Spoiler alert: there are cookies at the end of this post.
It’s vacation time at the Hunter House. Woohoo! We rented a house for the week which was fantastic and afforded me the luxury of a private pool therefore saving the public the horror of seeing me in a swimsuit. Yikes. The house also afforded me the luxury of a kitchen which was a perfect spot to try out the cookie recipe my dad found in a magazine. And sweet sundrops, were they amazing!
Vacation gave Babysaurus another excuse to become a world traveler. Okay, so maybe not quite a world traveler, but at six weeks old the tiny one and I made his inaugural plane flight to Texas and that’s like a whole ‘nother country, so I think it counts. And at 8 weeks, the whole clan made a sojourn to Arizona. We’re pretty much traveling pros now that he’s made two cross-country trips at under 8 weeks. (And another road trip to Tennessee at 10 weeks) Here’s what we’ve learned about traveling with an infant:
1. Try not to do it alone. Bring a Husband. It doesn’t even have to be yours, any one will do. Number one reason for this? Bathroom breaks. As in, there are none unless you want to put your tiny human on the floor of an airport restroom. Gag. (Reason number two is to have someone to hold your coffee. Babies have horrible coffee-holding skills.) By hour 6, I was dying and wishing that I, too, had worn a diaper. I have yet to find a solution for this except maybe to drink less coffee. But that’s clearly not a viable option.
2. Get a travel boppy pillow. I felt dumb buying the travel one when we have a perfectly good regular one. Such frivolity ranked right below wipe warmers in my book (to which I have also succumbed) but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Excellent for letting him hang out on the seat or floor without him actually touching the seat or floor. I am a far cry from a germophobe but something about airports makes my skin crawl. I would rather see him chew on my boots after I walked through the cow pasture than touch an airport floor.
3. Avoid tiny planes like the plague. Our first trip to Texas was on tiny, regional jets and my giant backpack (which was designed to hold 72 hours of survival supplies but only fit 72 minutes’ worth of baby gear) didn’t fit so I had to gate-check it. Meaning I had to scramble to figure out what supplies I was going to need and stuff diapers in my pocket. I got smarter by the second flight and packed a smaller bag (a medium wet bag was the perfect size) inside the bigger one that contained just the essentials which I could pull out and put under the seat while the big bag could be gate-checked. I restocked the small bag on layovers and repeated the process. On a larger plane, this wouldn’t be an issue but those regional jets are like flying in a sardine can. A tiny, smelly, miserable, bumpy sardine can.
4. Two changes of clothes are not enough. Every time, I was overly optimistic and thought I wouldn’t need his whole wardrobe on the plane. I thought wrong. Murphy’s Law ensued and every diaper was a blow-out and there was more spit-up than milk actually being consumed. Awesome.
5. Invest in Pacifier clips. Babies should just come with those pre-installed. I don’t know what i was thinking when I didn’t buy 17 of them before the first trip. I was leaving trails of pacifiers through the airport and horrifying fellow mothers when they could see me debate between cleaning it and giving it back to him right away. So I ordered these. Because what newborn doesn’t need 80 yards of survival cord?!
6. Pre-made bottles. Have a bottle filled and ready to go before take-off so you don’t have to juggle a hungry baby, a bottle, and a bag of milk. And put that bottle in a ziploc bag because no matter how tight you screw on the cap, or how well you cover it, or how you swear it stayed upright the entire time, it WILL leak. Murphy’s Law applies to all things baby. Helpful hint: an airsick bag full of hot coffee warms a bottle in 4 minutes flat. Everyone told me to have him eat on take-off and landing to help his ears but the little man had zero problems and I just fed him on his regular schedule and let him sleep through take-off and landing instead.
7. White noise. By the second trip, I became smart enough to bring the little guy’s sleep sheep which helped tremendously on the actually sleeping-at-night front.
8. Travel bassinet. Great idea. Baby Hunter still prefers to sleep with me but I’m also a fan of sleeping (which rarely happens when he’s happily snoozing on my chest) so the travel bassinet is the way to go.
9. Get a Moby wrap or some sort of hands-free carrying device. There is seriously no way to do it without one. Seriously.
10. A giant bag of jolly ranchers. Because when all else fails, you can always just bribe your fellow passengers into not kicking you off the plane. Earplugs are also excellent. And when that plan fails, bring cookies. Specifically, these:
cranberry pistachio shortbread cookies
adapted from some kind of magazine on a plane (sorry – that’s all the info I have)
baker’s note: I also tried various methods of incorporating chocolate into these. I learned that dark chocolate is a no-go, but white chocolate is pretty tasty if you drizzle it on the top. Just so you know…
1 C butter, room temperature
3/4 C pure cane white sugar
1 orange (zest + juice)
2 1/3 C flour, sifted
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C pistachios, roughly chopped
1/2 C dried cranberries
1. Beat butter, sugar, and orange zest until fluffy. Stir in juice and mix until well-combined.
2. Stir in flour and salt and mix until dough forms.
3. Fold in cranberries and pistachios.
4. Roll dough into a log, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Or…you can make a double batch and freeze a roll of dough and you’ll have ready-to-go cookies for when you have unexpected company. Win! Except that now I’ve given away my secret and no one will be fooled into thinking I bake cookies every day…
5. Slice dough into 1/2-inch slices, place on cookie sheet, and bake at 350 for approx 13 minutes. Don’t wait until they look done, just cook until no longer super squishy and edges are beginning to turn golden. They’ll harden into shortbread consistency while they cool.
6. Ta-da! Amazing cookies in 5 steps. Pat yourself on the back.