Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Disney Cruise Line | 7-days onboard the Disney Fantasy





We just got back from our 7-day Disney Cruise and I am so excited to share the experience with you guys! I get so many inquiries on our travel adventures and I hope that sharing this experience will inspire you to try new ways of adventuring with your family! I am so honored to team up with Disney Cruise Line and share about our trip!

Having experienced many different types of family travel, I will hands-down tell you, Disney always brings out the best in my family. This Disney Cruise was an exciting and different way to do Disney. You have the amazing hassle-free travel that Disney is known for, but you get the magic in a completely new way! All 3 of the boys finished our last evening on the cruise in "happy" tears for all that they got to experience - they didn't want it to end. We left this trip completely grateful for the reminder that we should embrace those childhood years and enjoy this stage with our kids.


Fun for everyone

There was something for everyone! I truly mean it! There was a newlywed couple just a few doors down from us, on their honeymoon, and we constantly ran into them at different activities and shows we were going to. We would always chat with them for a moment to ask how their Honeymoon was going, and they were loving every moment! It just proves to me that Disney Cruise Lines has done their job and created wonderful experiences for everyone to enjoy. Having 3 boys of various ages gave me a great scale of everything that the cruise had to offer. Being on the ship for a longer period of time helped us all settle in and really make it our home for the week. The ship crew is so great, they learn your names within the first day, and by the end of the week you feel like family. They really do a great job of making you feel special. Plus, who can resist the Mickey Waffles?




With Rowan being a shy, it takes him a long time to warm up to new environments. The fact that the ship has so many community spaces (the AquaDuck, Goofy's Sports Deck, Scavenger hunts inside the ship, and more!) makes it such a fun experience for kids, and this had a lot to do with Rowan making a few really close buddies on the trip! In no time at all Rowan was hanging at the basketball courts with his friends. Soon enough, all boys were planning meet ups with their pals in the Oceaneer Club or somewhere else on-board. As a mother, it is so encouraging when you see your child become confident and making friends. Wrennyn even made an older friend in the Oceaneer club and he would go over to their table at dinner to say hi to the family every night. It was the sweetest thing! 

To be honest, going in to it, we were a little unsure if being around other kids and families would get a bit overwhelming, and we absolutely felt the opposite!!! There were so many options and different itineraries to choose from that we quickly discovered it was way more fun when we hung out with other families we came across! I was constantly encouraging the boys to go and hang out with kids. We have done over 5 cruises and this was absolutely our favorite experience, Pirate Night may have helped with that, too! 

Leaving the ship really felt like when you're a kid and you have to leave camp - you made friends with so many new people and you just don't want the fun to end! With the kids having so much fun, it gave Andy and I some time to sneak away to the Adults-Only areas, and it was so nice. We have only taken 2 kid-free trips in our marriage and they were both work related, so it is clear we love to travel with our children! However, being on a vacation that offers the availability to be with our family, but also have alone time was truly special for us. Sneaking away to Palo for dinner, or to the Senses Spa for a massage, or even just to have some chill time on the ship was such a nice change of pace. You would think that not having the kids around we would have gone to the adults-only pool deck, right? Nope! We actually went on the AquaDuck and laid in the family lounge area, even without our kids in tow - the spaces are just so fun! 





Exciting Ports of Call

We had 3 ports of call and were lucky to have amazing adventures on each one!

On St. Maarten we experienced a private catamaran that took us to Long Beach which is one of the most quiet, intimate beaches I have ever been to. We had to access it by swimming in from the catamaran, and it was absolutely incredible! The boys and Andy had fun jumping in the ocean off the side of the catamaran. It was one of our favorite beach days ever. 

Before heading back to the ship we had to stop at my favorite Macaroon stand on the Island right near the port!




St Thomas has one of the most beautiful ports with a marina view. We have been there before, so we were sure to eat breakfast outside so we could take in the lovely scene as our ship arrived! We went to Abi Beach which is a charming, leafy place! The beach has a fun island vibe with a perfect little bar to top it off! The trees and landscape offer some nice shade, and the beach offers crystalline waters over a protected reef. The boys and made some friends and they all rented body boards and had a blast trying out their new skills on the beautiful shoreline! 




Add Castaway Cay to your bucket list!



I love every port we went to, but I am most obsessed with Castaway Cay. Not only is the water the most stunning shades of blue, but this place has an incredible energy to it! The way the island is laid out makes it incredibly easy for families to get around and access the landscape. They have a shuttle system available, but it is just as easy (and beautiful!) to walk the island, too! There are lush green tropical trees and plants  framing out every view to bring that vibrant beach feel to your photos! It is one of my favorite places to take photos.




We personally love heading to the second cove near Pelican Plunge for hanging out. There are plenty of beach chairs, umbrellas, and ice cream to go around! This area gives you access to most of the amenities. There are bikes to rent (with infant seats, too!), snorkeling and floatation rentals, splash areas, sports areas and pavilion (Rowan and his buddies loved this area!), water slides and more. We always love the Castaway Cay bike ride - the island is really flat and smooth so it makes it really easy for families with young children to experience the island in a unique way! Thankfully the ship is so much fun, and has so much to offer, otherwise I don't think we would ever get the boys off this island!



More days on-board means more special moments


We have taken trips from city hopping in California, to road-tripping in South Dakota, to experiencing European cultures . Every travel experience has it's place, and we usually never do the same trip twice. I would do this cruise again in a heartbeat! Our family jokes that we only know how to "travel" and we don't know how to "vacation" - meaning that we often take trips with a packed itinerary and very little down time. We are constantly trying to squeeze the most out of every opportunity and to go new places. This cruise completely changed my mind. It was the absolute best of both worlds. It mixed experiences and opportunity in with relaxation. Relaxing is a very foreign word to me when it comes to travel, and I think this is the first time I honestly enjoyed having slower moments and down time. My husband would say that I have severe Fear of Missing Out. It is true. I live for making the most of a new place and planning our every moment when traveling. Here is the thing, our 7-day itinerary had so many opportunities to experience things. Many of the shows like Aladdin or Wishes had 2+ time slots. So, when you come across a character greeting or experience that you just simply do not want to miss there is a really, really good chance it would be happening again soon! As a well-traveled-family, let me tell you, that does not happen on other vacations we have taken! The fact that I was able to move things around and be flexible has completely changed my perspective on how I want to travel going forward! There were just so many options that we all got to do the things that were important to us. 

One of our absolute favorite things was trying out the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (at an additional cost). They don't just have Princess or Mermaid makeovers, no way! They have an amazing Pirates League experience where they completely transform the boutique to eery Pirate-esque ensembles. The boys each got to completely transform into scary Pirates. I have never seen the 3 of them act so giddy, it was so much fun! We stayed up late that night and partied away, complete with a flossing pirate, glow sticks, Captain Jack Sparrow, and a firework show! 





In our home the boys don't often get in to the planning of things, but on this trip everyone was involved when deciding what we were going to experience each day. To me that meant a lot. It was really magical to see them light up with excitement when discussing the options and casting their votes. As soon as we got home Andy and I both agreed that we would love to do that trip again! It seriously felt like 3 trips in one, we got the experience of the cruise, amazing tropical destinations, and of course the unparalleled magic of Disney! With all this magic, I can only imagine what would come with the experience of Star Wars Day at Sea - I am adding that to my dream list!! BRB. Looking up travel dates!



I hope this gave you some inspiration on how to travel different. Our time with our children goes so quickly. Traveling leaves an important impact on how they see and view the world. There is no replacing these moments and memories. 
I have loved learning about how Disney has some more unique offerings than just their parks, and the Disney Cruise experience blew our expectations away! Please feel free to reach out to me for any information on learning more about their cruise experience!





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Monday, July 24, 2017

shop my european suitcase

It has been a long time since I updated this space, but I get a lot of questions about my outfits and thought while I was traveling this would help anyone find any of the pieces that I am wearing while in Europe.
I have added almost everything that is in my suitcase -- plus a few items that are similar, if the original was sold out. Hope you enjoy xx




And just in case you are popping by to find something in the kids' wardrobes -- I have included as much as I could from their closet, too!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

affordable style in the home for the holidays!



Have you guys seen Walmart.com 's new #affordablestyle lines? I have teamed up with them to share some of my favorite bits from their revamped home line. I was thrilled when they approached me, because one of the biggest things you guys ask for is affordable decor ideas. There is nothing I love more than adding some new goodies into our space around the holidays, and I was SHOCKED to see how much I loved in their home selections!! I found everything I needed on their website(no lie!) to help warm up each and every room - which is important when you are expecting guests!!

Amongst all the garland that I wanted to get my hands on (I ended up with the frosted bristle pine, I felt it looks more nordic!), I found the cutest wreath ever it has a fun frosted look it is the National Tree Frosted Arctic Spruce!  I also discovered the Walmart exclusive Better Homes and Gardens line -- which got me a bit excited about vanilla LED candles, who knew! I love the BHG tin bucket with a pine branch in it, seemed to be subtle and add a simple warmth to the corner, now if only I could convince my neighbors/husband/mom I am not a weirdo outside sawing mangily tree branches off in my front yard -- hehe!


Trust me, nobody is going to complain about a twinkling kissing ball! The curtain rod was to help bring the kissing ball to life. Kind of got a bit greedy with the outdoor touches,  you just can't stop me! Also, true story, that is the only window that has a window treatment in our home!


I loved the color pop of this "I hope something good happens to you today" 9 by Novogratz print, (here) because we all could use some well wishes to start our day! Also, is it illegal to mix different kinds of pine in one space?? Don't even care, I clearly am not the matchy-matchy type.

So... why did I really buy up all this new cozy decor? Well, for starters I am hosting Christmas this year which is a HUGE DEAL! You can't host and not have every inch of your home welcoming your guests! I also had a little filming done in our home with Camila Alves (YES! HER!) for her FB show! And well, I am not the most traditional, so I loved adding all these final soft touches to blend into my already existing home without taking over. Probably the coziest and most "me" feeling Christmas style I have ever had in my home!

I also started a new tradition where I had some friends over to wrap Christmas gifts - because HECK! Who needs a reason to have friends over really? I wanted it to be a chill night where we just caught up and packaged our pretty goods for the kiddos, before time got away from us!

I wanted the decor to be subtle but still really festive, because that is what suits me and my lifestyle. I am in the process of purging a lot of unwanted things, so I love the bright and clean look of the table settings without all the clutter. We had really light snacks, because nights with friends shouldn't be about all the fuss, it should be about good times and memories. I think we tend to overthink when having guests over, I really have become laid back when it comes to hosting. It is about the company and that is what creates the environment. I like it to feel really normal and stress free - I also want everyone to feel at home when they are with me.


The Pioneer Woman collection had the perfect tableware! I loved the bright colors and vintage style prints. I was so happy with how it looked when it arrived that I stocked up on everything in the line I could get my hands on! Everyone got to take their place settings home along with some The Pioneer Woman goodies :) And don't mind me and my bits of nature incorporated into every room -- sprigs on the napkins, so simple!


 I love these BHG hyacinth baskets, I have already found a million uses for them! During my little gathering I used them for holding the little toppings for our gift wrapping station. They will definitely be great for holding treasures beyond the holidays! I seriously couldn't stop buying all the baskets! ALL THE BASKETS! Seriously, I bought a lot! Thank you Better Homes and Gardens x Walmart for feeding into my obsession. (see more baskets below, because DUH!)

         More Better Homes & Gardens bins,  faux fur throw, and throw pillow all from Walmart.com


I really think that decorating your home for the holidays shouldn't be stressful. Just think of how you can add to each room versus completely transforming it. Everything I found at Walmart really blended into my already existing space and almost all of it can be used for occasions outside of the holidays. I really think that is the most successful way that you can bring the holidays is by keeping it warm and natural! I really do love that most everything can be for more than just Christmas, because your home should always be warm and fresh!

I dare you to visit their site and not be shocked by their new goods - I already am pining over a basket for my bike that I spotted!

Remember you don't have to spend a fortune at a boutique to make your home welcoming! Here is a list of everything I bought, so you can see that not all holiday decor has to be traditional! I hope you love their exclusive collections by Pioneer Woman, Better Homes and Gardens and 9 by Novogratz as much as I do!



And one more photo for good measure, because I am guilty of all things non-traditional. I love this blue recycled glass jar I also picked up on their site! Because, well, who knew! ps I clearly was too busy chatting that I didn't get much of my wrapping done at our little gathering :)

World's longest post everrrrrr just for fun, because this is the first Christmas where I have brought the house to life! Over and out. xx


This post was in partnership with Walmart.com - we are always happy to share new products with you guys and so thankful for your support, hope to continue bringing great things your way