Roarr! Ittybot turns four!

ittybotbdaylogoThis past weekend we celebrated Ittybot’s FOURTH BIRTHDAY!

This is his first birthday back in the states so we decided throw him a little birthday party. We went with a lumberjack theme because it coincides with the rustic, adventure theme I planned for his bedroom. Most of the decorations for his birthday party can later be utilized as decoration in his new bedroom! Pretty genius, right?

When I started to plan his birthday, there were still some post- Christmas sales to take advantage of at Michaels so I found a lot of the decorations there for 80%-90% off. SCORE! I really wanted some rustic elements so I ordered a couple wooden centerpieces that I found for a decent price on orientaltrading.com. While I was perusing their selection, I found inflatable axes. I personally thought the axes would be a great touch for the lumberjack theme but I knew some parents may not agree. Well…too dang bad! At $10 a dozen, I just had to. A lumberjack party would not be complete without some mustache blowouts. So naturally, I got some of those from Oriental Trading too ($4/dozen). Another item I had envisioned for the party and his bedroom was a little red lantern. Amazon had several options but I ultimately went with the cheapest option ($6). I found some fake moss at the dollar store and I was able to put together adorable centerpieces at an affordable price.

The party was held at the clubroom at our complex because there was enough space for our guests and the space itself is pretty amazing. Luckily the space was already well decorated that I didn’t need to do much to it at all.

Lumberjack Birthday PartyFor games, I made a bean bag toss game out of presentation board purchased from Michaels and printed out some forest animal pictures I found online. I called my MIL to sew some bean bags for me because I was too cheap to purchase them LOL. The game ended up being a hit with the kids! Another game we did was a simple ball toss game. I purchased 3 buckets in various sizes and some plastic balls from Daiso. Ended up being a simple carnival game that challenged guests of all ages.

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Food was probably the easiest part of the party. To stay true to the theme, we decided on simple camping inspired food such as burgers, brats, chips and a chili bar.

I really wanted to put together a photo booth for the party but I ended up being too busy with work that I had little time to prepare. That is definitely something I’d like to do for his next birthday party.

We are so thankful to have such a great turnout. We really didn’t expect to have that many people show up and and we were so excited that Ittybot was surrounded with so many friends and family. Being so new to San Diego, we weren’t sure how long it would take for it to really feel like home-luckily, it took no time at all. This is home.

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Happy Fall!

Wow, is it really October already!? I blinked, and the next thing I knew it’s fall. Well, the California version of fall which is sun, sun and some more sun. I can’t really complain though because we LOVE it here so far.

A lot has happened lately and I just don’t know where to start. We have been keeping busy by exploring sunny San Diego. And by exploring, I mean we have been doing a lot of eating. There are so many good eateries within a few short miles of us that it is often times very difficult to resist the temptation. So we usually don’t. HA!

The eternal sunshine allows us to be able to do a lot of outdoor activities with Ittybot. Whether it be a walk in the park, a trip to the playground, cute picnics or even movies in the park! And we have definitely been taking advantage of our gorgeous community pool.

While San Diego still feels like an extended vacation we are so incredibly blessed and happy to call this place home.

But enough of my jibber jabber, lets get you all up to speed with a couple vlogs.

We will try to be better about this blog but seriously, no promises.

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Good Ol’ Minnesota

Before we make our final move to California, we did a stopover in Minnesota to spend some time with our family. The Mr was with us for about a month while Ittybot and I stayed an additional 2 weeks.

I’d have to say that “crazy” is an understatement. There was a lot on our list of things to do and time was not on our side. The Mr’s side of the family lives in a small town 3 hrs south of the major city that my family lives in, so we had to divide our time between the families while squeezing in a 4 day trip to California to find a place to live.

All the craziness aside, it’s always amazing to see Ittybot interact with his cousins. I’m a little, ok – a lot, behind on our vlogs but when I get around to getting those posted you can just see the glee in his little face! It makes my heart melt. And the little cousins are fantastic with him. They take such great care of him. There is no shortage of love amongst them.

Take a peek at some of the pictures of our time in Minnesota!

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Celebrating Lao New Year in Minneapolis! Location: Bouasavanh in Brooklyn Park, MN
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A relaxing day of food and fishing at the cousin’s house.
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Hanging out on the new pontoon!

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We’re moving…AGAIN!

California

I have seriously waited SO long to be able to say this….WE’RE MOVING!!!! Yes, again. This time, we are moving to the west coast…SUNNY CALIFORNIA! *Queue the crowd cheering audio track*

This is been in the works since July 2015. Yes, you read that correctly – JULY 2015. It has been a long time coming and I am ecstatic that it is finally happening. The Mr accepted the position back in January and due to some unforeseen company changes, it stalled our relocation process. All that mess aside, we will be flying out of Amsterdam at the end of March!

Our experience here has been unforgettable to say the least. We traveled the world, raised an infant in a completely new country without any family nearby, and we conquered it all as a strong, cohesive family unit. I cannot even begin to express how thankful I am that I have The Mr in my corner. He is the most understanding and supportive person on the face of the planet. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it 1000x over – I hit the freaking jackpot with this one!!

I can’t say that the past 2.5 years was paved with rose petals. I had many, MANY days where the constant Holland gloomy weather got me down. I struggled with self-identity, battled with pseudo relationships, and dwelled in self-hate. I wish I could say that I conquered them and come out the other side a stronger person. It’s not that sort of storybook ending. The melee is far from over but I will continue to trudge on and kick its A$$.

I’m excited for what California has to offer. I have been doing extensive research on all the places we can take Ittybot and of course all the foodie offerings! We go to bed each night talking about all the fun and exciting things coming our way. We have some serious goals and what the bots have next in the horizon is nothing short of AMAZEBALLS.

I’ll conclude this here and I’m sure you will hear from me again in the near future!

JoopJoop,

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Jetsettin’: New Year in Spain!

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For New Years, we decided to head over to visit the Mr’s aunt and uncle in Spain for the first time since we have moved here. Took us long enough, right?

They graciously offered us a room in their home for the 3 days that we were there. Their kids were also in town so it was a full house and we couldn’t ask for more! We had a fantastic time hanging out drinking delicious wine over tapas.

Let me tell you, the food, OH MY GOOOODNESS. The food was amazing.

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We spent an afternoon walking around the old city of Avila. The city is enclosed within walls built back in the 12th century. Unfortunately, most of the shops were closed because it was New Years day but we got to see the beautiful cathedrals in town.

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The Mr and I got a virus of some sort and we were out of commission the rest of the time. We felt terrible for being in bed all day but they were so kind to watch Ittybot while we tried to rest up. Ittybot loved playing with his cousins that he didn’t even notice that we weren’t around!

We tried to explore Madrid on our last day in Spain but we were still feeling quite ill where it wasn’t even a pleasurable experience 😦

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BUT we do have some vlogs for you to check out – what we got of it at least 🙂

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Jetsettin’: Reykjavik, Iceland

Before we even left Florida, we found an amazing deal with IcelandAir to go back to MN in December WITH a 3 day layover in Iceland for under $500. Of course we had to leap on that deal!

People thought we were INSANE for doing Iceland during the winter but they seem to have forgotten that we were born and raised in the arctic known as Minnesota.

I scheduled a tour for each of the three days we were there. Northern Lights tour the first night, the blue lagoon the second day, and a southern coast tour on our last day.

The reason I scheduled the Northern Lights tour for our first evening there is because of the unpredictability of the Aurora Borealis. If there are no sightings on the first night, Grayline Tours will reschedule us for the next night. Unfortunately, the outlook for the first two nights wasn’t very good so they cancelled the tour on Friday and Saturday. Luckily, on our last night in Iceland, the tour went on as planned AND we got to see the northern lights!! To watch the lights dance through the sky was such an incredible experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

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Aurora Borealis

On the second day, we hopped on the shuttle to the Blue Lagoon at 10am and got to there at 11am. It was a rather cold and windy day (it was negative single digits!) but it was PACKED. We opted for the premium package so we got a robe and slippers to use during our stay.

As soon as you step out to the lagoon you are first greeted with the bitter cold but you are so consumed in the beauty of the milky blue water and snow-covered mountains backdrop that you hardly even care that your toes are slowly going numb. I’m sure you have seen the pictures of the beautiful women taking what looks like a graceful dip into the pool – I was probably the most ungraceful person RUNNING into the pool trying to get warm with Ittybot. Yes, we brought Ittybot. I’m sure 98% of the people there thought we were NUTS for bringing him but how can we deprive him of this experience?! The water in the lagoon ranges from 100-102 degrees so that first dip was heavenly. Ittybot LOVED the experience as did we. We later found a grotto that kept us warm for the remaining time we had there.

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Blue Lagoon

On our last full day in Iceland, we did an 8 hr southern coast tour. We stopped by several larger than life waterfalls and even a black beach! It was a pretty long tour but we got to see some pretty remarkable sights.

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If you guys are wondering, we booked practically everything with Grayline tours since I had a 5% discount. Anything helps right?? They have everything from shuttle to/from the airport and many other tour options. The only gripe I had with them is that they were rather uncoordinated at times. There was a lot of confusion around bus transfers which left us out in the cold for longer than we would have liked.

Enough of my babble – here are the vlogs for your viewing pleasure!

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Traveling to Dubai with a baby or toddler!

Dubai with a toddler

Dubai may not be the first destination that comes to mind for a family vacation. Especially when you’re traveling with a 1 year old! But we like to be adventurous so we took our Ittybot to Dubai and the Maldives in one trip!

Surprisingly, Dubai is probably one of the most baby friendly cities we have visited! There was so much to do and so much to see for the entire family that our 5 days there seemed way too short. You can get the full Dubai low-down here.

So lets get onto the real reason you’re here. I will break down the main things moms look for in a vacation destination.

Stroller friendly – Everything is so far apart that you basically cab everywhere (or you can do the big bus tour like we did) but once you are at your destination, it is fairly stroller friendly. There are usually large crowds of people that you would have to maneuver through but that’s a small problem.

Restaurants – The city itself has a heavy western influence so you will find lots of restaurants that you would find in the US. So of course, they were all pretty child friendly. From nice comfortable child seats, to child friendly menus, and those amazing cups with lids to prevent your little one from spilling all over the place. It’s the little things 🙂

Diaper changing stations – This is probably my favorite part of Dubai. Seems silly but when you live in Europe and have to change your baby in a tiny, dirty stall or even in their stroller, a formal changing room is the ultimate luxury. The larger malls have changing rooms that is like a retreat for mothers and their little ones. It’s sprayed with the most amazing light scented perfumes, there are toys for them to play with, the works.

At the very minimum, most of the places you would visit have a changing table for you. Except maybe the beach but that’s a given!

Activities – We used our Hyatt points and stayed at the amazing Grand Hyatt Dubai. The service and the pools were amazing. We almost didn’t want to leave the hotel at all. The staff was amazing with Ittybot. He was given lots of attention and treats – which was probably his favorite part.

There were plenty of activities in Dubai for the little ones. There is even an aquarium within the mall! Finding activities for your family won’t be a problem. Your problem will be narrowing it down to a few!

We highly recommend doing a trip to the desert. We did a low-key jeep drive to the desert with little bits of crazy driving through the dunes which Ittybot loved. He also loved the show that the staff put on which included lots of music and performances. Definitely a treat for the entire family!

FunTours trip to the Desert in Dubai!
FunTours trip to the Desert in Dubai!

Transportation – This is probably my only gripe with Dubai. Carseats aren’t required in Dubai! Much like Thailand, kids are free to roam about the car as they please. There are however, pink taxis that will bring a carseat at your request (but those require a lot of planning ahead and it’s not always available). We did the big bus tour most of the time but the few times we needed to take a cab Ittybot had to sit in between us buckled in SNUG. We only did this for very short rides but it was nerve wracking every single time.

I hope this was useful for those planning a trip to Dubai OR for those considering a trip. It was such an amazing trip and we are so excited to show Ittybot the pictures and footage from the trip. Hopefully, it will inspire him to go back on his own one day!

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