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Five reasons to get to the airport EARLY with a toddler

Last month, I almost missed my flight due to the challenges of traveling with a 21-month-old. While optimism is a good personal trait, it’s best avoided on travel days. I wish that I had arrived at the airport a full hour earlier to give myself some breathing room.

To help you avoid the same mistake, here are five reasons to get to the airport EARLY with a toddler:

1) You’ll be schlepping extra stuff. (Add 10-20 mins.) When you’re used to breezing through an airport with a purse and a wheeled carry-on, it’s easy to forget how much longer it takes to manage all of the STUFF that a toddler requires. If you are bringing a stroller, pack n play, car seat, and/or diaper bag, you are going to be encumbered. Don’t forget that the toddler herself is essentially another piece of baggage.

2) Your lap child might need a boarding pass. (Add 10-20 mins.) If you are flying with a lap child (i.e. if you didn’t purchase a seat for your child under 2 years old) you may need to go to the ticketing counter to show your child’s birth certificate and pick up a boarding pass. Southwest, for example, requires that parents get a boarding pass for their lap child, but does not issue them in advance – you have to pick it up at the airport and show a copy of the birth certificate. If lines at the ticketing counter are long, you might be in for a stressful wait. [Note that a printed copy or even a scan of the birth certificate on your phone/computer are acceptable; you don’t need the original.]

3) Security delays are likely. (Add 5-10 mins.) Going through the security checkpoint will take longer with a baby or toddler, especially if you’re not a frequent flyer. Last time I flew with my kid, I plum forgot to remove my laptop from my bag, and so had to wait around for the additional screening. Also, kids are allowed liquids in excess of the 3oz rule – such as pouches, formula, breastmilk, or medicines – but these may require additional screening, and thus additional time.

4) Poop happens. (Add 10 mins.) As we all know, even the most “regular” kid might produce a dirty diaper at any moment. Changing a kid on the plane is not an easy task, so you’ll want to build in at least 10 minutes before boarding to hustle off to the restroom.

5) Toddlers have tempers. (Add 10 mins.) Toddlers are independent creatures who don’t always tolerate being led around, or being forced into a stroller when they want to walk and explore. If your kid winds up face-down crying on the ground (like mine recently did) you’ll be glad that you built in some extra time to soothe and distract her rather than having to wrestle and drag a melting fusspants towards the gate in time for family boarding.

So there you have it – five good reasons to add about 60 minutes to your arrival time at the airport for your next trip!

Have additional suggestions? Horror stories about almost missing your flight with a toddler? Share in the comments below!

My friend won 3rd place in the Bethesda short story contest!

The annual Bethesda Magazine/Bethesda Urban Partnership short story contest winners have been announced, and I am excited to say that a very dear friend of mine has won third place! Heather and I have been part of a mini writing group for the past few years. While I fail on a regular basis to submit stories to the group, Heather reliably sends multiple pages of prose on the last day of every month. I am so impressed by her talent and her commitment to creative writing as an outlet amid a busy family life. If you’re looking for an interesting post-apocalyptic story to read, look no further!

Wireweed

by Heather Sisan

It’s been exactly eight days and 13 hours since Bram went out on patrol. I can’t help keeping the morbid tally, not to mention startling every time the intercom crackles. The whole community gets on edge when a patrol doesn’t come back. Even though we’ve all lost so many loved ones—no one’s ever safe—it still feels like we can’t bear another loss.

I don’t think it was fair of them to send him, not when I’m this close. As of yesterday morning, I’m officially 38 weeks—the 38 longest weeks of my life—and it could happen any time now. Mig read that first babies are usually late, which comforts me. I’m scared to death, if you want to know the truth; I don’t want it to happen, and I don’t want to go on being pregnant. I just wish, most of the time, that I could get out of my skin and be someone else.

Some more numbers, to put things in perspective. The community is 235 people, including about 40 children and teenagers, which includes me. It’s in what used to be upstate New York, used to be rolling pastures full of dairy cows, the kind of scene they printed on cartons of organic milk. No one would put our landscape on a carton now. The wind stirs up massive dust storms from the ravines and hillsides and clatters in the bare branches of the trees. There is an ethereal beauty to this kind of scenery, some people claim. The land is stripped clean, right down to its bones. At 15, I’m old enough to remember what Earth was like when it was green, when there were such things as birds, when rain didn’t pit and corrode the dome shields over the colony. Some of the youngest kids don’t know any different.

It’s the third shift and I’m falling asleep in my chair. I heave myself up, feeling the weight settle down hard like a bowling ball against the bones of my pelvis, my knees aching in protest, and start pacing back and forth. Across the room, Laner is scribbling in his notebook. It’s still about two hours before dawn.

“Go on home if you want, Jace,” he says without looking at me. “You don’t need to be here.”

“I’m OK,” I say. “It’s only another couple hours anyway.” The irony is that I can almost doze off in that chair, but as soon as I lie down on a bed I’ll be wide awake and fighting off a panic attack, my mind churning with what might have happened to Bram. With what could soon happen to me.

click here to keep reading!

Get your onomatopoeia fix with some multi-lingual farm animals

I’m a big fan of James Chapman’s work, and it’s not hard to see why – his illustrations are both adorable and educational! 🙂 He has a series called “Soundimals” in which he illustrates various noises in a variety of languages. Visit his website to learn the international sounds for popping, snoring, splashing, and more.

For those of us who work in agriculture in some fashion, I’ve highlighted some of the artist’s animal illustrations below. After all, you never know when you might need to speak to a rooster in Japanese. His depictions of the different dog breeds are just way too cute.

Click on each image to view a larger version.

ChapmanCowChapmanDonkeysChapmanSheepChapmanPigChapmanRoosterChapmanDog

Ambergris: The most fascinating / bizarre / expensive substance you’ve never heard of

AmbergrisQ. What costs up to $10,000 per pound, comes from the intestines of a sperm whale, and looks like an ordinary rock?

A. Why, ambergris, of course!

Ambergris is a waxy substance that is produced by whales when they’re having digestive troubles (likely after swallowing hard and pointy squid beaks). Supposedly, only about 1% of sperm whales can make it. After passing from the whale, it bobs in the ocean for decades and hardens, eventually washing up on a beach to be found by ambergris hunters or very, very lucky beachgoers. It is mostly used as an ingredient in perfumes, due to its unique scent and ability to affix scents to human skin.

Here are some descriptions of the scent of ambergris:

  • “It’s beyond comprehension how beautiful it is. It’s transformative. There’s a shimmering quality to it. It reflects light with its smell. It’s like an olfactory gemstone.” – Mandy Aftel, perfumer
  • “…reminiscent of tobacco, Brazil nuts, a fern copse, or the wood in old churches.” – Eric Spitznagel
  • “My brain swims. All at once, I smell: old cow dung; the lumps of wet, rotting wood that I have kicked along the beach; tobacco, drying seaweed…. And, beneath it all, something indescribably elemental. It is a mixture of the low and the high. The unavoidable and the unobtainable.” – Chris Kemp
  • “The problem with trying to describe the smell of ambergris is that it really only smells like ambergris.” – Chris Kemp

Well, heck, I really want to smell the stuff now!

Because of its rarity and desirability, ambergris is an extremely valuable, recession-proof commodity. These qualities also mean that its trade is shrouded in secrecy and controversy. In the United States, possessing ambergris has been illegal since 1973, because sperm whales are protected by the Endangered Species Act. International trade appears to be legal, and perfumeries in France will gladly buy up any supply they can find.

I just purchased this book on my Kindle and look forward to reading it. My one worry is that, after completing the book, I will be so fixated on the idea of smelling pure ambergris that I will have to quit my job and embark on a global quest to find it.

A new blog begins

For years, I’ve been wanting to start a public blog to highlight and discuss topics that I find interesting and important. While I have maintained several private/personal blogs off-and-on since high school, and contributed or managed other websites, I’ve struggled to get my own public blog up and running. Twitter has proven an excellent tool for resource sharing and open commentary, but alas, 140 characters doesn’t always allow you to say what you need to say. So what has been stopping me from pulling the trigger on creating a robust, public blog/website? Here are a few of the mental roadblocks I’ve run into:

Topic

My first and most stymieing problem was the fact that I am interested in way too many things. I know that blogs tend to be more successful when they have a narrow focus and develop credibility within a particular subject or style. While I am not looking to become an internet sensation, I would like to maintain a site that has some degree of a following. After all, it’s the comments, shares, and overall engagement that keep bloggers motivated. (If I weren’t looking for engagement, I would just write in my trusty Moleskine.) But my greater question is, can my blog be useful and interesting to people other than myself if it covers multiple topics, from agriculture to music, from journal articles to travel stories?

Site Name / URL

This is a dilemma I’ve wrestled with for ages. Do I need to come up with a catchy name for my blog? And does the URL need to be identical to the site name? It’s near-impossible to define myself or my writing in a single pun or catchphrase. However, after many trips to the thesaurus, I’ve come up with a name that I think rings nicely – Macropath. I’ll explain the thought behind the name in a future post. Of course, Macropath.com is unavailable, so I’m going to stick with a URL I’ve owned for years – juliemac.net.

Theme

WordPress has hundreds of themes to choose from, and frequently adds new options. For the moment I’ve settled on “Bouquet,” but I will forever be on the lookout for the perfect theme that is both attractive and flexible.

Branding

Colors…”feel”… logo… consistent branding… Do I need to worry about any of that? Nah, I’ll save it for later.

Time

I’m a 21st century, career-oriented, active woman trying to maintain my hobbies, health, and relationships.  So when am I supposed to find time to write blog posts? My goal at the outset is to publish one to two posts a week, but if I falter on this schedule, is the endeavor simply futile?

After months of stalling, I finally come to a startlingly obvious realization: it is far better to start building and writing something – anything – than to waste time agonizing over the particulars. If I decide to make massive changes to my blog in the future, so be it. At least I’ll have a blog to make changes to. I’m not ready to declare myself an expert on a particular topic, and I don’t want to put up a jazzy, overly-designed front. Thus, I will let my blog unfold naturally from the competing interests, joys, and priorities that swarm my brain, and see where it takes me. Let the experiment begin!

Have you struggled with similar questions when starting a personal blog or website? If so, let me know in the comments!