Author Archives: Molly

Disney Cruise with Toddlers – Tips & Suggestions

Since booking our cruise (with details in this post), we’ve had lots of friends say they have considered going the Disney route as well. Matt and I loved to research some tips and tricks as part of our planning and wanted to be sure to pass along some of our tips of making a great trip with little kids.IMG_2120

1.    If possible, get a veranda room

Our kids took naps on the ship most days, and went to bed earlier than we did. Having a balcony was wonderful for sitting outside and hanging out while they got some rest. We kicked up our feet and enjoyed a drink (you can bring 2 bottles of wine or a 6 pack of beer per person. Make sure to bring a corkscrew and/or bottle opener.). On pirate night we were able to catch the fireworks from our balcony after Jack and Audrey went to sleep.  (Matt’s tip: try for the 9th or 8th floor on the right or starboard side of the boat for best views. Mid-deck is also nice.)  My parents got the regular veranda room which was wonderful and very spacious for two people and had the same balcony. We got the family veranda room which was even a little bit longer, giving more room for Jack’s couch-bed (with rails!) and Audrey’s pack and play. As an aside, I was a bit nervous about the balcony before seeing it. It is totally enclosed and worry-free with toddlers.IMG_3094

2.    Book the early dinning time

The early dinning time is 5:45 and the other option is 8:30. I don’t think we would have ever made that option! We were assigned to the later time initially, and kept calling and checking in to make sure our name was on the waiting list for the earlier time slot. About a week before the cruise we were able to move to the earlier dining time.

3.    Bring some beach toys

This was our kids’ first time on a warm beach. It was great to have plenty of beach toys for them to share. We had buckets and shovels and brought some dump trucks from home. It made the sand even more fun. (Note:  you don’t need beach towels. They hand them to you when you debark the boat on Castaway Cay.) We went to the family beach. There is also a bigger kid beach with play equipment in the water – that our kids weren’t big enough for so we didn’t head that way. Beach2

4.    Don’t be afraid to try out the shows and leave whenever you want

That’s the beauty of all of the shows being included, AND of being with lots of other families. No one expects perfect show behavior. We went to each show being ok with ducking out whenever it was time. We got a chance to see lots of singing and dancing that we otherwise wouldn’t have seen. The balcony is a good option if you know you’ll be leaving early.

Short video of Audrey dancing before crashing hard for the night:

5.    Get to your room early on the first day

You are allowed in your room around 1:30/2pm on boarding day. We knew there would be a mandatory emergency drill at 4, but we didn’t know the alarm would start at 3:30. If you have little ones who nap, get to your room early so they can get settled and get decent naps before the alarm starts.

6.    Request a pack and play

We had briefly considered bringing ours. Don’t! They have it all set up and it was in perfect condition. We also requested a diaper genie for the room. Good decisions all around that made for very easy travel. If you have an older toddler sleeping on the sofa bed, you can request bed rails. They were solid for our wiggly Jack.IMG_3021

7.    Pack a “carry-on” bag for the first day

Bags might not be delivered to your room until about 5pm on the first day, so make sure you have everything you need for nap, diaper changes, outfit changes, white noise machine, etc. in a carry-on bag.

8.    Little tidbits

-Sign up for earliest embarkation time. You don’t have to board at that time but you can as soon as you’re in the area.

-Disney transfer from the airport was SO easy.

-If you can easily bring 6-12 water bottles with you, it is nice to have on the beach and to keep offering when you’re out and about.

-The Cove Cafe coffee bar is in the adults only area on Deck 11. Its not obvious immediately. They have cold brew coffee…wish I would have found this earlier. (All the drinks and food there are an additional fee)

-There are a couple of breakfast options (regular buffet, menu full-service, and buffet with drink service). With little kids I really liked the buffet with drink service. We could get the kids food and have drinks brought to us…and lots of coffee.

-Bring alphabet magnets for your room door. We spelled out our names (and brought some for Gigi and Bapa). It made going back to our room fun, and made finding our rooms very easy.

-Bring clothespins to pin wet bathing suits to chairs on your balcony.

-Bring a laundry bag to easily stash dirty clothes to pack home. (will try to remember this one for future travels)

-A small air freshener/candle is really nice for keeping a small room fresh.

-Get room service ice cream Mickey bars. They aren’t on the menu but are available….And they are delicious!MickeyBars

-Take plenty of pictures and videos. We loved having Matt’s GoPro camera with waterproof case for the following little videos

-Enjoy being a big kid with your kids. It pretty much rocks!DCIM100GOPRO

Summer 2016 Disney Cruise

Short background on this trip:  Matt and I don’t consider ourselves “cruise people.” We’ve always liked planning our vacations with some out of the way little stops, and Matt especially likes planning lots of the little details. We are coming up on celebrating our 10 year anniversary (!!) and while we always said we would go back to Hawaii we found (1) that’s a really long travel for a short vacation and (2) we really wanted to have a family vacation with the kids. Matt suggested a Disney Cruise and I jumped at the idea. So here we are…Beach1

I can’t say enough good things about this trip! We did the 3 night Bahamas cruise on the Disney Dream. There are stops in Nassau, Bahamas and Castaway Cay. And to make the cruise even more fun Gigi and Bapa came too! (They honeymooned in the Bahamas 37 years ago – I’m sure traveling with grand kids was just as exciting, ha!)GigiPapa Cruise

We traveled to Orlando the night before our cruise took off so we could spread out our travel a bit more and enjoy our first day at sea. Getting on the boat on Day 1 was mildly hectic (get boarded, get lunch, get let into room for naps before a mandatory emergency drill) but the evening was a blast. At castoff, we had great Disney entertainment with singing and dancing from Mickey, Minnie and gang. After that, we had the best dinner of our trip that night in the Enchanted Garden. The kids did a wonderful job through a multi-course dinner, but were definitely ready to explore.  After exploring the ship a bit, we wandered over to the Golden Mickeys, which were a Red Carpet-like show with great singing and performances. We lasted until 8:30pm, when Jack started getting scared of the dragon banner in Mulan. He has an excellent imagination! (wink, wink)


Day 2 was a day docked at the Bahamas. My parents got off there for the day, while we stayed on the boat to take advantage of the great pools.  Audrey adored the Nemo splash pad. Jack had fun hanging out in there but really liked the two-story slide.CruiseDay2

After good pool time, the kids had naps in the room while Matt and I had a drink on our room balcony. Then we walked around the ship in search of Mickey and Minnie. Audrey kept shouting “Minnie Moushhhh!” at Mickey and Minnie and was thrilled to see them from a distance. She refused to get too close though (reminiscent of Santa) but Jack was happy for a hug.IMG_2119

Evening was Pirate Night, and there were some fantastic costumes. Jack and I wore the provided pirate head scarves, Audrey dressed as Tinkerbell, and Gigi and Bapa were happy to join in the pirate fun. After dinner, there was another outside party with character singing and dancing. We watched from the balcony and danced until our little ones were ready for bed. After we got them tucked in bed, we took a bottle of wine out to the balcony to watch fireworks. It was an amazing day!PirateNight

 Day 3 was the day I was most excited for, and it was perfection! We docked at Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island) and took a short shuttle ride to the beach. We had packed plenty of beach toys and trucks and got to work playing in the sand and playing in the water. The weather was absolutely perfect, and we were on the beach around 9am (one of the advantages to having early risers!).Beach2

Beach3We had lunch on the island, and then Audrey started getting pretty droopy on Bapa. He took her under an umbrella and they enjoyed a nice nap together. Aren’t they adorable?SleepyBaby

 Two of my favorite pictures from the trip – And how appropriate since it was Father’s Day. (Matt joked that this was going to be a really hard Father’s Day to top in upcoming years)MollyFavs

 After Audrey woke up, we decided we’d all head in from the sun and spend some time on the splash pad in the shade on the ship. My parents played in the water with the kids while Matt and I took a ride on the AquaDuck, a big 4-story “watercoaster.” I screamed like a kid and we had a blast.

We continued the fun at dinner at Animator’s Palate which was a really cool restaurant with interactive animation featuring the sea turtle from Finding Nemo. The turtle paid a special stop at our table to talk to my dad and appreciate his Hawaiian shirt. Then we finished the night at our final Disney musical, Disney’s Believe, that featured songs from Aladdin, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Lion King…and others. After no nap, and a fantastic imagination the talking tree in the Pocahontas portion of the evening had Jack yelling “I’m scarried!!” So we took that as our cue that it was time to head back to our cabin for sleep. After we got jammies on, we all cuddled in our bed to sing the kids songs and they fell asleep almost immediately. From start to end, it was such a happy and memorable day. I’m already itching to go back.

I’ll check back in later in the weekend (or week) with some tips and tricks for traveling with toddlers on the cruise and a couple of our favorite videos.

Jack – 3.5 years old

Jack is three and a half. I’m not quite sure I can put a finger on it, but his personality seems so much more mature in the last quarter of the year. He is SO much fun to be around, and I find myself thinking that this is one of my favorite phases so far. IMG_20160416_100518153

Playing with this guy is fun! He likes everything outside – soccer, swinging, tagging along on a bike ride or using his balance bike, hiking (huge surprise that he can keep up great for about 2 miles without one complaint!), and posing for the camera (photo courtesy of Aunt Tina!).27031315840_59e74ab683_o


Cars and trucks are a constant favorite too.IMG_6809

(no worries – he doesn’t get to cruise carseat-less in convertibles!)

He’s SO sweet and loves to cuddle with me and Matt before he gets up for the day. This Saturday he was already eating breakfast with Matt when I came home for a run, and he was very concerned that I hadn’t gotten any cuddles before breakfast. His sincerity in offering his cuddles was adorable. His sweetness in the morning (almost) makes his sporadic sleep nights a distant memory.

He adores his grandmas and grandpas too. Makes me so happy!IMG_6709

IMG_20160403_123634407A couple of favorites from Audrey’s last update (full post here). Seeing Jack play with Audrey is (mostly) so much fun!


Next up:  a re-cap from our summer vacation on a Disney Cruise!




Audrey at a Year and a Half

Audrey is 19 months – we missed the one and a half year mark but I wanted to document some of what makes Audrey — Audrey.IMG_6724

She keeps jumping in the growth chart. At her 18 mnth appointment she was 99th percentile for height and 85th percentile for weight.IMG_1681

Likes: Music and dancing, books (especially Llama, Llama which sound like mamamama when she says it, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do I see?), holding hands with Jack, being understood when she talks. Food. She is going through a phase where she eats a lot and isn’t picky about anything. She tried blue cheese this week and was not a fan at all, but I think that is the first thing in awhile she hasn’t eaten. Outside and swinging (when talking about swinging she makes the best swing motion and squeals “sing, sing!”). Her hat, sunglasses (sunnies) and purse.IMG_20160518_171706072_HDR

She loves going on bike rides on what Jack has named “The Orange Krusher.” The duck pond is a highlight on the ride as she yells “dack dack” (her version of quack quack).IMG_6713

Play:  She plays well independently but loves to be playing near Jack. Trains and blocks are fun for both of them until they each want the exact same piece. Ahhh!IMG_6784IMG_20160521_105813489

Dislikes: anyone touching something that she has deemed hers (Mine! Mine!), Being told no. She gives a finger wag if she really wants to emphasize she’s unhappy with you. IMG_20160501_150948232

Personality:  She is such an affectionate little girl (selectively!) giving unprompted hugs, back pats, kisses and “lub yous.” She talks all the time! (sometimes she is understandable).IMG_20160419_081344864She is the life of the party with her dance moves. She really gets into it! She is pretty opinionated about her tunes. While she does love some toddler music, her most frequent requests are “Cake by the Ocean” and “Shake it off.”IMG_6681

She is a caretaker. She usually gets picked up first at the end of the day, and immediately points down the hall and says “JACH!” and runs to go get him. We do stories and bedtime together some nights and on those nights she likes to help me rub Jack’s back. So sweet! She started by putting her babies to bed and loving on them, but now she really likes to love on “Jach.”IMG_20160521_154245701She is a good combination of fearless but not reckless. She thinks she can do everything that Jack can do – and pretty much does. She tows the line between baby and big girl. Some days she wants to sit in her highchair and some days she wants to sit in her big chair at the table. But either way, Audrey wants what she wants. She has an opinion and she make sure we know what it is!IMG_20160521_154150007

She brings so much joy to our house!

2016 March Madness

The kids have grown so much since their last updates that I thought I’d give some updates on Jack at just over three years (3 yrs, 3 mnths) and Audrey at 17 mnths.P11

Love:  The are starting to play together more. And they are very affectionate with each other (with the occasional shove and tattle)P2

Food:  They eat LOTS! Both kids are big fans of oatmeal and fruit in the morning, Jack’s version is doctored up with peanut butter and jelly and Audrey’s with a splash of milk. They pretty much eat everything. Case in point:  We had sauerkraut this week and Audrey scrunched up her face with every bite, but would smile and grab another bite.

Sleep:  Audrey is still the champion sleeper. She goes to bed easily and likes to get a good 11-12 hour stretch at night, plus a decent nap. But Jack makes sure no one is too well rested, as he takes longer to fall asleep and likes to make an occasional visit in the middle of the night.  Imagine this scenario:  3am, pitch dark, I’m in my bed and open my eyes to Jack’s face inches away from mine as he whispers, “Mommy, can you please sing me some songs?” Who needs uninterrupted sleep anyway?! (Thank goodness he is so cute!)

Play:  Like all kids, they love to play. Both kids love cars, puzzles, and books.  They both request and sing along to music all the time.  The both love blankets and their two stuffed animals (each). P15

Out of the mouths of babes:  I feel like I need to do a better job recording some of the funny things they say.  Audrey equal parts makes me smile and breaks my heart when I ask her “Are you mommy’s baby?” and she responds “noo noo, Au dee.” She talks all the time, and expects us to understand everything she says.  She is such a happy little dancer, and is still a big mommy’s girl.  She has started giving unprompted “I love you’s,” melting our hearts. But it comes out very enthusiastically “I yoooou!” She also loves to give hugs and kisses.

Jack is such a fun (and funny!) little person. Matt and I were discussing him not being able to handle a spicy food and he told us “I can handle anything.” When I laughed and told him he was kinda awesome, he responded, “I’m a lot of awesome!” with a huge smile.  He is in soccer and gymnastics each one day a week, and seems to love both. He also loves his balance bike.

Speaking of bikes, look at Matt’s new toy. Every time Audrey sees a bike, she points and shots “bike, bike!!” I think it’s a three-way tie for who likes the bike best! We are looking forward to warmer weather and lots of outside time. IMG_20160228_151836827


Audrey at One Year

Audrey turned one year old October 17th – and I am just now getting around to documenting some of the fun things she is up to lately.1yr collage

Here were her stats at her one year appointment -Height and weight:  21 lbs 4oz and 31.5 inches (73% for weight and 99% for height! ) For comparison she was 8 lbs 1 oz and 20.5 inches at birth.IMG_4133

Food:  Audrey is a great eater! There are very few things she won’t eat (I’m looking at you, carrots), but her favorites are avocados, bananas, clementine oranges, peas, green beans, black beans, string cheese, cottage cheese, oatmeal, and all meat from fish to chicken to (especially) red meat.  She always wants to eat food other people are eating, as evidenced from her kale chip face below.  IMG_6135

Teeth:  8 adorable baby teethGoldstein2015-38

Photo credit:  Kim Davis Photography

Party tricks:  Signing milk, hungry, more, and banana.  Clapping, waving, blowing kisses, spinning in circles and dancing to music.  She especially likes the song “If you’re happy and you know it” and is adorable with her arms up “hooray!”IMG_6084

Words:  dada, momma, and daa means Jack.  Hooray! (always with her arms), hi, byebye, and head.

Likes: Chasing Jack as fast as she can, giving hugs, music, reading books and turning the pages, anything outside, clothes and shoes, bathtime.  She loves cars.  One of her favorite birthday gifts was a pink dump truck.IMG_6316

Dislikes:  Jack taking any toy away from her.  She is feisty and doesn’t give in easily!

(Tinkerbell & Peter Pan for Halloween)IMG_6289

Personality:  She has the sweetest personality – and is such a hugger and cuddler.  She is so friendly too and loves telling people hi.  She giggles and loves to play.  She is so reasonable, and seems to understand explanations.  But she is no push-over…she’s strong and assertive and let’s you know what she wants.

To say we’re in love with Audrey would be putting it mildly.  Happy first year, sweet girl!  We’re so happy you’re part of our lives!Goldstein2015-94_bw


Photo credit:  Kim Davis Photography


Audrey – 11 months

Lots and lots of new stuff in the last month.  Most notably – Audrey is walking! (and walking quite well)  She is a very controlled walker – deliberate, but not overly cautious.  And she is really fast!IMG_6029

Oh guys, I just adore her.  She is so affectionate and loves to give hugs and kisses.  Last week I got home late and she gave me the best squeal and nearly ran to give me a kiss.  It was the most enthusiastic greeting I have been given in some time.  She is so independent and really can play along side Jack or by herself well, so her cuddles are especially endearing.  And when you ask her for a hug, she wraps her arms around you and is a complete cuddle-bug!IMG_5917

She loves waving and clapping.  She can sign for “drink” and loves communicating with us.  She says dada, mama, and Jack (daak) and seems to use “yeah” in the right context.  She seems to love waving and saying “hi!” Like her brother, she really enjoys music and having songs sang to her.IMG_5896

We have started giving Audrey her bath with Jack and both kids love the extra company.  Jack likes to ask about Audrey’s teeth – she has six now and is working on two more.  IMG_6066

Audrey had her second flight in the last month for a trip to Kansas City.  I loved getting to introduce her to friends and she traveled really well.  She also went to Memphis to visit Godmother, Mira, and her husband and kiddos.  She was in heaven getting to play cars sitting by all of the big boys.  The adults were outnumbered that weekend so I somehow came home with no pictures.  Good memories though!Audrey 11 mnth

Next time I check in I will have a one year old!  What will Audrey be up to next?



Audrey – 10 Months

Wowza, wowza! We’re in the double digits, folks.10mnth

The last month has been a really good one!  We had a trip to Effingham for one of Matt’s cousin’s weddings – beautiful and fun celebration. Plus lots of good time with Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Tina.IMG_5793

This month has also brought along increased playfulness.  Audrey loves her little red car, cars and trucks, her stuffed giraffe and anything of Jack’s.  She bobs and claps to music, and has days where she is in a nearly constant giggle.  What a joy!IMG_5803

Our independent girl has gotten a bit cuddlier.  She give kisses and hugs very often when she takes play breaks.IMG_5623

She eats pretty much everything we eat now, which makes dinner time pretty easy.  She still nurses around 6 times a day, and I’ll have to admit I like that it can buy an extra hour of sleep most weekend mornings.IMG_5622

Audrey cruises along furniture, and has taken a couple of steps on her own.  She can crawl up the stairs on her own and is quite the climber.  I’ll be ok if she decides to wait on the walking for just a bit longer.IMG_5643

IMG_5757I think this will be another big month. Lots of travel and more milestones to come.  Have a wonderful week!

Audrey – 9 Months Old

9 months – equal time on the inside and outside for our little girl.

This has been a really fun month full of big milestones.Audrey9Months

Audrey moved into her own room in the last month…I’ll admit I miss waking up to her sweet little talking.  (I think Matt was afraid I’d try to room with her until she leaves for college!) I also had my first few nights away from her.  I traveled to a conference for a few nights and she got extra special time with her boys at home.  Unfortunately, this has coincided with her mommy phase. She needs me in her site at all times – equal parts flattering and confining.

2015-07-20 06.51.42She waves “hi” and “bye bye” really well.  And her giggling…oh, she has gotten silly and even sweeter over the last month.  She loves to jabber to us and laugh.  She loves peek-a-boo and gets a kick out of being the one to hide.  Audrey has started clapping in the last week, and we all love it.  She is just such a happy baby.

2015-07-06 18.32.52Audrey so far is a very easy eater.  She usually has one puree a day and does table food for the rest of her exploring.  Favorites right now are peas, sweet potatoes, cheese, avocado, banana, and scrambled eggs.  She had her 9 month appointment on Friday and is 99th percentile for height (30.25 inches) and 67th percentile for weight (19 lbs 4 oz).

photo (18)She plays with toys more than I remember Jack playing at this age, but I think it is because she can sit playing beside him and loves to be busy like him.  She is a fast crawler, pulls to stand and loves to climb.  She loves to tease Jack by climbing in his toddler bed to grab his stuffed animals.  I can see my refereeing starting already!

Happy 9 months, sweet baby girl!

Audrey – 8 Months

Wow!  A lot changes in a month with a baby. Since last update, Audrey is pulling up on everything.  She wants to be standing all the time and has done a little bit of cruising too.  In the last month she has also perfected her crawling –  and that little girl is fast!  She is still in 9 month clothes for the most part but sleeves are starting to look a bit short.  I think most babies get a 9 month growth spurt so we’ll see what happens in the next month.Audrey 8 Months

Audrey still naps 2-3 times a day and still (thankfully!) is an excellent nighttime sleeper who rarely wakes in the middle of the night.

She is working on her top two teeth.  Lots of hands in the mouth but she is still so good-natured.IMG_5562

Matt and I joke about her comedic timing.  She responds to questions and statements with the perfect tone and timing.  And she likes shaking her head “no” and seems to do it at the funniest time. (Audrey – do you want to share your toy with Jack? [head shake with smile])

She seems to like all the food she has tried.  She is getting proficient at feeding herself and seems to want to eat if everyone else is eating.  She especially likes feeding herself peas.

Audrey had her first plane ride to Seattle this month.  Way to start out big!  A long day of travel wasn’t too tough with her.  And the three hour time difference just meant that I got to fully experience sunrise in Seattle every morning (wink, wink)!  She loved the double stroller we rented and loved getting to see her way around a new city.IMG_5410IMG_5544

I don’t even know how to convey how delightful Audrey is.  She has such a sweet disposition, and her smiles just light up my day.  Seeing how she looks at Jack is such a joy for both me and Matt.IMG_5396

What will this sweet little daredevil be up to next month?