Monday, April 24, 2017

Working with a Disney Travel Agent

When beginning to plan our trip to see Mickey, one of my friends recommended working with Andrea, a "Mouse Counselor" to get the details worked out for our trip. I was initially really hesitant, despite the FREE price tag. I love planning all of our travel. For me, the planning is half of the fun. I can't tell you how much time I've poured into our trips over the years. A few summers ago when we decided last minute to go to Italy, I genuinely researched for 8 hour days for several days. Honestly, being a travel agent is a job that I would love.. so why would I hire one? Let me answer quickly that the reason is that Andrea was like our fairy godmother! She knows the ins and outs of the stuff that isn't fun to research. One great example is that the package we booked went on sale a few months after booking. Andrea took care of the price adjustment and saved us some serious $$.. something I would never in a million years have caught, let alone known how to handle. In this season of life, some things need outsourcing, and this was a perfect one to get help with. I've still been able to have a ton of fun prepping... talking restaurants and rides with close friends who go often (shoutout Davidson/Forney family!!), sourcing outfits for Beau online, etc. I haven't been this excited for a trip in a REALLY long time. I honestly have tears of joyful anticipation in my eyes as I type this. 

I'll have many more reflections once we're back from Florida, but I thought it might be fun to have Andrea answer a few questions about Disney World for y'all... I'd love nothing more than for her to be able to help some of y'all visit the mouse!! She's so incredibly fast at responding and made me feel like no question was too small!

Andrea and her sweet family at Disney World!
Of all the times you’ve been to Disney, what has been your favorite trip and why? 
Oh my, that's a hard question! This is going to sound cheesy, but I think all of my trips have been my favorite for one reason or another! Each visit I find something new that I never experienced before. Disney World in particular is a place where my family really connects which makes each visit fun and unique.

What made you fall in love with the magic of Disney? 
I grew up watching Disney shows and movies, it was a big part of my childhood. A family friend took my Mom and I to the parks when I was 8, it was so exciting, but I ended up being sick the majority of the time, which was a bummer. It was a dream of mine to visit again one day so my husband and I decided to visit Walt Disney World on our honeymoon. That trip really sparked a new affection for all things Disney so we went back for our 1st anniversary and of course several times after that :) 

What’s your #1 piece of advice for a Disney trip? 
Plan ahead as much as you can and then just relax and enjoy. There is so much to see and do, you won't get to do it all, but pick some things that are important to you and make dining reservations and fast passes for those things. Don't be stressed about getting to everything else! A lot of the fun is found in the details, you never know what you might find so take in your surroundings and see what Disney brings out in your family. 

What are your favorite attractions at Disney World? 
There are so many!! It's a Small World, Peter Pan's Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, Toy Story Mania, Soarin', Frozen Ever After, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safari, The Lion King Show, Beauty and the Beat Live and all of the nighttime entertainment!

What is your favorite park at Disney World? 
Magic Kingdom! I love the nostalgia. I could stay there for days! 

What are your favorite foods at Disney World? 
Also, so many! There are so many great restaurants, our list of must have meals keeps getting longer. My favorite restaurant in the world is at Disney World...it's called Yachtsman's Steakhouse and it's at the Yacht Club Resort.  Epcot has the best food and we're still trying all the restaurants in world showcase. My husband always has to get popcorn, coconut candy and mickey bars. I always have to get cream cheese danishes. We all love Dole Whip Floats.

What is your favorite age for a child to visit Disney World?
I get this question a lot and my answer is always any age! The first time my daughter went she was 10 months old and it was as fun then as it is now that she's 6. Each year she's into different things so it never gets old. She has grown up at Walt Disney World, she learned how to clap there, she's learned new words, she's learned about other cultures, she's gotten to experience so many new things and we find new wonders together each time we visit. Our whole family loves it and that's one thing that makes it so special.

How can people get in touch with you? 
I love Disney so much I decided to become a travel agent that specializes in Disney vacations! I can help you with planning for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney and other Disney resorts like Aulani in Hawaii, and Disney's Hilton Head and Vero Beach Resorts. I would love to help anybody plan their own magical vacation! You can email me at andrea@mousecounselors.com anytime for more information. 

Be honest... y'all want to go to Disney World now, right? :) I'll be posting about 10 photos a day over on instagram, so keep up with us!
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Friday, April 21, 2017

To Disney World We Go!


In the few months before Beau was born, I told Ben that I wanted to take him to Disney World for his first birthday. Ben laughed it off and said that probably wasn't going to happen. :) I just told him that forever reason, it was in my mind as a really sweet milestone marker for God's faithfulness in Beau's life during his first year. Again, he laughed off my bringing of God into it.. haha! I really just had it in my mind as a sweet celebration of that first birthday. But I didn't think much of it, although we did tell several people of my ruse to convince Ben. :)

We had no idea the journey ahead of us in the months that followed. You can read about that here, but the end of my pregnancy and the beginning of Beau's life wasn't what I had planned. But He is faithful, and we are so grateful to God for planning each day of Beau's life in His sovereignty. Beau's first night in the NICU was one of the hardest of my whole life. I had bonded so much with him in our first two days and now he was in a little bed by himself, hooked up to machines. Every baby in the NICU had a little sign with their name and birth stats on it. Most of them were animals, a few flowers, butterflies, etc. No characters. But that first morning that we woke up and went to feed Beau at about 5am.. the nurses had put up Beau's sign. As you can see above, we were greeted that morning by none other than Mickey Mouse. It seems so silly, but that was the encouragement I needed in a really dark time. I KNEW we would get through it. That little Mickey helped me cling to my faith. Everyone agreed this was a huge encouragement, and I told Ben I wouldn't bully him into taking us, but he said he already knew he was on the hook. :)

So as you read this, we're either on a plane to Orlando, or settling into our resort at Disney World. I am going to absolutely loose it when I see my boy meet Mickey Mouse. I want to take this opportunity to thank y'all so much for how well you have loved me in my first year of motherhood. I've received so much encouragement and even prayer. Every comment on Beau means the world to me and makes me so proud. I'm so grateful for this blog and the sweet connections that it has provided.

If you're interested in what we're doing.. you can anticipate no less than 4 instagrams each day of our trip. Haha!! I wish I was joking. Follow along @victoriastrader. XO

"Little Boys should never be sent to bed. They always wake up a day older." - Peter Pan 
Never grow up, my sweetest heart! 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Beau's 1st Birthday Wishlist


I've had a few people asking about birthday present ideas for Beau.. and honestly coming up with ideas is kind of hard! Here are a few things that I thought might be sweet, but I'd love to hear recommendations on sweet gifts for a one year old! :)

Activity Cube- I feel like I should have honestly already ordered this for Beau.. he would love it so much and needs something to keep him entertained when he's on the floor. He has a similar concept at Ben's parents and he loves it!

3 in One Book- I read this to my friend's daughter the other night and loved it.. The book is essentially explaining the trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) to kids using an apple as the metaphor. So good!

Stuffed Lamb- This is a pricey stuffed animal.. but the purchase provides 10 meals for a hungry child. I love the look of this sweet little fella, and also the heart behind it! I've had to really hold in not ordering this myself, haha!

Counting Blocks- I thought these were extra sweet, and not too hard on the eyes 

And of course, we always love anything from Cecil & Lou or The Beaufort Bonnet Company!
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Baby Beau: 11 Months


Weight:
20.3 pounds

Height:
Didn't measure this month :)

Clothes:
Filling out his 12-18 month clothes.. I feel like we kind of skipped 9-12! My big sweet boy!

Sleep:
Sleeping well.. two good naps during the day and 12 hours at night. We've been so blessed by our sleeping boy.

Schedule:
We switched down to two bottles a day instead of four (which seemed like a crazy jump!) but Beau is loving much more "real" food.. everything else is pretty much the same, he's just having snacks and meals instead of bottles!

Health:
When cutting three new teeth over the course of a few days, Beau had a high fever.. but other than that it's been smooth sailing this month. :)

Crying:
Teething caused more crying than normal.. 

Likes:
Reading books 
bathtime, specifically laying in the water.. this little boy is going to LOVE the pool
going for walks 
trying new foods 
standing up 
bouncing 
practicing "walking" holding our hands 
giving sugars 
giving high fives

Dislikes:
not getting mama and daddy's attention for too long :) 

Milestones:
This month Beau cut three teeth, and has started standing up on his own when leaning on things. He's getting stronger and stronger every day! At this point, I think he's going to skip crawling. It's been several months of getting so frustrated in crawl position and now he's trying to push himself up into standing position from crawling position. Ben and his two brothers, and our niece did this, so I guess it's the Strader way! Beau's also been giving high fives.. the sweetest thing ever. 

Places You’ve Gone:
  • Cousin Meg's Big Sister Party 
  • to meet your new friend Walker Hardwick
  • to gender reveals for your sweet friends Ella and Laurel, we can't wait to meet them in August! 
  • the salon for your 10th haircut (yep!) 
  • Big Granny's for a Spring Break Playday
  • back to Texas Tulips for one last time with Nolan and Harper 
  • your first wedding, visitation, and funeral 
  • your first ever egg hunt, with home group friends at Granny and Pops

























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Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Weekend

I hope everyone had a sweet, encouraging, and restful Easter weekend. I'd say we did! I have looked forward to Beau's first Easter for a long time, so it felt surreal that it was finally here! 

Ben had Good Friday off, which was so nice because he usually doesn't. We had a late night Thursday night celebrating the gender reveal of Baby Jones! Beau's going be surrounded by lots of pretty ladies in August, because two of our good friends are both expecting little girls! Friday morning we ran a few errands, and Beau enjoyed his first few tastes of Chick Fil A! He was literally grabbing for the tray which is very unlike him.. he's usually just "meh" about most food! Too cute!

We were greatly in need of some rest time and we sure had it.. Saturday was sweet and slow before we had a birthday party that night. We also had breakfast with family friends.

A little Armadillo booty for our Texas boy! 

We also discovered that Beau's favorite food is lasagna.. haha! Like I mentioned above, he's mostly just whatever with foods.. but he LOVED this! It made me hopeful that we might have a successful cake smash in a few weeks! 


On Sunday Beau was all ready for Church and time at Big Granny's in his Easter best. My precious boy! 

Duck noises from Uncle Zac were what got us a smile out of this little fella for a family photo! We had the sweetest day with family and friends! 








Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Why We Had a Gender Reveal Party


This week, one of my friends changed her mind about finding out the gender of her baby mid pregnancy. They wanted to wait until the birth, and then went the total opposite direction, and in their 22 week sonogram decided they wanted to know their baby's gender and find out with friends and family at a reveal party. Everyone's preference is about what's right for them, but this whole situation has caused me to reflect on our own gender reveal, and why we chose to celebrate this milestone with friends and family.


I should first note that we did gender reveal differently than some.. Ben and I found out at the sonogram and then just revealed the gender to our family and friends. This was Ben's preference, and he asks for very little (ha!) and so I obliged this detail. I never really considered the other way because it wasn't really ever an option, if that makes sense!



For us, the gender reveal meant a lot of things.. but it was hugely a celebration of the people who supported us and Beau. We had had our miscarriage less than 6 months before, and I had the worst morning sickness of all time. Literally all of our friends have seen me throw up I feel like. Oops. So this felt like a really fun way to show people that they were important to us, and that them knowing our child was a big deal to us. 


The sweet faces of joyful surprise! You can tell by our body language in the photos that we already knew the news.. if I hadn't I would have probably been hysterically sobbing. Especially because Ben had just given a little speech thanking everyone for their support and love. The day that Beau was born was the best day of our lives.. and knowing that he was a boy on that day didn't take away from anything for us. Revealing before hand just added another best day to our roundup. I was on cloud nine after this reveal and celebration. That night our youth pastor (who also married us!) and his wife shared that they were expecting their fourth baby, too! That was another sweet thing because I have always been really close with their three girls. Before they moved I spent hours and hours with those girls. They soon found out that they too were expecting a boy! I'm majorly digressing here.. but the takeaway here is that this party was SPECIAL. 


I had kind of decided before we even found out Beau was a boy that I didn't want to do another gender reveal unless we already had both genders of children.. maybe it's just me but I felt like people are expecting you to have more feelings about the gender of your child after you already have one, and I don't want to feel like those expectations would be in our face haha. But even writing about this, it makes me have a slight change of heart. We'll see.. but it would also be fun to do special different things for lots of people in our lives. Who knows what the future holds, but I'm really grateful for the way we did it first time around.


What do y'all think? I feel like everyone has such precious experiences either way! At the end of the day, you're getting a baby, and that is a sweet blessing! 


All these beautiful photos by Zac and Kaitlyn Photography, who will be at Beau's birthday as well! 
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