Ten Tips for Road Tripping with a Newborn Baby

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Tip One: The day before we did our best to keep baby girl awake as much as possible. We wore her out, which meant that the following day- the day of driving- she was exhausted. She literally slept almost the entire trip.

Tip Two: Buy a car seat liner. They are basically just a waterproof liner that you buckle in to the carseat. That way if your little one has a blow out you can just pull it out and bag it, as opposed to trying to take apart and clean your carseat on the side of the road. Luckily we didn’t need one.  However, one of my good friends swears by them! You can find cute ones on etsy.

Tip Three: Have multiple hanging carseat toys that you can switch out when he/she gets bored. This was a huge help!

Tip Four: Install a rear car seat mirror. I know we installed one when we first put our car seat in, but if you haven’t – get one!! It definitely helped when she would give a fuss. We could see if she actually needed attention or not.

Tip Five: Anytime you stop- for gas, food, etc pull the baby out and walk around with him/her so he/she can get a break from the seat. This significantly raised her happiness levels.

Tip Six: Decide ahead of time how you want to feed. On the way out I did exclusive breastfeeding. Anytime she was hungry we just pulled over at a rest stop (once under a bridge) and I would feed her while Michael walked and stretched. However, on the way home I would only do that every other time.  The rest of the time I would pump while we were driving and then sit in the back and bottle feed her to save time. (It really did save a lot of time). The only hard thing is you can’t pull them out to burp them. Luckily that didn’t seem to effect Nolie, but if your baby is a gulper and needs to be burped that may not be a good option.

Tip Seven: Realize that you may not always have a clean bathroom with a changing station. When packing your car evaluate where you could change diapers and keep a space clear.

Tip Eight: Put an oversized and waterproof bib over their seatbelt and around their neck. On our first leg out we had a projectile vomit experience. Luckily she was wearing such a huge bib that there was no issue.

Tip Nine: Have a good playlist ready. This was important to us because music totally calms Nolie down. However, we didn’t have any music ready. So when we hit Kansas and our iCloud couldn’t download music and the radio was static we were reduced to one Kings of Leon CD. I didn’t mind, but Michael was not the happiest.

Tip Ten: Accept that the baby may cry. However, if he/she is fed, changed, and at a good temperature… you may have to let them just cry it out. Emotionally prepare yourself! We lucked out and had such minimum crying that I can hardly believe it.  The only real break down was when we were coming back from Utah to Colorado and we took a scenic route – I forgot how high elevation wise it got and soon Nolie was crying real tears. I know my ears were hurting, so I can only assume hers were too.

 

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Timber Moose Lodge Reunion 2017

This past week Michael and I got to take baby Nolie to her first Nanto family reunion (my dads side of the family) in Heber, Utah. It’s so crazy that when they planned this reunion years ago I wasn’t even engaged. My great uncle rented this amazing cabin, the Timber Moose Lodge, to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary! It was a total blast. 
The cabin itself was amazing. “With over 26,000 square feet of living space, Timber Moose is the largest private log cabin in the United States. Timber Moose sits on 12 private acres in the Utah mountains with commanding 360° views, visible from its 9,000 square feet of outdoor decks and balconies. The lodge has a large indoor swimming pool, a sauna, 13 bedrooms, 16 bathrooms including a men’s room and women’s room, a Crows Nest viewing room 50 feet above ground, and a 2200 square foot Grand Room with high vaulted ceilings that can accommodate 96 in banquet or presentations.” (Website
Every night we had a huge family dinner, followed by a program. The programs included picture slideshows from past reunions, a family ancestry “history lesson,” and performances from our many a talented family members. We played board games, told stories, went swimming, stargazed, and stayed up way too late laughing.  
One of the days we went over to Sundance to hike. My dad promised that it would be a short, easy trail. So we strapped on the baby and headed up for her first hiking adventure. We also rode Nolie’s first ski lift up the mountain. It was a great time, but also stressful. Long story short… I ended up lost with my aunt and two year old cousin on one of the advanced trails. Two hours later my sweet husband came jogging up the mountain (after going down every other path possible) to get us back to the lift! He is such a good man! 
The trip ended with a night of games and family stories. We also took Nolie to the pool for the first time. I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful it was – and special to introduce our sparkling new baby to everyone- Including her great grandparents. I’m so thankful Michael used his vacation to take us! 

 

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(View from ski lift) 

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(View from Cabin) 

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Day Two Colorado 2017

Day two in Boulder started off early for me.  My little Nolie girl was ready to do life by 6am local time.  We just played together until a more acceptable time to wake up Gia and Michael.  Then we packed up and hit the road.  We grabbed bagels at a place called Moe’s. The bagels were good, but if you order cream cheese be prepared.  They slap it on LITERALLY an inch thick! I scraped a lot of mine off, I’m not a huge cream cheese person. It was really good though. Then we jumped back on the road to start our adventure!
    
The day was so special because we took Michael and Nolie to Idaho Springs, Colorado.  That is where my childhood cabin is! It was a rough ride, mostly because I only knew how to get there by landmarks from ten years ago, not by street names. However, we only made one wrong turn, so I think that’s pretty impressive!
We didn’t go all the way down to our old property because we don’t own it any more. However, we walked around the main dirt road on the mountain. I got to pick wildflowers and reminisce. You could see our cabin and it looked almost the same, now one side is covered in solar panels. It made me so happy- and a little sad. (Above is a picture of the view from my old drive way). 
    
Then we headed down to Colorado Springs for my favorite pizza ever… Beau Jo’s!! They  make killer mountain pies. It is the location of some of my favorite childhood memories. It was so fun to share that special memory with Michael and the baby. 
    Afterwards we headed back to Gia’s house. She took off for work and we decided to take the baby for a walk around a nearby outdoor mall (29th street mall- great shopping options, but we just wanted to walk outside). It was so nice to enjoy the sun without the humidity of Tennessee.
We finished the night with Gia’s family. Her dad made a killer dinner and then we walked to downtown Louisville to get ice cream at Sweet Cow. We both got chocolate chip cookie dough, and it was delicious! I always forget how much fun  Have with that family. It was a seriously great (and late) night!

Day One Colorado 2017 

We got in crazy late from our road trip out West (first stop- Boulder, Colorado). It’s only a sixteen and a half hour drive, but we were in the car for 21 hours straight! We had to stop for Nolie to eat and to change her. However, she did amazing! No blow outs and rarely any crying. I don’t know how, but she slept or played with her toys the entire time. It was amazing! She really only cried for a good thirty minutes while we were in Kansas. There was a crazy rain and lightening storm and she was not amused. Other than that, she was such a trooper. It probably helps though that she LOVES riding in the car and looking out the windows.  
 

 Anyways, so we slept in until about eight local time. Then we got ready and headed out. We walked a block down to the coffee shop Gia took me last May, Alpine Modern Cafe. I ordered a blueberry muffin (and a giant DELICIOUS cookie for later) and Michael ordered a smoked salmon tartine with a six minute egg and cup of coffee. He loved it! Michael seriously talked about it all day. After we finished eating we walked around the neighborhood for a while. Then we headed back to Gia’s for some baby business, aka feeding, changing, and dressing her up for the day.  

// Boba Wrap 

 
Our next adventure was showing Michael downtown Louisville where Virginia grew up! I love it so much. I’ve always wanted to live there or somewhere very similar. The Main Street is quaint and has lots of great places to eat. (They also have a large public library which I was obsessed with when I was younger). We started at a tent sale that I had seen advertised on the Instagram of one of the shops from that area. It was in part for a store called Pitter Patter. We got Nolie a couple of cute presents. Then we walked around enjoying the shops and eventually stopping to eat lunch at LuLu’s . It was a BBQ place Gia wanted to show us. The pulled pork was pretty good, but not as good as some of the places around Nashville! We also ordered the Mac and Cheese which was good, but not my favorite. After lunch we walked around a few more shops and drove by the building where I used to take my summer acting camps! Then we headed down to Pearl Street. 

 

// Shirt: Lizard Ticket // Michael’s Shirt: J.Crew // Michael’s Shorts: J.Crew // Michael’s Watch: Fossil //Stroller: Eddie Bauer 

  
I was so excited to show Michael and Nolie Pearl Street for several reasons. One, it’s a super trendy strip with lots of interesting shops, street performers, and amazing food. But, two, my mom would meet Leslie and they would take us kids to play on the statues and play pads that are scattered down the street when we were all little. It was so cool to take my daughter there! I can’t wait to take her back when she is older and can actually participate in the fun! It was also a blast because everywhere we went people were smiling at Nolie and telling us how gorgeous she is! The momma in me was very proud.  

 

Afterwards, we headed to the Rio for dinner. Gia set up a dinner with a bunch of her friends. It was seriously so fun to get to out a face to the names I’ve been hearing. Her friends were so accepting and fun. I honestly felt like I was already friends with them. We got to sit on the rooftop and eat. The weather was perfect and baby girl loved the little breeze. It was perfect. Dinner was great too. I got a chicken quesadilla and it came with some really yummy guac. It was plain, but not in a bad way. I enjoyed it a lot! Michael got chicken fajitas (no surprise) and he said that he liked them as well. I stole a bite of his food and thought it was good! 

 

Finally, we headed black to Gia’s- with a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up some ice cream on the way. Then we basically fell straight asleep! It was a long day, but totally worth it! I can’t wait to see what today has in store.  

Michael’s Birthday Surprise: A Paris Recap

Life has been so so crazy. I am just now getting to write about our amazing 48 hours in Paris!! This trip was a total surprise for Michael’s birthday. He had zero idea that we were going.  I had “accidentally spilled the beans” about a restaurant in London that was supposedly his birthday surprise. So when I woke him up on his birthday at 5am he had no idea we were off to the train station! We loaded up on the Eurostar around 7am and arrived around 9am! (The train was surprisingly comfortable. It was such an easy way to travel and security took almost no time).

Once we got out of the station we grabbed a cab and headed to a hotel I had booked using (almost all) of our hotel points! It was the Intercontinental Paris.  Honestly, for such an expensive hotel, I was very disappointed.  However, the location was absolutely prime! It took us less than five minutes to walk over to the Arch de Triumph. We walked around the outside and then paid the fee to go to the top. First of all, I was not expecting to be so winded from those stairs! However, I was gasping for breath.  That walk is steep!! Secondly, the view was absolutely gorgeous.  You could see everything! It was a relatively clear day and we could see what felt like all of Paris. I could barely believe it was real!

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//Scarf: Target // Sweater: Lucky

Next we walked a few minutes over to the Av. des Champs Elysees. This is where some serious shopping was located. It was fun to see all the glamorous, giant stores. We stopped at a gorgeous Laduree tea room. It was so beautiful inside and the pastries were to die for! Of course, I ordered vanilla macarons. They were beyond fabulous, obviously the best I have ever had! (Also, they had the option to get a GIANT macaron, pictured below… seriously like triple the size I usually buy). Then we headed to the store I was the most excited to see- Tiffany & Co! The Champs Elysees location is the Flagship of Europe. It is so beautiful. As per tradition, we added another country to my collection of Tiffany & Co jewelry. Since Paris is so classic I went with an iconic Return To Tiffany charm bracelet.

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As we were leaving the sales woman recommended this fabulous Italian place round the corner. I wish I could remember the name of it, but the day is such a blur! After that we went back to our hotel, I was so tired. I took a quick nap and then we headed off to Michael’s surprise dinner… I had made reservations to eat dinner inside the Eiffel Tower!

Michael absolutely loved his dinner. I have the taste buds of a three year old, so I can admit I was a little overwhelmed. However, the dinner was fabulous.  I’m going to have to do a blog post exclusively on dinner to give it justice!!

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After eating we climbed halfway up the Eiffel Tower! Then I gave up and we bought lift tickets to get to the very very top! (There were A TON of stairs and it was FREEZING cold). The top was breathtaking. In more than one way too! The view was spectacular. You could see everything and by this point it was dark so everything was lit up. Also, breathtaking in the fact that it was slightly terrifying! From the top you could feel the entire structure swaying! It definitely was thrilling, if not nauseating. It was a windy night, but that high up it felt like a storm! After we got our fill we rode the lift down and grabbed a taxi back to the hotel.

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//Dress: Kate Spade // Necklace: Kate Spade // Shoes: Steve Maden

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The entire night was magical, but possibly the best part of all was once we got back to the hotel. We got a FaceTime call from Sophie… She had just found out that she was also pregnant!! What!?!? It took me hours to fall asleep I was so excited.

We slept in super late because I didn’t go to sleep until the early hours of the morning.  We packed up our duffle and headed over to Notre Dame. It was absolutely gorgeous!! From there we actually decided to split up. This was my first official day of morning sickness and I was definitely feeling it. I actually went to a nice restaurant for breakfast and then walked around for maybe fifteen minutes before settling into a cafe. Meanwhile I told Michael to go explore! He couldn’t waste a whole day in Paris just because I felt awful. He explored what he said felt like the whole city. He got to see the Louvre, eat street food, the works. Later that afternoon we met back up and walked round a different shopping district.  The stores were numerous and huge! This one department store was five stories tall and endless.  That night we took the last train back to London and then took the line back to Joey & Amy’s house.  Even though Paris was fun, it felt great to be back somewhere familiar. Overall, I feel comfortable saying I am the queen of birthday surprises this year!

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What to do with Eight Hours in Toronto

On our trip last month to London we had an eight hour layover in Toronto on the way out. I had never been, so we really wanted to get out and walk around. Here is how we got downtown with relative ease! 

After we landed in Toronto we took a little train over to terminal 1. From there we bought tickets to ride the UP Express. It’s a train that takes you right into downtown Toronto. It was $24 for two adults, round trip. (They also offer different rates for children and seniors). The train itself was clean and it only took us 25 minutes one way. They run a train every fifteen minutes so there is hardly any delay. We lucked out and walked up right as the train was loading both times. It was so easy to maneuver and to get there. Once we got out at Union Station (there are literally only like 4 stops total) we just walked straight out the main front doors and turned left. We stayed on that street for majority of our exploration! There were several restaurants and pubs along the way.  

One thing I loved was the sidewalks. It was relatively clean and I felt safe! We walked along one path until we decided to head back to one of T he first sports bars we saw, the Loose Moose. At first I was definitely intimidated by the noise. There was a Blue Jays game on, and they were winning. The whole room was a constant stream of screams, chants, and intricate clapping celebrations. It was actually pretty cool, once you got past the bleeding eardrums. 

We ordered Michael a dish of the Fully Loaded Poutine. It was composed of French fries, Cheddar cheese curds, and gravy. Then they topped it with sour cream, green onions, and bacon. He LOVED it. I order a Grilled Mac and Cheese Sandwich. The caramelized sourdough bread it came on was AMAZING. (After tip, drinking only lemon water, our total was $33.27. So not too bad!)

When we were done we slowly made our way back to the station. Then we just showed the attendant our ticket and got back on. The train dropped us back at the airport, we took an escalator, turned a corner, then just went back through security with our already printed tickets. It took us about thirty minutes to get through security and to the waiting area for our plane. It was totally simple. I am so glad we decided to try and explore a little! 

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London: Days Four, Five, and Six

 

 

Day four London had a very slow start.  We were extremely tired after the late night show the night before.  So we actually decided against getting up early and going to the Buckingham palace. We figured that will still be around next one we go! Instead we slept in and then I spent the morning reading books to Sabrina. Around noon our Uncle Dick and Aunt Masako arrived from the states. After they got settled the four of us headed down on the line to the Westminster stop. When you walk out of the station you are smack dab in front of parliament!! It was breathtaking as we walked up the stairs! I was so excited. We turned left and walked across the famous bridge. Then took another left to buy our tickets (we also went online so we could get the buy one get one free deal that comes with purchasing a train ticket).

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The London Eye was such a cool experience. I had heard a few people say it was over rated, but I disagree. I loved seeing everything and it was cool to look up the buildings we were seeing and to orient ourselves. We also lucked out and waited in no lines to buy our tickets, stood in line less then five minutes to get onto the Eye, and the skies were perfectly clear! It was so beautiful. After the Eye we walked over to Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately I did not read online that it closes at different times on different days! That was a let down, but it was still gorgeous to walk around the grounds. The four of us decided to walk around the corner and to go see the Churchill War Rooms. This was the one thing Michael said he really wanted to do! That was a really cool experience. I am not particularly interested in WWII history, but I still found it extremely interesting and interactive.

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//Scarf: Target // Jacket: J. Crew // Jeans: Lucky // Boots: Lucky // Michael’s Jacket: North Face // Michael’s shirt: J. Crew // Michael’s Jeans: Lucky // Michael’s Boots: Levi

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We spent probably a good two hours inside. Then we took our first black cab of the trip over to the Theater District! We ended up eating at some Italian place that had amazing food! I think we were all pleased. This is where we parted. Dick and Masako headed home and we started off to meet Andrew at the Cereal Killer Cafe. I had read so many great things about it, I couldn’t wait to go. Unfortunately… we got lost. Like super lost. We eventually tried to take a taxi, but arrived one minute before they closed. They wouldn’t let us in. The boys were both pretty frustrated. Luckily, there was this small little pizza place, Paradise Slice, around the corner. The building itself might have been small, but the pizza slices were HUGE. It lifted everyone spirits and we enjoyed wandering around. Andrew took us into a corner store and told us what candy we had to try, we want inside a little cafe, and then wandered our way home. It turned out to be a very eventful, but exciting day!

Our fifth day was just as fun! Wespent the morning playing with the girls. Then we headed over to the Warner Brother Studio Tour- The Making of Harry Potter. It was so cool! We ate lunch in the front cafe while we waited for Uncle Joey to join the rest of us. Then we all went in together. I was expecting it to be a lot like the Universal Harry Potter set up in Florida, but it was totally different. (I will admit, I did enjoy Florida more). This was less amusement park, more museum. It was really interesting seeing so many of the original props and the mechanics behind many of the tricks and tips.

One really exciting thing was we got to walk around the Great Hall… like the actual Great Hall that is in the movies! I am 100% a HP nerd so I was definitely geeking out. You also get to see the actual sets of many different scene. For example, the Gryffindor Commons, the boys dormitory, Hagrid’s actual hut, etc. Then we took a quick stop to get our Butterbeer. The last part of the “tour” (it’s self guided) leads you through makeup and special effects (like the mechanical Devil’s Snare plant!), past a giant and gorgeous replica of the Hogwarts castle, and to the gift shop. Where we of course bought a few keepsakes. The studio was a total win! Afterwards we headed home. That night we all cooked and ate dinner together. Then we sat around telling stories and playing with Sabrina. It was definitely a perfect last night.

Our last morning in London we woke up early and tried, once again, to go to the Cereal Killer Cafe. This time we headed over to their location in Camden. We got there five minutes after the website said they were open, but the workers had the doors shut and wouldn’t let people in! They said they would open up in thirty or forty minutes. So we (impatiently) stood outside. By the time the doors opened they had a huge, unhappy crowed that had woken up early just for this! The cafe itself was adorable! There were old school T.Vs playing episodes of Saved by the Bell (I have seen every episode, I love that show), cartoons, and old Disney movies. The walls were covered in vintage cereal box toys and other odds and ends, including a singing fish. Overall, I am glad we went because of the experience. However, it was the worst customer service we had the entire trip, the portions were outrageously small, and even when we paid extra for bigger sizes we  still received the same amount. I also found it a little embarrassing that the staff was talking about how “wasted” they were last night right infant of all of the customers who had to wait because they obviously overslept.

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// Jacket: Lucky // T Shirt: Lucky // Jeans: Lucky // Camera Bag: Nikon

Afterwards we raced off to the airport where Joey and Amy dropped us off. We were behind schedule so we said some quick goodbyes and ran through security. Luckily we did not have any trouble getting through and even had time to buy some snacks. The flight back to Toronto wasn’t bad, I was just worn out and feeling sick. So when we landed we went straight to our hotel. We ventured out for dinner, but not for long. Michael and I spent the night watching the Fresh Prince and cuddling. Originally we had great plans of exploring Toronto again, but honestly it was so nice to just sleep and move slowly! The next day we hopped on a tiny little plane back to Nashville. When we finally arrived home I was worn out!!

The cats came yowling around the corner when we walked in the door, of course melting my heart. Several days later and they will not leave our sides, possibly for fear that we will leave again. London was a great adventure, but it is good to be home with our little family.

Thanks to everyone that made our trip great and to my sister who kept the cats alive while we were gone! We love you!