Yosemite- Family Friendly Day Hikes

Yosemite is beautiful all year long but if you are going to see the many waterfalls in the Valley, the best time to visit is Spring/Early Summer when the snow has had a chance to really melt. This year we visited in the early spring so the waterfalls, while still impressive, where not as massive as they will be later in the season.  If it’s your first time you should definitely hit up the Visitor Center when you arrive in Yosemite. It has a lot of interactive information about the valley, it’s history and the animals and plants that live there. I like stopping at the visitor center for suggested hikes since there are so many options in the park. For this visit the Ranger suggested some easier hikes since we had the baby’s with us.

Lower Yosemite Falls is a paved, fairly flat hike that loops amongst some beautiful trees to the footbridge overlooking the falls back down to a meadow. It is a really easy 30 min hike great for kids and strollers.

We felt the mist coming off of the river while on the bridge so I would assume that during the summer when the falls are at full force you could expect to get a little wet while stopping for the view.

From the falls we crossed over to the Cook’s Meadow loop another easy paved, 30 min loop that takes you through the meadow and over the river with great views of Sentinel Rock and Half Dome.

Both of these hikes are great for all ages and all abilities. They are a great introduction to the valley with some absolutely breathtaking views. The trail heads are pretty close to the Visitor Center so you don’t need to use the shuttle service to get to them.

After the two loops we headed back to our cars for lunch. We had packed up a cooler with sandwiches, chips and cookies and had a makeshift picnic under some trees we had parked around. Then headed to the shuttle stop to go to Mirror Lake.

Mirror Lake Trailhead is off of shuttle stop 17.  The shuttles run in chronological order so we caught the shuttle at stop 1 by the parking, got off at stop 2, and transferred to 10 which is across the road to shorten our time on the shuttle.

The first mile of the trail is a paved service road that leads right up to the lake from there you can continue onto the loop trail which is a moderate dirt path that follows the river.  Its a beautiful hike amongst the trees and gives you the unique opportunity to view Half Dome from its base.

Now, when you think of mirror lake I’m sure you picture this…

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But again, we were there early in the season so what we found was this

Which made us all laugh and actually turned out to be really cool since we were able to walk out into what would be the middle of the lake and view the back of Half Dome while lounging on the sandy lake bed.  Late Spring and early summer is the best time to view the lake at its fullest but the hike itself is truly worth it any time of year.

A few other hikes we’ve done in the past that I would highly suggest are Vernal Falls and Mist Trail. They would be a little more strenuous with kids than the ones we did today but the waterfalls are really amazing and worth the trek. Vernal Fall Footbridge- is 1 mile from the trailhead, where the Mist Trail crosses a footbridge from the north and south bank of the Merced River. The trail itself is paved with a moderate incline but the hike up hill is worth the view. At the footbridge you will get your first glimpse of Vernal Falls as well as views of the river. Here you will find bathrooms and potable water on the far side of the bridge. From the footbridge you can head back or continue along Mist Trail up the stone steps to get a closer view of Vernal and Nevada Falls.

Warning, it is all stairs and a steep incline from here so if hiking with little ones make sure to take your time. Also if the falls are at full force you will get wet from the spray which can be wonderful on a hot day, just wear cloths that will dry quickly. The hike will take anywhere from 2-5 hours depending on how far you go. (5 if you’re heading all the way to the top of Nevada Falls.) This is understandably one of Yosemite’s most popular trails so head there around 7am to avoid crowds.

No matter where you hike in the Valley you will find absolutely breathtaking views. Remember to pack snacks and water and take your time with the kids and you’re sure to have an amazing visit.

Glamping in a Covered Wagon

I came across an article from Travel and Leisure about glamping in a Conestoga Wagon and forwarded it on to my husband. He immediately responded back “let’s go” initiating our most recent adventure.

Yosemite is one of our favorite places to visit. We’ve done day trips from Mammoth, spent a weekend and hiked Half Dome and just driven through and explored the valley. So I was beyond excited when I discovered this really unique experience at Yosemite Pines RV.

The drive up through Fresno was absolutely beautiful. Rolling green hills and fields as far as you can see with real California happy cows dotting the horizon, then that farmland transitions into a breathtaking and windy mountain road. Warning, bring Dramamine. Of all the things I remembered to pack it was the one thing I didn’t even think of and we could have definitely used.

  • Yosemite Pines RV is an easy hour drive from The Yosemite Valley Visitor Center. They have a really cool set up with lots of camping options. You can glamp in cabins, yurts, vintage Airstream trailers, or the covered wagons. There are also tent sites and hookups if you want to camp in your own trailer or tent. The office where you check in doubles as a general store in case you find you’ve forgotten an essential or need more firewood. There’s a Deli on site if you don’t feel like cooking, bathrooms with showers, a pool, and a playground for the kids. But we were most excited about the petting zoo with bunnies, a pair of donkeys, a sassy goat that bosses everyone around, and two alpaca that may spit on you if you’re not careful. (Don’t make eye contact!) You can check out pricing and all of their amenities Here.
  • The check-in process was quick and simple and the team running the offices were very kind and welcoming. We were given our wagon number and then drove down the hill to our site and parked next to our wagon.

    I could not wait to see inside, I practically ran up the steps to unzip the canvas doorway. I was immediately taken back by how large the wagon was and how much space there was inside. Two bunk beds flanked the entryway leading to a king-sized bed set at the back of the wagon. The headboard was the back of the seat where you would sit to drive the wagon and the canvas unzipped for a window above that. Both the window and the doorway had a screen that you could zip closed allowing the cool breeze to blow through while keeping the bugs out. It was fully equipped with electrical, heating and air conditioning, a mini-fridge, microwave, and a Keurig coffee maker. The beds were super comfy with the softest comforters and we even had room to set up a pack and play off of the back of one of the bunks. We comfortably and happily slept 5 adults and 2 babies in the wagon for the weekend. The heater worked great, it was still a bit chilly though but you can’t expect the best insulation when your walls are canvas so I would absolutely advise you keep that in mind when packing. Also, the bathrooms are a quick walk away so bring an easy pair of shoes or boots you can throw on for the trek over.

    The wagons that sleep four are set exactly the same except instead of a second bunk bed there is an adorable wagon wheel dining table.

    Outside each wagon, there’s a fire pit, picnic bench, and water spicket. During the summer months they have all sorts of activities for the family and they screen movies outside in the evenings on the weekends. I cannot recommend this site enough if you are visiting Yosemite and want to stay just a ways out of the park. We had a wonderful time and cannot wait to visit again.

    6 Best Places to Eat in Reno/Tahoe

    I started having to travel to Reno for work and immediately began exploring the amazing food options in the area and I was not disappointed, in fact, I have been so impressed with the fabulous assortment of delicious restaurants Reno has to offer it has quickly become one of my favorite city’s to visit. Here is a list of my top 6 places to eat, cause I couldn’t pick only 5. Enjoy!

    Brewforia Beer Market and Kitchen in Lake Tahoe is a really wonderful hidden gem that I highly recommend if you enjoy beer. They seriously have all of the beers you can imagine in one giant fridge. Plus a handful of local beers on draft and a great menu to satisfy your hunger.

    We couldn’t decide on one to try so we went with a flight of 6 drafts for $15 and everything was delicious. The strangest of the bunch was a glazed maple doughnut cider that really did taste like a doughnut but was still good. Both of the stouts were delicious and I am a huge fan of the Dirty Wookie brown ale which you can also get in Reno as a 9% APU.

    For food, we ordered the Brussel sprouts with bacon and smoked blue cheese for $9 and they were perfectly cooked and seasoned. We also split the Bandera Smoked Brisket sandwich and a salad for $14. The sandwich was pretty simple with tender brisket chunks smothered in a tangy bbq sauce and garnished with onion. I would have liked to see some cheese and maybe slaw on the sandwich as well but it was still really tasty in its simplicity.

    The Depot Craft Brewery and Distillery

    Built in 1910 this beautiful 3 story train depot has been transformed into the states first combined distillery and brewery and a favorite dinner spot. I love the atmosphere and ambiance of this restaurant with its massive floor to ceiling windows and exposed brick walls. It’s a perfect spot whether you’re out with friends or on a date. They offer a great happy hour menu and have a unique selection of handcrafted beers and liquors. I’ve sampled their beers in the past and they are absolutely delicious but this visit we decided to partake in some of their homemade libations.

    I had the Depot Sazerac- Depot Rye Whisky, Simple Syrup, Peychauds, and Angostura. It was very delicious and strong with more of an orange flavor than an anise flavor which I loved because I’m not a big fan of licorice. My husband had the Depot Punch- Amer Depot, Club Soda, Pomegranate Syrup, Lemon and Depot Rey Whisky. Despite its name, it is not a sweet drink at all! Packing a punch of whiskey with hints of lemon and pomegranate. We shared the 1/2 size Arugula salad and it was plenty for the both of us. This salad is a favorite, with arugula, crisp apples, candied walnuts, red onion, and blue cheese crumbles with a rogue creamery smokey blue cheese vinaigrette. The dressing makes this salad. It was so light and refreshing with just a hint of sweet. It was so tasty, I was tempted to order another just for myself. We also enjoyed the yummy Mac and cheese bites off of their appetizer menu. They were breaded mac and cheese squares with bacon, topped with a smoked trout salad. I felt like they could use more bacon in the actual Mac and cheese vs just sprinkled on top and it could have used some sort of balsamic drizzle, but all in all, they were very tasty and if you love Mac and cheese it’s worth trying.

    Great Full Gardens

    This little cafe is hands down my favorite lunch spots in Reno! Honestly, I would kill to have one in So Cal, everything on their menu is Ah-mazing! This little farm to table restaurant serves up all sorts of delicious and healthy homemade creations. Two of my favorites are the Beautiful BLTA with uncured bacon, slow roasted tomato aioli, green leaf lettuce, tomato, avocado on the most delicious naan bread you will ever encounter. And the Gourmet Grilled Cheese which we had this visit.

    Cheddar, Havarti, provolone, mozzarella, pesto aioli, and tomato served on Truckee sourdough. We added the bacon and avocado and this is hands down the most amazing grilled cheese I have ever had the pleasure of eating. For our side, we ordered a cup of the organic totally tomato soup which took the whole meal to the next level. I would seriously eat this every day if I could.

    Wild River Grille

    is one of those amazing finds that you just keep going back to again and again. Everything on the menu is locally sourced, the atmosphere is fabulous whether you sit outside or inside with a view of the Riverwalk. My all-time favorite item was recently taken off the menu and I’m hoping they bring it back this summer. It’s the mahi-mahi with a risotto cake and it is heaven. Since that wasn’t available we decided to try some of the happy hour offerings. And you cannot beat this Happy hour! We each had a $5 Mule and Margarita. The margarita was so, so good with an in-house orange-infused brandy, it was made perfectly, with not too much sweet and sour and the right amount of tequila.

    We ordered the Wild river salad $4.50 Another favorite salad of mine with greens, apple, dried cranberry, spiced pecans, marinated red onions, and Gorgonzola. It is seriously so good and you can’t beat the price. Then there’s the Crab and Salmon Cakes with a honey mustard aioli for $7. These are the best crab cakes I have ever had. I don’t know what magic they sprinkle in these but they are amazing and you must try them. We also tried the Steak Frites $17 which were only ok, and it pains me to say that because I am such a fan of the restaurant. The steak was a little tough and was lacking in flavor. But don’t let that deter you from trying out this awesome spot. Everything else I’ve tried on the menu has been delicious.

    Great Basin Brewing

    This is an awesome little brewery with some seriously great food. We missed happy hour by 30 min so we didn’t get to try out their $1 slice of pizza but we did enjoy the $3.50 beers and their Lava Bread. I tried the I Am Gruit which was a unique seasonal inspired by medieval brews before hops were extremely used and it was really, really good! The lava bread is a bread bowl with cheese sauce topped with melted cheese and garlic seasoning and it is the bomb!

    The Stone House

    This adorable little stone house has been converted into a fabulous restaurant with a bar when you first walk in, enclosed patio dining and a fire pit to relax around outside in the courtyard. This is a great spot to grab a meal on your way to the airport as it is just a few minutes away. We popped in for breakfast before heading home and enjoyed the country fried steak and eggs with house potatoes. The house potatoes were amazing and I’ll give the country fried steak an 8/10. (Polly’s Pies and the Original Pancake House are still my favs.) I’m looking forward to making this a regular stop on my visits.

    Exciting Events Coming to Disneyland Parks

    This year there are a lot of really fun limited time experiences, as well as brand new additions and attractions opening at Disneyland Resorts!  You can take a look at the full list of the planned events on my 2019 Disney Event Calendar

    But here are a few more exciting events that have just recently been added and updated.

    World of Color Returns

    The fabulous World of Color at Disney California Adventure has finally returned for testing with the actual grand reopening scheduled for March 1st. This show features 1200 fountains that shoot different heights, synchronized to favorite classic Disney music with laser projections and pyrotechnics. It is for sure a must-see! You can grab a Fast Pass at the distribution location next to the Little Mermaid attraction for reserved viewing in a designated section. Or for a special treat, make reservations for a World of Color dining experience at the Wine Country Trattoria or Carthay Circle which includes a decedent and delicious 3-course meal and reserved seating for the show. Click Here for more details and pricing on dining options.

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    Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival

    I love all of the food festivals at California Adventure but the Food and Wine Festival is one that I specifically look forward to every year! This marketplace style festival not only features a plethora of amazing foods & beverages, but also hosts special entertainment, food & wine seminars, cooking demonstrations, activities for kids, and so much more. And this year, this culinary celebration will run for 54 days starting March 1st, through April 23rd. Be sure to follow my Instagram and check back for a full review of the 2019s Food and Wine Festival.

    Dumbo Sneak Peek

    Beginning March 1 through April 7, guests can enjoy a sneak peek of Disney’s new Live-Action Dumbo at the Main Street Opera House. Annual Passholders will have access on 2/28 and there will be commemorative pins and a collectible mini poster while supplies last as well as a life-size model of Dumbo for guests to take photos with. The movie will be in theaters on March 29, 2019.

    Image: Disney

    Captain Marvel Encounter

    “Captain Marvel” hits theaters on March 8, 2019, but Guests at the Parks won’t have to wait much longer to meet the superhero herself. There will be a special limited time meet and greet with Captain Marvel at Disney California Adventure. I don’t have the specific date yet but will keep you all updated. In the meantime, if you’re visiting DCA, be sure to head over and get photos with Spider-Man, Captain America, and Black Panther.  You can check the Disney app to see when and where they are doing character meet and greets.

    Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures at Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

    Beginning March 30, guests can experience a brand new Princess breakfast dining experience at the Napa Rose Restaurant in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Guests will dine on a delicious 3-course meal while visiting with your favorite Disney princesses.  Unlike the other character dining experiences, this one also includes special activities with the princesses, a commemorative souvenir and a portrait with a princess. Probably because of these extras, this is the priciest of the character dining options at $125 per person for ages 3 and up, but knowing Disney, I’m sure they make it well worth the price tag.  The Princess Breakfast is offered Thursday – Monday from 8 am to 12 pm and includes 5-hour complimentary parking at the Grand Californian.

    To check out the menu and see reservation details, click here.

    Disneyland After Dark: Heroes Assemble

    Disney has added another Disneyland After Dark event this year and the theme is Super Heroes!  This will be the first of the Disneyland After Dark events to take place at Disney California Adventure and all of the Marvel Heroes will be out for the party. This event will take place April 30 and May 1 and runs from 9:00 pm (but guests can get into DCA at 6:00 pm) to 1:00 am.

    Tickets are $109 and can be purchased here. These events do sell out quickly so if you’re interested, book soon.

    The Lion King Celebration

    An official date hasn’t been announced yet but, Disney Park’s Blog recently announced that this year a “The Lion King” celebration will take place at Disney California Adventure in honor of the film’s 25th Anniversary!

    I will keep you updated as more information is announced.

    Disney Pop Up!

    Another exciting event that was just shared by Disney Parks Blog is a Disney Pop UP at Downtown Disney, and it looks like it’s going to be awesome. This limited time exhibition will take place in the former ESPN Zone in the Downtown Disney District featuring several themed rooms. Similar to other pop-ups like the Museum of Ice Cream, it will be the ultimate photo party with amazing selfie-worthy props and backgrounds celebrating Mickey and Minnie.  So if you love art, photos, and Mickey this will be an event you don’t want to miss.

    Tickets are on sale now and the event will open April 26th. You can get your tickets here.

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    Artist Rendering of one of the rooms in the Disney Pop Up: Disney

    New at Pixar Pier- Jessie’s Critter Carousel and Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind

    These two brand new kid-friendly attractions are set to open on Pixar Pier this year. Based on the construction progress it looks like Jessie’s Critter Carousel will open first, then Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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    Image: Disney

     

    Babies at Disneyland- Tips for planning your day

    Disneyland is an amazing place to take your little ones. I’m often asked why I would take a baby to the park but honestly, it is the most magical thing in the world watching them explore and experience new things. There’s so much that can help them build their sensory development, bright colors, lights, music and there’s actually a ton of rides and shows they can enjoy. Added bonus, they’re free until they’re three years old! Our little ones first trip to Disneyland was at 4 weeks old. I decided to forgo the stroller for this first trip and just carry her in our Ergo Baby 360 and it worked out great for both of us. The Ergo Baby distributes the weight so perfectly that I was completely comfortable and she was so happy and comfy that she slept most of our visit. Keeping the baby in a wrap or carrier also limits their exposure to other people and kids. Plus they sleep a ton at this early age so the wraps are perfect. She’s now five months old and we still usually just use the Ergo, only bringing the stroller if we plan on being there all day or have a lot of extra stuff with us.

    Things tend to be much slower with a newborn, our little one eats about every two hours so we take our time and fit in rides when we can. Most rides you can leave your baby in the carrier and wear them on, which makes getting through the lines and on and off the rides super easy.

    To help you plan your trip I’ve compiled a list of baby-friendly rides and activities you can enjoy. Plus a detailed review of the wonderful baby care centers And the amenities they provide.

    Disneyland baby friendly rides:

    • Fantasy Land
    • Snow White’s Scary Adventure
    • Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
    • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
    • King Arthur Carrousel
    • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
    • Peter Pan’s Flight
    • Casey Jr. Circus Train
    • Storybook Land Canal Boats
    • The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
    • Alice in Wonderland
    • it’s a small world (this is a good ride to feed your little one on)
    • Casey Jr. Train

    New Orleans Square

    • Pirates of the Caribbean (I had her in the carrier and wore her on. She actually enjoyed the drops despite the worried look she has in this photo)
    • The Haunted Mansion

    Adventure Land

    • The Jungle Cruise

    Frontier Land

    • Sailing Ship Columbia
    • Mark Twain Riverboat

    Critter Country

    • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

    Tomorrow Land

    • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
    • Astro Orbiters (no babywearing and babies/kids MUST wear either socks or shoes)
    • Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters

    Disneyland Railroad

    California Adventure baby friendly rides:

    Hollywood

    • Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sully to the Rescue

    Pixar Pier

    • Toy Story Midway Mania (I recommend a carrier on this ride because it has some abrupt stops and turns and I feel that my little one is more secure in the carrier.)
    • Pixar Pal-A-Round non-swinging gondola
    • Jessie’s Critter Carousel (Opening later this year)

    Paradise Gardens

    • Little Mermaid-Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
    • The Golden Zephyr (NO lap sitting and NO baby wearing allowed – only 2 per row)

    The Red Car Trolley

    Entertainment: with a baby wrap or carrier you can easily enjoy all of the shows that don’t allow strollers inside.

    At Disneyland:

    • The Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland
    • The Main Street Cinema on Main Street USA
    • The Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland
    • Mickey and the Magical Map at the Fantasyland Theatre across from It’s a Small World (near the Toontown entrance)
    • Beauty & the Beast and Tangled Storytelling at the Royal Theater in Fantasy Faire (west side of the castle).

    At California Adventure:

    • Frozen Live at the Hyperion
    • Disney Jr. Live on Stage
    • The Animation Academy
    • The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

    Nursing: You can virtually nurse anywhere in the parks depending on your own comfort level. Using my Milk Snob Cover I’ve been completely comfortable nursing everywhere from restaurants to just sitting on a bench on Main Street. If I don’t have my cover, or we are on the go I use the Ergo 360. I just loosen the straps so she’s in the right position and throw a blanket over her for coverage. There are also plenty of quiet areas in both parks to sit and nurse away from the crowds of your baby is easily distracted. I also love utilizing the Baby Care Centers at either of the Parks.

    Baby Care Centers have everything you need for your little one. Located at Disneyland and California Adventure.

    Disneyland Baby Care Center

    The Baby Care Center at Disneyland is at the end of Main Street, near the Corn Dog stand on the right next to First Aid. At DCA it is located next to the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop.

    Both centers have private nursing areas for moms. I feel like California Adventure’s is a little cramped. Unless you get one of the 2 rocking chairs that have a private curtained area you will have to choose a small chair pressed against a wall and it’s not very comfortable. Disneyland’s on the other hand still has a row of chairs but they are upholstered rocking chairs and space, in general, is larger so you don’t feel so cramped. For pumping moms, there are outlets available giving you a comfortable place to pump.

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    Disneyland Baby Care Center Nursing Area

    There’s a whole room of changing tables that are well-cushioned and lined with paper each time a baby is changed to keep it clean. At Disneyland’s baby center there is a hopper for washing cloth diapers or clothes if your babies/toddlers have any accidents. They will give you a bag to carry out wet clothes. The large hopper sink has been there since the park started.

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    Disneyland Changing Area

    There are also comfortable and clean toddler toilets at both centers for little ones under 42″! These are cleaned after every use and come with a kid-sized sink as well.

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    Disneyland Toddler Toilets

    Need to feed older children? Not a problem, there are high chairs available right in front of the kitchen. I. The kitchen you’ll find a microwave and sink for heating up bottles and food and clean up. All of the water in the water fountains at Disneyland are filtered reverse osmosis water with the hot water being the only exception.

    If you forgot something or ran out of an essential they have you covered. You will find a vending machine with all your baby supplies, and I mean all the essentials. If you run out of diapers or wipes, forgot a bottle or need formula or snacks they have you covered.

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    Disneyland Baby Supply Vending Machine

    Disney really has you covered when visiting with little ones so don’t let their age deter you from planning a visit. It is worth it, and even more magical sharing Disney with babies.

    The Best Sleep Pouch for Baby

    Our cutie pie just turned 4 months old and she has been a really good sleeper. But lately, she’s been fighting her swaddle and escaping from it. Which is super cute but not safe. So we decided to try some of the sleep sacks that had been given to us. She hated these and would push and pull on them and cry until she tired herself out and fell asleep with her legs through the neck of the sleep sack.

    Again, cute but not safe. So we decided to try the Sleep Pouch from Milk Snob.

    Their sleep pouch is amazing. It is a fabulous soft and safe blanket alternative, designed to allow the baby’s arms to move around but keep the torso and legs warm. It can be used in any climate, if it’s colder you simply reverse the pouch so the thicker fabric is on the inside. If its warmer reverse the pouch so the lightweight breathable patterned fabric is on the inside. Another great thing about the pouch is that it is not tight on your baby’s legs allowing them to move freely and sleep in more natural positions than traditional swaddling.

    So we gave this a try and she immediately napped in it with no problems.

    At night we started transitioning her from her swaddle by leaving one arm out, then two and then into the pouch she happily went. As a parent, I love these because I don’t have to worry about fabric becoming loose and tangling around her as she sleeps. It’s so easy to put on and take off and you don’t have to worry about any zippers or snaps. Plus there is plenty of growing room in these pouches. They come in two sizes and they stretch as baby grows.

    @Milk Snob Sleep Pouch Size Chart

    You can check out all of the styles and patterns Here.

    Pump It Up- 5 Steps To Increase Your Milk Supply

    When my daughter was born she was Jaundice, most babies are to some degree, but we ran into a more serious situation. Her levels were high, and she and I are different blood types so my antibodies were attacking her red blood cells, making it difficult for her to recover. For her first week home, we had to increase her vitamin D by keeping her on a light blanket called a Billie blanket and we had to increase her fluid intake to flush the Jaundice from her system. For any parent, this would be stressful, but being a new mom and having to figure out breastfeeding fast was just a mess. I met with a lactation consultant and she helped us figure out how to latch properly, gave me an SNS tube to supplement with until my milk came in and with her help I was able to jump start my milk production and get my baby healthy.

    I’m not one of the lucky overproducers but by following these few tricks I’ve been able to keep up with my baby’s demands and over the span of 3 months I have pumped and frozen 500 ounces of milk for when I go back to work.

    1. If you have access to a lactation consultant take advantage of it, they are such a huge help. I can’t tell you how many women have told me they gave up on breastfeeding because they felt they just weren’t producing enough, and honestly, I would have done the same if it weren’t for the help I received. Let’s face it, it is impossible to know how much your baby is getting when you breastfeed so it is easy to assume that you might not be producing enough milk. But if you meet with a lactation consultant they can tell you exactly how much your baby is eating by weighing them before and then after you feed them. This was such a relief to know first how much she should be eating and second how much she was getting from each breast. Plus the consultants are a wealth of knowledge and can help you increase your supply if you’re underproducing and help you manage your supply if you are overproducing.
    2. Pump- I started out by pumping for 15 minutes, 30 minutes after every feeding for the first couple of weeks we were home. During these pumping sessions, I would not get a whole lot of milk but that was ok because the goal was to imitate a cluster feed so my body would start to produce more milk. How much you produce is strictly supply and demand. Pumping after feeding will trick your body into thinking there is a higher demand and you will start to produce more. After a couple of weeks, at the advice of my consultant, I switched from 30 minutes to pumping 1 hour after each feeding this is when I started to see 2 to 3 ounces when I pumped. The only time I broke from this schedule was when my little one was going through a growth spurt and was “cluster feeding”. During those times I would feed her as she needed, which was practically every hour, and once she was done I would go back to the pumping schedule. (Cluster feeding is the natural way your baby lets your body know it needs to produce more milk.) After about six weeks I slowed to pumping only 2 times a day in addition to her normal feeding schedule while I was home. Once back at work I pumped every 2-3 hours never going longer than 3 hours and I would pump about 6 ounces. My “magic hour” when my hormones were highest was unfortunately around 3 am. Our little one started sleeping through the night very early on but I would have to pump after about 6 hours. My early 3 am pumps would yield almost 10 ounces! Hormones are usually higher in the morning since you’ve been sleeping and your body is at rest so it is normal to produce more earlier in the day. Figure out when your “magic hour” is and utilize it. (I hope it’s not at 3 am like mine) img_7466
    3. Supplements- Motherlove More Milk Plus is a supplement containing fenugreek seed, blessed thistle herb, nettle leaf, and fennel seed. My lactation consultant suggested I start taking 2 capsules 3 times a day. Following her suggestion, I saw a significant increase in my production one week after I started taking them. Continue taking these as long as you are breastfeeding. If you stop or lower the dosage there’s a good chance you’ll see a dip in your supply. You can get them at Sprouts or online. I found the best price on eBay at $20 for 120 capsules.
    4. Lactation cookies- There are a ton of recipes online but essentially you want to make sure that the lactation cookies or bars contain these three ingredients, whole oats, brewers yeast, and flax seed. These are all great for boosting your milk supply. Scroll down to the bottom for my favorite recipe. It makes a ton of dough that you can ball and freeze for later.
    5. Try to eat as many milk boosting foods as possible. Spinach, almonds, oatmeal, carrots, brown rice, and flax seeds became a staple in my meals. Drink lots of water and stay away from overly processed foods.

    Most importantly be patient with yourself and know that if you do have to supplement with formula to help your baby put on the proper weight it’s ok. The first few weeks of your little ones life is stressful for everyone. Hormones are a hot mess, you’re sleep deprived and you and baby are trying to figure things out and get to know each other. Be kind to yourself, it’s so easy to be upset and frustrated because things aren’t what you imagined and it’s all very emotional, but at the end of the day formula or breastmilk you are a great mom and are doing a great job.

    Disney’s Lunar New Year 2019

    The Lunar New Year celebration at Disney’s California Adventure runs from January 25th to February 17th. There will be lots of fun activities, beautiful decorations, delicious Asian Cuisine, photo opportunities with special Disney characters, and themed merchandise.


    Entertainment:

    “Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession,” parade starts by the symphony swings and ends at the stage at Paradise Gardens Park where you can enjoy a wonderful performance by your favorite characters including the Three Little Pigs, in celebration of the Year of the Pig.

    Also at Paradise Gardens Park, you can enjoy live music and on Mondays and Tuesday’s you can take home custom Chinese calligraphy drawn by local artists.

    In front of The Little Mermaid-Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, you can craft paper lanterns and get complementary face paintings.

    Don’t forget to check out the AP corner by the Symphony Swings.


    Food:

    There are four Marketplaces where you can enjoy delicious authentic Asian Cuisine. If you’re planning on trying six items the Sip and Savor Pass is an excellent savings at $39.00 before AP discount and will be available for purchase at Festival Gifts, Elias & Co., Kingswell Camera Shop, and the Sip & Savor Cart.

    Paradise Garden Grill is also serving some delicious themed dishes. You can choose from a Whole Fried Fish Meal for Two, Pork Belly Bahn Mi, Korean Grilled Chicken, and Vegan Orange Tempeh. If you have the Sip and Savor Pass you can redeem your credits for smaller plates of the Korean Grilled Chicken.

    Exciting time-saver: if you’re interested in trying foods from multiple booths you can order all of the foods at one booth and then just take your receipts to the booth serving the food you’ve chosen to pick it up. Say goodbye to having to stand in multiple lines to try all these snacks. This was great since some of the booths were really busy and had long lines. We just headed down to a different one to buy all our snacks.


    Marketplace Menus:

    Lucky 8 Lantern

    disneyparksblog.com
    • Crispy Shrimp Fried Rice with Garlic, Bacon, and Edamame — $8.00
    • Stir-fried Vegetables & Pineapple with Soy Protein, Steamed Rice and Crunchy Chow Mein Noodles — $7.00
    disneyparksblog.com
    • Mandarin Orange-Green Tea Tart — $5.50
    • Vietnamese Iced Coffee — $5.50

    Prosperity Bao & Buns

    We tried everything at this booth and loved it all!

    • Char Siu Pork Bao, Chinese BBQ Pork with Pickled Red Onions and Jalapeño — $7.75

    This was by far our favorite of the day. The pork was so tender and marinated just perfectly and the combination of jalapeños and pickled onion was so good.

    • Mickey Chinese Hot Dog Bun — $6.50

    For some reason, I thought this would be warm but it is actually served at room temperature. The bun had a good flavor to it and was light and fluffy and the hot dogs were tasty.

    • Mango-Pineapple Pastry — $5.50

    These were so cute. The crust was light and flaky and dusted with sugar sprinkles. The filling was delicious. I was really excited to try a mango-pineapple combo and it did not disappoint. My only complaint is that there wasn’t a lot of filling inside the pie but that is more of a personal preference.

    • Winter Plum Blossom Gin Mule — $13.00

    This was such a good mule and pretty strong. It was light and refreshing with just the right amount of sweetness and very easy to drink.

    Longevity Noodle Co.

    • Pan-fried Wheat Noodles with Chicken Meatballs, Cabbage Salad with Apple-Ginger Sauce — $7.25
    disneyparksblog.com
    • Vegetable Egg Roll and Chilled Sesame-Garlic Noodles with Cilantro-Cashew Sauce and Toasted Peanuts — $7.00
    • Egg Tart — $4.75
    • Orchid Spritz — $5.75

    Red Dragon Spice Traders

    • Firecracker Three Cup Chicken with Steamed Rice — $7.25
    • Steamed Short Rib Shumai with Spicy Korean Sauce, Sriracha-Mayonnaise and Cucumber Salad — $7.75

    Again the meat was so tender and perfectly marinated. It was complemented beautifully with the sriracha-mayonnaise and cucumber salad. Another favorite of the festival.

    • Purple Yam Macaron with Crème Fraiche — $5.50
    • Raspberry Lychee Chia Tea — $6.00

    Disneyland’s Valentine’s Month Celebration 2019

    Disneyland is all decked out for Valentine’s Day. Now through February 18th, you can celebrate Mickey and Minnie’s iconic love with great photo opportunities, a fun Valentine’s scavenger hunt and a great selection of delicious foods. In the middle of town square on Main Street you can take your photo in front of a large valentine from Minnie Mouse.

    Minnie’s Valentine’s Day Surprise Scavenger Hunt was a lot of fun. We purchased our map from the redemption location on Main Street right past the Mad Hatter’s hat shop for $6.99. We were able to pick our prize at the same time since we were at the redemption location. You get to choose from 2 boxes of 6 Valentine’s Day cards. Follow the clues on the map to locate the Valentine’s Minnie has left throughout Disneyland and solve the secret message. The hidden Valentine’s are adorable. We really enjoyed the scavenger hunt and highly recommend it for kids and adults.

    Valentine’s themed merchandise like these adorable Mickey and Minnie Valentine’s plushes and Mickey glove Heart frame can be found in the shops along Main Street. And for the puzzle enthusiast, there is this beautiful Thomas Kincaid puzzle at World of Disney in the Downtown Disney District.

    On to the FOOD! Right now with the Get Your Ears On celebration and Valentine’s Month, there are so many amazing treats to try. Unlike the Get Your Ears On specialty foods that can be found at both Disneyland and California Adventure, the Valentine’s specialty foods are only available at Disneyland Park. We highly recommend the Southern Pork Belly Sliders from River Belle Terrace. The meat is always so tender and flavorful and I love pickle chips. Also, you can’t go wrong with the Minnie-inspired Sundae from the Golden Horseshoe. The cherry compote beautifully complements the espresso gelato. And lastly, the Strawberry Cheesecake “Funnel of Love” from Stage Door Café is all of my favorite desserts in one. Cheesecake bites with strawberry sauce and funnel cake, all it’s missing is some chocolate and I think my taste buds would explode. Below is the full list of Valentine’s treats that was released by DisneyParksBlog so you can plan out your plan of attack.

    Outdoor Vending Carts

    • Cherry Cotton Candy

    Main Street Gourmet Coffee Cart

    • Minnie Donut topped with pink icing, a strawberry, and a chocolate bow

    Churros Near Sleeping Beauty Castle and Churros near Town Square

    • Strawberry Churro with chocolate dipping sauce

    Sweetheart Donut Sundae from Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor for Minnie’s Valentine’s Day Surprise at Disneyland Park

    Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor

    • Sweetheart Donut Sundae – Warm glazed donut with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce topping, whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry

    Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe

    • Heart-shaped Mousse Dessert with raspberry mousse and vanilla bean crème brûlée center

    Market House

    • Heart-shaped Linzer Cookie

    Plaza Inn

    • Strawberry Bundt Cake

    Red Rose Taverne

    • Cherry Mousse Dessert – Dark chocolate ganache and chocolate crunch with red velvet spray, gold dust, and mini heart sprinkles

    Molcajete Platter and Chocolate Tamale from Ranch del Zocalo Restaurante for Minnie’s Valentine’s Day Surprise at Disneyland Park

    Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante

    • Molcajete Platter – Chorizo sausage, carne asada, shrimp, cebollitas, serrano, nopales, and Oaxaca cheese with salsa roja and warm tortillas
    • Chocolate Tamale with espresso whipped cream and cherry compote

    Churros near Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

    • Chocolate-Cinnamon Sugar-dusted Churro with spicy cocoa dipping sauce

    Strawberry Beet Salad from Blue Bayou Restaurant for Minnie’s Valentine’s Day Surprise at Disneyland Park

    Blue Bayou Restaurant

    • Strawberry Beet Salad
    • Pillow Cake Dessert – Pabana mousse with salted caramel pot de crème center (share it with a friend or a loved one!)

    Churros near Haunted Mansion and Churros near Splash Mountain

    • Burning Love Valentine’s Churro – Sweet and spicy red sugar churro with “double-the-love” cream cheese frosting

    Mint Julep Bar

    • Chocolate-covered Strawberry Beignets

    Royal Street Veranda

    • Double Chocolate Fritters – Double chocolate chunk fritters tossed in powdered sugar

    Hungry Bear Restaurant

    • Honey-to-Love Funnel Cake – Honey and cream funnel cake with cinnamon sprinkles

    Southern Pork Belly Sliders and Chocolate Lava Cake from River Belle Terrace for Minnie’s Valentine’s Day Surprise at Disneyland Park

    River Belle Terrace

    • Southern Pork Belly Sliders – Sticky sweet and fiery-glazed pork belly sliders on toasted brioche buns with fresh sliced jalapeños with house-made pickle chips
    • Chocolate Lava Cake with passion fruit sorbet and passion fruit sauce

    Minnie-inspired Sundae from The Golden Horseshoe for Minnie’s Valentine’s Day Surprise at Disneyland Park

    The Golden Horseshoe

    • Minnie-inspired Sundae – Espresso chip gelato, cherry compote, cream-filled cookies, and chocolate-dusted artisan churro topped with whipped cream and a chocolate bow

    Strawberry Cheesecake “Funnel of Love” from Stage Door Café for Minnie’s Valentine’s Day Surprise at Disneyland Park

    Stage Door Café

    • Strawberry Cheesecake “Funnel of Love” – Funnel cake covered with cheesecake filling, strawberry compote, whipped cream, and a chocolate bow

    Piranha Lemonade Slushy and Roasted Vegetable Spring Roll from Bengal Barbecue for Minnie’s Valentine’s Day Surprise at Disneyland Park

    Bengal Barbecue

    • Piranha Lemonade Slushy – Mango and pineapple lemonade with lychee and pomegranate popping pearls
    • Roasted Vegetable Spring Roll – Roasted Portobello mushrooms and red peppers, pickled cucumbers, baba ghanoush spread, zucchini noodles, fresh mint, fresh basil, and toasted sesame seeds served with harissa sauce

    Churros Near Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

    • Popping Sugar Churro

    We hope you all have a wonderful Time celebrating Valentine’s at the Park.

    Banff National Park

    I was in Calgary for a work project when we finished early and decided to take a day trip to Banff National Park. When we arrived the absolute beauty of the town took my breath away. It was like something out of a fairytale set amongst a picturesque backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. The streets were lined with chateau-style hotels, boutiques, and restaurants with a perfect view of Cascade Mountain. We had breakfast at a lovely restaurant overlooking the town and then took a drive to Lake Louise. The lake was frozen giving it a beautiful and magical feel. We hiked along the beach taking in the stunning landscape. We were thrilled to see quite a few beautiful long horn sheep near the lake and along the roads. We had parked our car to take photos of three female longhorns when we noticed this beautiful male on the hill above us. We must have made him nervous being too close to the females because he came down from the rocky hillside and started walking towards us. We hopped back into the car to distance ourselves and try to defuse the tension. He walked up to the front of our car and stood there looking at us, and we wondered should we honk the horn, should we back up? Before we could decide he lowered his head and head-butt the bumper of our car with enough force that we all felt the car move. He stood up, looked at us again and then turned to walk away, the females all following him. We laughed with relief, knowing that he could have done serious damage had he really wanted too and instead had let us off with a warning. We continued on our adventure and drove up to Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. The hotel looked like a castle set amongst the beautiful forest. It opened June 1st of 1888 then in 1962 the original wooden hotel caught fire and was rebuilt into the impressive structure it is today. Featuring design elements found on the chateaus of the Lorrie Valley in France, the main part of the structure has steep copper roofs, dormers, and gables. It’s architectural elements also draw from Scottish Baronial Architecture and the Arts and Crafts Movement. As we entered the Hotel we couldn’t help but admire the tall ceilings beautiful stone staircase and chandeliers. We wandered through the hotel admiring all of the beautiful details and found ourselves in the Rundle Room where they serve a luxurious afternoon tea. (Seating in the Rundle Room. Look at those chairs!)The afternoon tea service was absolutely beautiful with full jars of teas that are passed around for you to smell and touch before picking your flavor. The whole set up was just completely elegant. Mount Stephen Hall was set for an event. Again the details were absolutely inspiring. The floor to ceiling windows, stone walls, and beamed ceilings had so many beautiful elements to them I could have stayed and admired them all day. I had to look up a photo of a room. We didn’t stay the night at the hotel but I knew that the rooms must be amazing and of course they are. If you are a lucky guest at this hotel there are two pools, one outdoor heated pool that we were told is beautiful even when there is snow outside, and the indoor pool, which was stunning with its natural lighting. The entire hotel had fabulous natural lighting with large windows in every room we ventured into.

    After our self-guided tour of the hotel, we were told that we should ride the Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. The ride only took about 8 minutes and the views were stunning. At the top, we enjoyed the rooftop observation deck that offers 360-degree views of the valley and surrounding mountains. There was a lot to explore such as gift shops, restaurants, and hiking trails. We were only able to stay a while as we wanted to head back into the town before starting back to Calgary that day.

    Our day trip was a wonderful taste of the adventure and beauty that Banff has to offer. I cannot wait to venture back and spend more time there exploring all the park has to offer.