Calling First Time Travelers…with Kids!

I’ve experienced a lot of “firsts” over the past 12 months. First-time mom. New role at work. First time traveling with a child internationally.

Being that my husband’s family lives in Germany, this was our year to head overseas for the holidays. I knew what the plan was well in advance. I was preparing for the plan. And the plan terrified me.IMG_0396

Having traveled quite a bit for work over the years, I felt pretty confident with my handle on airports; security lines; securing my favorite seat on an airplane and the most efficient ways to get from point A to point B. I hate to admit to this but it’s true: as a stand-alone traveler, when you see that poor soul weighed down by countless diaper bags and blankets and chubby fingers innocently resting on the side of a stroller, priming themselves to hurl whatever object their toying with, to the floor with unbridled enthusiasm, you turn and head in the opposite direction. Immediately.

Nothing personal, of course. But in my pre-baby days, I was fully devoted to the belief that traveling with children was the equivalent of where time and efficiency went to die: slowly. However, now being on the other side of that fence, my awe and respect for parents who tread boldly into that realm, has skyrocketed.

Now that we’ve returned home safely and soundly from our own international travels, I have a few tips of advice to offer those bravely marching into this realm of experience (it actually wasn’t so bad):

  1. Buy a light weight travel stroller and a plastic weather-proof covering (Kolcraft Cloud Plus Lightweight Stroller, $59; Jeep Standard Stroller Weather Shield, Single Stroller Cover, Baby Weather Protector, Clear Plastic, $10.45; find both at amazon.com). Both were life-savers. When our son was born, we bought a Graco 1-Click Infant Car Seat + Jogging Stroller which is great…but the stroller just happens to weigh 40 pounds, before baby. When you’re traipsing through airports trying to make tight connections, gate checking your stroller needs to be as stress free as possible. Not to mention, depending on your destination, many countries don’t have elevators in residential buildings so the lighter that stroller is you have to carry up seven flights of stairs, the better. Also, no matter where you are, you can’t predict the weather. The weather shield was great because regardless if the day brought rain, ice-laced wind or unwelcome cigarette smoke, I loved the all-around protection it provided.
  2. Get a travel friendly bottle cleaning kit and sanitizing bag (OXO Tot On-the-Go OXO Tot On-the-Go Travel Drying Rack with Bottle Brush- GreenTravel Drying Rack with Bottle Brush, $14.99; Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags, $4.59 for 5 bags; find both at amazon.com). Depending on the age of your child, the kit could also come in handy for washing sippy cups, snack containers or just provide sheer entertainment for inquisitive minds and busy hands in that last stretch on the flight. Sadly, I did not bring the sanitizing bags on our trip and that was a huge miss. We went the “boiling water” route but the whole ordeal could have been so much easier if we had brought a few of these along.
  3. Bring along as many fruit squeezers and pre-packaged toddler meals as the weight limit and your luggage space will allow. I cannot tell you how many times we ended up popping a little ravioli meal in the microwave for our son. There are so many healthy options out there now to choose from, that offer preservative and gluten-free options for children. You can find these at your local grocery store and minimizing the amount of “unfamiliar” for children who are already in new surroundings will cut down on stress in a big way.
  4. Some airlines offer bassinets for those traveling with infants or children around 20 pounds. We flew with Delta and were aIMG_0451ble to reserve a bassinet when we booked our tickets. Make sure to follow up and confirm two days before your departure and again at check-in.
  5. Pack as many diapers as legally possible. And put them in every nook, cranny and crevice you can find. Stash them on your person if necessary. Yes, you can buy diapers in other countries but give 5 people the same apple pie recipe and odds are, each pie will turn out a little differently. All diapers are not created equal. That’s all I’m saying.
  6. Toys (preferably ones that don’t make noise or play obnoxiously loud music), books and snacks for the plane.
  7. If possible, try to get as much rest as you can leading up to your trip. Sometimes, the only thing that will soothe your little one on the plane is movement. On the 10 hour flight back home, we walked so many laps up and down the aisles, I think we greeted or smiled at every passenger in economy class! You honestly have to walk into airplane travel with children, with the mindset of, “At some point very soon, I’ll get to rest but right no
    w, it’s on.”

Lastly, a large part of my anxiety stemmed from the anticipated reaction I believed I would receive from whatever poor individual we would be seated next to but I could not have caused myself more unnecessary stress. For the most part, people get it. It’s like an unspoken PSA: I’m traveling with a kid. There will be noise. Sorry! We were fortunate enough to be seated around some of the most gracious, understanding individuals and that in and of itself, was an enormous relief.

Hopefully, a few of tips will come in useful to someone in the near future and until then, happy planning!

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Finding Who We Are

There are people in my life, ten and even fifteen years ahead of me who are still trying to figure out who they are; what they want to do with tDIY-Confetti-Cannon-Makeover6heir lives. Actually, most of them already know. They’ve just been doing the same thing for so long at this point, it’s fear. Trudging along day after day in the misery of familiarity has somehow become more comfortable than taking a chance on yourself and paying attention to what your insides are drawn to.

“Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”

It comes across as an elementary cliché in today’s world where social media gives us the ability to repost a famous quote by Maya Angelou, share a meme of the Channing Tatum/Beyonce lip sync battle and like this week’s “Whine About it Wednesday” video in less than five minutes. The large of majority of us are sending Snapchats, tweeting and Facebooking at such a furious rate, I wonder how many people are genuinely taking the time to understand who they are.

Let’s take Matt Bellassai, writer at BuzzFeed and creator of the spectacularly improper, “Whine About It” web series. He drinks half a bottle of wine at his desk at work, chooses a topic that annoys him and begins an improv tirade laced with insults so stinging and hilarious, they might even make Howard Stern blush. But what if he never had the nerve to pitch his idea to the producers at BuzzFeed? What if every time he came up with a new topic or was inspired by a not-so-friendly-barista, he dismissed it, assuming that if no one else was doing it, his idea wouldn’t be accepted?

So. How about, instead of setting another New Year’s Resolution (that you’ll simply get depressed about the minute you only make it to the gym twice instead of three times next week), how about focusing on intentionally being yourself? Valuing what you like, along with what you don’t like and being brave enough to take steps toward those things. Matt Bellassai did. And he won a People’s Choice Award.

I’d say he took the right steps.

I’ve Met Reality

Hello All!

I’m not going to even look back at how long it’s been since I wrote my last post…I might fall out of my chair and not move for a while. I can say however, with a certain degree of confidence, that at the time of my last post I wasn’t yet a married woman-which has been an incredible and tremendous life change!

Conversations with Daniel (my husband) about what we want out of life usually wind down to a few things: being with family and friends, traveling, living out our purposes, eating good food and having a full relationship with God. 

We’ve got a long travel list but over the last several months we’ve been able to visit quite a few places: Scottsdale, Arizona; Cancun, Mexico; St. Augustine, Florida, Las Vegas, Nevada; Strasbourg, France and Heidelberg, Germany.

Another unexpected surprise that turned up was that we found out we have a baby on the way!! Not a 100% planned, but we’ll take it, of course. I’m 18 weeks and 2 days along and the amount of change a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy is spectacularly mind-numbing.

I’d like to keep up regular posts during my pregnancy to track my progress, how I’m feeling, what I love, what I hate…just in case there might be someone else out there going through the same thing or for someone who’s just plain curious.

I hope this post finds everyone well and you’ve gotten a chance to live “life” today whether it’s time with your family, seeing a new place or eating a great meal. As for myself, we’re about to fire up the grill and enjoy a ribeye steak and baked potato! Glory.

Happy Living!

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Decorating Trends 2014: Luxurious Textiles

Great decorating trends for 2014!!

Loretta J. Willis, DESIGNER

Dramatic Scale ~ Glamour ~ Sophistication describe the direction of textile design for the home today!

Finely woven linen prints derived from an antique Chinese painted silk mural panel.

Sch Chinois Palais, Lettuce,175040

Sch Chinois Palais, Aquamarine,175043

Sch Chinois Palais, Tangerine,175044

Known for blending her love of Chinoiserie, color and bold patterns Mary McDonald is a textile designer that I would like to feature today. She “reinterprets traditional textile designs in a clean and graphic style” according to Schumacher who has partnered with her to create a new line of Prints and Wovens that marry her love for all things antique and modern.

Take a look and get inspired for your own homes!

Bold Geometric Linear Design integrated in large scale adds a modern sensibility with luxurious Italian velvet fabric.

Sch Vanderbilt Velvet, Dove, 66190

Sch Vanderbilt Velvet, Greige,66191

Sch Vanderbilt Velvet, Noir,66192

Modern Snake-skin Patterned Print.

Sch Park Avenue Python, Dove,175060

Sch Park Avenue Python, Greige,175061

Dramatic Embroidery on Linen

Sch Don't Fret, Lettuce,66180

Sch Don't Fret, Blue Marine,66181

Sch Don't Fret, Bittersweet,66182

A Classic Flame stitch Needlepoint Fabric is Modernized through its Grand Scale

Sch Bargello, Dove,67170

Sch Bargello, Blush Couch,67171

Sch Bargello, Aquamarine,67172

A Classic Textile in a Bold Print

Sch Garden of Persia, Bittersweet,175032

Sch Garden of Persia, Blue Marine,175033

Dramatic Scale ~ Glamour ~…

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Wallpaper Trends 2014

Love that this trend is making a resurgence–loving that it’s look has made some drastic changes as well!

Loretta J. Willis, DESIGNER

5006734 Foyer, MLB
Wallpaper is back and coming on strong! A classic design element weaving itself in and out of décor trends since the ages began, collections are showing up everywhere. Patterns showcasing the bold and beautiful, gentle and feminine to those that whisper design lightly with vivid color palettes to softer hues for any occasion and style, it is as fresh as ever.

Highlighting just a sampling today it brings me joy to give you a sneak preview of a line created for Schumacher by a marvelous designer, Martyn Lawrence Bullard who is internationally recognized for his collection of wallcoverings that are “bursting with bold, saturated colors and gorgeous, artful patterns.”

Prepare yourself for an eye feast that will certainly inspire you into incorporating wallpaper into your home design plan:

5006622 Taj Trellis, Pomegranate

5006640 Agadir Screen, Lapis Sch.

5006651 Darya Ikat Sidewall, Spice Sch.

5006610 Sinhala Sidewall, Bittersweet Sch.

5006601 Pasha Paisley Pomegranate Sch.

5006661 Topkapi Sepia Sch.

5006671 Mughal Leaf Burnished Gilt Sch.

5006692 Mughal Panel Imperial Sch.

MLB Mantle

Martin Lawrence Bullard, Bath

Absolutely gorgeous, don’t you agree?!

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What’s the Pattern Here?

ImageHello All!

I was sitting in front of my laptop at work today–no, actually I need to back up. I was talking to my fiancé yesterday, trying to verbalize this crossroads I feel that I’ve come upon where I ask myself a series of not-so-unfamiliar questions that range from, “Where are you headed in life? What is your passion? How close are you to your passion? If someone took a snapshot of your dreams as a little girl would the current snapshot of your life, held up next to the snapshot of my childhood cause the latter to shriek and sprint for the nearest 4-lane highway, beholding an unrecognizable version of itself?”

Then it dawned on me…about every 2 years this “gurgle” starts a slow simmer in me. And I will both shamefully and unabashedly admit, I haven’t handled it so well in the past. To put it in perspective, I’ve picked up and moved to another state with 7 boxes that held all of my belongings. I’ve jumped into different job roles that I put absolutely NO thought process into how I might feel after 3 months had gone by. Oh yeah, and I wasn’t make any money either…Needless to say, I’ve had a history of being extremely reckless and impulsive when the “full moon” of the 2 year mark hits.

And then it hit me; ever so un-gently, that this is a pattern in my life. A pattern, a cycle, a re-occurrence. Cycle’s usually re-occur for a reason…because they are trying to take you somewhere; could be good, could be bad, but always different.

What’s your cycle? What’s the pattern you notice stirring around in your soul every once in a while? What are you being driven to do and step out in that perhaps in the past, you weren’t old enough and wise enough to go about the right way?

Just asking…

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Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves (Top Ten Tuesday Rewind: Kickass Heroines)

Words for Worms

What’s Up, Bookworms?

The ladies at The Broke and The Bookish do an amazing job of coming up with Top Ten Tuesday prompts, you know? They’ve kept this going for a couple of years now, which is kind of incredible. This week’s topic is a “rewind,” so it gives me the opportunity to do one of the top ten lists that were used before I started blogging. I have chosen to make a list of Kickass Heroines! There are so many awesome female characters in literature; this should be a super fun showcase!

TTT3W

1. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I really don’t care if The Hunger Games are teetering on the brink of overexposure. Katniss is BADASS. She learns to hunt with a bow and arrow to provide for her family. She steps up to take her little sister’s place in a barbaric contest…

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The Stealth of Stagnant

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Hey! Long time, no write-for shame…

I was watching a show last week (sort of a guilty pleasure–doesn’t come close to my obsession with Parenthood or One Tree Hill or even the early days of TVD but I watch it anyways. First syllable rhymes with “crash”, 2nd syllable rhymes with “ville”).

Sam Palladio’s character, Gunnar, had hit a writing slump because he had recently suffered the loss of his wayward and trouble-finding older brother. All of the sudden the thing that he was born to do, had become the last thing in the world he wanted to do.

I would hope that very few of us, none actually, have had to suffer something so traumatic, but it made me wonder about how many of us have desires and interests tinkering around on the inside but for whatever reason, it’s the last thing we want to sit down and explore. Is it because those passions and ideas are so abstract, we have no idea where to start and the task seems overwhelming? Or is it because when we try to put our passions into words it sounds like we’ve been smoking from the wrong end of a hookah pipe?

What is that ONE thing that has been twirling around in your head now for weeks, months even, that you know you need to do but have been putting off?

I heard Anthony Hopkins on Inside the Actor’s Studio once say, “Be bold and mighty forces will attend you.” Interestingly enough, God said that way before he did. What do you need to do?

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in my life

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I’ve been talking about movies a lot lately but I’m not bothered by it if you aren’t. They often highlight things you wouldn’t normally notice in the everyday-ness of life.

Speaking of noticing things, when was the last time somebody noticed you? Not just looked at you or spoke to you necessarily, but actually saw through your mask to what was really going on underneath.

Have you seen the movie ‘Inception’ yet? First off, if you haven’t; what are you doing in your life? Your answer needs to be like,”tracking down rogue tigers in India” or “flying around the world in a balloon”. Anyway, it’s sort’ve like the scene where Leo (btw my sister and I are starting a protest group to get the man an Oscar) is at the bar with Cilian Murphy, and everyone in the lounge stops what they are doing and looks at him. Until he…

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