Category Archives: travels + adventure

What to Pack when Flying with a Toddler

Flying with a Toddler

The thought of flying with a toddler with an attention span as short as they are cute for the first time (or anytime) can be downright intimidating. Ollie had flown with us before, but not since he became mobile and A LOT more active/aware. In preparation for our family vacation to Disney World this past week, I spent a lot of time tapping the brains of all my been-there-done-that mama friends, “researching” on Pinterest, and brainstorming ideas to compile the perfect carry-on bag to keep my toddler entertained and happy on a cross-country flight. Guess what? Our 4.5+ hour flight with a 16-month-old went off with far less stress than I envisioned – without the iPad/electronics or spending a ton of money – so I want to share what we packed, how we packed it and tips for a successful travel day with a toddler based on this experience.

Bonus – the in-flight kit I created could have served as a both a car and restaurant entertainment kit while we were on vacation as well! We were at Disney World so there were tons of things for Ollie to see and do, but I hope you find this post useful when packing a carry-on bag to keep your toddler and you entertained and happy during your travels.

Let’s start with the bag:

I snagged this Mickey tote on Amazon for very little money and think it’s a perfect carry on because A) we were headed to see the mouse, B) it’s small and compact, so Ollie will be able to carry it on his own as he grows, C) since it’s small, we were able to be very selective with the things (and weight) we bought onto the plane, and D) did I mention how cute it was and perfect for our Disney trip!?

What to Pack When Flying with a Toddler

What to Pack When Flying with a Toddler

I want to note that before I get started… we did still take a diaper bag. Southwest Airlines allows one carry-on and one personal item per person. Dusty took the diaper bag and Ollie’s airplane bag onboard and I had a backpack with our electronics for the trip and my purse. Obviously, you will want to include the normal diaper bag essentials (diapers, wipes, snacks, changing pad, change of clothes, lightweight blanket, wet/dry bag, water bottle or bottle, etc.) like you normally would anywhere. This is just highlighting what was in his airplane bag for entertainment purposes. I did list a few notes of things that we have in our diaper bag that came in handy on our plane trip.

  1. A lightweight blanket to put over your toddler if/when they nap. Airplane cabins can be chilly and we carry our Audrey’s Bear personalized blanket everywhere!
  2. Imagine Ink. These are the type of paper that only writes on the page. Perfect, mess free, and ideal for our needs.
  3. Toddler busy board. This was our favorite. We played with this more than anything else. For more information about Montessori play, see here.
  4. Snacks. – In our diaper bag at all times. I stocked up with yogurt covered raisins, organic snack bars, Cheerios, and Puffs for our trip.
  5. Empty water bottles for mama and tot – Again, these are not pictured because they were really in the diaper bag; however, fill these suckers up once you’ve cleared security. I store the water bottles in the outer pockets on either side of our diaper bag.
  6. 1 – 2 tried and true favorite books – Also in our diaper bag 100% of the time.
  7. A novel toy like these that we found in the clearance aisle at Walmart.
  8. An Etch a Sketch, MagnaDoodle, or LCD drawing tablet.
  9. Window Clings. We opted for seasonal but there are also Mickey-inspired ones.

Other things we had in the bag were some glow sticks for our stroller (at the parks) and for the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party that we attended while we were there, as well as a expandable wash cloth from the dollar store. Fun things to have on hand, but we didn’t necessarily get these things out during our flight.

When all else fails, snacks (and a big variety of them!) will be your tantrum tamers on a flight. In our diaper bag, I packed a ton of snacks I knew Ollie would love. Ollie is also really into cleaning things right now so giving him a baby wipe to “clean the seat” was a perfect activity for him to keep busy and occupied for a long time. We also “organized” the safety pamphlets a few times that were located in the back pocket of the seats in the airplane.

What to Pack when Flying with a Toddler

What to Pack when Flying with a Toddler

What to Pack when Flying with a Toddler

Top Tips For Traveling or Flying With a Toddler:

  1. Check the TSA and your airline websites well in advance of your flight for their rules and regulations regarding travel with children under 2 years old. For Southwest, at the time of our flight, we had to obtain a special pass for Ollie prior to security with a copy of his birth certificate and a special tag for his stroller prior to boarding the plane. We asked a lot of questions to triple check that we were ready to board and pass through security when we were suppose to. This helped up save time in the long run by not missing any major steps.
  2. You can bring your own milk or juice in a cooler like this one, but you may have to go through a full on TSA check. One option is to wait until you get through security and buy a milk box from Starbucks (these do not require refrigeration). Some airplanes will have milk depending on the airline and time of day, but if you care for it to be organic, you’re likely out of luck. I think the best option is to bring no refrigeration needed, easily portable milk boxes with you. We feed Ollie his morning bottle prior to take-off, and opted for just water on the trip. When we arrived at our hotel, I ordered a half gallon of organic whole milk using Amazon Prime Now and it was delivered to our room in less than 3 hours. It served its purpose for the week and was cheaper than buying the individual cartons.
  3. I know it isn’t always possible with logistics, but try to plan your flight time around your toddler’s nap if possible. We booked a mid-morning flight to coordinate with Ollie’s morning nap time and a return flight later in the evening.
  4. I know screen time isn’t for everyone, but if you allow it this suggestion is for you. Download shows from Netflix or similar and age appropriate apps onto your iPad or laptop. This will, hopefully, occupy your little one and buy you and your fellow passengers some quiet time. We ended up not having to use this at all on our flight; however, found it really nice as a backup with we hopped onto the Magical Express in between the airport and hotel at Disney World.
  5. Bring empty water bottles in your carry on and fill them up at the airport once you’ve cleared security. Do not fill it up 100% because of the cabin pressure. We use Camelbaks like this one and for whatever reason the cabin pressure does do something funky to them in the air. The only thing you have to do is make sure that the water isn’t in the straw (by blowing down on it) prior to giving it to your little one. If not, they may end up with a watery mess due to the pressure.
  6. Invest in a travel stroller. Our previous adults-only trip, we watched to see which parents looked like they were having the least difficult time with their strollers. Previously, we traveled with our Solly Baby Wrap, but with Ollie mobile now and pregnant myself, wearing him is less of an option. We opted for a use City Mini GT by Baby Jogger and it was amazing. The stroller is easy to fold open and closed and really compact. It also has UV protection for the hot Florida sun. You can check the stroller at the gate right before you board, but make sure to ask the desk attendant at your gate for a tag prior to boarding.
  7. Arrive to check in for your flight early, call ahead, or both to ask for an extra seat if possible. Generally, airlines will go ahead and reserve a seat when a “lap infant” is flagged on the manifest and keep it if the flight is not full. On Southwest with the opening seating, we board with family boarding after the “A” group boards. This allows us to get a full row even though we paid for two seats. Each flight the attendants kept announcing it was a “full flight”; however, we sat aisle and window calming with Ollie on our laps. We were also totally prepared to move closer together if needed. The kicker is neither flight was actually full and everybody that boarded late chose the middle seat not next to an infant or toddler. We kept the middle seat open for more space for us. The extra seat makes diaper changes and naps, and the whole flying experience, a lot easier! By the way, this article by USA today does a great job of breaking down how to deal with how to change a diaper during a flight!
  8. My last, but number one piece of advice, would be to prepare and pack as well as you can beforehand, but then try your best to relax and go with the flow because, as we all know, toddlers certainly cannot be predicted! People are generally understanding and this makes me feel far less stressed when Ollie is making a scene in public!

What to Pack When Flying with a Toddler

Preparing for Disney with Toddlers: Tips and Tricks from Real Moms and Bloggers

Preparing for Disney with Toddlers

We are headed to Florida soon for a much needed family vacation! With my work, I get the privilege of traveling here and there, and Dusty joins me a few times a year as well; however, it has been over a year since we have taken a full family vacation including baby Ollie. If you have been around for awhile, you know that the Bahorich clan loves everything Disney and we cannot be more excited to take Ollie on his first Disney adventure. We are also extremely blessed to have planned this at the perfect time before we were too far along in our pregnancy. This will be a great trip for us before turning into a family of four in the spring. It is going to be so much fun!

Since we frequent Disney World and the Orlando area a lot, I have a good idea about what spending a day at the parks looks like but this will be my first trip with a toddler on board. My husband, Dusty, and I was able to have this trip in the back of our minds when we spent a week there back in May for my birthday and we were able to take lots of mental notes as we observed families.

However, being that we have not necessarily traveled with a toddler on our own, I reached out to some of my favorite bloggers and friends to gather their tips, tricks, insights, and everything else in between.

Some of the top things that I heard:

  • Start out early. If your child is an earlier riser anyways, leverage that with being at the parks at rope drop. Then head back to the hotel around lunchtime for a break at the pool or nap time. Round out your day back in the parks. This will assure there are no mid-afternoon meltdowns and a more enjoyable time overall.
  • Download the Disney Parks App. It will be your lifeline through your planning and during your trip. It has all your reservations, ride wait times, hotel information, and more. You can now order at some restaurants through this app as well as preview menus and make dining reservations. It is a must.
  • Pack your own snacks. You can take in your own snacks into the parks! Of course, you do not necessarily want some chocolate in your bag that may melt; however, granola bars, food pouches, Cheerios, and other grain-based foods are great for snacks along the way and help keep your daily food cost down for not only your little ones but also the whole entire family!
  • Thorough packing lists. Research a few packing lists out there. They are easily found on Pinterest throughout (and one that I made below). They are helpful for me to collect items that I would have never thought of and even forgotten from trip to trip!
    Because I found so many good resources on this topic, I have broken down some of my favorite posts that I discovered while researching for our trip to help make planning for Disney with a toddler easier! Enjoy!

Tips for doing Disney with a Baby or Toddler

“I would recommend going to Disney World during the Winter rather than the Summer but if you do go during the Summer avoid 4th of July weekend. It is so packed that lines for even baby rides are ridiculously long and it won’t be enjoyable to wait 2+ hours for a 5 minute ride.” – Sandra’s Studio in Disney World with a Toddler | Must-Haves & Tips

“This is a lovely relaxed whimsical indoor boat ride [It’s a Small World] that takes you past a collection of singing children from around the globe – there’s so much for the little ones to see on this one!” – Bump to Baby in What toddlers love at Walt Disney World

“Most people don’t know, but the Mickey at Town Square talks. It was really awesome and he even sang the Hot Dog song to Ricki. (If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry, you soon will.) I would 100% recommend doing this, it is more personal than breakfast and also free! One of the less crowded spots to meet Daisy, Donald, Minnie, and Goofy is at Pete’s Sideshow Circus. I have never seen a wait longer than 20-30 minutes (you can get fast passes for this also, if needed).” – The Crispy Mama in How To Take Your Toddler To Disney World (And Not Go Insane!)

“Any ride that a toddler can go on a baby can go on as well. You just can’t bring a stroller onto any ride or have one while standing in line. That’s where you’ll want to wear the baby. This will make your life at Disney World so much easier and free up some hands for toddler wrangling.” – Casual Claire in Disney with a Baby and a Toddler

“Basically everything in Magic Kingdom is toddler friendly, so your tiny human will have a blast no matter what.” – A Monkey and His Momma in Disney with Toddlers, What Not to Miss.

“If you are going to be using a stroller, find a way to make it your own because if you have a common stroller (especially Baby Jogger or BOB), it might be difficult to find yours in the sea of strollers after rides and shows.” – Simply Darring in Prepping for Disney

Park Secrets & Helpful Information on the Go

If you don’t have loads of time to weed through blog post after blog post, I highly suggest checking out a few of these resources to help you along your way!

Disney Every Week with the PassPorter Moms! is one of my favorite podcasts! They provide tips and tricks for all types of Disney trips. I love hearing their opinions on hotels, food options, transportation and more! They have episodes specifically on special events, must see’s and do’s at each park, traveling with kids with special needs, and so much more! Each episode is around 30 minutes and so easy to listen to while cooking dinner or on your commute!

The Bucket List Family is one of my newest obsessions. They are the most adorable family that sold everything (plus an app for a huge profit) and now is adventuring the world. They most recently spent 30 nights at 30 different resorts are Walt Disney World. Each resort has such unique and magical features and they really did a great job at capturing them all! I linked to their first video but make sure you watch them all to get the full recap of their adventures!

Disney Parks Moms Panel is the ultimate digital resource for you provided by Disney to receive helpful tips and heartfelt advice about Disney vacation destinations from real moms, dads and in the know family members. They have a search each year for new contributors and it is really hard to be accepted and approved to the group. This is a great place to go if you have a question about a theme park, restaurant, service, shop, hotel or activity!

Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Review

Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge use to be a dream far off in the distance for me. It was an out-of-reach resort that I longed to stay at. Thankfully, before Dusty and I got married, we became Disney Vacation Club members and now those African savanna balconies are not just a dream.

Dusty and I had visited the resort a handful of times prior to staying there. One of our favorite places to eat on property is Boma, and we love the architecture and lounge areas. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a great Walt Disney World resort inspired by traditional African savanna lodges and brilliantly themed with the adjacent Animal Kingdom theme park.

About the Animal Kingdom Lodge

We found that Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was a super family-friendly resort. This seems to be an obvious observation at the most family-friendly theme park on the planet; however, this resort stands out above the rest. Here, you’ll find family-friendly rooms with bunk beds, outstanding cultural activities and animal programs, and rooms overlooking four savannas with over 200 animals and birds.

The lobby captures the look of an African savanna lodge and the lodge itself has one of the largest collections of African art in the United States which is displayed throughout the resort. It is arranged in a horseshoe design, with rooms and public areas that overlook the 33 acre wildlife preserve where over 30 species of African species graze and roam about.

The Animal Kingdom Lodge has two sections: Jambo House, the original resort and main area, and Kidani Village, the Disney Vacation Club resort space. Resort guests can use the facilities, swimming pools and fitness centers, throughout both areas and a shuttle van goes back and forth.

Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Our Room

Although a Savanna View Room is highly desired, we chose for the lesser and cheaper option for an overlook of the pool area. We requested a high floor which granted us an amazing view regardless of our area. We also preferred staying at Jambo House over Kidani Village, as it is closer to many of the activities and restaurants. Although we are DVC members, we found that Jambo House was equally accommodating as Kidani Village would have been.

Our room included a queen sized bed, small couch with pull out bed, small table with chairs, a flat screen TV, a dresser with three drawers, a small refrigerator, coffee machine and a wardrobe with an iron, ironing board and small safe. The bathroom has my favorite Disney design, the split design, with the vanity and two sinks outside and a small room that consists of a toilet and shower with a bathtub.

Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Other Amenities

Dusty is super critical on resort gyms; however, Animal Kingdom Lodge’s gym passed his “test”. The gym is located in the Jambo House section, which was another reason for us to stay Jambo-side. It has all the basic equipment – cardio machines, some free weights and weight machines – to get a good workout during your stay. There’s a spa that offers a range of massages and facials and a free sauna and steam room.

Although nobody should have to do laundry on vacation, we always seems to. There are a few laundry rooms around the resort that are efficient and easy to use. They are free to use select ones for DVC members so it is really convenient for us. A standard guest would pay $3/load.

I was also impressed with the resort’s calendar of activities, which included African culture immersion, poolside games, wine tasting, cookie decorating, music sessions and animal programs. We loved that there was always a family activity going on in the main lobby of Jambo House, games and fun at the pool, and we really enjoyed watching the nighttime movies around the pool area and the nighttime animal viewing. Some activities have a cost, but many do not and are free to guests.

Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Restaurants

The Animal Kingdom Lodge offers several dining options, from award-winning, African fine dining to quick service restaurants serving class American favorites. Our favorite restaurant is Boma, where they offer family-friendly buffets with a great selection of food from over 50 African countries along with typical American classics. We have yet to eat at the other two locations on property, Sanaa or Jiko; however, we did stop at the quick-service location a few times which also had African (and American) cuisine. We additionally stopped in for a drink at the lounge.

What is your favorite part of Animal Kingdom Lodge?

Angel Stadium of Anaheim Review

Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Duston and I visited the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Angel Stadium of Anaheim in the summer of 2012 during a grand adventure through California. We were young, we had very little bills, and it was darn expensive. However, when we think about it now, we are so glad we did it then when we could. It was amazing. After spending a few days in San Francisco at the San Francisco Giants AT&T Park and the Oakland Athletics O.co Coliseum, we were on our way to another adventure in Los Angeles. We visited Dodger Stadium and of course, Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

I was particularly excited about this stadium because I knew that it had roots and ties to Disney. Now, I don’t quite think Disney owns the stadium… and maybe they never did; however, being so close to Disneyland and dreaming of the days that I watched Angels in the Outfield… I was excited.

The Angel Stadium felt to me quite similar to Busch Stadium back at home in St. Louis. The design, look, and feel are honestly so much the same, I almost rooted for our beloved Pujols who had just left the Cardinals the previous year. It was clean, the fans were energetic and polite, and they have an adorable rocky waterfall in the outfield.

Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Oh, Baseball

Such a beautiful Monday morning for some baseball. #bahorichbabymoon

There are just a few times each year that I anticipate… my birthday, Christmas, and baseball! I am so excited that spring training is gearing up and we are on our way to summertime and the regular season. With baby Ollie being born last summer, our baseball events were few and far between compared to previous years.

When my husband, Dusty, and I got together, we loved scouting out new baseball stadiums. One of our goals was originally to visit all 30 major league baseball stadiums before turning 30. My husband and I love, love, love baseball. Within two months of dating, we had already visited two stadiums and we used to live within walking distance of our favorite team in downtown St. Louis. But as time tells, we have both celebrated our 30th birthdays and did things like buy a house, attend grad school, and have a kid instead of visiting each stadium. I assume it is about the journey of your goal just as much as the accomplishment.

I think it's the hottest day of the year. But dang the city is pretty.

Take me back please. #bahorichbabymoon

Have you visited any baseball stadiums? I would love to hear about your adventures!! Also, over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing some of my favorite highlights from each stadium. I cannot wait to share them with you!

Stadiums We’ve Visited ::

  1. St. Louis Cardinals Busch Stadium
  2. Kansas City Royals Kauffman Stadium
  3. Texas Rangers Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
  4. San Francisco Giants AT&T Park
  5. Oakland Athletics O.co Coliseum
  6. Los Angeles Dodgers Dodger Stadium
  7. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Angel Stadium of Anaheim
  8. San Diego Padres PETCO Park
  9. Chicago White Sox U.S. Cellular Field
  10. Cincinnati Reds Great American Ball Park
  11. Chicago Cubs Wrigley Field
  12. Boston Red Sox Fenway Park
  13. Milwaukee Brewers Miller Park
  14. Atlanta Braves Turner Field
  15. Tampa Bay Rays Tropicana Field
  16. Houston Astros Minute Maid Park

Still on the List ::

  1. Colorado Rockies Coors Field
  2. Miami Marlins Marlins Park
  3. Minnesota Twins Target Field
  4. New York Yankees Yankee Stadium
  5. Toronto Blue Jays Rogers Centre
  6. Arizona Diamondbacks Chase Field
  7. Baltimore Orioles Oriole Park at Camden Yards
  8. Seattle Mariners Safeco Field
  9. Cleveland Indians Progressive Field
  10. Philadelphia Phillies Citizens Bank Park
  11. Washington Nationals Nationals Park
  12. New York Mets Citi Field
  13. Detroit Tigers Comerica Park
  14. Pittsburgh Pirates PNC Park

Baseball, BBQ, and baby... Definitely no beer today. #bahorichbabymoon #cardinals

5 Tips for Flying and Pumping

5 Tips for Flying and Pumping

As a mom, I feel like I’m learning something new every day, but as of late, I feel like I am starting to nail this whole flying and pumping thing.

Let me rephrase… I feel like I am in the beginning stages of learning how to pump and travel.

One of the things that I learned quickly through traveling for work was how to travel and pump. I was never going to allow the benefits of nursing Ollie to suffer because I travelled. So I pump on the go wherever I am.

With my work as a learning professional at a consulting firm, pumping sometimes means doing so in a cement parking structure prior to a meeting after a commute into the city. Sometimes it means rushing from one terminal to another in a Chicago airport to pump in the Mother’s Room during a 40 minute layover. Sometimes it means finding an empty corner in a quiet airport restaurant and covering because they don’t have a nursing room. Sometimes it means having an awkward conversation with a tech guy that you just met in a shared workspace in another city why you are using giant Post-It Notes to cover the windows of an office that is not yours.

It is definitely an adventure and I have learned a lot over the past months. I would not trade anything in the world.

Here are my top five tips for pumping while traveling for work ::

Pack the right supplies.

From not having enough storage bags to completely forgetting bottles to attach to my pump, I have missed packing something here or there. Thankfully, I have always spotted the mishap early and there’s never been a Target too far from my hotel. Beyond the standard materials (you can find my packing list here), I always make sure I have a back up Sharpie marker for my pumping bag, extra batteries for my on-to-go battery pack for my Medela, a nursing cover just in case there is no nursing room (here is my favorite), and some wet wipes to wipe down my surroundings. Unfortunately, it is common for housekeeping to not wipe down every surface and you can bet that a Mother’s Room (or worse… a family bathroom) could possibly need sanitized.

Pro tip :: Pack more storage bags than you think you need. I always carry on my milk and pump and cringe at the idea of it being tossed around in security if I would have to check it. Because of that, I try and store each session into 3 ounce increments. Because of this, I fill up bags so much quicker than I ever think I’m going to. Be prepared in this part and always check your bag supply before you leave for your trip.

5 Tips for Flying and Pumping

Make sure your cooler is large enough.

Like I said for myself, I pump far more on the road than I do when I’m home, and I almost always come back with more milk than baby Ollie eats. This is far different than when I’m working from my home office. On a typical day at home, I pump a few ounces short every day… however, on the go, I always come about about 15-25 oz. positive!? Go figure! With that being said, make sure your cooler is large enough to hold your milk and that you pack more storage bags than you think you will need.

According to the work trip and the availability of refrigerators, I sometimes pack a freezer pack… and sometimes I don’t. A freezer pack also takes up room, so if my flight is direct and my milk is going to be straight from the refrigerator to the airport, it is still cold 2-3 hours later when I land. However, if I have a layover or a long wait time from my meetings until flight time, a freezer pack is definitely necessary.

Pro Tip ::Most hotel refrigerators don’t have freezers to make sure the pack is cold enough; however, I have not met a front desk that won’t freeze it for you. Just don’t forget it at check out.

Second Pro Tip :: If you don’t end up taking a freezer bag or you forget (which has happened to me), I have taken storage bags and asked for ice at the airport bar to fill them up. It worked perfect!

TSA is never consistent.

There are rules. They are on the TSA website. I have read them all. And then there is real life. I have yet to meet a TSA attendant that was in line with the previous one. Actually, I have never met one that is consistent with another. Just know the rules and stick your ground. Most of all, give yourself some time. Sometimes it takes an extra 30 seconds. Sometimes going through security takes an extra 30 minutes.

I have had so many different ends of the spectrum. One scanned each 125+ bags individually. One didn’t scan them at all, but patted me down. One said that as long as they were under 3 ounces a bag, nothing needed to be done. One said that the bags were measuring wrong and there was obviously more than 3 ounces in there… I must have bought misprinted bags? One said that he could scan it all at once. One just merely looked inside and waved me on. One swiped everything on me, including my additional baggage that had nothing to do with my pumping bag.

I have had to ask for a supervisor twice for clarification. I have had to wait for a female because male wanted nothing to do with me and my milk. I have had no problems at all. Each time is a new experience.

Pro Tip :: Keep calm, know the basic rules, don’t argue, don’t let them throw away your milk, and ask for a supervisor. It’s honestly not as scary as all of that sounds but those are my baseline rules for TSA.

5 Tips for Flying and Pumping

Know before you go.

The first thing I do anymore before heading out for a flight is jump on over to Mom’s Pump Here website to see if the terminals that I will be visiting have a pumping room or mother’s room. Most mother’s rooms seem to be old family restrooms where the airport has ripped out the toilet and placed a well loved rocker or recliner in its spot. The outlets are not necessarily convenient nor is the bathroom all that updated. Most rooms actually don’t look like they have been touched since the airport has opened.

A few airports, however, have really stepped up their game. If you are lucky enough to visit an airport that has installed a Mamava, you are super lucky. These modular suites offer nursing mothers a clean and beautifully designed space to pump/nurse when they are away from home. My only experience with these pods was in the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and it was so nice to have!  I also really enjoy Chicago Midway International Airport’s Mother’s Room! It is one of my favorite and although not the most conveniently located for a Southwest flight, it is truly appreciated! Look how pretty it is!

5 Tips for Flying and Pumping

Pro Tip :: You can pump anywhere, not just in these nursing stations. There is always a family bathroom or something similar that you can find; however, you may find yourself standing and pumping while a family of five is pounding on the door. Just stay calm and be patient with the pumping process and others.

Second Pro Tip :: I have found myself pumping under a nursing cover a few times. Typically I try to find a very low traffic restaurant at one far end of a terminal and ask if I can sit in the corner. There is usually not an outlet so I carried with me a battery pack (along with a car adapter) for different situations.

Invest in a good pumping bag that is right for you.

I was really surprised when I was pregnant the lack of options there are out in the market for breast pump bags. My insurance-provided pump did not supply a bag with it and the Medela bag itself was outrageously priced. Thankfully, they have dropped the price a bit over the past year but it is still higher than I would like to see it, especially since I cannot seem to find a use for this style of bag post-pumping.

So I went on the hunt for a pumping bag that was right for me. I love my pumping bag! It snagged it at Target around spring time and honestly, it has served me well. It is the perfect size to carry onto a plane and holds everything I need. I went with the Mariekko insulated cooler tote and was able to find it on clearance for less than $20!! I love that it helps keep my milk chilled (even though I store it in a separate breastmilk cooler) and that after I am done, I have a cute and stylist cooler for picnics. Additionally, I love that the whole thing is easy to whip down if it gets dirty, it’s durable for flying, and it looks far less like a breast pump bag for my meetings!

You can still find these Mariekko on eBay if you are interested for close to original retail price… or keep your eyes open this spring and I’m sure Target will release something super similar.

Pro Tip :: If you are traveling a lot (more than a few times a month), I would highly suggest investing in a higher quality bag. Although I love my bag, it would not handle every week travel nor will it probably make it through another kid. I would suggest looking at Sarah Wells Bags as they look great. I’ve been eyeing one myself for over a year!

5 Tips for Flying and Pumping

Perfectly Pack Emergency Winter Car Kit

Perfectly Pack Emergency Winter Car Kit

I know I am a little late to the party but I am crying inside that the groundhog saw his shadow a few weeks ago. Although the midwest is being blessed with beautiful weather this week, I know deep down that we are going to have a terrible March winter storm when it should be spring. It is also a constant reminder that I am thankful that I finally put myself together a perfectly packed emergency winter car kit.

As a first mom there are things that come to me as a gut feeling. However, packing my car for emergencies must not have been one of them. Of course I know that my most used item as a mom is hands down diapers and wipes. I can go through countless boxes of these things and you can never pack enough. And of course, after a chilly ice storm in December, I became that mom that was not prepared for the winter months ahead of me. I found myself trapped at a gas station solo for hours with Ollie with two blown out diapers, one very messy blanket, and no spare clothes for my shivering little one. I felt horrible.

Thankfully, the gas station that I had found home to that evening was more like a truck stop and offered up their washer and dryer for Ollie to have some dry, clean clothes. Once I got home, I gathered myself up an emergency winter car kit. It was a super easy kit to put together, but it ensures that we are always prepared.

Here is what you need ::

Storage

I highly recommend a storage cube, because it folds up easily if it is in the way and lightweight. I keep mine in the trunk of the car. It is out of sight and keeps things organized. I was gifted mine during my baby shower; however, they are super easy to find and fairly cheap.

Perfectly Pack Emergency Winter Car Kit

Diapers

We are currently using Bambo Nature Baby diapers. I’m not picky with many diapers and I honestly haven’t found ones that I really love or really hate. These are pretty good. Bambo Baby diapers carry the official environmental Nordic Eco-Label, the Swan and are certified free of harsh and dangerous chemicals. They are certified non-toxic, hypoallergenic, eco-friendly, & they have transparent manufacturing process. They are a bit pricer than some diapers but we have found less skin irritation and nighttime leakage with them.

Wipes

I am loving Aldi’s baby wipes! They are hypoallergenic, fragrance and alcohol-free. The Little Journey Soothing Baby Wipes only include ingredients that have been thoroughly tested and proven to be safe. The ingredients used in the wipes are consistent with those used in the national brand wipes, which have been proven to be safe, reliable, and effective. They compared them to the Huggies brand… which I really dislike, but I disagree! We started out with Bambo Nature’s baby wipes and I would compare them so much more to these. They are so soft! I keep a pack of these wipes in our cube!

Small Ointment

I also keep a small sample size of diaper ointment in the cube just in case. While we don’t use it as much as we did when Ollie was a newborn, there are still those moments when I find myself needing some extra.

Perfectly Pack Emergency Winter Car Kit

Blanket

After Ollie had a major blow out all over his blanket, I believe having a spare in the trunk is a good practice for any winter month. It’s helpful to have just in case you get stuck on the side of the road or need a spare.

Winter Jacket

I hope everybody by now knows not to put their little ones in the car seat with their jackets on. It is unsafe. Because I was not bundling Ollie up in his jacket, when we were stuck during the ice storm, I also did not have it in the car! I typically just wrap him up tightly in a blanket to run in and out of place; however, now his jacket just lives in our emergency winter car kit. If we ever need it while we are at home, the car is always parked in the garage!

Perfectly Pack Emergency Winter Car Kit

Other Items

Over the winter months, I have also transition a few things to our emergency winter car kit including our baby carrier, gloves for myself, and our Binxy Baby shopping cart hammock. I could also see things like a baby ice scraper or a box of Kleenex living in there soon.

Overall, our car kit is starting to become an easy place to storage things that I typically forget to grab with me as a mom in an organized way. With quite a few more weeks until spring, I hope this helps you think simply and grab just what you need for your family this winter in your own emergency winter car kit!

72 Hours in San Antonio

72 Hours in San Antonio

We just arrived home from San Antonio last week and boy, was it amazing! San Antonio has to be Texas’ best kept secret. It was beautiful and there were so many things to do. I cannot wait to return there for a family vacation one day as it has definitely made it on as a great places to visit.

There are obviously many ways to see the city but I wanted to provided to you a little bit of what we did over our stay. I feel like we got to see a good portion of the historic and “must-do’s” without wearing ourselves down. We spent the weekend adventuring but we did a great job at relaxing as well. That’s how all vacations should be, right?!

Friday

We took an early flight into the city and arrive to our hotel around 1pm, just in time for lunch. Staying on the Riverwalk is a must. You are smack dab in the middle of everything. We dropped off our luggage in the room and quickly found a bit to eat!

Rio Rio or Casa Rio would be my top two recommendations. Casa Rio is one of the original eateries to the Riverwalk and looked amazing; however, they had a bit of a wait to we opted for Rio Rio. It was delicious and their Tex-Mex was top notch. Both venues are right on the river and the view from your seat inside or outside of the restaurant is quite adorable.

After our bellies were full, we hopped onto the boat tour of the Riverwalk. I am so glad that we did this earlier in our trip. It really gave us a lay of the land early. We had a good idea of what was and was not on the Riverwalk itself as well as we learned a ton of history about the city. Our tour guide was funny, charming, and super informative. We typically try to steer ourselves away from super touristy things like this in cities… but this is something you do not want to miss. You just can’t find these history facts out by exploring yourself. It is definitely worth the 30 minutes of your time and the $10 out of your pocketbook.

Because we knew we had a late night ahead of us… and we had already had an early flight, we opted for a late afternoon nap each day. So after our boat tour, we headed back to our room for a nap and shower before our dinner.

72 Hours in San Antonio

72 Hours in San Antonio

Friday Night

Dusty and I went to San Antonio for a little bit of work and a little bit of play. I am so grateful to work for a company that helps us do this — a holiday party each and every year! This is how we ended up in Sant Antonio in the first place, so our Friday night itinerary was a bit pre-planned for us. We headed down the Riverwalk to Acenar, a bit more upscale restaurant, for some great food and drinks, followed by a social hour with work folks.

I would highly suggest the restaurant and then exploring some of the Riverwalk in all its vibrancy. It is beautiful at night and if you arrive a bit later in the afternoon, take the boat tour that night after dinner! I have heard that it was even prettier of a ride in the nighttime.

Because it was vacation, we finished up our evening at one of the local ice cream depots on the Riverwalk before bed, but there was a Ghiradelli’s nearby as well. Our hotel was attached to the Rivercenter Mall which also had a pretty typical mall atmosphere. The shops were open late and hot spots like Dave & Busters, Improv Comedy Club, Margaritaville, and others were super close by.

72 Hours in San Antonio

Saturday

After our morning coffee and workout, we headed straight over to the Pearl Brewery complex. Do not be confused by the name… there is no brewery, just the building from the old beer crafting facilities; however, they have remade this cute little area into a must-visit. One of a kind shops and restaurants flooded the three to four block area. With residential housing above, this area is filled with a flea market on the weekends. We were able to eat some amazing local Mexican street food from some of the booths for breakfast and completed a walking tour of the grounds by an adorable older man filling in for his wife, the normal tour guide.

We finished out our stay at the Pearl Brewery area with a late lunch at La Gloria, owned and operated by a famous local chef Johnny Hernandez. Definitely some great tacos, margaritas, and salsa!

After the our time at the Pearl, we stopped by the Alamo. We weren’t even going to go, because again, touristy; however, the Alamo was just a few blocks away off of the Riverwalk and was so close to our hotel, it was hard to pass up. If you are a history buff, I would definitely suggest it and the rest of the stops on the Missions Trail. The trail starts at the Alamo and continues down the river walk for quite a few miles. I know a few coworkers that biked to the closest few, but if it is in the middle of summer for your visit… or you are just not that into biking, there are guided bus tours that will drive you to each one and tell you all the history you need to know about them.

Just visiting the Alamo, accompanied by the historical information 17 minute video, helped us appreciate the grounds and Texas history overall. I am not sure this sort of stuff was in the Illinois grade school text books and I really enjoyed learning about some of the roots of the city and culture before we walked around the complex. Followed by a nap, our day was pretty full. It was off to our company’s evening event for dinner and dancing.

72 Hours in San Antonio

72 Hours in San Antonio

72 Hours in San Antonio

Saturday Night

Obviously, your Saturday night may look a bit different than ours did; however, there are still tons of things to do that we just did not have time for. San Antonio is home to the NBA team, the San Antonio Spurs, which would be awesome if they are in town. You can also look up local events that may fit your fancy a bit more than NBA basketball. While we were in town, Monster Jam was going on at the Alamo Dome, or for a short drive up to the north of downtown, there are some great upper-end outdoor shopping areas called …. which also includes a trampoline park, indoor skydiving, and a Top Golf. If you are not wanting to adventure much out of the city core, the Alamo is suppose to have an amazing video/light show around 9 pm that we didn’t even get to see. Our boat tour guide told us that it was really popular.

Sunday

On Sunday morning, we headed straight to the Historic Market Square for our brunch. Being the largest Mexican market outside of Mexico, this place was just filled with culture and great food and such a perfect breakfast spot in San Antonio! We were able to snag a table pretty early at …. but this place fills up fast. At minimum, grab an item from their bakery to hold you over until the street vendors get up and running because everything we had from there was delicious!!

We spent a few hours at the Market Square shopping at the indoor and outdoor vendors that the market had to offer and I was able to snag the most adorable traditional Mexican blanket for Oliver’s room. How cute, right?!

And because it was vacation… we took another amazing afternoon nap!

72 Hours in San Antonio

72 Hours in San Antonio

72 Hours in San Antonio

Sunday Night

We spent our last night in San Antonio back on the Riverwalk. We did not spend hardly enough time down here, to be quite honest. There are so many great looking restaurants for dining and drinks. We opted for some dinner at The Republic of Texas for something a bit more hardy and little Tex-Mex. The Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes were simply delicious. Of course, we had some more great margaritas and chips and salsa to accompany them. We finished out our evening at the Agave Bar for some more local brews and some football.

72 Hours in San Antonio

Monday

We had the luxury of not flying out of San Antonio until later in the day on Monday, so we were able to rent a car after checking out of our hotel and heading to D&B Ice Bar, a local and uber delicious BBQ joint for an early lunch. After a weekend full of amazing Tex-Mex, I am so glad that we did not miss out on some good ol’ Texan BBQ. Coming from St. Louis and having a pretty high standard for BBQ, I wouldn’t say that D&B had the best ever; however, their favor was super good. It was peppery and sweet and nothing like I have had before. I would definitely make it back when we return and the locals rate the place pretty high. Plus they have a huge list of local brews for $4 a can before 4 pm and great outdoor seating that allowed us to soak in all that last-minute sunshine.

We finished our afternoon pre-flight by walking around The Shops at La Cantera that I mentioned earlier.

Overall, San Antonio is a great weekend trip! Even though we did things a bit unconventional with some work activities in the middle of our trip, I think that a typical couple could explore the highlights of the city in a three day weekend.

72 Hours in San Antonio

72 Hours in San Antonio

72 Hours in San Antonio

72 Hours in San Antonio

San Antonio Weekend

Weekend in San Antonio 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

This weekend we are headed to San Antonio! Dusty and I have an entire weekend to spend together and enjoy each other’s time without Ollie. Of course, we will miss our little one, but in between my travel schedule at work and some upcoming travel for Dusty as well, one of us will be riding solo each week through mid-March. It will be so nice to just hang out with one another and take some time to connect in the warmer weather. These were just a few things that made my suitcase for the weekend.

Any suggestions for our weekend in San Antonio? Right now we have minimal plans but would love to hear your recommendations. Please shoot them over to us. We’ll be updating our trip on Instagram!

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

When we started to plan our babymoon to Disney, I knew it would be different. I was not prepared mentally on how different of a trip this was going to be. We did a lot of things right and some things I would totally do differently and take slower. I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to go on many of the rides at Disney World during this trip. I knew that I could watch the shows and other entertainment that Disney provided but other than that I was unsure. Many people thought we were nuts for doing Disney while 27 weeks pregnant; however, we had a blast! Here are my top 10 tips for doing Disney pregnant!

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

1. Wear comfortable clothing.

This can be said for anybody really; however, really think about what you are going to be most comfortable in. On a normal, non-pregnant park day, I usually can be found in a tank top or t-shirt and cuffed jeans. However, for my pregnancy trip, I opted for a super thin tank and shorts to make sure that I did not overheat. Even in March, this pregnant gal was warm and I was super thankful for less restricting clothing and my maternity tank from PinkBlush.

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

2. Think about your shoes.

Again, any park goer should think about their shoes. I opted for my Sanuk Yoga Sling flip flops. They are super comfy and if my feet were to swell up any (which they didn’t), the cloth sling would have been the least restricting on my feet. We also made sure that when we took breaks that I propped my feet on another chair to minimize the chances of swelling.

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

3. Water + snacks.

I take my CamelBak Eddy Water Bottle pretty much wherever I go. Disney is no exception. There are water foundations everywhere and it really saves me a lot of money as well as helps both Dusty and I keep hydrated throughout the day. I also always pack a handful of snacks for the day to keep us well fed in-between meals. We also opt to do two lunches to keep our energy going. We typically split one quick service lunch around 11am before the lunch rush, hit up the rides while they are slower, and then return for our second quick service split lunch around 2pm to 4pm. Making sure that you are keeping up your energy for all the extra walking throughout the day is a necessity.

4. Enjoy more relaxing rides.

Originally I was really bummed about all of the rides that I could not do, but once I got to the parks, it really did not phase our trip much. Yes I would have loved to go on Space Mountain, but I know that we will be back with our baby boy soon and this trip was just not the trip for thrilling rides. Instead, we focused on shoppings, shows, and the more relaxing rides. There were a handful of rides that Dusty had never even been on because we typically shoot for the more popular, thrilling ones. I was amazed by how much I enjoyed Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival, Journey Into Imagination With Figment, and Mickey’s PhilharMagic.

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

5. Take a mid-day break.

This was a easy transition for us on our park day during our babymoon because it rained for three hours in the middle of the afternoon. Instead of fighting the rain, we were able to hop on the monorail and ride quickly back to the Polynesian for a refresher. Dusty was able to go to the gym and I rested a bit with a delightful bath bomb. It also allowed up to avoid the “drown rat” look that we gracious received with the down pour after lunch. We were able to make it back to a new park by late afternoon and felt great!

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

6. Schedule your Fast Passes.

For me, I like to schedule all of my fast passes earlier in the day back-to-back. This allowed us to have a plan for the morning, and we were able to be more flexible in the afternoon. The pregnant-friendly fast passes that I choose for our morning at the Magic Kingdom were Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

What I would do differently is not space my fast passes all over the park. I did do it in a good order where we could easily move from one side of the park to the other without backtracking through lands; however, with my back-to-back timing, it was hard to waddle my pregnancy body through the lands as quickly as usually. If we did this again, I would probably focus more on having my fast passes on one half of the park and in a condensed time frame, still allowing us to have the afternoon and evening less structured and still being able to take advantage of the fast pass perks.

7. Explore non-park adventures.

One of my favorite things that we did the entire trip was actually not park-related at all. Dinner at California Grill during the Magic Kingdom fireworks was absolutely amazing. We were able to spend the day relaxing at Disney Springs and exploring our resort. We finished up the evening by getting dressed up and having our weekly “date night” with the most fantastic view. The dinner itself was delicious, but a little pricey. California Grill is definitely a treat dinner, and not normal occurrence for us on a Disney vacation. I think it was perfect for us to wrap up our babymoon.

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

8. Do not overdo it.

Overall, I am so so glad that we did Disney for our babymoon; however, as much as I could not fathom it prior, it was a different experience than the past. It was slower, more stops, and more exhausting. On a day-to-day, I feel fairly normal so I did not understand how this could really change our park hopping process during the trip. It did. I was tired. I was worn out. I moved slower. I waddled more.

Just do not overdo it. I am glad that we spent most of our week at Vero Beach and excited that we were able to have the one day at the parks, but more than that would have been an even slower paced experience. We woke up late. We hit the bed early. We took naps and breaks. All of these things made the trip better overall.

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

  1. 9. Take lots of photos.

Dusty and I have opted not to have maternity photos taken during our pregnancy. Not because we are anti-maternity photo shoots, but with a babymoon, house renovations, and all the other expenses that comes with a baby, a maternity photo shoot did not make the cut. We did take TONS of photos at Disney and purchased a one day Memory Maker from our trip. It was totally worth the investment. I only saw this option to purchase the one day pass ($59 at the time) on the MyDisneyExperience app itself, and not on the website. We had the best time taking a moment here and there maximizing our photo opportunities throughout the park. We even had the sweetest PhotoPass photographer that ventured out with us through Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival and took some “maternity photo shoot”-like photographs. This was his own idea and I cannot express how much it just made our day!

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

10. Have tons of fun!

Disney is the place to have fun, so do it! Enjoy the day, take it easy, and maximize on the rides and shows that ideal for your stage of pregnancy. We went during my 27th week and I could not have loved the experience anymore. Yes, there was rain. Yes, I was tired. Yes, the entire experience was a wee-bit different than the last times we have been there. I enjoyed every moment we had. It was such a great vacation with Dusty before our whole world changes and we get to meet our little guy!

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant

10 Tips for Doing Disney Pregnant