Top 20 Tips for Traveling with Baby

Traveling has always been a passion of mine.   When I got pregnant in 2015, I knew I wanted to share lots of trips and adventures with our little man, and baby or not. Before Max was a year old he completed more than 12 flights, including a trip from the US to Italy.   While having a baby may slow things down a tad, with a bit of planning and a can-do attitude, I promise you can do it too!

Below I have updated a post I originally shared on the blog last summer, sharing my Top 20 travel tips for flying and traveling with baby.  This original post is geared for babies one or under, but I’ll be doing a follow up post this fall about travel with toddlers too!

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1. PLAN IN ADVANCE

Weeks ahead of time I start making packing lists. Rushing to pack mommy, daddy and baby (not to mention other kiddos) the night before sometimes can’t be helped, but odds are you will forget something.  Make a list and create a small staging area in a closet or spare room where you can start to collect those things you want to make sure you remember.

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2. PASSPORTS AND PASSPORT CARDS

For international travel baby will need a passport, which will be good for 5 years. You will also want to get the passport card for baby as a form of identification. Although the card can only be used for international travel to a few select destinations, you can throw this in your wallet and use for domestic travel to avoid lugging around a copy of the birth certificate or passport in your things.

3. STROLLERS ARE YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND

Take a stroller that that’s easy to use and comfy for baby, and sturdy enough to haul things around the airport.  If you don’t have the stomach to gate check an expensive stroller for fear of it getting damaged, then don’t bring it.  Its not coming in the cabin with you, but you can take it through the airport with you and check it at the gate. You will need to stop at the desk at your gate to get a tag to check your stroller.  When you get on the airplane you will fold up the stroller and leave it at the end of the gate right as you board the plane, and it should be waiting in the same general area for you when you disembark the plane.  The stroller is a great place for baby to nap while you enjoy a museum, seeing the sites, or use as a place to feed baby.  It’s also an excellent caddy at the airport.  It can be hard to manage getting all that crap through the airport, so I would wear my Baby Bjorn Carrier with Max and dump the diaper bag and carry on bags in the stroller. (Side note, Baby Bjorn is also a must have getting on and off the plane with your bags.)

A favorite stroller related packing hack of mine is to attach a large stroller organizer to the back of the stroller to stuff some emergency changes of clothes, some food and a plethora of diapers, which can save a fair amount of room in your carry on bags.

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4. BABY BACKPACK AND CLUTCH

The days of a big handbag are now replaced with a diaper bag, but I still need someway to organize my necessities (wallet, phone, lipgloss, hair ties, sunglasses), so I use a small clutch to contain all my clutter and then stuff it into my carry on or diaper bag. I highly recommend a backpack diaper bag because you can wear it, keeping your hands free for holding your baby, carry on, pacifier, tickets, folding your stroller, car seat, and well, you get the point. :-). There are lots of cute ones out there, but I’ve coveted my husband’s Diaper Dude bag I bought him last year- it’s the most practical and comfortable hands down.

5. CHANGE OF CLOTHES

As a general rule, I pack 2 outfits a day for baby, assuming we will have a food or butt disaster at some point :-). Make sure to pack a few onesies in your diaper bag or carry on so you can do a quick change, or aren’t left scrambling if your luggage doesn’t arrive with you.  Remember to bring plastic bags to put the dirty stuff into (doggy doodoo bags or produce bags are a good because they wrap around what’s inside pretty easily), although if it’s too gross and just a basic onsie, you may just want to cut your losses (no need to carry poop with you for a full day if you aren’t returning to your hotel). Also pack an extra shirt for mom and dad in the event that the baby messes spill over on to you (which they often do).  You don’t want to start a flight for New York to Rome with baby poop on your shirt for the next 7 hours. No bueno!

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6. DON’T STRESS!

A lot is going on at the airport, but try not to get stressed or rushed. There are lots of people without babies who fumble about and take forever to board. Don’t let anyone rush you or make you feel bad. You paid for this flight, and just because you take longer to unpack or may have some crying here or there, its OK.  Other non-baby passengers can do the same thing.  That guy farting up a storm across the aisle or teenager with headphones blaring for the world to hear can be far worse!!  If your baby is a good mood when you board, let him baby smile and flirt with the other passengers around you. That way he’s that cute baby who just happens to be crying later on.  And quite honestly, I have found most other passengers to be very understanding and helpful, with one college girl even offering to “babysit” on the plane for us on our flight to Italy last year!  If someone does give you a hard time, just turn the other cheek and pay all your attention to cuddling and caring for baby!

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7. CAR SEAT

You can use a TSA approved car seat on the plane if you buy a ticket for baby, or you can have a lap child up to 2 years of age. If you intend on getting a car when you land, you will need a car seat, so you will need to bring one along or rent one from the rental car company. Car seats can be very heavy, so I recommend investing in a lightweight travel car seat that’s easier to bring through the airport.  I bought this Costco Carseat  that was recommended for travel on a number of websites – we still love it today.  Keep in mind, you your baby a ticketed seat, your little one it is required to sit in the car seat or an approved harness like this one. Install the seat the way you would in a car- rear facing is ok!!  Car seat hack: Buy a container of bungee cords (which can also be super helpful around the house), and use those to attach your car seat right over a wheely carry on bag – no carrying or lugging anything awkward then!

8. BASIC BABY STUFF

Don’t bring 50 bottles with you – you can only use one at a time. I’d recommend maybe 2 bottles in your carry on and then maybe another one in your checked bags if you are nervous. Always have a fresh bottle or sippy cup ready for takeoff and landing- keeping baby swallowing often will help regulate the pressure in ears during takeoff and descent. Remember, anywhere you travel will generally have bottles and diapers. Anything that you can buy locally, leave at home and take only the travel day essentials with you. If you need a specific formula or medicine, make sure you bring along.  Bring pacifiers, one or two small toys and a book – babies don’t need a huge variety to be happy. I highly recommend stocking up on a few of these Baby Rings too.  They have great textures and colors for baby to play with, look at and chew on, and you can also loop some of their favorite smaller toys or pacifiers through one end and attach the other to you, the stroller or the baby carrier – that way when baby chucks that toy it won’t land on the dirty airplane or airport floor!

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9. SEAT OR NO SEAT

As a general rule, I’ll fly up to 3 hours holding a baby in my lap on a plane, but after that I’ll purchase a seat. Some airlines offer reduced fare for babies, so be sure to call and ask the airline to see what they may offer. Another plus of buying the extra seat is two more possible bags you can carry on board (although that also means two more bags to manage through the airport). If you don’t buy a seat, you will still need to check baby in and get a boarding pass to proceed though security and onto the plane. Even if you don’t buy a seat, still bring that car seat and ask to see if there are any open seats – you can possibly get that baby in a seat free of charge!

10. DOWNLOAD

On whatever mobile device you may have, download some visual apps to distract baby, and some noise maker apps to help sooth baby wherever you travel, and some more interactive ones like the Sesame Street app.  These days, we don’t leave for a trip without our Ipad filled with Moana, Secret Life of Pets and Trolls. Remember to bring your charging cord in your carry on to power up in the airport, and a few battery backups if you have a long flight!

11. RENT A CAR

After flying somewhere new, taxis and trains can sound appealing especially in Europe, but with a small baby and lots of baby gear I think renting a car is the best way to get around on the ground after you get to your destination. Make sure to get one big enough for your stroller and extra baby bags. Having a car will allow you to stop when baby needs to stop and take a break, or have baby’s diaper changed, and is less stressful than trying to rush baby, stroller and a million bags on and off a train before it takes off for its next stop.

12. PACKING CUBES (AND NOT JUST FOR BABIES)

These things are amazing for travel with or without babies, but are especially nice for corralling all the little tidbits like socks, washcloths, onesies, food packets, ect. It allows for easy categorization and organization, especially if mixing mommy and daddy’s clothes in the same cases.  I have found the ones on Someebags to be really nice and have several – they also have lots of other great diaper and travel bags as well.

13. ACCOMMODATIONS

Stay close to the sites you want to see so you can make pit stops back at the hotel pretty easily for meals or naps if you like. It’s also nice to have someplace where baby can crawl around in the grass at the end of the day and stretch this legs. Staying in a rental house or apartment is ideal so you can have access to a kitchen and more space to move around. It’s also great to have a separate sleeping area for parents and baby, and a bonus if there is a washer/dryer inside. If choosing a hotel, call ahead to make sure they can help provide a crib and the room will be big enough. If you are driving (or don’t mind lugging one more item when you fly), I recommend bringing your own portable crib, that way baby has the same bed night after night and you know it’s clean.

14. INFLATABLE TUB

This is a great option to help contain a young baby in a clean space. It’s a good idea to bring along when traveling in Europe, because not all hotels will have a bath tub.  This one is less than $10 and packs easily!

15. BLANKETS

I usually being a soft snuggle blanket to help Max fall asleep and cuddle with, and an when he was tiny, an old swaddling blanket or two for something to put down on the ground when baby needs to stretch his legs.

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16. CHANGING DIAPERS IN EUROPE

Get ready to change baby anywhere and everywhere. In countries like Italy, there are not as many public bathrooms with changing stations readily available. Get a cushy changing mat and get ready for some baby buns in the piazza. No one seems to mind at all, but it becomes a little bit more tricky when changing a diaper explosion.  Just bring lots of things to lay baby on, as well as wet wipes.

 

17. DOCTORS AND MEDS

Before leaving, try to locate through your doctor, recommendations from locals, or even the internet, a pediatrician and/or hospital in case baby needs to go to the doctor. My doctor said if you are flying blind, generally speaking she would recommend going to a university hospital because they tend to have better care and services. Bring a digital thermometer (I like the ones that you can scan their ear or forehead) so you can easily check if baby is just tired and a little off or actually sick. Always have a fever and pain reducer like Tylenol or Advil on hand, some teething aids, and a nasal bulb. If going to a foreign country, also bring any other regular meds with you that baby often takes because it can be difficult to find the same brands that you are used to, not to mention trying to figure out the dosage. In addition to his ear infection, out little dude also got pinkeye, and trying to find drops was crazy (we eventually did succeed in convincing a pharmacist what to give us after going to med school at WebMD). Another great thing to take along to help with dehydration if baby isn’t eating or has tummy issues are these easy to pack powder packets of Pedialite.

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18. FLIGHT TIMES

Try to book your flights that work well around baby’s schedule. While you may be up for a 6am flight, baby might have different ideas woken up at 3am from a cozy snooze to get ready and packed in the car. if traveling internationally, doing an overnight flight where baby can sleep most of the time can be great!!

19. TIME ZONES

When we flew to Italy the time difference was 6 hours ahead of our usual time zone. Max slept most of the way over on the flight, but his schedule was still a little off those first few days. The first night it was tricky to get him to go down to bed because for him it felt pretty early to him, but night by night we backed it down a little, and by the 3rd night he adjusted and seemed to be sleeping and napping close to his regular schedule. On the return he seemed to bounce back in a couple of days as well. Pushing the bed times back or forward just a little for a few days should help them adjust to the new time, and they will be sleeping well before you know it.  If only changing an hour here or there, I’d recommend sticking to their regular schedule to make it easier on everyone on vacation and upon return.

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20. GREAT EXPECTATIONS

It is good to have realistic expectations before embarking on a trip with baby and plan accordingly.

If you are day dreaming of a relaxing trip to the south of France, it is healthy to embrace the fact that as you bask in the sun of the French Riviera, you will be trying to balance a glass of rose in one hand as you apply copious amounts of sunscreen on a wiggling little critter with the other, desperately looking for shade, lugging a beach bag and a diaper bag, chasing baby around quickly blocking baby’s attempts to eat yet another pebble on the beach.   This year, you will not be the person on vacation sipping delicious cocktails, gazing out at the sea for hours on end, drifting in and out of a lovely sleep while reading their new favorite summer novel.  But that’s OK, because you are an amazing mom or dad who is still rocking a vacation in the south of France and having a great time with your kiddo.  They are only little for such a very short time…

Get ready. Babies can cry, get tired, get cranky, require extra equipment, and can get sick (ours got a double ear infection and cold when we went to Italy). That being said, I would take a vacation with baby over staying at home any day of the week.  Hands down. I am so excited to share this planet with my little dude and watch him experience all the amazing things this world has to offer. I will never forget watching him crawl around in the grass under a giant lemon tree in Tuscany, watching the world whisk by him in a busy market in Florence, sitting at an Italian restaurant teething on a hunk of delicious crunchy bread, and going for a boat ride on Lake Como. Vacations, big or small, are moments for families to come together and make memories, and I promise as soon as you are back you will forget the hard parts (well, for the most part anyway), and just look back at those photos and smile.

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To make it easier on yourself, pick an itinerary that is more suited for a baby lifestyle. Choose one or two key places and set up camp for a few days at that destination to minimize unpacking and repacking your and baby’s things. Pick a few items on your agenda that are must see and leave the rest of your schedule open for walking around and just taking in the sights, or playing at a park. A more relaxed itinerary will lend itself to a more relaxing trip for the mommy, daddy and baby.

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Safe Travels!

From Toddler to Talker

I know some toddlers who could recite the entire alphabet with ease before 18 months, and other ones who literally said no words until after two years of age. Every child’s development path is different and each kiddo learns at his or her own pace.  We are somewhere in between the two extremes at our house, but in the last few weeks it’s been really exciting for us to watch Max’s speech development continue to grow.

Yes, parents of older children, I fully understand that someday in the future talking back will happen too, but I can’t wait to hear more about what Max thinks about and feels, and the ideas floating around his inquisitive little head.For quite some time he’s nailed the basics, “yes” and “no”, and other basic words. He has asked for all drinks by asking for milk (“Meelk” as he pronounces it), and “Cracker” has applied to all food.  But more and more, Max is asking for specific foods by name, like apples and packets.  And when he sees steam coming up from a meal we are cooking or can feel the heat coming out from the oven he will point and then dramatically pull his arms back yelling “Hot-a!  Hot-a!  Ouch! Hot-a!” (I think that may be my favorite.)

But the really neat thing most recently is watching Max start to experiment with constructing sentences, and learning more complex communication.

(For details on Max’s outfit and links to buy, click here.)

On Monday, the 10 minutes immediately following dinner went something like this:

“Mimi, up… up… up…” pulling me toward our staircase (I’ve never been mom or momma, just “Mom-mom” or “Mimi”).

After we got to the top of the stairs, he ran down the hall to the door of his bedroom with me following closely behind, politely asking “Open?” once he arrived. I opened the door, and he ran to his crib to crab his giraffe Wubbanub pacifier from the side (his favorite friend to fall asleep or relax when he’s tired).  As soon as he picked up his pacifier, he told me “all done” and walked back out the door.

We started back downstairs, counting the steps as we descended.

We sat on the sofa for a minute watching the dogs play with each other, but then Max grabbed my finger and pulled, telling me “Mimi go, go outside”.

As he walked to toward the front door he said “outside bubbles”.   I thought this was so cool because he remembered that we left the container of bubbles outside on the front porch, notwithstanding the fact that we had been on vacation and it had been nearly two weeks since we last sat on the steps to our porch to blow bubbles together.  Knowing that he remembered where we kept the bubbles after such a long time is not big deal, I understand, but realizing that his memories are building and how much he is learning was really cool to me.

We walked outside on the porch and Max picked up the container of bubbles from the table as I sat down in one of the comfortable wicker chairs to watch him play. Max blew one or two bubbles, but he stopped and just looked at me.  He grabbed my finger again with one hand and with the other pointed to the stairs on our front porch, and hopefully asking “Sit, Mom-Mom, sit?”

I looked at those big brown eyes, and gladly obliged, happily watching my little nugget smile with pride or gasp in delight at every single bubble he blew.

I know these are such simple things, and nothing out of the ordinary for any child, but when it is your little baby, somehow they become the most special and amazing accomplishments in the world.

I am in no rush for my little man to grow up, but I am so excited to get to know the little person that is inside that brain of his.   He has been the greatest teacher so far in my life, and I can’t wait for him to tell me even more.

A Few of My Favorite Things – Packing Tips for Your Next Beach Trip

We’ve been planning this trip for several months, so I’m super excited to finally see the aqua waters and beautiful soft beaches in gorgeous Rosemary Beach.  Yay!


Packing for the beach can be overwhelming, especially with a toddler, so I wanted to share a few of my favorite things we managed to stuff in the back of the SUV…


1. Favorite Game, Rummikub.
Rummikub comes with us on all beach trips, and I even have it downloaded on my phone to practice for our beach trips, lol.  It’s a game where you try to get rid of your tiles in runs of numbers in the same color, or the same number in different colors.

2.  Favorite Sunscreen, Neutrogena Beach Defense.

This sunscreen goes on silky smooth, and feels like you are wearing nothing at all.  I don’t reapply nearly as much as I should and still never get burnt at the beach with this stuff!

3. Favorite Shoes, Sam Edelman Slides.

These Sam Edelman tan leather slides are my new go to shoe for everywhere, not just the beach.  They go with every outfit and look suspiciously like the Hermes slides that I’ve been stalking on Instagram for the last year.  Plus they are on sale now for under $60.

4. Favorite Jewelry, Kaia Tassel Necklace.

This fun multicolor tassel necklace makes even a plain old white tank super fun, and dresses up any sundress for a night out.  The wood beads make it extra beachy too!

5. Favorite Stroller, Uppa Baby G Luxe Umbrella Stroller.

This is my favorite day to day stroller, and hands down my favorite stroller to travel with.  It is very lightweight and closes up easily, has a great sun shield, storage underneath, and it folds so compact it is easy to pack for trips.  The seat adjusts so that it almost lays out flat, and the flap in the back lets air in keeping baby cool.  Max has slept for hours on end in this thing!

6. Favorite Shirt, Abercrombie V Neck Tee.

Over the last couple of months I think I’ve bought this Abercrombie tee in at least six colors.  It’s a nice fitted cut without being too tight, and v  neck is really flattering.  Even better, they go for under $20!

7. Favorite Beach Towel, Target.

The thing I hate about gigantic beach towels is that it’s hard to carry enough for the whole family without them falling all over the place.  These towels are big enough to get you dry but not too bulky, and they are less than $10 at Target.

8. Favorite Hat, Merona Panama Hat.

This Panama Hat by Merona is lightweight and comfy, plus it packs really well and pops back into shape after being mushed in a beach bag.  Plus, it looks adorable with plenty of outfits (especially on nieces), and it’s under $15 at Target.

9. Favorite Kid Clothes, Toms Paseo Sneakers.

Max’s grandma bought his his first pair of high top Toms when he was just learning to walk and they are still a favorite.  We recently got these Toms low top sneakers and love them just as much.  They Velcro under the lace holes on both sides so they are really easy to get off and on, and they wash and air dry well.  Max has the next size up waiting for him already too.

10. Favorite One Piece, Navy Deep V Ruffle by Abercrombie.


I’m usually a bikini girl, but it’s nice to have a one piece on hand too.  Sometimes I don’t think one pieces are quite as flattering on me, but I happily wear this deep v one piece by Abercrombie around all day.  The deep v it just a little bit sexy, and the and ruffles help hide any imperfections.  It comes in classic navy and red and is on sale right now for only $25.


After our trip, I’ll be putting together a blog post about our trip and visiting Rosemary Beach.  Check out my photos on Instagram for photos for a sneak peak of our trip!

Swim Lessons Save Lives – Why to Consider ISR for your Child

 

Here is scary fact for any parent:

Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death in children under 5 years of age.

There are so many things that I won’t be able to help protect Max from in this life, but I was determined that my son would learn the skills that can help prevent the unspeakable from happening so we enrolled him in ISR Self Rescue swim classes at his daycare.  Max graduated from his ISR classes this spring, now I have the peace of mind that Max will be OK should he fall in the water someday when I am not there. I wanted to share a little bit about our experience with ISR Self Rescue swim classes in hopes that maybe someone else might consider sending their child to these classes, and just maybe help save a life one day.

Q: Did Max cry the first lesson?

A: Yes he did, and a few lessons after that, but in the end it was all worth it.

Yes, it was difficult to see him cry, but as hard as it was, the end result is what is most important to me.  I felt it was my duty to make sure he learned skills to survive in the event he found himself in the water alone. Now this kiddo will jump, dive, swim and float happily. There is no more crying now, just excitement and smiles.  He is such a little water baby that I have to coax him to get out of the pool – he would swim for hours if I let him.  And probably the coolest thing is seeing him so proud of what he has just done, smiling ear to ear after he’s reached the edge of the pool or our outreached arms.  When he is floating and catches your eye, he will smile and sometimes even wave, letting you know that he knows you are watching, showing off just a little.  I’ve even noticed that when he is tired or upset now outside the pool, he puts his arms above his head as a way of calming down and relaxing.  In short, I am so happy we did this.

Here are the facts. We live in Florida. We go to the beach often. We have a swimming pool in our back yard, and living in Florida, lots of friends and neighbors have pools. As much I think I can be a helicopter parent at times, the fact of the matter is that I won’t always be there, and not every pool will have good supervision, fences or alarms. Drowning can be quick and silent. It’s easy to lose track of your child for a second, especially in a crowd or at a party.  (If you have a pool nearby and lose track of your child, run directly to the pool first and check to make sure they are not there. Every second matters.)

ISR instructors provide one-on-one survival swimming instruction during daily, 10-minute lessors, starting as young as 6-months of age. Infants from 6-12 months will learn to hold their breath under water and roll onto their backs unassisted. Children over one year of age will learn how to hold their breath under water, swim with their heads down and eyes open, roll onto their back and float, rest and breathe, and then roll back to swim, continuing this sequence until they reach safety at an edge or wall.

Please be sure to look for an instructor that is certified ISR Self Rescue certified to make sure that your child has the safest and most effective experience, establishing good breath work before moving on to the next steps.

Some parents are apprehensive to start swim lessons because of concerns about  secondary drowning, which is extremely rare but has received increasing new exposure over the last several years.  Secondary drowning can happen hours or days after water has become trapped in someone’s lungs, which causes inflammation and fluid to build in the lungs, which ultimately causes the drowning. (To learn more about the signs and symptoms of secondary drowning, click here.)  ISR classes can help reduce the likelihood of secondary drowning because a key part of the instruction is learning proper breath control.

Swimming from daddy to the pool stairs, holding his breath under water.

 

I’ve included two videos below so you can see what the lessons look like, a few months apart.

The first  is a video of Max from late this spring as Max was starting to get a little bit more comfortable in the water, practicing a combination of swimming and floating to learn to make it to the edge.

The second  video is from just last week.  Max will dive into the water on his own now and absolutely loves it.  He can float for a very long time and is totally at ease.  We are so very proud all of his hard work, and thankful he had such a great teacher to work with!

For more information, click here to watch a video about ISR, or visit the website at www.infantswim.com.

 

Sparkling Summertime Lemonade Recipe

Summer is in full swing, and picnics, barbecues and pool parties are starting to fill up the weekends.  When we have a large outdoor get together planned, I am always obsessed with making sure we have enough food and drinks for everyone.  When hosting a baby shower last summer, I discovered my go to party drink that I serve at almost any occasion.  It stays cool and sweet for hours.  You can throw together this super easy sparkling lemonade in less than 5 minutes, and everyone will love it!


Key Ingredients:

  1. Country Time Lemonade – Powder Mix.  There are lots of flavors, but I like the traditional lemonade or strawberry lemonade the best.  (Click this link to order from Amazon.)
  2. Water
  3. Ice
  4. Sprite / Sprite Zero
  5. Vodka (optional)

Optional Ingredients:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Sliced Lemons
  3. Mint
  4. All natural food coloring (Click this link to order from Amazon.)

Directions:

  1. To make two gallons, fill the Country Time powder to the 2-quart line two times in your beverage dispenser.
  2. Add 1 gallon (16 cups) of Sprite or Sprite Zero.
  3. Add 16 cups of cubed ice, stir, put the lid on your beverage dispenser, and you are done!

The Sprite will keep the lemonade sweet and fizzy as the ice begins to melt on a hot summer day.  To dress up the drink a little bit, just slice some fresh strawberries, lemon and some mint.  And for special events like baby showers, you can add a dash of all natural food coloring to make the perfect blue or pink party punch for the mommy to be.  This drink is perfect on its own, but I usually sit out some vodka so folks can add a little on the side as an adult beverage too.

I’ve included a few links below to some great beverage dispensers for your next party.  I love the ones that include chalk boards so that you can share the name of your drink with your guests!

Sedona Rustic Beverage Dispenser

On sale right now for only $39.


 


Acrylic Drink Dispenser 

On sale now at Crate & Barrel for only $24.



The Cellar – Glass Beverage Dispenser

On sale right now for just over $50.

Goodbye to Our First Home

I’ve always had a love for real estate. Long before the days of HGTV, Fixer Upper and Property Brothers, I used to watch the streaming photos of local real estate listings that was on Sunday morning TV and episodes of “This Old House” with my dad.   I opted for electives like architecture appreciation at Penn State, and took all the real estate classes I could get my hands on in law school.  I’ve been a practicing real estate attorney since 2003, and I just recently obtained my real estate sales license, so I am officially a real estate agent as well.

Even with all of that, nothing can quite prepare you for the emotional highs and lows of buying and selling your first home.

One of my best friends is about to close on her first home later this week, and she is going through the same emotional roller coaster I went through when I bought my very first house. At times you are super excited and making plans for new furniture and imagining how wonderful it will be living there, and then you think about the mortgage, the obligations of home ownership, and five minutes later you are freaking out, wondering “Is this all a huge mistake?!”  I think this pretty normal, and actually, a healthy reaction.  While it is exciting to think about the future and new beginnings, it is a monumental life change and it’s only normal to have questions, fears and concerns.  It just means you understand the obligations you are about to undertake.

Last week, I just sold my first home.  The first home I purchased all by myself as a single gal, years and years ago, was my very first listing and closing as a real estate agent.  I think experiencing everything as a seller and a listing agent at the same time gave me a great perspective for future clients, and made me realize that selling a home can be every bit of an emotional roller coaster is buying one.  Prepping the house and doing minor repairs is one thing, but nothing quite prepares you for saying goodbye.

Many jobs ago and long before I was married, I scrimped and saved every month hoping to put away enough money for a down payment on my first house. I searched high and low and couldn’t find anything that checked all my boxes, but eventually I found a house that had “good bones” that I could afford in a location that worked for me.  Over the next several years I chipped away little by little at the renovations, window blinds in the kitchen one month, curtains in another room the next.  Over time I would eventually install all new floors, renovate the kitchen and bathrooms, landscaping and a new swimming pool.


It was all a labor of love.  Something that I put my blood, sweat and tears into.  That house was my baby, and eventually became the house I envisioned it becoming, except it was without a family.

I eventually met my husband and we got married.  That was our first house as a married couple. We dreamed of starting a family there, but we didn’t know just how challenging that dream would be.  Shortly after we were married and he moved into that home, we found out that I had some pretty extreme fertility challenges and it would be very difficult for me to have a baby.

As a family of two (plus a few fur babies), we started our fertility testing and treatments while living in that home.   I got call after call about failed IVF cycles and bad test results in that home.  I had my first miscarriage in that home.  I spent countless evenings shedding tears in that home, hugging my sweet puppy dogs and in the arms of my husband, wondering if it would all ever work out.  We endured years of IVF in that home, wondering if we would ever hear the pitter pattering of little feet on the floor, running toward mommy and daddy.

But among all the tears, it was also a home of hope. We never gave up hope we would have our child one day.  I still remember the exact spot where the guest bathroom met the hallway where I received news for one particular IVF cycle that eventually gave us our toddler son was successful.  He had just grown into the beautiful strong 5 day old embryo that we were hoping for.  I somehow knew in that moment that this would be “the one” that would work, and I shed tears of joy knowing that he was strong and ready to become our child one day.

Max was born in our current home, but before closing last week we took him to that first home in which he was still just a vision, our hope, our dream. He quickly ran around the house exploring all of the cupboards, closets, and other nooks and crannies.  He also tried his hand at using the hose outside on the pool deck (he is obsessed with anything related to water).   Before we left, I took Max over to that spot where our guest bathroom met the hallway, and told him that this was a house of hope, and that that was where I knew our dreams would come true.  I know he will be too young to remember, but I wanted to show him anyway, and it was part of my way of saying goodbye.

As we were at the door almost ready to leave, I finally heard the little pitter patter of steps headed toward mommy and daddy, and in that moment realized that all of my dreams that I had for that home had finally come true.


At the closing last week, I learned that the couple who bought the home has little boy of their own.  It made my heart happy to think that maybe this house that I turned into my home would become their place of hopes and dreams.

A house full of love, and the pitter patter of a little boy’s footsteps…

A Little Boy this Fathers Day

Matt and I are always busy, struggling with balancing demanding work schedules as attorneys and quality time with Max, but I think we are doing a good job so far.  Max seems to be thriving in daycare, and honestly, we call it school when we talk about it because they have a designated curriculum daily, and his teachers have backgrounds in early childhood education.  He takes swim lessons, takes part in age science and math lessons, reads stories, goes crazy at outdoor play time, and loves trying new messy projects.  Plus is loves is daycare bothers and sisters – some of which he’s known since he was 4 months old.

Max is now an independent, compassionate, and kind little boy.  Yes, his own little boy now, no longer our little baby.

He is a boy with opinions and thoughts of his own.  He will ask with words when he wants to eat and drink, and promptly say  thank you when you give him that food, or even his favorite toy.  This boy has very stubborn parents, and the apple does not fall far from the tree.  Max knows what he wants and goes after it.  He explores, jumping off the back of the sofa and climbing the outside of the stairs.  He will let you know when you are not making him happy, usually with a demand of “MINE!” when a favorite toy has to go away.

He can be rambunctious, rough and tumble, as lots of toddlers are, but he also shows compassion and love.  The world is so crazy now, a foundation of kindness and compassion for others is more important than ever.   When Max sees someone sad, and he will give a kiss to say he is sorry. At school last week, one of Max’s teachers told me a younger girl was crying one day in class and Max’s response was to place his hands on her face to stroke her cheeks softly in attempt to make her “all better”.   I am filled with gratitude that he cares about the feelings of others and understands, in some way, that his actions can have an impact on those around him.

Sometimes he gets frustrated or mad as all children do, and we try to teach him what to do with those feelings.    I’m really happy he has reached the age where he understands taking a “timeout”.  I never thought it would work this young, but he stays put in his chair and listens.  We will explain what he has done and what to do next time, and he sits there with his lips pouted and tears welling in his eyes.  while I never like to see him sad, it makes me glad to know that he can understand now when he has done something wrong and timeouts seem to help in redirecting his actions.  Who knew at 20 months? (probably lots of people actually, but I was utterly clueless!)

And then there is our friend the potty.  Max is still pretty young so we are just experimenting with his kiddie toilet, usually on the way to and from his bath.  Last week he did pee pee in the potty for the very first time, and several times thereafter.  I was so proud of that kid, and the look of accomplishment and satisfaction of a job well done on Max’s face was priceless.  While we’ve started making progress on the pee pee, our batting average is not quite as good for number two…  Baby steps…

I know talking, opinions, growing, timeouts and potty are all just normal kid stuff.  He is the same as any other toddler.  But that being said, watching him learn and grow in all of these new ways is fascinating to me, and we are so very proud of him.  In our eyes, he’s the most special kid in the whole world.

Some days Max will just bring tears to my eyes.  He will shoot me his coy broad smile, accidentally step on my fingers as a sit next to him on the floor, and clumsily wraps his arms around my neck and squeeze.  Then he will pull his head away and look into my eyes, flash that huge grin again, and fall back into that giant hug.  I can’t believe that’s our little boy, and that we are so lucky to have such a special little man in our lives.  When I look his eyes and feel that gooey baby slobber on my face after a giant smooch, my heart feels like it will explode.   I don’t know if it’s because we tried so long to have him we feel like this, or every parent just feels like this about their child.  He is more than we ever dreamed we could have, and having Max in our life exceeds all of our expectations for how happy we would be…

There are so many complicated things he will have to learn about someday in this world.  Some things will be scary, and some things will be difficult, but above all he will know that he travels through this life with love from so many people, including his daddy.

Daddy plays baseball and wrestles with him – he’s the fun guy who that lets him try sour patch kids and chases him around the house.  But daddy also does the hard stuff.  Daddy changes the disgusting poopy diapers, gives him messy baths, and rocks him to sleep so many nights when Max is teething and can’t get back to sleep.  Daddy is a safe place for Max, a place of love and caring, a place of fun and a place of happiness.

Max will look high and low in the house calling “Dada?” when Matt is still at work, searching for his best buddy.  If he doesn’t hear anything, occasionally he calls out “Matt?”, hoping for a different response.  All the love and caring that this daddy brings into Maxwell’s life has helped our little boy grow into such a clever and compassionate boy.  He is full of passion, determination and smiles.  I’ve read that a dad is a son’s first hero, and luckily for Max, he’s got a superhero.  Max’s daddy never once gave up hope though 5 years of Infertility treatments that we would have our little boy one day, even when I felt like giving up.  Sometimes I would get annoyed, wondering why he didn’t cry the same tears and react the same way as me.  I know now he was just being the rock that I needed him to be, and he knew that in his own time, our boy was coming to us.

This Momma’s Drama – Baby’s First Haircut 

We finally did it.

Maxwell got his very first haircut.

Matt and I would go back and forth as to whether Max should get his hair cut, with each one of us changing our mind at different times.  At one point I think Matt was set on Max growing his hair long like a little surfer baby dude, and I was on board most days.  He was my baby dude and I loved his shaggy baby-do.

(For details on his outfit from Gap, including shoes, click Here.)

But then it started getting hot outside, and the poor dude looked hot and sweaty and I wasn’t ready to try to throw a baby man bun on his head just yet.  It probably shouldn’t be such a monumental thing, but thinking about those soft curls dusting his neck made me sad in lots of ways.  I’m so excited to see Max trying new things and becoming this amazing little kid, but it is a sure sign that he’s leaving the realm of baby things and transitioning into a full blown little boy.  Those little curls were on his head when he was still in my belly, and knowing they would be gone felt like a loss somehow.



But the fact is that we live in Florida.  It is already in the 90’s most days, and the humidity is coming on strong.  I have long hair and know how bunchy and icky it feels having all that around your face and on your back in the summer here.

And the reality is that Max is growing up whether or not we cut his hair, and it was finally time.

Some people take their kiddos to Disney for their first haircut.  there is a barber shop on the front left side of when you enter Main Street USA that does a special “Baby’s First Haircut” full of lots of fanfare and a pair of mouse ears to boot.   While I’m a Disney nut, I couldn’t imagine anyone but my dear friend Arnie Owens doing Max’s first haircut.  We’ve been friends for well over a decade and he always does the best job on my hair, so I knew he would make my boy look as handsome as ever.

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Arnie met us at the door and visited with Max for a little bit before we got started, and then we were off.

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I plopped down on the chair with Max on my lap, we put the Secret Life of Pets on the I phone and propped it up on the mirror in front of Max and he was still as could be.  I absolutely loved the end result.

I’m pretty sure Mr. Max was pretty happy with the end result (and momma saved a few of curls to keep in the baby book).

When Life Gives You Lemons

I think the saying is “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” or something like that.  Sharing our journey is another way that I can help turn a negative into a positive.


One in eight couples struggle to build a family.

My husband and I are one of those couples.  I share our story in hopes that it can help someone else.  No two stories of infertility are alike, but in sharing our story I hope that someone else out there doesn’t feel so alone in this fight.

And while I wouldn’t wish this battle upon my worst enemy, I also recognize that  experiencing this provided me with a deeper insight into what is truly important in life, and a far greater appreciation for the gift of a child.  Every ordinary little thing can just seem fantastic.  Max could just watching Moana, eat a popsicle, or pick nose with no shame, and tears will well up in my eyes because I think it is amazing that I finally have this little baby who is growing into a little boy, and yes, sometimes he may unabashedly pick his nose and smile.

The best advice I can give to anyone going through this journey is to find a community to support you.  Find others who can relate to what you are going through.  Whether it is a supportive on-line fertility group or a friend of a friend, find someone that can relate to what you are going through.  Find someone else who speaks the language of medical jargon like HCG, HSG, follicle, AMH, embryo transfer, Menopur, FHS, IVF, IUI and Beta.  If you aren’t up to talking with someone (because sometimes it just seems too emotionally exhausting), there are on-line groups and books you can check out as well.  You can find support and kinship all around you.

My husband and I are hard workers, always able to accomplish most things we set our minds to, but it seemed that having kids was a whole new roller coaster of which we had absolutely no control.  We were several years into our IVF journey and though I felt like I couldn’t give up after all this time, as there was nothing I wanted more, I also felt like a fool for continuing to try when all I saw was failure after failure.  People start to ask if you will adopt, they ask when you will accept that you might not have children, to just enjoy what you have. While you want to tell them why they are wrong, inside you secretly wonder if they are right and doubt your choices.

While licking my wounds from yet another failed embryo transfer a few years back, I didn’t know what we should do next, if anything, and one morning I saw an interview with Jimmy Fallon on the Today show about the birth of his daughter, in which he was exceptionally candid in sharing his family’s own experience with infertility.  He captured so many feelings my husband and I shared about our own journey, and how hard it was seeing others so sad and disappointed for you.  But his excitement about his newborn daughter was simply intoxicating, and he encouraged those going through the journey to build a family to keep trying, and eventually, somehow, you’ll get there.  He said, keep trying! I promise, “it’s the most worth it thing…” That video will still make me cry if I watch it today.  In the darkest days when I felt like giving up, I would go back and watch how his eyes sparkled when he spoke and how amazing it all was in the end.  I saw that they got there eventually, and it was so helpful to know someone else had been where I was at that point.

An increasing number of celebrities are publicly sharing their infertility journeys, and more news stories are making it out there on national media outlets, disseminating information about new advances in the field.   Bobbi Thomas, a fashion and style guru on the Today Show, features her IVF experience on the program, going so far as to show acupuncture and fire cupping procedures on-air.  At that point in my journey, acupuncture was about the only thing I had not tried so despite some apprehension, I tried it anyway.  After two months of treatment with acupuncture and my amazing fertility team, I was finally able to conceive and carry our son.  Had she not shared her story, maybe I wouldn’t have tried acupuncture, and maybe THAT last embryo transfer wouldn’t have worked… but it did.  I’m so grateful she shared her story.

After my initial round of IVF treatment, I reconnected with a college friend who had was an IVF girl herself, and she recommended I join a Facebook infertility group that she was already a part of.  Over the next few years, I was lucky enough to have the support, love and understanding of those ladies.  I formed close friendships with several women I met on the board, and though many of us have not met because we are geographically far away, they remain sources of strength and love for me.  Whether in Ireland, Israel or Philadelphia, these ladies had my back.

Along the way I formed a bond with my friend Jen in Washington, who I met as part of the Facebook group.  Shortly after I suffered a miscarriage she sent me a note one morning.  She said that the night before she had this vivid dream the two of us were together in Orlando, pushing our baby boys in strollers around EPCOT.  She reminded me of this dream from time to time, and how vivid it was – she was sure it would happen somehow.  Not terribly long after her dream, Jen would get pregnant and have a baby boy named Daniel, and shortly thereafter I had my son Max.  Last week Jen and I finally had the chance to meet in person for the first time when she was in Florida for a family vacation, and it was every bit as sweet as I thought it would be.  Watching our sons high five was just the best, like, “Yay moms, we did it!  We are finally here! Woo hoo! Thanks for not giving up on us!”

If you are also one in eight, know that you are not alone.   We are out there.  We are on TV, on the internet, on Facebook, at work, in your neighborhood.  I share my story in hopes that it helps you not feel like you are in this journey alone – there is a whole family of infertility warriors that have your back.

If you would like to learn more about my personal story with infertility, please check out a Q&A session I recently did for INFERTILITY OUT LOUD, a website and blog created by licensed counselor and a fellow infertility warrior, Liz Strong.   Realizing that people often feel isolated and alone in this process, she started her site in hopes that through sharing and reading the stories on her site, other couples would find it to be a place solace and support.

 

 

5 Practical Tips for Decorating Any Nursery

Decorating a nursery can be lots of fun, but at times it can also be a little bit overwhelming. It is a room that you will be spending a lot of time in, and for me it was very much a labor of love for my child.    In this post, I wanted to share my top five practical tips that I picked up along the way that are helpful for decorating any style nursery.

1. ORGANIZE YOUR IDEAS

Look for inspiration on sites like Instagram, Pinterest and Houzz, or just save screenshot photos in a file on your phone.  You may discover something new that never occurred to you.  Originally I thought I wanted to go with clean light neutrals,  boho accents and a wood wall. Then I stumbled upon nurseries with royal blue and navy walls with white accents, which I simply adored.  For weeks I waffled back and forth with these two seemingly  opposite idea.  I played around with a photo collage app on my iPhone to create an inspiration board.  Soon I realized that there are no steadfast rules – I could have the best of both worlds. Being able to play with the colors and textures together helps you have confidence that you will be happy with the end result.

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2.  INVEST IN A COMFY GLIDER

At first I was dead against getting a glider for the room, but my husband talked some sense into me and I’m so glad he did.  There are a lot of chair and gliders out there today that are equal parts stylish and comfortable. I found this amazing glider at Land of Nod, and still fall asleep in it almost every night when I rock Max before bed.  In a few more years, I can repurpose it for another room without it looking out of place.  You are going to to be spending a lot of long nights in that chair, and it will be a place where you make lots of sweet memories with your little one.  Find one that you will love spending time in for the long haul, it’s totally worth it.  (I’m still obsessed with this striped rocker from Land of Nod too!)

3.  REPURPOSE ITEMS

While you are set on creating the perfect nursery for your little ones, remember in the not too distant future that they will want to express their own style too – like a bright red race car bed in the middle of the room.  In addition to buying traditional baby furniture like crib and comfy glider,  I tried to incorporate other items in the room that we can repurpose later in other rooms.  Instead of a changing table that has a limited shelf life, consider putting a changing topper on a waist high dresser or hutch.  We used West Elm dresser for Max’s changing table. (For extra safety, we recommend anchoring any items that could become top heavy to the wall and permanently securing the changing pad on the dresser.) I use lots of baskets for storage, a wooden shelf as a diaper organizer, a puff instead of the glider footstool, and a funky little tree stump side table.  Another favorite is this fun print from Gray Malin’s Parker Series, incorporating our favorite furry little friends at the iconic Palm Springs hotel.

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4.  SMART PAINT

While some decorating professionals may cringe, one option is to consider at least a semigloss paint.  Satins may be prettier to some, but eventually sticky hands, food, crayons and other ooey gooey things will end up on these walls, and a glossier type of paint will be a bit more durable and easier to clean.  Whether or not you go with a semi gloss, I always suggest making sure you buy a bit more than you will need so that it’s no big deal to clean up a rough patches that may show up from time to time.  (And make sure to keep the name  of the color and brand of paint.)

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5.  USE ETSY

I’ve used Etsy to find shelves, pillows, paintings, signs and curtains for our house.  I think Etsy is a great option to find one of a kind pieces for your child’s room that don’t have to break the bank.  And it seems that no matter what your style or theme, there will be a shop that offers what you are searching for.  One of my favorite Etsy finds are these happy furry friends hanging out in Max’s room by Water In My Paint.

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