Traveling Internationally with Kids (must haves!)

We just got back from spending 2 weeks in Iceland! We had our kids (ages 3 and 5 months) in tow.

Here are a few items that made our trip a success:

IMG_4778

  1. Portable sound machine. I kid you not, this is the best invention ever! It is $10, it can clip onto a stroller, carseat, baby carrier, etc! It runs off batteries (perfect for going international) and you can choose to have it run for 15, 30, and 45 minutes OR you can let it run forever. 🙂 This really helped with getting our kids to nap on the go, plus we used it in our sons crib at night. You can get it at Target or Amazon. (myBaby sound spa on-the-go sound machine) IMG_4767You can spy it hanging on the stroller and laying in the crib.   IMG_4336IMG_1818
  2. A baby Carrier. We brought along our Ergo for our 3 year old and our Infantino for our 5 month old. The Ergo was perfect for our 3 year old because it’s like getting a piggy back ride without having to use your arms! haha. The Infantino was perfect for our 5 month old because he loves to face forward and look out at the world. Both works so well for napping on the go and hiking! Both of these can be purchased on Amazon or target as well!IMG_2568(okay so this photo makes me laugh! My 3 year old wouldn’t put his arms under the straps and then fell asleep and was just flopping. 🙂 It was pretty funny!IMG_4066IMG_4170

  3. Headphones for the toddler. I got these completely adorable headphones on Amazon! Its a little headband with speaker by the ears. It stays on and if your kiddo  falls asleep it’s still comfortable! (CozyPhones kids headphones)IMG_4768
  4. Hust Hat. This bad boy can block out the loud noises when you’re trying to get the little ones to nap! It was a life saver for the plane, restaurants, and just being out and about! The plus side, it keeps the babe warm!! You can get it at Target or Amazon as well. IMG_4769

(so funny, the hat did slip down and cover my son’s eyes. He is under there somewhere!! ha 🙂 )IMG_4204

5. Pacifier Clips and a Wubanub. If you have a little baby like we do, that pacifier clip will come in so handy! You can clip it onto the baby carrier, clothes, carseat, etc! That way you don’t have to worry about losing it.

6. Stroller with a rain cover. This last one really all depends on the age of your kids and whether or not you’re expecting to be around rain. We went to Iceland and the weather there is so crazy. Luckily it was nice most of the time, but it would randomly rain throughout our whole trip. The stroller and rain cover were a life saver when it was raining. It helped keep our kids warm and dry, we also were happy to stick everything else under there (shopping bags, diaper bag, camera, etc!

IMG_3498

Well there you have it! That is my list of MUST HAVES. Stay tuned for my next post on what to pack in your child’s carry on bag.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

…until next time! xoxo ❤

Dear Punky,

dear Punky,

I’m sorry we left you for almost 3 weeks. Your daddy and I went to Australia for my best friend’s wedding! I was the maid (matron 😁) of honor; it was something I’ll remember forever.  We missed you so much but we know you had so much fun hanging out with your auntie, uncle, and cousin! You even got to spend time with your grandma and grandpa, too!!! I know you had so much fun bonding with them. While your daddy and I were gone–we were able to spend time together!! We even made a side trip to New Zealand!! We rented a campervan and drove around the entire South Island! It is time together we will never forget!! We missed you so much!!! But luckily, you were able to bond with your cousin, Noble. You went to gymnastics, the children’s museum, and did build-a-bear together!! You actually missed your dog, Bentley, (or as you call him, Bobo) so much that you named your new puppy (that you picked out at build-a-bear) ‘bobo’ that just happens to be almost identical to your own dog. You did really well the whole time we were gone. We were so happy to see you happy!!! It made our trip go by so flawlessly! It wasn’t until 2 nights prior to our departure from New Zealand that your auntie and Grandma told us you were crying out for ‘mama and daddy’ at bedtime. That broke my heart and made me want to come home!! We know you had so much fun and you were able to enjoy your first ever 3 days at daycare!!!! You did so well–and napped well!! I think it’s because you had your cousin, Noble, there with you. But when we came home you came up and grabbed me and squeezed me sooo tight in, what seemed like, a never ending hug. You kissed me and kissed me!!! You went to daddy and hugged and kissed him, too!! That night it was hard to put you down for bed because you were scared that we wouldn’t be there in the morning. It broke my heart. The next morning you yelled out for mama and daddy, and we came and grabbed you so quickly!!! Daddy went back to work that day and you hugged and kissed me all day long!!! It took forever to get you down for a nap because you were still sad I wouldn’t be there when you woke up! I rocked you to sleep and laid you in your crib. After a couple days you realized we weren’t going to leave you again. It breaks my heart to think about how much you missed us!!! Even though our trip was amazing and so worth it, it’ll take a lot for me to leave you again. You still get sad when one of us is out of sight from you… we have to remind you we are just going to the bathroom or running out to the car. I know it’ll pass, but in the meantime, it breaks my heart. You learned so much with your auntie and cousin. When we came home you were speaking in sentences. You were able to sing ‘twinkle twinkle little star’. You could count to ten flawlessly… and with confidence!! You are such a strong and smart young boy!!!! We love you so much and are so proud of you!!!! I just want you to know, we will never leave you and not come back. You are our entire life and we are better because of you!!!!

I love you so much, Punky!!!!!!!!

-Mama

Preston’s First Vacay!

Over Memorial day weekend we took Preston on his first Vacation. We ventured to Texas Hill Country to visit his Auntie Annie and Auntie Em. I was a little nervous at first because this was going to be Preston’s first airplane ride as well. Thankfully, he did really, really well!

IMG_1758

When we arrived in Texas, surprisingly it was cold and rainy! Thankfully it warmed up for the rest of our trip.

IMG_1815

Preston got to see his aunties again. This was only the second time he’d seen them!! (besides FaceTime, of course!)

IMG_1979

IMG_2062

And was smothered by their kisses!

IMG_1968

Preston was so good the whole time. He even went shopping with us!

IMG_2044

IMG_2017

Went on a hike with us!

IMG_2298

Went wine tasting with us!

IMG_1954

We made it to all three wineries that we wanted to and he was a trooper!

IMG_1911

He participated in his first #oscarselfie (but i’m not sure her was as impressed with it as we were!)

IMG_1917

Went to Jacobs Well with us!

IMG_1967

He got to play airplane with Grampy!

IMG_1816

He enjoyed being manly with the men!

IMG_2014

But also enjoyed being smothered by his main women.

IMG_1956

IMG_1814

Mama got a nice little vacation, too!

IMG_2013

But still enjoyed snuggling…

IMG_1813

…and multitasking!

IMG_1880

Needless to say, Preston had a riot!

IMG_1890

He loved the summer weather…as long as he had his shades on and was sitting in the shade!

IMG_1748

I would say it was a successful vacation!

IMG_1833

IMG_1977

IMG_1953

He did catch a cold while we were on vacation, but thankfully, Dr. Emma was there to check him out!!! 😛

IMG_2042

We enjoyed all the time spent with family!!

IMG_1832

IMG_2064

It was sad to say goodbye! But it was time to head home. On the flight home Preston was sitting on the back of the seat in front of us for a little while (the seat was empty) and he kept giggling at the little toddler behind us who kept saying ‘baby’. It was pretty cute!!

IMG_2085

Who knows the next time we will travel again–but at least we know Preston is pretty good at it!! 🙂

Montepulciano, Italy {Italian Honeymoon: under the Tuscan sun}

Italian Honeymoon: Part Five – Montepulciano, Tuscany

We took a train from Vernazza to La Spezia and then another train from La Spezia to Chiusi (Tuscany). Once we arrived in Chiusi we needed took a bus to  Montepulciano. Hopping on the bus was the easy part. There was a bus stop right outside the train station. However, once we got on the bus, we had no idea how far we needed to go. After a long and winding ride, we finally decided it was probably time to get off the bus. We ended up getting off a few stops early and had to walk uphill to our B&B. The walk really wasn’t that bad, carrying out backpacks is what seemed to make it most difficult–that and watching out for dodging traffic.

Montlepulicano, Italy

We stayed at Locanda San Francesco in a king size suite with a panoramic view on Valdichiana for 225 euros per night. It’s a small and quaint place with only 4 rooms available. It is run by a sweet lady named Cinzia. She was so wonderful. She would make reservations, book taxi’s, and help you with any questions.

There is also a restaurant and bar on the lower level. So, naturally, upon arrival we were invited in for a glass of complementary wine and cheese. It was such a warm welcome. It was so perfect!

Montepulciano, Tuscany
Montepulciano, Tuscany – View from Locanda San Francesco

It was WELL worth every penny!

Locanda San Francesco

This is a picture from our suite. As you can see, my cute hubby peaking his head out from the ‘loft’ area at the top of the stairs.

Our upstairs loft at Locanda San Francesco. (Montepulciano, Italy)
Our upstairs loft at Locanda San Francesco. (Montepulciano, Italy)

This was the restaurant / bar area at Locanda San Francesco

IMG_1426

The “window seat” in our room.

IMG_1427

After we got all settled in we decided to head out and check out the town. It worked out really nice because Locanda San Francesco was centrally located within the city walls and was a short walk to everything!

Montepulciano, Tuscany

The views were amazing! We had a blast.

IMG_5455

There were so many shops! We ended up shopping the whole day. Everything was so cheap, too! Not because it was cheaply made, but because it was all made in Montepulciano. We made many purchases. I ended up buying a few scarves, perfect for fall! And of course, we bought new leather shoes!! I got two pairs of boots and Chad got a pair of everyday shoes.

IMG_5465

Chad and I each bought a new hat. These weren’t the ones we bought, but we had SO MUCH FUN trying them on. 🙂

IMG_5708

After our long day of shopping we headed back to Locanda San Francesco for a wine flight and a cheese platter. The best discovery we made, peccorino cheese dipped in honey. They served that everywhere in Montepulciano. Oh my goodness, it was delicious! Who would have thought?

Our Wine Flight at Locanda San Francesco in Montepulciano, Italy.
Our Wine Flight at Locanda San Francesco in Montepulciano, Italy.

We loved the wine so much we ended up buying and entire case and having it shipped back to The States!!

IMG_1401

This was one of my favorite wines!

IMG_1422

After cocktail hour we headed to a restaurant {Osteria del Conte} that had wine and gluten free options!

We had to make reservations earlier in the day to assure our seats. 🙂

Chad

We were so happy we could scream!!

IMG_5456

On our second day, we had breakfast with another awesome view. Breakfast was compliments of our B&B.

IMG_1433

After breakfast we headed to a winery for a tour and wine tasting.

{Cinzia made the reservations for our wine tasting / tour AND called to reserve a taxi for us.}

IMG_1429

We had a delicious lunch with an amazing view at Ristorante II Poliziano.

You can’t see from this picture, but shortly after this picture was taken they moved us up on the balcony…it was gorgeous!

IMG_1430

{Peccorino cheese with honey and salmon!}

Montepulciano, Italy

{Veal Kabobs with salad.}

IMG_1435

Drinking in style on the streets of Montepulciano with our wedding Koozies!

IMG_5469

IMG_1431

I had to get my picture in front of this building that was featured in Twilight: New Moon.

Montepulciano, Italy

IMG_5701

Montepulciano, Italy

We had so much fun and enjoyed our stay SO much we decided to stay an extra night because one night wasn’t enough!! I’m so glad that we did.

We were sad to say our goodbyes!

Montepulciano was BY FAR my favorite place!!

IMG_1423

Adios Montepulciano.

IMG_1428

Locanda San Francesca was a Trip Advisor winner.

This was one of the places we found via Trip Advisor and not through a Rick Steves Travel book.

We highly recommend Locanda San Francesco in Montepulciano, Italy.
We highly recommend Locanda San Francesco in Montepulciano, Italy.

Next Stop: Rome, Italy.

Cinque Terre {Italian Honeymoon}

Italian Honeymoon: Part Four –  Cinque Terre

After we left Florence we headed to the Cinque Terre by train, of course.

IMG_0909

Not many people know about the Cinque Terre, but it has become very popular in recent years. Cinque means 5 in Italian, and is made up of 5 tiny villages on the coast. The villages from north to south are: MonterossoVernazzaCornigliaManarola, and Riomaggiore. The five villages are all linked by a walking trail high above the coast overlooking the Adriatic sea. I’ve heard it’s absolutely GORGEOUS. You can hike the trail in about 5 hours if you go at a leisurely pace. The trail was actually closed when we were visiting, so we weren’t able to walk from each town, but we did utilize the train system–which made it a very short trip from town to town.

The towns are very rustic and the only way to get into the area is by train.

In addition to the beautiful hikes, there are beaches, snorkeling, boat rides, etc. You basically choose a town to stay in as your home base, and can either hike or take a train to the other towns.

We decided to stay in Monterosso the first night in the Cinque Terre and Vernazza the second night because by the time we had booked, there was only one night available at each B&B. It fills up very quickly during ‘tourist season’.

It was raining upon our arrival to Monterosso. Once we got off the train we had a short {10 minute} walk to our hotel, La Colonnia.  We were greeted with complementary lemonade upon arrival.

La Colonnia was 165 euros a night and we had a double bed with a terrace. It was so nice to be able to relax on the terrace for cocktail hour before we headed out on the town. {my beverage of choice: wine, of course} & {Chad’s beverage of choice: limoncello!}

La Colonnia

After a few cocktails, we decided to stop at a wine bar for another drink before dinner. 🙂 Luckily, the wine bar was located close to our B&B, so it was a short walk. It stopped raining as soon as we got there!

We decided to talk a walk around the cute village.

Monterosso, Cinque Terre
Monterosso, Cinque Terre

It was breathtaking in when the sun went down.

Monterosso

Monterosso sure set the bar high. We loved it there.

The next day we headed to Vernazza. When we got there it was crowded and most of the village was under construction–but it was beautiful!

Vernazza, Italy (Cinque Terre)
Vernazza, Italy (Cinque Terre)

We finally got to our B&B to check in and it was very sketchy. We stayed at Tonino Basso which was 120 euros a night for a double room, private bathroom, and air conditioning. Alessandra was the lady who ran the B&B and she was never around and we couldn’t ever find her if we needed to.

Needless to say, shortly after checking in, we headed straight for a day trip to Manarola.

Manarola, Cinque Terre

Manarola was amazing.

Manarola

Everyone was so friendly and even offered to take our pictures 🙂

IMG_0906

After walking around the village we decided to check out a ‘hidden’ restaurant {Dal Billy Trattoria} on the top of a mountain, which had amazing views.

It was well worth the walk up there.

Manarola, Cinque Terre

{Can you believe this was our view from our table?!}

Manarola, Cinque Terre

The food was delicious and we got the best seat in the house!!

We started with a seafood sampler platter: Norwegian fish with potatoes, anchovies with salt {my first experience, and not a bad one}, anchovies with lemon, tuna with cabbage, white fish with mayo, small cabbage with fish, octopus with red sauce, crab pockets, mashed chickpea dumplings, herring with beans and cherry tomatoes, dumplings with pesto, and white fish with cabbage! Needless today, we were full before our entrees even came out. 🙂

Manarola

we each had a pasta dish for lunch {they had gluten free!}

IMG_5350

and ended with homemade limoncello for dessert!

After lunch, we walked back down the mountain to where all the cute little shops were at. We stopped at one place that had handmade pottery! We ended up getting 2 coffee mugs and 2 shooters to bring back to the states with us! We love them and will cherish them forever!

IMG_0888

After a few hours of shopping we decided to stop for some gelato before heading to Monterosso for the evening {since we loved it so much, especially at night!}.

Adios Manarola!

IMG_0908

Back in Monterosso.

IMG_0907

We spent the evening in Moterosso and had another delicious seafood / pasta dinner! It was well worth the wait.

Monterosso

Monterosso

IMG_0905

The next morning we got up early to catch a train from La Spezia to head to our next destination: Montepulicano, Tuscany.

Cinque Terre

Florence, Italy {Italian Honeymoon}

Italian Honeymoon: Part Three – Florence

We traveled from Castelrotto to Bolzano by bus and from there we took a train down to Florence (Firenze).

For us, Florence was a place that we needed to visit while we were in Italy, however, it’s a place we will most likey, never visit again.

This is the reason, it was crowded and there were tourists everywhere!!

I’d recommend getting reservations in advance to avoid huge lines and excessive wait times (you can purchase tickets and reserve a time online). Even with a reservation we still found ourselves waiting for quite some time.

::HOWEVER::

If you are into art, as the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is a must. Florence is home to both the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Museum. The Accademia holds Michelangelo’s David sculpture, and the Uffizi has countless works of art by Rafael, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Giotto, etc… {basically all the ninja turtle artists}

Some of the more famous pieces are Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Springtime (La Primavera).

The whole time we were in Florence it felt like we were living in a piece of art.

Florence, Italy

The architecture was phenomenal!!

Florence, Italy

It was a photographers dream!

Florence, Italy

I couldn’t stop taking pictures.

Florence, Italy

The city seemed alive, even at night! Glowing, and magnificent.

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Florence also has the Duomo Cathedral, which I definitely recommend climbing.

The inside of the Duomo:

Duomo

The gelato in Florence is also excellent.

Gelato in Florence

Gianinnos was my favorite place to eat!!

Florence, Italy

 They had a gluten free menu, so I couldn’t help but order two different entrees! 🙂

Gluten Free Ravioli:

Gluten Free Ravioli

AND Gluten Free Pizza:

Gluten Free Pizza

The service was great and the food was delicious!! I would highly recommend it!

However, there are so many cute little restuarants in the area around the duomo. you really can’t go wrong!!

Make sure to save room for some Gelato though!!

We went to Trattoria Za-Za for lunch. It was such a fun atmosphere!

Trattoria Za-Za

These were in the bathroom guarding the toilet paper…it made me laugh!

IMG_5208

..and of course, some more guarding the toilets…haha!

IMG_5207

Pisa is a great side trip from Florence (20 min train ride). Most people just stop briefly in Pisa to snap a picture at the leaning tower, and move on. We didn’t have time to stop by Pisa. I would have loved to, though. Maybe someday! 🙂

Florence, Italy

Until we meet again, Ciao!

Next Stop: Cinque Terre

The Dolomites: Castelrotto {Italy}

Italian Honeymoon: Part Two – Castelrotto {the Dolomites}

We traveled by train from Varenna to Milan, from Milan to Verona, and Verona to Bolzano. When we arrived in Bolzano everyone was speaking German. Chad had to give me the brief history lesson: that prior to WWI Northern Italy was part of the Austrian Empire, after losing the war, Austria lost that region to Italy which redefined the Austrian/Italian boarder. Hence, why they were all speaking German in Bolzano. When we got to Castelrotto (Italian) aka  Kastelruth (German) everything was written in Italian and German but the primary language spoken seemed to be German.

Luckily, my hubby was able to learn German on the bus ride there. 🙂

When we got off the bus, we were immediately impressed. The scenery was jaw droppingly gorgeous.

Castelrotto, Italy

Castelrotto, Italy
Those were the first two pictures we took when we got off the bus.

We eventually made it to our Bed & Breakfast. We stayed at Hotel Cavallino. It was 114 euros a night and worth every penny!!
Hotel Cavallino
Our room had a balcony and a view of the mountains! {As you can tell, Chad was super excited!}
Hotel Cavallino

We took a walk around the town to get a feel for it.
Castelrotto, Italy
I swear this place was a photographers dream!!
Castelrotto, Italy
The architecture was so unique
Castelrotto, Italy
Chad looked up a ‘romantic stroll’ for us to take upon arrival and this was the view:
Castelrotto, Italy
The next morning we got up early to take a lift up to Alpe Marinzen Alm.

The Dolomites, Italy

This was the view from the lift.
Castelrotto, Italy

Heading up.

The Dolomites

There was so much to see and do along our hike
Castelrotto, Italy

Hiking up to Compatsch.
Castelrotto, Italy

Stairway to Heaven?

Dolomites, Italy

The Dolomites

Enjoying the views along the way.

The Dolomites, Italy

We ran into some baby goats….they were adorable
Castelrotto, Italy

We even saw a slide along the way!
Schlern Mountain

The views along our hike were so amazing…
Castelrotto, Italy

We had so much fun! Here is another beautiful view on the way up.

The Dolomites

We were so lucky to run into another hiker who could take our picture 🙂

The Dolomites, Italy

We snapped a few more 🙂

The Dolomites, Italy

a favorite of mine…

The Dolomites, Italy

The Dolomites, Italy

A view on our way up to the panorama from Compatsch.

The Dolomites

The Dolomites

We did a lot of hiking and we had to stop for plenty of awesome photo ops!

The Dolomites

The Dolomites

we couldn’t get enough…

The Dolomites, Italy

The Dolomites, Italy

The Dolomites, Italy

Mt. Schlern

The Dolomites, Italy

Finally reached another lift that was going to take us closer to the panorama

Panorama View - Italy

…and here we are on the lift! It had been a long morning with a lot of hiking. We had to take a ‘Kinder Break’. 🙂
The Dolomites

On the lift up to the panorama look out at Alpe di Siusi.

The Dolomites, Italy

The Dolomites, Italy

The Panorama view

Panorama View - Italy

We felt like we were on top of the world!

Panorama View - Italy

A great view of Sasso Plato.

IMG_7405

IMG_7401

Everything was more beautiful than we could have imagined!

The Dolomites, Italy

After looking at the panorama we took a lift back down and saw some more amazing views.

The Dolomites, Italy

View of Siusi on our way back down.

The Dolomites

Another awesome view.

The Dolomites
After we got back down we went to Unterlanzin to go horseback riding.

{This was Chad’s first time horseback riding. It was so adorable}

IMG_5073

Unterlanzin

We couldn’t have picked a better place to go horseback riding. The views were amazing; I felt like I was dreaming!

IMG_5479

IMG_5265

We had so much fun in The Dolomites. I would recommend it to everyone!! This trip definitely inspired us to take our next vacation to AustriaGermany, and Switzerland.

NEXT STOP: FLORENCE