traveling with littles // our travel essentials

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Since I posted about our Mexico trip (over on Instagram and on the blog) I have had TONS of questions about how we traveled with the kids, what we took, and tips from the trip. So, I thought I would just put up a big post with links to everything so I wouldn’t have to type and text and respond with the same things to everyone. Plus, this is a great reference for me because as much as I love traveling, the actual act of traveling gives me a bit of anxiety, especially in the day or two before. It’s mostly the preparation, which is sort of counter-intuitive since I am such a planner, and the lists and lists of things to pack and to-dos before we leave (like I will stay up all night cleaning the house and doing all of the laundry the night before so I come home to a super clean house).

Any-hoo, onto our travel essentials. Obviously it depends on your kids, your routine and every day necessities, and your own preferences, but lots of these things work for most of the littles. Also, I have tailored this to air travel, but many of the same things are true when we drive.

Something that I had growing up was a travel backpack which was a backpack full of toys and things that I only got when we traveled. (Thanks Mom & Dad!) And this is something that we started when Eloise was tiny and continue to do. Guys, it’s magic. These are special toys that she only gets when we drive or fly, so they are really special every time. It really doesn’t have to be anything crazy or over-the-top, and remember that they have to really be small enough for your littles to carry (or else you will have to carry it!). Right now these travel-only toys include: this Doodle Pro, these Mermaid stickers, flashcards (from the Dollar Spot at Target), these headphones, coloring book or paper and crayons, and this kids’ digital camera we added as a new surprise for this most recent trip! I also include a small snack in the front pocket of her bag (usually a bar and a pouch).

I try to have Eloise carry some of her own things, but since her backpack is so tiny, realistically I have to carry some things. I generally put her stickers, a small book, her headphones, and her lovie and blanket in her backpack, and then I carry everything else. This trip I took my diaper bag (I have this Skip-Hop one which I am LOVING right now because pockets and over-the-shoulder handles or cross-body – necessary with two kids) and this awesome Lo & Sons bag (Deluxe Small). And then Aaron carries a bag too, currently this Miir backpack which is also awesome! Between all of those bags, we can usually fit everything we are carrying on the airplane without it being too obnoxious! I put all of the essentials that we will more than likely need during the plane trip in my diaper bag (diapers, wipes, water bottles, pacifier) that goes under the seat, and then at least one of the other bags goes up into the over-head bin (and includes things we don’t need immediately like extra clothes, snacks, etc.).

STROLLER, CAR SEATS, AND CARRIERS

Even though our every day stroller is pretty compact (we have the Bugaboo Bee) it seemed too bulky to take on the trip. I wanted something that either girl could sit in that would be easy to maneuver around the resort. But I also didn’t want a super cheap stroller that would break during the trip. So we settled on this umbrella stroller and it was perfect! It fit either girl, laid back for the occasional nap, had a pretty big storage basket underneath, had a cup holder (bonus!), and folded to be pretty compact. We took this stroller with us in the airport and then gate-checked it. Though not necessary, I like to put gate-checked items into bags and this one was perfect for an umbrella stroller!

We weren’t planning on doing any extra driving while in Mexico, but since we did have to get from the airport to the resort (in a vehicle) we brought both of the girls’ car seats. We don’t use them on the plane (see below) but I didn’t feel comfortable being in a vehicle without car seats, despite the assurances that Mexico does not actually require car seats for children. (Um, yikes, but that’s not the point here.) So we checked the car seats using these car seat bags. Obnoxious, yes. Practical, yes. The bags have backpack straps (which Aaron can use; I, however, will fall over backwards!) and are big enough for the seat plus we always put diapers in the seat to save room in our luggage! A note about international travel and car seats is that other countries, including Mexico, don’t have locking seat belts, so be sure to take these brackets which will “lock” the seat belt!

We also took both of the carriers for the girls (the Tula and the Ergo) since we both can use them and Aaron can still carry Eloise in a carrier. In hindsight, we should have just brought one since the Ergo went unused during almost the entire trip. (It was WAY too hot to use the carriers when we were in Mexico, for the most part!) But, we find the carriers really helpful when we are getting on the plane because it frees up both sets of hands to carry bags. And as much as I love my Solly wrap, in the past it has been too tricky to try to get Daphne in and out of it as the other carriers (though I loved it when D was a newborn).

PLANE

Getting on the plane with littles is always an experience. And one that gives me anxiety. I just want to be on the plane with my luggage stowed and seat belt fastened. So I make sure that we get any gate check bag tags that we need (for our stroller and sometimes our infant car seat, but not this time around) as soon as there is someone at the gate counter, and then I wait in the immediate boarding area in case there are any updates about the flight. And there are differing opinions about this, but our system is to get on the plane as early as possible! That generally means we board with the “families or passengers that need extra time getting down the jet way.” For some airlines this is the very first group to board, and for others it is after all of the gold, platinum, whatever flight status passengers get to board. But, long story short, we get onto the plane with the girls before 95% of the rest of the passengers.

Once we find our seats, I get in first to sit in the window and then Eloise will get the middle seat. I wipe down everything (tray – both sides, arm rests, window and wall) with a disinfecting wipe. My girls, especially Daphne, lick and touch everything. So there’s that. While I am disinfecting, Aaron is installing the CARES harness that we use for Eloise onto the seat; it is a loop that goes over the seat, but requires the tray to be put down for tightening, and then provides an upper harness that loops into the regular airline seat belt. Again, there are many differing opinions about how small children should be restrained in an airplane, but we have chosen to have lap infants (before age 2) and then use the CARES harness (rather than hauling a car seat on the plane). And then Daphne sits with me during pre-boarding and then during take-off and landing, just in case she won’t take her paci and needs to nurse.

Before I had littles, I didn’t put anything in the seat back pocket. But now, I load it up with wet wipes, water bottles, books, snacks. When you have a baby on your lap, it is difficult to get a bag out from under the seat, so I try to get most of what I might need during the flight out where I can easily reach it. And then we use the under the seat space at Eloise’s seat to store one of the bigger carry-ons that has things we will need during the flight, and the other carry-on goes up into the overhead bin. That leaves Aaron with no bags at his feet so he’s a bit more comfortable (since his knees nearly hit the seat in front of him).

 

PLAY

Even on a short flight little ones need something to do, so we try to bring entertaining things to keep them occupied for as much of the flight as possible. Like I mentioned above, we have special airplane toys/items that only come out during travel, so they tend to keep Eloise occupied for a little longer than normal. In addition, I bring a few small board books or magazines for her to read or to have read to her. For Daphne, I brought a few soft toys and books, but avoided anything that squeaked!

Before each trip, Aaron will pre-download shows (Daniel Tiger, Mister Roger’s, and Sesame Street are the current ones) onto either his phone or one of our computers. This way we don’t have to worry about Wifi on the plane or any sort of buffering during the show. We are pretty strict about screentime with Eloise during our normal life, and during traveling, we are equally strict. She gets to watch one (maybe two) shows of her choosing during a plane ride, but only after she takes a nap. It is amazing that a toddler can go from “I am not tired. At all.” to sleeping in a matter of minutes if it means there is a show on the other side! We don’t always get the longest naps, but we make sure she naps before a show. And, also, we try to exhaust every other possible entertainment method for Eloise before we let her watch a show; that means reading stories, snacks (so many snacks), walking up and down the aisle, going potty, etc. We know from other parents that if you offer a show too early in the trip, the only thing your toddler wants to do is watch a show!

 

FOOD

I bring tons of snacks on trips, always. Even before kids. I guess I worry about being on a plane or in a hotel room without food! I tend to make a big trip to Trader Joe’s a few days before a trip because it has the BEST snack foods. And snacks don’t have to be unhealthy. We do a lot of trail mix, dried fruit, and other healthier snacks so that I don’t worry as much if that is all Eloise will eat on the trip.

One thing that we do bring that we don’t have normally (so it’s special which magical for toddlers!) are food pouches. They are heavy but really convenient and if you have kids, TSA doesn’t make a stink about them at all. For a flight, I will put one into Eloise’s backpack for her to find and then let her choose when she wants to eat it. But I do limit the amount of pouches to one per day for Eloise. Daphne, on the other hand, was young enough on our trip that we were still transitioning between purees and BLW (baby-led weaning). So I loaded up on pouches* and brought enough for one pouch per meal since I didn’t know what the food situation was going to be.

*Since I don’t normally buy food pouches, I was overwhelmed (an understatement) when I went to Target to buy them for the trip. Holy cow there are about 100 brands, even if you are only looking at organic ones! So, I started reading the labels. Many pouches (and other baby foods and drinks even) use apple sauce/puree as the main filler with only a small amount of the other flavors. My test for pouches was to find ones that were (1) organic and (2) weren’t apple sauce. And I ended up finding these Happy Baby Clearly Crafted Stage 2 that fit the bill and were in a clear pouch (bonus!) with lots of interesting flavors. Like I said, I loaded up and ended up bringing enough for 2 or 3 every day which was so, so heavy going down to Mexico, but Daphne ate them all during our trip and we didn’t have to haul them back (except the ones I saved for the flights home).

Along with TJ’s snacks, we also like Ella’s Kitchen snacks, Bambas, and Larabars (mini). We don’t usually let Eloise snack much during the day because it just destroys mealtimes, but when we travel (and especially when we fly) we are super lax about snacking. We ended up being able to get food really quickly at the resort in Mexico because there was a food buffet open almost all day, but sometimes waiting in restaurants for a meal is hard, so I always have snacks or a pouch in my bag.

 

SUN AND SAND

One thing I was dreading with the hot weather in Mexico (and also just summer in general) is sunscreen. I loathe sunscreen but the alternative is worse. I am also really picky when it comes to sunscreen and will only use physical sunscreen which means almost all of the cool sprays, mousses, dry-touch ones are all no-nos. Our favorite for the past few years is this non-aerosol spray from Babyganics which we all use. And I also picked up this Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc for our trip after reading really good reviews on it, and I really liked it! Aaron wasn’t sold on it, but the smell was amazing. Neither one of these sunscreens are super white and greasy which is what I am looking for. And be sure to test sunscreen on an arm or leg of your babies first to make sure there isn’t a bad skin reaction! Daphne wasn’t able to wear sunscreen all summer-long (because she was under 6 months) but thank goodness she was old enough when we went to Mexico and that she wasn’t allergic to either sunscreen we had.

Because we were going to be at the beach, I brought along our little anti-UV pop-up tent that I picked up at the Nordy’s Anni Sale this past summer. It didn’t get as much use as I thought since Daphne was so little this summer and we mostly just stayed out of the sun, but it folds up small enough (and flat enough) that we were able to get it into our suitcase for this trip. To be totally honest, we only used this tent one morning while we were in Mexico, but it was still worth it! I was able to keep Daphne out of the sand since she would just eat it and be covered in it (between the sunscreen and her hands in her mouth all the time) which was amazing! We have previously rented a big tent for the beach when we went to Maui and it was awesome for the beach!

If it is sunny and hot at all, my girls are used to wearing sunhats (at least Eloise is). Since neither will reliably keep sunglasses on, sunhats are the way to go. We love this iPlay one since it is super lightweight, dries quickly, and breathes. Plus, it is adjustable and has a chin tie (which is necessary for a baby who tries to pull it off). Eloise had a dark navy blue one when she was one, but I quickly discovered that the dark color got hot in the sun. So she and Daphne both have white ones. There is also this one that has more neck coverage. And in addition to a sunhat, we wear lots of sunshirts near the pool or at the beach. We have one from Crewcuts (J. Crew’s baby line) and Honest Co. but I have also been liking the ones that come with the bathing suit set (like Cat and Jack for Target). Often I will bring an extra sunshirt along in my bag and then can switch out the girls’ shirt if we are going to be in the sun so I don’t have to slather on quite as much sunscreen!

SLEEP

Ah, elusive sleep. Especially when you are traveling, sleep is elusive. We have two really good sleepers, but traveling and being away from home and in a new place can be disruptive! We try to mimic our sleep routine and schedule from home as much as possible when we are traveling. Same jammies, same lovies, same pacis, same/similar sound machine, same sleep sack.

We have this travel sound machine which has been good for the past few years, but we have been having trouble with batteries corroding in it, so I am on the hunt! Basically, I want something that is lightweight and can give us the sound of rain (that’s our preferred sound) all night long (so no timer). If you have any recommendations on a good travel sound machine, I am all ears!

And since Eloise had been recently night-time potty-trained, I brought along this waterproof mattress pad cover which is the one that we keep on her bed at home. Luckily, we didn’t end up needing it, but I will probably still bring it along with us for our next few trips since it folds up like a small blanket.

And for Daphne, I ended up bringing an extra blanket for her which I used on the plane while she napped and then hung on the side of the pack n’ play while we were in Mexico. I wouldn’t normally hang a blanket on the side of a pack n’ play but in this case we were sharing a hotel room so I needed to put something up to block Daphne’s view so that she would sleep. We put her over on the other side of the room (from the beds) to give her some space and quiet, but the sides of the pack n’ play are mesh… so we hung a blanket over one side and a towel over the other and it worked really well (the other two sides were facing the wall and the sliding door with curtains). At this point (one month later) Daphne probably would have pulled that blanket and curtain off the sides since she can now stand up in a crib, but at the time it worked!

PASSPORTS AND TRAVEL DOCS

When we decided to book our trip to Mexico for the entire, we knew it would require passports for the girls. Even though we don’t have any other international trips planned as of now, it’s nice to know that we can plan a last minute trip or take a drive across the border if we need/want to (Canada is just about 3 hours north). Plus, passports for littles are insanely cute and good for 5 years. We took our own pictures using the Murphy bed in the guest room/office for the white backdrop, and then printed them at Walgreen’s.

{Side note: This section is about vaccines. We have decided to vaccinate ourselves and our children which is a personal decision. This isn’t a post meant to be pro-vaccination, but just to explain what our process was regarding travel and vaccines.} And since we were traveling abroad, I did ask our girls’ pediatrician about any extra vaccines they may need before the trip since other countries have different exposure risks than we do domestically. He told us that Eloise was good-to-go since she is up-to-date on her vaccines (thru three years), but that he recommended that Daphne get an early booster of the MMR (which isn’t started until after one year) because there is a high risk of exposure when you travel internationally, specifically in international airport terminals. Also, since it was early October when we left for our trip, we all got our annual flu vaccines before flying.

And finally, be sure to research any other documents you might need on your trip, depending on where you are traveling, including any required visas. I also took pictures of our passports as well as scanned them and saved them to our cloud storage (just in case they got lost) and took a copy of the girls’ birth certificates and vaccine records (which I always have with me).

What are your travel essentials?

M

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our trip to Mexico {2017}

We just got back from Mexico (in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday) and I wanted to share some photos since I know you all have been waiting (haha)! I posted some of these during the week on my Instagram stories (this is my favorite social media guys!) as well as Instagram and Facebook posts, but since there were more photos to share, I thought I would do a blog post as well. {So I apologize for the repetition.}

As some of you may know, we headed down to Cancun last week to celebrate Aaron’s cousin’s wedding. Since we decided early on to take the kids (Daphne was pretty much a have-to since I didn’t want to spend a week in Mexico pumping!) we decided to make it a family vacation and stay an entire week. Plus, it was a great excuse to get the girls passports (oh my gosh, passport photos for babies and toddlers, it’s the best)! The wedding was at an all-inclusive resort which wouldn’t have probably been our first choice for vacation (I am much more inclined to rent an Airbnb house) but it was great for the kids. Plus, the rest of the wedding party, including all of Aaron’s family that had made the trip were at the resort, so it was sort of a no-brainer. We stayed at the Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun. It felt a lot like the Sandals resort we stayed in in St. Lucia for our honeymoon, but super family friendly.

We had a really good time and it was great to get away, just the four of us. Since we left last Tuesday, we had a day or two of just us before family started arriving for the big event. And it was great to see family too. Eloise was in heaven playing with all of her cousins!

The only real complaint that we had (#firstworldproblems) was that it was so, so hot and humid. It was about mid-80s temperature wise but with 85% humidity. That means the “real feel” temperature was around 100 degrees. I know, hard to complain about being on vacation in Mexico, but we were not prepared for that kind of heat! Luckily our room had A/C and we got an occasional ocean breeze.

Okay, enough chatting, I know you just want to see pictures! I didn’t take a ton of pictures since I was enjoying being unplugged (which just doesn’t happen much at home).

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{This is what traveling with both of the girls looked like. Not pictured: husband who was carrying a backpack, duffel bag (we love this one from Lo & Sons for travel!), and the diaper bag. Also not pictured: two car seats, two big suitcases.}

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{Hello LA! Early morning layover.}

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{We got Eloise a little digital camera for the trip and she was OBSESSED! She took about 100 pictures before we landed in Mexico… and many of the floor. Also, she loves her headphones which we only let her use when we are traveling.}

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{Hello Mexico! Perks of having a window seat, right?}

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{The beach. It was so beautiful!}

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{Eloise and I spent our first morning out on the beach while Aaron stayed with Daphne in the room for her nap.}

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{CHEESE! And so much sunscreen. My suit is old from TopShop and Eloise’s is from June and January for those who were asking.}

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{Daphne girl joined us at the beach after nap time.}

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{She LOVES the sand and just wanted to make sandcastles (and then destroy them) and bury our feet.}

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{We welcomed family since we were the first ones to arrive. Michael (Aaron’s cousin) and his wife Rachel with the girls.}

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{Love this Daphne girl. Even though moments before this happened she bit me. While she was nursing. It was not a great moment.}

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{Guys, sisters are the best! Maggi, the bride, gave the girls these adorable jammies.}

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{Poolside.}

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{Even though there were cabanas at the beach, they were pretty small once you got chaise lounge chairs under them. And we were all dying for shade! So I was happy to have brought this little pop-up tent for Daphne. And it was awesome to keep her from eating sand.}

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{We got her a new set of sand toys since the bucket we brought with us broke in the suitcase. It came in a little backpack which she wanted to take with us everywhere.}

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{This was perfect. And then the baby started moving towards the sand. But for a minute there, it was actually really relaxing!}

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{Eloise was a little nervous about the ocean but would go in if Aaron carried her.}

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{More sandcastles. And when Papa is around he goes to the water and gets the good, wet sand!}

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{We were so happy to see Kait! She was amazing with the girls who loved her so much. She’s technically not a cousin, but a cousin of a cousin, but that is just semantics!}

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{Ah, that smile!}

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{Eloise was not sure about this, but she wanted to be there since that is what her cousins were doing!}

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{Another morning at the pool and it was much too hot for Daphne to nap.}

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{Eloise was so brave and swam out with her Uncle David, Aaron’s brother.}

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{It took a lot of bouncing and rocking, but I finally got Daph to nap that morning.}

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{The wedding set-up. It was insanely hot, but so beautiful!}

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{Wedding selfie. Love this guy. And Baby D was not at all happy. She calmed down before the ceremony started though, thank goodness!}

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{The tables were gorgeous. I wish I could have greenery and flowers on my dining table all the time.}

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{And after the wedding was done, the kids played on the beach. And Eloise deconstructed the wedding flowers…}

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{For Mr. and Mrs. Czerpak!}

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{We only got a few photos of the four of us and even though the girls weren’t looking at the camera or smiling, I love this photo of our little family. And bless my husband who endured wearing a suit during the wedding ceremony because I asked him to. It was probably 100 degrees on the beach that afternoon, but I love him in a suit!}

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{Cutting the cake. The cake topper says “finally” since they dated for 7 years!}

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{Sami, the flower girl (she LOVED Daphne and Eloise) and Uncle Papi (Uncle Mike) who was the father of the bride. Our wedding favors were these colorful maracas and the girls were both obsessed.}

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{A dance party after dinner. It was so fun!}

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{Eloise with the bride.}

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{Eloise, Kendra, Daphne, and me. It was so hot but such a fun time!}

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{After dancing, we re-grouped and went back to the room to get the girls ready for bed. We gave her a bedtime bottle, stuck these earphones on her, and she was out for the rest of the night!}

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{Nap at the beach!}

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{And more time to play in the sand. All of the family had cabanas right next to each other so it was fun to see everyone, but still be able to hang in the shade.}

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{This is her “What Mama?” face when I say “Say cheese, Eloise!”}

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{Hydrating before pool time.}

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{And she’s off!}

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{Oh those cheeks and those lips sweet Daphne girl!}

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{A post-nap swim for Daphne. She LOVED the pool! Her rashguard/sunshirt is an old Crewcuts and her swim diaper is an old Honest Co.}

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{And Eloise insisted on getting back in the pool with Uncle Ben.}

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{The beach just outside our room.}

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{On our last night we hung out with family after dinner and Eloise was loving spending time with her cousin Jack. She was a blur the entire night!}

{And Daphne crawling (and almost getting squished by Eloise!) in case you missed it on my Instagram stories.}

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{Waiting to get on the plane. Eloise loves airports and seeing all of the planes.}

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{And Daphne loves sticking her fingers in other people’s mouths… we are working on that. And moments later, she was out and slept until we were on the plane.}

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{Adios Mexico! See you next time!}

A fun family trip and makes me so excited to continue our family adventures, hopefully, all around the world with these girls!

And happy wedding day to Maggi and Greg!

M

Also, for those who were asking, my dress is J. Crew that I picked up at the end of the summer (so it’s no longer available). As soon as we booked our trip I started searching for a dress since I knew it would be tricky to find something I liked that was also nursing friendly. Luckily, this dress was so perfect!

 

daphne {week 33}

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{letterboard: Letter Folk (Poet) // swimsuit: Cat and Jack for Target // blanket: Lou Lou and Company}

{week 33} This was a BIG week for Daphne because we flew to Cancun for the week, marking her first international flight, first passport stamp, first wedding, and first time (sweating it) in paradise!

We had a super early morning flight down to LA (and then onto Cancun) and Daphne did so well. She was a bit confused why I woke her up at 2:30 AM but went right back to sleep in her car seat on the drive down to the airport. I wore her in a carrier (we have been liking the Tula recently since it adjusts for Aaron comfortably and doesn’t take as much time to set-up as the Solly) thru airport security and then onto the plane. We kept the girls on Pacific time for the trip down, and Daphne did great with feedings on the plane, including solids (so messy!) and napped a bit too. She was mostly just interested in what was going on on the plane and wished she could just crawl around all over the place.

Once we got to Cancun, it was so, so hot and it never cooled down. Daphne tends to run warm anyways, so she was super sweaty all week. But, she did well with the temperature change as well as wearing a hat and being covered up with a sun blanket when we were out without shade. There were some mornings that I think she was too hot to nap, either by the pool or the beach, even though we were in the shade, but she cat napped in the morning most days and then took her longer afternoon nap in the cool air conditioned hotel room.

Sleeping-wise, she was great. It was the first time we had all shared a room, but we had a Pack ‘N Play over on one side of the room with a blanket hanging over the side, so she got some more privacy (and wasn’t so distracted by everyone else). And the travel sound machine was a huge help too. She was up a few times each night, mostly between 8 PM and midnight, but once she had her paci, she was great for the remainder of the night. We got a few early morning wake-ups (like 6:30 AM) but mostly she would go back to sleep until 7:30 or 8 AM for her first feeding.

Daphne loves her solid meals and that did not change in Mexico. We had access to lots of fresh fruit and grilled veggies, so that is what she had for meals along with grilled chicken, eggs (hard-boiled), and Bambas that I brought with us (she is OBSESSED with these). Her favorites were papaya, watermelon, and kiwi which she would demand (by banging on her tray) if she saw them on the table as well as grilled mushrooms and zucchini. But honestly, we have given Daphne almost every type of fruit or veggie we have access to and she hasn’t turned down a single thing!

The biggest (and most exciting) thing that happened while we were away was that Daphne started crawling. Like hands and knees, official crawling! Aaron saw her one day take a few moves, but it wasn’t until the next day (the 17th) that she was really moving around. She still stays down on her belly and army crawls, but will get up and crawl around!

We had a really great time (I will re-cap our trip in another post) and Daphne was a great little traveler. She was her happy, joyful self and won the hearts of everyone at the resort. Seriously, everyone was like “Is she always THAT happy?” Yes, yes she is.

Also, she wasn’t really feeling the weekly picture this week and was way more into rolling around and attempting to fit that entire maraca in her mouth, so there’s that.

Happy 33 weeks Daphne!

M

our trip to Idaho!

Just about a month ago, we loaded the girls (including Sadie) into the car and headed west to Boise! We have made the drive maybe a couple of times a year for the past few years, and always try to drive if we are staying for a week or longer.

The girls did so SO well on the trip. That’s not to say it wasn’t long and everything was perfect, but really, we didn’t have any major toddler drama and naps actually happened! The biggest issue we had was that at the end of both trips (so right outside of Boise and right outside of Seattle) we were nearing Daphne’s feeding time, so she started getting fussy (and I don’t blame her!). Instead of stopping 20 minutes from our final destination, we just stretched and gave her a little bit of a later feeding. It was slightly stressful having a fussy baby after being in the car for almost 10 hours, but overall, it was a great trip!

In our pre-kid days, Aaron and I used to stop just once for lunch/gas/pee break and make the trip in under 8 hours (it is 500 miles, so that’s impressive). We also had a diesel so we could actually make the trip on a single tank if we wanted to… Flash-forward to having two kiddos and the trip was closer to 10 hours. The first time we made this road trip with Eloise (when she was four months old too) we split the drive into two days, staying overnight in Pendleton, Oregon. Even though it took so much longer to get there, at the time it was great because the road conditions were snowy and icy since it was December. But, since then, we have decided it is worth it to just buck-up and make the entire drive in one day. Daphne’s feeding schedule of 3 to 3.5 hours was sort of perfect and we ended up stopping just three times for her feedings, and for the rest of us to pee/eat/get gas/get out our wiggles. Eloise took a nap during her usual naptime (after lunch) and while it was more of a cat nap on the way to Boise, it was much longer on the way home! And Aaron had downloaded the Daniel Tiger “movie” (which is 45 minutes rather than the usual 20-ish minutes of a normal episode) and Eloise was delighted to watch it one time per trip! {We are really strict with screentime still and Eloise gets to watch one show per trip, whether it be a 4 hour plane ride or a 10 hour car ride.}

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{I always pack finger foods for a picnic lunch (and other snacks) since it is the easiest to pack and eat while on-the-go. Plus, this is Eloise’s favorite way to eat all of her meals!}

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{Selfies with Baby D.}

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{It is the best feeling to see your final destination after being on the road all day. I will never tire of seeing my parents’ house. So many memories from when I was a kid!}

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{I always get my haircut while in Boise, and this time the entire family came with me. The plan was to have Eloise’s hair cut too, but once it came down to it, she backed out. So Daphne got hers trimmed up!}

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{My mom kept my old Fisher Price dollhouse and Eloise played with it the entire time we were visiting.}

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{And playing with Aunt Kelly.}

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{And Baby D with Aunt Yaya.}

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{And my big brother (Uncle Jason) with Baby D!}

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{And a cheesy grin from Daphne with Aunt Kelly.}

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{I promise she wasn’t this sad about Aunt Dollie the entire time! This is my oldest sister Keri, but my sister Anya and I have called her Dollie our entire lives, and since Aaron’s sister is also named Cari, we use Dollie so it’s not so confusing!}

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{This kid loves putting things in order or lining them up. Takes after her mama!}

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{Purple play-dough with Grammie is like Eloise’s dream come true.}

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{Family dinner at the Eversons’ house. And maybe a first date for Eloise and Deacon??}

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{Reading Stella Goldilocks and the Three Bears which Eloise memorized (and now recites all the time) while we were in Boise.}

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{Meeting Paga’s new horse.}

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{Finding some shade. It was over 100 degrees our entire trip!}

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{And Aaron on the new horse. With all of the sun protection.}

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{Baby D taking a bath in a bowl. That is pretty much a requirement for all babies, right? She LOVED it and hasn’t cried in the bath since! Also, I totally thought this bowl was going to be way too big for her, but I was very, very wrong.}

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{A playmat date with Boyd who is just one week younger than Daphne!}

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{Catching up with the girls at a big family dinner.}

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{Meg and her family were in town, and Beth so nicely hosted all of us even though it was her birthday!}

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{Eloise and Violet with some post-dinner entertainment.}

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{The reality of trying to get a group picture with four mamas and seven kids. #toddlermeltdowns}

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{The best we got. LOVE you ladies and your kiddos! *Not pictured were all of our amazing husbands!}

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{Staying cool by the pool with Baby D.}

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{Jen gave us her old jumperoo (as you have seen Daphne in in recent pictures and videos) and she has loved it from the beginning!}

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{Playing Alphabet Soup with Grammie. My mom always has the best ideas and does all sorts of projects with Eloise.}

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{Daphne with my dad, Paga.}

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{She loves him!}

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{And lots of stripes. It runs in the family so I come by my stripe obsession honestly!}

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{These girls at a pit stop in Prosser, WA. Such great little travelers!}

We always have a great time in Boise and can’t wait for our next trip! It was wonderful to see my family and friends, and introduce Baby D all around. Love to you all!

M

 

our trip to Indiana {2017}

This post about our trip to Indiana has been on my to-do list for an embarrassingly long time (we were there in early May!) but better late than never, right?

We travelled as soon as we got the greenlight from Daphne’s pediatrician who was okay with us flying on an airplane once the first set of vaccines were given (at 8 weeks). So, off we went to the midwest for Baby D’s first trip and our first big outing as a family of four!

We didn’t have any set itinerary and just wanted to make sure we saw as many family members and friends as we could to catch up with and introduce Daphne. It was wonderful to see so many loved ones and we so appreciate people making time for us, coming to impromptu get-togethers, or letting us crash at their homes.

Okay, prepare for a picture over-load!

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{Daphne got to meet her Nana (Aaron’s step-mom) for the first time! Oh, and that little yellow onesie is one that was Aaron’s when he was a baby.}

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{The first of many play dates at Nana and Papaw’s for Eloise and Charlotte.}

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{Daphne meeting her Aunt Cari (Aaron’s sister).}

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{And Daphne getting some lovin’ from cousins Teddy and Charlotte.}

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{And meeting Aunt Gigi (Maggi, one of Aaron’s many cousins).}

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{And Great Aunt Yaya (Aaron’s Aunt Sharon).}

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{And a group photo.}

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{Take two. Okay, there were way more than 2 taken!}

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{And Frankie and Gigi.}

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{Great grandpa Neal (or Great Neal as Eloise calls him) with Eloise.}

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{Great Neal and two of his youngest great-granddaughters.}

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{Can you tell Eloise is saying “cheese”?}

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{Papaw (Aaron’s dad) and the girls.}

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{Chatting and nursing the babes. Kendra (married to Aaron’s cousin Nathan) had just had Adaline a week before! Also pictured is Kelsey (dating Aaron’s cousin Seth) and Kendra’s oldest Wyatt.}

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{Cari singing and playing the guitar because she has the most amazing voice!}

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{Cracking up!}

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{And a better shot. Thanks to Tim and Meg (and their adorable little ones) for making the trip en route home to Bloomington!}

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{Aaron and his step-brother Kyle and Kyle’s daughter Mallory.}

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{The girls seeing Great Grandma Eileen.}

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{These girls had the best time playing at the playground!}

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{I could not just choose one of these to share of Daphne, Cari, and Charlotte. Seriously, so sweet!}

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And since that wasn’t enough, here are some more candid ones from my phone.

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{Daphne’s first flight!}

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{Aaron is the champ at getting Eloise to nap in the Ergo when we are on planes. Seriously, the best.}

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{We accompanied Cari, Mo, and Charlotte to her most recent set of big scans and explored a few different places in the hospital. Luckily, it was great news from the scans!}

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{Great Neal and Baby D at lunch.}

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{And Eloise was so happy that Great Neal colored with her.}

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{The sweetest.}

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{A little cousin gang.}

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{Cousins (that’s Nathan) and the two youngest Johnson family babies. And the blurs that are toddlers!}

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{Eloise always wants to read the safety information card on the airplane! And then she asks a million questions about it, including where her life jacket is.}

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{Watching the airplanes in Chicago during our layover. We also met the crew of our flight and they were so nice!}

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{As much as it stinks to have to buy another airplane seat, it is so SO nice to have an entire section of row when we fly!}

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And last but not least, a few from Aaron’s phone too!

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{Nana and Papaw meet Daphne for the first time. Do you think they were excited to meet their newest grandbaby?!}

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{Great Aunt Susan and Uncle Duane and the girls after a nice lunch!}

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{Bath time with cousins is a must!}

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{Love this one of Teddy, Charlotte, Eloise, and Frankie at the playground. Aaron took the kids down the street from our rental house and Cari and I got a few minutes of mama time to chat and catch up. It was wonderful!}

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{Charlotte loved brushing Eloise’s long hair. One day soon Charlotte, you are going to have beautiful long (and probably still curly) hair to brush!!}

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{Seeing Great Aunt Kathi and Uncle Stan (obviously not pictured).}

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Lots of people have asked about how the trip went, specifically travelling with the babes, and I have to say that the girls are AMAZING little travelers! Eloise really loves to fly and newborns are the easiest to fly with. The biggest hassle is just the amount of extra stuff you end up bringing with kids, and we really tried to minimize as much as possible. We took Daphne’s infant seat and the stroller (mostly for the airport) as well as the Ergo (for Eloise) and the Solly wrap (for Daphne); I wore Daphne thru airport security and Aaron wore Eloise. Also, pay for TSA Pre-Check. It’s so worth it not to have to hassle with shoes/jackets/etc. off and going thru the metal detector instead of the body scanner (though sometimes that happens and Aaron and I both opt out and get a pat-down instead). We ended up renting a (brand-new) car seat for Eloise and a Rock N Play for Daphne from Hoosier Baby rentals which we picked up at the airport along with our rental car (this was a detail that Aaron worked out with the rental company since we arrived really late at night). And, we also decided to rent an Airbnb house this time around in order to have enough space for everyone. In the past, we haven’t done well sharing a sleeping space with Eloise (she won’t co-sleep well) so we always try to get a separate room/space for her. Plus, it is great to have a full kitchen for breakfast in the morning (and casual dinners in) as well as laundry and a place to hangout on days when we are in for the afternoon nap (we tried to alternate afternoons we were okay with being out for naptime and days we needed to be “home” for naptime).

And one last thing (I promise). Lots of people have been asking about how Charlotte is doing. The short answer (in my opinion) is great! We were able to spend SO much time with her and Cari (almost every day we were in Indiana!) and Charlotte was in such good spirits. If you are interested in her treatments and all of her updates, here is her Facebook page. Thanks for all of the Charlotte support! She is one very loved little girl!

Other than the crazy weather (it poured rain nearly the entire time we were there!) we had a good time!

M

our week in indiana & chicago.

As many of you know from my weekend in pictures post at the end of June, we were in Indiana visiting Aaron’s family. We just got home a few days ago last week & I wanted to be sure to share (lots of) photos from the trip!

We spent the first part of our trip in Indiana where we got to see lots of Aaron’s immediate family.

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{Papaw Sam, Charlotte, & Eloise played “ring around the rosy” & Eloise loved it!}

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{The two youngest granddaughters! Eloise & Charlotte are 10 months apart.}

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{Eloise likes to wear her (sun) glasses when it is bright outside (the sun is out)! We headed to the Indy Children’s Museum with Aaron’s sister Cari & her two youngest kiddos.}

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{All the kiddos in the race car.}

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{Eloise was not happy about leaving, however.}

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{Eloise enjoyed the wooden blocks. Some of them were the magnetic ones which sort of threw her off a bit, but she picked it up soon!}

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{Charlotte & Eloise loved this wind tunnel. It had a stream of air where you could put the scarves & they would blow all around!}

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{We caught music time & made a soundtrack to Goldilocks & The Three Bears. The kids really liked the instruments.}

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{An Aaron & Eloise selfie.}

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{She was patiently waiting for Aaron to build a really big tower & then she knocked the whole thing down, Godzilla-style.}

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{Eloise’s second time on a merry-go-round. This was taken before the ride started. By the time I saw them again (one lap), she was off the horse & in Aaron’s arms! Maybe we need a little more time before the merry-go-round is fun…}

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{Eloise had a good time playing in the make-believe soda shop!}

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{When you are Indiana in the summer, you have to eat corn on the cob. Eloise got the hang of it pretty quickly!}

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{One evening while Aaron & Sam were walking a few of the greens, a hot air balloon landed! We could hear other ones flying over & around the house too.}

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{We made it on a playdate to the Indy Zoo with the Garner-Ballard clan!}

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{The kiddos were so good & this aquarium window was perfect for the trio of littles!}

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{Shark watching.}

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{The whole crew of us. So amazing to see you Garner-Ballard family!}

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{Saying our good-byes. Silas was so sweet with Eloise.}

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{We made sure to stop in & see Eloise’s great-grandma Eileen.}

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{And we lunched with Kait & Oliver. Despite her face, Eloise really loved them both. So good to see them too!}

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{We had a fun evening with “Uncle” Colt & went out on the houseboat for some swimming & shenanigans. Eloise wanted to drive!}

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{Oh man, these three. I also realize that Eloise was not wearing a life jacket. She was safe, I promise!}

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{Eloise looking like her doll Louise – overalls and pigtails! The overalls E is wearing were passed down from Aaron’s oldest brother & to the rest of the three siblings which makes them almost 40 years old! I love this tradition!}

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{We headed to Maggi’s house one morning for a Lower family get-together. Family generational photos were a must.}

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{Neither of us take a lot of selfies, but this is Eloise taking a selfie (she’s saying “cheese!”) so she must have learned it from someone!}

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{An attempt to get a picture of these kiddos.}

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{This was the result. Thanks Eloise & Crosby!}

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{And look who happened to be in town – Kendra! It’s like we planned it… Thanks for being an amazing host Maggi!}

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{Eloise in deep conversation with her great Aunt Sharon.}

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 {After lunch & headed to the car. Maggi gave all of the kids a bucket full of goodies & Eloise held onto that bucket all weekend long!}

We headed up to Aaron’s grandfather’s lake house for the holiday weekend!

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 {Welcome to the lake!}

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{Being at the lake house means being on a boat. So here’s a boat selfie.}

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{Aaron pre-backflip!}

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{Nearly all of Aaron’s (maternal) cousins & Aunts & Uncles were up at the lake for the weekend. That is one BIG family!}

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{Aunt Molly with her youngest nieces & nephew!}

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{Eloise being a ham.}

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{Happy Fourth of July from the Lower/Cambridge kids! These are all of Eloise’s cousins.}

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{Eloise, Maddie, & Charlotte doing Sudoku. Maddie was so patient with the little ones.}

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{Selfie with Aunt Jodi & Landon!}

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{Yes, s’mores! Worth the bug bites & smelling like a camp fire.}

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 {Testing out the selfie-stick!}

And then we headed to Chicago for a mini -vacation (just the three of us)!

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{We ended up in this great little Airbnb in Logan Square & it was super kid friendly! Eloise is obsessed with rocking horses.}

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{And even though we didn’t have a car in Chicago, we still had the car seat & Eloise took full advantage of being able to play in it. She loved to be buckled in!}

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{We stopped into the Longman & Eagle for apps & drinks. It did not disappoint!}

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{A homemade pretzel, meatballs with polenta, & a cherry soda. Amazingly good!}

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{Mama & Eloise twinning. The best! And this is pretty much the best picture we could get. The other ones are of Eloise holding her dress up to show her belly…}

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{Family photo in the park. Eloise was happy despite her stoic look.}

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{For breakfast on the way to downtown we stopped in at Bang Bang! for biscuits. It was mind-blowing! If you ever are in Chicago, please go. There are pot pies & regular pies on the menu as well. We were able to chat with the owner Michael who gave us a sampling of pies after breakfast – SO delish! – & he was super cool. He gave us some tips about where to dine for the rest of our trip.}

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{We took the L downtown. Even though we live in a big city, I am still in awe when we visit a big city!}

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{Papa & Eloise. I think she was ready to get out & run around!}

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{Cloud Gate – aka The Bean – did not disappoint!}

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{Mama & Eloise!}

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{Love this little family of ours.}

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{After Cloud Gate & Millenium Park, we stumbled into the Chicago Symphony playing the musical accompaniment to this silent movie. It was really cool! I wish we could have stayed for the entire film.}

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{Across this really cool footbridge from Millenium Park is Maggie Daley Park. It is this enormous playground that has all of these little play areas for kiddos. We could have spent hours & days at this park, but it was so, so hot (100 degrees with the heat index!) so we got just a sampling. The water features were nice for cooling off!}

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{Down the slide!}

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{She often goes feet first down the slide.}

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{Just one of the many play structures at the park. Do you spot Aaron & Eloise down there by the slide? They climbed all the way to the top of the tower & came down the tube slide.}

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{Eloise really liked this dribbling fountain.}

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{Aaron got us tickets to the Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Luckily our seats were in the shade! What a cool stadium!}

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{It was just before nap time, but Eloise would yell “Go Cubs!” & put her finger up in the air when she heard the crowd cheering.}

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{And she was out. For about 40 minutes.}

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{Obligatory picture with the marquee sign. It was so packed with people after the game!}

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{At Michael’s suggestion, we went to Parson’s for dinner in Logan Square to celebrate National Fried Chicken Day. I don’t know if this was an actual made-up holiday or not, but we went with it.}

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{Eloise & I breakfasting before we left for the airport.}

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{After many, many hours of travelling by train & plane, we were happy to be on the light rail headed home. Eloise & Aaron did pull-ups to pass the time.}

Phew! What a trip! It was hard to be gone for so long, but it was nice to see so much family since we have only been getting back about once a year these days. This was also our last hoorah trip since we didn’t have to pay for a seat for Eloise. Though, I am sort of looking forward to the extra space when we have it!

Eloise was such a good little traveler &, even though we set our expectations really low, she far exceeded them. She was really good on both plane rides & took a short nap. We snacked a lot, drew on her new doodle pad, & played with her mermaid stickers. We had Sesame Street downloaded just in case, but we didn’t even need to bust that out, which is good because we were assuming it would completely occupy her but we don’t know since she doesn’t get official screen time yet!

Where are your family travels taking you to this summer?

M

This post contains affiliate links.

our trip to maui!

three weeks ago, we packed up our bags, boarded a plane, & landed in Maui! it was so, so fun to be there & my mama came along which was so tremendously helpful with Eloise & helped it feel like we were (at times) on an actual vacation! {because, let’s be honest, when you travel with kids, it is a family trip, NOT a vacation}!

this was Aaron’s first trip to Maui, & my mama & I haven’t been since I was 5 or 6, so it was basically new to all of us. we had heard that West Maui as a good location & decided to stay just north of Lahaina town. this was an excellent choice! while we didn’t visit much outside of West Maui, it was perfect for this trip & gave us a really good taste of what Maui had to offer.

before the trip, I did some due diligence & checked out the guidebook Maui Revealed. I am usually not one for guidebooks, but this one came highly recommended by more than one person, so we gave it a shot. it was really comprehensive & helpful with tons of tips. I took a lot of notes & we ended up using quite a few of the tips, so I would recommend it for anyone who is thinking about traveling to Maui. we also got lots of tips from our friends & family about things to do or places to see/eat/visit – thanks everyone!

we have really quickly learned that it is SO much easier to be away from home with Eloise if we have a house, meaning a separate bedroom for her & a kitchen. so we found this pretty great condo on Airbnb which had amazing ocean views, a great lanai, was super quiet, & was within a short driving distance to town.

okay, enough words. here are some lots of pictures from the trip, & then below I have some of our favorite spots!

{we took the light rail to the airport from Husky Stadium & that is Aaron with the car seat on his back!* // WA is insanely beautiful from the air // Eloise had a backpack full of new travel toys & we even got lucky enough to have the middle seat empty so she had her own seat! // but bedtime did not go as planned as Eloise did not want to sleep… two hours later Aaron finally got her to sleep}

*we rented all of the “baby gear” except for the car seat & I would highly recommend that if you are traveling with little ones. we used the Ergo for the airport which allowed us more hands to pull/carry our luggage, & then rented a Pack N Play, an umbrella stroller, a booster seat, & a beach tent. see below for more info on the rentals!

{the biggest banyan tree in the US is in Lahaina & it is awesome! // the ocean views from our condo were breathtaking // there were nice amenities on-site at our condo including a shuffleboard court. Eloise loved it!}

{our condo was just up the hill from Kaanapali Beach so we ventured down there one afternoon // Eloise mostly loved all of the fresh (& expensive!) fruit // ahh, those sunsets!}

{we hit up Kapalua Beach which was just north of our condo a few minutes & it was perfect! it was a pretty small beach, but we were able to set up our little tent & enjoy the beach in the shade. my mama & aaron went snorkeling, & saw some fish & a turtle, though it was a great snorkeling beach. Eloise had only ever been to the beach on the Oregon coast & was obsessed with it! she loved the sand & the waves & kept saying “more more” whenever a wave went out.}

{we had lots of food recommendations, but tried to eat out either just lunch or dinner each day. Local Boys Shave Ice in Lahaina (down by the banyan tree) was super good the first time we had it, & okay the second time. it’s actual shave ice (the ice, not the flavoring) was my favorite! // we also tried Ululani’s Shave Ice which was amazing. the syrups are all handmade from scratch & the mocha add-on on top was terrific! there are a few locations around the island, but the one in Lahaina was super convenient for us, though super packed! // and finally, Star Noodle came highly recommended & it did not disappoint! we went for lunch & ordered family style & everything was delish! we even got our malasada fix (which is a Portuguese donut) with caramel & chocolate dipping sauces.}

{Aaron & I were able to get out early one morning & go on a surfing date. it was SO fun! it was Aaron’s first time, & I hadn’t been surfing in years, so we took a lesson. the breaks were perfect on the south end of Lahaina town (Break Wall, I believe) for us rookies. we were SUPER sore for the next few days though!}

{one day we took a day trip east // we visited Baldwin Beach, had lunch in Paia, & drove thru Makawao (it was super cute, but Eloise had fallen asleep!)}

{Eloise & I got to wear our matching dresses & Salt Water sandals! // we had lots of shave ice on the trip. I had this genius idea on the trip: we still don’t let Eloise have any sugar, sweets, or juice, so whenever we ordered shave ice, we would also order the smallest size for Eloise with just the ice (no flavoring) & a spoon & she LOVED it! it was nice to feel like she was still a part of it without feeling like we were breaking our own rule. // there was this super low chair out on the lanai that Eloise liked to read in & play on. she loves being outside!}

{we did one short hike to the Nakalele Blowhole & it was pretty cool. the terrain down to the ocean was this crazy lava rock that looked like it was hit with acid. and the ocean was so beautiful!}

{we hit up Kapalua Beach for a second time & even though it was raining, we couldn’t complain! there was a gorgeous rainbow that appeared when we first got there, & it was warm rain that came in very short showers. plus, our awesome rental beach tent kept us dry & was the envy of the other beachgoers!}

{we hit up the swimming pool at the condo one afternoon & Eloise is pretty much a fan of the pool. she likes to sit on the steps & splash, & also spin around in the water & play “motor boat, motor boat” which she learned in swim lessons last year // Eloise had a great time with lots of the non-toys at the condo, including this wine box! // we had a few rough nights of sleeping where Eloise would just not go back to sleep & while we don’t ever bring her into our bed during the night at home, we make an exception on vacation. she spent a lot of time tossing & turning around, but finally would go to sleep with us, usually laying right on me!}

{on one of our last days we ventured to the Maui Ocean Center which is the local aquarium & it also did not disappoint! the exhibits were pretty good, especially the big shark tank & tube. we were able to catch the information show with the local diver in the tank with the sharks & the fish which was really, really cool!}

we had the absolute BEST time & it was so lovely to be on Maui. we tried not to be too “scheduled” & found a good balance between relaxing & hanging out, & playing tourist. Eloise really loved the time we were there & was a super good little traveler, despite the difficult plane ride over. she was up super early (4:30 AM) the first morning, but considering the three hour time change, it wasn’t too much of a surprise. the rest of the time she was up slightly earlier than her normal wake-up time, but she napped really well & slept decently at night. the biggest headache about being in a warm, tropical, & sunny place was making sure she was covered in enough sunscreen (yep, first world problems!) but she is pretty good about letting me smear white sunscreen all over her every two hours!

if you are planning on visiting Maui, this is what we LOVED (slash would recommend):

  • Lahaina town
  • Goofy Foot Surf School: even though it was just the two of us surfing, we opted not to do a private lesson. it was cheaper that way, plus we ended up being the only two in the lesson anyways!
  • Nakalele Blowhole hike: do the hike in from mile marker 38 and wear good shoes!
  • shave ice (yep, SHAVE ice – no “d”!): Local Boys Shave Ice (better ice) & Ululani’s Shave Ice (better flavorings)
  • Star Noodle: super good food, order family style, make a reservation, try the malasadas (hot!)!
  • baby rental gear: there are lots of rental companies on the island, but we used Nokaoi Baby Rentals and were really pleased. I would highly recommend getting the big family beach tent!
  • Kapalua Beach: a pretty small, family friendly beach. go early to get parking & avoid the crowd, or plan on parking on the side of the road & walking in.
  • Coconuts Fish Café in Kihei: we lunched here after the Aquarium and it was super delish!
  • Maui Ocean Center
  • drive to Paia and Makawao
  • Baldwin Beach
  • if you need a good pair of rubber flip-flops (called slippahs in Hawaii), go to Long’s Drugs (or Walgreen’s) and get a pair of Locals for less than $5
  • food is incredibly expensive on Maui (even in comparison to the other islands). eating in can sometimes cost as much as eating out, so keep that in mind, and we had trouble finding much organic produce. there is a Costco near the airport, but it’s still expensive and a lot of food! I would recommend packing snacks from home for the kids, & plan on spending $10 for a half gallon of organic whole milk!

Aloha Maui & a hui hou!

M

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