of the bag.  It allowed for Trevor and I to rest and Serafina to be entertained -- I call that a win!

Blue Tape: this one deserves its own category!  I cannot claim this idea as my own but oh man was it a HUGE lifesaver on the awful flight to Madrid.  We would give Serafina pieces of the tape and she would stick it on and off the seat back -- it calmed her down, kept her quiet and finally stopped the crying.  A roll of blue tape will now always be in our carry on bags!

TV Shows: so while we do not let Serafina watch TV at home, we knew that we might have to up our ante at some point during our long day(s) of travel.  And on that third flight after her nap when she was so over being on a plane, we busted out some downloaded episodes of Daniel Tiger and it worked!  We picked a show that was somewhat educational and also that wouldn't annoy us.

We packed quite a few snacks.  We choose items that we knew were Serafina's favorites like sunbutter on a bagel, various Happy Family products like pouches/puffs and Cheerios.  I am so happy we had food on the plane because the food we were served on our long haul flight was just awful and  we all ended up eating what I had packed for Serafina!
[Note: you can bring pouches that are greater than 3oz through security but make sure you take them out of your bag and put in a bin -- we were never questioned when I did this.]

Other Tips
I think it goes without saying to pack enough diapers and wipes for the day (we go with one diaper per hour as well as a brand new package of wipes) and a travel changing pad.  All airplanes should have a bathroom with a changing table that folds down but be warned -- it is tiny!  Using the travel changing pad helps me keep things organized without having things fall on the floor.

Also pack the usual items that you'd have in your diaper bag -- I know that is different for everyone.  We also make sure we have enough: pacifiers, extra clothes, blankets, her lovey, and also any possible medicine we may need for her (Epi-Pens, Benadryl, Tylenol, etc.).  Pack an extra pair of clothes (including underwear) for you and anyone else you're traveling with -- this is for two reasons -- 1) if you get to your destination without your checked luggage, you at least have some clean clothes and 2) if your little one has a blow out or any other major issue, you all have extra clothes!

I always nurse Serafina on take off and landing, unless she is asleep.  This helps with the pressure on her ears and also calms her down if needed.

A note on having a lap infant on international flights (at least flights to or within Europe):  In the states, kids can sit on your lap until they are two years old.  The same goes for international flights, but you are required to use an infant seat belt.  This weird contraption attaches to your seat belt and goes around baby.  It adjusts pretty wide, so that is what we did so Serafina didn't feel like she was being buckled in and could move around fairly easily.  (We did have a seat for Serafina but chose to hold her because it was what she was used to and what seemed to make her more comfortable, rather than sitting her in the car seat in her own seat).

And of course, be flexible.  Flights get delayed, you have long layovers in airports that aren't kid friendly.... flying can be stressful but be prepared and flexible and it won't be so bad!

Have any other tips or tricks to add -- leave them in the comments!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spanish Life {The Daily Schedule}

I'm going to start a series about life (and culture) here in Spain.  Obviously, there are many things that are different than the states and I want to share them with you -- give you a better understanding of our new country and our new way of life.

Let's start first with the Spanish schedule because besides the language, the biggest difference that most people visiting Spain will notice is the daily schedule.  This can also be the hardest thing for people to get used to (not just those from the states, but from other countries as well as this schedule is unique to Spain).

[Note that all of this information doesn't pertain to everyone in Spain -- just a general overview]

Most things in Spain run on a later schedule.*  Breakfast is often around 10-11am.  Those at work will often take a break for coffee at this time (and maybe some food too).  Lunch is the big meal of the day and at roughly 2pm.  Most business, schools, practically everything is closed for lunch (or what Americans call the siesta -- but no, people aren't really going home and napping -- they are enjoying a large family meal).  The only thing open from roughly 2-5pm are restaurants and larger stores (think big grocery stores, chain stores, malls).  Then everything else opens again around 5pm.  Those who don't head back to work are out walking, going to parks and/or enjoying the nice weather (this is called the afternoon paseo).  Dinner is not until 9-10pm and is much lighter (tapas).  People -- this includes the whole family (babies and kids too) -- are often out until much past 10pm and go to bed very late (hence why things don't open until later in the day).  Everything is closed on Sundays.  Some restaurants are open, but everything else is closed (grocery stores, malls, big and small shops).

Some examples of store hours:
you can see that this store is open in the morning and then again in the afternoon
{this is a chain type store so it stays open a little longer in the morning and opens again in the afternoon on Saturdays}

this is a smaller clothing store -- it is open during the week, but this picture shows how it is only open in the mornings on Saturdays {this is very common}

So how does this work?  Well, it takes some getting used to, that's for sure, but it's easily manageable.  It does take a lot of planning to get my shopping done -- between naps and meals for Serafina and also the crazy store hours, it can get a little difficult.  If I need anything from a smaller store or if I plan to go shopping locally, it is best to go first thing in the morning (meaning 9-10am).  If I need to go grocery shopping or to a larger store (like IKEA), it is best to go during lunch time because NO ONE is there!  For example, we went to IKEA last week during lunch and we were pretty much the only people there -- it was great!  But even sometimes my planning fails me...  I have been meaning to get to a baby store for WEEKS (literally since March) but every single time I can actually go -- it's closed because its lunch time and by the time the store opens again, Trevor is home, we are eating dinner and it's off to bed.  One day, I will get there.... I keep telling myself mañana (which is very Spanish of me)!

And what if we want to go out to dinner?  Well, this is where it is most challenging.  Most Spanish places don't open until 8pm for dinner (the restaurants will close between lunch and dinner).  Going out to eat was very easy when Serafina was extremely jet lagged and not going to bed until midnight each night.  We were on a Spanish schedule the first two weeks we were here!  However, Serafina has since worked her way back to a more American schedule, so going out to dinner is tough.  Because we enjoy going out to eat and experiencing the culture, we will go out to eat on the weekends -- enjoying the later Spanish breakfast or the longer afternoon lunches.  And luckily for us, Rota is a very American friendly town, so we have found various places that are open earlier for dinner (meaning a more typical American dinner hour) but that doesn't necessarily serve American food -- we have been able to find places that serve tapas and Spanish style food at earlier dinner hours.  The only downside to this is that we are often the only ones at the restaurant or the other people there are Americans!

Overall, we still keep an American schedule -- this is mainly because Trevor works an American schedule and Serafina put herself back on a schedule similar to when we were in the states.  She is going to bed a little later, but also waking up later so it works for us.

So there you have the Spanish daily schedule and how we are slowly adapting and making it a part of our daily schedule as well.  Let me know if you have any questions!

*The history behind the day to day life in Spain is pretty interesting (or at least the history major in me finds it interesting).  A quick overview -- the "siesta" came about because Spain used to be a predominately agricultural country and the workers would take their lunch late to avoid being in the sun during the hottest part of the day.  They would work in the morning, take a long lunch to avoid the heat and return in the evening when it was cool again and this just continued even as the country moved away from farming.  Also, when daylight savings time started during World War II, Spain decided to be on the same time zone as the majority of Europe (CET - Central European Time) to show their support to Germany.  However, Spain is on the same longitude line as the United Kingdom, meaning Spain should really be on GMT - Greenwich Mean Time.  This means that the sun sets extremely late and rises very late (when we arrived in February, the sun was not coming up about 8:30 each morning).  The sunset and sunrise also encourage the late start/late evening lifestyle.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Life Lately

I've been getting requests for another post (hi Mom and her friends!) but it's been a little crazy (while also boring) around here.

We moved into our house at the end of last week.  However, I should use the term move in loosely.  Yes, we are no longer at the hotel and yes, we have a house.... But, our household good shipment (aka -- everything that we own) is not here.  So we are living in just a few rooms and have temporary furniture.  So it is still a little like living in the hotel because we still aren't sleeping on our own beds, not using our own items, but it nice to have some more space to live in.  And it is nice being out of the loud hotel.

All the houses in Spain are all tiled floors and concrete walls making every house a really amazing echo chamber.  While Serafina thinks it is an absolute blast to go around yelling and hearing her echo, it still means Trevor and I have to be absolutely silent when she is asleep because you can literally hear everything (it's a little creepy).  But we know that with our furniture, curtains and an insane amount of rugs that we plan to purchase, the echo will get better.  But we do not know when our stuff will arrive....

One of the wonderful things about staying at the hotel (besides the amazing housekeepers who loved Serafina and the restaurant right there with wonderful waitstaff who would let you practice Spanish and also watch Serafina while Trevor and I ate)... was that we got a rental car with our room.  This allowed us to go places on the weekends, take Serafina to daycare a few mornings a week and just have some freedom.  However, since we are no longer at the hotel, we no longer have a car.  Luckily, the town is small so Serafina and I can still walk everywhere, but makes it difficult to buy things we need for the house (a vacuum, rugs).  We know that our car has made it to Europe (it's in Germany) but we have no idea when it will arrive.

So we are still in limbo...

But we do love our house and the area of Rota we chose to live in.  We are extremely close to the grocery store.  It would actually take us longer to drive (getting out of the driveway, parking) to the store than walk.  I have been going to the grocery store frequently (almost every other day) which is very European of me!  But really, I can only carry so much with the stroller or walking...  I plan on purchasing my very own old lady bag* which I am way too excited about!

So that's our life lately -- I will do a house tour once our stuff arrives -- you'd currently just see pictures of empty rooms!

A few pictures of Serafina enjoying her new home (she is in love with all of our appliances because they are the PERFECT height for her to press ALL the buttons ALL the time!)

*When I was studying abroad in Paris, we always saw the little old French women using these rolling shopping carts and we ended up calling them "old lady bags" -- but of course, we ended up with our own old lady bag by the end of our stay because they really are genius!

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