If you’ve never been to Grand Canyon, you have to go!
A couple of years ago we drove past it and ever since then I regretted the fact that we did stop to see it. I would have loved to hike and explore it but that’s not very easy with a baby. So this year we had the opportunity to visit Grand Canyon with our baby boy and I wanted to share some of our favorite moments!
We had a great time and loved this package from the Railway Hotel in Williams. You can find more details here and watch their video here. The video preview is really what sold us on it and got us very excited about doing it with our baby!
We chose to take the grand canyon tour via bus, and it was perfect for our family! They drove us around and stopped at each location to see the view, talked about history and details that otherwise we wouldn’t have known, and best of all, it was super easy with a baby! He slept on the bus ride, then woke up in time for us to walk around the canyon views and take some photos! It was very hot outside so having a bus that’s air-conditioned was the best!
What no one tells you is that the Grand Canyon is at 8000 feet elevation, its very dry and feels hotter outside then it actually is. At night it gets cold, but not by much. It was uncomfortably hot even though it was technically only 80 degrees out. So research the weather for the season in which you plan on going.
The train entertainment was very fun! There were musicians singing (lots of country music), robbers who go on the train from chasing it on horses, a sherif who was then chasing after them, just over all very family friendly.
I hope you enjoyed our pictures, and I hope you have a chance to experience it yourself one day! The grandeur of Grand Canyon is something that’s hard to describe in words!
Let me tell you, this cookie is amazing! Just stop your search and try this recipe!
We are currently traveling with our baby in Arizona (more on that later) and the day we landed in Phoenix I got sick and was very happy to have a stash of my lactation cookies to help me while away from home and a shrinking supply. The first night I had 3 or maybe 5 cookies (they are really delicious, ok!?) and by morning I was engorged, which barely ever happens now.
So here is my cookie, I hope you enjoy and it helps your supply from “just enough-er” like to me to fit the need of your little one!
Start here >
1 cup organic brown sugar
1/2 cup organic granulated sugar
1 cup organic coconut oil
Mix together on low speed in a mixer until fluffy and mixed well.
Add one at a time:
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
2 tbs water
Mix together on low speed
In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cup organic wholegrain flour
1 tsp salt
5 tbs brewers yiest
6 fenugreek capsules
Gently fold the dry mixture into the first part that you whisked in the mixer earlier.
I really like the oatmeal mix of a cookie I created, so this is what I used in mine:
Mix together all the dry ingredients and fold them into the rest of the mixture.
1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup organic coconut flakes (I prefer to use raw and not toasted flakes)
1/2 cup organic chia seeds
2/3 cup organic ground flax meal
2/3 cup organic almonds shreds
2/3 cup organic sunflower seeds (not toasted)
1/2 cup organic semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup organic mixed berry (I like this one from the grocery store they have different options and I love the one with mulberries, cherries, cranberries and a few different options that I wouldn’t normally get individually)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place cookies on a baking sheet 1 inch apart.
Bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. These will be easy to burn on the bottom so watch the timer closely! I found that with coconut oil the cookies seemed to burn faster. My oven is new and I’m still learning how it works and how it bakes, yours may take a little longer bake then 8 minutes.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before taking them off.
I use these little zip-log bags to be store them. It makes it super easy for me to throw one into my diaper bag or purse and have it during a coffee break during the day. Or I freeze them for later need.
If you try this recipe and it does wonders for you like it did for me, could you do me a huge favor? Come back and tell me about it! I’d love to hear it!
Have you struggled with keeping your house clean and organized ALL week and ALL the time instead of just only the day that it gets cleaned?
I’ve been there and lived through it! In the last year I made it a goal to live in a decluttered house and keep organized! It does good for my soul! So here are my 5 tips that have proven to work for me every single day, making sure that if someone stops by my house I am not embarrassed to welcome visitors!
Make the bed firs thing in the morning. This needs to happen before you get dressed, sometimes before you go down to get a cup of coffee. If you run a little behind or the kid(s) drive you crazy, just make sure it’s done before you leave the house! I think that having a made up bed is SO important for your mind! It just starts out the day with the mindset of get it done and it certainly pays off!
Open the curtains as the second thing in the morning. Ok, so this one I do after I have my coffee made, but definitely most often it’s while I am still in my PJs hanging out with baby R in the living room waiting for the caffeine to kick in. We have curtains in our house and I absolutely love the character curtains bring in! At night we close them for privacy since we live in a neighborhood with people walking on our street in the evening, but in the morning there is just something about opening curtains and having the light flow into the room that wakes you up for the day! It’s a gesture of being ready for the day, even if the coffee isn’t working yet, I always find that my mind is accepting of the day’s work load ahead and I usually accomplish more!
Distribute household chores between the days of the week. It seems so simple, but this one was the hardest for me to get into a habit of doing. I grew up in a family where Saturday was cleaning day, the kind of day where the whole house is turned upside down and every corner cleaned with dust bunnies picked up from under the bed. I sometimes will still do that, but mostly when I am dealing with some sort of frustration and cleaning helps me clear my mind. Having a chore assigned to each day allows you to have 30 minute cleaning sessions a day (a lot of times less then that) and your work load is much lighter to keep everything looking good throughout the week. For example, Monday is when I clean the bathrooms. So I don’t do any other house work except bathrooms and it feels very manageable. If you need to combine days, move things around, it’s all flexible of course, but having a day dedicated to a room or a chore is definitely what helped me!
Laundry. The enemy of every mom? The least desired task in the home ever? I remember a woman once told me she hates doing laundry so much she will go out to buy new underwear and clothes just so she doesn’t have to do the laundry. Now, that is wasteful in my opinion, it probably takes more time to drive to the store to pick out a new outfit then it would take to do a load of laundry and fold it into the closet! I have experimented with doing laundry all in one day and then leaving it all to be folded on a different day, or having to do it all at the same time and all in one day (yikes!) but what I found that works best for me mentally and physically is spreading it out. Here is what I mean!
I split the laundry into 3 categories: all whites (which basically includes towels and bedding), gentle cycle clothes (typically baby clothes and dress shirts), and everything else.
I spread out laundry over the week days, for example on a day that I don’t have a lot of house hold cleaning to do I do 2 loads of laundry, so the total amount of chore time is still the same day-to-day. On a day that I have more work – like cleaning the floors, I focus on doing 1 load of towels, which usually is run while I do the floors, and then I fold them and put them away after. Since it’s towels usually it’s the fastest to fold and put away as far as any laundry item.
The most helpful tip for me when it comes to laundry is putting it away within 24 hours of it coming out of the dryer. I find that if I don’t do it the same day then it will probably not get done for a while. The best thing you can do for yourself is build in time for tasks like laundry so it feels less overwhelming and very manageable.
Clothes that you see in your closet will get worn, clothes that are put away into your closet will keep better in long term then being tossed into a wrinkly pile in the corner of the room, and clothes that are easily accessible in your closet will save you money to not have to go search for new things at the store to avoid laundry days.
5 minute check at night. You can create your own name for this part. In my opinion how you start the day and how you end the day is THE key to cleanliness and organization of your home!
At the end of the night before I go upstairs to get ready for bed (or just get ready for bed when you don’t have a multi level home), I take 5-10 minutes to just straighten things out. I have a hard time putting into words but you all know exactly what I mean.
It looks exactly like the 5 minutes you take to make your house look good when you get a call that your in-laws are coming over or your husband is brining a colleague over after work. It’s the 5 miraculous minutes it takes to take your house from a complete mess covered in toys, pillows in the wrong spot of the couch, and random shoes on the floor to a presentable home establishment.
Except, this time you take 5 minutes to do it for YOU! So that what you wake up in the morning to come open the curtains and let the sun into the home, you will find peace when you turn around to face your living space picked up. It gives me hope and energy for the new day and it jump starts my next productive day.
Let’s have a quick reality check here. Is my house perfectly squeaky clean all the time? No. I wish! Is my laundry all done on time every week? Nope. But I am ok with that! These 5 rules I created for myself to help me keep accountable and get things done in a timely manner. I am not perfect and when I slack off and things don’t get done it’s hard to get back into the flow. When my system works however, I am at my happiest and I am in my best mindset to be there as a wife, mom, friend and business owner.
I hope you find this inspirational to strive to change 1 thing at a time to a more organized life and home. Don’t strive for perfection, make it a goal to becoming better over time.
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)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Naturally, you can’t go to Paris and not visit the Eiffel tower!
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.
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?!
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?
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.
What we brought with us to the picnic:
(stroller comes in super handy in this case)
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.
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.
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?
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Family photos from our last trip to New York city 2 weeks ago.
I love my family!
I can’t believe my baby is 6 months already! This photoshoot was just a dream!
We love the faces he makes and enjoyed our trip this May!