Top 6 lessons traveling to Australia

Bring another adult if you are traveling with a kid  

My husband and I are on a trip to Australia and New Zealand for 3 weeks with out 1 year old boy. This time we really felt a need for another adult as bed time and naps would trump going out for a nice dinner by the water.

Going on a longer trip with just your family is great, amazing and also crowded. It’s possible that you will want to have some adult time and stay up later then your kid. Anytime we tried to push bedtime to a later time we had a fussy baby at the restaurant. So if you can, definitely bribe someone to come along with you!

Don’t leave souvenir shopping for the last day

Like most tourists, I’m sure you would want to do some souvenir shopping and bring things back for yourself or for your family and friends. I find it simpler and easier to get all the shopping done before your last day on vacation. First of all, if you find something you love, just buy it, it may not be available at another spot and you won’t have to go back to get it. Second, find from the locals where the market is with all the small trinkets that’s away from the touristy spot. They will have the best prices and best bang for your buck.

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Ask Airbnb host, or your hotel, to check in early

Our family has traveled via Airbnb on 3 continents, 4 countries and so many different apartments. We’ve learned a lot from using Airbnb and I wrote about it here.

I would definitely recommend staying via Airbnb, it’s cheaper, better prices, laundry available, and often you can stay in a hotel using Airbnb with better prices (we’ve done this also). A lot of hotels and apartments won’t let you check in until 2-3 pm, and most of the time when we asked to check in early or at least leave our bags there early, they were very accommodating.

Don’t land anywhere in the middle of the night

So much to be said about this one, and unfortunately this lesson we learned the hard way. Unless you are staying next to the airport, meaning walking distance, or you have someone picking you up.

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Have a flexible plan

It’s so important to have a list of what you want to do, when you want to do it, but with a family, or small kid(s) it can change, so I find it helpful to be flexible and mentally open to change itinerary if needed. When you go into  your vacation with no expectations, everything will be amazing and better then you thought it would be.

Also, have a plan and at least 2 day itinerary booked and planned. We’ve been rained on and had to be super flexible often on this trip. We were still able to enjoy our time and have a great trip despite all the challenges and detours.

Spend more time at the beach 

The beach in Australia and in New Zealand is nothing like I’ve ever seen. It’s incredible and our regret is not staying at the beach longer while we were around Sydney.

 

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3 tips on how to switch baby’s sleep to a new timezone.

If you’re preparing to travel with a baby or a toddler, and you’re a mom, you definitely worry about sleep. You worry about loosing your own sleep and then worry that your little one won’t have enough rest to recover from all the activities you’ve planned.

With the daylight savings time and packing for our next trip, sleep time switch is what we are going through right now, so I wanted to share what worked for us to gently change our baby’s routine and move the sleep schedule. As parents know, if baby sleeps, we sleep. It’s so much more important for everyone’s immune system (not to get sick from germ infested airports) and recovery from jet leg during time zone travels.

First of all, the most important thing to remember is that you need to plan your day to make sure you know what 12 hours of the day you want your baby to sleep – creating the night hours for them.

It is completely appropriate for these hours to vary depending on where you are staying and what your activities are as a family. For example, when we were in Paris, France, 7 pm bedtime in NY would be 12 am bedtime in Paris. We decided to keep it that way and started baby’s bed routine at 10:30 pm. It worked out perfectly for us because there was no switch! (except for me to count the times of day he was napping) We had a slow morning, kept the room dark with room darkening curtains, and  would take turns going out in the morning. It was great because it allowed my husband and I to have alone time, which is very important when we travel and spend 24/7 together. We took turns running errands in the morning before noon (baby’s wake up time) and then went on with our day together once he was up. Parisians eat dinner late, so it fit into our schedule perfectly, we would take a stroll through the city one last time before coming back ‘home’ to our airbnb apartment around 10 in time for baby’s bed things. You may choose to do it differently, but make sure it works for your family! Another time – when we were in Arizona, baby’s sleep was 7 pm – 7 am, and we had to do a switch for him to get adjusted to a new schedule, it worked great for all of us!

Here are my top 3 tips:

Keep your baby up.

No matter what, no matter how tired your baby is, keep them up, distract them, tire them out even more and put them to bed at the time that you decide and establish as the NEW sleep time. For example, with daylight savings time, we gained an hour and what normally was 7 pm bedtime would become 6 pm. In my opinion it’s too early, so we started keeping baby up until 8 pm 2 days before Sunday, by 8 pm he was so tired and went to bed easily and very quickly. Once daylight savings day came (Sunday), he was half way to the switch; I do feel like it’s harder to move sleep by one hour, but you get it done! If the timezone is 3 hours difference or more, your baby may need a quick nap before the new proposed bedtime, so let them sleep for 45 minutes (a full baby sleep cycle) and then wake baby up for a couple of hours before the new bedtime. Same goes for nap time, keep your baby up until the new schedule nap time is up.

Keep your baby asleep.

I know, it’s the hardest thing to do when your baby just doesn’t want to sleep! Here is what works for us: keep curtains shut and put in extra layer of light blocking curtains to keep the hotel room as dark as possible. If you need some light, then keep it as dim as possible. If your baby wakes up too early and doesn’t know that you’re trying to switch them to sleep in for a couple more hours, take them to bed with you, while you’re laying down, cuddle, hang out, don’t let them play with toys, try to keep them laying down (I know its nearly impossible once your baby is on the move), give them a bottle of warm milk, it will make them sleepy, and in general keep voices low and the atmosphere as calm as possible. When the hour comes when you want them to wake up, turn the lights on, open up the curtains and let the sun in, letting them know it’s waking time. Their body will catch up to those signals really quickly!

Don’t give in!

No matter what, don’t give in and let your baby sleep in, or wake up early, or go to bed earlier then the NEW time YOU set for them! It’s so hard for those 3 days when you’re making them switch and adapt to a new schedule, but it’s so worth it in the end! My baby always did the full switch by day 4, as if his own biological clock was reset and he was ready to do it like nothing ever happened! Don’t get me wrong though, these 3 days to get there (can be more) will be tough! You will either wake up hours earlier then you want to, or loose sleep some other way. It’s hardest when its 1-4 hours difference, and easiest when its 6+ hours of a change.

For full disclosure, I did not sleep train my baby, I tried reading the books, but it was just not for me. My philosophy was to pay very close attention to my baby and his needs, his wake time and when he would want to go to sleep. I believe that we found a sweet spot where he sleeps 12-13 hours at night, 2 naps that usually last 1.5-2 hours each. This has been our schedule since he was 7 months and now is almost 13 months old. Of course we’ve had some really bad nights and teething sleeplessness, sick baby and tired parents times, no one is immune to those.

Would you like to hear more about our baby’s sleep schedule and how I learned from him what he needed?

Comment below your questions and comments about sleep, I’ll do my best to share our story. I am an expert in my baby’s sleep, because I have to be, and hope that it can help another mama friend!

XX

L.

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.

Stroller review: Mutsy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

My favorite features:

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

Not so great:

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

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

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

xx

L.

 

apps every mom needs!

Oh how I love technology! Sure, it keeps us connected and plugged in and more busy, but it also allows us to keep life organized. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite apps with you and I hope you find them helpful in making your life easier and more organized.

 

GoogleKeep. FREE. Someone introduced me to it 2 years ago and since I became a mom I really appreciate having it. Mom brain is a real thing and I can’t wait to get my “sharp” edge back, all you moms know. So this app is awesome for helping me keep up with life, to do lists and everything that needs to be done on a daily basis.

Sworkit. A really cool way to work out with a trainer, with a plan. It’s free (also an upgrade option available for a price, well worth it in my opinion!) I like how its easy and very user friendly with reminders to be able to be keep up your motivation. The app allows you to pick your work out and 7 day free trial to check it out to make sure you love it. After 7 days you have the option to pay $9.99 a month or $4.99 a month if you choose to pay for the full year all at once, which is an amazing option to have access to so many work outs on your phone for only $59.99 a year.

Amazon. FREE. I had to add this one to the list! If you’re a mom you know how long it takes to go to the store and pick up just some of the essentials, and amazon prime comes in so handy it’s unreal! I will admit, I use amazon for reviews on products, ideas for gifts, shopping and price comparisons.

Sweat. I know so many women who use this app and love Kayla’s training system. The work outs are great and one of my favorite things is the video where it shows you how to do the work out if you’re more of a visual person and pictures aren’t enough. I like the clock going during your work out and showing you how much time you have (suggested) to finish your work out. This app comes with resources for food and more education – definitely a lot to read up on, and is worth the money, as it’s a little more cost then the first app I mention, at $19.99 a month.

p.s. If you follow other blogger moms, you probably heard of Kayla Itsines and her BBG 12 week program. This app is super in helping you follow the plan.

Expensify. FREE. If you’re a mompreneur, you need this. An easy way to track your milage, copy of receipts and everything business expenses related when you travel + work from home + hate keeping up with papers and receipts. It has an option to email the spreadsheets at the end of the year to make it easier for taxes.

TheWonderWeeks. FREE. An absolute must have for first time mamas with infants. I feel more educated on the stages of development my baby is going through and follow along with his stages and new skills. I wish I downloaded this app sooner and knew when to expect the stage of sleep regression or tantrums.. So definitely get it into your phone now!

Poshmark. FREE. A perfect spot to sell clothes, shoes and accessories for you and your kids. It takes a little time to navigate it, but you find things to buy quickly! I was able to make some money selling items from my closet that no longer fit (hello postpartum body) and get some shoes and purses for myself. I haven’t bought any baby items yet but I have seen a lot of them on there. The biggest thing about this app is understanding the way it works and making sure that the quality of the product you receive as the purchaser is the way it was described.

Quora. FREE. I just recently discovered this website and app. It seems like the best spot for forums, questions to ask and give advice. I love how easy it is and how many questions you’re asked at the beginning when you’re setting up your profile. The app allows you to add topics of your interests so what you see are topics you’re an expert on or interested in learning about. A new mom or a mom who is going through something new with her kids (teenagers or potty training..) would love this website! It’s definitely better then all the Facebook mom groups because there are more opinions and more people to gain from.

Photofy. I like this one for all the editing on photos. We are in the world of Instagram obsessed moms and this app helps! It’s easy to use to edit photos and overlay with words (for those weekly updates). AND then some! If you work from home and need an app for backgrounds for your quotes, Facebook posts, etc., you’ll love it! This app will give you a lot and allow you to choose what you need and how much you’d choose to pay for the services.

Pinterest. FREE. Every woman’s best friend for ideas, because how else will you spend your nights feeding the baby? Enough said.

VoxerFREE. Perfect for the organizer mom. This app will make a walkie-talkie out of your phone. When you’re constantly on the go and still need to keep up with your tribe, get them all on the app and it will allow you to send quick voice messages with ease. SO much faster then texting even! It also allows you to create groups so that more then one person can hear you. I have used it to communicate for my business so far (my business mentor made me get it but now I love it) but I see a lot of value in it for moms when you need to be hands free and get a message out to a group of moms quickly. There is also an upgrade option available depending on your needs.

MY NUMBER ONE Must have app for newborns!

Baby TrackerFREE. This app SAVED me in the beginning! One of my mom friends introduced me to it and I am so thankful! For the first few months after my baby was born it was hard to keep track of anything let alone keep up with his feeding schedule, poop diapers, sleep and everything else! This app allows you to keep track of EVERYTHING baby related, add pictures, and even keep track of how much breastmilk you have in your storage. You have to have this one with a newborn! I especially loved it when traveling, because then everything kind of blended together and it was very helpful to have a tracker of my baby’s activities to make sure I didn’t miss something. I used the app religiously until about month 7/8. My baby got on a regular schedule then with diapers and with naps, so one day I decided to stop and we have been on a good routine that’s easy to keep track of since.

 

I hope you found some of these apps helpful and they can make your busy life easier! If you already use some of these or if you download it and think its amazing, please come back and tell me, I’d love to know your thoughts!

Maybe you thought of your mom friend who needs one of these – do her a favor and share this on her Facebook wall, she will thank you!

xx

L.

Grand Canyon Railway Tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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XX

L.

 

The BEST Lactation cookie! (dairy free)

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.

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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!

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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:

2 eggs

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.

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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!

Stay fabulous!

XX

L.

30 Tips for traveling with a baby

Traveling with a baby soon?

That’s awesome!

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

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

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Hotel 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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AirBnB

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

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

Traveling by car

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travel Gear

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

It depends on where you are going.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Activities in the car

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

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

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

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

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

And then some

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

For baby clothes I recommend packing:

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

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

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

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

 

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

5 tips to keep a clean house

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.

 

L.

5 Nursing BRA Reviews

I know I am not the only mom who had a hard time finding a good nursing bra. If this is for you lady, then keep reading – I’m talking my personal experience with nursing bras!

Since I had the baby I feel like my rib cage expanded and its wider, my cup size increased and the shape of my breast changed. As frustrating as it is, these are all normal things to experience for a nursing mama.

When I look for a good bra I look for: support, comfort, underwire, no uniboob, no back boob, reasonable price, refund policy (just incase), soft material but also thick enough not to show nipples though. Sorry if it’s tmi, but those are important to me. When I look at a company, I want the best return policy, just in case and remember its always a good idea to get professionally measured at 2 months postpartum and at 6-9 months postpartum.

But in case you are a DIYer girl, here is a link to see a video on how to find out your size. 

Sleeper bra

My first nursing bra was from Amazon. A still use it as a sleeping bra, its soft and gives me good support during the night, but it’s not enough during the day. The material feels nice, it handles the wash well, I bought the pink one and its lost some color since washing it but I still like it. During the first 2-3 weeks this served as a good transition bra for me. Ultimately it’s not a fantastic fit for the day look because I didn’t find enough support for during the day and this one has a thin material that would show nippling.

Demi Cushioned from Motherhood Maternity 

This is my favorite when you want a seamless look. It is easy to wear under clothes that show lines and lace material through, also any see-through type shirts, this bra is great! I find that it runs small, I would order a size or two bigger then what you normally would wear. The band tends to be very tight so order a size up again. The material is soft and it wears well. This is my favorite bra from Motherhood Maternity and the only one I’d recommend. (I tried 4 from this store)

Jessica Simpson Underwire Bra 

The only thing I like about this bra is the price. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a 6. It’s not bad, I still wear it when I need to, but if it was gone out of my closet magically I wouldn’t miss it. It is underwire and the cup material is thicker then I’m used to. What I don’t like is how it shows the lines of it under clothing – especially if it’s a smooth material top. A perk of this bra is that it gives you rounder-ish shape and the shape of the cup stays just the way it is. So if you feel like you need to have the girls stay in nice shape, this will be a good fit.

Third Love Underwire Nursing Bra

This bra definitely impressed me. I had my eye out for the regular line undergarments this company has, and when they came out with a nursing bra, I jumped right on it! I think this one runs a size smaller, but the best part is that you have 100% satisfaction guarantee, they take good care of you! You have to click the link to check it out but I just love the front clasp and the softness of the cups. This bra fits me best out of all of the ones I’ve tried. No side boob, no back cleavage, no weird tight spots anywhere, so it has my vote! When I got the package I love the little tag that says “the best bra is the one you never think about” – what a great moto to have!

Heidi Klum Lace Bra no underwire

I called this one my sexy bra. For the first few months motherhood is so far from glamorous. Spit in clothes and hair, dry shampoo, showers once a week or sometimes two times a day, diapers upon diapers, and just so much pulling and tugging on your body that it’s hard to remember that you are a graceful, beautiful creature underneath that new title mommy. About 4-6 weeks postpartum is when I found this bra and it made me feel all womanly, feminine and sexy again for the first time in what felt like ages. I love the lace and how soft it is! I love the lace detail even when you pull the side down to nurse – that’s probably my favorite thing about it! There are about 5 extra clasps at the end so it accommodates your body changes and the fact that you can loose weight and this bra transitions with you! Heidi sure know what she’s doing with this design, comfort and function! This is my second favorite bra out of these 5!

 

I hope you found this review helpful! This is my personal experience, so take what you need.

P.s. I tried some bras from Target and Walmart and had really bad experience. They didn’t properly, fell apart quickly and just didn’t work for me. You know, the kind of bra you put on and immediately it sounds like you need some wd40 to oil up those corners (or whatever is making that squeaky noise every time you move an arm).