PB&J Parenthood: 15 months!

One year, 3 months
Ben has officially hit the 15 month mark and boy oh boy has it been a crazy month full of firsts, fun and the flu? Read on to read what we've been up to....

A month of firsts
Our March can be summed up into one word: Firsts. Yes, a whole bunch of firsts happened within our March aka Ben's 15 months. Some of the firsts we encountered were good, others bad... but in all the "firsts" have accumulated into another month of memories and joy!

First flu
March kicked off much the way our prior February began, with another trek back to the happiest place on Earth! Since our weekend was short, we decided to fly down from the Bay Area to SoCal, which marked Ben's 3rd airplane trip. Ben is becoming quite the lover of moving objects, be it cars, trains and of course, airplanes. So our little guy was more than excited to be on an actual plane for our trip down!

As a mama and passenger in general, we all know how icky and germy planes can be. One of the first things I do when we sit down on a plane is bust out my anti bacterial wet wipes and scrub down every inch of our seat, table, windows and pretty much any surface Ben might get a hold of. All of that prep though didn't seem to help with whatever might have been in the air, heck it could have even been something before our flight, because our poor little guy ended up catching the FLU!
That's right... Ben caught his first flu. The morning we were supposed to head to Anaheim from my sister's place in L.A, Ben began to throw up. We chalked it up to possibly being something not sitting right in his tummy, so we decided to just rest for the day in our hotel room in Anaheim. Our little guy seemed to perk up a bit that evening, but took a turn for the worse the following day. After getting some air outside of the hotel around Downtown Disney, we noticed Ben looked flushed. Low and behold his temperature skyrocketed to a fever so we rushed him to Urgent Care per advice from our at home on call nurse. Sure enough, the Dr. ran a flu swab on Ben and confirmed that our little guy had the flu.

I've touched upon our flu encounter in another blog post, so if you want to read more about "Getting Sick at Disney" along with our thoughts on battling the flu, read all about that HERE.
Long story short, Ben was protected by his existing flu shot. This meant that even though he caught a strain of the flu, his shot protected him from more serious complications like a hospitalization (or worse). Another plus was because he was diagnosed so early with his flu, he was able to take Tamiflu to help ease his symptoms. This drastically cut down on recovery time, he was feeling back to himself in just a few days as opposed to the 2 weeks it could have dragged on to be.
Overall, we're thankful that we had taken the necessary precautions advised by our Dr. to protect Ben from a worse outcome with his Flu. We're also thankful that our own flu shots kept both PB and I from getting sick as well. If you aren't a believer in flu shots... let me tell you that they work... Fully contagious Ben spent each night breathing next to me while he slept... heck, he even sneezed in my face a few times and this mama escaped without even a sniffle!

When your child gets sick its probably one of the worst feelings in the world. You feel so helpless when they're in pain or discomfort. But I'm thankful our little Ben kicked this flu like the little champ that he is!

First haircut
The weekend after Ben battled the flu and started to feel better, we decided that our family needed to get out and just do something fun. That something fun? Getting Ben his very first haircut! My family has always had a tradition of waiting until after the 1st birthday to give a child their first haircut. With Ben we happily waited to continue this tradition and also because Ben didn't have enough hair to cut until this month, lol! So we took our little guy to a local barber shop, complete with Cars seats and all. Ben was nervous, as were we, but his hair stylist was great and we ended up with the most dapper haircut for our little man. I say little man because this kid seemed to have aged years after getting his new do!

Not a first Disney trip, but a first Disney redo
So remember how I mentioned Ben got the Flu? Well we ended up cutting that Disneyland trip short, ehh, more like it was canceled entirely at the start of March. It was all good though because our main priority was making sure Ben was okay. We agreed that once Ben was 100% again we'd head back to Disneyland for our "redo" trip. This particular trip happened two weeks later and held so much magic and fun in store for our family!

First dad and me day
Everything always happens for a reason and I like to think that things always will work out in the end. Case in point, as sad as it was to cancel our first Disney trip, we were able to come back and redo the trip two weeks later, but that's not the only wonderful turn of events. The most magical opportunity presented itself for this Disney mama with an invite to celebrate the Mary Poppins Returns Blu-ray release at the parks. You can read about that *Practically Perfect* day HERE. While this Disney mama was away at her event, PB and Ben were left ALONE together at the parks for hours. This was huge for our little family since it'd mark the first time Ben and PB would spend this amount of time together without mama AND all while at the happiest place on earth! There was nervousness, anxiety and some fear... but Ben and PB rocked their "dad and me" time together like champs!

First steps
Now here's something that honestly just needed a good dose of Disney magic to happen... Ben's 1st steps! As crazy as it seems, Ben took some of his first wobbly walk steps at Disneyland! It could have been watching all the other kiddos run around and play, it could have been all the distractions, or just plain Disney magic, but whatever it was, we can say that Ben was motivated to walk at Disneyland. Granted, he was still "drunk baby" walking while holding onto our fingers or one hand. But it's leaps (&steps) more than he's ever done while back at home.

So where are we now? As I type this Ben has officially taken a few steps ON HIS OWN!!! YAY! We've always known this little guy could do it, he's got everything he's need to physically, but there was just some kind of mental block up until it just happened at Disney. There aren't enough words to describe the joy, the RELIEF, and the happiness that washes over you as a parent when your child finally achieves that huge new milestone of walking!
This is such an exciting time for us as parents because we're seeing him realize he has a whole new world of possibilities ahead of him. You can just see the wheels turning in his head... and this mama and dada know they our stock in baby proofing just went up tenfold, LOL!

This also goes to show just how flexible those "guidelines" are for our children. You know, those written "supposed to/should be doing" schedules that somewhat get drilled  into your head as a parent. Ben has proven to us that no timeline will ever contain him or his greatness, lol! He likes to roll on his own timing and we wouldn't have it any other way!

Spring forward!!!
We're closing out our March with a whole of of new memories, milestones and most of all: magic! Here's to April and all the new adventures that await! Until next time, thank you for reading! 💜

A Practically Perfect Day

A day "Practically Perfect in Every Way"...
The most magical day celebrating the Mary Poppins Returns! I was recently invited by the DisneyBound, on behalf of Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland, to experience a day honoring the practically *perfect* nanny and her connection to the happiest place in Earth! Read on for more...

The most magical invitation
A few weeks back, I received the most magical invitation to take part in a day celebrating the Blu-ray release of Mary Poppins Returns. We were asked to don our most fashionable Mary Poppins or Mary Poppins Returns DisneyBounds and experience a fun filled day in the parks centered around the history of Mary Poppins and it's ties with Walt Disney.
Call it Disney destiny, if you will... but this entire opportunity literally was the most magical twist of fate! If you follow along with us on IG, you might remember that at the beginning of March we had to cancel a Disneyland trip due to Ben's flu. So we rescheduled and within a few days of booking our redo trip, I received the message about having a chance to participate in this amazing event!

The day of the event came and I said good bye to PB and Ben since it was a solo invite. The two boys enjoyed an afternoon of "daddy and me" time around the parks while I got to experience what has to be one of the most magical days, ever!

A spot of tea
The Mary Poppins Returns event kicked off at Jolly Holiday at Disneyland. We were greeted by the amazing Disney Studios and Disneyland Parks team who had set up the most adorable Afternoon Tea for our group.
We sampled some of the scrumptious menu offerings from Jolly Holiday, along with some sweet surprises for the group all around.
Soundsational Sights
After finishing up a delectable Afternoon Tea, we were escorted over to a special viewing area for Disneyland's festive Soundsational Parade! This parade is incredible, from the moment it begins with Mickey drumming away, to all the familiar favorites strolling past to a catchy tune, and finally the most appropriate ending: a tribute to Mary Poppins! Let's just say that our stylish little Mary Poppins DisneyBound group got a lot of extra smiles and love from the parade cast when they danced past us! It's a stellar parade and if you're planning a visit to the parks anytime soon, a must watch! 

All about a table and a little Club called 33
After wrapping up with the fun at Soundsational, we were then escorted to meet our guide for the day, Jeff Kurtti, famed Disney historian, aficionado and most recently author to "Practically Poppins in Every Way". Jeff would lead us through a walking tour of the parks, bestowing his vast Disney knowledge and kindness to our group.
As we walked into New Orleans Square of the park, we all started to notice we were headed in a familiar direction... to the entrance of Club 33!!! Now if you don't know the significance of Club 33, a brief rundown is that it's a private, members only club within Disneyland Park. It's legendary and stepping within it's doors is literally Disney hallowed ground. So imagine the group's amazement when we were told that this was our next stop for our day!
We weren't allow to film or take photos beyond the staircase, but having only been in the original club years before, stepping into the new club was just magical! **PB&J fun fact: The lobby of the new Club 33 rests in the heart of the Court of Angels, a place that was once open to the public years before. It's also the site of where PB proposed to me long ago! I dream of the day we get to be back there together to stroll down these steps of memory lane (literally)! But until then, my solo Mary Poppins picture will have to do, lol!

So about that table. We were escorted into the Club for one very special reason... this table
It may not seem like much to an ordinary guest, but there's actually a very direct and important tie in between Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins Returns and this marble table within Club 33. That's because this table was originally used in the first Mary Poppins film within the Banks house hold. Afterwards, it was transferred to Club 33 where it was displayed in the Club until it was asked to be used once again in the sequel film, Mary Poppins Returns! How neat is that?! There's a little photo placed on the table now with autographs from the cast, along with Emily Blunt's Mary Poppins standing int he same frame.

Royal Suites and Disney Dreams
After wrapping up at Club 33, we were then escorted to a place near and dear to my own heart: 21 Royal. Again, if you've been following along with us long enough you already know our special ties with this magical space. If not and you're curious, you can read all about our 21 Royal Celebration HERE.
Although we've already had some 21 Royal dreams come true, the experience being in the suite again was still truly magical. I'll never take moments like this for granted and I'm thankful for each incredible visit to this special place, especially since it was under such a special context!
We learned about the rich history of this suite. How the space was originally envisioned by Walt Disney to be his new private residence, a space for his family and to entertain his guests. Sadly, Walt passed before it's completion, so the project was never fulfilled. the space later went to be used at the Disney Gallery, then decades later, the Disney team finally completed Walt's vision and completed the suite. They turned to the original concept art by the famed Dorothea Redmond and brought Walt's dream to life. The suite was dubbed the "Dream Suite" and was used in the special "Year of a Million Dreams" promotion at the parks. Currently, the suite is now called 21 Royal with it's purpose to be what Walt had always intended: a private retreat in the parks for entertaining. Guests are able to book the experience for themselves and 12 of their closest friends or family for the most magical evening in the suite, a multiple course gourmet meal and touches of Disney magic that would make Walt Disney proud. And yes, I'll vouch that it's exactly as (if not even more) magical as it sounds!
So how did this suite tie into our Mary Poppins experience? Well not only did the Suite embody everything Walt Disney wanted in his original vision, but if you look closely around the space, you'll see hint of some practically perfect decor around the room. 

The sweetest finale
As if our Mary Poppins experience wasn't mind-blowing enough, our final stop took us to the most magical place of all: Walt Disney's Apartment. There's a tiny space right above the Main Street Fire Station, you may have even noticed it on one of your visits to the parks. The little light that shines through the window right above... That's where Walt lived... Walt Disney resided in this tiny apartment during the construction of Disneyland and later he and his family would use this space as their own when the park was finally open.
We weren't allowed to take photos inside the apartment, out of respect for the Disney family since this was literally Walt's "home", but let me tell you, it's a powerful sight to step into a space he once occupied. Logistically, the space is tiny. It about 500 sq. feet and can be described as a little studio. There's a tiny kitchenette, complete with a grilled cheese maker (one of Walt's favorites!), a living room that doubled as where he slept, and tucked into a tiny corner a little bathroom. 

We were told stories of Walt living in this space, how he'd wake up and stroll around the park in his robe to how he'd dote on his family and grandchildren that would stay there with him. As a Disney fan, this was so overwhelming. Each person in our group had tears rolling down their faces. It's a powerful moment to realize you were in the same "air" as Walt Disney. The man who created such a legacy, the man who created this happy place for us, we were just so honored to be in such a special place.
The group photo they took for us as our special keepsake!
Thankful
The word thankful doesn't even begin to cover how I feel about being able to have been one of the few who got to experience this magical day. I'm thankful to Leslie, the creator of the DisneyBound for not only the invitation to this, but for creating such an amazing community of fellow Disney fans. I'm thankful to Disneyland and the Walt Disney Studios for putting together such a wonderful day of surprises and fun for us. I'm just so thankful to have been included in this amazing event. 

As the magical Jeff Kurtti put it, "Disney people just get each other on a different level". It's so true. The day may have been centered around celebrating Mary Poppins and Walt Disney, but it meant so much more. Everyone in the group had come from different backgrounds, platforms, ages, locations... but the one thing that tied us all? Our love of Disney!

I'll never forget this magical day! Thank you once again to the DisneyBound, Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland for giving this Disney mama a chance to be a part of something so special! 💜


Ben's Disney Birthday: Part II

Now presenting: The Happiest Birthday Party on Earth!

Part II of Ben's Disneyland birthday party is finally here! Ready to recap all of the fun the magical night had in store for us, our guests and of course, our little birthday mouseketeer! Read on to hear about all fo the festivities...
**If you'd like to read Part I of the recap, as well as find information about the Disney Events planning process and more CLICK HERE.**

Let's get this party started!
Ben's big birthday party was ready to begin! Our guests all met in the lobby of the Grand Californian as our official party meeting point. Once we were all there, everyone received a special wrist band and birthday button to celebrate our little Ben. Once we were all gathered (in everyone's best Disney style, too) we were escorted into the park via our own Special Event guides.
I just have to say how amazing all of our guests looked! On Ben's invite, we asked if everyone could dress in their "Disney Best" meaning any way they wanted to interpret the style, whether though a DisneyBound, a favorite character's costume, or their own unique spin on Disney. And let me tell you.... they all delivered in the style department. A group of my cousins, all of whom have never Disney Bounded before, all dressed up as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and totally rocked it. My dad even fully committed and was Donald to my mom (& mother in law's) Daisy! Hours before the party he even went out and bought a Donald Duck hoodie because he wanted even MORE duck style. Way to go dad!

First Look
As we were being escorted into the park, our Special Events guide asked if we wanted to walk ahead to have a "first look" at the party venue over at Disney Jr Theatre. Much like we did during our wedding back in 2010 right next door in the Animation Academy... walking into Ben's birthday venue for the first time was.... breathtaking! There were giant smiles, a few happy tears and a whole lot of gratitude to the entire team and our amazing planner, Danielle, who brought Ben's birthday vision to life. We had only discussed the decor via emails and phone calls, so to see everything in real life was utterly amazing.

During the planning process we were asked to provide photos for a slideshow to be shown during the event. We thought the photos would just be projected on the smaller screens in the venue, but to our surprise they were being shown right on the main screen of the room. It was incredible to see our little Ben and our loved one's faces/images projected on the big screen!

Once we were able to soak in the magic of Ben's party venue, our guests had finally made their way in. Their reactions were another highlight of the night. They were all as surprised and enchanted by the magic as we were!

Eat your heart (& rainbows) out!
Having an event at Disney is special. But what takes your event to the next level? DISNEY FOOD! Disney knows how to bring the magic when it comes to their culinary creations. The chefs crafted up a special menu for our event that featured everything that was special to us, from PB&J themed dishes like "Mac and P" (literally what it sounds like.. a mac and cheese with peanut butter... and yes it was DELICIOUS) to rainbow themed desserts!

Our full menu:
-Rainbow array of fruits with a coconut chia pudding dip (I literally could have eaten a gallon of this, so good!)
-Mac and P
-Pizza Egg Rolls (Which I'm hearing was added to this year's DCA Food & Wine festival menu and a hit! It was a hit with our guests too!)
-Bulgogi quesadillas
-Pork Belly Banh Mi sandwiches (my personal favorite!)
-Loaded Waffle Fries

The Disney Central Bakery team once again hit it out of the park with their special rainbow themed desserts for our Ben. Seriously, we love the Disney Baking Team so much!
-Rainbow Mousse 
-Chocolate cake pops
-Character cupcakes (this was such a hit!)

Cake
We had alternating layers of Pineapple Dole Whip cake and the famous Churro cake!

A very special guest!
It truly wouldn't be a complete birthday party at Disney if the big cheese himself didn't show up for a visit. After chowing down on some delectable party eats and getting to mingle and catch up with our guests it was time for cake. Our pal Mickey decided to stop by to help us with the cake cutting, along with take some adorable photos with our guests and the birthday boy.
There's actually different outfit options you can request for Mickey and other Disney pals to come out in for your event. We just mentioned that we wanted a celebration type of Mickey outfit and boy oh boy did Disney deliver! Mickey came out in an adorable birthday hat and his classic outfit...which just so happened to match Ben's entire outfit perfectly! Honestly, this wasn't planned, it just ended up being true Disney magic.

A kiss goodnight & a balloon parade
As it's kind of become a tradition for our events, we always like to plan a little "kiss goodnight" for our guests, a little something special to end the night and make it more *magical*. For our wedding we surprised our guests with a private ride on Soarin', at our 5yr, pretty much everything was a surprise, but the big finale was the party right in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle, along with 60th anniversary Mickey and Minnie visiting. So for Ben's birthday we wanted to do something equally as fun!
We originally had a viewing of World of Color to end the night for our guests. It would have been perfect for our little rainbow with the colorful theme. Unfortunately, the refurb schedule was extended and about 3 weeks prior to our event we had to find a replacement option. We were looking into an after hours ride on something within Carsland, but then the option for a showing of a different kind came up. We were initially given an alternate option for the Disneyland fireworks, but knowing how fickle the weather could be we didn't want to chance our odds. We thought about other fun ideas and one that popped up? Fantasmic! It's a show that I've loved since childhood and one that we knew our guests would truly enjoy. But we've never seen anyone add this option on before, so we didn't even know if it would be possible... but of course, our amazing planner and the Parks team made some magic happen and we got our fantastic Fantasmic! finale for the evening!

So after our Mickey cameo, we thanked our guests for coming to celebrate with us and then announced our Fantasmic Kiss Goodnight to everyone! We gathered out things, said goodbye to the Disney Jr Theatre and headed over to Disneyland for the finale to Ben's party!

As our guests were getting their things together to walk over to Disneyland, we were told we could take the fun balloon bouquets around the room, if anyone would want them. Almost everyone decided to a bunch with them and it ended up creating a makeshift "Ben's Birthday Balloon Parade" as we were escorted through Disneyland for our show viewing!

Thankful
So Ben's Disneyland Birthday ended with a literal *bang* with Fantasmic! and the fireworks show that happened right after. Our guests capped off the night by doing a huge group "Happy Birthday" song before we all said goodnight!
Thankful. Thankful doesn't even begin to cover what PB and I felt for our loved ones celebrating with us for our baby's milestone. Thankful can't being to describe how we feel towards the amazing Disney team, the chef's, the guides, the crew behind the scenes, and most of all, our planner Danielle and the Disney Events team that made this entire evening come to life. We are truly thankful for yet another magical event in our adventure book for our little Ben. Here's to a lifetime more birthdays filled with as much magic, love and happiness ahead! 💜

** All photos on this post were shot by the amazing Andrew & Tiffany from White Rabbit Photo Boutique aka the most magical photography team on Earth! They are the kindest and most talented photo team around! **