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Posts in “Motherhood”

Taking photo of your own baby bump (Styling & Photo tips!)

Monday, June 12, 2017

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Once my baby bump began to show a lot, I planned to have a mini baby bump photo session at home while the kids snooze. It’s been difficult to find a time for an outdoor shoot while pregnant since everything feels “heavy” for me, especially with the Texan weather. I’ve always thought indoor shoots are comfortable to do when you’re pregnant. You’re able to style yourself comfortably, have a cooler room, and most importantly, have bathrooms always available. 😉 I wanted to share today how I take photos of my baby bump, in a silhouette inspired style. I also wanted to share some tips that I’ve learned from the past few years with my photography background, as well as photo editing. Here are a  few of my photography works if you’d like to browse through them.

Camera

I used my old Nikon DSLR camera to take these shots. It’s in automatic mode and I used a tripod and remote/clicker, so it would be easy to take pictures and pose compared to using a timer. When I click to start shooting, it automatically focuses on me. If you don’t have a DSLR, you can use your phone camera as well. There is a tutorial online like this where you can learn how to do it.

Styling

Some pregnant women who do maternity silhouette shoots wear fitted pants and tops. This time I tried on a black, fitted off-shoulder dress (similar piece) that I got before I became pregnant. It’s a matter of finding clothes that fit your body and your baby bump well, when it comes to choosing a wardrobe. I also used a necklace (similar like this) that would reflect on the silhouette, to add some style to my outfit.

Location

Since it’s indoors, I chose the window in our room where there was good lighting. Our window has a sheer white curtain which creates a soft light. You also need to consider the surroundings to be more on the clean side, so that your photos’ backgrounds don’t look messy or too busy.

ANGLE

I like to take photos with different angles so I have different choices. When I setup my tripod and camera, I like it more in position so that the subject (me, the preggy) will look taller in the pictures.

EDITING

I use Photoshop to adjust the lighting, to edit the color, and polish the photo. I like to use “Levels” in adjusting the lighting. Below is before-and-after of a photo that I edited. I made it black-and-white and used “Levels” in Photoshop to adjust the brightness and contrast. You can also see that I removed my right hand (where I was holding the remote of the camera) by using “Clone” in Photoshop. If I didn’t use Photoshop, I would probably use smartphone apps like “Snapseed” to edit these photos, along with VSCOcam to get a good photo filter.

BEFOREANDAFTER

I hope this helps those who are expecting and planning to save some money by taking their own maternity photos. These photos will make great memories for yourself and loved ones of your pregnancy. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions! I would love to help!

Have a blessed week!

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DIY Cardboard Playhouse (Inspired by Nipa huts)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

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We got some big boxes from an IKEA dresser a few weeks ago and I thought to make something out of them before they were thrown in the garbage bin. I think I’ve turned into a cardboard hoarder since I became a mom 😉  It’s just that there are so many things to create out of cardboard, instead of just throwing them away. I like to save cardboard or diaper boxes, not only to use for moving, but as a scratch board for painting or crayon activities for my kids, and other random crafts.

This is a modern playhouse that was inspired by the “bahay kubo” or nipa hut. It is a traditional house from the old times in the Philippines. When I think of “bahay kubo,” I remember my grandma who lived in the Island of Marinduque. I miss her and her nipa hut that we used to stay in whenever we visited her. I mentioned to my husband that my ideal house in Marinduque (which is where I used to live too) is just a simple nipa hut-inspired home. Maybe that will be our retirement house someday. 😉  

Here are the materials I used to create this fun playhouse:

  • Cardboard
  • Small paper clips (I used these clips to attach cardboards together)
  • Acrylic paints and brushes
  • Fabrics (I had leftovers from my DIY Kitchen project)
  • Natural rope twine
  • Glue gun (to stick the fabric for window)
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Box Cutter
  • Ruler and pencil (to draw the windows and door design)

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It’s fun to have this area for the kids can hang out in, or hide in for hide-and-seek. However, I’m pretty sure this playhouse might be demolished in the next few weeks since my boys are like the Hulk. 😉

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram to see my IG stories. I always share about my daily life with my kids, including fun activities we like to do!

Have a great weekend friends!

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Pregnancy Style and Essentials

Monday, May 15, 2017

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When I was pregnant with my first son, I was clueless in terms of what pregnancy essentials were. If you are a first-time mom, I’m sure you’re also wondering what you actually need for yourself, aside from prenatal vitamins. Today, I’m sharing the things that helped me feel comfortable and relaxed during my past and current pregnancies.

 

Bio Oil Skincare Oil

Stretch marks….  I still have stretchmarks from my past pregnancies, most are from my first one. I wasn’t consistent with moisturizing my belly then. I regret it now due to the stretch marks that appeared after my pregnancy. If you have tan skin like mine, you may experience darker stretchmarks like I did. Mine were actually almost black from my first pregnancy. Although, it eventually will lighten after a year or so. That’s why, this time, I’m using this Bio Oil to prevent darker stretch marks around my belly. I really like it, especially the smell! I use this in the morning and before I go to bed at night. One of my sister-in-laws used the Bio Oil when she was pregnant, and she loved the oil too!

 

Pregnancy Support Pillow

My former boss gave me a pregnancy pillow that truly helps me to sleep better at night. You might hear that the best sleeping position for pregnant women is laying on her left side. The pregnancy pillow that I have has a big C-shape design, supporting my back and can be placed between my legs as well. Before I used this pillow, I experienced leg cramps at night a lot. However, now that I use it, I find it really helps me to sleep better and greatly reduces aches and pain. Although, My husband can’t wait for me to be done using this pillow. He says it’s taking up a lot of space in the bed. Haha!

Comfy sneakers

When I’m pregnant, my feet and legs get tired easily, especially when I’m standing for a period of time (I get more varicose veins during pregnancy). I love to use comfy shoes (I use these shoes from this style post) for outdoor errands with the kids. I think it’s easier to move around if you are comfortable with what you’re wearing on your feet. When you’re pregnant you also have to remember that you’re carrying extra weight from your baby bump.

 

Comfy Bras

Pregnancy will cause a lot of changes to your body. This includes changes in clothing sizes and your underwear. I avoid bras with underwire because it’s not comfortable to wear underneath my clothes. I love to use a bra that has a good fit, gives a good support, and is comfortable; something I have is similar to this. I also like to use strapless, tube top bras (or bandeau bra).

 

Water

Keeping yourself hydrated during your pregnancy is very important for you and your baby. It can make you have to go to the bathroom often, but it really helps your body stay strong and healthy. During my first trimester, it was hard for me to drink water since I was nauseated and vomiting. What I do to help with the nausea, is add flavor droplets to my water. I also don’t forget to bring a water bottle whenever I go out. I currently love to use a similar bottle which I keep inside my bag.

 

Snack

In addition to water, I love to bring snacks. Being pregnant makes me feel hungry all the time. I think this little boy I’m carrying eats a lot, like his brothers… My favorites snacks to bring include granola bars and animal crackers. 😉

 

Exercise Ball

Lastly, I don’t want to forget to mention this amazing exercise ball. I love to use this while working on my work desk while pregnant. It’s more comfortable on my belly to sit on a big bouncy ball compared to a normal chair. This exercise ball was actually such a big help for when I went into labor. There’s a rocking technique I used (check it out online. Search for “Birthing ball”), which really helped. Another cool thing about using this ball, is that I can use it after I give birth. When my newborn is fussy or crying (even if he’s been changed and fed), I’m sure I’ll be able to calm him down while sitting on it. When my other two kids were babies, they loved it when I sit here. I think it’s because it gives a gentle bouncing motion, helping them fall asleep.

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(A good friend of mine lent me this top. I’ve been using this a lot, especially this season. Here’s are some similar items to my outfit that you can check out online: TOP, HAT, MATERNITY PANTS )
Is anyone else expecting this year too? What are your pregnancy essentials?

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A Day in the Life: Toddler Schedules, Motherhood and Blogging!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

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Since Mother’s day is right around the corner, I thought to share a day in the life of being a stay-at-home mom with my kids. Some of my friends, and even my sister, wonder how I still manage to blog while taking care of my kids. With two little ones (soon to be three), I think one of the important habits that helps me greatly in doing these things, is planning and scheduling ahead of time. Knowing what I need to do for the next week or what I need to do (like cook) are such big helps. It makes things easier, especially since I have young kids that are unpredictable. I love to have a routine with my kids, which my husband likes as well. My husband, who is a psychologist, says that it’s okay to be organized, on schedule, and to plan things ahead of time, but that we should also be flexible when things don’t work the way we want (which happens). For the most part, here’s what our typical day looks like.

 

6:30 Wakey! Wakey!

They like to stay in bed for a few minutes and start a conversation with each other. Once I open their door, my boys are ready to play and say, “Mama” at least a hundred times.

6:45 Milk Time

Not only is this milk time, this is also potty time and when we change from diapers to big boy underwear. We also love to read short stories from the beginner’s Bible book.

7:00 Free Play

While they are busy playing, I make breakfast for everyone. I also put away the clean dishes from the sink. Sometimes I let my eldest son help me in putting away the utensils. He loves doing it, so I let him be.

7:30 Breakfast With Dada and Mama

My eldest son has learned to lead the prayer now. It’s so cute, “Thank you God for the blessing, for the egg, for bread, for damit (word for clothes in Tagalog)…” It’s a good start to the day. 😉

8:00 Free Play

They are full and ready to play again! So now I have time to clean the kitchen and dining area, check my email, and quickly freshen up. I feel like a better mom if I take time for myself, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It makes me feel better inside and out and it recharges my patience lol

9:00 Kids’ Activity

These activities usually consist of reading time and doing sensory activities. I also try to have a Filipino class at least once a week. There is also a day when we go to the library for storytime and borrowing books. Other activities we love to do include going to the playground or meeting up with other mommies for play dates. Mornings are the best time to be active! I also love to have one-on-one time with each of my boys, even if it’s just for a few minutes. For example, if my eldest son is busy with his legos, I like to play cars, cuddle, or read books with my youngest son. If the younger one is busy, I’ll do the same with my eldest.

10:00 Snack Time

I love to give them pretzels or goldfish with some fruits and raisins. Or if they have leftover from their breakfast, I let them finish it first before crackers.

11:00 Mama Preps for Lunch

We mostly eat leftover food from the previous night’s dinner. If we don’t have leftovers, I like to make a simple lunch like sandwiches with steamed broccoli or green beans. If they are getting bored from playing, but I need to make lunch for us, I use Pandora to play toddler songs. They love listening and dancing to it, which gives me time for meal prep.

11:30 Lunch Time With the Boys

Now, we eat!

12:00 Free Play

This free play time is when I try to clean up our lunch or talk to my family via video chat.

12:20 Playing With the Kids

They love to play legos or hang out on our balcony where they play with bubbles! After we play for a few minutes, I let them try to clean up some toys before getting ready for naptime. Before naptime, we read books, use the potty, and sing.

1:00 NAPTIME ( AKA Dancing Mama Time ;))

This is the time when I blog, take pictures, do tutorials, or edit in Photoshop. I also find this time to do household chores like laundry or cleaning the house. It’s such a good feeling when it’s quiet and the house is clean and organized. This is my relaxation time.

3:00 Waking Up From Naptime

Sometimes they sleep longer, depending on how tired they are. But if they wake up around 3:00 PM, all they want to do is eat snacks and drink milk. My boys are always hungry! They are growing so fast, that’s why!

3:30 Play / Errands

Depending on the weather and how my pregnancy makes me feel, I bring them outside to walk and to play with balls outside, or I do outdoor errands with them. Sometimes we’ll go window shopping like many moms love to do!

5:00 Dinner Prep

This is the time of day when I get ready for dinner. Sometimes I start a little earlier depending what I cook. When Brent comes home, it’s his time to bond with the boys. Nerf guns are the new thing they love to play with together! And they love to shoot me…

5:45 Dinner With Dada and Mama

We talk about our day and how was Brent’s work. We have learned to avoid having cell phones on the table, unless we want to take picture of our kids. This is also a great time to share to my husband about the kids’ behaviour that day, and who was in trouble… Haha I feel thankful that I’m married to a child psychologist. It’s a great help for me to ask my husband about how I should react to certain behavior and what to do if they are in trouble.

6:30 Bonding Time With Dada

It’s the boys’ bonding time while I clean the kitchen and dining area. I mostly clean the kitchen, especially after we have dinner. I find this easy and relaxing, and when the kids are in bed Brent and I have more time to spend as a couple later at night.

6:50 Brent and Kids Clean Up the Toys

7:00 Ready for Bedtime

Brent is in charge of giving them a bath. The boys’ routine is brushing their teeth, reading bedtime stories, potty time, praying, and singing. Brent mostly sings Christian songs and a made-up song about how Cavan defeated a bear. If it’s my turn to sing for a night, I love to sing Filipino songs like “Bahay Kubo”, “Ako Ay May Lobo” and the Philippine national anthem, “Lupang Hinirang.” I need to work on memorizing Christian songs, I’m so bad with the lyrics!

7:45 Giving Our Boys a Sweet Dreams Goodnight Kiss

This is also time to tell them about good behavior they did. Brent reminds me that even they have consequences from wrong doing for a day, I must  praise them from their good behavior even just a small thing, like for example “Good job on picking up the toys” “That’s nice of you to stay quiet and not fussy”. This is good way to let them know that they are not bad and focus on the good part.

7:50 Sanitizing Our Kids’ Bathroom.

Since both of my boys learn how to to use the potty now, their bathroom can be dirty and messy too (If you are a mom of boys, you know why!). I always make sure that the seats are sanitized and wiped off the counter etc.

8:00 Me-time

Now it’s time for me to do some work if I have a client, or write for my blog. This is also a good time to just sit down and relax for me by reading some Bible scriptures from BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) notes and questionnaires.  Brent does some work too and he usually loves reading books or news articles.

9:00 Netflix time with Brent

Brent and I love watching Netflix while eating popcorn. We try to sleep before 10:30 PM, but sometimes we sleep later… Oops.

 

When it comes to blogging, I try to post twice a week because that’s how much I can manage right now. I really enjoy being a stay-at-home mom and being able to take care of my kids. I am thankful that I have a husband who supports us, and that God gave me the role of being a stay-at-home mom, taking care of my own children. That’s why I learned to give more time to them and to my marriage. This is my new duty right now and it is what God has planned for us.

Our schedule will definitely change once our new baby comes in the summer. I’ll update everyone with our new schedule for our 3 kids, once we get the right feel for it.

 

Enjoy your weekend and Happy Mother’s day to all moms out there! :-)

 

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DIY Animal Silhouette Painting (For Mom & Kids to Make Together!)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

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I’m always excited whenever my kids and I do a painting activity together. As you may know, I graduated from a fine arts college and I used to do a lot of paintings before. There is quite a difference between my paintings now and the ones from college. The ones I paint today are colorful, fun and happy artworks compared to my college ones, which you can see some examples of here. My husband loves to tease me and says the reason for my darker art was that I was empty and depressed, until I met him. It is true. ; )

I saw cheaper canvases at Walmart and found 2 for just under $4. I thought were the perfect size to have for our first canvas painting activity. The challenging part of these activities for parents is cutting out the masking tape and following the animal shapes, but it is worth doing!

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First, cover the top of the canvas with masking tape. Leave only the center area clear where you think the sketch’s outlines won’t be. It’s better not to overlap the masking tape too much, so it won’t be too thick to cut. Start to sketch the animal shape of your choice for your child. I suggest to make the sketch simple to have a simple outline for cutting. Next, gently cut and follow the outline of the animal sketch. I used a box cutter to do this. Canvasses have a layer of primer paint, so it acted as a little bit of protection when I used the cutter to remove the masking tape. It helped when I put my other hand underneath to gauge if I was pressing too hard with the cutter on the canvas. If you have another technique on how to do this part, feel free to share in the comment box! :-)

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Once you are done with your animal sketch, prepare acrylic paint colors that you want to use for your kids. I let my kids explore by using different kinds of brushes and tools to paint.

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Let the artwork dry before peeling the masking tape. Once you are done, you can retouch the edges by using white acrylic paint. Use a thin paint brush (similar to a pointed eyeliner brush) to create a white outline like as shown in the pictures here.

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Any fun art activities that you and your kids love to do on Mother’s Day?

 

I hope all of my readers who are moms have a great time celebrating Mother’s Day. Motherhood is such a blessing from God. I am thankful that He gave me the role of being a mom!

 

Have a great week!

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Baby Bump Style + Favorite SALE Picks!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

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(Beach bag from Abejas Boutique, similar here / Thin belt similar here)

I am soon reaching the end of my second trimester, and my baby bump has been showing a lot these past few weeks. I love this time in my pregnancy as I can still wear clothes that aren’t maternity clothes. Lately, I’ve been choosing dresses over tops and pants because I’ve been easily feeling warm. I know it’s only spring in Texas, but it feels like summer to me. That’s the pregnant life, along with chasing two toddlers around.

When choosing clothes while I’m pregnant, I like to get one size bigger than my usual and try to style it with a belt or other accessories.  I’m wearing an off-shoulder dress (in the images above) that I got from T.J. Maxx. It’s not a maternity dress, but it has a flowy style, so I thought it would be perfect to wear while I’m pregnant. It’s cute for springtime too! Here’s similar piece!

Don’t you think it’s cute to dress up with a baby bump? Here are a few of my favorite picks of dresses and accessories that are on sale! These are great, regular, non-maternity clothes that preggies like me can wear.

Reverse Flowy Dress

Mango Flowy Striped Dress

Mango Off-shoulder Dress

Old Navy Striped Dress

Steve Madden Thin Belt

Straw Beach Bag

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Hello baby bump #3

Thursday, April 20, 2017

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I’m finally excited to share with everyone that we are expecting our third child this year! We had told some people when I was in the Philippines (Brent and I decided to share the good news in-person first, then on social media), but I think now is a good time to officially share this blessing with everyone, and it’s my birthday week! I’ve been feeling great since I hit my second trimester. No morning sickness at all. Although, I still can’t stand the smell of coffee… Sorry, coffee lovers…

Was this planned or was it a surprise, you ask? I’ve been praying to God to bless us with another child to add to our family, so nope. It was not a surprise. Haha! Brent knows that two kids are little in number for me. 😉 Last year, was a challenging one with our second child because of his bad reflux, colic, and waking up before 6AM daily. It was also sometimes challenging to take care of a baby and toddler close in age, but it is true that these kind of challenging moments will disappear one day. When I try to look back and remember those moments, I honestly can’t remember the feeling. I know I was exhausted and I do remember it was so hard for Brent and me.  But here we go again, starting another chapter with a new addition to our family. It’s weird to me that I don’t feel anxious and nervous thinking about taking care of two toddlers and a newborn… Maybe I should be, but right now, I’m just too busy with my two boys and focusing on parenting them before the new baby comes. I also believe that all I can do is trust God and His plan for this new little one.

Happy weekend and happy birthday to me! I’ll be enjoying a piece of cake! Sorry, Baby!
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(Hello Baby book by Mem Fox / Motherhood Maternity Top (from a friend) / Jeans from thrift store but here’s the similar)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17

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Flying With the Toddlers (Philippines here we come!)

Monday, January 9, 2017

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I’m SO excited that we are going to the Philippines soon! I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long, to finally bring my kids to my hometown. They’ll be able to meet my family and friends there, eat the best mangoes, hear more Filipino words for them to learn, see beautiful coral and white sand beaches, and see… traffic. Haha! I am worried about a lot of stuff though, like with transportation. Normally, we use public transportation in the Philippines, but they don’t have car seats or seat belts (except for taxis unless the seatbelt is not broken). Anyway, I’ve been busy lately trying to finish a list of what things I must bring and plans for when we are inside plane for more than 15 hours! Here are some of the most important items on my list.

 

Choose Aisle Seats – I like to choose aisles, so it’s easy to get out if I need to go to the restroom or walk a little bit with kids.

Bring A Copy of Birth Certificate – They always ask for this in the airport so I’ll be sure to bring this along.

Use the Ergo Baby Carrier – At first, I thought this was only for babies, but turns out I can use this for my eldest son too! But for this trip, I’ll use this for my youngest son.  It keeps him close to me and prevents him from wandering or getting lost. This is SO helpful during travel especially if everything around me is getting busy.

Avoid Long Earrings and Necklaces – These are a big no-no around my kids! They might play with them and pull them. That’s why I just prefer to wear a watch around them, and that’s all!

Wear Easy On/Off Shoes (Similar shoes) – I would love to use flip flops, but it’s going to be cold in the airport and plane, so I better wear slip-on shoes that are easy to remove and put on.

Separate Snack Bags – My eldest son has a small backpack where I’ll put snacks in since they’re light enough for him to carry. I love to use ziplocks to separate snacks like cheerios, craisins, and fish crackers.

Bring Random Toys – I looked for random small stuff to bring for my toddlers so that I can distract the kids inside the plane. It really works a lot. I’m also planning to get new cheap toys (like $1) so they will get excited. Surprisingly, cheap toys are more entertaining for my kids.

Bring a Laptop/Tablet and Download Family Videos or Cartoons – Brent and I don’t let our kids watch TV or anything with a screen often, only for emergencies or for something special. However, since sitting inside a plane can be boring and tiring, I’m using our old family videos to show my kids if they are acting out of control. I also downloaded music videos and cartoons and fun games.

Bring a Bib – Bibs not only help avoid stains on my kids’ clothes, I use them to hold their snacks so they are hands-free. Brent and I LOVE this plastic bib that we have (similar to here), and have been using it ever since my kids were only 5 month old babies! 

Bring an Empty Water Bottle (with hook) – I always like to bring an empty bottle and hook it onto my backpack. I fill it up after the security check since they don’t allow a lot of water before security check.

Feed the Baby on the Way Up and Down – I’d like to save snacks for the times the plane takes off and lands since that’s time that my kids feel uncomfortable and scared.

Bring Favorite Stuffed Toys – I definitely cannot forget these! My kids love their OWL and FROGGIE. They make them feel secure and help them to fall asleep when they are holding them. I know what you’re thinking. Am I not enough? Haha kidding!

Bring a Toddler Neck Pillow (similar travel pillow)- My eldest son will have his own seat for the first time, so I thought I’d bring a neck pillow for him since it will be a long flight.

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This picture is from the time I flew alone with them going to LA last year. It was tough, but not more crazy than I expected. Good thing this time, we’ll be flying with my mom, so she can assist me with our 15+ hour trip!

 

Any other things I should bring? Any advice and tips? Let me know. :)

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Hello Island Mama is a makeup, DIY, design, and lifestyle blog by Em Smith. She is the mother of two boys and a wife, who loves to inspire and encourage others through her works and stories. Originally from the Philippines.

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

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