Christmas Movies & Wine Pairings

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photo from amazon.com

‘Tis the season for getting cozy in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine and a Christmas movie. Today we thought we’d share our top five holiday movies and what wine we think would pair best.

  1. The Christmas Chronicles with Pinot Noir

    • this new movie is a new Netflix hit, just like a glass of big ole glass of Red
  2. Christmas Vacation with Chardonnay

    • this Christmas comedy is best paired with a classic white
  3. Home Alone with Zinfandel

    • no one will tell if you drink the whole bottle when you’re home alone
  4. A Christmas Story with Prosecco

    • Don’t shoot your eye out when you pop the bottle!
  5. The Holiday with Sauvignon blanc

    • Grab a girlfriend and this versatile wine for a Christmas rom com

Share with us your favorite movie and wine pairing! Enjoy the holidays!

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Five Brunch Menus in the (far northwest) Burbs We Love

Perfect Brunching outfit tee & jeans from Nordstrom paired with Tieks

We think Sunday brunch is the perfect way to end your weekend – it has breakfast and lunch items, desserts, and bubbly – it’s everything! Brunch is perfect for families (plenty of options for even the pickiest eaters), QT with your gal pals, and a mid-morning date with your SO.

Since we love it so, we’re always looking out for new places, but have to admit, we venture back to our tried and true favorites and here they are:

  1. Pinstripes | South Barrington
    • Bottomless buffet style brunch and bowling, is right up our alley! We love the casual yet upscale atmosphere, and during the warmer weather sitting outside on their killer patio, sipping our $4 mimosas or $7 bloody mary’s. Stick around to check out the amazing shops in the Arboretum of South Barrington.
  2. Beelow’s |Lake Zurich
    • Featuring a Prime rib carving station, omelet and waffle stations, and plenty of drink offerings, this Farm to Table brunch is our spot before we hit up Deer Park Town Center for some shopping.
  3. Port Edward | Algonquin
    • There’s a reason their champagne brunch is Award Winning – it’s full of seafood, including crab claws and lobster tails, along with made to order omelets, london broil carving station and a chocolate fountain, oh and champagne is included, or you can get yourself a bloody mary for $5.
  4. Benedict’s La Strada |Crystal Lake
    • While it’s not a buffet, Benedict’s menu is one of the best for brunch. From traditional breakfast items, benedicts, stratas, to lunch salads, sandwiches, you can’t pick wrong. They serve coffee by Intelligentsia, fresh squeezed OJ make their mimosa’s tasty and their homemade bloody mary mix is a good one. {myBAB note: beignets are not available on Sundays}
  5. Brunch Cafe | McHenry, Fox River Grove, Huntley, St. Charles, Niles, Roselle, and Kildeer coming soon
    • Well-known for their twist on the regular menu items like chocolate bacon pancakes, breakfast sliders and fruity pebble baby cakes for the little brunchers, this not-so hidden gem is worth the visit. The menu includes lunch options, but we tend to stick to the breakfast and brunch items with a strawberry mimosa. {mBAB tip: join the wait list before you go}

Do you have a favorite brunch spot? Tell us below.

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Shoes

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Sipping with Moms ~ Ilana Austin

Hooray
We’re back with another mom who we know is rocking all things mom life. We *met* Ilana via Instagram and are so happy to have connected! Sip along with us and meet Ilana Austin!

Ilana

Photo of Ilana and her little prince! ❤

How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

3 – ages 7, almost 5, & 6 months (on August 1!!)

What is your 9 to 5?

I’m an executive recruiter @ PepsiCo & absolutely LOVE it!

Describe motherhood in three words:

Exhausting
Hilarious
Consuming

MyBAB: we so agree!

Picture this – you’re home alone, what series are you binge watching?

Friends!

MyBAB: Yes, we love Friends too! 

We love discovering new beauty products, which are your favorites?

I’ve just discovered Younique’s daily moisturizer & bronze powder – spf included in both!

MyBAB: we’ll have to check these out! 

Where is your happy place?

At a pool, in the heat, with my kids laughing or sleeping and a cold cocktail!

MyBAB: save us a seat at the pool and a drink! We could also go for a nap. 

What is your most loved item in your closet right now?

My ripped camo shorts….which my husband calls my hooker shorts!

What is your drink of choice?

Coffee, water, Champagne, or a proper French martini
The people who love me the most sent Veuve when my son was born – they know what I really needed!

MyBAB: we like the way you drink! cheers! 

We know mom time is precious, what do you like to do when you have some me time?

Sleep!!!!!
Pilates
Sleep

Since we focus on Chicagoland – kids activities, family fun, and date nights, what are your go-to places for each?

Date – anything sushi. Roka Akor, Tanoshii, Arami
Kids – emerald city theatre, super soccer stars, Barnes & Noble
Family – Eataly, the 606, weekend festivals!

What is something you are working on?

Trying to be more patient with my family! And trying not to care that being a mom is holding me back in corporate America.

MyBAB: we love this! 

As a working mom, how do you balance it *all*?

I certainly don’t think I do! But I keep my head above water (most days) by: rarely showering, relying on my husband to help with kid duties & cooking, outsourcing help (carpool, groceries, laundry, etc.), and waking up at 5am so that I can get a full hour of uninterrupted work done!

MyBAB: We too rely on our husbands and outsourcing – though we’re jealous of the laundry outsourcing-sign us up! 

Where can people find you?

Insta -@ilana.austin

Thanks to Ilana for letting us get to know her a little bit more!

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale – MyBAB Picks

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Early Access is well underway for cardholders and we couldn’t wait to fill our carts.

Not a cardholder? You can apply here or the sale opens to the public on July 20th.

Last year there were several must have’s that sold out during Early Access and never restocked. We’ve also been seeing several items that are online exclusives. MyBAB tip – buy all the things now!

Since there are so many great items on sale, we wanted to share our top pieces based on when we’ll be wearing them.

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What’s Up Wednesday

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image from here

 

Today Jen is talking about what is up with her lately. Enjoy!

What we’re eating this week:

I have no idea. I have been beyond terrible about meal planning. Most nights we wing it. Which means it is either: taco’s, breakfast for dinner, grilling or pizza. I really could use a personal chef.

What I’m Reminiscing About:

Hanging out with my friends and family during the Holiday week/my birthday week last week.

What I’m Loving:

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My new Apple iWatch. I got it for my birthday and I am loving it. I was on the fence about getting one for awhile and everyone who had one convinced me to get one. I am so glad they did! Not only does it give me a kick in the pants for fitness but it also is so helpful for letting me know when I get texts or calls. When my phone is in my purse or I am running around with the kids this is a super helpful feature. One of my favorite features since I sit at a desk all day is that it alerts me when I have been sitting 50 minutes and should get up and move around. Game changer. I have even gone swimming with it at our local pool a few times and it works great.

What We’ve Been Up To:

Summer camp, going to the park, swimming, eating ice cream and going to bed past our bedtime

What I’m Dreading:

The end of summer. Depressing I know, but I feel like we have been having so much fun this summer I don’t want it to end.

What I’m Working On:

A packing list for our next vacation. I have to make sure I bring the right clothes for me and the kids.

What I’m Excited About:

Going on vacation next week. We are leaving for Lake Tahoe on a family trip. We have never been and are super excited. If anyone has tips or spots they recommend let me know. We plan on doing a river raft ride, kayaking, hiking and renting a boat while we are there.

What I’m watching/reading:

Watching: Anything on Bravo but really loving Southern Charm. Cam is my absolute favorite and the comments she gives. #amazing.

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Reading: The President is Missing by James Patterson. I am almost done and so far it is a really good read. For those of you who may not be a fan of Bill Clinton I wouldn’t discount the book because he helped co-write.

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What I’m Listening To:

Podcasts: I need more suggestions but my favorite lately is Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

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Maroon 5: Girl Like You. This song is on repeat in my head. And I am not complaining

What I’m Wearing:

Workout clothes, swimsuits, flip flops. I only need to wear “real” clothes one day a week (I work from home 4 days a week). So most likely when you see me I am rocking comfy clothes. Although this past weekend I went to my cousin’s wedding and my dress was from Rent the Runway. I have been 2/2 with Rent the Runway and am really liking the results.

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What I’m Doing This Weekend:

Hanging out at the pool/park. Dinner at one of our favorite spots, Cooper’s Hawk and then hanging out with some friends. Perfect summer weekend.

What I’m Looking Forward to Next Month:

Well next month I will have a 1st grader and Pre-K. So as much as I am looking forward to school starting I am sad that the kids are getting so big!!

 

Sipping with Moms~ Kim Manning

Hooray

This month in our Sipping with Moms series we are featuring our friend, Kim Manning. You can follow her on IG @succulentsandstilettos and on her website http://www.succulentsandstilettos.com

Kim Manning

We love polka dots and pink therefore we love this outfit!!

Now for the questions we ask each month…

How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

I have 2 kids, my daughter is 10 and my son is 7

What is your 9 to 5?

I have just recently started a blog and website; http://www.succulentsandstilettos.com that focuses on my lifestyle (fashion, fitness, family and home decor) but I also provide stylist services for both fashion and home decorating and this has taken up way more time then I thought ha ha! But I absolutely love it! During the school year I am a substitute at my kiddos school and in the Summer I consider myself a domestic goddess, event coordinator, taxi service and personal chef ha ha!

Describe motherhood in three words

So Freaking Tired…… ha ha also Love, patience and adventure (every day is an adventure)

MyBAB: We are also So. Freaking. Tired

Picture this – you’re home alone, what series are you binge watching?

This is Us because I ball my eyes out every single time and I don’t want my kids to think I just sit and cry every day ha ha!

MyBAB: It is amazing that this show really can pull at your Mama heartstrings and get us to cry every dang episode. You are not alone!

Speaking of TV, which TV/movie mom do you relate to the most?

I would say Claire Dunphy from Modern Family although I’m not as controlling as her, I have a bit of sarcasm that gets us through the day and I can get kinda crazy at times but what mom doesn’t ha! I love how she doesn’t mind embarrassing her kids a bit but always does it to teach them a lesson, she’s a supportive wife and mother when it comes down to it and has a good work ethic and she dresses cute too :).

We love discovering new beauty products, which are your favorites?

The wet brush is a must
It’s a 10 Miracle leave-in for the hair
Pssssst Dry Shampoo
Revlon’s wild orchid lipstick is a must for a fun night out on the town!
MyBAB: A Wetbrush changed my life when it comes to post bath with my daughter. Also, we aren’t lipstick girls so we will have to try Revlon’s wild orchid to spice it up!!

Where is your happy place?

Michigan,  whether it’s the Dunes/beach with my family or at the wineries I love Michigan, I grew up going here with my family and I just love it! There’s a reason they have their own commercial ya know ha!

MyBAB: Tim Allen makes me want to go to Michigan every single time he speaks in those ads so I can understand

What is your most loved item in your closet right now?

My Birks (Birkenstocks) sandals, they are definitely a staple for me and I love throwing them on with a casual outfit!

MyBAB: We are a little shocked your answer wasn’t Adidas but we can completely appreciate how comfy birks are and is giving us major 90’s flashbacks!!

What is your drink of choice?

Non Alcohol – A morning coffee, Chai Tea Latte with almond milk
Alcohol – A Mojito
I like mint 🙂
MyBAB: Jen here, we are on the opposite spectrum when it comes to choice of beverages. Haha. I don’t do coffee, tea, almond milk or mint in food/drinks.

We know mom time is precious, what do you like to do when you have some me time?

My ideal “me time” day is getting a long, awesome work out in, grabbing a yummy coffee and then taking a nice drive to some fun antique stores and shopping all day long by myself  🙂

Money is no object, what is one thing you want?

Birkin Bag Please 🙂 I love a nice handbag

Since we focus on Chicagoland – kids activities, family fun, and date nights, what are your go-to places for each?

Kids Activities – My kids love going to the park/playground so we tend to do park field trips around the Chicago suburbs, weird I know but it’s so much fun and free! I google parks around different suburbs and we take the day to drive around and hit each park.  Some of our favorites from LY were
Kids Castle at Deerpath Park (Vernon Hills)
Bisons’s Bluff (Shaumburg)
Hummingbird Park (Palatine)
Citizens Park (Barrington)
Paulus Park (Lake Zurich)
SEBA park (South Elgin)
Family Fun – Definitely going downtown, so much to do for the kids and mom and dad. We love Maggie Daley Park, staying in a hotel with an indoor pool (The Swissotel, Radisson Blu Aqua or Hampton Inn downtown, all great hotels for the fam),museums, shopping, the Chicago river, navy pier, I guess I can go on and on ha!
Local Family Fun – Definitely Three Oaks Beach and Dukes on the water, we love this place and it’s fun for the whole family!
Date Nights – ummm do these still exist? HA we don’t get to do too many of these and when we do it’s out of town on vacation or downtown with other couples, however we usually stay local and are super chill so for us it’s grabbing dinner and a drink at Cary Ale House and sitting outside on the patio or we love Kief’s Reef (on the fox river) and sitting outside at the sandbar and having a fun cocktail.

 

Bonus question: Given your love for succulents, what are your tips for caring for succulents? (Jen may or may not have killed 3 recently….ugh)

Ha ha ha guess what, my secret is I only buy faux succulents 🙂 I also recommend the air succulents as thy are real but don’t die :). But succulents don’t like to have dry feet (as I was told by the employee at Home Depot) so make sure there is a hole in the planter so that the water drains through and if they are outside and are getting too much sun, place them in the shade for a bit :). It’s also good to mix any soil with pebbles, sand or gravel for better drainage. OK well I hope that helps a bit but I would say just go with faux :).

MyBAB: Jen here, OK, so I should have known this before I attempted to keep things alive in my house other than my children. I should have done faux. Grr. I have no clue what is wrong with me but it is impossible for me to keep plants alive.

Bonus question: We have major arm envy, what are some exercises you do for those killer arms?

You guys are too funny, I wish I could say they magically appeared but that’s not the case :). I do a major arm workout every Friday that incorporates the biceps, triceps and shoulders.  My best advise is to do pushups every day. I would do a set of 10 normal pushups, 15 wall pushups and then plank for a minute and that will definitely work your arms, throw in 10 burpees in there and just call yourself Jillian Michaels ha ha !

MyBAB: Adding these to our daily routine.

Thanks to Kim for letting us get to know her a little bit more! Please make sure to follow her and visit her website. She had the cutest posts, outfits, decor, style and more.

Reading with Bookroo

Here is a sad Mom confession for me: my kids do not like reading. I, on the other hand am obsessed, like if I could read all day everyday I would be in heaven. To my kids, it is like a form of torture (I blame this on their father, haha!). I have been trying for a long time to get them more engaged in reading, especially my son who will be in first grade in the fall. When Bookroo reached out to Wen and I and asked if we wanted to try their service, I literally jumped at the chance. Anything to engage my kids in reading the better.

Bookroo is like Birchbox for books. It is a monthly subscription service and you pick the age group you want a box for and then magically they are delivered to your doorstep. They have board books for ages 0-3, picture books for ages 2-6 (which I ordered) and then chapter books for ages 7-10. Bookroo prides itself on having books that you most likely don’t already have in your library collection so that it creates fun every month.

I picked the picture books for ages 2-6 because I have a 4 and 6 year old and thought I would have the best chance to engage them with picture books.

Lets discuss when I first got the box, it was super cute in the box it was delivered in. That immediately got me excited.

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When I opened the box the books were wrapped so pretty it was kind of like Christmas morning. I knew that this fact alone was guaranteed to make my kids excited because, lets be real they LOVE to open presents.

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I let my daughter open the books because she was home from camp because she wasn’t feeling well and I thought this would help cheer her up. Oh boy was I right. She loved opening the books and quickly claimed they were hers and wanted to immediately read them. #momwin

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This is her “reading face”

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We got two books in the box. Wally Does Not Want a Haircut is about a sheep who is afraid to get a haircut. It was cute and Brooke’s favorite. The other book was The Red Boat about a girl who was scared about moving to a new place and meeting new friends and how her Red Boat helped her adjust. I highly recommend this book for kids who are transitioning to something new.

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Some other great benefits of Bookroo include:

  • The books are reviewed by a panel of families attending Stanford University
  • The company is women founded and run, by three sisters-in-law (we love supporting women businesses!!)
  • Picture books come with 2 hardcover books. Board book boxes have 3 books and Chapter books have 2 books.
  • If you have kids across age ranges (lets say you want picture books and chapter books) you can customize it so that every other month one box comes. For example: July would be picture books and August would be chapter books. Or, just order two boxes!!

Bookroo has a special deal for all MyBAB readers and right now you can get 50% off the first month of any board or picture book box or 40% off the first month of any chapter book box with the code: JENWEN773

Getting kids to stay engaged in reading during the summer is always a struggle so any ways to make it easier and more fun we are all for.

Thank you so much to Bookroo for providing us a box. All reviews and opinions are our own.

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Car Packing for a Road Trip with Kids

Why hello Summer. We waited a long winter for you. Now that you’re here, we’re ready for road trips!

We know first-hand how stressful road trips can be – all the packing, the question of are we there yet, or the dreaded I’m bored – younger children like ours are often bored and restless sitting for long trips, we do understand how they feel.

Since we’ll be hitting the road in the next few weeks, we decided to take a new approach to how we tackle the drive with our littles – not only with less screen time, but also trying to make the road trip more enjoyable for all of us. We have learned over the past years a few tips and will be incorporating a few more of what to pack for the road. Here’s our top 5:

1. Bag of Non-Tech Activities: The Target Dollar Spot was our go-to to find some cheap and fun activities to do along the way. A new “road trip” bag was a perfect way to introduce the new things like mad libs, activity book, sticker books, boogie boards, felt tic-tac-toe (for the hotel), and a new notebook. We also picked up a couple new books to read along the way that will double as bedtime stories. Keep the bag within reach!

2. Tech Activities: We have both an iPad and Kindle Fire to charge and load up with educational games, TV shows, and movies. Don’t forget the headphones – the Buddyphones are a favorite. We’ll limit the tech time, as we usually do, but we find in high traffic (and when directions are needed) the tech time is great all around.

3. Snacks, Snacks, and more Snacks: While we’re big fans of “gas station snacks”, some healthier options like grapes, cheese sticks, and pretzels a

re thrown in. As for drinks, we limit juice boxes in general, and with the sugary snacks we’ll all be eating, a good water bottle or two is essential. We love the contigo and bkr water bottles. We have a soft-sided cooler we bring and a reusable grocery bag. We’ve tried using reusable sandwich bags and lunchbot containers, but in the end, pre-packaged and regular ziploc sandwich bags are the way to go. (Sorry environment) As always, use caution when giving children food in the car.

4. Audiobooks/Podcasts/Playlists: This is a new one for us that we’re excited to try out. We’ve been crowd-sourcing some family friendly podcasts and audiobooks for all of us to enjoy along the way. A couple we’ll be listening to: Wow in the World Podcast; But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids; Story Pirates for podcasts. We’re kicking it old school with Beverly Cleary and Ronald Dahl for audiobooks. Since we canceled our XM subscription, we’ve also put together a couple playlists that are kid appropriate to avoid static radio play.

5. Health and Safety: The car is usually stocked with some health and safety essentials  – they’ve come in handy at the park and soccer field – so this is always in the car. It’s packed with ibuprofen , bandaids, benedryl stick, Neosporin, a nail kit with tweezers, pepto, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, bug balm; wet wipes and a couple plastic bags (for garbage) are in the back seat pocket. During planned pit stops, it’s convenient to have to spray on sunscreen and run around for a few minutes at a park.

We’re ready to hit the road, happy travels!

Disney Vacation Tips

At the beginning of May my family took our first vacation to Disney. We decided to do a Disney land and sea vacation, which just really means we did a few days at the parks and then a 3 night Disney cruise. I knew that planning a Disney vacation would require a lot of research and planning and so I thought I would share with all of you what I learned from the experience. Now, I am NOT a Disney travel agent or any type of expert so please keep in mind I am sure you can experience Disney a million different ways and they would all be great.

When to visit Disney?

The first question I needed to answer was when did I want to book our trip. When I researched Disney it said that the least crowded times (now keep in mind crowded is a relative term as Disney always has people) were May and September. This makes sense because it is right before school is out or school is back in session. Since we were also doing a cruise, September was out due to hurricane season. I also was comfortable with taking my Kindergarten out of school for a week so May it was!! Plus, I was hoping it wouldn’t be 100 degrees.

Where to stay?

I am a believer of the mindset “if you are going to Disney, do the full Disney experience”. That being said, we knew we wanted to stay at a Disney resort. When considering the place to stay I wanted to take into account location and cost as the two big factors. I thought my kids would love riding the monorail so I definitely wanted a resort on the monorail. I asked friends who had been to Disney for recommendations and almost everyone said “Bay Tower at the Contemporary Resort”!! You can walk 5 minutes to the Magic Kingdom and and its on the monorail that you can take to Epcot as well. Plus, it has great views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks at night. Now, the Bay Tower is considered a higher end Disney resort and I wasn’t sure I wanted to pay higher end costs. My friend suggested using David’s Vacation Club Rental for this part of our trip. You essentially work with David’s Vacation Club to secure your room. Basically David’s works with Disney vacation club owners and books your trip through these vacation club owners. I was a little skeptical at first but my friend used it and she said it worked great and the best part– it was HALF the cost of getting a room through Disney directly. You get all of the same access and benefits as all other guests (housekeeping service is only once every 3 days though). I had the greatest experience using them and did save 50%. I highly recommend looking into this. It is because I used David’s Vacation Club that I did not use a Disney travel agent for the “land” part of our trip.

Here is a view from our room’s balcony

Another reason to stay on a Disney property is for the added benefits. You get access to the Magic Shuttle that takes you to and from the airport for FREE! You also get access to Magic hours at the parks (where either one park is open earlier or closes later for those that are staying on property). This is great for getting on those rides that have typically long lines right away (or with a smaller wait time). Plus, you get earlier access to make dining and FastPass+ reservations.

FastPass+

Ok, so this topic was one that I was most nervous about. I haven’t been to Disney since I was in junior high, so I was unsure how to navigate this piece. For those that are unfamiliar, FastPass+ is a system in which you make a “reservation” to ride on a ride. It allows you to walk up during your designated time and walk right up to the ride. The longest we waited with a FastPass+ was 15 minutes and that was for a ride that the standby line was almost two hours. In researching what to use our FastPass+ on (each person gets 3 per day at one park then you can get one more at a time after that) I downloaded the Disney app. Within the app there is a feature that lets you see the current wait times for all of the rides, shows, etc so I used that to figure out which rides I wanted to go on that had the highest wait times. Here is what we used our FastPass+ on at each park.

Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine, Splash Mountain and Buzz Lightyear

Animal Kingdom: Dinosaur, Safari, Na’vi River Journey

Now, I will say I was able to get these popular FastPass+ because I stayed on property and got to get my FastPass+ 60 days out. I also decided to not use FastPass+ on meeting characters because we planned that for our cruise.

I also made sure to use our FastPass+ in the morning/lunch timeframe so that we were able to get more (using the app) after we used our 3. Another cool feature I learned about was child swap. For instance, my daughter did not want to ride on Splash Mountain. So we got her a FastPass+ and this is how we handled it. My husband and son would go on Splash Mountain with their FastPass+ while I waited with my daughter. Then my son and I would go back on the ride when they were done. We swapped my daughter’s FastPass+ to my son. All you do is tell the employee at the ride you are doing a child swap. This was a win/win for us because it allowed my husband and I to go on the rides and my son got to go twice.

Disney Dining

Second to FastPass+ was dining in terms of me being worried about what to do here. I didn’t want to go to super fancy/expensive restaurants and wanted to make sure we had some flexibility. Again, we decided to not do any character meals because were going on the cruise and my daughter hates princesses so we didn’t need to worry about that. We also decided against a meal plan. For our family we just knew that we wouldn’t get the value out of it. We tend to share a few meals for each meal so for us it was cheaper to just order as we went. The first day we were arriving we didn’t have park tickets (you need a park ticket to dine at any of the restaurants inside) so we made a reservation at Disney Springs (a free area with shops and restaurants) for T-REX. The kids LOVED this restaurant. I highly recommend, it is similar to Rainforest Cafe but the kids enjoyed it way more. We made reservations at Coral Reef while we were at Epcot. The kids really enjoyed watching the fish swim and while we were there divers were in the tank and it was nice to have entertainment for them during dinner. Our last night there we had originally had reservations at Epcot but I knew we wanted to experience more of the Magic Kingdom so we just grabbed some stuff at one of the little stations with no formal meal. We did use the app to make reservations for breakfast one morning at the Grand Floridan. Staying on property though did give us earlier access to booking places and times that worked for us.

Picture of the TREX restaurant

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Getting around Disney

I have a 6.5 year old and a 4 year old. Neither of my kids have ever been “stroller” kids. I use a stroller maybe once or twice a year for my 4 year old. However, I knew that Disney was going to be big and it would be hot there and the days long. My 4 year old definitely still needs naps and my 6.5 year old loves naps too. I wanted a stroller that the kids could sit in and stay shaded and even take a little nap while we were walking around. It is worth mentioning that my kids are champs at falling asleep in cars and being pushed in a stroller is the same type of sensation for them so I knew they would nap in the stroller. We don’t have a great double stroller and we didn’t want to bring our own and then figure out how do deal with it on the cruise so we decided to rent a stroller. We rented ours through Magic Strollers and we LOVED it. The stroller was waiting for us at the hotel lobby when we checked in and came with a rain cover for free (which luckily we didn’t need). It was clean and in excellent condition. The best part, when we were done we just left it back at the hotel lobby. EASY! The cost was WAY worth it. It was $80 for a city mini double for 4 days. In comparison we rented a crappy double “stroller” at Disney Springs for the afternoon before we went home and it was $50 for the day and it had to stay at Disney Springs. It offered no shade or protection from the rain. If you rent a stroller from a Disney park it must be returned to that park that day. I cannot even imagine how we would have survived without a stroller. Life changing even for my 6.5 year old.

Picture on the left is the city mini we rented and the right is the Disney stroller

Disney Cruise

For the cruise portion of our trip I did use a Disney certified travel agent. We used Mix and Match Travel (run by Shay and Erika). It was a great decision. Erika was able to coordinate our transportation from our Disney Hotel right to the port (there is a fee for this service unlike the Magic Express). I simply told her what type of room I wanted and she made all the reservations. She took care of also securing our excursions as well. She knew that Elsa and Anna meet and greet tickets sell out and to get those and got my son his snorkel gear reserved for the private island. Plus, she signed the kids up for the kids club. It was so easy. She was also great about answering all my random questions, like, do I need to bring towels for the island? (answer: no, Disney provides them). If we ever do another Disney cruise (which we might!) I am definitely going to go through them again.

Our family really enjoyed the combination of the days at the parks and the cruise. On the cruise you get to experience the Disney characters on a regular basis. They are always around for photo ops.

Photo evidence of all the character sightings

The cruise also allowed us to have a “beach” type vacation as well because we went to Disney’s private island and Nassau Bahamas. It really did feel like two vacations in one so we didn’t need to feel sad leaving the parks because we knew we got a whole new adventure in the cruise. Another big perk is the entertainment on board. We got to see two Disney shows in their theater that rival any Broadway shows I have seen (and might even be better than a lot of shows). And it was included in the cost of the cruise. The kids LOVED the shows. I was not expecting them to love the shows as much as they did, they still talk about the shows over a month later.

Another perk that only Mom’s can really appreciate is how CLEAN the Disney boats are. I mean, the “public” bathrooms on the ship were cleaner than my own at my house. Outside of every restaurant staff handed out handi-wipes to all of us to clean our hands before eating. The ship was spotless!! I can understand why adults choose Disney cruise lines over others for this factor alone.

 

Overall, our trip was a lot of fun and as the family’s vacation planner I was actually able to enjoy myself while on vacation because I did so much research in advance and had a game plan. I also knew that it was OK to change the plans slightly and go with the flow. There is no way you will get to experience everything on either the cruise or at the parks so just enjoy what you do experience and remember to have fun!

We would love to hear any other tips and tricks you have for Disney vacation fun.

 

Please note: this post is not sponsored in any way, these were my real experiences without any compensation for my review or opinion.