Archive - April 2018

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My Travel Essentials
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» The Mondiest Monday
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» Thanks, Hero-Mom

My Travel Essentials

Over the years I’ve flown to many international destinations as part of my work and calling. This means lots of long-haul flights, jet lag and sleepless nights. Thankfully those things pale in comparison to rich-cultural experiences, an expanded worldview and making some of the best friends I could have ever hoped for. These many long flights have helped me appreciate many of the modern conveniences we can utilize to make our travels a bit smoother. Here are my favorites (tried and true!) below. Again, nothing on this list that I haven’t tried and loved. Get ready to learn how to survive your next long flight and International travel!

Good Ol’ Ethiopian Airlines

Supplements:

Hydration and proper supplements can go a long way when you are in a different climate and altitude. Flights dehydrate you pretty quickly, staying on top of water consumption and electrolytes is key. I use these electrolyte powders once during the flight and every day while I am on the ground at my destination in addition to doubling or tripling my water consumption.

Additionally, I use a combination greens powder and probiotic from Amazing Grass. This helps keep things regular and provides a bit of tummy insurance. These single serve powders are in my top three must haves!

If I’m having a hard time adjusting to a new time zone I often use melatonin or dream water for the first few nights.

Flight Accessories:

I historically cannot sleep on long flights, or any flight for that matter. BUT I have tested out a few travel pillows that provide great support and would allow any other normal person to get a few hours of sleep. I recommend the Cabeau Evolution, in fact it’s coming with me on my looming 30+ hour trip next month. It it made from dense memory foam and has ample neck support all around. Additionally there is an adjustable strap in the front that prevents it from slipping around during sleep. The Cabeau is also packable and comes with a little bag to keep it clean during transit. The bonus? The cover is removable and washable!

 

An eye mask is another great essential. Most international flights provide one for passengers, but I prefer to bring my own, like this one, that does not lay against my eyelashes. So much more comfortable! You might look like a bug, but there will be no pressure against your eyelids!

I like to carry a scarf with me any time I fly. This is truly a multi-use item. It can warm you up and protect your nose from interesting smells all at once! I love my secret pocket scarf, similar to this one, that also discreetly packs away cash and my passport! Speaking of passports, I use a passport wallet with RFID blocking technology when I’m in transit, it keeps me organized and keeps my information secure.

Snacks:

Airplane food is pretty bad, and often tummies don’t agree with local food. Personally, I love local food and look forward to trying everything but I’ve seen too many folks struggle with food and then struggle to stay nourished overseas. Here is my personal snack stash list, that I carry for myself and to share with others.

Vermont Smoke and Cure Sticks

Lara Bars

Chewy Banana Bites

Protein Bars 

Chocolate Covered Almonds

Dried Mango and Figs from Trader Joes

Packing:

If I am traveling to a warm destination I like to bring a rechargeable fan. This creates a nice white noise and also moves stagnant air. I’m all about trying to rest well when I’m dealing with jet lag and long days. I want to be fully equipped to give a full day! I also smush my personal pillow into my luggage, just one more thing that helps me rest well when it’s time to recharge at night. For packing clothing efficiently I utilize a set of packing cubes.  This allows me to separate garment types and sift easily through the inventory within my pack.

I saved my favorite packing companion for last, GoToobs! They recently launched new and improved items and I’ve utilized several of their styles and sizes to safely pack my liquids and gels. I choose GoToobs over traditional toiletry bottles because they are squishy. They won’t bust or break open and have an exclusive loop-lock system for extra security. The loop can also be attached to a backpack or carabiner, I use the smallest size to mix up my own healthy hand sanitizer. (grab that recipe here!)

Gotoob also makes GoTUBBs that are perfect for over the counter medicines. They can be opened with one hand using a light squeeze at the base. They pop right open giving you quick access to tummy meds or whatever medication you need quick access to. You can see all GoToob and Tubb options by visiting the Human Gear site.

I hope this “list” is helpful to you as you plan your adventures near and far!

Feel free to throw questions in the comments if you have any!

 

» The Mondiest Monday

March 26th began as the Mondiest type of Monday. You know, the kind of Monday that starts with too little sleep and things that aren’t tragic but border on being almost tragic?

I was sound asleep at 6:30am, which is unusual because my body clock never allows me to sleep past 6. I was awoken from my deep sleep by Calvin’s slightly alarmed sounding whisper/yell. I need your help, quickly he said. I untangled myself from the six-year old who had made his way into our bed at some time in the night and noticed that our 10 year-old son had also joined us. I vaguely remembered talking to him in the night but didn’t dwell on that and quickly slipped out of bed to find out what Calvin needed.

As I made my way out of the bedroom I could hear our daughter getting ready, she rides an earlier bus than the others, and began to worry that she was sick or hurt. My fears were quickly replaced by new fears when Calvin said it’s the hamster. A good many scenarios went through my head in that moment, and they were mostly gruesome. I then remembered what Elliott mentioned in the night! He sleepily murmured that while he was in the bathroom Finn, the hamster, crawled onto his foot! He had carried Finn back to his cage and then decided to come down to our bed.

I’m going to stop here for a moment. We love(d) this hamster. I had several hamsters growing up, all who met their end by escaping down vents, but never a hamster as sweet as Finn. Finn was a cuddler. He loved to be held and often fell asleep in our kids’ arms. He never ran away when they tried to pick him up, instead he would wait at the edge of the cage and make noises, soliciting for someone to come get him. He ate apples, pears and spinach from our hands and fell asleep in the hoods of their jackets. Finn’s favorite human in the house was Elliott. He often escaped and found Elliott and his cage was housed in Elliott’s room.He was most definitely the best hamster ever. And as a result the kids played with him a ton and enjoyed him immensely.

So there we were in the early morning light, Calvin looking pale and me looking at him trying to figure out what’s up. The hamster is dead Calvin said… Lola stepped on him. The means to Finn’s end was a series of unfortunate events. Lola rose early that morning, like a champ, and bounded down the stairs like always. She likes to hop and kind of leap down the stairs. We tend to fuss at her for this, because safety, but she never stops. She’s like our very own Tigger… but her actions are not the actions that triggered Finn’s untimely death.

Here we have the series of unfortunate events, not to be confused with the book series: a crafty hamster escapes and finds his boy, the boy returns the hamster to his cage, the boy fails to notice that the cage is loose and therefore not able to contain the crafty hamster, the boy goes downstairs in the early morning, the girl wakes up for school with limitless energy, the girl is also blind and cannot see what is on the stairs, she then hops down the stairs, the very stairs that the boy just went down, the very stairs that the crafty hamster followed the boy on… and as she leaps off the last and final step she lands squarely on the hamster who had just made quite the trek to follow his boy. (Events confirmed by our canary security camera)

I went to the bottom of the stairs and saw our little Finn. He was quite the mess. Calvin quickly let me know he wasn’t up for handling this job. (Moms… we are the tough ones) My stomach was turning a little and honestly I shed a few tears. I grabbed a few items and began to clean up the splatter zone created by the shear force of Lola’s last jump off the bottom step. I could hear Lola in the bathroom brushing her teeth. She told Calvin she landed on something but still had no idea it was the family pet.

After Finn was cleaned up, Calvin and I had a chat. We decided that we could not tell the kids that Lola landed on Finn. Rather, we decided to share that he had come down the stairs and somehow gotten hurt and killed in the process. Why? Because Lola didn’t need the responsibility and the others didn’t need to blame her. I’m going to call this parenting technique shielding.

Well friends, the kids were very grieved. We processed their loss with them and said all the right parenty things.

But guess what? Lola is smart. She put two and two together and outed herself. She realized that the thing she stepped on was Finn. She had a good cry, but I underestimated her ability to forgive herself, she did that with ease. She then outed herself to her siblings, who also forgave her.

That’s our family. We loved a hamster who met his end when our blind daughter jumped off the bottom step in the early morning and pulverized him. As parents we underestimated our children’s ability to process and forgive and instead fed them a story to protect them. It was a two-fold lesson for us.

1. Don’t buy small pets who have a tendency to escape if your child is blind.

2. Don’t underestimate your kids and take away their opportunity to extend forgiveness.

We will figure out this parenting stuff eventually. 

 

 

» Thanks, Hero-Mom

We enjoyed a fun Spring Break that included driving to Nana and Papa’s in Charleston, SC. We helped a bit as they moved into their new house but also took time to go to the pool and hit the beach. The week was mostly low-key, uneventful and full of family time.

One afternoon, my sister and I took our crew, seven kids total, to swim at her neighborhood pool. We delighted in watching the kids jump into the cold water and sun themselves in the many vacant chairs found by the poolside. We never took our eyes off of them. As the afternoon went on a few other families, undaunted by the chilly water, also showed up to enjoy opening day of the pool season. We still didn’t take our eyes off of the kids as they found additional friends and added to their poolside antics.

The older kids began a swimming race after we encouraged them to get back in the water. With slightly blue lips and shaking legs they agreed. It’s always fine once you’re in the water, they warmed up quickly and enjoyed their racing. After about 10 minutes I heard Lola across the pool. My daughter Lola, as you likely know, is blind but she is all around the pool like any sighted child her age. She needs assistance from a parent or sibling at times, but it’s just not a big deal for her to navigate. However, as she participated in the race she got confused about her position. She continued to swim but became more confused and called out for help from her siblings. They didn’t hear her as they made their own way, racing across the pool. I stood and began to make my way over to give her verbal directions to the side of the pool, which was very close to her. She was still doing well, but self-advocating louder for help as I made my way across the pool area.

Before I could reach her I noticed another mom pick up on the word help. She sprung into action and dove into the pool to get Lola. Lola was confused when this happened and struggled against her a bit. Then, as if in a serious of unfortunate events, the hero-mom began to struggle herself.

At that point I dove into the water, fully clothed, to rescue both of them.

I found myself feeling a bit irritated as I drug everyone out of the water. Everything was under control, I thought to myself. But there I was, soaked and dealing with a somewhat awkward situation. But as I thought about it, and we all pulled ourselves from the pool, I realized that the world needs a whole lot more hero-moms willing to jump into the deep end. She didn’t wait to figure out the situation, analyze it or weigh the options. She saw a child in need and she took the single action that made sense in that situation.

She acted. She helped. 

Action is what the world needs. People willing to get messy, willing to jump into the lives of others without asking all the questions first.

So thanks hero-mom. I decided not to tell you the whole story, I thanked you for your help and let you believe you saved the day. Because you did, and you reminded me that there are good people. I hope you keep jumping in for every kid. I hope you retell this story and inspire others to act. You are what’s right in this world.

 

 

All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal