Author Archives: Andi Perullo de Ledesma

About Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Why We Are Not Traveling With Joaquín Just Yet

Once I made the conscious decision to become a mother, I could not stop daydreaming about showing my future child the world. Lucas and I discussed in great length about how instead of giving presents for holidays, we would go on trips. We planned to take full advantage of not having to pay for our child’s plane ticket while s/he was under the age of two. Whenever someone would say to me when I was pregnant, “Are you sad that you will not be able to travel anymore?” I would laugh at their comment and let them know that we would be traveling all of the time — that travel was our #1 priority as a family.

Then Joaquín was born and everything I so fervently believed in changed, because I changed.

I have been attempting to write this post for over six months. Every time I would write it, I would delete it. I have always tried to be as personal as possible with my readers, but this seemed too personal. The truth is: I have postpartum depression and anxiety. It came on unexpectedly after I gave birth to Joaquín. There were so many things that contributed to it, that maybe it should not have been so unexpected? I did not have the pregnancy I had dreamed of due to pre-eclampsia, I had a horrific birthing experience with my emergency c-section, and then I failed miserably at breastfeeding. On top of that, recovering from my c-section prevented me from returning to work as quickly as I had imagined I was going to. I lost a lot of patients and clients, which severely impacted my jobs that I had worked on successfully building for years with blood, sweat, and tears. Instead of thinking about where and when Joaquín’s first trip would be, I was simply thinking about making it through the day (and if I am honest sometimes through the hour). Everyone kept asking me about travel, which made the situation worse. No one could understand why a travel blogger had stopped traveling just because she had a baby. I made excuse after excuse, never telling anyone that the thought of traveling was panic attack inducing for me. Simply going to the store right down the street with Joaquín seemed like an arduous feat. This was not the “baby blues”; this was so much more and having never struggled with mental illness before I did not know what to do. I felt like I was drowning in an ocean from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to sleep, that I could never take a deep breath or I would fall apart completely. I was angry with the world, especially my poor husband. I eventually made the decision to get professional help when my mother said to me, “The only time I ever see you smile anymore is when you are with Joaquín and it is breaking my heart.”

I decided to write this post for a multitude of reasons. I wanted to put a new face to postpartum depression and anxiety. So many people mistake it to mean that a mother has gone crazy and wants to harm her child. This could not be further from the truth. Joaquín is the love of my life and the best thing that has ever happened to me. I never in a million years would do anything to endanger him, nor do I regret his presence for a second. What I am going through has nothing to do with him. In fact, one day in the future I hope to have a second child! It was a combination of out-of-whack hormones, sleep deprivation, unfortunate events before, during and after the pregnancy, and having zero balance in my life that triggered it. I also wanted to let other mothers who are going through something similar know that they are not alone. Which is how I felt for months, until I started discovering that I had friends and knew bloggers that were also going through it. Kym, a fellow travel blogger and new mother of Our Fox Tales, just last week wrote about her struggle with postpartum depression so eloquently. Please, if you are a mother and need someone to talk to, reach out to me. I am here for anyone that seeks a listening ear and a nonjudgemental heart.

While I still think traveling is one of the greatest things about life and it will always be a huge part of my life, in this moment I have zero desire to travel. I am sure this is shocking a lot of you. I am a writer and a photographer, but I am also a healer and I know that I need to heal myself before I can begin to travel again. One of the things that helped me the most was putting Joaquín on a somewhat strict schedule at 8 weeks old (we followed the Babywise book). He and I have both thrived once there was some sort of order to what felt like chaos. I would hate to mess up his schedule with a trip and I would hate to take a step back in my healing process as well. We also lucked out big time, by finding truly the most amazing nanny that helps us out a couple of days a week. My own mother has been my biggest blessing. She treats Joaquín as if he were her own son and has shown me so much grace and compassion when I needed it the most.

Yes, I have sad days and anxious days, but thankfully they are getting less and less. I am learning to let go and embrace the fact that I cannot control everything and that most likely I will never find the balance I so desperately crave. I will never be the best Acupuncturist, the best blogger, the best photographer, but I will be the best mother to Joaquín. He is person that made me a mother, that taught me true love pours from a bottomless heart, that there are parts of myself that need a little tweaking, and who without a doubt makes me a better person.

I want to be clear, we will travel with Joaquín. We talk about exploring the world with him every single day. His entire nursery is travel themed. It is just that we are encouraging his curiosity at home — we explore our city of Charlotte, North Carolina and the surrounding areas and that is enough for all of us right now. I know a lot of people will disagree or be disappointed with our decision — that is okay. I firmly believe that you have to do what is best for your family. Travel is not best for our family in this moment. I hope my readers who have been following me for over the last five years looking for travel inspiration do not give up on me. I promise you, travel will always be a huge part of My Beautiful Adventures and I cannot begin to express how exited I am for Joaquín’s first trip whether it is domestic or international. For now we are taking. . .baby steps.

National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016

Review: National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016

If there was ever a book I would want my son reading it would be the National Geographic Kids Almanac. As a little girl, I used to poor over every annual issue myself, dreaming about all of the exotic places I would visit one day. I want the same for my son, so I was excited when he was sent the 2016 issue. Joaquín is still too young to understand the Almanac, but he loves when my husband and I show it to him, in fact he pulls it off the bookshelf almost every day!

While I think the Almanac is perfect for a child of any age, it is created for ages 8-12 in mind. Traveling with children can certainly bring its own challenges, but there is one travel essential that not only will get kids involved in the planning process, but is also a terrific “boredom buster” for those long car trips or flights and that is the National Geographic Kids Almanac. Not only that, your children are guaranteed to be inspired to become explorers with the gorgeous photography and engrossing material found within the pages.

Whether considering a trip to Belize’s Blue Hole, New York City’s One World Trade Center,  Gibraltar’s Macaques rock monkeys, one of the U.S.’s many beautiful national parks, or Chile’s Santiago Cathedral, the Almanac is bursting with information about the culture, history, animal life, geography, wackiest weather, and interesting facts from every corner of the globe.

In addition to an entire section that provides an overview of all 195 countries and another section containing info on the U.S.’s 50 states, the Almanac also features “You Are There” vignettes, making the reader feel like they are on the Singapore Flyer (one of the world’s highest observation wheels), spotting wild orangutans in Borneo, or visiting the Mayan ruins of Copan in Honduras. Quite simply, it is a terrific introduction to not only the foreign lands far from home, but also exciting locations just a car ride away.

With over 2.5 million copies in print, the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 has become the gold standard for high-interest nonfiction for middle grade readers. This new and updated 2016 edition tips the scales at over 350 pages and contains 900+ incredible photographs that only National Geographic can deliver, as well as page after page of facts, crafts, activities, games, jokes, comics, quizzes, first hand accounts by Nat Geo Explorers, and fascinating articles about animals, science, nature, going “green,” technology and more. It is literally hours upon hours of entertainment. Free digital extras that allow young readers to access videos, photo galleries, and games by using clues found in the book to unlock these online gems are also available, making the Almanac the only kids’ almanac with mobile media features. In my opinion, every single child should have one!

Seven Kid-Perfect Souvenirs To Surprise Your Little One After A Trip

As much as you think of your little ones while you are away on a business trip (or an adults-only vacation), they are thinking about you as well. From their first bites of breakfast to their nightly bedtime stories, your kids are missing you terribly while you are away, just as you are missing their enormous smiles and tiny hugs!

Unfortunately, plenty of adult responsibilities require frequent travel, which means you and your beloved little ones might be apart quite a bit. Fortunately, you can lessen the sting of your separation (and make your kids more eager for your return) with any of the following seven excellent souvenir ideas:

1. Collectibles

All kids are tiny hoarders-in-the-making, squirreling away all sorts of trash and treasures for apparently no purpose. You can channel their eagerness to accumulate into a more productive endeavor by purchasing similar souvenirs wherever you go. Every destination boasts snow globes, smashed pennies, and even shot glasses emblazoned with the place name that your children will cherish forever.

2. Books

For nearly every destination, you can find a children’s book related to that location. There are picture books that are set in the Arizona desert or in New York City; there are beginning chapter books set in Portland, Oregon or in the plains past the Mississippi River. All you need to do is head to a bookshop and find a fun, educational souvenir.

3. Candy

Then again, you can never go wrong with something sweet. Every kid has a favorite treat, whether it is milk chocolate or fruity gummies, and most never grow tired of receiving a sweet gift. Your little ones will always look forward to your return if you come laden with surprises from Hershey’s Chocolate World or another world-famous sweet shop.

4. Stuffed Animals

Sure, their beds are already covered in all the stuffed critters, but that does not mean your little ones can not squeeze in one or five more. You can make the souvenirs extra special by selecting animals endemic to the region you visit, like a manatee from Florida or a bison from Kansas. Soon enough, your kids will be able to fill zoos with all their exotic stuffed pets.

5. Clothes

Your kids love bragging about you, whether you realize it or not. When they are able to wear the evidence of your worldly travels, they will find it much easier to convince their friends that you are the coolest parent of them all. However, you should double-check your kids’ sizes before you go; little ones grow fast, and a too-small sweatshirt is a waste.

6. Postcards

If you know you will be gone for a particularly long stretch of time, you might consider sending souvenirs ahead of you. Kids love receiving anything in the mail, and special notes from you throughout your travels are sure to warm their hearts. When you come home, you can see all our letters stuck on the fridge or hung creatively around your kids’ rooms and know how much they appreciate you.

7. Stickers

When your travel budget is small, it can be difficult to find meaningful souvenirs your kids will love. Fortunately, the littlest ones can be tickled by almost any gift, including stickers. You should strive to find stickers that relate to the places you have been, which can usually be found in airport shops or souvenir stands, but honestly, toddlers might not even recognize the difference.

Tips and Tricks to Prevent Tantrums

Unfortunately, all kids can get a bad case of the gimmie-gimmie’s, and the dolling out of souvenirs can inspire meltdowns if not handled properly. Here are some tips to make sure all of your little ones are satisfied by their souvenirs:

  • Set a budget. You know all too well that when it comes to your kids, it is easy to overspend. Your gifts should be small and meaningful, not expensive.
  • Make them equal. You could accidently make younger kids jealous by getting your oldest a cool gadget, while everyone else gets something less fun. While your gifts to each kid might not be the exact same, they should have equal value.
  • Ask locals. When your idea bank runs dry, you can ask locals (including servers, baristas, and other service industry professionals) what they might bring home for a child.

Do not feel guilty! You do not owe your kids souvenirs — you get them out of love. If you do not have time to shop for your little ones, you should not feel guilty about it. The experience will only make them appreciate their previous and future souvenirs more.

Travel Quote

That Time I Broke My Ankle In Lima, Peru

Many years ago, I went on a life-changing journey through South America. I was visiting both Peru and Bolivia — two countries that had been on my Bucket List for what seemed like forever. In my mind, because I had planned everything so perfectly, nothing could go wrong.

No one ever thinks the worst could happen to them, especially when you are in your twenties. You think you are invincible! Unfortunately, everything can change in a second, like it did for me. I had just visited Machu Picchu and was scheduled to fly from Cusco, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia, however my flight was canceled. In order to avoid spending the night in Cusco and missing my train to Salar de Uyuni the next day, I decided to be rerouted through Lima with a 12 hour layover. My travel partner and I thought it was good fortune, because we had wanted to visit Lima, except we could not fit it into our packed schedule. Now the Universe had fit it in for us! The second we arrived in Lima, we threw our luggage in some airport lockers and took a taxi immediately to the center of town. We were going to explore as much as we possibly could in those 12 short hours. In the center of the town, stands a magnificent church called the Cathedral of Lima. We decided that would be our first stop. I walked up the stairs in the front of the church to take some photos. When I turned around to say something to my travel partner, I slipped, fell down the stairs, and felt incredible pain in my ankle. I knew in my gut that I had broken it. I sat and cried, as everyone around me tried to console me. How could I be so careless; I was beyond furious with myself!
Cathedral of Lima

We hailed a taxi and asked the driver to take us to the nearest hospital. An x-ray at the hospital confirmed the worst, it was broken, and it was broken bad. I refused to cancel the rest of my trip  due to my mistake, so the doctors put a heavy-duty cast on my leg until I could have surgery back in the States. For the next week, I had to get around the dessert of Bolivia with crutches, meanwhile I was suffering from major altitude sickness. Thankfully, I was so enamored by my surroundings, that I was able to survive the hellish week.

This experience made me for the first time in my life realize how important and essential insurance plans are and not just because I was left with hundreds of dollars of medical bills. Accidents happen all of the time and they can happen to anyone. One of the best companies on the market today for reliable and affordable insurance plans is Aflac.

The fall marks open enrollment season, a time when workers can review their employer-sponsored benefits offerings and choose the health insurance policies that best meet their financial and health care needs. Although selecting the right health care benefits may be one of the most important decisions Americans will make all year, an Aflac survey found that many workers do very little research to learn which plans and products really work best for them. In fact, 34% of employees spent 15 minutes or less researching their benefit options in 2014. Those who do not set aside time to research their insurance options often end up with inadequate health care protection for themselves and their families. Please do not make the same mistake I made all those years ago. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 80 million injury-related visits to doctors’ offices, hospital outpatient departments, and emergency-treatment facilities in the U.S. each year. Accident insurance helps provide everyday financial protection in the event of a covered accident. Benefits are paid for things like: x-rays, physical therapy, appliances, emergency treatment, and more. Make researching, planning, and choosing the right insurance plan for you your #1 priority this fall. Just remember different generations have different health care needs that reflect their life stages. Many of today’s families are also spanning more generations than in the past, which means one-size-fits-all benefits options are not enough anymore. For instance, the type of benefits options a young, single employee needs are significantly different than those for an employee who is supporting multiple dependents or facing more health issues due to advanced age. That is where voluntary insurance helps, since it allows employees to select voluntary policies that best suit their own needs, as well as the needs of any dependents they may have. When an unforeseen medical event occurs, many people are often faced with paying copayments, deductibles, or treatment costs not covered by major medical insurance, as well as other daily living expenses – all while paying increasing health insurance premiums.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Bitte Onesie

Review: Bitte Onesie

Most nights around 5PM you can find me at one of two parks near my house with my son. I bring a huge blanket for us to lay on, some of his favorite toys, snacks for both of us, and we play for an hour or two before it is time for Joaquín’s bath. I look forward to our evening ritual from the moment I wake up. Sometimes my husband joins us if he is not working, sometimes my Mom joins us if she is not traveling. To be honest, I prefer it to be just me and Joaquín, as a Mom and her child always need alone time together. We have the best time and I leave my iPhone in the car, so that I am 100% present with him.

I had been hearing about how fabulous the kids website Bitte is, so I simply had to try it for myself. They sent Joaquín one of the most adorable onesies I have ever seen in my life. It is called the Rock Romper and it is an ultra soft, brushed organic cotton jersey romper for babies and toddlers. It is both comfortable and stylish, thus making it, well, perfect! Listen to me when I say, “buy it now!” They have a female version as well.

I have always been a fan of real lifestyle photo shoots; where no one is posed and there are no props. People just go about their lives as is, while a photographer quietly catches it all on his or her camera. The following photos were from one of our evenings in the park. None of the photos are staged. I just followed my son around with a camera to showcase how cute he is in the Rock Romper. I will cherish these photos of my baby boy forever. Thank you Bitte for making me already precious boy, even more precious!

On a funny side note, I have never been a big junk food eater. However, all throughout my pregnancy I craved Cheetos. I think I ate them almost every day for nine months — I just could not fight the cravings. Well, guess what Joaquín’s favorite snack is? Cheetos! Unfortunately, they give the little guy gas, plus I am not thrilled to be starting him on junk food at such an early age. Thus, I found a somewhat “healthier” alternative. When I tried to introduce the new snack to him during the photo shoot he looked at me with such discontent and turned the entire box upside down in protest. All I can say is he is so my boy!