Before I Had A Seven Year Old… Things I wish I had Known the First Time Around

mom and baby

As a second time mom, I frequently get asked, “What was it like with your first?” Well, let me tell you – I was so overly consumed in mommyhood seven years ago, that I don’t really remember that much. Life was hard back then. I was still mastering diaper changes and insisted on toting around a huge diaper bag everywhere we went – even if it was just a quick trip to the store.

I rearranged every moment of our life based on nap time. I read all of the parenting books I could find. I deeply sanitized every binky which fell on the floor. I bought special laundry detergent and I even insisted on keeping all grownup laundry separate from any thing which would come in contact with the baby. It was exhausting and that is pretty much all I remember feeling – exhausted!

Here are a few things I have learned the second time around…..

1. Diaper bags are unnecessary unless you will be gone for more than 12 hours. When heading to the store – throw a few diapers, a onesie, and some wipes in your purse and hit the road! I always knot a muslin blanket around a purse strap and let it dangle too. The blanket can be used as a burp cloth, teething toy, nursing cover, changing pad, sun shade, and so much more – I never leave home without it! Aden and Anais Swaddling Blankets – my favorite!

2. Binkies and toys will fall on the floor. It’s a fact of life!  Dust it off and hand it back to your little one – a speck of dirt never hurt anyone!

3. Make time to go on a date with your hubby – trust me! It is all too easy to get consumed in baby poop and spit up as a new mom. Make it a priority to comb your hair, put on a little mascara, and go out every once and a while – even if it is just for a quick ice cream cone. Date night pre-baby… not many date night pictures are taken these days, but they should be!

4. Speaking to point number 3 – Dry Shampoo! For those days when you don’t have time to wash, dry, and style your hair – simply spritz on a little dry shampoo and you are good to go! Suave Dry Spray Shampoo – just spray and go!

5. Using an outstanding maternity pillow – Believe me it really works! It helped me sleep at night with ease. My back pain lessened over time while using it.

6. The sleepless nights won’t go on forever. Eventually all bad sleepers learn to sleep in their own bed and no longer need middle of the night cuddle sessions – soak it in while it lasts!

7. Sometimes, life is going to get in the way and things are not going to get done – and that is okay! Put the laundry down and leave the dishes for tomorrow… enjoy the moments you have today.  Babies grow up fast and years fly by – enjoy it!

Adventures in South Africa | Best Travel Stories and Inspiration

African People
The Lovely African People

I had wanted to travel to Africa and specifically South Africa for my entire life. I had always been fascinated by the animals, the landscape, and the culture. But for some reason, my trip to South Africa came quite late in my world travels. As I was still a little timid about traveling through Africa alone, I decided to travel through a tour company. This proved to be a great decision, as my tour was fantastic and my guide was extremely friendly and knowledgeable and helped with my photography. Thank you to Calcustar for helping me to achive this trip! I owe you Scott!

My tour group had ten people in it, and the tour I selected covered South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia. I loved the tour company I selected as they were all about responsible and eco-tourism. I flew into Johannesburg two days before the tour began so that I’d have some time to explore the city on my own.

It was a nice way to start the trip and get acclimated to South Africa. I spent most of the two days wondering the streets and exploring all the city had to offer. I visited the Apartheid museum which was an interesting look into South Africa’s recent history. On the third day, I met up with the tour group and we had dinner together in the city.

The next day, we woke up early and traveled the Panorama Route, stopping at Blyde River Canyon to see the Greater Kruger region below. Once we entered the park, we headed out for evening and morning game drives to spot Africa’s big five: the Lion, African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Leopard, and Black Rhinoceros.

We spotted lions, elephants, and buffalo, getting quite close to each. I got some great pictures of all the wildlife, and when using my zoom it appeared that I was right next to them. The wildlife continued when we visited Polokwane on the fourth day of the trip. We saw a plethora of animals; it was almost overwhelming trying to look at everything at once.On day five we crossed the border into Botswana.

While traveling through the Nata region, we ran into cattle herders tending to their stock along the road. The next day we reached the great Victoria Falls, which was one of my favorite highlights of the whole trip. The falls are locally referred to as ‘Mosi oa Tunya’ or ‘the smoke that thunders’.

While at the falls, I decided to try bungee jumping for the first time which was thrilling and terrifying all at once. It definitely made for an experience that I will never forget. We then crossed into Chobe National Park in Botswana for a fish eagle cruise. The cruise was amazing because we got to see the large water animals such as hippos, crocodiles, and elephants all enjoying the water and pretty well ignoring us. The next day we continued our water adventure by exploring the Okavango Delta by mokoro, a dugout canoe.

That night we got to camp out on a remote island and wake to the sounds of the wetlands. Camping in the middle of the wildlife was quite the experience and really made me realize that I was in the middle of the African wilderness. When we returned to Johannesburg on our last day, it was quite sad to see the trip end. But it was definitely an adventure and a great way to experience all that Southern Africa has to offer.