Adventures in PB&J Parenthood: 1 year, 1 month

365 Days + one month!
One month into toddlerhood! So how's it going? Read on to find out...

Evolution
When I first stared this this PB&J parenthood series, it was meant to be a look back on how PB and I were hanging in there in regards to being first time parents. With time, the posts evolved more into monthly recaps of our Ben. As much as I told myself that I'd only do things for his first year like my Instagram #PBJmommyandme series and these monthly recaps, it was hard not to get sucked back into things. There's just too much fun that happens not to share. So here we go again with our year 2 series and looking back on ONE year and ONE month into the newest territory: Toddlerhood!

Mr. Independent
So what has the first month of toddlerhood look like? EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE. No really... while last year was all about making sure we did everything right, taking care of our fragile little newborn... enjoying the tiniest little smiles and coos, this year is a little different. Ben is definitely far from that tiny, helpless newborn. He's our Mr. Independent now. He's so curious and adventurous about the world around him. We have to keep up with him, his newfound mobility, and his new sassiness. Ben isn't fully walking yet, but give him a couch, gate or chair and he'll find a way to maneuver around it. He loves to chat, he's been talking up a storm with his babbles and ever expanding vocabulary and has now learned the power of a toddler tantrum. When he isn't into something he will 100% let you know. LOL.

But with all the new mobility and personality comes a whole lot of goodness! This kid knows how to melt our hearts with his silliness. He's now giving the sweetest koala hugs and his sense of wonder has been so wonderful to watch!

Parenthood at one year, one month
To be completely honest, I've actually found it more exhausting to be a mom to a toddler than to a newborn! What?! Yes, in our case its proven to be true. When Ben was a newborn he was actually super chill, he fell into a good sleep schedule right away, was always so calm and generally just an easy going baby. Everything was pretty clear cut and scheduled with a baby. Cut to a year into it all and that's completely changed! Our days are unpredictable, we have a mix of those easy going, chill days to the crazy "what on earth is happening" kind of days. I'm definitely being kept on my toes nowadays!

It almost feels like something inherently clicked the second he turned one. As exhausting as his newfound toddler abilities have been for us as parents, its also been such a blessing. It's been amazing to watch him form his big personality, watch him grow and learn new things. He literally amazes us each day with his wits and smarts!
Ben is crusin' around the house like crazy! He's still not walking on his own, but we're doing PLENTY of activities to try get him on the move independently, LOL!

Looking forward to another year of milestones!
If month one has been a glimpse into how the rest of year two will go, I'm sure we're in for one heck of a Ben Adventure! As I type this up right now, he's sleeping peacefully next to me, but I know he'll be up in a little bit, re-energized and ready to conquer the rest of the day. As crazy as our days can potentially be now, I'm still so unbelievable thankful. Thankful for his newfound awareness of the world, thankful for his big bright smiles that greet us each morning, thankful for his adorable playfulness, thankful for every single second I get to be this amazing little miracle's mama!💜








Ben's Disney Birthday: Part 1

All the magic for our little mouseketeer!
Ben's Disney Birthday! Another incredibly magical night complete for our adventure book and for the most special reason of all... our Ben! 

Dreaming big from the beginning
So how did this magical night come to be? We we have to start way back when we were still pregnant with Ben. PB and I would talk about what the future might hold with our little rainbow. One fun event that came up in our conversations: his 1st birthday. We hadn't even become parents yet, but we knew we'd have to dream up something extra wonderful for this special baby who wasn't even born yet! We knew even before Ben's arrival just what an impact he'd have in our lives. We just knew that Ben would be (& he truly is) our everything! This all just meant we had to celebrate his one year in the most amazing way that we could think of!
Some people save for cars, some people save for vacations... as for us? We saved for Ben's 1st birthday at Disneyland. We've had some fun Disney parties in the past, but this one would be different. This event would represent more than just a "party", this would be a celebration for our miracle, a celebration of one year of parenthood, a celebration of all the love and hearts!

All the magical reasons
So where did this leave us? We had always had Disney in mind for Ben's birthday party. Disney has always been the location for so many of our relationship and then pregnancy milestones. So there was no question as to where his 1st birthday party would be held: the happiest place on Earth!
I'll admit, we have a history of throwing crazy Disney events. But to be 100% honest, we actually never anticipated to host this many Disney festivities in these past few years, lol! It began with our Disney wedding, then PB surprising me with our 5yr anniversary in 2015. Just when we thought that would be it... as life would have it, we found ourselves with quite a blessing to celebrate in the close years following, like our rainbow baby shower at 21 Royal last year (read about that HERE) and most recently, Ben's 1st birthday party. We are definitely thankful for all of the magic we've been able to experience with our celebrations at Disney. We know that it's been quite an overload of fun, but hey, when you have a good reason to celebrate, you have to rightfully do so!

Get that birthday ball rolling...
Getting around to the actual planning aspect of Ben's 1st birthday. The #1 question I received right after our event was "Disney does birthday parties?" Yes, yes they do. Much like how they dream up fairytale weddings, they can create magic for any type of celebration or special event with their "Meetings and Events" team! We were lucky enough to have our fairy godmothers over at Disney Weddings get us in touch with the Disney Special Events team at the resort so we could get the birthday ball rolling.

If you're interested in planning your own event at the resort, check out the info below:
Image credit: www.disneymeetings.com


Want to plan your own special event at Disney? Check out the helpful tips below:


 Figure out your basic details

  • - Budget: the amount you're willing to spend. 
  • - Potential event date.
  • - Guest count. An estimate of how many people you're thinking of inviting.
  • - Do you want a hotel or "in park" venue.
  • - Any other details you may want to add in order to help get the information you may need for hosting an event at the Disneyland Resort. 
Contact or submit a request form from Disney Meetings and Special Events. You can check them out online here: https://www.disneymeetings.com/start-planning/submit-request/

Once you're in touch with an Meetings and Events representative, they can further help guide you through the planning process. A lot of Disney Special Events are custom. A Meetings and Events planner can better help guide you with any other additional pricing, entertainment, and venue options they currently offer.


Dream big
Once we were in contact with our amazing event manager, we went through all the different options of what might be possible in regards to venue and the major event options. At this point in the planning process the sky is literally the limit. Your event planning is at stage one and the blankest slate possible. This is the time to explore your options, see what might work for you vs. what won't work. 

In park vs Hotel Venues
PB and I had our lists of potential dream birthday venues.... Yes, this party was for Ben, but mama and dada definitely got a say in where/how this event would look. PB really wanted to host Ben's party within Carsland at Disney California Adventure Park. This has forever been a dream venue of his. He loves cars and had always thought that Radiator Springs would be the perfect party backdrop. Alas, the timing of the space (yes it was possible!) just didn't work out for us. We would have either had to start our event early, like 5am in January early or start late after park closing at 10pm kind of late. Neither of which made for a good kid's birthday option. We also looked into Toontown over at Disneyland as a possible venue, but the same timing also didn't work for us. Then our perfect 1st birthday venue came to be! It just so happened to be the building next door, literally the "junior" version of our wedding reception venue: The Disney Junior Theatre inside Disney California Adventure Park! Since the venue isn't in use after 5pm on most days, we were able to book it on 1) a weekend and 2) during regular park hours which was perfect for our guests! *Our event started at 7pm while the park was still open! And no, our guests didn't need to purchase their own park tickets for the event, admission is included for them for the duration of the event!

Most "in-park" party venues are only able to be booked in the off season, on a weekday and before or after the park closes. Park venues also need more time for booking since you need to go through park approval for use of the venue. This process can take anywhere from a few days to months depending on multiple factors. It's also handy to have multiple dates ready, just in case your first choice of party date is already booked or not approved. To give an example, we began out planning process in early August, we submitted pretty much every Saturday date in January as a possible party date. It then took about a week to hear back about our party date approval for January 12th! *I have to note that our park approval for our venue was super speedy. Event our event planner mentioned our approval was usually quick. I guess the Disney Gods were with us on securing our perfect birthday venue for Ben!*
The hotel venues at the Disneyland Resort on the other hand have a wider variety of party options, bookable any day/time of the week and are generally easier to utilize than an in park venue. As magical as in park venues can be, Disneyland Resort hotel options are just as, if not sometimes more magical since they're more flexible in regards to booking. Each hotel has it's own doses of magic and the possibilities are endless. A huge plus as well? Pricing is definitely cheaper at the hotels than it is for an in park venue. In the earliest planning stages, we actually were considering a possible hotel venue since we were already aware of the time/day restrictions of in park venues. If the Disney Junior option didn't work, we would have definitely had our party at one of the amazing hotel venues!

Characters, Entertainment and Food, oh my!
Once you settle on a date and venue option, a contract is generated, along with deposits being made for your event. Once this stage is completed you get assigned to a Disney Event Planner to further work out your event details like decor, food, overall entertainment. It's the time to figure out all the little details to make your event magical! Disney Events assigned us the most amazing planner, Danielle. We had known each other beforehand through Disney Weddings, so it was amazing to actually get to plan and event with her. We can definitely say she worked her magic with Ben's birthday event!

What's great about planning an event with Disney is the ease of everything. We would just send ideas over via email, even the vaguest suggestions of what we wanted and she would turn them into reality and beyond. We had one conference call with her and the entertainment team to figure out a whole decor theme. What they came up with was a whole homage to our rainbow by turning the room into a literal rainbow! To say planning was a breeze is an understatement. We fully trust Disney to create magic, and they truly did. You can always rest easy because you know they'll dream up something amazing every time!
What are some fun doses of magic Disney Events has up their sleeve? Well for starters, characters! You can add on some of your favorite Disney pals to visit your event (all pending approval), hire an artist to come and do caricatures, photo booths, fun decor, and even add on a special showing of a your favorite Disney entertainment or attraction for your guests. Again, these options can vary due to the time of the year, park approvals, refurbishment schedule, etc. For the latest entertainment and decor options available, please consult with your Events Planner! To sum it all up though, the magical possibilities are endless!

Disney food. Yes... all the Disney food. It's good, really good. When you plan an event with Disney, it's required to go through their banquet and catering services. But have no fear because Disney chefs are the best out there. They've always managed to blow us away with their creative and delicious menus! So you can always rest assured that your guests and their tummies will leave your event happy. Disney has set menus ranging from fun appetizer stations, buffet options, and plates meals. Each menu can be customized to suit your guests and party needs. For our event, we told the team that we wanted something more "casual", so no plated or formal type of sit down meal. So our planner and the chefs actually created a special birthday buffet for Ben's special night! This included a custom PB&J dish called "Mac and P". It was PB&J mac and cheese, sounds crazy but it was oh so good!

Lets not forget the cake. Any cake for your event has to be done through Disney as well, but trust me... Disney cake is GOOD. Disney's bakery team has created some of our most memorable cakes over the years. We're always left craving more, to the point where we sometimes just contemplate putting in a order for a cake... just to have Disney cake. An added bonus to working with Disney for your cake? You can choose from super unique flavors like Dole Whip cake (called pineapple whip cake) or churro cake as options. YUM,
Ben's birthday cake was a combo fo churro and dole whip flavors!
The famous Disneyland churro cake! 
Pricing
Right up there with "How?" this was the 2nd top question I received from everyone on Instagram: "How much?" Okay, so I completely understand the curiosity behind everything. When PB and I got married at Disneyland in 2010, we were bombarded by this question left and right. While PB and I aren't comfortable sharing exactly what we spent, we will mutually say that the memories made from our Disney events are priceless. We love being able to share the Disney magic surrounded by our loved ones, family and friends. That's what makes these things so special. You can't put a price tag on the memories made!

But for those inquiring minds still wanting to know? My best answer: contact Disney Events for current pricing. Pricing for special events vary significantly. There are so many factors that go into the total cost for your event and it all depends on what you end up choosing to book. It can come down to what venue you pick, what day of the week you choose, what you add on, guest list.... it goes on. We've found that pricing with Disney Events, was super custom. We could add/remove different aspects of the party to fit our budget and needs. So with such a huge range in possible pricing, your best bet would be to contact Disney Events for more information. While I can't confirm a specific price tag, I can guarantee that if you choose to work with Disney, they will always work hard to create magic for your event, no matter what type of budget you have!

Trust in the magic
The one thing that PB and I love the most about working with Disney for our events is knowing that we're always in good hands with them. Disney sure knows how to put on a good party, no matter if it's a small event at the hotels, or a giant event spanning the parks! Magic will be made for every type of event. If you're thinking of planning an event at the Disneyland resort, definitely give them a call or contact them for more information. I hope this little run down of our experience of planning Ben's Disney birthday was helpful! My best advice to anyone throwing a special event at Disney? Trust in the magic, you won't be disappointed!
I'll have Part 2 of Ben's birthday party recap up soon. Until then, thanks for reading, stay tuned for more magic soon!💜




Ben's big ONE: At Home Birthday

Ben's Big ONE

A little photo look back at Ben's 1st Birthday party, the "at home" edition.

Hooray for the Mouseketeer!
December 30, 2018, it was a day surrounded by endless love, family and lots of cake (& red frosting aftermath).

We weren't originally planning anything big for his actual birthday day, our original plan was to throw Ben a big bash at Disneyland. But the Disney party wasn't for a few weeks until after his actually birthday, so the plans changed from a small cake and dinner with our immediate families to a huge Mickey celebration surrounded by our extended family! We realized that with our Disney party, some of our family wouldn't be able to make it down, and we didn't want to miss a chance to celebrate with them and Ben. Our little guy has made quite the impression on or relatives, so it was no surprise that we had a full house of loved ones, all there to cheer on Ben as he turned one year old!

I'll let the photos do the talking from here:

Ben's smash cake aka the "first" cake they get to have. It's supposed to be smashed into by the birthday celebrant, hence "smash" cake, lol. The bakery where we ordered it from warned us that since the frosting was red that the aftermath wouldn't be pretty... stay tuned to find out how that went, lol!

A sweet friend on Instagram sent over some amazing Mickey decor that was leftover from her son's 1st birthday. It was the kindest gesture and I'm hoping to continue the act of kindness myself by sending them to another mama/family who would want them, too! This decor is way too cute to just be used once! Hopefully they continue to spread magic for another birthday party elsewhere!

Food! I do have to say that Ben's 1st birthday spread was pretty darn good! We had a buffet of the yummiest Filipino and Thai food for our guests! PB is Thai and I'm Filipino so it was such a nice mix of our cultures and truly representative of our little Ben!


Thankful. My grandma has been such a light in my life. She's battling Alzheimers and Parkinson's Disease and she isn't doing too well on most days, but was able to make it to celebrate Ben all thanks to some amazing family members who helped escort her to the party! Thankful doesn't even begin to cover the feels for having her there with us!

Game of Mickey noses! We had a few fun games for our family to play, most of the kiddos invited weren't there since they were all sick, so the adults stepped up and played the games, like this pin the nose (or post it since we ran out) on the Mickey 

Smash cake time! How adorable is this birthday cake towel my sister got for Ben?

We waited until exactly 4:38pm to sing happy birthday to Ben. This was the exact time he was born, so what better way to celebrate one year than with a round of "happy birthday" and cake!

Our Ben was a little hesitant to smash into his cake. 

But once he realized there was yummy cake under all that frosting, he was all for it! My sister mentioned how after all was said and done with the cake that it semi looked like a cake murder scene... lol! 

One happy ONE year old! Ben had an exciting day surrounded by the people that love him the most, good eats and a whole lot of birthday magic!

It was a day to remember and so special since it was all about our little rainbow! As you can see, he had a great time, hehe. Stay tuned, coming soon is a recap of Ben's Disney birthday extravaganza!!!

PB&J Parenthood: ONE YEAR

365 days of PB&J Parenthood!
We did it! We've officially reached ONE YEAR of being parent to our little Benjamin!

Month 12
Ben's twelfth month was definitely a BIG one for so many reasons. There was growth, more milestones and plenty of holiday fun. Month twelve saw our little Ben trying a whole new world of solid foods which he immediately took to, let's just say that pancakes are now his favorite food group!

Ben also continued to be as curious as ever, he's on to go, go, go! He's learned how to scoot himself off of the couch and is zooming around on our furniture... literally, lol.

In the most fitting of ways, PB ended the year by using the last remaining time off he had for paternity leave to spend the final weeks of December and Ben's last month of his 1st year with us! It meant tons of daddy and me time (naps), adventures around our area and lots of holiday fun!
Nap Party with daddy! (Mom did not get an invite to this, lol)
Snowfall at the Oakland Zoo's ZooLights!
Quality daddy & me giant LEGO time!

One and done! WE DID IT!
We did it. We survived our first year of parenthood! In all honestly, time felt like it flew by in the blink of an eye. It felt like only yesterday that we were two frazzled first time parents with our newborn son, desperately trying to figure out how to navigate the waters of being a parent. I still remember the first 24 hours of being parents to Ben. How we were completely clueless, sleep deprived and slightly going bonkers. We hatched a "genius" plan to each hold Ben for an hour, so the other could sleep.... until the nurse came and and said "you know you can let you baby sleep in his bassinet next to you so you can ALL sleep?" LOL. It's hilarious to think of it all now. How we were so scared to hold Ben because we didn't want to drop him, or how anxious we were about every. little. thing.... Now we let our little guy roam freely, pick up him with one hand and pretty much do things that 24 hours into parenthood PB&J would be completely shocked by, lol! With 365 days of parenthood under our belts, it's crazy to see how things have changed from day 1 to today. We're definitely a lot wiser, braver when it comes to parenting, and our hearts our definitely fuller with each day that has passed with our little Ben. 

Mom Life
On a more personal level as a mama. I still remember feeling so helpless after my c-section birth to Ben. All the emotions swirling in those first few weeks with the combo of recovery, things not going according to the "ideal" plan, the breastfeeding fails and woes and pretty much everything in-between. In a nutshell, it wasn't at all the warm and fuzzies I thought being a new mom would be.. But then my little Ben showed me just how wonderful life as a mama could really be. I just needed those first few weeks of "initiation" into mama hood for me to see. Once I let go of the expectations I had in my mind of a perfect start and just went with the flow, knowing that each day may have it's ups and downs, but it will always be okay, along with the reminder that "I'm my child's mom...I know and will always know whats best for him" everything became so much better. 
From week ONE
To year ONE

Everyone told us that the first few weeks of parenthood were always the hardest and trust me, it was... then things just start to flow... things become a little easier, you start to recognize the cries, the coos, the behaviors and then your heart just knows.... It's hard to describe. You finally feel like a parent and you know that life will never be the same in the best way possible!

So here's to our first year of parenthood! All of the ups, the downs, the stresses, the joys, the laughs, the tears and most of all the love. Now onto year two! If the past few days into it is any indication... we're in for one amazing adventure with our big Ben! 💜