Some Florida fun before we go…

The clock is ticking and we are down to our last 2 weeks in South Florida!! We have been up to our eyeballs with stress these last few months; dealing with selling the house, coordinating a move, starting a new job…all amidst having a new baby and a toddler who, let’s be honest, demands attention like no other. But even though we have a lot on our plate right now, we wanted to make sure we tried to enjoy these last few weeks in Florida as much as possible. Since we moved here 4 years ago, we’ve been talking about taking a weekend trip over to the west coast of Florida to spend some time on Sanibel Island. It’s almost happened a few times…once for Brett’s birthday and once for our anniversary, but every time the idea crossed our mind, something else happened which made us put the trip off once more.

So, once our move was decided, I looked at how few weekends we had left and I was afraid that our dreamed about trip was never going to happen. But low and behold, Brett chose a weekend and off we set! I had been to Sanibel as a kid, but Brett had never been, so I was excited to see how much I could remember and spend one more relaxing Florida beach weekend on the gulf before the packing craziness began.

The awesome thing about Sanibel is that it’s kept its quaint island feel over the years. There are no major hotels and resorts on the island, just beach front inns, bed and breakfasts, and rental cottages. We stayed at Captiva Island Inn and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the island! We had a great, huge room, with a patio overlooking the pool and a full size family room and kitchen right outside the room, which was shared with 2 other rooms on the floor. (Which made me think how fun it would be for a few friends to reserve the whole floor and have all that great space to use together!) The inn was just steps from the beach and we spent the weekend hanging out at the pool and the beach and eating a great meal (and left over cake!) at The Bubble Room, which is a fun, crazy decorated restaurant that me and my sisters LOVED when we were kids.

It truly was the perfect weekend to bring our time in Florida to an end. As Brett and I relaxed on the beach we talked about how blessed we were to live in this gorgeous place for 4 years, but how excited we were to see what adventures come next. One thing is for sure though, Florida will always hold a very special place in both our hearts! Some pictures from our little getaway weekend….

^I have a picture of me and my sisters sitting right here when I was about 10 so I just had to get one of the girls as well!!

^This orange crunch cake (not actually orange flavored) is The Bubble Room’s famous cake. It is a moist, buttery, delicious cake with brown sugar and almond crunch between the layers and a light, amazing cream cheese frosting. I told Brett we had to order it and he was all “Eh…I’ll probably just eat a bite or two…” And then we ordered it and he inhaled half the slice. It’s just that good.

^The outside of our B&B. They also had a few cottages across the street.

^Next time we come, I’m totally renting this house! Cute, huge front porch, and about 10 steps from the beach….Perfect.

^The beach on the gulf is so much different than ours! The sand is full of crushed pieces of shells and is not that smooth, silky softness that we are used to on our side. The water is also so much calmer with barely any waves. Leah liked it MUCH better, since the waves still freak her out a little.

^On my Sunday early morning run, I just had to stop and take these pictures. Nothing makes a run more enjoyable than watching the sunrise and then running along side the beach for 3 miles….

^Got back from my run and this little girl with an endless pit of a stomach couldn’t even wait for me to rinse off so it was right off to breakfast for this sweaty mommy….

^This cracked me and Brett up, so I just HAD to take a picture. Since it is March, there were a LOT of college spring breakers and Leah particularly had her eye on this group of girls and guys who were playing with a soccer ball (Leah is obsessed with soccer balls-much to my soccer playing husband’s joy…) So she was watching the guys kick the ball back and forth and she kept turning to me and Brett and asking, “Can I go play with those guys!?” and we said “Sure!” thinking there was no way in heck our little 2 year old girl would have the guts to approach the college kids and ask to play. Low and behold, this girl started inching up to the group slowly but surely, until she was standing right next to them. Then, as soon as they turned their backs for a second, she snatched up their ball. One of the girls turned and noticed her and started playing a little game of kick the soccer ball back and forth, until she realized that playing with a 2 year old was not as fun as flirting with boys, and she left our daughter broken hearted and returned to her group. And then we had to convince Leah that she really DID have to give the boys their soccer ball back….But Brett and I got a good laugh at how brazen this little girl of ours is! She goes after what she wants!!

And, with that, we loaded our sandy bodies back in the car and drove the 2.5 hours back home. Perfect weekend for a farewell to Florida trip!


Family renewal

Although Claire is over 2 months old, we really haven’t had many weekends where it’s just been US-our little family of 4. Between multiple visits and the holidays-we have had family here almost every weekend since Claire was born. Which, don’t get me wrong, has been wonderful, but we were more than ready for some relaxing time together as a family. So, this past weekend we decided to head up to the island alone. We went out to breakfast at our favorite spot, strolled through a very busy farmers market, spent some time with my great aunt and uncle, drank wine and watched the sunset on the beach, and splashed in the pool. It was fun and relaxing, and exactly what we were hoping for. Claire totally got into the laid back, relaxing spirit and slept from 10 pm-7:30 am on Saturday. If she always slept like that, I think we would move to the island full time! 😉

Every time we head up to the island we talk about how lucky we are to have a connection to this place. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up vacationing here. My great aunt and uncle have owned a condo-just down the road from my in laws condo-for as long as I can remember, and my grandparents used to rent a place here for the winter as well. I have a photo album filled with pictures of me at the island as a young teen and lately Leah has become obsessed with carrying that particular photo album around and asking multiple times about everyone she sees as she flips through the pages and intently studies each photo. It makes me smile to think that one day she will have her own photo albums filled with pictures of her and her siblings playing on the same sand mommy did when she was a girl.

So a relaxing weekend it was and now we are back home where we have been enjoying some “cold” South Florida weather; perfect days in the low 70’s and chilly 50 degree nights. I know, I know, everyone up north dealing with snow storm after snow storm probably wants to kill me for calling that “cold,” but I’m just saying; when you live in South Florida, AKA the tropics, you gladly take any temps lower than 80 and call it winter!

New York…Part 2

So, besides having a blast in NYC, we did a LOT more over the 10 days we spent with Brett’s family on Long Island. Some of which included…

1. Attending my sister-in-law’s baby shower. Katie is due almost exactly one month before me and she is also having a girl!

Leah joined the girls at the shower as well…

2. We walked around Brett’s pretty home town and spent a lot of time on his parent’s gorgeous front porch!

3. Ate a LOT of Cheerios…(Leah’s current favorite food)

4. Spent some time swimming at Brett’s grandparent’s beautiful back yard pool.

5. Went on a LOT of walks (I’ll tell you what, after living in flat Florida for over 3 years, suddenly having hills made pushing a stroller VERY difficult!!) and stopped to play at a few neighborhood playgrounds.

6. Spent lots of time with family and a certain someone got VERY spoiled with attention and gifts!

^^Leah’s second cousin, Emma, who introduced Leah to the fabulous new world of Barbies. These two became quick friends and it wasn’t long before Leah was asking to play with Emma every night!!

7. Attended the wedding rehearsal dinner at the Becker’s friend’s AMAZING beach house.

^^The wonderful bride-to-be spoiled Leah with a special flower girl present which included Leah’s current top favorite Disney princess doll, Tiana!! (Side note, Leah has yet to watch any of the Disney princess movies, but she does have all the “Little People” princesses and from day one, Tiana has been her all time favorite.

8. Got our wedding hair done!

Okay, so Leah’s might have been a little less fancy. 😉

9. And then it was wedding time!!!

^^Photo by Ryan & Heidi Studio

^^^^Photo by Ryan & Heidi Studio

^^Photo by Ryan & Heidi Studio

The wedding was BEAUTIFUL. It was held at the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport, NY and the weather could not have been more perfect. The bride was a little concerned with rain in the week leading up to the big day (the ceremony was held outside), but Saturday was gorgeous and sunny, without a cloud in the sky. I was a little apprehensive as to how Leah would do as the flower girl, but she did well! When her big moment came she got a little shy, but with the help of Brett’s aunt, she proudly walked down the aisle (throwing a petal or two) and then spent the rest of the ceremony sitting with her nana and papa in the front row. So, overall, I would say Leah’s first flower girl gig was a success!

This kid turned into a little dancing MACHINE at the wedding!! Which honestly surprised me, considering the fact that she hasn’t shown much interest in dancing in the past. We happened to be sitting right by a corner of the dance floor, which I think helped her confidence since mommy and daddy were never too far. It was hilarious because as soon as the music started, she took control of that little corner of the floor and started hopping and spinning (her current dance move involves a sort of side shuffle where she hops primarily on one foot around in a circle over and over again. I think it won’t be long before this dance becomes a national craze…) along to the music. Multiple times people attempted to come over and dance with her, but every time someone tried she would stop in her tracks and shyly stare them down until they finally admitted defeat and moved on. And then she would go right back to dancing away in her little corner. Dancing with daddy was Leah’s only exception, besides that, she was strictly a solo act. I’m not kidding when I say that this kid danced it up until the wedding ended at 10:30 pm, ONLY leaving the dance floor when the music finally shut down. Of course she was passed out in the car by the time we even left the parking lot and the next morning she slept until 9 am, got up for an hour to eat breakfast, and then went back down until 2 pm. The girl was worn out!!! It was such a fun wedding though and we were SO happy to be there to celebrate with Lauren and Jessup, who were such a gorgeous couple!

And on our last day….

10. We worked on our camera poses…

And celebrated a certain someone’s early second birthday!!

And with that it was back to hot and sunny Florida! We had such a blast with so many of Brett’s family members and Leah is STILL asking where everyone is. We are so glad we got to spend such a good amount of time with everyone! 🙂

New York City

We are back home after 10 fabulous family-filled days in New York! I have SO many pictures and stories to share, so, to spare you from a 100 picture post, I’ll be splitting them up among a few different posts. The first thing I wanted to share was our time spent in New York City. I know I have mentioned it before (and have written about our love story in the past), but NYC is a very special place for me and Brett because it’s the city where our relationship began. I lived in Manhattan for 2 years while I completed my master’s program at Bank Street College on the Upper West Side and Brett and I spent MANY, MANY weekends exploring the city and falling deeper and deeper in love. At the time he was living in Boston (and then later in D.C) and to this day I wonder how much money we spent on the Bolt and Mega Bus, traveling back and forth. One things for sure, NYC is a fun and romantic place to fall in love so when we were planning our trip back to NY I knew that we would HAVE to spend some time there.

Tuesday night my in-laws generously agreed to watch Leah so Brett and I could take the train into the city for a romantic date night (they live on Long Island-about a 45 minute ride from the city). When Brett and I were planning our city date we knew exactly where we wanted to go for dinner-Fred’s-a restaurant on the Upper West Side where we had our first date 6 years ago! The restaurant is one of our favorites; delicious and quaint with a fun dog theme (restaurant patrons bring in their own pictures of their dog to hang on the walls).

I ordered exactly what I ordered on our first date: the veggie burger with avocado and a side of fries. Luckily, Fred’s seriously has one of the BEST veggie burgers (and fries) in Manhattan (and trust me, I have eaten a LOT of veggie burgers around the city..) so it wasn’t tough to order it again! I seriously ate soo much because who knows the next time we will be back!

After dinner we spent some time walking through Central Park and around my old neighborhood. I couldn’t help pointing out all the places that brought back memories, “Hey, remember when we ate at that Italian restaurant and I lost my credit card??” and “That’s the grocery store I would hike all the way home from because it always had the cheapest cereal!” Brett, to his credit, listened intently and laughed at all my stories as I reminisced. Although he did think I was crazy when I kept saying “Can you believe we are back here?? I think I’m going to cry…” over and over again. I can’t help it; pregnant emotions or not, this place means a LOT to me. And to us as a couple. It’s where I sat in my apartment and wrote epic 30 page emails back and forth, it’s where I would smile while shlepping the kids I nannied for around the Children’s Museum and a text message from Brett would suddenly appear on my phone, it’s where I realized that I had found the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

Standing on the corner of my old street: 90th and Central Park West.

We finished the perfect date night with a trip to the Shake Shack for custard (my all time favorite NYC destination). The flavor of the day was toasted marshmallow with Swiss chocolate pieces and it was AMAZING. Sadly, we were both so full from our huge dinner that we could only split this small cup, but it was worth the belly ache to eat even a little bit.

Wednesday morning we headed into the city with Brett’s family to visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this museum, and I have to say, it is amazing (in a very emotional and sad way). Walking through the museum; seeing pictures, hearing original voice mails from the day of, truly feeling as if we were experiencing the day all over again, was very overwhelming, but I’m so glad I got to experience it.

After spending some time at the museum we broke away from his family to head back up to the UWS to visit one of my favorite grad school friends and her darling two kids. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture with Marika, or of her precious one year old Stephen, but I did manage to remember to take a picture of Leah and Lucy together! They are almost exactly 2 years apart and Leah had a blast playing with Lucy and all of her amazing toys. I am so glad we got a visit in, as brief as it may have been!

Next, we hightailed it up Broadway to our favorite pizza place. It’s no secret that both Brett and I LOVE pizza and NYC sure does have a LOT of good pizza places. While I was living there we would try multiple places every time Brett came to visit and we quickly came to the conclusion that Broadway Pizza definitely made the best pies on the UWS. So we just HAD to go while we were in the neighborhood!

Leah, who was so exhausted from her play date and our full city day, fell asleep on the way so she missed out on the pizza eating. But, being the nice parents that we are, we made sure to save her a piece of her to enjoy when she woke up.

After enjoying some delicious pizza we headed back down to lower Manhattan and did one last stop on the High Line before making our way out of the city.

And with that our time in NYC was sadly brought to an end. I was so thrilled that I got to spend some alone time in the city with Brett as well as a fun family day showing Leah around one of our favorite places in the world. Up next, pictures from the wedding and a story of our dancing flower girl!




Gone to Carolina in my mind….

Oh my goodness, I have SO many pictures from our time in North Carolina (sadly, 90% of them are crappy Iphone pictures…) and yet, I feel like the photos only represent about 1/3 of our entire trip. We did SO much over the course of our 5 day vacation that it was impossible to catch every moment. But, with that being said, I’ll still bore you with the 50 odd random photos that I did manage to take. I’ll warn you, most of them are of my sister’s baby Amelia, because she seriously is the cutest little squish that I have ever seen!

As silly as it sounds, one of the things that I was MOST excited about with this trip was getting Leah and Milly in the tub together. I love, love, LOVE having a daughter together with my older sister and I take any opportunity possible to have them do things together (including bathing). Lets be honest, there is just something adorable about two chubby babes in the tub together and I was excited that Milly was finally old enough to sit up on her own and splash around with Leah. Leah was pretty thrilled at having a tub mate and I think she is going to greatly enjoy her little sister/brother once they are old enough to play with!

One of the best parts of the trip was our hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My sister and her husband had a hiking back pack for Milly, but since we did not have anything for Leah, sadly she and Brett had to miss out on the hike. They drove with us to the base of the trail and then stayed back, letting Leah run around the base and the visitors center, while the rest of us hiked to the top. It was funny because it was 80 degrees out when we left, but once we got up the mountain to the trail, it had dropped over 20 degrees!! My sister Caitlin and I were freezing our butts off, but luckily our brother-in-law came to the rescue with 2 long sleeve t-shirts that he happened to have in his backpack. Unfortunetely is was a super cloudy/foggy day (which did make the trail look pretty cool!) but it made it so we didn’t have the best views at the top. Still a great hike, none the less. My parents have hiked all over North Carolina, but this trail is one of their favorites. They named the hike “Prayer Mountain” due to the great ledge at the top where they sat and prayed a LOT over the year whenever there was a need. I’ll tell you what, there is something about sitting up there, admiring God’s amazing creation, that does fill you with the desire to pray!

And the BEST part was after the hike, when my parents took us to this A-MAZING bakery that sold these pastries called Mountain Eclairs. They were delicious and tough to finish, even when splitting them, because they were SO incredibly huge and filled with so much amazing cream! It definitely was the perfect ending to a hard hike! Leah greatly enjoyed reaping the benefits of the hard hike, without putting in any of the work…

Some pictures from our time out and about my parents gorgeous town of Asheville…..

Also during our visit….
We celebrated some birthdays (both of my sisters had birthdays at the end of May)

Leah waiting for her cake. It was funny, because after having 2 birthday celebrations in a row, every time we sat down to dinner Leah said “Happy B’rday!! Cake!!”

Leah enjoyed walking my parent’s dog, Cooper, and she pretty much insisted on taking Cooper for a walk around the block every day.

These two girlies were so, so cute together. I’ve been worried at how Leah will react with the new baby, but I really think she will be a great big sister. She LOVED playing with Milly, giving her huge hugs around the neck, petting her head, and exclaiming “oh no! Meme no cry!” whenever Milly got upset. It was so much fun getting to watch them interact and it made me even more excited to add number 2 into the mix!

On our last night in town we went to a local minor league baseball game. My brother-in-law is a huge baseball fan and it was adorable to watch him hold Leah on his lap and try to teach her about the game. I thought Leah wouldn’t last long (the game started at 7 and we were there past 9) but she LOVED every minute of “Bay-ball!” and she was happy and content to be passed from lap to lap and watch the game all evening.

I think this picture is deceiving. When I take pictures my bump still looks super small, but I swear it’s there!!! I think I look bigger in person than in pictures, but I know there still isn’t much there, even at 17 weeks. Oh the joys of being tall.

Such a great time and I cannot wait to go back! Asheville is such a hip town, very trendy and artsy with tons of cool shops and restaurants, and yet it also sits surrounded by gorgeous mountains and countryside. I think I would move there in a heartbeat, but I would have to convince this husband of mine. 😉 My wonderful parents just made the visit too much fun, I didn’t want it to end!! Until next time, North Carolina!

Savannah and the Great Hotel Debacle

Two weeks ago I embarked on my first girls weekend (and sans Leah weekend) with my two good friends Katie and Christine to travel up to Savannah to see our friend Shannon get married on an absolutely GORGEOUS April Saturday. The trip was an absolute blast. Not only did I have an awesome time exploring downtown Savannah and Tybee Island (where our hotel was) with Katie and Christine, but the wedding was beautiful, the bride was glowing and the cake was delicious (and, let’s be honest, that’s the part we all look forward to the most, am I right??) Although the weekend was a huge success, we had a bit of a rocky beginning. It has become one of those stories that we now tell to friends and family, laughing and adding in “oh and remember this?” details as we talk over each other, each wanting to share the funniest parts, but in the moment it was anything but hilarious. And with that I give to you: The Great Hotel Debacle.

Setting: Ocean Plaza Beach Resort on Tybee Island (about 25 mins outside of Savannah).
After a long 7 1/2 hour drive from South Florida, we pull up in front of the hotel around 9:30 pm, tired and ready to check in. At this point we’re already looking forward to crawling into bed and finding a good chick flick to watch until we fell asleep. Katie runs into the lobby and checks in, comes out with the room key, and we set off to the room. As we walk I’m already complaining that it’s a first floor, over looking the parking lot room (aka cheap) because I’m convinced that someone will break in and kill us during our sleep. (You never know). We arrive at the room, I have the key. I scan the key, it works, and I begin to push open the door. Immediately I notice a Hawaiian shirt hanging in the open closet. “Hmm…that is so weird,” I think to myself, as I continue to push open the door. Suddenly, the stench of strong liquor wafts out and the worry starts to set in. I push the door open a little more and see two people, completely passed out on the bed. “People! There are people in there!” I hiss to Katie and Christine, as I slam the door shut. “Quick!! Let’s go before they come out!” My friend Christine exclaims, as we go running down the hall, back towards the lobby. (Side note, they never did come out or even seem to realize strangers had entered their locked room. They were really passed out). We go back to the front desk. “Umm, so there are people in our hotel room?” Katie tentatively says to the front desk staff. “What?!” The woman exclaims with a bewildered expression on her face. “Drunk people. In the room you gave us?” Katie explains. “What?!” the woman asks again. “Yes…..drunk people” Katie patiently says again. “How did this happen!?” The woman asks. “Umm….I’m not sure?” Katie starts looking concerned at the staff’s ability to know what is going on in their hotel. The assistant manager comes out. She too is equally perplexed at the thought of people in our room, and yet she doesn’t seem too concerned about actually checking to see who they are and how, in fact, they got in there. “I’m sure it’s all fine….” she nods. Then comes the kicker, they are booked at “100% capacity” (lies). “Umm, okay…so, where does that leave us? With the drunk people in our room and all?” we ask. No worries, the assistant manager has a plan! We will be staying in the Hospitality Suite for the night! (she says with a reverence that shows just how lucky we are!) And then they will put us in a normal room the next day. Well, okay, great! Fancy us! Let’s go! And then the assistant manager did something somewhat odd. She walked us OUT of the hotel and proceeded to lead us across the parking lot. We begin to get worried. Where is this special Hospitality Suite, if not the hotel? She brings us to a dingy looking office building across the parking lot. We walk into a dirty, dark, old elevator (a PRIVATE elevator! She exclaims). Our worry begins to heighten. She pulls out an old door key and starts fiddling to open a dirty door. We walk inside. And are greeted with….a conference room table? And through there, into a plain room with 2 double beds against the wall. No nightstand, no telephone, no television. Just two beds and two mismatched dressers. “Okay! Goodnight!!” the assistant manager all but screeches as she runs from the suite. We continue to stand in the middle of the room. Do we laugh? Do we cry? Are we being punked?? At this point we’re really not sure. Katie attempts to take a shower. The water comes out in 2 lukewarm trickles. We start to realize that this is not a joke, and that we really are expected to stay in this dirty room that we are currently paying almost $150 a night for. Katie points out some dead flies. Christine calls her mom, and after a good pep talk (no matter how old you are, you always need a good pep talk from your mother) we decide to man up and march back down to the lobby. We have rights, gosh darn it!! I do the talking, because, let’s be honest, I can really be a stubborn pain in the butt when I want to be. There is much eye rolling on the assistant managers part as I loudly (and quite passionately) explain how we can NOT stay there and that we are young women staying alone and safety is an issue, thank you very much!! And there is not even a telephone! Or a television! Or a PAD OF PAPER! It really won’t do. We somehow finagle a full nights refund. They explain again and again that they are “100% full” (lies. again). I exclaim that it is not my problem and they need to figure it out. They said they will see what they can do. 45 minutes later they call Katie’s cell: “A magical room has suddenly appeared!!” We get the key, go up to the 4th floor (no murderers breaking in there!) and enter a beautiful room overlooking the ocean. Which we all know they had the entire time, but never wanted to give us. And that’s how we ended up with an upgraded beach front room in which we stayed in 2 nights, but only paid for 1.
Moral of the story? Just because they call it a Hospitality Suite, doesn’t mean it’s fancy. Also, argue at hotels, you tend to always get your way in the end.

The Happiest Place on Earth

When my parents first told me that they would be in Orlando for a few days and would love to meet at Disney World, my husband was unconvinced. Living in Florida, we totally planned on taking Leah (and any future children) to Disney, but we always expected that it would be a little later in life. Obviously Disney is very expensive and it was hard to justify spending all that money to take a 1 1/2 year old to Magic Kingdom. (Leah’s ticket was free but 2 adult 1 day tickets are about $200 total). I, however, was totally on board the moment my parents suggested the idea. I grew up spending many weeks at Disney World and the times I spent there are some of my favorite vacation memories to this day. I could not WAIT to start the fun with Leah and I jumped at the chance to get to spend Leah’s first Disney trip with her grandparents; the very two people who made all my Disney dreams come true growing up. So, after much convincing, Brett got on board and we headed off to a fun-filled weekend at the happiest place on earth. 🙂 Of course, the day we left I started noticing a slight rash on Leah, one that got worse throughout the weekend (you’ll be able to see it on her face in some pictures) due to a nasty virus, but I was seriously impressed with this kid. Not only did she rally, spending a near 11 hour day at Magic Kingdom on Saturday, but she also stayed in a great mood the entire weekend and had a blast! This kid already knows that an illness cannot hold you back from experiencing the thrill of Disney!

We stayed at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Pros of this resort include it’s location to Magic Kingdom (it is the only Disney resort within walking distance to Magic Kingdom as it is literally across the street). We thought this would be convenient if we wanted to go back and forth from the park to the hotel if Leah was in desperate need of a nap. We never needed to, however, because my kid went and went until she dropped, falling asleep in her stroller for a brief nap, before waking up and being ready to go once again!

The hotel was also beautiful and had great food. We ate dinner one night in their casual buffet style restaurant and it was delicious. The Disney monorail also went right into the hotel and could be taken (for free) to the park and two other Disney resorts (The Polynesian and the Grand Floridian). The cons include the price ($$$) and the fact that it doesn’t really have a good Disney FEEL to it. Besides the cute Mickey Mouse pillows on the bed, the place had more of a fancy hotel/convention center feel rather than a Disney resort.

The biggest perk of the resort, however, was that the close location enabled us to buy our tickets at the resort and then head over to the park right at opening time (8 am) where we headed straight back to Fantasy Land. Word to the wise, if you go to Magic Kingdom, immediately head straight to Fantasy Land, which is located at the back of the park. Most people come in and stay around Main Street and then head to the closest “section” so the back of the park remains almost empty first thing in the morning. Fantasy Land is where all the princesses and characters/rides such as Winnie the Pooh, Ariel, Beauty and the Beast, It’s a Small World, etc, are located anyways (which are the best rides/shows for little ones!) so that’s where I most wanted to take Leah anyways. We sailed through Fantasy Land, going on every ride, seeing every show, and meeting every princess, and we never waited for ANYTHING for more than 5-10 minutes!

Leah wasn’t too sure about the princesses, although she would say “Hi” and “I love you” to all the characters we met as long as she was safely nestled in mommy’s arms. 😉 I was honestly the most worried about how she would react to the rides. Some of the more low-key rides (such as It’s a Small World) allow little ones to sit on an adult’s lap, but most of the rides that have a lap safety bar (which is most of them, including Winnie the Pooh) require a child Leah’s age to sit on their own. I was worried that she would be scared or would cry if I tried to sit her by herself and that would greatly affect what rides we would  be able to take her on. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Leah LOVED the independence that came with sitting on her own. On every ride she would either sit between me and Brett or grandma and grandpa and she would look as pleased as punch with herself and would immediately hold onto the safety bar when it came down over her lap. Even rides that are a little scarier or intense (like The Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean) did not phase her in the least bit and she was as happy as can be on every single ride. Her favorite rides were definitely It’s a Small World (because of all the “babies”) and the spinning tea cups. That one surprised me! My mom and I took her on, thinking that we would just ride without spinning because we didn’t want to make her dizzy. Well, Leah had a different idea and as soon as we sat down, she immediately grabbed the center wheel and spun and spun and spun the whole time!

My dad had an app on his phone that told the current ride wait times (I think the app is called “Disney World InPark Assistant”) so we went ahead and immediately got fast passes for the two “big kid” rides we wanted to go on, Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain. Disney does allow “parent exchanges” where you can both wait in line with the baby and then take turns riding once you get through the line, but I married a man who hates all roller coasters (even “baby” Disney coasters) so he stayed with Leah while me and my parents used our fast passes to run through the lines and ride the 2 coasters. Honestly, between good planning and using fast passes we barely waited in line for ANYTHING all day long.

My sweet parents had gotten reservations at The Crystal Palace for a late lunch/early dinner. The Crystal Palace is a sit down buffet style restaurant right in Magic Kingdom where Winnie the Pooh and friends come around and visit while you eat. The food was yummy and we loved seeing the characters! Leah pointed and yelled “Pooh!” as he walked around, but was less enthused when it came time to take pictures with them. She wouldn’t let them touch her one bit, not even for a high-5, but she never cried and was definitely interested in visiting with them from afar! 😉

^^birthday cupcake to celebrate my 28th bday!!

More pics from our afternoon/evening at Magic Kingdom…..

^^Someone couldn’t make it through the last line of the night, waiting to ride the Pirates of the Caribbean. Luckily, she woke up right before we boarded our boat and made it through her last ride of the day awake!

Sunday we relaxed and took the monorail over to the Grand Floridian for a brunch. Now that is a gorgeous resort! We enjoyed a yummy meal at the cafe and then walked around, exploring the pools and hotel grounds. This was the day that I started to see that the virus was starting to get to Leah. The resort had an awesome splash pad that, on any normal day, Leah would have LOVED, and yet then I stuck her toes in the warm water and asked if she wanted to play she looked at me with her sad eyes and said “No, mama.” That’s when I know my kid is not feeling well!

After a relaxing stroll through the resorts we packed up and headed home! The weekend was over way too quickly, but we sure did have a blast. The trip also proved that you CAN do Magic Kingdom with a toddler and still have a blast! We are so, so thankful to my wonderful parents and the magical weekend we were able to experience with them!