Virginia Vacation 2019

Good morning!

Last week, Justin, LJ, and I loaded up our minivan and headed east to visit his family in Virginia. His parents have a timeshare at a resort there and we were excited to get to spend lots of time with Justin’s parents, his sister, brother, sister-in-law, and our nephew and nieces. It was a wonderful week full of lots of fun: swimming, fireworks, games, and just spending lots of time together. Rather than a full recap, I thought I’d just share a few pictures that give a glimpse into our week. I honestly didn’t take a ton of pictures because I was absorbed in family time but these at least give you a little look at our week. Enjoy!

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LJ absolutely loved getting to hang out with his six-year-old cousin. They are the only two boy cousins (for now – we’ll see in August if another one is joining!) and their bond is just so so sweet. Our nephew dotes on LJ and LJ wanted to do everything that he did. Look at how cute this little reading moment was! ❤

We spent a LOT of time swimming and hanging out with the kiddos at the pool. There are currently 4 cousins ages 6 and under so it was fun to see them interact and play.

One day we spent the morning at a little children’s museum and even though there were SO many cool activities for little ones, LJ mostly just wanted to hang out at the train and plane tables. He knows what he likes! I honestly think he could have stayed there all day and happily played. 😉

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We stopped for ice cream after the museum – LJ loves ice cream just like his mama!

No missed workouts on this trip. I’m thankful for Expecting and Empowered which kept me on track with a couple workouts in the gym and a few cardio stroller walks in the morning.

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Another day, another pool. 🙂 LJ loved this pool because it had a nice big shallow place for littles and he loved running in and out of the water. I just love how he’s perched here on his little sibling – nothing like a 32 week baby bump to use as a seat!

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This is a side note, but I gave this stuff a try last week and loved it! It gives just a hint of a bronzy glow, which is nice because I never wear makeup to the pool, it goes on smooth, doesn’t feel greasy, and it doesn’t have lots of yucky ingredients. Win win!

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Pool time with my babies. I’m so thankful that I’ve had a pretty enjoyable third trimester so far and felt great during the vacation.

We spent a day at the waterpark, which LJ absolutely LOVED. He had so much fun sliding, splashing, floating the lazy river, and just playing. It was such a great day!

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Mommy and baby spent lots of time floating the lazy river and it was wonderful!

LJ is super into exploring right now and he loved finding little treasures (aka rocks) outside and point me in the most interesting direction. I can just hear his little mind going “come on mama!”

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Reading material for the week. This was an excellent read that I’m excited to review in my monthly post!

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At dinner one night, the restaurant had a little fish pond and our nephew was so sweet to hold LJ up so he could see. Melts my heart!

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We loved our time away with family – it was such a great week of memory making!

Let’s Look: What’s in my Suitcase?

Good morning!

I’m once again joining Erika & Shay for their monthly “Let’s Look” link-up and today’s topic is “what’s in my suitcase?” (Previous posts were looks into: our coziest spots, favorite reads, people in our family, pantries, and #ootd). Today’s is a topic I probably never would have considered blogging about (kind of like the previous pantry post) but here we go!

Justin and I recently went on our babymoon and I took a few pictures as I was packing up. This was a beach vacation, so obviously what I pack would be different for different kinds of trips. Instead of focusing on exactly what items went in the suitcase, I just wanted to give a general feel for how/what I pack.

Packing Cubes

I have to give Shay credit for this one, as she wrote a blog post a while back about her love of packing cubes and it got me curious so I decided to try them out. Oh my gosh I LOVE them! They keep my suitcase so organized and I feel like I can pack so much more with them. It always amazes me how much can fit into a cube!

Check this out! Our swimsuits +my coverup packed up nice and condensed.

I delegate one packing cube to all my clothes . . .

. . . and one to all of Justin’s. This helps us keep our clothes separate and makes things much easier to find once we’re at our destination.

The only problem with packing cubes is that it allows me to pack SO much that it’s easy for me to go over the weight limit for checked bags – after one $50 lesson learned on our February trip to Florida, I became much more conscious of the weight and it’s been fine ever since. Just something to be aware of 🙂

Carry On (Divide & Conquer)

Whenever we have to check a suitcase, I always divide out a portion of our clothes to put in the carry-on. I make sure we have at least one change of clothes and a pair of underwear. This way, if our bag happens to not make it on our flight and we get to our destination without it, we at least have something to wear until our bag arrives. For this trip, I set aside a casual and nice outfit and a swimsuit for both Justin and I so that if we happened to not have our suitcase right away, we could still enjoy the first day at the resort. And it all fit in (you guessed it) one packing cube!

The carry-on also carries a small Ziploc bag with the travel-sized toiletries that we absolutely need, such as contact cases and solutions so we’re not stranded without them.

Bags in Bags

I’ve always used lots of smaller bags when packing so I don’t just throw a bunch of loose items in a suitcase. For this beach vacation, I took all our sunscreens and other beach items (travel size Wet Brush, phone protector) into a cute little canvas bag I got for $1 at Target. I double bagged the sunscreen in a gallon Ziploc in case of leaks. I like using this little canvas bag too because when we were at the resort, it made it easy to toss everything we needed at the pool into my tote bag and keep it all together.

I was gifted this monogrammed travel toiletry bag several years ago and I love using it for travel because it keeps its shape so my toiletries don’t get squashed. Plus, it’s thickly lined so if there was a leak, it keeps things contained. I try to keep my skin routine super simple when I travel so I only take the necessities and they all fit in this bag. I use the large bottom portion for toiletries and the top for jewelry.

I also keep my makeup routine super streamlined and simple on vacation and take everything along in my little makeup bag.

I also have a stash of various sizes of Ziploc bags that I use and reuse for things like hairspray, lotion, or anything else that did not fit in another bag shown.

Also, I forgot to take a picture, but when I pack my curling iron, I always bring along my heat-resistant cover (see a similar one here) so that I can pack the iron while still warm if I need to. It’s come in handy so many times!

I’ll fill in our shoes in between all the cubes and toiletry bags, and I also always make sure to take my phone charger, headphones, books/magazines, etc. and fill those in in the front pockets of my suitcase. And that’s about it!

Now all this talk of packing kind of makes me want to take another trip … 😉

What are your packing must haves?

Bahamian Babymoon

Remember when I posted about how chaotic my May was going to be? And when I said I planned to drop down to just one blog post a week? And then I basically disappeared off the blog for the last two weeks of May? Oops. Sorry about that.

After moving, we didn’t have internet set up in our house right away and we only had one week to move in and get settled before packing up again and leaving for our babymoon so…life happened. Now that May is behind us it should be back to regularly scheduled (Tuesday/Thursday) programming around here!

Babymoon at Secrets Emerald Bay

Justin and I honeymooned at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica and absolutely loved it. Ever since coming back from that trip, we’ve dreamed of taking another one. We always had summer 2019 in the back of our minds as a potential time to do it as a combo celebration (Justin finishes up seven years of schooling and career training at the end of June!) and anniversary trip (we celebrate 6 years on June 22). It felt meant to be when we found out we were pregnant – now it could also be a babymoon!

My pregnancy actually made narrowing down dates + location very easy. We picked the Bahamas because it was the only tropical location that did not have a Zika warning at the time we booked and we chose late May because it worked for Justin’s work schedule, my parents’ schedules (since they’re watching LJ) and I was still in my second trimester, or as I like to call it, the pregnancy “sweet spot.” There were actually two all-inclusives we considered in the Bahamas and after looking at both options, we settled on Sandals Emerald Bay on Great Exuma.

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We were so happy with our choice! We had great service, excellent food (they had 11 different restaurants with different kinds of cuisines – all were delicious but my favorite meals were at the Parisian and Indian restaurants), and amazing weather. Most of our days were spent lounging poolside but we did sign up for one excursion, a 30-minute snorkeling trip in a coral reef which was a lot of fun, although we did not take any pictures so you’ll just have to take my word for it. 😉

Instead of a day-by-day recap, I’m going to share a smattering of pictures from our trip. Enjoy!

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Fresh off the plane. We couldn’t check into our room right away because we arrived before check-in but the resort allowed us to drop off our bags and get some food. I had the first of many virgin daiquiris – so yummy!

The beachside restaurant was a fun experience – eating delicious food while your toes are sunk in the sand just says paradise.

Most mornings we got breakfast at one of the restaurants but the first morning we were extra lazy and ordered room service to eat on our little patio balcony overlooking the ocean.

The views around the resort were just ❤ ❤ ❤

The cabanas were nearly impossible to snag but one morning we lucked out and got one! It was the perfect opportunity to get a little less sun (so we could stay longer). I also loved ordering the little wood fired pizzas for a yummy poolside lunch!

I kept up my Expecting and Empowered workouts through vacation (since the program comes as a download, I had it on my phone!) which made me feel 0% guilt about indulging in things like the resort’s Chocolate Night.

One of the best things about all-inclusive is you can sample lots of food! Justin loves sushi and I don’t, so he could binge on sushi while I snacked on edamame and vegetable spring rolls, then we headed to the pub for more food later. Best of both worlds!

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Every night they had fires going by the pool, which was a relaxing way to unwind after dinner.

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That feeling you get when you’re finished with an hour-long prenatal massage. 🙂

SO much lounging + reading. I brought several books and Justin ended up reading one of them as well on vacation (I’m hoping to rope him into contributing to my book review – we’ll see!)

While most of our days were spent by the pool, we did venture down to the beach a few times. It was heavenly – beautiful sand and clear, warm water!

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This picture cracks me up. I thought it would be a sweet, romantic shot I think? Like “oh, let’s ask this passerby to snap a pic of us holding hands on the swings! It’ll be so sweet!” Guys, LOOK how far away the swings are from one another! We were both fully outstretched and the swings are different heights, so it just looks hilariously awkward. Oh well!

Lots and lots of bump pictures were taken this week. I loved having so much focused time with Justin while still getting to feel sweet little baby kicks as our littlest one joined us. ❤

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On the way to dinner one night we stopped and asked a worker passing by if she would take a picture. She took the phone and proceeded to hold it at a crazy angle to take the picture. We could not stop laughing at this shot of us super far away and weirdly angled. I guess she wanted to take some creative liberties?

One of the best meals we had all week was at the French restaurant. From the appetizers to the dessert, everything was absolutely delicious and the food presentation was amazing! SO so yummy!

There was a golf course at the resort and one morning we decided to walk the back nine holes after breakfast. It was about a 2.5 mile walk – the course follows a peninsula and the views were just GORGEOUS! We were amazed by the houses on the course too; the one pictured above had stunning views of the ocean, a sand volleyball court, an infinity pool, and a lazy river! The course wasn’t very shaded and it got hot FAST so I was thankful we brought water although I did wish we had gone even earlier in the day.

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One night after dinner, Justin decided he was still hungry so we went back to the sushi restaurant and he ordered a ton of sushi for “dessert” (I happily munched on a little edamame). His sushi-loving heart was so happy ha!

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I think there was only ONE day that we didn’t get to the pool because we were doing other things, but for the most part we spent a ton of time there every day. It was so nice to just relax without a care in the world and lounge/read/swim/repeat.

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The sunrise on our last morning was one for the books! I enjoyed watching it from our balcony as I read and worked on some upcoming blog posts.

One last stroll on the beach before checking out on the last day. We were so thankful for such a rejuvenating week!

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Farewell, Bahamas!

 

Chicago Re-Cap

Last week, Justin had a board certification exam + conference to attend in Chicago. He left Monday morning and I joined him on Thursday after dropping LJ off with my parents. We so enjoyed a few days together in the city!  Beware this re-cap involves a lot of food and March Madness – you have been warned!

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Several of Justin’s co-workers were also attending this conference and I drove up with another spouse on Thursday. We arrived right around lunch and met up with our husbands at the hotel (we stayed at the Grand Sheraton downtown). Justin and I ran up to our hotel room to quick drop off my luggage and then we headed out to lunch at Mother Hubbard’s. It was a sports pub with TONS of TVs which was perfect for us because the March Madness tournament had just begun and we were excited to get to watch a lot of games and smack-talk our brackets.  We ate a light lunch because we had plans for a big dinner and hung out at the pub for a few hours watching games. I love the atmosphere of a sports pub when there is a big game on, and at one point the entire bar was watching and cheering loudly for the Auburn vs. New Mexico State game because it was so close. The energy in the room was awesome! It was a relaxing and fun way to spend an afternoon.

We strolled back to our hotel room to freshen up and met up with our friends to walk to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. Justin and I split an entree so I still had room for dessert – Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple did not disappoint!

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After dinner the six of us walked to the theatre district and enjoyed all the stunning views of the city along the way.

We arrived at the Nederlander Theatre to watch A Bronx Tale. Honestly, this was not my favorite Broadway play ever and I thought the plot kind of jumped around a lot but the music made up for it. The performers were all SO talented and two in particular blew me away with their vocal performance. It was a great way to cap off our first day!

Friday morning Justin and I enjoyed the fact that we were kid-less which every parent knows means you can SLEEP. IN. Glorious! We met up with a couple of our friends for breakfast at Yolk, which was super delicious. I didn’t remember to take a picture until all I had left was one piece of cinnamon roll french toast left, but take my word for it that my skillet breakfast and french toast was beautiful and delicious!

After breakfast Justin and I both had a little work to do so we headed back to the hotel to work on our laptops for a few hours. Around lunch we headed out to meet up with my uncle at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel which was an absolutely stunning building! There are different restaurants inside and we chose The Game Room, which has an awesome old-time clubhouse feel. The ambiance was just incredible! Their menu is limited with small portions, which was perfect for splitting a few small plates among the three of us since Justin and I were still pretty full from breakfast. The restaurant had March Madness games playing and since my uncle is a University of Cincinnati alum, we got really into their game vs. Iowa.

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After the game finished we headed up to check out the rooftop restaurant Cindy’s, which has a great view of Millennium Park and the lake. It was the perfect lunch spot to enjoy and catch up with my uncle!

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Justin and I headed back to the hotel but couldn’t resist a pit stop at The Bean for some super touristy pictures. I love the one with “The Bean and our growing Little Bean” haha!

We headed back to relax in the hotel room and watch more March Madness (and I took a nap – once again, kid-free gloriousness!) until it was time to head out to dinner. Because this conference is so huge, there are a lot of schools and organizations that have alumni meet-ups and Justin and I went to his school’s alumni dinner at Pizzeria Due. Nothing like delicious deep-dish Chicago style pizza! It was fun to catch up with a few people we knew from our time in West Virginia and hear what everyone is up to now.

Afterwards we met up with our friends at Timothy O’Toole’s for a few drinks and, you guessed it, more March Madness. I was cheering hard for my Buckeyes! It was extra fun with our group of six because everyone’s brackets were different so our alliances kept changing each game with who we were co-cheering with. Only one other friend had picked OSU to win their first game so we were pretty smug for the rest of the night. 😉

Saturday morning Justin attended a few hours of his conference so I headed to the gym to get a workout in. The gym overlooked the river so it was fun to watch the buzz of city life go by as I got my cardio in.

We met up with all our friends for lunch (another spouse arrived Saturday morning so we were now a group of seven) at Weber Grill, which was fantastic! Once again, I got so into our conversations and enjoying time together that I have zero pictures but our food was delicious and we were all very happy with our choice!

We split off into groups after lunch, as some people wanted to shop Michigan Avenue and others wanted to find dessert. I was in the dessert camp and we ended up at Ghirardelli’s where a friend and I split a delicious sundae and we enjoyed people watching from the window.

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Justin and I, along with two of our friends, had decided to leave Saturday evening instead of Sunday morning so we spent the afternoon packing up and getting ready to leave. We met up for one more group dinner at Pinstripes, which was a fun atmosphere. I got their wood-fired pizza which, while not deep dish Chicago, was still delicious! Next door to the restaurant was Molly’s Cupcakes and as soon as we saw they were Cupcake War winners, we knew we had to give them a try. I was stuffed so we got two cupcakes to enjoy later.

Once back at the hotel, we grabbed our things, said goodbye to the friends leaving Sunday, and headed back to Indiana. We didn’t get back until around midnight but it was worth it to have a relaxing Sunday morning before meeting up with my parents to take LJ on a plane to Virginia (yes! So much travel in so little time!) It was a short and sweet trip to Chicago but we really enjoyed the time away!

Vacation Re-Cap: Florida 2019

Good morning!

Last week I was pretty quiet on the blog and social media because I was busy soaking up sunshine and warm weather with my little family in Florida. Justin had a conference to attend for work in Sarasota so LJ and I happily packed our bags and joined him for the week. Today I’m just going to give a recap of our trip – spoiler alert: we didn’t want to leave!

Saturday

We flew out early Saturday morning and the plane ride went smoothly. I’ve blogged about my tips for plane rides with a baby before and even though LJ is now a toddler, we still do things pretty similarly. I still swear by bringing a boppy pillow so your lap child has something to sit or lay on and it doesn’t feel like you have to actively “hold” them the whole time. I also always keep him in a sleeper so I don’t have to worry about socks/shoes getting pulled off and he’s mostly covered from airplane germs. After reviewing the flight safety packet (ha!), LJ was able to sleep most of the plane ride.

Side note: a few weeks ago I posted on Instagram that I found my old GameBoy Color and a Pokemon cartridge and my excitement got Justin sucked in too and now he’s playing too! That little light kills me! #beforebacklitscreens #relivingchildhood

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We landed in St. Petersburg and got a rental car to make the hour-long drive to our hotel in Sarasota. Before checking in at our hotel we stopped at Trader Joes to stock up on some groceries and diapers (I don’t waste precious luggage space on diapers if we’re gone this long – it’s easier to just buy a pack when you get to your destination!). We stayed at the Westin in downtown Sarasota and it was gorgeous! Since we had been traveling most of the day, we spent the afternoon and evening relaxing in the hotel room, leaving only to grab some dinner. It was nice to just let LJ run around and explore the hotel room. It’s always fun to see what he thinks of a place…and where our items might end up. 😉

Hotel Room Surprise

A general rule for hotels with toddlers: if something goes missing, check a trash can.

Sunday

Sunday morning was pretty lazy with a makeshift breakfast in bed and playing in the hotel room.

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We got LJ down for his nap (a difficult process when you’re all sharing a room!) and he thankfully took a pretty good nap. I’ve blogged previously about hotel rooms with a baby and two of my standard tips are bring a sound machine and your own crib sheet – we try to make it seem as much like home as possible and I do think it helps!

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Once he woke up, we let him run around and burn off some energy while we packed up to head to the beach! The view from our room showed a gorgeous day and we were excited to take advantage. We ate a very quick hotel room lunch and headed out!

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We headed for Siesta Key beach and after circling for a while, managed to snag a parking spot at the main beach pavillion. I had never been to Siesta Key before but this beach is AMAZING!

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The sand is a gorgeous white and feels cool to the touch. It was so pleasant to walk on even though the day was hot. We set up camp and LJ immediately got to playing in it. We enjoyed a couple hours of soaking up sun, sand, and surf.

Well, not surf so much. The water was pretty cold and LJ was not a fan! But he had so much fun playing in the sand, finding seashells, and watching all the other beach-goers. We ended up staying out there much longer than we anticipated because he was doing so well and enjoying it!

After we’d had enough of the beach, we headed into the little village area where there are lots of cute little shops and restaurants. We enjoyed walking around and stopped for some food, ice cream, and a souvenir magnet (a tradition on every vacation!)

We headed back to the hotel in time for LJ to go to bed. Since we had to be so quiet and couldn’t watch TV, I opted for reading the book I had brought along before bed.

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Monday

Justin’s conference started early Monday morning so LJ and I hung out in the hotel room all morning. I finally got him down for a nap after 40 minutes of trying (usually it takes 5 at home) and since I couldn’t make any noise and I was so tired after the effort that I decided to take a nap too. I posted about this on Instagram, but this is one of those situations where I tried to see the silver lining. It’s not always easy to travel with a child, but it leads to some special moments that don’t happen otherwise. I haven’t slept next to LJ since he was a six week old baby in a bassinet in my bedroom so it was pretty sweet to hear his sweet little baby snores while I drifted off.

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Justin’s conference was only half-day so once he got back, I quickly headed down to our hotel gym to get a quick workout in.

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We ate lunch in the hotel room and then headed up to the rooftop pool for the afternoon.

The pool was heated and had a fantastic view! It was 82 degrees outside and just the perfect day to lounge poolside and swim. Glorious!

We hung out at the pool until we had to head back inside for naps, dinner, and bedtime.

Tuesday

After Justin’s conference Tuesday, we checked out of the hotel because we were going to spend the rest of the week staying with two of my college friends, Eric and Kaitlin, who live in Sarasota. We dropped off our stuff at their house after lunch and headed to the Jungle Gardens for the afternoon. This place was awesome! It was basically a little zoo with a lot of interactive opportunities for kids. LJ got to go in the petting zoo where he was in goat heaven. He also loved looking at all the different animals!

The paths are all shaded and it really did feel like we were in a jungle. It was very pleasant to walk around!

My favorite part was when we got to a free-roaming flock of flamingos! I’ve never seen one up close before and they are so cool! We got to feed them and they would just walk up to us at eye level – it was awesome!

After the gardens, we headed back to the house to get ready for dinner. Eric and Kaitlin love to play games and so once we had dinner and put LJ down we spent the evening playing card games and catching up on life. We’re all pretty competitive so it was a fun evening!

Wednesday – Friday

The rest of the week we settled into a good routine. Justin would head into the conference in the morning. LJ and I would hang out at the house and play a little. He would go down for a nap and I would get a little work done (perk of my work-from-home job: I can do it anywhere!) Justin would come home around lunch and we would hang out in the afternoon. Our friends both work from home so if they finished up working they would join us in games or just lounging. We’d all do dinner together and once LJ was down, we’d play games until bedtime. Rather than recap each day individually, I’ll just share a few highlights from the second half of the week:

-Their backyard pool was the perfect place to lounge and read during naptime when everyone else was busy! It was seriously like being at a resort!

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-Owen’s Fish Camp was a fantastic restaurant for dinner! I wish I had taken more pictures but the back patio (where you can hang out where you wait for your table) had delicious appetizers, live music, and such a fun vibe!

-Games, games, and more games. They taught us a new one called “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes” which we all got SO into. The final night we beat a really hard level that we had been working on and we all were super pumped!

-Everyone had a light day Friday so we headed to the beach after lunch and it was a great way to end the week! We are so thankful for the great hospitality of our friends!

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Saturday

We left early Saturday morning to catch our flight back to Indiana. It was hard to leave the 80 degree sunshine for 32 degrees with some snow on the ground! But we had a fantastic week and I’m so glad we had the chance to get some mid-February sunshine! Until next time, Florida!

 

Simplifying Preparation for Trips

Good morning!

Once Justin gets home from work tomorrow we are heading to Florida for the next 8 days. He has a conference for work and LJ and I are going to tag along and enjoy some sunshine! After last week’s Polar Vortex we are more than ready for warm, sunny days!

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Throwback to our last beach vacation. So excited for more sun and sand next week!

Today is going to be spent cleaning, packing, and preparing for our trip. Since traveling with a little one always seems to add a layer of chaos, I’ve learned that early preparation is key for trips. Today I thought I’d share a few things I do before we leave on a trip to try to simplify the chaos of packing/remembering everything. Some of these things may seem overly simple, some may not work for you. These are just the things that work for us and have helped me pack and prepare for vacations with as little stress as possible!

Get whatever you can permanently “ready”

I used to write out a detailed list for our dog sitters with everything they needed to know/do for our dogs, and since there were always little variations, I would re-write the list each time. Now, I have a generic instruction list that is always ready to set out and if there’s anything “extra” (like asking them to pick up our mail if we’re gone more than a few days), I just write that on a sticky note next to the regular list. This is a small thing, but it saves me time and mental space because it’s one less thing I have to prepare before leaving (and we inevitably always forgot to write out the list until we were heading out the door so it was stressful to have to remember everything to include).

The Week Before

In the week leading up to a trip, I start setting aside clothes for LJ. I did a big load of laundry on Monday, so I set aside all the clean clothes that I knew I wanted to take on the trip. This prevents last-minute panic; I’m not stressing out because we have no clean sleepers when it comes time to pack. This does mean I have limited options for what he can wear for the rest of the week after I’ve set aside the clothes to pack, but it’s really not a big deal and we manage just fine.

As I get things out and ready to pack, I lay them out on our guest bed. This includes setting out all the extra things (for example, this trip I need his swimsuit, hat, swim diapers, etc). So on packing day, I’ve already set out what I need and I don’t forget anything. I also can see if there’s anything I need to get for him in advance (this time, I needed a swimsuit since he’s grown out of his old ones). Once LJ’s clothes are all out, I’ll set mine out as well. Justin is on his own to pack what he needs. 😉

The Day Before

In the day before leaving, I get out all the extra things we’ll need to take (pack n’ play if we’re driving, carseat bag if we’re flying, umbrella stroller, etc). I prepare LJ’s diaper bag, set aside his boppy pillow, and will typically get everything packed in suitcases except toiletries or other items we still need to use. I’ll also do a load of laundry, which serves the dual purpose of making sure everything I want to pack is clean and also keeping there from being a laundry mountain waiting for me when we get back.

I also clean up the house for our dogsitter. Because of my super-simple cleaning routine, this doesn’t usually involve much cleaning, but I’ll do things like run and empty the dishwasher, freshen up the guest room if needed, etc.

If we’re flying, I also double-check flights and make sure we’re set with the airline rules for traveling with children (some allow free checked carseat and/or stroller, some allow free diaper bag in addition to personal item, etc). Each airline is slightly different so it’s always good to double check to make sure we know what to expect with our flight. I’ll also set out any documents we might need (passports if applicable, some airlines require a copy of a birth certificate, etc).

The Day Of

Usually I will have packed the clothes in our suitcases the day before, but if we’re not leaving until late in the day I may wait until the day of. I pack up our toiletries and any other final items, we (eh-hem, Justin) pack up the car, do a last minute sweep of the house, and head out! Because I’ve done so much prep work earlier in the week, the day of travel typically goes pretty smoothly.

If you’re interested in some of my other travel-with-baby related posts, check them out below!

Tips for Road Trips with Baby

Tips for Flights with Baby

Tips for Hotel Stays with Baby

Simplified Packing for Travel with Baby

What tips do you have for preparing for a trip?

Simplified Packing for Travel with a Baby

Last Monday, LJ and I packed our bags and flew to Philadelphia for the week. We spent a few days visiting Justin’s extended family who live in the area. Since Justin was unable to come with us, my mother-in-law was gracious enough to drive up from Virginia to visit her family with us and then watch LJ during the day on Thursday when I was busy. It was so wonderful to get to introduce LJ to his great-grandmother, great-uncles and -aunts, second cousins, etc. I also got to visit a few college friends who live in the area.

LJ with gma and ggma

How cute are these three generations? We had such a special time together!

On Wednesday evening we headed back towards Philadelphia because Thursday I had all-day meetings and professional development with the company I work for. For those who do not know, I have a part-time administrative job with a nutrition counseling company based in Philadelphia. While I am able to complete all of my work remotely from home (mostly during nap time), the opportunity arose to travel out to participate in this day with many other members of the team and I jumped at the chance. Then LJ and I flew back to Indiana on Friday – it was a full, fun week!

I have now flown solo with LJ a few different times and while I am by no means an expert, I do feel like I’ve picked up some tips and tricks along the way. I have previously blogged about tips I use when flying with a baby (find that blog post here), but motherhood is a constant experiment and I want to share what I’m learning as I go. One of the key things I have found when flying with a baby, whether you’re the lone adult or have some help, is to pack as light as you canIt is difficult enough to navigate an airport with a baby but to try and juggle 17 things makes it that much harder. Today I thought it would be helpful to show exactly what I prioritize packing when traveling with a baby, as well as how I organize everything and cart it through the airport. As always, these are things that have worked for me – my tricks might not work for everyone but they sure have helped me simplify the chaos of airport travel! I hope you can find something here that is helpful to you.

Packing Tips for Flying with a Baby

Carry On Suitcase

When I travel solo with LJ, I try to get everything that I won’t need on the actual flight in one carry-on if at all possible. I know I could take a purse or something too but I prefer less bags to keep track of. I always roll my clothing items and utilize every square centimeter of space. Here is exactly what I packed in my carry-on for this 5-day/4-night trip:

Clothing Items for LJ

Packed for LJ

  • Crib sheet (I always bring my own from home even though we use the hotel’s crib. I talk more about this in my post on tips for hotels with a baby here)
  • 3 Pants (two leggings, one jeans)
  • Four onesies
  • Three sleepers
  • Socks
  • One Shirt
  • One Sweatshirt
  • Hat

In addition to these items, LJ wore a sleeper to the airport with a zipper hoodie over it. (Bonus Tip: LJ is in a super *fun* stage of pulling his socks off every chance he gets. A sleeper gave him a little more coverage in protecting from airport germs and also ensured he didn’t pull off and lose his socks. Win-win!)

We could have eliminated one sleeper, one pair of leggings, the shirt, and one onesie, but since my mother-in-law was kind enough to bring her sound machine for LJ to use so I didn’t have to pack mine, I had a little extra space to pack a few more items.

Clothing Items for Me

Packed for me

  • White nursing tank
  • Four tops
  • One pair dress pants
  • Pajamas (top + bottoms)
  • One pair ballet flats

In addition, I wore a navy nursing tank, shirt, scarf, jacket, jeans, and my Converse sneakers to the airport.

Personal Care Items

Personal Care Items

  • Jewelry (3-4 options)
  • Curling wand + carrier
  • Clutch to take for my work day
  • 3-1-1 liquid bag (makeup remover, baby body wash, contact solution, mascara, moisturizer, toothpaste, eye cream, nail polish)
  • Other toiletries bag for non-liquids (see below)

Toiletries

Random Items

Extra Items

A few random items I had in the front pockets of my carry-on were:

  • my laptop (not pictured)
  • a couple magazines (I only ended up taking two of the three pictured)
  • hairbrush
  • booklight
  • glasses
  • phone charger
  • socks, bra, underwear (also not pictured but you get the idea 😉 )

All of that stuff listed above fit into my carry-on. I make sure none of it is stuff I’ll need on the plane in case I end up having to gate-check the carry-on due to limited overhead space (which I did end up having to do this time). It’s also helpful to have a carry-on with a handle and wheels for easy transport!

Mom + baby carry on items

Diaper Bag

Many airlines let you bring a diaper bag as a “bonus” item and it does not count as a carry-on or personal item – check your airline’s policy!

Luggage at airport

I have a blog post dedicated to what I carry in my infant diaper bag and other than a few snacks for both LJ and myself, I didn’t pack anything extra in the bag. I find it’s helpful to keep this mostly the same set up as usual so I can quickly find what I need in the bag and have a little extra room if I need to stuff something in it (like LJ’s sweatshirt). I did not pack tons of diapers since it is very easy to buy some once at my destination. I also did not pack extra toys other than what I typically keep in the diaper bag. LJ was so interested in all the people and new surroundings that he didn’t really even need toys to be entertained.

Bonus Tip #1: I keep headphones in my diaper bag and always download a podcast or a Netflix episode or two since LJ often sleeps during the flight and it’s too difficult to read with him on my lap. And even though I try to limit LJ’s screen time, there is no shame in my mom game with downloading an episode of The Octonauts for use in a pinch – we’re all just trying to make it to our destination happily. 🙂

Bonus Tip #2: Attach the diaper bag to your carry-on. Back when I used my Ergo to carry LJ through the airport, my hands were always free to hold/pull luggage. Now that I needed one hand to push the stroller and one to pull my suitcase, I needed to come up with a strategy for carrying my nursing pillow, car seat bag and my diaper bag until I could check make it to the counter and check my car seat bag. My diaper bag comes with clips to hook it to a stroller, and these clips came in handy when I had my car seat bag on my back – I just clipped the bag to my suitcase handle and could easily navigate with everything in tow. I didn’t actually realize I could do this until I was already in the airport and wish I had known it all along as it makes things so easy! If your diaper bag doesn’t come with clips, I think a couple carabiner clips would do the trick.

Nursing Pillow

LJ and Boppy

Okay so this isn’t a bag and I’ve already shared this tip but it bears repeating. If you are flying with a lap infant, regardless of if you’re breastfeeding, a nursing pillow is a personal item must. It gives your baby a place to sit/lay down during the flight without you feeling like you need to “hold” him or her the entire time. LJ usually falls asleep on it and my arms can stay free. I can’t recommend it enough!

Car Seat + Bag

Your destination may have a car seat for you or you may plan to rent one upon arrival, but I have always taken our car seat along. Most airlines allow you to check a car seat and/or stroller for free. I bought this bag on Amazon and I honestly LOVE it. It makes carrying a car seat (and base if you want) super easy, lightweight (yes, really!) and manageable.

Umbrella Stroller

I have previously used my baby carrier to carry LJ through the airport and around at our destinations. This worked great when he was smaller but he’s getting a little too heavy for me to want to carry him for long periods now so I bought an umbrella stroller for $4.50 at a consignment store. It’s certainly not the best stroller out there and I could have taken my nicer stroller from home; however, the umbrella stroller served its purpose through the airport and at our destination and since it’s inexpensive I wasn’t worried if it got banged up or damaged on the flight. Also, since I gate checked my stroller (remember, many airlines do this for free!), I could push LJ through the airport super easily. It was easy to transport around when we got to our destination and didn’t take up much space in the car, which left room for other luggage. Search yard sales, FB groups, etc for a used one or you can find an inexpensive one like this at stores like Walmart, Target, etc.

What tricks have you picked up from flying with a baby? Share your tips below – I’d love to hear what works for you!