Posts tagged “Traveling

Journey to Norway through snapshots part 5

(Yes, it was a long time ago, but better late than never!)

I’m still not through editing all the images from Norway. Hopefully I’ll get to the end soon. These are from the last days at the cabin where we enjoyed some quality time with friends and family.

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We heart holidays!

A couple of weeks ago we ventured up to the Sunshine Coast, to Mooloolaba beach to be exact, for a much needed holiday. My partner was attending a conference there and we decided to stay on for a few more days to relax and do as little as possible. The last time we had anything that resembled a proper holiday was in 2006. It was divine. As I’m sitting here back home again feeling hot and bothered I’m dreaming myself back there with a bit of a photo essay.

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View from our apartment

We got a wonderful deal for the whole trip, return airfares and 8 nights in an apartment at Mantra hotel right on the beach by booking through Japanese expedia. Believe me, there is a lot of money to be saved by being smart about how you book things.

The flight to and from couldn’t have gone any better. Anakin was excited and within ten minutes of the seatbelt sign being turned off he was asleep both ways. (Yay for the power of boob!)  Our flights were scheduled a bit after his normal nap time and it worked a treat. He slept for 45 minutes to an hour and was easily entertained for the rest of the time. The only downside to flying was that Anakin immediately got a cold. By the time we arrived he was already getting snotty.

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But in true champion form this didn’t impair him at all.

Mooloolaba beach

Mooloolaba beach

Our hotel was right on the beach. All we had to do was to cross the road and we were there. Along the strip were restaurants and small shops. An all in one place for a family holiday.

Early bird breakfast

Early bird breakfast

Because of the one hour time difference our days started at 4.30 every day. It was hard, but it meant we got a lot out of every day. It also meant that most nights we were in bed by 8.30-9, an hour or so after Anakin.

Early birds need coffee

Early birds need coffee

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Up the road from the hotel was also one of several playgrounds.

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Checking out the surf

Anakin was a bit weary of the beach. The waves were big and it was a bit full on for him. We managed to get around it by taking turns watching him and swimming. With 26 degrees in the water it was hard to keep us away!

Hold on to your hat!

Hold on to your hat!

Love love love!

The beach was pristine. Clear water all the way.

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I love the beach!

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Every day was ice cream day

Every day was ice cream day

One night of rain, but still beautiful

One night of rain, but still beautiful

A moment of not so happy

A moment of not so happy

While Anakin was not the biggest fan of the beach he was a huge fan of the pool and the spa in our room. The outdoor pool’s heating was bust so it was quite freezing, but this didn’t stop our little fish.

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A bit further up the road from the hotel was Underwater world. Great place for a morning excursion.

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Nose fish. Hilarious.

Nose fish. Hilarious.

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Getting a bit of touch’n feel

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Showing the fish his truck

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A great place for an awkward family photo

A great place for an awkward family photo

Hotel playtime

Hotel playtime

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early dinner wine time

early dinner wine time

We enjoyed some nice meals during our holiday. Some of them better than others when we timed them early enough for me to enjoy a glass of red too!

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Excursion to the docks to look at some boats. There was a lady here with a snake (which you had to pay to photograph) who let Anakin pet her snake for a gold coin donation. Anakin went one step further and gave it a hug. Might have to talk to him about hugging snakes. No photos of that, but a good memory still.

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Meeting Marilyn

Meeting Marilyn (and ripping her eyelashes off. We left in a hurry) 

Hanging out on the balcony making mamma and pappa nervous

Hanging out on the balcony making mamma and pappa nervous

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And before we knew it, and way too soon, it was time to go home.

_DSC2033_webOnce we got back we all got sick, one worse than the other, but it was all worth it. What a great holiday it was. Mooloolaba beach we heart you!


Toddler jet lag. Oh what fun.

I don’t know about you, but jet lag really does my head in. I’ve never been one of those people who bounce back within a couple of days. It takes me at least a week when heading to Europe and closer to two when heading back to Australia. Needless to say I was dreading what jet lag would do to a 19 month old toddler. Here’s how that went down.

Before we left I did as much research as I could about how to deal with kids and jet lag. There isn’t all that much tangible information out there, but I found a few things here and there that gave me a few ideas to try. At least I was preparing myself for a potential chaos. Right? umm… yes.

Australia to Norway

From Australia to Norway the time difference currently sits at 8 hours. I had read that young children could take as many days to adjust as there is hours in difference between home and the destination. I tried my best to be aware of Australian time as much as I could during the first days to better understand how Anakin was experiencing his days.

Nighttime hunger

Of course, all routines went out the window the first day never to return. Yes, i cried on the inside. Coping with new sleeping spaces and bright summer nights was hard. The first few nights Anakin would wake up around 3-4 am. I was prepared for this and knew he was probably hungry, so we got up and had a bite to eat. I kept him up for a little bit (1-2 hours) playing very quietly before going back to bed to have a bit more sleep. This worked surprisingly well.

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Local meal times

Once we got to Norway we immediately switched to local meal times. We obviously adjusted a bit the first few days by offering bigger snacks between, but made sure dinner happened as close to local dinner time as possible. This definitely helped us adjust faster. Anakin is used to eating at the same times every day so his body clock needed to work out this new schedule in a bigger way than we did.

New sleep spaces

Our bedtime in Australia had a very specific routine. Once we got to Norway this vanished and Anakin was faced with new sleeping spaces all the time. This was less than ideal and had a huge impact on him. I thought it was hard myself, and I’m supposed to be an “adaptable” adult, for him it was terrible. We tried as best we could to replicate as much as possible of our old routines, like bath before bed and bedtime breastfeeding, but the shit still hit the fan in a big way most nights in the first week. It was impossible to get him down in a portacot so we started co-sleeping full-time. This helped make Anakin feel safe when he woke up at night and found me next to him. Naps were equally impossible and would only occur in a car or in the stroller. Needless to say there was a lot of walking.

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Milk supply and comfort 

The first days in Norway Anakin would feed a lot during the night and not much during the day. This was partly due to his days being upside down still, but also because my milk supply needed time to adjust. Anakin would seek out the breast for comfort the whole trip and would feed more frequently than he did before we left. We also started doing the feeding lying down at nighttime, which he, for better and worse, loves. It was a big adjustment for me to go back to night feeds and I can honestly say it was the trip that nearly broke my will to continue breastfeeding.

Overload

It’s a huge adjustment for a small child to travel far and be exposed to all new things and people. We were more or less constantly on the go and Anakin was surrounded by new people wanting to engage him all the time. The first few days he rejected both me and my partner except at nighttime, everything was exciting and it was all systems go constantly. By the end of the 5th day he had reached a peak and had a massive three-hour meltdown at bedtime. It wasn’t pretty and I’ve never seen anything like it. After this Anakin became very clingy and would stay close to me most of the time.

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Norway to Australia 

I was really nervous about how coming back would play out. We landed in Melbourne at 1am and Anakin had slept quite a bit on the last stretch here. By the time we went to bed at home it was 4am and I was only expecting a couple of hours of sleep. Everything I had been told and had read said it would take longer to adjust coming home than it did going over.

 Sleepathon

The first morning we slept from 4am to 12.30. Anakin fell asleep without trouble next to me and happily snoozed for hours. There were no naps that day and we kept bedtime to the same time as usual. At 7pm he was asleep again and slept for just over 2 hours before waking up as I went to bed. After being awake for an hour, but staying in bed the whole time, he fell back asleep and slept all the way until 12.30 the next day again, as did I. I can honestly say he’s never slept for that long in his entire life.

Night wakings 

After the initial sleepathon was over we started to see the other side of the jet lag. Anakin would go to sleep at his normal time, but wake again 1-2 hours later. He would then stay awake anything from 1-4 hours. We didn’t get him out of bed, but stayed there with him until he fell back asleep. This continued for over a week.

Night feedings and wake up times 

Anakin started feeding at night again, and would wake up around 4am for a feed. He’d then go back to sleep. For the first few days he would sleep until 8.30-9, then it became 7.30-8, then 6.30-7, and now, almost 4 weeks later he still wakes at 4 demanding boob, which he does not get, and then sleeps on and off until 5.30 when he decides it’s time to start the day. Our hopes of maybe getting a somewhat normal start time of 6.30 has vanished. After Anakin started demanding boob every hour from 4, I decided it was time to stop his night feed as it did not look as if he would stop on his own. We’re still working on getting rid of the 4am wake up, but with no luck so far.

Guess who's happier about being awake at 5.30?

Guess who’s happier about being awake at 5.30?

Naps

Naps coming back was a big issue I wanted resolved quickly. Anakin does not sleep well in the pram and will only do short naps if you keep him on the move constantly. And I do mean constantly. No stopping for anything and no going indoors anywhere as this will wake him up. I tried co-sleeping for naps, but that simply did not work. I then decided to give the cot a go again, making sure to wind him down with a bit of a feed beforehand. I discovered that his baby call has music it plays for about 10 minutes before stopping. I put this on and laid next to his cot holding his hand. Surprisingly this worked from the first day and is still the way we do nap times now. I guess the boy deserves credit for being more adaptable than I thought!

Coming back definitely wasn’t as bad as I feared. And co-sleeping full-time is something I really enjoy doing. Anakin goes to sleep content, generally stays asleep, except his 4am boob alarm, and wakes up happier than ever. The difference in him is quite noticeable. I also sleep better knowing that he is right there, there is no baby call to listen to and no need to get out of bed. Besides, I love getting night hugs and feeling his warm body next to me. We have been bedsharing part-time for a while, but I much prefer it the way it is now.

(All images are Instagrams @didajenta)


Journey to Norway through snap shots, Part 2- Faces

So I realised as I was trying to pick just a few photos (out of a hell of a lot) that most of the photos from our second week in Norway were all about faces. (I’m partly lying. Pretty much all of my happy snaps are about faces.) I guess this just signifies what we did the most, which was meet up with people.

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Early morning walk in the backyard with grandma L

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Hanging out with grandma M and two of his great grandparents

Our second week was all about catching up with friends and family.  My oldest nephew arrived from the states for a visit. I was fortunate to enjoy as much time as possible with him while he was there despite our jam packed program.  The Kongsberg Jazzfestival was on which meant a lot of people where around. We saw one of my favourite female artists, Hanne Hukkelberg, play in the old baroque church on Thursday and enjoyed a rare night out with our friends from Australia on Saturday. We moved between families as best we could and did our best to try to see everyone at least once.

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These two became friends immediately

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A quiet moment on what became the new favourite toy

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Having a sip of water while waiting for grandma M to give him a haircut

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Uncle O makes sure small paws are nice and clean after a snack

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I hadn’t seen my oldest nephew in 7 years. Seeing him was by far the highlight of the trip for me. He holds a special place in my heart, so much that I tattooed his face on me 7 years ago to keep him close when he is far away. (Granted it’s not the best tattoo ever)

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New friends. There were plenty of new, small faces to get to know for all of us

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Being on the go all the time took its toll on our little man

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We managed to squeeze in a few visits with another great grandma who was more than happy to be visited by our little jedi

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Roaming the park during the Kongsberg Jazzfestival in style

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Meeting grandpa PH and doing some people watching while enjoying an ice cream

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Opening presents with aunty J

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The big extended family BBQ. We invited all of our friends over for a BBQ on Friday during the jazzfestival. It was the only occasion we got to see a lot of them unfortunately. This was one of the best days during the whole trip.

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Norwegian wave. Two of our best friends from Australia were travelling and came to visit.

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Family BBQ slowly turning into more of a party. Good times with good people

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Good face

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Two of my favourite people

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Mother and son hugs

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It was a day of love, all over the place

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Two cousins sharing some sultanas. Definitely see the family resemblance here

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Grandma M removing some splinters like a pro. Anakin didn’t even flinch

That concludes part 2. Stay tuned for more reminiscing about cabin life and summer days soon.


Journey to Norway through snap shots, part 1

I took so many photos while we were in Norway I’ve had to just start at the beginning and do it in smaller instalments. Choosing between them all is hard, editing is time consuming. I tried not to have my face covered by a camera as much as I could so as the title suggest the images are quick snap shots, simple recordings of some of the things we experienced. I’ve chosen to not look at which images will go in the 365 for this period for now, so there’s bound to be some double ups at a later date.

As always I am guilty of being terrible at taking photos of landscape and scenery, and things that do not include Anakin. (It’s the whole image maker versus image taker thing again.) But I think our 1500 photos from 3 weeks still covered the vital bits. Of course, most of the landscape photos I really needed and actually did take, I managed to lose in some faulty transfer  (or in a moment of not paying proper attention). oh well. Anyways, here is the first instalment! I hope you enjoy it!

Transit eating

Transit eating in Dubai. If you didn’t catch my post with tips for traveling with a toddler, you can find it here.

Frankfurt airport. A bit of coffee to keep us going

Frankfurt airport. A bit of coffee to keep us going, a bit of running to get some energy out of his system. Traveling outfit is all about comfort of course.

A bit of email checking and phone charging

A bit of email checking and phone charging, or “poking pappa’s laptop as much as I can to drive him crazy”, while we wait to board for the last stretch to Oslo.

Escaping the madness

Escaping the madness the second day back. Hello cabin by the lake!

After going straight from the airport to a family birthday we were all pretty beat. I was in excruciating pain from a tooth that decided to go from bad to horrible the day before we left, and I hadn’t slept since before we left Melbourne. I do not recommend ever flying with a tooth ache. The next day, after I had gone to the dentist for an emergency root canal, we escaped to my partner’s family cabin by a lake in the woods for the weekend.  It was rainy and cold, but we loved it. With us came two of our oldest and very best friends.

Getting the look on with grandma.

Getting the Norwegian woodland look on with grandma L who came up to show us a few things before our friends arrived.

The view

The view

the view II

the view II

It was a weekend of the good, the great and the difficult. Dealing with a jet lagged kid out of his routine was tough and challenging. The first few days in Norway Anakin went through a phase of total rejection of me and my partner during daytime except for when things got desperate. Nighttime was all about me, all the time. Our plans to catch fish were washed away by the rain, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time there, although it was far too short.

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Rainy day Yatzy by the fire. No tv, no phone, no internet and no laptop. It was like life crept back into us all as we enjoyed the very simple things with some fine people.

Hanging out with his aunty.

Hanging out with his aunty. My best friend was an instant hit with Anakin, as I knew she would be. Seeing them finally together made me happier than anything.

The rain finally stopped for our much anticipated rib BBQ.

The rain finally stopped for our much anticipated rib BBQ. Eirik, our excellent cook, dished up a spectacular feed. And we made quite an impressing effort to devour a massive amount of meat.

The cook

The cook

A (finally) sleeping kid and some delicious food

A (finally) sleeping kid and some delicious dinner by the fire

Smelling that wine real good

Smelling that wine real good

Pointing fingers

Pointing fingers agreeing on being in the very best company.

A man in his element

A man in his element. It’s been ages since I saw my man as relaxed as this. It was a sight for sore eyes.

My oldest and dearest friend.  This is true love right here

My oldest and dearest friend. This is true love right here. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I wish this lady lived closer to me. There are few finer human beings on this planet.

33 years of unconditional love and friendship

33 years of unconditional love and friendship

Keeping warm and keeping the mossies away

Keeping warm and keeping the mossies away

A morning walk through the woods

A morning walk through the woods. I love the Norwegian woodland.

A good place for a nap, right?

A good place for a nap, right? Anakin thankfully agreed.

Stay tuned as our journey continues! In the meantime I’ll try to check in with some more 365 and other bits if I find the time.


Tips for traveling with a toddler… long distance… by air

It’s a long way from Melbourne to Oslo, Norway. We were on “the go” for about 35 hours each way. From Melbourne we went to Dubai, then onto Frankfurt and Oslo. In Dubai we had a good 3,5 hours in transit and in Frankfurt about 5. We thought we had the same route back, but to our surprise (and my great annoyance), they threw in a stop in Kuala Lumpur for about an hour. It’s the first time we’ve traveled on a plane with Anakin, and it was also the first time my partner and I have traveled by air together (in 8 years!!! And we’re from the same damn country!). I’m no expert on the subject of traveling with a toddler obviously, but I thought I’d share with you a few things that made our lives easier along the way.

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1. Bring food your kid likes.

Anakin will eat mostly anything, but because he is under two and therefore travels as an infant, they only supplied a tiny glass of puree. Think first foods type. It was ridiculous. The boy is 19 months old, he is far beyond puree and definitely needs more than a tiny glass per meal. Along with that he got apple juice and chocolate custard. Not a great meal in any case. On the way over I had thankfully made muesli bars and brought other snacks. But because of this we ended up sharing our food with him and every stop we had we made sure we all ate properly.

A pre-boarding snack

A pre-boarding snack

Eating in-between flights was a must for us

Eating in-between flights was a must for us

2. Whenever possible, let your kid run!

Toddlers have a lot of energy. Where they get it from I’m not sure, but you’ll want to let them release as much of it as possible whenever the possibility arises. If your choice is between putting your kid down for nap or letting them run while in transit, I say let them run. Sure, they’ll be overtired and that’s not ideal, but a kid that’s been cooped up for too long is worse. There’s limited space to move on the plane and too much sitting still as there is. Some airports have play areas. Ask someone if you can’t find it. Let them run!

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3. Bring a carrier if you have one

I will never ever go anywhere ever again without a carrier. We use the Tula toddler carrier and I swear it saved us from so much hassle. It can be used on the front and on the back. Anakin sits really well in it, it supports him all the way out to the knees, and best of all it’s easy on my back. I have a chronic back injury so being able to carry Anakin for longer periods without any discomfort is pretty amazing. There are quite a few places in airports where it is easier to carry your kid than have them in a stroller or walking. We didn’t bring a stroller at all for this trip and I’m very glad we didn’t. The carrier also meant I could carry Anakin all the way to our seat in the plane.

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In Dubai on our way to Norway Anakin was flying high, way overdue for a sleep and I was able to put him in the Tula, calm him and put him to sleep with ease. During a rather ugly meltdown on the way back the Tula once again became a lifesaver. Anakin lost the plot on the plane, there was no getting through to him at all. After 15 minutes of screaming at the top of his lungs, thrashing about and every effort failing, my last resort was to put him in the Tula. Within a minute he was calm and within five he was asleep. At that time I ignored the seatbelt sign and being told to sit down by the crew. I also ignored the urge to lash out at the people shooshing him and especially the lady who came up asking us to ask the crew if there was a doctor on the plane who could help. Seriously, lady, don’t for a moment think we don’t know the difference between our son needing a doctor and just being far too overtired going in to the 20-something hour of traveling. Once again, the Tula was a lifesaver. I can not recommend this brand of carrier enough!

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4. Bring some entertainment

We packed a little backpack which had a nappy clutch, food, a sippy bottle, some books, a happy snap and some toys in it for easy access on the plane. We brought some old favourites and some new things that would have a bit novelty. We kept it small and as smart as we could. A couple of books, some crayons and a notebook, some toy planes, a plush tiger, an old Nokia phone and a few small cars.

Before we left I found some small Winnie the Pooh pop up books that I picked up for Anakin for the trip. They proved to be really good. As did a book about animals with some small flaps Anakin could open. I used these mostly during take off when Anakin needed to sit still on my lap something he wasn’t all that happy to do without distractions.

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5. Help your kid reduce pressure on the ears during take off and landing

It’s easier for us who can just pop our ears ourselves, but even so it’s pretty uncomfortable. I’ve always thought the descent was worse than the take off. For Anakin we tried to have a bottle of water with a straw and some chewy snacks like muesli bars or sultanas on hand for the take off. Sucking or chewing helps ease the pressure on the ears. If you breastfeed, pop ’em on the boob, or if they take a dummy, give them that. For the descent Anakin would prefer to breastfeed and would seek it out as the pressure got too much for him. Breastfeeding also kept him calmer and would more than often put him to sleep (leaving me as a human dummy.) Whatever works!

6. Bring extra (comfy) clothes for your kid, some slippers and an extra top for yourself.

You never know when an accident will happen and I know I’d hate to travel for a long time wet. We brought two pyjamas and an extra long sleeve bodysuit for Anakin next to the clothes he was wearing. We kept it light and soft. We also brought his growbag for when it was time for sleep. Anakin’s feet swelled a bit just like ours, so we kept him in slippers for most of the trip. We have little socks that have a slipper base on them, they’re fantastic.

On the last stretch before we get to Norway

On the last stretch before we get to Norway

7. If traveling with a partner, lean on them and take shifts

I’m cursed with not being able to sleep on planes. Anakin was very dependent on me for the journey, but whenever possible my partner would take Anakin for a bit so I could get some rest. Even five or ten minutes works wonders. During our flight to Frankfurt we were blessed with stewardesses who loved Anakin and would come by and play with him for a few minutes whenever they could. We were so grateful for the break. This wasn’t the case on any of the other stretches unfortunately. We would also take turns eating. Ask them to hold one meal and then swap once one of you has finished.

8. Most importantly: Don’t expect too much and roll with the punches

Kind of self-explanatory, I guess. We gave up on expecting Anakin to sleep when he normally does immediately. He was just a bit too big for the bassinet and was less comfortable sleeping for longer periods on our laps. I’d advise to bring a pillow to put underneath them when they sleep. It evens everything out and if you’re stuck in seats where the armrest doesn’t come up like we were, it makes it a bit more comfortable for them to sleep. And less hot as it puts a layer between you and them.

Captain Extremely Tired on the way from Frankfurt to Oslo

Captain Extremely Tired on the way from Frankfurt to Oslo

The journey is full of new sights and sounds and of course they’ll want to take as much if it in as possible. Just go with it and know that if (or when) the shit hits the fan, be it in an airport, a security check point or on a plane, you’ll get to where you’re going eventually. Breathe, count to ten and know that most parents around will understand what you’re going through.

That’s all I can think of in my hazy jet lag, but if you want to add anything, please feel free to do so in the comments!

All in all, Anakin did great, well above any expectations, but I’d be lying if I said I wanted to do it all again any time soon. 🙂


Destination Other side

In a few short days we’ll be packing our bags and heading to the other side – of the planet, for 3 weeks. After about 35 hours of torture traveling we will exit plane number three and plant our feet on Norwegian soil.

Oh how exciting? Yes!!                   And… a little bit… No.

We're going overseas!

We’re going overseas!

It’s been 4 years since I went back to visit the motherland. The last time I had the total of 1 day to just go with the flow, no plans, no stress, and it was the day I came out of the hospital after surgery. This time we’re going as a family, and introducing Anakin, which adds a whole other circle of hoops to jump through.

Don’t get me wrong, it will be absolutely wonderful to see friends and family, of course it will, but it will be a marathon. And absolutely exhausting. Between what we want to do, what we have to do and what’s expected of us, there’s not much, if anything, left.

This time we have had to write down a daily schedule, every day is divided between our two families (and the very occasional friend here and there), and every single day is planned. Where to sleep, who to see, what to do. We’ve done this to reduce the amount of stress on ourselves and prohibit as much tension as possible. I am certain it will be the best thing we ever did in preparation.

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I hoping for a lot of this…daytime and nighttime

Besides the obvious stress factor, the unknown of flying with a toddler, the potential horror of dealing with a jet lagged kid out of his routine (and one who is so totally dependent on it for smooth sailing), my need to continue my research and thesis writing, and my partner’s work, there are some absolute gems waiting for us, both in form of people and places.

We’ve lined up some escape time at family cabins where all we’ll do is eat, drink, fish and run around in the woods and surrounding nature. Definite winner. I can’t wait to sit down in the sun with no cars, no tv, no phone and just breathe. We’ll be taking some of our very best friends with us there, both from Norway and from Australia. I’m so excited about this I’m all giddy. We’ll be going to see wolves and lynx, stuff our faces with the world’s best strawberries and eat until our buttons pop. There might even be some swimming if the water is nice. Anakin can run around in the buff and discover his pagan viking heritage.

I’ll finally be seeing a very special someone I haven’t seen in 7 years, which I can’t even begin to explain how happy makes me. Then there’s catching up with siblings, friends, new babies, new family members, grand parents, parents, aunts and uncles, and even going to a concert or two.

Will it be wonderful? Yes! Will we need a holiday once we get back? Yes!

But first there’s a whole lot of organising and packing to do. Oh how I loathe packing. I can never figure out exactly what to bring and I always bring heaps of things I never use.

Anyone got any handy tips for traveling long distance with a (walking) toddler? Things to bring for the plane, advice for baby jet lag or just a few comforting words of wisdom?