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A Momcation in Chiang Mai, Thailand

For the past two and a half months, I’ve been with the kids 24/7. Their teacher left to visit her family in Canada for low season, which many expats here do, so we’ve been filling our days with lots of beach time, pool time and travel. I never thought I could be a full-time mom, but of course it is much easier now that my kids are almost 6 and 8! We’ve been having a blast, and I’m really thankful for this time we have together because they are both growing up so quickly!

I love traveling, but always travel with kids so our trips involve kid-friendly activities. But when a friend told me she bought a roundtrip ticket from the Philippines to Thailand for $100 and asked me to join her, I couldn’t pass the chance up! Our itinerary included touring temples, visiting an elephant sanctuary, taking a Thai cooking class, and going to night markets every night. Having never traveled through Southeast Asia before, I was amazed at how affordable everything was in Chiang Mai! I had $350 USD for my entire 5 day trip and was able to do everything I wanted, and do a ton of shopping. Chiang Mai was voted favorite Asian city two years in a row by Travel & Leisure Magazine and with their incredible culture, food, night markets, and nature, it’s easy to see why. It was an amazing place for a momcation, but it’s also incredibly family friendly as well. I’ll definitely be back with my kids!

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14 Tips for Traveling Light with Kids

Since we live abroad, I travel very often with the kids and always travel light. Whether we’re going on a car trip or flying internationally, I try to pack only the essentials, especially since I usually travel with the kids alone. Here are my tips for packing and traveling light with kids.

airplane

1) Take some laundry soap. This is probably my single biggest tip on packing light. Every time I shower, I hand wash our underwear and clothes and hang them to dry. It’s super easy and will save you a ton of space in your suitcase. On shorter trips I don’t worry about packing laundry soap and just use shampoo to wash clothes.

2) Pack clothes that are easy to mix and match like solids. I usually pack dresses for Olive since that means not having to worry about a matching top and bottom. And I pack solid colored shorts in neutral colors for Charlie so they can be mixed with any top.

3) Forget the pjs. Charlie is happy to sleep in his underwear while Olive wears a dress. One less thing to pack.

4) Share toiletries. I pack a bar of Dove Sensitive Skin soap that I use as a body wash and face wash for all of us. I don’t pack shampoo because we usually stay at an Airbnb, and they almost always provide shampoo. If a place doesn’t provide shampoo, use your kids’ shampoo to avoid having to pack two different kinds. I also bring toiletry samples like conditioner or face lotion if I have them on hand. While I was very particular about products when I was younger, I find that convenience trumps all when you have kids. The only thing I always do pack is toothbrushes and toothpaste for us.

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Practical Tips for Life with Babies and Toddlers

I’ve been on the baby shower circuit lately with lots of discussions about infant feeding and sleeping, understandably so. But when I was a new parent, I wish I had been tipped off to some everyday, little tricks to manage life with babies and toddlers. Here’s my quick list of practical tips for babies and toddlers.

  • Consider parking near the cart return at the store. If your baby is asleep, the infant carrier is a beast to carry, especially post-partum when your stomach muscles are like jelly. It’s easier to swing open the car door, and set the carrier right into a cart. It’s also convenient when you have a preschooler and baby to wrangle in a busy parking lot. And it’s especially nice if you are sleep deprived and forgot where you parked. You will at least have narrowed your search. You will risk getting a dent in your car, but it hasn’t happened to me yet.
  • Rearrange the furniture and toys when bored and stuck in the house. When heat waves or blizzards hit, we’re trapped in the house and searching for ways to stay sane with the kids. My best trick is to rotate their big toys to another room in the house. Usually, I move their toy kitchen, doll house, or train set from our basement toy room, to the dining room or bedroom. And poof! An old, boring toy is new again. I also do this with furniture too. We push the dining room table to the side of the room, or move their small desk to a different window. The kids become giddy with the change of scenery, and are entertained for hours.
  • Play the shape game with your little one when you are in a public bathroom, which is all the time. Life with little toddlers and preschoolers means we spend a lot of time in public restrooms. I’ve come up with a game to keep their little hands off the disgusting bathroom walls and floors; the shape game. It’s like “I Spy” but for shapes. I ask them to look for a circle shape, and they notice the drain. I ask them to find a rectangle shape, and they notice the tile or door. It works surprisingly well. Most importantly, the kids look with their eyes and keep their hands to their sides.

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Rhythm and Rhyme Children’s Books

The rhythm and rhyme of children’s books is the soundtrack to my days with little ones. Hearing my toddler repeat phrases with the story, and watching my older kiddo create silly rhymes are my favorite memories to make. We have shelves of book we inherited from family members or found on hunts through Goodwill. Here are some of our favorite children’s books to read with rhythm or rhyme.

Rhythm-and-Rhyme-Childrens-Books

Little Goblins Ten by Pamela Jane – With Halloween coming up, this counting book of goblins, witches, dragons, and mummies is well-loved in our house.

Go Dogs Go! Dr. Seuss by P.D. Eastman – Hearing my kiddos shout “Go, dogs go!” at the beginning of the story makes me laugh every time. There are so many fun Dr. Seuss books to choose from, but this is one of our favorites.

 Oh My Gosh, Mrs. McNosh by Sarah Weeks – This is another silly, short story for dog lovers.

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Mission Moving While 38 Weeks Pregnant: Complete!

It’s been a while since I’ve updated on our house selling/buying saga…but the good news is, we’re all moved into our new home! We love it here so far—the house may be smaller than our previous digs, but it is full of charming quirks and we can’t wait to personalize it to our own style. Our new neighbors couldn’t be friendlier, and there are tons of kids on the block for Little Cotton Candy to play with. We even set up a short play date at our house yesterday (more on that below)! Believe me, getting Little CC’s bedroom set up in time was not easy, but we’re all so happy he has a place of his own to play and sleep now.

living room fireplace

Living room progress

I naively thought that once we got into the new house and were done with packing and cleaning our former residence that life would magically be awesome and stress free again. What was I thinking? On Monday evening, after the move, I walked right into a huge mess. Boxes piled in every room, nothing clean (the house isn’t gross or anything, just in need of a regular deep clean), and I had no idea where to begin. Each day since then has been a roller coaster of emotions as I simultaneously feel the accomplishment of getting things unpacked and organized—and despair that we still have so much to do and not enough time to get it done.

As I’m writing this now, I have 12 days until my due date. How did that happen?! I know people who have moved and had a baby in practically the same day, so our situation isn’t unique. But dang it feels hard sometimes. I’m still technically working two freelance contracts through either the end of the month or until I go into labor, though they are both fairly chill about letting me ease up when I need to. Plus, of course, there is Little Cotton Candy to consider—he needs constant attention, even more so now that he is dealing with his big feelings relating to our move.

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My 3rd Baby Must Haves For the First 3 Months

Today I’m sharing my 3rd baby must-haves for the first 3 months!

It took having a 3rd baby in 4 years to finally convince me that less can in fact actually be more when it comes to baby gear. Actually scratch that, when it comes to ALL stuff. I’ve had a mostly delightful maternity leave, but boy oh boy am I tired of EXHAUSTED from moving, cleaning, organizing, laundering, and putting away stuff. If and hopefully when I have the energy and motivation, I will be de-cluttering and purging our entire house from top to bottom (unfortunately I am not sure when that will actually happen since I have 3 small children, work full-time, and have developed a strong aversion to doing anything and everything other than managing our stuff).

Anyhow, the good news is that I gave away most of our baby stuff before Baby P arrived, so I got to start fresh and only buy the things I actually needed or wanted. I also had the advantage of having had 2 babies relatively recently, so I didn’t have that moment of sheer panic standing in the aisle at Buy Buy Baby wondering if you need a baby bathtub that tells you the water temperature or not (in our case, the answer is decidedly no – first of all, it always feels like a miracle when the baby actually gets bathed; second of all, the back of my hand and my baby’s scream are fairly good indicators of whether the water temperature is appropriate or not). There are a few things I’ve been loving this go around though – some of them I’ve used for all of my babies, and others of them are new to me:

bjorn bouncer

Baby Bjorn bouncer – Y’all this bouncer seems so outrageously expensive, but we have literally used it almost every single day FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS. Yes, my toddler still sits on this chair. In fact he gets more than a little peeved when the baby is using it. I am sure other bouncers can get the job done, but I can only speak to the efficacy of this one. And it’s a beloved work horse in our house (and if you do a quick google search, you’ll find hundreds of other moms share my love for this contraption). I did pay extra for the toy bar and am glad I did.

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15-Month Update

Time flies and our twinbling girls are about 15 months old now! It’s been a really fun summer with the girls and they have been busy little toddlers.

The girls rocked their Chicago summer!
The girls rocked their Chicago summer!

On the physical side of things, the girls continue to grow. Our youngest Audrey remains a few pounds heavier than her older sister but they look roughly the same size and we are constantly fielding the, “Are they twins?” question in public!

Both girls are walking, with Lilly starting around 14 months and Audrey just now catching up around 15 months. It’s interesting, with the girls born five weeks apart, the one-month milestone delay for our youngest felt like so much longer than it probably would have otherwise. Once Lilly started walking, we expected Audrey to follow shortly thereafter because we often forget about the five week age difference now. But even if Audrey had walked at the same age as Lilly (14 months), we wouldn’t have seen it for another five weeks. And because she actually ended up walking one month later (15 months), we were becoming increasingly concerned about the delay. This past week we took the girls in for a well-check at the pediatrician and I was gently encouraged (once again!) to resist the urge to compare the girls’ development. Easier said than done.

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