How to Enjoy Paradise When You Have Babies: Barbados with Littles

DSC_0028We recently vacationed on the beautiful island of Barbados – a place known for the bluest waters, the friendly people, and their rum industry. One of the best parts of our vacation was that we were able to take our daughters along with us.
When I was researching the island, there was a lot of info for honeymooners or couples, but not a ton of advice for children, especially young ones like ours (under three). So here are some reasons why Barbados is one of the best places to vacation with children.

  1. Friendly locals – the Bajan locals were amazingly accepting of tourists. We had so many comments and friendly gestures from locals and other tourists alike. Maggie made friends everywhere, but played the most with a local girl on the beach who was with her father. Maggie hung out with them for most of the morning; enjoying running in and out of the waves with the slightly older girl. The father was very helpful as he would stand by the girls in the water and spent time conversing with us. We didn’t meet anyone who left us with a bad impression!

2. Low crime rate – there may be different opinions on this, but have the perspective that there is no habitable place in the world with zero crime. Wherever you go, be smart and alert. The biggest issue we had was peddlers approaching us, but my sister-in-law said it was so mild compared to Jamaica. The sellers are pretty polite and will take a kind “no” very well, as far as we saw. One day we were exploring a new remote beach area and were approached by police to make sure we were safe and to give us advice about staying in safe areas. I’m sure if you go looking for danger, it’s there. The general rule is to follow the same safety guidelines we have here in America.

3. Many kid-friendly activities – even though the island is thought of as a paradise for lovers, I found it quite easy to bring the girls along on whatever activity we had planned. We did bring our own car seats and rented a car. That simplified our adventures and allowed us the flexibility of driving right to the hotel if someone was  crabby. We took the girls on a catamaran cruise for five hours and had a blast! The cruise lines are outfitted with toddler life jackets, but we brought an infant one from home. We cruised with El Tigre and had an absolute blast. The crew was so considerate and fun; the director of the cruise hung out with Maggie for a while, gave us ALL of the towels to make a bed for Juliet, and made us feel like family. Maggie got to swim in the ocean while we snorkled for a bit, so we say she swam with sea turtles even though they were hiding at the bottom. Overall, we loved everything we did with the girls and are glad that they got to experience it with us.

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As with everything in life, there is a learning curve and this trip definitely taught us a couple things.

Don’t bother with a stroller through security. We found out quickly that it is way easier to put both kids in carriers so we could be as hands-fee as possible. Maggie escaping from the stroller and throwing everything on the ground while trying to get through security was not fun. Honestly, if we did it again, we would not bring the stroller and probably bring a utility wagon that would work well in the sand. There aren’t many sidewalks in Barbados and even where there are, I would prefer my kids close to me.

Prepare to have your kids nap on the go. Our kids napped all places – the car, the beach, a boat…I hate wasting vacation time inside a dark hotel room waiting for my kids to wake up, so our kids were forced to nap wherever they dropped.  Bring their blanket or lovey wherever you go and they will be so tired from the water and sun, they will sleep well. Believe me, it’s worth it. They’ll get back to their regular nap schedule when you get home.

Relax. Things aren’t going to go perfectly. Kids are going to have meltdowns. Just do your best and don’t expect too much of your kids. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant one night with our friends and Maggie was screaming and trying to run away, so I took her for a short walk and distracted her. There’s only so much a toddler can handle. Bring a bag of small toys or drawing tools to occupy them during waiting periods.

Pack as little as possible. We packed four of us into two carry-ons and a backpack. We spent $10 on laundry one time at the hotel and it worked pretty well. You could also just wash your clothes in the sink. It’s hot and you’re going to be in the water most of the days anyways, so you won’t need a lot of clothes. It’s worth it to not have to lug around a ton of bags to and from the airport.

DO YOUR RESEARCH. As you should do before you travel anywhere; Barbados has some rules that aren’t common. One is that one must wear a cover-up while out in public (no walking the streets in a bikini) and another is no camouflage (I don’t know why, Ii just know it’s on a big sign in the airport). Things that may not be in the front of your mind as your thinking about vacation, but you should always be aware and respectful of the culture you’re visiting.

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That’s all I have to say about beautiful Barbados! I hope I get to visit again soon.

 

 

 

February 23: Little Darlings

As you probably have heard by now, we have some change to our weather lately. My sister in Portland has some beautiful snow that shut down the city and we have had temps in the mid 50’s and flooding. I’ll take the early spring any day! It renews my spirit. We have been very on the go this week and it feels like I’ve been putting away laundry everyday, anyone else feel like everything is just piling up? I surely need some time away from the house. Although I can only imagine the laundry pileup when we get back…

Maggie: Potty training is going so well! We transitioned from the floor seat to a toilet topper. She has taken more initiative and has been very consistent as long as she doesn’t have pants on. That’s our next step! I obviously chose to potty train at the perfect time…hopefully we don’t fall backwards over our trip.

She now sings the entire song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – she knows most of the words, but she makes up the ones she doesn’t and I love it. She started saying “uh oh…oh no!” in the cutest way recently and it’s become a joke. She actually starts laughing about it, so it may be her first joke?

She has been very cuddly and loving to me lately. I keep looking back at her baby pictures and it breaks my heart how quickly she has grown. This is a precious time and I’m determined to soak in every bit of the details. I like to write them down (like in this blog), so that I forever remember how she fake cries with her face scrunched up or how she sings in a deep voice for the doctor part in 5 Little Monkeys. I just love how wild and lovely she is right now.

One last tidbit I don’t want to forget: she constantly plays with her dollhouse people and has names for them all. She has a mama, a daddy, and Baby Jesus. Who is actually Princess Aurora. Kids are just so funny.

Juliet: This champ has popped two teeth in the last two weeks. She is having trouble with sleeping as a result and also with transitioning from a swaddle. But we survive! She is very confident now at sitting up and has just started to play with toys alongside Maggie. It is SO cute!!! All I dreamed of coming true in front of me. I cannot wait for the interactive play! She is a total mama’s girl and I’m not touched out yet. She loves to be strapped on and hang out wherever I am. She loves music and has the sweetest laugh. She had her first late night giggle fit yesterday…she couldn’t stop laughing!

 

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Weekly Updates: The Beginning

I originally started this blog to keep my far away family up to date on things happening in our life, so to accomplish that and to keep me on a writing schedule, I’m going to challenge myself to write a weekly update.

These will include things we are doing, milestones and activities for the girls, and things we are into at the moment. If you have questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments and I’ll address them.

February 16-

  1. Juliet’s first Valentine’s Day! Of course this has to top my list. I gave her a photo shoot just like I did Maggie two years ago. She just began sitting up on her own, so this is her first sitting up session as well! 

  2. Maggie’s officially potty training! We aren’t home enough for the famous three-day method, so we are just making it up as we go. She is about 75% trained at home (as long as she is naked, haha!) She is so proud of herself when she goes and says “Maggie did it!” 20180130_100408
  3. I made some delicious almond flour pancakes for Valentine’s Day. Here’s the recipe (I just used some sugar since I didn’t have Stevia and I added some banana). Even Ryan liked them!
  4. Our big family vacation is coming up in a week and a half! I’m busy making packing lists and figuring out how to pack as minimal as possible. Airplane travel tips with two kiddos would be much appreciated. I will be sure to make notes of the good ideas to report back here to help others.

 

Photo Dump:

 

 

That’s it for this week!

Transitioning My 15 Month Old to a Floor Bed

We finally did it. We had planned on waiting until the baby was almost here or when she was closer to two year old, but we’ve never been the types to hold to a plan, I guess.

We splurged on ourselves and upgraded to a king-size mattress (co-sleeping parents, rejoice), but knew we wanted to save our queen for Maggie’s room so guests could still have a place to stay over after the baby comes. A way to keep a guest room, but not really considering we host someone maybe every two months for a weekend.

So we jumped the gun and moved Maggie’s crib to the new baby’s room and moved our old mattress on her floor. This all happened in one day and needless to say, this pregnant lady was emotional about her baby moving out of her crib so suddenly.

Maggie played in her room and watched as we set up and organized her room to accommodate  the new bed. She was excited about the change and loved being able to get up and down from it. Her first time sleeping in it was a naptime. I did a similar routine as we always had – rocked her while she drank her milk, read a story, and then laid her down. For the first week, I tried this, but she kept waking up at her normal times at night (12-1, 4-5) and I would give in and sleep in her bed.

Finally, one night Bear said that I would have to get strict about her sleeping alone soon. He was right; she would have to learn to sleep in her own bed for the whole night eventually. So I changed things up…

I moved the rocking chair into the new baby’s room and instituted a snuggle time instead of rocking her. I put on her sound machine, gave her the milk, snuggled her while she drank (usually reading as well)…and something miraculous happened…she handed me the bottle, grabbed a couple pacifiers, and turned over. It was like she was ready for sleeping and wanted me to leave. That may be heartbreaking to some parents, but to a mom who struggled with her daughter’s sleeping patterns for almost a year and a half, I celebrated. And even more miraculous, she slept through the night (well, woke up once but i just found her pacifier for her and she went right back to sleep).

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I honestly believe that switching Maggie out of the crib at this age was the key to her sleeping well. She goes to sleep well every night (even if she cries a bit, I tell her “it’s bedtime, go to sleep” and that does it), she sleeps through the night almost every night (HALLELUJAH), and sleeps til around 8-8:30 (a full HOUR longer than she normally slept). We haven’t had any issue yet with her playing with her toys at 3 am, but I have had to tell her to stop playing and get back in bed at the beginning of naptime once or twice. Overall, I think it helped her not feel so confined and alone.

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I do have some work to do to finish my plans for her room, but turning it into a toddler-friendly free space (Google Montessori bedroom, if you can’t picture it) didn’t actually take that much work.

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Switching your 15 month old to a floor bed may not be for everyone, but it certainly worked for us. And we take whatever works.