How to Travel Internationally While Breastfeeding

You can go abroad without your baby & still continue breastfeeding!


At 11 months, I have traveled internationally with my daughter and without. Both are rewarding and positive experiences, yet both require A LOT of planning and having the right tools.

I recently traveled to Switzerland for work for one week — WITHOUT my daughter. She was 10.5 months at the time and I didn’t want to end our breastfeeding journey just because I had to be away. My goals were to make sure that she had enough breastmilk at home (we were at around 18 oz per day) to pump while there to keep up my supply to continue when I returned and to bring all my expressed milk home safely (it is liquid gold, people!).

Trust me, it wasn’t easy. I was on a video shoot so I had to be out all day. I pumped in the bathroom mountaintop, in the bathroom of a Swiss fondue chalet, a family/nursery pumping room at Zurich airport and the worst–the  airplane bathroom twice there and twice back. Ugh!

Mobile Pumping station!

SPOILER ALERT: I got all my expressed milk from the entire week back home safely AND my daughter is still breastfeeding (oh, and I had a very successful trip)! It was definitely a lot of work but with careful planning and consistency, it worked! Here’s how I did it

1. LEAVE A HUGE SUPPLY

Yes, this may be the most challenging part. I needed exactly 140 ounces for Aurora to have enough breast milk while away. I was able to leave exactly that–to the ounce– and not a drop more. Luckily I didn’t have any travel delays because when I came home, we was ready for her feeding and we were out of frozen milk.

To do this, I made sure not to dip into any of our current frozen supply. I was very cautious to always be around to feed her 4x per day.

I also did some pumping before bed, after her last feed. This wasn’t ideal as I was usually exhausted and had to wait till around 11pm for my breasts to “refill” but it did help give us an extra 25 ounces or so.

I also did some middle of the night pumping. I made sure to have all my pump parts ready to go and the breastpump plugged in and set up near the couch. I’d sneak out to the living room around 2/3am and pump for 10 minutes. Though this is brutal, it often yields the most milk at that time as you are completely full from the last feed so it is very efficient. Sometimes it’d only be a 5-6 minute pump to get 8/9 ounces.

2. MAKE A BACKUP PLAN IF YOU RUN OUT OF MILK

Aurora has never had formula to date but I knew that if something happened — delays, growth spurts — and she needed more milk than we had, I had to have a backup. I researched and decided to get a container of Holle formula, from Holland. Holle (and also Hipp) are among the best out there. They are organic and have complete nutrition and not a lot of the bad stuff. This was the site that I used.

Whatever formula that you choose to have, have something there and brief the caregivers on how to use it.

3. USE MILK STORK

If you aren’t familiar, Milk Stork is a MUCH NEEDED service that sends a refrigerated box to your hotel room ahead of time. When you arrive, you can put all your expressed milk in the refrigerator box, pop the refrigeration on, pack it up and FedEX will come grab it and get it to your home overnight. They also have a Pump & Tote service where you carry the breastmilk as a carryon on the plane in a refrigerated box. However, all this works for domestic travel only.

I was excited to find out that they just launched an INTERNATIONAL service. I ordered the 108 ounce box and it arrived a few days early to the Four Seasons Geneva. When I checked in, it was sitting there waiting.

On my day of departure, I activated the refrigerated box, packed away my sealed milk. Close it up and carried to the airport checkin counter. From there I checked it and picked up at my destination. The refrigeration lasts for 90 hours so I wasn’t even too worried about delays. It was a huge relief!

4. ORDER ALL THAT YOU NEED AHEAD

Planning ahead is key to this whole thing working out because when you are in a different country, Amazon Prime might not have your back.

MY CHECKLIST

FOR STORING MILK ON THE GO:

HEAVY DUTY BOOBY BAGS

I brought 2 sets of bottles for the pumping but I had to have bags to store the many ounces that I was accruing throughout the trip.

I have used a lot of different types and these Booby Bags are by far the best. They are thick plastic and have a double seal. I think they hold more milk than other bags too.  I also think the name Booby Bags is funny, so it always makes me giggle when I see it. 🙂

FOR KEEPING MILK FROZEN/COOL:

Cooler Shock Freeze Packs

These were the key to it all. I was worried that the freezer packs would “lose their cool” and these did not. Ever. They last for basically days. I have no idea what is in them but I do know that once you pour water into them, you put them in the freezer for 24 hours (or as many as you can). After that, they are frozen solid for at least a full day out, if not longer.


The great thing is they are completely flat when not filled with water. I order the 4 pack so I filled one to use for the flight there and I packed the other 3 for the return. I ended up only using 2 for the return because they were that good. Buy these. Trust me they are amazing.

These kept my frozen milk FROZEN in a cooler bag. And for non frozen milk, they kept it very chilly for the entire travel day. Learn why I decided to freeze some of my milk while traveling and how I did it in this post here.

FOR TRANSIT WITH MILK

BACKPACK FREEZER BAG

This is your best friend for long travel. Walking through airports and getting to your hotel can be taxing as it is so I knew I wanted to have my hands free and all my frozen/refrigerated milk on my back. I did a lot of research and the Tourit Cooler backpack was the best one that I found. After using it, I can attest to how cold it kept everything, how comfortable it was and honestly, how stylish it looked! For a cooler backpack, it was kind of sleek!

DUFFLE COOLER BAG

This is one of the most highly reviewed cooler/freezer bags on the market. It is guaranteed to keep the contents cool for a very long time–and it did. The AO bag is made of a thick material and I could fit a good amount of milk in there.

Remember to account for the space that the freezer pack will take up as they are quite large when full and frozen. I had to discard one that didn’t fit, but I managed to get 2 freezer packs in along with 4 days of frozen milk.

Note: This bag will be very heavy. I definitely pulled something in my forearms lugging this home.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The reason that I brought both was because I wasn’t sure if one would work better or the other. I also wasn’t sure if I needed a backup plan and wanted to prepared. In the future, I’d pack only one or the other. The backpack was easier to carry but I think the Duffle kept the contents colder. Your call based on the length of your trip. I used the Duffle for FROZEN milk so that was important to me.

For Pumping in Transit:

MANUAL HAND PUMP

If all else fails, this little hand pump will get you through and it’s small and super easy to pack.

Medela Battery Pack

This was a lifesaver so I didn’t have to hand pump. It requires 8 AA batteries but it worked well all over. It is small and lightweight. I recommend bringing extra batteries in case they are drained but in my week of using it a few times a day, I did not need any new batteries.

POCKET FREEZER BAG

This little leopard print bag was the perfect size and inconspicuous look for me to carry it to/from the bathroom and have it popped in my bag while I was out. It has water built in so you just need to freeze it the night before you take it out for the day.

Note: it doesn’t stay frozen long and your milk will get warm if it is longer than 6 hours or so. I found this okay for my days out but it didn’t work well on the plane as my flight was 12 hours.

It only holds 1 very full bag or 2 less full bags. That is the one downside. If you need more, you can get this one below that is from the same company. It is shaped more like a lunchbox so a little less convenient to carry in a purse but it definitely holds more and keeps bottles secure if you aren’t using bags.

SANITIZING WIPES

Now for pumping on the go, you might not have access to soap and hot water. The most convenient thing to have in your pocket are these Medela Wipes. They sanitize all the parts and pieces on contact and allow you to use them again, without ever needing water. Very handy.

For Pumping at your destination

Plugs and Converters

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL ADAPTER VOLTAGE CONVERTER

Many destinations across the globe have different outlets and different voltages. This is key if you are planning on using a breast pump that connects to the wall. **Don’t make the mistake that I did in Italy on my first trip while pumping. I fried my breastpump day 1 and then had to hand pump the rest of the trip. Non bene.

I was traveling to Switzerland and since the voltage and plugs, I ordered a converter strip so that I plug several things in at once. It worked like a charm!

This was my converter  and it works  in 150 countries, including the UK, Europe and Asia. I can promise that it will not fry your breast pump if you make sure that it apply to where you are going  (and if you have the Medela Pump in Style 2 like I do).

EXTRAS PUMP PARTS

I brought one extra set of each part of my breastpump.I didn’t need them but I was glad that I had them.

  • Extra Flanges
  • Extra Breast Shields
  • Extra Bottles
  • Extra Pump Valves (the yellow things)

I hope this post helps you plan your next trip! Please leave any questions, tips or comments below.

The Catalina Island Guide For Everyone

My second time visiting Catalina made me fall even more in love with this island just off the Southern California coast. This time around, I was not pregnant and it was one of my first trips away from my infant daughter–meaning MOM WAS OFF DUTY! I was ready to dive into all the experiences on Catalina that I couldn’t do the first time around.

What always gets me is how This island is popular for all types of travelers–from the wee ones to the older set, the luxury seekers to the adrenaline junkies. With 48 hours to enjoy, I chose to do a little bit of everything.

THE OUTDOOR ADVENTURER

Highlights: I enjoyed a whole new perspective of Catalina from the treetops. The Aerial Adventure ropes course has routes for beginners to the experts. The beautifully designed courses subtly blend in with the surrounding nature. Challenge yourself to jump off platforms, maneuver around and balance feet above the ground.

Tips: Work up your confidence by starting with one of the two beginner routes. Once you get the hang of the ropes and clipping/unclipping, you can move on to the intermediate and advanced routes.

Cost: Adults, $49.95, Children/Seniors/Military: $39.95

Also check out: Zipline Eco Tour

THE LUXURY SEEKER

Highlights: The former Wrigley residence, the Mt Ada hotel is only accessible for those staying in one of the 12 guest rooms– unless you have a lunch reservation. Step inside this former Wrigley residence to enjoy a memorable lunch on their wraparound patio, which might be my favorite view of Catalina Island. The three course lunch includes your choice of champagne, wine or beer.

Tips: Take a golf cart up to the hotel for a scenic drive.

Cost: $62 per person

Also check out: the Island Spa Catalina to pamper yourself poolside.

THE WATER BABY

  • Kayaking off of Descanso Beach

Highlights: The waters around Catalina are crystal clear and a stunning turquoise shade of blue. Appreciate their clarity upclose from your own kayak. You can opt for a guided tour or just taking one out on your own and either way, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking coastal views and new appreciation for California’s rugged beauty.

Tips: Take the Journey to Frog Rock tour to be treated to insider knowledge on the island and a stop on a breathtaking beach only accessible by boat.

Cost: $22 Single Kayak, $30 Double Kayak; Frog Rock Tour: $54 Adults, Children 25% off

Also check out: Snorkeling

THE HISTORY BUFF

Highlights: I wouldn’t say I seek out every museum when I travel but I am sure glad that I toured the recently built Catalina Museum. The building itself is a work of art and the exhibits are fascinating. Walk through on your own or take a guided tour to learn about the stories that give this island its unique personality. From Hollywood starlets to presidents, baseball heroes to wartime tales–Catalina’s history is truly unexpected and exciting.

Tips: Come for one of their monthly outdoor movie screenings located on the roof. Do not miss the Bird Park exhibit that shares the quirky history of the exotic bird sanctuary that once existed in town.

Cost: $17 Adults/Children (under 15) Free

Also check out: Wrigley’s Catalina

THE FAMILY TRIP

Highlights: Just under the water, there’s a whole new world of marine life. Dive into it without ever getting wet on the Undersea Expedition. It’s a safe, comfortable way for an up close look at the vivid Garibaldi, the impressive kelp forests and maybe an occasional dolphin if you are lucky.

Photo courtesy of Catalina Undersea Adventure

Tips: Be prepared for lots of photo opportunities both in the submersible and above the water when they sail back on the surface.

Cost: $39.95 Adults/$37.95 Children

Also check out: Glass Bottom Boat Voyage

THE FOOD FOCUSED

Highlights: A circular bar, comfortable booths and water views, the Avalon Grille tastes as good as it looks. Menu signatures include the hangar steak and the pan seared scallops and I particularly loved the tempura green beans.

Tips: This restaurant is popular so definitely book ahead. And order yourself a Wrigley Martini for me.

Cost: Appetizers around $18, Entrées around $35

Also check out: Bluewater Grill

IMPORTANT TRAVEL DETAILS

Where to Stay: The Pavilion Hotel

Personally, I wouldn’t want to stay anywhere else. The waterfront location is an easy walk from the ferry and perfectly situated to access all the main spots in Avalon by foot.

I love the tropical courtyard where you can enjoy their included (hearty) breakfast spread in the cool mornings or toast to a fun day next to the fire pits during the complimentary wine hour. The crisp, nautical rooms are spacious and comfortable and the included bike rental was very helpful for getting around.

Cost:  $180 to $350 per night, dependent on season

Getting There: Catalina Express

The ferry ride is half the fun of going to Catalina, in my opinion. With many departures daily, this hour cruise covers the 22 watery miles in just an hour. Sip on bloody marys in the Commodore’s Lounge or soak up the sun on the outer deck. You might even spot a dolphin or a whale! Cost: $74.50 Adult Roundtrip/ $59 Children Roundtrip/ Under 2 years old Free

The Best things To Do in Santa Barbara

My Tips on How to Explore this California Beach Town

Santa Barbara is a captivating beach town that to me, feels like nowhere else on along the pacific coast. It has a distinct, down-to-earth yet kinda quirky personality that is nestled in the midst of mountains, shoreline and sunshine.  For a Santa Monica resident like myself, I try to escape to SB a few times per year as it is a scenic 2 hour drive and a world away from the touristed, trafficky LA hotspots. Since so many people have asked for my favorite things to do when I go, I decided to post up some highlights.

Surrey the City

When I first arrive in a new town, I usually like to walk, jog or bike the streets to get a feel for the place. But in Santa Barbara there’s an even more unique and hilarious method of getting around– the Surrey! This ‘tuk-tuk meets bike’ is powered by your own two legs, but you can have the help of a partner, or even the whole family! You aren’t in a hurry in a surrey (wow didn’t mean to rhyme) but that is the beauty of it. You sit back, enjoy the scenery and easily stop whenever you want to take a photo or grab a bite.

I suggest taking your surrey along the beach front path and stopping at Shoreline Beach Cafe for delicious bites and drinks, right in the sand. I rented our surrey from Wheels of Fun, conveniently located right near the beach and at the start of the Funk Zone.

Kayaking Along the Coast

Santa Barbara has a spectacular coastline. Cove beaches, gentle waves and palm tree studded stretches of sand. The way the coast curves in and out makes for jaw-dropping views as the sun sets and I always envy the people drifting along the sailboats in the horizon.

I think the best way to appreciate Santa Barbara’s best asset (IMO) is by getting IN it! Swimming is wonderful but I prefer kayaking the deep blue waters to cover more ground, take photos and hang out for a few hours. The on-the-water vantage point lets you appreciate the shoreline to one side, the endless blue to the other and all the marine life all the way to the sea floor, below your paddles.

There are a few good options for kayaking. I’ve paddled the harbor and really liked the “front door” look at the breathtaking boats in the marina as well as the reverse perspective of the town from the water. It is also very family friendly since it relatively calm and can be done in an hour.

It also doesn’t hurt that on our paddle, sea lions were swimming alongside our boat. I’d recommend this harbor tour to set you up with kayaks and a guide

If you are looking for something a little more unique and more adventurous, the four kayak excursion at Refugio State Park might be more your speed. This 3 mile tour covers one of the least developed parts of California’s coast, which means LOTS of wildlife. Your guide informs you about all the plants and wildlife that makes these waters home. I also like that there’s even a stop to have an included lunch on a secluded beach. Learn more about the Refugio State Beach Kayak tour here.

Surfs Up

Whether you are a local looking to improve your skills or a visitor wanting to check off “surfing in California” from the Bucket List, it’s a good idea to pick up a board and head out. You are in California after all.

But many of our waves are no joke and I wouldn’t recommend diving into surfing as a novice–without some guidance at least (I always go out with a guide as I am still learning as well).

Santa Barbara Adventure Company offers that guidance, and the gear, so you can get out on the waves confidently and safely. Choose from a 2 or 4 hour lesson, which comes with boards, wetsuits and instruction– no matter what level you are at. You surf at a nearby beach that has gentle waves and is free from rocks which is a perfect place to learn. It’s also only 15 minutes away so you can still make it back to town for a well deserved post-surf lunch or happy hour.

Speaking of happy hour… THE FuNk ZoNe

It’s no secret that the Funk Zone is the fun place to be, especially from 4:30 to sunset. Every time I visit it, it feels different and to be honest, even better! My last time touring the FZ, I was pregnant, so I had a very sober look at all the wineries, breweries, cocktail bars and little shops in between. Let me tell you, if I thought it was awesome sober, imagine how great it is if you can have a drink or two.

After sipping our way through many, here are the stops in the Funk Zone that stick out.

Figueroa Brewing Company: The outdoor patio and frequent live music made me love this place, even though I don’t love beer.

Kunin: The Cape Cod beach vibe of this place made me fall in love immediately and it was lovely to post up a high top and linger over a glass of local pinot noir.

Test Pilot: I can’t help but love a good cocktail and a good cocktail in a perfectly decorated tiki style bar? My love overflows. Definitely stop here if just to admire the ship wheel lamp that adorns the main bar.

Wine Not?

The ideal way to experience the wine country near Santa Barbara is to do so worry-free. Booking with Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours takes away the hassles associated with transportation, itinerary, and they even provide lunch and cold drinks. You are spending the day drinking wine, so you aren’t driving so you’ll need a shuttle service anyway (much easier than trying to find ubers at some of these more remote locations).

SB Wine Country Tours offers one tour in particular that I think looks incredible. It is a Cupcake and Wine Tour, where you eat your way through a cupcake & wine pairing, explore Los Olivos and have lunch at a small winery. The town of Los Olivos is so charming and perfect for an afternoon visit. Plus the wineries that they takes you too, like Sunstone and Brander, make each stop intoxicating. 🙂

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For more of my favorite things to do, check out my 24 Hours in Santa Barbara video!

What are your favorite things to do in Santa Barbara? I am always looking for new things to try on my next trip!

xo

Kelley

Fun Easter Party Ideas for kids and adults too

Aurora is about to have her first Easter and I am going to throw her a little party. Yes, I understand that a 10 month old will not have a lot (or any!) memories of her first Easter. However, that doesn’t mean she won’t enjoy it! I love hosting get togethers so my goal is to make this fun for everyone, big and little!

Our little Rory meeting the Easter Bunny at 9.5 months


Set Up & Decor

We’ve chosen to host this in a nearby park, since the weather usually cooperates in Southern California. Of course, this would work in your yard or indoors as well.

Photo from Frankixo.com

For set up, we are going to keep it pretty minimal and rely on the great outdoors for most of the ambiance. However, there are a few necessary items to make this party a success.

  • Folding Table
    • This is necessary for all the food, Easter baskets, plates and to keep other items away from little hands.
  • Table Cloth
    • I purchased this Gingham one on Amazon
  • Blankets (for babies to hang out in on the grass)
  • Paper plates, napkins and cups
  • Easter bunny ears!
  • Fresh Flowers in Mason Jars
  • Balloons
  • Cooler

Easter Party Food

I wanted to keep it to light finger foods for adults and some fun snacks for the little ones too.  

  • Deviled Eggs
    • Delicious and thematic, deviled eggs are also healthy and tasty for little ones on solids.
    • I chose to follow this recipe here, but leaving out the tabasco.
  • Bunny Fruit Dish
    • Take advantage of the holiday and set up your fruit in a cute way!
From smartschoolhouse.com
  • Biscuits
    • Easy to make and a crowd pleaser. Add cheese for a savory twist or serve with butter and jam.
  • Beverages for adults AND kids!
    • Rosé, chilled beer and sparkling waters are on our list. Remember to add flavored sparkling waters which are a crowdpleaser for all!
  • Easter Basket Cupcakes
    • I love how easy and delicious these look!

Things to Do

To keep the little ones entertained, here are some fun things that you can do.

Easter Baskets

Give out Easter Baskets for the kids! Fill them with age appropriate toys and snacks. Avoid the candy or limit that for the adults.

  • Baskets
    • I love the heart details and they come with grass!
  • Carrot Teethers
  • Bibs
  • Snack Pouches
    • Go for my go-to brand, Once upon a Farm or to stay on theme, Peter Rabbit Organics
  • Egg shakers
    • Musical and on theme! These are sweet and inexpensive.

Have an Easter Egg Hunt

  • This is fun for all ages. You can modify the difficulty based on ages. Since ours are little, we will be basically just setting the eggs out on the grass for the little ones to play with!

Blow Bubbles

  • A timeless pastime that all ages can enjoy.

Music

  • Bring some toys and instruments for littles to use on the blanket.

Invite the Easter Bunny!

  • If you want to go for it, ask a friend (or a fellow parent) to don an Easter Bunny costume and surprise the kids. That will be sure to make a lot of kids smile and have some amazing photos!

How To do a Day Trip to the Channel Islands


If you’ve been to the Southern California Coast, chances are you’ve seen the Channel Islands. On clear days, they rise up out of the Pacific, faint outlines in the distance. They’ve always beckoned me. I would gaze at them and wonder how could islands exist in plain sight that I haven’t explored? They appeared to be such a California adventure–hiking, kayaking, epic views and immersion in nature. I finally gave into their ‘siren call’ and made the voyage out. This was something that I didn’t think was possible while having a baby girl at home! I did it all in one day and was able to get back home in time to tuck Aurora in. Here’s how.

The Channel Islands

Still cannot believe that this is epic landscape is in my backyard

The Channel Islands are comprised of five individual islands differing in size and together they make up the protected area of Channel Islands National Park. To access them, you take a ferry or boat out of Ventura Harbor. The main island of Santa Cruz, the largest and most accessible, has a campground, 15 hiking trails, and the main anchorage of Scorpion Bay.

Plan Ahead

The island is all pack in and pack out, so it is vital to plan out your day ahead of time. There aren’t any public structures, besides restrooms and changing areas, so you need to have everything you need with you. (see my packing list below) Since I had limited time, I wanted to maximize each moment that I had out there, so I decided to book an experience through Santa Barbara Adventure Company.

Pablo from Santa Barbara Adventure Company

SB Adventure Company is a highly rated mom-pop shop that provides a variety of adventures on the mainland and off, all year round. Their high reviews and years of experience in the Channel Islands put me at ease. It was important to me to have good guides too so I could learn more and feel safe and secure out on the water.

Craving something active–and especially something that I can’t usually do with a little one– I booked the Adventure Sea Cave Kayak tour. This would give me a guided tour of the famous sea caves along the coast of the island. Plus, I love being on the water and this was about as close as I could get, save for swimming in the chilly temps! Guides, kayaks, gear were all included, so all I had to do was show up at the dock!

How to Get There:

It can be done in a day–even from Los Angeles!

I left my house a little after 7am and jetted up the PCH to Ventura Harbor. Watching the surfers catch early waves and the sun yawning up the sky made the drive very scenic and quick! With the detailed directions of where to meet at Ventura Harbor, I had no problem finding SB Adventure Company when I pulled in.

Island Packers is the ferry service that brings you out to Santa Cruz Island and they have several ferries back and forth throughout the day. As I was doing this in March, a lower season, there were less ferries scheduled than in the summer, for example. We had planned to take the 9am out there and the 3:30pm ferry back.

The ferry itself is a lovely ride! Coffee is served on board and the hour ride was smooth and breathtaking. We even had a surprise escort of dolphins on the way over. What a refreshing start to the day.

First steps on Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island

This island is simply majestic. It was in full bloom from the recent rains, so the hillsides were covered in wildflowers as our ferry pulled up to the dock.

View of Scorpion Bay

Once on land, our guide walked us over to changing area where we could get the necessary clothing for kayaking. They had wetsuits, water shoes, helmets and life jackets waiting for us. They even had waterproof holders for cell phones, which I definitely recommend!

Ready to GO

I opted to wear a wetsuit just on my legs, to make sure I wouldn’t be chilly in the water. However, the sun was out so I didn’t zip it all the way up–a long sleeve shirt was perfect. I brought along water and all my GoPros.

Kayaking

Down at the beach, the kayaks were waiting for us. After a quick safety briefing, my guide, Pablo, was pushing me into the clear waters. As there were a few other tours that day, we opted to go in the opposite direction first to get an unobstructed access to the caves.

The glassiest water

With the water so deep and clear, the impressive kelp forests engulfed us. Pablo told us about this incredible plant and he even encouraged me to give them as taste. Honestly, it was not bad!

Floating snacks 🙂

We ventured into our first cave–following his lead and turning once inside. I had been worried that it would be difficult to turn but it wasn’t bad at all. We just had to time it with the waves.

Incredible kelp forests

We passed around an island where there is loud and quite impressive blowhole. This blowhole was formed by years of sea water crashing into the rock and needed a way to get out. You can get close to it but be warned, you will get wet!

The Blowhole!

Pablo pointed out endemic plants and birds as we paddled by. It was nesting season so we noticed one cave full of birds nests and hungry chirping baby birds. Having a guide like Pablo point out and explain more about specific plants and animals gave so much context to the whole experience that would have been lost if I just went out on my  own.

Learning about the unique flora and fauna on these little islands

We stopped at Geology Cove, a quiet area where you can see clearly see history of the formation of the island through the delineated layers of Earth. Pablo explained how animals used to be able to walk here from the mainland, and over time, the ocean rose and the channel between the islands and the rest of California grew deep, stranding many types of plants and animal here such as the scrub jay, the deer mouse, the spotted skunk and the adorable islands foxes!

Pitstop for a quick viewpoint hike

Our next pitstop was at a rocky beach, where Pablo helped us pull in our kayaks for a quick viewpoint nature walk. The 360 degree views of the island from here were well worth the stop. The beach itself even had some of the most beautiful seashells that I had ever seen!

Elephant Belly Cave

Our last kayak adventure was to Elephant Belly Cave. This was by far the largest cave that we saw. We paddled inside and even shot through a narrow path way for a little adrenaline rush! I didn’t think I could do something like this but Pablo made it simple and put my fears at ease.

Shooting through the passage

Hiking and Picnic

Back on the island, we changed into dry clothes for a short hike and lunch. Visitors are required to stay on one of the designated hiking trails in order to minimize human impact on the island.

We elected to take the hike along the cliff over Scorpion Bay for those photogenic views. A special treat was because it was springtime walking through the waist high wildflowers was truly an experience I won’t forget.

Up here we found the perfect spot for a picnic. Channel Islands Provisioners, the recommended food provider of SB Adventure Company, had supplied us with adorable, trash free packed lunches. The vintage napkin and farmers market sourced ingredients won me over right away! After all that paddling, it was nice to have a delicious, healthy lunch all packed and chilled in an individual cooler just waiting for me.

Farmer’s Market sourced lunched from Channel Island Provisioners!

Exciting Ferry Home

After a slew of photos, it was time to board the ferry back to the mainland–but the adventure was not over then. On board, just as we were cheersing a day well spent with beers, the captain alerted us that he saw whales. Before I knew it, we had changed course and were speeding in the direction of 3 gray whales, migrating up the coast. They crested and dove, giving us a show of tails and spouts. Who knew that this was a whale watching tour too!

What a DAY

The dolphins wanted some attention too and just after, we saw a mega pod of around 700 dolphins–the most that I’ve ever seen and probably ever WILL see. It was literally jaw-dropping. They bounded in our wake and swam up along side the boat, leaping out of the water with joy. I was giddy!

This photo does not do justice just how many dolphins we saw!

We pulled into Ventura Harbor at 5pm and it was a coastline drive home. On my ride back, I couldn’t believe how much I’d done and seen in just 8 hours. It renewed my love and appreciation for California, for nature and for making time for mini adventures throughout our lives. I believe it is always important to take a step back from the day to day grind and just immerse in nature. It is good for the soul, the body and the mind.

Thank you SB Adventure Company for taking all the stress out of planning this epic California day for me!

Ventura Harbor

Packing List:

  • Sunscreen
  • Refillable Water bottle
  • Fast drying athletic clothing for kayaking
  • Sneakers
  • Sunglasses
  • Backpack
  • GoPro (if you are like me and want to photograph on the water)
  • Lunch & Snacks!

***Note to Moms: I know many of you follow my adventures with my daughter and know that I am still breastfeeding. I was able to pump and preserve all my milk during the trip–no problem. SB Adventure Company was very flexible and helpful when it came to making time for me to pump and finding privacy. For that I am very grateful as well.

Unique Baby Brands that I Love

I kept a short list of my favorite baby brands in a notes document on my phone. I decided it was time to make this into a blog post and share some of my faves with you all.

Coco Moon Hawaii

A brand with a real sense of identity, Coco Moon Hawaii is a truly Hawaiian company. I fell in love with it when I stumbled upon the softest swaddle I had ever felt while on my babymoon in Kauai. Back on the mainland, I researched and found that Coco Moon’s prints are created by Hawaiian artists and their bamboo material is buttery soft.

In addition to their swaddles, I am a big fan of their sheets and bath towels.

 

Wild Wawa

Photo by @justyolive

Neutral tones and sweet motifs like rainbows–wild wawa is a far cry from a lot of the super bright kid brands out there. There’s something really wholesome about their style that makes me want to be a kid again to wear these adorable clothes.

 

 

Oeuf

I can’t get enough Oeuf. All their products are very cute and unique–and eco friendly to boot. The clothing is made by a group of female knitters in Peru and Bolivia and all their furniture is designed in Europe (so you’ll use them for a long time!). This brand tends to be pricey so I feel like I shop here for more of a statement piece rather than the run-of-the-mill, everyday stuff. However, as you can see from things like this bunny hoodie, their products are worth it.

 

Cheeky Chickadee

This Australian company has some of the cutest animal prints around. The sizes are a bit tough (out of about 5 things, 2 didn’t fit well because of narrow cuts) but I loved the other pieces so much it was worth it.

 

Egg Baby

My favorite long sleeve zipper pajamas for Rory come from Egg and I don’t know how, but she’s been able to wear them for so long! They stretch well, are easy to get on and super adorable. Egg’s fun prints and high quality mean that I will probably be buying from here for Aurora well into her older years.

 

Monica & Andy

Aurora on the left in Monica and Andy

I’m a sucker for clever prints and I fell head over heels for all the beachy prints that they used to have (seashells, mermaids). However, the prints are only for a limited time so follow their IG to see the new ones. I have to say, the new tulips and pretzels are pretty cute too.

 

Angel Dear

Angel Dear pjs

 

WOW SOFT! Angel Dear is my go-to for Aurora’s beloved lovees (we have the monkeys). But did you know that they made clothing? And their clothing is so cute and soft? I was gifted some and now love putting her in them. I can tell she likes how soft they are!

 

Hanna Andersson

More well known but this brand is high quality. The prints aren’t for everyone and I only like some (especially the stripes) but I’ll keep this brand in the mix because of their comfy fits and great sweatsuits.

 

Zara Baby

A bit more mainstream, Zara actually has amazing clothes for kids. Very stylish, good price point and easy fits make this a good every day staple. Like they do with their adult lines, they are very much about the ‘trend of the minute’ but a much more affordable way to get your little one in that cute animal print but not break the bank on it.

 

Spearmint Love

From Spearmint Love Instagram: @victoriamcfall

This store carries a lot of my favorites brands and has been a great way for me to discover new ones. Plus the site is designed really well. With Easter coming up, I am all about their Easter shop.

 

Maisonette

Like Spearmint Love, this is another one stop shop that has a well curated bevy of clothing and gear brands for kids. I love their Toys section as it is a great list.

 

Pacapod

I carry my diaper bag every day and now usually don’t even have an extra bag for my things. These beautiful bags from the British Pacapod are so functional yet stylish. I love how they don’t scream “mom” when you wear them out. The idea behind the included “pods” is too keep everything organized, which is so helpful when this bag carries everything from socks to sunscreen, diapers to snacks. Mine is the Fortuna, one of the Luxury bags, complete with the map pods that I am OBSESSED with–link to it here.

 

Do you have any other favorite brands that I didn’t mention? Please share! 

Some featured brands are sponsors, however I strongly stand behind all my recommendations!

Babymoon Destinations for Every Type

The Tropical Babymoon: Hawaii

When I was toting a beach ball around my midline, all I wanted to do was relax in the sun, eating delicious foods, and dangling my toes in the warm ocean. Hawaii was the obvious choice for me. I spent a week on Kauai and this isle’s feminine energy and super laid back vibes helped me let go of my anxieties in this transitional phase of life.

Hanalei Beach Bump

I indulged in açai bowls daily, enjoyed pineapple smoothies in lieu of piña coladas by the pool and had fun exploring the North, South and in between of this ruggedly natural place.

Also, there’s nothing better than floating in the pristine waters when you are pregnant. You feel weightless!

Hotel Recommendation: Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort in Poipu

 

The Snowy Babymoon: Tahoe

Though most winter activities were off limits, I had an amazing time in Tahoe while pregnant. By taking skiing, sledding and skating off the itinerary, we had more time to really explore, relax and hang out. Northstar was idyllic because the village is so walkable, has cute stores (even a kids store!) and great eats. Plus the gondola goes right into town so I felt like I was on the slopes!

 

We cozied up on the cabins, made s’mores at the outdoor firepits of the Ritz Carlton Tahoe and we even did a yoga class. If you plan to go, I’d suggest trying to make a Mountain Table Dinner held on the summit at the Zephyr Lodge.

Hotel Recommendation: Northstar Lodging

 

The Good Eatin’ Babymoon: Austin

Austin is a central hub for hip hotels, cool neighborhoods and amazing food. Come here hungry because you might be trying to squeeze in a few extra meals. The atmosphere is friendly, the shopping is unique and the food is much more than just barbecue (though that is great too!).

Check out Torchy’s, Cafe No Se and Joann’s.

Hotel Recommendation: South Congress Hotel 

 

The Historic Babymoon: Martha’s Vineyard

For those on the East Coast, Martha’s Vineyard is a drive and a quick ferry ride, though this historical island feels like a world away. With several towns, Edgartown being my favorite, there’s a lot to do here but it’s also okay to do nothing at all. Take a drive, go for a stroll or watch the boats come into harbor–these are all acceptable day activities.

Edgartown is my absolute favorite. Its walkability, lighthouse views, shops and cafés and overall charm is captivating. Life on Martha’s Vineyard moves at a slower pace but with a lot of appreciation for the little things. On a babymoon, you might appreciate the calm, happy ease of MV.

Hotel Recommendations: The Harbor View Hotel and The Kelley House

 

The Euro Babymoon: Rome

Definitely a longer haul, a babymoon to Italy might be daunting. If you are earlier in your pregnancy or have a bit of energy, then I highly recommend it. I went at 22 weeks and felt great. There was lots of walking but always balanced by delicious food waiting at the end of each stroll. Definitely book a hotel central to the sites that you are most interested in so you never have to go too far. We didn’t take one taxi while there because we were in the heart of everything!

Rome The Roman Forum

Each day we just picked a neighborhood and just walked around, stopping for gelato, to shop or dine. I’d recommend not trying to pack in too much sightseeing and rather just enjoy the city. If you want to see some of the major sites, pick 1 per day so you don’t overwhelm yourself. We saw the Colosseum and Vatican with LivItaly Tours which helped us make the most of our time.

Hotel Recommendation: The First Roma Arte

 

Easiest Babymoon: Mediterranean

From the moment you step onboard, you don’t have to worry about your bags, your credit card or you daily itinerary. This type of stress-free holiday is just what the OBGYN ordered. The food onboard Viking Ocean Cruises is delicious, fresh and changes daily. I loved the main dining room, but the speciality restaurants were really what set it apart.

However, you will probably eating off the boat on whatever European itinerary you choose. Our “Iconic Mediterranean” itinerary took us through Barcelona, France, Monaco and Italy–so its safe to say that we ate well. For the times that you are on the boat, there’s a putting green, infinity pool, lounge areas, and a fabulous nordic spa.

The rooms are well appointed and the bed is oh-so-comfortable. Order breakfast to the room for the ultimate morning treat on your balcony.

Recommended Cruise line: Viking Ocean Cruises

Baby Solids: 6 to 9 Months Baby Food Guide

For a list of all the foods that we usually give, check out my Typical Foods for 6-9months old guide.

For more information on my favorite store-bought food, check out my Easier than Homemade post

See my review of Baby Led Weaning vs Purées

 

Meals per Day

From 6-7.5 months, we were doing breakfast and dinner, with maybe a Once Upon a Farm pouch midday. At around 8 months, we added in a more substantial lunch in addition to substantial breakfast and dinners.

Typical Meals

I generally think about the day as a whole and make sure that she in general is getting vegetables, protein, fats, fruits and an allergen or two in (dairy, nuts or eggs). I didn’t include many whole grains besides those in her jars (quinoa) until closer to 9 months.

 

Breakfast

A typical breakfast would be yogurt with smashed fruit, blueberries cut in half, slices of mango, avocado smashed up and a Yumi jar. Often I give her the handheld pieces (like mango or pear) first because it buys me time to prepare her full breakfast plate!

She also love eggs, so occasionally, I mix an egg and cook it like an omelette then cut it into strips for her. Using coconut oil helps to give these more fat and flavor.

Lunch

Ideally, I’d do a fat (one that I didn’t do for breakfast) such as avocado or peanut butter mixed with banana or applesauce. I do some sort of veggies, either steamed veggies or fresh and I try to make sure that we get a protein in there. Chicken, lamb meatballs, pork, lentils or beans are all good options. I often throw in a piece of fresh mozzarella too.

However, lunch is usually more hectic as we are either out or about to go out, so this is when the Yumi jars or Once Upon a Farm pouches come in very handy.

Dinner

Usually the same as lunch, but I often add in a whole grain and a fruit based puree too.

 

Water

After 6 months, I got a lot more liberal with water. I used to worry that she’d fill up on water and not drink breastmilk, but now she has water available at every meal and sometimes in between. She never seems to guzzle it, and if she does once in a while, I assume she needs it. I find that now that she’s eating more, the water really helps with constipation.

For cups, I use the Munchkin 360 Water Cup and the Zoli Straw Cup. I alternate between these two, and am starting to introduce an open lidded cup.

High Chair Time

Babies are all about routine so for breakfast and dinner, we always make sure to have it in the high chair. I usually sit or kneel in front of her, sometimes I am eating as well. I’ve really liked the 4 Moms highchair as it has a sleek look but also feels safe and sturdy. It is also easy to clean as the tray comes up with a snap. The tray is also magnetic so if you purchase their magnetic tableware, it stays on the tray. However I didn’t find this to be necessary as I tried one and Aurora could lift it pretty easily so now I use mostly the suction tableware (favorite suction tableware here)

 

Messy Business

We allow her to get messy. I know not everyone is okay with that but I learned that it is a valuable part of the discovery for her. If I kept wiping her face (which she hates) or limiting what she grabbed and flung, it wouldn’t be much of an exploration. Yes, this means that I clean yogurt off the walls, my bibs are stained and she looks like she took a bath in food at the end of some meals, but at least she had fun?

I recommend getting a good splat mat. I was very excited to find these Gathre mats, made out of leather (!) which are stain proof, waterproof and THEY LOOK REALLY NICE. I am always trying to get away from the cheesy prints, animals, etc when I can, so this was a nice breath of fresh air. They have all sorts of sizes and colors here–I got the high chair one.

Also, we use both the OXO waterproof bib (with the little catchall) and the green sprout cloth bibs. The latter is also waterproof but does get stained (even though I use stain remover) but I find them to be a little more comfortable for her and easier to put on or take with you.

 

Appetite

All kids are different in this department, but for now, I’d say that Aurora has a hearty appetite. I have noticed this appetite dramatically increase around 7/8 months. I believe it corresponds to her physical development. She was really crawling fast and cruising, and I assume, burning so many calories as she is moving all. day. Long. She also had had a couple solid months of repeated exposure so seemed to really get the hang of the whole food thing.

I found the biggest factor in feeding meals is timing. If it is too soon after milk, she’s less interested. If it has been too long since a nap and she’s tired, she’s less interested. If her dad comes home in the middle of dinner, dinner is over because she’s just too excited. Each meal takes thought, time and money, but I’ve learned myself that it’s okay if she doesn’t eat it because this repeated exposure is just all the part of the bigger process. It’s hard to predict if she’ll finish her plate or not eat more than a bite. I try not to let it get to me or feel like I am “failing” if she doesn’t eat a lot.

Baby Solids: Easier than Homemade Baby Food

So while I do love to make homemade baby food for my little girl, whether purée or steamed veggies, meats etc, it takes a lot of time. For me it was finding a balance. I wanted to enjoy making her food and not get bogged down by the frequency and quantity of it.

I found the balance thanks to two companies that are making & delivering fresh baby food to your doorstep.

Fresh Baby Food Delivered

Thank goodness for my weekly Yumi orders. This company makes fresh purées, using all low sugar, organic and nutrient dense ingredients. They offer Stages 1, 2 and 3, based on the age of your child. Each stage also takes into where your baby is in her/his development, so they use ingredients that, for example, have more calcium for those starting to walk. You can edit your order and select the jars that you want. They arrive perfectly chilled and ready to serve. The hard plastic jars do make it easy to bring them with you if you are out as well.

One of the best (and worst things) about the Yumi jars? They do go bad quickly. However, that’s because they are super fresh and contain ZERO preservatives. It does mean that I make sure to use them as soon as I can, or freeze them if I cannot. Generally, I make sure to have at least 1 jar of Yumi present at every meal.

I started with the Stage 2 as I really liked their unique combinations and found that it was easier for me to whip up a batch of one ingredient purées found in Stage 1 and outsource the more difficult combinations. Whipping up just sweet potatoes for example, is way easier than combining dragonfruit, chia seeds, coconut milk, Japanese sweet potato, quinoa, banana, wheat germ oil and pineapple for the Dragonfruit Chia Pudding in Stage 3.

 

As Aurora’s appetite grew, we went from using just a little bit of the jar (maybe over 3 or 4 meals), to now using half or a whole jar during meals. I also add in other items at each meal, including BLW foods, but if I didn’t, I bet she’d eat the whole jar every time.

I also found that she preferred some foods right away and others, she liked more and more over increasing exposure. That is how babies are with all foods so don’t give up on a food or a Yumi flavor, if they don’t take to it right away. For Aurora, the more fruity flavors definitely were instant hits but she now takes down her savories like the Jon & Vinny’s Polenta Mushroom Bolognese like a champ.

 

On the Go

Now that we are on 2 naps per day (HALLELUJAH), we have about 3 hours of awake time. This means I can get us out of the house! Our lunch is almost always somewhere else. Usually, we go to a playground or a park, so it’s more picnic style. In this case, I find it the most convenient to use our Once Upon a Farm pouches.

I LOVE these pouches. I stumbled upon them while looking for yogurt as they are in the refrigerated aisle. They are delivered monthly right to our door, and contain only fresh, organic, cold pressed ingredients.

They often contain fruit but that doesn’t mean they are too sweet. The balance is key here as there is usually a fat (avocado, coconut milk, chia) to give it heft plus they use unique flavors like turmeric, spearmint and rosemary.

I like that I don’t have to think about adding rosemary myself but am still gaining the benefits of Aurora’s palate being exposed to different flavors.

For her age, we are in the Stage 2 to Stage 3 area and she’s loving the combinations. I have tried all of them too and I have to agree. The Wild Rumpus Avocado is a personal favorite–that combo with pineapple, mint and avos is SO delicious.

The pouch makes it easy to use in the car seat, the stroller and at a restaurant. Aurora learned quickly how to feed herself with these so I just make sure to be next to her and help her push up more of the goodness to the top when she is running low.

 

What is different about the Once Upon a Farm pouches vs Yumi?

Well the obvious pouch versus jar makes the OUAF easier for traveling and Yumi better for sit down meal time. I’ve also found that the OUAF are a little more fruit based, while Yumi has some jars that are strictly savory. OUAF can last a bit longer in the refrigerator which can be helpful when you are in between groceries, whereas Yumi is pretty much good under a week. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and for me, the the sweet spot is having both on hand because since they both serve different functions for Aurora.

 

Other brands that I use? 

HappyBaby (for Oatmeal)

Plum Organics pouches (when traveling or I run out of Once Upon a Farm)

Peter Rabbit pouches (when traveling or I run out of Once Upon a Farm)

 

 

 

Baby Solids: Typical Foods for 6 to 9 months

Continued post from Baby Solids: Baby Led Weaning vs Purées

For me, the hardest part was figuring out WHAT to make and worrying that her meals were “well rounded.” The below list shows a lot of the go-tos that I prepare, in addition to my Once Upon a Farm pouches and Yumi jars.

Blends/Purées

  • Avocado with a squirt of lime*
  • Applesauce mixed with a nut butter (I alternate peanut, cashew and almond)*
  • Nut Butter smashed with Banana*
  • Overnight Oats*
    • I mix oats, raisins, ceylon cinnamon, chia seeds and almond milk in a tupperware. I let that juicy combo sit overnight in the fridge, then blend in the am. She loves it!
  • Plain Whole Yogurt mixed with a smashed fruit*
    • I often used Siggi’s or Brown Cow Greek Yogurt. I just started the Stonyfield Organic whole plain yogurt cups as they are portioned well
    • Best fruits to smash are raspberries and blackberries
  • Carrots (pureed)
  • Black Beans
  • Hummus
  • Sprouted Lentils blended with garlic
  • Peas*
  • Chili
    • Kidney beans, ground beef, spices, tomatoes–make your usual chili and then blend! I was just careful to limit added salt and hot spices.
  • HappyBaby brand oatmeal mixed with almond milk or apple sauce
  • Spaghetti Squash with tomato sauce

BLW/Whole Foods

  • Skinned Cucumber spears
  • Skinned whole carrots (good for teething)
  • Celery
  • Steamed whole carrots
  • Steamed broccoli*
  • Steamed Cauliflower
  • Steamed Asparagus*
  • Blueberries, halved*
  • Strawberries, quartered
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Pear, skinned/wedged
  • Pineapple (organic rings or chunks)*
  • Mango, skinned/wedged*
  • Mozzarella balls (cilegine!)*
  • Cheese…*
  • Baguette Bread, specifically from Bay Cities (if you’ve been to Santa Monica, you know)*
  • Polenta
  • Whole Wheat fusili
  • Chunks of steak (filet or tender cuts)*
  • Roast Pork tenderloin chunks
  • Chicken pieces (darker pieces seem to be easier)
  • Salmon, flaked
  • Lamb Meatballs
  • Chicken meatballs
  • Sweet Potato Fries!!!*
    • We tried this once at a restaurant at 9 months. She LOVED it. Oops.

*Aurora favorite

 

Her first sweet potato fry

 

Interested in my recommended baby food, delivered to your door? Next post coming up: Baby Solids: Easier than Homemade