Disney World 2017

While in Florida this past February, we spent 2 days at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Ada is so obsessed with the Disney Princesses that I knew this would be a perfect trip for her right now. And since I’m still trying to get her familiar with the idea of travel, I want to make sure they are trips she is excited about. I know she probably won’t remember the details of the trip, most people recommend going when they are a little older, but I figured that since the family is in Tampa, its a perfect time to visit them and give her a little taste of Disney.

2 days is definitely not enough, but at the same time, it was plenty! There was obviously only so much we could do in 2 days, and being that she is still so young we wanted to make sure we hit up the things she was most excited about.

Our first (half) day there we didn’t have tickets to the parks, so we checked into the hotel and played at pool all afternoon.

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I then, neglected to make any dinner reservations for the first night, so we were left scrambling to find something. We thought about heading to Downtown Disney, but it just didn’t seem worth the hassle to pack everyone up and take the bus out. Instead we hopped the monorail and headed to the Polynesian Resort, where I wish we would have stayed. I remember staying there as a kid and so I wanted to show Dan, but we foolishly thought we could just walk up to a restaurant. Of course everything was booked. We were informed that the Kona Cafe had a first come, first serve bar seating area, and we somehow managed to nab three seats there.  After dinner we walked around, grabbed a famous Dole whip (the only place you can find them outside of Adventure Land in the Magic Kingdom), and we were able to catch the fireworks from the beach at the hotel. All things we just happened to stumble upon and probably couldn’t have planned any better.

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Chopstick fight at Kona Cafe inside Disney’s Polynesian

I booked this trip 30 days out, and apparently that was not nearly soon enough. When booking the “Magic your Way” tickets and staying on a Disney property, reservations for restaurants and fast passes open up 60-180 days out, so everything I really wanted to do like Cinderella’s Table or Chef Mickeys, etc. was completely booked up, we had to be a little flexible. The only character dining I could get our first day was lunch at Hollywood & Vine inside Hollywood studios, which changed our plans quite a bit. Hollywood Studios wasn’t exactly on my itinerary this time around, but it ended up working out for the best. There was a lot more in that park for younger kids then Epcot, which was my original plan. The only reason I wanted to do Epcot was for the Frozen ride, but instead in Hollywood Studios we started our day with the Frozen sing-a-long, which was a perfect alternative. She got to see her princesses in real life, and it even “snowed” white foamy bubbles at the end, which was super exciting for her!

Dinsey's Frozen Sing-a-long, Hollywood Studios

After the Frozen Sing-a-long, we did the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, this only had a short wait time and by the time it was over it was lunch time. That show was alright, she was excited to see Ariel live, but honestly in my opinion its time for Disney to update the theatrics, it seemed a little outdated, but to a 3 year old it was just fine!

Hollywood & Vine has the Disney Junior characters. So we saw Sophia the First, Doc McStuffins, Jake the Pirate and Handy Manny. They all make their way to your table at some point during your meal and it had a pretty decent buffet for lunch. She was just so excited the whole time!

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After lunch we debated trying to catch the Disney Junior Live! show, but decided that it was getting hot and we just saw half those characters so we headed back to the hotel for a nap. We did get to see Donald on our way out!

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That evening, we had Fast Passes to Enchanted Tales with Belle. So after we were all refreshed we made our way into the Magic Kingdom for our first glimpse at the Castle!

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5:00 was a perfect time to head into the park because I think everyone was at dinner so we didn’t have to fight crowds to get to Belle on time. We did it right away at the early side of our Fast Pass time slot, and this was probably the cutest thing we did our whole trip and made such an impression on Ada. Belle is her most favorite princess right now, so I think she was literally star struck. The whole attraction though was just perfect for her, it was with a small intimate group, so you could really take it all in, and I felt like she actually got some cute, quality time with Belle up close.

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After, we had some time and there was only a 20 minute wait at Ariels Grotto, so we waited a little bit for her to meet her second most favorite princess right now, Ariel.

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We did a quick-service dinner and then it was time to get ready for the fireworks. Grandpa had sent her a gift card in the mail before our trip so we let her pick out a light up toy to play with while waiting for the fireworks, and then we caught the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular. So glad we got to see this since its coming to an end in May! She loved the fireworks despite thinking they were too loud!

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We went back to the hotel that night and somehow the girl was wired still, so we let her go run around in the splash pad until about 9:30, at which point we threw her in a warm tub to clean up and she passed out in about 30 seconds.

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The next morning we got up early and made it to the Magic Kingdom again right at 9am when the gates opened, it was great timing as the lines were not yet too long and once inside, the park felt pretty empty. We even got to see Minnie as she was walking out! Perfect timing! (Main Street doesn’t look empty below, but the rest of the park really was!)

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Our first stop was Fast Passes to meet Repunzel and Tiana. I’d read a lot about saving your fast passes until the afternoon, but there somehow was already a 50 minute wait and so I’m glad I didn’t take that advice and just got the Fast Pass for 9am. We were in and out in about 15 minutes and she was in her glory meeting both!

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I had called Disney on the phone before our trip  to help me find restaurant reservations after I was becoming frustrated at the the fact that everything was booked.  Someone actually managed to get us into Chef Mickeys at 10:30am, it wasn’t in my mind the most convenient time but I really wanted Ada to dine with Mickey and Minnie, so we took it. (I think someone worked some magic because we were guests of the Contemporary Hotel, which is where this restaurant is located.  I can’t confirm this, but I don’t know how else we would have been booked there, when everything said no availability).  This is why we got to the park so early though and what prompted me to book a fast pass, I wanted to get something in before 10:30 breakfast. It involved some back and forth, park hopping, which with the convenience of the monorail made this not the worst scenario. When we left the park the gates were mobbed!! Never try to enter the park around 10:00-10:30 it was crazy! When we came back into the park again after breakfast/lunch around 12:30 the gates were dead again!

Chef Mickeys at this time was also actually a blessing in disguise. Because it was the tail end of breakfast, as people cleared out, no new guests were coming in because they were getting ready to turn over for lunch. So because there were fewer and fewer people, the characters we’re actually starting to come around again.

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We spent the rest of that afternoon in the Magic Kingdom again, and it had gotten crazy busy and super hot! We had fast passes for the Monster’s Inc Laugh Factory, which was super cute and felt amazing inside because it was all air conditioned. We grabbed some ice cream en route to the Haunted Mansion and when we got there, the Fast Pass line was longer then the regular line and we almost skipped it. Luckily, we found a shady spot for about 15 minutes and when I went back the line was down again and so we did that. Ada loves scary things so she was super pumped for the Haunted Mansion. I think she got a little nervous once we were inside but quickly got excited again and she loved it!

When we came out the afternoon Parade was just starting so Ada took the best seat in the house and we watched that before heading out!

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Dad looks super mad because the Internet crashed on the East Coast that afternoon and he was trying to deal with that mess back at his office while fighting crowds and heat in Disney World = Not Happy! But Look at the smile on Ada, if only we all saw the world through a child’s eye!

She fell asleep in the stroller rental we had shortly after that, so once we got to the gates to leave I had to carry her all the way back to the hotel, that was suuuper fun! We had already checked out of our hotel, so we just grabbed a shady lounge chair by the pool and let her nap. I ran up to the hotel shops to get some souvenirs and then we let her run around the splash pad again for about a half hour before jumping in the car to drive “home” (Back to Tampa). We got in around 7pm and she talked Grandma’s ear off about everything we did!!

All in all it was a great way to add to our Florida trip! Next time we plan to stay at the Polynesian Resort and actually just take some time to enjoy the hotel and some of the things around that don’t even require park tickets. There is just so much to Disney World without having to pay hundreds of dollars to go to a park and since we have the family in Tampa and go down so much, its not one of those “once in a lifetime trips”, we can actually just do small bursts of Disney a little at a time, which I think is totally the way to do it!

Tampa, FL

I’m going to do our Florida trip in two parts. We headed south at the end of February, and visited family in Tampa and then did two days in Disney World, but since Disney warrants its own post I’ll do that part separate.

Tampa is amazing for kids and families. I never really did a good post on our trip last year down to visit, when we did the Tampa Zoo and the Florida Aquarium, but since we go to Tampa at least once or twice a year I’ll do that at some point! This time, we were there for a day and a half before Disney and then another day after. Dan’s brother lives there, so we visit a lot and plan to do so even more.

Our first day there this time around, we hit up Datz for breakfast which was amazing! The Monkey bread was to die for, I had chicken and waffles which was so filling for breakfast but super delicious. It was a fantastic place for kids, it was loud and energetic and they gave some fun little wax sticks for the kids which kept them occupied forever.

Afterwards we spent the afternoon at Treasure Island Beach in St. Petes. Ada really loved the beach, my favorite comment from her was “Mommy, I don’t understand how the beach is soo fun?” She just melts my heart with how much she loves and appreciates everything we do with her at this age. I have to remind myself that we don’t have to do over the top things, she is so impressed with the simple things.  The weather was perfect and we had sunshine and family time, so it was the best first day!

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We did two days in Disney afterwards, which I’ll recap later and then had another beach day in Clearwater after we got back. It was fun to break up the trip into two parts and that way we didn’t get burnt out of anything too fast, and I honestly feel like two days in Disney was enough! There’s obviosuly a lot we didn’t do, but to break it up with some beach time made it for a relaxing and fun trip for everyone.

After we got back into Tampa, we spent our last day in Clearwater at a little beach/bar restaurant area called Whiskey Joes.  We could see it from the road as we were driving into Clearwater, and both Dan and I looked at each other and said “I hope we’re going there!” (we were just following the fam). It was like a little private island getaway and on a Wednesday afternoon it was dead, so we basically had the beach and the bar to ourself. We enjoyed some fish tacos, beers, mango mojitos and sunshine! A perfect last day!

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We finished out the day with a stop at the park so the girls could run around in the sprinklers and enjoyed some beautiful views of Tampa Bay, then dinner in the cute little historic area of Ybor. Where we took a stroll through downtown and hit up the Tampa Bay Brewing Company for dinner. Complete with a super amazing Sunset sky!

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What are your favorite things to do in Tampa? We travel there a lot to visit and are always looking for more fun things to do to make our trips different! Suggestions welcome!

Adirondacks Vacation

Dan’s family takes a trip to the Adirondacks in upstate NY every year. They have been doing this for decades now. They stay at the same place and go the same week every year. While I would prefer to explore someplace new every year, I’ve learned to enjoy and embrace this great family tradition. Its always the week before labor day and right before back to school, so it’s a great way to end the crazy summer. In my profession of travel marketing for Niagara Falls, labor day also happens to be the last big, wild and crazy week of the summer tourist season too, so again its a great way to feel like I’ve wrapped up another great year!

This year, we went for 5 days. We don’t usually do a whole lot on this vacation, we have a beach, swing-set, and volleyball court all right at the cabins we stay at, so everything is right there. But the older Ada gets the more active I feel like we need to be, or maybe I just want to take advantage of doing something new on a vacation that we take every year. For Ada though, she is basically experiencing everything for the first time. Even if we did something before, she likely doesn’t remember yet.

This year we started the week out with a family kayaking trip. She loved the first 20 minutes of this, until we were way out in the middle of the lake and she decided that she was all done with this activity and wanted to go back to Grandma. Given that we were out in the middle of the lake, she wasn’t fond of the trip back and just wanted to get out. She did great though, and sat still for me until we got back. No major disasters, just a shorter trip next time. Attention spans are not great at 3!

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4th Lake, Old Forge, NY

We took her on an “easy” hike up Bald Mountain. We were off to a great start until she wanted to be carried. The way up she did half walking and half being carried. My favorite was Daddy carrying her while she sang every song under the sun! The ultimate lazy toddler. It was worth the hike up for the pictures alone. She did enjoy reaching the top (only because I had a bag of fruit loops for her to much on- and she drank everyone’s water- leaving those of us actually hiking pretty hot and thirsty- but you know, her needs come first!) I had to carry her ALL THE WAY back down by piggy back and she of course passed out on the car ride home. Being carried up and down a mountain is exhausting!img_0755img_4315img_0728

We took her out to dinner one night, where she was absolutely amazing. I really credit her great behavior in restaurants to the fact that we take her out frequently. We try not to eat out too much, but when we do, we like to bring her. And I really think she’s been brought up learning how to behave when out in public. I’m not saying she’s perfect every time, and she’s been known to unload every single sugar packet and sort them by color, (but who doesn’t do that?) I also try to make sure I have other “activities” stowed in my purse. Travel coloring books with crayons, sticker books, Little People. I sometimes even let her pick out a few small things that will fit in my purse, that way she is satisfied when we get there and I pull out the things she wanted and remembered packing. – After our dinner the views were just stunning so we had to go outside for a photo-op.img_0852img_0836img_0825

Our last day there was a little cool, but we still had fun! We made monster ice cream sundaes with all the other little cousins and took her on a boat ride, which she loved, despite it being pretty chilly. Ada even let us go out for grown-up night that evening with the other adult cousins (aka all the moms and dads) and she let the older kid cousins baby-sit her since Grandma had to leave vacation early this year. I was a little hesitant if she would even let us out the door, but she was awesome and we were able to have fun with the grown ups for little while. We made it back before bedtime and caught an amazing sunset!img_1026img_0639

All in all it was another great year in the mountains. We came back relaxed and ready to take on the fall. Next year we will have to find some new activities to do with her, but Its fun to just hang out with family, catch some sun and be a little active. Time off from work and time spent with family is something we all need to do once in awhile!

Where we ate in Oahu, Hawaii

This post was a looong time coming, I know the Hawaii trip was awhile ago and I’ve been meaning to write this post all summer, but I wanted to write about all the places we ate while on the island of Oahu. We seriously ate like kings all week and I’m pretty sure I would 100% recommend every meal we had to anyone looking to plan a trip there. With the exception of the one breakfast we had at Denny’s because we foolishly thought it would be cheaper – I mean it was cheaper than any of the other meals we had, but for Denny’s it was not cheap.

Let me start off by saying, if you want to eat out, budget a lot for food in Hawaii. Unfortunately there are no All-Inclusive deals in the US (at least that I have found yet) and while the food was out of this world everywhere we ate, it was not cheap, and we probably could have went on another vacation with the money we spent eating out. There are a lot of things I would do differently next time in order to save some money, but the food was so delicious that I actually don’t regret it one bit! (Don’t tell my husband that, he would disagree). He feels a little jaded towards Hawaii after we added up our expenses!

Our first night we got in late, around 7pm Hawaii time (1am est) so we were exhausted and just wanted to eat food and go to bed. Tropics Bar and Grill was located right on site at our hotel, and it was ocean front so we headed straight for that one. I got the Kalua Pork Nachos, which were so amazing I would have went back and had them every day (had it been an all-inclusive resort).

Our resort had a bunch of different restaurants right on site that all came highly recommended on Yelp and Trip Advisor, so we took advantage of those on several nights. Bali Steak and Seafood was one of our favorites, we ate there twice (despite it being one of the priciest places) it was indoor/outdoor  (mostly indoor) and if you time it right you can catch an awesome sunset (reservations recommended for sure). We went with seafood both times because we just can’t get fresh seafood at home like you can in Hawaii. We always opted for the most authentic Hawaiian fish we could, staying away from stuff like salmon that we can get at home. Ahi Poke, was delightful!

The last restaurant right on property that we really enjoyed was the Rainbow Lanai. We had breakfast there one morning because we read reviews about  an amazing breakfast buffet. That is no lie…. The buffet was out of this world with variety. It had a ton of very European style breakfast items on it and the fresh fruit displays were fantastic (It is Hawaii afterall). We mis-heard the hostess though when we asked how much the breakfast buffet was. We heard $13 (which I’m not sure why in our mind we thought it would actually be that cheap- I guess it was too early) What she actually said was $30. So you can imagine the surprise on our face when they dropped a bill for $72 (plus beverages- not included). Its lucky the buffet was so delicious and that they dropped the bill before we were done, once we saw the price we helped our self to third helpings. We also skipped lunch that day!

On every blog, review, and person I spoke to before going, the one place we were told to go was Duke’s Waikiki. I actually wish we went here more than once too. We went for breakfast on our very first morning and it was a perfect way to start off. It was beachfront, we were able to walk the beach all the way down from our hotel, get a lay of the land,  and we enjoyed a great breakfast buffet, so we were able to try a lot of Hawaiian food that we otherwise might not have spent money on. Dan raved the Banana pancakes! We also had mimosa’s with breakfast that were among the cheapest drinks we’d find all week. I wish we would have went back for dinner another night, the atmosphere was that great!

On my birthday, we went BIG! We started off taking a short walk inland to The Cream Pot. We were recommended to this place by friends that went a few years ago and if they hadn’t told us about it, we never would have found it. The restaurant is super small and absolutely adorable. The decor is so sweet and simple, almost like a charming little dollhouse. Its off the tourist path a little which I think is what makes this place so special. I had the strawberry souffle pancakes and Dan had Eggs Benedict, both were out of this world, and the price wasn’t too bad. cream-pot

For Dinner that evening, Dan had made surprise reservations for my 30th birthday to Nobu Waikiki.  After he told me where we were going I looked it up and come to learn this is where all the celebs go when in Honolulu, one of Obama’s favorite places (Yes!) I was so impressed with him for taking it upon himself to surprise me for my birthday with something so special. This meal could have been much more reasonable, but we were splurging and went with the Waikiki Chef’s Tasting. I couldn’t tell you one thing we ate, but it was all amazing! Basically for a lot of money you let the chef decide what you are going to eat and he pulls out all the stops for about 7 courses. You have to be a little adventurous because it’s all sushi, seafood, weird veggies and sauces, hot and cold dishes etc. I surprised myself by agreeing to do this, but fortunately, being that it was THE most expensive meal we have ever had, it was also the most delicious and amazing food we’ve ever eaten. If you are up for an expensive adventure, this one is fantastic!

The day we rented a car and drove to the North Shore, we made two stops for food. Both were things that were on everyone’s “Must Do” North Shore Hawaii list. We hit up Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck and Matsumoto Shave Ice.

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Both were delicious and well worth all the hype I’ve read online! One place I very easily would have overlooked on Trip Advisor was The Goofy Cafe & Dine. We were so glad we went, that we ended up eating here twice. It was a hole in the wall type place around the corner from our hotel. Just a short walk through the city. You have to go up to the second floor of what looks like a tiny (and kinda dumpy) outdoor shopping center. Once inside it’s a quaint, very beach-house type restaurant, rustic, exposed beams and an amazing super fresh and healthy food menu. Lots of salads, granola, acai bowls etc. I ordered the same thing both times we went because it was that good. We went for brunch one morning and I got a fresh salad with avocado, tomato, bean sprouts and fresh carrot ginger dressing. The second time we went for lunch right before we had to catch our shuttle to the airport and I got the same thing again.

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Lastly,  the one thing that is everywhere in Hawaii is the Acai Bowls. I hadn’t tried one and I had seen them on virtually every menu. So on our very last day, we went to Island Vintage Coffee in the Ala Moana Shopping Center. And I ordered one. It was so delicious I wished I had started every single day with one! I also came home trying to find someplace in Buffalo that makes them and no one makes them like they do in Hawaii!

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If we go again:

There are a lot of things I would do differently next time. I think because it was just the two of us, we were more comfortable with the idea of eating out. If Ada had been with us there is no way we could have gone out that much, I think we would have pushed our luck with good behavior in public. While it was really awesome to try a lot of local food and eat at some famous places, I think it would be worth it to spend a little more and make sure to get a hotel room with a fridge/microwave or small kitchenette. I think it would have saved us a ton to have found a little grocery store and made some meals in our room. Even simple things like oatmeal for breakfast or sandwiches for lunch could have saved us hundreds of dollars. Sampling local cuisine, in my opinion, is half the fun of traveling, so I would never rule it out entirely. Even when we stay at all-inclusive resorts we still like to get out a couple times and try some of the best local restaurants. Just be sure to do some research on the absolute best places to eat before you go, so when you do eat out you can hit up some of the best of the best!

And this is how we could afford to drink all week!! It actually did save us a lot of money!

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5 Happy Years

Today my amazing husband and I celebrate 5 years of wedded bliss! I can’t believe its already been 5 years since we’ve said “I do” but more then that I can’t believe that this winter we will have been together for 10 years! Its crazy how fast the years go by. I thought it would be fun to do a quick post highlighting some of my most favorite memories in the last 5 years with the best person to ever have walked into my world!!

Of course I’ll start with my favorite picture from our wedding day. I love this one because it shows the pure joy and excitement we felt that day but more then that it has some of the most important people who stood by our side showing the same kind of excitement for us! And to this day almost all those people (20 in our bridal party) are all still a huge part of our life and all our favorite memories!

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Our honeymoon is still one of my most favorite trips I have ever been on. We spent 10 amazing days in Curacao, N.A which is the place where we actually got engaged (secretly & unexpectedly). So the island itself will always hold a special place in our hearts. But we had SO much fun on this trip with just the two of us! We made tons of friends, ate some awesome food and just spent some of the best quality time of our life together here. It was relaxing, fun, adventurous and seriously the best trip of my life!

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In 2012 we ran our first half and full marathons together. Something neither of us ever thought we’d do. I ran the half and have never been so proud of myself for finishing something as strong as I did. Since then I have wanted to do more, but haven’t found the time and that kinda annoys me. But Dan ran his first full marathon after not fully training for it, and I was so proud of him for finishing as well. It was a huge accomplishment for us both and something we’ll never forget!

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In 2012 we also went skydiving, which will forever be a highlight. It was the most amazing thing I think I’ve ever done and to this day still can’t believe I went through with it, I would also do it a hundred times over again. Such a rush! Next time I want to do it in some exotic place though where the scenery takes my breath away as much as the free fall does!

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In 2013, we took a trip to the Dominican Republic where we made a very special announcement! We had no idea when we booked this trip that it would be our very last trip as a family of 2. We announced that baby Mags would be arriving in the fall and we were so excited to have taken that little baby-moon together and with a few friends. It was relaxing and just what the doctor ordered!

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In September of 2013 we welcomed our amazing little girl Ada Morgan into the world and into our hearts forever! She has since turned our life upside down and I simply cannot imagine our life without her! She has brought more love and joy into our life then I ever thought possible. She is simply the most amazing little person and I love more than anything watching her learn and teaching her about life, she is becoming my best little friend right before my eyes. She has made some of our lowest lows easier and always can put a smile on my face.

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This amazing man has been by my date to exactly 26 weddings since our own (yes I counted). And dozens and dozens before ours! He is the best party date I could ask for and I know he’d say the same about me only because he knows he always has a DD to take him home!

We travelled to Hawaii to celebrate 5 years together. It was a hard decision to go so far away and leave Ada behind for so long. But it was a trip that needed to happen. Its been on my bucket list forever (as its probably on everyone’s) but as someone who loves to travel more than anything it made me sad that I had never done Hawaii or Europe, I knew I had to scratch one of them off the list and we decided it was a perfect occasion to take a romantic Hawaiian second honeymoon. It was an amazing trip. Way more expensive than we thought it would be, but we had a great time, and ate like kings all week. You can read more about that trip here.

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I am so proud of him for being such a hard worker and fulfilling a dream of his to launch and own his own company. Last year a project he had been working tirelessly on for more than a year took flight when they entered a business competition called 43 North in an effort to win $1 million for his start-up tech company and they did it!! Proud wife and brag moment! (sorry this pic is a little blurry).

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More than anything though, after 5 years of marriage I am most proud that we still love each other as much, if not more than the day we said our vows and I am in love with our growing family and the life we have created. We both work very hard to keep life simple and moving forward and I love the teamwork we have had to learn together while raising a little one. I hope for many, many more wonderful years together, and there isn’t another person on the planet I would want to experience all the highs and lows with more than him!

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Oahu, Hawaii

One week in Oahu, HawaiiIt’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I have some fun news that I’ll share soon so check back for a big announcement! In the meantime I thought I’d share how our big Hawaii trip was!

It was a very looong trip (distance wise) New York is very far from Hawaii and if there is any reason why we wouldn’t go back, that would be it! It was also a looong time to be away from Ada, I decided I won’t do that again either! Aside from that we enjoyed our self very much, and it was great to just be a couple again, not be mom and dad or working all week. I think that was the point of this trip more then anything, we wanted to just have some time to our self, to reconnect, to be adventurous and to sleep! And mission accomplished!

I will say that I didn’t care for Honolulu quite as much as I thought. Waikiki is very touristy and its a big City, and to be honest, that’s exactly what it felt like, any old City USA.  The food was phenomenal though we did not have a bad meal, I’ll do a recap in another post of all our favorite places that we ate on Oahu.

I celebrated my 30th birthday while we were there. We kinda had a  big splurge day that day and did A LOT of expensive things. My hubby spoils me I guess. We started my birthday with a couples massage at our hotel. We stayed at The Hilton Hawaiian Village which was fabulous, and the Mandara Spa actually had really high ratings so we booked that. After our massages we took a snorkel catamaran tour, that again, was right at our hotel, and got to snorkel with the sea turtles. The catamaran was a little shorter then we like, I usually like to spend the whole afternoon out in the open water, but it was still fun and included two free cocktails.

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Catamaran

We walked to dinner at Nobu-Waikiki and this is where we over-did it a bit. The restaurant came highly rated from some foodie friends that have dined there. Its also known for hosting a lot of celebs when they are in town. Instead of just ordering dinner, we decide to do the Waikiki chef’s tasting, which was a 7 course, (absolutely amazing) display of the chef’s favs. Would highly recommend this, but it came with a hefty price tag!

We took a day to drive  up to the North Shore, which was a lot of fun. We rented a car for only 2 days of our 8 day trip. Most of what we did was walkable from the hotel, but on the days we had the car we were able to really get out and explore which I’m glad we did. We visited Pupukea Park to check out the Banzai Pipeline, there isn’t much to do but watch the surfers since there is no way we were getting in that water. Then we road tripped back up the coast and hit up Waimea Bay, and the little surf town of Haleiwa. We of course tried the garlic shrimp plate at  Giovanni’s Aloha Shrimp and then tried the shave ice at Motsomoto, gotta get it with the ice cream for the best thing you’ll ever have. It was huge though and we probably could have shared one!

Shave Ice

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Day two with our rental car we headed to the small town of Lanikai and hiked the Lanikai Pillboxes. Everything we read said the trail was hard to find, and although it was weird that it was situated in the middle of a neighborhood, we didn’t really have any trouble finding it. The hike was a bit rugged, not difficult for anyone in good health, but there were some steep climbs and boulders to scale. It was a short hike and the view of the “moks” was amazing. You could also see Lanikai Beach from the trail, which was our second stop.  After getting our sweat on, we headed to the beach to relax. My husband has a hard time sitting still and relaxing when he knows we have more stops to make, so we didn’t stay long before we headed back out. We grabbed lunch at this small, hole in the wall place that had excellent Yelp reviews.  We both got a lunch plate. It really was amazing, and probably one of the cheaper meals we had while in Hawaii.

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The second part of the day was supposed to be an afternoon at Hanauma Bay, which out of everything I read before this trip was the ONE THING you HAVE TO do! But of course, we got there and it was closed!! We were able to still go into the park because its a state Nature preserve, but the beach access was closed off due to electricity problems on the beach. The day before it was closed because of jellyfish! What are the chances?!

Instead we did something that we weren’t sure we were going to have time to do.  We did the Byodo-In Temple which was beautiful and so peaceful. It was such a change in pace from Waikiki Beach, where its bustling with people. It was quiet, full of koi fish and black swans. We entered the temple where you have to take your shoes off and then rang the gong before we left. The temple sits in the middle of a giant cemetery with a gorgeous volcanic mountain backdrop. It was a photographers dream!

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On our last morning we decided that we wanted to hike Diamond Head before we left, but of course we didn’t have the car anymore. We found out that Diamond head was only about 3 miles from our hotel, so we put on our running shoes and ran! We ran the 3 miles to the crater, hiked about 1.5 miles up to the top at sunrise and then ran back. It was about 8 miles total and worth every second. The Diamond Head hike wasn’t exactly what I thought it was though.  It was like herding tourists up a mountain, there were so many people and tour groups, and the trail was a path with hand rails, hardly a rugged trail hike, there were also a TON of stairs at the very top, which burned a little after a 3 mile run! But in general totally worth the view at sunrise!

Diamond head

The rest of the trip we did a lot of beach time, we took a surf lesson. We sat at the pool and I feel like the trip revolved around where to eat next!   I wish we did more then one island, although we didn’t really have a lot of time to island hop. I think next time I would do a bit more authentic Hawaii in Kauai, Maui or the Big Island. Honolulu was such a big city it felt like we could have been anywhere. We also like the all-inclusive resorts a bit more because we can plan a little better how much we’re going to spend. We also tend to be big drinkers and the all-inclusive is the way to go for that! We can get beaches, palm trees and warm sunny weather without taking a 17 hour plane ride.

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We loved Hawaii, don’t get me wrong. We had a great time and I definitely want to go back again, but we’d do things a bit differently!

A road trip to PA

We just got back from visiting Dan’s dad in Pennsylvania, not far from Philly. We decided to leave Friday evening after work, it’s about a 6 hour drive from us, so I of course was worried about Ada in the car for that long. We left just after 7 pm, and she played and sat quietly for the first hour, we stopped to grab some dinner for Dan and I around 8 and I put Ada in her jammies and once we got back in the car I gave her milk and put Mickey on, trying to stick with the bedtime routine as much as I could in the car. She passed out right away and we were happy sailing all the way there. It was great! She woke up shortly before we got there around 1am. I was hoping to quietly carry her in and put her down, but all the excitement of our arrival woke her right up and she was wide awake. Going back to bed in an unfamiliar place didn’t go well and I think we were up until close to 4am. The rest of the nights got better as she got more comfortable being there. The first night is always the worst!

We had a lot of family time. We haven’t been down to visit them in a few years so it was overdue and we made our rounds to visit everyone.  It was so hot outside so we had to modify some of our activities. On Sunday we took Ada to the Crayola Factory Museum that was about an hour from where they live. She had a blast and the museum was really great for kids of all ages. She tends to be a bit young for most things at places like that, but they really did have something for every age!

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She also loved racing the boats and making her own crayons! She also really liked the climbing area, although it was for kids a little bit older, she was getting pretty brave, but eventually got scared of all the big kids and gave up.  Here she is with Daddy and Grandpa!

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She gets pretty spoiled by Grandpa and she got this jumbo coloring book (above), which she absolutely loved since coloring is pretty much her favorite thing to do. So she spent the rest of the evening laying on the floor making pictures for everyone!

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The Crayola Factory Museum was definitely a highlight, we all had a really great time, and there was lots to do around the area as well that you could walk to. We’ll definitely make it a point to go back again when she gets older!

Girlfriend Getaway – Our Bahama Cruise

So many of my closest friends are not yet doing the kid thing so I try really hard to make sure I take time to still be in my twenties (for another year) with them. Two of my best friends Jill and Katie who are a bit travel obsessed take a trip every December so I decided to tag along this year. We booked a cruise a couple months ago and we flew out to Miami for a long weekend. We left Friday morning, jumped ship (literally) by around 2:30 in the afternoon and by Saturday morning we were in the Bahamas. It was just a three day cruise, but I seriously felt like we were gone much longer. Not sure if It was because I missed my baby so much or just being in the Caribbean makes time slow down!

Our first stop was Atlantis, which was a bit of a cluster trying to figure out what we wanted to do on the island, but we eventually made it to the resort. I’m not usually a fan of water parks, or even pools for that matter. I prefer to sit near the pool. But since everyone else was doing the water park I didn’t want to sit out by myself all day. I am so happy that I did it, we had such a blast and it was just so much fun to play in the water like a kid! We even did the iconic Leap of Faith slide that Atlantis is known for!

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The other island we hit was a private Island that Norwegian Cruise Lines owns and we had an awesome day just relaxing and getting some sun before going back to cold winter in Buffalo.

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It was so nice to get away with my girlfriends for a weekend and as much as I missed my hubby and baby girl, I think its really important to take time for yourself and recharge your batteries. Making sure I still feel like me helps me to be a better mom and spending time with my girlfriends is so important. Now I just need to convince Dan that we need to take a trip with just us since kids tend to suck the life out of you as a couple too!

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Our Family Trip to the Adirondacks

Just got home from our annual trip to the Adirondacks, It was my 7th year going with Dan’s family and I learn to enjoy it a bit more every year. This year was Ada’s first year, last year I was mega-pregnant! We all had a really great time, she was the perfect age to travel with this year, still young enough that we could relax, but not mobile enough that I had to follow her around. She was happy to just sit on my lap, nap in her stroller and had no problems sleeping, which is always my biggest fear when travelling. She also did great on the 4 hour car ride both there and back!

We took her on a hike, and she loved riding in the backpack with daddy.

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We tried to take her on a boat ride, but that lasted a hot second with the life vest. She did okay at first and then wanted nothing to do with it, so we had to leave her behind with Grandma while mommy and daddy went out.

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She of course loved the swings at the little playground we have right at our cabins, and was more then happy to hang out there all day if we let her!

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She was not too sure about the sand at all. In fact she ended up hating it, I don’t think she liked the feeling of the ground moving under her little feet.  I’m sure by next year she’ll be over that though!

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And of course with such a gorgeous background, I couldn’t resist doing a little photoshoot with my two loves.

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14 Weeks

We spent week 13 in the Dominican Republic on vacation, so I took my 14 week photos at the tail end of the week! I feel like the baby bump started to show up a little bit this week, I still think I just look chubby but everyone else says I look pregnant. Vacation was amazing, even being at an all-inclusive resort not being able to drink was made tolerable by 86 degree days, sunshine and the bright Caribbean! So I can’t complain. We also finally took some photos to make our big reveal on Facebook, I’ve been trying to put this off for as long as possible, but I think my mother will go crazy if I don’t give her permission to announce that she is going to be a grandma soon. So after my 14 week update I will share some of those photos that are going up this week too.

How far along? 14 weeks today
Total weight gain/loss:  I weighed in today 2 lbs heavier, I think vacation and the all you can eat buffet is to blame on this one though!
Maternity clothes?  Just my leggings which are really the only comfortable thing I can wear to work
Stretch marks?  Nope
Sleep: I don’t have a good update on this since our bed on vacation was the worlds most uncomfortable mattress and pillows and caused me to wake up every hour all week
Best moment this week: Being on vacation! Probably our last one child less!
Have you told family and friends:  Yes, everyone close to us knows, Facebook Official is coming soon
Miss Anything?  Wine (of course) Not drinking on vacation wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I do miss cheese… brie, feta, bleu, it was on a lot of food in the restaurants this week and I had to just pick other things.
Movement:  I feel pregnant. I don’t feel the baby yet, but I sometimes can feel hard spots in my tummy or feel like I can feel things shifting around. Weird.
Food cravings:  I really wanted yogurt, granola and fresh fruit something bad this morning which isn’t anything I ever really liked combined before.
Anything making you queasy or sick: No
Have you started to show yet: Depends on the time of day and what I ate on how big, but yes I think so.
Gender prediction: I am still so torn. I’m gonna stick with boy for now since that was my original guess, but I have no idea
Labor Signs: No
Belly Button in or out?  In
Wedding rings on or off?  On
Happy or Moody most of the time: Happy!

Looking forward to: Going to register for the big baby items next weekend! Finding out the gender May 9! (This will be my answer to this question every week until May 9!)

 

So this was our second idea, that we thought conveyed the message better!