Hey there, I’m Katherine, India’s sister-in-law.
I started Headbands for Life just shy of a year ago. I was yearning for a way to serve the unborn as well as a route to help women through the amazing journey of pregnancy and childbirth! However, I was somewhat limited. I had a one-year-old and was expecting my second. These two things made it difficult to serve in an “out of the home” setting. My parents had bought me a sewing machine for Christmas and I had some sewing practice growing up with my Mom. The Lord used both the desire to serve and the resource of a sewing machine to give me the idea of headbands! After some great tutorials, many failed attempts, and some gracious first customers I was able to start sewing headbands and processing orders. I was having fun and all the while serving the Lord by supporting these women and babies from my kitchen table. Currently all of the profits go to HOPE Life Center in Wausau, WI and I can only pray that the Lord uses this business to minister to other Crisis Pregnancy Centers in the future.
If you would like to support families women and the unborn by purchasing some headbands or hats you can find us on Facebook: @headbands4life and Instagram: @headbands_4life . If you are seeking help for yourself or a loved one, please check out HOPE at https://www.hopewi.org
Here is a more organized list of things that I bring along when we fly. This doesn’t include my personal belongings but focuses more on what helps me with the kids. If anyone is interested in what I put in my own carryon, leave me a comment and I’ll think about a blog series on traveling as an adult! 😊
A lot of snacks. Snacks that may be somewhat of a treat. Snacks that have some sort of protein content. A good assortment of snacks. We don’t skimp on snacks.
We always pack as many snacks as we can because our kids love snacks. I think most kids do. Having something to munch on is a good way to pass the time and keep kids happy. It’s pretty simple.
Packing tip for snacks: Many airports now require you to take all of your snacks out of your bags for security. This past trip I put all of the snacks into gallon-sized Ziploc bags, then I put all of the Ziploc bags into my “personal item”, which is the purse or laptop case that you’re allowed to carry in addition to a carry-on. This way I knew where all the snacks were and it saved a lot of time that we used to spend digging out granola bars and whatnot. Just grab the Ziploc bags out, put them in a tray, and you’re done!
2) Child Headphones
We bought our kids their own headphones a couple of years ago. The ones they give you on the airplane don’t fit the kids’ heads very well (honestly they don’t fit my head either 😛 ), and they don’t have super great sound quality. Most international flights have free movies available onboard and the kids have enjoyed watching them much more since we got them their own headsets.
3) A Few New Things
I always try to have a few new small toys or a new book/coloring book for the kids to play with along the way. My mom often buys them things like this before we fly and that has been a blessing! You know your kids’ personalities and you might be able to choose something special and unique to them that they could enjoy throughout the trip.
4) A Jacket
I bring a jacket along for my kids because you never know when you’ll be somewhere that the A/C is cranked down to ridiculous temperatures. On one trip recently I decided not to pack jackets and see what happened. Let’s just say I regretted it.
5) Their Favorite ________.
I left a blank up there because some kids are attached to something. For a while my kids were obsessed with having a blankie, so we traveled with it. My son has a bear that he really likes right now so we stuff it in his backpack. If there is something that can bring comfort when they are tired and out of it, by all means, BRING IT.
6) Extra Set of Clothes
For the toddlers/kids, I bring two extra pairs of underwear and a full extra outfit. If they are not completely potty-trained, I bring a couple extra pull-ups. You never know when you might have a spill or even an unexpected overnight layover.
For babies, I bring around five extra outfits. It’s always better to have plenty of clothes when you have a baby in diapers. You never know when you’ll have a mess on your hands.
7) Disposal Bags for Diapers
8) Baby Carrier
I highly recommend babywearing. The three carriers that I like the best and still use are the Baby K’tan, Lillebaby, and Tula. Babywearing has been such a huge help, especially while traveling with multiple kids!
Picture this: Kid on the front, backpack on the back, one hand pulling a rolling-carryon, and the other hand is free for…coffee. Talk about winning!
9) Double Stroller
If you have more than one kid, it is nice to have a double stroller. My husband has a backpack that converts to a rolling carryon, but he usually just keeps it on his back so that his hands are free to push the stroller. Our stroller has a space under the seats that we can put two of the kids’ backpacks into, which is nice for when they are tired of carrying them.
We have had to walk a couple miles to get to another gate. It’s unreasonable to expect a jetlagged toddler to walk that far, and it is even worse to try to carry them that far (unless you are wearing them). On our last layover in Frankfurt, I am not sure if we would have made our next flight without the stroller!
If you have multiple stops, be sure you tell the airline at check-in that you will want to have your stroller at each stop along the way. This way your stroller will not be checked to your final destination. If you get off the plane and your stroller is not sitting right outside the door of the aircraft, ask airport personnel where you should pick your stroller up from.
The double stroller we have is a Joovy. We have had it for almost five years, but I have included a link to the one that seems to be the same as what we have (apart from the color): https://www.amazon.com/Caboose-Graphite-Stand-Tandem-Stroller/dp/B01N4S1U2I/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=joovy+double+stroller&qid=1566463824&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFIRkI3QlpSQzJPMzcmZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTA3OTc5OTVQVTdDQVBFM0FBQ0gmZW5jcnlwdGVkQWRJZD1BMDMwNzc0NTNSRkkwSElQRU1BVTkmd2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGYmYWN0aW9uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl
This stroller was gifted to us and it has been a well-used blessing! It folds up easily and isn’t a hassle when we have to collapse it right before boarding a flight.
10) Cleaning Wipes
I try to travel with some sort of sanitizing wipes for cleaning surfaces along the way. Anyone who has flown knows how disgusting the bathrooms can be on planes and in airports. It is nice to have something on hand to wipe off a gross toilet seat before your child uses it.
These are ten things that I consider to be necessities. There are other obvious things that you would also pack if you have a baby, but I wanted to emphasize the things above in order to explain how they have helped us. If you have any specific questions, I am always willing to chat some more! I am also reminded that as the years go by, the kids will be able to do more for themselves as we travel. This is simply a stage of life that will be over all too soon.
Let me just conclude this blog series by saying how grateful I am to the Lord for guiding our travels. I don’t know if I will ever love the long flights, but I know that they have been bearable and smooth by God’s grace alone! He always gives you the strength to do His will. – India
The phrase “less is more” might be overused, but it is really applicable in regard to travel! I used to be the mom who packed every possible baby/kid item in my carry-ons. I wanted to be prepared for anything. While my forethought may have been commendable, it left me with a lot of useless baggage, no pun intended! I would get to my destination and pull out a lot of items while thinking, “Well, I never used this, but at least I had it just in case!” After a while I realized that I was pulling out the same items every time. I was using up precious space and carrying bigger bags than necessary.
Having maxed out carry-ons can be such a drag while trekking through the airports with kids. It is frustrating when you’re in line at security and everything is spilling out every direction as you attempt to take out your electronics and whatever else they want you to take out on that particular day. When you have little kids, it is even more stressful to go through security because you must do everything for them. And you may or may not have a three-year-old who is terrified of security and never wants to give his backpack up to the x-ray machine. 😛
These days I ask myself, “Am I really going to use this? Do my kids really need this many toys to occupy themselves? Will we actually go through thirty diapers and two full packages of wipes in the next forty hours?”
I recommend going through all your carry-on items and making some tough choices. Decide what you can live without during your trip. Do you need your journal, a novel, crossword puzzle book, AND your Kindle/tablet? Does your toddler need to have a rolling carry-on on top of a backpack and their teddy bear?
This year I started packing a lot lighter in the carry-on department and it was the best decision I could have made while traveling with four kids for the first time. You might be thinking, “That works for you, but we had to put extra stuff in our carry-ons because it didn’t fit in our checked bags.” Been there, done that. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that there is always something I can leave behind, and I usually don’t miss it that much when I get to wherever I’m going.
My kids are still little (six and under) and for now I am a mean mom when it comes to packing carry-ons. I collect their backpacks the day before we fly and pack them myself, then keep them in an inaccessible location until shortly before we leave for the airport. That way they cannot stuff randomness into them when I’m not looking.
In my mind, less is more when flying with kids. When you have less stuff, you are more relaxed. You don’t have to worry about leaving as many things on the plane because you know exactly what was in your kids’ carry-ons to begin with.
If you are wondering what I DO pack in our carry-ons, be on the lookout for my next post about the necessities. Now that we’ve flown internationally with babies, toddlers, and kids every year for the past six years (sometimes more than once in a year), I am pretty set on what I need and what I don’t.
As I said in my post yesterday, there are no absolutes and what works for me might not work for you! However, I will conclude with the fact that I haven’t always been a minimalist in air travel. The Lord is continually reminding me that “stuff” is not all that important. Having the latest travel gadgets won’t make us or the kids any happier. I still get stressed about flying, but God’s grace is there every step of the way and that is something to be thankful for.
This past year I have had many people ask me what air travel is like with our kids. Some people give me the look that says “you’re crazy” while telling me how brave I am. Truth be known, I feel more on the crazy side than brave most of the time! However, the questions I’ve been asked have inspired me to write a few blog posts on this topic. Here are my first thoughts:
Don’t Overthink It!
With or without kids, people often complicate air travel more than necessary. I have been flying internationally every year since I was two years old and I feel strongly about the following: Yes, there may be “life hacks” that seasoned travelers can share, but ultimately, flying is about getting from one place to the next. I have learned that you can be as prepared as humanly possible and things you never expect might still go wrong. There are no absolutes with air travel these days, it seems. What works for one traveler might not pan out the same way for another.
We have found that prayer is the best way to prepare for our flights. We pray and ask others to pray long before we fly. The Lord has answered these prayers time and time again by allowing our children to behave and cooperate amazingly well considering the very long flights we take them on!
The first time we flew with Sakshi, she was only five months old. We flew from Florida to India, which takes anywhere between 24 and 48 hours depending on the route. Sakshi was a very fussy baby and I was extremely nervous beforehand. However, she was the perfect baby during each flight and layover! We attributed this solely to prayer. My husband has always said since then, “If God can close the mouths of lions, He can also close the mouth of a baby!” Now that we have four children, ages six and under, flying has been no different in the area of answered prayers.
Yes, we have had a few rough moments. I will not try to say that every flight has been perfect. Once Thaddeus screamed for most of a flight from Abu Dhabi to Frankfurt. It was so bad that as we were heading to the baggage claim, people were pointing at us and saying, “That’s the kid!” The Lord undoubtedly allows some of this to keep us humble. 😛
There have also been rude passengers who didn’t want to sit by someone with kids. On the flip side, I have typically found flight attendants to be kind and accommodating when you are traveling with kids. Beyond that, having kids means you get to be at the front of the lines for security, customs, and boarding 90% of the time (okay, I guesstimated that percentage based on our experiences 😉).
All in all, when I say not to overthink air travel with kids, I mean to put your mind at ease. Your experience will be unique to you and your kids. Never feel like you must “have it all together”, because there is no set way to do that! I can – as can many others – simply share what I have learned and perhaps you can glean something from it. My next post will be about how less is more. I will share more of the specifics of how we travel with the kiddos.
Until then – India
To the mom struggling with chronic illness:
You wake up every day hoping it is a good day. You see the tasks to be done and your inward and mental energy soars with ambition. Sometimes you breeze through your to-do list and end the day with sweet satisfaction. The list is checked off and you can rest knowing that you did your best for your kids that day.
Then there are the not-so-great days. You have plans laid out. You have every intention of getting right to them, but your body just won’t cooperate. Before you know it, you’re spiraling down the familiar pit. Your high expectations for fulfilling your role as a mom have faded. You accept the reality that today will be one of those dysfunctional, unproductive, sort of depressing days.
Guilt hits you as other people take care of your kids and responsibilities. I should be taking care of them. I don’t want people to think I’m just being lazy or faking it. I’m inconveniencing everyone’s lives.
Questions haunt you. Why would God give me these children when I can’t even care for them sufficiently? What if my life is like this forever?
I know what your mind does to you because my mind does it, too. There are few things worse than lying in a hospital bed or on any bed of illness, even at home, when you have small children who need you. You have way too much time to think and that is not usually a good thing.
If you are reading this and relating to what I say, please stay with me. I wish I had a fix-all for these struggles, but I do not. Rather, I can tell you what I do on the hard days.
I speak truth to myself. I believe that the Bible is true, and I am blessed to have a relationship with my Maker. He has provided so much goodness for us in His Word! Search the Scriptures. Earnestly seek comfort in the Bible. God will give you what you need for each moment. We may feel that God is silent because we don’t have all the answers. Perhaps God isn’t giving you a clear answer yet, but He WILL give you peace and grace when you need it. My God is not silent when my Bible is open.
I say “NO” to self-pity. It is easy to drown ourselves in negativity. Don’t let it happen to you! You won’t be a nice person to be around. Trust me.
I focus on God’s plan for today. What I mean by that is: take life one day at a time. He made you to be you for a reason! He made you to be the mother of those children for His plan and purpose. At this present time, you might be sick, but how can you be a blessing to your kids despite that?
Use the down time wisely. Pray for your children’s physical, emotional, and spiritual protection. Pray for their future spouses. Read your Bible and books that will enrich you spiritually or increase your Biblical knowledge. Compile recipes and meal plans on Pinterest that you can make for your family when you are better. Write emails to friends who you haven’t corresponded with in a while.
Watching an occasional movie or reading a fun novel here and there during my illness is great, but my personal limit is small. Despite what we think, binge-watching seasons of shows in order to take our mind off our present situation isn’t the most helpful thing. Those are hours of your life that you will never have back. Consider that maybe God gave you some quiet time to become the mom He wants you to be.
Okay, at the same time, I have to say that sometimes I get carried away and waste time when I’m sick. You really must be intentional to do valuable things when you’re in the hospital or whatever your situation is. I am trying. When the puking has stopped and the pain is manageable, I try to pick my Bible up. You know what? The harder I try to be intentional with my time, the more I sense that I have fulfilled God’s plan for me for that day.
Scripture to read: Psalm 77, Philippians 4:8
There might be more from me on this subject as my journey continues and as God reveals new truths to me. As time allows, I would even like to share my entire health story because I’ve had many people ask for this. Right now I am not sure if this should be in blog form or book form, though. What do you think? Your feedback is always appreciated. Until next time, have a blessed day!
Today we found out that we are having a baby next week! Baby Sophie will be born on December 4th via C-section. The doctors have reviewed all the risks to my health and decided that it would be best to deliver early (at 34 weeks).
It will be different than a usual section. The surgery will happen across the street at a different hospital where they have the emergency equipment on standby. I’ll be given general anesthesia and there will be a trauma team, colorectal surgeons, and a host of other specialists in the OR. The main high-risk doctor who is handling my care explained to us that he hopes it is all precautionary, but he and the other OBs anticipate the placenta being difficult to remove.
We are praying that the placenta comes out with no problem and no further surgery! If it does not, however, they will likely need to give me some units of blood, close me up, and then do another surgery about two or three weeks after delivery. We know our God is powerful and we trust that whatever happens is His plan. I want everything to go smoothly and flawlessly, but I know that He will use this situation in our lives come what may.
Specifically pray that:
- Baby Sophie will be healthy and thrive
- I will have minimal bleeding and complications during the surgery
- Zack and the kids will remain healthy through this time
In the meantime, I am on hospital bed rest. This was a little disappointing for us since we were hoping I could come home until delivery. It would be so much easier with the kids and you know, it’s just nice to be at home enjoying the holiday season. However, we want to do what is best for Sophie and I and we recognize the doctor’s concern in keeping me hospitalized.
If anyone wants to visit, that is still fine. Just call or message Zack and I beforehand. I do enjoy the company! Please remember to be conscious of if you may be sick or around someone who has been sick. It is important for us to stay healthy throughout this time.
We are excited to meet our new little girl and appreciate you sharing this journey with us through prayer.
Psalm 34:1-4 says “ I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
I watched a livestream service this morning and the pastor preached on how important it is to praise the Lord no matter what. This came at a very timely moment for me as less than an hour ago we were receiving results from a couple of high-risk doctors here at Winnie Palmer Hospital.
While we were in India, my OB gave me a heads up that the ultrasound was showing a possible complication for delivery, but she was optimistic that it would resolve itself. However, when we got back to the States, the ultrasound showed that the situation had become even more complex. I will spare you the confusing details, but basically we are looking at problems with the placenta that put my health in jeopardy.
The good news is that baby Sophie is doing very well and is measuring beautifully! I am at 32 weeks and five days. I continually praise the Lord that she is healthy because I would much rather have the high-risk factor be for me than for her! I do not take her health for granted as it is a true answer to prayer.
I ended up in the hospital on Friday night with a lot of pelvic pain, which turned out to be contractions (I’ve only ever had back labor before so I couldn’t tell if I was just crazy or if I should go get checked out). My local hospital transferred me to Winnie and after that bumpy ambulance ride, I could tell they were real contractions and I was really hurting. Thankfully they were able to slow the contractions and give me shots to speed up the baby’s lung development. They were quick to run tests, though we didn’t hear results until today.
Right now we don’t know what exactly will happen. The doctor told us this morning that the longest they will let me go is to 36 weeks. He is consulting with the whole high-risk team this week so we can get a better idea. The potential for major surgery after the C-section is there, but we are hopeful for the best outcome because we know our God is greater!
Please specifically pray for Baby Sophie’s health and protection throughout this time. We chose the name Sophie because it means “wisdom” in Greek. At first it was just a random name that Zack liked (in my mind), but now I have begun to see God’s wisdom throughout this season of life and, well…the name Sophie is so fitting now.
As for my health, please pray that we can come out on the other side of this with as few surgical complications as possible. My past surgical history (colectomy and proctectomy) make everything more tricky and even change the way that things appear on ultrasound and MRI. However, we know that God has us exactly where we need to be right now and we praise Him for that.
We will give another update when we have one! Until then, we are thankful and at peace to follow the Lord through this time. Waiting for a plan to be put in place can be hard, but Psalm 34:4 is exactly where I’m at right now: “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
Life with littles: just that phrase can make our anxiety go up as moms. The days are long and the demands are endless. You think you’ve successfully got your little man playing with his toys, only to have him whining for your attention two minutes later. You tidy the living room and sweep the floor while your toddler is napping, only to have your beautiful work destroyed within thirty seconds of his waking up. (Even as I write this, my two-year-old son was supposed to be eating his breakfast – chocolate banana bread, mind you! – in his high chair. Instead, he was eating a bite or two and crumbling most of it on the floor!)
Why is it that we think of the negatives when we think of raising little people? I have heard so many women indicate things like “my life is over now that I have kids” or “have your fun before you have babies, because it’s all over then” or “raising littles makes pursuing my career super difficult”. At least in America, the idea of kids is made out to be this huge ordeal that is apparently a mundane burden. This is unfortunately even true among Christian circles. Young people approaching marriage are encouraged to “space out your children where you can afford them” or “enjoy your life together before you have kids because everything changes after they come”. You know the kinds of things I’m talking about – we have all heard them.
May I encourage my fellow mamas today to reconsider and reevaluate the responsibility of raising littles. Instead of focusing on the “negatives”, let’s remind ourselves of what God has to say about raising children:
- “My life is over now that I have kids”:
- That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. Titus 2:4
- She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27
- And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply… Genesis 1:28a
- “Have your fun before you have babies, because it’s all over then”:
- Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. Psalm 127:3
- “Raising littles makes pursuing my career super difficult”:
- As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Psalm 127:4
In closing, may we also remember that there are so many women around us who wish to have children, yet find themselves barren. On days that we feel overwhelmed by the little people in our lives, let us remember that there are women right next to us who are feeling overwhelmed by the loss of little people they never met. Let us not be so quick to complain about the amazing role of motherhood God has given to us.
Just one moment of peace…please! I have thought this to myself on many occasions.
Being a mother means being on-duty or on-call 24/7. Sometimes it feels like I just can’t win! On the days when I intentionally wake up earlier than normal, one of my kids will decide to do the same and my hopes for extra quiet time are washed down the drain. Things like that can be frustrating. I often feel like I have at least one child in my space (or nonexistent space – ha!) all day long.
It is during these moments that I have begun to remind myself of a simple truth: they won’t be little forever.
That little girl who wants me to hang out in her room and play right now…one day she will be heading off to more exciting events with her friends.
That little boy who rarely wants to leave my side right now…one day he will be showing me his brand-new driver’s license with a proud grin on his face.
That little girl who wants to tell me every detail of her day…one day she will be more interested in sharing those stories with a special young man.
When I reflect on this, I realize how much I need to enjoy every second…enjoy the moments when Thaddeus is literally climbing on my head and laughing hysterically about it, enjoy the moments when Paisley tells me she loves me out of the blue, and enjoy the moments when Sakshi says she can’t wait to be a mom like me.
I am their world. When they wake up, they want to be with me and they don’t want to go to sleep at night without kissing my cheek.
But I realize that things will change.
One day, the cares and busy-ness of life will become their burden to bear as well. They will make more friends, they will go off to college, they will get married. They will have lives of their own.
That’s why I’m going to enjoy today. My prayer is that God will allow me to maintain a loving and close relationship with my children throughout this life. Even though things will be different once they are grown, I hope that they can look back on their childhood with rich memories.
When I embrace these moments of toddlerhood with joy, I learn to love and appreciate life so much more. Being a mom is a lot of work, but it is a privilege as well. Rather than getting caught up in the tumult of potty-training, temper tantrums, and cheerios, focus on the beauty of motherhood.
“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” -Dr. John Trainer