Month: August 2016

How to Travel with a Toddler

Before Lulu came we loved to travel. We took at least one vacation a year and typically went to a beautiful tropical location. Ahhh, those were the days. Before becoming pregnant, we agreed that a baby wasn’t going to change our lifestyle. We were still going to do the things we loved to do. We quickly learned it’s a lot easier said than done. But after a year of not traveling we needed a vacation and we needed it NOW! Of course we were worried about traveling with our rather high maintenance little princess, but we were willing to try. We decided to join my in laws on their annual week long trip to the Outer Banks. Our first family vacation was something we had talked about for awhile. We were so excited to spend an entire week together showing Lulu all of the amazing things to do on a vacation. Our family vacation had the potential to be a complete melt down disaster or an amazing family adventure. Luckily for us, it was the latter.  These are the 5 things that made our first family vacation a success.


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Travel with Family

If you are lucky enough to have family who is willing to travel with you definitely take them up on this offer! Sure,  it would have been nice for us to have our first family vacation be just the three of us but honestly, having family made the trip so much easier. On vacation, everyone loves to eat out at restaurants. Unfortunately for us Lulu can only manage to sit in a highchair for approximately 9 minutes before she absolutely loses her mind. Having family with us meant that we could take turns entertaining Lulu and our extended family loves spending time with her so they were more than happy to take her for walk breaks when she needed to move around. This made for a happy baby and happy parents. Our family was also more than happy to watch her one night so we could go on a date. For one night we got to pretend we were a young, carefree, childless couple enjoying a vacation. Having our extended family on vacation also meant there were other children there who loved playing with Lulu. They spent hours in the pool playing, took trips together to the swings and ran on the beach together. Seeing Lulu make memories with her cousins was a perfect way to spend our first trip together.

Drive to your Vacation Spot

There were many reasons we decided not to fly for our first family vacation. The obvious factor was to save money. It cost us under $100 to drive and it would have cost us over $800 to fly. Since we never traveled with Lulu before, we had no idea how she would do. As with most toddlers, she is incredibly unpredictable. We decided that we didn’t want to take the risk of having her on an airplane with other travelers who may not think her screeching is as endearing as we do.   We also knew that in order to keep Lulu happy for an entire week on vacation we would need to bring A LOT of stuff. Just the thought of how we could possibly fit everything we would need in a few suitcases was overwhelming. Driving allowed us to bring her pack n play, stroller, playpen, box of toys and everything else we considered essential in keeping our sanity and our baby happy. One item we couldn’t have survived with out was the Summer Infant Pop N’ Play Portable Playard. It made our time at the beach and by the pool so much more relaxing {see last tip}. It was super portable and easy to set up. Lulu loved playing with all of her toys while in the playpen and I loved knowing she was safely contained. You can purchase this vacation essential HERE. We also used the Canopy Cover to protect Lulu from the sun which could be purchased HERE. 

Travel at Night

Lulu is not a fan of car rides, especially not long ones. We knew that the only way we would all survive the travel would be for Lulu to sleep through it. We decided to leave right before her bedtime. We completed her entire bedtime routine so we could be sure that she was ready to fall asleep. After we completed the routine, we put her in her car seat and headed out. It only took a few minutes before she was asleep. I sat in the back seat with her so I could help soothe her back to sleep when she woke up. She slept through almost all of the car ride and it made for very peaceful travel. This is the only way I would travel with a toddler.

Try to Keep Routines the Same

We have gotten in the habit of a rather extensive bedtime routine {we are working on shortening it but for now this is what works for us!} and this is the only way Lulu knows how to fall asleep and stay asleep. She was already going to be sleeping in a new environment and a new crib so we really wanted to keep everything else the same. The only way to do that was to pack the books, sound machine, at least 12 pacifiers {she’s addicted…we’ll work on it} and everything else we needed to make this routine as similar to being at home as possible. We also tried to keep her on the same eating and nap schedule as we have at home. Keeping similar routines ensured that Lulu was a happy girl throughout the vacation. A happy baby means a happy Mama and Dada!


As important as it is to keep routines it is also important to remember you are on vacation! Loosen up on the Mama control and try to remember that it’s ok if they stay up a little later than normal, eat a little more ice cream than they should or get more spoiled than they ever would at home. Vacation is supposed to be fun for everyone!




Cooking while watching a Toddler

Sam and I have been trying to eat at home as much as possible lately. We are trying to stick to a budget and lets be honest, with an active toddler, going out to eat is more work than it’s worth. Eating in means cooking more. I don’t mind cooking and I’m actually getting pretty good at it.  I try to make fairly simple and quick recipes because with a toddler running around the house I don’t have much time to focus on cooking. I am still learning ways to keep Lulu busy while trying to cook. Hopefully, I will eventually be posting about the perfect way to keep a toddler busy while trying to complete household tasks.

This is not that post.

This is a post celebrating how inquisitive my toddler is and how she is capable of making a natural disaster size mess in less than 10 minutes. She has a talent that most toddler mothers are probably very well aware of. Instead of getting frustrated about the half hour it is going to take me to clean up the aftermath of Tornado Lulu, I am choosing to look at the positives.


I am impressed that she is resourceful enough to stand on a stack of paper plates in order to reach the breakables in the back of the cupboard. I am proud that she doesn’t settle for the hundreds of toys we have bought for her and instead she wants to play with napkins and other paper products to further her creativity. Her ability to clean out the pantry in such a short period of time is truly inspiring. This has been something I have had on my ‘to do’ list for the past five months. Tonight I will be celebrating all of these accomplishments with an early bedtime for Lulu and an extra large glass of wine for Mama.


You can go HERE to see the Buffalo Chicken Nachos that led to this enjoyable Tuesday evening.


Cheers to all my fellow toddler Mama friends!

4 Things C-Section Moms Need to Hear

I had a birth plan. It wasn’t complicated. I didn’t want a home birth, I wasn’t looking to deliver in a pool full of water and I wasn’t expecting butterflies released when my baby entered the world. I just wanted that magical moment, after all the pushing and pain, when the doctor laid my perfect baby on my chest and we had an abundance of skin to skin time. My husband would hug us and look at us endearingly. I would cry with happiness and it would be the best moment of my life. We waited the full nine months to find out our baby’s gender and I thought in the moments after birth we would be talking about how our baby boy was going to be on the soccer team or how our baby girl was going to be the princess I always wanted. What was definitely NOT on my birth plan was multiple failed attempts at an induction, actively pushing for four hours and being rushed in for a C-section. I didn’t expect to only get one glimpse at my precious new baby before she was rushed off due to breathing trouble and to give me time to ‘recover’. Also not in my birth plan was the sadness, guilt and jealousy I had after Lulu’s birth. It took awhile for me to cope with everything that happened during and after her birth. I wish someone would have reminded me of these four things after Lulu was born:


You gave Birth

After my C-section, I felt like I couldn’t say that ‘I gave birth’. After all, my baby didn’t come out of the birth canal like a ‘normal’ birth. I felt like I somehow cheated. The truth is, I did give birth. She wasn’t pushed out like I expected, instead she was cut out of me in a major surgery. Giving birth isn’t defined by the way your baby comes into the world. I carried my baby for 40 weeks (plus 1 week and 3 days…she was very comfy in there) and my body changed to grow my baby. If it wasn’t for me and my body, this perfect human being wouldn’t be here. My body grew this baby and my body gave her life! It doesn’t matter how she came into this world what matters is that I gave her life.

You Didn’t Take the Easy Way Out

Anyone who says that a C-section is the easy way out, clearly never had a C-section! We as C-Section Mothers had our abdomen and uterus cut open and then stapled back together. We were given a serious dose of pain meds and put on strict movement restrictions. Prior to ever entering the cold and sterile operating room, many of us, tried pushing out our baby, we attempted labor and the C-section was the absolute last option. We had to make a choice about what was best for our babies before they even entered this world. We definitely didn’t take the easy way out either emotionally or physically.

You Didn’t Fail

I am lucky enough to be surrounded by incredibly resilient women. The women in my family are strong minded and tough. They are amazing women and even better moms. I heard all about the birth stories that the women in my life experienced. I knew they all powered through labor and showed amazing courage through it all. I knew how proud they were of themselves and how proud their spouses were when they were able to deliver their babies. I knew that they all had vaginal births and I never anticipated I wouldn’t. It never even occurred to me that I wouldn’t have the same type of birth as all of the other women in my life. I remember right before I went into the operating room that I cried to my mom because ‘I failed’. She assured me that this was absolutely untrue but it didn’t change how I felt. What did I do wrong? Why couldn’t I deliver my baby the way a woman was supposed to? Why can all of these other women have vaginal births and I couldn’t? All of these questions went through my mind right before the C-section and after. It wasn’t until one night that I was holding my beautiful daughter and she smiled for the first time. It hit me. Of course, I didn’t fail. I loved her from the minute I found out I was pregnant. I changed my diet and my lifestyle. I took vitamins and went to all of my prenatal appointments. I did kick counts and I went to birthing class. I did everything I needed to do to make sure my baby was healthy. The way my baby came into this world does not determine my success or failure. It wasn’t my fauly that she was a rather large baby and that her head was positioned wrong which made her stuck in the birth canal. This wasn’t my fault, I did nothing wrong. How could I have possibly failed when my body created the most perfect being I have ever seen? I couldn’t have. I didn’t fail. C-section Mamas may have given birth in a different way than anticipated but they certainly didn’t fail. After all, when you have given the world a miracle there is no possible way you could have failed.

Stop Focusing on How Your Baby Came Into the World

The months following Lulu’s birth, every time I heard about another baby being born a little part of me was jealous. I hated hearing about other people’s birth stories because mine was so traumatic. I didn’t get the happy and exciting moment that everyone else got.  I cheated myself by getting bogged down in this thinking. I missed celebrating happy moments with my loved ones. I missed out on talking about my birth story. I missed out on celebrating the day that changed my life. I missed out because I couldn’t stop thinking of all the things that went wrong. I am not going to make this mistake again! If my next birth ends in a C-section my focus is going to be on how happy I am to have my baby in this world. I will focus on this new life that I brought into this world and what a blessing that is. These are the things that are important about your birth story, not which way your baby was delivered.

C-section Mamas {and all mamas} YOU are strong, you are courageous and you are amazing! Stop telling yourself any differently.


How to get the Best Deals on Children’s Clothes

Lulu has A LOT of clothes. I mean she’s a girl. She needs a variety of outfits. And then she of course needs bows and shoes to go along with each. I have had more binges at Carters, Target and OshKosh than I would like to admit. But, I get the majority of her clothes and shoes from other moms! How is this possible? Mom to Mom sales, mom to mom Facebook pages and my very favorite…second hand shops! Every time I get a compliment on one of Lulu’s second hand outfits people are shocked to learn where I purchased it. There have even been times that people doubtfully question whether I am remembering the purchase correctly. So many people have negative ideas of ‘hand me downs’. They envision the clothes to be tattered, stained and have the ‘this outfit has been worn by 12 different kids’ look. There are a few things to keep in my mind when attempting to purchase second hand.


Mom to Mom Facebook Pages

If you want to get great deals off of Facebook it is important to join all of the Mom to Mom sales sites in your area. Just do a Facebook search for mom to mom sales in your city. It is also imperative that you turn on notifications for each of these pages. If you aren’t quick you are going to miss out! The nicer the item, the quicker it is going to go.Items on Facebook go fast! The sites I am a member of have over 10,000 followers. That is 10,000 people you have to compete with for an item you want.  Once you join the sites make sure you understand how they work. The majority of sites go based on a first come first serve basis. This means the first person to comment and say ‘interested’ is the person who will be contacted first for item pickup. If someone has already commented that they are interested you can still comment and say ‘next in line’. If the first person passes, the seller will move on to you.

Mom to Mom Sales

These sales most frequently occur in the spring and fall. Most states have a Mom to Mom sale website which lists all of the sales in the state. The Michigan Mom to Mom site is Most of the sales will have an Early Bird special which means you pay a little extra {normally $1} to get into the shops early. I can’t tell you how many times I have been walking into a Mom to Mom sale and I see another mom walking out with the exact item I wanted. I kick myself that if only I would have arrived to the sale earlier I could have gotten what I wanted. The early bird sales definitely pay off. If there are more than one sale in your area on a certain day try to go to the sale that is going to have more tables. It is very rare that I walk out of a 100+ table sale without anything purchased.

Second Hand Sale Shops

I have actually never been to the large chain resale shops such as ‘Once Upon a Child’. However, the people I know who have been to these large chain stores have given mixed reviews about the quality and price of clothes for sale. The resale shops I like are the small local resale stores. All of the small resale shops I have been to have great quality outfits and fairly reasonable prices. They are typically a little more expensive than Mom to Mom sales but they normally have slightly higher quality items to chose from. All of the clothes I have purchased from second hand shops look brand new. This is also where I get a lot of the higher end brand clothes that there is no way I would purchase for full price. New items come into second hand shops all the time so it’s important to visit on a regular basis. The local shop in my area allows shoppers to give a list of items you are interested in and they will call you if they get these items into the store.


No matter which venue you are shopping at it is important to remember to be picky. Just because you spent a few dollars to get into a Mom to Mom sale does not mean you need to buy a spit up stained shirt with a hole in the back. This was the mistake I made when I first had Lulu. I was so excited to finally be part of this exclusive mom club that I jumped at the chance to buy.  It ended up being such a waste of money because Lulu never even wore these clothes! Now that I have learned to be picky, the clothes I buy from second hand shops are some of my absolute favorites!

I love the feeling I get when I save money! After shopping, I like to go online and see how much the full priced item would have cost. Over this past year, I estimate that I have saved almost $1,000! This includes shoes which is one of the biggest savings. Shoes at the stores can cost upward of $30 but all of the shoes I have bought for Lulu have been under $10!

Enjoy shopping Mamas!


Our {Not So} Hoity Toity 3rd Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to us! I can’t believe it has been three years. There have been a lot of tough moments but even more amazing ones. When we met Freshman year of high school I never would have imagined we would be married with a child and living this crazy life together.

Since our anniversary fell on a Wednesday we decided to just have dinner as a family at a local restaurant. We agreed to celebrate just the two of us at a later date.   It definitely wasn’t the extravagant anniversary we had the first year. We spent a week in Punta Cana and even got the Presidential Suite. It was perfect weather,  incredibly relaxing and so much romance it would make anyone gag. Alas, we live a new {and better} life now.

Lulu did great at dinner. Per usual, she waived to every person she saw and made friends with all of the waitresses. She insisted on eating everything Mama was eating and because I was trying to avoid any meltdowns on our anniversary, I let her eat everything I thought she wouldn’t choke on. After dinner we went to the grocery store {so romantic I know, but we really needed milk}. While in line at the grocery store, I noticed what appeared to be a hive on Lulu’s arm. I went into crazy Mama mode and pulled her dress up to check over her entire body. She was covered. There were hives all over her body. Now I was officially in a panic. We rushed to the nearest urgent care. I couldn’t even fill out the forms they gave us because I was shaking. My poor baby was having an allergic reaction. I ran through a list of foods she ate all day. ‘Ranch, it must have been the ranch. This was the only thing she ate that she never tried before. Or maybe it was the tomato. Has she ever had a tomato before? I can’t even remember what she has eaten before. I might as well have fed my child poison. I poisoned my child.’ Meanwhile, Lulu couldn’t have cared less about my miniature breakdown in the middle of the urgent care or the growing number of hives on her body. She thought she was in a new play place and tore up the entire waiting room with pure joy.

We were in the actual room for all of five minutes. The doctor looked at her for approximately one second and said ‘hives. You’ll never know from what. We’ll give her Benadryl.’ I always feel a little embarrassed when I go into full blown Mama panic mode just to have a doctor act like this is the 19th patient he saw today with the same very basic symptoms. I may or may not have cried.  So maybe I overreacted a little bit. The Benadryl kicked in quickly and the hives were gone by the time we got home.

Who needs Punta Cana when you can spend your anniversary at the urgent care? This is mom life.



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