ORLANDO DAY ONE | TRAVEL & DISNEY SPRINGS

Hi! I’m finally back and ready to recap the first few days of our Orlando trip. This trip could not have come at a better time for us all. We really needed this vacation as a family – life has been so crazy over the last year! Of course, Nathan and I (him more so than me) were worried about how Camden would do on the flights and sleeping in a strange place and AT THEME PARKS, gasp…the list basically went on and on. We’ve all heard the horror stories, I’m sure. But we took our chances and I’m happy to report that our child was an absolute angel like he always is for basically the entire trip. Was this vacation as relaxing as the others we have been on? No way. Were we more physically exhausted after pushing a stroller/wearing a baby around a theme park all day? Uhh, YEAH. But I’m so glad we were brave because it was so worth it! Please don’t let anyone tell you that you can not take your baby where ever you are going because it is simply not true and 95% about your attitude.

Day One | Travel & Disney Springs

travel1We chose the 6 AM flight from our town’s regional airport so we could make it to Orlando by 11:00. Luckily, we live about 3 minutes away from the airport and it’s super small so getting there at 5 AM gave us plenty of time. I went back and forth on how I wanted to handle Camden pre-flight and ultimately decided to wake him up at 4:30, get him changed, dressed, and fed before we left. This seemed to work well because even though it was (a little) earlier than he normally wakes up I didn’t have to deal with a hungry, fussy baby as we were checking in and going through security.

travel2We got upgraded to Comfort+ seating on our first flight from Evansville to Atlanta and we thought we were the luckiest people ever – little did we know the upgrades would be even better on the way home! They let people with babies board early so Camden was sitting up, smiling and just generally charming everyone as the got on the plane. I nursed him during take off and he fell asleep for the majority of that hour-ish flight. Many a lady found me in the restroom by our gate after this flight to tell me how good he was :)

The second flight was a little more difficult. He wasn’t bad by any means but he was tired of me holding him and was more fussy than he was on the first flight. Luckily, this was our flight into Orlando so there were a gazillion kids on there and I’m sure no one paid much attention to him! The plane from ATL or Orlando was bigger than our first and it had TVs in the seats and thus a love for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was born (prompting a funny mom life vs. dad life video on Snapchat because by husband got to watch Barber Shop). He couldn’t hear anything because I obviously didn’t put ear buds in his ears, but he was completely enthralled by watching! Between all the flights I bet we watched those two episodes at least eight times, sigh. I have a feeling this is our future though, so I guess we should get used to it.

travel4

As we were landing he finally fell asleep so I had to carry him through the Orlando airport to baggage claim instead of wrapping him up. We got our luggage, threw him in the stroller, picked up our rental car, and made our way to our hotel where the boys promptly took another nap. Traveling is hard.

A side note about our hotel. It was just ok. We used Marriott Rewards points to stay there but I don’t think I would again, at least if we are traveling with a baby/kids. Mainly because you really, really need a refrigerator in your room when traveling with kids. Or breastfeeding a kid. (Mama can not with Florida tap water, blech!) And it honestly just wasn’t very family friendly. Or I guess I didn’t feel welcome with our baby there. It was mostly businessmen in town for conventions and lets just say, our squawking little boy got more than one side-eyed look at breakfast. The hotel did provide a crib for us which was a lifesaver and it was within walking distance to the Orlando Eye, a mini golf place, and a ton of restaurants/shops which was nice.

disney-springs-edited

After a little nap and Walmart trip to stock up on some waters and snacks (we ended up buying a styrofom cooler and filling it with ice over and over as our makeshift refrigerator) we headed down to Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) for the evening. I love doing Disney Springs the first night of an Orlando trip because you can basically dip your toe in the Disney pool instead of jumping right in, HA. But don’t get me wrong, there are still a ton of people down there! It’s basically a HUGE area with tons of restaurants, shops, bars, live entertainment, and a pretty lake where you can see some of the Disney hotels. They are constantly adding on and there were a whole slew of luxury-type shops that were not there when we visited just a couple of years ago.

disney-springs1Ugh, how cute is that face?! In one of the first shops we went into a lady gave Camden “his first Mickey sticker.” She was really excited about it, lol. Also, Nathan wouldn’t let me get these Mickey ears for Camden because “they didn’t fit” and I think it broke my heart. Poor guy was just trying to sleep but I had to have a picture of him in the ears since his dad wouldn’t let me buy them. Bahhumbug.

disney-springs2

Even if you aren’t really into Disney stuff, Disney Springs is a great place to spend an evening (or more if you are brave)! Certain parts are not Disney themed at all and they actually have a lot of great stores like Sugarboo (a bloggers dream), Vince Camuto, Zara and a ton more. They have a really neat food truck area and a ton of restaurants that range from family friendly, to really nice. They have really made sure there is something for everyone down there. Of course, there are plenty of Disney stores too! There is a HUGE one right in the middle and was one of the only places with a good baby section. I hadn’t been able to find a Disney shirt I liked for Cam before we left and I found a really cute vintage tee that you will see in our Animal Kingdom pictures!

We ate dinner at The House of Bluez which was an adventure to say the least. I had counted on Camden falling asleep in the stroller (like he does every single morning on our walk) and napping while we walked around DS but since he is sitting front facing now, not in the car seat on top, he was just too visually stimulated and never fell asleep which means he was tired and cranky by the time we got to dinner. They wouldn’t let us take our stroller into the restaurant so we tried to sit him in a highchair for the first time. It lasted for about a minute before he wanted to get out, so that was a fail. The rest of the meal was spent picking up toys off the floor and trying to settle a pretty fussy baby. While trying to eat street tacos which is just about as much fun as it sounds. I was afraid the night was ruined at that point but after we admitted defeat, put him back in the stroller and started walking around again he was fine. It did shake our confidence a little but honestly, the rest of the nights went just fine!

Overall, it was a great way to start the trip! I can’t wait to share details of day two, aka beach day! I’ll also do a separate post with all the details of what worked for us when flying. This post was just getting a little long to add all that in and this mama is tired :)

Linking up with Annie, Natalie, and Amanda.

See my Snaps on Snapchat rachelemily_49 | Keep up with all my posts on Bloglovin | See day to day pictures on my Instagram | Read my tweets on Twitter | Like the Rachel Emily Blog on Facebook | Pin along with me on Pinterest

FIVE ON FRIDAY | TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

Hi friends! We are back from our whirlwind trip to Orlando and are feeling the post-vacation, real-life blues today. We are also feeling tired. Very, very tired. I want to give you all the details (and pics!) plus some tips for traveling/going to theme parks with babies but we’ve been up since 2 AM Evansville time and my brain is mush. So here are five highlights for now:

1. BEACH
camden-beach
It had been far too long since I had seen the ocean so we headed to Cape Canaveral for the day on Sunday. (Ok, it had been less than a year but I was super newly pregnant and felt awful during our whole trip last year, so it doesn’t count). Camden was completely enthralled by the water and all of the sounds – talk about sensory overload for a baby!

2. ANIMAL KINGDOM
hogwarts-ecpressWe wanted to do a Disney park on this trip, but the thought of taking Camden to Magic Kingdom seemed a little overwhelming so we went to Animal Kingdom instead. Nathan had never been and I’ve only been once (vs. MK approximately 1000x) and I’m so glad we made this decision! It was the perfect amount of stuff that all of us could do together and since the park is smaller, it was easy for us to utilize their wonderful Baby Care Center as much as we needed.

3. UNIVERSAL
nathan-harry-potter(It totally looks like Nathan is blogger-posing with the stroller for this picture, lol.)
We have been to the Hogsmead side of the park in the past but the Diagon Alley portion wasn’t build yet when we were there. It did not disappoint! The attention to detail is incredible and Nathan actually loved the new Gringotts ride – which was exciting because he is not a huge ride person (as in he usually hates them).

4. POOL DAY
orlando-poolWe knew we had to leave for the airport very early on Thursday so we made Wednesday a pool day! The weather was perfect and we had the pool basically to ourselves. Since the pool was less noisy and visually stimulating, Cam was able to really enjoy “swimming.” Once he figured out how to use his hands and feet to splash he would. not. stop. I think we might regret helping him figure that out tonight at bath time!

5. TRAVEL LUCK
camden-flightI’m not sure if it was luck, or just (one of the few) perks of having a husband who flys a lot for work but we had an awesome travel experiance on this trip! Seat upgrades on a couple of our flights (first class breakfast on a 6AM flight for the win), TSA Pre Check, and a generally pleasant (mostly sleeping) baby made for easy travel both ways! I think taking care of Camden pretty much distracted me from any anxiety I would normally have, too.

I hope to have at least a few days recapped in detail on Monday. Have a great weekend, friends!

Keep up with all my posts on Bloglovin | See day to day pictures on my Instagram | Read my tweets on Twitter | Like the Rachel Emily Blog on Facebook | Pin along with me on Pinterest

Linking up with Coffee with Caitlin, September Farm, Meet @ the BarreLiz, and The Slaughters.

CURRENTLY | SEPTEMBER

currently-sept-collage
currently-sept-collage-2
R E A D I N G
All the things! I just finished The Cursed Child (LOVED), I’m in the middle of Truly Madly Guilty, For the Love, AND The Luckiest Girl Alive PLUS the fifth Harry Potter book on my Kindle for times I want to read on the go. I’m taking all of the above plus First Comes Love on vacation next week and am super interested to see how much I actually read now that we have a kid! My goal is two and I really hope I exceed that goal!

T R Y I N G
We are trying/cooking so many new things thanks to HelloFresh (which we are loving by the way – full post soon!). Even though food bloggers have been telling me for years that they are way better, I’ve always been scared of cooking chicken thighs for some reason. We love chicken breasts around here but guys, I was wrong. Chicken thighs are AMAZING. We’ve also had steak fajitas (which I know doesn’t sound that crazy but I don’t think I’ve ever cooked steak) and several different dishes with adobo sauce.

H O P I N G
Our flight with this little one goes well! Seriously. Please cross your fingers, say a prayer, send us good vibes, or whatever it is you want to do to help Nathan and I both with our nerves for flying with him! He is a very well behaved baby (which Nathan is afraid will change the second we get on the plane) and I’m claustrophobic enough sitting on a plane by myself, let alone with a child nursing on me the whole time. My armpits are sweating just thinking about it, ugh.

D E C O R A T I N G
I thrifted these window frames a few years ago with the idea of making a headboard, I think? Obviously, that never happend but I did realize the other day they would be great decor in our “non” farmhouse :) I just need to paint them, add some wreaths, and we are good to go!

T O D O L I S T I N G
Currently, I’m putting off several things on my to do list. Like laundry, and packing, and making Chex mix, cleaning my house, wrapping a baby shower present, painting my nails and…I’m probably forgetting something.

What are you all currently up to?

Linking up with Anne, Annie, Natalie, and Amanda.

See my Snaps on Snapchat rachelemily_49 | Keep up with all my posts on Bloglovin | See day to day pictures on my Instagram | Read my tweets on Twitter | Like the Rachel Emily Blog on Facebook | Pin along with me on Pinterest

Things That Make Me Feel Like Myself Since Becoming a Mom

things that make me feel like myself since becoming a mom

I was listening to The Girl Next Door Podcast the other day (no, not those girls next door) and the girls talked briefly about some things they do that remind them of their pre-mom selves. It got me thinking about what those things are for me. You know, the little things I didn’t think twice about doing before I was a mom that all of the sudden got pushed to the side once Camden made his way into the world. Frankly, most of the time I’m really not sure what the heck we did with our life before Camden was here – parenthood (especially being new parents) can be so all consuming – but lately I’ve being seeing little glimpses of my pre-baby life in the form of these things:

…painting my nails
I was rocking FIFTEEN WEEK old toe nail polish until this past weekend. So shameful. Finger nails are still waiting for their upgrade…

…meeting up with friends for a spontaneous late night drink
This is the thing that started me thinking about all of this actually. I felt so normal leaving Nathan to put Camden to bed while I met up with some girlfriends on a whim.

…planning trips
I’m sure Nathan is bored to death of me talking about our upcoming trip. I swear I enjoy the planning as much as I do the actual trip.

…going to bootcamp twice a week
I was great at this the first few weeks I was cleared to workout and it just gets harder every single week.

…watching football with Nathan in our bed
This doesn’t happen often but when it does in my mind we are back at his parent’s house in 2010. Him watching sports and me doing homework or reading (see also: sleeping)

…practicing new hair styles
Specifically braids since watching Lauren’s Facebook Live Boho Braid tutorial.

…reading blogs
I love coming to my computer early in the morning with a cup of coffee and checking in with my friends.

…wine festivals
My favorite sisters are performing at our city’s upcoming wine and jazz festival and I can. not. wait.

…going to the movie theater
We saw so many movies before we became parents. Bonus points for having a drink while watching the movie. I still haven’t seen Bad Moms and I’m really upset about it.

…wandering around Target
Wandering Target with a baby strapped to your chest or taking up your whole cart just isn’t the same as leisurely walking aisle after aisle.

…going to our favorite Mexican restaurant and becoming a liiiittle tipsy after ordering the biggest margarita on the menu
Might have been the highlight of my weekend. Thank goodness for these.

Follow along with me on Snapchat rachelemily_49 | Keep up with all my posts on Bloglovin | See day to day pictures on my Instagram | Read my tweets on Twitter | Like the Rachel Emily Blog on Facebook | Pin along with me on Pinterest

WHAT’S UP WEDNESDAY | AUGUST

Checking in for a little Life Lately and What’s Up Wednesday with Shay!

whatsupwed1
WUWquestions edit

WHAT WE ARE EATING
We are on our third week of HelloFresh and I. Am. Obsessed. Full post about it coming soon! Nathan’s favorite meal so far has been a summer corn and chicken pizza with tomatoes, scallions, and adobo sauce and mine was probably the pesto chicken thigh skewers with summer corn salad. I still have one free box code left so leave your email in the comments if you want your first week (so three meals for two people) fo free!
hellofreshcollage(clockwise: steak fajitas with fresh kiwi salsa, pesto chicken thigh skewers with summer corn salad, caramelized onion burgers and zucchini fries, chipotle glazed pork chops with roasted broccoli and garlic mashed potatoes)

WHAT I’M REMINISCING ABOUT
Last year and doing all the things. My first half marathon, Rosemary Beach girls trip, St. Louis & Grand Rapids for weddings, Las Vegas/New Mexico, Captiva, Orlando for work, and Chattanooga. Let me now tell you what I’ve done this year…had a baby. Full stop. Needless to say I am SO READY to get out of here!

WHAT I’M LOVING
The promise of cooler weather and more enjoyable time on the patio. Two weekends ago we were teased with temps in the high seventies but it’s been 90+ every day since. The ole weather man says it’s supposed to start cooling off for real starting tomorrow so we’ll see! (P.S. This post is way too full of HP for me to be 28 years old BUT I loved The Cursed Child.)
IMG_2950

WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO
 A LOT. But probably the most exciting was the birth of our nephew, Brayden Lane! As you can see, Camden is not sure how he feels about sharing the attention he’s been getting, but I’m sure he’ll come around :)
IMG_3070

WHAT I’M WORKING ON
Our Orlando trip! Who would have thought, it takes a lot more planning and prep to take a baby on a vacation. Flying, pool days, beach day, Animal Kingdom, Universal Studios – all things we’ve done before but suddenly seem much more intimidating when you are bringing along a four month old. Also, there’s a lot more to plan when you fly somewhere as opposed to drive. Luckily, have the worlds easiest baby and we are going to Orlando, not the outskirts of Africa so I think everything will be fine in the end.
99CD1260-9127-499E-BF71-ED9BFA278188

WHAT I’M DREADING
Dreading might be slightly overstating BUT if I had to choose something I would say flying with a baby. I think flying is the only part of our upcoming trip that I’m really not confident about so PLEASE send me your tips and tricks for flying with babies! (Tips for curing claustrophobia welcome as well). Also, tips for the beach. I’ve got a tent and a battery powered fan but is there anything else I just HAVE to have when taking a baby to the beach for a day?

WHAT I’M EXCITED ABOUT
Our trip in general, obviously but The Wizarding World of Harry Potter most of all if I’m being honest. #nerdalert It’s just so good you guys. I’m going to drink allll the butterbeer (I hear they have it in ice cream form now) and ride The Forbidden Journey ride 25x. I can’t wait to explore Diagon Alley because it wasn’t open when we were there a few years ago. Nathan asked me if we were going to get Camden a wand while we were there and I said “No, he has to wait until he’s 11.” Duh.
4D571C21-1541-44CC-AA9F-938C01742323

WHAT I’M WATCHING & READING
Nathan and I are watching Homeland together (omg obsessed) and I’m still watching The OC on my own. Like I mentioned earlier I just finished Harry Potter and The Cursed Child and now I’m working on Truly Madly Guilty.

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO
Podcasts on Podcasts on Podcasts. Still loving The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, Undisclosed, Crime Writers On, and Marriage More. Also, that Cold Water song that Justin Beiber is on. Dang he is obnoxious but dang he makes catchy music!

WHAT I’M WEARING
None of my regular (pre-baby) clothes yet. But I’m working on it!

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND
Small group, baby snuggling, football watching, and hopefully not a lot else!

WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH
Other than the obvious and overly stated in this post already… our anniversary, starting a new bible study with some of my favorite ladies, a baby shower for one of my besties, and an awesome wine festival I haven’t gotten to go to in TWO years thanks to our wedding and baby. Bring on September!

WHAT ELSE IS NEW
Not a lot!

Thanks for stopping by!

Keep up with all my posts on Bloglovin | See day to day pictures on my Instagram | Read my tweets on Twitter | Like the Rachel Emily Blog on Facebook | Pin along with me on Pinterest

Linking up with ShayJennIulia, and Cathy.