Stroller review: Mutsy

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Oh the choices for strollers we have! So many options and even more opinions. I figured I might as well contribute to the opinionated voices out there and share my experience with the very first stroller we purchased! 

(click on this link to check it out, its currently on sale)

I found it on Instagram (is shopping via IG the new Pinterest?), fell in love with the simple design and after reading some reviews decided to go for it! Since then we’ve taken it with us to Ireland, Paris, France, and a at least 5 states. After having the stroller for a year, I’m convinced it was the perfect choice!

The first time I took this baby out for a walk was when he was 2 days old and we walked to an appointment at the hospital in our neighborhood. I took our dog with us (she was being walked by my sister while we were at the appointment) and it reminded me about the first time that I took the stroller out while pregnant and started training my dog on how to walk with a stroller.

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We kept the pram downstairs and baby boy napped there during the day as our pup watched over him.

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Our first trip with the baby was when he was 3 weeks old. We only traveled about an hour away from our home, but I was so nervous! Probably overpacked, but we had an amazing time and we all survived!

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Last year in December when Rollo was just barely 2 months old we took our little family to San Diego, CA for a little Christmas get away. Traveling in the airport with this pram was great, he was able to nap there, it was easy to transport him around and change diapers too. It worked out so much better then a car seat since we took the pram everywhere with us and walked everywhere when in San Diego. I didn’t have time to buy a bag for the stroller, and it turned out fine, the airport and gate check people handled our stroller carefully and I found no scratches or issues after.

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Happy to say that even in the snow the stroller handled perfectly! The wheels didn’t get stuck or have issues going through areas that are not plowed.

The car seat we used came with adapters for the stroller and was very easy to install. One of my favorite features was the car seat cover, it came in so handy while driving in the car for a road trip or regular daily stuff. I was able to get baby to sleep while walking with friends and the cover was breathable and sun blocking. I actually miss the cover since the convertible car seat is all exposed to the sun rays while in the car.

 

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This was fun to go back through memories and adventures this stroller took us on.

My favorite features:

  • Fold down handle, its the easiest at restaurants and tight spaces
  • The storage space under the stroller
  • The pram attachment
  • How easy it is to fold it down and open it up
  • The sleek and sexy style, simple yet so elegant

Not so great:

  • I wish that it folded together into one piece instead of two separate pieces. It would be so much easier for travel
  • When traveling I miss having a bag to store it in. They make bags for car seats when you travel, and that’s what I would have loved to have to be able to protect it from scratches
  • It would be great to have an attachable cup holder. I bought a different one and made it work, but it would have been nice to have a cup holder that was designed for it

In case you missed the link earlier, click here to look at more details on the website, the exact one we have is on sale right now.

I hope you enjoyed the review and the pictures! If you have a Mutsy stroller, what’s your favorite part about it?

xx

L.

 

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Grand Canyon Railway Tour

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If you’ve never been to Grand Canyon, you have to go!

A couple of years ago we drove past it and ever since then I regretted the fact that we did stop to see it. I would have loved to hike and explore it but that’s not very easy with a baby. So this year we had the opportunity to visit Grand Canyon with our baby boy and I wanted to share some of our favorite moments!

We had a great time and loved this package from the Railway Hotel in Williams. You can find more details here and watch their video here. The video preview is really what sold us on it and got us very excited about doing it with our baby!

We chose to take the grand canyon tour via bus, and it was perfect for our family! They drove us around and stopped at each location to see the view, talked about history and details that otherwise we wouldn’t have known, and best of all, it was super easy with a baby! He slept on the bus ride, then woke up in time for us to walk around the canyon views and take some photos! It was very hot outside so having a bus that’s air-conditioned was the best!

What no one tells you is that the Grand Canyon is at 8000 feet elevation, its very dry and feels hotter outside then it actually is. At night it gets cold, but not by much. It was uncomfortably hot even though it was technically only 80 degrees out. So research the weather for the season in which you plan on going.

The train entertainment was very fun! There were musicians singing (lots of country music), robbers who go on the train from chasing it on horses, a sherif who was then chasing after them, just over all very family friendly.

 

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We brought a sign home as a souvenir too. 
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Our train. The dome observing deck was really cool, but they don’t allow kids under 2 years old up there, if you look at the pictures from their website, it’s really cool views! 

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His teeth crack me up! Just the night before his third tooth broke thru even though you couldn’t see it yet.
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Part of the entertainment on the train. The robbers got on the train from horses and were robbing the people on the train. You could leave out cash and things if you wanted them to rob you. They loved the baby of course.
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How cute are they!?

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Everyone loved the baby on the train, even the conductor came by for a photo!
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Just hanging out on the bus!
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Someone was very good and took a nice nap on the train and on the bus waking up right in time for us to walk the rim of the Canyon.
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What it was really like taking photos with this kiddo! After about 100 takes we had a good one. If you have kids, you know the struggle.

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XX

L.

 

30 Tips for traveling with a baby

Traveling with a baby soon?

That’s awesome!

We have taken our baby on more weekend trips then I can count and we love having him with us wherever we go! I am certainly no expert, but I do feel like I’ve collected some tips that works for us and maybe they will be helpful to you!

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This is focusing on traveling via car, short distance that takes less then a day and hotel life vs. apartment renting.

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Hotel 

Use a map when booking. I always check expedia.com first for the locations of nearby hotels; all the options show up and you can view the map with the little pin drops for hotels to pick your location. Sometimes looking at it on a map makes all the difference because you can stay at a hotel next to the water, or on the water, next to a golf course or a museum; it all depends on what you like to do at your destination.

Book via the hotel’s website. Like I mentioned earlier, I always check expedia.com first to compare prices and find the location on the map where we want to stay. After having to pay for a room and not being able to cancel our reservation I learned to always book the hotel using their website. The price is usually the same on the website as it is on sites like Expedia, if there is a difference I would recommend calling the hotel directly (call front desk not the reservations number if they give you a hard time) 99% of the time they will match the price you see online if its a different then what their website is. Domestically we prefer to use Holiday Inn vs Hilton because of better accommodations and Holiday Inn always had breakfast included where we have stayed so far, so its a bonus and a cost saver!

Walking distance. If I can find it, I will always try to book a hotel or Homeaway or Air BnB with walking distance to sites and venues we plan to visit. It doesn’t always work out, but when it’s a city big enough it’s worth paying the extra $50-100 a night to be able to walk to dinner, shopping, diaper run, pharmacy (I needed it one time when we were in a different state), and groceries (especially if you have a kitchen where you are staying). Having accommodations with the ability to walk almost anywhere is how we booked all of our stays since having the baby. We take the car if we are not flying or the trip is shorter distance, but even then, it’s just easier to get essentials and be able to transport a stroller at all times. This comes in handy when your baby is still small and naps several times a day.

Hotel room cancelations. If you book with the hotel directly, they may offer a generous cancelation policy, but when you book via expedia.com, trivago.com or priceline.com you will most likely have to pay extra for “flexibility.” Flexibility is the state of mind for parents of infants and toddlers. Because you just never know!!! What if you have to cancel your entire trip, which has happened to us, and what if you make a reservation for the wrong day by accident? (also happened to us). Being able to call the hotel directly to sort it out is much easier to make changes than dealing with Expedia, trust me!

Upgrade to a bigger room for free. Yes, for FREE! What I learned from staying at many different hotels, is that each hotel has 2-3 (or depending on the size of the hotel sometimes more) handicap-accessible rooms. These rooms have extra space, bigger bathrooms, and often a walk in closet, and a couch or a separate seating area. It’s so much easier to have space for a crib and not sit in the dark after the baby is tucked in for the night, because the room is so small that you cannot turn any lights on!  Rather than booking these rooms with all the others, hotels keep some of them reserved in case someone comes in who needs those accommodations. These will typically be the last rooms they assign on a given night. My tip is: when you check in (not when you book) ask for a handicap accessible room. They will decide if they can let you have the room or if they should keep it for individuals who will actually need it. What do you have to lose?

Ask for a crib. Every hotel domestically and internationally will provide portable cribs, aka pack and play. Even Airbnb places where we stayed, not all of them, but most will have a crib they can provide. Some will list it as an option on their page so you can know if it’s an option before you make the reservation.

Or bring a crib. If you absolutely love your pack and play or another version of a baby bed at home and invested good money in it, AND if you have space for it in your travels I would say bring it with you! I had to request a different crib once because the first one was so wobbly and I could tell my baby wasn’t comfortable there.

Travel insurance. When applicable, buy it! We had an issue once and sometimes the airline or the hotel will not even talk to you about the issue you have if you don’t have travel insurance, or insurance for your flights. With a baby, again, you just don’t know what to expect and it’s worth it to be prepared to cancel or reschedule the trip if you needed to.

Bring a toy box. What’s amazing to me is how our baby loves to take toys out of a box! If you’re traveling light, bring a folding box and put the toys that you choose to bring with you in it so your baby can take them out and spread out on the floor playing. If you don’t have a box, you can use a plastic shopping bag, like the reusable kind they offer for $1 at most grocery stores, the bag makes crinkly noise and the handles will add extra fun to play with. When you have a crawling or just a very busy baby it helps to entertain them and keep them out of your arms while in the hotel room. When we travel via car I will often bring a reusable shopping bag from Wegmans and keep the toys in there, the bag is easy to clean with baby wipes too!

Save money. When ever possible, stay with friends or family. We found out that if we make a goal to spend only a certain amount the entire weekend and do not go out to shop for anything other then groceries, our trips are much cheaper and we eat healthier because we cook our own food. This is especially the case if you are like us and have to travel to visit family and old friends. Every time we go back to visit we stay with parents or in-laws and that’s a great way to save on lodging alone!

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AirBnB

Booking tips. Similar to when looking for a hotel, use a map to decide where exactly you wish to stay, neighborhood, street, corner. If you are in a big city, you will have a lot of options to choose from! We used airbnb.com in NYC, Dublin, Ireland, Paris, France, and have a couple more places booked where we plan to travel in the next few months.

I will be talking about our experience with Airbnb on the blog tomorrow, so make sure to subscribe and get an email notification when it goes live! I will have full details on what we did well and where we learned from mistakes. I will include pictures from the fabulous apartments we rented in Europe, so make sure to check back in tomorrow!

Traveling by car

Walking naps. Health goals do not need to change when you travel. We started taking our Bob Jogging stroller on short trips that we take by car. It allows us to take a walk together as a family when baby needs a nap. As he got older he was so much more alert of everything (after 7/8 months) it became very difficult to get him down for a nap. Walking or even running while he naps once a day is a great way we are able to stick to our health goals.

Stroller accessories. When you are short on space or simply don’t have the space in your trunk, consider this guy! Scout is a great accessory to keep around when you are traveling and need to have your space in the trunk for luggage. This is an attachment to the back of your car that will allow you to safely and efficiently transport your jogging stroller without taking the extra space inside the vehicle. This carrier works on jogging strollers only.

Sleeping in the car and timing. After more weekend road trips that we can count in the last 9 months with our baby one thing we make sure to do that makes our life SO much easier while on the road! When we choose the time to leave, either to get on the road to our destination or to come back home, we always plan it around baby’s sleep schedule. If the drive is 5 hours or less, we plan our leave at 6:30-7 pm, which is baby’s bed time. It allows us to drive straight to the destination without stopping to take breaks. If it is unavoidable to drive during his night sleep, we still plan it around nap time and usually he will sleep the entire way or at least most of it in the car seat. We’ve had some trips when poor baby was not happy in the car ride, had 2 blow outs in a row and cried for an hour before falling asleep. I recommend a routine for baby to make sure that they sleep well – more on that below.

Car music. Every time we are in the car and expect baby to sleep we play the same lullaby melody on a cd, there are also apps available and a couple options on Pandora to create a play list that works for your baby. I sometimes play the same music at home at bedtime so my baby knows it as sleep time. He is usually asleep before the end of the first lullaby in the car. After he is sound asleep we change the music to our liking with of course considering a sleeping baby in the car. Use your own discretion, you know how your baby sleeps best.

Tucking in. A sleeping baby while you are driving is the absolute best!! Even as I am writing this blog, we are coming back home from a weekend trip and baby boy is sound asleep. At home you probably have a very specific routine that you follow exactly in the same steps every night, I think it’s similar that your baby needs a tucking in routine when you travel by car and you are signaling to them that this is night night time. Make sure that it’s the same every time you expect baby to sleep in the car for a long time, and make sure that awake time in the car seat is different so they know what they are expected to do. My baby likes to have his face half covered as he is falling asleep. I usually use a swaddle blanket because its so breathable. I cover half his face so he has some light but also has that comfort like when his face is shoved into my arm; he would usually pull up the blanket to cover his face completely if he is comforting himself as he’s falling asleep on his own in the crib or in the stroller. So I do the same thing for him in the car seat. I tuck him in, with the blanket on one side of his so he can hold on to it or just lean his face into it and sleep. It works every time!

Car seat cover. I wish there was a car seat cover like the ones they make for infant car seats! It would come in so handy while traveling when you need your baby to sleep but the sun is too bright. I use an old black scarf of mine, tie it around the arm holder (the one above the window of the car, I don’t know the official name of it), and then I drape it around the car seat to block out the sun and create a cocoon type of environment with light that’s not too bright for sleep. I’ve tried a few different window coverings to block out the sun and none of them work for us! If you find a better way to have a car seat cover for a regular car seat, please let me know!!!

Car seat Canopy. This thing is genius! Maxi Cosi car seat canopy (obviously only works with Maxi cosi car seats) If you are still in search of a car seat for your growing baby, this is a good one to consider! It’s so convenient to have a canopy to shade from the sun, it’s my favorite feature of this car seat!

Nursing while driving. If you traveled by car with an infant and you are exclusively breastfeeding, you’ve done it! I know every mom thinks that their baby is super particular to what they like and don’t like, and it’s true, no one know your baby like you do! Mine hate bottles. Since birth he still has not taken to a bottle, so when we drive on a longer trip and he’s fussy due to hunger I’ve done the most uncomfortable thing you can do in a car – hunch over and breastfeed while he’s in the car seat. Sometimes you have to. (if you’ve done it you know the pain in my lower back and the tingling in the leg after being in the most awkward set up) Thank God for tinted windows in our car!

Sleep accessories. I always bring the sound machine and the baby monitor with us. Especially on weekend trips where we would stay in a place with more then 1 bedroom, it allows us to have time to ourselves and have the baby monitor to keep an eye on the sleeping baby. The sound machine is always with us at home and during travels. I turn it on when we start our night routine and it tells him to start relaxing and prepare for night sleeps. If your baby is a light sleeper it may be a good idea to have the sound machine on in the car as well. I often use it in the stroller when we are in public because then he’s less likely to be startled by random bursts of noises. If you can have a hotel room with a separate sleeping bedroom you’re going to love having the baby monitor and enjoy an evening to yourself without worrying about waking the baby with noises or lights.

Travel Gear

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Stroller. Picking the right stroller for your travel is so important! Is there anyone else like me who has an obsession with strollers? I want them all! Ok, it’s bad, and I will be doing a review on a couple of strollers in the next few weeks as I am still testing out one I got recently. P.s. some of my recommendations I have not personally tried, but I have heard amazing reviews and some of these are on my wish list. (feel free to send it to me for my honest opinion)

It depends on where you are going.

Outdoors like beach, hiking, hills, fields, and running trails – BOB All terrain Stroller

Disney, amusement parks, water parks, zoo and state fairs – Austlen Stroller  : the most compact stroller with the absolute most storage space for all the stuff your family will need for all day outings.

City life and short distance travels – Quinny x Rachel Zoe Moodd Jet Stroller: perfect for kids who need to be occupied and feel like they’re running the show! I love the front handle bar for babies to hold on to!

City life, subways, lots of walking and exploring – Musty NEXO: Compact, easy to fold and carry but allows decent amount of storage.

The smallest stroller, for the family with very little storage in the car and a need for a stroller that’s better then a cheap umbrella stroller – GB Pockit.

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I know that there are crazy long lists of strollers to pick from, these are just some of the options that work great for travel. For every day life we use Mutsy Evo, it also comes with us very often on vacations and trips because its compact compared to others I looked at, it offers good storage space and it reclines fully.

Car Seat. There are so many options for car seats! I know you moms do your research on what fits best for safety, style, price and functionality of a car seat, so this is just my opinion on what we use. When I researched for an infant car seat to me it was important that it was gender neutral and lightweight. This Maxi Cosi car seat is only 9 pounds and worked for us amazingly! I have a big baby boy and we transitioned into a Forever Graco car seat when he was 7 months old, even though he still fit into it weight and height per recommendation of the company, he would get really hot and sweat a lot because it’s super breathable (great for winter since he was born in October it was perfect) and my baby is a heat machine!

Activities in the car

Scavenger hunt. This is a print out game that’s perfect for the bigger kids and will be a lot of fun!

Printable road games. I am a very creative person and I love making art, but I also believe that you shouldn’t recreate the wheel. This blog post has 25 printable road games that are fantastic and I am sure your kids will love them!

Coloring travel game. For bigger kids this is perfect to create a competition, I am saving it for the future when I will need for our trips! Click here to print this License Plate Coloring Map. 

Lego Tic-tac-toe to go. Seriously, mamas, you are so creative! I am so inspired and can’t wait to try these games with our family in the future! This lego game is super when you have more then one kid to keep up with in the back seat.

Do me a huge favor, when you try these games with your family, let me know what you think of them and most importantly, let me know what your kids think of them! Check out my Pinterest wall to get more ideas for traveling with kids, games and other ideas.

And then some

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Packing light. Our first trip to visit family after the baby was born we packed the entire car, and the trunk, then realized that our dog was supposed to come with us and had to take a second car to fit all of us. (We have a great dane) We learned how to pack light. My tip for you is to pick out an outfit for yourself that you will wear each day you will be out of town. Then bring an extra shirt just in case you get spit on, or worse – a diaper situation.

For baby clothes I recommend packing:

  • 2 outfits per day, if you have a situation of blow outs or food spills, you have options. Perhaps bring 1 sweater if you are worried about weather changes, depending on the climate of course.
  • 1 pair of shoes for the baby, which you will probably not even put on them unless its winter time or if you have a toddler.
  • Enough diapers for 2 days, if you are staying longer then that, you can always buy more.
  • 2 blankets and 2 swaddle blankets, a black out curtain because it helps baby sleep better in a blackout place when everything is so exciting in the new environment.
  • We always end up shopping for baby clothes or for ourselves when we travel and it’s great when we plan properly and have enough space in our luggage to come back home with new stuff.

Usually between my husband, myself and our baby we have 1 carry on luggage, 1 diaper bag (I use this one) and my purse, if I expect us to go out without a baby I will sometimes bring a clutch. If we are traveling and staying with family/friends/ or airbnb we will often bring a “kitchen” bag with our french press, some ground coffee, some food for us when we get in and snacks for the road.

I talked about traveling with an infant by car in a different post you can read here.

Chinese food. After a couple of trips that made our arrival very stressful (mostly because we were too hungry and tired to decide on food choices) we decided to make a new family tradition. When we arrive at our destination we order Chinese takeout. When it’s daytime, which is rare because of how we schedule our drive time, we go to our favorite coffee shops for lattes and pastry. Chinese take out in Danbury, CT is still our favorite out of all we’ve had. We ended up eating Chinese take out 3 times that weekend.

 

Do you have any family traditions when you travel? Perhaps a special take out or hang out spot or a favorite movie to watch? Comment below, I’d love to hear what you do!

Falling in love with Dublin

Ireland is the first country we traveled to as a family. My husband recently found out that he is 10% Irish  and another couple % from Europe, so this trip to Dublin was rather spontaneous. (we were originally planning to go to London until about 2 weeks before we left)

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We traveled via Aer Lingus and had a great time! It seems like Europeans are very family and baby friendly, which we just loved! We had a problem with our original tickets, so we purchased our ticket to Dublin from JFK a couple hours from departure, even so, we were seated first row (hello leg room!) next to another family. They also had a bassinet that attached to the wall so the baby can sleep in there. The family next to us used it, and we didn’t ask for one this time.

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Once we arrived, I was so tired! Of course the long weekend traveling prior to this flight, the packing and the over night flight, add the hunger and a baby to take care of.. and then we were picked up (we basically had a driver take us to our airbnb apartment).

and that’s when I fell in love with Dublin.

Just driving the streets towards where we were staying, the architecture, the buildings and the sun, it all made me so excited to be there!

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The thing is, since my husband is the Irish one, this trip was for him. What I looked forward to on this vacation was Paris – that was a gift for my birthday. (I talked about my birthday fails and crazies in an earlier post here) I was waiting until Paris and did not expect to have a good time in Dublin.

Then I fell in love.

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Let’s start with the apartment!

It just spoke to me. From the pictures online until we walked into the building, I was just mesmerized! It was a million dollar apartment, (probably worth more actually), in the best of neighborhoods, fully furnished, and the 25 foot high ceiling made me feel like I was in a museum.

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Opening the door into the apartment for the first time. And yes, he’s a great husband who carries my pink diaper bag.

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The photos do not do it justice. We later found out that this apartment is usually rented out to movie stars/producers when they come to film and stay for a few months at a time. It really feels like home.

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These incredibly large windows allowed for only the best light for a selfie!

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We’re standing in front of the door into our building. I miss saying “our building” because it really felt like a dream living there for a few days.
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The best was a french press and a fully loaded kitchen ready for us to use!

I’ll talk about our experience with airbnb in the next few days, but seriously, aren’t you convinced? (subscribed, or be sure to check in the next week or so to get a list of our top tips and must haves when looking at airbnb apartments to stay wherever your travels take you)

Then there was food.

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We found the cutest coffee station at the public market. It was across the street from our apartment every Thursday. This truck was an old ambulance car from the 50s in the south of France. They even showed us the pieces they left in the truck that showed its history. The espresso was as good as the story of their truck!

I love beef and Ireland is a beef country! We enjoyed some great food! (it is entirely possibly that on this trip I liked food better in Dublin then in Paris, and we had amazing food in Paris)

Restaurants we would recommend:

FX Buckley’s amazing meats! I had the best steak I’ve ever had, like ever in my entire life! They had an incredible selection of meat that was locally grown, or within the region. Rollo was so tired he ate some food and passed out for a nap, I laid him down on the seat/bench next to me for a long nap and enjoyed my meal.

Matt the Thresher  – this restaurant had amazing food and drinks selection and they were the most baby friendly. They were accommodating and had good space, especially for a big city restaurant; we were able to come in and have the stroller and a high chair next to our table, where in other places we couldn’t even bring the stroller inside because of lack of room. Our favorites here were french fries with truffle cheese and the beef stew pie.

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We left this beautiful city with nothing but good memories and a strong desire to go back.

Traveling with a baby certainly limits some places where you can go, but it didn’t stop us from having a great time. It rained on us, so we bought a rain cover for the stroller and went on with what we planned. The sun was out and we were so excited to enjoy this beautiful city and walked around for hours looking at buildings to see if there was anyone famous who used to live there.

Thank you for being so charming and lovely. I miss you Dublin.

Until next time.

L.

 

Picnic at the Eiffel Tower

Our recent trip to Paris was so fun!

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Naturally, you can’t go to Paris and not visit the Eiffel tower!

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Fun fact: my husband speaks french and has been to the country 13 times and not been even close to the tower. When we went together for the first time, and his 14th time in the country, I found a hotel with the view of the tower from our bedroom window, and made him go to visit! We climbed all the stars and took the elevator to the very top! He doesn’t think the tower is as ugly as he used to, but he’s still not a fan, which makes him the only human being I know who isn’t wowed by the Eiffel tower.

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We didn’t have a photographer following us around, so the photos may be a little blurry taken with my iPhone. In the end, we decided to leave the camera back in the States (it wasn’t a good idea because of what happened to the camera, long story), yet the memories we made mean just so much!

Back at home we have a bread guy. He lives on our street and sells bread at the public market. On Saturdays my husband walks over to his house to pick up french baguettes and pain au chocolat, they taste just like they do in Paris, which is basically the impossible right?!

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I love Rollo’s hair here! It’s so wild! 

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Fact: we ate bread every day. During this picnic we had a full loaf my husband and I ate and it was the perfect lunch! Because when on vacation calories don’t count right?

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The only pair of heels I brought with me. This trip I was so good at packing!!

There were soldiers walking around Champ de Mars and only days later it made sense since there was an incident at Notre Dame. With so many people out walking and hanging out near the Eiffel tower it was definitely noticeable that the security was increased significantly.

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What we brought with us to the picnic:

(stroller comes in super handy in this case)

  • Baguette
  • Foie gras
  • Camembert (one of my favorite cheeses)
  • Saucisson (my husbands favorite meat to eat in France)
  • White wine, my husband even chilled it so it was perfect!
  • Cups/dishes, thankfully our airbnb host had plates we could use.
  • A sheet. Yup, we couldn’t find a blanket so we ended up using a plain white sheet. It worked just fine and it was to be able to spread out on it.
  • Water – super important when it’s so hot out!

It was simple, but definitely enough food, especially since it’s our favorite snack/ hour d’oeuvres kind of food.

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I think I need to write another post with a list of places where I nursed my baby. It would be basically everywhere. So he was hungry here too.

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I hope you enjoyed some snapshots of our picnic and a glimpse into a Paris afternoon.

Whats your favorite food to take on a picnic? Does it change depending on what country you are visiting?

The Crazies of my 30th Birthday in Paris


That day I woke up at 3 Am in Dublin, Ireland. I got dressed, woke up my baby boy and put him into the baby carrier as my husband packed our luggage into the taxi. I walked through our Dublin apartment and said my last goodbyes to the beautiful Georgian place that was our home away for a few days.


We went through the airport and the 1 hour flight so quickly that the next thing I remember was sitting at the cafe in Charles de Gaulle airport watching the reunited couples making out as their coffee was cooling off on the table, totally a Paris thing, the full on making out in public that is.

Paris in June, for my 30th birthday.

The day when nothing went right but ended up perfect.

So what if my day started out with tired but wired where I couldn’t sleep of excitement and once we came to our Paris apartment, which was also just an absolute dream, I passed out for a few hours for a good nap!


What I found out later, like 2 days later, was that while I was napping my husband went to find a store which sold perfume, with the sweetest of love stories, and since they only sell that perfume in Paris and not online he went to pick it up. After finding the store, of course it was still closed, he waited for a while until past the time it was supposed to open, and there was still no one there, so he came back. (we visited the store 2 more times during this week and it was still closed – no luck, but the thought to get there and all the walking around really counts too)

Walking down on the street where we stayed.

We were staying in 7th Arr. and it was just beautiful! There was a store next door where they sold candles with a perfumer creating a scent for each arrondissement of Paris. Since we were staying in 7th, my husband picked up a candle for 7th and 6th to remind me of the smell and this place! Now that we are home for the last two days I am already burning the candle and it smells just like Paris.


It was a beautiful sunny day out so we went out thinking maybe we could squeeze a museum visit out of it, it didn’t happen once we saw the line. Naturally we went further to get something to snack or even find a place to eat dinner.


This is where fun started. We were walking as a family, looking at this beautiful city, and kept walking, and kept walking, my husband had a specific place in mind with a great view to sit and eat dinner there. We sat down to enjoy dinner, fed the baby, had a great view, a musician came over and situated himself in front of the restaurant playing saxophone, a family walking by broke into dancing and that was really fun to watch.

View from the restaurant. The musician came shortly after thusbphoto was taken.

Then the fun really started! Our food came and baby was sitting back in the stroller chewing some bread when my husband’s stomach pain became too real and he went to get some medicine at the near by pharmacy. He was complaining of stomach pain, but we thought he was just hungry. Within a minute of taking some medicine they recommended he said he was feeling nauseous, got up from the table and barely walked 10 feet before he just threw up. In the street. In front of the restaurant.

Once I recovered from basically dying and going through the ground to disappear from sitting front row center in the middle of the sidewalk, which is usually a great spot for a Paris cafe, I apologized for my husband to the people around, collected my baby and called a cab.

One thing I am thankful for – right before we left for our long walk to get to this restaurant we stopped by the bakery and picked up some dessert for later that night. There was wine at the apartment and two spacious bathrooms with a soaking tub. Once both my babies were asleep, one recovering from a day of travel and being shoved around in the stroller, and the other from food poisoning or whatever made him sick, I filled that tub!


Certainly I didn’t plan to spend my day this way. But life throws a curve ball, you just go with it. Oh, and I ate ALL of the dessert we bought that night.


This year I will take every opportunity to be thankful, for turning 30, going on a spontaneous trip to Dublin and Paris, for having a healthy baby and a trip where no one got sick or injured (well except for the one night ..). This year I am starting with valuing what I have, my family, my friends, people who surround me and love me for who I am. This year I am going to be thankful for crazy memories of diaper leaking in Louis Vuitton (more on that later) and throwing up in front of a restaurant, for missed flights, for mistakes, and most of all for forgiveness.


This was an amazing way to celebrate and a trip I will most definitely remember for a lifetime.

10 Must have toiletries for travel

I love traveling, as you can to tell by my IG and Insta stories. This year I have learned so much about myself and what my own needs are, not just wants, because my goal has been to declutter and take less stuff with me (in life and) as I travel. Going to places with a baby is fun, but also takes so much more space in your luggage so here are my absolute must haves when traveling.

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I do not compromise on skincare. When traveling through the dry air of the airport and the cool/hot/or just all together unstable conditions of the airplane air, it all takes a toll on your skin. Add the stress of packing and taking care of a little one at the same time – is calling for dry patches, weird skin issues and pimples. Anyone experience this before?

We just came home from being away for 10 days, car driving, airports, multiple countries and multiple flights. My skin has remained clear, clean and super soft just like I like it! So I am sharing what has worked for me!

1.Hand Sanitizer: I brought 4-5 with me on the trip to keep in every room and every purse! I used it on the baby, with diaper changes and especially throughout the airport on all of us!

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 Babyganics hand sanitizer in this small size is super key!  

2. Cleansing brush: this one is called Mary Kay skinvigorate cleansing brush, its amazing on the price and compatibility! No cords or extra space needed – battery operated and makes an incredible difference when washing face after a long flight! I personally love this purple color because its so fun, usually it comes in white, this was a limited edition color, and the best part – it’s only $50!

3. Jergens Natural Glow tinted body moisturizer. I am as pale as it comes, and for vacation I like to have a little glow. I love this body moisturizer because it gives a great color right away, within an hour or two of applying it – which makes it super convenient when you forget to put it on “on time” and want some color on your legs before you head out the door. (which has happened to me lots of times before).

Tip: for a clean look and seamless tan – shave, then apply moisturizer all over, then apply the fake tan lotion. Especially around the elbows and knees – it will take on the tint better and will look more even once it dries.

4. Men: My husbands 1 must have when traveling is the Mary Kay Moisturizer for men. It has spf and all the anti aging my man needs. Once he forgot to bring it with him on vacation and didn’t want to use my moisturizer, so he made me contact a local beauty consultant and have her drop one off for us at the hotel!

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5. My absolute favorite cleanser I’ve ever triedMary Kay Volufirm Foaming cleanser   The real reason I love this cleanser is because of how it foams when I use my cleansing brush with it! Also, it leaves my skin feeling so smooth and this tube is so big it lasts me a really long time, about 5-6 months!

6. Eye Makeup remover! In the photo I have the full size bottle in the back, because what I take with me is the mini, it’s just perfect size for my travels. (If you need the mini eye makeup remover for traveling and smart packing, ask me! I will often have a promotion where you can’t the mini for free when you buy 2 products)

I can’t say enough about this product, honestly the best makeup remover I’ve ever used!

7. Charcoal Mask – this is a brand new product for this company and I am SO in love! I think I have a new tradition now! As I am packing up to leave I put the mask on (because I am packing it will stay on longer then it needs to, but I am ok with that!) that way my skin is super fresh and clean to go! I even had my husband do it with me! So far this mask has been with me to New York, Dublin and Paris!

On a separate note – I saw a huge difference in my husband’s pores and blackheads, I keep my skin care regiment tight, so I saw a difference but not as big as on his face!

8. Night Solution and Volufirm Lifting Serum: I couldn’t decide which one to bring so I took both with me! These two products are my absolute must have for a night routine! After I wash my face I apply the lifting serum and then the night solution serum. The vitamins and the boost is incredible! I see such a huge difference if I stop using it just for a day or two. A lot of women comment on my porcelain type skin, and honestly these two are the reason for it! I swear!

The lifting serum is the most expensive skin care item I am using right now but I think it is the one that makes the biggest difference in the elasticity of my skin and the youthfulness!

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9. Eye Cream: I LOVE this eye cream because of the cool metal tip – it calms the skin down and allows the puffiness to go down and to me that’s exactly what my eyes need after an over night flight with lack of sleep, jet leg and taking care of a baby tired.

10. Revealing Radiance Facial Peal: let’s talk about taking some skin layers off and doing a serious detox on your skin! I love this one as soon as we get settled into our apartment or hotel room. Nothing freshens up my skin better! I like to do this one at night just in case I have some redness and I leave it on my skin for about 30 minutes (which is more then you need to do) while enjoying a glass of wine and relaxing because that’s what vacation is about!

extra: my favorite deodorant right now is this one from Dove, I like how its easy to use and doesn’t leave white marks on clothes. I give it a thumbs up! Pictured in the above photo.

Another item I bring but not all the time is the Lip mask – allowing my dry lips to recover!

Here is the list of all of them again, click on the image for more details and a link is underneath for each product.

 

6 months old photoshoot in NYC

Who doesn’t love New York City?

It was my dream for a long time to have a photo with the city skyline in the background. My husband and I visited New York often together, we live only a couple of hours away. We have gone there for a weekend, for a day, and even our first honeymoon was in New York.

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We spent half of our honeymoon at a bed and breakfast in the upstate NY and it was a dream. Then we went to the city for a few days and stayed in the beautiful Novotel in a room overlooking Times Square.

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The day after we got there my husband of six days at that time was moving the car parking spot and was t-boned by a taxi on Park ave. He left his phone (it was supposed to be a quick move the parking spot trip) so I got a call from the ambulance drivers phone to go to the hospital to meet him.

In the end its a crazy story, married for 6 days and could have lost each other. If I was in the car with him, I would have been severely injured, the car was totaled and we had to rent a car to get home. It was my dads car by the way.

Now when we go back to New York, its so many memories!

Our second date was in the city where we almost had our first kiss on Park ave, but I thought it was too early.

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We got engaged in Central Park. And we will continue making memories.

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Favorite spot for food in New York: Halal Guys. We love truck food and we always get it for lunch in the city. You stand in line for a while, then you sit on whatever surface is available and eat. The full experience is great because it brings so many memories for us and you can’t get truck food like this anywhere else in the state or in the country.

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I hope you enjoy these family photos. We had so much fun working with our photographer and would recommend her services any day! She was amazing with our baby and got his attention to make sure he looked into the camera and smiled.

Styling details: 

I am really loving all the blush tones this year! I have a little obsession with cherry blossoms this year. You can find the dress I’m wearing here. Also a similar one here. And another option here and here.

Shoes are Manolo Blahnik, you can buy them here or rent them for a special occasion here.

Makeup:

I am wearing Mary Kay products, on the eyes: Into the garden collection eye shadow palette, it was a spring limited edition and I only have 2 left for grabs.

Lipstick is Matte Mauve Moment – current favorite for a pink nude type of lipstick for this spring, you can get it here, and Light nude lip liner you can check out here. Bronzer is a must this season, I am not tan yet, I am using this bronzer here.

Mascara is a huge deal right now because I am not using any eye liner and giving all the volume to my lashes with this amazing mascara, check it out here, and the review I wrote on it here.

 

My Americanized to do list

 

Two weeks ago I took an oath and became a citizen of United States. You can read more about my experience HERE, and see pictures from the ceremony.


When I was in college my two friends Scott and Eileen had a great time making fun of my accent and my immigration status. I was in the process of getting my green card at the time and they came up with a list of things I needed to do to become americanized. 


Here is my list:


Watch a football game  

The first football game I watched was super bowl 2013, we just moved to a new city and were newly married. One of our new friends invited us to a super bowl party and in a couple of weeks we will see him in Ireland where he currently lives. Also, our son was born on his birthday. I just liked the commercials that year, Beyonce was performing the half time show and it was my favorite one so far, I’ve seen 3 more super bowl games since then, and that year also had the absolute best puppy and horses commercials.

Drink a beer

I hate beer. I never liked the smell of it, so I don’t drink it, but the first time I tasted it was by accident actually. I was running Rochester Flower City Half Marathon 7 years ago and at one of the stops they were giving out beer instead of water. I almost choked on it because it wasn’t what I expected. Now I will only taste beer from a brewing company our friends started, even though I don’t think I will ever like beer.

Eat a cadbury egg

I don’t know why this one was significant. I just never tasted a cadbury egg or knew what the big deal was. So my first Cadbury egg tasting was during Intro to Psych class; I’m sure my friend Eileen brought them the next day after adding that to the list.

Attend a baseball game

I am not a huge sports fan and baseball is definitely farthest on the list. My first game in person was in Rochester NY with friends from Grace road church. I remember it was very cold, very long, and it was the first time I had Dippin dots ice cream. Turns out ice cream was better then the game and my friends had to explain everything to me.

Shoot a gun

The first time and so far the only time I shot a gun was in 2011. A good friend of mine took a bunch of us through some good training on safety and let us practice with different guns. Let me tell ya, I did some damage to the dirt in that field and took very memorable photos.

 

Go to a hockey game

Apparently there is a theme to becoming an American and it has to do with sports. I didn’t grow up with sports, its not something a girl does anyway, and even now I am not a huge fan of sports, but I have attended multiple sports events to support events, fundraisers and sometimes just because my husband wants to go. My first hockey game was in Binghamton, NY, with southern tier young professionals group in 2013. It was a great way to meet people in a new city and I haven’t been to a game since.

Visit New York City

 

The first time I went to New York to go to visit and not just drive through the city was in 2010. I went by myself via train, it was the most memorable time as the city was hit with a huge snow storm and it was very cold. I walked the streets for hours, window-shopped, did some actual shopping and caught up with good friends. My favorite part was going to see Wicked on Broadway and people watching. That trip was so important for me, I found inspiration to run in New York and I came back 4 months later to run in my first half marathon, I found peace and forgiveness, I let go of things that were causing me a great deal of pain at that time of my life. I don’t remember how many times I’ve been to the city now, but last time was 2 weeks ago for my baby’s 6 months birthday. It is one of my favorite cities and I will go back every chance I get.

P.s. Lately we have been using AirBnB instead of a hotel to stay in New York. It’s been the best experience ever. If you’d like to receive $50 discount on your stay via AirBnB comment below and I will email you a code to use!

I Am Immigrant.

I am a first generation immigrant.


Today is a big anniversary for my family and since becoming an American citizen 2 weeks ago I am doing a lot of reflecting on what it means and how I got here.


My family immigrated to United States as refugees 15 years ago, no one spoke English and the only person we knew was my uncle who moved to Rochester, NY a few years before we did and “invited” us to move also. I don’t know the official terminology, I just know you can’t simply move, you have to have someone sponsor you into the country. I was under 14 years old at the time so I didn’t need to go through interviews upon interviews my parents went through with immigration officers in Kiev, Ukraine and in Moscow, Russia. What I remember is leaving my childhood, my friends, my life as I had known it in a small town called Smila, Cherkaskiy oblast, and move to a country I only saw in Beethoven (the movie about st Bernard dog) and seen in pictures from the lives of Americans who visited our town.

Fun fact, we now live just feet away from Beethoven St and drive on it every day to get home. I do think about that movie often as it was my favorite for years, I really thought that it was exactly what life was like in United States. I just didn’t know it was called suburbs. Also, feel free to send me that movie on dvd if you find it, I can’t wait for my kids to watch it with me.


So many people from “back home”, as it’s not home and hasn’t been my home for years, thought and talked about America as the country with money and opportunity and money. The way I remember growing up, the memories I have, the good times and the bad times, I know all my memories are coming through the glasses of a naive girl who didn’t grow up with opportunity and felt alone most of her childhood. Maybe one day I will be able to talk about my memories of growing up but for now my heart is filled with greatfulness for what we have. Moving to united states at 14 years old where we were sharing a 2 bedroom half of a house with 8 siblings and an outhouse for the bathroom; if you didn’t catch that, it means no toilet inside the house. Fast forwarding 15 years later I am a wife and a mom living in a 5 bedroom house with 3 (three!!!!) bathrooms ALL inside. I learned the language, learned how to drive a car, got rid of my accent (mostly), earned a degree in English education, started a business, and married an African American who now takes me traveling everywhere.

Another fun fact. The first time I saw a black person in the actual person was at the airport, at 14 years old. I remember it at JFK, but I am sure we saw them on the plane also, I just probably don’t remember.


15 years is a long time. It feels like a lifetime because my life is so different now. Sometimes I wonder if I will even remember my childhood and life in Ukraine because I never think about it anymore.


This country offers so many opportunities for every single individual who will take it. There are so many second chances to get back on your feet after a bankruptcy or losing a home, you have a dream – and you have the tools to achieve it if you look for it. It’s the definition of hard work pays off, my parents are the example of that. We all had worked to get ahead in every opportunity that was given us, and I’m so thankful for the freedom to be able to do that here, in a country I am a citizen of.


My parents now speak English, own their own home, have multiple cars (they still have teenagers at home who drive). I was the first one out of my family to finish a bachelors degree and this year my brother is graduating with a PhD in Chemical Engineering, and another brother graduated college last year as a Ceramics Engineer. I can list so many things that my family has come through from good to bad, from food stamps to a life we have now, and I am greatful for every single person who made a difference in my family’s life through this journey.

It’s almost impossible to list every one – but I will do my best to tag you all on Facebook – thank you for your support, prayers, financial support, teaching me to drive, driving my family around when we couldn’t, and being a part of our story!


Tomorrow I will talk about my get americanized list – a list my friends in college created for me as I was going through the process of getting my green card. It’s a fun list for sure and one of the things on there is probably going to freak out my dad a little… if he reads this that is. So subscribe or stop in tomorrow!

I hope you enjoyed my stories and going down memeory lane. Even though I got everything on my list checked off, the things I am most proud of are the accomplishments I talked about earlier, the education, the travel, and opportunities to experience so much in America that I wouldn’t have otherwise.


Treasure our country! I say as an American now and it feels strange because I’ve never said “our” in reference to this nation; treasure the freedom and take every single opportunity there is. You owe it to all the immigrants who came here years ago and made it possible for your life to be on this continent.

I am immigrant.