Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Travelogues: Best & Worst Trips

I'm going to be honest, seeing this post topic for Show and Tell Tuesday made me really stop and think. We LOVE to travel and so I'm extra excited to see everyone's posts for this.. but I honestly can't think of "our worst" trips. None of our trips have been bad, but in hopes of ending on a positive note, I'll share a few of our not so great travel moments. Notice I said moments and not trips, as I think that all things can be redeemed!

Venice, Italy- In 2015 when we went to Venice, we started the trip off with a major uh oh. We had about 700 euros stolen from us. Yikes! It was a pickpocket situation, and I'll say that some of the factors at play caused some passionate marriage discussions ;) but this was one of the zillion times a week I'm so grateful for the man I married. He earnestly said, money is money, and although this isn't ideal, we can still afford this trip and we don't want to spend the next week and a half being upset over it. We'll get more cash and never think of this again. I tried to pretend in my head that our money was blessing someone who really needed it.. instead of the yucky feeling of being stolen from.

Texas Hill Country Road Trip- When Beau was about a month old, our family took a road trip down to the hill country. Several things made this trip have yucky moments... first being that I'd rather fly than drive 10 times out of 10. I didn't grow up doing road trips and so I don't love them. Especially with a one month old, a four and a half hour drive took the whole day. My niece was 23 months old at the time, so between the two of them, we stopped about 4 times on our way down. On the way back Ben and my brother in law vowed for no repeats so we just drove and let Beau sleep and figured we'd deal with it later. This trip was also WAY too hot for him. I carried Beau in the solly wrap and ultimately Ben and I didn't enjoy anything because it was way too hot to have a newborn in a solly wrap outside in June. See the photo above? Right after getting out of the car. We literally ended up going into an old timey candy shop and standing under the AC vent holding Beau up to it "Simba style" However, I shouldn't complain too much, as the night before this trip Beau slept through the night for the first time, and continued to do so throughout the trip with no looking back. BEST EVER.

Paris, France (in 2014)- During our first trip to Paris together, we decided to stay in an Airbnb because it was the new hip idea at the time. We had some issues checking in that ended up with us stranded with our luggage on a random street in Paris with no way to communicate with anyone. I left Ben with the luggage and walked down to Starbucks to use wifi and figure it out.. but let's just say that we realized foreign country apartment rental is not our jam overall. We could probably do it in London, but for countries where we don't speak the language I just feel more comfortable with a front desk and a lobby and lots of other people. I will say though, that our airbnb was GORGEOUS and in a really cool area we would never have visited otherwise. There was literally a burrito shop underneath and when Ben was trying to ask them a question about something, we realized that both of their second (-ish on Ben's part) language was Spanish.. so we were in the middle of Paris speaking Spanish haha!! 

Steamboat Springs, Colorado- This one is a real stretch for "worst" as it really was a wonderful trip. We went skiing with our family. I quickly discovered what I already suspected, that skiing was not my gift. This trip also fell on our second anniversary, so while Ben skied from sunup to, well, midnight because he wanted to night ski (HA!) I hung out with my brother in law's best friend all day. Not an ideal anniversary but we loved this trip, and it's still my only time of seeing and being around "real" snow! 

Moving on from our three travel "uh-ohs" to the BEST MOMENTS EVER.

Paris, France (that same trip in 2014)- One of the most fun things I've ever done is take photos in formalwear in the city of lights! It felt so glamorous. In the photo above we had watched the traffic lights for a break in the traffic and were shooting in the middle of the street. Those photos are such precious keepsakes and they are always a major conversation starter with people who visit our home. One time at our old house someone coming to work on something asked if we had posed in front of a backdrop in a portrait studio.. haha! It truly looks like it in some of them! 

On that trip we also fell in love with Versailles. Please note my very on trend for 2014 neon dress, haha!! This is why in the last few years I've mostly stayed away from trends.. although it could be worse, haha! This whole trip (to England and France) was our first time to travel Europe together as a married couple, the start of #stradersineurope and when we really fell in love with traveling together. We decided on this day trip to Versailles that it was a goal of ours to bring our elementary age children back one day for bike rides, paddle boats, and exploring the gardens. Even now, I know Beau would love playing in the grasses! 

England, Switzerland, Italy in 2016 with Beau- This trip was amazing for a lot of reasons, but it was our dream of traveling with Beau came true. We had so many nay-sayers on taking our two month old to Europe, but we had the BEST experience. It is what you make it, I truly believe that. It will probably be one of our most memorable ever. Now I genuinely don't want to travel without our boy.. it's just more fun with him! Plus, Switzerland (here + here) is literally the most incredible place. Of all the places we've been, I go back and forth on if I love Italy or Switzerland more. It's a tough decision. :) 

New York City girls trip in 2016- Everything about this trip was THE BEST. The last time I had been to New York was actually just that July, just a few weeks after I had had a miscarriage. It was my first time to really venture back into normal life and it was a good trip, but it felt even better to be back while 10 weeks pregnant with Beau. Five days of bliss with my besties. So memorable and great. This was also right as I was realizing that I was going to have the worst morning sickness ever, so around the corner from looking at the outside of Taylor Swift's apartment, we had to stop and recover from that, haha. The extended time in the city allowed us to do SO MUCH and it was amazing. Fave trip to NYC ever. (here + here) Sorry husband, siblings, and other friends I've been with! Eek. This one was just such a goodie. I mean, we went to Sarabeth's two mornings in a row. Based on that alone... 

My other NYC guide can be found here.

Italy 2016- I mentioned this trip above with our Venice troubles, but this trip really was the best ever. Looking back, it feels like a baby moon for us. Visiting Italy had been my dream, and we hit all the highlights. Cinque Terre (pictured above) was SO beyond incredible. Can't wait to go back one day! Really everywhere we went was incredible, and we realized how incredibly kind and helpful the Italian people are! This is by far my favorite trip from a marriage perspective, as it was our last hoorah together! 

Disney World- Even though it just happened, one of our FAVORITE trips ever! All of the ways we celebrated Beau's birthday felt wonderful, but this one felt the most meaningful for me by far.

What are your best and worst travel memories?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Beau's First Birthday Cake Smash

I really wasn't ever set on wanting to do a cake smash for Beau, a lot of the ones you find on Pinterest just aren't really my style. But a few friends of ours had done it and kind of overnight without thinking about it I decided I wanted to go for it. I'm SO glad we did. Because of Beau's sweet little, God ordained thumbs (if you're new here, the tips of our boy's thumbs look like they've been broken off towards the side, and he'll have surgery to correct it within the next year) he doesn't do super well with finger foods or get a ton of practice. He can make maybe 2 out of 10 attempts into his mouth with foods. He grabs them in his palm and then has a hard time getting food into his mouth. All of that being said, I didn't think he would even reach for the cake. I had every expectation that Meredith would take a few photos of him sitting there in front of it, and then I would feed him some or pretend smear some on his face, and call it a day. BOY was I wrong, haha! We barely got one photo without him starting to grab right at the cake. He then leaned right into it for a bite, and just went to town. The consistency of the icing and cake made it really easy for him to eat. My precious boy just makes me want to cry! This may seem like a silly thing, but for us it felt huge. It was so FUN to see him enjoy a meal that he fed himself. Using the word "meal" might be a stretch... But he loved it and cake smash is now a Strader family tradition! If you're wondering, he did just as well if not better at his birthday party a week later. :) 


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Disney World: Day Two

I had dreamed of our first day at Magic Kingdom so much.. I knew I would cry when we walked up to the castle and I did. It was so sweet and Disney World just plain feels magical. We had planned to only stay in the park until nap time, and that worked perfectly. 

A side note, we brought our own umbrella stroller but rented for the parks from Kingdom Strollers so I could insure it and not have to worry about it being stolen. Maybe that's silly but I loved the peace of mind. :) 

We got to the park before our 8:30 breakfast reservation and took a bunch of photos and just soaked in the atmosphere.. it was a blast! 

Then we wandered over to Crystal Palace.. THE BEST EVER. It was Winnie the Pooh character dining which was sweet and felt so indulgent and Disney. The food was amazing too. The gravy will remain in my heart forever. 

Beau's favorite by far was Eeyore! He loved him. (Him, right? Haha!) But I thought this last photo was funny because he cried for like two seconds and clearly it surprised me and Eeyore didn't skip a beat with responding. I love it! 

The whole place was adorable. 

Beau's first ride was the teacups. From a friend's recommendation, we chose a "family ride" which is tradition for us to ride first every time we get to Disney. The teacups are that for us now! 

Beau LOVED it and it was so fun! 

Beau loving it and Mama is like "what are we doing?!" 

Then we started trucking our way around and loved so many things! 

This photo resulted when Beau woke up right after sleeping through Peter Pan, which he would have LOVED because that style of ride literally bewitched him. He was sweaty, tired, and a little loopy :) So sweet! 

We had lunch at Be Our Guest and it was really sweet for me because Beauty and the Beast was my favorite movie as a little girl! 

A few times Ben and I snuck off for "big kid" rides while his parents kept Beau. I feel like this photo should be a Disney advertisement! 

Early afternoon we headed to the room, all took naps, swam, and then ate dinner at our hotel restaurant, which was delicious! Some of the best calamari ever! Then Ben and I headed back out to enjoy the evening and fireworks. We actually saw them the night before from our table at Ohana and I enjoyed watching them from the hotel much more! Crowds like that aren't our jam. We should have ridden rides during it. :)

We were exhausted after a long day but already excited and ready for the next at Animal Kingdom and Epcot. I don't know if it was because it felt so low pressure, but it was one of my favorite days! More on that soon! XO