Bringing Bébé: Part 2, SLEEPING (or not?!)

Part two in a small series on the practicalities of traveling with a one-year old

Recap: Michael and I decided to bring our one-year old on a 2.5-week trip to London and Paris this past December. This series is all about what we learned as new parents during this adventure. If you missed part one, here’s the link to the post on what to pack.

Today’s topic is one dear to any parent of little ones: SLEEP. It was my number one hesitation about attempting to take a one-year old to another time zone, even more so than it being his first flight.

While I don’t think that should stop one from traveling, it is good to have a realistic expectation and know that things will be bit rough. Time zones (plus sleeping in a new place) can throw adults for a loop, so naturally will be confusing and uncomfortable to a little one who doesn’t understand what is happening. That said, here’s what we did to prepare ahead of time when selecting where to stay, and what we did in the moment during bedtime.

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Bringing Bébé: Part One, PACKING

Part one in a small series on the practicalities of traveling with a one-year old

There was a time when Michael and I prided ourselves on being able to travel light - not a skill that came naturally to me, but  over time one that I honed out of both necessity and convenience. (You can do it too!)

Then we had a baby. I’ve realized that I need these skills more than ever - I still have to pack relatively light for myself because all free hands and resources are now dedicated to hauling said baby’s stuff.  

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2015: A Year of Wander

2016 has arrived and everyone’s looking ahead  to new beginnings, fresh starts, and wish lists for the upcoming year. I am too - but I’m a little behind, and I can’t fully move on until I take a long pause and reflect on all that 2015 was before I catch up with the rest of you.

Some years slide by us, and as the calendar flips to January, it just marks the passage of time. Then there are some years that are so life-changing and momentous and exhausting yet exhilarating all the same that as that last digit changes, you try to peer out of the wild haze you are surrounded in, wondering aloud, “Did that just happen?” That was this January 1st for me. And because of that, more than anything I need to recap it all for myself so one day in the future I remember what was built in the tumultuous year of wander that was 2015.

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Shoreditch Street Art Tour with Alternative London

I’ve been drawn to the colorful streets of Shoreditch in London. I love visiting this neighborhood when I’m in town. It’s always changing, with new art popping up as well as interesting shops and restaurants entering the scene. It never gets old to me, and since I never tire of exploring artsy Shoreditch, it’s what made me narrow in on this particular neighborhood to stay in last time I was in London this past April.

I think it’s safe to say one doesn’t need to go on a tour to see the street art of Shoreditch. Once you arrive, all you have to do is walk around. You barely need to be an observant person. It’s everywhere. But this last trip, I decided to check out the Alternative London street art walking tour. The tour is “free,” meaning that it’s meant to be accessible by all. The guides are super passionate about leading others around and exploring street art in London together, though they expect to be tipped in a way that reflects how one values the tour, or what one can afford to give. It seemed like a great way to learn more about this art that I love, and provide an introduction to Shoreditch to my sister-in-law and her friend who were visiting London with me, lest they thought I had chosen to stay in some strange gritty section of town far from “London proper.”

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Afternoon Tea fit for a Queen: Goring Hotel, London

My sister-in-law has taught me how to enjoy the finer things in life. She took me to get my first pedicure and even patiently provided a pair of flip-flops when I lacked the understanding that those were needed (it was winter, after all!). I had always wondered what it would be like to have a sister to share clothes and accessories with, and the few times I’ve forgotten items on visits back to the US, she’s hooked me up with things much trendier than in my own wardrobe.

It follows then, that my first high tea in England would be with her. The truth is that I’m pretty cheap when it comes to spending money on myself. I had been interested to attend a classy afternoon tea time, but the price tag has always made me think twice. With Yumchaa as my go-to tea spot in London, I can get a personal pot of tea for a few quid - a far cry from the price tag of a proper sit-down experience. But as we planned for a fun week ahead in London with Michael’s sister and one of her friends, we figured our last hurrah (for now!) in London should include this bucketlist item. And who else to go with than the queen of class herself, Miss Dawn.

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Breaking the ice with London

Do you ever have that feeling when you’re at a party, and there’s someone there that you want to meet, but you’re too intimidated to just put yourself out there? Wishing you had a friend in common to give an introduction to break the ice?

Well, if the party is Europe and you’re staring down London from across the room -- I’ve unwittingly become that friend in common to give an introduction to get things started.  I got my own introduction with a two-week college course on theater and since then I’ve had the pleasure of introducing the city to many of my friends and family (starting with my husband -- London was our first European vacation as a married couple).

Now, I’d like to give you an idea of how to look London in the eye and say “How you doin’?” by way of recounting my most recent London introduction: to my brother, David.  One never knows where he is bound to show up, and so it should come as no surprise that somehow it worked out in our last few months in Europe that David’s business trip to London aligned perfectly with one of Michael’s work trips there. It was David’s first time in London, and he had an afternoon between business meetings to spend with me in England’s capital.

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London: My Gateway to Europe

Change is hard. But so necessary. If we were to always be in our normal rhythms and safe comfort zones, we wouldn’t experience all the lessons that new challenges hit us over the head with at times.

As I prepared myself for my move from Paris, I started trying to mentally prepare myself to leave this city that I loved so much. And something else unexpected came out of those months of turmoil. I realized that I needed to also have closure with London.

It sounds a bit weird, I know. Why would I feel compelled to bid adieu to a place I never lived? A place that I wrote about just last year when I was in a slump and wished I were in Paris instead- why now take away valuable time from Paris to spend it there?

I needed to go to London because for me, London was where it all began.

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2014 Recap: The Gift Year

I know that by this time, we've all stopped rehashing 2014 and have started looking ahead to 2015. But I can't just summarize last year with pretty photos of Paris and Europe - I need to pause and share my reflections of a special year.

21 Trains
19 Flights
5 Buses
5 Rental cars
14 Countries
21 houseguests
131 blog posts
2 camels 
And countless sheep

2014. I think of this year as my “gift year.” That’s not to say that every day we get on this earth isn't a gift, because it is. I mean it in the sense that when I think about 2014, I think “we shouldn't still be here.” Michael had a contract to work on an assignment in Paris for almost two years, ending in December 2013. Except by the end of that year, we had realized that Paris wasn't merely the home base for our travels throughout Europe. We had somehow built a life here, entered into community, and fell in love with life in the city. Things were looking bleak for a while and it seemed that we did in fact have to move back to the US as planned. Until things turned around and we were able to stay. We weren't supposed to still be hanging around the City of Light this year, but somehow in the end we were gifted with more time.

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Canvas-Worthy Europe, 2014 edition

Last Wednesday I shared my round-up of my favorite photos taken in Paris in 2014. Now it’s time to see the year in review through a collection of my canvas-worthy contenders from our European travels outside of Paris. Here’s where I traveled to during the year!

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Simply Sara's Ultimate European Christmas Market Round-Up

I’ve been making a list and checking it twice...and am ready to reveal which European Christmas markets made the naughty or nice list. This by no means is a conclusive list of markets throughout Europe, but it’s my thoughts on 20 markets spanning 8 European countries. So without further ado, here’s the breakdown by country:

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Simply Sara Eats: and Sips in London

In the "Simply Sara Eats " series, I recount the my favorite food and drink discoveries.

This year London keeps beckoning me over to visit. And if you've ever taken the Eurostar between Paris and London, you know you can get easily from one city to the next in about 2.5 hours. Between my winter stint in London in January, my impromptu girls' getaway in the spring, and my long weekend with friends in June, it's been hard to stay away from England's capital. 

While there, you can be assured that I've discovered some great spots to relax over a beverage. Whether you like tea, coffee, beer, or cocktails, you can find it all on my top 5 list of what I've been loving in London these days:

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Spotlight on London

Bon lundi!

Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.
— Samuel Johnson

I don't think I could ever get tired of London, and I've been there three times this year (and counting!). This week I want to take you to some of my favorite places in the city, and hopefully dispel the myth that the food in England is bad! 

Shoreditch's Street Art (London)

Every time I visit London, I'm reminded just how big the city really is. It can take 10 minutes (maybe more) to walk to a tube stop and a trip across town can easily take 45 minutes or more via public transportation. 

This also means there are lots of neighborhoods to discover in London that are varied and diverse from one another. And one that I've really enjoyed exploring more is the artsy section of Shoreditch. 

There is so much to say about the cute boutiques, hipster hangouts, and bars in this neighborhood. For now, I'll just leave you with photos of the cool street art that brightens the streets:

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