Monday, June 23, 2014

8 Unique Travel Beds

Travel Beds

How should you sleep your baby when you're traveling? This question popped up every month of Etta's life until we finally purchased a travel bed before heading off to Sweden. We have had to be creative with a minimal budget and packing space while travelling with Etta. Read on if you want to find out some of the ways Etta has slept in her little nomad life. I`ll also put in some links to some travel beds that I have come across that are great for camping, the beach or traveling to the grandparents house just in case your looking to purchase one. We finally invested in a used travel bed that fits our little Nomad's personality just right.

CAUTION: Please be forewarned that I am not an expert in baby sleep and safety so if you choose to try any of these out, use at your own risk and set up the beds according to safety standards.

The"Moses" Wicker Bassinet:
Oh the beautiful "Moses" wicker bassinet. Etta slept in her "Moses" in our home in Vancouver for the first 3 months of her life. Along with it we had the jolly jumper rocker. The added jolly jumper rocker was amazing. When Etta needed a rockin' the foot would come a knockin'. We would do the ol' extended foot out of the bed to rock her to sleep, which we will call the 'extended leg rock.' The trick when using the 'extended leg rock' is trying to get into a good rocking rhythm while still lying in bed.

We bought this one on Craigslist. We also sold it on Craigslist just as easily to get all our money back. Etta also slept in this when she went on her first camping trip when she was around 5 weeks old (We did not take the rocking part). It was easy to throw in the back of our hatchback and allowed Etta a complete 'Glamping' experience. .

Behind me in the picture is the bassinet in our big tent from MEC. This is our 'Glamping' tent. Unfortunately we left our 'Glamping' mattress at home. 

"The Suitcase":
The true Nomad spirit was summoned when we used "The Suitcase". "The Suitcase" was actually my mom`s suggestion. Apparently when we were under 3 months old we would sleep in a padded drawer or a laundry basket if needed. No fuss indeed!! We used the suitcase when we went to Montreal for a conference  when she was about 2 months old and when we went to Edmonton the first time to visit family when she was 3 months old. In the suitcase we would put the Moses mattress in the bottom. We swaddled her like above and she would hardly move anything but her head occasionally back and forth.This was perfect for the first 3 months of her life.

"The Borrowed" and "The Bought":
When Etta was around 4 months old we went home for Christmas. I knew she would no longer fit the suitcases. What were we going to do! We still did not want to pack one of those bulky travel beds let alone spend the money on something we thought we would rarely use! (Looking back, Etta has ventured around the world more than most babies and a travel bed probably would have been a good investment at the time). At that point we were really lucky, as Cam`s parents had borrowed a playpen/travel bed from a friend and my parents bought a nice used crib. It was perfect for us and really nice of our parents.
When we moved to Copenhagen we asked  around before if anyone had a crib we could borrow. We borrowed a nice simple white crib and it was delivered to us by one of Cam's co-workers the day we landed in Copenhagen.

"The Mattress":
When Etta was 8 months old we traveled to Arhus, Denmark. We packed the crib mattress in half of one of our suitcases by folding it up (It was a foam mattress). When we got to Arhus we made a bed with the mattress, the wall and our suitcase right beside the bed where we were sleeping.
This is `The Mattress` bed. She also sleeps with Husk, a sleep sac and her animal blanky.
"The Baby Carrier":
The baby carrier was excellent for when we went to Montreal when Etta was around 2 months old. I could explore the sights of Montreal and grab a coffee, all while Etta slept.
Baby Bjorn:
For the first 6 months we used the Baby Bjorn that we borrowed from my sister. I love how you do not need an infant insert to use it and when the baby becomes more alert and stronger they can face outwards.
Ergo Baby Carrier:
For our travels to Copenhagen we did end up buying an Ergo baby carrier and took that instead of the Bjorn. This was because Etta was getting heavier and we wanted the option to be able to carry her on our backs for long travel days and hikes.
Etta sleeping in the Baby Bjorn while we are enjoying a Rough Rider Game in Vancouver. Here she is in the Baby Bjorn.

Sleeping in the Ergo Baby Carrier on our hike through the Swedish Archipelago

Etta sleeping again in the Ergo Baby Carrier!

"The Stroller"
Great for touring, sitting outdoors having a drink, at the park or running. "The Stroller" offers the ability to keep doing what you love while the babe gets some sleep. In Copenhagen most of the babies strollers is their actual bed. However, their strollers are HUGE!

"The Stroller" for us is always a hit or miss. We can never be sure we won't get the "Dreaded" half hour nap, which usually tides her over, although with a bit of crankiness, till nighttime. Every once in a while we get an hour to an hour and half nap in. On those occasions we do a happy sleep dance and have an extra drink.

Napping in Malmo, Sweden outside the Fortress.

Napping in Portugal. One side is the city of Lagos and the other side is the ocean.

"The Car seat" 
This is actually an ACE family inside joke. I will let you be a part of the 'IN'. Etta did not sleep in the car for the first 6 months. Ok maybe I am exaggerating a bit. She did sleep in the car seat the first 5 weeks. She would also sleep in the car if you were driving longer then 20 minutes and if you covered the car seat with a blanket to block out all stimulus (she would scream for those first 20 minutes and eventually tire out and fall asleep). If your drive was shorter than 20 minutes, which usually it is, you would always know that you would have to listen to 20 minutes of screaming on the way to your destination. BREAK MY HEART! Anyways apparently some babies do not like car seats.
Now at 10 months old she will occasionally fall asleep in the car if it is nap time. It is usually important to block out all stimulation.
Etta sleeping at a restaurant when Grandma and Grandpa were visiting.

"The Nomad":
After months of evading the purchase of a proper travel cot, the time came when Etta was going to start crawling and standing and we wouldn't be able to trust her in our makeshift beds. This started a travel cot search. We had a few options.

1. Buy one of the standard travel cots and leave it in Europe before flying home to Canada.
2. Try another new and improved makeshift bed for Etta but risk her destroying the hotel or apartment we are staying in.
3. Find another option.... BUT WHAT!!!
There is a website in Denmark similar to Craiglist that is called   It is a website where people sell used furniture, toys, goods etc.
That is when Cam came across "The Nomad" on the used website. The Nomad has been perfect for Etta. It had an opening at the top that could be closed to keep mosquitoes out, provided some UV protection and allows air to flow. The sides can also be opened and provide the same protection. The poles and the material of "The Nomad" are made with high quality materials. They are the same materials used in high quality outdoors tents and therefore it is extremely durable.

Set up in the kitchen in our cabin on Finnhamn.

The nice wide opening that can be zipped closed with a breathable mesh that keeps out mosquitoes. 

Other Travel Bed Options:
If you are about to have a baby and your thinking of getting a travel cot here are just a few options. I came across them in my search for a travel bed for Etta. I thought they were pretty awesome ways for a baby or toddler to sleep and also very practical for the beach as well.They are all the 'tent' style which is perfect because kids love camping or pretending to be camping when away from home.

The "Deryan":
Initially I tried to buy a Deryan travel cot which is a really cool pop up travel cot. It literally takes 5 seconds to set up. It also compacts very and is about 2 kg. It is not too pricy compared to other travel cots depending on the style. The Deryan website has a bunch of other options for parents that love travelling and the outdoors.
This one comes in for a baby and also a larger one for toddlers. There is a sun block out option as well. Mattress goes underneath for child safety. 

This one is closer to a regular cot as it has the opening at the top.

The "Pea Pod":
Another pop up travel cot. Just like the Deryan it pops up in a matter of seconds. Click Here for more info.
PeaPod P3010
Compacts really small. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Our last stop on our backpacking trip is Hamburg, Germany. It is the second largest city in Germany with 1.8 million people. Cam had previously been to Germany twice while this was mine and Etta's first Germany experience. We headed to Hamburg because Cam was attending the HMB conference (Organization for Human Brain Mapping). Since Cam was at the conference most days Etta and I ventured around the city on our own. At the end of each conference day we would meet up with Cam and continue touring the city.

Here are some of the highlights:

Government building, St. Micheal's Church, Fish market and Play Time

It always amazes how all the main attractions are within walking distance in these European cities that have over a million people. Here are a few of the Hamburg sites that we checked out.

Hamburg Rathaus is the government building in Hamburg and it was constructed from 1886-1897.

Here is St. Micheal's Cathedral. It is a Lutheran church and has a tower that is 132 metres tall. The church is absolutely incredible. You can go up to the top of the tower and have a view of Hamburg.

While Cam went to the conference everyday Etta and I toured Hamburg. We had lots of play time as well. Husky dog is still number 1 but she also loves her Pippi doll from Sweden. She especially loves her hair!!!

On our way to the Fish Market we came across a popular beach club. Surrounding the beach club there was actually no beach but just ocean. Once you enter the beach club it is as though you are in some sort of beach scene from The O.C. There was sand, beach huts, couches, a grill in a car and music,  It does not cost to enter the beach club and the drinks and food are not expensive. There was even a section where children could play in the sand with toys.  It was a pleasant find to a scorching hot afternoon.

The Fish Market is very popular in Hamburg. Everyone we met in our travels that had been to Hamburg told us to go out partying on Saturday night until 5 am on Sunday morning and then head on to the fish market for their fish auction. While there you buy some fish to eat from fishermen. We had planned to skip out on the all night party and just head to the fish market. Unfortunately the fish market only happens on Sunday morning!!! We will have to return someday and attend the famous Hamburg Fish Market. \

Pouring Rain, busted wheel and Suicycle:

It was a Sunny Day and Etta and I spent the day touring Hamburg. All of a sudden dark clouds filled the sky and I had flash backs to when we arrived to Hamburg. (See Travelling Mishaps (Part 1.)) Next large rain drops came crashing down and all I could think of was home was a 15 minute walk. I decided to make it a 5 minute run. I buckled Etta into the stroller and put the rain cover on. Then I ran. Thunder was pounding and Etta started crying. Then she started wailing. Suddenly the stroller became difficult to push but I kept running. I was sprinting as fast as I could and 5 minutes later we were safe and sound in our apartment. Cuddles and kisses were given to Etta as I crashed on the couch.

The next day I went to push Etta in the stroller and realized that the wheel was flat. In all the commotion yesterday I popped a tire. That day led us to explore a different part of Hamburg

Below are pictures of Suicycle where we got the tire fixed. A cool mural we saw on our way home from the shop and a stop in a cool coffee shop.


For some reason I fell in love with the architecture in Hamburg. I wanted to include some buildings that stood out to Cam and I while we were there.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Travelling Mishaps (Part 1)

ACE family trains for the Tough Mudder

I thought I would dedicate a post every so often to mishaps that happen while travelling. These will not follow any particular order but will just pop up when I am in the mood to share our misfortunes. In showing you these misfortunes my intent is to portray how important it is to take each mishap in stride and try to turn it into a positive. While we don't always do this we always do try. When I played rugby this was a popular quote I lived by  'there are no mistakes in rugby, only opportunity.' (quote has been altered slightly) Now while traveling Cam and I often talk about how 'there are no mistakes when traveling only new adventures to be had.'

When Cam and I arrived in Hamburg we were very excited. The train ride was long but Etta was very pleasant the whole ride. As we ascended the elevator to the main level of Hamburg central station we headed straight for the taxis. There was no way we were going to try to haul 3 months of baggage to the apartment via public transit. We were excited to hop in a taxi and go! We approached a large van taxi and the driver said that he would not take us. "You have too much luggage." He said. "This is absurd" I thought. "Our friend fit all our luggage in her tiny car". I told the taxi driver this to no avail. We approached several other taxis and after they saw the first driver turn us away, they wouldn't even talk to us.

All of the luggage we took for 3 months. This included: 3 large suitcases, 1 carry-on,
1 diaper bag, 1 car seat, 1 Stroller (packed with a backpack, Etta's nomad travel bed, and a bunch of food).
About 40 minutes later and after asking 3 different people we figured out how to take the train to the place we were staying. As we were finally purchasing our ticket, we were hit by a torrential downpour. I am talking heavy, fast raindrops with lightning and thunder. Cam had a look of horror on his face while I started laughing. "This cannot be happening" I thought. Instead of worrying about the rain I decided to make the best of the experience and take some photos of our misfortune.
The dark clouds start coming.

I wish I could capture the rain a little better, but believe me, it was really coming down. 

Cam was a little distressed as he worried about Etta and I. 
We soon told him it would all be alright and at least it was still really warm outside. It will make for a good story someday.

After taking some photos we decided to head onto the train and try to get to our destination and maybe by the time we got there the rain would be gone. If the rain was not gone we could just hang out in the station as we assumed if would be similar but smaller than central station. Once we arrived at our train stop we ascended the elevator. As the elevator door opened Cam and I did not say a word. The elevator dropped us right outside literally right in the rain. The stroller was jammed between the elevator door as we were trying to go back in the elevator. We immediately ran for cover and tried to develop a plan of action.

This was our plan of action. I had the stroller with a carry on bag inside.  I also had Etta in our baby carrier and was pulling a large suitcase (50 lbs+). I would crouch down and hold onto an umbrella while pushing the stroller. Cam was pulling two large suitcases (also 50 lbs+ each). A couple of times he would put the big suitcase I was pulling on top of one of his other suitcases when I was finding it too difficult to pull the suitcase, push the stroller and hold an umbrella to shade Etta from the rain. Did I mention the whole walk from the train stop to the apartment was uphill?!

After about 10 minutes we arrived where we were staying in Hamburg. This little trip brought us home exhausted and tired. The person we rented the apartment from must have thought we were crazy, soaking wet and huffing and puffing as we approached her door. Should I ever enter the Tough Mudder Race or The Spartan Race I will be sure to channel our experience dragging all that luggage around Hamburg in the pouring rain!
Future Tough Mudder Team!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Finnhamn: Saunas, hiking, row boats, red ants and much more!

ACE family ferries to Finnhamn........

Saunas, hikes, row boats, red ants and play time have consumed the last four days in the Stockholm Archipelago. Here is our trip exploring the archipelago in pictures.

Day 1: Arrive, Check in, Play Chess, Explore Island
Welcome to the Island of Finnhamn. The ferry dropped us off right near Cafe Krog. Finnhamn has actually become 3 islands combined because the water has receded. We stayed on the island named Idolmen which was about a 30 minute walk from where the Ferry dropped us off. 
This is the Hostel where we checked in. This is about a 5 minute walk from the Ferry drop off. In high season it is really important to book ahead or you will not get a spot. We were there in low season so it was a little cheaper and less people which made it feel more 'rustic'. 

Alas... A 30 minute walk and we make it to our cabin. It was a beautiful one room with a kitchenette. A water pump was only a minute walk away and outhouses and showers about a 2 minute walk. Very simple but VERY perfect! 

This is where Etta now sleeps. It's her Nomad tent travel bed. Perfect for little Nomad Etta. We got it from a used website in Denmark and LOVE it! It is a lot better then the make shift beds we were using. For us it was especially important since she is getting more mobile. It only weighs 5 lbs and is smaller then most travel beds. 
They have a big chess game just outside the hostel. Team ACE played a game. Competitive juices were flowing but the game ended in a stalemate. The 5 second rule to help keep the game short and Etta engaged did not allow
for much strategy.

Some of the views as we explored Finnhamn.

Enjoying the ocean breeze in the sun. 

Hanging out in the cabin when Etta is awake. Most of the pictures we have of Etta involve some food somewhere all over us and her especially since we have not used a high chair for a good 2 weeks.

After Etta heads to bed we get to enjoy the outdoors on our patio right outside where she is sleeping. 
Day 2: Sauna and Ocean Dip
This is the sauna. You get to book the sauna for yourself for an hour at a time. 

This is not a painting or a picture. It is the view from inside the sauna. 

One of us would play with Etta while the other one would go into the sauna for 10-15 minutes. Then that person would jump in the ice cold ocean water to seal in the heat. Next they would play with Etta while the other one went into the sauna. Seriously we need one of these in Deep Cove, Vancouver. 
Day 3: Row, Hike, Eat

Today we took a row boat and rowed from Finnhamn to the neighbouring island of Ingmarsö. The store on Finnhamn is closed during the winter months but Ingmarsö has a store that is open. Since we brought the bare minimum of food with us to Finnhamn we decided to take the row boat across to Ingmarsö.

 This is how the row boat works:
 You always have to have a row boat on each island. First you row the boat across to Ingmarsö which takes about 10 minutes. Then you attach the other row boat and row both boats back Finnhamn. Then you leave one boat on Finnhamn and return to Ingmarsö. Then you do it all over again in reverse when you want to head back to Finnhamn.

This is how the hike works:
Follow the blue signs and you will get to the shop in Ingmarsö. The hike/walk takes about 45-60 minutes.

Things I wish we would have known:
- Do not stop for lunch on the rocks right near the row boats. If you follow the blue signs you can get to a picnic table area that is perfect for eating. Without knowing this, I instead decided to try to feed Etta on some seemingly perfect picnic rocks near the rowboat, while Cam rowed to Finnhman and back to deliver the boats. The previously clear rocks were quickly taken over by an army of red ants that were crawling up my leg as I was trying to feed Etta. By the time Cam came back from rowing the boats I was running around with Etta in my arms yelling, ANTS!! ANTS!!!! Cam thought I was crazy and overreacting until he came onto the rocks and ants were crawling onto his bare foot. We grabbed our stuff and brushed the ants off and started the hike at a run!
- Do not follow the red posts!!! You are supposed to follow the blue signs which you will see in one of the pictures below. Unfortunately we did not know this and one of the first blue signs was missing so we ended up following the red posts. This led to an hour of bushwhacking and grown over trails. We almost turned around as the supposedly 1 hour hike at that rate would take us about 4 hours. However after another  30 minutes we found the main trail and arrived at our destination within the next 30 minutes. The hike there took about 2 1/2 hours and the hike back took 45 minutes.

Life jackets on and we are ready to Row! We borrowed all the life jackets from the hostel. 

Off we go!

We arrive at Ingmarso and attach the other row boat.

Cam rows back to Finnhamn while Etta and I are being attacked by ants.

Before we start our hike we do a quick booty change.

And off we go again, this time on foot!!!

Past an old barn. (You won`t actually pass this old barn if you are on the correct trail. This was near the end of our bushwacking adventure)

Across bridges.

When we arrive at the store we have a treat. Cam and I have ice cream and Etta has a cookie!

Follow the blue signs and you will get to the row boat crossing. 
At the end of our trip we row back to our Finnhamn home.

There ends our Row boat/hike adventure. We think it is the most adventurous day Etta has had in her little Nomad life.