Earlier this month, we returned from a 12 day trip to Europe. We had gone to Paris with Caleb when he was 8 months old, but Paris was our only destination for 10 days on that trip, and he was just barely mobile. This time around, our itinerary was a little more complicated, it was winter, and there were two kids to deal with as opposed to just one. We survived and we made some great memories, but it definitely was not an easy trip.
While I admire families like The Bucket List Family, the reality is that we are not them and this is not our full time gig. Traveling with small kids is a lot of work. We made some beautiful memories, but it is NOT for the faint of heart.
We decided to take this trip because Eddie's cousin (who is Chloe's godmother) had a baby girl in September and we wanted to meet her. They live in Luxembourg. But we also figured if we were making the trip, then we were going to add a couple of stops while we were there.
We booked everything on this trip ourselves and did not use a travel agent. I checked fares for a few weeks until we found something we were comfortable with. (A tip: Use Google Flights or Skyscanner to help you find the best combinations out there. You can't book it on Google, but it will send you to the sites to book with the rates they find.)
For hotels, we had points with several of our credit cards, so we browsed their sites and booked what was most convenient for us and what fit in with our points value. We then booked our travel arrangements from one city to the next. We flew from London to Luxembourg and we took a train from Luxembourg to Paris (it was significantly cheaper and way less time consuming than sitting in an airport). We also booked a rental car for the days were staying in Luxembourg.
We did not book any tours or activities in advance because we weren't sure what the kids would be up for. We decided to take it day by day.
This was a winter trip, and we were expecting temperatures in the thirties, so we wanted to make sure we packed accordingly. However, because of the transfers and traveling to different cities, we wanted to keep our packing as minimalist as we possibly could. We didn't totally succeed, but we had very few pieces of clothing that didn't get worn on the trip. We ended up with three suitcases - one large one for Eddie & I, a medium one for Caleb and Chloe, and a small carry-on bag that we used to carry a change of clothes for each of us and prescription medications.
Fashion and perfectly curated looks were not a priority - I mean we all still looked put together, but my outfits were probably not the most stylish. I went for function, convenience, and being able to use pieces multiple times. I stuck to a color palette - in our case black, white, and grey, and threw a few more colorful pieces in for each person. We each had two pairs of shoes, but we all could probably have left one pair behind.
We packed plenty of light, thin layers that we could add or remove depending on the weather, and each of us had a puffer jacket. We made sure to have enough socks for layering, gloves, hats, and scarves.
For Chloe, I packed enough diapers to last us through the day of travel and two days after. I ended up stopping in a grocery store and picking up a small pack of diapers once during the trip (they had the exact brand of diapers we use for Chloe - Pampers Pure).
We packed all the medications we knew we would need on a regular basis, and all the regular emergency medications. Things I wish I had: the nebulizer and an extra bottle of Benadryl packed in one of the suitcases. They took our children's Benadryl at security in London Heathrow, and we couldn't get anymore while we were there.
Planes, Trains, & Automobiles
Before this trip, Chloe has never been on a plane. I wasn't sure how she would do. All things considered, she did pretty well. We booked an 8 hour overnight flight from Miami to London (Virgin Atlantic) in the hopes that the kids would sleep. We arrived at the airport early, and we were able to get bulkhead seats and a toddler cot. Caleb slept about 2 hours at the start of the flight. Chloe didn't fall asleep until about 5 hours in. Once we were able to transfer her to the cot, it was much more pleasant.
From London, we flew to Luxembourg, but that was a very short flight. We flew British Airways. The security line at Heathrow is pretty insane and they are very particular about liquids. We had our Benadryl taken away here and there was NO getting around it with them.
Once we arrived in Luxembourg, we had a rental car waiting for us. We booked directly through their website (Sixt) and we rented car seats for this kids. We ended up with a BMW X3 and it was perfect for car seats, two strollers, and all our bags. Having a rental car was one of the nicest things we did on the trip. We were able to take multiple day trips, and being able to leave things in the car was nice. Plus, the kids are used to being in cars, so their behavior was usually much better in the car than in other settings.
We took a train from Luxembourg to Paris, and that was pretty fun, too. However, France's transit workers were on strike so our first train got cancelled. We were able to rebook, thankfully, but the train was PACKED when we got on it. I would definitely recommend "splurging" for the first class train - we were able to sit at a table and had large, cushioned, comfortable chairs; and have a game plan for getting bags, kids, strollers, etc. on and off the train.
Our final flight was from Paris to Miami. We flew Air France, which has to be one of the most family/kid-friendly airlines I've been on. As soon as they noticed that we had small children at the boarding gate, they ushered us to a separate line for families. We were able to board after the first and business class passengers, which is always helpful with small kids. As soon as we were in the air, the crew handed out kids activity kits, and for the meals and snacks, kids were always served first. Their meals were really kid friendly and appropriate, too.
What Did We Learn? SO MUCH.
If you're planning an international trip with small kids, I hope this helps you!
At the start of 2019, one of the things that I promised myself, and my word of the year, was to Simplify. I didn’t realize how much of an impact that one word would make on me last year. When I decided I would simplify, I thought I would just say “no” more. And while that did happen, I also learned to say yes to the things that really mattered. I learned to simplify more than my calendar. I stopped overthinking things, too. I stopped dyeing my hair. I simplified my workflow when it came to photography. Even through my busiest season in the last few months of 2019, I never felt overwhelmed, because I kept everything so simple.
Simplifying let me set better boundaries for myself and my family. It gave me back time I didn’t know I was missing, and it allowed me to slow down some. Because I wasn’t overcommitted all the time, I was able to do the things I wanted to do, do them well, and enjoy them. By not being stretched too thin, I wasn’t always thinking about “the next thing” on the list. Sure, that happened sometimes, but way less often than it usually does. And because I wasn’t thinking about the next thing, I was able to be truly present and enjoy what I WAS doing.
I learned patience. I have always been a fairly patient person, but simplifying has taught me to be patient with myself. One decision I made that I feel has had a huge impact in areas I never thought was the decision to stop dyeing my hair. Letting my grays grow out has been a HUGE lesson in patience. While I was able to camouflage the growth a little bit with some highlights, there really is nothing that I could do to speed up the process. I have had to be okay with letting the process occur naturally. The notion of instant gratification has been ingrained in us so much in this digital age where everything is so readily available - and that just isn’t possible with this process. Unlearning the habit of instant gratification has helped me to be more selective in making purchases, in making decisions, and in rushing judgement.
We simplified things in our home - we did some major organizing, we purged, and we stopped overthinking everything. SIMPLIFY.
I had never done a word for the year, and I’m grateful I did. I’m also glad that “Simplify” was the word I chose. I think it was the perfect word to start this tradition off with, and I’m so thankful for the way it has impacted my life. And even though 2019 brought us some heartache, stress, and pain, I was able to focus on the really important things. I’m going into 2020 with a clear and resolute head, a firm idea of what I want out of the next year (even if I haven’t chosen my word just yet!), and a light heart.
You thought you got everyone. Your list was made in November, you checked everyone off two weeks ago. And then you realize you forgot your great-uncle John on your list. Or your cousin Jenny.
Fear not! There are so many things you can get someone very last-minute. Most of these do not require you to even leave your house (provided you have a printer and some paper or a few other supplies at home already). And just because a gift was last-minute, doesn't mean it can't be thoughtful! Here I give you TEN ideas for super last-minute gifts.
I hope this helps you with any last-minute gifts you haven't taken care of! Have more ideas? Leave them in the comments below!
A couple of weeks ago I received a copy of Drinking for Two: A Collection of Nutritious Cocktails for the Mom-to-Be. Before I go any further, let me just say that NO, I am NOT pregnant. However, I know that a lot of my followers are new or expecting mamas and I like to make sure I'm providing useful information for everyone around here! Anyway, Drinking for Two was created by two dietitians who felt like moms-to-be deserved a book filled with delicious and nutritious mocktail recipes. The drinks are all plant-based and non-alcoholic, low in sugar, and easy to prepare. I've included a link at the end of the post so you can shop the book - it would make a great gift for a mom-to-be!
With the holiday season upon us, it's time for holiday parties, Thanksgiving meals, Friendsgiving celebrations, and everything else that comes with this joyful time of year. We've got parties and we're entertaining left and right. We're eating, we're drinking, and generally being overindulgent. But what happens when you can't (or don't want to) drink alcohol? It doesn't mean you have to be left out! I teamed up with Dr. Jenny Schell of Concierge Postpartum Care, and we made one of the delicious recipes from Drinking for Two, and chatted about all the different reasons why we might not drink on a particular day. You can check out our video here. Our answers ranged from pregnancy, to being on antibiotics, to being sensitive to those around you who cannot or do not drink, and to having to be up bright and early the next morning because your kids are still going to be up at 6 am (that's me!).
This drink is perfect for the holidays and would pair well with a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. It's got cranberry, citrus, and thyme. It's also got ginger, so if you're suffering from nausea during your pregnancy, this could be a good one for you! Plus, it's really tasty! Dr. Schell and I were very pleasantly surprised when we tried it.
So whatever your reason, mix up a couple glasses of this, and I promise you will be grateful in the morning!
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tsp ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup 100% cranberry juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup seltzer
Additional thyme and cranberries for garnish
If you want to make a version with alcohol, I would add 2-3 oz of vodka to this!
This post has been sponsored by JOHNSON’S. All opinions are my own.
I get comments on Chloe’s hair all the time. “Those curls!” “She looks like Shirley Temple!” “That natural texture is gorgeous!” “Please don’t straighten her hair!”
When I first realized Chloe’s hair was curly, I was a little nervous, and actually in a little bit of denial. My hair has always been pin-straight and I always imagined a little girl with long, shiny straight hair. But once I realized how gorgeous her texture really was, I decided I would fully embrace her curls - however long they may last as her hair starts to grow out. Now those bouncy curls have every inch of my heart. I love to put my finger right into the middle of them because they are so perfectly formed and I can never believe how perfect they really are. Plus, I have come to realize that Chloe’s hair perfectly matches her personality!
When JOHNSON’S® announced their new haircare line for kids would include a formula for curly hair, I was so excited. I was already noticing that Chloe’s hair had outgrown the “baby” products offered and that she needed something much more specific for her changing hair. Their latest launch includes specialty haircare designed for a range of different kid’s hair types. They are gentle enough for developing hair and strong enough for the performance you and your kids need.
JOHNSON’S® Curl Defining formula has been such a wonderful product to use on Chloe’s hair. We use the shampoo every time we wash her hair, and I’ve noticed a difference in her curl pattern. And since it’s created by JOHNSON’S®, it’s still 100% gentle - free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and dyes. And it still has that No More Tears benefit that we all love from JOHNSON’S®. We have also been using the Leave-In conditioner, formulated with shea butter, to help keep her curls moisturized and defined. It leaves her curls soft, not crunchy and hard, and it helps them keep their form all day long.
I love that JOHNSON’S is growing right along with my babies, and helping me to provide them with the best products for their individual needs. You can find these and all of JOHNSON’S® for Kids haircare products in the personal care aisle at your neighborhood Walmart, Target, or on Amazon.