Category Archives: Family Fun

Baby / Family Fun / Life Abroad / Summer / Travel

Our Trip to Barcelona + Traveling with Littles

July 19, 2017

We recently returned from a week in Barcelona and had the most amazing time. Barcelona is one of those dreamy cities that you feel like you could wander forever and never get tired of.

We visited a bunch of the “must-see” sites and ate our weight in tapas and pintxos, and I’m already plotting our return — I couldn’t get enough of Barcelona! KC and I both at one point were devising a plan for him to do a secondment with his firm in the city (the one hitch being that KC doesn’t speak Spanish… which is sort of a must. Ha.) But with the gothic architecture and countless skinny alleyways just begging to be explored, how could you not want to spend more time there? 

For those of you wondering how traveling with two little ones was — it was actually great. Prim and Lark were amazingly well- behaved on both flights (Prim even slept on the flight over — serious win) and they adapted to their new surroundings without a second thought. We played fast and loose with their schedules and they took it all in stride like a couple of pros. Traveling with kids is of course never as easy-going or stress-free as I really prefer my vacations to be, but I have to admit that the kids were really good on this trip. Even though they’re both so young (newly two and four months at the time of our trip), they both adapted well and I think really enjoyed seeing a new city. That’s Prim running around in the background of that picture above ^^. Some guys had just come though and done a sort of tumbling/street dance performance while we were having dinner and Prim felt inspired to go run around do some dance moves of her own after they had passed through. She was quite the hit with a lot of the locals. If you’re considering traveling with kids, my advice is do it. I am pretty structured and type-A (KC I’m sure is laughing out loud at this — “pretty structured??”) and I have to admit that the idea of yanking the kids out of their comfort zones and subjecting them to an unfamiliar city and upending their schedules totally stresses me out. BUT, since we are in Europe for a finite amount of time (or, at least that’s the plan for now… ha!) I have embraced the idea that we will be traveling with our kids a lot. We have four more trips planned before the end of the year and may be adding a fifth. I have also learned that taking these trips and pushing them outside of their routines seems to be a good thing overall. I like to think that it’s not only opening their eyes to new places, people and things, but also making them more adaptable to life in general.

If you’re wondering what we bring with us travel-wise, here is the general list. (Keep in mind that your child’s needs will vary based on their own age and home life and this is just what worked for us.)

European airlines tend to have stricter carry-on rules and more fees for checking bags than US airlines do, but that said, some things are non-negotiable when traveling with little ones. We luckily have been able to find flights that allow us to check a stroller and carseat for free, so in addition to that we check one large suitcase with all of the stuff for me and the kids and a travel crib (we love our BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light). We bring three carry-on bags: a small suitcase (verrry small. Europe!) with KC’s stuff in it, a backpack I use as a diaper bag with stuff for the kids, and a travel bassinet.

I brought four thin paperback books for the kids, a teether for Lark, and Prim was allowed to bring her small Jellycat lion and her baby doll. Aside from that, we brought our iPad loaded with a couple Disney movies and Prim’s headphones, and that’s it entertainment-wise.This is our travel bassinet. I found it super-cheap on an online family market here in Amsterdam and it’s been awesome for travel because it folds up into a bag the size of a standard diaper bag (similar here — on sale!). I brought it with me when I traveled with Lark to the US also and was able to have her sleep in it on one of the flights, as I had two extra seats next to mine. She will likely outgrow it before our next trip, but since Prim is now sleeping in a toddler bed, we will be able to transition Lark into the travel crib and put Prim into a regular bed with our travel bed rail.

About 2 months before we moved to Amsterdam, we shipped our regular stroller with all of our other things to the Netherlands. Since we needed an interim stroller and wanted something compact for travel, KC started researching umbrella and travel strollers. He happened to come across the Babyzen Yoyo, which was in basically zero US stores at the time and I had never even heard of. After some intense online-sleuthing, KC determined that this was the stroller to get for travel, as it folds up suuuper small (seriously, TSA is always like “WHOA that’s small!” whenever I have to zip it through security) but also has a pretty legit suspension system, making it ideal for handling all of Europe’s cobblestone streets.

At the time, I thought it was a little insane to spend so much on a second stroller; but now that we’ve taken multiple trips with this stroller and had a second baby, I am so glad that KC insisted on this purchase. Though it folds up smaller than an umbrella stroller, it has the options and amenities of a full-size stroller. We’ve added the carseat adapters (ideal for traveling with a baby less than 6 months old) and the ride-on board, which is perfect for P. Prim is able to sit or stand on it when she feels like it (or when we force her to — 2 year olds!) or we can pull the board up when it’s not in use (see the picture of KC with both kids and the stroller above to see the board pulled up).  And of course I can’t live without the Solly Baby Wrap. It’s so light and versatile, it’s perfect for travel. It can be balled up and shoved into a suitcase or diaper bag, it works as a lightweight blanket in the stroller, as a makeshift nursing cover, and it’s light enough to use in hot weather. Not to mention that the Spanish ladies were all totally obsessed with my wrap (and Lark in the wrap for that matter). I was stopped so many times on the street to have conversations in broken Spanish and English about my wrap (and its contents 😉 ) — clearly Solly needs to start some kind of global expansion program here.

We loved you, Barcelona. Someday I will be back to walk your streets and drink all the cava.

PS: If you have any travel-related questions, please leave me a comment and I’ll respond. 🙂

Fall / Family Fun

Fall in Amsterdam

October 11, 2016

img_9925Since arriving back in Amsterdam a little over a week ago, it has felt like full-on fall here. Fall is one of my most favorite seasons (summer is my least favorite — yes, really), so I have been reveling in the colder weather and cozy evenings at home. I’ve jumped right into my arsenal of soup recipes, and have already made Potato Leek twice (!) and lentil once in the past week alone.

img_9922Coming back to Amsterdam after being in California felt a little more like returning “home,” though I will admit that I still don’t totally feel like this is our home yet. The fall weather certainly helped my mood upon returning, as did walking the Albert Cuypmarkt with KC, Prim, and some fries (yes, with mayo) from a local vendor.

We’ve also gotten back into biking around the city, which I just love. We biked to the center this past weekend to buy a new frying pan (our lives are thrilling), and the fact that it went from sunny to raining over the course of our trip didn’t bother us in the slightest. There’s something about biking home in the rain that really makes you feel like you’re a local here. Plus, I’m getting so much more comfortable riding with Prim on my bike now, which is lucky for her since she sits behind me on my bike — not in front like on KC’s, which is pretty chilly right now! (I will admit that I thought the purchase of this most adorable fall coat for P was a little frivolous when I bought it amidst the 90-degree heat in California, but man are we getting a lot of use out of it here in Amsterdam!)

KC and Prim came down with the stomach flu last week, which certainly put a damper on things. I will say though, I’ve never felt better about my decision to register for three crib sheets and two mattress protectors as I did last Thursday night. And I’m even more glad that I decided to wash all of our laundry back in California before we flew back to Amsterdam, because adding that to the pile of sheets, towels, and sick bedding would have been nuts. (I’m definitely looking forward to returning to the land of normal-sized washers and dryers in 2018. These tiny Euro appliances kill me.)

PS: Does the stomach flu only strike kids at night? It’s terrible no matter what, but I swear child illnesses have some special incubation period where they specifically take hold after you’ve gotten your kid to sleep for the night. The worst.

Family Fun / Motherhood / Travel

Hello from Mallorca!

August 30, 2016

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We’re currently enjoying some downtime in Mallorca — a small Spanish island that’s only a two hour flight from Amsterdam. It’s warm, beautiful, and so relaxing.

Since I’m flying solo with P back to California next week, the flights for this vacation are a nice trial run (though a two hour direct flight is just a little bit different than 16 hours of flights and layovers). I feel prepared and terrified for the flight back to California — mostly because I know what I need to pack, and yet even with that knowledge, I’m well aware of the fact that Prim hates flying. We survived the two hour flight here, but I will tell you that it was A LOT of work, even with two people managing a 15 month old. Sooo, anyway, I will definitely be earning my mama-stripes next week. Yay…

Onto better things!

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We opted to book an all-inclusive resort here in Mallorca, which has been the very best decision so far. The hotel has apartment-style rooms, which means KC and I still get to hang out after P goes to bed at night. We decided to upgrade to a room with a large balcony, so we put Prim to sleep in the living room at night and then spend the rest of the evening out on the terrace, which is (hilariously) accessible via a climb through the bedroom window. (Luckily I’m still early enough in my pregnancy to be somewhat nimble enough to manage this.)

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We have been spending our days at the pool and exploring the beaches and area around the hotel. Prim has become more comfortable with the water and is really enjoying being pulled around the pool by KC and me.

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In big news for no one but me, I have decided to wear a two-piece swimsuit and let my 15-week baby belly show. I will not say that I am super comfortable with this, because I’m not, but in an effort to be a little more accepting of my body, I’ve decided to be a little braver and fake some confidence while here on vacation. I’ve got a little lady to think about (and another one on the way!) so I want these girls to know that they should be proud of their bodies. And really, I should be proud of my body — I’ve made a whole human being and am in the process of making another, so why should I cover it up!

And let me tell you that the ladies here in Spain have a whoooole lot of body confidence, judging by their beachwear. I think I could learn a lot from them. DCIM100GOPRO PS: In case you’re curious, P’s hat and swimsuit are from BabyGap (exact style no longer available). My suit is separates from Old Navy (old, but similar styles for top here and bottoms here) and sunhat is JCrew (old, but similar style here).

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DCIM100GOPRO

Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun / Family Fun / Personal

A Day in the Bay

May 19, 2016

img_8624The Saturday before we left for the Netherlands, KC, Prim and I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium with my parents and my sister’s family.

I have always loved the aquarium, but hadn’t been in almost seven years — the last time we were there was the week I got my BAR results back in 2009!

Going with Prim this time was so special, and she absolutely loved it. Watching her experience things for the first time is one of the very best things right now. She’s so fascinated by the world and you can really see her taking it all in. img_8630

Prim was especially into the wave room, where the waves crash against the glass and then drain back out to the ocean. She would yell excitedly when the wave would come in and press her hand to the glass, then when it would drain out again she would reach up towards the inlet, like, “Again! Again!” img_8631One of my favorite parts of the aquarium has always been the touch pools, but I wasn’t sure how Prim would feel about that section since it can be a little scary for tiny newcomers. Prim was totally into touching all the sea life, though (we just had to keep making sure she didn’t thrust her hand directly into her mouth afterwards!)

img_8549img_8629^^shoutout to pregnancy for providing me with that awesome postpartum hair. Nothing like having two-inch flyaways along your ENTIRE hairline^^ 

img_8552Prim and August were very into the tank where you could sit inside a little carve-out and look at the fish through a 360 degree window.

img_8626img_8627Prim takes any opportunity to steal a snuggle from Auntie Alexis.
img_8628I know this photo is out of focus and the lighting is kind of weird, but I don’t care, I love it.
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^^the carrier we use is the Beco Gemini, in case you’re curious^^

Our day at the aquarium was so great and such an awesome way to close out one of our last few days in California. And in case you think I’m totally lying about the fact that Prim loved the aquarium, just check out this little California surfer girl:

img_8556Tubular, dude. (Ugh my hair… my god.)

If you’re visiting the Bay Area I can’t recommend the Monterey Bay Aquarium enough — such a great place to visit! img_8545