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.

 

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.

The day I gave away my greencard

I became an American Citizen on Friday.

That morning I felt so frustrated, so alone and so rushed as I was getting ready for my ceremony. I even had a dream about my first half marathon race in New York. These feelings were similar, 7 years ago I ran my first half marathon in Queens NY, and after I crossed the finish line I walked away with a medal weighing heavy on my heart and felt my heart break with every tear that ran down my cheek.

It was such a big accomplishment, yet I felt so alone. There was no one there to witness this super important event, no one to cheer me on. My naturalization day came with similar feelings, except I invited friends to come, and they came. They responded, they texted and were present before I even I realized that I needed to be the one to invite them.

When your baby is asleep in your arms, but you have to take an oath to become an american. 


I gave up my citizenship of Ukraine on Friday. I gave up the country I was born in and grew up in. Today, I realize that for almost 15 years I tried really hard to fit in and be this American, which I wasn’t, be this person I thought an American should be. So who is this american that we all chase trying to become? Is it a dream that drives us as individuals to achieve, because in achieving THE dream we become the evidence of what this country is built on?

I was brought up valuing community; the people around you – they mean everything and share everything with you. The pain, the joy, the sorrow and the bliss. Everyone knows everything and you don’t mind one bit doing life with people all up in your business. Ukrainians value community, it’s not spoken of, but you know it when you go to a friends house for a baby shower and leave 9 hours later or when you have people show up at your house within hours notice, or no notice at all, and you all sit around the dinner table drinking tea until it’s 1:30 am and you can’t be late to work anymore, so they go home. I married an American and I had to learn this new way of doing community.

The American dream is about each individual achieveihg their dream life. Today I gave citizenship of the country I grew up in and I know in my soul that for me, being an American means to take the old and the new into the same melting pot and live from the lessons of the past. I didn’t have anyone come to cheer me on my first race because I didn’t ask, I felt alone because I didn’t let anyone in. Maybe I just needed a break from everyone knowing my business like when I grew up, but I am so thankful for the reminder to reach out, to ask, to let others know what goes on with me and invite them into my life.

That piece of paper is so important. It’s the one piece that you need that proves this day a reality.  Also, I wore the good shoes for the occasion. 


Perhaps later I can share with you more about what my American Dream is, but for now, I hope to make you appreciate your country, your origin, your ethnicity and your nationality. Be proud of where you come from and proud of where you are going. I hope to inspire you to think of what your dream is and take the reroute if your dreams have taken the back burner spot. Detours in life happen, but you can always turn around.

I feel blessed to have friends who either showed up, or responded to my invitation to come witness my swearing in ceremony. I feel freedom. I think that I will continue to experience freedom and learn its meaning in many new ways in the years to come, and very soon as I am rushing to get a passport for our first trip out of the country as all american citizen. As my country of birth has been at war and without peace for a some years now, I have peace, knowing that no new law or regulation or mistake can make me leave a place I know and now call home and the many people I now call family.

Taking a photo next to the county clerk and the judge, both of whom my husband knows from working together. Only to think that I wouldn’t have these photos if my friend Brigit didn’t show up with less then an hours notice ( love you lady!!) 


I will take lessons from both countries. I will be the dream chaser like a true American inspiration. I will be a gentle soul and a true friend or the community like my parents taught me to be, and I will do my best to inspire you to hug your close ones tight, be present in their life and get all up in each other’s business because that’s what makes us not alone, but a community.

P.S. here are some fun things that happened during the ceremony. The whole thing took about two hours, and if you have a baby, you know they will be hungry and need a nap and a diaper change within that kind of time frame. So I sat there, then nursed my baby without a nursing cover of my nursing friendly shirt, I rocked my baby gently to sleep for a 30 minute nap and he woke up just as my husband got there. That way I didn’t hold him in my arms as I went to get the official papers. And my friend who came with her baby got to experience the same thing and some baby talking on top of everything. We ran into a couple of people we knew in the court room and it was a memorable day as I shared this experience with 66 individuals from 47 countries. Also, I had to surrender my green card, which was my travel ticket for so long!

p.s.s. What’s your naturalization story?

Inappropriate things people say to new moms 

It’s completely possible that you have said something inappropriate to new mom and didn’t even know it!

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I mean really, it’s like adults need education on what NOT to say and very often what questions NOT to ask! So here are my top favorite (means I dread them the most) inappropriate things people have said to me.

When are you going to have another one?

Ok. So you just had a baby, and the first time you’re in public, barely able to walk, feeling every stitch and every stretched muscle that just brought this babe into the world, and someone, there is always someone who will say “oh your baby is so cute! You should have another one!” Ok, people, slow down, let my behind heal first and maybe we can talk again in the future after a lot of chocolate, wine and “so sorry”s.

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Is he sleeping through the night yet?

Um. So the first time someone asked me this one, my baby was 2-3 weeks old, and I was sleep deprived, in pain, on Advil, sore, super hormonal, hungry, bloated, and all I wanted was to go to a grocery store. That someone came dangerously close to having been punched in the face by a crying hot mad new mom of a newborn. People, you just don’t ask that, ever. Because that’s salt on a wound of someone who isn’t sleeping.

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He’s perfect the way he is. Both of my babies are. 

Is he rolling over yet? Is he crawling? Is he saying words yet? Is he eating solids yet?

There have been so many in this category, and I am just going to put it all into one category of “milestones”. As soon as you find out how old my baby is and you want to know if my baby is doing what others are ‘supposed’ to do at that age? Well, my baby doesn’t like to roll over. He’s on his belly lots, doing tummy time and he loves it, but he’s perfectly content, there is nothing wrong with him if he isn’t doing one or another thing that other babies usually do at a certain age. That kind of question comes with lots of explaining and judgy looks, and I am sure I am not the only mom who was made feel guilty. No. Just no, my baby is a freaking genius, just wait and see.

Is there a baby in there?

This one is probably my favorite. So I am in the store, doing my business shopping for groceries, and my newborn is perfectly asleep in the car seat with a full cover. The cover is there specifically for these nosy people who want to see and often touch the baby. DO NOT TOUCH A SLEEPING BABY! You might wake a mama bear. Every single time I am out in public with this car seat cover I am asked if there is a baby in there, and then if they can see. Um, no, I’m walking around with a stroller and car seat as a fashion statement. Cracks me up.

Just wait until they grow up, boys are terrible when they are a toddler, I have a toddler who drives me crazy!

Let’s just sum up every comment I’ve ever received in this category about someone else terrible toddler or the most amazing infant. So what if my infant isn’t the most amazing, or what if that night I didn’t sleep, what if I’m already scared and you’re going to freak me out with your horror stories of terrible twos? Don’t jinx my baby. All I’m saying.

What I have learned so far is that there is no perfect baby, no perfect parent.  We are both just doing the best we can at this thing that’s new and difficult for both of us. Being a baby and learning how to do literally everything is not easy I am sure. Maybe I have been that mom to brag about my amazing baby who’s perfect and you walk away whispering under your breath and feeling that knot in your stomach because you haven’t slept in what feels like a decade.

Let me tell you, I’ve had and still have lots and lots of great moments, and lots and lots of pull your week old unwashed hair moments. I’ve had to deal with skin care issues and a baby who couldn’t breathe properly for 3 months because of congestion, rash of every kind hitting him up all at once, while I couldn’t do much to fix it and soothe him, I was doing what you moms do every day. I was trying to do my best and fail and get up and learn from it.

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Most of my mornings he’s either watching me do my makeup, or in my lap while I do my beauty routine of the day. I know I am not alone in this. 

So moms everywhere, keep up the good work, you’re doing a great job. And please continue doing a great job taking care of your babies.

If you don’t have a baby yet, and find this post some what comical, great! It was meant to be so! Also, just in case you need some suggestions, here is an appropriate thing to say instead to a new mom. In my opinion.

Your baby is adorable, I am sure all your babies will make the most beautiful family!

How is he/she sleeping? Are they letting you get some rest?

How is your baby doing?

The key: open ended questions.

Please don’t share horror stories and if you do share a lovely story about your babies, no matter what age they are, please consider leaving the young new mom in a hopeful and positive mood.

 

Stay fabulous!

L.

What we learned about traveling with an infant

Our first trip as a family was over Christmas and NYE to San Diego (from NY so it was a long flight), and our baby boy was just 2 months old.

Babies are more resilient then you think, so take your baby with you. Live the experiences. Our new mantra.

I was so nervous as a new mom taking my baby out into public, I’d cover him up (car seat cover that’s not see through), and people would ask me if there is even a baby in there. Now, after traveling on the plane, in the car, restaurants, malls and just everywhere I need to go, I can’t imagine not having him with me.

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Here are some thoughts my husband and I have about our personal experiences traveling with an infant.

Build in time for the baby’s needs: feeding, play, down time, tummy time, naps.

Don’t over plan, be picky about time you give to others and to your family.

When going to a place where there is going to be friends and family, be prepared for people touching your baby. I was not always prepared for this one, especially when it was extended family whom I didn’t know well and didn’t trust exactly.

You don’t need as much as you think you do. the first time we basically brought everything but the kitchen sink. It took us a few trips, like 5 or 6 before I figured out what we needed and never used.

You know your baby, he’s not like anyone else’s baby, you know what you’re doing, so take care of him the best you know how! This is personal to me, there are so many people out there, moms and not moms, who give baby advice but I know that its not all good, not all for me. Even though it is hard to filter, it’s necessary to keep my head sane from feeling like a real failure of a mom. My baby is awesome, and I will do all I can to take care of him. Especially applies when traveling. Period.

Make sure the baby has the shots appropriate to age done before the traveling. We found it helpful to talk to the doctor and ask advice about traveling locations and safety. Doctors have a network they can rely on to help you even when you’re out of town, as long as it in the US territory. I found it so comforting that if something happened to us on the trip our doctor at home could still help us out.

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Nothing happened to the baby on our trips, by the way, when we were in San Diego my husband caught the stomach flu, and we spent a lot of time in the hotel with him ordering room service, but baby R and I were great, and enjoyed lots of walks outside.

52 Date night ideas at home when the kids are asleep

Did you know?

When you have a good time you forget to take pictures, you get lost in the moment of joy and bliss.
When you are enjoying the company of your date you usually forget your phone, your world.

Forget the world for one night of the week and no matter how hard it is, spend time with your husband, spend time with your wife. Hold hands, hold each other and most importantly, leave the phones else where.

Here are some of our favorite ideas for your date night when the kids are asleep. Take 15 minutes, half hour or the whole night, once a week to grow closer to your spouse, the most important relationship, after your relationship with God of course.

  1. Make a gourmet meal together. One of you can take the time to grocery shop and pick out a special recipe – this can be the time to recreate your first date, or your favorite date from the past. Get dressed up in your fancy clothes, use the wedding china and get some candles.
  2. Exchange a massage. Pick a body part, because the woman who cares for a child all day long will never complain about a foot massage.
  3. Bubble bath and wine – the rest is left to your imagination.
  4. Work out together. Who knows, a little sweat and then a shower is good for the marriage.
  5. Go down memory lane and look through pictures/videos from when you were dating, from the wedding, vacations or honeymoon.
  6. Have a dance party.
  7. Get blue apron and cook a meal for your spouse and enjoy the conversation once kids are in bed.
  8. Striptease.
  9. Learn a new dance move or a new style together using youtube video tutorials.
  10. Host a dinner party and enjoy the company of another couple. Nothing like having people over to make you feel like normal functioning people of society.
  11. Make a meal for a family in need. Cooking together brings you closer. So it’s a great idea to let that benefit someone else. You can find out from a church or local charity who may be sick or in need of a meal.
  12. Do a house project together. Pick something small that will allow you to DIY together.
  13. Do a yard project together. You will spend time alone, rely on each other and learn new ways to communicate when doing, at the same time another topic to discuss other then kids.
  14. Make 15 sandwiches and deliver them to the homeless. Ok, one of you will have to stay home with the baby monitor, but you’re doing a good deed at the same time!
  15. Read a book together, even better to each other. Pick wisely on this one, there are plenty of adult books to read, some with lots of pictures. Just saying.
  16. Make your favorite cocktail and enjoy a relaxing evening with your favorite martini.
  17. Bake cookies, put them into cute little bags and drop them off to the neighbors mail boxes with inspirational quotes, without signing who its from. Chances are the baby monitor may work when you walk across the street, depending where you live, and you’ll get an adrenalin rush making sure no one can see you
  18. Watch a movie together. This may be a go to for most couples, just make sure you don’t fall asleep.
  19. Do a spring cleaning project.
  20. Do a wine tasting. This is one of my personal favorites especially after 9 dry months.
  21. Paint something together – can be a weekend project instead of just one night.
  22. Start learning a new language together, even if it’s youtube videos, even if its just for humor.
  23. Have a TV show marathon. 24 works great for this one, or it’s just a great way to catch up on all your favorite shows with some pop corn and cuddles.
  24. Sit in front of the fireplace and make out like teenagers. If you’re in upstate NY, this is a good one right now, it’s been incredibly cold and windy for March.
  25. Organize each others’ closet. Spend some time doing a runway show and let your spouse choose what clothes stay and what needs to be donated (bonus is saving money on date night so you can do some online shopping for new things after this one)
  26. Appetizer tasting. If you are tired of cooking for date night or tired of cooking period, pick up your favorite appetizers and do a tasting like the professional would.
  27. Fold laundry. If you don’t have a lot of time, or if you just have a lot of chores to catch up on, do the chores and make a little competition out of it. Whoever folds laundry first picks their reward of choice. You may be surprised that it will become your husbands favorite date night yet.
  28. Do a pedicure for each other, because men like to have their feet soaked and massaged too, they just don’t know it yet.
  29. Watch your husbands favorite sport, who knows, you may like it.
  30. Get take out and sit on the floor for dinner like you’re in college.
  31. Go for a walk, even if it means a lunch date and your baby napping is in the stroller while you’re walking.
  32. Sit down to plan your next vacation. You can dream right? There will be a time you can travel again just the two of you or you can take your new baby with you (be on the look out for my post about traveling with an infant).
  33. Mini golf. You can buy a mini gold starter kit on amazon and move some furniture in the living room for a night of simple fun.
  34. Coffee tasting. There is something about being a new parent – you are always drinking caffeine. So why not take advantage and french press locally roasted coffee.
  35. Bubble bath and wine. Because this one deserves a repeat on my list.
  36. Ask your spouse to teach you something, it can be sports, a favorite hobby or maybe cooking your favorite dish.
  37. Play cards, or board games. Whatever your favorite one is out of the two.
  38. Have you seen the movie “the fault in our stars”? There is a scene where the two kids in love lay on the grass and stare up at the sky. So do that. During one of the blood moons my husband and I climbed on the roof of our porch through the window, just looked at it for a while and took pictures. Whatever your version may be.
  39. Run through snow in your underwear. You may want to do this one at night to not scare the neighbors. If you don’t have snow – find a way to take a mud bath, even if its just for your feet.
  40. Breakfast in bed. Because weekends are the best and kids take naps during the day, and no one will notice if breakfast is at lunch time.
  41. Skinny dipping, it will be even more fun if its in your neighbors pool. After midnight of course.
  42. Play chess, or learn how to.
  43. Have an indoor picnic.
  44. Facials and those little cucumber circles for your own children induced dark circles. If your man is helping you out with kids, or if he’s just working really hard, then he will definitely enjoy this little spa at home kind of time with you.
  45. Order pizza delivery and pig out because you can still wear maternity jeans after the baby, they call it the fourth trimester, or firth or something..
  46. “Husband does my makeup” it’s a youtube thing, and I think in the end if you can get your man to do it you will end up on the floor laughing so hard trying to not wake up the kids that you will appreciate the silly times more then you think you would.
  47. Five more to go, you’re almost at the end of the year ideas. So I just want to stop and pause and tell you that it’s ok to just take a nap. Sometimes it’s ok to just sleep when the kids sleep.
  48. Take a long shower together.
  49. Make a time capsule video or letter. You can make it for your kids to view years later.
  50. Bake or make your favorite deserts (because not all couples have the same favorite desert) and sit down to talk about your goals. With kids and life in the way, it’s not easy to keep your eye on the prize. Talk about your goals and review the ones you wrote down in the past. They can be individual, or goals and dreams for your family as one.
  51. Ice cream sunday night. It’s a great desert to just skip over. Also since its so sweet, take time to talk about your financial goals. They usually will be a bit bitter with a look into the future, so dream sweet big dreams for your family financial future. The more you talk about it, the more you will stay on top of it.
  52. Pick your favorite date night idea out of the list above and repeat. Because why not.

 

I had a fun time with this list, what’s your favorite date night to spend with your spouse?

Ladies, love your man. Men, love your woman and hug her extra every night.

xoxo

L.

5 Baby things I wish I didn’t buy

Are you getting unwanted advice from everyone and their mother yet?

When I was pregnant and through the first months after R was born I was getting all kinds of advice from moms and even women who are not moms. THE BEST advice I’ve ever received hands down is from a couple who also have a newborn, they said to listen to what people have to say, but only take the advice that you need, that applies to you! So in this case, I am writing from my personal experience, this is what has worked and not worked for me and my baby. So take what you need from this post and I hope you find it helpful if this applies to you!

We got lots of help from friends and family with baby items, some we haven’t started using yet, some we really love, and some items we really didn’t find practical or useful at all. Here are a few that I wish I didn’t buy or ask for on my registry.

1. 4moms tub

It’s certainly fancy! It’s has a temp reading to tell you if it’s warm enough for the baby, but honestly, you can get a thermostat for that or even better – use your judgement. You know your baby best and I trust that you will get the appropriate temps for the tub!

The water in this tub stays shallow, my baby wasn’t comfortable, so my husband had to hold his head while I washed him so he wouldn’t fall to the side. I have a big baby, and on top of that he kept growing so fast that within 3 weeks the water was not even covering his tummy and I have to put a warm wet towel on top to keep him warm. Maybe it’s best for tiny babies if you have something for their head to keep them from rolling to the side.

Pros:

  • best for smaller babies
  • temp measurement
  • small in size

 

Here is a tub that I love: Infant & toddler Tub and I would use.  

The actual baby tub I love is hand me down from my mom, she saved it from my baby sister who is now 9 years old. It’s the only hand me down item I got so I’m cherishing it! My baby absolutely loves it and I adore it for how easy it is to use! I am always on the look out for the items that I can keep using and not buy a different one once the baby grows out of it. I know this one I will keep for a while, once my baby can sit, he can just splash it all he wants!

2. Wipe warmer

Again, this is my opinion. Waste of money on this thing. The wipes dry out if left open inside the warmer, and by the time I take it out and get to the baby’s bottom, the whole thing is cooled off.

I tried a few different brands of baby wipes and found the one my baby liked the most. I still use it. It’s a Wegmans brand (our local grocery store) sensitive thin wipes. The price is great, its super soft, just moist enough, and my baby doest react negatively to it. (I love all organic stuff, tried them all, our favorite one is Burts Bees baby wipes, but they are the most expensive on the market and when you go through SO many wipes, it’s not worth it for me.

3. Blooming bath – the Flower bath thing

I love the idea of this as a bath for my baby and I didn’t actually purchase one myself or tested it out (just being honest) but every mom I’ve talked to who used it, did not like it as much as a traditional simple bath tub. My friend who used this also has a big baby (our babies were actually born the same weight and length) and it was very uncomfortable to keep the baby stable and comfortable while washing him.

Cons:

  • it’s larger then it looks
  • you have to put it in the dryer to dry it because its big and heavy with water once your bath is done
  • you have to pour water over it to keep it warm, to keep the baby warm
  • creates unnecessary steps after the bath to take care of it, the ‘clean up’ seems too much work for a mom who has to bath the baby, dry the baby, lotion, and put a diaper on, especially if your baby does not love bath time

Pros:

  • it’s super duper cute – and we, the women, buy most of the things that are cute
  • best for babies who can sit on their own
  • portable, easy to transport around
  • saves space if you don’t have a lot of storage for a tub

 

4. Diaper bag

This is MY opinion. So don’t judge please, make your own decisions on this one. I love my purses, I love being a woman and after giving birth I felt like I needed something of my old stuff to make me feel more womanly to help me come back to the new normal and feel sexy again. Because there are so many things after the baby that make you feel SO NOT sexy, you have to work hard on this one, in my opinion.

Diaper bag, even though they have SO many cute ones now, just didn’t make me feel like a sexy mom. I have a beautiful diaper bag, exactly what I asked for and I love it! So far I used it twice maybe… I think I will get more use out of it once my baby is older and I will need more space in the bag or when traveling and I need something thats organized well.

Instead I’ve been using my own purse as a diaper bag and use a ToteSavy insert for organization. It’s worked perfect so far! It helps to keep me organized and not have to carry lots of stuff around. You may not find it as easy if you need to bring a lot of bottles/formula, I am breastfeeding and for now its a very convenient solution.

5. Baby wrap carrier

I think this item is LOVE it or HATE it kind of thing. I hate it, not because of what it is, but because my baby hates it. I tried 3 different ones, I tried to wrap it around and after trying it and fighting it, I returned all of them but one – baby K’tan wrap. I only used this carrier when we were on vacation and I needed something easy to carry him.

Every baby is different. R gets hot and over heated very quickly, so I can’t use a carrier that will heat him up being so tight next to me. He is very independent (which makes me happy and saddens me at the same time) and doesn’t want to be pressed into me all the time. I also found it so difficult trying to do the whole wrap around me. I want something that’s quick to put on and take off, simple and easy is my friend now.

 

I hope you found this helpful! In the end, what you feel is best for you and your baby, every one is so different, so what I didn’t like you may love!

Stay fabulous mom!

 

xoxo

L.

 

10 Baby things we can’t live without

So I got pregnant.

Then about month 7 I got my nesting urge and the research for baby things began.

I am a brand new mom and I am still trying to figure things out. But in my search for what I would need as a new parent to help me navigate the first days with the baby I found comfort in knowing that I was not alone in feeling lost and overwhelmed with the amount of products out there.

Can I hear an amen?

My baby boy is now 4 months old and maybe sharing my experience with some of our favorite products may help someone else who just feels overwhelmed with all the products out there.

1. Musty Stroller 

One of my favorite baby products is definitely this stroller. We have taken it with us traveling on the airplane, in the car for road trips, around town and just walking down he street. It’s super stylist, very easy to fold and unfold, lightweight but at the same time durable for walks through snow and rough terrain (if I needed it). Another great feature is the adjustable handle bar, its perfect to adjust to anyone’s height, my husband is tall so he loves it, and also to fold it down for easier access to the baby.

Taking a walk in the snow. Love how it handles snow and hills.
Traveling to San Diego for Christmas. The best decision to bring this stroller!
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1 week postpartum going to a doctors visit, which was just down the street since we live around the corner from a hospital.

2. Maxi Cost Car seat 

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I was looking for a functional and fashionable car seat for a while, I also wanted it to be light weight and work with my stroller of choice. I could not be happier with my choice in the end. This car seat is one of the lightest I found in weight, and fits perfectly with my stroller!

3. Mamaroo from 4moms

My husband was not excited about the price tag of this item. But it became one of his favorite items when he’s the baby sitter. Sure he set it up on the highest setting and poor guy was too dizzy to cry, but I could step out of the house for an errand without a problem. I use it quiet often too and enjoy how it’s compact, how gentle swing is and the fact that I can control the settings from my phone. I still use it even though now he’s getting long!

4. Baby bouncer/rocker 

My little helper,baking cookies.

There are so many different rockers and bouncers, it feels overwhelming trying to choose one. So I decided to just breathe and decide based on these things:

  • What would work best for us as a family?
  • It was important for me that first of all, my baby liked it, second – it was compact and foldable for travel, especially when going out of town to see family. I also don’t like clutter around the house and like things that fold down and unfold easy. Sometimes I keep him in it and just carry him from room to room if I need to get things done.
  • Simple in color, yet has something interesting for the baby to look at and play. We picked one in green and grey combo.
  • Good price. With so many baby things to get, I like that it’s affordable.
  • It’s a plus that it fits on the counter for him to watch me cook, this is how I make meals in the kitchen every day.

5. Dockatot

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When daddy comes home for lunch. We join him. This is so like them, each in their own world.

Ok, so this thing just took over Instagram by storm, and almost every mom I follow was using it, so we splurged. Rollo was about 10 days old when we received it in the mail. He was a pretty good sleeper waking up every 3 hours or so at night. Once he got swaddled up into the dockatot his first sleep stretch of the night went up to 6-7 hours. As a new mom recovering from a rough delivery I really loved the extra sleep and rest. Now I like to keep him in it during the day if he’s just hanging out near by us and learning how to entertain himself.

6. Silicone Pump 

I talked about this one in a different blog post, you can find it here – > How I built a freezer stash without pumping. I wish I knew about this thing before we went on vacation because it may have been all I would use! Now, its super helpful because even if I don’t continue building my freezer supply, I use whatever is pumped from this one to give R with some organic oatmeal cereal at night.

7. Diaper genie

We love the convenience of having a way to dispose of diapers quickly, and efficiently. So much so that we got a second one, keep one in our bedroom where he gets changed at night (will be moved to the nursery once he’s in the crib) and one downstairs where we spend time during the day. I also love the amazon option to have the refill bags automatically sent to our house. Super convenient!

8. Swaddles/PJs 

0-2 months: SwaddleMe worked best for us! he didn’t get out of it as much and was able to sleep better.
0-2 months: Nested Bean Swaddle I was a little skeptical at first, but this swaddle became my go to during sleep regression and nap times during the days of extra fussy baby. Once he grew out of SwaddleMe in length, this was perfect to help him rest. I just wish he didn’t grow out of this one in length also.
2-5 months: Aden and Anais easy swaddle has been my go to for the last two months. I got it in size L and love the clips to adjust the tightness of the swaddle, or adjust with growth of the baby. The only swaddle R didn’t get out that often. We used this swaddle until R was ready to sleep unswaddled (which came too soon and I wasn’t prepared for him to be all independent but then I can’t stop starring at him sleep).
4 monts +: One of my favorite brands so far for Pjs is Kickee Pants  – the softest bamboo material, super breathable (my baby gets so hot under blankets!)  I’m so happy to have this easy on easy off kind of clothing for the baby at home to lounge in and to sleep in. My go to for pjs now is anything with a zipper, its quick and my husbands request now.

9. Non-slip Socks 

Ok, so everyone knows that those baby feet can’t keep the socks on. It’s a struggle I’ve seen my friends go through before. At my baby shower I received a set of non slip socks that my friend swore would stay on his feet! And they did! I am pretty obsessed with these socks now, I’ve bought them in every size and became a loyal customer. My favorite brand so far is robeez. There are other brands you can find.

AND MY FAVORITE:

10. Baby Tracking APP: 

This is my most used app. Seriously. I am using it to keep track of my baby’s day, diapers, feedings, and sleep. From the beginning I wanted an app that I could use to track his sleep to see what his sleep pattern was. I ended up purchasing the upgrade and I absolutely love it! I am breastfeeding, and I have friends who are bottle feeding and use this app, they find it extremely helpful to keep track of baby’s feedings. Best five bucks spent.

Bonus: Skin Care Items

Babyganics ointment

A must! This winter has been so dry that my baby’s skin needs all the moisture possible! When R was born he had the most velvety beautiful skin, and two weeks later poor thing was hit with every skin issue possible! We found out that he has very sensitive skin and ended up getting almost every rash a newborn can get. It was 2-3 months before his skin issues were completely gone. (I am considering writing about it in another post). For dry skin nothing worked, and I mean, he had dry skin that was flaking off, I’ve never seen anything like it! Vaseline didn’t do it, so I’m happy I was able to get his skin back to the proper moisture! Now, its my go to.

Mom’s must haves:
as a new mom I received some valuable advice from mom friends to stock up on these items, so if you are a mom to be for the first time like I was, seriously, stock up on these items. Some of them I haven’t had to use yet (we haven’t had a diaper rash yet, thank God) but when an issue comes up, I’m happy that I don’t have to go to the store.

  • A&D Cream
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Tylenol for infants
  • Gripe water
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Stool softeners
  • Saline Spray
  • Humidifier

I hope that you found this product review post helpful! It’s been a journey for me as a new mom to discover what works and what doesn’t. It’s my favorite items, so allow me my opinion, if you don’t love them as much, its ok too.

I actually love gadgets and products, so send me what your favorites are for babies and busy moms, I’ll definitely look into them!

Stay fabulous!

xoxo

L.

My pregnancy highlights

9 months is a long time only until you carry a little human inside, then it happens in a blink of an eye!

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My first trimester was so rough and I was so sick that I barely remember what happened. It went by fast, however, in comparison to the other part of my pregnancy. So I thought I’d share with you all some of the highlights (good and bad) from my journey.

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What I’ll miss the most is the movements and all the kicks inside my belly. Feeling little feet was amazing, even if they were up in my ribs for the last two months!

I am glad that dealing with nausea is over with. The worst part of it for me was throwing up every time I was brushing my teeth. It was literally the only nightmare for me before I got pregnant and that’s exactly what happened to me for 3 months straight!

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Second trimester was my favorite time. I felt like my bump was adorable and I could dress it up in so many ways! I loved shopping for cute outfits online. So far my favorite place is asos.com with a lot of options for dresses, shirts and pants!

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I had a lot of really fun moments that I will treasure for a long time! Among them was getting dressed up and taking maternity photos! It was a great time getting my husband out to do it with me and even though he was resisting, in the end he had a fun time and loves the memories those pictures created! Our photoshoot was actually on our 4th wedding anniversary and it was a great way to start celebrating the weekend!

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My husband is currently running for public office in Albany and this has been one of the busiest seasons of our lives! That’s why getting away for a baby moon was so difficult and also extremely refreshing for both of us! We didn’t tell anyone when and where and long we were gone for. It was perfect. We recommend that to every expecting couple if your life allows it!

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Second month of pregnancy was weird for me. I had extreme sensitivities to smells and food, and it was so bad that the entire month the only thing I could eat was pad thai and bread. You can imagine where my grocery money went to.

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For a while I thought that I was feeling my ligaments stretch, especially on the left side right where my ribs are, only to see on the ultrasound that it was the baby’s foot up in my ribs so high it was giving me real issues. Sometimes I couldn’t sneeze, laugh, cough without sharp pain, and tylenol became a must to fall asleep without feeling those toes playing with my ribs as if it was a piano! Somehow I feel like this is the pain I will miss. A lot.

I hope that sharing some of my thoughts and experiences during this journey is encouraging to some of you ladies! I am actually a private person and learned how to have public face, there are a lot of things I have kept private about my pregnancy, I won’t tell you how much weight I’ve gained even if I tell you that it was a lot more then I was planning on or wanted to, but I can promise that I can still be real about the ups and downs. And I’ve certainly had my ups and downs with this experience. It’s not always glamorous and there are a lot of gross moments, but in the end, my body is making a human from scratch, and that’s pretty incredible!

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Love your body, and what its able to do! It’s the only one you have! Enjoy every moment and every disappointment! Love every pound you put on to keep that babe healthy! Share your thoughts and fears with other women, they will support you and love you! Don’t be afraid to cry! When you have a real pregnancy brain moment, like the super embarrassing one, just laugh at yourself and let it go! Life is too short!

 

xoxo

From vacation to work mode

Have you ever felt like you need a vacation day to come back from vacation? And then another day just to unpack, clean and restock your fridge?

I’ve been there. Practically that’s what I’ve done after coming back from vacation every time, and I have the luxury of doing so because I have my own business and make my own hours. This year I had a full scheduled booked after vacation so I needed to be WORK MODE ready! That includes unpacking, laundry, food, and most important – MINDSET!

So here are some tips and tricks I learned so you don’t end up feeing this way:

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I think coming back from vacation starts before you leave. Preparing your mind and knowing what to expect when you are gone, and when you come back. Being surprised with an accident or an unpredicted event is one thing but coming back and staying to yourself “I knew it would happen this way” is another! Don’t make it your fault, make it your victory!

  1. Mindset. Have the right expectations for what you will need to do and give yourself room for error. In other words prepare to let things not be perfect, it will be less stressful. Plan an extra day just for your mind to come back to normal routine, and schedule a day for yourself when you should ‘feel’ back. Knowing that’s when you need to be really “ON” will help the process. Write it down in your planner, or set a reminder in your phone calendar and it will allow you to have room to not feel like you’re back.
  2.  Checklist the crap out of your life! Ok, so we all hate doing the list, but making them is easy. I recommend having 3 lists. First write out everything you think that you will absolutely have to do after you come back. Then make 3 separate lists (literally rewrite them): *1st day back *2nd day back *3-5 days after coming back. Give yourself slack and put the to-do list on your schedule so you have 1-2 hours each day to do each item.
  3. The J-O-B. If you know that you have to be at work the day after or the same day after a vacation, prepare ahead of time. Set your day up with no appointment or the absolute minimum of meetings. Schedule 1 hour slots, literally schedule them into your calendar with reminders, to check email and 1 hour slots of time to return phone calls/conference calls. If you work in an environment where you have a lot of data to evaluate and to catch up on, make sure to schedule time to review the data and spread sheets you’ve missed. The 2nd day back at work start with an easy morning (by easy I mean spend more time with your computer then people) and continue the afternoon with meetings and social engagements.
  4. Food, because you will have to cook after spending your savings on food while on vacation. Again, the point is to prepare before you leave. Shop for some freezer meals, or make up your own freezer meals. Schedule what food you and your family will eat for each day of the week (or 2 weeks if that helps) and freeze as much as possible of it. Allow it to be an easy transition and get your crockpot ready. Be sure to throw out all the food that will expire and throw out all left overs before you leave. You will feel SO much better when you come home to a clean fridge (that doesn’t smell) and all it takes is some clorox wipes. P.s. If all else fails, stash a stack of take out menus on the fridge with an envelope full of cash ready for you when you come home. Sometimes cooking is hard to come back to. Leave cash, thats going to be important when you just spent everything shopping on your vaca.
  5. Cleaning the house. Once again, prepare before you leave, if at all possible clean the house the day before you leave and then it will be less work when coming back. If you need to, hire a maid. It is ok. You cannot do everything especially if you have kids. Or pay your kids to clean! They will need the cash before a vacation. Make this one as easy as possible so you don’t have to think long about it, just decide.
  6. Laundry. Seriously, don’t you hate this one the most of them all? This one is my personal least favorite. I don’t mind it, it just takes so much time that when I’m trying to get back into work mode, it seems like I don’t have patience for it. First, do all the laundry necessary like underwear and socks for 3 days after coming back, then schedule a day (day 4 or 5 after coming back) to do all the laundry you need to. Pick a favorite movie and spend a couple hours doing laundry, folding, with your movie on. Maybe a Starbucks would be a perfect fit with that! It will be very confusing for your brain, you will be doing something you hate but it won’t hurt as much. But definitely put it all away, nothing feels worse then the clutter of clean laundry pile.
  7. Unpacking. This one depends on how long you are gone and how many suitcases you have. Weekend trip, unpack right away. Short trip – unpack in 1-2 days. A week or longer trip – unpack 1 suitcase a day, or set up a rule that it all has to be done, put away, suitcases back into storage after 4 days. I find that scheduling these things helps a lot! And I promise it will make you feel better.

 

I hope yo find these 7 tips helpful!

Here are a few extras! Some of my personal favorite tips to make you feel welcome when you come back home. The extra is for someone OCD like me.

 

 

  •  Traveling for a week or longer? Ask a family member, trusted friend or coworker to stop by your home/apartment every couple of days. Not just to take care of your pets and plants, ask them to open the all windows and let the house air out. There is nothing worse to come home to then that musty smell of you’ve been away too long and your house smells like an old lady. Don’t trust anyone?Get some air freshers to be plugged in while you’re gone.
  • Hide an extra key. It may be better to give it to a neighbor. Just in that case when you lose your luggage or just loose your keys and still want to get into your home without breaking any windows.
  • If you have serious symptoms of OCD and usually feel overwhelmed coming home to a lot of work and back to work, I recommend some of my favorite therapy sessions. Free of charge.
    • fluff some pillows up by pounding all your energy, anger, feelings of sorrow from leaving the beach, frustration and whatever else you may feel. You will feel better and your pillows will feel great when you go to sleep!
    • spray up the shower with that bleach that makes you cry because its so strong! Scrub that bathroom up and just cry your heart out! After all, its the bleach that made you cry, not the stress. Totally normal. Total therapy sesh.
    • take a long shower, have pity city time while in the shower and once out, you are all good to be an adult again and deal with the problems life sends your way!

 

Coming back is hard, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

At the end of the day when all is done, everyone is fed, you’re caught up, reward yourself!

 

I hope you find some of these tips helpful! Subscribe to get more tips to beautify your life and your home!