Sunrise in the Vineyard.

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We trekked out to California a few weeks ago to celebrate the wedding of one of my dearest, oldest friends! Along the way, Stevie and I planned to see/do a few special things and take advantage of one final trip before our baby boy arrives (so soon now!) We woke up early one morning in Paso Robles and decided to watch the sun rise over the vineyards. Because when you’re on East Coast time and nothing can keep you asleep, then you chase that sun rise! We grabbed coffee at our hotel oh so early, hopped into our rental car and drove out toward the tiny bit of light that was beginning to illuminate the wine country of Paso - it is SUCH a stunning place and home to dozens (maybe even hundreds?) of new wineries over the past 20 years or so (move over, Napa!) We found a beautiful vista and drove up into it, though knowing that we didn’t want to trespass on land that, A) wasn’t ours and B) wasn’t necessarily open to the public (remember, it was the crack of dawn!) Someone was working at the entrance of this particular vineyard (I don’t even remember the name!), and after he and Stevie exchanged a few Spanish words, we had permission, and we journeyed up, up, up!

Made it just in time. The sun crested over the hills and saturated the vinyards with every shade of the palest yellow, then marigold, then brilliant burning red. It was a sight to behold, something I will never forget.

I’m doing my best to take stock in these kinds of moments, especially as I near the end of this pregnancy and I feel such a strong shift of seasons coming my way. I know what a new baby entails - long nights, blurry days, a year passes in an instant. I’m anticipating what I know is coming, along with all the unexpected that will most certainly come along with his arrival! I can’t wait to get to know another baby boy of mine… my two boys are so different and such incredible people, who have changed me and taught me so much. I can’t wait to see what little man #3 has in store for our family. I truly feel overwhelmed with gratitude.

I have a few other things to share about this trip, including our drive up the 1 and some time in Big Sur and Carmel, so I will post those things this week while they are still fresh on my mind :) Also, a little IGTV film if you’re into it!


Family Summer Trip to NYC!

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I can’t go too many months before I get the itch to get back to New York. Stevie is up there almost weekly for work so we talk a lot about NYC as a family - we have a bunch of great books (this one and this one are our faves), and it helps the boys understand where he spends time when he’s working. It also has helped us create a fun bucket list of places to visit and explore! Which is just what we did as a family a few weeks ago. We loved taking the boys up there for a few fun days in the city and I just I love sharing with them all the things I appreciate so darn much about that wondrous place. In case some of you are planning a trip or curious about what to explore with your kiddos, I wanted to share!

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A quick note: If you think traveling with kids in NYC is absolutely terrifying and insane - I promise you it’s neither. Like anything else with kids, it just requires some planning before the trip and some grace & flexibility during the trip. Believe me, our travel times aren’t without challenges and moments of frustration. But I truly love traveling with these boys - we have so much fun together and make such sweet memories as a family! It’s definitely worth the work and the sometimes frustrating moments that are inevitable. Definitely let me know if you have questions. Okay, on to the pictures and recs!

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Central Park and Washington Square Park were our jam this time around. We were in Central Park every single day - I don’t know how people live in the city without getting into some green space every day #suburbanthoughts. It’s so grounding and green and SO BEAUTIFUL. The trees are magnificently old and feel like they have endless stories to tell. I just love it. We also love Bryant and Riverside Parks but didn’t spend any time in those on this particular trip.

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Things to do in Central Park with kids:

  • bring a frisbee and run/play freely on Sheep’s Meadow

  • explore the 10+ playgrounds (some with splashpads - if you’re visiting in summer, bring a towel!) Our faves are the Diana Ross Playground (westside), the James Michael Levin Playground (eastside) and the Heckscher Playground (just north of Central Park South).

  • see a show at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Puppet Theater (seriously, these shows are SO incredible!) Puppetry feels like a lost art (kind of like tap dance?) and I love that this form of puppetry is still celebrated here.

  • grab lunch at Shake Shack at 77th & Columbus Ave. and walk your lunch into the park. We like to eat on the big rocks that overlook the lake :) Yum I want another Shackburger right now…

  • walk from the Bethesda Fountain down through the mall (a gorgeous tree-lined pathway)

  • play on the Alice and Wonderland statue on the eastside of the park at 75th street. It’s really fun for the kids to climb and it overlooks a pretty little pond and it’s just such a peaceful reprieve.

    We didn’t get to sail boats or do a horse carriage ride yet (two requests that we couldn’t make happen this time!), but those are still on our list!

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A tower of blondes.

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I wear my Blanqi supportwear every day - if you’re pregnant, you have to check them out! Made walking around the city so much more bearable, especially since I tend to carry big, heavy babies. My favorites are the maternity tanks - an absolute must for any pregnancy! I wear one everyday, either by itself or with layers.

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Juice Generation!! It’s become a family fave.

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^ The BOB Double Stroller that has endured a lot of abuse over the years traveling with us - it’s still rocking!!

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We took the boys to get cronuts at Dominique Ansel Bakery in SOHO! It was so much fun sharing a sweet treat there. I honestly have no idea how we were able to snag some because when we used to live here, the line was LONG and they would sell out first thing in the morning. But they were SO GOOD. I can’t remember what the flavor was - they change it monthly but whatever it was, it was GOOD. We also really like the DKA and Everett chose some kind of Nutella bread and he chose well. Haha I’m so proud.

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New buildings going up all the time!

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We explored two museums on this trip - first, the American Museum of Natural History (Daxton is REALLY into dinosaurs right now), which we have spent a lot of time in on multiple trips. They really loved it this time and the dinosaurs wowed them more than ever. Haha I love this age. And we also visited The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, which was awesome! It literally has a space shuttle on the ship. Like, in every direction, this is a dream museum for boys.

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I forgot to mention that we found an EXCELLENT pizza place that is completely kid/family-friendly called Patsys Pizzeria - if you are looking for something on the upper west side, you will not be disappointed! I can still taste the goodness.

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“Cleaning fossils” at the American Museum of Natural History. They were cracking us up. We found the Discovery Room this time around and it is honestly such a perfect place for kids to get hands-on! So often, museums can be a bit boring because they can’t actually touch anything, but this is a dedicated space that is for kids to use their hands and discover! They dusted away at fossils (pretend ones), used those fossils to build the structure of a dinosaur, pet little live critters (I’ll admit I was grossed out), used a telescope and microscope, you name it! It was really fun to see their minds at work in a new way. I HIGHLY recommend visiting this room if you come to the museum.

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We got mildly addicted to Juice Generation a few years ago and now we basically go as much as possible whenever we’re in the city. “Get Ur Green On” is my favorite juice!

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The Alice in Wonderland Statue in Central Park! We had never been there before but they LOVED climbing it! It looks out over a beautiful pond - would be a great spot to bring a book and read for a bit. That wasn’t really the case for me, but if you were alone it would be splendid.

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Everett really wanted to visit “Town Square” (Times Square), and we didn’t have the heart to correct him because it was SO CUTE. So off to Town Square we went. Haha for like 10 minutes. Then we left again because oh, it’s so bright. It’s one of those places that you HAVE to go to see a show, but otherwise you don’t really want to be in that mess of lights and sounds.

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^ My dream is to one day see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular here!

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To make things easy, we usually stay at a hotel close to Central Park. Our favorites are The Warwick (where we stayed this time around) but if that one is sold out or if the prices are crazy, we like The Hilton NYC Midtown, which is located just across the street. Honestly, it’s just nice being able to walk the kids into the park everyday, so this location works well for us. Also there’s a Starbucks on the way from our hotel into the park #priorities. But there are SO many trendy, cool hotels everywhere - I’m always filling my bucket list with new ideas!

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There you have it! We had such an amazing trip. I loved watching the boys light up at so many new experiences this time around. They have been so much littler in the past when we’ve taken them to NYC that I have just made all the decisions about where we eat and what we do, but this time around they had opinions! They wanted to walk more, which I’ll be honest, terrified me at times, especially when we were close to lots of street traffic. But just like anything else, it took a little practice and learning and we were all finding our rhythm as a family exploring the city. And all their suggestions and ideas were so much fun to make happen. Except when Everett insisted we ride the subway and I watched Daxton basically lick one of the subway poles while we were riding. I felt like I was in slow motion yelling, “NOOOOOO”, but thankfully, somehow, he didn’t get sick after that. Ahhhh I don’t even want to think about it.

We had so much fun! I also put together a little IGTV episode about our trip, you can see it here. Do you have questions? Have you ever taken your kiddos on a city trip? Did you/they like it? Would love to hear from you!

A Weekend in Marco Island!

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Last weekend, Stevie and I took a little trip down to Marco Island, Florida! We wanted to celebrate our 12-year wedding anniversary (I can’t believe it’s been that long!) and also get a little babymoon in before this little one arrives in a few months. 5 months is always a sweet time to travel because it’s not too uncomfortable yet, so we planned a fast 2-night getaway so we could connect, read, eat and talk without our other two cuties pulling on our time.

IT WAS THE BEST.

We had never been to Marco Island. We had heard about it and had some flight points, so we picked the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and just went for it. The resort is gorgeously situated on the water, has a seriously delicious buffet breakfast and a killer amazing spa. We weren’t expecting the food on the island to be so legendary, but it is basically all Italian and all INCREDIBLE. I’m not usually one for pasta and pizza on the beach because, I don’t know, I don’t want to feel carb-loaded when I’m in a bathing suit, but being pregnant has it’s perks. I’m always bloated! So we ate like we were in Italy! And it was magnificent. Really and truly.

EATS.
If you’re visiting, we ate a fancy, celebratory meal at Sale e Pepe (incredible fresh pasta and fish!) which was a quick walk from our hotel and has the most beautiful views of the ocean. The pizza and salad at DaVinci almost made us cry and of course we had to indulge in gelato at Dolce Mare where they also home make chocolate truffles. Get the caramel sea salt. More incredible pizza at Joeys and we also loved brunch in Naples at The Cafe on 5th where they had the best juices and crepes ahhhh. I’m drooling just typing all this.

We took lots of pictures, and these are all from my iPhone!

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^ The view from our hotel! So lush and tropical.

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^My 5 month baby bumps vs. Stevie’s (below)

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A lot of the buildings lining the beach were actually condos and not hotels. This is a place for snow birds and we were actually visiting in the off-season! It was truly tropical weather. Like HOT and humid. Most of the snow birds hang out down there Jan.-May.

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Old Navy Suit (sold out in yellow, still in stock in black top and bottom)

^One morning we decided to split up and do whatever we wanted! I crave alone time SO much and Stevie always wants to play golf, so that’s what we did! I ate breakfast alone (SUCH a luxury), laid on the beach and read, and then went to the spa for a pedicure. It was seriously the most indulgent morning I’ve had in years.

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^My tan is so fake you guys. I normally don’t lay out in the sun but since I was only out for about an hour on this particular morning I went for it and ended up spending most of that time in the ocean because it was just SO hot. But I really love getting an organic spray tan at RAW Bronzing Studio and that’s how I look and feel tan without actually baking for hours in the sun ;)

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^Just having a mermaid moment

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JCrew suit (past season, similar here) Target Hat, Target Sunglasses

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Target Dress, Target Sandals

^It was so dark by the time we went to our dinner at Sale E Pepe, but it really is worth visiting! It’s styled like an Italian art museum, with frescos painted on the walls and arched walkways and fountains. It’s really special.

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^That dinner view. I meannnnn.

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^It was so tropical! I couldn’t get over the bird songs and the lush flowers and exotic plants.

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^Downtown Naples! We didn’t get to spend a lot of time here, but we want to plan another trip to explore more because it was SO stunning. I mean, look at this pink building! Is this real life?!

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^Pistachio and Hazelnut gelato. Glory be.

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ASOS dress (sold out, similar here), Target Sandals

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This trip was truly a dream. We ate SO well, we read on the beach, we even went to the spa together and got massages one morning! Stevie hadn’t had a massage in 10 years, so you could say he was due for a de-stressing morning. He was so funny when he came out of the massage room - we met up in the little spa garden and drank cucumber water and he was like, “I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW GOOD THAT WAS.

I don’t feel bad about getting some pampering before entering into another season of sleepless nights and busy baby days. Feeling very grateful for the time we got together, to dream and talk and laugh and wonder about what the future of our family will be like with 3 kids! I am so so grateful to my parents for taking over and watching the big boys while we got away. This was an extra special trip, just getting Stevie all to myself for a few days of fun and relaxation. Hurray for beaches and babies!

40 Hours in Nashville.

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Girls weekend in Nashville! My friend Savannah and I trekked up to the center of the Bible belt to celebrate my friend Holly’s birthday, and I have to tell you - I was seriously looking forward to this weekend. Something about planning ahead and being able to look forward to a super fun girls-only trip, well, I don’t know about you but that always seems to motivate me. Need to clean the house? Just think about Nashville. Need to finish mailing a zillion DoTERRA packages? Think about Nashville! My kids are going nuts, there’s no food in the house, dinner has to be cooked by someone, I need to wake up early to exercise… think of Nashville! Having this trip on the horizon really kept me motivated, and it lived up to all the expectations!

I haven’t ever really “done” Nashville, even though its not all that far from Atlanta. We went to a wedding there a few years ago, and it was a total blast, but we were in and out of that city within like 24 hours because Everett was a baby and all that good stuff. So this time around Holly took us around to all her favorite spots, and even though it was a fast trip, we managed to do SO much (its amazing how much you can do when you only have to feed yourself and tie your own shoes).

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This little spot called Cafe Roze was kind of like, the most perfect little cafe in all the land. I mean, when you have a choice between a rose cardamom latte, an orange blossom latte, and a black sesame latte, how do you actually choose?!

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Cured is a nail salon that does a lot of extra special glittery, foiled, holographic & iridescent wonders to fingers and goodness gracious, I am still going gaga over my nails. We all went with the foiled technique and it was a GOOD CHOICE.

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I have this thing for floors. Said every basic girl, basically ever.

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Frothy Monkey, Frothy Monkey! Because one hot beverage per day just really isn’t enough. Although I really need someone to teach me how to man up and enjoy a matcha. I just can’t, you guys.

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Also, we did a crazy good dinner at Milk & Honey and I am still dreaming of that porky fried rice. Also, the burrata and fig on sourdough toast situation was exactly what the doctor ordered. Still kind of dreaming on that one, too.

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I got a little carried away in Lemon Laine, which is this wondrous natural beauty and wellness shop where we all got to geek out. You all know how much I love me some green beauty products! Lemon Laine had an ample smattering of skincare products specifically, and I was able to sample so many clean products that I’ve only ever seen online. It was really fun to try out so many things while we were in-store! I purchased a few fun things to try out so I will report back with thoughts! The green beauty trials live on!

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Then we got gussied up and went out to celebrate the woman of the hour. There was dynamite food (I forget the restaurant!), a really fun crew and mayyyyybe even some dancing. I basically didn’t sleep but it was worth every moment of exhaustion for all the laughter!

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I’m so grateful for these friendships in my life. I just have to say, becoming a mom can be really all-consuming, and I honestly have felt like in the years since becoming a mother that my focus hasn’t really been on my friendships. I’ve been figuring out family, figuring out who I am all over again, and figuring out how to run a business while staying home with my kids. I have relationally really leaned into my family over the past several years and I am so grateful that I have had my sisters and parents who’ve been so supportive.

But there is truly nothing like having girlfriends! At the beginning of 2018 I made a promise to myself to take more intentional time for my friendships, and you guys, it’s been like the best 2 months ever! I have had so many lovely coffee dates and connect times with some beautiful women who inspire and uplift me, and I am so grateful! This trip was one of those experiences that left me feeling so full of love and admiration for life!

I just want you to know, if you’re in a season where you feel like your current situation is all-consuming and you can’t possibly add anything else to your list - I get it. I really really do! Be good to yourself and don’t stress about it. My biggest piece of advice would be, when you feel a little space in your mind open up (because I truly feel like you need space in your mind, not your calendar!) - carve out the tiniest bit of time to lean into 1 friendship at time and see how you do. There is truly nothing like the “iron sharpens iron” that comes from friendships with people who love you, know you and want the best for you.

Like me and Nashville. We just met but we’re already besties and I think it’s already time that I make a second voyage ;)

P.S. - I made a little Nashville travel diary over on my IGTV if you want to see more video clips of these spots! xx

Tips and Tricks for Disney World!

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We went to Disney World right before Christmas and it was SO much fun! I wanted to share a few planning tips that helped us have such a fun and happy time together. When it comes to Disney World, planning and being prepared really does make all the difference when it comes to NOT stressing, so I wanted to compile all of my thoughts here for any of you who are planning to take your family to the happiest place on Earth, too!

Planning:

  • We used a travel agent when planning our trip and it’s probably my BIGGEST recommendation for a Disney trip - if you take no other advice from me, please please please have someone help you plan your Disney trip. Alyson Pitzer of Magical Moments Vacations helped us tailor our trip perfectly to our family and I would highly recommend her to anyone! We didn’t have to pay her either - she is compensated by Disney so when you purchase your tickets through her or reserve hotels, she is compensated by Disney. But she does SO much more than book things - she truly helped us tailor the trip perfectly for my kids’ ages, character preferences, height requirements, EVERYTHING - she helped us schedule our fast passes, make dining reservations for character meals, and explained how to actually execute a Disney trip - everything from transportation to meal planning to where the best hidden places are in the parks to grab a bite to eat, change a diaper, etc. She is a wealth of information and I hope everyone uses her because gosh, we certainly will be using her services again! #disneycruiseupnext

  • Park Hopper! This is so helpful to have along with your ticket if you want to move around a little bit. It’s really fun to spend a morning at Magic Kingdom and then head over to Epcot to eat in the afternoon. I didn’t utilize our Park Hopper much this time, but my extended family did and they really liked being able to move around! I feel like this is helpful if you have multiple park days and older children who are a little more mobile).

  • Rider Swap - It’s hard for me to explain how this works but it is SO helpful. Since Daxton is still too little to ride roller coasters, Stevie and I could utilize the rider swap to switch off taking Everett on rides and not have to wait in line each time. Like I said, hard to actually explain but it is so worth utilizing!

  • We used the My Disney Experience app to organize all of our fast passes (you’re allowed to plan up to 3 per day and continue to add more as you use them up), and our dining plans (reservations are required for sit-down meals, and booking 6 months in advance for some restaurants is a must!) Again, our travel agent was absolutely amazing in helping us get all of this set up, so we just had to show up on our trip and our app told us what was happening. It was literally amazing.

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Eating:

  • If you can swing it, the Disney Meal Plan is evvvverything. You pay ahead of time for the dining plan and then your Magic Band is automatically loaded with daily credits for meals and snacks at the parks and hotels. It is a total gift to all the mamas! A true vacation for me is one where I do not have to cook. Can I get an amen?

  • All that being said, I wish I had packed my kids some pb & j sandwiches (and a few healthy snacks) as an extra during the days. They love something simple like that and they didn’t always eat the chicken nuggets or whatever it was that we got for them that was on the dining plan. However, Stevie and I always used their dining credits, so I still think the plan is totally worth it!

  • Just so you know, you can get Starbucks coffee on the dining plan - it counts as a snack credit and it is the BEST to grab one in the early morning when you get into the park. It gave me a little extra motivation to get to the park right when it opened! Which is also the time when the park is least crowded.

  • Fave restaurants:

    • Magic Kingdom- Be Our Guest (I like breakfast here best), Sleepy Hollow (get the waffles!), Casey’s (get the corn dog nuggets and don’t think about the calories), Aloha Isle (get the Dole Whipped Treat!!!!), and Starbucks on Main Street (I personally like to grab an early coffee here and walk very slowly down Main Street - it’s perhaps the cheeriest place I’ve ever been and I always want to soak it up!)

    • Animal Kingdom - Tusker House (my favorite character meal!)

    • Epcot - Oh gosh, I ate everything here! This is the best place to walk and munch literally all day long. Christmas Tea in England, tacos in Mexico, kettle corn in Canada, crepes in France, mac’n’cheese in Germany, orange chicken in China and mulled wine in Germany!

    • Hollywood Studios - 50’s Prime Time Cafe

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Attire:

  • You have to wear Mickey ears at The Magic Kingdom! I got this 12-pack on Amazon, which had both Mickey & Minnie ears, and we wore these the last time. This time my sis Lauren also snagged a pair for me from Claires (that look similar to this) and I loved having a fancy glitter pair!

  • We wore Mickey and Disney gear the entire trip because its fun to be so festive! I shopped at Target for a few months before hand and just picked up things here and there that would coordinate well for the days we were at the parks.

  • Wear comfy shoes. Do NOT wear flip flops. Just trust me on this one, friends. I’m on your side!

  • Pack an extra layer for yourself and your kiddos if you are going to stay for the whole day into the evening - the temperatures definitely drop at night!

Getting Around:

  • I personally loved renting a van and driving to the parks everyday. Even though the monorail and bus system is super efficient, our hotel didn’t have a monorail option and sometimes the buses can take a while to arrive. With little kids (and nap times and the need for urgent potty breaks!), I just really liked having the control of leaving when we needed to. However, this is totally a personal preference thing and I have lots of family that really liked using the bus system!

  • I will also highly recommend arriving at the parks 15-30 minutes before they open. I know, that sounds crazy, but just hear me out here. Many of the parks actually open their doors 30 minutes prior to actually opening and beginning the rides, so if you are able to get into the park, grab a coffee, and have a leisure walk to your first ride, then when the park officially opens you are already standing in front of your first ride. It can be hectic trying to get to the park that early, but it is much less crowded in the mornings and it’s easier to jump on rides. Trust me on this one - the park is the most crowded at 11am because that’s when most people manage to get there after eating breakfast, etc. Just trust me here! Get to the park early and enjoy the peace and quiet! You will ride 3x as many rides this way!

  • If you have a child that naps, you can either stay in the park and hope that they nap in your stroller, or you can head back to the hotel in the early in the afternoon and give them a proper nap. We have done it both ways, and we really make the decision the day of, depending on how late the park will be open that day. For example, if Magic Kingdom closes at 5pm, then we will probably try to stay at the park for the day. But if it closes at 10pm, we would try to get to the park at 7:30/7:45am, ride rides and have fun until about noon, eat lunch and then head back to the hotel for rest time and naps until about 5pm. Then we would grab dinner and enjoy the park in the evening - making certain to catch the fire works!

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Gear:

  • We brought our Double Bob Stroller and we LOVED having it. They boys could ride around in it when they got tired, we could keep them contained (which is a big deal, because otherwise we were holding their hands while we walked with them in the crowds). It was also helpful for letting Daxton nap in the afternoons. Overall, it was just SO convenient to have it and Disney has tons of stroller parking everywhere (with people keeping an eye on the strollers!) when you couldn’t take the stroller directly to the rides. It was so helpful to have a hub for all our STUFF. Because man, we brought a lot of stuff.

  • Speaking of stuff, I packed my diaper bag each day with the following: an extra pair of clothes for each boy, a full refillable water bottle for each person, lots of snacks, diapers and wipes, hand sanitizer, sun glasses, chapstick, tissues, a little toy for each boy (to play with while we were in line, but honestly, we didn’t need these), and when its really hot, I would also recommend a mister fan, a hat and some sunscreen.

  • I would also recommend packing a portable phone charger (you use your phone SO much at DIsney, between taking photos and using the My Disney app to keep up with your Fast Passes - this is helpful if your phone battery isn’t great!)

I think that’s all! Goodness, it looks like a lot of info, but this was our second time taking the boys to Disney and it was an even better trip! I truly think having a travel agent help us make an amazing plan made all the difference - we have never used a travel agent for any other trip, including international travel with the kids, but I feel like at Disney is it completely necessary! We absolutely LOVED our time there this year and I even made a little Travel Diary on IGTV, which you can see here.

I hope this was helpful for you! Please leave your fave Disney tips and tricks in the comments section so we can all learn from them! xx