On the road again

I should be good at this by now.  I’ve done it enough times.

We are moving.   Again.

We’ve been house-sitting for the past 2 ½ months in Canada.  This time we don’t have the furniture, dishes, filing cabinets fiasco.  We do, however, have the tiny diapers, rubber boots, Sunday suits, piles-of-paper-because-we-don’t-have-filing-cabinets fiasco.  No matter how you slice it, moving is work.  Moving internationally is no joke either.

And then there is the new baby.  But babies are small.  They don’t need a lot.  I mean, how much can one little person use in a year?

Ah, the first-time parent myth.  I’ve fallen for it again after an almost 4 year span between our children.

I decided to keep my packing list to the basics:

  • Cloth diapers.
  • Disposable diapers for overnight
  • Wipes
  • Zinc cream
  • Baby powder
  • Shampoo
  • Face cloths
  • Collapsible baby chair to double as a high chair
  • Miniature squirting rubber ducky (this is more for my older son so he won’t get into mischief when Mommy is irrevocably up to her elbows in bath water.)  Mmm, that reminds me…
  • Bath tub  (We buy purple since the ultrasound said we’d have a girl.  Turns out it was a boy.)
  • Clothing.  Hats.  Shoes.
  • Receiving blankets
  • Sunscreen
  • Bedding
  • Mobile
  • Vitamin D drops (if I can just remember to give them!)
  • Soft structured carrier (I love the Beco Butterfly II)
  • Jogging stroller with infant adapter (the BOB SUS is my running partner!)

On and on the list goes.

The trouble with baby basics is that they aren’t so basic.  That is still a lot of stuff.   I don’t like having a lot of stuff.

Ethical dilemma aside, I have another problem.  Where I live, it is next to impossible to buy good baby things or any baby things for that matter.  You are guaranteed to sacrifice quality or price, most likely both.  And that is if you can find what you need.  That if is very big indeed.  Here I am trying to simplify, partly by choice and partly by force, but I have no idea what it is like to really do without like so many of my neighbours have to.

What does one do if you can’t find diapers or can’t afford them at $1 a piece?  Well, you can do what the locals do.  Use a disposable diaper once.  And I mean really use it, until it is bulging.  Cut a slit in it and scoop out all that pee-logged gelatin, wash the diaper, hang it to dry.  Now you are ready to grab a wad of gauze and put the diaper back on and watch the baby leak all over your lap.  Then you have to wash it again along with your pants.  I kid you not.

You see my dilemma.  Hence, I need to import everything for the first YEAR of baby’s life in suitcases and get it past customs, as if I were a normal tourist.  And for those of you keeping track, yes, that includes the purple bathtub.  Our goal this trip is six suitcases of 50 lbs or less.  Too bad the rest of us need clothing.  And peanut butter.  And toothpaste.

So here I am, putting my extra post-baby weight to good use, sitting on the duffle bags and zipping them up one-handed while holding the feeding baby with the other.   I’m really glad I bought that luggage scale on one of the many post-baby trips to the pharmacy.  My husband lifts up the suitcase and I scrutinize the wobbly black needle.  “48.5?” I say.

“Let’s try again,” he suggests and hefts the bag again.

“Yep,” I say.  Room for that last ziplock bag of protein powder.

My son runs over with a big orange bulldozer.  “Mommy, can my digger come?  Please?”

He and Daddy weigh it and then we tuck it into the digger-size space in his suitcase beside his pared down tool kit and brand new vehicle stamping set (Melissa and Doug).

“Going on vacation?” the agent at the AirCanada desk asks.

“Not exactly,” we reply.  “More like moving.  We just came back for the baby to be born.”  We briefly explained what we do.

The total weight of our suitcases was 298.4 lbs.  I’ll save you the effort: that’s under the maximum weight by 1.6 lbs total or an average of .27 lbs per bag.  “That’s cutting it pretty close,” I think as the agent proceeds to label all of our bags with bright orange tags saying HEAVY 50lbs.  On the plane, we realize they didn’t even charge us for the extra 2 bags.  Altruism or just pity?

We clear immigration and customs without incident and manage to cram our bags into our teammates’ two small cars.  We arrive back at our rental house with our local “family” jumping up and down and pointing to the hand written sign taped on the living room wall: “Bienvenidos a Casa”.  Welcome Home.

Now that we are finally unpacked and settling in, I start to re-evaluate what I packed.  I wonder why in the world did I pack my carry-on full of 0-3 month clothing?  In the sweltering heat, the poor guy hasn’t worn a darn thing.  Also, it doesn’t look like he will need many more size one diapers at the rate he is chubbing up.  I guess I won’t have to look far for people who will, ahem, get good use out of them.

But, just for the record, both boys have sure enjoyed cooling off in that purple bath tub.

The view from my lap on the plane


The shuttle from the plane to the airport (just a little packed)

Packed into the shuttle with the 2 boys on my lap