Big Announcement!

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in 52 Weeks of Experiences, Adventures, BABY, Best for Baby, Birthdays, BUMP UPDATES, BUSY MOM TIPS, Cooking, Daily, Disney, EVERYTHING ELSE, Fashion and Outfits, Florida, FOR MOMS, Friday Finds, Fun as a Toddler Mom, FUN TIMES, GET FIT, Green Products, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, Letters to Lexi, LIFE, Life as a Toddler, Monthly Updates, My Pregnancy, New Mom Experience, Nursery, Other Recommendations, Parenting, PHOTO, Photo Stories, Photography for Mommies Tutorials, Pre-CONCEPTION, PREGNANCY, PREGNANCY FASHION, Pregnancy Q of the week, Pregnant With Style, PRODUCTS, Real Life Photos, TODDLER, TRAVEL, Tried and True, VIDEO

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BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

Some of you, who follow me on social media, might have noticed that for the last 6 months I have been working on a few projects. I am ready to officially announce the first one.

Together with a friend of mine, I started a new business, Melody Lane, a clothing store that is focused on making sure that women in all stages of their lives have access to comfortable, affordable and most importantly versatile clothing. (see below on details of a $500 giveaway!)

Pregnancy, motherhood, nursing, party, fitness, vacation, career, school – it’s amazing how many stages we go through as women that require a completely different wardrobe. So our goal is to offer clothing with versatility and affordability in mind. Items you could wear for several occasions and during several stages of your life. Clothing that is comfortable, yet still looks good, because I have to admit that since becoming a mother, comfort trumps looks, however I still want to look good.

What it’s like to go on a #MomsEscape…

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Adventures, BUSY MOM TIPS, FOR MOMS, Fun as a Toddler Mom, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, New Mom Experience, PHOTO, Photo Stories, TODDLER, TRAVEL

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This is a story… A story of how every person needs to escape sometimes. And how a group of bloggers, including myself, got a chance to do exactly that.

I will start the story with introductions. Some of you might be familiar with The MOMS network, and two power women behind it, Denise and Melissa. So these two ladies got a brilliant idea of putting together a group of blogger and together with AM Resorts going on a girls only ( except for our videographer Rafi) escape. A true Mom’s Escape.

 

Most of us didn’t know each other previous to this trip. I had been on another trip to Costa Rica with Kristen and Jeana. I knew Dani from Daily Mom, because she is one of my editors. But that was it.

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So this was going to be fun. A great group of mothers, women, who get each other because we do the same thing.

It turns out it was MORE fun that I could ever imagined.

The main reason for it? It was a true escape.

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I had gone on many press trips before with many other journalists and bloggers. We have had good groups and mediocre groups together. But this was moms with often more than 2 kids who really needed to escape and let loose, be in a company of other moms, talk, drink, eat, get pampered and do nothing. This was perfect.

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Rarely do I get to do nothing. Usually by choice. But not being FORCED to do anything was extremely nice. It is funny that I say that because I remember vividly when we were at Secrets  Maroma for the day, everyone was just chilling in their beach loungers. Elena was running around photographing birds, bothering other girls ( Dani and Melissa mainly), taking their pictures and dragging them out in the water, chanting “Let’s go do something! Something active! Not lay in the sun!

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Yup, that’s me, but that is what an escape is for me. Not being lazy, but having the choice to do what I want to do rather than what I have to do. Everyone relaxes differently. I like to be physically and mentally active.

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We spoke in length about what a mom’s escape means to each one of us during the trip and this is something I will cover in the next article. But it was clear from everyone’s responses that having the ability to get away is crucial to our sanity. The question is always where to go, who to take, who to leave your kids with.

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During our trip we stayed at Dreams Tulum, which is an all-inclusive family friendly resort 2 hours from Cancun Airport on the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. We also took a day trip to another option for a mom’s escape, adults only Secret Maroma Beach. An idyllic place where couple relax without little humans. Such a different atmosphere there…

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So I’d like you to take you with me on the same journey I had, day by day.

Day 1:

I arrive at the Cancun airport in the afternoon, quickly go through immigration, having already filled out all the forms on the plane. This is my second time in Riviera Maya, Mexico and remembering the first time a tired crying child and me having to fill out Mexican immigration forms while in line was miserable. So this time I brought a pen with me and had everything ready. Immigration took two seconds and I was ready to get my bags. You put your bags through the scanner, take them out and then go through this fun “press the button” test. If the button turns green, you’re free to go. If it turns red, you’re f***ed. haha
No they just have to take you aside and inspect your bags. Luckily my light has been green the two times I’ve been through this.

At the greeting area I was met by the AMSTAR driver who drove me and another blogger 2 hours away to Tulum area where Dreams resort is located. There we were greeted by a glass of champagne and a cold wet towelette to freshen up from the road. Much needed might I add.

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After check in, I met with Dani, who had already settled in her room and we went to go see mine. My room was on the first floor with the patio walking out directly to the pool. Immaculate with marble floors and beautiful bathrooms ( I judge hotels by the quality of their bathrooms ), the room had a sitting area with a couch, a bed and a patio. Later I was moved to a swim out room, which is a must upgrade if you’re staying at a Dreams property.

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The first day was like a blur, which travel days always are. It poured the whole time, so rain shielded golf carts picked our group up to take us to the reception dinner (Dia De Los Muertos themed) where we got fully introduced to each other and had a chance to chat.

IMG_9172 I actually periscoped from the reception, showed off mine and Dani’s outfits, said hi to everyone. We had a Mariachi band play during the dinner and waiters walked around offering colorful cocktails and Mexican hors d’oeuvres.

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After the dinner, we stayed up at the outdoor bar with some of girls from the group and closed the place before retreating to our rooms. Dani and I still spent a few hours chatting in my room, because when can you justify staying up till 4 am because you’re having fun, not because the baby is up, except on Mom’s escapes?

Day 2:

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We were up bright and early for a resort tour where they showed us every corner and aspect of Dreams Tulum. The resort is so expansive that it took me a few hours to take all the photos I wanted to take and do a comprehensive walk around.

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Right after the tour, we got whisked away on a fun visit to Secrets Maroma Beach(followed by an “ahhhhh). That was a real treat: an all-inclusive adult-only escape to the gorgeous beaches of Mexico, quiet tranquility, and impeccable service and food.

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We enjoyed the spa and the outdoor hydrotherapy area, lounged on the beach, took photos, had an amazing buffet style lunch and did some interviews.

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Dani showing me some love

The rest of the day at Dreams Tulum was spent enjoying the pools at the resort, playing beach volleyball, making new friends. The property is very popular with Canadians and weddings, so we met several wedding parties that we had fun evenings with and played beach volleyball with. The evening was spent enjoying delectable food at Himitsu, Dreams Tulum‘s Asian restaurant, where we got so excited and loud that we had to get shushed a few times, which made the whole dinner even more fun: relaxed moms on the loose, you can’t shush them!

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After dinner we hung out at the Sugar Bar, an outdoor bar, and later followed the crowd to the “disco” where we danced all night until common sense kicked in and we realized we had to be up early in the morning.

Day 3:

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Here we were given a choice of going to Tulum ruins just a few minutes from the hotel or getting a full spa treatment with hydrotherapy.

I mean is there even a choice? As much as I am for active vacations, I knew I was staying at the resort for a few extra days, and could travel to Tulum on my own, I opted for the spa. Little did I know I was going to be absolutely blown away by what was about to follow.

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I have gotten many spa treatments in my life throughout my travels, but this was something very original. Dreams Spa by Pevonia has special “cabins”. We were escorted through the wooded pathway to our Holistic cabin, where 5 of us were invited to sit in 3 different areas: back massage, foot massage, hand massage.

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The cabin looked like something out of a movie: decorated with Asian inspired designs, tranquil and relaxing, with fresh fruit kabobs and flavored water offered to us upon arrival.

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The five of us quickly found our spots, where with a warm towel on our eyes and a pillow behind our necks, the therapists started their work. After some time(I couldn’t tell you how much each circuit took), we were “woken up” and moved onto a different section of the cabin. And we kept moving that way until our Spa Journey was finished. None of us needed to say anything. We just looked at each other with surprise and wonder in our eyes like “What did just happen?

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After the cabin, we spent some time enjoying the Hydrotherapy with a massive circular hot tub, cold plunge pool and sauna/steam rooms.

The rest of the day was a blur. I am pretty sure I played another game of volleyball, I am pretty sure we spent some time chatting and drinking with our new friends…

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When it was time for farewell dinner, we met in the lobby and were walked into a sparkling white and pink set up. As we had passed it on our way to the lobby, we noted how beautiful the set up was and how it must have been for a wedding, so it was a surprise that the dinner was for us. Dinner was followed by karaoke where three of our trip members absolutely blew everyone away with their performances.

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This is a periscope I did during Karaoke. It’s not the greatest quality but if you’re interested in taking a peek, feel free to watch it:

It was amazing to meet all these women and it was sad to say goodbye. We are definitely staying in touch with some of them and hope to see them all on future press trips.

About the resort:

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Obviously one of the reason for us to visit the resort and the area is to experience it and to relay our experience of the property to our readers. So for anyone interested in visiting the Riviera Maya area (which I HIGHLY recommend), I am going to give a breakdown of what  I enjoyed  most about the stay at Dreams Tulum specifically:

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Incredible Entertainment Staff
The people working at Dreams Tulum are truly amazing. They are friendly and helpful but the entertainment staff is exceptional. Full of energy, friendly and outgoing, they often kept us company, dragged us out onto the dance floor, made us sign up for karaoke, challenged us at a game of volleyball (my Canadian friend and I beat them, just saying), worked on our Spanish and treated us as friends.

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Great Variety of Nighttime Entertainment
The entertainment at all-inclusives can sometimes…well… suck. Dreams Tulum impressed me with its variety of shows and activities for every night. We witnessed a break dancing show, a mexican Beatles karaoke night ( yes I am not even joking) and on the last day there was a gorgeous aquatic show complete with acrobats, dancers, fire throwers and my favorite, flyboarding performance, all that while eating dinner by the pool.

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Generous drinks
So I am not a drinker. I max out at 2 drinks, but all I kept hearing from people was how generous the pours were at the resort.

Food

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I don’t expect amazing food at all-inclusive resorts. I’ve had some bad experiences before. But the food here at Dreams was nothing to complain about. The buffet was stocked with fresh healthy foods, the a-la-carte restaurants’ quality was easily compared to upscale restaurants in US. The variety and quality were great.

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Swim out Suites
This is my weak spot. I am sucker for swim outs. There is something amazing about having a hotel room that opens up to a pool. Dreams Tulum offers those types of rooms for a reasonable upgrade price. Always a must for me.

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FAQs about family travel In Riviera Maya and Dreams Tulum:

How long is the flight to Cancun? Under 1.5 hours from Miami

How far is the property from the airport? 2 hours by car

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How safe is it there? Riviera Maya is incredibly safe. Obviously make sure to exercise the usual caution when traveling abroad, but everyone there is very friendly and caters to tourists.

Is it a third world country? It certainly doesn’t feel like it. The roads and signage are excellent, their resorts and entertainment around the area are incredibly well maintained and varied. Everyone is welcoming and there is a huge infrastructure of parks and tourist focused businesses.

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Is it a family friendly destination? Incredibly family friendly. So many parks and activities to do and visit. I will write a full guide here once I visit the area for the third time.

What does all inclusive mean? For Dreams Tulum, the all inclusive is called Unlimited Luxury and that means that food, premium beverages, room service, water sports and activities are all included in the price of your stay.

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Would you recommend Dreams Tulum for a couples’ getaway or more of a family friendly trip? Both. The resort is amazing for kids. Pools, excellent kids’ club for kids aged 3-12 , great beaches, beachside trampoline.  It is staffed with ARC certified in First Aid and CPR workers and parents get a pager at the kids club and get called if their child needs one of the parents.

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Is there anything to do outside of the resort? A ton! The Mayan ruins are a 5-10 min drive from the hotel, which are gorgeous and have an picturesque beach access if you’d like to go for a swim or spend the day in the sun.  Xel-Ha, one of the most amazing Riviera Maya parks, is located ten minutes from the resort, where you can do numerous water activities like snorkel, swim, climb, visit children’s world, cenotes, use a swing rope and so much more.You can also swim with dolphins, visit other cenotes, and even drive into Playa Del Carmen for some fun time.

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Here is a quick fact sheet:

  • Tulum brings guests Unlimited-Luxury®, superior amenities beginning with daily meals and snacks, and unlimited top-shelf beverages, all wristband-free
  • Located on one of the most unique beaches in the Riviera Maya surrounded by lush tropical acres, sugary white sand and magnificent colonial architecture
  • It blends classic Mexican Colonial architecture, ultra-luxurious accommodations, superior facilities and first-class service
  • Created especially for youngsters, Explorer’s Club for Kids is fully and professionally supervised and filled with adventures and activities that they will enjoy and treasure for a lifetime, while giving parents time on their own to spend vacation time their way
  • Dreams Spa by Pevonia® stretches over 12,916 sq.ft. and offers a sublime atmosphere of pure indulgence combining a hydrotherapy and indigenous Mayan treatments creating a refreshing, invigorating and peaceful experience
  • Offers 9 restaurants: 6 à la carte, a buffet, a café and a grille. No reservations are required

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Next up:

Video of our trip to Dreams Tulum

You can view a sneak peek here:

Pre-Pregnancy Check List

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, My Pregnancy, Pre-CONCEPTION, PREGNANCY

pre-TTC pre Conception Checklist

It is kind of surprising that considering how big I am on pregnancy preparation and the fact that my blog was born out of trying to prepare to conceive, I don’t have a comprehensive PRE-PREGNANCY CHECK LIST.

There is a page with the links to posts where I detailed my personal experience, but I would like to do more of a straight forward preparation check list for people who are just getting into it.

Panorama and Things You Did Not Know About Prenatal Testing

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, BUMP UPDATES, FOR MOMS, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, My Pregnancy, New Mom Experience, Pre-CONCEPTION, PREGNANCY, Pregnancy Q of the week

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I would like to officially announce that I have been selected to be one of the Panorama Moms this year. What that means is that I will be learning and writing about prenatal, genetic carrier, preimplantation and other types of pregnancy related testing available by Natera. It’s an interesting learning experience and I hope that it will also help some of my readers make testing decisions that are safer and more accurate than the traditional testing.

When you are having a baby there is so much on your mind.  You are always thinking about the health and safety of your baby first in almost every daily task that you take on.  Then the doctors present prenatal testing to you as an option. Maybe you had higher than normal numbers, maybe your age is considered “advanced maternal age”. Whatever the case is there is a huge amount of stress and anxiety associated with the safety of your baby.   There is so much to know about prenatal testing and it’s important to be well informed before you go in for testing, so in this point I am going to try to lay out some of the information available to me.

Baby’s got glasses and what we, as parents, should know about sight!

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, FOR MOMS, Fun as a Toddler Mom, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, Life as a Toddler, New Mom Experience, Parenting, TODDLER

Baby got Glasses

About a few weeks ago, we made a decision to get Lexi glasses. After a yearly trip to an ophthalmologist, we found out that Lexi was nearsighted (she can see well close up but not far away) and could possibly need glasses. The doctor didn’t seem so sure that she HAD to have them, if we didn’t want to get them, but after figuring out how she must be seeing and reading up on some studies, we decided that it was necessary.  So that same day, we took her to a local lens store and got her two pairs of glasses.

We had an idea that it would happen sooner or later, as Andrew’s side of the family have all  been in glasses since a very early age, especially the females. Given that childhood onset myopia (nearsightedness) is primarily genetic, we figured she would need glasses at some point, but, of course, hoped that she wouldn’t, since no one in my side of family was myopic before 17 years of age (which is the age where the line between a genetically inherited childhood onset myopia and adult myopia gets drawn).

Nature vs. Nurture – A Shocking Discovery

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, FOR MOMS, Fun as a Toddler Mom, HEALTH, New Mom Experience, Parenting, TODDLER

Nature vs Nurture- A shocking Discovery

I was at the airport in Vegas getting reading to board the plane to fly back home to Florida….

I was in the hurry at the time, with the gates literally closing within 5 minutes, but I knew that my husband was running behind after having to drop off the rental car, so I wouldn’t get on the plane without him anyways. I had Lexi in a my Emotion stroller ( which is by the way ridiculously awesome for airplane travel) and 3 carry-ons with me, but I was determined to get some water and reading materials for the flight. After browsing their magazine stand and not finding anything that would interest me, I made my way to the book area and after skipping all the romance novels, I saw this book, called “How Children Succeed” and I thought the title was good enough for me to make it an entertaining and at the same time educational read while Alexis sleeps on the plane.

Little did I know that that book would become the kind of parenting science/child psychology/biology book that you devour and then recommend to all your friends and blog about.

So here I am, so impressed with it, that I am writing this post while riding in the car from Orlando.

Let me start with a piece of advice for everyone reading this:

Go on Amazon.com ( or wherever it is you buy books) and order this book immediately! It does not matter whether you are 16 years old, 50 years old, or childless. It is seriously that impressive and interesting to anyone who has ever been interested in why people turn out they way they do and what makes some people successful and well rounded individuals while others seem to struggle at everything they do, how much parenting really influences us and our children. This book has insights,  parts of which I have read in numerous parenting and psychology books I have gone through over the year, yet no one book has ever summed everything up and traced it from the beginning to the end, rather than rely on us trusting its conclusions.

Breastfeeding Giveaway

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Best for Baby, Fun as a Toddler Mom, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, New Mom Experience, TODDLER

Had to share with you guys! Enter before it’s too late!

 

“The Daily Mom team is exclusively pro-breastfeeding, and we have put our heads together to come up with some of our favorite products that help support a healthy breastfeeding lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for tools to help initiate that bond, or are a seasoned mommy who may be looking for things to make it easier, this post has something for everyone- with a chance for one person to win it all at the end!”

Baby Proofing: Challenges and Solutions

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, Best for Baby, FOR MOMS, Fun as a Toddler Mom, HEALTH, Life as a Toddler, New Mom Experience, Parenting, PRODUCTS, TODDLER

Baby Proofing 101, easy way to go about making your house safe.

     Baby Proofing 101, easy way to go about making your house safe.

Babyproofing…. such a weird concept to me.

Protect your child by locking up EVERYTHING imaginable and moving it out of his reach. It doesn’t seem so overwhelming when you’re in the pre-crawling or even crawling stages.

But once they walk, you realize “HOLY SHIT! There are hazards everywhere!“. I mean seriously!

To me, babyproofing is more like a managed protection spanning the range of  “watching the energizer bunny constantly” to “lock everything away”.

Our challenge was….

wait, who am I kidding?

Our CHALLENGES (plural) were the following:

  • a large staircase
  • a zillion cabinets
  • another zillion drawers
  • a large house.
  • a super active baby

That means hazards were EVERYWHERE.

So instead of going crazy, attempting to baby proof everything and then break down and cry because it is impossible, I took things a few steps at a time.

Non-Toxic Pool Toys

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, Best for Baby, Fun as a Toddler Mom, HEALTH, New Mom Experience, TODDLER

NON TOXIC POOL TOYS

Have you found any pool toys for babies that isn’t toxic?” is one of the most frequent questions I get on this blog.

The reality of the pool and water related toys is very bleak with nearly 95% of the items made out of PVC/vinyl (Why PVC is bad? Read here). And yes, some companies go as far as to say that their pvc is phthalate complaint ( which means they can still have extremely harmful phthalates but in lower doses), or phthalate free, but that does not rid the products of potential lead contamination along with the off-gasing of PVC.

When it comes to pool toys, sometimes we simply don’t have a choice. Sometimes phthalate free PVC is all that we get.  Which is fine as long as you make an educated  decision and know the risks.

So I have compiled a few products that I have found in the sea of toxic items. This time I didn’t get to take personal pictures of Lexi using these items for lack of time and the desire to not take too long before I get this post out.