Ben takes on Europe!

10 05 2012

We are finally back from our much awaited vacation to Europe. Dan and I were VERY nervous that it would be less vacation-y and more stressful dealing with long plane rides and time changes with a 20 month old. Ben was such a rock star, I can’t even tell you! He did amazing on our first flight to Amsterdam, and only woke up once the first night and then slept through the night EVERY OTHER NIGHT. I know! My kid is awesome! The flight home was fine, too. We had an empty seat in between us which was nice (the flight there was totally full so he was on our lap).

My travel tips with a toddler:

  • take the last row of the plane, and have the child in the window seat
  • snacks and more snacks
  • their favorite toy(s)
  • NEW toys they have never seen
  • bring benadryl if you want to make you FEEL prepared, but you won’t need it 🙂
  • bottle or sippy and pacifier if you use one for naps (this helped him sleep). They will give you milk on the flight.
  • don’t let them run up & down the aisles b/c once they are out of their seats it’s all over
  • RELAX. I was way too stressed for days before and got myself sick the first 2 days in Amsterdam.

The trip was absolutely perfect. We had the best time visiting our friends in Amsterdam and taking a side-trip to Paris. We were in Amsterdam for Queen’s Day and rented a boat on the canals all day which is really something everyone should add to their bucket list! We did Keukenhof and saw the tulips which were a sight. We rented bikes. We went to the famous market. In Paris we drank wine outside the Eiffel Tower at night. Walked to the Louvre. Took the Metro to Notre Dame. Spent lots of time in Jardin des Tuileries. It was magical!

Ben is wearing an H&M hoodie, Gap jeans & TOMS boots.

I Amsterdam

Me trying to keep Ben from jumping in the water

Ben’s first bike ride

Since everyone wears orange on Queen’s Day, Ben was wearing an orange bicycle Gap shirt (perfect for Amsterdam!!), H&M shorts & sneakers.

Queen’s Day on the canals!

Above is the boat we rented…it was the best 3 hours! Good drinks, good food & great company. Also, the weather had been rainy and chilly, but on Queen’s Day it was sunny and 70! Perfect weather. The canals were kind of empty (in a good way!) since it was 11am, but as we were leaving they were getting much more crowded. I can’t imagine what it was like by evening! Mayhem.

Happy family! (Ben had just woken up from his nap on the boat)


Dan and the tulips

When the blankie goes on the head, you know he’s ready for a nap!

First glimpse of the Eiffel Tower!

Trying to get a good picture of Ben and the Eiffel Tower was near impossible.

Love this one!

Outfit change! Ben started out in jeans but as the day got warmer we changed him. He is wearing a Janie & Jack polo shirt, Janie & Jack shorts and H&M sneakers we bought in Amsterdam.

The area surrounding the Eiffel Tower is perfect for a picnic or relaxing. They also have a wonderful fenced-in playground where we spent most of our time. Ben could run around and be safe, and we could soak in the view of the Eiffel Tower right behind us. I didn’t realize how family-friendly the area would be. They also have a carousel right below and vendors selling drinks and snacks. Everything is very stroller-friendly also!

Walking to the Eiffel Tower at night. This is right when the lights turned on.

Life doesn’t get much better than this!

Dan, Ben & Notre Dame

Ben is wearing H&M pants, a Gap sweatshirt we bought in France and H&M sneakers.

Ben racing towards the only puddle in a park outside Notre Dame.

Love Locks

I didn’t really know about these locks before we went, and I wish I did. You can read the story about them here. Paris is such a romantic city!

Ben is wearing a Janie & Jack lobster polo and H&M pants and sneakers.

Back on the Thalys from Paris to Amsterdam!

All in all, it was truly the trip of a lifetime! It was wonderful for Dan and I to spend 11 days together with Ben. I think it was much needed for Ben, also. He slept every night in our room and woke up so happy seeing us each morning. I never felt like we couldn’t do things because of Ben. We are already planning a trip back to Paris and Europe for next year! Hopefully we can convince some family members to come with us 🙂


Monkeying Around. And…Spring has officially sprung!

20 03 2012

Spring is here. It’s REALLY HERE! Not only is it officially the first day of Spring, but it actually seems like Spring too! Last week I spent most days outside. Either walking to Maplewood or taking Ben to the park. It’s just been wonderful. I wake up happier, my days are happier, everyone is happier.

Ben got a pair of new kicks last week. They are SO CUTE. H&M really has the best stuff for kids.

Tommy Hilfiger button-down, Children's Place T-shirt, Gap jeans, H&M sneakers

This past weekend we went to LBI for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. It was great! So happy to be back. We all went to our favorite happy hour to celebrate Mom & Dad’s 35th anniversary. THIRTY FIVE YEARS! So impressive. Here are pictures of Ben in his new hoodie from H&M looking adorable.

Blankie stroll / Bay / Backyard fun / Tuckers - H&M hoodie, Gap orange shirt, Gap jeans, H&M shoes.

This weekend we head to Boston, then to Baltimore a few weekends later, then Amsterdam/Paris. I am thinking I should not unpack my suitcase this entire month! Ben’s passport came in the mail today…I guess it means we’re really going!!

Un rêve devenu réalité

10 03 2012

Hallo, Amsterdam! Bonjour, Paris!

I really thought that Hello would be a little more different in Dutch, but it’s pretty much the same. Since we have our European trip booked to see our friends currently living abroad, I think these pictures of Ben in his Dutch clogs are very appropriate! He is obsessed with these and makes us put them on him (even though they are basically too small now). I guess we’ll be able to get him another pair soon!


I guess I should brush up on a few French words also, for our 2 days in Paris! (insert excited squeal and a million exclamation marks)

My mom picked up this adorable outfit from Janie & Jack for Ben yesterday…perfect for strolling beneath the Eiffel Tower, don’t you think?

Janie & Jack polo and shorts

We will be renting bikes to get around the beautiful city of Amsterdam, which will be wonderful! I hate rental cars or driving around strange areas anyway, so this seems like the best of both worlds to me! In Paris, we will be walking most of the time, maybe hopping on the metro when we see if it is stroller-friendly or not (how less stroller-friendly can it be than the NYC subway, and we have no problems there!)

A Dream Come True. Un rêve devenu réalité.

This trip really is a dream come true. Seeing Europe again, but this time with Ben. I cannot wait to experience everything with him!

Being Thrifty is Nifty {HOTT}

8 03 2012

I did some thrifting recently with my sister and we totally scored (no more pink pyrex, but I have faith in future thrifting). It was the highlight of my week. Saving money definitely makes us happy! My sister picked up a ridiculously gorgeous set of wine glasses for $10. Check them out here.

We decided to venture out to Westfield, NJ. Laura had never even been and it’s just a short 15-20 minute drive from us! And the town is really cute and has everything you need for a fun shopping day. At the first thrift shop I picked up a tunnel for Ben for $3, a fun yellow spoon for 10 cents, and a mushroom plaque for $1. Exciting stuff.

The second thrift shop had more clothes…and surprisingly NICE clothes! I tried on a fun top from Urban (way too small), and didn’t have time to look around for much more because Ben had a meltdown and our parking meter was expiring in 5 minutes. But I did grab a pretty sweet shirt for $1 by Graham & Spencer. I had never heard of this brand before, but thought it might be pretty high-end. Now I know why I never heard of it…they only sell their clothing at Neiman Marcus and Barney’s. Not my typical trip to the mall. After doing a little research, I’m pretty positive this shirt retails for $100+, making me very very very happy. I hope to get back to this particular shop and really scour the racks for some more great deals!

Tunnel: $3; Mushroom plaque: $1; Spoon: $.10; Graham & Spencer shirt: $1

Please excuse the way I look. I just got back from the zoo (again!) and it was 70 degrees and I am dirty from chasing Ben around in the dirt and sand. But what a perfect day!

I also grabbed this adorable polo shirt at Milk Money, our local kiddie consignment shop. It’s adorable and perfect for spring/summer! Cute little boys clothes are definitely harder to come by in the thrifting/consignment circuit.

Polo shirt - $6

On another note, we just booked our family trip to AMSTERDAM and PARIS! We leave at the end of April, just in time to be there to celebrate my 32nd birthday with the Zbranaks! We will also be there for Queen’s Day. So very excited. So much planning to do!

Happy Thrifting!

Linking up to Harper’s Happenings.


19 01 2012

So far this winter season has been extremely mild in NJ (nice for a family who just spent 4.5 years in Southern California). So why not travel someplace where we can really experience winter? Great idea!

There was probably a reason only 30 people were on our plane to Chicago….it’s really, really, REALLY cold here. When we arrived yesterday it was in the mid-20’s (warm) and today is a brisk 14 degrees. I have to say Chicago is a beautiful city. I am really enjoying the trip so far. Dan is at a trade show all day but Ben and I are having fun. We went swimming, shopping, eating, and now we are napping (well, Ben is).

As far as his clothes, Ben chose an effortless and comfortable Puma track suit for the plane ride, and jeans, a Gap onesie and his Appaman puffer for his first Chicago outing. Thank goodness for the Bundle-me and rain cover for the stroller…Ben is so comfy he has fallen asleep twice in the stroller, which is odd for him.

Here are some pictures of the flight and the trip so far…we still have 4 nights to go!


Elite Ben / Big boy, empty plane / Mommy + Ben / Nap time


Chicago Riverwalk / Brusha brusha / Kissy face / Hotel sleepy time

“It’s great to be here in the great state of Chicago.”– Dan Quayle

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