Disney World Recap with our 2 year old (!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Hi friends! Just showing my face here to prove I still exist... I'm not sure what it is about a vacation, but it takes me weeks to get my act together once we're home. Our latest trip was no different, but I blame our crazy schedule while we were there for just totally wiping me out after!

In a span of five days we managed to drive to Florida, spend two days in Disney World for Rowan's 2nd birthday, celebrate with our friends at their rehearsal dinner and wedding, and then drive home. It was 110% exhausting but totally worth it.

Rowan is the most cautious child I know, so we spent some time prepping him for our trip. I was worried he would be scared of the rides so we showed him videos of the more popular ones before we left. That got him so excited that every time we left the house he was upset we didn't end up at "Mickey's House." On the other hand, he ended up loving the rides so maybe it helped?

There were so many new things at Magic Kingdom since the last time we were there pre-baby, like two Dumbo rides instead of one, a Winnie the Pooh ride (a huge hit for our little Christopher Robin!), a Little Mermaid ride, and new restaurants. We were lucky to have fast passes to all of the rides  (Thanks to a friend, you're the BEST!) so we were really spoiled and avoided long wait times. I have some fast pass tips below though!

Rowan was a bit clingy with so many people around but he requested to go on Dumbo twice and cheered after every ride, so it made my mama heart so happy.

The first day at Magic Kingdom was a long one and we somehow managed a stroller nap so that gave my husband and I a chance to check out some of the new food spots and an excuse to sit in the air conditioning. If you go, you have to check out Gaston's Tavern for the ham and cheese pretzel! The LeFou's Brew was also a hit for a hot day.

We also learned that our child likes the idea of characters, but he draws the line when they get within 20 feet of him. He did pretty good at the Winnie the Pooh character dinner (the breakfast was booked up waaay in advance) though, provided Eeyore didn't come anywhere near him and the rest of the crew made it a quick table visit.

The second day after breakfast and exploring the Animal Kingdom Lodge a bit, we headed to Epcot. Probably not the most toddler friendly of the parks but we couldn't miss the rides there for our little Nemo, Dory, and Frozen-loving toddler. The old troll ride in Norway was converted to a really great Frozen ride... I think that was my personal favorite actually!

Once we got back to my in-laws' house, we celebrated Rowan's official birthday with breakfast birthday cake and presents before my husband left for groomsman duties that day. We kept the Disney theme going with a Dory cake with an ungodly amount of colorful frosting... but it was delish and Rowan was crazy about it so that's all that mattered!

Quick tips for conquering Disney World with a toddler:

+ If you're planning a trip, I highly recommend getting the Magic Bands. They are included if you're staying at a Disney resort because they function as your room key. You can link your park tickets, Disney photos, fast passes, and use them while shopping or eating in the parks. It was so convenient!
 + We used to live in Florida so I knew that February (or basically anytime other than holidays and summer) would have lower crowd sizes and better weather. We still had 80+ degree days while we were there though!

 + Use the Disney World app to set up fast passes, see interactive maps of the parks, find showtimes and parades, or make dinner reservations.

 + Fast passes: You can have 3 fast passes scheduled at one time, an hour apart, and then once you use them you can get more. The app makes it super easy to set up more as you go.
+ Unless you want to spend a minimum of $60 for photos by the Disney staff, make sure to ask them to take photos with your phone or camera as well. We thought we could buy one or two separately but no, that is definitely not the case... so we have no photos of the three of us!

+ We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which was so different than any of resorts I stayed at as a kid. Although we didn't have a lot of time to explore there on our short trip, I would definitely go back! The pool and playground were great for toddlers and they even provided a full size crib in the room!

The rest of our trip was so much fun but so freaking busy! Sadly my husband and I did not take a single photo from the rehearsal dinner or wedding! I think we were so excited to have two date nights in a row that we totally forgot we should document it. At the very least I wish I had proof that I do in fact still wear heels from time to time...

I did find THE most perfect dress for the upcoming wedding season though, so stay tuned this week for all of the pretty details!!

Friday Favorites

Friday, February 3, 2017

Three posts in one week?! You guys this never happens, I might need to pop open some bubbly tonight.

This week has felt like it's been crawling, mostly because we've got fun plans for next week including Rowan's 2nd birthday celebration! My baby is going to be TWO! I still can't wrap my head around it. Anyway lots of good things to share this week so I'll get right to it...

Mickey Outfit via Gigi Babies
+ In lieu of a birthday party this year, we're taking Rowan to Disney World! We're just doing a quick 2-day trip to Magic Kingdom and Epcot, so if any of you mamas have been to Disney with a toddler please share any tips you've got!

+ Did anyone catch this week's episode of Fixer Upper? Major house goals! Except we can probably leave out the chicken coup decor in the playroom. Totally working to get my husband on board with selling and buying an all brick fixer upper this year though, I think he's almost convinced!

+ Mamas, you must read this Space Between Baby and Boy article, even if you're a girl mom! It really hit the nail on the head for me because without us even knowing it Rowan has transitioned from a little baby to a big, independent kid. It's been a tough transition on me honestly. Which also leads me to this article that I loved!

+ Okay enough sappy stuff, I've been on a vegetable kick lately and this crispy brussels sprouts recipe is so dang good. The breading probably isn't the best for my diet but whatever!

+ Don't miss this post if you're stumped on a Valentine's Day gift or need low-key at home date night ideas! (Heart day is on a Tuesday, who really has the energy for a date on a school/work night?!) Enter to win a $100 credit for JORD wood watches and you'll get a $25 credit just for entering! Seriously such a unique gift!!

Anyone have fun plans for the weekend?! It's been so gorgeous here, I think a park play date might be in order before the Super Bowl! 

Favorite Camera Gear for Beginners

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Happy February, friends! Today I wanted to share some of my answers to the most asked question I get... what kind of camera gear I use! I'm always so appreciative of the sweet comments and emails I get about my photos, so I thought it's was about time to get a post together.

Also I'm not getting paid by anyone for this post (I wish... come on Canon! haha) although there are affiliate links. I'm honestly just a Canon user and wanted to share my beginner experience to where I am now in my photography!

Up until the past few weeks I've used a Canon T3i DSLR camera but since purchasing it a few years ago I've been slowly adding to my photography arsenal.

1. Canon Rebel DSLR Camera: The Canon Rebel series (newest T6i version here) is a really great starter DSLR in my opinion. I started out using the automatic settings and then as I learned how different ISO, aperture, and shutter speed settings work, I ventured into different camera modes. Canon cameras have an AV mode which automatically adjusts all of your settings while letting you control the aperture... which is basically the blurry background you see in photographer's images. I still rock AV mode every once and a while, and using it made learning manual mode a little easier. The plus side to the Rebel series is you don't ever have to learn manual mode if you don't want to, and your images will still be beautiful!

2. Lenses: My go-to lens is the Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. On a Canon Rebel camera which crops your photos a bit, the 50mm makes you feel like you're practically standing on top of your subject. It's also a fixed lens so you can't zoom so it definitely takes some getting used to. BUT its such a better lens than the kit lens that comes with your camera and its super affordable! I'd say 95% of the images you see on my blog are taken with that lens.

The only time I use the kit lens (18-55mm) is when I need a wider angle or to zoom from far away. When we went to Europe I only used the kit lens and my images were a million times better than an iPhone photos (even though I didn't edit them much) so don't stress if you don't think you're ready for another lens. You don't necessarily need another unless you just want to take some nicer quality photos of your kid!

3. Remote: I have the Canon Remote and it has been so handy when I'm trying to get into the image. It's a low cost investment and is really easy to use.

4. Memory Cards: My T3i camera does not have a built-in wi-fi, so the Toshiba FlashAir memory card has been a MUST for me. I think the newer Rebel version is enabled for wi-fi though! If you need a wi-fi memory card, all you have to do is keep your camera turned on and your phone will find the memory card wi-fi. Then download the app and save your images directly to your camera roll.If you don't need wi-fi, I like the SanDisk Extreme memory card.

5. Tripod: I don't use my tripod too often but just like the remote, it has come in handy a few times when we want to take family photos. I have the Ravelli light weight tripod which folds up into a small case so its really easy to travel with and set up.

6. Editing: I use Adobe Lightroom for editing and absolutely love it even though I probably only know how to use about half of its features. It's not totally necessary for beginners, but it does help. My editing style is light and bright, so even though I tend to overexpose my images in my camera, I use Lightroom to fix some of the coloring, crop, convert to black and white, etc.

If I'm uploading an image from my camera straight to my phone, Snapseed is my first choice for an editing app, followed by VSCO. I never use any filters on my images.

7. Photography Breakout Courses: When you're ready to step your photography up a notch or just need some inspiration, tips on editing, etc. I highly recommend taking a Clickin Moms Photoschool breakout taught by a professional photographer. They are 100% online and usually run between $35-60 per course. Most breakouts include a huge PDF with tons of information, videos, and a forum where you can submit your own images for review or learn from others taking the course. I recently took the Behind the Scenes Volume 2 breakout and it was SO worth the money! Seriously it was amazing, I learned so much about editing that I could have never learned on my own!

My sweet husband got me the Canon 6D camera for the 30th birthday and its been a bit of a learning curve for me, especially because my old lens needed calibrated with the nicer camera, but I'm getting there!

But I'm still so happy I had the Rebel T3i as a starter camera so I obviously highly recommend, especially if you're expecting a baby, traveling, or if you're a blogger! If anyone has other questions please don't hesitate to ask!