All-Time Favorite Travel Photos

A month from today I’ll be on my way to Amsterdam for a week of fun with two girlfriends who live in the Netherlands. Thinking about being back in Europe literally makes my stomach do back flips — it’s a mix of nostalgia, excitement, fear and longing. I am so glad I mostly kept up with blogging while we lived in Amsterdam because going down memory lane and reading old posts and seeing all the photos I took is so fun. I mostly can’t believe we ever lived abroad and got to jet off to Spain and Italy whenever we felt like it! I totally got carried away the other night going through old travel posts and I couldn’t help but round up my absolute favorite photos from our travels over the years. Can’t wait to keep adding to this collection in the years to come — even better to have the kids by our sides 🙂

FLORENCE, ITALY

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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICAcapetown2capetown3capetown4

south africa 4south africa 5

KAUAI, HAWAIIhawaiihawaii1hawaii3

PARIS, FRANCE

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Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

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BRUGGE, BELGIUMbrugesbruges2

EDINBURGH, SCOTLANDediburgh

LONDON, ENGLANDlondonlondon2

NICE, FRANCEnicenicefrance

POSITANO, ITALYpositano

SANTORINI, GREECEoiagreece2santorinisantorini6santorinisunsetsantorinisunset2

SEVILLE, SPAINseville

SWISS ALPSswissswitzerland

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

How I Weaned James at 13 Months

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A couple weeks ago I shared a personal post on Instagram about the end of my breastfeeding journey with James at 13 months. There were SO many kind words, and so many mamas made me feel like I’m not alone in this bittersweet feeling of both excitement for the freedom I’m getting back, but pure heartbreak that I’ll never nurse James again. A lot of people asked how I went about weaning James, so I thought I’d share my experience. I know this is a very personal topic, and what worked for me might not work for another mama, but I hope you’ll find comfort or ideas in my journey.

From the very beginning James was a quick nurser, but ate frequently. He was like clockwork ready to get on the boob every two hours for at least the first 3-4 months. Once we started getting him on a more regular nap schedule, the feedings spaced out to about every three hours, but we didn’t get much beyond that until the very end. After I quit my job in January, it was harder for me to have a set feeding schedule. I was around all the time, so I basically just nursed James whenever it seemed like he wanted to. He also started all-out refusing bottles at 8-months-old after I accidentally went a few weeks without offering one (we went on vacation and I didn’t bring bottles or pump stuff, cause who wants to pump when they don’t have to? And then it was the holidays and our schedule was nuts so I just never needed to give him a bottle!).

When James was around 11 months, and as we neared his first birthday (and our trip to California was on the horizon), I knew I needed to start working on weaning. The first thing I did was to actually adhere to a schedule, so then I could start working on slowly and strategically dropping/combining feedings. At 11 months, James was napping twice a day, so my schedule was this:

+Nurse him at first wake-up (this was around 4AM at the time)
+Solid food breakfast when he was up for the day – around 7AM
+Nurse him before first nap (around 8:30/9)
+Solid food lunch around noon
+Nurse him before second nap (around 2PM)
+Solid food dinner around 5:30PM
+Nurse him before going down for bed (around 6:45PM)

Once I decided I wanted his feedings to be on a schedule as opposed to on-demand, it really wasn’t that difficult for him to pick up on the schedule. And as you can see, he was getting SOME kind of food pretty much around the clock, so he was fed and happy 😉 Of course if he was sick or teething, etc, then the schedule went out the window. But more-or-less, this is what our days looked like at 11 months.

A couple weeks after establishing our schedule I started working on dropping one of the daytime feedings. I went into weaning knowing I wanted the morning feed to be the last one I dropped. This was because I was most full in the mornings and also because of the convenience of dropping daytime nursing and bedtime nursing (so mama could go have her date nights and girls’ nights without first needing to feed the bottle-refusing baby).

Another thing I had to consider while weaning was the fact that James refused to drink breastmilk or water out of any sippy cup or bottle. At 11.5 months I finally felt comfortable giving James some cow’s milk, and sure enough he liked it so much, he sort of started to drink an ounce or two out of a sippy cup, so I was less concerned about him getting really dehydrated with me cutting a nursing session. Now instead of feeding him before each nap, I nursed him just before he ate lunch (so he wouldn’t get full on solids then not nurse). I was concerned he wouldn’t nap as well without nursing before, so I would often give him a snack (like yogurt or a piece of toast) before he’d go down for a nap. This also helped start disassociating nursing with naptime/bedtime.

Now, here’s where I had some unintentional help, which ended up being both a blessing and a curse. Right when I was thinking of dropping the one daytime feeding we had left (just shy of James’ first birthday), I got a really bad stomach virus and spent all night one night throwing up. That stomach virus really dried up my milk. This was a blessing because we were going to California a week later and I was hoping I would only have to pump morning and night while I was there, but a curse because I was honestly hoping to hold on to nursing morning/night for longer than I did, but my milk just dried up really quickly after the stomach virus.

Despite the big dip in my supply, I kept pumping twice a day, morning and night, on our trip (we left the day after James’ first birthday) so I could continue to nurse James when we got home. I was only pumping around five ounces each session at this point, so barely anything! While we were away, James was forced to figure out drinking from a sippy cup since that was his only way to intake a good amount of liquids. My mom was watching him during our trip and she is amazing and really helped him with this. It was such a relief. It was something I stressed over for MONTHS!!

Once we got home from my birthday trip, I pretty quickly and easily dropped the night nursing session (this got replaced with a 4oz sippy cup of milk before bed, which we’re still doing now and he just turned 13 months). I continued nursing him in the morning for the rest of the month, but I could tell I didn’t have a ton of milk and by this point James was probably doing it more for comfort than anything. I was still loving breastfeeding, though, so I kept on. I was so grateful that I never got overly engorged or had to go to any extreme measures to dry up my milk, but it was also bittersweet because it felt like it wasn’t on my terms. I guess no matter how it happens it is hard!

In the end, it was another trip to California, this time to Los Angeles to visit my sister, that ultimately marked the end of our nursing journey. I just couldn’t bear to drag my pump along knowing I hardly had any milk anyway, so I used this trip as an excuse to signal the end. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it three days without at least hand-expressing, but I literally didn’t even barely get full over the three days! Cleary the milk supply was very low. Even after not breastfeeding or pumping at all for three days, I still nursed James when I got home and he latched on like I never left.

Honestly, I kept thinking I would feel ready to be done at some point. And maybe if I waited a REALLY LONG TIME, I might’ve gotten there, but it didn’t seem like I would feel that way anytime soon. It mostly got emotionally exhausting for me knowing I hardly had any milk left and every morning I would wonder IS THIS THE LAST TIME I’LL EVER NURSE MY BABY? I decided I didn’t want to wait for the morning James refused me and instead I would end our journey on my terms. So the day he turned 13 months I nursed him for the last time (oh geeze, now I’m getting all teary…).

There were so many times during our 13 months I felt overwhelmed by the weight of being the sole food provider for James. There were so many times I’d daydream of leaving overnight and getting a full night of sleep, or even just going out for a self-care day and not have to worry about pumping or missing a feeding. Especially when James started refusing bottles, I felt like I was being stretched to my limit. It was so demanding. And yet, it was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. For all the moments I felt utterly exhausted from being a human milk machine, I had ten more moments of pure heart-bursting contentment having the opportunity to nurse James. When it’s good, it’s so good.  I feel so lucky I was able to make it as long as I did <3

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Carmel-By-The-Sea Trip Recap

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I turned 30 last year, in 2016, just three days after James was born. Needless to say, it wasn’t much of a big birthday celebration — I didn’t even have a glass of wine! I vowed that I would get a “re-do” for my 31st birthday.

After a lot of thinking, we decided a trip to Northern California — specifically Carmel & Napa would be the perfect adults-only vacation to celebrate my 31st birthday, but also to celebrate making it through the first year of parenting two kiddos. And boy did we need that vacation after the year we had! Let’s just say James doesn’t like to sleep as much as his mom and dad 😉

I had a lot of people on Instagram ask for by Carmel (and Napa!) recommendations, so I thought I’d get them all down in a post for anyone who’s interested! If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or reach out to me directly. I’ll be doing a post on Napa as well, so keep your eyes out for that! Alright here we go…

STAY:

We stayed at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands on points. Honestly, for the price we wouldn’t pay to stay there. The rooms are small and need to be renovated. We loved the property itself and the wood-burning fireplaces in the room, but we weren’t “wow-ed” by the terrace we had or the room itself.

Places to look into staying: Ventana, Post Ranch Inn, Cypress Inn, Mission Ranch

EAT:

La Bicyclette – we enjoyed a delicious dinner here, they also do breakfast and lunch! We loved the romantic and quaint vibe.

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Mission Ranch: A must for dinner! Absolutely gorgeous (and unique) setting and the food was fantastic. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations, so plan to get there early and possibly get a drink or two and walk around the property while waiting for your table. Have I mentioned there are sheep? I was in heaven!

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California Market at Pacific’s Edge: Great spot for lunch or dinner for INCREDIBLE views and the food was really good, too. This was on-site at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. Great spot!

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The Bench: Restaurant overlooking the 18th hole at Pebble Beach golf course. Absolutely amazing view, delicious food and perfect place to stop at the end of the 17-Mile-Drive.

Carmel Bakery: Good option for a quick pastry (they honestly didn’t blow me away, but pretty good)

Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Company: This was our go-to for coffee in the mornings! We’re coffee snobs and we thought this stuff was good! They also have pastries and food.FullSizeRender-8

Dametra: We didn’t actually make it to this restaurant, but it was recommended to us by MANY, MANY people (need reservations)

Other spots to look into (were recommended to us), but we didn’t actually try:

The Tuck Box (cute spot for breakfast)

Casanova

Hog’s Breath (sit around the fire pit for drinks)

Post Ranch Inn

Luca

WOULD NOT RECOMMEND: Many people recommended Katy’s Place to us for breakfast. We found the food very mediocre and over-priced for what it was. I know that sounds harsh!! I think we’re just so spoiled with amazing brunch food in Portland, this place just didn’t hit the spot. Maybe we ordered wrong?!

TO DO:

17-Mile-Drive

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Drive Highway 1 along the coast, stop at many viewpoints along the way (don’t miss Bixby Creek Bridge) if you can go to Big Sur (we couldn’t, the road was closed due to a landslide), heard great things about Nepenthe for a drink with a killer view.

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Just walk up and down the streets of Carmel-By-The-Sea and look at the cutest homes and downtown area, go down to the beach

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We weren’t super impressed by Monterey, we stopped in and walked around for an hour or so, but it wasn’t very charming and it was super touristy (at least what we saw of it). If we went again, I’d love the locals perspective on where to go because I’ve heard such great things, we just didn’t get a great vibe!

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Point Lobos (we didn’t have time to make it here, but heard it’s great if it isn’t too crowded)

You could do a hike — there are plenty in the area, we didn’t have time!

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We were only in Carmel for three nights and it was so charming and there were still a couple things left we could’ve done and stayed one more night, especially if you wanted to see the area at a more leisure pace like we did! Hope this has helped you if you’re interested in a trip to Carmel!

Five Things I’ve Learned: My First Month as a SAHM

**This post was written on February 6, 2017**


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one of my first outings as a stay-at-home mama, to the oregon zoo

Today marks my first full month as a stay-at-home mama! Truth be told, it actually feels a lot longer than a month, but not necessarily in a bad way! I feel like I’ve just been learning a lot and getting into a new groove. I was so grateful for all the advice I got on my Instagram post a while back, so many amazing tips, many I put to good use! So one month in as a SAHM, here’s what I’ve learned, what’s working and where I could use some improvement!

O N E // I didn’t learn this first fact this month, but this month just really reiterated it: I am not a morning person. I’m not the type that wakes up chipper in the AM, ready to start the day (like my husband!). I need slow… quiet.. coffee.. all.the.coffee. I find that when I have the opportunity to have some quiet alone time in the mornings, our day gets off on a much better foot — this definitely means daddy taking over in the morning until he needs to go to work. More on that later!

T W O // Getting out of the house every day — whether for a big or little outing — is key! Not only does getting out of the house give me good reason to be clothed and have makeup on (which for whatever reason actually makes me feel more energized during the day), but it tires the kids out, gets them social interaction, and makes our days go by quicker. It’s really a win all around, so we try really hard to make this happen!

T H R E E // If we are going somewhere (so, ideally, every day), we need to start the getting ready process from the moment the troops are awake. I literally spend the entire first part of the morning getting the kids fed, dressed and the diaper bag packed in preparation for an outing. Nothing sucks more than running around like a crazy person minutes before needing to leave and then being late. Also, did you know that toddlers are especially defiant when you want them to do something quickly?

F O U R // My toddler watches way more TV now that she is home with me. This is something I definitely want to work on, but as I am trying to get my bearings being home with both kids, the TV inevitably gets turned on more often than I would like. I try really hard to set Elodie up with activities to do while I am feeding James, getting James down for nap, or trying to prepare breakfast, lunch or dinner, but sometimes she is just not in the mood and the only thing that will give me the time I need is to put a movie on. C’est la vie. Suggestions welcome! [excited to give an update here as I’m nearly five months in now and this has definitely improved! yay!]

F I V E // I don’t miss work. At all. Not even on the hardest days.  It’s true I’m only a month in. And I’m sure the newness and excitement will surely wear off, but for now, I have never looked back on this decision to stay home. I am more in love with my kids than ever, am so grateful to have this extra time with them, and am fully embracing this season of life. I know I’ll be back to work someday, so for now I am soaking up these incredibly special days with them.

I have so much more to say about transitioning from a full-time working parent to a stay-at-home parent. Stay tuned!

TRIED & TRUE: BEAUTY PRODUCTS

I love hearing about people’s tried and true beauty products — it’s pretty much the only way I find new products to use since I’m not much of a beauty junky and I’m not willing to risk spending a bunch of money on something I won’t ending up loving. Over the years I’ve found a few beauty buys that I have stuck with and absolutely love!!

 

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One // Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser works to take off my makeup better than any cleanser I’ve ever tried and it doesn’t have a smell!

Two // I’ve been using Moroccan Oil for YEARS. I have naturally very thick, wavy hair (not cute wavy, frizzy weird wavy). I should share a photo of what my hair looks like after I blowdry it — it is huge and needs to be tamed! If I ever had any doubt that this product works to do just that, last year I randomly forgot to use it (must’ve been pregnancy brain) and I had several coworkers comment on how my hair looked different! Ha!

Three // I used to be a strictly drugstore mascara gal, until I found the IT Cosmetics Superhero Maskcare (thanks to Lauren McBride!). This stuff is so good — it lengthens and thickens and makes my lashes almost look fake! I’m hooked.

Four // Listen up tired mamas, you NEED this concealer. This is another one I heard about from miss Lauren and I am so glad I gave it a try. This concealer hides the fact that I have an infant and toddler at home and don’t get nearly as much sleep as I would like. My sister (a total beauty junkie who also has her own infant and toddler at home) ended up buying this too after noticing that I never looked tired even though she knew that I most definitely was 🙂

Five // I’ve had people comment on how “flawless” my skin looks — well, as much as I hate to admit that it’s not my skin, I have to give credit to this mineral powder from Laura Mercier. It provides amazing coverage while not being cakey and it’s also luminous so it gives your skin great dimension. I love it!

Six // When I lived in Europe I became obsessed with Bioderma Micellar H20. I didn’t even wash my face with a traditional face wash, I only used the Micellar water. I loved what it did to my skin! Unfortunately, when we moved home from Amsterdam it was really hard (and expensive) to get my hands on the Bioderma product so I had to stop using it. Then Garnier released a Micellar Water in the last couple years and I was so skeptical it would be as good as the original French stuff, but I have to say it is amazing!! It’s a staple in my bathroom cabinet — I use it on nights I’m too lazy to wash my face or just when I want an extra layer of makeup removal.

So that’s it! My favorite beauty products. Now I need YOUR help — do you have an amazing facial moisturizer you love? And what are you favorite face masks for brightening and fine lines? I’m on the hunt! Any other amazing products I have to know about?

{Pregger Update: 36 Weeks}


How Far Along: I’ll be 37 weeks Thursday!
Size of Baby: She’s the size of a watermelon – 19-22 inches long and weighs about 6.5 pounds. Whoa.
Maternity Clothes: I’ve definitely bought my fair share of maternity clothes throughout this pregnancy! I just always felt like the maternity stuff fit better and was more flattering – considering it was made for a bump, I think that makes sense! I can still miraculously wear a few pre-pregnancy things, but the number of those items is dwindling by the day!
If you’re wondering, my favorite places for maternity clothes have been:
ASOS.com
Gap
Target
Paige Maternity Jeans via Pea in the Pod
Stretch Marks: Still slathering on the belly butter and still stretch mark free… Fingers crossed…
  
Sleep: Eh, it’s okay! I get up 3-4 times a night to pee, so that’s not exactly fun. But other than that, it’s actually not so bad. Trying to get all the rest I can get before little lady arrives 🙂
Best Moment of the Week:  Working on the nursery. We’re almost finished! Corey and I pulled it all together really quickly in the end. I am so proud of the room – it’s definitely my favorite space in the house. Just a few more details to add and then I’ll share pictures here!
 Movement:  Good grief this girl is always on the move. I thought by this point she was supposed to be a little more crammed for space, but judging by all the kicks and flips I feel all day long, I find that hard to believe! I do have to admit I really love it. And if I don’t feel her for even 30 minutes I start missing her rolling around in there (and, admittedly, get a little worried).
Cravings: I love eating cereal these days – Honey Nut Cheerios. And I could eat Thai food every single day (but that’s been the case this entire pregnancy). Not loving meat, which is kind of a new thing as of the last month or so…
Gender: Little Lady!
Belly Button In or Out: It goes back and forth. At this very moment it’s out!
Wedding Ring on or Off: On! Knock on wood, I haven’t dealt with a lot of swelling during this pregnancy, so I hope I can wear them until the end.
Anything Making You Queasy or Sick: Nausea started coming back for me pretty consistently as soon as the third trimester started. As long as I’m good about snacking and drinking lots of water I’m usually okay.
What I Miss: Being able to stand and walk for long periods of time without having intense back and pelvic pain, being more graceful (getting off the couch or out of bed ain’t pretty), and just generally feeling like “myself”. I want to do everything I used to do when I wasn’t pregnant and I get frustrated easily when I realize I need to slow down.
What I am Looking Forward to: Meeting our baby girl. I can’t believe it’s happening so soon. I just want to know what she looks like and stare into her eyes and finally meet this little lady that is consuming my thoughts and dreams! I cannot wait to see Corey holding her. I daydream about the moment we’ll meet her and it brings tears to my eyes. I just can’t wait.
Labor Signs: Tons and tons of Braxton Hicks contractions – and my body is definitely getting ready for this whole labor thing! My doctor doesn’t think I’ll go past my due date. I hope she didn’t jinx me!
Nursery: Almost done – need a couple picture frames, a side table for the rocking chair and a lamp!

Emotions:  Yeah, they’re all over the place as is to be expected when you’re nine months pregnant, right?! But overall, feeling really great and happy!