Traveling via AirBnB

Heard mixed reviews? Well, let me tell you a little bit about our experience with Airbnb.com. Our little family used the services half a dozen times and we only have good things to say!

Do you have a horror story to tell with your host? Comment below, I’d love to hear your experiences weather positive or negative! If you have a really amazing property that you stayed at, link that below in the comments section, who knows, maybe we will be going there soon and will check it out! P.s. currently looking for good suggestions in Sydney, Australia, so if you have a home you loved, leave a comment with the home ID number!

Some photos from our top two apartments we rented via Airbnb.com

If you are traveling using Airbnb.com use my link to get $40 credit towards your stay!

Click on the photo to see my caption.

All the good stuff, in my own opinion after using the website and services, I think these are important items to consider when using Airbnb:

Personal profile.

Creating a profile with your current photo may help in letting the host know who you are and allowing them to pick you. With some international apartments for rent the host is often a business that rents out fully furnished apartments to business travelers and they look for ‘renters’ who will spend a month or multiple months instead of 2-5 days like typical tourists. Some hosts do not allow families with small children who could potentially ruin their furniture, or simply will wait for someone to book the home for a longer period. I found that writing a brief story about your reason for visit, what you’re looking for, will help in booking the place you want. We had this happen to us, and I was glad that I wrote to the host, she later told us that they have never had anyone stay for a few days, it was always for months at a time and usually actors or actresses who were abroad filming a movie. Another time we had booked an apartment we really wanted in Arizona and the only reason the host agreed was because our baby was not walking yet. There was a balcony at the apartment and she was worried about kids being able to walk out on their own and possibly fall, but she said our personal message request led her to understand that our baby was little and was under constant watch as he was not walking yet. Look for pictures of that balcony here below, it was one of the most beautiful apartments we’ve stayed in with the most incredible view from the balcony!

Choose a home type. 

Be very specific about your expectations and where you want to stay. Fill out all possible fields with what you want out of the type of home or room you are looking for. We have only used entire home rentals with smoke free environment, some were pet friendly, and all with location as the primary focus. You have to do what works best for your family or your travel lifestyle. You may enjoy renting a room instead of the entire place, just do what fits your budget and preferences.

Ratings are everything!

I 100% rely on rating and reviews when choosing an apartment for our family. I also leave a review in as much detail as I can after using the home in hopes to help someone else make their decision to stay there or not. So please, leave a detailed rating in the end, I will thank you for doing that because chances are, if we travel to that city I will rely on ratings of others to determine where we would like to stay.

Communication.

The way you communicate with the host is key! If they are responsive and answer all your questions well from the beginning, it will most likely mean that they will be very helpful in the entire process and make it easier to stay there.

If you have to wait a while to get a response, even though they are allowed up to 24 hours, just expect that to continue.

My must haves:

  • Safety
  • Location
  • Price, in that order.
  • Availability after our stay, in case we choose to extend our trip.
  • Laundry on site. We pack light, especially since we have to have a stroller with us and having laundry for those emergencies is key when traveling with a baby! Oh, the countless diaper blow outs where I was able to save the outfit!
  • Two bedrooms. Our preference is to have two bedrooms, but we also have found places with one bedroom that is separate from the living space so the baby can nap during the day and allow us to enjoy ourselves without whispers and waking him.
  • Smoke free and pet free. Generally these homes are cleaner!
  • Good cancelation policy.
  • Crib or pack and play. We stayed in places without a crib, and it all worked out well!  If you love the place but they don’t offer a crib, just book it! Comment below for my real life hacks in creating a safe space for a baby to sleep without having to pack extra gear into your luggage!
  • Check in and check out time. Some homes do it just like the hotels, but we like to leave in the afternoon around 1 pm, and have the flexibility for our family. Some places are extremely strict on this.

Reservation fee. 

Even though this fee is listed in the description, sometimes you just miss it and then your debit card can have a huge sum held up for this booking. Just something to look out for when you’re booking a trip! Some places have a high reservation fee that goes towards your booking total cost in the end, some have a very reasonable price to hold the booking.

Neighborhood.

When you are unsure of the neighborhood and don’t trust the photos, go to zillow.com and look at the location on the map where it shows the cost of the homes. Compare that to the other neighborhoods and make your decision that way. It’s not always reliable, but it usually helps to find out if you’re in the hood where you shouldn’t bring your family into. But then again, reviews from others who have stayed there help significantly! You can also look at the map and just google where the mall is, you can deduct from the location of the higher end stores where the best parts of that city are. It’s not always accurate, but it will help when you’re visiting a location you are not familiar with!

Rare gem.

Sometimes, and that’s rare, but sometimes a new listing will come on and you will have to take a leap of faith and stay there even though there aren’t any reviews yet. Someone has to be the first to try it out. If you know the city well and know that you can trust that building or that street, go for it! That home may have been just newly listed on the website and the initial price can be lowered until they get busy and have more visitors and reviews!

Be nice!

The host will review your stay, so be mindful and treat it like it was your home, or like it was better then your home. The host deciding to let you stay in their apartment will be able to see the reviews others left for you!

Leave a gift or flowers.

Pass on some good thoughts to the host, especially if it’s their home and not just a rental property. Buy flowers and keep them in a vase to enjoy for your stay and then add a simple thank you note so that the homeowner can enjoy the flowers too.

Ask for recommendations.

When we stayed in NYC, we had great reccoendations for food, take out places (like chinese are new tradition) and wine shops to visit. Shopping streets/locations, public transportation etc. Not all will list their recommendations, but they will usually help the most with these details to make your stay easier because they live there and do this every day!

Instant Booking

This feature is fantastic! When you are in a hurry and really need to find a place fast, we needed to use this feature to find a place to stay the next day or even the same day, it comes in super handy! You can select it in your preferences to have instant booking which means you will be instantly approved to stay there.

Cancelation Policy. 

Some policies are very strict and do not leave any breathing room for you to make changes to your trip. When choosing to travel via AirBnB you have a lot of flexibility, so it’s always good to check what you’re signing up for. We had to cancel a trip before due to a snow storm and we lost money because they needed 7 days to get only 50% of our money back. If their cancelation policy is outrageous or unreasonable we generally stay away from the home, because then I wonder if the price is just as unreasonable.

 

I hope you enjoyed my full review and some photos! Was it helpful?

Comment below and let me know if you found this info useful and if it helped you for future travels!

Don’t forget to use my code to get $40 off your trip! You can click here to claim it!

XX

L.

Designer shoes for the best price!

I love shoes!

Seriously, LOVE them! With the baby my wardrobe simplified and now I find that shoes are my perfect accessory! I also love girl bosses who have a business, run the household and take care of a family! So today I would like to share with you a friend of mine who is in the business of shoes and making dreams come true.

So you know how you get ready for your wedding and you want those amazing shoes Maholo Blahnik shoes to wear as your something blue? I was that girl, but I couldn’t afford them. I know many girls have been there and have to choose between the dress, a couple extra guests on the list or the shoes! Maybe you are preparing for prom or a special occasion his summer and you really want to stand out, this may be the perfect option for you!

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Kristine thought of the girl who wants to be in the perfect shoe for the perfect occasion and started a business to make it easier! A designer shoe at an affordable price? Yes, please!

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE WEBSITE & CHECK OUT THE SHOE OPTIONS FOR RENT 

There are so many different options for the perfect cinderella moment!

Click here for the Facebook page          &         Click here to see the jewelry and purses

Order the shoes for your next event, family photoshoot, birthday party or a date night out.

Here is how I wore the shoes during a photo shoot in New York:

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DISCOUNT: Enjoy 15% off when you mention this blog post.

PC: NYC photoshoot is done by Delaine, to get more information visit her website:  www.delainedacko.com

Do you have a business that services women and allows dream to come true? Email me for a collaboration and to be featured on my blog.

Stay fabulous!

xoxo

L.

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.

 

Mind Battlefield

The last couple of weeks I feel like I’ve been attacked and hit with so many grenades of the insecurity kind that I feel compelled to share with you ladies some thoughts on the subject.

Why are we, why am I, so negative and shameful towards my body?

All our body ever does is carry us through life, give us babies, feed the babies, give comfort hugs to those near us, waves hello, gives goodbye kisses, and welcomes home our loves ones. It protects, strengthens, comforts and loves on everyone else, so why don’t we do the same and protect our body by treating it properly and dressing it with respect and grace it deserves. Why not take time to strengthen our body at the gym, by going for a walk, eat proper fueling nutrition to give it power to keep going. Take time to comfort the body to let it heal, like after giving birth for example, and let the body rest on a regular basis (this one is hard for me, I tend to go and go until I’m really hurting) and take a day out of the week for a sabbath – no hard work physically or mentally.

After all the love our body gives to the husband, kiddos, hugs our friends, and pet the fur babies, I strongly believe we need to find time to actively love our body back. For me it means mani/pedi on a regular basis, sometimes a massage or a bubble bath with some alone time. The biggest fight in actively loving yourself, in my opinion, has to come from your mind. This battle every woman has to fight on her own and woman, I FEEL you these past few weeks. If YOU have been fighting in the battlefield of the mind against the weapons of insecurity and loneliness, I am with you.

You are not alone in the fight.

You are not alone because we, all and every woman, feel you.

You are not alone because God is there to catch every tear and hold your hand through every valley to help you walk out of that battle. Remember, you may not win every battle, and its ok because you just need to focus on winning the war. And I believe that you can and will win the war, you will build your self esteem, self love and self worth; you can do that by arming yourself with the strength of God, His love for you, His healing words and the perseverance to push through.

I am an introvert, it may be hard for some to believe that – but I am, I am just a very social introvert. When I am experiencing these attacks and the struggles I tend to close in and not share my thoughts and feelings with anyone, and let me tell you, it’s harder to get through when you’re dealing with it alone. So, find a friend or someone who loves you and will help you through the process. Talk to God in a way that works for you and you will find that your battle is almost over.

From one girl to another,

Luba

 

 

 

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.

 

I am a woman before I am a mother.

Today is Mother’s Day. You would expect that I would be thinking about what it means to be a mom and how motherhood changed me. But it’s not what I am thinking about.

I have been a mom for five minutes and I feel like I still have so much to learn! Every day brings new joys and new learning experiences, new opportunities to learn about myself and about my baby. One day I hope to be like the mom my children can adore and see Jesus through every word (thats hard for me), and every eye roll, and every hug and every tear.

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I am every woman. I am a mother. I live postpartum. You may see the depth of my eyes and the strong love for my baby, but what I see is the body that carried that baby, the wide shoulders that still carry that baby and won’t let me wear my old clothes. But he needs me.

This past week my thoughts have been consumed by more insecurity and negative thoughts of my body, my wifery (if that makes sense), and the way I am doing this motherhood thing. Today I am thinking of WHY. Why is it that some days I am not able to see past the imperfections of my body and feel proud of what the stretch marks mean, and feel proud of the wide shoulders and strong arms that carry a big baby boy around all day long?!

Why is it that some days I am not able to see past my questions and struggles as a business woman to confidently help others?

Why is it that the emotions and insecurities I used to struggle with as a teen are not going away? Maybe this one you also feel with me.

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I will choose to put my trust in God and take photos like these to remember that I am loved and I need no further reason to get dolled up, more often then I do.

Every time I share my thoughts with a woman or a teen girl, a mother, a sister, a grandmother, a married and a single woman, I find we all have something in common. We, a woman, each have the girl inside who is scared and wants to be loved for who she is, especially on the days when she can’t love herself. I feel like a lot of my adulthood revolved around either hiding this girl or pleasing her need to sulk in loneliness.

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I am not going to let the negativity stay. Every one of my fat cells belongs to a beautiful baby boy right now. And I feel like this picture can summarize my joy and my pain all in one. Because with every imperfection I am reminded that God loves me first, He made me in His image, by honoring my body I honor Him. Also, rolls made beautiful by lace.

Today I would to speak to that girl whom you like to hide, from one soul sister to another.

I am with you.

Let me hold your hand, look deep into your eyes until the human connection makes you teary, squeeze your hand a little and feel that lump in your throat that you’re unable to swallow.

I am with you. I feel your pains. I feel your insecurities. I see the imperfections in the mirror.

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I am here to tell you that you are beautiful, you are not alone and NO, you don’t look bloated, and NO, you don’t look 4 months pregnant. People don’t see what you see, they see the smile, the genuine laughter, the strong hugs you give that take your breath away a little, they see that bright lipstick, they see your hair curl and fall into your face, and they think its cute.

You are beautiful! Especially because it is Mother’s Day take a moment to love you, the real you. If you are a mother and if you are not, take a moment to hug that young girl who’s hiding deep inside, bring her out to the sunshine (even if its raining all weekend like it is where I am). Spend a minute with God and let His presence and truth fill your heart with hope. Because when you are filled with love only God can provide and truth only He can make true, you will be equipped to love yourself truly, be a better daughter, a kinder friend, and a more patiently loving wife.

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I teach women how to apply makeup, I love my job. To me there is a great joy in what I do because I am on a mission to make the world more beautiful one face at a time. When a woman feels good about how she looks, when she is equipped to be able to do her makeup the way that makes her feel beautiful, my job is complete. So, here is an open invitation. If you need that feeling, talk to me, find me, and let me help you find your way to beautify.

Take time today to beautify. I love that word because to me it brings hope. You can take anything and make it more beautiful! I believe God does that with every one of us! Start with your hair, do something special, not like every day, add just a little more mascara then usual, wear the good shoes and that dress that makes your body curve in just the right ways. (if you don’t have a dress like that talk to me)

Go out of the house, love yourself and go love on your mom. Bring her flowers with some good quality time.

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I am a mother now and I love things, but no matter how many things I have on my wish list, the best gift for me is spent with my baby when I don’t have to worry about taking care of anything else but him.

I am a mother now, but I am first a woman. I believe that if I am a better woman then I will also be a better mom. If you’re not a momma yet, take the time now to better yourself and prepare because that strength you will need later.

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I hope you will be inspired to be the best version of yourself, the woman God wants you to be. Set aside and fight insecurities! Encourage the woman next to you! Hug your mama extra tight tonight.

Love,

your soul sister.

 

P.s. Photos are taken by Delaine, a New York City photographer. It was a dream to work with her! Something you may never see, she really is good at what she does, is how busy and hectic that morning was for me, my hair wasn’t the way I wanted it, the dress I wanted to wear didn’t come in on time, and other stuff that just kept getting in the way of how I wanted to feel that day. So I put my good shoes on and wore a little extra mascara.

p.s.s. Blue shoes are my favorite. It’s the best statement color because it looks good on everyone!

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!