Baby O’s First Big Trip

They say that traveling is good for the body, mind, and soul and I overwhelmingly agree. We knew from the start that we wanted to instill our love of travel and adventure into our children and in order to do so we started right away. At 6 months baby O was on a 14 hour road trip to Colorado. At 12 months another mini road trip to see Santa. And at 18 months, we decided to take baby O on his first international vacation to Mexico.

The unpredictability of traveling with a little one had me not only apprehensive but very anxious. So many unknowns, would he be okay? Fussy? Sleepy? Throw a fit? I was pretty confident in my ability to calm him down in any situation so we packed up and headed to Mexico with a dozen of our favorite people.

When I planned this international family vacation to celebrate our 5 year anniversary, I wasn’t anticipating a pandemic and I was completely unaware of how traveling with a toddler would be. Overall I was pleasantly surprised! Our first big vacation with our little one was a complete success! 1800+ miles away from home, 4+ hours on a plane, and zero meltdowns; he did so well!

Here are a few things I learned on this trip:

  • When traveling with a baby/toddler:
    • Pack snacks ! Not just for the airplane but for the resort/hotel as well. Baby O eats a lot and frequently. Snack are a necessity at all times of the day!
    • Keep them entertained. Whether your little one needs screen time, toys, or books, pack them all!
    • We took advantage of baby O being under 2 and he sat in our laps on the plane. Next time he will definitely get his own seat.
    • If possible, book the plane ride during baby’s nap schedule. Baby O slept on the plane both ways!
    • Pack extra necessities such as sunscreen and diapers. We packed enough but if we needed them, they were expensive at the resort.
    • When traveling to Mexico for the summer stay on the pacific side. The other side is swamped with seaweed from May to September. If I would have known this in advance I would have booked Puerto Vallarta instead of the Riviera Maya area.
    • Book a local photographer for family photos! It was inexpensive and easy to do.

We couldn’t have asked for a better first big trip with baby O. We soaked up the sun, enjoyed family time, and were able to watch our sweet boy enjoy vacation as much as we do.

Elephants!

I know I’m not alone when I say this school year was beyond exhausting for teachers across the globe. We have undoubtedly earned this years summer vacation. But, instead of spending our first weekend at home recuperating and decompressing, we packed up and headed to Fredericksburg to visit the elephants at The Preserve.

When I first heard that there was an elephant preserve in Texas I knew I had to go. Elephants are hands down my favorite animals and I’ve always been fascinated with them. After doing my research I booked our Air B&B and tickets to see the elephants. I figured this would be the perfect way to celebrate the end of a rough school year.

As always our Air B&B did not disappoint. If you’ve never rented an Air B&B I highly recommend you do so.

We checked in the night before so we had time to relax before the big elephant adventure. It was a good thing we prepared ahead of time because the Bearded One was a little under the weather. Lucky for us me and baby O had plenty of room to run around the AirB&B while the Bearded One rested up.

The day of our elephant encounter started off rainy but cleared up by the time we arrived. I was a little nervous that baby O would be scared of the elephants and I didn’t know what to exactly what to expect.

Each encounter only allows about 30 people so it wasn’t crowded and we all were able to interact with the 3 beautiful Asian Elephants (Rosie, Kitty and Becky).

They staff did an amazing job explaining everything about these fascinating animals. They were knowledgeable and made the experience not just educational but interactive and fun.

We were able to give Rosie a bath, take pictures with Becky, watch Kitty get a pedicure, and so much more. Everyone was allowed to interact with “the girls” and baby O wasn’t even scared!

Giving Rosie A Bath
Elephant Feet!

Overall I give this experience 10/10 and I would definitely do it again! (We might wait until Baby O is a little older and more attentive).

If you’d like more information please follow this link:https://www.visitthepreserve.com/ . The staff said they would soon be adding more animals and exhibits so stay tuned!

Up Next…

Having a baby has been the biggest adventure of our lives and I have loved every single minute of parenthood. But, traveling isn’t quite what it use to be. The Bearded One and I use to spontaneously book an Air B&B, pack an overnight bag, and hop in the car, which is an absolutely impossible task these days.

Don’t get me wrong, we still love to travel, and we plan to take Baby O on endless adventures, but it can get a little tricky these days.

First of all we have to plan our adventures a little better, and account for any little bump in the road. Will he be fussy? When will we need to stop to change a diaper? Can we stop by a restaurant or should we eat in the car? So many questions with a plethora of possible scenarios!

All of those little details can be worked out, we are quite flexible when it comes to travel and preparation. The biggest question is, where can we take a toddler?!

Not all of our old favorite stomping grounds are necessarily toddler friendly. While I’d love to take him to a local brewery, or outdoor concert, it just isn’t possible to expect him to sit still for a lengthy amount of time. Baby O is a wild one and he definitely needs to be entertained at all times. He needs to run and climb and explore his surrounds…which begs the question, where do we take him?!

We do have a few vacations already in the works but we would LOVE some realistic suggestions! (too tiny for theme parks, Disney is out of the question!)

We are for sure going to Mexico on our big Anniversary trip with family and friends, and we are excited and nervous about that one (first plane ride for Baby O)!

We’re also taking him to The Preserve, an elephant sanctuary only a few hours from home. I am super excited about this one and I hope he loves it! (Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out https://g.co/kgs/DhrhAp ).

If you have any suggestions, ideas, personal experiences or advice on fun toddler trips for this summer, please share! We want to make the most out of every moment with our littlest adventurer.

Baby O’s First Adventure

“Let’s drive 14 + hours with a 5 month old. It will be fun!”….said no sane person ever. But, that’s exactly what we did.

After packing up the entire house (mostly baby stuff) we loaded up the car and headed to Colorado for baby O’s first big adventure.

We had no idea what to expect. Would he sleep? Would he scream? How many times would we have to stop? Just like every other first time parent challenge, we jumped in head first and winged it.

I’m not going to lie, there were times in the car he was inconsolably upset, but those were few and far in between. Overall, he did pretty well, especially when I crawled in the backseat and kept him entertained.

Other then the minimal stress of the car ride, Colorado was stunning as always.

The first few days we were there we had crazy weather. It snowed…in June. This was not just Texas slushy snow either. This was beautiful, huge snowflakes that actually stuck to the ground for a bit. We of course had to take all the mandatory snow pictures and let baby O experience his first snowfall!

Once the snow cleared up we were able to do what we do best, hike and enjoy the outdoors. In previous years we never really contemplated our hikes, we just lightly packed and headed to the mountain. Not this time. We thoughtfully and throughly packed for all of babies needs. We even bought a pretty neat hiking backpack for O….he lasted an hour in it…. Although we didn’t make it to the top of Hoosier Pass, we still enjoyed our time together and being able to witness baby O’s fascination with the great outdoors.

Baby’s first big vacation was a success and I can’t wait to travel the world with our little adventurer. First stop, Colorado, next stop….

Our Not So Adventurous Life

When I asked God to give me more time with my son, this is not what I envisioned.

Since December 27th I was already doing my best to keep our itty bitty baby locked up, and hidden away from the germs, flu, RSV, and all the other possible illnesses out there. I was TERRIFIED of our little man getting a sick. My anxiety as a new mom got the best of me several times, so I shut the door and locked my baby away from the big bad scary world.

When it was finally time for me to return to work the very thought of putting my son in daycare sent me in to hysterics. I cried and begged for a solution. We were about Halfway through our Spring Break when I learned we would not be returning to work. I have to say, I let out a huge sigh of relief. If I had only known 30+ days ago the extend of this virus I would have begged God for something different.

This is a crisis. Coronavirus: COVID 19 has rocked not only our nation, but the entire world and it makes me feel utterly helpless. Although my opinion may be unpopular to some, I firmly believe our government is failing our people. “We the people” are failing our own people. This should have been contained, there should be solutions, this is not and never has been a hoax. I know I can only attempt to protect my corner of the world but my heart aches for our healthcare workers and all of the people suffering right now. How did this happen? How did this get so bad? How is this happening in OUR front yard? How is there NO solution or relief yet?

This is a time in my life I should be celebrating the birth of my only son, his baptismal, his introduction to family and friends. But instead, I’m snuggling in the house, avoiding everyone, and praying each time my husband goes out he doesn’t bring back the virus.

Our adventures theses days consists of watching our son grow through his milestones and the occasional evening drive in the country.

I am thankful and blessed that we get this extra time with our son and that we are happy and healthy. For now the adventures of Messy Bun, Bearded One, and Baby O have ceased to exist. Hopefully, in the near further, we will be back at it. Until then we will keep soaking up the snuggles and enjoy every minute of this extra time with our perfect little boy.

My Unadventurous Valentine’s Day 

It’s 8:30 AM and my Valentine is taking his first nap of the day. 

My Valentine didn’t get me flowers or chocolates or make me heart shaped pancakes.

My Valentine is not going to take me on a fancy date or write me a sweet love poem. 

There will be no oversized teddy bears or red and pink balloons. 

There’s no time to do my hair and make up or throw on a cute red and pink Valentine’s outfit.

                            ❤️💕❤️💕❤️💕

We didn’t exchange Valentine cards or gifts and that’s okay, because none of those Valentine’s Day cliches compare to the snuggles and smiles I will get today. 

My Valentine doesn’t care that the shirt I’m currently wearing is covered in his spit up, my hair may or may not be clean, and I’m still in my pajamas. 

My Valentine doesn’t need chocolates, balloons, or love notes. 

My Valentine and I will spend our day soaking up the unconditional love I never knew I could feel. 

One day I’ll make him heart shaped pancakes and he will follow the lead of his daddy and fix me the perfect morning coffee and kiss me goodbye. But today, on his first Valentine’s Day, we have a nap date on the couch, a warm bottle waiting, and all the snuggles and kisses in the world. 

Welcome Baby Owen

Our Birth Story

On December 27th at 1:20 AM our whole world changed. Just as I was getting ready for bed, my water broke. It was totally unexpected and 9 days too early. It was such a surreal, unexpected moment; I don’t think we were ready, but God had other plans. Ready or not, baby Beam was on the way!

We had a birth plan in place, but that went out the window as soon as I called Labor and Delivery. I had all intentions of laboring at home, comfortably, until my contractions were consistent but the LD doctor on call told me I had to come in since my water broke naturally. Around 3AM we headed to the hospital not knowing what to expect.

To be honest the whole process was pretty uneventful at first. We were admitted, waited for a room, and hung out for a few hours. My contractions were barely existent and I was only dilated to a 1 so they started the Pitocin to help my labor progress. The Pitocin was administered in small doses which they increased every hour. It was a very slow process. The Bearded One and I passed the time by watching football (of course) and playing Uno. Finally, about 12 hours after being admitted, they upped the dose and the real contractions started. I don’t know how women give birth without pain medicine because my contractions were so uncontrollably painful. As soon as they started I was ready for my much needed epidural. Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist had an emergency and I had to wait about 4 hours for my epidural. During that time I dilated to an 8 and was extremely uncomfortable and physically exhausted. Thank God for my husband because I could not have done this without him. He stayed cool, calm, and collected and helped me through the whole process.

I was finally given my epidural, and soon after I was fully dilated and ready to push. No one tells you how difficult pushing is (especially when you can’t feel your lower half). With the help of my husband and the encouraging words of the nurses and OB I pushed and pushed.

We were so exited to meet our little baby Beam. Would it be a boy? A girl? We had no idea and the suspense kept me going.

Almost an hour later we welcomed baby Owen Michael Beam in to the world; 7 lbs 12oz, 21 inches. Our biggest adventure started December 27th, 2019 @ 10:48.

St. Augustine Beach, FL

Our first time in the Atlantic Ocean and it did not disappoint.

Here are some key observations from our St. Augustine Beach adventure:

  • The beach was not at all crowded, it huge and we had lots of space to spread out
  • The beach and town were clean and well taken care of
  • The food was delicious (Sunset Grill & Antonio’s)
  • Old Town has great shopping and historical sites
  • Everyone was friendly, great customer service
  • Lots of activities, parks, museums, trolley rides, historical tours, etc (we went to old medieval torture museum)
  • Drive A1A instead of the interstate for better views (we took it down to Daytona Beach)

The Beach

St. Augustine Old Town

Pensacola, Florida

Pensacola Beach was absolutely stunning. It claims to be the “whitest sands in the world” and I wouldn’t argue with that statement. The white sands and crystal clear water compares to the beaches we’ve fallen in love with in Mexico.

We stayed in a beautiful little AirB&B (Casita Sage) in Pensacola then made the short drive to Pensacola Beach for the afternoon. Beach parking was free, chair rental were free (I think we just got lucky) and the water, views, and beach were indescribably perfect.

After spending a few hours on the beach we ate at a delicious little place called The Shrimp Basket and we were not disappointed.

Our overnight stop in Pensacola exceeded our expectations and we are already planning a summer vacation there for next year!

New Orleans, Louisiana

NOLA lived up to all the hype, even for a Monday night. We stayed on Bourbon St. and Toulouse and never had a dull moment. Drinks and food, music and street performers, we experienced it all in less than 24 hours.

Of course we did all the touristy things like walk around Jackson Square, grab a couple hand grenadines, and indulge on some delicious beignets.

We enjoyed an array of oysters at several different locations, the food overall was phenomenal and we’d return for that alone! (I’d recommend specific restaurants but we went to so many places to share apps and drinks I lost track! )

Overall, a successful first stop on our 2019 road trip; next up Pensacola.

Hotel Balcony Views

Bourbon Street

The Cat’s Meow

Jackson Square