traveling without your baby.

there are a lot of posts out there about how to travel with your baby, and with good reason – when you get on a plane or take road trip with a baby, you need all the tips you can get. but there are parents who travel, whether for work or for fun, without their baby. this post is for you.

Mister Man and i recently took a trip to st. john in the virgin islands, all by our little lonesome selves (if you follow me on instagram, you can see those tidbits that i haven’t posted about yet). we have a special place in our hearts for st. john, it’s where we took our honeymoon, and we plan on going back as often as we can. this trip was planned before we even got pregnant with amelia, and the timing just worked out that she would be old enough to leave with our parents. you see, for us, it’s not really a vacation if you bring a baby along. for one, they can’t remember anything about the trip, so them being there doesn’t do a whole lot for them. and two, when you bring a baby on vacation (at least for us), you just move the normal routine to a different location with less amenities than you have at home. that just isn’t relaxing for us (and we have brought her with us on a family vacation already so i’m not just saying this as an assumption).

so we went on a vacation without our little joy. and it was wonderful.

i missed her, of course i missed her. i couldn’t wait to get home to her at the end of that week. but i didn’t cry because i couldn’t stand to be away from her. i didn’t call our parents every hour, or even every day. i didn’t really even worry about her. instead, i soaked in the alone time with my husband. i enjoyed being on my own schedule for six whole days. i gave thanks for our parents, who i trust my daughter with absolutely.

for Mister Man and me, time together makes us better parents. our marriage comes before our parenting, because if we aren’t good at being husband and wife, then we won’t be good at being mom and dad. this vacation couldn’t have come at a better time. we came back feeling refreshed and ready to be even better parents to amelia than when we left, because we felt stronger as a couple.

all that being said, here are the things that helped us on our first vacation without our baby:

1) pumping on a schedule: if you’re still breastfeeding your baby, and you want to continue when you get back/not be incredibly uncomfortable on vacation, bring your pump. and make it a point to stay on as much of a schedule as possible. once you’re at your destination, it’s usually not too hard. you can pump during breaks from the beach, or in the car en route to your next tourist spot. the hardest part is finding places to pump when in transit. some airports have fabulous pumping rooms (MSP has a lactation room fit for beyonce), while some…don’t (MIA needs to do some work on their family restrooms). find a family restroom or an empty gate or terminal in a pinch.

2) bring the right accessories: when you pump, you’re going to have milk. and hopefully you can bring that milk back with you. you’re going to need plastic bags, a cooler bag, and some ice. if you have plastic bags, you can carry empty ones with you and ask for ice from restaurants or the flight attendants when you’re away from your hotel or in transit. a cooler bag comes in handy as a carry-on when you’re bringing the milk back with you. just put the milk in with bags of ice, extra bags and your pump parts, and you’re set for the trip home. i had no issue getting my milk through security, and no one should, at least if you’re flying through the u.s.

3) write out baby’s schedule: this is for your own peace of mind. i know that my parents and my in-laws know amelia’s schedule. and to be honest, if they fudged it a bit, i wouldn’t mind at all. but knowing that i had shared all the necessary information made me feel so much better. so write it all down. the nap quirks, food suggestions, all of it. it will help.

4) leave a medical directive: leave a note stating that you give permission to whoever your baby’s caretakers are to make necessary medical decisions for your baby on your behalf. include your baby’s insurance information in the note, but leave the insurance card as well. include the information for your pediatrician and their office too. this way, if your caretaker has to take the little one to the doctor, or call the nurse line, or God forbid bring them to the hospital, they can make any calls they need to make on your behalf before getting a hold of you/you arrive home.

5) sleep in: this is probably the most important tip i have. if you go on vacation without your baby, SLEEP IN. for lots of people, i’m sure this is a given, but if you’re anything life us, you need a little push. we are the type of couple who enjoy getting up and enjoying coffee on the terrace on vacation, and getting an early-ish start on the day. we forced ourselves to take it slow and easy this time, and i’m so happy we did. getting full nights of sleep has never felt so amazing, because i could still get up at my own pace. and that my friends, is what heaven is.

i highly recommend some substantial time away as a couple when you’re newish parents. whether that’s within the first year or the first 18 months, do it sooner than later. your baby won’t hate you for leaving, and your marriage will thank you. date night can only get you so far, so get away for some quality time and some quality sleep. as always, i’m happy to answer any questions anyone has on traveling without your babe (or anything else!), so email me at hooleywithaz at gmail dot com.

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mister man goes to washington.

[and me. and baby z. obviously. we all went to washington, d.c.!]

in all truth, we took this trip about a month ago now. we had been thinking about taking a trip for a long time, since it’s been about a year since we’ve gotten away from st. paul. and that’s just too long. we tried for a fall trip, but it got away from us, and so i tasked the husband with planning a march trip for us as a surprise. so he planned us a lovely ski trip to northern minnesota. and then i got pregnant. and as it turns out, skiing (or more, specifically, falling down while skiing) is not on the recommended list of activities for us preggos. back to the drawing board.

we happen to have a lot of close friends who have relocated to the east coast over the past few years (still waiting for you guys to come back), and we haven’t had many chances or the budget to visit them yet. so it came to us that we should start our journeys out east with a trip to washington, d.c., where we could see a few people who live in the area, and spend some extra quality time with these kids. i hopped online, scored us some cheap tickets, confirmed that we had a place on their floor to crash, and we were off.

 [baby z. and uncle sam’s first photo! <3]

[it was a little chilly, hence the hoodie in all the photos.]

Mister Man had never been to washington, d.c. before, and i haven’t been since i was about 15, so we were all about being the quintessential tourists. show us ALL THE MONUMENTS! let’s just say we did our fair share of walking and sightseeing, baby z. was quite the trooper with the long days we had. plus, it was so much fun to watch MM see all these famous sites for the first time, and it was so fun to see them as an adult for myself.

[get out of the way sam! we’re trying to take a photo of a fake castle!]

[leave me alone, i had to.]

my favorite part of the trip by far was the day we walked around the national mall. i’m not kidding you guys, we saw EVERYTHING. the supreme court, the capitol, the natural history museum, the air&space museum, the washington monument, the jefferson memorial, the fdr memorial, the mlk jr. memorial, the lincoln memorial, and the vietnam memorial. i couldn’t feel my feet after that day, but it was so worth it. there is so much history and reverence in all those places, and for a history nerd like myself, a full day is even too short to soak everything in.

[their album cover.]

we also saw a lot of the neighborhoods in the city, and i don’t know how you’d ever decide which one to live in! there are great restaurants and markets in a lot of them, and each one has a very distinct “personality” (because neighborhoods are like people, they can be temperamental, and you need to make sure you like their personality along with their looks). so fun.

[we were very sad that the reflecting pool was drained. but you must take the photo anyway.]

i have to mention that we had some fabulous tour guides in sam and kari, they are the MOST gracious hosts and such wonderful friends. they walked around with us to places they have already seen many times, showed us their favorite parts of the city, and they even gave us their own bed to sleep in for goodness sake!! everyone needs friends like them.

[two pregnant erins!]

so with the exception of a quick cabin trip or two this summer, that was our last trip before the two of us become three. and it was everything we wanted it to be. seeing a new place, enjoying old friends, relaxing just enough. it actually made me excited to take a first trip with our little one, i love exploring with Mister Man, and i know showing our child new places is going to be so dear to my heart.

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that time i almost peed myself.

okay, so this is one of those stories that is only mildly embarassing, because it contains the word “almost” in the title. as in, i did not fully pee myself, i just almost did. i estimate that i had about 60 seconds left in me to hold it before disaster would have struck.


as you may have heard, i travel for work sometimes. this last time, i was in boston for a client meeting with three co-workers. the meeting had just finished and had gone great. i felt like i could probably use the restroom, but 1) asking a client to use the restroom always takes way more thought than i’m usually capable of after a meeting, and 2) it had only taken us about 30 minutes to get there from the airport, so i would be fine until we got back.

off we went, all four of us in the car, headed back to the airport. we were all happy about our meeting and happy about going home. and then we hit traffic. apparently rush hour in boston starts at about 3:00pm. which i had not heard the client mentioning to my co-worker before we left. because if i had, i would not be in the situation i was about to be in right then.

a 30 minute drive looked like it was going to take us over an hour. and all of a sudden, i had to go. like, really, really, really had to go. and i was with co-workers, so i tried to hide it as best i could. but the issue here was that i happen to have the tiniest bladder in the whole wide world. it’s a running joke between Mister Man and me. every time i run into the house and straight to the bathroom, he says, “what a shock!” (don’t worry, there is nothing medically wrong with me, i just have small organs.)

so we’re driving along, and all of a sudden i realized i had waited too long to tell the driver about my little problem, and we were now in the carpool lane, in traffic, unable to exit anywhere. and i’m starting to actually perspire from the effort of trying not to wet my pants. and my co-worker in the backseat with me noticed. and she started to talk about how terrible i look, and kept asking if i was going to be okay, to which i wanted to respond, “NO! and i will sit on you if you keep talking about it!” but i just smiled and said i was fine. in her defense, she told me a story about how she wet her pants at the alamo, and that did make me feel a little bit better.

this was my face during the ordeal.

you guys, at this point, i was running possible scenarios through my head to figure out how i was going to live down this humiliation in front of so many people i work with. i really wished that i was a boy at that point, because then a water bottle would at least be a possibility. when we were about five minutes from the airport, i finally broke down and told the driver that she was going to need to drop me off at the front door of the airport and bring my luggage to check-in for me, because i could not wait.

i think it was the urgency slash COMPLETE PANIC in my voice that made her listen to me. and when we pulled up i jumped out of the car and like a homing pigeon, found the nearest bathroom. i’ve never walked/hobbled/dragged myself through an airport faster. i’m not going to get graphic, but i think you all know how wonderful i felt in that moment.


and now you know everything about one of the most terrifying moments of my young life. i tell you this story because i’m in boston today and i’m going back to the scene of the crime tomorrow. and i will be making damn sure that i take care of business before i get into any vehicle this time. because boston, i love you, but your traffic is the stuff of nightmares.

like i’ve said before, there can be upsides to work travel. one of them being that you get to see friends who for some reason or another have decided they want to move away from you. (it can’t have anything to do with me, can it??) i’m crossing my fingers real hard for a mini-reunion with some dear ones tonight, so cross your fingers with me please!

p.s. a certain blogger friend of mine recently inspired me with this post to start posting outfit photos to instagram. follow along for awkward (and hopefully a few not so awkward) photos of me  in the few and far between outfits i see fit to share. might be fun? here’s the first one:


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packing is my anti-happy.

it’s not a secret that packing is my anti-happy. i have said it over and over here on these pages, and i will never stop saying it. because even though i’ve gone on about six trips of all lengths this year, and have gotten incredibly efficient at filling a suitcase, it still makes me stomp my feet and avoid. 

and have you noticed yet that every time i have a work trip coming up, i lose all ability to write normal, coherent posts on any type of regular schedule? trick question, none of my posts are ever coherent, what are you, new? but i mean, what i’ve noticed is that whenever i am dreading the packing, it consumes me and my posts end up revolving around that. i need some new material.

it’s important that i figure out ways to get my mind off the horror of stocking my suitcase, especially because our lease is coming up and you know what that means. more packing, except don’t stop at your clothes and toiletries just take everything you own and put it into boxes and try not to smash all of it in the process. and don’t think i’m not aware of the mass exodus of readers that will occur if i  talk about nothing but that subject for the next two weeks. i am very aware.

cue “operation avoid the anti-happy”. or as i also like to refer to it, “erin indulges herself”. i think those in the wellness world would call something like this “self-care”, so if that makes me sound enlightened, then that’s exactly what this will be. it came to me last week when everyone was on vacation and i was feeling like a brat.

day 1 of operation atah started with me taking in a little piece of architecture in my neighborhood.

sometimes i forget that this amazing cathedral is down the street from me, and that the bus stop i wait at is directly across the street. this is my view while waiting for the bus people! and sometimes, i’m ashamed to say, i don’t even notice it. so today, i looked up and appreciated what the heck was going on right in front of my eyes. and it made me smile, because look at it!

today i got to catch up with a dear friend, little miss hammertime (that’s not her real name, but it’s what i like to call her), on a little food truck lunch date. this glorious concoction in front of you is the pork belly sandwich from gastrotruck. they use mostly locally-sourced, organic ingredients, and always have a great seasonal menu. this sandwich was one of the best things i’ve ever eaten, and i highly recommend trying it if you live in the twin cities. but for how wonderful this lunch was, the company was even better, and enjoying both on a bench in rice park? heaven in the middle of my wednesday.

and because apparently much of my happy places are where the food is, dinner made the list too. actually, going to the gym with Mister Man, then cooking up some homemade turkey burgers with pesto and goat cheese is what makes the list. there’s just something about getting sweaty with the husband (gross guys, not like that) then making a meal together that makes life seem better, even though it’s so…ordinary. but i guess appreciating the ordinary is what makes life not feel like a rat race.

so that’s my new deal. doesn’t matter that i hate packing. doesn’t matter that i have work trips to go on. doesn’t matter that i get stressed over little things too easily and then laser focus on them. what matters is that i take the time to focus on everything else great that’s going on around me, because for every one yucky thing, i bet you i can find three wonderful ones happening at the same time.

i highly suggest participating in your own “operation avoid the anti-happy” (but you can name it whatever you want, i’m not the boss of you). it’ll do wonders for your soul.


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outsourcing my work.

so, life is getting extremely busy up in the ‘z’ household this month. like, erin dreams about her to-do list and tries to control her anxiety by incessantly talking about what’s coming up tomorrow, that kind of busy. what’s that you say? “cut out some of your obligations erin”? “maybe start with this blog”?

and yes, i hear what you’re saying, but i just can’t bear to leave this little blog to its own devices. it gets lonely, you know? so for the next few weeks as i try to keep things from spiraling out of control, you will see me posting other places in the blogosphere (meaning shorter blogs here), and you may see some fun, new faces guest posting for me here on hooley with a ‘z’. don’t worry your pretty little heads though, i will still be here, squawking about the things you kids never realized you cared about.


today, i’m trying to be a good guest to haley. haley is a law student who lives in new orleans with her lovely husband james, who is a med student (what a brainy couple!). haley and i met through blogging, as you do, and have decided that if we didn’t live thousands of miles apart, we would be the very best of friends, which sounds weird, but i’m telling you it’s true!

i’m sharing the story of my most memorable trip over at her blog, les petites joies, while she and james are on a little delayed honeymoon backpacking across europe! take a visit over there and read about what possessed me to take off for six weeks of the unknown in a country in the southern hemisphere. the jury is still out on that, but it may have been some type of a quarter-life crisis. i think you guys should go check it out.

(me. in the same outfit i wore everyday for six weeks. checha, please verify that this is true in the comments!)


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