24 June, 2013

Toddler Travel Tips and Tricks (and your expertise needed!)

This weekend we traveled to Nashville for a long weekend visit.  We were fortunate to see some of Eric's friend, some of my friends, and to reunite with college house mates for the wedding of one of our own.  We knew it was going to be a fast trip, especially with 4 hours of travel, an hour time difference and me having to work Sunday night.

We had some great successes with toddler travel and a hotel stay but also some epic failures.  I'd love to share with you but I also want to learn from you.


Travel at nap time -  We've learned from car trips that Evie doesn't do a 4am start or a bed time travel. Nap seems to be our best shot!

Bring a favorite toy - Evie has this LeapFrog My Discovery House that she will play with for hours. I hid it for a few days so it was like brand-new self-contained fun for easy car and hotel play.  Of course, Delany travels everywhere with us. She made for great over the seat puppet shows, too!

Bring the iPad - Emergency back up fun for the whole family :)

Pack a cooler full of bottles and healthy, easy to eat in the car snacks - Instead of diluting her bottles with water, I used ice cubes to help keep them cold! Cut up apples and NutThins were also a hit. 

Bring only what you need to survive - It's temping to bring the entire medicine cabinet, 3 packages of diapers and enough snacks to feed an army. Let's be real, any hotel or hostess will have things in event of an emergency and there are 24 stores nearly everywhere.  More stuff = more time transporting and organizing stuff.  (We also skipped the stroller this trip!)

But don't forget the speciality items - bottle soap, special shampoo, sound machine, and hard-to-find medicine stay in our travel bag for Evie

Ask for a mini-fridge in your hotel - One time this landed us a giant handicap accesible room (win!). This is great for milk, left overs, or running to the grocery for some toddler comfort snacks like blueberries.  (If you're tight on travel space, many have pack n plays too!)

Quiet entertainment -  Evie went to bed around 8 or 9 which left us in a quiet dark hotel room before we were ready to go to sleep.  We were glad to have ear phones and Netflix on the iPad.  We also hung out in the hallway a bit.

Go with the flow -  I knew that traveling with a toddler could be smooth sailing or nightmare-ish. We anticipated that there might be hiccups to our plan, and we recognized there might be game-time decisions that changed the course of our day. We prioritized things. For example, I could have forced a sleep deprived Evie to come to the wedding with us, but instead we decided that her and Eric taking naps would mean we could stay later at the reception with a well rested baby.


1.  We've learned that Evie needs plenty of play time on travel days before she'll go to sleep.  We nailed it and landed an easy bed time. However, she woke up at 1am and was screaming and/or jumping on the bed until 3:30 am. We tried everything we could think of -- diaper change, bottle, snuggle, stories, sound machine, swaying, etc.  We finally decided to give her Benadryl.  I felt terrible, but if we didn't sleep, we wouldn't enjoy the wedding the next day.

What else could we have done?   We think next time a two "room" suite might help so she can be in the next room? But that adds up.  Other thoughts?

2. For some reason Evie didn't pee very much during the day while we were gone but peed out of two diapers each night and woke up soaking wet.  We only packed one pack n play sheet, one blanket and one extra pair of jammies.  We found a washer and dryer in the hotel for $1.50 a load, but that takes 2ish hours.   I tried washing by hand and air drying but only the sheet dried in time.  Poor thing had to use a hotel towel as a blanket the second night.  (Yes, I recognize this is a first world problem)

Do you pack lots of spares?  I hate schlepping extra stuff around, but I might need to consider this a priority.  Thoughts?  

3. Home sickness. I didn't know it was possible for a 19 month old to be home sick. By the third day Evie kept crying for "home".  We brought plenty of familiar things and kept trying to distract her. We loved on her plenty and tried to keep her routine as best as possible.

Is there anything else you can really do for this?

What are some of your traveling with toddlers tips?  What are your mommy secrets to a smooth vacation?

18 June, 2013

{Father's Day Weekend} A Trio of Tributes - Our Clergy Friends

When I started my first job (I've always worked at the same place, I've just worn three different hats) one of the Deacons took me under his wing and mentored me that whole first year.  Not only on business matters but on freshman-in-life matters as well.  I am truly grateful for his tutelage.

He also bailed me out of a pickle.  I was short one male chaperone for our winter ski trip.  He said he knew just the person, his son.  Well Dennis Jr tagged along that year.  We spent several hours on the bus and in the ski lift line just chatting away.  There was an instant friend connection - like trust-with-your-fears, and call-you-out-on-your-bullshit connection.

(c. 2006 I had to dig this bad boy out of the archives. Other pictures in this series involve one or both of us picking our nose)

That following summer he was off to seminary in Chicago, and Eric and I met shortly after.

Seven long years of struggle and beating the odds, he was ordained a priest.  

 (Pretend that the organ pipes are playing some congratulatory fanfare. It makes post even better)

 I was so honored that my family was invited to attend the ordination Mass.  And witness his laying down of his life for the good of the Church.

It was truly an incredible day.  Not many folks can boast such an opportunity - to see a great friend be ordained a priest.

The next day he celebrated his first Mass at our home parish.  It was beyond words to witness. It was an honor to sit with his family and photograph the Mass.  His dad was his deacon.  To see the love they have as family, and now as clergy, and to hear the words of the homily his dad shared -- what a gift they both are to our parish and the Archdiocese.

So - the man who mentored me, did Eric and I's marriage prep and gave the homily at our wedding (and married by brother and his wife, and Eric's sister and her husband), and baptized Evie (and our Godson and my other nephew) -- happy Father's Day!

(seven years did us well!)

And to the newly minted priest and best-good-friend who has never been more than a phone call away when I'm at my wits end or in need of a good laugh (or good beer) --- happy Father's Day!

And the fact that such great men are father and son (and now Fr. Son...haha) is an incredible witness and blessing!

Read the other two Father's Day tributes: MY DADERIC

17 June, 2013

{Father's Day Weekend} A Trio of Tributes - Eric, Evie's Daddy!

 Recently I was having a flash back to a particular night in Chicago. We'd only been dating but a year.  We were sitting on the bench in a courtyard and my then 24 year old husband said that we should wait several years until my friend Dennis was ordained a priest before we should get married so he could marry us.  And he definitely didn't want children anytime soon after.

Well, Dennis' ordination was a week ago. And am I ever grateful that Eric didn't listen to his 24 year old self.  If he had we wouldn't be celebrating 4 years of marriage this Fall, nor another wonderful Father's Day with our little family.

For a guy who was apprehensive about having children, and admittedly knew nothing about newborns, I have to say he has excelled beyond my wildest dreams of who I wanted my husband to be as a father.

Eric enthusiastically attended every Bradley class with me. Went to a breastfeeding class. And even did research on baby products before we registered.
When I was in labor "drunk" on Ambien, Eric took charge of communicating our birth plan to the nurses.  And coached me through active labor while we painfully waited for the midwife to arrive.

And this was just the beginning of how enthusiastic Eric is as a dad.  He might not always match Evie's outfits correctly, but he gives 110% to being a father.

During those early months Eric would alternative late night feedings with me, even though he'd have to go to work the next day.

He loves to teach her new things.  Play. And let her "help" with the chores.  He's diligently helping her learn the sign of the cross and taught her how to yell say "AMEN"

He helps me around the house more than his fair share, including being on breakfast and morning coffee duty before he leaves for a long day at the office.

He even took her to her first girlie-girl tutu birthday party and didn't complain one bit!

And the proof is in the pudding.  Evie loves her Daddy like something fierce. The moment she wakes up from her afternoon nap, until the moment he arrives home from work she is nearly camped out by the back door waiting for him to arrive chanting "My Daddy - HOME!"

I am so blessed to call this man my husband, and more blessed by the husband and father he is.

Evie and I love you so much!!!

Evie's Father's Day slideshow from Elizabeth Buergler on Vimeo.

16 June, 2013

{Father's Day Weekend} A Trio of Tributes - My Dad

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Last year I briefly mentioned that my Dad and I didn't always get along. Being similar in always having to be right, get the last word, and being overly critical --- yeah, my mom has to referee once in a while.  It mostly ends with, "Elizabeth, just let it go" 

All that non-sense aside, my Dad and I enjoy several same interests and hobbies.  We love trading recipes or going to photography classes together.

Most of all my Dad gave me my emotional and sensitive side.  And he's always stressed the importance of good relationships.  He's always talking great about my mom. Encouraging us to do our best; to follow our dreams and the money will come.  And not to worry about things beyond our control, but to have faith in God.  He builds up our entire family bond.  Most importantly, he loves us kids like crazy and has gone to great lengths to sacrifice in order to provide for us.

Quite possibly my favorite Father-Daughter moment happened this year.   I mean, not much can top you dad walking you down the aisle on your wedding day, but this year he gave me the most incredible surprise.

See, there was some confusion between the DJ, the site manager, and the site manager's mother-in-law at our wedding. The entire time line we carefully worked out between the DJ and site manager got thrown out the window by the mother-in-law (who is the owner's wife).  It's a long story, but the jist is that the cake cutting was moved to the beginning of the reception and in doing so, the Father Daughter dance was somehow forgotten.

I'd always been so, so sad we never got this traditional moment together.

Little did I know, no sooner was my sister engaged, did my Dad ask, "Can I surprise Elizabeth with a Father-Daughter dance at your wedding?" 

So about one minute into Katie and our Dad's dance on her wedding day, did I hear the DJ call my name.  He explained the story to the rest of the guests.  Sam took Katie's hand and my Dad took mine.  It was hands down the best surprise I've ever received.

Thank you for this precious gift, Dad!!

14 June, 2013

After the Storm

All day yesterday I had a raging headache. I knew there must be a killer storm brewing, but the weather forecast only said 30%.  No one took the weather forecast seriously. It's summer. It's Atlanta. It's give or take.

Since Evie has Hand Foot Mouth all week, I was getting a bit of cabin fever.

And so was Evie.

So we decided to go to out to dinner near the mall, about 15 minutes away. Eric needed pick up something near there anyway.

While we were there I looked out the window and noticed it was raining. Hard.

Then out of nowhere everyone in the restaurant's phones started sounding the tornado warning siren.  No tornado watch had previously been issued.

Eric and I weighed the pros and cons of quickly driving home or being stuck at Fudruckers for an unknown amount of time with a sick toddler past her bedtime.  

We had NO IDEA how bad it really was out there until we got about a third of the way home. It was hailing, pouring buckets, and there were WAVES of water going down the street. Eric very slowly and very carefully drove us home. 

As we rounded the corner to our house it became clear that some strong tornado like wind had hit our area.  There was debris everywhere.  And then trees down blocking neighborhood intrances. Signs several yards away from where they were once standing.  And I started to pray for our house.  Our sweet little house.

We drove in to our neighborhood and the first few houses looked fine, at least for what we could see through the rain. But then we started seeing branches down and a basketball goal tipped over.

When we rounded the corner to our street all I could see was our neighbors mail box complete ripped out of the ground.

And within 15 minutes of our arrival home. The rain stopped. The wind stopped. And the sun came out for just a moment.  It was like it never happened.

The coolest part about last night was around 8:45 pm after it was all over. The neighbors flocked outside with saws and lawn equipment. Just walking around helping each other clear the debris.  And get fallen trees out of the way.

This morning Evie and I went for a long walk.  Did I mention the cabin fever? Oy.

We found neighbors out cleaning up.  I spoke with one man who had a tree fall on two of his cars. He said nothing matters since his family is okay.  Amen, friend!

So thankful that we are okay. And grateful that this is the only damage.  Every house in our neighborhood has power and is in great shape.  A few missing shutters and downed trees but the lives houses and lives were spared.  Thank you, Jesus!

Evie's pool blew from the other side of the house to this side, flipped over and filled with water! We certainly have nothing to complain about.

In hindsight part of me is so thankful we weren't home because I would have been a nervous wreck. And part of me says we were freaking stupid to drive home through that storm. We were very, very, very lucky to make it home safely.