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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

“Why would you want to take your baby to Walt Disney World? She won’t remember it.”

But does that make the trip any less magical? No. It doesn’t.

I’ve met many parents who think they should wait until their kids are older to make a trip to Walt Disney World. But I’m here to tell you, the magic is very much real even when they’re babies.

You might be trying to figure out the best age to visit Walt Disney World but the truth is, it can be any age. There are plenty of reasons you should go for that trip with your baby, including the fact that they’re free until they’re 3-years-old.

We’ve taken our kiddos to see Mickey several times, and last month we brought Lee Lee, our 7-month-old, to Walt Disney World for inaugural visit as a part of Disney Creator Days!

10 tips for bringing your baby to Walt Disney World

Bringing a baby to Walt Disney World can be fairly easy if you know what to look for and how to prepare. Here are 10 tips for having a magical Disney vacation with your infant, without all the stress.

1. Hit up the Baby Care Centers

Disney World Secrets for Preschoolers: Baby Care Centers

Forget diapers? No sweat. You can get everything you need in the Baby Care Centers located in each park. There are high chairs for feeding, and microwaves for warming. It’s a comfy quiet place to sit and nurse your baby, give a diaper change, or just chill out for a minute. There are even TVs you can relax and enjoy until you’re ready to hit the parks again.

2. Enjoy some low-key nursing attractions

If the Baby Care Center is on the other side of the park and you’re cool with feeding on the go, there are so many slow and dark attractions that double as great nursing spots. I love the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom, Spaceship Earth at Epcot, Finding Nemo the Musical at Animal Kingdom, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to name a few.

3. Discover your baby’s favorite ride

Worried your baby is to young to join in on the fun? Think again. Most rides are for all heights and ages. My some of my favorites are Dumbo, Toy Story Mania, Peter Pan’s Flight, and the Kilimanjaro Safari. My daughter seemed to love Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel the most.

There are so many to choose from that it would be easier to list the rides your baby can’t ride. There are only a handful.

4. Use Rider Switch

For those aforementioned rides that do have a height restriction, use Disney’s Rider Switch pass so you can take turns riding without the baby, and skip the line the second time around.

5. Go watch a Disney Junior Show

If your baby is teetering on the toddler age and a fan of Disney Junior, you’ll definitely want to check out the Disney Junior live show in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. All of their favorite characters hit the stage for a fun, musical and interactive performance.

6. Bring a cooler for snacks

Outside food is allowed inside Disney Parks so you can stash away some of your little one’s favorite snacks. Bring along a cooler to keep things cold. But don’t sweat it if you forget something. Remember the Baby Care Centers, or even the quick serve restaurants. My daughter enjoyed chowing down on all of the Iconic Disney foods but there’s also fresh fruit and other healthy options available.

7. Rent a stroller

Whether your baby isn’t walking yet, or has been walking for five years, a stroller is a pretty good idea. But instead of lugging your own all the way from home, you can rent one from the Walt Disney World approved stroller companies. Our favorite has been Orlando Stroller Rental through the years. They bring your stroller to your resort hotel and leave it with bell service for you, then pick it up on the day you leave.

This was the first time my big kids didn’t have their own double stroller to share and they definitely got tired. I actually wore my baby in the carrier for most of this trip but the stroller still came in handy to hold some of our other things, or give our big kids a place to sit now and then.

Disney World Secrets for Preschoolers: Monorail

There’s a lot of stroller parking around Disney Parks where you can place your stroller while you visit the attractions in different areas.

8. Take Some Time Outs

If you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort  Hotel then hopping on a bus and heading back for a quick nap is a piece of cake. You can break up your day this way doing mornings at the park, take a break after lunch then heading back around dinner time for the nighttime shows. I personally like to stick it out and look for places within the parks to take a break.

Tips for visiting Walt Disney World with an Infant, a happy baby riding a Walt Disney World ride.

My favorite place right now is the Walt Disney Railroad Main Street Train Station. Because of construction on the TRON ride, the train isn’t running, but the station is still open for people to visit, and you can even sit on the train or ask the conductor if you can ring the bell. When it’s running I like to sit and ride the train around the park a few times as a break but chilling out in the station for a short break is also very nice.

9. Request a complimentary travel crib

Don’t worry about lugging your pack n’ play along for the trip. Ask your Walt Disney World Resort for a complimentary travel crib or pack n’ play during your stay. They have a limited amount on hand. We opted for the pack n’ play since our baby was sitting up. It worked perfect for her to sleep in after a long day of fun. She slept all night!

10. Use those FastPasses wisely!

This is probably a given but I thought I’d throw in a little extra something with this tip. Plan your FastPasses in advance and take note of which rides have the longest wait times. For example, Peter Pan’s flight usually has a much longer wait than It’s a Small World or The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Book your FastPass+ for those rides with the longer waits and choose stand-by for the others. Dumbo may have a longer wait but your little ones can play in a playground while you wait so you may opt to save a FastPass+ for another ride and wait that one out. And don’t forget, many character experiences have FastPass+ options as well! Bring those autograph books for a great first souvenir.

Tips for visiting Walt Disney World with an Infant, a happy baby riding a Walt Disney World ride.

Your baby may not remember their first trip to Walt Disney World, but you will. And coming from someone who’s gone with a baby, a two year old and up to an almost 9-year-old, I can say the joy in my baby girl’s face was just as special.

Tips for visiting Walt Disney World with an Infant, a happy baby riding a Walt Disney World ride.

As the announcer’s voice boomed off Nominees for Mom Blog of the Year I had about a dozen things running through my mind.

Oh shoot! I forgot to send them a photo. What picture will they use? Will they just have a blank screen? Or a horrible picture from middle school dug up by some relative who hates me?

Oh good! That picture is ok.

Wait, if I win, what in the world am I going to say? Oh, don’t worry about that, look who else it nominated! 

It was the last award of the night. Months before I debated going to Mom 2.0 this year because I’d be 7 ½ months pregnant. But I had the honor of passing on the award for Best Photography. Then I found out I’d been nominated in the Best Sponsored Content and Mom Blog of the Year categories and my mom was all “honey, yea, you’re going, and you need a new dress.” 

I had taken the stage earlier in the event to give the 2018 award for Best Photography to LaShawn Wiltz from Everyday Eyecandy. We actually roomed together and did a presentation on photography two years ago, then roomed together this year. So it was a special moment. I am so proud of her.

IRIS Awards Mom 2 Summit

While getting ready together earlier that evening I asked her if she’d thought about what she’d say if she won. She said she’d been thinking of a few things but didn’t want to plan anything concrete. That’s exactly what I thought I’d do. But what I’ve come to realize from this experience is I’m not a spur of the moment speech-giver. You think I would have realized this last year as I stumbled through thank yous on stage.

Brandi Riley from Courage to Earn won an award for Entrepreneur of the year and literally ran up on the stage and proceeded to bring us all to tears as she said “I deserve this!!” “I work HARD for y’all!” No one could doubt that.

She was open to being vulnerable and saying exactly what she was feeling.

My feelings and emotions take time to process and are a little guarded at first. I blame this in years in TV news and holding back my opinions. I was scared to hear my name, and worried how I’d feel if I didn’t.

Last year’s winner, Ilana Wiles from Mommy Shorts opened the envelope for Mom Blog if the Year and read…

“Cherish 365, Jennifer Borget!”

She said my name! Wow, she said my name. Stand up. Don’t trip. Walk. Walk.

A lady in a gorgeous dress handed me my Iris Award and I walked to the microphone with no idea what was going to come out of my mouth.

I shared how I’ve been blogging for 10 years, since before I had children and just last year I rebranded from Baby Making Machine to Cherish 365 because we were done having babies.

I remember people laughing as my very pregnant self stood in all that irony.

Then I said thank you about 12 times. For the honor and their support.

I didn’t name specific people and going back, I could have mentioned my husband, who unbeknownst to me was back home nursing our extremely sick kid back to health. He’s supported me and my crazy dream of having a blog while I overshared the sometimes too-private information about our lives. If I could do it again and write a speech I would have thanked him first.

I would try to add a more coherent statement about why the honor is so special to me.

First of all, yes, Black Moms DO blog. We shop, we buy stuff, we influence. And we deserve to be recognized and compensated as much as our colleagues. I hope this serves as some kind of nudge to brands to remember us when forming campaigns. Not just me, no look way past me, there are tons of us. And feel free to ask if you need help finding more.

I’ve never really belonged to any one particular group or felt comfortable squeezing myself into any one box. But I a black mom and a blogger, and I’m proud to be both.

Throughout the night people told me I was “shining” or “glowing” I think one person even called me “angelic,” and my friend Cara swears someone called me a “Fairy God Blogger.” I am going to let the baby take some of the credit but I like to think that a lot of that was just a bit of the light I’m trying to shine on this world.

My whole life it’s felt like I’ve had an asterisk next to my name. A black girl in Atlanta, definitely black, but still not “black enough” for some. Assumed to have gotten into my college of choice because of my minority status and not my honor roll status. Mormon, but too liberal. Too woke for the Police Wives Club but not woke enough to Black Lives Matter.

So it’s no surprise I felt comfortable starting a mom blog before I was even a mom. Then, even as a mom blogger with kids I failed to fit into a niche delivering regularly scheduled healthy recipes, humor, or Pinterest-worthy crafts to try. But what I have done is open up about our lives, shared how we navigate the confusing world we live in that asks so many of us to pick a side or else.

I’ve learned it’s ok to not really belong anywhere as long as you know who you are and stay true to that. Even better when you can be respectful even when you don’t agree. And I’ve learned fitting in isn’t the same as belonging.

“Belonging starts with self acceptance. Believing that you are enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic.” – Brene Brown

As I stood on my cankles overflowing from my poor wedges, looking out into the crowd I was overwhelmed with gratitude. To be given an award like this from my fellow peers is a huge honor. Thank you for seeing me, and for recognizing my hard work. Thank you for not forcing me into one box, and for allowing me to me feel like I belong.

Ok so I’m back from my LAST trip before baby (I think I’ve said that three different times now, but for real, this is it). I traveled to Pasadena, CA for the Mom 2.0 Summit. It’s a blog conference for women and moms, and I’ve been going for three years now. Last year I was nominated for and won the Best Photography Iris Award, and if you keep up with my comings and going on Facebook or Instagram you may have seen that I won Mom Blog of the Year (holy crap!). But more on that later this week. I have a whole big spiel to go on just about that and this post got long enough.

Today I’m going to share a bit about what else went down last week. Six things to be exact (aside from the one mentioned above), that made Mom 2.0 2018 absolutely fantastic.

1. I roomed with LaShawn from Everyday Eye Candy. We roomed together at our first Mom 2.0 and did a session together on photography. She’s such a treat. I had all these plans to go to the spa and hang out by the pool but I wound up just crashing on the bed for midday naps, and catching up with her throughout the trip. We chat all the time via text and messenger but it’s always nice to spend time together in person. If you haven’t checked her out yet DO!

2. One of the really cool things about these conferences is getting a chance to connect with friends and brands that you buy, or interact with over email, finally in person. One meeting I totally wasn’t expecting was with my Canon rep. Meredith saw me at the opening party and said hi. It was getting close to my bedtime so it took a second for it to click then I was all “HIIIIII!” I’m so glad she came, and I hope that they bring a whole slew of people to the conference next year because I know moms and bloggers alike would just eat them all up.

3. Dove returned as a title sponsor for Mom 2.0, and having partnered with them in the past, it was great to see the strides they’ve made, and their initiatives continue to flourish. A sobering statistic: 8 out of 10 girls with low body confidence will opt out of important activities. Since 2004 the Dove Self-Esteem project and has helped more than 20 million young people. Graduates from the project are turning around and helping others! It’s pretty awesome. One statistic that stuck out to me is that experts say spending just an hour talking to a girl about beauty, confidence and self-esteem can change the way she sees herself for a lifetime. Just an hour. I want to get in on this. You can read all about it and find more on the videos here: www.Dove.com/HourWithHer. I was able to go to a workshop and learn more about the initiative and how the power of words we not only hear, but see, influence us. And we talked about rewriting our negative stories we remember from growing up into positive ones.

And then the next day I had a delicious breakfast with a group of beautiful multicultural moms hosted by Baby Dove and we talked about the struggles we experience with our kids whether it being trying to raise them to be bilingual, or the worries if we are teaching them “enough” about their backgrounds. It was great food for my belly and soul. I even got some Baby Dove swag with products with Sneaky’s potential name on it (I actually got two with different name options but someone else snagged the first so maybe it’s a sign that it’s not the right name).

4. Debbie Allen was one of the keynote speakers and I know she’s done a bajillion amazing things in her life but I absolutely love her on Grey’s Anatomy. She sprinkled all sorts of great words of wisdom during her chat with Jess Weiner. Debbie spoke about how her mom was such an inspiration to her, always telling her she was beautiful and could be anything she wanted to be. She believed that and look what she’s done! Debbie encouraged us to know what’s unique to us and find our own voice.

5. Ok, now this I couldn’t believe. Thursday night I was waddling down the hall on my way to dinner with Munchkin (yes, the adorable baby/kid brand, more on them and their cool new stuff very soon!). I look up and there’s Brene Brown right in front of me. She’s got some kind of helper dude with her, and another friend of mine is talking to her. This is good because while they are finishing up I’m able to get out all of my gasps and OMGs and face fanning. Then she drew her attention to me and I word vomited all over her. Seriously. When I met Oprah and got a photo I was stunned and at a loss for words and I just managed so say something like “Thank you, love you, picture?” With Brene, since I’d specifically been talking about topics in her books with friends and random strangers I knew exactly what I wanted to say. I told her about my background and my husband working as a police officer and how hard it is to be stuck in the middle of what feels like this great big divide and not wanting to choose sides etc etc etc. I told her how my mother in law introduced me the Power of Vulnerability and how she is huge fan and made me a huge fan. I just kept going and going and quoting her to herself. It was probably a really weird experience for her but she smiled and gave me a big hug. And I got a picture and promptly sent it to my mother in law and one of my BFFs who each texted me back the same thing “She’s my Oprah!”

6. My favorite part of conferences is always connecting with my colleagues that I otherwise only connect with online. I’m such a social person so it can be really hard doing all of my work alone, at my desk with few people to bounce ideas off of, and laugh with and just yaknow, water cooler talk. Earlier this year I decided to bring on more help for my business now that this is a full time thing and I’ll be taking some time off once the baby comes. I have some virtual assistance helping me with social media planning and scheduling, and Cara is my manager. So she has taken a huge weight off my shoulders handling the business side of things while I focus on what I love best: Being creative, writing, photography, and making awesome stuff online. It’s also freed up more time for me to be out of my inbox, and in the moment more with my kids. Definitely one of the most big girl decisions I’ve ever made regarding this blog. It was fun hanging out with her in person (we actually met a year ago at the same conference!) and having her help me schedule part of my days so I could get what I needed to get done done, then go to my room and take a nap.

Then there were awards, and dancing, and great sessions, and meeting people for the first time. I walked away feeling refueled and refreshed about my business and where I hope to take it. And I have a lot of new things to think about when it comes to self-esteem for my little ones, and girls I interact with.

I got so much great news while I was away but one of the best was news that Mom 2.0 Summit will be in freaking AUSTIN, TEXAS next year! I was already wondering how I’d swing it with a newborn but now that it’ll just be down the road it won’t be a problem. I already bought my ticket. Hope to see some of you there next year on my own stomping grounds!

Ok, where do I start?

Wow, this last week was a complete whirlwind. If you were following me on Instagram you got to see my play by play in my stories. But there are so many little details and feelings I didn’t have time to elaborate on.

So for those wondering, here’s how this whole thing works… When Disney releases a new movie whether it’s an animated film, live action, or a Marvel movie, they usually invite and pay for travel favor a group of bloggers (25 to be exact) to come out and cover the event. Coverage includes lots of interviews and reviews about not only the movie but different ABC shows as well (cause ya know, Disney owns them too!). We are asked to write about all of that later (which can add up to anywhere from 5-18 posts), and do some shares during the event as well. I’ll go more into this later in a series of blog posts about blogging (coming soon).

On Sunday we had the opportunity to interview Oprah, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. Next week I’ll tell you all about this, what I asked Oprah, and why I was crying two hours straight that morning before the interview. But right now, I’m going to relive some of the red (actually it was blue) carpet experience with you.

Although I got to interview Oprah the day before, we aren’t aloud to take photos in that room. So no selfies quick snaps on my phone, or anything like that. I had a once in a lifetime experience meeting and conversing with Oprah, but I didn’t really have visual proof. If there was any chance of that I had to hope and pray I’d see her at the premiere and somehow get a photo.

Disney's Wrinkle in Time red carpet blue carpet premiere event

We’d just had a long day of screenings and interviews for a couple different ABC shows. We had about two hours to get ready for the premiere and I had a feeling it would take me most of that time. I packed a whole bunch of new makeup and a flowy whimsical maternity dress I bought from ASOS. I was too nervous to eat and I knew I’d be standing a lot (a dangerous combo for an anemic pregnant lady). But I sucked it up and put out the absolute best vibes I could in hopes to have a remarkable night.

The Blue Carpet

The blue carpet and backdrops were stunning. I partnered up with friends Dani and Kiwi for photos of the night. I seriously never know how to pose or stand. This is my third red carpet event and I feel like I sorta finally got the hang of it. But goodness, I’ll never remember which is my good side, or exactly where to place my arms. #awkward.

Disney's Wrinkle in Time red carpet blue carpet premiere event

We all funneled into the El Capitan Theatre and watched Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time alongside the people who starred in and created the movie. It’s a sweet film, and I know many of you are wondering how it is, a full review is coming next week.

After the movie we took a short walk in the cold rain with kind Disney cast members ushering us over to the after party under umbrellas. This is where the real fun started.

Disney's Wrinkle in Time red carpet blue carpet premiere event

Disney's Wrinkle in Time red carpet blue carpet premiere event

There were two large rooms and lots to do. Lots of food (which I had none of… Still too nervous). Beautiful backdrops, and so much people watching to be had.

A friend of mine said she saw Kobe Bryant at the premiere so when I saw a tall man who looked like a familiar basketball player I asked her if that was him. “No!” She laughed. “That’s Chris Bosh!” My husband would be so proud.

There were so many celebrities but just one I really wanted to see. I overheard whispers that Oprah was in the next room. I walked over expecting to see her in some kind of roped-off area but there was none of that. She was standing at a rectangular table surrounded by dozens of people. I stood by and watched as she met the eyes of person after person and spoke to them. I could reach my arm out and touch her, yet there were at least 15 other people just as close.

Anthony Anderson came over and told me he was trying to get in to say hi to his friend. I was thinking ‘Ok, yea, get in line…’ but really I just asked him if I could snap a picture with him real quick. Then he made eye contact with Oprah’s bodyguard and made his way through the crazy crowd.

I watched as a little girl came up behind Oprah and Ms. Winfrey gave me (and/or the 5 people around me) the “one minute” signal before turning around, grabbing the little girls face and giving her what looked like the world’s most inspiring pep talk. I looked on in awe as this woman who has inspired me my whole life, instilled some of her passion into the next generation.

I met Martin Lawrence while waiting to talk to Oprah and got a photo with him too. It was actually pretty easy picking off the celebrities that way. EVERYONE wants to talk to her. A-listers are no exception. But I noticed how she spent more time with her ordinary fans than those with celebrity status.

Dreams come true. How this selfie with Martin Lawrence came to be during Disney's A Wrinkle in Time Premiere

Getting a picture

Her people must have given her some kind of signal that it was time to go because they started to head out. Did that mean she’d walk away and leave immediately, ignoring anyone who got in her way? HA! Not even close. As she made her way to her exit she continued to stop, listen to people’s stories of how she changed their lives and take photo after photo with a smile.

I can’t imagine she doesn’t have five million hours of experience in this exact sort of thing. Her people must buffer an extra hour each way into all of her trips knowing that she will stop and engage with her fans.

Meanwhile, I saw my window to get a photo closing fast. I decided I’d just follow her along and see if an opportunity presented itself. The crowd thinned a little the closer she got to the exit and she’d stop every few steps for a hug, a handshake, or a photo. It was now or never. When I saw an opening I went for it jumped in with my camera rolling, and asked if I could get a quick video/picture/thanked her so much for everything in the entire world/making my dreams come true/being a part of this sweet movie. I seriously tripped over all of my words. If I was smart I would have planned out exactly what I wanted to tell her. But I’d been too anxious to just be in the right place at the right time and that slipped my mind.

Dreams come true. How this selfie with Oprah came to be during Disney's A Wrinkle in Time Premiere

It’s ok though, I did it! A couple of my friends bombed the background (not seen in this cleverly edited photo though is in this video) but my husband said that makes it look even more authentic. Like me and Oprah chillin and groupies in the background are just tryna jump in.

I was kicking myself for a little while about my fumbling,. But really, she wasn’t going to remember. And I have an inkling I’ll have an opportunity some day to make up for it later.

Why hello there, Mr. Tall dark and handsome

Ok, so photo with Oprah achievement unlocked. Now what?

I went back into the party scene, which was beginning to die down, or at least had dispersed quite a bit. I really wanted to connect with Ava DuVernay because I was so moved by her the day before during our interviews.

As I waited in line to meet her I glanced around, and standing right next to me was a tall dark and handsome man I immediately recognized from Black Panther. I did a double take then shouted. “Oh my gosh, I LOVE YOU!”

He glanced down at my very pregnant belly and smiled and thanked me and congratulated me.

Dreams come true. How this selfie with Winston Duke came to be during Disney's A Wrinkle in Time Premiere

I’m HORRIBLE with names people. Even celebrity names. So I couldn’t remember his right away, but I’d just read an article about him being from Trinidad and Tobago. My husband served a mission there and my grandmother told me some of our genealogy leads back there, so I brought that up and told him how I hope to visit some day. I couldn’t believe he was waiting in line to meet Ava. Standing behind me.

“This is like waiting in line for a ride at Disneyland,” he joked.

“I guess all things Disney have that effect on people!” I said.

While Ava spoke to another one of her fans Anthony Anderson came over and congratulated Winston (THAT’S his name!) on his new success and asked him how he was handling all of the sudden change.

You guys, I was eavesdropping on a celebrity conversation. Not only that, I recorded the whole thing on my camera.

I “let” Winston Duke go by me to meet Ava first, cause I mean, he probably had a busier agenda than myself, and I woulda felt awkward making him wait. Plus he was SO sweet and humble and that’s just downright cool in my book.

The best part of the night

When Winston walked away Ava greeted me not with a hello, or a handshake. But a bright and shining “HELLO THERE!” directed at my belly. She grabbed me and congratulated me on my baby. It threw me off a little, but also is the exact sort of thing you can expected from this remarkable woman.

I thanked her for all of her work on this film and other films. I explained how this one already meant so much to my daughter and to me. And I thanked her for being such a light, and inspiring me to shine and bring more light to the world. Because the world needs more light!

Ava DuVernay looked me dead in the eyes and thanked ME for saying that. She said it was what she needed to hear today.

Dreams come true. How this selfie with Ava Duverney came to be during Disney's A Wrinkle in Time Premiere

How did she do that? Instantly make me feel like a peer. Like she saw me, really saw me. And not as someone smaller than she is, but as an equal.

Ava has said so many inspiring things. She’s created incredible works of art. Some day I may forget some of what she said to me. Or exactly what she did when we met. But I will never, ever forget how she made me feel.

And that was it. My night was complete. I no longer cared that I’d fumbled my words with Mama Oprah. It didn’t matter that my selfie was totally photo bombed. I felt moved to make people feel the way those two women had made me feel the past two days: Heard, understood, and even loved for the glimpse of me they saw and heard.

Hopefully one of these days I’ll edit this whole experience into an epic vlog. Including all of my celebrity eavesdropping. But until then, there’s the highlights for ya.

Other cool moments from the premiere night

Standing next to Storm Reid and congratulating her, then taking a selfie. Same thing with the future teen heartthrob Levi Miller. I said hello to Angela Bassett and complemented her on her beautiful family. But I was too shy to ask her for a photo.

Dreams come true. How this selfie with Storm Reid came to be during Disney's A Wrinkle in Time Premiere

Dreams come true. How this selfie with Levi miller came to be during Disney's A Wrinkle in Time Premiere

 

This was an experience of a lifetime that I’d spent YEARS, planning, praying and preparing for. It all culminated to this week. And it was worth it.

How will I ever top this? I have no idea. But one thing I know for sure is I’m about to start dreaming even BIGGER.

Disney's Wrinkle in Time red carpet blue carpet premiere event


A Wrinkle in Time hits theaters everywhere this Friday March 9th!

Winter is not my jam. In fact, it’s probably my least favorite season. If it weren’t for the holidays, I’d want to be a bear and hibernate until it passed.

My husband and I lived in Utah for the first part of our marriage and I absolutely hated the snow. I couldn’t wait to leave Utah, and move someplace without the cold, fluffy stuff. It would make it easier to drive, easier to get ready for the day, and less work shoveling. We decided Austin, Texas, looked nice, and we’ve rarely seen snow since. Nine years and two kids later, we still don’t miss the snow, but we do remember how fun and magical it was when we were kids. Last winter, we planned a trip to Utah to visit family for Thanksgiving and hopefully let our kids see their first snow. We arrived at the Salt Lake City airport, rented a car from Alamo Rent A Car, and make our way to Grandma’s house.

There wasn’t any snow on the ground when we got there, but before we left the kids not only got to witness their first snow, but they got to play in it. They happily shoveled it, made snow angels and even went tubing down a big snow hill.

If you’re like me and are not a big fan of winter, let me tell you, planning some fun in the snow does help. Head over to the Alamo Scenic Route and check out my new blog post on the perfect family winter travel bucket list!

This blog post is sponsored by Shell, in which I was compensated. But the story, experiences and opinions are all my own.

Growing up we’d often spend Thanksgiving away from home. Either at an out of state relative’s house for a big warm meal surrounded by warm faces or at a nearby family member’s house. I didn’t mind. I loved visiting new places. But when it came to Christmas, we spent it at home.

Maybe my parents knew we would freak out worrying about Santa not able to find us. Or maybe they just knew how much of a hassle it could be to travel with kids and spend Christmas away from home. My husband and I tend to follow the same ideals. We’re totally cool with traveling during Thanksgiving. Christmas? That’s another story.

My husband and I may take a quick trip out of town to celebrate our anniversary (two days before Christmas). But we are sure to be home to bring in the occasion together. Around Christmas however, we’ll take little road trips together to enjoy different activities. From Polar Express rides, snow tubing to playing to ice skating. We love enjoying this season together.

Some of our holiday traditions: We use a 7-foot artificial Christmas tree. Some day I may be able to convince my husband to give a real tree a try. We also take holiday road trips; sometimes to the Polar Express train and always to visit the real Santa.

North Pole Express Train Ride: How to Photograph Polar Express Memories

When planning for a road trip I’m always sure to have a few things handy:

1. Holiday road trip kit: I wanted to kick off the road trip with a cute little holiday gift. A little something something for them to enjoy on the road and help get them in the festive sprit. You can do this with holiday candies, a coloring book, or maybe some festive headphones.

2. Savings at the pump with Fuel Rewards®. The holidays can be pricey enough so it’s nice to save where we can. We stopped at Shell and filled up, and grabbed snacks for the road and got discounts using our Fuel Rewards® card (you can get yours here, it’s free, just takes a minute to sign up, and saves you some green!).

3. Healthy holiday snacks (and just some delicious treats): Snacks are a great diversion from long car rides. I like to keep a variety of snacks on hand and pass them out individually so it lasts longer and each new snack break can bring a new surprise.

4. Highway high time: some fun things to keep the kids entertained. Tablets and/or audiobooks, a list of some old school car games to play, and in my son’s case, his current favorite stuffed animal.

5. Holiday soundtrack: Christmas songs definitely get old by the end of the year but when the season is just starting I can’t get enough. I like making a holiday station on a music app and stream it for the ride.

North Pole Express Train Ride: How to Photograph Polar Express Memories

We may not have a glamorous holiday vacation planned, but that’s ok. We challenged ourselves to do something new together. And though I didn’t win the battle for a real tree this year, I have a feeling we’re one step closer for next time.

And don’t forget, after you sign up for the Fuel Rewards Program, you will instantly earn 25¢/gal (up to 20 gallons) for every friend that signs with your unique referral link and uses the program by earning a reward or using their card at a participating Shell station. There’s no limit to how many friends you invite or how many times you earn!


I love partnering with brands that help us make meaningful memories together as a family. That is why I have teamed up with Shell for this post. Of course all opinions are my own.

*Restrictions apply. To qualify for the Gold/Silver Status offers, you must be a Fuel Rewards® member and swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID when you fuel at a participating Shell station. With Gold Status, you will receive 5¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings on every fill-up. The 5¢/gal reward for Gold Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. If you are an existing Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status from 6/5/2017 through 12/31/17, the “Existing Member Introductory Period”. If you are a new Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status for the initial month you join through the last day of the month, 6 full calendar months later, the “New Member Introductory Period”. The last 3 months of the Existing Member Introductory Period or the New Member Introductory Period (collectively the “Introductory Period”) is the “Qualification Period”. You will retain your Gold Status during the Qualification Period, but you must make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to qualify for Gold Status for the next 3 months, the “Benefit Period”. During the Benefit Period, you must continue to make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to maintain your Gold Status for the next 3-month Benefit Period. A qualifying fuel purchase is any fuel purchase at a participating Shell station in which you swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID and fill up with at least 5-gallons of any grade of fuel. For example, if you are a new Fuel Rewards® member and register on 6/15/2017, you will receive Gold Status through the New Member Introductory Period (i.e., 12/31/2017). You will need to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the Qualification Period (i.e., 10/1/2017 and 12/31/2017) to maintain Gold Status during the Benefit Period (i.e., from 1/1/2018 to 3/31/2018). Thereafter, if you continue to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the successive 3 consecutive month Benefit Periods, you will retain your Gold Status. If you do not maintain your Gold Status, you will receive Silver Status. With Silver Status, you will receive 3¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings. The 3¢/gal reward for Silver Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. Redeem Fuel Rewards® savings with your Fuel Rewards® card or Alt ID at participating Shell stations. Fuel Rewards® savings are limited to 20 gallons of fuel per purchase, per vehicle, or fraud limits placed by Shell and/or limits placed on your financial card by your financial institution, each of which may be lower. Fuel Rewards® savings must be redeemed in a single transaction. Once you begin to dispense fuel using your Fuel Rewards® savings, you must dispense to the 20-gallon limit or you forfeit any remaining discounted gallons of fuel. For example, if you only pump fifteen (15) gallons of fuel, you would abandon the remaining five (5) gallons of discounted fuel. If you have a rewards balance greater than the current per-gallon price of fuel, the price will roll down to the maximum capability of the fuel equipment, and your remaining rewards will be saved for a future fuel purchase. Dispenser may require a price of up to 10.9¢/gal. It may not be possible to combine multiple discounts and/or rewards in a single transaction. For purchases of $75 or more, please go inside to pay. Unbranded diesel and alternative fuels may not be eligible. The Fuel Rewards® program is owned and operated by Excentus Corporation. Offer may be modified or discontinued at any time without notice. Not valid where prohibited by law. Please see fuelrewards.com for complete Fuel Rewards® program details and Terms and Conditions. Other restrictions may apply. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. To learn more, visit fuelrewards.com/gold or call (888) 603-0473.

I was taking an Uber ride to the airport with two women I’d just met. We were talking about international travel when I mentioned visiting Israel a few months ago.

“You went to Israel?” The driver pipped up. He hadn’t said much during the trip. “How did you like it?”

He had an accent but I couldn’t quite peg it.

“I loved it!” I proclaimed. “It was so beautiful, and the people were very friendly.”

“That is my country!” He told us proudly.

We proceeded to chat about Israel for the remainder of the drive. About all of the amazing food, sights and innovations. The differences in culture, and how Saturdays are so quiet in observance of Shabbat. Our driver hasn’t lived in the states for long. “Only a few years,” he told me. He misses Israel and wishes he could go back more often.

It’s been a few months since I flew around to the other side of the world on my first international trip to visit Israel. This random conversation with our Uber driver unexpectedly took me back. As I described all the good things I ate and the amazing things I saw, I was a little surprised I remembered so much.

There are so many things I’ll never forget about that small but mighty country. It was an unbelievable experience that I’m still pinching myself about. Sometimes I’ll re-watch my vlogs, or scroll through my bath of photos just to make sure it really happened. From the plethora of cute (yet rabid) stray cats, to Tal’s incredible art studio, an inspiring children’s museum… It’s hard to narrow down my favorite parts.

I took a ton of pictures while we were there but we also had the honor of meeting Shani Sadicario, an incredible Israeli photographer who was able to do what I don’t do enough… Get me in front of the lens. She took most of the photos in this blog post.

Before my memories begin to fade I wanted to jot down 10 memorable experiences I hope I’ll never forget about Israel and share some of the moments we captured while there.

1. The food

I don’t like to call myself a picky eater, but I can be particular. There are a lot of foods I don’t really like: Onion, corn, ginger-based stuff. So when you’re eating in another country for the first time there’s a good chance you won’t like everything. I liked EVERYTHING! We had so much food. For breakfast, lunch, dinner, and deserts at almost every meal. It’s hard to say what my favorite was. I loved everything with potato and all the delicious breads. I walked away with a handful of recipes that I need to make again so I can bring that delicious taste into my home.

2. The Druze community

One of the most fascinating parts of the trip was traveling to a Druze village and meeting some of the women from the small Arabic-speaking ethnic group. We met Nurah Husaysi and her sisters who taught us how to make easy yet scrumptious food. We had our own little personal cooking class then got to sit down and listen to her share more about their community.–How the women are in charge, and the men are tasked with keeping their women happy. Seeing this little splice of Israel was a further testament of how much of a melting pot it is.

3. The Markets

Street markets are iconic and I’d never really had the experience of going to one until this trip. Everyone tells you to bargain but not really how. And when you’re negotiating in a different currency things can get confusing. But the streets were so colorful. The atmosphere was exciting and the samples were aplenty.

I have a thing for candy bars, and there were beautiful colorful candy buffets all over.

4. The women and Vibe of Israel

Discovering Israel with Vibe Israel

Girl power to the max. From the Druze community to the women running the nonprofit Vibe Israel, and other ladies all over the country running nonprofits, writing for magazines, presenting at art shows, doing the news, playing sports, all while wifing and moming etc. Who runs the world? Girls! Indeed.

5. The families

The average family size is bigger in Israel and it’s evident families are a priority there. We ate a Shabbat dinner with a beautiful family and sang songs, passed plates of delicious food, and shared stories. It’s powerful to think that so many families carry on this tradition every week. I mentioned before that in Mormon culture there’s a traditional weekly event called Family Home Evening. Though it doesn’t have the same religious meaning, it reminded me of how important a weekly family gathering can be.

6. The religious passion

Jerusalem is a holy land for three of the worlds largest religions. In one direction people prayed against the Western Wall, in another there’s the Dome of the Rock–An islamic shrine, and then up on the hill is the Mount of Olives, and in the same area is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher that marks Christ’s crucifixion, death and resurrection. My church even has a Jerusalem Center built there. Everyone wants a piece of the holy land.

7. These kids, and the people who help them

“We mend hearts, regardless of race, religion, gender or nationality.”

I spent a day meeting children with congenital heart defects and talking with some of the people working to help them. Save a Child’s Heart is an international nonprofit based in Israel. They bring children from around the world–Mostly African countries to fix their little hearts. The best part is the also train doctors from all over the world to learn these special skills, so they can return to their homelands and help children children there.

8. The innovators

Israel is nicknamed the startup nation not just because the new country itself was formed and started less than a century ago, but because there are a huge amount of startup businesses kicking off there. We got to meet innovators from a handful of them. One I know you’ll love knowing about is MyHeritage DNA. MyHeritage DNA testing is all the rage right now. I did my first test a year ago and I was excited to try MyHeritage DNA as well since they can show me more details about my background. My husband and I both did the test. We got our results but I haven’t opened them just yet. Yes, the suspense is killing me. We did a vlog taking the test and I am going to record us reading the results, so stay tuned for that review.

9. The ambition

The “can do, take no crap” unapologetic attitude many Israelis put out was inspiring. They don’t spend time complaining about issues they, people look to problem-solve and make things better. If nothing else this is what made me feel at home. I’m extremely optimistic and hate feeling trapped within a problem. There’s some comfort in knowing there’s an entire country of people who feel this way.

10. The familiarity

Before I left for Israel friends encouraged me to be careful, and worried we’d be in danger. My husband was even a little worried when I first decided to go. Aside from everyone speaking Hebrew, it felt a lot like visiting a different part of the states.  I didn’t expect a foreign country to feel so much like home.  After visiting and experiencing it with my own eyes it seems a lot like our country. Stuck with a leader many people don’t agree with, dealing with difficult issues not unlike any other country. A young progressive community trying to create positive change. And families trying to make the best possible future for their kids. I can definitely attest to the fact that you shouldn’t believe everything you see on TV because you’re only getting a tiny part of the picture. Usually the part meant to alarm you.

As I’ve continued to travel for work throughout the year I keep running into people who are Jewish, from Israel, or have been to Israel and I almost always get the same reactions of surprise and delight when I tell someone I’ve been there. Israel was my first stop abroad and it will always have a special place in my heart. I absolutely can’t wait to visit again some day, but next time I’ll bring something that will make my trip 1000% more special… My family.

You can watch all of my travel vlogs from Israel on my Youtube Channel.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Shell, for which I was compensated. All opinions are my own.

My husband and I are like ying and yang. And I don’t just mean the black/white thing. I mean we are so different in many ways. One of the biggest differences is the fact that I love seeking new adventures and traveling and he’s 100% fine staying put.

We have had our moments of compromise though. Before kids we went on a Bahamian cruise and had the time of our lives. I’m trying to talk him into another one just the two of us but so far no luck.

Every year we visit Utah and we go back and forth about flying versus driving there. Thankfully, so far, every time I’ve won that debate. But I still have dreams to whisk the family away to family, or take a trip to visit relatives in Dubai, my husband thinks I’m certifiably nuts.

“Why don’t we drive to the beach?” He’ll say.

But I’m trying to settle down a little bit. Our family has been working on our summer bucket list and this summer we’ve decided we’re going to do more exploring close to home. We do live in the largest state in the continental US after all. There is a lot we haven’t seen. We’ve done Disney vacations (and don’t get me wrong, we’re not done). But I want to make more meaningful memories as a family that don’t break the bank.

Here are some ways I’m planning to save money while having fun this summer:

Researching discount/free days

There are so many fun places to go in our town and in other cities nearby. I plan to do some research for coupons and deal days to see what activities we can do for less and save some cash. My husband often has weekdays off because of his shift work, so we’ll try to take advantage of those off-day prices.

Pack snacks

We are usually pretty good about this but when we’re not, man it adds up fast. For shorter trips I’ll make sure to pack a few snacks to keep the kids from getting too hangry and save from having to stock up at every other convenient store.

Driving!

My husband will be happy, my son who all of a sudden has terrible earaches on planes will be happy, and our wallets will be happy. While I do have a couple of work trips planned this summer, our personal trips will be fueled by well… car fuel. If you need help choosing a new car hopefully these four tips can get you going.

Fuel Rewards savings

I’m teaming up with Shell and the *Fuel Rewards® program through the end of the year. I just signed up for a Fuel Rewards® card and got “Instant Gold Status” which basically means I can save at least $.05/gallon at the pump (up to 20 gallons / visit) and earn points other places when I used the card. It’s not a credit card and doesn’t cost anything to sign up.

Shell fuel rewards

Packing well

Know how many times we’ve gone on trips and forgotten things like beach toys, or sunglasses, pieces of bathing suits and more. Then we have to find a gift shop and pay the premiums for those items. I’m going to make a packing list this time and hopefully avoid that trouble.

South Padre Family vacation and fun exploring the Texas coast. List of some things to do and where to stay.

Hopefully if we do all these things we’ll be able to pack in one or two more trips than we normally do. Of course we’ll be blogging (and probably vlogging) along the way. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m teaming up with Shell and the Fuel Rewards® program through the end of the year. As a part of this partnership we’ll be documenting our road travels. But first we’ve gotta nail down exactly where to go and what to do. So far a few on my list are: South Padre Island, Camping (maybe… unless it’s too hot), New Orleans, Dallas, Houston or San Antonio.

Do you have any suggestions? What are your summer plans?


I love partnering with brands that help us make meaningful memories together as a family. That is why I have teamed up with Shell for this post. Of course all opinions are my own.

*Restrictions apply. To qualify for the Gold/Silver Status offers, you must be a Fuel Rewards® member and swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID when you fuel at a participating Shell station. With Gold Status, you will receive 5¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings on every fill-up. The 5¢/gal reward for Gold Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. If you are an existing Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status from 6/5/2017 through 12/31/17, the “Existing Member Introductory Period”. If you are a new Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status for the initial month you join through the last day of the month, 6 full calendar months later, the “New Member Introductory Period”. The last 3 months of the Existing Member Introductory Period or the New Member Introductory Period (collectively the “Introductory Period”) is the “Qualification Period”. You will retain your Gold Status during the Qualification Period, but you must make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to qualify for Gold Status for the next 3 months, the “Benefit Period”. During the Benefit Period, you must continue to make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to maintain your Gold Status for the next 3-month Benefit Period. A qualifying fuel purchase is any fuel purchase at a participating Shell station in which you swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID and fill up with at least 5-gallons of any grade of fuel. For example, if you are a new Fuel Rewards® member and register on 6/15/2017, you will receive Gold Status through the New Member Introductory Period (i.e., 12/31/2017). You will need to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the Qualification Period (i.e., 10/1/2017 and 12/31/2017) to maintain Gold Status during the Benefit Period (i.e., from 1/1/2018 to 3/31/2018). Thereafter, if you continue to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the successive 3 consecutive month Benefit Periods, you will retain your Gold Status. If you do not maintain your Gold Status, you will receive Silver Status. With Silver Status, you will receive 3¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings. The 3¢/gal reward for Silver Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. Redeem Fuel Rewards® savings with your Fuel Rewards® card or Alt ID at participating Shell stations. Fuel Rewards® savings are limited to 20 gallons of fuel per purchase, per vehicle, or fraud limits placed by Shell and/or limits placed on your financial card by your financial institution, each of which may be lower. Fuel Rewards® savings must be redeemed in a single transaction. Once you begin to dispense fuel using your Fuel Rewards® savings, you must dispense to the 20-gallon limit or you forfeit any remaining discounted gallons of fuel. For example, if you only pump fifteen (15) gallons of fuel, you would abandon the remaining five (5) gallons of discounted fuel. If you have a rewards balance greater than the current per-gallon price of fuel, the price will roll down to the maximum capability of the fuel equipment, and your remaining rewards will be saved for a future fuel purchase. Dispenser may require a price of up to 10.9¢/gal. It may not be possible to combine multiple discounts and/or rewards in a single transaction. For purchases of $75 or more, please go inside to pay. Unbranded diesel and alternative fuels may not be eligible. The Fuel Rewards® program is owned and operated by Excentus Corporation. Offer may be modified or discontinued at any time without notice. Not valid where prohibited by law. Please see fuelrewards.com for complete Fuel Rewards® program details and Terms and Conditions. Other restrictions may apply. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. To learn more, visit fuelrewards.com/gold or call (888) 603-0473.

 

 

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget



I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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