My 16 month old’s guide to a delightful in-flight experience

Or, the mile-high menace

Or, mastering a gentle inner-thigh caress

Or, the complete guide to tasting strangers’ shoes… and getting away with it

Listen, toddlers, mastering the art of a fun flight is a careful balancing act. You must find that level of fun that teeters just on the edge of tipping your mom’s (and the flight crew’s) tolerance into the no-fly zone. You must ensure that your escapades are, for all their daringness, still a better option than listening to you scream.

Needless to say, the meltdown option in always available to you.

This guide is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully it will help inspire you for your next flight. These strategies are designed for long-haul flights; we recommend being a perfect, quiet angel on shorter legs. It’s the most certain way to lull your parents into thinking they can handle a cross-country or even trans-continental jaunt.

Ready? Dive right in …

Pre-flight considerations.

Be ever alert. Threats to your plan abound: unless she still cowers under the watchful eye of screen-time-shamers, your mom will try to bribe you with Daniel Tiger. DO NOT FALL VICTIM. Resist the screen, no matter how intriguing the plot line about how to communicate your food allergies at school. If you play this right, you’ll get that screen time later, at your destination, when her energy and fear of judgment have been obliterated.

She might also have a new toy or snack as a “surprise” for you. Please, mom, that “surprise” is so overdone. Also, spoiler alert, there are way more fun toys to be discovered on a plane.

Moving sidewalks: just one of many exhilarating warmup activities.

Boarding the plane.

When your mom finds your seat, the time is ripe: spill that coffee she purchased knowing the chances of that sweet, sweet caffeine making it into her bloodstream were nearly zero, but which she precariously juggled through the airport and onto the plane along with the diaper bag and the roller bag and your wiggly body and her secret stash of toys and snacks. Make sure to splash that coffee all over neighboring seats, her clothes, and everything she’s carrying, including yourself. She’ll get distracted using up the rest of her baby wipes mopping up coffee and her caffeine-withdrawal tears, and you’ll have time to unload the seat back pockets and distribute the literature, perfectly beaded with stray drops of coffee, to surrounding rows. You’ll probably also have time to finger paint the window with the spilled coffee she hasn’t mopped up yet.

Establish dominance

As the plane is taking off, make as much noise as possible and move as much as possible. You’re setting a precedent here: if you sit quietly now, she’ll have less incentive to tolerate your next move. Unless, of course, you want to nurse, in which case you should make sure to bob back and forth between sides every few seconds so that she is as exposed as possible. Just think, she will be so absorbed in trying to alternately cover each breast, she’ll have reduced capacity to restrain you.

This is an ideal time to let your neighbor know who’s boss: give them a few well-timed kicks and jabs so your mom feels guilty and the neighbor gives her a stink eye.

Get the lay of the land

Focus! Now is not the time to be admiring the view.

Once you’re off the ground, or done nursing, squirm away from your mom and, even if you have literally never crawled in your life because crawling is for babies, army crawl up the aisle, occasionally stopping to turn back and smirk at her. Your coffee-soaked t-shirt will handily collect stray crumbs and hair and other detritus along the aisle. When she tries to pick you up, immediately execute FULL LIMP BODY and scream at the top of your lungs.

Trust me, she’ll let you keep army crawling.

Being on your belly gives you the best access to a few key in-flight amenities: wayward peanuts and other people’s purses. It’s best to casually remove an item or two from each purse you pass, just to deflect your mom from trying to pick you up again. She’ll be so busy handing people their lost pens and phones and slobbery wallets that you’ll be able to make significant progress down the aisle. If you get distracted, remember, follow the trail of peanuts. Especially the honey roasted ones. The “lightly salted” ones are so not worth the effort.

When you get bored with ground-level pursuits, stand up and start walking down the aisle. This step is all about speed and noise. Happy shrieks are less likely to cause interventions but still garner maximum attention from the entire plane.

Make new friends

If the mom hot on your tail looks away for even the tiniest second, to apologize to a stranger or to re-assemble the last purse you unloaded, seize the opportunity: casually lay your hand on the nearest stranger’s thigh, as high up on their inner thigh as you can reach, and gaze intently into their face. Bonus points if the thigh’s owner is asleep.

If their thigh isn’t accessible, try untying their shoe, or putting it in your mouth. Again, sleeping targets are worth the most, both in points and in potential reactions. If you get kicked in the face by a startled-awake shoe-wearer, scream bloody murder, tweet an angry missive to the airline, and make sure it gets captured on video so you can sue later.

And repeat. You got this. 

Then, when you land…

Just be your unbelievably cute self.

Works like a charm.

Pump’n’Go: your guide to mobile milk-making

Whenever people (ahem, men) express anxiety about pooping in public or in a new place, I have to admit my sympathy is pretty limited.

Pooping anxiety ain’t got nothing on pumping anxiety.

First of all, everyone accepts that people need a place to go to the bathroom. Dedicated places to pump, on the other hand, are few and far between. With pooping, there’s no lugging equipment around. When you find a spot, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be private; the chance (at least in the developed world) that you’ll have to pull out your goods and sit there basically naked for 20 minutes or more is pretty much nonexistent. The only thing you have to wash afterward is your hands. You don’t have to find a way to store your output and keep it on ice.

As a breastfeeding mama who travels quite a bit, and is a travel nomad — meaning I usually am not visiting an office where I can leave my stuff or hide out in a private room with my pump, I’ve had to get creative about where to take care of business.

My lessons learned are definitely not a complete guide to this inevitably stressful situation, but I hope they’ll help if you’re traveling without your baby and need to pump on the go.

What to bring

  • Your pump. (DUH, I know). But double check that all the pieces are there; I had a pumping emergency when I arrived at our retreat and realized the tubing was missing from my pump. Luckily a fellow mama there let me use hers, and I was able to avoid a true boob emergency.
  • Pump wipes. You won’t always have access to a place to wash your accessories, so I carry these wipes for on-the-go cleaning. I’m pretty sure they’re just repackaged baby wipes, so you could also just snag some from your LO’s diaper bag rather than buying yet another niche product.
  • Milk bags. I love these bags for pumping on the go because they take up so much less space in your bag and then cooler. The Medela ones come with little adapters for your pump so you can pump directly into the bags.
  • Ziplocs: the milk bags are notoriously leak-prone. I seal them inside ziploc bags for safer, drier travel.
  • Lunchbox or other small cooler. True story: my husband used my pumping needs as an excuse to buy a Yeti, but holy hell that thing is a bear to drag around. I carry a lightweight lunch box cooler with me, and try to transfer to the fridge, freezer, or Yeti as soon as possible. I’m constantly asking for ice from Starbucks or other casual food joints. Most of them will just fill up your cooler if you ask, and not charge you the 10 cents or whatever, especially if the barista is a woman.
  • Blanket scarf: something to hide the ladies under. Plus it’s lightweight so easy to pack or wear. God knows you’re already lugging around enough stuff.

What NOT to wear:

  • Dresses that don’t allow you access to the goods without taking them off. See: my first mother’s day experience. Oh wait, I haven’t told anyone about that except my husband. Maybe I’ll share this mother’s day…
  • Tops that will show wetness, or that can be stained by breast milk. Sayonara, silk.
  • Pants that are not forgiving when you sit down. Your midsection is likely to be exposed for at least part of your pumping adventure … so I like to choose pants that, even if they aren’t super flattering on my exposed core, at least don’t exacerbate my mom-pooch and muffin top.  (High-rise FTW).

Where to do the deed

Luckily, pumping rooms are becoming more and more frequent, but that doesn’t mean they’re a dime a dozen yet.

  • Nordstrom: their women’s lounges often have Mothers’ Rooms, with everything you need to pump or breastfeed: outlets, comfy chairs, a sink with soap and paper towels, and some semblance of privacy.

This is one of many reasons I will always be a loyal Nordstrom customer. Also, their shoe section.

  • Mamava: these handy little pumping pods are popping up at airports everywhere. I first discovered them in Austin, then also found pods in Oakland, CA, and San Francisco. These no-frills, lockable pods provide seating, outlets, and a mirror to help make sure you’ve rearranged yourself without any wardrobe malfunctions. Their app helps you find not only pods but other, user-submitted pumping-friendly locations.
  • Baby stores: this is a long shot, but if you’re traveling in the burbs, you may have a baby or maternity store nearby, and they often will provide a place for you, suggest other local options, or, at the very least, empathize with your plight. Friendly understanding won’t keep your pressurized boobs from exploding, but it does help lessen your mounting anxiety about said pressure.
  • When in doubt, just ask… I’ve ended up in random places for meetings, like hospitals, big office buildings, and cafes. You’d be surprised how willing people are to help. Some of them will get really uncomfortable, but I think that just encourages them to come up with a solution faster so they can stop talking about YOUR BREASTS. Ha. Some of the random places I’ve pumped are: in the lunchroom in a big office building, a doctor’s office after hours, the manager’s office in a restaurant, and in empty conference rooms.

    Don’t mind me, I’m just awkwardly pumping in this empty lunch room. Also take note of the blanket scarf. My only barrier between my boobs and hordes of hungry office workers.

None of those locations are fun, but they’re doable, and way less gross than a bathroom.

Now, if I could just crack the code of how to travel with a pump and ONLY a carry-on, I would be set. Any tips?

Don’t go high and dry

sweat pink essence ph10

#momlife is all about adjusting to the new normal. Every time you think you have something figured out—like how to get some sleep, how to get some exercise, or what makes the baby happy—everything changes.

A lot of the advice I got about having a child involved concrete skills: breastfeeding advice. Sleep-through-the-night tactics (hah). Babywearing and naptime scheduling. I’m working on all those skills, but above all, being prepared for and adaptable to whatever’s presenting itself RIGHT NOW is the most significant skill I’ve been honing over the last 13 months.

On our ski getaway weekend, I was super proud of myself for preparing for… and then actually hydrating like a boss. Going up to high altitude always leaves me really dehydrated, to the point where my dry mouth wakes me up at night. I took along my Essence pH10 water (and yes, my checked bag definitely got extra security screened as a result) and kept up a rigorous hydration regime. It was the only thing I could control, y’all.

Essence pH10: the freshest, cleanest water you’ve ever tasted. Pure as the driven snow.

To be honest, I had no idea what alkaline water was when I first met the team at Essence pH10. So, in a nutshell, here ya go:

“Influences such as environmental stresses, medications, processed foods, disease states, conditions of exhaustion, acidic drinks, for example, can weaken the bodies’ homeostatic mechanisms that work to maintain our body’s pH level. An Alkaline environment helps promote optimum health and may help to support a cancer-free life. “

I can get down with that.

sweat pink essence ph10

Another win from that weekend: Mac got to play in the snow, reducing the cost per wear of her snowsuit by 50%. With special-use baby clothes, that is a BIG DEAL.

Yeah, she was way more interested in this weird patch of snow by the wall than in actual pretty fields of snow. Doesn’t she know I need to take pictures??

Even though we don’t have boots or any kind of snow-appropriate footwear, her feet stayed miraculously dry. Bobux shoes FTW.

Now we’re back at home, back in the warm Austin ‘winter,’ and Mac and I are spending lots of time tooling around town on my bike. And guess what? I’m still hydrating like a boss.

Fun fact: my diaper bag bottle pockets fit (a) baby bottles, (b) wine bottles (c) water bottles and (d) all of the above. #preparedforanything

All this hydration has me feeling seriously like I can do anything. And it’s good for Mac, too: since I’m still breastfeeding, I like to think I’m passing on that good health and hydration to her as well.

This post was sponsored by Essence pH10. Opinions are, as always, mine and mine alone. Thank you for supporting the brands who support the sweat pink community!

Staying holiday healthy

I’ve been doing a ton of traveling lately. In less than three weeks, I bounced around between 5 different cities on the west coast without a single stop at home.

There was the wedding in Monterey:

nara's wedding seagull officiant

 carmel beach triangle pose

A work meeting in San Francisco:

Obviously, this is not my actual meeting...
Obviously, this is not my actual meeting…

Thanksgiving in Tahoe:

swan pose tahoe jamie alyse tigger dancer pose tahoe

A visit in Sacramento:

ted alyse dogs tree pose granite bay

And studio prep in Portland.

liz alyse jamie flex and flow

Not too shabby an itinerary, eh? Luckily, I did the long hauls via plane; I’ve found that more than two hours in the car puts my back and body into a cranky, stiff, whiny funk, so I’ve opted out of as much driving as possible. Even so, all the air travel and the changes in elevation and the new environments take their toll, especially since with each city, this baby bump just. gets. bigger.

(Also, my face keeps getting puffier. As do my cankles. The zippers on my boots are at half mast, and I had to order a new pair of sneakers, 2 sizes larger than my go-to Converse).

What’s a girl to do when her cankles outgrow her calves?

Well, pack some snacks, naturally.

2015-11-18 19.28.57

All the snacks. I am the crazy snack lady on the plane who does nothing but respond to emails and eat snacks.

Outfit + lunchskins: coordinated. #suchanerd
Outfit + lunchskins: coordinated. #suchanerd

Luckily, I’ve yet to get sick or suffer any real repercussions from all this travel and airport time. I attribute it to (a) all the snacks, especially the vitamin C-packed mandarins I’ve been inhaling, (b) obsessively washing my hands, (c) avoiding plane bathrooms as much as (pregnantly) humanly possible, and (d) staying really well hydrated. I’m kind of wrapped up and in love with SOS’s recovery drink right now. Even though it’s intended for exercise or hangover recovery, I’ve been using it as prevention and recovery for my generally compromised immune system. It’s also a nice way to hydrate that is not water (boring!), coconut water (gross!), or Gatorade (those chemicals can’t be good for Moonshine!). The mango flavor is bomb.com and since it’s a powder, you can take on an airplane or anywhere else you go. 

travel essentials SOS rehydrate Hemp heart bar

I keep the handy little packs in my purse along with my bars and my prenatal vitamins and my nut butter packets and …. all the other things.

SOS rehydrate

There’s so much packed into my purse already it’s hard to imagine just how much I’ll be lugging around when she’s actually here and has her own independent needs. I guess I’m just practicing the mom thing already.

Let’s turn this baby around

We’re just wrapping up our first week of our annual Holiday Sweat Challenge, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the support of my online community right now. It’s been a rough couple weeks, activity-wise, thanks to some travel, a nagging cold that just wouldn’t quit, and the fatigue.

amarillo warrior 3 with truck

Oh, the fatigue. After our annual ladies’ trip to Amarillo to celebrate my grandma’s birthday, I spent literally an entire day in bed. I couldn’t keep my eyes open or convince my body to do much more than laboriously turn over to my other side mid-nap.

I was so grateful to have my cuddle buddy and my snoogle back–from now on, anywhere I go, that silly looking, cumbersome pillow goes too—and the flexibility to decide to work the evening shift that night. Daytime working just.wasn’t.happening.

tigger snoogle
Tigger loves my snoogle, too.

tigger snoogle overhead

Taking time to rest and getting my energy back felt extra important, because I found out last week that Moonshine is hanging out contentedly in a breech position. And while it’s too early to seriously worry about that, I’d really like her to get to turning sooner rather than later, so I’m doubling up on any exercises and positions that will help encourage her to rotate head down.

2015-11-13 14.24.49

So far, my regimen includes pelvic rocks, hip circles, crawling, and getting back in the pool. It also means avoiding the “channel changing” position, which, oh dear god, I am already missing like crazy. It’s bad enough not being able to sleep on my stomach; now I can’t even recline to read or watch Scandal.

Alyse-15
The reclining days are over for me.

But if making like Cleopatra and lounging on my side is what it takes to avoid major abdominal surgery, goddammit, then I’m in.*

Anyway, back to swimming and getting moving again. Apparently the kicking and hip movements involved in freestyle (no more backstroke for me, until that baby turns!) help encourage her to float that head down. And apparently the threat of surgery is what it took to get me motivated enough to face the prospect of washing my hair daily, because I’m slapping on those goggles and shamelessly rocking a (bumpalicious?) bikini.

prana bikini
That man swimming laps totally caught me taking a sneaky photo of the pool. #awkward.

Thank you, prAna, for my bikini that stays put during lap swims and is gracious enough to work with my new figure. You saved me from paying for a frumpy maternity suit that probably wouldn’t even keep the girls covered.

I can’t help but feeling like one of those fragile older ladies at the Y who do gentle senior water aerobics. My swim usually only lasts about 30 minutes—sometimes more, sometimes less—before my back starts hurting. And when I get out of the pool, I’m that lady who goes way out of her way to use the ladder rather than hauling herself up and out. Yes, I learned that lesson the hard way, folks. #savethebeachedpregnantlady

The nice thing is, the Holiday Sweat Challenge is all about setting your own goals, so my goal is to make this baby turn.

And to do something active, even if it’s only a walk, every day. If you want to get involved (prizes!) head on over to Fit Approach and just make sure you’re registered.

* If Moonshine stays breech, I have a good chance of ending up with a C-section. While I’ll do whatever it takes to have a healthy baby, I would really, really like to avoid the surgery route if at all possible.