Disneyland Vacation Recap + Tips

So I realize I am about 3 months late with his post, but better late than never eh? It sure has been a minute since I did any kind of a vacation re-cap, but this time I might actually have valuable information to share, so let’s go.

But first, a quick run down of our June vacation itinerary and the reasons behind the choices we made.

Tickets –

We decided to spend 2 days at Disneyland, and opted to go on a Tuesday and Wednesday (weekday crowds are supposedly better) and I researched blackout dates for season ticket holders (dates where they cannot use their passes). We went for the single park per day option instead of the park-hopper, rationalizing that, with kids it was probably unrealistic to think we could easily go back and fourth. We figured one full day at each park would be perfect, so we selected California Adventure for our first day and Disneyland for our second day. We also added on the Genie+ option which added an extra $20 per ticket per day. All in all, an extra $160 for all four of us. You can read all about the Genie+ pass here, but basically you can think of it as paying for fast passes (if you remember those). Genie+ means you can make a “reservation” for a ride and use the “lightening lane” (a.k.a fast pass lane) to bypass the standby line. The other big perk with Genie+ is that all the photos are included. This includes the ride photos (like Splash Mountain, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc.) and then any photos from the many Disney photographers that walk around. I will show some of these photos below. There are other perks, but those are the main ones at least for me.

Day 1 –

As I mentioned in a post I wrote before we left, we had planned on renting a stroller for Clara so her little legs would not have to carry her all over the park. We ended up abandoning this idea due to our park entrance strategy! We basically followed the guide from Mickeyvisit.com (cannot recommend this site enough) and knew that the best way to have a successful day at Disney is to start early. The crowds, wait times, and hot weather is at it’s best within the first hour – 1.5 hours. So getting to the park well before it opens is the best way to make this happen. The parks open at 8 am, and we were already through the main gates and situated in front of our chosen “land” for “rope drop”. These were all new-to-me terms that I was well versed on by the time we left.

I should also mention that we were able to wake up at the hour of 6:00 am for two reasons. We have little kids who wake up naturally at this time, and we stayed in Anaheim next to the parks. If you are traveling from far, or trying to drag teenagers out of bed, I realize that this does not make sense!

Following the guide, we distributed food once we were standing in line for the “rope drop” location to keep us busy. We also met and became friends with so many fun people around us. This was when we learned some of the most valuable information of all, such as:

  • How to use the Disneyland app, make lightening lane reservations, order food, etc.
  • What the height requirements for all the rides were (read more about that below)
  • What time all the night-time festivities began

It turned out that 40 inches seemed to be the make-or-break height requirement for several of the rides we wanted to take our adventurous little Clara on. Since we weren’t sure if she would make the cut (even with her Nikes on) some lovely parents next to us passed us a handful of extra raw sugar packets that they were stuffing in their kids shoes. We hesitantly took them, with confused looks on our faces. They explained to us that their son was mere millimeters away from the 40 inches so they were hoping that by stuffing the sugar packets under his foot, it would boost him up to the height he needed to go on his favorite rides. We laughed and threw them in the backpack, thinking we wouldn’t use them.

We followed this morning ride strategy from Mickeyvisit.com and headed directly to Cars Radiator Springs. We quickly realized that everyone else was headed this way as well, and we ended up waiting about 80 min to get on this ride! It was by far the longest wait we did the whole time we were there. It was definitely not the greatest, but at least it was about 70 degrees outside and our excitement definitely made the time pass.

We continued to follow the guide, riding Toy Story Midway Mania, Incredicoaster, Soarin, Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind, Pixar’s Pal-a-Round, and we attended the Disney Jr. Dance Party (which I would highly recommend if you have little ones). Then, all of my dreams came true when I got to ride The Little Mermaid with Clara. Watching her face light up and squeal with laughter…I MEAN. This is literally the pay-off you get for having kids, moments like that. Makes every hard thing so worth it.

We also happened upon the Sorcerer’s Workshop in the animation building. YOU GUYS. If you have kids, you MUST find this. Inside, there is a whole room that looks like the Beast’s library. It is SO cool, and they have little interactive stations. There is also a whole giant room where they play clips from Disney movies. The other bonus of this room is the fact that it is dark and has strong A.C, so there were several families in there with strollers letting their kids nap. How genius!

We had lunch at the Pym Test Kitchen where E and I both ordered the famous Pymini Panini (found on TikTok of course). And it lived up to the hype – delish. David and I shared a hard-seltzer (3 cheers for alcohol at California Adventure!) and we headed back to the hotel for a nap.

We stayed at the Radisson Blu Anaheim which was one of the nicest hotels I have stayed at. Granted, I have not stayed at the Four Seasons, but you get me. It was brand new, had a gorgeous lobby, really cute gift shop, AMAZINGLY nice customer service, super duper clean, and there were 2 pools. One of the pools is on the rooftop, is gorgeous, and is adult-only (not like we got to partake in that, but I still thought it was badass). We rode the ART shuttle (Anaheim Resort Transportation) back to the hotel after a bit of negotiating with the driver. You see, they make the whole shuttle system seem pretty easy but we did not find that to be the case. We were told that shuttles come every 20 min, and also that you have to request them. It was confusing but eventually we got the hang of it.

We all took naps back at the hotel on the first day. Our room was amazing, had 2 queen beds and a set of bunk beds. The girls slept in the bunk beds and David and I decided that having our own beds was seriously amazing for this kind of a vacation. Plenty of room to collapse and no biggie if the girls wanted to crawl into bed with one of us.

After naps we headed back to the park, did some more rides and of course got snacks. David and I found it pretty easy to trade off and on, riding things with E while the other parent hung with Clara and went on another ride with her. One option we did not really take advantage of was the rider switch. Apparently you can get in line together, and one parent can stand off to the side with the little kid while the other parent rides the ride with the older kid and then the parent that was with the little kid can ride the ride without having to wait in the standby line again. Whew!

That night, we watched the laser lights show and it really was amazing! After it ended, Clara and I went back to the hotel while David and E stayed until the park closed at 10 pm.

Day 2 –

The next day it was very much a rinse-and-repeat situation only we were in Disneyland this time. We arrived to the park early and made sure we were in place for the “rope drop” so we could zoom over to one of my all-time favorite Disneyland rides, Peter Pan. We also had to get a Minnie Mouse cake pop.

Of course, as we approached Fantasyland we quickly realized the ride was not open. So we decided to hop around Fantasyland and do all the small rides like Snow White, Frog and Toad, Pinocchio, etc. Of course we had to stop by New Orleans square (my favorite) that morning for a beignet!

Then David and I took turns standing in line for Clara to meet the princesses in the royal hall. I ended up missing our time slot and she went in with David. She ended up meeting Anna, Ariel, and Cinderella and was absolutely over the moon. He got it all on video, but I was pretty disappointed to have missed it. Luckily, we ended up getting to meet Elsa by the wishing well right afterwards and it was SO magical. I think meeting the characters is maybe my favorite thing about Disneyland.

ALSO! We saw Gaston! We did not get to meet him, but as we walked by I said “Hi Gaston!” to which he replied “Bonjour! Have you seen my bride-to-be, Belle?” OH GASTON.

Then of course we visited the Bippidi Boppidi Boutique, which sadly did not offer the styling services. We let Clara pick something out and of course she chose the Rapunzel crown – MAJESTY!

E caught the Disneyland Loungefly bug and decided that was what she wanted. I think she chose one of the cutest ones!

The rest of the day was spent doing several of the more kid-friendly experiences.

Clara ended up LOVING the Autopia ride. I let her “drive” and she was cackling the entire time.

I was having the best time, as so much has changed since I was a kid. We also OF COURSE visited the Tiki Room, a Disneyland classic. And we got so many classic Disneyland treats, like the infamous turkey leg which E decided to tackle all on her own!

To close out the day, we did the Winnie the Pooh ride which I had never been on before and it was adorable. I did end up missing out on some of my faves like Space Mountain and the Matterhorn, but all-in-all the day was perfect.

The next day we hit up downtown Disney before heading back to Palm Springs. I would highly recommend doing this, so many fun things to see. I ended up getting thee most beautiful candle ever (pumpkin spice scented!).

Such a perfect trip to Disney and one that I will never forget!

We Started Daycare

Hi folks.

Today, I am callin’ it as I see it, no sugar-coatin’. I am doing this for a couple of reasons. First, the state I am in just plain sucks. And because I notice that ESPECIALLY when it comes to our kids, we have a hard time admitting when things are less than ideal. And I get it, it’s way more fun to post a pic of their toothy little grins with captions like, “First day of school smiles!”. But that isn’t always real life and we know it. So here on this little space of mine, I am going to keep it honest, as I always try to do.

I sometimes call it “pre-school” because well, that sounds better. And I know they color a picture or two, do a worksheet, glance at a flashcard – but when your 3.5 year old is there for more than 2 hours…sorry but that’s daycare. No way around it.

Clara started going half-days, 3 days a week a couple of weeks ago and the decision was NOT easy. Apparently I have champagne taste on a beer budget. I would have loved for Clara to attend one of the more bougie places near our office but doling out $1,700+ a month just is not in the cards for us. We were challenged with striking the right balance of finding a place that was somewhat close by, reasonably clean, had A.C, would take her not fully potty trained, had qualified staff, and of course, was within our budget. So we toured some places, thought more about it, and decided we needed to just pick something, try it out, and see what happens.

Well, here’s what happened.

Morning of her first day – out of a movie. All smiles. Backpack on. Front porch pic.

We dropped her off with no problem at all, except for the fact that as soon as we walked out I began to ugly cry.

I composed myself before getting into the office and the hustle and bustle at work proved to be a great distraction until we received this text in the late morning.

And you know, because I am dramatic and have a sizable anxiety disorder, I did not take this news well. May as well tell me the Titanic went down again, or Tom Hanks died. I immediately started to panic and wanted to go pick her up but her Grandma was already slated to be there in an hour and they said she was having fun.

As soon as pickup time rolled around, I anxiously awaited the text from Grandma. I was hoping to hear that she ended up having the best day ever. Then I heard my phone go off and opened the message to see this photo:

MY HEART. My stomach sank down through the floor and I swear I blacked out momentarily (ok I am being a tad dramatic here, but I am painting a picture). Luckily for me, I work with both my BFF and my husband and they immediately reminded me that she is a covid kid, who needed a structured environment with other kids. That this is good for her. Daycare just kicked her a** but she is ok. I knew she also had fun, socialized, and laughed. I knew she needed this.

I guess what I did not know is…this would be the hardest EFFING thing I’ve ever had to do.

I try to repeat calming daycare mantras to myself when I feel the sadness welling up in my throat. “She is only there half-days”, “It’s only 3 days a week.”, “This is good for her.” BLAH BLAH BLAH. Alllll I want to do is go get her. I want to scoop her up and never let her go. I want to do each and every hard thing for her. I want to be the one to trip and fall and scrape my face instead. I want to shield her, hold her, protect her.

But like duhhhhhhhh I know I have to let her fall. And struggle. And experience hardship. And worse yet, if I don’t – she will turn out all messed up. I guess kids are kinda like soufflés in a way, there are periods where you just have to let them be. And as much as you want to check on them, baby them to be sure everything is going well, you can’t or else it ruins the outcome. More than anything I want Clara to be a strong, capable, badass – and if I follow my instincts I might rid her of those qualities.

As I have stated before, I learn so much each and every day not only about parenting and my kids, but more than anything about myself. And life. How much perspectives can change. I learn how much I don’t know. How much I will never know.

*Insert Jonie Mitchell’s, “Both Sides Now” (world’s greatest song)*

You choose to bring a kid into the world and you have to keep it alive by doing everything for it. Then it grows and instinctively starts to walk, run, talk, etc. It no longer needs you as much. For me, this is SO hard to swallow. I feel cheated, like I wasn’t warned. Sometimes I feel like I am expected to just be OK with the changes that happen as she gets older, but most of the time all of the time, I need a minute. To feel the loss, to try and appreciate and accept the change. (deep breath) I can get there.

To get back to our story, David and I left work that afternoon and I got home to my tired little lass.

I basically did not want to let her go until she was struggling out of my arms. I also inspected her scrapes and her knee actually took the brunt of it. Kids are so resilient, man. Look at the smile on her little scraped up mug.

Since her first day, we’ve had good and bad days. Mornings where she cries, clings to my legs, and says “Mommy take me home!”. And then just today when David dropped her off, she said “Daddy you can leave” and she plopped right down and started playing.

(another deep breath)

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions that I recall
I really don’t know love
Really don’t know love at all

Summer Favorites

So the summer is just flying by for me. Anyone else?

I blame June. June was an asshole this year. Just abysmal and then all of the sudden it was the 4th of July and I have barely had any watermelon or walked around outside without shoes on. Luckily I think we’ve had enough nice days to qualify as a pseudo-summer, at the very least. My summer usually involves air-dried hair, no makeup, shorts, birks and a rotation of about 5 tee shirts. This summer is no exception, however a few new items have snuck their way in and I thought they were all worthy of a mention. Or as many as a 30-something lady can safely handle.

CLOTHING

Veronica M – Josephine Smocked Halter Jumpsuit

(Photos courtesy of my stepdaughter!)

You guys, I think I have found the world’s most perfect jumpsuit for tall girls. This one from Veronica M, has a smocked waist and bust, making it perfect for a longer torso AND it has a halter tie neck so it is totally adjustable. I have never found a romper or jumpsuit that fits me this well! The bright floral print is so fun and also fiercely feminine. I have been wearing this non-stop, and love that I can pair it with basic sandals for a casual look, or heels to dress it up.

Joy Lab Clothing

Has anyone else tried the Joy Lab brand from Target? My sister Megan turned me on to this brand, and compared the quality to Lululemon. I have slowly started accumulating a few things from Joy Lab and could not be more impressed with the quality.

These French terry mid-rise shorts have been my new wardrobe staple. The quality is amazing, especially for something you can get at Target! Highly recommend!

Where Light Prescription Sunglasses

I ordered 3 pairs of glasses from Where Light a couple of months ago for $41. That comes out to like $13 a pair – and they’re all prescription! These sunglasses are super fun, very comfortable and best of all, I can see! I also got 2 pairs of oversized regular glasses (1 pictured below) and they are so fun. My mom told me I look ridiculous but I LIKE THEM.

Pantuss Sandal Slippers

Not sure about all of you, but in the summer my feet take a beating. Maybe it’s because I have always been really hard on them, or maybe its the fact that I have flat feet? Whatever the case, these slip on sandal slippers from Pantuss are simply amazing. What makes them so unique is the removeable soles that are filled with flax seeds and lavender that you throw in the microwave for 30 seconds to heat up. Then you slip your tired feet into the warm, fluffy and aromatic slippers and truly feel like you are having a day at the spa.

BEAUTY/HEALTH

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Lemon

I have been trying to work more collagen into my beverages with the Vital Proteins collagen powders. Recently I was sent this lemon version from Influenster (which if you have not signed up for – I highly recommend it!) and love the flavor! I have been mixing 2 scoops in to a tall glass of water and it really just tastes like a not-too-sweet glass of lemonade. Love it!

Love Beauty and Planet Vitamin Gummies

I started taking these hair and nails vegan vitamin gummies from Love Beauty and Planet and have really been enjoying them. My nails are growing faster and stronger than ever! Also, these gummies taste good and are heart-shaped so basically what’s not to love?!

Maybelline Cheek Heat Cream Blush in Pink Scorch

I am almost through an entire tube of this amazing cream/gel blush from Maybelline! I love the consistency, super fun to apply. It is also just the right amount of color once you rub it in. I have been applying this with either my fingers, or a dense stippling brush and it is just stunning on the skin. The shade Pink Scorch is a nice cool pink – which I actually find suits my skin quite nicely. I want to try all of the colors, and at about $6 a tube, it is definitely happening.

Sol de Janeiro Coco Cabana Body Mist

Allow me to introduce you all to my signature summer scent! I just bought this not long ago, and am already over 1/3 of the way through the bottle. If you want to smell like an absolute snack, go get you some of this. The website says this smells of “young green coconut cream, tropical orchid, and toasted praline”, which I do agree with. The combination of sweet coconut with the soft floral and that unmistakable Sol de Janeiro toasted praline is just *chef’s kiss*.

HOME

Splish Splash Hand Poured Soy Candle in French Vanilla

This candle has been keeping me company in my office and smells (to me, anyway) just like vanilla ice cream – smooth, sweet and irresistibly delicious! Splish Splash is an awesome small business out of Vancouver Canada that makes small batch handmade products with natural,cruelty-free, vegan, paraben free, sulfate-free, and phthalate-free ingredients. I also have the pineapple colada lip balm and it is among my new favorites!

The Laundress Fabric Fresh No. 723

If I haven’t made this abundantly clear already, I am fairly obsessed with scented things. I want my whole world to smell nice and if I could, I would have everything I own smell like this stuff. The Laundress describes the scent as “blooming with Damask rose, geranium, jasmine, and warm notes of amber and wood” but I call it heaven. Basically if you want your sheets, towels, couch or any other fabric items to smell like a bougie hotel – just get yerself some of this. Oh yeah, this scent is also available in detergent, fabric softener, and a candle!

Scentsy Pink Sugarberry Mint Wax Bar

Apparently all my summer home favorites are scented items! If I have not told you all this already, this wax bar from Scentsy has completely and totally won me over. I have it in my car now, and will probably be buying it in every product they offer before the summer is over. Scentsy describes this as “plump raspberry is delightfully dusted with sugar and the sweetest hint of peppermint”, which I halfway agree with if you added in a cotton candy note. It is amazing and actually ON SALE right now. And if you do not have a person to order from, feel free to use my amazing friend and Scentsy gal, Ashlee!

And that’s the list for now kidlets. Stay tuned for our Disneyland trip recap, it’s in the works!

Updated Skin + Body Care Routine

Ladies and gents, it is time!

So many new things have entered my life as of late, but the most notable is arguably all the new skincare I have been using! And I don’t know about you, but I am a “switch it up” kind of gal when it comes to certain beauty products. Of course we all have our tried-and-true, ride-or-die faves, e.g. Cetaphil cleanser, Donna Karen Cashmere Mist deodorant, or the Laneige Lip Mask just to name a few. But for me at least, it’s fun to throw new players into the lineup and see how well they perform!

Let’s get to it.

Terrakai Kakadu Plum + Emu Apple Cleansing Milk

This cleanser is SO good at removing every stitch of makeup, dirt, and oil. It’s creamy, almost lotion-like consistency also makes it super hydrating and leaves my skin feeling more plump, which is crazy! This stuff is definitely great for ageing skin and I cannot recommend it more.

Thayers Rose Petal Facial Toner

SUCH a great, yet simple toner. This stuff does not dry me out, but is super refreshing and removes every last bit of grime. I feel like it helps all the other products absorb so much better into my skin and you cannot beat the rose scent. Definitely a new staple for me.

Trader Joes Microdermabrasion Scrub

I have heard such great things about a few of the expanding line of skincare products at Trader Joes. The gel moisturizer is often compared to the Clinique version, and even regarded as superior! I am always in the market for a good microdermabrasion so when I saw this, I decided to give it a shot. What I look for in a microdermabrasion (as the name would suggest) is super fine (micro) scrubbies. This one did not disappoint, especially for $6. My face always feels softer and more radiant after using this. I will definitely repurchase.

Anokha Blue Clay Clarifying Mask

I LOVE to use this mask when my skin needs a bit of a restart. A control-alt-delete if you will. I do occasionally experience breakouts on my chin and when I feel it coming on, I immediately whip this out. The mask itself comes in a powder form, which you mix with a little water and apply to dry skin. I leave it on until not quite dry and then remove with a washcloth. Afterwards, my pores feel like they have been completely cleaned out and my skin appears brighter.

Ambered Ember Plumping Serum

I have been loving this plumping serum from Ambered Ember! Let’s be real, anything with the word “plumping” in it just has my heart and this stuff does not disappoint. One of the ingredients is silica, which according to the website, “helps to bind degenerating tissue layers associated with aging”. The formulation is great, super smoothing, non-greasy and really does give an immediate youthful glow.

Bae Six All Day ‘Err Day Moisturizer SPF 35++

This moisturizer with SPF came with me on our Palm Springs vacation a couple weeks ago and lemme tell ya, it did great in 115 degrees! It sinks into the skin very nicely and provides a great dose of moisture, something I really needed in the dry desert heat.

Curel Moisture Facial Milk

I love to use this moisturizer when my skin needs a rest from heavier lotions or when it is super hot outside. This moisturizer is lightweight, fragrance-free and great for sensitive skin. I like to use it when I have a break-out or feel one coming on. I have also used it “slugging” as the kids say, as it contains ceramides which act as a great skin barrier.

Differin Gel

I started trying out Differin Gel after watching Dr. Dray on YouTube. I love that she gets right to the point and is no-nonsense about skincare. What I learned is apparently adapalene can provide the same benefits for the skin as tretinoin and retinols do, and perhaps even more effective. So I bought it to use in place of my usual tretinoin and have also been enjoying using it on breakouts as well. I have not experienced any of the common issues that occur with retinol/tretinoin use, such as skin peeling and dryness so I think Differin (adapalene) might be the anti-ageing treatment for me. I will also add that it works great on breakouts and definitely cuts down on the length and severity of them for me.

Agency Dark Spot Formula

You might remember this stuff from my Agency skincare review post. I was using Agency tretinoin and this dark spot formula for the past several months but (as previously mentioned) wanted to switch things up for new products. I have been continuing to use this product because I do feel it is helping keep my dark spots at bay. However, the number one treatment I would recommend for dark spots is IPL photo facials. Those have single handedly removed the majority of dark spots from my face. This stuff is great for use in between and does not irritate my skin.

ACO Sensitive Eye Cream

Recently I spent $45 on an eye cream that promised to do everything. Trap in moisture, de-puff, lighten the dark circles, and act as a nice base for concealing products. I am here to report that the $45 cream did NONE of that. In fact, it seemed to sit on the top of my eye skin and once it dried, I could almost roll it up into a little ball. NO BUENO. This eye cream from ACO Skin Care costs $25 and has been working wonders! I immediately noticed a tiny reduction in the dark circles under my eyes, which lemme tell ya – is really saying something. My under eyes appear more hydrated and refreshed, without being too heavy. I also love that it is safe for sensitive skin and comes in a squeezy tube. I am hooked!

The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Lash and Brow Serum

I signed up on Deciem to be notified the SECOND this stuff was released. As you may or may not know, I have been a Grande Lash user for several years now (read my full review here). Grande Lash works. It provides both length and volume with consistent use, but it does have its drawbacks. For me, is slightly darkens the lash line where it is applied which does not bother me but could be bothersome for others. It also costs about $68 for a 3-month supply which aint cheap. I have been looking for a comparable, less expensive alternative lately and wasn’t really getting anywhere. Then I got an email alert that The Ordinary was coming out with a serum. The Ordinary can be hit or miss for people but has mostly been a hit for me. I love several of their products and was delighted to try this stuff out. I have only been using it for a couple of weeks now, so the jury is still out. I will provide a full review in another month or so when I have more details. So stay tuned if you are interested!

Anokha Lip Butter

As a final step in my skincare routine, I have been using this lip butter from Anokha. This stuff contains beeswax, camellia oil, sunflower seed oil, vitamin e, and peppermint. I love to use this right before bed, as the formula is super nourishing and comfortable. It also works great as a base for lipstick (especially drying ones!) and I find the peppermint to be very mild.

BIA Skin Body Polish and Exfoliating Treatment Mist

As for body care, y’all know about my battle with KP. I have tried every product under the sun! Recently I discovered these products from BIA Skin and I am beyond impressed. First, the Body Polish contains glycolic acid, which is has so many benefits for the skin. According to the website glycolic acid “works by speeding up cell turnover and helps dissolve the bonds that hold skin cells together”. Which in the case of KP, is a very good thing as it helps breaks down that built-up keratin. I not only use this on my KP, but anywhere else where exfoliation is needed.

The Exfoliating Treatment Mist is such a genius product! Similar to a toner for the face, this product helps to prep skin to absorb other treatment AND contains hyaluronic acid for moisture, allantoin which helps to soothe and calm skin, glycolic acid and salicylic acid. All the good stuff! I like to mist this all over my legs and then follow up with lotion.

Check out how clear my leg looks – the inside of my knees are my biggest problem area with KP.

FGBG Hair Skin Nails and Sol Goddess Natural Body and Sun Oil

These Hair Skin and Nails gummies from FGBG taste delicious, come individually packaged and really do the trick, especially with nail growth. My nails are super strong and I have to trim them about once a week!

I love using the body oil when I want to my skin to have that bit of sheen that only an oil-based product can provide. I love the aerosol mist, as it dispenses just the right amount of product. It is not overly greasy or hard to wash off and is unscented, making it great for sensitive skin!

And that wraps it up folks! Stay tuned for a vacation/Disneyland recap!

What I’m Packing – Disneyland + Palm Springs

The title says it all folks.

We’re embarking on a maiden voyage south to Palm Springs and eventually, (hopefully) Disneyland. We do not take this lightly. David and I have a pretty good idea of what we’re in for. And so, armed with our Genie+ passes, my best tenni-runners and David’s voraciousness, we shall make the pilgrimage! We shall rent that red Disney stroller! We shall regret renting the stroller! We will brave the lines and fight our way through the covidy crowds to pay $20 for the elusive marshmallow churro! WE SHALL OVERCOME!!!

But really, you kinda have to embrace this attitude if you’re going to tackle this itinerary:

  • Fly into Palm Springs where temperatures are expected to be over 110 degrees
  • Drive to Anaheim and stay 2 nights – California Adventure then Disneyland
  • Drive back to Palm Springs
  • Fly home

I mean, I would be worried if David and I weren’t listening to Jock Jams every night to prepare ourselves.

But as crazy as this all sounds, we are all SO EXCITED. Clara is at the age where she absolutely adores Mickey and Minnie and of course alllll the princesses. E cannot wait to get on all the roller coasters and stay up later (she is 11 after all). As for me? I am going to be on a serious hunt for all the Disney treats I’ve been lusting after on TikTok.

The next few days will of course be spent packing us up and I figured what better time to show you all a few items I will be bringing along.

For the children –

Tadpool Life Jacket with UPF 50 (similar here)

This little swim shirt/floaties/puddle jumper hybrid has been the best investment. It keeps our 3.5 year old afloat, has a little strap in the back so we can kind of guide her around the pool, and contains UPF for sun protection. It is perfect.

Sunnies Sunglasses

Clara outgrew all of her baby sunglasses so it was time to find a new pair. Sunnies sunglasses for kids are durable, polarized, comfortable and best of all – super cute! Totally fit the bill and Clara wears them so well!

Toddler Headphones

It was high-time we get Clara a set of her own headphones. Frankly idk how we have lasted this long with out them. I did a little research and landed on these babies for about $20. They can be wireless or wired, have volume controls (so they don’t hurt their ears), and have a 15 hour battery life. Win!

Fanny Pack

We got E this cute black fanny pack (worn around her chest, as per the cool kids) to wear and stay hands-free. So cute, lightweight and adjustable!

Melissa and Doug Triangular Crayons

These hearty crayons will not roll around on the plane or under couches and the come in a little case to stay organized! Because obviously we always stay organized ;).

For me –

OSD Beauty Blueberry Scrub

A good body scrub is 100% necessary if self-tanning is in your future. Since the current color of my skin is what I can only describe as translucent, I will be self tanning before photos are taken. Exfoliation is of course a key step and this scrub from OSD Beauty totally fits the bill. This one combines sea salt with nourishing blueberry seed and jojoba oil to work double duty – getting rid of dead skin while locking in moisture. I am obsessed!

Urban Originals Stay Longer Tote

You guys. This is what mom dreams are made of. This baby is giant, almost big enough to qualify as a weekender, but still perfectly acceptable as a purse. Read: the perfect travel bag. It is made of soft, cruelty-free, low-chemical materials and has two different handle sizes to switch from hand to shoulder. It also has several interior pockets including one with card slots and a detachable key chain.

Check out the capacity of this bag –

I mean – wallet, BIG makeup pouch, princess shoes AND wand?! And still more room.

It also helps that I myself, am giant. Look how perfect we look together.

Ok I will stop raving! Urban Original carries SO many great options – backpacks, crossbody’s, wallets, you name it. I think I need to get their Astro Tote next!

Atrac Phone Holder

I have been wanting something like this for quite awhile now. I love my Kate Spade wallet, but it zips all the way around, does not hold my phone and doesn’t have a wrist strap. Atrac has so many great products that address this exact issue. All of their products include clips and work with their system of magnetic straps.

Once a magnetic keychain strap is attached, you can use it as a traditional wristlet, wrapping it around your bicycle, stroller handle, shopping cart, or loop it and secure it around your bag. This wristlet keychain attaches to most metal surfaces with built-in magnets. I like to use the long strap in place of a purse hook at Blazer games, restaurants, the park, etc. to keep my bag off the gross floor! Can’t recommend these products enough.

California Cowboy La Sirena Robe

The La Sirena robe from California Cowboy is a quintessential Palm Springs staple. These robes are made from a blend of BCI cotton, modal, and tencel for absorption. The ultimate poolside robe, these babies are terry-cloth lined, come equipped with a dry pocket for tech storage, a CHAMPAGNE pocket, secure sunglasses loop, and interior ties making it unflappable.

I will be living next to the pool, in this robe, if you need me.

Bae Six All Day ‘Err Day Face Moisturizer SPF 35 PA+++

Cute packaging, fun name and a great product? Yes please. This lightweight, super hydrating moisturizer contains SPF 35 and PA+++ which is a high level of protection against UVA (superior to SPF IMO). I have been wearing this under my makeup for that extra kick of sun protection and everything has been staying put nicely!

LA Fresh Deodorant Wipes

So much easier to carry around than a stick of deodorant, these all-natural wipes will be great to distribute as needed. They do not leave behind a white residue and are compostable!

For David –

California Cowboy Wagyu Fleece Crew

He is going to hate me for using this pic, but come on – he is adorable

David always mentions how strong my loungewear game is, especially when we travel. I am always sure to don the comfiest attire because really, at 6 feet tall and being perpetually cold – airplanes are awful. I thought it high time that David own a quality, super-comfy piece. This crewneck sweatshirt is possibly the nicest quality, softest sweatshirt I’ve ever felt. Made from a US bamboo blend this sweatshirt (I am quoting directly from their website), “elevates your skin to foodie status so your Après game can get bullish”. I mean! I want to be friends with whoever wrote that.

Did I mention that each purchase from California Cowboy comes with a pack of conversation starter cards?

Cooling Towel

You heard me right, it is going to be over 110 degrees in California. David starts roasting around 80 so I am trying to stay ahead of the game with some cooling products. He has used this little cooling towel after playing basketball outdoors in the summer and it feels great. Maybe I should order a few more of these…

Personal Fan

I think we’re all sensing a theme here. And that theme is – don’t overheat! I couple of these will be great to whip out as we perspire while waiting in line to meet Gaston. Because we 100% will be waiting in line for that.

Men’s Mickey Mouse Tee Shirt

I got this super-soft tee shirt for David to wear at Disney. I know the red “Hakuna Matata” tee is super popular amongst the Disney Dads rn, but this one is more David’s speed and it is just subtle Disney.

And that is the list my friends! To any Disney or hot weather vets out there – what am I missing?

Living my Best Botox Life

Hullo friends.

If you have been here awhile you might already know what I am about to say. Long ago, I made a promise to myself and to all of you that this little blog of mine would stay open and honest. You guys have seen me through some of my best and worst days.

Exhibit A: 2011 OH DEAR GOD

You’ve watched as I have dealt with issues like hair loss and giant age-spots. And now, as I enter my late 30’s it is time we embark on a new adventure.

And as common as Botox, fillers and other small cosmetic procedures are, I wonder why more women my age aren’t talking about them. Where are the Instagram stories of women leaving the med-spa with captions that say, “Fresh Botox, who dis?!”. And yet from what I understand, lots of women are doing this. Are we embarrassed? Are we afraid of judgment? If that is the case, I volunteer as tribute.

But first, as you might have guessed, a disclaimer:

I know that Botox, injectables, plastic surgery, and the like, are controversial to put it mildly. And believe me when I say that my views on cosmetic enhancements as a whole seem to constantly evolve. One day I’m like, “Aging is beautiful! Who cares about wrinkles?! Why is there an unfair standard for women to look young while ol’Clooney sits back and just gets hotter?!”. Then the next day I am inspecting my neck skin in a 10X magnifying mirror and googling “facial exercises” and “affordable neck lift”. OF COURSE the pressure that so many women feel to look younger and to spend astronomical amounts of money on treatments is, at the end of the day, bullsh*t. If Hollywood and society as a whole could just embrace aging (among many other things), we would be in a different place, wouldn’t we? And let me be clear, I am in no way hating on cosmetic treatments, plastic surgery, any of it. Because I also believe that our bodies are just that – ours. And if lip filler, breast implants, liposuction, etc. will provide happiness or contentedness, then by all means! Hopefully I have articulated my opinions on this clearly. I love, accept, and appreciate every BODY.

So that brings me to ME. Late December, after seeing a particularly wrinkly image of myself (we’ve all had that experience, right?) I decided I wanted to try Botox, or some kind of injections in my face. I was uneasy about it and not entirely sure what route I wanted to take. I ended up doing a virtual consultation with a local med-spa to no avail. 100% do not recommend this tactic. I then spent some time thinking about the financial aspect of it because I don’t know about you, but I want to get a ballpark idea of what I’m in for. I would see Botox specials for $10 – $12 per unit around town, but exactly how many units would I need? 5? 500? After doing some research, I settled on about 20-30 units or roughly $300. I was able to find an excellent deal at a local place, and promptly made an appointment.

I kept the appointment a secret, even from my husband. And when the big day finally came round, I muttered a “be right back” as I casually hopped in the car like I was going on a grocery store run. I was nervous. Don’t get me wrong, I am no friend of the needle – but I think it had way more to do with what this all meant, rather than what it was. All at once the gravity of what I was doing struck me. I was getting older. It was a strange feeling.

And because I knew I was going to be writing about my experience, of course I took pictures and videos.

Here is a video of me wrinkling up my face on the way there: (don’t come for me for taking a video while driving, I was literally turning into the parking lot and was kinda late).

DISCLAIMER: I cannot be held responsible for the ridiculous faces made in the following videos or my general state in the photos. I am a full-time working mom, this is real life.

And here I am with a totally relaxed face, right before going in:

Here’s how it went down:

I did a quick consultation and explained what I was after:

  • Natural, no frozen forehead. I need to emote.
  • Deep wrinkle prevention.

Overall, I explained that I just want to prevent the deep-set wrinkles from forming (especially the dreaded elevens) and possibly lifting my left eyebrow slightly (it droops). We settled upon injections into the space between my eyes (the elevens) and a row across my forehead. They prepped me and before I knew it, I was done.

One thing I was not fully prepared for was how badly it would hurt. I get IPL regularly and that hurts decently. These injections were comparable to a bee sting, which really wasn’t bad until she did one right in the center of my forehead. It hurt like 5x worse than all the rest and immediately the nurse said “yeah, that one might bruise a little”. Ugh, of course!

Here I am the next day. You can kinda see the spot right in the middle of my forehead where I had the painful injection.

Video from the day after:

Video from 2 days after:

5 days after: You can see the bruise on my forehead has grown. The bruise under my eye is from Clara head-butting me.

Annnnd, 2 weeks later the “final” result:

I would say I am very happy with how it all turned out. I still had a little movement in my forehead but it definitely does the trick!

Fast forward to now and it has been 4 months since I got Botox. They recommend going again after 3 months, especially after the first time because apparently your body absorbs it quicker. I was told that the more you get, eventually, the less frequently you’ll have to get it. I suppose I will probably go again in the fall and possibly try for 3 times next year. In terms of unit amounts and injection sites, I think I will stick to talking about it with the nurse each time I go. I want to stay very conservative and mostly use this as a preventative measure.

And that’s my journey you guys! Whew! If you are still reading, thank you for sticking with me. And if you have gotten Botox or injections and feel comfortable sharing, I would love to hear about your experience, tips, comments, questions, anything. Feel free to comment or write me a message at nataliediaries@gmail.com.

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Guys, we’ve almost made it through April!

And you know what that means – Mother’s Day. The day we celebrate all the moms. And while hanging flower baskets, making brunch reservations, and buying massage gift cards are all well and nice, here are a few other items I would like to propose for consideration. Please review and get back to me with your comments by EOD.

Oh brother, I have been working too much.

Betty Bath Mat

I know what you’re thinking, it’s a bath mat. But this one IS SO PRETTY. I would love it if someone gave me this bath mat. It gives Diptyque vibes.

Mixbook Photo Book

I have made a few photobooks in my day and lemme tell ya – this one is by far the best. Pictured above is the 8.5 x 8.5″ Classic Square Premium Leather with Matte Dust Jacket and it was an absolutely joy to put together. The website is super easy to use and they offer tons of different layouts, themes, fonts, and colors to choose from.

Demeter Fragrances

I’ve always known Demeter Fragrances to come out with some, let’s just say, interesting scents. Take for example, Dirt, Paperback (although I do love the smell of an old library book), and Earthworm. However, this scent in Watermelon Blossom is spring perfection. It is freshy, juicy, and offers just a hint of soft florals. Another option that I truly love is the Vanilla Cake Batter scent, because who doesn’t want to smell like a snack?

Soo’AE Skin Care Kits

Soo’AE skincare has proven to be effective, nourishing, and best of all – easy on the wallet. This kit features some of their newest products from the black charcoal collection.

I also highly recommend the phyto-collagen products, especially the shampoo.

K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask

Perfect for anyone with damaged hair, this leave-in mask is supposed to be superior to the ever-popular Olaplex and comes highly recommended by my famous sister-in-law (check her out on IG!). While it is quite spendy, the results apparently speak for themselves.

Arze Crystal Moon Serum Gel

Arze plant-based skincare is vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, and sustainable. It is handcrafted in small batches in the USA and is a woman-owned business. This serum aids in the body’s production of collagen and helps to reduce hyper pigmentation (YES PLEASE). I have been using it for a few weeks now and have been very impressed – not oily or sticky, it sinks nicely into the skin and does not clog pores.

They have an extensive offering of products, including face masks, oils, perfume, and body sprays. Right now, you can use code MOMLOVE for 30% off until May 11th.

Cushionaire Slides

Who doesn’t want a pair of super comfy summer slides? I do not personally own these yet, but it is just a matter of time. I have been a ride-or-die Adidas Comfort Slide for years but these babies could turn me. As long as they don’t make my already large feet appear even larger, I am totally down.

Diptype Beverly Hills Candle

Speaking of Diptyque…you all know I am not one to regularly endorse $80 candles, but this one is just so special. Look at the color and design! The notes are white flowers, lemon and mint. COME ON. And really, what says “I love you mom” more than an $80 candle?

Sugarfina Rainbow Bento Box

I mean…how “sweet” is this?! Three delicious boxes of candy packaged in a beautiful rainbow-shaped box? I feel like this is superior to a box of chocolates, although maybe not a box of See’s Candies. Those have a special place in my heart.

What are you getting for the mom in your life?