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Disney Cruising with a Baby…

16 Feb

We recently went on our first Disney cruise with LO.  I had done my research and had gone back and forth from thinking it was the BEST idea ever to the WORST idea ever.  Where was it? It was definitely doable.  Would I do it again? Definitely!

Why should you go on a Disney Cruise with your baby?

  • Lots of time together.
  • You can’t be forced to do any housework.
  • They can make baby food at the restaurants
  • It’s always easy to run back to your stateroom for an outfit or diaper change.
  • The nursery onboard where baby can stay

What was the one thing I didn’t like about cruising with a baby? The pack and plays had a bar that go through the middle (Why are they designed like that?) and she didn’t sleep more than 3 hour chunks at night at a time.  It was either from the boat rocking (it definitely took her a tiny bit to get used to it) or from the bar. It wasn’t in a spot that we could have her avoid it.

We did have her spend a bit of time in the It’s a Small World Nursery.  You pay by the hour, but all the counselors are certified in some child care courses.  They asked us to bring her back again as she was so well behaved.  They offer snacks or will feed the baby based on what you provide.  They will also call you if they become upset or agitated and need to be picked up ahead of time. It never happened to us and she willingly went with them each time.  (She also seemed to enjoy napping there better than in the room. I think that crib was more like what she was used to – if only we could get one in our cabin!)

The nursery has kids up to 3 years of age, so she was one of the youngest since she sailed right under 8 months and you have to be 6 months to sail. However, they were great with her and even offered to let her stay longer and sleep one time while she was sleeping.  (We took her out, but they carried her out and she stayed asleep!)

I was anxious about getting baby food made on-board. I read it was possible at the buffet and at any dinner restaurant. It was really simple. I don’t know why I was worried. Each night at dinner we picked a fruit or vegetable to have made for her for the following night.  This way it was ready right at the beginning of dinner. Our servers were great at making sure her food came before or during our appetizers so we could feed her and then eat our dinner.

They do have high chairs on-board. However, we got a travel one from amazon before we left that had a little bit of extra back support for her (and a tray which she loves).  We were happy to have it as we even used it in our room to feed her lunch once.

Each morning we got her a banana purred for breakfast.  Throughout the cruise she ate: sweet potato, avocado, banana, pears, apples, carrots, and squash.  We had some prepacked stuff that we used in our room or the last morning when they were out of banana and she was too impatient to wait for the apples that we ordered.  It was definitely easy and the Cast were super helpful.

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She saw her first movie in a theater on board (The Good Dinosaur). They had a “family friendly” movie hour where they left a few  lights on, the sound down a bit, and talking was expected. She made it about halfway through before falling asleep.  Each afternoon we took her up to the deck to nap in the breeze which she enjoyed.  We played in the lobby with the toys we brought on-board, entered her in the diaper dash (she looked so cute!), and even watched a matinee performance of Believe that she stayed awake for about half of it.

Early dinner was a must for our cruise for her. She enjoys her bedtime by 8:30 p.m. most nights, so after an early dinner and wandering around the ship a bit, she was ready for bed. We ordered room service or watched tv or snuck out two nights while my parents came by to hang out in our room.  Disney has the stage shows on tv so we watched them in the room and didn’t feel like we were missing out.

We didn’t explore too much at ports – we will have to stop again when she’s older! We got off and walked around a bit.  In St. Thomas, we did the butterfly garden which was definitely worth it with a small child, but other than that just saw a bit of the islands close to the port and got back on within a few hours.  We could have left her in the nursery, but I was really enjoying my time with her and together as a family so we decided to stay close instead of letting her spend more time in the nursery.

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All in all it was an amazing trip with her.  We will definitely be taking her again, and wouldn’t hesitate to take another baby.

Babymoon/Birthday Vacation…

26 Mar

Last year when we were setting up our vacation for this year, we took time off for our birthdays. It was the first year that we ever took any time off in quite a few years. We wanted to either get on a cruise or go away somewhere for my birthday.  However, since we originally took the time off, we are now blessed with a little baby girl so it became our babymoon or last vacation before baby arrives.

A cruise was out as I had passed 24 weeks and am no longer allowed on cruise ships. So a road trip was our next choice. I didn’t want to fly (as much as I would have loved going to Disneyland), I’ve made the choice not to fly during this pregnancy if I can help it.  So two road trip possibilities came into play either Memphis or Hilton Head, SC.  Eventually, Hilton Head won as it is only about a five hour drive from our house.  Considering I’m now just in the last trimester of pregnancy and needed to get up and stretch my legs every 1.5 hours in the car, I definitely think we made the right choice.  We both had never been to South Carolina so we didn’t know what to expect.

The Beach House is located on the beach, while the actual Resort is not. It's just a 1.5 mile bike ride or 5 minute drive away.

The Beach House is located on the beach, while the actual Resort is not. It’s just a 1.5 mile bike ride or 5 minute drive away.

We stayed one night at the Omni Oceanfront Resort. It was a gorgeous resort with plenty of amenities. We didn’t arrive until about 9 p.m. after leaving our house late and stopping for dinner at Cheeburger Cheeburger nearby, so we didn’t really explore the Resort much. Our room was gorgeous and we’d definitely stay there again.

It was also a bit colder than we would have liked since it was 60s/40s most days and cloudy or rain. However, we can have fun wherever we go and make the best of things.  After our one night right on the beach, we moved over to Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort which checked off our last Disney Resort in the US that isn’t attached to a Theme Park. We were lucky and our room was ready when we showed up at around 11 a.m. after a late breakfast at the Palmetto Bay Sunrise Cafe. (The Cafe was super delicious and is on our must-visit list the next time we return.)

Banana Rum Pancakes with Sausage! Yum!

Banana Rum Pancakes with Sausage! Yum!

We were impressed with the Resort as the Front Desk Cast Member came out to greet us by name after buzzing us in through the gate. She also checked us in and called our room after we were settled to make sure that we had everything we needed. The Resort is located right on a harbor between other hotels, apartments, restaurants, and stores.

We were in building 20 which is close to the middle of the Resort. The Resort has corn hole, horseshoes, shuffleboard, and tons of other activities on the grounds along with two pools.  It’s surrounded by nature and even though they were doing construction on the building next to us, we hardly heard it.  Our room was absolutely gorgeous and it was definitely a convenience to have a full kitchen.

We settled in the room and then went to explore the island after reading through two guides they provided about things to do. We drove around looking at various shops and also went to the Coastal Discovery Museum.  We went through the building of the museum and part of the outside. However, it then started to rain and considering it was only in the 50s, it was cold. My husband graciously agreed to cut the museum trip short and we went back to driving around the island exploring.  We stopped at Publix to pick up some groceries for breakfast the next morning and some beverages for us to enjoy over the next few days and then headed back to the Resort. We had lunch at a local BBQ place that was recommended, but we both weren’t that impressed and I didn’t end up eating much.

We then headed to meet Shadow, the resident dog of Hilton Head. He seemed to love my husband (with good reason most dogs do!) We learned about Shadow from his trainer, played a game of pool in the den, and I discovered the put out fresh cookies and hot apple cider daily. (Yum!)

Shadow!

I have been battling a cold, so I was tired and just wanted a night in our room. I used yelp to find a local pizza place. We ended up calling Giuseppi’s Pizza and ordering a pizza and garlic knots to pick up which was five minutes from the Resort via car. We then curled up and watched a DVD (Bears) while I devoured half the pizza and garlic knots. It was drizzling out still, so it was perfectly okay with me that we just enjoyed our hotel room and some uninterrupted company with each other.

The next morning we got up and it was my birthday. The Resort had dropped off a birthday gift of chocolate and taffy. I was also given a card at check-in. (Very Nice!) It was the warmest day of our visit so we had plans to go explore the beach house and spend some time at the pool.  The beach was cold. We were bundled, but we sat there for awhile reading books and just enjoying the fresh air. We ate lunch at the Beach House (steak sandwich, mahi mahi sandwich, and onion rings) which was delicious and then headed back to our room and went to the pool.

Beach!

Beach!

We spent some time at the pool which was heated reading. During this time we got to watch a lifeguard save two girls that were being ignored by their parents. They were crying hysterically for help and the life guard jumped into the water to save them. He blew his whistle, and by the time he hit the water, three other lifeguards appeared from nowhere. One took over his post patrolling the rest of the pool while the other two went to help in any way that they could.  Meanwhile, the girls parents just stared at the lifeguard saving their children.  Eventually after they were questioned, they got up and were told by the life guard that their children needed life vests. Sadly, the girls had been swimming fine moments before and had been obviously trying to get their parents attention. We were very impressed by their response and I was glad that the lifeguard was sent to go get new clothes as it was still only in the 50s and he was now drenched.

We spent some more time at the pool and my husband enjoyed the slide.  After that, we went back to our room and got into dry clothes and warmed up. We had picked up hot chocolate the day before, so we made some hot chocolate and slowly got ready for dinner.

Our Room

Our Room

We then went out to explore a different section of the island and stopped at the Island Fudge Shop.  We then ended up driving out for dinner a bit early as we were done exploring the island. We debated going to the lighthouse, but you had to pay to get even close to it which wasn’t worth it in our opinion.  We had decided on Hudson’s on the Docks for dinner due to multiple yelp reviews saying how delicious it was and it featured fresh seafood.  We enjoyed our dinner and were impressed by the quick friendly service.

After dinner, we went back to the Resort and went out to play corn hole.  Apparently, I’m a natural and won the first game rather quickly.  After a few games and a walk around, we went back to our room and enjoyed our last night.

Hilton Head Island is definitely a different sort of vacation. It’s relaxing. There is plenty to do if you want to do activities at the Resort, but if you want to just relax on a beach, a bench, or a hammock there are options. It was definitely quiet and a nice relaxing getaway.  We would definitely visit again in the future. We realized that next time we would have a little one that may want to do more of the kids activities.

We drove home the next day after sleeping in and going to part of Shadow’s Bunny Hunt.  We stopped in Savannah for lunch right by the river. While it was nice to see the Savannah, it wasn’t really a city that either of us could see ourselves vacationing at in the future.

It was a good trip. We got to spend some time together and relax away from preparing for our exciting addition arriving in June!

Visiting Wisconsin…

13 Aug

This year we were able to go up to Wisconsin to visit where I grew up as we haven’t been able to visit in a few years.  We were only there for a semi quick weekend trip. However, we got to see a lot of people and had a lot of fun.

We visited the Milwaukee County Zoo one of our days which is always one of my favorites.  I love the train, I love some of the buildings – it has lots of memories so I’m happy we were able to go again.

We also spent two days at the Wisconsin State Fair.  This fair has ruined me for all other fairs.  The options of food is simply amazing and beyond delicious.  When we went to the Florida Fair earlier this year, we were disappointed as the most unique thing there was pork – at least that we could find.  However, the Wisconsin State Fair has lamb sandwiches, bison burritos and sandwiches, honey ice cream, maple cotton candy, etc. So many delicious things!

The fair is known for its Cream Puffs which I didn’t love too much growing up, but they’ve grown on me the older I’ve gotten and I have to admit other cream puffs I’ve had have not been as good, so maybe I’ve just been spoiled – like so many other things!

Cream Puff

Cream Puff

 

Between my husband and I we ate a lot of delicious stuff over the two days.  His favorite item that he had was a pizza cone. However, the Ruben egg rolls that they had years before were delicious too.

pizzacone

sausage pizza cone

I played it pretty safe my first day – nachos and a taco hot dog.  However, the second day I went a bit more crazy.  I had a Fat Elvis on a Stick which was a peanut butter cup deep fried with banana, chocolate, and bacon.  I also had a turkey and cranberry doughnut – both were oddly delicious although!

Fat Elvis

Fat Elvis

Turkey Donut

Turkey Donut

We also stopped for Kopp’s burgers and custard one night on the way home.  I forgot how delicious their burgers are, definitely need to be a stop on our next trip!  All in all it was a deliciously fun weekend. It was good to see friends and family and a good trip to visit Wisconsin.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates…

6 Jul

On our way back from Sanibel, we stopped by the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, FL.  We had to kill some time before heading to Culver’s for lunch so we looked what was around for us to do that would be cheap since we are Bok Tower Garden Members. (Love their reciprocal program – we save so much money!)  The Edison & Ford Winter Estates were on there so we decided to go. (There are plenty of other things nearby that I want to do, so I feel another Culver’s trip will be in our future!)

We went on a Sunday in the middle of summer. Most of the estates are outside, so you definitely don’t want to go if it’s raining or too hot. We got there around 10 a.m. and it wasn’t too busy. The suggested that we head out to do the outside part soon with our audio guides and come back to do the mini-museum later. We agreed and off we went.

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Edison’s house

It was amazing to see – to think that they only used it for a portion of the year! I would have definitely loved to work for Edison back in the day as he had electricity way ahead of everyone else. You can’t go in the actual estates, but you can go in some of the garage’s and see into the houses. A lot of the furniture is the original in the houses which is neat to see how it withstood time.

fig tree

fig tree

It was a gorgeous place to just walk around, reflect on history, relax, and work up a sweat for our delicious lunch!  It was also neat to see how the two were such close friends and old photos from the time period.

Edison's garage - Ford stored a lot of his vehicles in it.

Edison’s garage – Ford stored a lot of his vehicles in it.

pond area

pond area

Edison's Lab

Edison’s Lab

To get through the entire thing, take some photos, and go through the museum it took us about four hours. It wasn’t bad for the time period, and we were happy to just see a part of history. They apparently due more in depth lab tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays which could be interesting, but it was still neat just to see it all. I wish land and houses were still that cheap as they bought a lot of it for only $200.  However, that was a time in the past and you can’t dwell in it! However, you can definitely learn from it.

Sanibel Weekend…

3 Jul

A few weekends ago we went away for a mental health vacation. My husband and I needed to get away, relax, get our minds off some things, and we really wanted time just the two of us away. We hadn’t been on vacation solo since Europe back in October. So we were frantically looking for the time off and then the location. We ended up on Sanibel Island. Its only about three hours away from our house, there was enough to do. We had never been, so we booked the week before and off we went.

The living room at the Sanibel Inn.

The living room at the Sanibel Inn.

We drove there Thursday night after work.  We didn’t get in until about 11 and checked into the Sanibel Inn. It had decent reviews online and seemed to be in a decent location. We loved it and would stay there again in the future. It was clean, spacious, budget-friendly, and had free bicycle rentals which is a must for the island.  We had a room with a king size bed and then a separate living area with a mini kitchenette.

We went off for a bike ride our first morning. I hadn’t ridden a bike in over 15 years, but after a few shaky moments and almost falling off within the first five minutes, I was okay. We road up to the lighthouse on the island and all over stopping at a store called She Sells Sea Shores (sadly, not on Castaway Cay) and then road back.

lighthouse!

lighthouse!

After that we went to Cheeburger Cheeburger to continue to feed my burger craving that has developed over the past few months and never left.  We ate some delicious food, looked at some stores and then spent the rest of the day at the beach.   The island is interesting as all the stores are only open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. – except for the grocery store and some restaurants. It’s definitely touristy, but throughout our weekend we drove all over the entire island.

Our first night we ate dinner at the Mad Hatter. It had great reviews and it lived up to expectations. The food was delicious – scallops for me, lamb for my husband – although my favorite was my beet salad appetizer that I had. So delicious! I would drive the 3 hours just for that.  One of the best parts of the meal was the fact that we ended up eating next to a couple that was celebrating 55 years of marriage. They were adorable, they chatted to us some and the husband surprised the wife with a cake with their wedding photo put on it. The best part of that cake – the side said “55 Great Years.” That says a lot as they must have had a wonderful life together and it’s not over yet. I can’t wait to see how happily I am in love when we hit 55 years!

Beach Time!

Beach Time!

The next day we spent the morning at the beach and then explored some throughout the afternoon and evening.  The Inn not only had free bikes but set up lawn chairs and umbrellas for you. We will definitely decide to stay there next time as there will be next time. There is also a Shell Museum and a Wildlife Preserve on the Island. We went through both. I was a bit disappointed we didn’t see any manatees at the nature preserve, however, it was summer so I completely understand.  We then went through a walk on the beach while the sun set to shell and take in the sights.

beach!

beach!

The second day we ate at the Mucky Duck and Doc Ford’s Rum Grill – both were decent. The Mucky Duck was fast, not nearly the highest quality food, and Doc Ford’s seemed a bit over priced, but both were decent. I partially wanted to go to the Mucky Duck as they yell at in an episode of Gilmore Girls (Rory’s bad date after finals, the bar the guys head off to is the Mucky Duck) so it was at least as good as that!

Sunday we stopped by Edison and Ford’s Winter Estates before stopping at Culver’s and driving home! I wanted to stop there as the inner fat kid in my loves Culver’s – and they are on the west coast in Florida. Eventually, there hope to be some close to me in Orlando.  However, until then I will drive to the coast to get my craving filled when we don’t visit home.

The weekend was much needed and super enjoyable. It helped clear our heads and we discovered a new close-by vacation spot. Hopefully, the next visit will be sooner rather than later!

shells on the beach

shells on the beach

Castaway Cay 5k Update…

16 Feb

Recently, I went on another Disney cruise.  This time on the Disney Magic! There will be blogs coming about that, however, I ran the Castaway Cay 5k for the second time during this trip!

In the first one, I ran with my husband and my parents and we had tons of fun.  This one, I ran by myself while they ate breakfast.  Why did I decide to run it again? Well, I did want to get in some training runs as it was between two of my races.  However, I also wanted the medal. (As cheesy as it sounds, yes I did!)  The last time they were out of medals, so I wanted one.

It was the same course, so nothing new there.  I do feel it was just as hot as October when I ran it last! Not what I was expecting for January.  This time we waited at the start line for awhile while we were waiting for someone else to join us.  I definitely ran more this time – probably because I was in better shape than I was the last time I ran it.

I love how you are the first Guests off the boat!  We were leaving as they were announcing that you could get off the ship.  We wandered the way up to the start line and after the wait took off.  I started off a bit fast just to get away from about the 70 or so other people running.  I wanted to break off a bit, and I didn’t mind if people passed me.  I also forgot my inhaler and hadn’t used it yet that day, so I was going to listen to my lungs and go slow.

So I ran.  It was hot so I had to refill my water once on the loop back. It’s an easy course, you run up to the air strip, around the loop to the look out tower, up the air strip the rest of the way, back down to the look-out loop again, and then back to the start line.  I chatted with a few people along my way and really just had a good time.  It was hot so I was happy when I was done and I even set a record for that specific 5k.  This time I finished in just under 35 minutes!  Definitely not as slow as I expected, but I am super proud of it anyway!

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Did it!

 

Kew Gardens…

12 Feb

On our last day in London, we swapped hotels to stay at the Hilton right by Heathrow Airport.  We had an early flight out, so we figured this way we wouldn’t have to worry about the tube or transport to the airport.  We wandered around Hyde Park once more in the morning taking in the sites, and then we took the tub mid afternoon (For the record, loved the Jubilee line, it just always sounded so happy!) to our new hotel.  We were given a room right away as soon as we arrived, so we dropped our luggage and then decided to go to Kew Gardens.

Our last day of vacation, we never plan anything.  It is used as a catch-up day in case we missed something we really want to see.  On this trip, we managed to get everything done so it was on the list of ‘maybes’ and I am very glad we had the chance to go!

Kew Gardens!

Kew Gardens!

It is a beautiful botanical gardens that is slightly outside of London.  We definitely agreed we might want to spend a whole day there next time we go to London. We got there mid afternoon and only had a few hours before we had to leave.  So we went through it rather quickly, not stopping to enjoy, but instead taking in as much as we could!

It was gorgeous scenery which caused me to set up the camera for a few self shots.

This is probably my favorite!

This is probably my favorite!

My poor husband didn’t complain once to all the photos I took of him during vacation. He just lined up, let me set the timer and then let me run to go join him.  It was gorgeous seeing all the fall weather, the changing leaves, and just a touch of not what we normally see in Florida.

It had a little cafe where we got lunch and a huge gift shop. I wish we would have had more room in our luggage to bring more home, but at that point we were already packed and I knew mostly out of room.  However, it was definitely a great last day and just amazing to see all the greenhouses and architecture – definitely different from the Museums and historical buildings we were visiting all the other days of our trip.

a Japanese pagoda!

a Japanese pagoda!

I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to do something a bit outside of London – and it was included in our London Pass!  It was just on the outskirts of a cute neighborhood a few blocks from the tube station, so easy to get to even if it is not in the heart of London.