A lot of you were very interested in what (and how) I packed for our Disney cruise, and have asked for a packing list for that. So I put one together for you!
It's pretty self-explanatory. Some things I packed are specific to a Disney cruise, but I didn't really include them in here (super hero costumes, Mickey ears, pirate outfits). The cruise line also provided a pack n play so we didn't have to take that. They have high chairs available at every restaurant, and are really accommodating when it comes to food for kids (Chloe is already eating table food so I just took a few purees just in case).
Chloe was also sick before we left on the cruise (she had a cold that turned into bronchiolitis) so I took more medication and a nebulizer to continue treating her and in case she got worse.
I also packed one outfit per day and didn't necessarily use them all. The day at Castaway Cay we were in swimsuits and cover ups all day, so the "outfits" for that day didn't get used.
Click on the file below to download the PDF of my cruise packing list.
Questions about what I packed? Suggestions on how to make it better? Send them over to email@example.com!
We spent the last days of 2018 and the first days of 2019 in a gorgeous cabin in Black Mountain, North Carolina. We spent a week there with family, and it was a great, relaxing way to start the year. I'll share a little more about the location later this week, but one of the biggest hurdles for me for any trip is packing.
I am a notorious overpacker, and since we are from Miami, traveling to where the temperature is even slightly colder than we're used to makes me want to be extra prepared. I over packed a little for this trip, but in all fairness we stayed in the cabin and in pajamas on multiple days, which means some of the other clothes I took didn't get used.
We had a couple of activities planned and we knew we were going to the Biltmore Estate one of the days, so I made sure to pack a couple of outfits that were a little nicer (not fancy by any means but jeans instead of sweatpants and nicer sweaters that we never get to wear!).
We stayed in a rental home, so there were some things we took that I might not have taken if we were staying in a hotel, but my list is pretty comprehensive. I've included some blank spaces for you to add in things that are specific to you and your family, but it's a good starting point!
Click on the file below the image to download a PDF file of the packing list!
I hope this helps you pack for your next trip! And if you think I have forgotten anything, let me know in the comments!
We have spent the last week in North Carolina, in an area just outside of Asheville (more on the area and things to do some other time). We left our house on the Friday right after Christmas and we will head back this Saturday. The entire trip is just about 12 hours one way, and we decided to drive for various reasons.
I was actually a little nervous about driving because Chloe doesn't always do so well in the car. As a matter of fact, we had a contingency plan - if she was a disaster on the way up, I would fly back with her on Saturday and Eddie and Caleb would drive down. But she actually did really well on the way up, so we'll all be driving back together again.
Caleb is a great traveler. Last winter we did a road trip and went up to South Carolina, stopping at a couple places along the way, and he was awesome. I wasn't worried about him at all. But there are things I do to make sure it goes more smoothly and that he is kept busy.
There you have it! It's not impossible to road trip with little kids - just takes some planning, preparation, and flexibility!
Hopefully you feel more prepared for your next road trip!
A couple of weeks ago I flew from Miami to New York to attend a product launch event for JOHNSON'S. I documented some of my trip on Instagram, but I didn't mention something. That was the first time in over ten years - since before Eddie and I were married - that I had really traveled alone. I've driven to Orlando from Miami before and met Eddie there, but in the almost NINE years we have been married, I haven't had a reason to travel anywhere alone. Add to that having a child attached to me 24/7 for the last nearly 4 years, and well, there went the time!
I always have a little bit of anxiety about traveling - mostly when I am in the packing stage. The morning I was leaving to New York, my stomach was a mess, I was so nervous, and I packed and re-packed no less than 3 times. I texted my best friend, and told her how nervous I was and she told me, "Of course you are, you're leaving your kids and husband behind." In my heart I knew my kids would be fine and well taken care of. Eddie is an amazing, hands-on dad and is so good with both of them. Plus we had the grandparents lined up to help out, too. There was nothing to worry about.
But then I thought, "What if something happens to me?" I literally created dozens of scenarios in my mind and stressed myself over things that, were they to happen, would be completely out of my control. Finally I snapped myself out of it, took a deep breath, and put my fears in God's hands.
Off I went, to do the airport on my own, get an Uber on my own, check into a hotel on my own, figure my meals out alone, sleep on my own, and attend an event where I didn't know anyone. But something happened along the way there. I relaxed. I enjoyed myself. I listened to music. I walked alone. I enjoyed silence. I walked like I knew where I was going. I met up with a friend for drinks and stayed up later than usual. And I felt good about it. I missed Eddie and I missed my babies, of course. I thought about them every moment. But doing this on my own made me feel capable, and it made me feel like I had a little bit of my self back.
When I was in college, I went to New York with three of my girlfriends. On our last day, we were tired and went back to the hotel room to nap. Well, I ended up being the only one who woke up from the nap and needed to eat, so I left the hotel and wandered around Times Square on my own for a little bit. The next morning my friends gave me some grief about going out on my own, but I never once felt uneasy about doing it. This whole trip kind of made me feel like that.
I have this fear of growing older and being so reliant on Eddie that I am incapable of doing things on my own. Eddie loves to take care of me, and I absolutely love that about him, but I don't want to be in my 60s and scared of doing things because someone else always did them for me. And while I don't want to leave my husband and kids all the time, I think doing it was really empowering for me.
Some of you might be thinking - what a baby, I do this for work all the time! And girl, do I salute you, but I have never had to travel further than Orlando for work, and even that was with coworkers. So for me, this was a big deal. But it was a reminder that I can do things I'm not always comfortable with, and that sometimes, stepping out of my comfort zone can be more rewarding than I anticipated. For me, this wasn't just a "work trip". It was about finding a little piece of myself, and growing in a way I didn't know I needed to.
So the next time you get a chance to do something that is new to you - don't hesitate. Take the step. I don't think you'll regret it.
P.S. As soon as I decided to go on this trip, I went looking for an outfit. I found this look at New York & Company - it was on a mannequin and I loved the combination of the polka dots and stripes. (Shop the look below.) I also loved the movement on the pants, but this bold of a print mixing was also outside my comfort zone - so you could say I tried several new things this trip!
I scheduled a shoot with Lauren of Laurel Creative and when we met up to take these photos, it was raining! (You can probably tell in the first couple of shots if you look really closely.) But we stuck it out, and got it done in under 30 minutes. I felt like a sweaty mess and my hair lost all it's curl after the drizzling rain stuck to it, but I still love what these photos represent (And hello, how amazing is that taxi shot?!).
Shop My Look
This is a sponsored post. I was hosted by Dolphin Mall in exchange for this post.
When you think of Dolphin Mall, you probably think of Johnny Rockets and outlet shops. And while it is Miami-Dade County's largest outlet shopping center, there is a lot to do at Dolphin Mall. Especially in the summer months, when you need to beat the heat, Dolphin Mall has it covered for you, your kids, and everyone else in the family - from shopping, to dining, to entertainment, and then some.
A couple of weeks ago, the mall hosted me and a few other mommy bloggers who are from Miami. I attended with Chloe, so there were a few things we didn't really get to enjoy as much as if I had had Caleb with me, but Caleb went to camp because I wasn't ready to brave the mall with both of them at the same time, especially when Caleb is hit or miss in situations like that.
We started off the morning at Dave & Busters, with some breakfast and game time. Kids really love Dave & Buster's because of all the games. I know the last time Caleb was there he had a blast!
After Dave & Buster's we hit Forever 21, where the older kids got to do some crafts and activities, while us moms browsed all the cute merchandise. This Forever 21 is enormous, so you are bound to find something to fit your needs!
Then we were off to Cinebistro for lunch and a movie. Cinebistro is a movie dining experience. The way it works is you book your seats in advance when you purchase your tickets. They suggest arriving 30 minutes prior to the movie start time so you can place your orders for food and drink (they have a full service bar), and you can order anything up until 5 minutes before the movie starts. The waitstaff brings you your food and drinks, and you never have to get up out of the big, comfy seats. It is kid friendly for any showings before 6 pm. Any showings after 6 pm, and guests must be 21 and over. The food was good, the dessert was even better!
After the movie, I hit a couple of shops, including H&M (they have a pretty big location here with a kid's section, too). Then Chloe had a diaper blowout and I had to pick Caleb up, so we headed out. But Dolphin Mall really has so much to offer. Below I'm listing their summer promotions. If you need something to entertain your kids (or yourself) this summer, and beat the sweltering South Florida weather and the afternoon thunderstorms, Dolphin Mall definitely is the place to go!
Cobb Theaters: Tuesday June 12 - Thursday August 2, Cobb theaters will offer free admission to kids for screenings of kid friendly movies every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 10 am. [305.591.9380]
Dave & Buster's: All games half price on Wednesdays. [305.468.1555]
Buffalo Wild Wings: All summer, kids eat free every Wednesday from 5 to 11 pm. [305.513.2660]
Monday Mayhem: $14.19 Unlimited bowling with shoe rental. Food & drink specials starting at 8 pm.
Wednesdays: Unlimited Laser Tag Missions - $15 per person starting at 6 pm.
Mondays: BOGO 50% admissions.
Tuesdays: $5 off admission
Wednesdays: Kids eat free
Fridays: BOGO 50% off on select appetizers
I was provided with Tidy Snap free of charge. However, all opinions are my own.
When I first had Caleb, like any first time mom, leaving the house was an exercise in how much I could fit in my bag. I had a pretty big diaper bag, and I wouldn't leave the house without anything I thought I might possibly need in any scenario. Before Caleb was even born, I had my diaper bag packed and full to the brim, because you know, I could have to leave the house at a moment's notice and God forbid I didn't have anything and everything I needed ready to go. I carried about 3 extra pacifiers with me, a bottle of ready to feed formula just in case my milk dried up from one minute to the next (I know, I know), several extra outfits, blankets (yes, plural) and anything else I could think of.
I learned that I barely used half of what was in there, and I could definitely cut back on what I was carrying with me on a regular basis. I eventually transitioned to a diaper backpack and minimized the amount of things I carried with me.
This time around, I hadn't even prepared a diaper bag. I actually pulled out the diaper bag I used with Caleb, washed it, and had every intention of using it again, but instead I turned to my trusty RYLA Pack. Now I typically alternate between my RYLA Pack and my Louis Vuitton Neverfull, because it's big enough to carry everything I need and still look stylish.
My RYLA Pack comes with a diaper storage and changing kit that folds up into itself (but you can buy something similar to this on its own), so I just take that and switch it from one bag to another. In there I keep diapers, wipes, baggies to throw away stinky diapers, a travel size diaper rash ointment, and a travel size lotion. I also keep hand sanitizer, a sanitizing spray, hand and face wipes, and pacifier cleaning wipes that help remove dirt and germs when she inevitably drops her pacifier on the floor.
Another great product I have found has been Tidy Snap. Do you remember those slap bracelets we used to collect and go crazy for in elementary school? These are just like that! As a matter of fact, whenever Caleb gets his hands on them, he uses them as bracelets! They're rubbery, so they don't slip and slide around, but they are really great for helping to keep you organized.
I take two of these Tidy Snaps and in one I roll up a muslin blanket. The Tidy Snap helps keep it from becoming a mess in my bag. I use another snap to wrap a burp cloth (which I sometimes use to cover my breast while nursing - without having to cover the baby's entire head) and an extra onesie or romper in the case of a diaper blowout.
So anytime I want to switch bags, I grab those three things and make the switch (or leave it out altogether if I'm going out without them). It's really simplified things and helps me to stay much more organized. I know the kids things are wrapped up in one of these, and it's not getting mixed up with my stuff. The snaps are also really great for organizing outfits for travel, and keeping blankets rolled up in the drawer so you can see what you actually have in there.
I've linked all of these essentials or similar products on my Amazon Influencer Page, under Diaper Bag Essentials. For Tidy Snap, you can go directly to their website.
In November, we took an extra long weekend trip to New York, and even though we have been there a few times already with Caleb, this was the first time that he was really aware of what was going on and the fact that we were in a new city. We planned a lot of activities based off of things we thought he would like, and decided to visit some major landmarks, even though we had already done a lot of them, because we knew he would enjoy them.
We spent a few weeks leading up to the trip talking about how we were going to go visit New York City, and talking about some of the sights we were going to be seeing. We watched a few movies that took place in New York and made sure to point out the landmarks, and he was more than excited once the day of the trip finally rolled around.
We flew out of Miami into LaGuardia, and because Caleb is over the age of two, he needs his own seat now. Let me tell you, purchasing a seat might be more expensive, but oh my goodness was it so much more comfortable! While Caleb does watch TV at home, I don't usually let him handle devices unless it's a real necessity, but trips are a different story. I made sure to download a few of his favorite movies onto an iPad and we got him headphones. We also brought along a few snacks and some of his favorite toys. Since the flight wasn't a long one I wasn't really concerned with much else.
Once we arrived, we picked up our bags and took a car into the city.
The Statue of Liberty
One of the landmarks we talked about a LOT was the Statue of Liberty. We figured she is so iconic that he would always recognize her. I booked the tickets online ahead of time with the service that the National Park Service recommends, so we wouldn't have to wait in line. We went on a Thursday at noon and the lines weren't bad at all anyway.
Caleb absolutely LOVED the ferry ride there. He kept looking around, and looking at the water. Once we got to Liberty Island, we walked all the way around, stopped in front of the Statue of Liberty, and then kept strolling. His attention wouldn't have held for much longer than that.
Make a stop at DO, Cookie Dough Confections if you've ever enjoyed a piece of raw cookie dough in your life (and who hasn't?). Don't go overboard, it's super rich. But Caleb loved this stop for sure.
Okay, so we typically avoid Times Square, unless we are going to see a show or something. But we knew that it would have a major draw for Caleb, and boy, were we right! He loved looking at all the lights and buildings. He even took a picture with Spider-Man (albeit a little wonky-looking Spider Man), and he is still talking about Times Square a few weeks after the trip. We popped into the Renaissance Hotel, which has some amazing views from the lobby, and then we walked around a bit. We also strolled through the Disney Store, because why not?
We walked over a couple blocks to Bryant Park, too and he really enjoyed watching the ice skaters. If you're there during the holidays, they have the cutest holiday village set up so you can go shopping for Christmas gifts from local artisans.
Books of Wonder
After reading about the most whimsical children's book store, Books of Wonder, I knew we had to make this a stop. We all enjoyed perusing the vast number of children's titles, and they have an adorable little area where you can read books with your kids. It's definitely worth a stop if you're in the area.
Central Park & Tavern on the Green
There is just so much to see in Central Park. From the views of the city, to the ponds, to people watching. We were there so I could take maternity photos of my brother-in-law and his wife, but Caleb liked being pushed around through the little pathways and looking at all the big trees around him.
We made a reservation for brunch at Tavern on the Green, which is right on the edge of the park. The food was delicious, and they had a great selection for children, as well.
New York City Subway
Go for just one subway ride. The sights, the smells, the sounds - kids will be enthralled. We headed to Brooklyn on our last day there, and we decided to take the subway. Caleb liked going on the "fast train" and asked all kinds of questions about it.
We got off the subway and stepped right into DUMBO (short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). It's a really beautiful area filled with families and beautiful views of Manhattan. We walked over to the Brooklyn Bridge Park and took a ride on Jane's Carousel. It was built in 1922 for a park in Youngstown, Ohio, and was moved to Brooklyn in 1984 for restoration. It was opened to the public in 2011. It is enclosed in a glass "jewel box," and you get the most gorgeous views of the city while you are on it.
Either we talked about the bridge a lot, or Caleb latched onto it when we did talk about it, because the entire trip, he talked about how he wanted to see the Brooklyn Bridge. So when we finally made it there, he was so excited to see it. We walked across it (it was a Sunday afternoon when the weather was glorious and it was packed), and now he knows he was on the Brooklyn Bridge.
There were a few other places we stopped in at, mostly food places, that I wouldn't necessarily say are great for kids, but that we really enjoyed. Here's the short list.
I received this backpack free of charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
If you've been following me for a while, you more than likely remember me posting about VauvaPack. Over the last 6 months, they have been in the process of rebranding, and they are now RYLA Pack. The bags are just as great, and didn't change enormously, but the small changes they did make are awesome.
First off, I'm slightly obsessed with their new color, Mountain Grey. The hardware is more of a matte gold than it was before and the grey and gold go together spectacularly. They added elastic to the side pockets, so fishing your keys and cell phone out fo the side pockets is much easier. They also lined the inside of the secret pocket in the back with a soft liner so your electronics won't get scratched. The interior of the bags is a nice beige color, and the new bags are more matte than their older counterparts.
If you follow along with me on social media. you will have seen that we spent some time in New York right before Thanksgiving. I took my purse and I also took my RYLA, and guess what I took with me everywhere in the city? The RYLA. I even used it to carry all my camera equipment when I went to take photos of my brother-in-law and his wife.
So what do you think? Do you need one for yourself? I think you do! And if you go get it right now, RYLA will give you 20% off your purchase price! Just follow this link and your discount will automatically be applied at checkout! If that doesn't work, use the code TOPKNOT20.
Keep it real, friends!
If you have been following me on social media, you know I'm not posting as frequently because we are on vacation at the beach. This year, we decided to do a staycation on a beach close to home. We arrived a week ago, and we'll be here for another little bit. Unfortunately for us, the weather has been terrible! We've had a few flashes of sunlight and clearer skies, but for the most part, it has been soggy and rainy.
We have decided to make the most of it anyway and we have been doing a lot of reading, playing together, and spending time with one another. It has forced us to slow down and enjoy one another, which is something I will never be upset over.
But since our time in the sun has been limited, I try to have my beach bag ready to go at all times so we can just run out when the sun comes out. Truthfully speaking, my beach bag is always packed and ready to go in our linen closet, especially in the summer months, when last minute beach days are always a possibility.
Keep in mind a couple of things:
1. We are staying on the beach. If I was spending a day at the beach and was further away from home, I would probably pack a lot more.
2. Caleb requires a lot less now than he did last summer or the summer prior. Now he's happy to play in the sand most of the day and run around chasing the birds or run from the waves.
I'm using a Longchamp bag that my mom gave me for Christmas as my beach bag. This one is colorful, and it doesn't let the moisture in. Plus, I can zip it up to keep the sand out when I'm not using it. It cleans up easily enough, just wiping it off with a damp cloth.
Inside my bag I keep a few essentials (not everything is shown in the photo above):
A couple of other things we take to the beach, but that are not in my beach bag:
And for Caleb, since sunscreen application and re-application is important, but sometimes difficult, I dress him in a swimsuit and swim diaper, but I always put a rash guard with SPF on him to protect him from the sun's rays and preventing a sunburn.
And there you have it, our beach essentials! I hope this is helpful, and I hope you have some amazing summer beach days! I'm off to enjoy some sunshine. :)
Earlier this week, my friend Kathy from Freshly Squeezed Fashionista and I went exploring in Little Havana, a classic Miami neighborhood that pays homage to all things Cuban. We took some outfit shots for her, and then I handed my camera to her and had her snap a few shots for me as well.
We started off at Ball and Chain, where we hung out for a little bit, I snapped a few shots of her, and we had this incredible drink called the Pastelito Daiquiri. It had rum, guava puree, and a few other ingredients that I'm not sure of, but it had a pastelito de guayaba floating in the top of the drink. It was like my favorite childhood breakfast was turned into the drink of my dreams! Haha Ball and Chain has live music all the time, and the night scene is pretty awesome. If you're looking for a cool spot to hit up in Miami, this is definitely a great one!
We had been promising our boys ice cream all morning, so we decided to stop into Azucar. We both got the Abuela Maria, which is vanilla ice cream, with chunks of guava, cream cheese, and Maria crackers. This is a snack my grandmother used to make for me after school, so it's always a little bit of nostalgia when I have this. The boys loved their ice cream!
The bright streets and lively colors of the Little Havana area made for the perfect backdrop for these photos. My friends over at Truth & Glory sent me this adorable Blessed Mama tee, and I think it's perfect for any mama in your life. And from now until Saturday, use the code TOPKNOT to get 15% off of your purchase from their shop! They are a local Miami shop, so if you want to shop local - contact them for sure!
I paired the tee with these super comfy shorts from Gap, and these colorful pom pom sandals from Target.
We wrapped up our afternoon by having a delicious medianoche sandwich at El Exquisito. Overall, it was a hot but really fun day in Little Havana, and I can't wait to go back!
About this Mom
A Miami wife and mom documenting her days with her toddler and all that comes along with it.