Have Toddler, Will Travel!

My last blog entry on traveling was when Momo was just 7 months old. He’s almost 2 now and boy have things changed! He’s running, and talking, and for a change awake.. well, most of the time! To read that post click here, otherwise scroll down for my quick two cents on some of the most frequent questions I receive about traveling with a toddler:

  1. On routine: we do shift Mohsen’s routine by 1 hour to better suit our travel plans. So, for example, bed time is at 9pm instead of 8pm. He wakes up a little later in the morning and it allows us to feed him dinner a little later at night.
  2. On bedtime and going out as a couple: most nights Momo will fall asleep after dinner and we’ll pop him into his stroller and continue our night. This is VERY easy in child-friendly cities like Rome, London or Cologne, but, obviously, not as easy in other cities. Of course you need to choose a place that isn’t crazy loud. You can’t take ur stroller clubbing.. we tried. I’m kidding 😏but really, if you’re willing to sacrifice loud nights, you’ll be just fine for nice dinners.
  3. On meals and food: when momo was younger it would take more prepping and customization. But generally, wherever we’d go we’d ask for mashed boiled veggies with no salt and never had any trouble. From about 9 months Momo has been eating whatever we eat so this has made things much easier. I try to never customize his meals as I really like to expose him to new flavors. The only thing I take with me from home is healthy packaged snacks for the plane/train rides and the only reason we go to supermarkets is for fresh milk and fruits. Otherwise most of his meals are with us wherever we’re eating.
  4. On entertainment: I take a bag of some of his fave toys and books. He’ll usually play with these in the morning while waiting for us to get dressed. The rest of the time he’s exploring with us! Books are also perfect for airport queues. I choose flight times closest to his nap so he’ll fall asleep during take off. Then a snack when he wakes up. A little bit of walking around and exploring (and giving 5s to every passenger🤭) and then time for toys, singing, and some books. If it’s a long plane ride I will buy something new or take a toy that he hasn’t played with in a while so he gets excited about it. 90% of the time Momo is traveling WITH US, not the other way around. So he does what we do. Shopping, dining, walking around, museums, galleries.. whatever. If you expose them and involve them at a young age, you’ll see they are both interested and patient. That’s how it was for both me and Hassan when we were growing up. Hassan’s mum used to tell me that she’d travel with 3 kids all alone and spend weeks in Valencia just soaking up the sun and enjoying her holidays. I used to go to antique shops with my mum all the time and I used to love it! I remember one time when I was 5 an antique dealer was shocked to see me recognize the era of an armchair. It’s exposure.. that’s it! Of course, we take him to merry go rounds, and parks, and play areas, and sometimes our trips (like my London trip in August) are totally planned around him, but, for the most part, momo does what we do! ☺️
  5. On packing: at this age I pack one outfit per day and a couple extra outfits in case of emergencies. I pack one pajama for every night we are there. I take enough diapers to last me just the first 2-3 days and then I buy when we land so that I don’t have too much bulk in my bags. Usually take 3 pairs of shoes: 2 sneakers and a pair of boots or sandals, depending on the season. That’s it. Don’t overpack. Worst case scenario, in an emergency, you can buy anything you need in most places.
  6. On meds: I received a lot of questions on this point. I usually take an appointment from our pediatrician about a week before traveling just to get a check up and ask her to write me a list of what I should take me. Please ask your doctor, but just FYI my list usually includes a paracetamol in case of fever, a topical cream in case of rash or the like, and an anti allergen in case of an allergy. And his butt cream. I don’t leave home without it, but mostly for me 😂it’s the best “fix everything” cream that ever was! I always take a traditional thermometer and an ear thermometer. I keep all meds and thermometer in my diaper bag during plane journeys so that I don’t have to panic in case of any emergency.
  7. Bottom line: traveling with kids is as simple as you make it. I realize that I’ve had it easy so far: my husband is hands-on and usually flies with us, my child is calm, and our longest flight was 5 hours. So I’m probably not the best person to ask advice from if you’re traveling to Australia with a newborn, a 3 year old, and a 5 year old. Sorry in advance! 😂But I really do feel that your children pick up on your energy. If you’re ready for a good time and you’re calm, they will be too. ENJOY IT! Traveling as a family is the best way to bond and I really count down the days to our next trip! ☺️

Do you have some ideas or maybe a question that hasn’t been answered here? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Here’s to You!

My journey to motherhood wasn’t bright and happy. It was trying, dark and unexpected, but it led me to the most incredible kind of love I have ever known. I had an unplanned pregnancy and a premature birth. I vowed that I wouldn’t sugar coat it. I promised myself that I would use this platform to share my experience; raw and real. The up days and the down days and everything in between. And I appreciate other mothers who share their struggles and their accomplishments, embracing each step with strength and courage. By sharing your story you empower others that may face similar challenges, so that in a lonely hour they will feel like they have some stars shining light on the path ahead; many of you were those stars for me. And don’t underestimate the power of that smile; it can get you through the darkest days and bring you out the other side stronger. Days you didn’t even see coming, will suddenly pass and you’ll look back and think, how did I even make it?!

So here is to the women who are brave enough to share their stories: the women who have tried everything but haven’t received that little bundle they’ve been waiting for, the women who have made the choice not to have any bundles at all and have to fight off judgement, the women who’ve received their bundles a little too early, the ones who have received them unexpectedly, the ones who have waited for days and weeks and months only to lose them before meeting them, the women who have raised them and then lost them too early, the women who have mothered through the late hours of the night and into the earliest hours of the morning, watching as their hearts walk outside their bodies, and the women who left us too soon. Here’s to the women who have the world’s hardest job: here’s to you, Mothers. Happy Mother’s Day ♥️ Shine bright ⭐️

Dear Expecting Mother

Dear Expecting Mother,

I know how nervous and excited you must feel. I know you have so many questions and I’m sure you wonder, like I did, if you’ll be up to the challenge.

I want you to know that your little babe will fill your heart with a love you never knew existed and bring you so much light. Maybe not at first, you may even have very dark days at first, but one day, I promise you, your little babe will look up, not so little anymore, and smile at you, and you will look back at the moments that have passed and know that some how, some way, you made it. No. You didn’t just make it; You took that challenge and you flew! It’s magic, I promise. 

Just hold on tight, your light is coming!

Mamas, what’s your advise for all the expecting ladies? Comment below!

📸: https://instagram.com/innercurator?utm_source=ig_profile_share&igshid=1p38jvg6mdpdx

September: NICU Awareness Month

September is NICU Awareness Month, so I’ve decided to share a video of Momo’s graduation day!

Born at 29 weeks, Mohsen spent 6 weeks at the NICU. He graduated on 23/12/17, just in time for Christmas, weighing 2kg & 14 days apnea-free! This was the scariest day of my life. No one talks about this; about leaving the NICU..

When my water broke at 27 weeks I had no concept of baby. I thought perhaps I would miscarry, but it didn’t scare me. Every night at the NICU, I felt he was being taken care of by the best in the region & that helped curb my fears. Sure, there were scary days, but NOTHING can compare to the day we had to take him home. If you listen closely you’ll hear me suggest bringing him straight back up! 😂

There was a strange comfort in hearing his monitor beep & watching his oxygen levels on a screen. Daily weigh-ins gave me security. Then suddenly he’s all ours. We have to take him home, with no monitors, no nurse, no tubes, nothing. Just Momo. 

Safe to say I didn’t sleep for weeks. He slept well, of course; he has his dad’s genes ☺️🤷🏻‍♀️ but I couldn’t close my eyes. I would watch to make sure his little chest was moving up and down & wonder when I would stop worrying. I obsessed that he had no lashes & was cross eyed. I devised a system to weigh him every morning (which made me crazy). Nothing could have ever prepared me for this journey. NICU doesn’t always have a happy ending & we are blessed Momo was such a fighter. 

For NICU parents, here’s my two cents:

Trust the process & learn to accept your fate. It’s not what you would have chosen, granted, but you get to watch a little miracle grow outside of your body & that’s a true blessing. Trust your nurses; they really will give you everything they’ve got when they know you’re on the same team. Love your baby & celebrate him every day, no matter how hard that is to do over the beeps & tubes & all the stress. Hold him & practice kangaroo care whenever you can. Holding your baby is medicine; your love will heal.

So here’s to the heroes that are NICU babies & the patient parents that help them on their journey; it gets better, I promise 💜

#nicuawarenessmonth #ourlittlemomo

Mom Squad

Throwing it back to our very first play date! I don’t think I would have had half as much fun with motherhood if it wasn’t for this loony bunch. Listen up new mamas: “don’t compromise who you are when you become a mom”. I read this in an article and had no clue what it meant, until I became a mother. It’s so easy to get lost in all the hype; EBF and BLW, FTMs and CIO, and on and on, when everyone just needs to really CTFD 😉 So it’s easy to get dragged into the whole thing and end up in the midst of a group of women who you can’t relate to outside of the mama world; who you can’t ever imagine being friends with if it weren’t for the monsters you created. Those are the kinds of friendships that will drag you down and make you forget who you were before this LO stepped into the picture ☺️ – so take a step back and find a group of women who speak to you. The you before all of this. A group of women who will applaud every single one of your achievements, even if it’s only making it through bed time without ruining your nails. And make sure they can really make you laugh. Because you are going to need those laughs! And throw those acronyms out the door. Like I always say: do what feels right, do your best, and know that your best is absolutely good enough! Have a beautiful day mamas!

To girl squads raising boy squads ✨ *clink* ✨

Have Baby, Will Travel!

What a whirlwind trip!

We took this picture after a loooong day of shopping and browsing and eating and adventuring and doing all kinds of fun holiday stuff! But as you can see from the state of us, mostly poor Momo who looks like a homeless baby, we’re the best kind of tired!

Over the last 7 days we have visited 4 destinations, and taken 7 trains and 1 plane. But these are going to be remembered as the best days of our life! And honestly I don’t want this trip to end! We have 2 more cities, 1 train ride and 2 planes to go over the next week, as well as 3 days of intense work at the fairs for me, but I feel like time is flying!! Between work, travel and baby it can be a little overwhelming. So, what are some ways I’ve kept sane?

Here are some quick tips when traveling with a baby. I have a lot more to learn, but I’m getting there ☺ Share your best tips in the comments below!

1. If you are bottle feeding take a thermos filled with boiling water. I use this to make a bain-marie to heat breastmilk or to prepare a formula bottle. You will not find a plug for your bottle warmer on the go. Also a thermos is much smaller and easier to throw under your stroller.

2. Pack a separate “changing pouch” inside your diaper bag that includes barrier cream, wipes, disposable changing mats for dirty surfaces and of course diapers. This is great for small bathrooms so you don’t have to lug the entire bag. 💩

3. No need to travel with huge packs of diapers. You can find them at all pharmacies and supermarkets in Europe (unless your child needs a specialty brand). 

4. Skip the car seat. Check out www.welcomepickups.com – Also most major taxi companies offer car seat options. A quick google search will help you find the closest one. 🚖

5. Take a foldable drying rack with you for drying bottles and pump parts in hotels. You don’t want clean items lying around toilets and hotel surfaces! 🤢 Also make sure you have a bottle brush (I love the one by Dr. Browns) and a baby-safe washing up liquid. We sell an organic one by Little Organics which is great and travels well (no spills).

6. Take enough clothing for all the days you are traveling. 2 outfits and 1 sleepsuit per day. Ain’t nobody got time for laundry 🙅🏻‍♀️

7. Invest in a diaper bag large enough to take you through an entire day so that you don’t have to stress about returning to the hotel. I use a holdall by Tiba+Marl and I don’t think I could ever have survived this trip without it! It’s available at Cookie Dough along with other options. Here’s what I pack inside mine: 3 feeds worth of formula, 2 feeds worth of breastmilk in cooler bag, enough material for 6 diaper changes along with change mat (comes with the bag), pacifiers, a change of clothes, 4 bibs, breast pump and parts, thermos of hot water, a toy and a hand puppet for long rides, thermometer and panadol in case of emergency, Dettol wipes for surfaces and for my hands, and finally sunscreen for easy touch ups.

8. Pack all items by rolling them. You will save space and also items can be pulled out of your bag easily without ruining everything else.

9. Take a YOYO stroller. It is hands down the best travel stroller. This needs it’s own post, so I will leave it at that, but if you need more information just contact me or call the shop on 01364073 and we’ll be happy to help! The YOYO and all its accessories are available at Cookie Dough.

10. Bibs, bibs, bibs, BIBS! Take MANY bibs. Momo is teething so we have a constant drool stream. Lovely! 🙄 Bibs keep his clothing dry so we don’t have to keep changing. It’s easy to handwash bibs but if you can skip that and take enough to last you the entire trip, all the better! My favorite bibs are by Aden & Anais. These are super absorbent and also organic, so they don’t get scratchy or bother Momo’s neck and chin area (I sometimes notice a rash develop with other brands). I also love teething bibs by Little Organics. These look as good as they are practical! All available at the boutique!

11. Routine is sacred. I have made sure to stop ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to stick to Mo’s routine. Feeds happen on time and so do naps. That is the only way you won’t end up with a cranky baby who will ruin your day. We are lucky that he is a heavy sleeper so we can just put him in the YOYO and continue our day/night. But I have found that once back at home/hotel, having the Sleepyhead is a blessing. Mo feels right at home. Although it is bulky to travel with, I don’t regret bringing it along. It is available both online and at the boutique and if you have any questions about it, just get in touch and I’ll be happy to help. We have a feeding ritual (cuddle, change, feed, burp) and a bedtime ritual (bath, feed, burp, story) that also helps keep things stable and steady for baby.

Et voila! That’s all for now, but if I remember anything else or I learn some new travel tricks, I will be sure to update this post. Share your best travel advice below!

Cookie Dough Boutique Coming to Limassol!

Cookie Dough Boutique is hosting its next International Pop Up in Limassol at The Aphrodite Amathusa Cultural Exhibition Centre, bringing you some of the finest international children’s fashion labels, the world’s most in-demand baby care products and the island’s most influential baby and child care experts. With views of the sea and the sun shining bright, join us for 4 days of fun from May 24-27, 10am-7pm daily! Enjoy a Children’s Creative Corner, Speaker’s Corner, and amazing bargains on designer children’s wear.

My Year of Thanks

t’s been one week since Baby Mo’s homecoming and it’s also New Year’s Eve; I think it’s a great excuse for some reflection ? So, if cheese isn’t your thing and Oscar speeches are so 2017, read no further! ✋You’ve been warned ?

Ouf! What a year!

An unplanned pregnancy, 42 days at the NICU and one little miracle later, our lives will never be the same again. While we were at the NICU I asked Janis Sarraf Taber to help me make a little poster, where doctors and nurses could write a little message for Mohsen. I told Hassan we’d pack it away and show Mo when he’s old enough to understand how special he is. Instead it’s been sitting on his changing table, too special for storage. A reminder of life’s surprises and unexpected courses. A reminder of all the love and support and kindness that has overwhelmed our little family in the last months. A continuous reminder that the little foss who keeps me up all night is a true miracle (yes, trust me, you need the reminder at 5am poop duty ??).

I imagined I would never want to remember those NICU days, but instead, it seems, I can’t let go. In retrospect, what could have been the darkest days of our life were instead bursting with light and love. Friends, family, the support of the Cookie Dough community (yes, YOU!), the nurses and doctors at AUBMC made what could have been the darkest period of our life, instead a beautiful and heartwarming memory of our baby’s first days. New years bring with them lots of planning and high hopes. Resolutions, projections, you know the drill. This year I’ll have just one: Gratitude. I will strive to practice gratitude every day. 2018 will be the year of thanks. To accept life’s challenges with gratitude, because though you may not be able to see to the bottom of a stirred pond just yet, it will clear up and someway, somehow it will make more sense. To accept to let go of those around you who will drain you and be grateful for those around you who can help you, and be grateful for knowing the difference. To be grateful for each day and all that comes with it.

2018: My Year of Thanks. What will it be for you?

#gratitude #ourlittlemomo


So, let me share my milk story with you! I gave birth at 29 weeks. Just to put things in perspective that’s 4 weeks after my bump first started showing and just 6 weeks after I first started feeling kicks.
Baby was rushed away as soon as I delivered and I didn’t see him again till about 2 hours later. No Skin to Skin, no early initiation of breastfeeding…
And then came my first visit to the NICU. I was hurled into a dark tunnel of unfamiliarity; loud noises, tubes, wires, rushing nurses, and one very, very, tiny little Momo! Eyes shut & little fists clenched, I couldn’t recognize this little guy as my own. I loved him with every fiber of my being but I really didn’t know him. Feelings of guilt & fear swept over me like a wave and I could feel my heart sinking into my stomach.
So you can imagine, I didn’t think establishing a milk supply would be possible.
My first pumping session gave me nothing! Not a single drop. The second session of pumping gave me a few drops of colostrum after 30 minutes, pain & less hope than I started with.
Incredible support from my husband, multiple breastfeeding specialists, nurses & my neonatologist’s advice that this was the best thing I could do (in my situation, it was the ONLY thing I could do), motivated me to keep going. I created a schedule that I stuck to religiously. Every 2 hours, like clockwork, day or night, I’d pump for 15 mins. I invested in a double pump & a hands free bustier (both by Medela, available at Cookie Dough), as I was told that double stimulation can increase milk supply by 40%. By the third day I started to see results, and slowly but surely I established a healthy milk supply. Baby Mo is still being fed by a tube, but I’m hoping that 3 weeks from now we can move on to bottle feeding, and, eventually, breastfeeding. It may not work out the way I imagine, but I’ve learned to accept that things don’t always do.
Not all milk stories are the same and there certainly isn’t one milk story that’s the right milk story. But this is mine. It’s nothing like what I wanted or what I prepared for, but it’s special to me all the same ♥️
What’s your #milkstory?

Milk body available at Cookie Dough ⭐️
Photo Credit: https://www.instagram.com/laurielauriane

Hey Mo!

On November 3rd at 5am my water broke at 27 weeks of pregnancy. With a combination of medical excellence, patient care and incredible amounts of love and support my husband and I held on tight. On Saturday November 11, we celebrated 29 weeks. Baby gave me as much as he could and at 9pm he was ready to start labor. It was long and lots of hard work, but my birth was incredible. It erased all the pain before it. Thanks to the medical excellence, personal involvement and care of my incredible Gynecologist, I have a beautiful birth story that I’m so eager to share every time I see my friends. On Sunday, November 12, at 1:14pm our baby Mohsen was born at 29 weeks plus 1 day. Today I face the greatest challenge of my life; to go home and leave Baby Mo behind at the NICU.
I write this as it is my therapy to gather my thoughts as I start a new chapter. I write here, because throughout my journey I have had shining stars that have shared their own experiences with me and in turn helped shed some light on what felt like a long and dark tunnel. By sharing our stories, we assert that it is ok to have moments of weakness, it is ok for our plans to detour and it is ok to need a moment to breathe. It is ok.
The NICU is a difficult place to be. There are so many challenges my tiny baby faces, and there is very little that I can do. But there are also highs. Access to the region’s best neonatology care. A doctor I love and trust. The first time I was allowed Skin to Skin. The first time pumping worked. The first time I saw Mo’s eyes open. Every time I hear his cry. Small little things to hold on to. These little things keep me positive and strong. It’s going to be a long wait, but it will be worth it. I’ve created a nice schedule that will help me stay sane over the next few weeks. And then, inshallah, he will be ready to come out and meet you all! From what I know so far, Baby Mo is going to be a handful, so I hope you’re all ready for our boutique to get a little noisier and a little rowdier when he comes home ☺️
My little, tiny fighter. As fierce as he is small ?
Yesterday one of my dearest friends said to me “let go and let God”. Today I will let go, and I will let God. ?

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