Family Vacation – Outer Banks, NC

We recently returned from a big family vacation in the Outer Banks! This spot is well loved by many on the East Coast for good reason; it’s beautiful! We joined my parents and almost all of my siblings and their families in a big semi-oceanfront rental house. The weather cooperated and we got some good sunshine each day, and the heat and humidity were never totally unbearable. We managed to all not kill each other (despite having 6 kids under 7), and had a great time filled with a mix of activities and quality time with family. The last time we went to a beach was on the West Coast last year, and neither K or D was thrilled. This year they both loved it and were much more adventurous! I’m so glad we went and I’m now pining to take another family trip.

Sunset over the sound in Duck – and you can catch the sunrise over the ocean!

I thought I’d write up some of the Pros & Cons for you all in case you were considering making a trip to the OBX yourself!


Beautiful, Spacious Beach. If you’ve grown up along the more commercial parts of the East Coast, you may be expecting a big flashy boardwalk with lots of cheap shops. Although there’s a pier and shops spread around – there’s no boardwalk on the beach side! The only thing separating you from the ocean is some sand dunes. We were there at the height of tourist season and always had plenty of space, the beach never got too crowded. The San Diego beaches we’ve been to all have tons of seaweed and other junk floating in the water, we didn’t see any of that here.


read more »

DIY Peg Doll Travel Pack

Peg Doll Travel Pack

When she was little, my younger sister loved playing with toy people.

Anna was a very active little girl, and “playing people” may have been when she was the most settled and focused. She loved the activity so much that pretty much anything could become people to play with. Tall blocks, crayons, anything that was approximately the right shape. Anna is all grown-up now, but she still got excited when she saw these peg dolls.

Snug Peg Dolls

Older children can help make them and younger children can choose colors and styles for you to paint. Or, make a set as a gift! And because they can slide into a little felt pouch, they are perfect for keeping in your bag for those times when your child needs something to help pass the time (and keep them focused!).

read more »

Packing Checklist for International Travel with Kids

Now that the kids are seasoned travelers (Charlie has 30 flights under his belt and Olive has 28), I don’t worry about how they’ll handle all the travel. But going to a remote island in the Philippines still requires a lot of planning because we have to book several plane tickets, a hotel in Manila (twice), a cat sitter, someone to pick up our mail/water our plants, plan for all the time off work, and of course pack. Whenever I travel, I always reference my packing checklists to make sure I don’t forget anything, and thought it was about time to write an updated one.

We’ll be checking in 2 large suitcases (one filled with supplies Mr. Bee’s parents can’t buy there), and taking 1 carry-on suitcase, 2 backpacks (electronics + mom bag), and a backpack for each kid onto the plane. I’ll have some nifty printable packing checklists made soon (including one for traveling with babies/toddlers), but this is everything we’re bringing on our 15-day trip to Manila and El Nido with a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old.

packing checklist

read more »

Little Piñata’s Sleep Evolution

Here’s a look back at Little Piñata’s sleep changes over the first 3 years. And boy have there been a lot!

What was Little Piñata’s sleep like as a newborn?

Little P was a great sleeper as a baby! He slept pretty much all the time and it was kind of awesome. We got him into the Eat-Wake Time-Sleep routine pretty quickly because we had several friends that successfully used that method, but as a newborn that wake time was more like him sleeping and us trying to keep him awake for just 2 minutes.

Precious newborn sleep

Has Little Piñata always slept in a crib? Did he cosleep or sleep in a bouncer or swing?

When we brought Little P home we had a crib but no crib mattress. Until then he slept in a little Moses basket that a friend graciously lent us. We tried to put him in our room, but neither one of us could sleep because all the sweet baby sounds kept us up all night. S0, he slept for a few nights in the hallway before we officially put him in his own room. We also thought cosleeping sounded precious, but even as a baby he was so social that being in our bed was too exciting for him. He took pretty much all of his evening naps in a swing, and slept in a swing at daycare (once a week), but otherwise he was pretty much in a crib. And since I wasn’t breastfeeding, it seemed easy enough to have him get used to sleeping in his own room pretty much from the get-go.

read more »

A good heart at 16 months

16 month update! It has been even more exhausting than ever. His attention span is shorter, he plays more furiously and his curiosity is insatiable. But he is definitely even funnier than ever! I always wondered why no one tells you that when you have a baby, you’re basically giving birth to your very own live-in comedian.


Ever since 12 months, I keep hearing these same phrases over and over again:

“That’s so good… for a boy.
“Is he good at (insert skill)?”
“How many words can he say now?”
“Is he a good eater?”
“Is he a good sleeper?”
“Is he social?”

Honestly, I am just over these questions because my answers are always, “I don’t know, he’s just a baby. He’s doing what he can and I think it’s fine.” Of course I put a happy tone in my responses, but I really am over these stressful milestones. I can understand certain ones being big red flags like not grabbing or reacting correctly. But when these milestones get taken to an extreme level, I find it very stressful and that it takes the joy out of regular toddlerhood.

I spent time with a mother who was graciously boasting of her little one’s amazing milestones. When she asked me if Baby Pencil was good at puzzles, in my exasperation I just said, “no, he sucks at it.” (Because he does!) It was a very shocking response because I don’t know if anyone has ever not said something amazing about their child in front of her. I laughed it off, but I really do think it’s OK that Baby Pencil is not some walking genius at age 15 months. Of course he’s going to suck at many things!

So here are my boastings about stuff he’s NOT great at! (I am laughing 90% of the time when he does any of these things.)

read more »

Easy Zucchini Noodles

Earlier this year all I was hearing about were “spiralizers” and the ability to turn ordinary vegetables into wild and crazy spirals – oh the fun! I specifically heard a lot about zucchini noodles or “zoodles” as they’re called. When my sister gifted us a spiralizer for Christmas I couldn’t wait to try it out!

Miss H is a tad bit picky when it comes to vegetables. One of her favorites used to be zucchini – she would eat it pan fried almost every day and loved zucchini pancakes. Over the course of the past year she stopped eating the vegetable altogether.

Now that we have made zoodles she is obsessed with them! She regularly eats a very healthy portion of them and requests more. We’ve been making zoodles a lot this summer because we’re growing so many zucchinis in our garden. And because we have a few basil plants, we’ll toss the zoodles with some homemade pesto. In a few quick and easy steps here’s how we zoodle!

Step 1: Get some delicious, fresh zucchini – plan for roughly two average sized zucchini per person. In my example, the zucchini pictured made enough for 3 adults and a 3-year-old.


Step 2: Slice the ends off of your zucchinis and slice them in half if you are concerned with the length of your zoodles. They will still be very long after this, so you may want to cut your zoodles down even more after you’ve made them.

read more »

Choosing an Umbrella Stroller: Summer Infant 3D Lite Review

We’ve always been a one-stroller family. We don’t use our stroller all that often because we don’t live in a very walkable area, and usually when we go to stores we either let Jackson walk or use shopping carts. So it has always seemed silly to even consider having more than just our Britax B-Agile. However, once we started planning for our cruise and a few other small trips over the summer, we knew we needed something smaller and easier to lug around when we’re out and about.

I had never done any research on umbrella strollers before we started looking for this one, so we were really starting fresh. Here’s what was important to us when we were looking for an umbrella stroller:

Weight/Portability: We were planning on using this mainly for travel, so we wanted it to be lightweight and easy to carry around.

– Size: Our first big trip with this was going to be on a cruise, so a small size was mandatory. Those cruise ship hallways are narrow and if we wanted to use it on the ship at all, it would have to be a small stroller!

– SafetyI’d seen lots of reviews on the super cheap umbrella strollers falling over with kids in them, not being sturdy enough, and other things that just generally didn’t sound safe. So, obviously, safety was key!

– Price: We already have a stroller that we like just fine, so we really didn’t want to spend much on this one or it would just feel like a waste. Our max price point was $100 and preferably we wanted to stay as far under that as we could.

– Storage: When we’re traveling we often have a ton of crap we have to lug around, so unfortunately a tiny stroller with no storage was out of the question – we needed something that had a relatively good sized basket underneath it, and preferably a bit of extra storage elsewhere

– Recline: Finally, we needed something that would recline so Jackson can take naps on the go if necessary while we’re traveling. He can sleep in an upright stroller, but it’s not nearly as comfortable so being able to let him lay down as far as possible was very important.

I ended up doing quite a bit of research to find the perfect stroller, and in the end we landed on the Summer Infant 3D Lite.


We are loving it so far and I’m so glad we went with this one. It meets all of the must-haves on our list and then some! Let’s look at the details:

read more »

© copyright 2011-2014 Hellobee