Thursday, August 30, 2018

Adventures in PB&J Parenthood: 8 months!

In a blink of an eye.... we're officially at 8 months with our little Ben!

They really aren't kidding when they say "time flies"

In a flash
Honestly, where did the entire month of August go? It felt like we had just come back from our July Disneyland trip and then *BAM* we're already in September? How could this be? I know time tends to zoom by, but man oh man, it's going by in a flash!
So let's recap our month long adventures!

New pals, pool time and more!
August brought about more pool time for our little water baby. He's becoming such a natural in the water, constantly kicking away and literally enjoying every moment he has poolside.

We also had a lot of events with family and friends during August, including meeting some fellow Bay Area Disney pals for a meet up in San Francisco! Ben is a little ladies man and loved getting to hang out with so many beautiful and kind Disney gals.

My two front teeth
This month brought about another milestone for our Benjamin: his first two teeth! At the start of August, Ben suddenly became super fuss-butt. We chalked it up to a growth spurt when we noticed a little tiny nub popping from his gum... Ben's first tooth!!!
Bring on all the teethers! Just a few weeks after his first tooth came to the surface, we noticed his 2nd tooth coming in right next to it, Ben now has two bottom teeth.

On the move
August was a busy month for our little Ben. Remember last month when we reached Ben's milestone of rolling over? It was such a huge moment, read about it HERE. There was so much elation in just getting Ben to roll that I didn't realize all the doors it would open up....literally!

Since that fateful day, Ben has literally been NON STOP. I mean, this kid just won't stop moving, HA! He rolls over like a little rollie pollie and is even in the early stages of crawling. I guess this means that we need to up our baby proofing game around the house.

Parenting instincts
We bought Ben a little activity walker to give him a new thing to try out. And yes.... if you're a fellow parent out there reading this and gasped when I mentioned "baby walker" have no fear, we had just learned about the "controversy" with these things AFTER we bought it. If you don't have a clue about the walker drama, neither did we until my brother in law bought up "I thought these things weren't allowed anymore?" when we showed them Ben's new activity toy. Apparently, there was some issue with these things because children were getting hurt in the old designs, like being left unattended, falling or getting stuck in places they shouldn't be. There's also some talk that they can delay the development of walking, etc. Okay, scary right? Let's add this to the list of "new parent things we didn't know about, but will go with our own gut on". We ended up digging into more research to learn that all walkers now have been redesigned for safety and have updated guidelines in place aka, we never leave Ben unattended in one and he only uses his for little bits of the day.

So here's my point... As a new parent, you're constantly bombarded with so much information, especially when it comes to do's and a whole ton of don'ts of bringing up baby. Honestly? If you followed every single piece of what you should be or shouldn't be doing out there, your baby would be naked, eating a carrot, in a bubble.... Seriously. There's so much scare out there for parents, "harmful chemicals in baby food! GASP the wrong plastic in a bottle?! SHOCK!!! The wrong type of toy will cause delays?! FAINT!  Its all enough to make a new mom want to keep her baby cushioned in bubble wrap and away from anything... forever. But that just isn't reality for most, if not all moms out there, at least not for me and PB. We've found over the past 8 months that babies are actually pretty resilient. They're tough cookies and they tend to figure things out on their own. We're only 8 months into this new parenting gig, but what we've learned so far is to trust your own "mom/dad" gut because more often than not, it will be okay!

So looping back to the walker thing, Ben seems to enjoy his time in the thing, plus it's cute, lol. So the walker will be staying in our home (guided supervision) and all!

Onto 9 months!
And here we are on the verge of September! While August was a busy month of growth and laid back  adventures, we have so much more fun in store for month 9 with another Disneyland visit, including Ben's 1st Disney Halloween party. We can't wait to share all the fun ahead, September is such a meaningful month for us as a family, we'll not only hit 9 months of Ben being in our lives, but it's also a month filled with anniversary love, memories to announcing our rainbow and more! So stay tuned for all of the fun and until then, thank you so much for reading along. 💜






Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Disney with baby: Our PB&J Tips!

One of the most frequently asked questions I get from fellow Disney moms is the following: What are your tips/tricks to bringing a baby to Disney? You asked, so here it is and here we goooooo!

Okay, to be 100% honest I feel like there's about a dozen other more awesome Disney centric blogs that probably have WAY, way more information about tackling Disney with a baby. So consider this blog post our take on *tips & tricks* to doing Disney with a wee little one! It's our very own PB&J guide aka our own experiences/opinions on what we've found helpful by taking our little Ben to Disneyland twice now!

Tip #1 Don't pack up the entire house
Thirteen. That's the number of bags we brought with us during our very first Disneyland trip when Ben was 4 months old. We brought EVERYTHING, literally everything from his toys, Boppy, crib mobile, bathtub.... pretty much anything that wasn't nailed down to his nursery. When we arrived at the hotel for check in the bell hop asked "first time parents?" Yes, yes we are and yes, we were totally clueless!

Our personal tip? Pack the essentials! For our 2nd Disneyland trip with Ben we cut down on baggage drastically and made sure to only pack what we truly needed and couldn't pick up easily while down at Disney. The beauty of Disneyland is it's close proximity to stores like Target, CVS and Walgreens, literally around the corner or down the street. We knew we could pick up things like formula, diapers and wipes if we didn't have enough. Here's what our cut down packing check list consisted of:
Ben's Packing guide:
-Clothing. Enough for the X amount of days that we would be away and a few spares in case of blow outs or messes. I overpacked and brought 1/2 of Ben's wardrobe the first trip and realized he pretty much only wore one outfit per day.

-Bath essentials. Soaps, lotions, creams that he uses regularly

-Feeding supplies

*Bottles. Ben eats about every 3-4 hours, so we brought 4 bottles down with us to switch through the day. 

*Travel bottle cleaner. We love our BOON grass, so one of our absolute favorites for travel is the BOON grass travel kit which is a tiny, on to go version of the original, one dry stand and a bottle brush in one! You can find it on Amazon or most retailers like Target. Check it out HERE
*Formula, Breast Pump, baby food. Ben does mixed feedings, so we had to bring all three with us.

-Travel play pen. So this one is a personal preference. Most hotels supply a travel crib/play pen if you ask for one, but we ended up bringing our own since we stayed at my sister's place before heading to Disney.

-That's pretty much it! As nice as it'd be to bring our white noise machine, Boppy pillow, mobile, etc, we really didn't need them for our 2nd go around to Disney.

Tip #2 Stay on property or close to the Parks
Ben loving all the magic at the Disneyland Hotel!
We have been lucky enough to stay on property the two times we've brought Ben to Disney. My family are DVC members and we were able to book our stay at the Disneyland Hotel for our May trip. For our most recent trip, we were gifted a dose of *pixie dust* when it came to booking and were able to stay at the Grand Californian.
Relaxing, Grand Californian style!
Again, I stress that this is our personal preference, but we found staying on property or close to the parks is SO convenient with a little one! There was no hassle of getting to the parking lot, tramming it to the gates, all while dealing with a stroller. At the parks, Ben would need a mid day break and it was so easy to just head back to the room for a breather and nap time, then walk back into the parks later on after we were all refreshed and rested. Both times we visited the temperatures were pretty hot, so having a cool and comfortable place to head back to, walling distance to the parks was simply amazing!
There's a ton of really great hotels within walking distance to the parks. Check out Disneyland's "Good Neighbor Hotels" for some info. Some hotels we've stayed at in the past that were close to the parks, Hyatt House & Fairfield Marriott Inn to name a few!

Tip #3 Rope drop!!!
This is a tip that we've actually heard about from other really amazing Disney bloggers and finally tried for ourselves on our most recent trip, getting to the parks at opening! For PB and I, sleep is essential, so our past duo Disney days would always be off to a late start. Now with Ben, we've learned all about being "early birds". We decided to head to the parks a little before opening and boy, oh boy does it pay off!

By getting to the gates early, right before opening or "rope drop" we were some of the first few hundred guests in. Most major attractions are walk ons, the park is almost empty for amazing "solo" shots by the castle or major Disney landmarks that tend to get crowded later in the day and characters!!! Right at opening Mickey and pals are out and about greeting guests. We were able to get some great character interactions and photos without having to wait in crazy lines or feel rushed for time.
We also noticed that we were able to get a majority of what we wanted to do done, have breakfast, take photos, shop a little, all done before noon and best of all? We beat the summer heat and were back at the room and relaxing by the pool before it got too crowded. The Sunday, Monday and Tuesday we were at the parks we noticed that each morning was pretty slow until the 3rd hour the park was open. I guess what they say "the early bird gets the worm!"

Tip #4 take your time
When PB and I would head to the parks as a duo, we'd always be rushing everywhere, trying to cram as much Disney into each our days at the parks. With Ben, we learned that we really had to SLOW DOWN and just take our time. Disneyland is super overstimulating for babies and we found that Ben would be "done" after just a few hours, at most, while at the parks.
 What we found worked for us was to take our time, find a cool and comfy place to sit and eat, a shaded bench to listen to the Disney music playing in the background. Being at Disney with a baby lets you really just soak in the parks in a whole new way!

Tip #5 Stroller essentials 

Let's talk stroller essentials! It's something you see in abundance at Disney but never are fully aware of how amazing it is until you have to push one through a park! Personally, I love our stroller. It's like having a giant backpack you can push around, a lounger for your baby and a combo arm workout in one. So what do we pack in our stroller for a day at the parks?

Stroller checklist:
Stroller fan! An absolute MUST for the warmer temperatures in SoCal at the parks. We found ours on Amazon, just type in "portable stroller fan" and it should be the top rated/recommended one. We love ours because we can attach it to the stroller and take it off when needed to give some cool air to little Ben.

Antibacterial gel. Yeah, pretty self explanatory to always have on hand

Stroller caddy, handy to store water bottles, ready on hand essentials

Hyrdoflask or refillable water bottle. My sister brought her Hydroflask, a vacuum sealed, stainless steel water bottle to the parks in 90+ degree weather and let me tell you, it was amazing! She put ice in her bottle and just kept refilling her water through the day and the ice stayed frozen and kept the water cool the entire time! Bringing your own water bottle, especially an insulated one helps keep cool water on hand while at the parks! Got to stay hydrated!

Good diaper bag! I'm biased because I absolutely LOVE my Petunia Pickle Bottom, but it's great due to it's built in changing pad and tons of storage room in the pockets. A bonus? They come in fun Disney style prints and give off the cutest Disney style vibes while at the park! Check out their entire Disney line HERE
Tip #6 Kid friendly rides
Ben was able to ride a ton of rides this trip and enjoyed almost all of them except for that one infamous ride *ahem* Francis' Ladybug Boogie, I'm looking at you!
Ben did NOT like having to sit on his own (not on my lap) and the fast whirling motion of this ride.

Disney pretty much allows babies on all rides that have no heigh restrictions, but a mama tip is to really research the ride before bringing baby on. Scope out the attraction beforehand by asking a CM if they think a baby would be okay on the ride, check for seating (lap vs seated on their own), generally just checking how the ride is motion/noise wise

Baby Ben's approved rides? All the slower moving dark rides, anything colorful and music, all the upbeat music!

-Pooh
-Peter Pan
-It's a Small World
-Casey Jr. Train
-Dumbo
-Monster's Inc. at DCA
-Tiki Room. We were worried about the "angry Gods" portion of the Tiki room with the thunder and lightning. Ben just loved this attraction! He loved the music and lights!
**Attractions we haven't been on yet, but hoping to the next visit King Arthur's Carousel & the Disneyland Railroad!

Tip #7 BABY CARE CENTER!!!

As a parent, this has to be our favorite attraction at Disneyland now, the Baby Care Center!!! Located in Disneyland at the end of Main Street, nestled in the corner by the famous Corn Dog Cart you'll find the happiest place in all of Disneyland as a parent! Over at DCA the Baby center is located right next to Ghirardelli.

The Baby Care centers at the parks are a literal safe haven from the heat during the summer and the comfiest place to feed, nurse or change your baby! We love stopping by here to change Ben's diapers since you get your own changing station. It's also a wonderful place to warm up a bottle, prep any food, or wash any feeding supplies. There is also a private area or mother's to pump or nurse their children. Forget anything? On our most recent trip, we noticed the centers had installed touch screen vending machines filled with anything and everything you may have forgotten or needed. Food, check, Diapers, check, Rash cream? check!

Tip #7 Enjoy every moment!
Our best PB&J advice for traveling to Disney with a baby? Don't stress about the little things, there may be meltdowns, there may be cries, but there's just something so magical about being at Disney with your little one! It's a fresh perspective on the parks, almost like experiencing Disney for the first time, all over again. Enjoy all the little moments. I had no idea how emotional I'd be bringing Ben down Main Street for the first time. I didn't know I'd tear up with happiness on his first sail on It's a Small World. It's truly amazing, so enjoy all those magical moments at the happiest place on earth!
Again, I stress, these tips were all from our own experiences and just what we found handy on our visits. I hope to add more and update as we continue to go to the parks. Until then, thank you for reading along! 💜

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Disneyland with Ben, Round 2!

Disneyland, round 2!

So what did Ben's 2nd Disneyland trip have in store? Even more doses of magic, adventure and happy moments for our lucky little rainbow!

A *Grand* welcome home!
We're making it a point to try and soak in as much magic as we can during Ben's 1st year (and hopefully beyond)! So when PB's birthday weekend rolled around and we knew we had to take advantage of our getaway and cram as much fun into the few days away as possible. With a little sprinkle of pixie dust, we found ourselves back at our favorite Disney hotel, the Grand Californian! We love this hotel for so many reasons, most of which, because our wedding ceremony was held in the Brisa Courtyard here almost 8 years ago. Now we love the Grand because of the super close proximity to the parks.

It's getting HOT in here
When we arrived in SoCal, my sister, a local to Los Angeles let us know we had just arrived in time for the heat wave. Oh boy, she was right! It was a scorcher the 3 days while we were at the parks! I guess our fruit themed summer style was right on point for the summer weather!
We spent the peak heat times finding fun indoor attractions for Ben to enjoy, and us to cool off. What's great about Disney with a baby is that you really get a new perspective on things through their eyes. The Tiki Room is an attraction that we'd always overlook, but seeing it with Ben for the first time was utterly magical! He was all smiles and giggles the whole time. Bonus? AC the entire show!!!

Rides, rides and what NOT to ride!
After taking a break from the parks since we were literally melting away, we headed back into DCA to experience more fun. We headed straight to Bugsland since it's yet another area of Disney we'd always overlook, but got to experience with a little one now. We found a ride, Francis' Ladybug Boogie that had a short wait and no height requirement which we thought would be perfect for Ben.... Boy we were wrong! PB stayed behind since the ride was a "spin" ride and he gets motion sickness easily, let's just say he was the smart one out of the group!
Basically Ben HATED this ride!
Ben wasn't able to sit on my lap, which should have been the first sign that things would go amiss. When the ride started, both my sister and I held on tight to him, but the combo on not being able to sit with mommy and the swirling motion proved to be a bit too intense for his speed and our poor little guy cried the rest of the ride! Total #DisneyFail, but at least we know now!

**PB&J Disney tip**
Ben was able to ride a ton of rides this trip and enjoyed almost all of them (except the one above). Disney pretty much allows babies on all rides that have no heigh restrictions, but a mama tip is to really research the ride before bringing baby on. Scope out the attraction beforehand by asking a CM if they think a baby would be okay on the ride, check for seating (lap vs seated on their own), generally just checking how the ride is motion/noise wise. Baby Ben's approved rides? All the slower moving dark rides like Pooh, Peter Pan, It's a Small World, Monster's Inc. Also a majority of the Fantasyland fun like Dumbo and Casey Jr. Shows are also a plus as long as the music and effects aren't too much. We were worried about the "angry Gods" portion of the Tiki room with the thunder and lightening, but Ben did well and was just into the lights.

Pixar Pier!!!
After calming Ben down we were able to take it easy with dinner, catching Paint the Night (he loved the lights!) and strolled around the new and amazing Pixar Pier! Our little Ben was such a trooper and unlike his first visit at 4 months old, he was able to stay out longer, nap in his stroller when he got tired and we were actually able to stay until park closing at DCA our first night!

Girls (magic) morning out
Staying at the Grand gave us the opportunity to use the perk of Magic Morning. We were able to get into either Disneyland or DCA an hour early, depending on the day for each day of our stay. My sister and I decided to take advantage of the perk and head into DCA for their Magic Morning offering. It was great to hop on the new Incredicoaster with no wait. It was also a milestone for me since it was my very 1st "grown up" ride in about 2 years! Yes... you heard that right, TWO years! The combo of being pregnant with Ben and our angel pregnancies put me right at that mark, so it was definitely a happy moment to get on a ride that went faster than 5mph, lol.

Rope drop = YAY
Ben and PB had their version of daddy and me time by sleeping in and meeting us at Disneyland for rope drop. The amazing thing about getting to the parks early is that most attractions have little to no wait times, characters are out with little people waiting for photos, which makes interactions with them so much more memorable! Best of all? You can beat the heat and finish up most of your day before it gets hot!
Magic Mornings = Dumbo nap times for Ben
All the Fantasyland rides, check! Got to love Magic Mornings!
**PB&J Disney tip**
ROPE DROP. I've read about it from numerous amazing fellow Disney blogs, accounts, etc about the magic of getting to the parks early and yes, I can agree, it's amazing. If you can, get to the front gates of either DCA or DL before opening to be some of the first few guests in and you won't regret it! Little to no wait times on all the major attractions, memorable character meet and greets and basically getting the busiest part of your day done in the first few hours of the morning. It makes the rest of your day so stress free to just enjoy the remainder of the parks since you'd have crossed most of what you wanted to do off in the early morning hours!

Quack Quack
Naturally, this Disney mama came with her strongest Disney style game for herself and Ben. Day two had Ben in a classic Donald outfit which was perfect because Donald was out and about, in the same outfit by the way. It was the cutest interaction between the two. We think Ben loves Donald because he was all smiles while visiting with him.
Ben LOVED Donald Duck!



Pool break
We headed back to the hotel for a much needed pool break with our family once peak heat hit. It was such a refreshing bit of down time. Ben loved the pool at the Grand!
Yum, everything tastes better poolside! 
Lamplight Lounging
Once refreshed we headed back into the park to check out the brand new Lamplight Lounge. It was super comfy, cute and the food was super yummy!
Ben super excited about the Lamplight Lounge donuts (YUM!)
A *Royal* dose of magic
Ben is one lucky little baby. With a dose of a lot of magic and kindness, we were invited back up to the amazing 21 Royal balcony for a special viewing of Fantasmic.
We meet again 21 Royal/Disneyland Dream Suite!
The most priceless view for Fantasmic!
Special desserts for our little family!

21 Royal truly has a special place in our hearts. We hosted the most special event here last October as a celebration for our upcoming rainbow baby (Ben). If you'd like to read the recap on that click HERE. Since that magical night, we've been able to stay in touch with the staff at 21 Royal and they've given us some truly memorable doses of magic for our little Ben. We are so incredibly thankful for the sweetest surprise for our family, by the most amazing person! From the bottom of our hearts, thank you 21 Royal! Ben is so thankful to be an official 21 Royal baby and for all the kindness you've given us.
So thankful for these magical moments! We love the 21 Royal family!
One final run around the parks
On our final day at the parks, we stopped by to say hello to another magical group of dream makers:  the Disney Weddings team! These amazing folks have been making our dreams come true since our wedding back in 2010. It's been so wonderful to visit with them on our trips to the park to say hello and give Ben hugs!
The most magical dream makers on earth!
We took in the last day of magic by running around DCA trying even more Pixar Pier foods and treats and having one last stop at where our happily ever after started almost 8 years before: the Animation Building! Last visit we only got to check out the outside since Ben was fast asleep, but this trip we were finally able to go inside and show Ben where mommy and daddy had their wedding reception all those years ago!
Visiting our wedding venue! Sigh, so many happy memories here!
We loved the Buzz Wing Wall!
Bing Bong's Confectionary was so adorable! We loved the slushy drinks, especially this Imaginary Pal.
Jack's Num Num cookie was AH-MAZING

See ya real soon!
Another magical Disney trip comes to a close and we couldn't be more thankful for another memorable and amazing trip. We're thankful for all of the people who made this trip so fun, for the doses of pixie dust, and for another beautiful vacation for our adventure book! 💜






© Our PB&J Adventure Book
Maira Gall