gmePassport

It’s been almost seven years since we sat Gloria down for an infant passport photo session. We’ve been much less on the ball to get Micah and Ezra their first passports, but on the plus side it was easy to get quality photos of the kids. Even for sometimes squirmy Ezzy did great, and we had a blast doing line-ups in front of the white kitchen door.

While the tools we used last time to print our own photos are now defunct, there are still online options that will quickly crop and then layout two passport photos onto a 4×6 sized JPEG.

The subsequent appointment to drop off our applications required a bit more patience, but we are now in possession of a full set of passport books and ready for Grandma Judy’s birthday cruise next summer. Look at those punims!

IMG_2725(Edited)

Gloria Highlights, Week 80

Tuesday was Gloria’s first day of school. Kenny handled the drop off, which went unbelievably well – Gloria was clingy in the gym, but when Kenny walked her down to her classroom, she played with a toy or two, and then sat down to have a snack with a new classmate. The teacher asked if she wanted Cheerios, she shook her head, then she showed her a Crusher and G signed “please.” After that, she waved bye in response to Kenny’s goodbye (with one hand, while holding her Crusher in the other). She seemed like she had a really good time, and was in great spirits when Kenny picked her up. She got a 90-minute nap on her first day, which was not as good as with the nanny, but well above expectations for Day 1.

On that first day, she also ate all of the food we sent but barely touched her milk (fairly normal behavior since she bottle-weaned). She was ravenous when Kenny picked her up (eating a cheese stick, half a Crusher and a bagel piece), then had another substantial snack at 4:30. She made up for lack of milk with lots of evening dairy (cheese stick, a few handfuls of cream cheese, cauliflower gratin).

Gloria’s second and third days at SHA were also excellent – she was clearly adapting well, and one of the teachers even told me at pickup time that it seemed like Gloria had been there for months. By day three her nap had increased to two hours.

On Friday, we woke Gloria early to catch a flight to JFK so that she could meet her new cousin Tristan. We were fortunate enough to get a seat for G on the flight even though we hadn’t purchased one, and miraculously she managed an hour-and-a-half nap in my arms (I can’t even remember the last time she fell asleep in my arms). She was generally happy on the flight and enjoyed settling into our AirBnB apartment once we arrived in Long Island City.

Overall, we had a fun weekend in New York, but traveling really did a number on poor Gloria’s schedule (and she was coming down with a cold, which obviously didn’t help the situation). Our original plan of keeping Gloria on Pacific Time almost worked – she seemed to settle on a schedule between Mountain and Central Time (not bad). As we remember well from our last trip to visit Grandpa Moose, Gloria does not like falling asleep in strange places, and we had to do a lot of soothing at bedtime and naptime to convince Gloria to sleep in the borrowed pack ‘n play. Eating was also erratic over the weekend – we were able to scrounge together some decent meals in our little rented apartment with a few groceries we picked up on our first day, but meal timings were thrown off by Gloria’s shifted sleep schedule and we didn’t always have an emergency snack on hand like we do at home.

Gloria enjoyed playing with cousin Tristan’s toys and in his new crib, and she especially loved playing with his kitty, Sweet Dee (since we got home, her word for kitty has been “Dee”). One thing that was exceedingly difficult was finding enough space for Gloria to run around and get some exercise. The 18 degree weather was too cold for us to spend much time outdoors – we had one failed attempt to visit a playground near our apartment which turned out to be mostly roped off and completely covered with snow. One morning when we set out to visit Ilene and Erik, Gloria felt the cold air blow into our apartment building through the front door and adamantly said, “bye-bye.” It took some convincing (and an extra layer provided by daddy’s scarf) to get her out the door so we could walk the four blocks. So outdoor play was clearly out of the question, but indoor exercise was also difficult to come by given the size of New York City apartments. We ended up running around the hallways in Ilene and Erik’s building, playing in the elevators, and jumping on the couches in the downstairs common room whenever G started to get stir crazy.

It was wonderful getting some quality time with Gloria’s paternal grandparents, all of whom were able to spare some time from baby Tristan to play with G and practice her favorite songs – “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Open Shut Them.” Grandma Lynn chased Gloria around the apartment building and up and down elevators with me to help keep her entertained. Gloria met even more relatives on Monday morning at the bris, but by then it was clear that four days away from home and taken their toll and she was just worn out (as were we).

Unfortunately Friday’s happy flight experience was not repeated for the trip home on Monday. The flight home was hell – probably due to a combination of Gloria’s compounded sleep debt over the course of the weekend and a few unfortunate logistical circumstances. We boarded on time, but sat for 1.5 hours on the tarmac. Gloria treated us and our neighbors to lots screaming and squirming after takeoff. Congestion probably made the pressure change more uncomfortable than normal. She couldn’t be consoled for a while, and really worked herself up. She finally passed out in Kenny’s arms for a 45-minute snooze, but was still unhappy when she woke up. The poor munchkin was overtired and hungry and congested and pissed off. We had some fun times walking up and down the aisle, playing with other passengers, and playing toddler games on the tablet, but overall it was a very rough flight.

We landed in Seattle 1.5 hours late at 5:45pm and picked up our gate-checked bags, only to find that one of the wheels on our new umbrella stroller was cracked in half. We had neither the time nor energy to follow-up at baggage claim so trudged forward with a three-wheeled stroller. As it was, by the time we picked up our car and got G home it was almost her bedtime. We gave her a small meal, settled down for bedtime routine, and she passed out at 7:15pm. It was amazing to see how much her attitude improved just by setting foot in her own house back in Seattle. We are actively looking into cancelling all of Gloria’s upcoming long flights, including exploring childcare options so that Gloria can avoid the trip to India – it just feels cruel to drag her halfway across the world at this age, when she’s clearly happier at home. Besides, we’re not sure we can handle another trip with her so soon either.

Ilene, Erik and Tristan
The proud new parents with baby Tristan

Tristan's crib
Checking out Tristan’s sweet crib

Lunch with Karen
Lunching in style with Karen

Gloria and Dee
Giving Dee a big kiss

Gloria Highlights, Week 32

At the end of week 31, we took Gloria south of the border to get her second passport stamp. Kenny’s Aunt Barbara and Uncle Barry had generously offered to share their timeshare in Puerto Vallarta and they were dying to meet their grand niece. Eager for some sunshine and relaxation, we took them up on their offer. Our experience on the flight to PV was a stark reminder of how much Gloria has changed since our Thailand trip, as Kenny outlined in last week’s highlights post.

Gloria was great in PV, however. We decided to keep her on PST rather than adjusting her by two hours, and that was a great decision – it meant she slept in every morning and was able to stay up until 9 PM each night – perfect for a lazy vacation. However, we quickly learned that Gloria can no longer nap just anywhere, like she could during her newborn days, and our fantasy of poolside naps was quickly dashed. We ended up spending quite a bit of time in the hotel room each day while the munchkin got her beauty rest, but we were able to get her out and about between naps and in the late afternoon and early evening. Her later schedule also meant that we got to take her out for dinner almost every night. She also seems to be transitioning from three down to two naps, which made her nap schedule fairly unpredictable some days, as we were never certain whether to plan around a third nap or not.

By day two or so of our PV stay, we noticed that something seemed a bit off with Gloria. For one thing, our enthusiastic eater abruptly lost interest in solid foods. We initially suspected teething, but by Wednesday the verdict was clear: she had caught my cold. The poor kiddo had a few very rough nights, waking several times with a very stuffed up nose that clearly made her extremely uncomfortable. Fortunately we had remembered to travel with a bulb syringe this time around, and Gloria was very agreeable about letting us use it – I think she was pretty quick to catch onto the idea that it would provide some relief (note to self: bring the NoseFrida next time).

In spite of her cold, Gloria was an agreeable munchkin for most of the trip, and she really enjoyed the company of her great aunt and uncle. In particular, she would light up whenever Barbara walked into the room, and always had huge smiles for her. The fact that Barbara has a high-pitched voice and loves to sing may have had something to do with it. Barbara also discovered a few of Gloria’s ticklish spots, and Gloria rewarded her with uncontrollable giggling. Gloria took her first couple of dips in a swimming pool, an experience she was skeptical about at first, but she warmed up to it quickly (I took note of this and signed her up for swim lessons in Seattle). I even took her on a few waterslides, the latter of which seemed to be a rather harrowing experience for her and probably one I will not live down for some time.

The flight home on Friday was an unhappy experience for everyone. The flight timing worked out such that Gloria’s afternoon nap didn’t happen, and she was unable to get any real rest on the plane. This resulted in one unhappy baby, and we found ourselves resorting to all kinds of techniques to distract her from her fatigue, like singing, bouncing, nursing, singing again, walking the aisle, more nursing, and bouncing her until we felt like our arms would fall off. Eventually, she was so overtired and unhappy that we took to pacing the aisle for the final hour of the flight, taking shifts as our strength gave out (she has gotten very, very heavy). Other passengers on the flight gave us sympathetic looks, and a few made comments like, “hang in there, we’ve all been there before.” One positive thing I can say about the ordeal is that it’s finally over.

We were so harried and out of sorts by the time we got to SeaTac and picked up our bags, that we were on the road home before we realized that we had forgotten Gloria’s car seat (an extra one, not the one she was strapped into!) back at customs. So we had to turn around and head back to the airport. It was an unfortunate end to an already demoralizing day, and poor Kenny was stuck in the car trying to comfort a crying baby while I waited impatiently in a long line of passengers with various travel issues to get an Alaska Airlines supervisor to help me track down the missing car seat. Fortunately the detour only cost us about 30 minutes, but it was already past poor Gloria’s bedtime. She passed out immediately when we arrived at home.

The Mexico trip was a blast, but it’s also quite nice to be settling back in at home. We had a quiet weekend, and Gloria snapped back onto her normal schedule pretty easily. This morning, while Gloria and I were playing in her nursery, Gloria demonstrated a new skill for the first time: sitting unassisted! She’s a bit wobbly and can’t sit for long periods yet, but she can definitely hold herself up for short stints. I even caught a short video.

With Great-Aunt Barbara
Enjoying dinner with her Great-Aunt Barbara

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Tummy time
Playing on her tummy in a pretty dress from Grandma Lynn

Gloria's ear

In her two-pieceLounging by the pool
Lounging by the pool

Taking a dip
Taking a dip

Family portrait
Family portrait

Buckled up
Settling in for the flight home


Back in Seattle, showing off her new skill: sitting!

Reflections on International Travel with a 4-Month Old

  1. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be! Our Globug slept well on planes, adjusted to the time difference, enjoyed her new surroundings, made oodles of new friends, and learned quite a few new things.
  2. I’m happy with our decision to exclusively babywear on this trip. A stroller would’ve been way too cumbersome, but our Gemini was easy to take with us wherever we went, was amazing for getting through airports quickly, and allowed for some great cuddling/bonding time during outings.
  3. The past two weeks have reminded me that I hate disposable diapers. We’ve had so many more leaks and blowouts (TMI?) than I ever have with my Flips at home.
  4. Sharing a room with the baby again probably hasn’t been great for anyone’s sleep, and it will be good to have the Globug back in her crib when we get home.
  5. A/C-equipped rooms are crucial when visiting hot places!
  6. I love my manual breastpump, but didn’t use it nearly as often as I thought I would because it’s difficult to clean bottles when you don’t have potable water out of the tap. Next time around, I might opt for bottles with disposable liners, or use a screw-on nipple with my collection bottles.
  7. While the white noise unit from the Sleep Sheep was useful and compact to take along on this trip, sharing a room (see 4) and naps in random places taught us that we really need a white noise machine that can run continuously. Forty-five minutes of white noise just isn’t enough, especially given that it shuts off right around the end of a sleep cycle, when the baby is more likely to startle awake anyway.
  8. I’m glad we decided to stick to familiar places and not try to hit too many cities. Getting around with a baby offers enough new logistical challenges without needing to navigate a new locale or get up and head to a new city every few days.
  9. On the way to Thailand, one of our bags didn’t make the tight connection in Seoul. Fortunately we had all of Gloria’s stuff in the bag that did make it. Just another reminder to pack all of your essentials (or a mini-version of all essentials) in your carry-on. And when you have a baby, there are suddenly a lot more items that qualify as essentials.
  10. Although Gloria officially gave up swaddling back in October, we were glad we decided to pack a swaddle blanket at the last minute. Baby jet lag and being on the go quite a bit meant that Gloria’s nap schedule was much more erratic than usual, and the swaddle was indispensable for soothing her during a few over-tired episodes.

Gloria Highlights, Week 20

Our final week in Thailand was filled with excitement. We made sure to finish up our stay in MHS with the requisite photo shoot at Jongkham Lake and we spent more time volunteering with our Burmese sisters – we even taught them a last-minute crash course in basic accounting. On Thursday evening, we shared some emotional goodbyes. Then we boarded the 30-minute puddle jumper to Chiang Mai on Friday morning – Gloria was a bit fussy on the flight but fortunately it was over in the blink of an eye (if only Gloria knew, she’d be thankful not to be on the MHS->CM bus). Gloria seemed to have mostly recovered from her cold by the time we left Mae Hong Son.

Back in Chiang Mai, we took Gloria to see the sights. We checked out several wats, the famous Chiang Mai Walking Street, the produce market, and a few favorite eating spots. The city was all lit up for the king’s birthday, which made for some fun evening walks and people watching. We took G to visit one of our Burmese friends who is now working in Chiang Mai. Because we couldn’t convince any songthaew drivers to take us to the part of town where she lives, we hailed a tuk-tuk, and Gloria enjoyed the view out the side from her perch in the baby carrier. We rode a songthaew back to the city center, checking off another new transportation experience for Baby G.

We departed Chiang Mai on a red-eye, and had a day-long layover in Seoul. We’ll provide more details about our sojourn into the city in another post. As for Gloria, she was (understandably) super sleepy, and she spent the better part of the day asleep in the baby carrier. We hadn’t planned for the harsh cold of Seoul in December, so to keep Gloria warm we dressed her in two layers of clothing plus her sleep sack before we nestled her into the carrier. It was unorthodox but it worked great. We took the train back to the airport in the afternoon, caught a quick nap in the airport, and then boarded the long-haul flight back to Seattle.

My angel
At the office, shortly before bidding adieu to our Burmese family

Bath time!
Bath time fun in our MHS guest house (we were grateful that they loaned us a basin)

Jongkham Lake
Photo shoot at Jongkham Lake

Riding a tuk-tuk in Chiang Mai
Checking out the view from a tuk-tuk, on the way to visit a friend in Chiang Mai

Naga
Posing with a naga at Wat Chedi Luang

Reclining Buddha What wat?
Touring the wats with mommy and daddy

Breakfast Breakfast
Breakfast at our guest house, on our final day in Chiang Mai

Napping at dinner
Catching a few ZZZs during dinner at Aum Vegetarian before heading to the airport

Sleepy in Seoul
Sleepy in Seoul

Our Babe in Thailand

Today we are leaving to help Gloria fulfill her fortune:

Fortune

We fly to Thailand this afternoon, via Seoul. After a night in Chiang Mai we head south to spend a few days on our favorite beach in Southeast Asia, Nai Yang. We are then spending the bulk of our time in Mae Hong Son reconnecting with friends, enjoying the slow pace of life, and gorging on delicious Thai stir friestropical fruits (including mango and sticky rice), and spicy Burmese hill tribe food.

Gloria going to Chiang Mai
Guess where I’m going?

gPassport

We are taking Gloria on her first international trip in November, to visit our Burmese friends in northwest Thailand. This plan, of course, requires Baby G to obtain a passport, which in turn requires us to snap a passport photo. There are a number of requirements for a passport photo, including:

  • The subject must be looking directly at the camera
  • The subject’s eyes must be open
  • The subject must have a “natural expression”
  • There may be no other people (or their hands, etc.) in the shot
  • The subject’s head must not be tilted to one side or the other
  • The composition must match the template below:

passportphotoformat

(The State Department’s website does offer a useful tool to help you crop a photo based on the template.)

Any one of these requirements would be difficult to fulfill with a newborn, but the combination seemed almost impossible. Fortunately we caught Gloria in a quiet alert mood on Monday night, and we had a hilarious photo shoot. Here are the shots that most closely matched the guidelines:

Passport photo 1
Her head was cocked a bit, and she was clearly looking to her left, but the overall framing was close

Passport photo 2
Head cocked a bit to the other side, but sooo cute, no?

Passport photo 3
We thought this one was the most compliant. I’m not certain that the expression will qualify as “natural,” but hopefully it’ll pass muster

We’re hoping that the passport office will be a bit lenient on the requirements for an infant, given what a daunting task it is to obtain a conforming mug shot.

Once we had chosen a photo, there was only the question of how to get it printed. Normally I’d just upload it to Walgreens’ photo site and go pick it up in an hour, but there was no option on the site for printing a 2×2. No matter, given that you can fit six 2x2s into a 4×6, and there are even convenient utilities like PortraitBooth that will enable you to do this in just a couple clicks (apologies to our friends at Adobe, this was just much easier than Photoshop).

6 photos in a 4x6

Et voila, six passport photos for 19 cents. If you’ve been paying $10 for 2 photos, you’ve been overpaying by over 150x.