Traveling with Kids: Time Changes

The problem with the two Washingtons is not just the distance between the two. It is the three hour time change that really gets you, especially when traveling with children. We’ve tried just about every strategy and technique over the past 4 years to survive the time change with kids and we certainly haven’t found the magic bullet, but maybe our trials will help you find what may be best for you.

– Travel times. Traditionally we’ve traveled in the afternoon, leaving Seattle at about 2pm. The goal was for the kids to take their naps on the airplane. We would arrive in the Other Washington around bedtime and they would be ready to go to sleep. I mean all of that was theoretical, it never worked, the kids wouldn’t nap, be terribly cranky by the time we landed and just blah. This time we took a morning flight. Getting the kids out of the house at 5am wasn’t great, but they were in a good mood on the plane, had breakfast on the airplane and then napped in the car once we got to the Other Washington. Our return flight is usually the 5pm flight out of the Other Washington and they do usually sleep on the flight. We arrive slightly after their west coast bed time and put them straight to bed. There can definitely be some melt downs with all the transitions with sleepy kids (plane to stroller, stroller to parking shuttle, shuttle to car, car to house, pjs and bed) but ultimately the evening return flight has worked for us and having the kids quickly get back on a west coast schedule.

– Bedtimes. When we first flew to the Other Washington with 4 month old Lila, we kept her on a west coast schedule. This wasn’t a big deal because she napped every 3 hours, slept through the night and was pretty cute and easy while she was awake. We had this time zone thing figured out. Now our kids are 2 and 4 and bedtimes are much more complicated. Kids don’t nap or they don’t nap until 5pm local time – so bedtime at 7pm local doesn’t work. Keeping west coast bedtimes can be done, but keep in mind that means the kids won’t be in bed until 11pm local time. Which may be cool, unless you are on the east coast for a business trip and have a 7am local time event. Because that sucks.

– Meals. This one may be easy or hard, depending on how you look at it. My kids are in the toddler/preschooler eating phase, in which they both just eat continuously and whenever they want. Lucy especially NEEDS breakfast the moment she wakes up, or else all hell breaks loose. And please do not tell her you don’t have rice crispies. Don’t even try. Anyway, we try to keep them on some kind of meal schedule, but they like to snack all day and by the time dinner rolls around, they’ve probably had 2 apples, cheese, bread and yogurt in the past 3 hours. We also found that if they were going to bed on west coast time, feeding them east coast dinner at 6pm doesn’t really work. They will need another snack. (Parenting is really all about snacks and never leaving the house without them.)

– Forget the schedule. My kids really thrive on schedules, really need them to keep calm and happy. But it is hard to do on vacations. We’re out and about, visiting people, working with others’ schedules, etc, and this destroys their schedule (even before adding in the 3 hour time difference). It stresses me out, I hate staying up until 11:30pm waiting for them to tire for bed, I hate that they don’t get regular naps and the stress and lack of sleep all combine to make traveling really difficult. But we do it, and we suck it up and give them snacks at midnight even when we have to be at work in 7 hours.

So realizing I have no real tips for travel schedules for kids? Check out this great webinar on sleep and time zone travel here (from the former Isis Parenting, whose sleep webinars I miss all the time). Have tips to share? I’d love to hear it before I swear off traveling between time zones forever.

Working Smartly in the New Year

3596829214_93ddeb6cbf_z2015, amiright? The new year holds lots of possibilities, but also so many unknowns and things we want to do. We’re already planning for a busy year (at the moment mostly filled with preschooler birthday parties which seem to be the party of the season right now). With travel, potentially putting our house on the market, finding a new house, blogging, making sure Cal is fed three times a day, I need to find a way to say on task and focused this year.

Both in my volunteering work as well as at work I’ve been exposed to SMART goals, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. I’ve also seen other bloggers use their blogs as way to stay true to their goals and see what goals they reach each month. And with that, I suppose I’ve reached my first goal of the year – check in and continue to develop goals monthly.

My thought is to come up with categories now and work throughout the year on goals within those categories.

Categories for Goals for 2015:

– Family

– Health

– Personal

– Blogging

– Work

And with that, here are my SMART goals for January:

– Family – have one unscheduled afternoon a weekend for the girls to hang out and do what they choose and compete the January Subtraction Project.

– Health – complete the 5 day clean eating challenge and work out in some manner 3x/week.

– Personal – read one book this month. (Yes, really just one. My goal is 12 this year, which would be a sixfold increase over 2014. Baby steps).

– Blogging – complete blogging calendar and post 3x/week.

– Work – network with new contacts at the conference the end of this month.
So that’s it for now. Keep me accountable this year, readers. What are your goals for the new year? How will you stay motivated to follow through on them?

 

Our Year.

And so here we are. Another year. Passed by way too quickly, with so many things left undone it seems. But it was a good year. Our kids are bigger, with bigger personalities and made the year super fun, as cliched or pedestrian as that sounds. I look back on the year wishing I had a better handle on some things, but we did ok, our kids are healthy, our house is heated, our pets are furry and we will welcome the new year in the comfort of our own beds. (Fast asleep, because let’s be honest, it is just silly to stay up that late when you have a 2 year old.)

A look back at our year that was:

January

We started the year celebrating Lucy’s first birthday with our first trip to Vancouver. We learned that Canadians are friendly, Vancouver is rainy, and the food there is fantastic. We made our annual trip back East to the Other Washington where Lila made her first snowball.

February

February saw the Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl, resulting in horrific traffic, the likes of which I would prefer to never see again. At the same time, our sweet Lila Bear turned three and we were all amazed at the wonderful little person she has become.

March

March caught us by surprise, as did Lucy’s progression from infant to toddler. We realized here that the year was only going to move faster and faster, not slowing down at bit. I thought about trying to add more exercise into my routine, something I’m still trying to figure out on the dawn of 2015.

April

Another Husky double national championship in the books – Lila is three and has been alive for 2 men’s basketball national titles and 2 women’s basketball national championships. (Lucy for one men’s and two women’s) I’ll call her a reluctant good luck charm. We celebrated Easter as these two seemed to realize a sister is a pretty cool thing to have.

May

We traveled to Vancouver again for Memorial Day weekend, this time to enjoy Raffi’s Beluga Grads concert (and yes, more Indian food. Vij’s is worth the wait at the border.) I also wondered when this Washington was going to begin to feel more like home than the Other Washington. I’m not sure when the pendulum will swing to the west, but I do think it is happening a little more each day.

June/July

So I didn’t blog in June and July, but we had a great time. We traveled to the Oregon Coast with friends, for a total of 4 kids ages 3 and under. We had a great time, even if the weather was less than summery and the kids didn’t sleep much.

In July, we headed back East for a week at the CT shore with all the grandparents. Lots of grandchildren being spoiled, lots of ice cream and unfortunately lots of rain. It was still a great trip as Summertime Lucy suggests here.

August

In August, we adjusted to being back home with no vacations left to look forward to, but determined to enjoy all that summer in Seattle had to offer.

I joined the crew over at Liberating Working Moms and have been having a great time writing for the site. (I was even featured on the NYTimes’ Motherlode!) August saw my first LWM post where I wrote about breastfeeding a toddler.

September

Warm temps and amazing weather continue in Seattle, allowing us to enjoy the summer just a little longer than normal. We are also spoiled with a Labor Day weekend of the Other Washington on the West Coast when the Washington Nationals play a three game series against the Seattle Mariners.

We went to the Pullayup Fair (as you do in September in this Washington), celebrated the return of football and continued to talk about the life of a working mom.

We also talked about reading – banned books, toddler books, picture books. Books are a big deal in our house and our own Lulu is always asking for “8 more books please!”

October

October brought the first of the 35th birthdays to our home.

The kids started doing yoga at home in the evening, proving that an almost two year old saying “namaste” is one of the cutest things ever.

We did the pumpkin patch thing and I determined that next year we’ll just hit up the pumpkins outside of Safeway.

November

This month saw the second 35th birthday at our house (though I’m not telling whose it was).

I felt overwhelmed and learned that apparently everyone else does too.

Despite sick toddlers, busy schedules, meals to plan and holidays to prepare for, I reflected on how lucky we really are.

December

Ah December. Filled with joy, ballet, presents, shopping, parties, must dos, stress, and no time to get the whole to do list complete. We had a great time enjoying the holidays in Seattle this year – Christmas boats, gingerbread houses, Nutcracker, and Seattle Children’s Theater.

It also marked the end of the year’s birthday celebrations, with our Christmas Goose turning two.

Thank you for sharing our year with us. May 2015 bring us all peace and happiness and the wisdom to recognize both. 

What are you getting for. . .

Tis the season of frantic emails between friends to say “hey, what are you getting for. . . the babysitter, your grandmother, the dogwalker. . . ” As I’ve talked about in the past few posts, gift giving is hard, expected, and exhausting. So let’s pool our ideas and try to figure things out. Here’s what I’ve gotten in the past (or am getting this year. So if you are my dogwalker, assistant, day care provider, or babysitter, stop reading now.)

Day Care Providers:

I mentioned in my Liberating Working Mom blog post last week that I’ve found a gift that works for our day care providers and I’ve stuck with it through the years. These blankets from Lands’ End are soft, cozy and look very nice. Who doesn’t like a nice cozy blanket? I write a note about how I hope that the blanket allows them to feel as safe and loved as they have made my daughters feel in the past year. Everyone seems to like the gift. You can even get it monogrammed. (And, if you use Ebates, you can get 6% back at Lands End right now!) I’m including a small tube of Aveda hand lotion for each as well since they wash their hands so often.

In addition to the main teachers in the classrooms (2 for each girl, so yes, 4 blankets!), there are classroom aides, the administrative staff, directors, etc. I like to be sure they know we appreciate how hard they work to keep our children happy and cared for daily. I send a box of Cheryl’s Cookies to the front desk for the directors and support staff. If there aides who are regularly in the kids’ classroom, I may get something small for them. This year, I’ve gotten the main aide in Lila’s class some salt scrub and a Theo candy bar.

Assistants:

I know not everyone is lucky enough to have their own assistant, but you may have people within the workplace who make your life easier in some way – be it the mail room attendant or the lady who saves you the last blueberry scone in the coffee stand. I’m lucky enough to have my own assistant and I like to make sure she is happy and feels appreciated because she does a lot to make me look good on a daily basis. She likes coffee and tea and delicious food. For this year, I got her some Starbucks coffee, a tea sampler and a gift card to Whole Foods. Nothing fancy, but something that shows I hope she has a very nice holiday.

Dogwalker:

So first of all, you’re probably beginning to realize it takes a mighty big village to run this family. Second, we love our dog walker. She has her own nicknames for Cal, she loves him and helps him get the exercise he needs while we’re at work. It’s an odd relationship since I have almost no personal interaction with her, but she has my alarm code, key to my home and cares for my pets. I also know nothing about her other than her love of dogs and reliable nature. So I’ll go generic, probably cash. It may be impersonal but I know she can use it as she would like.

Babysitter:

I love our babysitter. She is awesome, amazing, and other than A there is no one I trust more with my children. So keeping her happy is high on my list of things to do. Being that she is a sweet and caring nursing student, I made a donation in her name to WorldVision to support medical care in the neediest locations. I want to give her something that she can use herself so I’m thinking of getting her a pretty scarf – I think she’d like this one from Gap. It matches her bright but practical style. I think I’ll get her a nice Christmas ornament too so that years from now when she no longer sits for us (heaven forbid) she’ll remember my girls, as I remember the kids I babysat for in college.

Grandparents:

Grandparents are a big part of this blog’s readership, so let’s keep it simple and not give away all our secrets. Every year since the girls were born, grandparent gift buying as been pretty simple. Put a grandkid’s face on a variety of items = instant fantastic gift. I do calendars every year and they continue to be a hit. So much so that starting last year I make one for myself as well. There are many sites that can make photo calendars, but we have always used Shutterfly.

Do any of these gifts speak to you? What’s on your gift list for all the supporting players in your life?

How Do You Find the Time?

I’m pretty frustrated with my weight. I’m the heaviest I’ve been (non-pregnant) in the last 5 years. I know that I need to eat better. I’ve cut out some simple things like alcohol during the week and soy lattes. I’m working on the food part of things, though to be honest the holidays are a hard time to do that. I’m social coordinator at our office and running four weeks of cookie exchanges. That’s tough.

What I really need to do is find a way to work regular exercise into my schedule. I just don’t know how to do it. I’m not trying to allege that I’m too busy. Everyone is busy. Busy people work out. I’m just not sure where it works in my life right now. As I see it, there are three possible times to try to work out each day.

Before Work: Getting to a class wouldn’t be impossible. Many places around here have 6am classes. Our morning schedule is to get up around 6:15, we get ready, then get the kids up at 7. We rush around and get everyone out the door by 8, hopefully 7:45. So if I go to a 6am class, I won’t be back until about 7:15. Then I need to get cleaned up and dressed – leaving A to get the kids up and ready on his own. Sure, that would my mornings less stressful but it doesn’t seem very fair to A (and it would likely delay our leaving the house every morning).

During the Day: I usually try to sneak out of work for a lunchtime Zumba on Fridays, but that isn’t workable everyday. I have a pretty tight 8:30-5 work day, which fits in the day care schedule. While I work more than 40 hours a week, it is not enough to get it all down. I rarely take a lunch away from my desk. So how do I fit a work out in? Not to mention, how do people deal with being gross and sweaty in the middle of the day.

After Work: Like our mornings, there is not much time to spare. Home by 6, dinner around 6:30, kids in bed at 7:30. Again there are many classes that start around 7 or 7:30, but it would mean I had to leave A to do bedtime on his own. It’s not that I don’t think he can do it, he is probably better at bedtime than I am, I just don’t think it is fair to leave him to do it alone three times a week. Plus, we have lots of other things going on during the week – laundry, cleaning, occasional meetings/social events. Oh, and I’m tired at the end of the day. Really, really tired.

So, what do you think dear reader? How do you fit exercise in? Does during the day work for you, despite the sweatiness? How do you manage morning workouts? Help me and my jeans.

#blessed

It is very easy to get overwhelmed in the holiday season. To wish that there wasn’t a giant meal to make, or parties to attend, or cookies to bake or gifts to buy. But the truth is, we are so blessed to have so many stresses. So many #firstworldproblems to deal with and no real problems to contend with.

So for this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the stress, the hustle and bustle, and the demands of the holiday season. We are blessed to have such worried.

– I am thankful for crowded grocery stores and expensive organic turkeys.  My only concerns are the annoying crowds, not how I will pay for my family’s meal.

– I am thankful for a large list of people for whom I need to buy gifts. My concerns are what to buy and how to ship, not how I’ll afford Christmas this year.

– I am thankful for the stress of figuring out which dish to cook when because I have a warm, safe place to cook it in.

– I am thankful for a very full calendar because it is filled with parties, ballets, and holiday celebrations because it means we are full, exciting lives.

– I am thankful for missing my friends and their babies back east because we are lucky to have friends across the country (and the world really!)

– I am thankful for the hassle of trying to get my kids to talk to their grandparents on Google talk. It may be hard to convince them to sit still long enough to have a meaningful conversation but we are lucky to technology that  allows us to stay in contact with our families.

– I am thankful for the stress of a busy time at work. I have a job, a good job, as does A. We are lucky.

– I am thankful for the stress of constant day care colds because it is a minor inconvenience in the scheme of health issues.

This holiday season I am stressed, overwhelmed, and overextended and I am so thankful for all of it.

My Personal Fitness Assistant – ClassPass in Seattle

So here’s the thing. I’m almost 35. (If only you knew how hard it is for me to say those words.) I’m almost 35, I’ve birthed two children. My body is not exactly what it was when I met my husband. (I recently gave away the size 4 dress I was wearing the day I met A. To say times have changed would be an understatement.) I wish I were a little more in shape as the big day approaches, but life just keeps getting in the way.

I’ve found that a typical gym membership doesn’t really work for me. Unlike A who will happily go to the gym and just run 5 miles as fast as he can on the treadmill, I am not a self starter. I’m likely to go in, find a recumbent bike and pedal leisurely while reading this month’s Real Simple. As lovely as that sounds, it isn’t exactly a good use of my time or money (nor will it help me get back in shape). I’ve found that fitness classes are really the best way for me to get my fitness on.

And yet, here’s the thing with fitness classes. You can’t just decide – I would like to go to one and show up. You need to find a place, find a class you want, find a time that works and then enroll. And enrolling means registering an email, coming up with a password and then REMEMBERING that password. Point is, life is hard when you’re Lauren.

Then I heard about Class Pass.

ClassPass is an alternative to a gym membership. With ClassPass, you get access to the best boutique fitness classes in your city. There are over 1,000 classes available to ClassPass members, including cycling, pilates, yoga, strength training, dance, martial arts, and more.

For $99 a month, ClassPass members get unlimited classes to use at studios in the ClassPass network. While a member can take as many classes per month as they’d like, they can only visit the same studio 3 times per month. 

One sign-in, one password and ta da, I can find fitness classes around Seattle. I can sort by neighborhood, class type or time. This is great because sometimes I’m looking for a class by work that I can fit in over my lunch hour. Other times I’m looking for a class in the evening that is close enough to let me do bedtime and then run to barre class. The variety in classes is great too – zumba, cycling, barre and TRX. This lets me work on getting stronger, as well as finding cardio workouts.

Class Pass Subscription Fitness Program Launches in Seattle

ClassPass Launches in Seattle

I’m looking forward to trying new studios as well. Since I don’t have to pay a membership fee (or class fee) at individual studios, I can easily try new places or class types without worrying that I’ll be committing to something I may not like.

Class Pass is like a personal assistant for my fitness life. It may not help me get dinner on the table each night, but it helps me to find the perfect class that I can run to right after dinner. And let’s be honest – I need all the help I can get.

Interested in Class Pass for yourself? Check it out here

 

I was not compensated for this post. ClassPass provided me with a free month of access to ClassPass but all opinions are my own. (I really do need all the help I can get!) 

The Week That Was

Unrelated Adorable Photo

Unrelated Adorable Photo

While it has been quiet here on Two Washingtons, we’ve been keeping it real throughout the internets.

Over at Liberating Working Moms, we started the week sharing our real life admissions and realizing that while moms may sometimes feel like everyone but them has their lives together, the truth is we all order Papa John’s for dinner every once in a while.

At Mom.me, I shared my “mom hack” with some of my other favorite working moms. Mine? Pre-buying birthday gifts to have one hand. My most recent pre-acquisition were these Melissa & Doug Play House! Reusable Sticker Pad when they were buy 2 get 1 free.

Lastly, I was proud to be part of Teaching Sam and Scout’s 31 Days of Working Moms. Take a look my interview, as well as the other amazing moms who made up the month long post.

It’s been a busy week, but I’ll be back here to share more soon!

Buried Under

First, the title of this post refers to the Rayna James hit “Buried Under.” If you’re asking, who is Rayna James? Well, maybe you should reconsider your Two Washingtons fandom. Rayna James is the Nashville persona of Tami Taylor. And if you don’t know who Tami Taylor is, well then we really can. not. be friends. Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose. 

So yes, this title refers to Rayna James, but it also is how I feel. The fall always sneaks up on me. I think things won’t get really busy until November,but some how September and October bring more challenge and stress than I expect. Two years ago I was very pregnant and not sure I would make it full term. Last year I figured that things would be easy since I wasn’t pregnant, but it turns out two outside babies are harder than 1 outside/1 inside baby. This year, A is out of a retail role at work which means a little less stress through the holiday season – and yet? I barely survived Halloween and I’m not sure how I’ll pull it all together for two more holidays.

While I feel like curling up in a tight ball and sleeping for the next few weeks (as B-Cat and Cal demonstrate and make look so attractive). However, I don’t my job, my kids or the dustbunnies that form daily in our house would agree with this strategy. Instead, I’ll take some vitamin C, try to get a few extra minutes of sleep and stay off evil Pinterest. Oh, and stare at this photo of these adorable costumed children. Because really, how adorbs, right?

IMG_20141031_164107

 

 

 

So Photogenic

 

 

 

Lila and Lucy, can you give each other a hug?Image 1

Guys, look at the camera!Image 2

Can you just stand next to each other?

Image 5

Girls, look at momma and smile!

Image 9

Say “we love momma!”

Image 8

Whatever, just eat your bunny grahams.