Monday, September 13, 2021

Wells Goes To School

Well it's finally this little boys turn to experience school!! Wells has been home with me for a loooong time. I did have a nanny last year come to my house every week so I could get out and run a few errands but sending Wells to school feels much different than a nanny. I actually did really love having someone come to my house last year. It was nice that Wells could just be home and it was easier than taking him to school. However, I really wanted him to be in a little KDO program this year. A part of me felt a little sad to drop him off but I know this is so good for him to be around other little kiddos his own age and I think he'll love being there. 

We are going to a new (to us) school this year. I have a lot of friends send their kids here and I've always heard what a sweet program it was. I like that the hours are 9:00-1:00 because we can come home and Wells can take a nap. We went to open house last week and Wells loved playing in his classroom. He was especially enamored with the Mr Potato Head. I got a chance to chat with his teachers for a long time and they were both so sweet and friendly. 

Wells obviously thought his first day of school was going to be just like open house where we were both going there to play! He skipped right on into his room, so happy to be there. About 10 seconds later he turned around to see I wasn't coming in the room with him and he immediately started crying. I got out of dodge knowing he'd calm down in a few short minutes. 
I didn't even know what to do with myself during my alone time. I ended up eating lunch by myself at my favorite lunch spot--Panera--and it was so lovely and quiet. Before too long my day flew by and it was time for me to pick up my sweet nugget.

Wells was so happy to see his momma and I was so happy to see Wells! I couldn't stop kissing his little cheeks that I had missed so much while I was away from him. His teachers said he had a great day and when they showed him the lunch I packed him he said "yum!" and ate almost all of it. He colored a pretty picture that he was so proud to show me and I think he overall had a great day! I'm excited about this new school we're doing for Mothers Day Out. My overall first impression of it is really great and I'm praying we have a wonderful year!

Monday, August 16, 2021

Back To School

Back to school! Today was Campbell and Bennett's first day of school. Campbell is in 2nd and Bennett is now a kindergartner!! 

The boys were excited to go to school! Bennett was full of confidence and has been looking forward to this moment for two years now. He couldn't wait to go to kindergarten and I'm just dying to know what he thinks about it. I can't wait to hear all about it when I pick him up! Thankfully Bennett will tell me all about it too. His brother usually just says "it was good" and that's about all I get. Ha! Bennett's teacher seems absolutely precious and I feel so thankful he is her student this year. I can tell Bennett already feels comfortable around her and I know he is just absolutely going to love kindergarten! I couldn't even bring myself to feel emotional about Bennett being such a big boy now because he was so excited to be there. I'm so happy for him. 

Campbell was excited for school to start. He has two friends in his class so that made him really happy. He was a little bit nervous when he woke up this morning and he started shutting down a little as I was walking him to his class. When I was saying goodbye he was fighting back tears which didn't surprise me. Campbell is just like me when it comes to emotions so I know exactly what he's feeling: excited, nervous, homesick already, looking forward to the year, happy to be there, wishes his momma could stay because that would make it perfect. He may look like his daddy but he is just like me when it comes to all those big feelings. I know it didn't take him too long after I left for him to perk up. I hope he'll share more than a few words with me about how his day went. Just like last year, he didn't want me to pack him a lunch. Campbell LOVES the school lunch hahahaha and I didn't pack him lunch one single time last year. Makes it so nice and easy for me!

I hope both of my boys have a wonderful year. We have been blessed with amazing teachers in the past and I hope that continues for us this year. Campbell seems like an old pro at school at this point. I hope he learns a lot and grows a lot academically. I hope school comes easy to him and that he enjoys learning. I'm so excited to watch Bennett's little mind expand this year. He will learn so much and I'm excited to watch it happen. He is going to love learning and he's so good at it too. Bennett is patient and doesn't get frustrated if he can't get something right away--he will try and try until he masters something which is such a fantastic skill.

My house is eerily quiet today and Wells and I weren't so sure what to do with ourselves so we decided to go have a lunch date then pick up some fun treats for Campbell and Bennett to have for when they get home from school. Anxiously awaiting to see how their day went!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Disney FAQ

People often reach out to me with Disney questions and I love that they do because I love to talk all things Disney!! I get asked a lot of the same questions so I thought I'd compile them all here in one post in case anyone reading has wondered these same things. I'll try to link all I can.

Disney's Beach Club Resort

Where should we stay? I haven't stayed at very many Disney resorts but I have a few I love and a few I hope to stay at some day. We recently stayed at The Riviera and I couldn't have loved it more. It's brand new and so nice. The interior decor is exactly my style, the restaurants at the hotel are fabulous, the pool is wonderful and the Disney skyliner is literally right outside the hotel so you can easily get to Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The sleeping situation was perfect for our family of five. We had a lot of space and everyone was able to sleep well. I also love the Swan/Dolphin. I've stayed here several times in several different types of rooms they have. For the cost this resort simply cannot be beat. It's not nearly as expensive as some of the other Disney resorts but it's very, very nice. The location is the best part. I prefer this location over the Riviera. You can walk to Epcot from here in about 10 minutes and take a boat to Hollywood Studios in about the same amount of time. 

A few resorts I haven't stayed at before but hope to someday are Beach Club and the Grand Floridian. We always go to Beach Club when we go to Disney. They have great restaurants and I just love the overall vibe. I also love the location--steps away from Epcot and Hollywood Studios. The pool is considered the best pool at Disney. This is where I would love to stay the next time we go. I also have always wanted to stay at the Grand Floridian. It's very pricey but it looks wonderful! We love going to the Grand Floridian to eat breakfast at 1900 Park Fare. It's a beautiful hotel and so close to Magic Kingdom. This may be somewhere I would stay if just Scott and I went by ourselves simply because it is so expensive for just a standard room. Our family of five would be too squished in a standard room but their one bedroom villas are a lot more than some of the other one bedroom villas on Disney property that I actually think are nicer. 

Where do you get your ears? I always get my ears in the park! They have them literally all over the place. I have a few pairs and I love having them. I think they're a fun souvenir. I typically get mine at The Chapeau in Magic Kingdom. It's one of the very first stores on Main Street. They have a lot to choose from and they will also embroider your ears on the spot! That's where I got the boys ears and I had them embroidered with their names on the back. They're super fast so it doesn't take long at all. Surprisingly, the boys actually enjoy wearing their ears. Most people in the park have them on. 

Topolinos Terrace

Where should we eat for a special occasion? Topolinos Terrace in The Riviera would be my first pick. It's a very nice restaurant and the food is fantastic. If you can't get in at Topolinos my next recommendation would be California Grill in the Contemporary. If you're in Epcot I vote Le Cellier and if you're struggling to get a reservation to either of those, I love Schulas in the Dolphin and sometimes it's easier to get a reservation there than the others. 

If I'm going to Disney for just two days which parks should I go to? Ahh this is always such a hard question. Without a doubt Magic Kingdom for one of your park days. If I absolutely had to choose the other I would say Hollywood Studios. There's so much to do and see in Hollywood Studios. They have a lot of fun rides and so many good shows like the Disney Jr Dance Party, the Frozen Show, Cars Show, Muppets Show, etc. I love Animal Kingdom too but they don't have very many rides without a height requirement which is the only reason I would choose HS over AK--there's not as much for the littles to do there. If you don't care about rides, Animal Kingdom is such a beautiful and unique park. AK also has some great shows like The Lion King, It's Tough to Be a Bug and Nemo. Plus the safari is so cool and again, it's such a unique park. If you don't have kids with you then hands down I would choose Epcot. I love Epcot but kids can get bored so I wouldn't take a kid there if you only had two days. 

Where do you get your boys Disney outfits? Jetson Cubbington is my favorite place to get my boys Disney outfits! They are custom made so you have to order 12-14 weeks out. You can create the cutest pieces!! I absolutely love our JC Disney outfits!! I'm a hostess for JC so if you want one of their outfits the easiest thing to do is shoot me a message! Other cute places I like to order from is The Pink Pelican and Benoit and Matisse.

Tips to help make it easier with little kids? You will definitely want to have a stroller even if your kids haven't used a stroller in years. Campbell and Bennett were fighting over getting to ride in the stroller this last time. I prefer bringing my own stroller and I'm never worried about it getting stolen. Ever. But you can rent strollers here if you don't feel comfortable taking your own. A clip on fan is a nice bonus too. It's hot and humid! We took the boys Yeti cups this last time and Scott and I commented over and over what a solid move that was. We filled them up with ice water before we left the hotel and the water stayed cold well into the afternoon. They always want just a sip or two so it works so much better than having to stop to find water all throughout the day. Next time Scott and I both said we would bring Yeti's for ourselves too. There are baby care centers in each park and they are very nice to visit for a diaper change or whatever else you may need. I wrote more in detail about them here. Disney is exhausting so we try to stick to our sleep schedule as much as possible. We never go back to the hotel for naps and just cross our fingers for a stroller nap. It would just suck up way too much of the day to leave the park for a nap. We like doing sit-down meals for a chance to get in the air conditioning and wind down for an hour. It always helps us re-group and re-energize. Finally, get the balloon as soon as you get to the park. They won't stop asking you about it if you don't.

Coffee in hand--proof this was taken as soon as we got in the park haha!

How do you always look so fresh in your photos? Ha! This is a sweet question I get a lot. I'm flattered you think so. Trick? Take the photos as soon as you get in the park. I promise I look disgusting after just a short amount of time in the parks. I get all the photos I want of everyone as soon as we get there. My family knows this about me by now. Take pictures for mom right away, then it's fun time from that point forward! I would be lying though if I said I didn't pack a hairbrush and a little bit of makeup to touch up throughout the day. The boys hair (and mine) looks so much better after a quick little brush.

A margarita and tostada in Epcot's Mexico. My favorite snack in Epcot!

Where should we eat in each park? Magic Kingdom: The Plaza, Crystal Palace, Be Our Guest. Animal Kingdom: Tusker House, Yak & Yeti. Hollywood Studios: The Hollywood Brown Derby. Epcot: Le Cellier, San Angel Inn or just snack around the world. We usually eat "lunch" in Epcot by snacking around the world and we love it!

What's the best bag for me to carry in the parks? I've carried several different bags in the parks over time. I love my Freshly Picked backpack and it's a great bag for the parks. It's kind of big but of course you can leave it in the stroller which is nice. Lately I've been carrying just a small crossbody bag. I like wearing my bag on the ride with me because I have cash, cards, phone etc in it so I don't really feel comfortable leaving my bag in the stroller. It's definitely more comfortable riding the rides with a small cross body than it is the big Freshly Picked backpack. Other fun bag options are the Loungefly bags. You can purchase them in the parks or find them online too of course. I have a little cross body Loungefly bag that's fun to carry around Disney. 

Breakfast at Topolinos Terrace

Best character meal? Our favorite character meal at Disney is breakfast at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian. By a landslide. The food is amazing and I love the character experience + the atmosphere. Close runners-up are: Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom, Tusker House in Animal Kingdom and Topolino's Terrace in The Riviera. Honestly just go ahead and do all four because they're all so great. Ha! 

What shoes are the most comfortable to wear in the parks? I never really put much thought into this for myself. I just wear whatever shoes I want to wear. If it's a shoe I wear at home all day that doesn't bother me I will wear it in the parks too. The boys like wearing their Natives and I like for them to wear Natives too in case it rains (which it probably will). They have also worn their Sun San's. I usually pack some sandals and sneakers. I mostly like packing a super cushy house slipper for me to wear once I get back to the hotel because I feel like they do my tired feet some good!

Christmas Day at Magic Kingdom 2019

What kind of clothes should I pack for November-February? We spent Christmas at Disney in 2019 and wore shorts the entire time. It was hot! I know locals say you never know what to expect so you should pack for all the seasons. I did bring a little cardigan for Wells and light jackets for Campbell and Bennett + a cardigan for myself in case it was chilly at night. I think I wore my cardigan one evening when Scott and I snuck out late to watch the fireworks. Other than that I don't think we ever needed them.

Any other tips I should know? My biggest tip is to make sure you book your dining reservations ASAP. Reservations get booked quick and if you want nice meals, you HAVE to have a reservation. You would never be able to just walk in and sit down. Even if you didn't get a restaurant you wanted, keep checking on the MyDisney Experience app. I was able to get us a reservation to Topolino's Terrace for breakfast two days prior and I had been checking consistently for 60 days before that!! People's plans change and they will cancel their reservations so just keep checking! Another tip I have is to not pay for bottled water in the parks. You will get thirsty and want some water but you can get cold ice water for free. It actually tastes better because it's ice cold and it's more refreshing than a bottled water that will quickly get hot unless you drink the entire thing at once. Plus the bottled water in Disney is expensive. Paying for bottled water several times a day adds up! Here is a great list where you can find all the free ice water in Disney. Finally, a lot of people are under the impression that there aren't very many rides for little kids. It's actually the opposite. There are more rides that an infant can do than aren't. Disney was made for little kids and kids of all ages can have the absolute best time there!

Monday, July 19, 2021

Epcot Try Two

Since our first day at Epcot was slightly a bust, I was happy that we were able to do another day there. But before we went to the park, we took the Skyliner to the Boardwalk to eat breakfast at Trattoria al Forno. 

I had heard it was one of the best breakfast spots at Disney and I wanted to give it a try. Scott and I ate dinner here in August when we came by ourselves and it was terrible!! They have since completely redone the menu so maybe it's better now. I'm happy to report that breakfast was fantastic and I can see why it gets rave reviews. I got the breakfast pizza and Scott and I both agreed it was the best thing we ordered. The pizza was huge and we should have all shared it. I didn't get a photo of it but I have a video of it and the rest of our meal on my Disney 2021 highlights on IG. 

We finished breakfast then headed over to Epcot to rope drop. I have never experienced rope drop before but I'll never be anxious to do it again. It all was very confusing to us honestly. We've walked into the parks up to thirty minutes before they say they open and hopped on rides so we assumed it would be the same this time but they literally had us all wait behind a rope, in the middle of the park, until exactly 11:00 when Epcot opens. It was hot, and crammed full of people who were already getting smelly and I was not the slightest bit thrilled by the situation. If I had known that's what it was going to be like I would have just browsed around the Boardwalk or popped in Beach Club and shopped in the gift shop. We were anxious to get in line for Frozen though so we stood there packed like sardines with everyone else. If we hadn't done rope drop we would have waited in line for a really long time for Frozen (we waited 21 minutes) so I guess it was worth it but it was a little disappointing. I was expecting something different out of the infamous rope drop like a special song or Tinker Bell flying above us. That would have been epic. 

We road Frozen, did some shopping, grabbed some drinks and food, and focused most of our time collecting our passports from around the world. It's similar to the Wilderness Explorer thing in Animal Kingdom. You find each "Kidcot Fun Stop" in each country and someone is there to hand you a "passport." Collect all 11 and you get a special little card that says something about traveling around the world. The boys love stuff like that so it was a fun challenge to get all of the passports from each country. 

We won't talk about how we got all the way to Germany (from the UK) to collect our passport before realizing we had lost all the others we had collected. Campbell was playing with them while we were in Italy (see photo above) and somewhere between our Italian pizza and my glass of prosecco he must have set them down and walked away from them. 

We ran back to Italy to try to find them but they were gone (some super lucky kid found them without having to do all the work to get them, I'm certain of it). Campbell cried. It was a big thing. We were running out of time so Scott and I decided to divide and conquer. He went one way, I went the other, and in the end, we got all of our passports. Praise. 

This trip around the world went slightly better than the first. The kids don't love Epcot and I don't blame them honestly. It's not as fun for kids as it is for adults. They kept saying they were bored but I love Epcot so much I could never not go while at Disney. It was probably a good idea for us to do two half days here with the kids. 

Unfortunately our time at Disney had come to an end. I always want more days at Disney. We had the absolute best trip and we made a lot of memories. I do wish we had done one extra day so we could have had a day in the middle where we didn't go to any parks but instead stayed in our room to chill, rest, and re-group. I really think it's necessary with little kids to do that. I say that every time and we never have a day where we don't have a park reservation. It's hard to be at Disney and not go to a park but next time I think we'll have to do that in order to make our trip more pleasant for everyone. We learn each time we go to Disney what we could do better the next time and for this trip, that was my biggest takeaway. Overall, the trip was pretty smooth sailing. We loved our resort, our food and our time together as a family at the happiest place on earth!

Friday, July 16, 2021

Magic Kingdom Take Two

Magic Kingdom is most definitely my happy place. I love all of the Disney parks and Epcot is high up on my favorites list but if I could only go to one park it would for sure be MK. It's what I think of when I think Disney. We were excited to go back to Magic Kingdom for a second time because there were several things we weren't able to do the first day we were there. I really feel like you need two full days in Magic Kingdom to be able to do and see it all, especially with kids. It's definitely the most kid friendly park of the four.

The first thing I like to do when I get into the parks is spend a little bit of time to take a few good photos. There's always one shot I'm wanting to get and I want to get it before everyone is gross, sweaty, grumpy and tired.

As always, we got to the park right when it opened and Campbell really wanted to ride Splash Mountain so we headed that direction first. We did rider swap and there's a great little playground for young kids to play in that's covered and out of the hot sun so Scott hung there with Bennett and Wells (Bennett didn't want to ride it) while Campbell and I did Splash Mountain. Campbell loved it and was excited to ride it again right away with Scott. 

Next we headed back to Fantasyland to get on Dumbo. The boys loved playing in the play area inside of Dumbo before we got on the ride and Scott and I enjoyed getting to sit down in the air conditioning while they did. We gave them about 15 minutes of playtime then decided we should go ride Dumbo. While we were waiting in line, the sweetest Cast Member noticed the boys were wearing Dumbo outfits so she opened up a special section of the line so the boys could get close to the ride and I could take some photos of them. I thought it was so sweet of her to offer, especially since I didn't even make mention of it. I got the cutest photos of the boys that are some of my favorites from the trip! 

The morning was flying by and before we knew it, it was time for lunch at Crystal Palace. Crystal Palace is my favorite place to eat in Magic Kingdom. We always eat either breakfast or lunch here every time we come. The location is fantastic and I just love the ambiance. The food is obviously delicious too, otherwise I wouldn't want to eat here every time. Normally this is a character meal with all of the Pooh characters which is another reason it's my favorite but the characters still aren't making an appearance here unfortunately. I was so hoping they would be by the time we went. Oh well! We still had a wonderful experience with the best waiter and food. This was one of my favorite meals on this trip. So delicious. Also, I know this is so silly but I really like being able to use the bathroom at this restaurant (lol--it's small and feels really nice and extra clean to me) and getting my drink to go is a nice bonus too!

We took a left out of the restaurant and right in front of ice was a Mickey ice cream and you really can't go to Disney without eating one (or five) so we all enjoyed one of those before riding more rides.

One of my absolute must do's I wanted to do on this trip was get a silhouette done of my boys. They all obliged my wish (all four of them, haha!) and we walked towards Main Street to make it happen. There is a small little spot halfway down Main Street where you can get your silhouette done (there's also another spot in Liberty Square across from Sleepy Hollow). There was only one person in front of us and they were halfway through so we didn't have to wait long at all before it was our turn--maybe 5-10 minutes. You can do singles, doubles, the entire family....whatever you choose. I wanted all three boys in a silhouette together. The gentleman doing the silhouettes told Campbell to go first (oldest to smallest) so Campbell sat and literally 90 seconds later it was Bennett's turn then Wells. I could not believe how fast he was. He cut out the silhouette, pasted it onto some special paper then someone checked us out. The cost was $30, $10 per person and I will treasure this souvenir forever and ever!! I know a lot of times when you do stuff like this on vacation it really doesn't look like you but these silhouettes look just like my boys. I was so, so pleased. 

We got some more rides in and before we knew it, it was time for dinner. We decided on Be Our Guest for this trip because we wanted to stay in the park to eat. After doing Disney several times, we've learned we just prefer to stay in the parks for meals vs hopping to resorts or other parks. There's a few exceptions we'll make (like breakfast at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian) but we've learned it's just simpler to stay put. We ate at Be Our Guest the first time we ever went to Disney and I always said it was a one and done for me. However, it was honestly our only option this time so we booked it and we were very glad we did. The food was wonderful this time and we all really enjoyed it. My only complaint is they took too long (I kind of like getting in and out because I want to get back to the rides!!) but otherwise the food was fantastic. I enjoyed my meal, the boys enjoy theirs, and my wine hit the spot after a long day on my feet. The best part was dessert for the boys--they got to paint Chip with edible paint then eat him! It was seriously so cool and chip tastes so good!! I think he is made of white chocolate but it was yummy. I had the grey stuff and it truly is delicious. In the past I would have said this is a restaurant everyone should do once just for the experience but you probably wouldn't want to do it again but now I'm not so sure. We may end up eating here every time we're in Magic Kingdom from now on. We were pleasantly surprised how much we enjoyed our meal considering the last time we ate there we found it to be fine but nothing super special.

Unfortunately when we got out of the restaurant the weather was showing a severe storm headed our way. Even though we still hadn't done one of our favorite rides yet, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, we made the decision to head on back to the resort. We took the bus to the Riviera and within seconds of walking into our room the rain came pouring down. Since we got back to our room a little early, Bennett wanted to paint some pottery like Campbell had done the day before. I took him to the art room and he enjoyed getting to paint his own masterpiece that is actually a really fun souvenir to have from our trip. 

We got the boys tucked into bed early then I snuck downstairs to do a little shopping in the Riviera gift shop. I had spotting some things I had been wanting and wanted to shop kid-free. The hotel gift shops are always really good and it's easier to shop there than the parks sometimes. 

Scott and I toasted another successful day in Disney on our balcony. We absolutely loved having a balcony off our room and I'm not sure we'll ever be able to do Disney again without one! This day couldn't have gone better. The kids were happy the whole time we were there and there was minimal complaining or fussing from either of them. Just an overall great day!