Preparing for a Trip {with kids}

My husband and I have been planning our post-Christmas vacation for a while now. We settled on the destination (Okinawa, Japan) and have begun the preparation on the huge undertaking of traveling with two young girls.

I wanted to share a few tips on how we prepare for our trip.

I’m a very organized and detail-oriented person by nature, but from past personal experience, I know I need to bump that to almost straight-up OCD when it comes to packing and preparing for our trip. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on traveling, but I think my 40,000+ miles of overseas flying with my child(ren) over the past two years counts for something.

1. Make a List: I understand we are in the twenty-first century with all this wonderful technology of excel spreadsheets, iPhone notes linking directly to the Macs, and the like, but I still thrive off of hand written lists. There’s just something about being able to cross things off or add forgotten things in the margins. My husband finds me crazy, but whatever. It works for me.

Our goal: to pack all our things in two suitcases and one diaper bag for the four of us on our 10 day vacation.

I created three lists. One for myself and the girls’ things, one for the diaper bag, and the other for miscellaneous stuff. I let my husband take care of and pack his own things.

2. Set things out. I begin doing this about 2-3 days prior to our trip. There’s nothing worse than realizing at midnight before your big travel day that you forgot to purchase extra diapers or something of high necessity. By setting everything out, you can take inventory and insure you have everything you will need.

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Pictured here are all the things I placed in our diaper bag. Yes, every one of these things fits in my awesome bag. I highly recommend the Ju Ju Be Be Prepared diaper bag. (I don’t think they carry the Pretty Tweet print anymore for this bag, though.)

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I placed everything we will need for our travel days in here. Obviously, the diapers pictured and baby food will not be enough for the entire trip. I placed the other things in the luggage or we will purchase when we get to our destination. 

3. Pack. Adam and I purchased these handy little organizers for our backpacking trip to Europe we took three years ago. They have by far surpassed their value and worth to us. I was able to put all of my things and the girls’ things in one suitcase. Adam packed his stuff in the other suitcase, with room for purchases we make on our trip.

A couple other things we are taking along:

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Kidco PeaPod Lite
For Scarlett to nap in while we’re on the beach or in case the hotel doesn’t have a crib available.

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Books, DVD’s, flashcards, and other fun activities for our two-year-old to do while traveling.

4. Check and double check. Sometimes things get checked off the list prematurely, and never actually get in the suitcase. This can happen especially if two people are packing and one thinks the other person grabbed it when in fact that didn’t happen. I always check and double check the important things, {passports, military ID’s, drivers license, diapers, etc} before we walk out the door. It would be a shame to travel all the way to the airport only to realize they were left at home.

5. Test Run.  When I fly with both girls by myself, I have to make sure I am physically able to carry and push everything from our house, to the bus, through the airport and security checks, onto the airplane, from baggage claim, to the taxi, and finally arrive at the hotel. I literally set everything by the door, the stroller out and ready for use, with the luggage nearby. I walk around pushing the kids in the stroller and pulling the luggage, just to make sure I’m capable. I think you would be surprised at how much you can travel with.

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There you have it. Double stroller, two suitcases, and diaper bag.

Happy travels!

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Clean Eating

I’m on a quest for something. I feel most people are this time of year or shortly after the holidays. I decided to start our family on eating healthier. Seeing as I’m the sole person in our family who cooks, buys, or prepares the food we eat, this quest will fall mostly on me.

For our daughters, it won’t be that hard. Brooklyn, our two-year-old, eats mostly organic, whole wheat, or whole fruits and veggies {with the occasional fruit snack or homemade muffin here or there}. Scarlett, our 7-month-old, gets her main nutrition from me {exclusively gets breast milk} and organic baby food. I had the wonderful idea of making her own baby food but, well, life gets busy with two kiddos and to be honest, I just got lazy. But, I figure organic baby food is a good alternative, right?

So, that leaves me and the hubby. I’m a self-motivated person. And, I have pretty good self control when I need it. I’ve done countless years of giving up sweets for Lent — hard for this huge sweet tooth I have, but it was do-able. I know I can do this if I put my mind to it. Convincing Adam might be the hardest part. Ha.

Now, this is where you, my readers come in. While I have scoured the internet for great ways to eat healthier, I would love personal testimonies or great recipes that you love and want to share with me. I’m not looking at going vegan or anything dramatic, just a shift of eating less artificial foods and more whole/natural.

Oh, I should mention I don’t eat a lot of beef or red meat. But, that doesn’t stop me from cooking it for Adam from time to time. We mainly like chicken dishes, though.

Anyone else on a quest for eating healthier?

Hemp Hand Protector

Due to the cold weather {and continuously washing my hands after all the diaper changes I do}, my hands have become very cracked. Even to the point of bleeding. Not fun. Thankfully, I was given this for a gift recently and I absolutely love it!

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No more painful, cracked hands! If you also deal with badly dried out hands, I suggest purchasing this from The Body Shop. It will definitely be worth your money.

*I was not paid in any way for this blog post. This is 100% my own opinion. I just wanted to share with you something that I found and love!

Wanting Off the List

One of my favorite things to do since living here in Japan is walking to the post office and receiving mail. As sad as it may sound to you friends who live in the States and have unlimited amounts of fun activities to do each day, it’s true.

It’s a fun mother-daughter date, that we probably get all too excited about. I mean, getting a card in the mail from a loved one? It’s a great day. A package? Even better. My heart rate is increasing just thinking about opening up that little metal door to see the desired yellow slip of paper with my name on it, representing a package of something wonderful that was sent to us. Gifts, purchased items, heck — I even get excited about surveys and insurance envelopes!

Unfortunately, lately we have been receiving un-welcomed things in our box. They come in the form of a catalog. These annoying “books”, addressed to me {but might as well have had Brooklyn’s name written in big, bold print on the front}, have pictured in them lovely dolls, or toys, or clothes that my 2-year-old is inevitably drawn to and immediately desires.

Yes, I’m talking to you Land of Nod. And American Girl. And Pottery Barn Kids.

Apparently these companies have our names on a list entitled, “Has young child, perfect prey” and sends them to us at timely intervals. Just when I was able to hide the last one after hours of being looked at, the next one arrives.

I’m sure it’s partly my fault. I buy one backpack from Pottery Barn kids, and will now forever be haunted with my purchase by my child picking out ten more things from their catalog that costs ten times what I want to pay.

Good job, children’s companies, on your marketing ploys. They are in full effect and working perfectly for you. But, as a concerned parent for my daughter who is picking out all these wonderful things that she will never be getting, maybe you could take our name off that list and put it on the “tortured long enough, take one year sabbatical before continuing.”

I’d really appreciate it.

What I Wore:: Holiday edition

Feeling a little under the weather today, so I thought it would be a good day for a blog post. I have decided that moms are not meant to get sick, mainly because we are not allowed the luxury of taking a sick day. Hopefully it’s just a 24-hour thing and tomorrow will be a better day.

We are going to Okinawa for our Christmas vacation in a few weeks. I recently purchased some lighter weight dresses to wear by the beach, since they are on sale at the stores this time of year and it’s also a bit warmer in southern Japan.

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Dress: Old Navy // Nylons: Vera Wang // Shoes: Easy Street

I received this red dress in the mail last week and thought that it could also be used as a Christmas-y dress, paired with black nylons, shoes and accessories. So, here is a what I wore post, holiday style! Maybe my next one will come to you from the beach! 🙂

I have yet to find a good place to take these pictures in our new place. I’m hoping to get a nice floor mirror for Christmas — hint, hint — we shall see!

I Finally Found It

About a month ago, I polled my tall friends on their favorite pair of jeans. If you know me well enough, you know I’m not much a jeans girl. I don’t think I have ever been.

When growing up, I never had a favorite pair of jeans. I was too tall and lanky to find that “perfect” pair that most seem to have. Since college, I have maybe purchased two new pairs, and have hardly worn them. (I guess being pregnant twice since then has also had something to do with that.)

So, a couple months ago I began my quest to find that “perfect” pair. I know I have a really long inseam that is hard to shop for, but I also know that companies have started to cater towards us tall ladies more now than ever before. After seeing the many responses of my friends (thank you, all, for your input!), I decided on purchasing a pair from Gap. Reasonably priced, yet good quality.

Yesterday, they finally came. I picked them up from the post office, drove home quickly, raced upstairs, and ripped open the package. I could hardly contain my excitement (yes, I am that type of person where receiving a new pair of jeans in the mail is a very big deal) as I put them on. And, to my delighted surprise, I knew I found them.

My favorite pair of jeans.

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Gap 1969 Long and Lean jeans

Perfect length, great color, and very comfortable! Thank you, Gap, for this great find!