Hello, new year. We meet again to share reflection, goal setting, and once again look to another 365 days with that newfound optimism that 12:01 seems to bring. My main goal for 2014 was to get my artwork from the show out into more hands. Of course, Winter kept my hands pretty full already (as expected) so that goal still remains. I have a few other things in the works but will wait to announce. Anyhow, I know 2015 will be a year of change so I'm just buckling my seatbelt and getting ready for the ride. 2014 was still pretty amazing—see below:
|the beds are super comfy|
|Our stateroom: 7126. That couch turns into a bed. Cribs are available upon request|
Which room to book? Due to the last minute booking, I opted for a guaranteed balcony room. This means you don't choose your stateroom but instead get placed based on what's left. We ended up with a great room. The disney staterooms are designed for FAMILIES. So there's space and storage and the split bathroom (a tub and a shower?! and separate toilet room?) was a plus. Don't be afraid to book a guaranteed room - you might end up scoring a better room than you bargained for.
|Disney Dream lobby atrium|
Cruising with an infant: I thought Winter (and us lol) would totally miss out on all the fun being that she's not old enough to use the Oceaneer's club (starts at 3 years old) which is basically the best daycare/camp I've ever seen for kids but the great thing about Disney is they've thought of that as well and have a decent sized playroom nursery that takes infants younger than 3 and at a very reasonable rate ($9/hr).
|Meals are infant friendly too|
Winter was still in soft-food land so we found the restaurants (as expected) to be very accommodating. And because of the rotational dining system Disney has (with 3-4 themed restaurants you rotate through for dinner), your waiters will be prepared by the second night. Our waiter would have winter's food ready and pureed to go right after seating us. Food wise, I thought it was good not great but better than I was expecting. Coming off Celebrity cruises, I thought their food (and service) was excellent but that's just a different cruise experience I thought that shouldn't be compared.
|infants can't go in the pools but can enjoy the nemo splash area|
|Win is her name! My baby blowing away the competition...|
Activities: Disney is so detailed oriented that there's activities for every age group on board. No one is left out. I was surprised to meet a good number of groups who were traveling without any children at all (strange? a little, but these were hardcore cruisers or Disney enthusiasts so I give them a pass). She was curious and the presence of hundreds of kids was fun for her. She had a few play areas she could venture into (nemo splash area), character meet and greets she could attend and even an activity or two she can participate in (diaper dash?!)
|Not staged - it really looks like this.|
Ports: We were on a short 4 day cruise to the Bahamas and Castaway Cay (disney's private island). All cruise reports say to skip bahamas and opt to stay on ship but we've never been so we checked out Atlantis and the Cove. Atlantis felt dated but the water park looked awesome so we'll save for an older Winter. Castaway Cay was as great as everyone reported it to be. We only had Coco Cay (royal carribbean's private island) to compare it to and its hands down above and beyond Coco. The boat literally pulls up to the island, which I assume is an engineering feat unto itself but it lends to easy disembarking (rather than hopping on a ferry to island like other cruise lines). Again, designed for everyone - (paved roads, trams, private adult only beach/area, cabanas for families, etc) Disney thinks of everything. I heard about the 5k they host on the island so I laced up and ran in that despite the crazy humidity, sun, and late morning heat. It's unofficially timed and the crew members who run the race make it as fun-minded and non-competitive as possible (spoiler: everyone gets a medal - even if you cheat the course - which is a little boring, but you get your workout in).
|Don't let the smile fool you, I wanted to a pass out from the heat/humidity!|
The beach areas are jam packed with recreational options for families but I liked that even the sand and design of the beach (very gradual slope) were infant-friendly. You're treated to a bbq lunch buffet/picnic on the island so don't skip it!
Overall: It was a great vacation for the family. I forgot to add they do Halloween on the Seas which lets the kids trick or treat in costume (and families went ALL OUT FOR THIS). Also memorable was Pirates of the Caribbean night (how apropo) where you have a midnight buffet and a fireworks show off the ship (pretty cool). I hear christmastime is also fun and magical for guests. This was an added bonus to the experience.
|Arggh! Pirate night!|
I would definitely disney cruise it up again but only when Winter can take advantage of the Oceaneer's club (It's seriously amazing and I'm a bit jealous us adults can't enjoy it!). However if you have an infant and are seriously considering it- go for it! we met a few couples traveling with infants and they like us, took everything in stride and enjoyed the option that they could have alone time whenever they wished or just have a fun new experience together as a family. As you can see from the video, we had a great time!
Did you know Winter and Carter are birthday twins? How neat is that? I think this is one of the reasons why they are so close (ok, my opinion) but anyhow we headed to BK to celebrate his bday at Ample Hills Creamery. The birthday was fun especially for the older kids who got to churn their own ice cream using the ice cream bike and then they made cute tote bags as a craft project then finish up with decorating their own individual sundaes. The parents all each got to taste ice cream off Ample Hill's menu. I've never had their ice cream but the flavors are ridiculous concoctions that taste just as good as they sound. We're already planning a followup trip to go grab some pints to take home!
For her first bday, we knew she wouldn't really know what was going on (nor would she probably remember it) so this was a party for everyone—Winter's older kid friends and of course, us parents! So when I found out about Baby Loves Disco and that they were throwing an event just days before Winter's bday - it was a done deal about what Winter's party theme was going to be: an all-out day party. Because of all the offerings both via entertainment and snacks given to guests, there's little I had to do in terms of decorations and food. We had a cake ordered, I bought a tray of lumpia and pancit, and a few pizza pies and called it a day. All in all I think ALL our guests both young and old had a blast and Winter, well, she managed to stay up to see her cake and bottle sparklers go off so I think she was in happyland too. See all the photos here.
She's not even one yet and I've already been tasked with two school projects at her daycare. One of the best parts of being a designer (as well as an artist) is that as much as I'd love to go to bed at 10pm and then realize I have not done said school project; I still actually look forward to creating them (and it takes me less time to design something in Indesign then it does to cut and paste photos scrapbook-style). I can imagine this may not be fair for other busy moms but believe me, when that future school bake sale/potluck event comes up I will be scratching my head staring at a bag of flour. Anyhow we were given a blank piece of construction paper and asked to decorate it with what Winter is thankful for. Um, everything? lol she's only cranky when she's hungry or sleepy. Everything is else is just a whole new world, so how do i list everything? This is what I came up with:
IT was fun to make because I got to look back at photos of her this year and realize it was so full of experiences. Such a joy that I obviously anticipated but just had no clue how amazing it was going to be. We're totally thankful for you, Winter.
Tomorrow is the World Cup party at the office and your mommy has to DJ it. Thanks for being my roadie and helping me do a soundcheck!
The museum mile festival was happening so we checked it out after I got off of work. There were many museums to choose between but I always love the MET so that's where we went. You were a good sport even though we were going way past your bedtime.
The rooftop has a garden so we took in the cool central park views on the turf.