Toddler Tips at Disney

We love taking Luna everywhere, but we were definitely most excited about taking her to Disney World..the place where we met, dated, fell in love, got engaged and got married… it’s a second home to us. Clearly, visiting Disney (any Disney park) never gets old to us. Every trip is a great trip, but going with a baby is definitely a different kind of trip…in a very good way.

Everyone told us to wait to take Luna. They told us she wouldn’t like it, she won’t remember it (so?), it will be too stressful and so on and so on. Being us, we didn’t listen and took her anyways, and I’m so glad we did. Not only did she love it, but we enjoyed every bit of it too. Sure, we didn’t get to ride every single ride we wanted, but who cares. We’ve ridden them all a hundred times anyways. It was worth missing any ride to watch Luna hug Minnie, dance to classic Disney hits, play on every single slide and her eyes light up as she watched Disney Jr. Live. It was magical, as they say.

If you love Disney and want to take your toddler to Disney, do it. Luna was so entertained that she never once had a meltdown, that says a lot. Just take it slowly, make a plan, but don’t freak out if everything doesn’t go accordingly and most importantly, follow these tips:

1. Pack accordingly. Bring a stroller and pack it with snacks, water, toys, bubbles, regular diaper back stuff, a camera, sunscreen and you’ll still have room for souvenirs. Luna napped in her stroller everyday and was soooo nice to have something to carry all of our stuff as well!

*I recommend a stroller fan too!

stroller

2. Let the kids make friends. Disney is packed full of babies, toddlers and kids. Luna is not shy so she was thrilled to run up to other children and see what was happening. It was pretty darn cute to watch the toddlers interact, and kept them entertained if we were waiting in line. While waiting for Disney Jr. Live one adorable little boy gave one of his brand new Mickey suckers to Luna and they were instantly bff’s.

sucker

3. Let them be free. When riding the bigger rides we used Disney’s “rider switch” option, which allowed 2 of us to go on the ride, while one waited with Luna. Then the one who waited go to go through fastpass, and bring one of the previous riders with them. While the one person waited with Luna we just let her run free. It’s her favorite thing to do at the moment. She LOVED running around the parks, looking through the shops, exploring, watching the water fountains and climbing every single obstacle she came across.

running

4. Let nap time happen anywhere.

nap

5. Visit all the kiddy shows and rides that you use to skip. Disney Jr. Live is probably the one show we have never seen at Disney World. I have to admit, it’s pretty cute. I wouldn’t see it on my own, but I loved how much Luna loved it. She was dancing, clapping and totally into the characters on stage. Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog…

clubhouse

6. Take them on rides! There are A LOT of rides that are appropriate for babies! There’s Dumbo, Small World, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, the TTA, the flying carpets and that’s just to name a few! Luna seemed to enjoy the rides too. She was getting fussy right before Dumbo, but the second we started flying she was happy as can be.

flying dumbo

7. Seek shade! Florida is hot. We were worried about Luna (and ourselves) getting sunburned and overheated. Luckily, there are MANY shaded areas to hangout and cool off. One of my favorite spots is “The Seas” at EPCOT. After riding the Nemo ride, we hung out around the aquariums for a while. Luna clearly found it very peaceful.

manatee

8. Use your hotel pool. We never ever spent time at our hotel pre-Luna, but this time around I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and swim. We stayed at Coronado and they have a great pool, baby pool, playground and sandbox area. Luna had a blast!!! I’m pretty sure she still thought she was at Magic Kingdom.

pool

9. Take lots and lots and lots of photos! Your kids will only be this age at Disney once and you are going to want to remember all of those magical moments. We took a good combination of posed and candid photos. I love this moment that Bella caught on camera s we rode the TTA.

tta

10. Be cheesy and pack those Disney outfits. I’m always cheesy, so it’s no surprise that Luna, me and Bella had Disney outfits for each and every day.

minnie baby

11. As I’ve said before, plans do not always go accordingly, and that’s fine! I was really excited about having a character lunch with Luna at Crystal Palace, but Luna fell asleep before we got there and woke up after we left. No biggie, we just got all the characters to pose with the sleeping baby. Plus, I actually got to eat my entire lunch in peace!

pooh

12. Meet some characters.. Let’s be real, Luna does not actually care about them (minus Minnie), so I was not going to wait for hours and hours to meet someone like Elsa. However, it was worth getting a fastpass and waiting 5 minutes to meet Mickey, Goofy and Minnie on our last day. She wasn’t scared and seemed to like them.

goofey

13. Find the play places. There are quite a few “playground” type areas. The best was at Dumbo. Instead of waiting in line you actually go to an air conditioned indoor playground. They give you a buzzer and it buzzes when it’s your turn to get on the ride. BEST. IDEA. EVER.
dumbo

Hope this helps! Let me know your own tips for going  to Disney with a toddler!

Cheers!

I Suck at Cloth Diapering

Before Luna was born I made the decision to cloth diaper. It’s what all the cool Moms do now. It’s all over Pinterest, the blogs, the Mom groups and for good reasons too. It’s better for the baby’s skin, it saves money and is better for the environment. Plus, you get to buy all these adorable printed diaper covers. It was a no-brainer for me, but Husband had his doubts. He tried to argue that it would be difficult, time-consuming and expensive, but me and the many Internet articles I researched convinced him to let me go for it. And, go for it, is what I did.

Many moons ago, I wrote a cloth diaper review for a Thirsties brand diaper. In the review, I mentioned that I would soon write a blog about the do’s and don’t of cloth diapering. In case you’re wondering, that never happened. I kept waiting to “figure it out” and actually learn the “in’s and outs”. Along the way, I even made mental notes of what I learned, but mostly mostly I thought how much it all sucked. The changing, the rinsing, the washing, the stripping, the hanging, the drying, the folding, the smell and then repeat, repeat, repeat.

I have read so many of the “cloth diapering guru” blogs. I tried very hard to follow their tips and advice. I trusted all of their opinions and read all about their best brands, top detergents and must-follow rules. Now, I don’t want to say that any of these bloggers are liars. In fact, I’m sure they are not lying, but maybe, possibly, they are writing their cloth diapering experience through rose-colored glasses. Either that or I am just terrible at cloth diapering, which in all honestly is highly likely. Let me explain.

First of all, I suck at laundry. If you use cloth diapers you have to wash them all. the. time. It’s not just throwing them in the washer either. You have to separate the inserts before putting them in your expensive and lined diaper pail. If they’re poopy then you have to either dump them or spray them off in the toilet first. (Yes, we bought an attachment sprayer for our toilet.) In the washer, you must pre-wash, wash on hot, add an extra rinse cycle and use a special detergent. On top of that, if you have a high-efficiency washer, as I do, then plan to add a couple soaking wet towels and possibly a few more steps. Fun, eh? Oh, and because I suck at laundry and the diapers take over 2 hours to wash, I sometimes, almost always, forget them in the washer and then have to re-wash them. Wee!

poop

Luna and I very often spend all day out of the house. The majority of days we are gone all day, which means I have to pack A LOT of diapers. The cloth diapers are giant, so they take up tons of room in the diaper bag, so I often end up taking two bags. When the diapers are dirty, and we are out, I have to put them in a “wet bag” to keep them nice and sealed until we are home, which means I must carry around giant clean diapers and heavy dirty diapers. The biggest problem, is planning to do enough laundry to have enough spare diapers when we are out all day. It’s exhausting.

laundry

Then, there is the smell. Because I am no good at stripping diapers and can never line-dry them because I always manage to wash them on a rainy day, my cloth diapers reek of ammonia. It is probably one of the worst smells ever. The worst is after Luna wakes up in the morning. I swear those night-time diapers could knock you off your feet. In fact, the smell is probably what’s waking her at 6am every morning.

The absolute worst part about my whole cloth diapering experience, is that I have had to admit that Husband is right. This so rarely happens, and it’s so painful. It’s true, though. He was right. Cloth diapering is not for us. We haven’t give up yet. And by we I mean he. If it were solely my decision I’d have Amazon Prime send me disposables ASAP, but Husband is determined to use the diapers I insisted we buy. I do not give up easily though… if I can convince him to use cloth, I can convince him otherwise. Let the “pro-disposable diaper research” begin!

BTW, I am fully aware that cloth diapering can work and be great for many families, and kudos to you who do it and do it well. I have much respect for you and your ability to do laundry well and in a timely manner. I think you deserve some sort of medal for pulling it all off. However, I also believe that maybe I should get some sort of reward for being so self-aware and willing to admit I was wrong. Right? That’s not easy. So, can we all just get a big pat-on-the-back* because no matter how you do it, diapers suck.

Cheers!

*By “pat-on-the-back” I definitely mean a big latte.

How to Be a Successful Parent

Lately, I’ve seen several articles come up in my news feed with titles like 5 Tips to Being a Successful Stay-at-Home Mom, 10 Ways to Win at Being a Working Mom, or 7  Habits Every Best Mom Does Daily. I read a few, out of curiosity. I mean, who knew there were a set number of steps to take to succeed at parenting?? I began reading expecting to feel a little worse about myself afterward, and I wasn’t disappointed, although not exactly right either.

If I were to sum up the advice it would be to stick to a schedule, stay organized, take time for yourself, keep your house clean, meal plan/prep, have date nights…in other words, do it all. I totally understand this advice. These things are important and helpful, but if you are not doing these things daily, (and none of us are, am I right?) I have a sneaky little feeling that you can still be a “successful parent”. In fact, I’m sure of it. So sure, that I made my very own list of How to be a Successful Parent.

1.  Feed your kid. Keeping them hydrated is good too.

2. Give them a roof to sleep under. A tent counts.

3. Do what you can to keep them from harm. Like, running with knives and playing in the medicine cabinet should definitely not be allowed.

4. Lead by example. If you want them to treat others kindly, do the same. (However, slipping up is cool too. They should know we all make mistakes.)

5. Love them. It’s what they need most.

At the end of the day if you all survived, then give yourself a pat on the back because you are one successful parent. Hurrah!

She's alive, healthy, fed and definitely under a roof.
She’s alive, healthy, fed and definitely under a roof.

AND, if you managed to survive the day and clean your house then you most definitely deserve some ice cream.

Cheers!

Surviving a Road Trip With a Baby

In the last ten months we have taken a handful of road trips with Luna. She has driven from Nashville to Southeast Texas twice, across Tennessee a couple of times, to Hilton Head Island, Indiana and Atlanta. I’m thrilled to say we have survived every road trip with very few fits and in great time (and some with a dog!). Husband and I like to think of ourselves as expert travelers. I knew having a baby would change the way we travel, but definitely not keep us from doing it. Luna just made it slightly more challenging, and at ten months old I think we’ve got the “road trip with a baby” down pat.

PicsArt_1417495153839

1. Drive while baby sleeps. I cannot stress enough how important this is. Our route to Texas takes 11 hours. Prior to Luna we have always made the trip in 11 hours or less. The first time we attempted this road trip with Luna I knew I didn’t want to drive all day because a) I didn’t want Luna to be stuck in her carseat all day, b) I didn’t want to be stuck in the car all day, making multiple stops and wasting time. We decided to begin driving at 8pm, Luna’s bedtime. It worked like a charm. In fact, the most recent trip took us 11 hours there and 11 hours back. Bam!

2. Arrange Accordingly. When traveling with a baby you have to pack the car strategically. First of all, you are most likely bringing way more crap than you typically would, so you need to be sure it all fits. Also, you need to be sure you can reach the things you need and get to them quickly. The diaper bag, snack bag, drinks, phones, car chargers, purse and sunglasses are my most important items and are either in the front or right behind my seat.

3. Stock up. Pack lots of healthy snacks, water, caffeine, diapers, wipes, baby snacks (bottle, cheerios, sippy cup), good music, and entertaining baby toys. We have made the mistake of traveling without food and always end up eating too much fast food and junk. Driving all night/day makes you feel bad enough and when you throw sugary salty processed food into the mix it can make you feel 1000 times worse. Plus, when you have everything you need on hand you save money and the time it would take to stop. I usually get snacks that are easy to eat while driving…nuts, fruit leathers, apples, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, granola bars, etc.

4. Sit with baby. If the baby wakes up, it may be a good idea for one of you to move to the backseat. Luna is often fussy when she wakes up and it helps if she can see someone’s face or have someone rub her belly and sing to her. Of course, the musical noisy toys help too!

5. Be smart. Do not drive sleepy. It is very tempting to try to push yourself to drive, drive, drive and get to your destination as quickly as possible, but it’s not worth your’s or your baby’s safety. Husband and I made it very clear to one another that we are in no hurry. We take turns driving while the other one sleeps and if we have to pull over and sleep or even get a hotel, then so be it. While we are on the subject of safety; make sure that your baby is buckled in correctly. You may want to brush up on the correct way to use your carseat.

6. Take advantage of pit stops. The times that Luna did wake up, we found a place to stop, but not just any place. If we were going to take the time to stop, feed and change Luna then I wanted to make the most of our time. If possible, find a place with clean restrooms, wi-fi, decent food options, a comfortable place to sit and room for baby to get out some energy. So far, I have had great experiences at Starbucks, Chick-Fil-A and McDonalds. They aren’t the healthiest options, but you’d be surprised by their cleanliness, customer service, and coffee options…especially at 4am.

7. Plan for things to not go as planned. If you have a baby you know that it is virtually impossible to plan ahead. We often have the best intentions; we make lists, pack more than we need, leave early and follow every single guideline, but Luna often has her own agenda. So, when your baby wakes up, throws up, has a diaper explosion or just needs to get out and wiggle, learn to go with the flow. I am a planner, so I know this can be hard to accomplish, but if you plan for things to go awry, it won’t be as disappointing when they do. Plus, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when everything goes smoothly!

Happy traveling,

Cheers!

A Basic Girl’s Guide to Comic Con

I like to think I’m a one-of-a-kind girl in this world, and I suppose I am, but on many levels I’m just you’re average girl next door. Can I still say that? Maybe I’m too old to call myself a “girl”? I don’t know… in any case, I drink Starbucks, shop at Sephora, eat lots of chocolate and peanut butter, know all the words to Taylor Swift songs, wear printed leggings, watch reality TV, read young adult trilogies, stalk people on Facebook, love yoga, babies, tacos, zulily and Justin Timberlake and I’m certain all of those things make me an average girl. I’m also certain that the average girl might need a survival guide when attending Comic Con.

guide

I love Disney, Harry Potter, Hunger Games and few superhero movies. I also love dressing up, people watching, excitement and traveling. All of these are found at Comic Con, but there’s a hell of a lot more stuff that doesn’t exactly scream “Hilarie”. My first Comic Con experience taught me how to navigate the crowds, find the good stuff, stay fueled, avoid the crazies and all with a baby no less. If you’re planning on attending Comic Con (or any large convention/festival/exp/black Friday) you may want to read on and then save this survival list for future references.

Hunger Games tank from Lexi's Loft on Etsy!
Hunger Games tank from Lexi’s Loft on Etsy!

1. Dress the part. I LOVE looking at everyone in their cosplay outfits at Comic Con. From the incredible super-expensive realistic costumes to the train wreck obviously-made-the-night-before outfits, it is FANTASTIC. I may be impressed or disgusted, either way I am entertained and I love love LOVE people watching and trying to find costumes that I actually recognize. I am not quite brave or fanatical enough to don a full-on costume, but I had fun wearing some themed accessories and shirts. I had Mary Poppins, Harry Potter and Hunger Games themed days. (All of which will have reviews and giveaways soon!)

Aren't these incredible?! From Hogwarts Unlimited on Etsy.
Aren’t these incredible?! From Hogwarts Unlimited on Etsy.

2. Pack healthy snacks and water. Comic Con sells mostly junk, mostly disgusting junk. I waited in line for about 7 years to get chinese vegetables with tofu and rice that was definitely the most disgusting chinese food I have ever had. There were a couple of smoothie stands that were decent, but also wildly overpriced. I highly recommend packing granola, nuts, fruit and lots of water!

I think this picture is perfect. It says so much about my Comic Con experience.
I think this picture is perfect. It says so much about my Comic Con experience.

3. Learn the layout. There are not maps given out a Comic Con and the map on the app is useless and impossible to read. The best thing to do is to get there early, walk around, learn the layout and don’t be afraid to ask the employees for directions. Locate the bathrooms in the furthest locations (those will be the cleanest and least crowded), find the rooms for the panels you plan to attend, locate the Starbucks inside and outside (it is probably faster to leave and walk to the nearest Starbucks than it is to wait in the mile-long line inside) and take advantage of the press room if you’re lucky enough to score a press pass.

comic con

4. Don’t be shy. People at Comic Con will run you over and never look back if you let them. Speak up, say excuse me, make your way through the crowd, ask directions, talk to people who have similar interests, take peoples’ photos, share tips, move fast and don’t worry…everyone looks crazy.

action comics

5. Arrive early. On opening day the line to get in is insane. We were fortunate enough to have a press pass and able to use a separate entrance. Otherwise, we never would have made it to the Disney panel in time. At the Disney panel we won tickets to see an early viewing of Big Hero 6, but missed it because they ran out of seats and we didn’t get their early enough to get any. When The Walking Dead had a panel we tried to line up over an hour before it started and were still too late. If there is something you REALLY want to see, arrive EARLY.

game of thrones

6. Make a plan. Comic Con has an app that enables you to view and select any panels, autograph signings and events you like. The ones you select are saved in your profile and sends it reminders to your phone all day so that you don’t miss anything. It’s pretty handy. There is so so much to see and do that it’s beyond necessary to plan in advance. Even with planning, I still missed out on a few things I would have like to seen.

OMG, these little things were so cool!
OMG, these little Dodo cases were so cool!

7. Bring chargers. Between snapping photos, updating your status, tweeting the latest news and using Google maps your phone is going to die fast. Bring your charger and even something to power your charger if you can.

Luna Lovegood! Definitely one of my favorite costumes!
Luna Lovegood! Definitely one of my favorite costumes!

8. Expect assholes. They’re everywhere, unfortunately. Do your best to ignore them. When that fails, drink more coffee. Or, maybe be extra nice to other people…which brings me to my next and final tip.

Wreck-It-Ralph!
Wreck-It-Ralph!

9. Don’t be an asshole. It will be very attempting to join them. You will want to run over everyone’s toes with your stroller, throw some elbows and shout “are you kidding me!?!?”Don’t give into temptation. Do the opposite to counteract their behavior. Let someone get in front of you. Help someone up, pick up the pamphlet that person dropped, show patience, kindness and compassion. I promise it feels better than joining the other team.

Harry Potter baby
Harry Potter baby

That’s it. Now you just gotta find some nerdy convention to sing up for, or maybe a local festival to attend! Either way, you should probably start planning your outfit.

Cheers!

Baby vs. The City

pros and cons

We have traveled a lot with Luna, but this was by far the most difficult trip. Difficult because we flew and we were not staying with family. I had to pack carefully, plan ahead, do some research and prepare for any and everything. The trip was awesome. We had a few bumps in the road, sure, but bumps are expected anytime we travel. Luna was a trooper and I learned a bit about life in the city with a baby. Which, in case you’re wondering, is much different then life in the city without a baby. Much different.

stroller vs. baby wearing: I am most often a stroller Mom. Luna isn’t a huge fan of being worn, but we pull it off occasionally. I decided to bring both to NYC. The stroller was used the most. In case, you haven’t noticed, Luna is a not a tiny baby. In fact, she’s a little chunk. We walked and walked all day everyday and I am so glad I had the stroller. I held her a lot, but it was a relief to be able to put her in the stroller. She slept in it, enjoyed the rides and we were able to store all of our crap in it. We used the ergo carrier too, but she never lasted long. You should know though, NY is NOT stroller friendly. Many subway stations have only stairs (no elevators or escalators) the sidewalks are treacherous, no one looks where they’re walking and the stores and restaurants are uber crowded. Be prepared to fold it up and carry it at a a moments notice. Also, be prepared for complete strangers to be awesome and heroic. I had several people help me carry the stroller with Luna in it up and down the stairs. They were my saviors!

stroller

Enjoying the lights in Time Square while riding in the Ergo Carrier.
Enjoying the lights in Time Square while riding in the Ergo Carrier.

disposable vs. cloth: I cloth diaper Luna at home, but not, absolutely not, on vacation. Why? Because toting around heavy dirty diapers all day and washing them at night is not a vacation at all. I have to admit, it was super nice to use disposables for a while. Actually, I’m still using them because we had quite a few left over. Yay for extended vacation!

train vs. taxi: My little city baby had her first ride in a taxi and on the subway. I promised myself we would only take a taxi to and from the airport since we wouldn’t have a carseat. I wanted to be as safe as possible, but when you are running late and have been carrying a baby, a stroller and a diaper bag ALL DAY LONG, a taxi ride home is very appealing and all of a sudden seems like much safer option. The trains are awesome because they’re fast and they rock Luna to sleep, but holy hell, it is awful to get on an off the train with a baby and a stroller.

Baby's first taxi ride.
Baby’s first taxi ride.
Baby's first train ride.
Baby’s first train ride.

homemade vs. store bought: I make virtually all of Luna’s food, but like with the cloth diapers, I figure I could use a little vacation from this too. Besides, lots of healthy and organic baby food is available these days. She’s also at the age where I can mash up some of my own food and share with her. It was nice to not have to worry about preparing her food ahead of time, but I am glad she eats so fresh and healthy at home.

inside vs. outside: There is so much super cool stuff for babies and kids to do in the city, inside and outside. I’ll have to write a post about our favorites. We had a mixture of weather during our long weekend, so we got to take advantage of the parks and the museums. We went to Central Park, hungout on a rooftop, shopped at Bergdorf’s, played in the Children’s Museum and at FAO Schwarz. Fall is such a great time to enjoy the city. I think we got the best of both worlds during our trip.

Central Park
Central Park
Playing at the Children's Museum of Manhattan.
Playing at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

-cat ears vs. cat hat: Seriously? It’s impossible to choose. I just have way too much fun dressing this cutie up!

cat ears cat hat

Cheers!

 

Adventures in Teething

We try to get out and do something fun or exciting everyday. We workout with a friend 5 mornings a week, hit up Starbucks a couple of times a week (where Luna is now known as a regular), we shop, visit friends, hike, swim, go to the park and look for adventures whenever possible, but some days we stay home. These days are “teething days” Luna has no teeth yet, but every few days she turns into an unhappy, fussy, drooly, chew-on-everything, impossible baby. It is not fun and not easily remedied.

Yep, that's how I feel about teething too.
Yep, that’s how I feel about teething too.

Lucky for our generation, we have an endless amount of resources and tips at our fingertips. After days of dealing with “the Grumpus”, I took to the Internet and Pinterest to find out how to make my baby happy. (Because nursing her for 12 hours straight is not a reasonable solution.) I don’t half-ass anything so I tried them ALL.

Teething toys– doesn’t want to hold for very long.

Ice cube in a sock– not interested

Amber healing necklace– made no difference

Orajel– no help

Teething jewelry (Chewbeads)– not a hit at first, but she’s a fan now

Rubbing her gums– helped temporarily

Chewing on our fingers– big hit

A sweating Starbucks cup- Loves it. This was an accident, but once she got her gums on it, she couldn’t get enough.

Wet/frozen washcloth– the best! OMG She could gnaw on a wet cloth for hours

nom nom nom nom
nom nom nom nom

Popsicles (breastmilk-cicles to be exact)– Awesome! These are the messiest things ever, but she ate them up (literally). These are so easy to make and watching her eat a popsicle is perhaps the cutest thing ever! Okay, fine, EVERYTHING is the cutest thing ever!

breastmilk cicles drooler all gone

Everyday is an adventure when you’re a Mom!

Cheers!