New Zealand ( Nov 2019 )

It has been 2 years since we last did a campervan road trip with our little family. We chose New Zealand for our second one. New Zealand consists the of North and South islands. North island is smaller than the South; we chose south island because of its vastness.

We flew in from Los Angeles and took a non stop flight to Auckland. Air New Zealand had a sale; if you purchase a ticket to Auckland, you can get a city in Australia for free. So we decided to split our 3 weeks between New Zealand and Australia’s Goldcoast.

Day 1: Auckland

We rented a car for 1 day and drove to Rotorua. It took us about 2.5 hrs with some stops due to Maisey and her little bladder. Rotorua is where you can spot some Redwoods. These Redwoods came from California. They were planted in New Zealand in 1902 for the purpose of building. But only a few hectares remain today.

Our next stop was MataMata, where the famous Hobbiton movie set is located. I am a huge LOTR fan and this was the main reason we visited the North Island. We took the last tour of the day. It played out well for us because it wasn’t packed and we were able to hang at the back of the group to take photos. The farm is beautiful, and if you’re a fan of the series (books or movies) then definitely visit the Alexander Farm. If you are lucky enough to get the dinner banquet, please book that. They set up the Dragon Inn with amazing food and you get to do a night tour of the set. Unfortunately, the tour was booked months ahead so by the time I got our tickets it was too late.

** Maisey is the perfect size for the hobbit homes.

** They included tiny details of The Shire. All that were needed were the real life hobbits.

** Dragon Inn provides beer or cider. Maisey had hot cocoa. This Inn is where the dinner banquet would have been held that night. For the real super fans, they do allow weddings there but there is 2 year waiting list.

Hobbiton price: NZ$89/adult, free kids under 3. NZ$199/adult for dinner banquet/night tour.

Accommodations: Above the River @ Karapiro

Price: $115

The view from our room at Above the River. The hosts were really nice and even provided us boots/overalls and some pellets to feed their sheep.

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Day2: Christchurch

We flew to Christchurch. There are two main planes ( mainly JetStar and Air New Zealand ) that fly to Auckland and Christchurch every hour. The flight took one hour. We picked up our Campervan and bought some groceries for the week.

We drove towards Arthur’s Pass and stayed at a camp site for the night.

Accommodations: Kowai Pass Domain

Price: $15

Day3: Castle Hill/Blue Gorge Pass

We drove west on Arthur’s Pass highway. Some of the amazing views we encountered on Arthur’s Pass Highway. This highway cuts through the island and takes you to the west side.

Our first stop was Castle Hill.

This was used in LOTR and Narnia ( The Witch, the lion and the Wardrobe ) .

We arrived at 6:30am to make sure we were the only ones there. When we got to the location there were at least 3 people with us. We hiked all the way to the top and the view from up there was extremely beautiful. This is actually privately owned, but they allow tourists to see it for free as long as you keep your rubbish with you.

** B and Maisey walking away from the site. This is the path to take you to Castle Hill. We suggest you walk all the way to the top. Amazing boulders and view.

We continued west towards Hokitika: We arrived a little after lunch. This is a small beach town on the west coast of NZ. The town that has the Blue Gorge Pass. You won’t miss it since they have signage all over the town on how to get there. Once you arrive, there’s a nice big parking lot and restrooms before the path/trail. Its hard to miss. Once you reach the swing bridge, you’ve arrived and you will know cause that water is so blue. Walk pass the bridge and continue the path to go further down the river. There’s a place where you can actually swim if you can handle the cold water.

** What you do not see are the other 20-25 people around us. You have to take your time to take a good picture because this is a very busy tourist spot. The water is super cold but we saw bunch of teens jumping in.

Accommodation: Linksview Holiday Park

Price: $40

Day 4: Lake Matheson/Fox Glacier/Fran’s Josef

We woke up early to fix breakfast and start our day by 6:30am. We drove towards Fox Glacier/Franz Josef. It took us about 3-4hrs. This ride was a little wet. It rained most the day. Our main destination was Lake Matheson. On the way, we stopped at Franz Josef Glacier. This was a 30-40 min hike. This was actually really sad to see. The glacier retreated and we couldn’t even see it unless we continued further down the valley. And to think 10-15 years ago you could see the glacier wall right where the path ended.

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( FOX GLACIER: As you can see no Glacier to be found. It retreated years back and now to see it you have to walk down this valley and go further up. )

Our hike to Lake Matheson in the rain.

** the hike was about 2 hours and we were in full rain gear because it was on and off rain.

** What I liked about the hike is the forest itself. It so green and moss is everywhere.

(Maisey was 3y.o and was about 28Lbs so I had to get a backpack carrier for this trip. I bought the BITTY BEAN ULTRACOMPACT Baby Carrier because this packs into a tiny size.)

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We arrived at Lake Matheson after lunch. The path starts at Lake Matheson Cafe. We did the hike first which took us about 2 hours since it rained and we had a toddler. I had Maisey in my backpack carrier so it was easier and faster to hike. This was disappointing as the weather did not cooperate with us. We couldn’t see the mountain / view from the mirror lake. It was was still spring (rainy season) in NZ. We talked to some locals at the cafe and they told us it’s hit or miss on whether or not you get to see the view from the lake. Its hard to predict the weather on this side of the island. At least we have a good reason to come back.

** All the food was delicious. The ingredients were all locally sourced.

Accommodation: Fox Glacier Village

Price: $40

Day 5: Wanaka / Queenstown

Another early day for us since our destination was towards the infamous Wanaka Tree on Lake Wanaka. (#ThatWanakaTree) It took us about 3-4 hrs from Fox Glacier to Wanaka. The ride was beautiful. It rained on and off all day. The worst part of this side of the island are the SandFlies. Those lil’ shits bite and there were hundreds of them. But that’s the time of the year they visit south island.

We stopped at Roaring Billy Flats which is located right on the main highway (6) after the Haast Pass. Its of course another hike through the rainforest which also means you’ll be hiking with SandFlies. It rained off and on while we were there but the flies still appeared no matter what the weather was. The trail is about 1km or 25mins walk. At the end, you see this pretty cool waterfall across the river. When we went there, the river was so high but I think in the middle of summer you can actually walk closer to the falls.

We arrived at Lake Wanaka a little after 2pm. This lake is humongous. The tree is actually located in the middle of the town. There’s a parking lot closer to the tree. Its not a big lot so I’m pretty sure it gets packed during summer. To be honest, this tree was not as impressive as I thought it would be. Maybe because I see it all over Instagram and when you see it in real life, it’s just a tree in the water. A tiny tree. But nevertheless I’m glad we saw it in person.

We drove down towards Queenstown after Wanaka. If I could or want to move to New Zealand, this would be the town I choose. Its next to this amazing lake and the view is so gorgeous. We only spent the night here since it wasn’t really part of my itinerary. This was the gateway to Fiordland National Park/Milford Sound.

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel

Price: $135 ( Lakeview with a balcony)

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Day 6: Fiordland National Park

This is a huge huge park. It took us maybe 5-6 hrs or so from Queenstown to Milford Sound. We stopped a few times to take photos. This place is magnificent. It’s like driving through a landscape dream. We passed through a long tunnel that is cut through a mountain. That alone was worth it to see. Milford Sound is the end of the road and that is one of the reasons I wanted to visit New Zealand’s South Island.

We took a morning cruise on the fjord. It was really cold so Maisey and I stayed inside. The boat had huge windows so you won’t miss much. B stayed outside on the roof deck to take videos/photos. The trip ends right before you get to the Tasman Sea where it will take you straight to Australia.

** The cruise also have buffet style lunch if you are hungry. The tour included free coffee/tea but it was only an hour trip. We just waited and ate at the cafe by the pier and enjoyed more of the view.

Accommodation: Milford Lodge(campervan site). They have few really pretty rooms you can stay at and it has the coolest view but for me was too much for a night. Check out their website.

** Milford Lodge, one of the few lodges that has rooms for you to stay inside the park. Majority of the places are campgrounds.

** This was our campervan site for the night. The sites are usually $25-40 a night but this one was $75. Almost double due to its prime location.

Restaurant: PioPio ( @ Milford Lodge)

PS: We made a pit stop at GUNNERS CAMP inside Fiordland National PArk. They had a huge flood in this area about 2 months ago and this site was under water. I hope they are able to fix it up. They had cozy little rooms you can rent right by a river.

Day 7: Te Anau

We didn’t get to explore much of Te Anau due to rain. We were supposed to stay 2 nights and do a bike tour and a Glow Worm, tour but we canceled because of the rain. We stayed one night and left the next day.

Accommodation’ Te Anau Lakeview Campground.

Day 8: Kaka Beach/Point Lighthouse and Moeraki Boulders.

The thing with this country is that you really can’t have a set and strict itinerary because of the weather. We were supposed to be going to see a Sea Cave, but the water was too high and rough so it was closed. We ended up side tracking and checking different places that were on my plan B list.

1st stop: Point Light House: The hike was about 20 minutes on a very narrow cliff. It was scary but I had B carry Maisey.

2nd stop: Kaka beach

The only place that wasn’t as impressive as I thought was Moeraki Boulders. The public parking for it has you walking about 30mins to reach the boulders. You have to make sure it’s not high tide or the water will be up to your knees. They have a parking lot right in front, but it’s Privately owned and a paid lot. There’s also a cafe, but we were there so early we could not even get in. This was really just rocks on the beach. I think if we went on a later time ( sunset ) and lower tide I could see how it would be pretty, but then you’d have 100s of people with you. And we are not a fan of crowds.

Day 9: Lake Pukaki/Lake Tekapo/MtCook

Another itinerary ruined due to heavy rain. We drove towards Mt Cook. For the last 9 days this was our only second chance to actually see this mountain. But he was hiding behind the rain clouds and we had no luck at all. We were supposed to stay at Mt Cook village and do some hiking but the entire place was closed due to rain/flooding. So we then decided to just go straight to Lake Tekapo. On the way we saw the most bluest lake and we had a chance to sit outside while eating fresh salmon that was raised from that lake. The best sashimi I have ever had. Even in the rain I will never forget that moment. It was the first time I have ever seen a blue lake.

Accommodation: Lake Tekapo Holiday Park

Day 10/11: Christchurch

The next day it was still raining and very windy/cold at Lake Tekapo. We were supposed to stay 2 nights there but the forecast was rain for the next 5 days. So instead we just went back to Christchurch. It was sunny the last 2 days we were there. We just checked out a local animal sanctuary and watched Frozen 2. The city was very clean and small.

Day 12: Auckland flew out to Goldcoast Australia.

TIPS on traveling NZ during a shoulder season (April/May and Sept-Nov). Winter and Summer is high peak season.

1. Accommodations are not as expensive and you don’t need to book ahead of time.

2. Less People

3. Tours aren’t fully booked

4. Bring insect repellent especially if visiting towards summer time because of sandflies. I actually use Skin So Soft by Avon. It’s not insect repellent but it works really good and it smells good.

5. Always wear sunscreen. Sun is hotter down under.

6. Maisey was potty trained so I bought a travel potty with us. Since we were on the road we wanted to be prepared for her. And it did come in handy. We got the Oxo 2-in-1 travel potty. Worth every penny.

7. Always make sure you dress appropriately. Layers is key. New Zealand is known for Merino wool. Usually they are pretty pricey but you can find some good deals there. I wish we bought some but we like to pack light and not buy much stuff.

8. Biltong = Beef jerky and it’s so good. You gotta try it. They also have chicken flavored chips that were bomb.

9. Try Hokey Pokey ice cream. It’s honeycomb and vanilla.

10. They drive on the right side. And everything is opposite including the turn signal and windshield wipers. We have mistaken the windshield wipers for turning so many times.

11. New Zealand roads are different. It make look short mileage wise but it will take longer than normal. Plus you will definitely stop more times than you plan.

Lastly when traveling with a child. Try to have a flexible schedule and never ever feel FOMO. You have to go on your kids pace and enjoy every moment. If you miss anything you can always return.

Land of Fire and ICE. Traveling Iceland with a 1 year old. ( 2017 )

” Iceland is not a destination. It is an adventure.”

Iceland,

Iceland is a scarcely populated country, located near the top of the globe that is on everyone’s bucket list. I planned to drive the Ring Road with Hubby for summer ( 2016 ) but we had a baby so the trip was postponed for 2017. I wanted to share our itinerary with you and some tips on traveling Iceland with a 1 year old.Iceland is divided into 5 major regions: The Southwest, Southeast, East, North and West Iceland. We had 7 full days and that was definitely not enough. I would recommend at least 2 weeks (maybe longer). The best would be to spend at least 3-4 days in each region to take your time and enjoy the scenery. We landed in Keflavik International Airport 35 minutes away from Reykjavik. We decided to drive counter clockwise and start The Golden Circle and go up towards East Iceland where majority of the highlights of the country are located.

CLICK TRAVEL FILM below.

DAY 1:

We rented a Van/Camper for the week. The company provides free shuttle pick up/drop off from/to airport. For the week the camper costs us about $2000 since we added extra Gravel and Sand/Ash insurance and Wifi. You cannot park overnight at any public/private area unless you are in a campsite. Some Campsites take the camping card, sold for $150-180 at grocery stores/gas stations and sometimes at car rental places. Campsites charge $15-20/per person during peak season (June-Aug). We hit up Kronan Grocery Store on the way after picking up our camper. We bought simple items for the week; things like bread, PB&J, pasta and sauce, Ramen, Coffee, baby food, Fruits, and oatmeal. It cost us close to $100-110 usd. They DO have a Costco, but we found that out after we got all our food. That definitely would have been a better spend.

The Golden Circle and the Southwest

From Reykjavik on Route 1 ( Ring Road ) turn east on Rt 36 towards the Golden Circle and its highlights: We hit up the top 3 attractions of The Golden Circle.

1. Pingvellir National Park. This is one of the 1st stops on the Golden Circle. The Vikings established the world’s first democratic parliament, The Alpingi, in 930AD here at this national park. The Visitor Center is located right on Rt 36. After the Visitors Center we drove about 1/2 a mile and you can find a gravel parking lot on the right and a sign for Oxararfoss Waterfall. The hike is about 10 mins and the first part of the path is rugged and rocky but doable with a baby on a carrier. Then half way to the Falls they made a wooden platform so its much easier.

2. Geysir. One of Iceland’s most famous tourist attractions. Geysir is the original hot water spout and every other ones out there are named after it. It is active but has not erupted since 1916. The one next to it is called Strokkur is as faithful as Old Faithful from Yellowstone ( USA ) and erupts every 10 minutes.

3. Gullfoss.This is Iceland’s most famous ( and used in Movies/Shows ) waterfall. There’s a path on the left side that can take you up close to it but its pretty misty. I recommend to bring a poncho or a good raincoat/jacket. I had Maison on a carrier but you can also use a stroller since the path is paved. There’s a parking lot right up close to the falls.

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CAMP: We stayed at a town called Hella. It was right on Rt 1/Ring Road. The campground was $15/per person and they had hot showers in the site. They also had a gas station nearby and few restaurants.

DAY 2: Seljalandfoss/Skogafoss/Plane crash site

We continued on Rt 1 and our first stop for day 2 was Seljalandfoss (waterfall). From Rt 1 continue south east and make a left on Porsmork Road 249. You can actually see Seljalandfoss by the road. There’s a gravel parking lot facing the waterfall. You can walk behind it ( path on your right past the wooden staircase ). It gets really wet so best to wear rain gear. I was able to walk behind the falls with Maison on a carrier and I was wearing a poncho. It was very slippery but I had my husband help a bit. The way up to the exit was a little rocky and slippery as well.

Skogafoss Waterfall ( next stop) Go back to Rt 1 towards southeast and you will see the sign for Skogafoss on your left, a few miles after Seljalandfoss. Any word with the FOSS in it pertains to a waterfall. This is one of the most instagrammed waterfall in Iceland. You can actually walk right up to it. There’s a wooden staircase on the right that allows you to walk up and see the top of Skogafoss. Theres also a campground right by it and you can set up a tent or park your camper and enjoy the view.

** see the rainbow?

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US Navy DC-3 plane crash in 1973 ( 3rd stop) It is located on Solheimansandur Beach. It is a private land and the owner actually gated up the entrance so you cannot drive up to the plane crash any longer, but you can hike to it. It is about 4 km ( one way ) hike. It was a very easy hike but I would not recommend using a stroller unless you have the one with the big big wheels. The path is rocky and sandy so you might get stuck with a regular small/medium sized wheels ( stroller ). This site used to not be so popular with the tourists, but the past few years, a lot more people are coming here. (because of the Justin Bieber music video and bloggers/instagram). So the owner actually gated up the entrance so that people can’t drive onto the beach. Now, you must hike it. It took us about 1 hour with a baby. If you really want this place all to yourself and not have too many people around the site, then I would recommend to come really early in the morning. (before 8:00am or late late afternoon maybe after 6-7:00pm in the summer)**directions to the crash: from rt 1 continue east towards Vik. After you cross a bridge with yellow blinking lights and a road on your left towards SOLHEIMAJOKULL you will see a gravel parking lot/road access and a wooden gate. Follow that path after you park and it will lead you to the plane ( stay on the left path).

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CAMP: We stayed at VIK campground for the night. The fee was $16/per person. This was one of the best site we stayed at. The view was amazing. Theres a gas station right in front of the campground so you can fill up before heading East and maybe grab an N1 Hotdog. Free WiFi and hot showers available in this site.

DAY 3: SouthEast Icelanddetour: Black Sand Beach VIK: Reynisfjall / Reynisfjara beach.

The day before we were supposed to end our day at the beach but when we got there it was packed. We would not be able to take any good photos if we stayed so we woke up really early the next morning ( 4am ) and went to the beach. It was empty just how we wanted it. The perks of renting your own vehicle and driving to the site yourself rather than taking a bus tour. Don’t forget to check out the cave behind the basalt rocks. It so amazing. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones it looks like it’s made of dragonstones. ** this beach was used in the movie Star Wars Rogue One and GOT ( East watch of the Wall )

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Vik to Hofn is about 240-260km and this drive is out of this world. Vatnajokull Ice Cap dominates this part of the country. This was my favorite part of the island. Its so vast and isolated that you hardly past any towns. I would recommend to fill up your tank either at Vik or at Kirjubaejarklaustur because its a long way to Hofn ( major town ). Svinafellsjokull The path on my left ( picture ) it can take you right next to the glacier but please do not climb onto it! (you could actually fall and die) This island is so rugged and raw that they did not have any ropes whatsoever that separate you from the landscape. Always be aware, use common sense and respect nature. If you want to walk on a Glacier, then you can take one of the many tours available in downtown Reykjavik. The sign to come here is right on Rt 1 and the road will take you all the way to the Glacier Lagoon. The road is Gravel and our camper was able to make it.

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Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon

This is right on the Ring Road/Rt 1. Coming from the south the parking lot should be on your left so keep and eye out. This is BEFORE Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Theres a cafe located at the bottom of this glacier. I wish the view was the lagoon but if you get hungry, at least you can be warm and enjoy really good soup/bread here. This place was really windy and cold. I did not stay out too long. It is also quite a hike down to the lagoon from the restaurant. I did not want to hike with Maison because the path was steep towards the lagoon and very Rocky. Safety first always with a baby. But you can actually go all the way down and right up to the water and see the Glacier.

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Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

One of the most popular lagoons of Iceland. You can actually see chunks of ice on the side of the road and under the bridge. You can even walk on Diamond Beach and see the Ice up close. This was easier to hike with a baby. You can also go on a boat tour and they will take you closer to the ‘bergs.

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Camp: Hofn Campground

Price: $25 per camper

Amenities: hot showers & Laundry

Day 4: Hofn / Viking village in Stokknes / Seydisfjordur town

We woke up later than planned because we were so tired from the day before. But, we were able to add a stop before driving up to Seydisfjordur. We went to Stokknes and it’s a privately owned farm/land which was the set for the TV series: “Vikings.” They have a small cafe when we were there in 2017 and served sandwiches and pies. The fee to see the Viking village was 100 kronos and they have campground nearby, closer to the beach for 2000 kronos.

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Seydisfjordur Town: location used for movie ” Walter Mitty ” ( Where Ben Stiller skateboarded down. )

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Continue driving on RT 1 to RT 96 to RT 92 then RT 93

Camp: Seydisfjordur main town Cost: $20-25 per camper

Day 5: Myvatn nature bath / Dettifoss / Hverir

We woke early again to drive up towards Myvatn. The first stop was Dettifoss waterfall. This was the falls used in the introduction of the movie Prometheus. You can walk up super close to the edge and there are no rails; just a tiny rope to separate you from falling to your death.

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We then visited Hverir which is smaller version of Yellowstone National Park in the US. We’ve been to Yellowstone, so anything smaller it doesn’t impress me much but it did for sure smell like hard boiled eggs.

Myvatn Nature Bath

I actually liked this more cuz it felt more natural. Also there’s a great view of the surrounding areas while you swim. Plus they allowed babies under age of 2 in the water unlike Blue Lagoon. The only downside since I’m not comfortable taking showers nude with everyone all open. They have less own private stalls in this one. But for sure cheaper and very family friendly.

Fee: $37 per person and Maisey was free.

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Camp: Hlio Campground

Day 6: Akureyri

The biggest town in the north. We just passed through after we grabbed groceries and spent the night. It kind of looks like Reykjavik but smaller and they have tiny heart shaped traffic lights. Its a cute little town. I wish we had time to stay longer to explore.

Camp: Hmrar

Day 7: Snaefellsnes Peninsula

I under-planned this drive of the trip. We literally need 2 full days to see this place. The road is mostly gravel and you can’t drive very fast. We only had time to see the Moss Fields. Although you can see some Moss closer to Reykjavik but this one is secluded and you hardly see anyone for miles. This place is so magical.

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We also were able to see KIRKJUFELL. We saw it before the episode came out on Game Of Thrones, when the Hound and the night watch where trying to capture a Wight aka zombie to show Cersei.

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DAY 8: Reykjavik

We decided to spend our last night here since we were flying out early the next day for Denmark. We just added a week of stopover in Iceland and I wished we stayed 2-3 even 4 weeks here. Our last day was spent doing laundry at Laundromat Cafe. They have maybe 6-8 small machines in the basement with a kid’s playroom and a full service restaurant upstairs. No strollers allowed inside this cafe. You can leave it outside. But this place gets too packed. The entire country is so secluded, then you come here and every tourist is here. Also we did stop by at THE BLUE LAGOON. I did not enjoy this part of our trip.

BLUE LAGOON: PROs & Cons

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PRO:

  1. Very Posh
  2. Amazing lay out
  3. minimal design
  4. clean

CON:

1. Staff not that friendly

2. Not that kid friendly

3. Its feels like a community pool with a swim up bar but prettier. It was packed and we went early in the morning closer to 8am.

4. EXPENSIVE $55 for the cheapest package PER person

5. Felt like Disneyworld. Too Touristy for me.

ROK Restaurant

This was recommended by our hotel concierge. All the food is locally sourced. They did not have a high chair but Maisey was fine sitting in the booth area. The best part about this restaurant is that your right across from the famous church Hallgrimskirkja. We were sitting by the window and we could see the church as we were eating.

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TIPS SUMMER visit to ICELAND:

  • Groceries: BONUS/COSTCO/KRONAN
  • Renting a CAR/CAMPER will give you more flexibility
  • Wear the correct layers. We only bought a good raincoat/water proof jacket and a Patagonia Fleece and we were warm and cozy. The weather in the summer was 39-40 deg at night and 60-64deg daytime.
  • Camp Grounds take cash or credit.
  • DO NOT BUY BOTTLED WATER. You can literally drink straight out the tap. They have the best tasting water ever…
  • SAFETY first. Most of the places we saw had no protection gates/rails
  • Using a baby carrier was easier and we only used our stroller maybe few times. Also a raincoat/poncho would be helpful so you can hike under waterfalls with your baby and not get wet.
  • Make sure you bring enough batteries for your gadgets.
  • EAT N1 HOTDOGS: Its the best hotdog I have ever tasted.

Motherhood: The greatest, toughest and the most unexpected Hood you’d ever be in.

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The last post I shared on this blog was 2015. The year we found out we were pregnant. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Everyday before I start my day I would buy a Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks ( I don’t do it any longer cuz it’s about $5 a cup which would add up $150 a month & $1800 a year…. Ludicrous!!! ). Anyway the coffee started to taste real bad; I would think, “Oh, that place must have done it wrong,” or, “They don’t do it as well.” I would return another day and try another Starbucks to see if I was right. Tasted bad again. So it got me thinking…Am I pregnant? My husband and I hastily bought a $1 store pregnancy test. When I took the test, it had 1 dark pink line and 1 very very very very light pink line on the bottom. The box said TWO pink lines = PREGNANT and I only see 1 Pink, so we were like, “Ok, I’m not preggy.” Wrong!!!!! Because no matter how light that damn 2nd line is, if it’s there, it means you are pregnant. Honestly, I was shocked and a tad bit upset because it meant we couldn’t go through with our Iceland trip that was planned for summer of 2016; then I said to myself, “You are crazy to think that way.” I was. I guess I was just nervous. It has always been just B and I for 11 years. The thought of being a mother never crossed my mind. I had no clue how to be good mother. But when the time comes, natural instincts take over and you just do it. B and I never really talked about starting a family until 2015, 7 years after we got married. Then it happened. We were very thankful that we were able to bring Maisey into this world. I was 35 years old when I got pregnant, and 36 when I gave birth. My pregnancy was quite an enjoyable experience and I really tried to relish every moment of it. It’s amazing the type of drastic changes your body is able to endure. What probably helped was the fact that we were living in Los Angeles at the time and the weather in southern California is as advertised. The weather is usually perfect. Everyday single day. I don’t think I would have enjoyed the pregnancy as much if I had to deal with the cold weather of the east coast.
For this post I want to share MY honest experiences as a mom from giving birth to now (Maisey is almost 3).

Pregnancy:

After we found out we were pregnant, we also found out that we didn’t have really good insurance. I have always been either a Travel Physical Therapist ( 12 weeks assignment at a time) or Per Diem. We always buy our own medical insurance, so I at least had the opportunity to switch my insurance; but the new plan would not take affect until the new year because we found out that we were pregnant in October 2015. I actually had to go to one of those Planned Parenthood clinics. We found one in Beverly Hills and we went to see if we could get an Ultrasound. (which by the way was really cool because I think we only paid $75 OUT OF POCKET for it.) The Dr there did a Vaginal Ultrasound since I was still pretty early in my journey and they couldn’t do regular stomach one. The physician must have been at least 90 years old because he was so slow to take the picture of Maisey, while finding her inside my belly. He eventually got one though! Lol…

I hear so many stories of people losing their babies in the first 3 months. Very tragic and I hear about it more and more frequently. I don’t know what I would have done if it that happened to us. To all the mothers that have ever lost a child, I have no words that could encompass my sympathy for you, nor do I want to pretend I can imagine what it would feel like, because no one could ever imagine that type of pain; but I think you ALL are so strong and brave to be able to stand back up and get moving again after something like that. I know their are many factors that can contribute to losing a baby during pregnancy, but there are some things we did research during our pregnancy and thought I would share them in case anyone had any questions. This is not a complete list of “Things to do and not do,” but rather just some things we paid a bit closer attention to.

List of food I DID NOT eat due to listeria bacteria ( *Listeria infection during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, uterine infection and preterm delivery.)

1. Deli meats

2. Bean sprouts

3. Some Cheeses ( I avoided ALL dairy)

4. Milk

5. Seafood

I only craved bread and vegan butter for the first 2 months. And freshly squeezed orange juice. After the 1st trimester, I started craving saltier foods, and for the last trimester, (which was B’s favorite) all I wanted was the greasy, fatty meats and a lot of cheesy stuff. The only scary part for me was really the 1st trimester in regards of food. I was still very careful with everything I did. One crazy thing I did do at the end of my pregnancy, was go with my Husband to a music video he was shooting out in the desert, in the middle of hot ass June. I was already 8 months at the time.

Birth:

I was very nervous about being in labor. I hear so many crazy stories about giving birth. Especially about the pain. But when it was time to go to the hospital, I was ready. All that fear about pain went out the window. I just wanted her to safely be out of my belly so we could meet her. I was in labor for about 15 hours and didn’t ask for the epidural until the 15th hour. Not because the contractions were hurting me, it was when those damn nurses would check to see how dilated I was. I feel like they were inserting their whole entire hand. That was pretty painful. So I asked for the needle, which quite surprisingly didn’t hurt considering the size of that thing. Shortly after that, she was ready to come out. I pushed for 3 hours and she was trying her best to come out, but her head was too big and my canal was too small. The doctor monitored my vitals as well as Maisey’s the entire time, just to make sure neither of us was undergoing too much stress. We reached a point when the doctor gave us 3 choices. We could keep pushing a little more and risk the chance of me ripping completely, she could use forceps, or she could cut me open. We opted for the latter. We had an Emergency C-Section. Keep in mind, all of this is happening and I haven’t eaten a single thing. (except for those damn ice chips which I wanted to throw across the room) So, after the doctor cuts me open, I can feel her struggling a bit. I could feel my body shifting left and right as the doc pulled and tugged. The doc had to call in another nurse to actually reach back “down there” and push Maisey back in while the doc pulled her out. Her head was actually caught!! My husband could see the doc on her knees on the operating table while the other nurse was helping her to, “unstuck,” Maisey. After what seemed like a blurry, intense and chaotic few minutes in the ER, Maisey’s voice cut through and we heard her cry for the first time. I was so tired that I wanted to pass out, but the tears just flowed. After I got to briefly meet her, I was down for the count. That was the best 2 days of my life. Being in that little room, just the three of us. I wish our other family could be there with us, but it was also an incredibly unforgettable and intimate experience with just us 3. I gave birth on a holiday weekend (July 4th weekend) so even the hospital was running on minimal staff. It was pretty quiet and empty in there. I feel forever cherish that moment. But the pain after surgery is a whole different topic. That, I DO NOT MISS. I made the mistake of trying to be a supermom and didn’t ask for pain medicine or any initial help from the nurses or my husband. Big mistake. Take the pain meds to manage the pain, recover and let the people around you help. I miss having her in my belly; it’s in incredible experience to feel another human life growing inside you. I especially miss feeling her when she used to punch and kick.

Myths Vs Facts

These list below are my very OWN experiences. So don’t compare yourself with mine and take them with a grain of salt. Just sharing.

1.Breastfeeding is easy and the best for your child.

Yes I agree with it being the best for your child. But unfortunately I had no milk. She latched on quick but I know I had none. She tried to drink or suck her hardest but nothing was coming out. And the sucky part was that St. Joseph Hospital in Burbank was extremely PRO breast feeding, but I feel like they could have pushed us harder for that. But no one was there to help us or assist us with how to stimulate the lactation process. It may have been due to the holiday weekend, but a lactation specialist did come in on the day we were scheduled to leave, but I feel like she had no real advice since we were already giving Maison formula.

2. Formula is Bad and you should always try to breastfeed.

If I didn’t have her drink formula she would have had jaundice and she would have been even weaker. I think I’d rather feed my baby than trying to breastfeed when nothing if coming out. But I wish I had breast milk. I would have loved to have so much breastmilk for her. But it so happens my body didn’t produce much. And I don’t feel guilty using formula nor should anyone. It’s crazy how some mothers would judge with that. SMH you can shove that judgement up your butt hahaha.

3. You can never take a nap.

Ok this is half and half. I was able to take naps with her. The best when she was less than a month. She would only eat and sleep. She would nap for 1-2 hrs and I would be napping with her. But I’m very thankful for B for this one. He was with us and he was very helpful with the feeding. I think he became a pro with washing those baby bottles. Not just regular baby bottles. We bought the ones that had so many damn pieces so it would take so long to wash them. But having B with me during this made it so much more easier. He was able to take off 2 months work. We saved up our own money to take off 3 months. I had no benefits from work but it was worth every penny to be able to have B with me. That is why I was still able to nap. And even after that, I would always nap when she does and sometimes would read.

4. You will not be able to do what you like after having a baby.

This is not true for me. I love to read. I average on 25-28 books a year. But I read the most after having Maisey. 2018 I reached my goal of 52 books a year which was 1 book a week. So I hate when I hear that from other people. You can still do what you like. If you love it too much you will find a way. I don’t let others tell me what I can or can not do. If I allow that idea clutter my mind I would not be able to do anything.

5. Travel now, before you have kids.

This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. We traveled before we had Maisey and still travel with her. Traveling with her is a lot more fun. Now it’s for sure a lot more work, but we enjoy it. I have to plan our trips but at the same time be flexible. We took her to Iceland for her 1st birthday. Which I will post on my next blog entry. We not only went there, but we actually drove the entire country in 7 days with her. It was one of the best things we’ve ever done. To travel with your kid is so amazing and I would recommend that to anyone. ( Of course if you are able to travel financially, emotionally and physically).

6. Being a mother is the hardest JOB ever!

Let’s define job:

“job which requires the employee to, work regular hours for a consistent wage that often exceeds the provisions of applicable minimum wage legislation. A job that produces a living wage.

I don’t consider being a mother a job. It’s an obligation yes but even then some don’t even feel like they are obligated to do that or else why would we have so many kids in foster care. And if this really was a job, then those people would be fired. Well maybe some are in jail or other places, but I don’t say it’s a job. It is hard. It is tough. It’s tough to be mother. Its a challenge. It’s fun. It’s amazing. But I don’t think it’s a job. I have a job so I know what a job is, and being a mother feels totally different. But do I sometimes need a break from being mommy? Hell Yeah! And going to work gives me that break. Thank God my work is easy and I don’t get stressed with what I do. But being a mother is not a job. It is exhausting, challenging, fun, amazing, a blessing, but it’s not a job.

I love being a mother, but some days I would reminisce about my life pre-Maisey to see If could remember how it felt; how life without Maisey felt. But honestly, it’s hard to even remember that feeling after almost 3 years. I guess I don’t miss it that much. I love having her. It’s so much fun to see how she grown everyday. How she learns. How she plays. What trips me out is when I see things in her that remind me of myself. Now that’s an awesome mom moment; when your kid starts to remind you of yourself.

DESERT BLUES.

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Desert Blues

Here’s our very first on location editorial shot at El Mirage Dry Lake Bed.  We wanted to emulate those classic “90’s” ads that had supermodels like Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer and the likes..

Gritty. Grungy. Dirty. Vintage. Classic. Denim.

Photography: Luis Guanzon

Creative Director/Stylist: Me

Models: Larke Hasstedt

and Louis Anthoni

Hair and Makeup: Larke Hasstedt

Continue reading “DESERT BLUES.”

“sink.” part 4 of the, “WITHIN.” series by BE MORE MEDIA

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“We don’t drown by falling in the water;

you drown by staying there.”

-Edwin Louis Cole

This is the very last installment of our 4 part editorial series title, “WITHIN.”  We called this mini collection, “sink.” because it’s a great metaphor for how some of our emotions and thoughts can overwhelm us; and can make us feel like we are drowning and helpless when in reality we can take control.

photographer : Luis Guanzon

Creative Director / Stylist : Anne Guanzon

Model : Deirdre Barnes

Makeup : Diana Knudsen

Hair : Vicky Vee

Continue reading ““sink.” part 4 of the, “WITHIN.” series by BE MORE MEDIA”

“fear.” part 3 of “WITHIN.” series by BEMOREMEDIA.

0524_BEMOREMEDIA_STUDIO60_PART1_2015_02_17_FINAL_COLOR_FINAL_COLOR_BLOGS“Never say never, because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”

-Michael Jordan

This is the 3rd mini collection of photos from our, “WITHIN.” series.  A series that explores our darker inner emotions.. sometimes emotions and thoughts that we can find difficult to discuss with even the closest of friends and families.  We chose the title, “fear.” because now a days we can sometimes feel limited in the things we can accomplish because of the color of our skin, gender, race, social status, sexual orientation, etc..  This can hinder us from reaching our full potential.  Society can create illusions that can hold us back;  these are the things that we should not let change us or fear who we are inside.

Continue reading ““fear.” part 3 of “WITHIN.” series by BEMOREMEDIA.”

” mask.” part 2 of ” WITHIN. ” series by BeMoreMedia

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” We have the choice of two identities. The external mask which seems to be real…. and the hidden, inner person who seems to us to be nothing. “

– Thomas Merton

This mini collection is called, ” mask.” because at times, whether we realize it or not, EVERYONE  can feel like they have to cover their true identities to fit into what society says is ideal. We admire celebrities, models and socialites because we think that they have it all. But in reality we are all different. We cannot be molded into just one type. We need to embrace our differences and know that we are all beautiful in our own way.

PHOTOGRAPHER:  LUIS GUANZON

CREATIVE DIRECTOR: ANNE GUANZON

MODEL/MUA/HAIR: VALENTINA AZUL

Continue reading “” mask.” part 2 of ” WITHIN. ” series by BeMoreMedia”