Road Trip Tips

What? It was too cold to get in the pool.
What? It was too cold to get in the pool.
We’re completing the last leg of a week-long family road trip to visit our family for Thanksgiving, and celebrate my grandmother’s 95th birthday! In my family, driving to Georgia is a rite of passage. We used to load up the car and drive down on a moment’s notice. I have countless memories of stretching out across the backseat of my mom’s minivan, reading by day and staring at the stars at night. 

Traveling with a toddler can be tricky, though. I don’t remember being in car seats myself, but Phoenix definitely hates them. The mood of the trip takes a definite shift when your child is screaming from Virginia to South Carolina. 

Here’s some things that worked for us on this road trip:

1. Drive when baby is sleeping. Sounds like a no brainer, but it really helped. Instead of trying to drive while she slept at night (which sounded good in theory but ended up being awful) we woke up early, ate breakfast, and then started driving shortly before her first nap. That ensured a happy baby, alert parents, and a good stretch of peaceful time. When she would wake up, we drove until she began to fuss and then stopped for food, bathroom and gas all at once. 

2. Get an en-route babysitter. The four adults in the car would take shifts sitting next to the baby. When she was particularly fussy and I was at my wits’ end, it helped to have grandma and grandpa take on talking to her, feeding her puffs, and holding up a phone with talking animal flash cards for ninety minutes straight. During that time I could nap, read or check social media. 

3. Stay flexible. We left lots of extra time for mishaps and adventures, and boy, did they happen. When you are traveling with kids, Starbucks addicts and postpartum women estimate a reasonable number of bathroom breaks and then double it. People are going to want to get out and stretch. And people are going to get sleepy. Save your hotel rewards points for when you’re too tired to keep going. We scored an awesome hotel with free hot breakfast and Wi-fi for $50. 

“Mom, this bed is so comfortable! Where are you going to sleep, though?”

One last thing: our baby is particularly fussy in the car. Most of the time it’s manageable—sometimes, though, she’s inconsolable. Trust your instincts and don’t dismiss anything out of the ordinary. I realized on the second day of our trip that what I thought was a heat rash was actually roseola. Keep your doctor’s number and a baby first aid kit handy. 

Have fun, travel safely, and let me know what you do to survive road trips in the comments!

Newborn Necessities

Day One of motherhood! Photo courtesy of Bella Baby Photography.  #babydroppings
Day One of motherhood! Photo courtesy of Bella Baby Photography.

A friend of mine is expecting in January, and contacted me to ask about what she should have on hand for baby’s first month. My first thought was to google an adorably-Pinnable checklist of what to buy and what not to buy, but I realized that my experience had been more like a Pinterest fail. So many of the things that I bought, registered for or stocked up on barely made it out of the box.

So here’s the real scoop: my list of the things I couldn’t live without in baby’s first couple months (note: this will be different from mama to mama and baby to baby, but here’s what worked for us):

Doona Car Seat: Oh man, is this thing convenient. I love just having one unit that acts as both car seat and stroller.

Boba Wrap: In our house, this became such a lifesaver that we now own TWO of them. Whenever Phoenix would fuss, we’d wrap her up and she’d be asleep in five minutes. I give this at every shower now.

Clothes in all sizes: Nothing was small enough for my tiny baby when we got home, and two weeks later nothing seemed big enough. I was so thankful to my friend, Kailey, who gave us two huge bags of clean, well-kept clothes from her baby girl in NB up to three months.

Breast pump: You need one of these on hand—your boobs will start thinking for themselves and acting without your consent. We got away with just using the two bottles that came with it for months.

Nipple ointment and soothies: I left the newborn bubble to go to Target and stock up on all kinds of stuff to make my breasts less angry the day after we got home from the hospital. Save yourself the run and buy it well in advance. I like Lansinoh’s soothies, with vitamin E gel.
Food: And lots of it, you will be starving. We froze six weeks worth of meals and ordered FreshDirect until I was ready to brave the grocery store.

Dock-A-Tot Cosleeper: We didn’t have this right away, but I wish we had. This baby lounger allows you to bedshare with baby without worry of rolling on them or smothering them.

Diapers: Just don’t go too crazy on the disposables. We never used the newborn size—she was in size 1 right away and size 2 not long after that.

Boppy Nursing Pillow: If you’re nursing, you need this. Trust me. You back will thank you after you’re nursing for literally the hundredth time.

Sweatpants and tank tops: Tank tops are nursing friendly and so comfy, and the ones with a shelf bra negate the need for underwire. Sweatpants for most of the same reasons. But the secret here is that dressing in layers will also help you regulate your temperature, which is directly affected by hormones. I was cold all day, but would wake up in sheets drenched with sweat. Between milk and sweat I changed clothes constantly.

Cable/Netflix: Newborns don’t do a whole lot, but they keep your hands busy. Even if you’re not a TV person, you’ll become one. Get ready to spend a LOT of time on the couch. Get a basket and fill it with snacks and water.

Water: I was so, so thirsty. A month after I got home from the hospital, I set up a Poland Spring delivery—that’s how much I was drinking. We still have it and I love it.

Comment below: did I miss any must haves?

Holiday Shopping Made Easy with #GrouponCoupons #ad

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Photo courtesy of Huffington Post CA.

This is a sponsored post. As always, all opinions are true and 100% my own.

Shopping with a toddler can be awful. Shopping in NYC can be awful. Holiday shopping with a toddler during New York City’s “most wonderful time of the year” is a big fat nope. 

Fortunately, there’s always online shopping, which allows me to get all of my holiday running around done at my leisure and without having to load a screaming toddler in and out of the car for every single store we want to go to. This year, our first shopping stop is going to be Groupon Coupons. 

Groupon Coupons is an awesome feature on the Groupon app and site that scours the Internet for sales, giving you a list of coveted coupon codes for major retailers, like Kohl’s. I absolutely hate to shop without a coupon, especially for retailers that often have sales, but I always feel like I never have the coupon on me when I need it. With Groupon Coupons, they’re all right in the app, making it easy to find a sale whether I’m in line or online. Even if you’re not shopping for gifts, you can still take advantage of the savings. For example, Angie’s List is featured on the site, so you can get reviews on all the best home professionals and services.  And if you just need some time away, you can check out Care.com for extra help taking care of your little ones (even the furbabies!)

My plan for this holiday shopping season? Stay away from the stores altogether! You’ll never catch me or my family shopping Black Friday or camping out overnight for a sale. With the best deals often being found online, I can get all my holiday entertaining essentials from Bed, Bath and Beyond. I can even get our household shopping done on Diapers.com. At this rate, I won’t need to leave the house till spring! My couch just became my new favorite place to shop. 

Where’s your favorite place to shop for the holidays?

Fighting The Flu with Maty’s (Giveaway!)

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I received no compensation for this post, just the product for testing. As always, all opinions are true and 100% my own. 

One of the most stressful things about being pregnant and breastfeeding is that your list of over-the-counter remedies pretty much evaporates. When I was pregnant, I couldn’t take anything for nausea, indigestion, or headaches. I thought that was bad…until I was breastfeeding and got the flu. Not once, or even twice, but three times.

When I was younger, I used to take acetaminophen for everything, but as I grew older I became more and more sensitive to it, so that pretty much took every single flu remedy off the list for me.  Many decongestants carried side effects that I didn’t want to chance while I was nursing–as my doctor put it, “whatever dries your nose up will probably dry your milk up too.”  I suffered through it so that I’d know that I wasn’t doing anything that could put my daughter at risk. But what were my options when it came to her? If I wouldn’t even take an aspirin or drink caffeine, how could I treat her colds without loading her up with a bunch of drugs?

I wasn’t the first mom to ask this question, after all. Carolyn Harrington became obsessed with holistic healing when her daughter, Maty, was born with multiple heart defects. Her passion and desire to heal her daughter resulted in the Maty’s Healthy Products” line.

With whole foods as their main ingredient, Maty’s is safe for the entire family to use. They are gluten free, wheat free, and dairy free. Gentle and effective, with pronounce-able ingredients you could find in the grocery store, Maty’s Healthy Products are a perfect go to as we head into flu season. They’re like over-the-counter-home-remedies!

That’s why babydroppings and Maty’s are teaming up to help you stock your medicine cabinet with a full stash of Maty’s Healthy Products! Enter using the form here and comment: what’s your go-to home remedy?

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Messy Memorable Moments with Bounty, the #QuickerPickerUpper #ad


Part of raising a family is embracing the mess of daily life.  I love kids, but I don’t love that part of motherhood quite so much.  I tend to be a bit of a germophobe, so I catch myself going through a lot of paper towels.  But so many of the things in life that are fun are a little (or a lot!) messy—first foods, first art projects and first birthdays!  So, Phoenix and I headed to Manhattan to celebrate her first birthday party with Bounty and mother and author Kristin Cavallari, where I knew they’d have my back when it came time for clean-up.

We’re no stranger to Bounty paper towels in our home—as a matter of fact, I think my husband would leave me if I came home with anything else.  But nothing puts paper towels to the test like a bunch of toddlers!  We took an iconic cake smash photo, complete with a cake that Phoenix decorated herself!  (Okay, that’s not true.  I decorated it.  I tried to put a phoenix on it, but it looks like a gooey parrot.)


When we were done feeding each other cake, Bounty and a little hand soap cleared the mess up in a flash.

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My favorite part of the party, though, was this awesome paper towel flower craft that we made.  The team at Bounty had twisted the paper towels into flower shapes.  We then took eyedroppers filled with non-toxic dye in different colors and made these gorgeous, tye-dye flowers.  Since Bounty paper towels are twice as absorbent as the leading ordinary brand, the colors absorbed quickly and easily.  They were pretty on their own, but really striking as a garland.  I’d always grabbed paper towels to clean up after a messy craft, but never thought of using them in the project itself!


Bounty paper towels are a must have to have on hand for those messy but memorable moments.  Because the towels are so absorbent, you don’t need to use nearly as many to clean up even the most daunting messes—in fact, the roll lasts up to 50% longer!  I always buy the Select-A-Size rolls, since half a standard sheet is usually enough to do the job.  And since I don’t have to spend as much time—or money—cleaning up, I have more time to enjoy making a mess with my baby.

Best Gifts to Give A One Year Old

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On September 10th, my tiny baby turned one year old, and quite frankly, I’m still in shock.  Because she’s not walking yet, I’ve been in denial, but the truth is plain to see—I no longer have a newborn, an infant, or a baby.  I am the parent of a toddler.

I was never really around younger kids growing up (I’m the youngest of my whole family) so I had no idea what in the world to plan for her birthday party, let alone how to answer the well-meaning but totally stupefying question of “what does she want?”  The only thing that she is truly, truly passionate about is food and empty water bottles.  I figured I should probably just ask around to find out “What’s the best gift you can give a one-year-old, and why?”

Here’s what my friends had to say:*

“PJ’s!  We have plenty of toys and clothes.”

“A cute outfit in the parents’ taste/style for pictures or holiday that is coming up. All the cute ones that you got from the shower are grown out of and parents have other higher priority things to worry about.”

“Off the record- Experiences! I wish people (in-laws) gave us a membership to children’s museum instead of mountains of noisy plastic crap that I’m going to get rid of as soon as I think [my son] won’t notice.”

“Savings bonds or college fund. They get way too much in the toy department. A book with a note written in it and dated.”

“I would say I liked getting gift cards. I was able to put them towards practical items we needed. I got a mat for the bath tub, diaper cream, his Halloween costume, and I did get him one fun item, which was a small doodle board. I still have money left over, I’m deciding what to get with it.”

“Jammies, or money for the college fund. I also like the idea of experiences, but only for things I know we’d utilize like swim lesson, the aquarium, or children’s museum.”

“You can never go wrong with books! I also think a subscription to Babybug or Hello Magazine would be great.”

“Zoo memberships are so great at this age when families need some time out and about. Dinner/shopping with a 1 year old usually ends in stress. The zoo is fun for everyone though and mamas need out of the house! And yes, clothes are always iffy and toys just pile up. We’ve gotten lots of duplicate books too.”

“I love personalized books from I SEE Me. I got the “Who Loves _____” one for my older son for his first birthday and it’s so, so cute. I get the baby one as baby gifts for friends and they are always huge hits!”

“My dad and stepmom got [my son] a savings bond and I thought that was a really good gift. He will get that money when he’s ready to go to college.”

“We don’t have any particularly interesting children’s museums around here, but a San Diego Zoo membership or something like that would be cool! Books are great.”

“I have to say the Melissa & Doug shopping cart is the best gift. We’ve gotten almost 4 years out of it and it’s played with daily.”

“I’m not going to say it’s the best gift for a 1 year old. But the Disney Collection Mickey Bath Toy Set has been my favorite thing [my son] got. He’s in love with them (they are pretty big—maybe 6″ each) and carries them all around the house.”

“Musical instruments!  If you don’t mind the noise, they keep baby entertained for a while.  And you can play with them too—I like to get on the floor and ring the little bells.  My daughter loves them!”

Of course, I also wanted to reciprocate a little something for the parents and children that came to the party by way of the gift bags.  My husband will tell you that I’m practical to a fault—any party bag that you get from me will be useful or edible.  I decided to give out Ubbi’s Tweat containers.**  They are useful, come in adorable colors, and are the perfect size for toddlers to manage on their own.  I even had my adult friends without kids asking if they could keep them.  Best of all, they’re spill-proof and dishwasher safe.

What are your favorite gifts to give a one-year-old?

*Names are omitted to protect the feelings of well-meaning but misguided friends/mothers-in-law/grandparents who bought us crap that we will never, ever use.

**I received a wholesale discount from Ubbi because I bought a ton of these suckers, but I was not compensated for saying nice things.  I just really, really like Ubbi.

Product Review: Finding a New Ride at the Britax Stroller Party

Phoenix loves the view from her new wheels.

As many of you may know, Phoenix just turned one year old, and that meant that we’d soon have to say goodbye to the only stroller we’d ever known, the Doona.  Because I’m a first time mama and really didn’t have any experience with any other stroller, I was more than a little nervous.  How was I ever going to fall in love with anything else when the whole reason I bought the Doona was to avoid having a big bulky stroller?  So on the 28th, Phoenix and I packed up and headed over to the ELK Café in Brooklyn to check out the latest additions to the Britax family. Continue reading

National Child Passenger Safety Week (sponsored by Diono)

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Phoenix says “Hi!”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a child under the age of thirteen is involved in a crash every 33 seconds.  Fortunately, due to growing awareness of the importance of car seat safety and the dedication of car seat manufacturers to the highest quality and safest products possible, most of those crashes are not fatal.

We can’t control whether or not our child will be in an accident, but we can control some important factors that will increase their chances of surviving in the event of a crash: Continue reading

Shopping From Home With #Groupon Goods #ad

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Image courtesy of Groupon.com.

This is a sponsored post. As always, all opinions are true and 100% my own. 

When a person becomes a parent, lots of things change.  Life becomes more meaningful in so many ways…and much more complicated in so many others.  Once I had kids to contend with, basic things like shopping for groceries became so much more difficult.  (Ever tried to push a cart and a stroller?)  I found myself spending more money on the things that I always bought, because the convenience of online shopping, as well as buying the first thing I saw that fit our needs, was well worth the premium.

Fortunately, when shopping for household essentials, technology, gifts and baby stuff, I don’t have to feel like I’m always spending more than I should.  Groupon Goods has a ton of items in just about every category that you can think of.  I’ve bought toys, power packs for our phones, extra iPhone cables and headphones (our kids apparently like to eat them), dog beds, playpens, sheets, pillows and even shower heads from Groupon.  I’m always stunned at how well-priced the items are for the value.  There are literally thousands of items to choose from at any given time, and they save me the hassle of lugging a baby gate and a baby simultaneously.  Plus, it’s really fun to scroll down the lists of what’s for sale—I’ve gotten some great gift ideas from shopping around on Groupon!

Groupon Goods is definitely my go to resource when I want to get technology or home goods at a great price with no fuss.  What have you bought lately?

Breastfeeding Almost Made Me Quit My Job

Allaya pumps on her break at work.
I love my job. I’ve been teaching adult education classes for the last three years, and I feel that helping people establish their new careers while simultaneously teaching them about finance is rewarding and important work. However, since I came back from maternity leave, I’ve thought about quitting before every. single. class. Continue reading