Saturday, June 30, 2018

Adventures in PB&J Parenthood: 6 Months!

It only feels like yesterday, but now here we are.... 6 months with our Benjamin Apollo
I can't believe it. It's already been half a year since Ben came into our lives and made each one of our days so incredibly bright.

Where has the time gone?
Literally, where has the time gone? As I type, it's already the end of June and I have a 6 month old on my hands. Where did my tiny little newborn go? Now we've got a big bundle of Ben, sitting up, babbling away and so curious about the big, beautiful world around him. I've heard it a million and one times from other mom's about "time is flying" and now I know what they mean. It's not an over-exaggeration, it's the truth. There's just something that happens and before you know it, they've grown out of the tiny baby stage into a little human. It's the most incredible thing.

Ben's first swim
Our Ben is definitely a little water baby! He loves bath time and we wanted to test out if he'd love a swimming pool as much as his little baths. I grew up going to the pool almost every day when I was younger, it was the best summer thing to do! My cousins and I would spend hours upon end having swim races, driving for toys and playing marco polo poolside. I definitely want Ben to have the same summer fun experiences, so as the weather got warmer here at home, we took him to the pool for the first time. Ben, complete with giant boat float and all all, LOVED it!

Happy Father's Day PB
June brought about another beautiful moment for our family, PB's first Father's day. It's a day so well deserved for a man who's more than earned his right to celebrate such a special occasion. Ben filled PB's day with so much love and the best gift of all? Letting him sleep in, lol!
Here's to many, MANY more happy Father's day moments and memories to come in the future for our little family!

6 months down, a lifetime to go!
We're now 6 months into this parenting thing and it's been beautiful. I don't know how to describe it, it's just so wonderful. I know I must sound like a sappy mess right now, but just thinking back on the moments since Ben entered our lives until the present day, it's just so emotional. For all that we've been through to get to this point, the struggles, the hardships, the good days, the bad, in the end, it's just been a dream come true for us. Ben has literally brightened up our lives, he can turn any stressful day into a good one with one little smile. We feel so blessed to have our little miracle in our lives. We know we're already halfway through his first year, but here's to a lifetime more amazing Ben moments and memories to come!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Ben's 1st Disneyland Trip: Part II

Welcome to Part II of Ben's 1st Disneyland trip recap!

If you missed part one of the recap, you can read it HERE *Part I*

Day two begins with a magical *snap*
Ben's 1st Disney trip was so special for so many reasons. Not only was it his first trip to the parks, but it was us coming full circle as a family. We had begun our family journey two years prior, with finding out we were pregnant for the first time in May 2016, the losses that followed, and finally being able to come full circle with our rainbow, Ben. We knew how special this trip was for all of us, so we wanted to commemorate it with something magical: a family photoshoot with the most magical photographer on Earth, Jenna from White Rabbit Photo Boutique. 

Jenna is not only a beautiful friend, but a talented photographer who has captured so many of our happiest memories over the years. It was so amazing to be able to be back with her and capture this milestone for us as a family.

For more information on Jenna and her amazing photography company, check them out here: White Rabbit Photo Boutique

Baby Center Bliss
After our photoshoot fun, we finally headed to Disneyland's Baby Care Center. Okay fellow Disney mamas, mamas to be and future mamas.... this place is AMAZING! What's funny was that we knew about the baby care center beforehand, but didn't utilize the center our entire first day of the trip. We were so wrapped up in our first day back at the parks we completely forgot to use the facilities until day 2.

**PB&J family tip**
The baby care center is such a lifesaver for families at the parks. Not only is it a refuge from the heat on hot days, but it is so handy for families with little ones. There's an entire area for changing diapers. This isn't just a run of the mill bathroom stall changer, a literal room full of cushioned changing tables, table liners, tissues and sinks nearby! *Can you tell I'm a total mom by geeking out about changing table liners?! 😂* No really though, it's super awesome. There's also a seating area for parents to feed their children, a kitchen to heat bottles, prep food and wash necessities. There's also a private room for mother's to pump and breastfeed. Again, totally awesome! Disney dads are also welcome into the kitchen and diaper areas, so mama's out there, you can send those daddies in there to do the dirty work while you enjoy a churro nearby 😉

The baby care center is located at the end of Main Street, right across from the corn dog cart and Plaza Inn. This has to be our #1 tip for any family heading to the park, make use out of the Baby Care Center!!!

Royal moments
If you've been following along on the blog or our adventures on Instagram you may remember our celebration of *Hope & Hearts* the past October at Disneyland's 21 Royal. It was the most magical evening that we hosted for our closest loved ones, in celebration of our upcoming rainbow, Ben. 21 Royal is located in Disneyland's Dream Suite, a place that was forever on my Disney "bucket list" but became a reality with our special event in the Fall.
Magic was able to strike again because we were invited back up into 21 Royal to say hello to the 21 Royal family. Their kindness allowed us to not only introduce our miracle Ben to them, but also let us  recreate the magical "bump" moments we snapped in the Suite just a few months back while I was still pregnant with Ben.
Once again, our most heartfelt thanks to the amazing 21 Royal family for this kindness! Ben is officially a 21 Royal baby and we hope to be back in the future so that he may actually get to experience the "royal treatment" himself when he gets older!

Meeting the mouse
As if day 2 couldn't get any more magical, we capped off the day with a visit to the head cheese: Mickey! I had been prepping Ben for the moment for so long, we'd been playing with his plushie Mickey's at home to get him used to/excited for his first encounter with Mickey Mouse. Let's just say it paid off because Ben was so good during the meet and greet. I think he likes his pal, Mickey!
This was such a great moment for us as well since our photo with Mickey a year prior was one that was so full of *hope*. We were only a few weeks along pregnant with Ben, still in the healing process of our angel son's loss. It was a bittersweet Mickey meet and greet last May, so to come full circle in present day May was beautiful, to say the least!

First cruise around the world!
With three days at the parks, it's hard to believe that we only made it on one ride! My old Disney self would be shocked! But again, Disney with a baby is a whole new ballgame. We finally made it on an attraction and boy did we make it count. We hopped on my favorite ride, ever: It's a Small World! I can't describe how amazing it was to bring Ben on his first "cruise". Tears were welling up in my eyes upon entering the ride. My heart was beyond full, my rainbow and my favorite Disney ride!
Ben LOVED the ride. He was so in awe of the vibrant colors and happy music. Hopefully we can make it a record 2 rides on our next trip to the parks!

Waffles, Winnie the Pooh and friends 
Our last day at the parks was filled with love and yums. We got to bring ben to experience his very 1st character breakfast at the Plaza Inn. Ben was feeling a bit of the Disneyland hangover by day 3, so he was a little grumpy butt during breakfast, LOL. Thankfully, there were the most amazing cast members working and still made it the memorable breakfast for us.
We spent the rest of our morning getting to introduce Ben to so many amazing friends who came out to say hello. We also made a trek over to the Hundred Acre Wood to say hi to Ben's Pooh crew!
We ended our final day at Disneyland with one last good bye to the castle and a walk down memory lane for us with a visit to our former Disney Wedding venue, the Animation Building!

until next time Disneyland...
After a full three days of magic, fun, and memories it was time to say good bye to our happy place. Words can't begin to express how wonderful this trip was for us as a family. We're thankful for every beautiful moment and memory made on this trip. Thank you to everyone that stopped us to say hello and for every friend that came out to hang out with us during our short trip. This was only the beginning of many, MANY more magical Disney vacation memories to come. Until our next visit on the not so distant horizon... Disney... See ya real soon!
Thank you for reading along and until the next magical post, take care! 💜

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ben's 1st Disneyland Trip! Part I

A moment we had been dreaming of since we began our family journey.....

Ben's 1st visit to Disneyland!

The road to magic
Ben's 1st trip to Disneyland not only marked his first trip to the parks, but also his first trip away from home. We kicked off our vacation with a road trip from home here in the Bay Area/NorCal to visit my sister in Los Angeles/SoCal. We were nervous about Ben's first long car ride and how he would do... Fortunately, he loved the car ride. He's loved anything with motion from the start, so he slept through a majority of the drive down. It was a success, we survived our first road trip!

We spent our first few days hanging out with my sister and brother in law in Los Angeles. One highlight from our non-Disney portion of the trip was our visit to the Petersen Auto Museum. Peter is a HUGE car geek and he loved exploring the museum, along with bestowing his "car knowledge" to baby Ben. There's also a little dose of Disney Pixar magic at the museum with a life sized Lightning McQueen car!
Welcome home
After some quality time with my sister, we finally made our way to the magic, the Disneyland Resort. I can't tell you how good it felt to be back "home". There's just something so heartwarming about being back, this time with our little Benjamin.

We kicked off our magical stay with Ben's first stay at the most whimsical hotel of all: The Disneyland Hotel. We wanted to be surrounded in the magic and the hotel is just bursting with fun around every corner, so it was a natural first choice for our big trip. It's hard to believe the last time we were there it was back when Ben was just a little (big) baby bump!
**PB&J family tip** Staying on property is definitely a perk, and we're so thankful to have been able to stay on property for Ben's first visit. Even though the official Disneyland resort hotels can be pricey, it's well worth it for a big celebration, milestone, or special vacation. Magic mornings, where you're let into the park an hour early, are a definite plus. But overall, it's the proximity you are to the parks is such a highlight. I can't tell you how grateful we were to be within walking distance to our room for those much needed park breaks, milk pumping sessions and much needed nap times. With a baby, your hotel room becomes more than just a "shower/sleep" situation, it's literally home base and you're definitely going to want a comfy spot to wind down mid-day or after a long day playing in the parks.

Disneyland has a ton of really great "Good Neighbor" hotels within walking distance to the parks as well! Some hotels are probably the same distance, if not closer to the park gates as the on property hotels are! So if the official resort hotels are booked out, definitely check those out as well! All information on Disneyland official hotels and "Good Neighbor" hotels found HERE *Disney Hotels*

*Hope & Hearts* take over Disneyland
The emotion that we felt finally walking Ben through the Disney gates was one for the PB&J Adventure Books. I can't tell you how many times I've envisioned being here with our rainbow... and for the moment to finally happen was truly incredible. We soaked in our first stroll down Main Street and took our very first set of castle photos together, this time as a complete family. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't super emotional and teary eyed at this point. Our most magical castle memory yet!

First Stop: To infinity and beyond! 
After the excitement of the first walk down Main St. and stop for castle pics, we made a beeline for the #1 thing on my Disney trip list this visit: ALL THE ALIEN THINGS! This was not only great because we got to check out all the Little Green Men fun offered, but it was the perfect spot to take a break, get a nap in for Ben, and relax. If you're wondering what I thought about all the Little Green Alien food offered? I think the photos sum up my reaction: BLISS! No really though, the alien macaron was sugary perfection and the alien parfait was the secret star, sooooo YUM.

Pixar Fest fun!
After an out of this world alien break, we headed over to check out all the Pixar Fest fun over at DCA.
We weren't sure how Ben would do meeting characters for the first time, but we're happy to report that he did great! Thankfully the characters he met were Dug and Russel from UP. Ben loves dogs, maybe because it reminds him of his big bro, Datsy? Regardless, he was super curious about the giant characters in front of him, especially because one was a giant dog!

Day one and done!
The reality of being at Disney for the first time with a baby is one that is definitely different. I've heard of stories from previous Disney mama friends/families that they'd only last an hour or two before having to leave or dealing with a baby meltdown. We definitely learned what they were all talking about, HA! The thing with babies is that they're so set their schedules, between feedings, diaper changes and nap times, there's little wiggle room for a whole consecutive day running around the parks. It's quite an adjustment doing Disney with a baby. For this Disney girl, I'm so used to being at the parks for hours on end, zooming from one side of the park to another, basically soaking in all the Disney things until your feet fall off. With a baby, YEAH NO. There's just so many new sounds, sights and smells that pretty much overwhelm a baby and gets them tired and overstimulated, fast. We knew that between just getting him into the parks, a few photos and a character meet in greet, a total of about 3-4hrs, we were already pushing it meltdown wise. Ben was such a Disney trooper until he was finally DONE.
We headed back to the room for a break, a much needed long nap, refresh and headed back into the parks for one last *first day* hurrah with dinner and fireworks.

One of the questions I got from people is how did Ben do with fireworks? The answer: He slept through the whole thing!

**PB&J Family tip** We know how crazy the crowds get after fireworks finish since everyone is herding themselves out for the night. We found a nice spot at the very end of Main Street near the Main St. Emporium for fireworks viewing which gave us a great view of the projections on along the buildings and best part? Made for the easiest and quickest exit from the parks to beat the mad rush of guests leaving.

All in all, Day one at Disneyland was a success! Despite a meltdown, Ben did great and it made us so excited for day 2 of his Disney adventures. There was lots more magic and fun to be had, but that will have to wait until my next post aka Part II of our Disney adventures with Ben! Thank you for reading along, as always. Until the next post! 💜

© Our PB&J Adventure Book
Maira Gall