Sunday, October 30, 2016

Beyond Disney: Will's First Trip to the Big Apple + Two Great SALES!

Will has been experiencing a lot of 'firsts' on this trip: his first road trip, first hotel stay, first pumpkin patch, first play date, and more. Guess that's the nature of things when you're two and a half months old!

I visited New York City for the first time when I was twelve years old. Will's first trip was on Saturday, lucky boy.

We drove into the city and parked near Columbus Circle to stroll through Central Park. We rode the Trump Carousel (make carousels great again!) and enjoyed a lite bite to eat at an outdoor cafe before walking by the Central Park Zoo. Along the way we stumbled upon Big Bird and Cookie Monster-- I would have never guessed that Will's first character meet n' greet would be beyond the gates of a Disney park! He slept through it all though, so does it count?

Lacoste Sweater (old, similar here) // Stella & Dot Scarf // Tunic Tee ($16!)  // Kendra Scott Bracelet 

After a few hours in the park, we grabbed a cab down to Grand Central Station. I don't know why I wanted him to experience it so badly-- I mean, it's one of my favorite Manhattan landmarks. The hustle and bustle, the history, the gilded splendor, I just love it. That, and I really wanted some oysters from the Grand Central Oyster Bar.

Anyway, this checked off Will's first taxi cab ride. I wasn't sure the protocol for cab rides-- do kids have to be in car seats? We didn't have the base to his seat to lock it into place, so I held him on my lap for a bit (a la Britney Spears) and had him in his seat for a bit. I guess because cabs can't really get going too fast in NYC traffic, it's not too much of a hazard? I don't know. Anyway, we all survived and enjoyed some delicious oysters.

We headed home and arrived only an hour or so after Will's scheduled bed time; he was such a trooper, a good boy, and I think had a wonderful first visit to the Big Apple.

On a side note, two of my favorite shops are having sales this weekend. Sales end at midnight on Monday, October 31st.

I love Pacifica products, specifically their Sandalwood body butter (which I use daily and always get compliments on) and soy candle. All candles are up to 50% off and make great gifts, if you're one of those uber organized people who get all their holiday shopping done months before Christmas.

J.Crew is offering 40% off their sale styles, plus and EXTRA 50% off sale items to their cardholders! One of my favorite tops, which I own in black, is on major sale for $22, originally $65! Thinking I'm going to get the grey version (below), too.

This cardigan would be the perfect weight to toss on in the parks as the weather starts to cool off. Easy to ball up and stash in a bag, or tie around your waist when not in use, too. Just $25, originally $70!

THIS top would be perfect for a casual Dapper Day look- think Annette Funicello, paired with some high waisted white cropped pants. Very 50's. Originally $70-- now $20. 
These boots are beautiful and were originally $348-- now $100! They also come in brown for $50 more. 
A closet staple, especially here in Florida where it's shorts weather almost year round. Originally $40- now $12.50. Crazy!
This top is a great basic and a nice lightweight linen. Originally $45-- now $10. 

We have three days left here in Connecticut and plan to fill them with fun, fun, FUN! Then we return home just in time for a busy November. Life is good!

Thanks for reading. XO, Ashley

Friday, October 28, 2016

Beyond Disney: Our Road Trip to Connecticut + What We've Been Up To While Here

If you follow along on Snapchat or Instagram, you'll know that Will, my mom and I have made the drive from Florida to Connecticut this past weekend.

We left Orlando on Thursday and made it all the way to Gainesville (!), a short two hour drive away, where we stayed the night and ate a Satchel's Pizza. Even though it was a short visit, it was still nice to get back to my old college stomping grounds. Go Gators! Can't wait to take Will to a game in the Swamp.

The next day we made it to Royston, Georgia to visit our family friend. We dropped my mom's dog off with her and stayed two nights before hitting the road again. Our third stop was Harrisonburg, VA for the night; the next morning we drove up along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway to enjoy the fall foliage. Our final stop was in Shippensburg, PA before rolling into Connecticut a full five days after leaving Florida.

My mom and I have made this trip every year for the past 6 or 7 years; my dad lives in CT and works in Manhattan, while my mom prefers to live in Florida. They visit each other often and kind of have the best of both worlds. It's unconventional but it works for our family-- my parents have been married for 37 years! This drive was a whole different ballgame with a two month old in tow. He was such a trooper and has quite the story to tell in his first 60 days on earth.

Since arriving in Connecticut, we've visited the town of Sleepy Hollow and went to the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze, a popular event featuring thousands of carved pumpkins decorating the grounds of a historic property in the Hudson Valley. Historic Hudson Valley is in and of itself a really neat destination, especially in the fall. It features Sunnyside, the home of Washington Irving, who Disney fans know as the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (fun fact: Sleepy Hollow Refreshments, in Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, is modeled after Sunnyside). It's also the site of the Sleepy Hollow cemetery, where Irving is buried, along with several citizens of the town who inspired some of the characters in his famous tale. In the month of October, Historic Hudson Valley plays host to a bunch of neat Halloween themed events. There's also Christmas tours and more, and it's an all-around really pretty area to visit. Definitely check it out if you're in the area.

We've also spent time just hanging around, visiting the cute Main Street in New Canaan (the town my dad lives in), and running errands. I'm not sure I've mentioned it, but I lived in Connecticut for four years after graduating college, from 2006-2010, before my mom and I moved back to Florida. When we return, it's nice to see friends and stop by the places we frequented when we lived here.

In the days to come, we'll be going into NYC, taking Will to a legit pumpkin patch (one where you pick a pumpkin from the vine!), go apple picking, visit with more friends, enjoy the world's best lobster roll (no, really, the best), and more. It's nice to visit, especially this time of year, but boy is it nice to get home to sunny, warm Florida again. Look at the weather we had on Thursday morning. Brrrr!

Thanks for reading!
XO, Ashley

Monday, October 24, 2016

Disney Baby: Baby Suit is 2 Months Old

Hooray! We all survived the first sixty days of Will's existence here on earth! 

This big fella is weighing in at 14.9 pounds and 24 inches long. He easily fits in three month old clothing, and often sports 6-9 month old duds. He's a hefty fella who loves his chow. 

He pretty much sleeps through the night, from around 8pm -5:30am before he starts fussing, and then eats at 6:30 in the morning. We've been using the Moms On Call book to help with a sleeping and eating schedule, and it's been great. 
Let's see, what else? He's got excellent head and neck control. He loves to 'stand' with support. He's happiest just after he eats, and smiles and coos once he's burped. He does the same at diaper changes. He's starting to drool quite a bit and likes to have his right hand in his mouth when a pacifier isn't available. We've found the magic baby soother- our LiliBaby carrier! Puts him to sleep every time he's in it. He doesn't LOVE his swing, so we're in the market for a new one. Any recommendations? 

In his second month of life, Will has visited Epcot (twice!) and Animal Kingdom, rode out Hurricane Matthew, visited my work family at Buena Vista Construction Company, been to Target and Publix umpteen times, and has been the subject of too many Snapchats to count. 

He's such an awesome little man, and we're all falling more and more in love with each other, and learning more and more of how our family works, every day.

Happy two months, little bud. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Weekend Wear-abouts: Will's First Epcot Visit + Hurricane Matthew Update

We had our first taste of 'fall' here in central Florida on Monday, with the highs reaching the upper 70's! It coincided with a vacation day for John, so we decided to make our first visit with the babe to Epcot and sample some food and wine goodies from around the world(showcase). 

I assured John that it wouldn't be crowded- how could it be, the Monday after a hurricane weekend, and a Monday in October at that, when kids are back in school, etc? So you can imagine our surprise when we arrived around noon and it was PACKED! Turns out, it was Columbus Day weekend, and lots of kids had off school. My bad!

We made the best of it and were grateful for the constant breeze and overcast weather. Will was a trooper and slept most of the time in his stroller. 

We (unintentionally) timed it perfectly and ended up back by the American pavilion right as Will started to stir for his 2:30 feeding, so we went up into the Chase Lounge for air conditioning while he ate. 

We shared and sampled many dishes, but I only photographed a few. Hubby gets grumpy when he has to wait for me to snap a pic before he can dig in. This was a beef skewer from the Chew booth-- really yummy! 

Also, if you can't tell, most of these pics are from my Snapchat story. I need to get back in the habit of using my good cameras to take pictures; I miss it! At this point though, it's just one more thing to juggle along with baby. 

Speaking of grumpy, John was not too pleased when this woman stopped him to take a picture of his shirt-- he had just picked up our food from the Mexico booth and was ready to eat! She wanted to know where he had gotten it, so she followed him over to our table for details. 

If you want your OWN Electrical Water Pageant shirt, visit RetroWDW and check out their Redbubble shop. Will has a EWP pillow in his nursery, and will be sporting a Stol Port onesie during the Destination D- D23 weekend! 

We had a great visit and can't wait to take Will to the other parks. 

Thanks for reading! 

XO, Ashley

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Magic Kingdom's 45th Anniversary + Hurricane Matthew Update

We celebrated Magic Kingdom's 45th Anniversary this past Saturday despite crushing crowds, blistering heat and driving rain. Crazy Disney fans will do that, ya know?! Our goal was to experience all 15 Opening Day attractions, in no particular order. 

As I write this, Orlando is under a Hurricane Warning- a first that I can remember in a long, long time. I'm from the beachside (Melbourne) where we get them more frequently, but the fact that the storm might barrel in so strong, so close to us here this far inland, is kind of nerve wracking. 

My mom has come over from Melbourne to ride out the storm with us; prayers and well-wishes we all fare ok, everyone in the path of Hurricane Matthew.

Ok, back to the 45th.

Thomas, Michael, Angie, Tink and I made it to the Welcome Show with minutes to spare. Other than the 45th banner, there was no mention of the anniversary in the show, or anything special for that matter.

Once we entered the park, we beelined for the castle stage to post up a good spot. Thomas and I then went to the Emporium to check out the merch situation-- and found a line stretching from the front entrance of the Emporium (by the barber shop and fire station) back to the Hub grass. Insane!

We abandoned ship and met my friend Amanda, DixieDelights, in the Pandora line. She wanted to get the special charm for the 45th. After chatting for a bit, I got in the Starbucks line that snaked from Starbucks to Center Street. The theme of the day was LINES!

Anyway, we all got our coffees and headed back to the stage just in time for the show. There were 45 characters on stage, and George Kalogridis, the president of WDE, spoke, but the real show-stopper was when the 45th banner didn't unfurl all the way. We all laughed at what a good metaphor it was for WDW- tries hard, but always has a snafu. 

Leaving the Hub, we ran into Adam the Woo. Note my lovely muffin top post-pregnancy belly, yay! 

We went to Guest Services back in Tomorrowland to deal with some business, then rode the train with some Twitter friends. We followed that with a spin on Dumbo and then the Tomorrowland Speedway, where we happened upon some more Insta friends (hi Josh, @thesteele). Josh did a great job of driving us around the entire track without hitting the middle guardrail once!

Teacups rounded out the morning before we stopped for lunch at Casey's Corner, to try the special 45th Anniversary hotdog. Finally, we're getting something more along the lines of Disneyland, with specialty food items OTHER than cupcakes. To see what I mean, click to read this post about the Halloween food offerings at WDW and then read this post to see the abundance they get at Disneyland! Not fair!

The Dapper Dans were next on our list of Opening Day attractions. I've never had a photo op with them before, so that was fun.

From there, we headed to the Poly. Rumors were swirling that the Hitchhiking Ghost mugs were going to debut at Trader Sam's Grog Grotto that day, so we wanted to line up early.

Turns out, they didn't. Word on the street is that once social media got a whiff of the plan and blabbed it all over the place, plans were halted so as to fend off a frenzy. As it were, the mugs were released sans fanfare the following Tuesday, and Josh pulled through once again in securing me a spot in line so we could get a coveted mug. But that's another story. 

Speaking of another story, while the rest of my group was posted up in line at Trader Sam's, I scooted home to take care of some stuff. John had taken the baby to his parents for the weekend, and I forgot my house keys. Long story short, I was locked out and had to wait for a locksmith to come let me in. I returned a couple hours later, and we drowned our mug-less sorrows with a Lapu Lapu and bread pudding from Tambu Lounge.

We returned to MK just as a storm was rolling in. Perfect time to check Hall of Presidents off our list! 

The rain was really coming down when we emerged from HoP, and would continue to do so for the next few hours. Luckily, everything we had left to do was fairly close together, and mostly indoors. We scooted to Columbia Harbour House for a snack and to sit out some of the rain, then to the Haunted Mansion. From there, we took refuge in Memento Mori for half an hour; the rain was REALLY pouring then. 

When it let up a bit, we ran to "it's a small world". We waited in line for around half an hour before they made us all leave due to technical difficulties. Couple that with the fact that Jungle Cruise had been closed for a few hours due to lightening, and it looked like our goal of riding every Opening Day attraction was foiled. 

We rode the Carousel next, then made our way to Frontierland. The Shooting Arcade and Country Bear Jamboree followed. We then made it into the last showing of the Enchanted Tiki Room. On a whim we decided to check Jungle Cruise in the off chance it might be back open, and IT WAS! We walked on to our 'bote' and checked that one off the list. 

Swiss Family Tree House was down for refurbishment, so we had to skip that one by default. We ended the night by watching the Main Street Electrical Parade and snacking on popcorn and rice crispy treats. 

We were thisclose to leaving the park when we decided to check to see if 'small world' was back up... and it WAS! We made the long walk back to Fantasyland (following the end of the parade up Main Street and around the Hub) and checked the final attraction off the list!

We headed toward the exit,  climbed the stairs to the top of the train station, and watched the Kiss Goodnight. 

It was a magical day from rope drop to closing. The only thing missing was John, but he would have hated pretty much every second of it between the crowds, heat and rain. He's become quite Disneyfied, but it takes a strong Disnerd to withstand the kind of day that ended up being.

I'm fortunate to have spent a memorable day with fellow die-hard fans, and can't wait to see what the next five years and the 50th Anniversary have in store. 

Thanks for reading! 

XO, Ashley