Checklist for flying with small kids

Blog 18-19 combo
5-1-18

In our 50% Chinese 50% American household, we often travel with our young kids to China.  We have taken some long international flights, for example, getting back to my wife’s hometown can take 25-35 or more hours door to door.  Through these experiences we have learned a lot.  So, for this blog post, I wanted to write down some of the tips and tricks of travelling with small kids internationally.  These tips are focused on our own experience with kids that are 1 year up to about 6 years old.  We won’t cover the obvious (like requesting the bassinet for kids under two) and this article will probably change and evolve over time as we travel more and kids get bigger.

1. Food

Food is the first item because it is the most important one.  Every time the plane takes off or lands, the pressure change inside the plane causes kid’s ears to hurt.  However, if you just give them something to chew on or swallow, that allows kids to equalize the pressure in their ears, and makes their inner ear comfortable.  The ideal thing is something chewy they can eat a lot of that will not fill them up.  We find that Gerber puffs are excellent for this; the kids can eat a ton of them and never get full.  Beyond this, single serve snacks are great (whether you prepare them yourself in ziplocks or buy single serves).  The types of things we bring are: Cheerios, raisins, rice cakes, stuff like this.  Single serve is super convenient because you don’t have to worry about spilling and the unwrapping of each item is an activity for the kids.  We actually have a backpack that is almost totally filled with food for kids on these longs trips.

2. Toys 

We also bring a small number of cheap toys.  Because we bring cheap toys, we don’t mind if they get lost during the trip (which will invariably happen). For example: hot wheels cars, small puzzle, a small LEGO box set, all are good.  The dollar store is perfect for picking up small and disposable toys for taking on the plane.  If they get lost, no problem.

3. Pen & Paper

We have found that simple art supplies go a long way with children. For example, small stickers are cheap and light and will keep little finger busy for a long time peeling and sticking stickers onto paper.  For crayons, it’s worth it to find and buy these triangular cross section crayons as shown below.  They are super handy on the plane because they don’t roll!

4. Games

We don’t like electronic games and iPad for kids. Maybe I will write a separate post on this topic. A deck of mini uno cards can keep kids busy for a long time. Uno is also good because it doesn’t matter if you lose some cards here or there, and two, three, or more people can play together.  We also like to pickup game books that have coloring, tic-tac-toe, word search, connect the dots, and other games inside.

5. Inside the airport

During layovers, we try to find a children’s area if they have one nearby.  If not, an excellent toy to play in some open space is an inflatable beachball.  This packs flat, weighs nothing, and after blowing it up, you can play all sorts of games with it.  It’s been a super helpful on all of our layovers and delays.

6. Medicine

You can and probably should bring all types of medicines along for kids, especially when travelling abroad and not knowing what you will be able to get your hands on, what dosages, etc. For our kids, a key must have on the place is something for their nose like Vaseline.  Our kids both get nose bleeds, and the dry air on the plane really exacerbates it.  I can write a future story about this . .. but for now, I would just recommend bringing Vaseline or Ayer for the nose.

7. Other helpful items

There are tons of other little things we have found very helpful, for example: babywipes (out of diapers and still using these) and clean empty ziplock bags.  Ziplock bags are super helpful for when you kids takes two bites out of that apple and is full, you can just pop it in a bag and save it for later.

That’s it!  What types of tips do you have for travelling with kids?  Please let me know in the comments!

我们家是百分之五十中国百分之五十美国,所以我们经常跟孩子们去中国旅游。现在我们坐过了很多航班,包括很长的国际航班。例如,我们去了太太的老家,需要坐飞机差不多二十五到三十五个小时。通过这些经验我们学到了很多东西。今天的博客我想分享关于孩子们坐飞机的建议。

1)食品。食品是第一个因为食品是最重要的。每一次飞机起飞或者降落的时候,压力变化让孩子的耳朵痛了。如果给孩子们吃喝东西,可以降低对孩子耳朵的压力。让他们耳朵舒服。大多他们需要一些东西咀嚼和吞咽。我们发现小宝贝的饼干是最好的。Gerber的泡芙饼干是我们最喜欢的,因为很好吃,吃很多也不会吃地很饱。我们也带很多小吃。我们觉得分开装很方便,可能买或者自己准备:葡萄干,Cheerios, 米饭糕,等等 … 所有的小吃多很好吃。我们准备好的小吃放在食品背包里面。

2)玩具。我们也带一些便宜的玩具。因为带便宜的玩具,所以我们不担心玩具弄丢。例如: 小车,小拼图,小乐高积木(LEGO)盒子,都可以。你可以在两元店买很多便宜的玩具带到飞机上。如果玩具弄丢了没关系。

3)笔和纸。我们发现简单的美术用品对孩子很有用。例如,带一些之,很多小贴纸很便宜也很轻。很多小贴纸他们会一直玩让他们很忙。关于蜡笔应该买三角尖头蜡笔,下面给你看一个照片。它们最好因为它们不会到处滚来滚去。买它们很值得。

4)游戏。我们不喜欢给孩子们玩太多手机游戏,因为手机游戏创造出很多问题。关于孩子玩手机的问题我可以写其他的博客。我们喜欢玩卡片的游戏。UNO是一个很好的很好的卡片的游戏,因为可能丢了一个两个卡片没关系还可以玩。这个游戏两个三个后者四个人以上都可以一起玩。我们也带游戏书。这本书里面每一页有一些游戏,例如:三子棋,找不同,看图连点,等等。

5)在飞机场里面。我们觉得第最重要的玩具是一个小充气沙滩球。你有中途期间,在等下一个航班的期间,你可以打开你的背包,用嘴巴吹球,跟孩子们玩球。

6)药.  你可能带很多种孩子需要用的药。对我们孩子们最重要的是凡士林(Vaseline)。在飞机上空气很干。我们的孩子们经常鼻子出血,所以我们总是带一些凡士林(Vaseline)放在鼻子里面,保护他们的鼻子别太干了。

7) 其他物品。例如:婴儿湿巾, 纸巾, 自封袋,都很方便。我们孩子们吃一般的苹果吃饱了,我们会放在自封袋里,等一会儿孩子饿了想吃了。可以从自封袋里拿出来给他们继续吃。这样可以别浪费食物。

好了。你喜欢带什么东西跟孩子们去旅游?请告诉我。

Hold it right there!

Blog 17

4-30-18

I have always wanted to be a dad and have kids to raise. I can remember even as a small child planning things I would do with my own children. I guess I just like to plan ahead!

我一直想当爸爸,抚养自己的孩子们。我还记得在我很小的时候我就打算以后怎么和孩子们相处。我想我只是喜欢提前计划(未雨绸缪)。

However, some things you cannot plan for. For example I never planned for the situation I had last week with my six year old son. You see, normally, my wife takes the kids to school in the morning and I pickup in the afternoon. My wife had some work training, and so I was taking kids to school all week.

但是有一些事情计划不了。例如我从没有计划过上个星期和我六岁的儿子在一起的情形。通常,我妻子早上送孩子们去学校,我下午接他们回家。这个星期每一个早上我太太都有一些工作培训,所以这个星期我每天都要送孩子们去学校。

Monday, it was a bit crazy, and everyone was late. Tuesday was a little better, but I was still late getting to work. Wednesday the same. By Thursday morning, I am pretty frustrated.

星期一有一点混乱,我和孩子们都迟到了。星期二,好一点,但我还是上班迟到了。星期三是一样的乱。到了星期四的早上,我已经很沮丧。

It is a situation any parent can identify with. I was pointing my finger at my kids and saying “you guys had better eat and I don’t want to be late to work again!” In that moment, I was frustrated and my tone of voice was not good. I had had enough.

这个情况所有的父母都可以理解。我指着我的孩子说:“你们最好吃早饭,你们不要再让我迟到了!“ 在那时候,我很沮丧,语气也不好。我受够了。

Suddenly, my six year old holds up hand. He looked me right in the eyes and with a calm voice said “Hold it right there Dad. What is more important to you…” then he held out his two little hands, palms up, like a scale.

突然我的六岁儿子举起手来。他直视我的眼睛冷静地说:“爸爸等一下。什么对你更重要…”

然后他伸出两只小手像天平一样举了起来。

He then said “What is more important to you Dad, being late to work … or … having a family where everyone loves you?”

Whoa!!!

他然后说:“爸爸,哪一个是更重要,上班迟到…或者…有家人都爱你?“

哇啊啊啊!

This is either the most clever or the sweetest kid ever (maybe both). In all my planning, I never imagined such delightful children.

这是最聪明或最贴心的孩子(也许都是)。在我以前的计划里,我从来没有计划过这么好的孩子。

Beijing 798 arts district

Blog 16

4-15-18

798 is a cool area I visited recently while in Beijing. You can read about my other adventures here.

798 used to be a military factory, one of the biggest in China. The buildings there were designed by a German designer and have a cool industrial look to them. The top of each building section is curved with big windows which lets the light in. The whole place is now divided up into many studios, cafes, and shops.

Beijing 798

Beijing 798

I shared in a previous post about the Hyundai gallery. They also have a neat air filter display which was titled “Cleanest air in Beijing.” It consists of a large glass walled air filter system with five filtration stages. It also included a long video screen showing different colored dots representing sensor data on measured pollutants flowing into the air filter system from outdoors. Cool!

Beijing 798 cleanest air exhibitMultistage air filterParticle counter display

We also saw the beautiful sculptures of cast metal shown below.

798 arts district

Crafts people are also selling various goods, including these neat sounding and colorful steel drums.

Steel drums

All in all, a bit commercial, but worth a visit I think.

北京798艺术区。

北京798艺术区是一个很酷的地方。你可以在我的博客上了解更多。

798以前是中国的最大的军工厂之一。那里的建筑由德国设计师设计的。建筑的工业外观看起来很酷。每一个建筑的顶部都是弧形的,有很大天窗可以让光线进来。整个地方现在分成许多画廊,咖啡馆和商店。

我以前分享了关于Hyundai画廊无人驾驶汽车的照片。那里也有一个有意思的艺术装置叫“北京最干净的空气“。它由一个有五个过滤阶段的大型玻璃幕墙空气过滤器系统组成。它还包括一个长视频屏幕,显示不同颜色的点,这些点代表测量污染物的传感器数据,从室外进入空气过滤器系统。很棒!

空气过滤器很多点

以下的照片是我在画廊外面看到很漂亮的金属雕塑。艺术家和手工艺人卖很多产品,例如一些声音清脆的彩色钢鼓。总而言之,有点商业化,但我认为值得一看。

钢鼓

Blue skies in Beijing and the power of deciding.

Blog 15

4-11-18.

One of the most interesting things about my recent trip to Beijing was the sky – totally blue skies! Unbelievable! In the past, every trip to Beijing meant me getting sick from the pollution. Why are the skies blue now?

Back in November the Chinese government banned coal burning for all areas around Beijing. Just like that, the terrible pollution problems of Beijing are solved. This is one of the most amazing things about the Chinese government. When they make a decision to change something, it changes immediately. It is unbelievable. I don’t think any other large country in the world can make changes like this.

Another good example: I remember about 10 years ago, both China and USA both said they were going to invest in high speed rail. USA debated and talked about how and where to build rail, whereas China got to work building. China now has 25,000 km (16,000 mi) of high speed rail connecting the entire country built over 10 years. How much does the US have? In the US we have zero.

That’s the characteristics of a decisive government. It can be a good thing or a bad thing but you are guaranteed things will happen.

一件很有意思的事情是北京的天最近都是蓝色的。真不可思议!以前每一次去北京那里的污染让我生病。为什么现在天都是蓝色的?

去年十一月中国政府觉得北京污染太多。因此政府开始禁止燃煤。很快北京的污染问题大部分解决了。我觉得这是中国政府最有意思的特点。如果中国政府要变化一个事情,可能马上改变。真不可思议!我觉得在世界上可能没有其他的国家能这么快做这么大的变化。

还有一个好例子,十年以前中国和美国都说了我们要做高铁。在美国我们一直在说这件事而没有做,然而,中国决定开始做高铁。现在中国有25000公里的高铁。中国所有的城市都有高铁。美国有多少高铁呢?美国现在有0公里高铁。

这是决定性的政府的特点。我觉得可能有好的地方可能有坏的地方,但是不管怎么样保证活动做完了。

Stone lions at Forbidden City

Blog 14

4-7-18

I was revisiting all the big sights on my recent trip to Beijing, including the Forbidden City.

The Forbidden City has lots of dragons, but I like the guardian lions as shown in the picture above best. There are usually a pair of them guarding various palace entrances. And once you see them, you will begin to notice them all over Beijing, bronze lions and stone lions. One has a ball under its paw and the other looks like it is crushing a baby lion. Looks pretty scary. What are they? What do they mean?

The first lion is a male, and has his paw resting on top of a ball or sphere.  That is supposed to represent the yang male force and the paw on the ball represents dominance of the world. The second lion is a female and has her paw resting upon or restraining a child lion cub. This is supposed to represent nurture and the female yin force.

There is a famous Chinese tongue twister about stone lions

四 是 四 , 十 是 十 , 十 四 是 十 四 , 四 十 是 四 十 , 四 十 四 只 石 狮 子 是 死 的。

Pronunciation: sì shì sì, shí shì shí, shí sì shì shí sì, sì shí shì sì shí, sì shí sì zhī shí shī zì shì sǐ de.

Translation: 4 is 4, 10 is 10, 14 is 14, 40 is 40, 44 stone lions are dead.

Can you see why it’s difficult for foreigners to learn Chinese?

我最近在北京出差去看了看紫禁城。虽然紫禁城有很多龙,但是我最喜欢里面的狮子。常常有两个石狮子坐在宫廷门口外。看了这些狮子以后,我发现可以在全北京找到很多和紫禁城一样的狮子。北京有青铜狮子和石狮子。在紫禁城里面狮子总是一对一对的。第一个狮子有一个球在爪子下面。第二个狮子有一个小狮子宝宝在爪子下面。看起来很可怕。为什么要这样呢?有什么其他的意思吗?

第一个是雄狮子,他的爪子在球上代表控制世界。第二个是母狮子,她的爪子放在小狮子上代表照顾孩子。

中文有一个关于石狮子有名的绕口令:四是四,十是十,十四是十四,四十是四十,四十四石狮子是死的。

你现在可以明白为什么学中文给外国人带来很多困难了吗?

Going for a short run

Post #13

4-1-18

We took a trip to Washington DC this week with the kids. Actually, we stayed in Rockville, which is where we first met while working at NIST. You can read more funnies about that elsewhere on my blog.

One time while we were dating Huiqing decided she wanted to go and run with me. I though that she understood that I am a long distance runner. Typically, I will go running for 3-10 miles (5-16 km) for a short run. I told her we could meetup to run a short route out of NIST and through a park and back. The next day, we met up in the parking lot of her building at NIST. She was a bit overdressed for the warm weather, but excited and enthusiastic to go running. NIST is a big place 578 acres (3508 mu) so we had some distance to travel just to get to the perimeter fence. I said “OK let’s go” and she sprinted across the parking lot ahead of me.

I caught up to her and she seemed pretty satisfied with herself and had a big smile. “You run pretty fast” I said, and she laughed and sped up even more. “Take it easy, we are not even to the gate yet” I said. After that, she went into her top speed towards the exit gate.

We exited NIST and started up the hill to go to the park, which is where the run would actually begin. Going up the hill, Huiqing was really slowing down a lot. I slowed down and fell back to let her catch up to me. What she said, I will never forget. She said between deep gasping breaths:

“I …

have …

made …

a …

terrible …

mistake…”

I don’t think she really realized how far the run was going to last and she was totally exhausted from the top speed running. I put my hand on her back to help her up the hill and we slowed down the pace of running considerably to make it to the park entrance. And then we just enjoyed a nice walk through the park and back to NIST from there.

My wife is still a very competitive person, but now she understands how to pace herself better.

这个星期我们带着孩子去了华盛顿旅游。事实上,我们住在罗克维尔,这是我和我太太在NIST工作的时候的一次见面得地方。你可以在我的博客读到的更多有关这个话题的内容。

有一次,我和卉青约会的时候,她想陪我一起跑一次步。我觉得她应该知道我是一个长跑运动员。一般我的短跑是差不多三到十英里(五到十六公里)。我已经告诉她这是我的短跑距离。我告诉她我们的短跑路线是从NIST出发,穿过一个公园,然后原路返回。第二天我们在她的公司外停车场里面见面。那天很暖和,但是她穿的有点多。她看起来很兴奋也很热情准备开始跑步。

NIST是一个大的地方578英亩(3500亩)所以我们需要跑一点的距离到周边围栏。我说“好,做吧”她突然跑了很快在我前面出了停车场。我赶上了她。她似乎对自己很满意脸上露出微笑。我说了“你跑步真快“然后她笑了也跑得更快了。我说了“放松,我们还没有出去大门!” 她再一次在我的前面,现在她用最快的速度短跑。

我们出了NIST的门,开始跑上山坡去公园为了开始我们的跑步。我发现卉青越来越慢在我后面越来越远。我放慢了跑步速度,等她赶上了我。她说的话我永远不会忘记。她大呼着说道:

“我 . . .

犯了. . .

一个. . .

很可怕的 . . .

错误 . . .“

我觉得她不明白以前我告诉她的时候我们的跑步距离。她的最快速度跑步让她非常累。我放我的手在她的背上帮助她。我们也跑得非常慢。最后我们到了公园可能跑步。相反我门改变我们的想法喜欢在公园散步然后回来公司。

我的太太还是一个有竞争力的人,但她现在能够更好地调整自己的速度。

NIST

Flower pepper

Flower peppers

Blog #12

3-16-18

A mutual friend introduced my wife and me while we were working at a government lab NIST. She always liked to share her Chinese culture with me. One night we went out to eat Chinese food. The menu had a spiciness scale for their dishes:

* : Spicy

** : Very spicy

*** : Extremely spicy

# : Numbing

“#? Numbing? What is that?” I though. That must be super spicy!

A few weeks later, this Chinese girlfriend brought me a real Chinese lunchbox that she had cooked herself. How romantic!

In our large NIST cafeteria maybe there are a few hundred people eating lunch and two microwaves to heat up lunchboxes. So, typically, there is a lot of waiting for the microwave.

My wife (girlfriend at that time) brought me a hot lunchbox and went back to heat up a second lunchbox. She told me to start eating and let her know what I thought. I opened the lid of the glass lunchbox and the steamy rice and veggies looked pretty good. There was a spice scent inside I did not recognize and so I started eating. About the fourth or fifth bite, something inside my mouth stuck me like a needle. I stopped chewing. Was it a piece of broken glass? What was this sharp thing? I spit out the food into a napkin. Then, my mouth started becoming numb. It felt like a dentist had given me a shot of anesthetic. I must be having some kind of food allergy! I stood up to find my girlfriend (wife) and she was already on her way back with lunchbox #2. I said “something is wrong, there was a sharp thing in the food, and now my mouth is going numb”. She just said “yes, that’s flower pepper.” At this point I still don’t know what flower pepper is, so I am still pretty worried.

I said – “I don’t know what is happening to me, my mouth is going numb.”

She said again, “oh, that’s just flower pepper. It is a little numbing”

“Numbing?” I asked “The food is numbing?”

Fun fact: Numbing is a hard word to say in English when your mouth is numb.

And then she added “maybe I added too much? I don’t really know how to cook with it.”

Well, it turns out I survived the flower pepper. She showed me what the flower peppers look like and it turns out about 1/5 of the dish was flower peppers. Some of them when dried can be quite sharp! All in all I learned that flower pepper is actually numbing, and that dried flower pepper can be quite sharp. And that Sichuan people are pretty bold.

You can read more about this spice here: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-szechuan-peppers-make-your-lips-go-numb-5668606/

一个朋友介绍我和我的太太认识。以前我们在同一个国家实验室,NIST工作。这个中国美女(我的太太)总是给我介绍中国文化。一天我们出去在中国饭店吃晚饭。他们的菜单上有辣度排名:

* 辣

** 很辣

*** 非常辣

# 麻辣

“#?” “麻辣?” 我觉得很怪,不懂它的意思。应该是非常非常辣的。

差不多三个星期以后,这个中国美女准备了一个盒饭给我。她自己做的。好浪漫。

在我们公司的餐厅,有两百人但只有两个微波炉,所以常常需要排队用微波炉。我的女朋友给我一个热的盒饭,她说了,”你开始吃饭,我去排队“。这是一个玻璃饭盒。我打开盒饭盖子,闻到一阵香味。里面有好看的饭和菜。我发现一种气味我不认识。我开始吃饭。第四五口饭,一个东西在口里面刺伤了我。我在想“这是什么?这是一片碎玻璃吗?

我把饭吐到纸上。我的嘴巴变麻了。像在看牙医,像在嘴巴里打针。我觉得可能是食物过敏!我站起来找我的女朋友,看到她回到我们的桌旁。我说“快快来我有一个大问题。我不懂为什么我的嘴巴麻木了“。

她说“这就是花椒。它会让你的嘴巴有一点儿麻。“

“麻?菜是麻的?“我说了。嘴巴麻的时候很难说“麻木“这个字。

我的女朋友说,“可能加了太多花椒。不知道应该加多少。我真的没有用过,没有办法用花椒做菜。“

我战胜了花椒。她给我看花椒是什么, 我发现我的盒饭差不多五分之一都是花椒。总之,我学会了,花椒菜真的很麻。花椒干可能刺你的嘴巴。我也学到了四川人可能很大胆。