Disney during covid

Have you been wanting to go to Disney World but unsure about how they are taking precautions and what that looks like for you and your family? Well you are in luck, I have come with knowledge!

My kids and I went with my parents on Jan 13 and Jan 14th, and let me just tell you… if you are on the fence of wanting to go…. DO IT! Now is the time! Lines are short, the magic is there, and they are doing everything they can to keep everyone safe, and to keep the gates open. So… here’s my run down from our experience at Disney World.

First, let’s start with what I think a lot of people are concerned with… safety! Firstly, you have to reserve your date in advance for whichever park you are interested in going to. They are cautious to make sure the crowds are significantly thinned out. All guests, cast members and personnel on the premises are required to wear a mask that are older than 2, and boy are those workers trained to watch for proper mask wearing. They are so friendly in reminding people to put the mask over your nose and mouth. My Davis wore a mask the first day that didn’t stay on his nose great, and they were so on top of it reminding him to pull it up. I would recommend making sure you have an extra mask just in case yours drops, gets damp from usage or ends up not fitting well for whatever reason. It is permitted to remove your mask while eating, drinking and while stationary. Otherwise, you need to be wearing one, even while taking pictures.

It wasn’t hard to make sure to stay 6 feet apart, even while in line. There were markers on the ground that the kids did such a good job watching for so they could respect the space of the person ahead. And honestly, the lines were so short, these markers didn’t get used much!

Sanitizing stations were all over the place, which made keeping our hands clean very easy! Most of the time, they had one after each ride! Plus, Disney would shut down rides periodically to clean and sanitize them. It felt very safe.

Now, for the action!!

The lines were incredibly short! We spent two days in Disney World… the first day at Epcot, and the second in Magic Kingdom. While in Epcot, we were able to do every ride and show we wanted to do with time to spare. We were only there from 12-7 and felt more than satisfied with what we had done! We rode the Finding Nemo ride multiple times! So many that the kind castmember at the exit showed us a shortcut to get to the front quicker. There was no wait at all! It was incredible. The Frozen Ever After ride is normally such an excruciating long wait that we hadn’t gone on it in previous visits, but this time it was 15 min (which ended up being about 8 min)!

At Magic Kingdom, we were there from 11:30-6:00 and ended up riding 25 rides! In case you were wondering, that’s almost 4 rides per hour!!! Can that be real? Yes… yes it is! The Peter Pan ride is normally at least a 90 min ride, and one that you always want to fastpass traditionally (which fastpasses don’t exist right now… there’s no need), had a 15 min wait time (which was again about an 8 min wait). At the end me, my mom and my boys rode the Barnstormer 6 times in a row, and some of them they let us stay on the cart because there was no one even coming up in line. It was such a blissful experience.

Now for some fast and quick tips!

  1. Make sure to reserve your date in advance! They have the schedule online to control and thin out crowds. Click here for tickets and reservations.
  2. Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be walking more than usual since the crowds are thinned, so make sure you’re comfortable.
  3. Bring water and stay hydrated! It will be easy to get distracted and forget to stay hydrated since you’re moving so much, but drink your water!
  4. Bring a stroller! They do have strollers to rent, but it’s pricey in my opinion and way less functional. Here’s the link to their renting info. If you are going with kids, a stroller is a MUST! Although my kids didn’t use it much, it was handy for throwing things into that we didn’t want to take onto rides or hold while walking around. I will say that they do NOT allow wagons, but if you have a situation that requires a wagon, you can get a exemption tag from guest services. Comment below (or dm me on instagram) if you have questions on that, but here’s the link to their site for their stroller regulations.
  5. Pack a lunch and plan to eat stationary. It was super easy to eat real quick in line, but have some snacks too to keep the hangry pains from putting a damper on the day.
  6. Budget a dollar amount for souvenirs. I gave each of my kids $15 to spend. It was great because they weren’t asking for things in every store, and it was a great motivator for good behavior during the day. Two of my kids spent their money, and one of them chose to save it to buy a dinosaur from Target haha. I’ll give you one guess on who that is… 🙂
  7. Check the weather! If there is a forecast of rain, stop at a Walmart near by and grab rain ponchos for $1, otherwise you’ll spend $20 for a poncho if it rains. I’ve spent the $20 and in the moment I’m grateful for it, but they pack up so easy, it’s better to be better prepared on this one! Also, if it’s below 60 degrees, bring a light jacket. It will be nice to have! Trust me.
  8. Bring extra masks! They’re mandatory to be in the park, and if yours falls down or gets moist, it will be nice to have a back up. Talk to the kids about these rules too, and make sure they understand the expectations. My 4 year old rarely wears them since they’re not required for his age in our state, so we did practicing and talked him through it, and he did great.
  9. They have tons of sanitizing stations, but it wouldn’t hurt to bring your own just to be sure you have it when you want it.
  10. Download the My Disney Experience app ahead of time so you can see real time wait times and when you walk into the park, you’ll know what rides to hit up when. We also love having a physical map too just in case. I’ll also add a tip my mom suggested… put your phone on low power mode so keep the charge high during the day. If you’re worried, bring an external charger (don’t forget the cord). You don’t want to risk missing out on that Disney magic in your kids faces!

I would say this was easily one of my favorite Disney trips. We stayed safe, and created such beautiful memories together. Memories I hope last the kids, myself and my parents a life time!

Happy New Years… 2021 please be good to us!

It’s New Years, and like every other person, I am retrospectively looking at 2020 and thinking about how things have been, what we have accomplished and what we have overcome. Like most people, this year was not easy. We had grand business plans that seems to get ruffled by the mandated shut downs and quarantine. We had trips planned, family that we wanted to visit and way more in person schooling that we were hoping for. We wished for meet the teacher nights, flights to see family, in person craft nights and so much more. As I reflect back on what we actually got from 2020, this is what I see:

I see backyard adventures, I see my kids grow together because for a time, they were their only playmates. I see that they are better problem solvers, and more creative players.

I see massive amounts of elderberry being made with one of my best friends in preparation for the impending pandemic.

I remember taking my kids to the store before everything shut down for good and seeing the shelves cleared, and stocking our own shelves when we could because you never knew what was going to happen next.

I remember doing SO much baking, especially in the beginning.

I will remember pulling together with other local seamstresses to make hundreds of masks for first responders, health care workers and assisted living facilities.

We did workout groups when it was safe, and did sporadic home workouts between.

Lots of home projects!

I will never forget having church at home on Sunday’s, and what it was like being back socially distant and wearing masks.

I cut my own hair for the very first time, and LOVED it!!

We got to know our neighbors better, which included having a social distance bingo night and explored our little neighborhood! We ended up finding a really fun creek that we frequented a lot in Spring/Summer.

The kids got better on their bikes, and Davis learned to ride WITHOUT training wheels!!

We picked strawberries, and made homemade strawberry jam for the first time, which i totally nailed!!

Nolan’s cute preschool teachers brought over packets, activities, and even helped celebrate his birthday! My depth of gratitude for these sweet humans cannot be underestimated! I also am so grateful they were still able to do their Christmas program… that was a major highlight!

The reservoir is only 5 minutes from our house, so we frequented it often! We kayaked, hiked and swam as much as we could!

Despite the travel plans had, we still found time and safe ways to travel. I started the year with a girls trip to Orlando/Boca Raton.

As a family we got to travel to North Topsail Beach, NC…

Treasure Island, FL to visit my parents and sister…

Atlantic Beach, NC

Myrtle Beach, SC

Boone and Blowing Rock, NC!

We had Davis’s first season of flag football, and him finally overcoming his shyness, and actually having fun with it!

The pool was basically our second home this summer… we spent so much time there soaking in the sun, Nolan learning to swim without floaties, and each of the kiddos becoming more and more like fish with everyday.

I see my family connecting with the community to raise awareness for human trafficking in prayer walks, social media posts, donations and marches.

I see Davis closing out Kindergarten and entering First Grade, and Nolan enter Pre-K with great eagerness!

I will remember my utter frustration with the word virtual. Virtual learning, virtual youth activities, and virtual game nights. Grateful that we have tech that can connect us and bring us together for those moments, but especially with virtual learning… my mind and my heart was HEAVY in finding a way to make that work with our family.

I see play dates, spending time with friends that have basically become family to us, and the boys doing their first soccer clinic.

I remember the day vividly when parks reopened and how i literally cried watching my kids play with other kids at a park for the first time in 6 months.

I see our neighborhood pulling together safely for Halloween and Christmas to host events to show kids magic and tradition during this very nontraditional year.

I won’t forget driving around looking at Christmas lights, and drinking hot chocolate. It was one of those simple but perfect and powerful memories.

Most excitingly…. Patrick quit his corporate job so we could fully pursue Carolina Wood Company as our full time gig and income!

When I look back at this year, I’m so saddened by the amount of friction and devastation that I’ve felt and seen friends and family go through. Loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, mental health suffering, physical health being compromised, and families broken apart. But for me and my family, I am grateful for the growth we had this year. I’m grateful for what this year put us through because we are truly better off for it. We have learned SO much, and refined our lives to reflect a better way. We found what is truly important for us, and where we feel the Lord’s hand guiding us. I would have preferred not to learn in this way, but I’m grateful for where we are because I know we are headed in the right direction with the right people right beside us!

Cheers to 2021! It WILL be great!

Magic at Chetola Resort

Okay so you know those cute Hallmark movies that take place in a small town, with so much cute charm you think “this just can’t be real”? Well guys…. I found one!! And if you followed my IG stories from earlier in the week, you know exactly what I’m talking about! Our family just had the best couple days at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, NC! If you haven’t been, let me convince you why this is one of the best places you could stay in the area! And let me start by saying that Chetola in Cherokee means Haven of Rest.

We have been fortunate enough to travel and stay in quite a few different places around the country, and this is the only one that that felt like home as soon as we drove onto the property. Sure, part of it is the Christmas magic, which let me tell you is abundantly bright and beautiful! We were in awe by all the beautiful lights strung up around the property, in the restaurant and around the lake. However, I think the real magic truly comes from being able to step back in time and enjoy the beauty of being at “grandmas” house. It felt warm, inviting, and like you belonged there. It brings a sense of home as soon as you walk in.

We stayed in the Quail building, which is toward the end of the property, which may I add backs up towards beautiful woods and just past that is the Tanger Outlets! Major win! We may or may not have done some last minute Christmas shopping there, and Davis’s favorite part.. getting to meet Elvis the dinosaur! Major marketing points for Doc’s Rocks, which of course we had to head to right after seeing this dino!

Anyhow… the Quail building.. it was situated at the edge of the property, so it was a short 1 min drive to the main building and restaurant. If it wasn’t winter, it would have been something we likely would have walked to but in the cold… no thanks! It was a beautiful retreat from the world, which truthfully we needed so badly! Service wasn’t amazing, there were spots up there that nothing would load on our phones, and the main living spots that we knew service would be solid, which allowed the recharge even more powerful for our family. It was a slice of heaven we didn’t know we needed.

The room!

The kitchen is equipped with a stove, oven, microwave, refrigerator, and dishwasher. It has all the workings to make a home cooked meal or heat up some late night snacks. The dining space is right off the kitchen, and that overlooks the family room and balcony. The entire main living space just breathes the ambiance of home. It has all the quaint rustic charm that you want in a cabin retreat, but with all the space and amenities that you need to be comfortable. There are two bathrooms, and two bedrooms, both with the cutest quilts! The kids room had two twin beds and a small closet, and the master was quite large with a king sized bed and a large walk in closet (perfect for the pack n play!). It all felt very clean, which I am VERY picky about! I am weird with smells, and even the appearance of dirty spaces, and I felt very comfortable to kick off our shoes at the end of the day and curl up on the couch to watch a movie or play games!

During the day we explored the area, went tubing, looked at lights and enjoyed the Timberlake Restaurant on the property. There is so much history and beauty up in this little corner of North Carolina, it’s rich with activities, quaint shops, the downtown area of both Blowing Rock and Boone are nearby and we do some of our favorite shopping in those areas!

The Restaurant is open, but are operating at a limited capacity, so if you are wanting to dine there (which I would highly recommend), I would suggest getting a reservation at least a day in advance. We scored a 4:30 reservation with one day notice, and it actually was perfect for our little family, but if you don’t want to eat that early, I would suggest reserving earlier. The staff and food were all wonderful! We tried entrees, appetizers, deserts and of course kids menu items, and all of it was so well done! Our cute waitress, Cait, went above and beyond for our family! They didn’t have coloring pages, so she went out and drew three snowmen on blank papers for them to color. The cutest right?? Plus, she totally indulged Davis in all his dinosaur facts and even taught him a new one, which let me tell you is tough to do! When people go out of their way to be kind, it just leaves a mark on your heart, and we felt that here! Hearts warm and tummies full!

In the main building, which is right next to the restaurant, that’s where our kids favorite part was… the heated swimming pool! Yes! Swimming in December is possible! Our kids were in heaven. I thankfully had remembered to bring swimsuits, but forgot any floaties or pool toys. But, wouldn’t you know, Chetola totally had us covered! They have noodles, a few toys, life jackets and puddle jumpers. All of which gets cleaned and sanitized everyday! It was a great way to burn off that extra energy right before bedtime!

All in all, I would rate this place a 10/10, 5 stars, A+… it checks all of my boxes. It is charming, clean, family friendly, delicious food, wonderful service, and allows one of a kind memories to be made and cherished forever. Chetola… we will be back! Thank you for having us and giving us a “Haven of Rest”!

Stories by the Sea

Covid-19 has brought out a lot of different emotions from me as a mom, entrepreneur, sister, and friend. As a family that thrives in going and doing, this change of pace has been beautiful for us to refocus on what matters most! However, every spring I feel a strong desire to dust off the winter blues and jump into our warm North Carolina spring. We were lucky enough to find an oceanfront, spacious, beautiful beach house that allowed us to spread our wings and make some memories!

Now, we knew going into this week that the weather wouldn’t be our perfect sunny beach weather, but we went for it anyways and it was just what we needed.

This home is located on the beach in North Topsail Island, North Carolina, which is beautiful, clean, safe and very family friendly! This home is a 4 level beach house with 5 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms fully furnished and ready for visitors.

Each room has a cute beach name with perfect beach vibes with a lot of thoughtful details. Coasters on the nightstands, trays for your rings and things, black out curtains, usb charging stations, TVs with labeled remotes so even if your toddler takes one from one room into the next, you’ll know where it belongs. Each room also comes with freshly laundered linens and towels prepared for you, or you can bring your own to save some money, which is what we did!

My husband and I got to sleep in the Sand Dollar room, which overlooks the ocean, and has a hot tub right on the deck! It’s quite peaceful (and romantic I might add) to get the kids in bed and enjoy a night with the sound of waves crashing while we are unwinding in the hot tub together! We got to really relax, unwind and enjoy the peace filled air. The room has a king sized bed and super comfy pillows. The room is spacious with a lot of space to unpack and store your things. One of the BIGGEST sellers that I feel needs to be mentioned about this room is the closet! I know what your thinking… chill out. It’s just a closet. And where, yes it is just a closet, as a frequent traveler with babies, closets often become rooms for babies in pack n plays. And if this was a vacation we were taking a year ago when I was still nursing Hallie, this would be perfect for that! It has its own set of doors, is within distance of a plug for her white noise, and a vent… plus its close enough that when she woke up I could get her without much effort. Again, this isn’t what happened, but… I am putting it out there because I know there are moms that look at closets and wonder… “could I fit a pack n play in there??”. I know I am not alone! Moving on.. the Sand Dollar bathroom is great. Double sinks, storage, bath tub and great water pressure for the shower!

Such a cute swimsuit drying station!

The boys slept in the Coral Reef room, which has a queen sized bed, a generous closet and TV as well. This room is directly down the hall from us, which was convenient when our 3 year old woke up needing help to go potty. This room shares a bathroom with the Captain and Mermaids room, which my kids call the bunk bed room. The spacious bathroom that they share has 2 sinks, plenty of storage, a linen closet and a tub/shower as well.

The Captain and Mermaids room (the bunk bed room) has 4 twin sized beds in 2 bunks with ladders. Super cute, and playful room! I would have my boys in there except it was a little better suited for Hallie because she is still in a pack n play, and it fit quite perfectly beside the top of one of the beds and the closet/wall (see below) which provided a little natural dimness to the space for her afternoon naps. So again, for the moms wondering where the pack n plays can go… I got you! If we were sharing this home with some other families, we could have fit our whole family of 5 in this room. We would have been tight, but we for sure could have done it!

Upstairs is the kitchen, dining room, living room, half bath and the Ocean Blue room, which has a complete bathroom en-suite. Ocean Blue has a king sized bed, with all the amenities in the other rooms. They were quite thoughtful to include the same things in each room to be cautious and curtious to families coming and sharing the space.

In the kitchen there are labels inside the cabinets and drawers so you know where to put things away or where to find certain cooking utensils, which I found to be super helpful! I appreciated how incredibly well stocked the kitchen was with baking dishes, pyrex dishes, pots, pans, mixing bowls, a crock pot, rice maker, blender, dinnerware, mugs and glasses, and more! So incredibly well stocked. She even has a complimentary corner filled with great spices that you may have forgotten when meal planning. I was very impressed. I thought we came prepared, but more than once I was grateful for how well stocked the kitchen was with the necessities!

The living room felt very cozy and warm provided with comfy couches, books to read, and games to play. We frankly spent a good amount of time there because the weather wasn’t great, but it was well suited for Netflixing, napping, playing games and admiring the ocean views! Right outside from the living room and dining room is the deck that looks uninterrupted at the beautiful iconic North Carolina sandy dunes and ocean. The seating is perfect for those beautiful morning sunrises or evening sunsets.