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How We Painted Our Front Door Black & The Best Black Paint Colors

I can always count on my Instagram audience for the best recommendations for pretty much anything. When I crowdsourced for the best black paint colors for our front door, you all delivered!

Here are the most popular recommendations for best black paint colors from all of YOU (bold = most recommended):

Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black (this is the one we went with!)

Sherwin Williams Iron Ore

Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron

Sherwin Williams Caviar

Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze

Sherwin Williams Greenblack

Sherwin Williams Black Magic

Behr Cracked Peppercorn

Behr Broadway

Farrow & Ball Railings

Farrow & Ball Off Black

Farrow & Ball Blue Black

Benjamin Moore Black

Benjamin Moore Onyx

Benjamin Moore Universal Black

Benjamin Moore Beret

Benjamin Moore Blackboard

Benjamin Moore Black Top

Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal

Benjamin Moore Soot

Benjamin Moore Black Beauty

A few of you recommended using Alkyd paint. I had to look up what that was, so for those of you who also don’t know, here’s the deal: Alkyd paint is very resistant to damage. Therefore, many people use them in high traffic areas of their homes such as hallways. The resin binder is also resistant to moisture; therefore, it is a good paint for use in the kitchen or bathroom. People with children often like alkyd paints in areas where the children will be playing. Latex paint isn’t quite as durable as many types of alkyd paint. Furthermore, alkyd paint retains its sheen for much longer than other types of paint. If you want to paint an area without as much preparation or without stripping the old paint, alkyd paint is your best option.

A few other recommendations for specific types of paint for a door in a high traffic space:

Benjamin Moore Aura paint in satin finish

Amy Howard One Step Paint

Sherwin Williams Emerald Line (this is what we went with!)

Our Method

For paint, we went with Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black. We used their Emerald Interior Acrylic Latex Paint in a satin finish. We chose this particular type of paint because it is washable and durable and is a paint and primer in one with advanced stain blocking technology. All we needed was a quart of paint and that allowed us to do two coats plus we have some leftover.

We started by doing some light sanding of the door. We were just aiming to “rough up” the wood a bit to help the paint adhere better (thanks to the advice from my far more capable and amazing neighbor!). We then used a tack cloth to wipe off sanding residue, then got started painting!

We used a mini roller with a 1/2″ nap. In hindsight I think the 1/4″ nap might have been better, but this worked fine. We used an angle brush to do the edges and decided not to tape anything off except the lock and handle. We have been using this method (angle brush instead of taping) for the last few painting projects we’ve done thanks to the advice from Chris Loves Julie and it saves so much time and because we honestly suck at taping it actually looks better, too!

Apparently it’s really important which sections of a door you paint first, so we trusted all the posts we saw on the internet and followed this order of painting. One thing to note is when painting the edges of your door you really need to be able to have the door open for many hours so the paint can dry, otherwise it will just stick and get messy. Because it’s the middle of winter we decided we will just do the edges in the spring when the weather warms up. You can totally tell and it looks like garbage when you look up close, but nobody comes over to our house/to our door aside from my mom and sister so we really aren’t too worried about it!

We chose not to tape around each window and instead we used a scraper at the very end once paint was dried to scrape off any paint that got on the window and it worked like a charm and was much easier and less time consuming than taping it all out!

Painting the first coat took just about 2.5 hours and the second coat was about 1.5. We are SO happy with the results! All-in this transformation costed us less than $40 and 4 hours of time — totally worth it.

Any questions — use the comment box below! Not experts, but happy to share our experience!

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Kid-Approved GF/Refined Sugar Free Apple Cinnamon Oat Muffins

We’re always on the hunt for healthy, delicious and easy snacks in our ouse and muffins are always a crowd pleaser. This recipe was adapted slightly from Love & Lemons.

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups oat flour (best if it’s homemade — just put rolled outs into a food processor and voila!)

1/2 almond flour (we use the Kirkland brand from Costco and like it. You can also just use one kind of flour — oat or almond — and these still turn out delicious!)

1/4 cup arrowroot starch

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 large eggs

2/3 cup almond milk (or dairy milk or any other kind of nut milk)

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup finely diced apple (I put mine in the food processor as it gets the pieces really small and my kids like it best this way)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the over to 350 degrees and lightly grease or spray a 12-cup muffin tin

In a large bowl, combine the flours, arrowroot, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, maple syrup, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and vanilla

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overtax. Stir in the diced apple. Divid the batter into the muffin tin and garnish with oats if desired.

Bake for 18 minutes, or until the tops slightly spring back to the touch. Cool for 10 minutes then remove from the pan and place on a wire rack to finish cooling.

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My Top 10 Books of 2020

At the beginning of 2020 I made a goal to read 50 books. Honestly, I’m not sure what possessed me to make this goal. It was a pretty audacious goal given how many books I typically read in a year. I love to read, always have, but especially in the early years of our kids’ lives reading really took a backseat. In 2019 I probably read a dozen books AT MOST. That would be a book a month and I’m not sure I was even doing that. Let’s say 6-12 books a year prior to this. So yeah, 50 would be a major increase.

Fast forward to less than 3 months into 2020 and a pandemic hits. Hello stress, anxiety, etc etc. Reading was really hard during the height of the pandemic, my mind had a really hard time focusing on books, and even if I could focus I couldn’t handle any subject matter even remotely serious/sad/etc. But I didn’t give up! And miraculously, I finished 2020 with 51 books read!

I get asked a lot how I could possibly find the time to read 50 books in a year. And before last year I probably had myself convinced I didn’t have the time for that, either. But as it turns out, you find time to do the things you enjoy. I always read in the morning while I drink my coffee (I try to wake up an hour before the kids to have some time to myself before they’re up for the day) and I always read before bed. When I’m near the end of a book sometimes I’ll even use the kids’ quiet time to read instead of clean or prep dinner. I also love to read with my 6-year-old daughter. We sit together each reading our books and it fills my heart with so much joy to share my love of reading with her! There are always chores to do, so if I waited until there was nothing to do around the house I would never read! I give myself the gift of reading time to rejuvenate and recharge me. I recently read something in Oprah’s book “What I Know For Sure” that really resonated with me and how I feel about books and reading:

Books for me used to be a way to escape. I now consider reading a good book a sacred indulgence. A chance to be any place I choose. It is my absolute favorite way to spend time. What I know for sure is that reading opens you up. It exposes you and gives you access to anything your mind can hold. What I love most about reading? It gives you the ability to reach higher ground and keep climbing.

Oprah Winfrey, “What I know for sure”

MY TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2020

(in no particular order)

Maybe You Should Talk To Someone This is a book I slowly devoured and was in no rush to finish. Reading it felt like a warm hug. It is the personal memoir of a therapist and her own journey in therapy as she grapples with heartbreak, but also weaves in the stories of six other patients dealing with many of life’s most common and painful issues. I had recently returned to therapy after more than a decade when I started reading this book which might be why I found it particularly fascinating. It’s also a beautiful and relatable reflection on what it is to be human.

The Happy Ever After Playlist Admittedly it was hard for me to read many serious books in 2020. In the midst of the pandemic I needed books that would transport me to happy places and this book delivered! One of my favorite books of 2019 was The Idea of You, a book about a middle-aged woman who takes up a steamy love affair with a young and famous musician. The Happy Ever After Playlist has similar vibes, but it’s much more PG than The Idea of You! If you need a happy, easy “beach” read this one would be a great pick!

Untamed So I started listening to Glennon Doyle’s latest book on Audible and a few chapters in I knew I needed this book IN MY HANDS so I could underline and highlight to my hearts content. This is a book I will keep in my home and read over and over again (which is rare for me!). Untamed explores what it means to be a woman in today’s society, and what it looks like to abandon the expectations of those around us and start tuning in to and trusting the voice — the knowing — deep inside us. It is chock full of so much wisdom and so many life lessons. If you are needing an empowering and inspiring book, this is a must read.

The Vanishing Half In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement that was waking our country up last year I made a promise to myself to go out of my way to read more books by black authors. I strive to read at least one a month, at the very minimum. Brit Bennet has such a unique and beautiful writing style that I absolutely loved devouring. The Vanishing Half tells the story of identical twin sisters who ran away from their small, southern Black community and eventually ended up living polar opposite lives — one lives in the town she grew up in (and had once attempted to escape) with her black daughter while the other secretly passes for white. Not even her own husband knows the truth about her heritage and where she comes from. This story has you thinking deeply about issues of race among much else. I should also mention The Vanishing Half was voted Book of The Month’s book of the year!

Summer of ’69 If I had to pick my absolute favorite genre I would have to say it’s historical fiction. But I’m also a sucker for a good romance. So when I saw that one of my favorite romance authors Elin Hilderbrand wrote a historical fiction novel set on Nantucket in 1969 I knew I’d be a big fan. I was captivated by the characters in this story, each unique and magnetic in their own way. It was easy to read, but also touched on some serious topics but in a palatable way for me even when feeling low myself. This is absolutely one of my favorite Hilderbrand books and that’s saying a lot as I’ve read many.

28 Summers While we’re on the topic of Elin Hilderbrand, she was by far my most read author of 2020, clocking in at a total of 9 books (!!!). This is a book I wasn’t sure I’d like because of the premise, but I kept hearing about how AMAZING it was, so I thought I would give it a try. Truth be told, the first few chapters I wasn’t hooked right away. I found it almost depressing. The book is based on the film Same Time Next Year and tells the story of Mallory Blessing and Jake McCloud who meet one Labor Day Weekend in Nantucket and, after having an instantaneous connection, reunite on Nantucket each LDW thereafter, no matter what is happening in their lives — that’s right, no matter what. Meaning other relationships, careers and more. I’m not a fan of infidelity so at first that was hard for me to get past, but once I did I was completely enraptured by Mallory and Jake’s love story and quite literally couldn’t put this book down and finished it in less than 24 hours. In the end, I loved it, but I will warn you — have your tissues ready for this one!

The Danish Way of Parenting My sisters like to joke and call me “expert mom” — I can assure you I’m far from it, but much like literally anything else in my life, I like to research the hell out of any subject I am partaking in. It could be a home project, choosing a car, or in this case, parenting. I am fascinated by all the different parenting styles and philosophies out there and really enjoy reading articles here and there about different approaches to whatever I’m experiencing with my kids in the phases we’re experiencing. Then of course I take what serves me and leave the rest. The Danish Way of Parenting is one of maybe three actual books I’ve ever read on the subject of parenting and I found it absolutely life-changing. The book explores the things it believes makes Denmark the happiest country in the world and how Danish parents raise happy, confident, successful kids. The principles felt commonsense and really jived with the gentle parenting style we believe in in the Denfeld house. I took away so many helpful ideas and philosophies and have found it a very positive approach to bring into our home.

Signs by Laura Lynne Jackson I’ve raved about Laura Lynne Jackson’s first book The Light Between Us. It truly changed my life. Before reading The Light Between Us I was deathly afraid of death. I was crippled by thoughts of what I might do if someone close to me died. Thus far in my life I have been very lucky as to have never lost anyone I am very close to, and the more years I’ve lived without this experience the more paralyzed I’d be by the fear of what would happen and how I would deal with it if and when I did have to experience the loss of a loved one. Laura Lynne Jackson changed everything for me. Now, I should probably mention Laura Lynne is a psychic medium (she has been certified and studied at length, proven her abilities to speak to those on “the other side” as she calls it without a shadow of a doubt) and I realize that might be little too out there for some of you. But if you could just open your mind and heart to the possibility, I think Laura’s books can truly help heal the world and help us think about life in a much bigger way. I might have even liked Signs more than her first book, but it’s hard to say. Just read them both!

Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller You probably wouldn’t recognize Chanel Miller’s name right away, but you would remember “Emily Doe” in the Brock Turner trial. This unforgettable memoir is Chanel Miller’s reclaiming of her identity as more than just “Brock Turner’s victim”. It is a startling and unforgettable memoir that poignantly illuminates “a culture biased to protect perpetrators and indicts a criminal justice system design to fail the most vulnerable”. It will make you cry, it will make you hot with rage. It will make you feel helpless and then hopeful. This book will forever change the way you think about sexual assault and should be required reading for every person — man, woman, young, old — in this country. I highly recommend this as an audiobook narrated by the author herself. It is incredibly moving to hear her story in her voice.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue This was one of my last reads of 2020 and it was a good one! I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d love this one as it has some elements of fantasy, which I’m not typically a fan of, but after reading it I am certain there is something for everyone in this book: a little fantasy, romance, history and more. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is the story of a young woman who makes a deal with the dark side — she lives forever, but in exchange, she is to be forgotten by everyone she meets. It really makes you think about the important role relationships play in our lives, perhaps THE most important? You follow Addie’s life through centuries and continents until 300 years after making her deal she comes across a man in a hidden bookstore who remembers her name. I don’t want to say too much, but this is a story that will make you think and sticks with you for a long time.

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DIY Painted Rainbow Mural

Our playroom has been an ever-evolving space in our home. It’s funny that we are paying so much attention to it now as our kids are a little older, but they definitely still have a lot of toys and I know the room can continue to evolve as their needs change, but I wish we would have done so much of this sooner! After we installed the IKEA Billy built-ins in the room it truly transformed the space. It was a serious game-changer. It looks beautiful and it hides all-the-things so well and made it easier to keep everything nicely organized in bins. I used Caitlin from The Mama Notes’ post as our guide!

Anyhow, once the built-ins were installed I was itching to continue to spruce up the space. We had one HUGE empty wall that was just calling for something. I had seen some large-scale removable rainbow decals that looked like they would be perfect, but when I went to purchase the total came out to $700+ dollars. Yep, you read that right! Nearly $1,000!!!! That was way over our budget for that wall, so I kept looking. I couldn’t find anything I liked for under $400.

We are truly the least handy/crafty people around so it really didn’t cross my mind to paint the rainbow on the wall myself until I put out a request to find someone to do it for us on Instagram and I had an overwhelming number of messages from people saying I should just do it myself! Even then, I hesitated. I got quotes from three awesome artists and most were out of my price-range, so I just sat on the whole idea for a while. Then over the winter break I decided to just go for it and trying painting it myself. I figured the worst that happens is I have to paint over it. Now, looking back I’m so glad I did it. It’s certainly not perfect and a professional would have no doubt done a much better job. But for something that is likely temporary-ish (I’m sure the kids will grow out of a rainbow design in years to come and we’ll do something else with the wall/space), I think it is just great!

Okay, so how’d I do it. First, I scoured the internet for an image of a rainbow with the number of stripes I wanted in the style I wanted. Then I used our projector to project the image of the rainbow onto the wall. I used pencil to trace the lines of the rainbow onto the wall.

Next, I went to Home Depot to get the paint. I knew we were going to put up these wall decals on the opposite wall so I wanted to stay in this color family, so that’s how I chose. Choosing the paint colors made me really nervous because I know that a lot of times what is on a paint chip is not necessarily exactly how it looks on a wall, but I just kind of winged it. We used all Behr paints because that is what was readily available at Home Depot. We bought sample sizes of each color we picked which is only $3.50 each and there was even plenty leftover from the project. I spent more money on the one paint brush I used as I did on paint! I knew I wanted the paint brush to be high quality. Here are the supplies I ended up with:

  1. Wooster Pro 4″ Flat Paint Brush

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2. Behr Premium Ultra Paint in Satin Enamel Finish

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3. Plastic Paint Trays

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4. Scotch Blue Painters Tape

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Here are the Behr colors we used:

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Once I had all the supplies (we had an old plastic dropcloth laying around that I reused) I got to painting! I knew I wanted it to look perfectly imperfect, I wanted to see brush strokes and wanted it to look very freehand. I just went for it not really knowing what I was doing! And here’s how it turned out:

Playroom Rainbow (1 of 1)Playroom Rainbow (1 of 1)-2

 

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Five Must-Have Products for Traveling Internationally with Kids

Mifold Grab-and-Go Car Booster Seat

Traveling with babies and kids is not the easiest in large part because of all the stuff they require. One of the most annoying — yet absolutely essential — things to transport for kids are their car seats. I have heard too many horror stories about the condition of car seats at rental car places so we have never gone that route. I just generally don’t trust using any car seat but our own.

When the kids were in infant seats we traveled with the Cosco Scenera Next — SUPER lightweight and safe and incredibly affordable at under $50. Still a pain to lug around, but not nearly as bad as their regular car seats at home that are much larger and heavier. This car seat bag is a great option for getting through the airport more smoothly, or we have clipped ours onto our bags using these, too (but found that this isn’t sturdy enough to also have the kids in it like pictured so keep that in mind)

For Europe, we knew we wouldn’t be in cars much at all so we definitely didn’t want to bring their huge car seats. We opted to use the Mifold Grab-and-Go Car Booster Seat. It folds up small enough to fit in your handbag or backpack and is just as safe as a typical booster. How does it work? A regular booster seat lifts the child up to meet the seat belt, the Mifold seat pulls the belt down into perfect position for your child. Both have the same function of getting the seat belt in the correct place for optimal safety for your child, just done in different ways.

The age requirement for this is technically four-years-old, and James is only 3, but we felt comfortable using it for him because he met the height and weight requirements. Use your own discretion and do what you feel comfortable with! Now we’re so glad to have these seats for easy transport for school carpools, sleepovers with grandma, etc!

The Clutch Stroller by Delta Children

We’ve gotten through five years of parenthood with the use of only one stroller — our UppaBaby Cruz which we highly, highly recommend. It is lightweight enough that we have always opted to bring it along with us when we traveled and we used it with the kick board so we could accommodate two kids (there is no option for two seats with the Cruz, only the Vista). That said, it is lightweight, but a lot larger than we wanted for our trip to Europe and would have been an extra bag to check in or lug through an airport. I knew there was no way the kids could handle all the walking we’d be doing so I started searching for travel strollers that were super lightweight and small enough to fit into an airplane’s overhead compartment. I ended up stumbling upon the Clutch Stroller by Delta Children and it had such amazing reviews and was very similar to some other strollers that costed more than three times the price. It weighs only 11.7 pounds and has a weight limit of 50 pounds so works for older kids! Elodie was borderline too big for it, but it worked out just fine. It did amazingly well on cobblestone streets, had a nice size basket below and was easy to maneuver. Biggest complain was that it doesn’t have a full recline for napping on the go, but the kids still managed to sleep in it!

Truthfully I would have loved to have two strollers or a double stroller because there was definitely whining and complaining from the kid who wasn’t in the stroller, but that just wasn’t feasible with all the other bags we had so we just went with one and it was fine. Amber recommends the Double Zoe Stroller if you want to look into that!

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AmazonBasics 4-Piece Packing Travel Organizer Cubes Set – Medium

Before this trip to Europe we were packing cube virgins. Now after using them for just this one trip we are totally hooked and can’t imagine traveling without them. For one: they definitely give you the ability to pack more in the same amount of space. When you use the rolling method to fold everything into the packing cube you are able to fit so many more items into your suitcase. But my favorite part of the cubes is how it made unpacking SO EASY and it made everything organized and easy to find. This is especially key when you are traveling multiple places and will be unpacking and repacking a lot.

When we got to our destination all we had to do was pull the packing cubes out of our bags and place them into drawers. You have easy visibility and access to everything so long as you packed wisely. Each of us had 3-4 cubes (I overpacked!). For the kids I had one for PJs and swim stuff, one for tops and one for bottoms. Followed roughly the same approach for me but added one for dresses. I liked having all the cubes one size, but they come in packs of multiple sizes if you prefer that. Seriously can’t recommend packing cubes enough!

JetKids by Stoke BedBox Ride-On Carry-On Suitcase

I mentioned the BedBox on my last post but wanted to touch on a few more things I love about these suitcases. They fit under the seat in front of you and if you don’t need the bed portion you can buy it simply as a Ride-On suitcase (and add the bed part later if necessary). We got SO many comments in all the airports about how amazing they looked and how well our kids did with them. They maneuver well around turns and on bumps (within reason haha) and our kids never got sick of them. If they weren’t riding them they were pulling them happily themselves. One thing to note is there isn’t a ton of space for extra stuff if you have the bedding in there. We had room for a few snacks and small activities but not much else!

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World Travel Adapter Kit with Dual USB + 2 US Outlets and Surge Protection

This is kind of random, but we were so impressed with this adapter we used. It had USBs built right in so we could charge both of our phones throughout the night without having to have two separate adapters and we could ALSO plug in other appliances at the same time. I was also able to easily plug in my curling iron and loved that this has surge protection so you don’t damage any of your electronics (which I have sadly done before). And it’s under $25!

These are the few products that stood out in making our trip more seamless with kiddos. If you have any you swear by, comment below!

 

 

travel, travel tips

Traveling to Europe with Kids: Flights, Jet Lag & More

We booked our trip to Europe almost an entire year before actually taking it. It’s an adventure we had always wanted to do with the kids, but decided to wait until they were a little older so they were (hopefully) more manageable, and also so they could actually do some fun activities and perhaps even remember some parts of the trip. Obviously we’ve done a lot of travel with them other places and truly believe that traveling from a young age impacts them and shapes them, even if they don’t remember the travels, but this trip in particular we wanted to wait. I can’t speak to what it would have been like if they were younger, but it was so great bringing them along at these ages (3 & 5) and we’re really happy we took them when we did and can’t wait to take them again!

I know as I dreamed of taking the kids to Europe over the years I couldn’t get enough information on how the experience went for other people. I wanted to know how the flights went, how they dealt with jet lag, etc etc. With that in mind I thought I’d share about our experience in case anyone else was like me! Now, don’t take this post as advice. I have no room to give advice here as we’re not experts on international travel with kids (but Amber is and she did an amazing post for me that you can see here!), this is merely a description of our experience, so take it for what it is!

FLIGHTS

We knew for sure we wanted to fly direct from Portland to Europe. Multiple flights have never worked in our favor (more chances for delays, missed flights, lost bags, longer travel days, etc) and we wanted to make the journey as simple as possible. We used Land Sky See to book our tickets. They have access to unpublished wholesale airfare (this costs nothing extra to you) and they were able to find us direct flights from PDX for just over $600 each person. From Portland we typically pay around $1,000 for direct flights to Europe in the Spring/Summer, so that was an insane deal! Highly, high recommend having JJ and Soo at Land Sky See search for affordable airfare for you if you are looking to fly between the US and Europe. Once you book your flight with them everything is exactly the same as if you purchased through the airline or online. You get your confirmation number and can choose your seats, meals, bags, etc! (P.S. I wasn’t compensated in any way or given any special discounts for sharing with you — just genuinely super impressed with the service they provide and love passing along things I love to you all!) Back to the flights…

We flew directly from Portland to London, which is about 10-11 hours. Our flight took off at 6PM, and since our kids go to bed around 7:30PM, we thought it would be perfect that they could sleep most of the way over (haha! Joke was on us). 

Before the flight we made sure to book seats together. Most planes flying internationally have rows of two on each side of the plane, and then a row in the middle with 3-5 seats. We took two rows of two, one in front of the other, because James is still a bit of a kicker sometimes and it was nice to know that if he did kick, it would just be one of us 😉 I called the airline a couple days before leaving to reserve kids meals for them and in hindsight I probably wouldn’t do that again. The regular plane food was actually lot better (and pretty basic in itself) and the kids liked it more than the basic sandwiches they gave for them.

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THINGS TO DO ON THE FLIGHT

In terms of things to do on the plane, we really didn’t pack much for them because we were really planning on them mostly sleeping and watching movies. Our kids get basically no screen time at home (more on that here), but while traveling, screen time rules definitely go out the window. I did pack them snack boxes, which are always a hit and keep them busy. We didn’t even open the snack boxes on the plane because they feed you so much, but they were a lifesaver during the in-between moments waiting in rental car lines and making the journey to our rental home, etc. Aside from snack boxes and sleep stuff (lovie, pillow, blanket), I did wrap a few small little dollar spot gifts for them to open in case they got really bored. I literally only had to offer one at the very end of our flight over and got to save the rest for antsy in-between moments at our rentals. The things I picked up: Slime (picked up at the Target dollar spot), travel play doh, little coloring kits and new small Paw Patrol board books. The slime was such a hit and kept them busy on the plane for so long and also as we made meals and got ready for the day, etc around home. Highly recommend! 

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JETKIDS BEDBOX

So back to sleeping. We brought along our JetKids BedBoxes and, I will be honest, as we were packing our bags and trying to pack lightly, I really worried these boxes would be more trouble than they were worth. I was afraid they would get bored of them and not want to ride them and we would be left lugging another bag through the airport while also trying to hold their hands, etc. But I truly can’t sing the praises of them enough. I don’t even know how we would have survived the trip without them honestly. London Heathrow and Amsterdam’s Schipol airport are both massive. We had really long walks to and from planes and both airports were a total breeze to get through because both kids just rode their BedBoxes and LOVED them. They are surprisingly easy to maneuver and even do well on bumps and moving walkways, etc. 

As far as the actual sleeping part of the BedBox, Elodie was a bit big to really take advantage and James is nearly too big. He was able to sleep using it and it was great, but he only snoozed for an hour until another child on the plane woke him up, at which point he preferred to be sprawled out on me. Regardless, it was really nice for them to have and stretch out on even while not sleeping so we do recommend them and especially for smaller kids who would fit better (but probably couldn’t ride on the cases, then, so a trade-off!).  

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SLEEP ON THE PLANE

Elodie totaled about three hours of sleep on the way out and James totaled around an hour or two. On the way back home (not overnight) it was the opposite and Elodie only slept an hour or so and James slept 4 hours! I totally thought they’d both sleep a lot more. We brought melatonin on the flight and everything, but there was just too much noise and lots of people watching movies and lights on reading, etc. I think it was hard for them to really settle and sleep, which I totally understand because I can never sleep on planes myself! Though the kids didn’t sleep, they were honestly incredibly behaved on the flight. James laid in my lap not sleeping or watching a movie or anything for a couple hours, which was amazing and Elodie was so sweet the whole time. They blew me away! Definitely far exceeded my expectations. When we were landing I was thinking “wow I can’t believe the flight is already over! We did it!”… I was fully expecting to feel like “oh my gosh get me off this plane!”, so I was really pleased with the whole experience. I would say going in with extremely low expectations helped!

TRANSPORTATION FROM LONDON HEATHROW

We read Lauren’s advice on the best way to get into the city from London Heathrow and Amber reiterated that after a long flight, the last thing you want to do is navigate public transportation with two kids and a bunch of bags. Man am I glad we listened to them and had a BlackLane van waiting for us. It was just what we needed to keep us forging ahead in our sleepy jet-lagged haze. We used Twelve Transfers on our way back and they were also great. I would suggest getting quotes from both places and just going with whoever is more affordable!

JETLAG (AND MELATONIN)

By the time we arrived to Lauren’s apartment in London (which we rented and loved!) it was after 2PM and we decided it was best to just keep us all up instead of napping. We dropped our bags and headed out the door to the park. We knew fresh air would be the only thing to keep us awake. I had totally forgotten how awful jet lag feels that first day. I could barely function, I felt outside my body, I was SO TIRED. I think it had more to do with not sleeping on the plane than the time difference, but both worked against me. The kids, though, man they shocked me with how well they made it through the next few hours! We just kept them busy and outside as much as possible. 

Once dinner rolled around the exhaustion was really setting in. We ate around 5PM and the kids were in bed by 5:45 and we were asleep ourselves by 6:30PM. We all took melatonin hoping it would help us sleep through the night. These are the melatonin gummies we gave the kids and this is the melatonin we took. One thing to note with the melatonin: Not all kids react the same to melatonin so I highly suggest testing it out before your trip. Our kids did great and it was a total lifesaver, others have nightmares or are extra antsy instead of sleepy, etc.  You just really don’t want to figure that out while you’re all jetlagged 😉

I fully anticipated we were going to be up for hours in the middle of the night and made sure we had grabbed some healthy snacks at the store before going to bed in case the kids woke up hungry and nothing would be open at that hour. But once again, the kids exceeded my expectations. James woke up around 11:30PM so we pulled him in to bed with us. He was back to sleep within 10 minutes. Yay! Then 2:30AM rolled around and Elodie came in. At that point we all woke up, drank some water, went to the bathroom and took another dose of melatonin. Corey went and slept with Elodie and I kept James with me. We were all back asleep by 3AM (not bad at all!) and slept until 7:30AM the next morning. Huge success in my opinion! The next nights James didn’t even wake up, Elodie did, but was always quick to go back to sleep. 

We ended up giving the kids melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime every night for the first five nights as we adjusted to the time change and I think it helped a ton. We typically aren’t co-sleepers, but when we’re traveling we are super aware that the kids are in new beds and just like for anyone, that can be weird and scary, so we spent probably half the nights starting with the kids in their own rooms or sleeping together (depending on our location) and then splitting up and each adult sleeping with one of the kids once we were ready to go to bed, and it has worked great. 

The jet lag on the way back was also not a big deal besides a few really early morning wakings, but everyone adjusted back within a week and there was never a time it felt really unmanageable or terrible! Overall we were so pleasantly surprised by how well the trip went. You know it was a great trip when instead of the trip scratching our itch to travel back to Europe, we got back and were immediately dreaming of our NEXT trip over with the kids! 

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CONCLUSION 😉 

I totally just blabbed on and on. I am not sure this was helpful or interesting, but at least for me it will be nice to have documented the trip. I know this was just our first time doing this and we happened to have had a great experience and every kid is different, but I hope this gives you the encouragement to do things with your little ones even when it seems like it might be crazy or hard. Traveling is certainly very different with them, but it was SO incredibly special to have them with us and experience it all together. If you have any more questions about the international flight or jet lag, put them in the comments below! 

I’ll be sharing details on our French villa in my next post as well as a post with all the products that made our trip a lot more manageable (like what we did about car seats!). Stay tuned for more!

motherhood, working mother

FAQ: Going Back to Work

A couple weeks ago I had my first day back at work (well, traditional office work ;)) since December of 2016. I shared the news on Instagram and got a lot of great questions about my decision/new setup, so thought I would do a blog post answering! I attempted to answer through Instagram stories and realized I have so much to say on the subject that a blog post made more sense! So here we go…

What will you be doing? Are you doing the same job as before you left? There have been lots of organizational changes at Nike since I left, but I am back in digital marketing on the operations side, which is where I was right before I left. I accepted a 6-month contract, so it will be over at some point in July. That’s as much as I feel comfortable sharing with strangers on the world wide web 😉

How many hours a week will you work? I worked it out so that I have Fridays off (home with the kids). I am working on a specific project, so my hours each week will vary depending on what is happening with the project, but it will probably be around 32 hours/week give or take! Most days will be 8-5ish, so traditional working hours.

How did you negotiate 4 days/week? It is honestly just the situation I am in, I could only get one day of childcare covered a week so it was a non-negotiable. When I started putting feelers out there with old coworkers and managers I made that requirement clear since I couldn’t budge on it. There were some opportunities that didn’t work out because I couldn’t work five days and that’s okay!

After 6 months, will you have the choice to stay? The specific role I am doing is really project based, so after 6 months the need will no longer be there for that role. That said, if I do a good job and I really want to continue working at Nike, I am confident I could find another job. It’s hard to know how I’ll feel in six months, but at this point the plan is not to continue past July. I’d like to give our family the space to navigate Elodie’s transition into Kindergarten in the fall. After we’re settled in to life with an elementary schooler I am sure I will know more about how I want to proceed (or not) in the corporate world.

Who is watching the kids while you work? James and Elodie are both at the Nike childcare center 3 days a week and have been since September (Elodie has actually been there for preschool 3 days a week since September of 2017, James just started in September). I will be home with them one day, which leaves one day that my mom and mother-in-law will be covering. We are SOOOOO lucky we have both of them locally so I could do this, otherwise taking a short-term contract would have been a lot trickier!

How did you determine now was the time? I knew that life would shift after James started part-time care in September. At that point we had both kids in school the same three days each week and no concrete plan on how I was going to be spending that time. Corey knew my wheels were immediately turning, but wisely suggested I not make any rushed decisions on what to do with the 3 days/week until I had the chance to really experience them and see how life was flowing and feeling. So I gave myself until the end of 2018 to just feel things out and do some soul searching on what I wanted my next steps to be.

It became clear pretty quickly that I was not happy with that much “free time”. On the one hand I was so appreciative of the time I had to get all those things done that most people just never have time for …like keeping their house mostly clean, laundry, meal planning, grocery shopping, meal prepping, cooking, organizing closets, running errands, taking the kids to the doctor, dentist, etc etc. Yes it was glorious to have the space and time to accomplish those things …. But that got old really quick. While I loved supporting our family, I didn’t feel deep fulfillment in these tasks. And I put SO MUCH PRESSURE on myself to make every hour count, constantly questioning if I was making good use of my time. It was mentally so exhausting. I felt empty at the end of the days I didn’t have the kids. I was also experiencing feelings of extreme guilt. How many people would love to have this privilege? I felt so lucky and grateful that we had the means to put our kids in part-time care while not needing me to bring in income. But why me? I didn’t deserve this more than anyone else. I just felt bad about the whole thing. I couldn’t ENJOY the kid-free time pretty much at all, but I was also really grateful for it and totally understood my good fortune. I was feelings all the feels, basically.

So all that said, clearly I needed a change. I had a lot of people suggest ramping up my blog and Instagram or making my photography more of a business. I enjoy those things SO much asa hobbies and creative outlets, but truly feel no desire to make them my full-time business. I love the community I have created through Instagram and my blog and LOVE the companies I’ve had a chance to partner with because of that community, but that said… I never want money to be the driving force behind those creative outlets for me. Yes, I make some money from affiliate links and sponsorships, but those are just icing on the cake when sharing a product or company I truly LOVE. Even if I didn’t make a dime I would rave about these products and companies! It stifles my creativity when I feel like I am posting in an effort to gain followers or make money, etc. I find it kind of hard to explain all this, so I hope I’m making SOME sense, but basically I just have no desire to try to make my blog and Instagram any bigger than it is by pouring any more time and effort into it than I already am.

After a lot of soul searching and a visit with a life and career coach I decided that exploring other avenues of more traditional work, temporarily, would be a great solution to continue to learn more about what it is I want to do at this point in my life. That’s a really long-winded response to how I knew it was time … I just stopped feeling inspired and happy being home and wanted something different.

When you originally decided to stay home, did you think you’d go back?  I forget how much of this I shared, but deciding to stay home wasn’t something I thought a lot about as a working mother. I didn’t think it was financially feasible so it wasn’t a decision I agonized over or even thought about at all. After James was born I decided to leave Nike to take an opportunity with a small startup, heading up their marketing. It was essentially my dream job, but the realities of working in a startup environment really didn’t jive with having two young kids in daycare, including a 5-month-old who was getting sick every three days, requiring Corey and I both to miss a lot of work. It was a really hard decision to make, but I was at the end of my rope — my stress level was insanely high, I was constantly getting sick, I seriously just felt like my body was shutting down and I was not in a good space mentally, spiritually or emotionally. I needed to step back and reassess. That’s how I ended up making the decision to take a break from my career. Financially we had to pull the kids out of daycare, so it’s not like I could take a break, recuperate and then get back out to the working world. Essentially I was forced into being a stay-at-home mom, something I never thought I would be, but honestly came to love deeply and feel incredibly fulfilled by.

I spent most of the past two years I was home with the kids feeling pretty sure I would never want to go back to corporate America. I experienced life without the stress of a demanding job, I was happier than ever, ended up finding my groove with exercise, felt like our home and our family was just more balanced than ever.

Then around the time James turned two I just felt like he could use some more structured social interaction. I felt strongly that he would benefit from being in part-time care, so after we got a call that he had gotten a spot in the Nike 3-day class after being on the waitlist nearly 18 months, we decided to take it. Having the kids both gone three days a week made it clear that being home no longer gave me that amazing, happy, balanced feeling. I felt like something was missing.

While my indecisive nature tempts me to make every decision as if it will be the last decision I’ll ever make, in each of these scenarios I have tried to step back and remind myself that this is only a moment in time. Yes, I decided to quit my job and stay home with my kids two years ago, but nobody every told me I could never go back to work or never find a different way to work. Yes, I have decided to accept a 6-month contract, but that is the only thing I have decided. This new job works great for me RIGHT NOW. And that’s all I can really say. I might love it so much I can’t imagine not going back full-time in a more permanent role, or I might appreciate it for what it is and find more gratitude for the freedom I have once July rolls around and I am jobless again. I just don’t know, and that’s okay. I’m going to take things as they come.

Is this going to impact your barre3 schedule? How do you plan to balance work/life/fitness? It will definitely impact the times of day I go to class, but it won’t impact the number of classes I attend a week (3-5). My schedule is now mostly 6AM classes which allow me to get home, shower quickly and still be at work between 8-8:30AM and 6:30PM classes, which require Corey to handle bedtime. Also the weekends of course 😉 Fitness has become an integrated part of my life — it’s a habit, something I love doing and something that makes me a truly better mother, wife, employee, PERSON. Essentially it is extremely high on my priority list, so I will find ways to make time for it, even if it’s not as convenient as it has been in the last few months!

As far as balance — I think balance is a myth. Being back at work has required both Corey and me to reexamine the tasks that fill our days and prioritize them.Keeping the house as clean as it has been the last four months is going way down on the priority list. Family time is the highest priority, so making sure we are eating together as a family each night and being intentional with the time we do have together — meaning hyper-focused, no phones out in the morning/evening hours, etc. Time for us as a couple is also super important and nothing will change there. Time for fitness is very high for both Corey and me. Luckily he loves at-home workouts and last year we invested in a rower and a treadmill for him to have at home, so he can do an early morning workout while I am at a barre3 class on the weekdays and he likes going to Orange Theory classes on the weekends. We make it work! Things will be messier and more complicated than they were when I was home managing the household and the kids, but that’s okay. It’s just a season we’re in and having been out of the work force for two years I am now even more aligned to the things that are important to me as an individual and us as a family, and I’m just going to worry about those and brush the other things off. One thing I know for sure: I can’t do it all. Period. So not even going to try.

How do you get out of the house on time? Well, we’re only two weeks in, but the last couple weeks have gone really smoothly. The fact that Corey and I both work in the same place and our kids go to daycare onsite is HUGELY helpful, so we have that working in our favor. Otherwise, the BIGGEST determining factor of getting ourselves out of the house on time is how much we prepare the night before. Making sure coats, hats, gloves, blankets, lovies, WHATEVER needs to come with us to daycare the next day are either already in a bag together or in the car is number 1. The second biggest factor is getting up before our kids and being completely ready before they are awake. We get up around 5:45 (earlier if we are working out) and shower and get ourselves put together, get the kids’ breakfast ready, unload the dishwasher, etc before the kids are up around 7 (give or take). We lay Elodie’s clothes out the night before and she goes potty and gets herself dressed before coming downstairs for an easy breakfast. Think wholegrain waffle with almond butter and banana, a smoothie, cereal, etc. Those two things have helped tremendously!

Can you talk about meal prep as a working mom? Such a struggle! This was one of the biggest conversations we had before I accepted this new job. I think I have PTSD from the dinner/bath/bed hustle when we were both working before. It’s been pretty dang amazing to be around the house at 4PM able to get dinner started and have it ready when Corey gets home around 5:30.

Here’s what we’re trying this time around. We’ve divided the food tasks as such: Meal planning: Liz, Grocery shopping/online ordering: Liz, Corey: Meal prep on the weekends or the night before, making dinner: whoever is home earlier and cleanup: whoever didn’t cook. This week it worked out pretty good. Offering the kids a healthy snack (cashews, cucumber slices, apple with almond butter, etc) as they settle into being home after school and while we get dinner going has also been key.

I have no doubt we will probably be leaning on more takeout, meal and grocery delivery services and the like to help keep us sane, and I’m cool with that. Whatever it takes!

So, what’s it like being back?! Oh my gosh you guys… I’m only two weeks in, but it feels SO GOOD. I am invigorated. Inspired. Confident. Excited. ALLTHETHINGS. Also, it truly feels like I never left, like I just picked up right where I left off, which is such a trip! In the best way possible! Being at work because you WANT to be and not because you feel like you HAVE to be is a freaking game-changer to say the least. I also think leaving the corporate world and living life outside of Nike (I started there right out of college so it’s really all I knew) gave me such incredible perspective I am bringing back with me. Taking a little career breather so far seems to have been a very, very good idea (and one I know 95% of people don’t have the privilege of taking). Short answer is I LOVE IT. I AM SO HAPPY. And I am super curious if and how these feelings change as I get deeper into this new job!

You know I’ll be over-sharing my way through it! 😉 Any more questions? Leave them in the comments!

 

 

lifestyle, motherhood, photography

Mommy & Me Photos with Brittany Rossman Photography

So last Father’s Day I got Corey an amazing present. Well, I think it’s pretty amazing. But when I really think about it, it’s a gift I would have loved to receive myself. I put together a 700+ page photo book of special photos of mostly him and the kids throughout the prior year. Mostly sweet, candid shots of him playing with the kids, cooking breakfast with the kids, snuggling the kids, reading to the kids… You know, the everyday stuff. Not the perfectly-posed-in-front-of-whatever pictures, but the photos that really evoke emotion and take you back to a specific, mundane yet magical moment in time. The kids LOVE looking through its pages and no matter how many times I thumb through the pages I never get sick of it.

But here’s the sad truth: Corey wouldn’t be able to make me the same kind of photo book, not one that has nearly the same number of pages… And that’s because he just never thinks to take photos of me during those ordinary moments that make up motherhood. If I want a photo with the kids I have to specifically ask. And usually that turns into the kids running away from me or giving a fake smile to the camera for half a second then running off. Wah wah. (Let it be known that Corey is way above average in pretty much every other way as a husband and father and I love him like crazy, this is just not his thing! haha)

Photos are my love language, they hold a lot of value to me, so even though this seems kind of silly it really does break my heart that I don’t have these candid moments with the kids captured. I want to remember the way we look when we snuggle up, read books together, laugh and play. I don’t need a million pictures of me smiling at the camera holding on to them with a death grip hoping they’re making a semi-happy face ….

So you can imagine the flood of emotion I felt when Brittany sent me the photos from our mommy + me session a few months back. CUE THE HAPPY TEARS. She captured everything I dreamed of between the kids and me. Those small in-between moments of love and magic between a mother and her children. The photos that despite my constant nagging never really come to fruition from Corey. If you find yourself in the same situation I did, PLEASE do yourself a favor and schedule a mommy + me session with Brittany. She is so calm, sweet and great with kids. She is patient and kind and just knows how to get children to come out of their shell and be themselves. These photos are such a gift to me. More of a gift than any physical thing anyone could ever buy me.

Ask for the session for Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day or just because. Because you deserve to have these fleeting moments captured. You will never regret spending the money to have this special connection between you and your kids captured forever.

It was soooo hard for me to narrow these down to my favorites, but here are some of my photos from my Mommy + Me session with Brittany Rossman Photography. Seriously cannot sing her praises enough! She is hosting a special Mommy + Me event on February 9th and 16th — you can sign up for a time slot here!

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{All photos by Brittany Rossman Photography}

travel, travel tips

How to Survive Transatlantic Travel with Babies & Toddlers

Pretty much since the day the kids were born we have been dreaming of taking them to Europe — especially Amsterdam. After two years living abroad there the country made a huge mark on our hearts and I’ll never forget daydreaming of having a family with Corey and someday bringing them back to show them the city. Well, this spring we are finally making it happen! The kids will be 3 and 5 when we go — ages that felt slightly less scary and generally more manageable than ever. While we are excited beyond measure, we are also slightly terrified of the flight over and the jet lag. Not scared enough to hold us back from going obviously, but scared enough that I want to do everything in my power to prepare us! That’s where my friend Amber comes in.

If there were ever a friend of mine I consider an expert on transatlantic/long haul trips it’s Amber. We met through our mutual friend Lauren (you might know her as Aspiring Kennedy) and she is truly as sweet as they come. She and her husband have been living in London close to ten years. They have two adorable little girls and they travel EVERYWHERE with them — from London to Hawaii like it ain’t no thang. They recently traveled to Mauritius with their girls. Their list of countries visited as a family is extensive and they are often doing the flight home to the Pacific Northwest, so yes, Amber is certainly an expert on surviving transatlantic trips with kids. She kindly agreed to divulge all her wisdom, which I’m hoping will make our trip a little easier. Her tips are approachable and honest and I am so grateful she took the time to share her secrets! Without further ado:

Transatlantic travel with kids

  • Entertainment – after years of long haul flights (and lots of anxiety/stress that goes along with them!!) I’ve finally started to pick up some tried and true tricks:
    • Follow Their Lead – Don’t entertain kids unless it’s needed. For so many trips, I found myself shoving activities in front of them in anticipation of someone getting antsy, but ultimately kept jumping the gun and my resources ran out so quickly! Now when we get on the plane (or to a restaurant, on a train, etc) I try to just let them chill for a bit, take in their surroundings, we chat through the day (i.e “when you see the seatbelt sign light up, that means we all follow the rules and buckle up – do you see where it is?”), let them flip through the on-board magazines, play I Spy, buckle and unbuckle the seat belts, etc. It’s shocking how much time this buys!
    • Activities – a few things we love:
      • play doh
      • water painting (these are great)
      • lightweight/small books
      • stickers
      • washi tape/post-its
      • small figures (cars, dolls, animals – make roads with the washi tape! write dolls letters on post-its, etc)
      • window clings
      • a baggie of cheerios/fruit loops + string to make necklaces
      • paper dolls
      • origami kits
      • lacing cards
      • scratch art activity books
      • magnetic books/puzzles
      • small magnadoodles
      • coloring/activity books
      • play school kit
      • dry erase cards / books
      • busy bags (etsy can be a great resource!)
    • Extras – I always like to have a few extra tricks up my sleeve — it’s easy to plan for the obvious plane time, but there can be so many other parts of the travel day you might just need to pull out some quick entertainment to avoid meltdowns or antsy kids. Think about the other less obvious times you might need something in a pinch to help overtired kids. For us it might be: standing in lines (security, customs, car rental, etc), the drive to/from the airport, or if the plane gets delayed on the tarmac (keep several things within arms’ reach!) to name a few.
    • Ipad/Tablets – all of our screen time rules tend to be put on hold for long travel days. For us, it’s just not worth the fight and we know once we arrive in our destination they will be so busy doing other things that a little extra screen time to make the journey smoother is worth it (and kid-friendly headphones are great too!)
    • Snacks – a mix of healthy things plus a couple treats are a must (never underestimate the power of a gummy bear!!) I pack lots of snacks because we tend to go through them and although I generally steer away from using food as an activity, it can be helpful to buy time. Also, if you’re on an international flight, there’s usually an easy way to request a child meal for free which is so convenient and usually more fun for them (generally 24 hours notice is required)
  • Divide + Conquer – Before we leave, I pack individual zip locks to accommodate each leg of the trip. For instance, if I know we are on an overnight flight, I pack each child a large baggie (labelled with their names) with pj’s, a couple pull-ups, toothbrush/paste and their blanket packaged up and ready to go. I love this strategy because it not only makes you think through each scenario so you don’t forget anything, but also keeps things organized when you’re in a small space.Pouch 2.jpg
  • Emergency Kit – I always try to pack a small bag with a couple things you hope you won’t need, but just never know. I typically include anti-nausea medicine (for adults and kids), empty plastic bags (for wet/dirty clothes) pepto-bismol tablets, pain reliever (both adults and kids), melatonin, a couple band aids, finger nail clippers, hair bands, earplanes (to help with little ears on the flight), hand sanitizer, cough drops, tampons, benadryl – and any other things specific to you (i.e I throw in an extra set of contacts/case/glasses)
  • Schedules + Jet Lag –
    • Direct if you can – If you can swing it, paying a bit more for a more direct flight can be completely worth it, and so much easier on everyone.
    • Schedule – On the plane, we roughly try to stick to their normal schedule which is hard when there’s so much going on – but trying to avoid overstimulated/overtired kids is the name of the game. We’ve found that it’s easier to adjust to new timezones anywhere except on the plane.
    • Be Flexible – Once we arrive in our destination, depending on the time of day, we make the call to take a quick nap or power through. If we land in London at noon and are barely able to keep our eyes open, we nap for an hour and then try to get out in the fresh air to stay awake and start to adjust.
    • Clean Up – It’s shocking how much of a difference it makes for adults and kids to take a shower or bath when you first arrive. Somehow it feels like hitting the reset button and instantly puts everyone in a better mood (but also cleans off the icky feeling of long plane rides) Seriously, try it!
    • When all else fails — melatonin. I’d check with your pediatrician, but ours is extremely supportive as the long flights can be a bit cruel to kids – we like the all natural gummy ones you can find at any drugstore (don’t forget the adult version too!)
  • Playing Fair + Expectations – let’s face it…most adults find travel uncomfortable and exhausting, so it’s fair to anticipate our kids will feel that way too.
    • Pre – Flight – Allowing enough time at the airport to let the kids run out some energy (so many airports have play areas now!) helps everyone before boarding a long flight
    • Eye on the Prize – They might cry non-stop for hours, people might say mean things, you might bicker with your spouse, you will most certainly think “what were we thinking?!” — but then you arrive and it’s all over and you’re giving your kids an opportunity to see the world in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise. You’re giving them a priceless gift to taste new foods, hear foreign languages, see things and experience the world in an amazing way. Some people argue that they won’t remember it, but we will and having them part of those memories is worth it (to us!) 🙂
    • Give + Take – we find that planning ahead to find kid-friendly activities, hotels, rentals go a long way. We spend our day doing things for them, and then arrange a sitter (through the hotel or local agency) for a couple nights to go out after they are in bed. It not only allows us to spend time experiencing the city in more of an adult way, but also takes some of the pressure off your kid-centered days. Win, win!

Amber I can’t thank you enough for imparting your wisdom on us! There were so many great tips in here I am definitely going to us for our trip! Make sure to follow along with all of Amber’s travel adventures through her gorgeous Instagram and awesome blog!

lifestyle, recipes, Uncategorized

15 Crowd-Pleasing Thanksgiving Salad Recipes

thanksgiving salad recipes.jpg

Somehow, in all the years of Thanksgiving feasts, I’ve never been tasked with bringing a salad for the holiday! So naturally, when this was our assignment for our upcoming Friendsgiving next weekend, I turned to my trusty Instagram followers to find a winning recipe to bring with us. And they did not disappoint! I was overwhelmed with responses and also many requests to share the love, so here they are! 15 mouth-watering options for Thanksgiving salads.

Shredded Brussel Sprout Salad with Hazelnut Crunch by Martha Stewartshredded-brussels-sprout-salad-with-hazelnut-crunch-103107138_horiz

Thanksgiving Lentil Salad by The Kitchn174e4fcac666f93884127056deb4f8da6b4dff56

Butternut Squash Salad with Pomegranates and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds by Pamela Salzmanbutternut squash salad

Shredded Brussel Sprout Salad by What’s Gaby CookingWGC-Shredded-Brussels-Salad-copy-3

The Fall Salad You Won’t Be Able To Quit by Simple Real HealthProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

Winter Burrata Salad by Camille Stylescamillestyleswinterburratasalads

Roquefort Pear Salad by The Girl Who Ate Everythingroquefortpearsalad.jpg

Fresh Citrus and Cranberry Salad by Better Homes and Gardensfreshcitrusandcranberrysalad

Lemon-Garlic Kale Salad by The New York Times07COOKING-GARLICKALESALAD2-articleLarge

Roasted Squash Salad with Crispy Shallot and Balsamic Reduction by Minimalist BakerAMAZING-Roasted-Squash-Salad-with-Nut-Cheese-and-Balsamic-Reduction-30-minutes-10-ingredients-BIG-flavor-squash-glutenfree-dinner-vegan-salad-minimalistbaker-recipe-6.jpg

Autumn Chopped Salad by Espresso and Creamautumnchoppedsalad-1-1.jpg

Fall Harvest Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette by With Whit & SaltFall-Harvest-Salad.jpg

Roasted Cauliflower, Feta and Orzo Salad by Chrissy Teigen {photo by Savor Chic}1466611117102.jpg

Feel-Good Fall Salad by Gimme Some OvenAutumn-Harvest-Salad-Recipe-with-Sweet-Potatoes-Avocado-Cranberries-and-Pecans-1-1

Kale and Brussels Slaw by Sprouted Kitchen1448295911394