You turned six months old on Sunday and as I write this you’re playing on your mat making adorable sounds and rotating to the toy you want to chew on.
The past week or so has been tough; you caught your first cold and have been leaking from your nose. It’s gotten to the point where you start screaming when you see a tissue. You’re getting better now and I look forward to not hearing you be all phlegmy.
Crawling is about to happen any day. You get up on your hands and knees and rock back and forth. Sometimes you’ll army crawl. You also love to pretend that you’re skydiving.
Added to your screeching (Curse you DanIsNotOnFire) is growling, babbling, and a lot of giggles. Honestly, there is nothing better than hearing you laugh. It’s filled with such pure joy and love. I could listen to it all day.
One thing I really wish you’d stop doing is grabbing and pinching. I know you don’t understand that it hurts us and you’re just trying to keep your balance but it’s a real pain.
It’s been a wonderful six months with you and I wish I could spend more time but you’ll be eight and a half months when I have to go back to work. I’m doing everything I can to remember and appreciate this time together.
By reading this blog, I’m sure you noticed I’m a rather optimistic kind of person. I tend to assume the best of people and believe hope is important.
That being said I have my cynical moments. Last night as we were getting the little Dragon to sleep, I came to the realization that there are two kinds of cynical. When things don’t go your way or go badly, you can fall on two extremes of cynicism; Conspiracy or Stupidity.
Let’s say, for examples sake only, that your baby doesn’t seem to be going to sleep (just an example, I swear…). If your cynicism leans towards conspiracy, you’ll assume that the baby is trying to stop you from sleeping. Possibly for some sort of nefarious plan where she steals all your energy.
This is the extreme that you see a lot of with big businesses or with government. They’re all out to get us/me/you! It makes us feel special, because someone wants to get us, and makes us feel like there is purpose in the world.
This is absolute opposite side of cynicism. Instead of assuming the baby is trying to stop you from sleeping, you assume the baby has no idea what it’s doing and has no sinister motives. It’s just a baby that hasn’t developed enough to realize that it’s time to sleep and that you haven’t abandoned her in a crib for ever.
This is the harder form of cynicism. It assumes chaos and it assumes you have nothing to do with what happened. Humans tend to assume everything that happens around us is about us; we are a self-absorbed race. It is freeing to realize that everyone is just blundering about trying to get to their goals.
I’m trying my best to be hopeful and grotesquely optimistic, but the times I am cynical I lean towards the second option. I’ve worked in government, retail, big business, tourism, etc (seriously, I’ve done a lot) and one thing I’ve noticed is how, as a society, we are extremely hard to organize. It’s always more likely to be incompetence or stupidity rather then maliciousness. (That’s Hanlon’s Razor)
The main reason we travelled to Florida was to visit the parks at Disney World and Universal Studios. Unfortunately, illness prevented me from going to Universal Studios.
I am going to discuss each of the four parks at Disney from the perspective of a new mom with a stroller, as well as point out my favourite parts of each.
Something that we were extremely pleasantly surprised by was that every single concessions stand had an ingredient list.
The proximity and amount of stroller parking in Epcot was very reasonable. As this was the first park we visited, I was anxious about leaving the stroller unattended. However, we never had a problem, and neither did anyone else, as far as I could see.
Walking around the “world” was actually pretty easy with the stroller. There was space in the stores we went in for maneuvering, and the only time we felt at all worried about people kicking the stroller was in Norway, because Frozen, and dinnertime. It was a little squishy in the restaurant in China, but that was the case in pretty much every restaurant.
We used the rain protector today, and it worked perfectly. Pro tip: When leaving the stroller in the parking, cover it with the rain protector even if it isn’t raining. Your baby will thank you when their seat is nice and dry when it rains unexpectedly while you were inside.
Baby Care Centre
The Baby Care Centre was off to the left, just before Mexico. It was big and clean. There was a huge nursing room with only 4 wooden rocking chairs (could definitely have fit more in there). The changing area had large sturdy change tables, with space for the diaper bag. The changing paper was the same throughout the parks – very large, thick white paper that, once used, go in the garbage with the used diaper. I wish there had been a recycling bin for the paper.
There was a tiny room for those accompanying the mother to sit, and they were playing Finding Nemo.
Introducing Keladry to Baymax.
Seeing Keladry’s reaction to the hologram images of Dory, Nemo, and Marlin.
Seeing the Frozen ride.
We had a very similar experience as in Epcot, although the stroller parking outside the Finding Nemo Musical was not very clearly marked, so that was a little confusing. We used the solar screen today, and it worked really well. It does keep the heat inside the stroller, too, though, so if it’s a warm day, I recommend letting the baby breathe every ten minutes or so, depending on how hot it is. (Or maybe our dragon is a little furnace, and this isn’t a problem for other babies?)
Baby Care Centre
The Centre in this park is in the centre island, over near Africa. It was tucked away and was supremely tiny. There were two individual nursing rooms and very tiny change tables. The chair in the nursing room was a wooden rocking chair with very soft cushions. There was a change mat and more space to change the baby inside the nursing room than there was in the change room itself.
Changing Keladry in the theatre for Finding Nemo before the show started, across our laps.
The Finding Nemo show – phenomenal!
The Lion King show – we were in the lion section. Rawr. Keladry fell asleep during it.
Lots of curbs in this park, which was mildly annoying with a stroller. Stroller parking wasn’t very clearly marked for the Toy Story ride, although it was everywhere else. They did an excellent job of parking the strollers for Fantasmic.
Baby Care Centre
Right at the entrance to the park, on the left hand side as you enter, was the smallest Centre of the parks. There were 2 curtained individual nursing rooms, again with a wooden rocking chair, and the changing room had two tables only. There was barely any space to breathe in the space. Definitely my least favourite.
Eric being allowed to wear Keladry during the Toy Story ride, getting the highest score of the 4 of us, and Keladry falling asleep partway through the ride.
Introducing Keladry to Moana – Keladry was asleep by the time we got to see her.
Watching Keladry watch the fireworks from Fantasmic. Oooh lights, *startle*! Oooh lights, *startle*!
The proximity of the stroller parking to the rides was not very good, and it was confusing to find it sometimes. Once, Eric parked the stroller somewhere, and a park attendant had moved it by the time we exited the show. That was mildly terrifying.
Definitely the least stroller-friendly park, because of how much is in it.
Baby Care Centre
Located just to the left of The Crystal Palace (when facing it), this was by far my favourite Centre. There was a calm room for nursing with 5 squashy rocking chairs, and while it was a bit squishy in the room, there was space for everyone. The change room had 6 changing tables, and the room for accompanying people had lots of chairs and a TV screen; the only other one to have a TV was Epcot.
Nursing Keladry during Mickey’s Philharmagic – I had forgotten about the champagne bottles and I jumped at the forced air, startling Keladry.
Keladry falling asleep on the Haunted Mansion BOTH times we went on it!
Watching Keladry get excited about the Pirates of the Caribbean ride – her little head swiveled from side to side, trying to see everything. And she raised her arms in the air when we went down the water fall!
Introducing Keladry to Tinkerbell, while dressed as Tinkerbell!
The stores were maneuverable with the stroller, and easily accessible. I was pleased by how easy it was to get around with it, and that I didn’t have to go too far out of the way because I had it.
Baby Care Centre
There wasn’t one. Bad Disney! It’s on your map!
The Information Centre let me use one of their offices when I asked about the location of the Baby Care Centre, which was nice of them, but not practical for multiple people.
YeSake food – this was delicious, large portions, and had customizable rice, noodle, or wraps. Yummy!
Cookes of Dublin – Super yummy fried fish, and they were very good about my mother’s allergies!
Mickey’s Pantry (and Spice & Tea Exchange) – a store with the best fancy salts and sugars, and other kitchen supplies
Marketplace Co-op – a series of shops that are high-end and great quality
World of Disney Store – everything for everyone, except they were out of the cute short set in the size we wanted for Keladry…but they did check to see if they had any in any other location (they didn’t, but I appreciate that they tried to find it for us!)
I’ll mostly be specializing in the same things as Jen but with the addition of Culinary Tourism (Food, Drink, Coffee, Tea, Wine, Etc.)
My second announcement is that I got a tattoo. I’ve wanted to get one for a long time and couldn’t decide on what to get. With the arrival of our baby Dragon, I decided to ask the wonderful S.M. Carrière to design one for me and hold my hand through the process.
I went to Living Colour Tattoo in downtown Ottawa and they were wonderful. The original design was beautiful but not perfect for a tattoo so the artist Patrick Drouin recommended some changes and the final product looks great.
I’m extremely happy with it and really thankful for all of S.M.’s help, encouragement, and guidance.
Travelling with an infant can be complicated. How will they react on the flight? Have you remembered to bring everything? Have you brought too much? I have to admit, I was rather terrified of travelling with Dragon. But it turned out alright! And we didn’t forget anything that we needed, we didn’t have too much of anything (except perhaps diapers and wipes, but that’s a very good thing to have too much of, in my opinion), and her reaction to the flights? Well…
Our first flight was a non-stop one. No connections was definitely the best way to go. Our return flight had to be changed due to our illness, and we had a connection in Toronto, and ended up travelling 14 hours from door to door. I don’t recommend that. We were all exhausted.
But Dragon’s first flight could only be described as exciting. It was recommended that I try nursing her during the take off. (NOTE: You are supposed to hold the infant in an upright position, facing the rear of the plane, during take off and landing.) So I tried nursing during the taxiing, in the hopes that would make her drowsy. She would have none of it. She fussed and fussed until Eric took her and held her in the correct position. Then the plane took off, the g-forces pushed on us, and then we were airborne! Dragon’s cries turned to delighted smiles the instant the plane picked up speed on the ground, and didn’t seem upset at all by the pressure on her ears. And then she fell asleep.
I guess Dragons are meant to fly.
The return flights were a little more complicated. No smiles, but no screams on the first flight home. The second flight, she was sound asleep for the take off, and then cried for the landing. I think she was upset that she missed her favourite part.
Some things we did to make it easier for us to fly with an infant:
Eric packed the diaper bag within an inch of its life. He knew exactly where everything was. 20 diapers, a package of wipes, plastic change mat, an extra pair of leggings, short sleeved onesie, long sleeved onesie, and slippers, a roll of bags to place the used diapers, a burp cloth, and 2 wash cloths were included in this bag. We had the diaper bag packed this way every time we left the hotel room, as it worked so well.
I had her toys in my carry on. These included her favourite rattle, 3 different teething rings, her favourite toy, and her bedtime book. I also had her blanket that we used to get her from the car into the airport.
We changed her across our laps, as it was easier to do that than try to squeeze into the tiny airplane bathroom to change her in there. After waiting in line. With an upset infant. I recommend only doing this if you have someone who is as good at changing diapers as Eric is. We didn’t make a mess even once.
We had a stroller (this one) that we gate-checked for free. You have to get a label at the check-in counter, though, so don’t forget to do that first! We bought a red airplane bag for the stroller to protect it. I am SO glad we did that, as the bag is smeared with black, and the stroller is perfect. Highly recommended.
Since we stayed on resort at Disney, we were able to take Disney’s Magical Express from the airport. You should have either your magic band or your reservation number ready to check in at the airport. Then we waited in line for our big bus. They can pick up your checked baggage for you, or you can pick it up yourself. We chose the latter, as our checked baggage had all the diapers, and you don’t get your bag until later in the day at the resort.
The bus itself was relatively comfortable, similar to a Greyhound. There is no car seat for babies – you hold them on your lap like on the plane. Your luggage gets put under the bus, and pulled out for you at your resort. Our bus was going to the 3 All-Star Resorts, and was quick and efficient.
The shuttles to the parks and Disney Springs were similar to OC Transpo buses, except that you had to fold up your stroller. It’s a really good thing we had extra adults along, because holding the baby, the diaper bag, Eric’s backpack, and the stroller was manageable, but much easier with the extra hands.
I was very happy with the timing of the shuttles. They are every 20 minutes (approximately), and there’s a screen at the resort that tells you when the next one will arrive. We had very good luck with our shuttles – we only had to wait longer than 5 minutes once, and it was standing-room-only twice. I had to ask a guy to give me his seat because I was holding a baby on the way home from one of the parks. He rolled his eyes and huffed when he got up. That was the only time we had less than stellar interactions with anyone. I guess babies are pretty well liked.
The hardest part of having a baby is trying to stop people from touching her! We didn’t have too much trouble – most people only touched her feet – but then she discovered that her feet could go in her mouth, and I almost flipped out on a garbage collector at the airport on the way home. (You touch garbage with that hand! Why would you touch my baby’s foot!?)
The shuttles were a big difference from driving (and parking) to the parks like we had done in previous years. It was nice to not have to deal with traffic, paying for parking, and the shuttle stop at Magic Kingdom was right outside the entrance, so we didn’t have to take the monorail/ferry back to the parking lot (both a pro and a con, imo).
In order to transfer resorts, we had to go through a third party transportation company. This was a little more complicated than normal, because we decided to not bring our car seat. So we couldn’t use a regular taxi, and we had to make sure that whatever service we did use had a car seat for young infants.
Enter Quick Transportation. Not only did they have a rear-facing car seat (although we had to provide the head support – no problem, as our stroller had a removable one), but they had a large van that was smooth enough for my mother’s motion sickness. And they have a grocery stop service, where they allow for a stop of 30 minutes at a grocery store, and you can get supplies. Since we knew we were going to have a kitchenette at Universal Studios, and no meal plan, we stocked up on breakfast and snack foods. We also grabbed a couple Disney sleepers for Keladry, because our grocery stop was at a Walmart, and we wanted some cheap Disney clothes.
We also used this service to get to the airport from Universal Studios, as it came out to cheaper than using their shuttle service for our family of four adults.
I was very happy with our choice of transportation service, and highly recommend them.
Watching the news today, I held you tight and warned you about the monsters. They don’t have bolts in their neck, and they don’t get burned by sunlight. They look like us and walk around in daylight, but they exist.
This will be history for you when you read this, but one of those monsters shot at innocent people in a place of worship yesterday. He killed six innocent people and hurt a lot of others. His actions are inexcusable and monstrous.
That’s the difference, my little Dragon, between fictional monsters and real ones. Fictional monsters do terrible things because it’s in their nature, or they were made that way; real monsters make themselves from their actions.
Of course, there are other factors that help create real monsters. Hate, fear, intolerance, and anger help feed them, but in the end, it’s their actions that make them monsters. This means we are all capable of being monsters.
There are ways to help prevent monsters and they are so simple they seem silly. These ways are simply to keep love in your heart and share it with others. Treat people with respect, even when they don’t deserve it, help your neighbour, and be the kind of person who helps others.
Help, not through grand gestures, but through small acts of kindness. The small acts add up to bigger ones. We are all capable of being monsters, but that means we are also capable of being the opposite; Helpers.
It may be optimistic and it may be naïve, but I believe we can all make the world a better place by helping more.
As some of you might be aware, the whole family got very sick with some sort of stomach virus at the end of our trip, and so we weren’t able to fully enjoy Universal Studios’ resort, and couldn’t go to the parks at all (other than a quick trip by Eric before he got sick as well). So instead of breaking our trip down into Disney and Universal, I’m going to break it down into three categories: Resorts, Transportation, and Parks.
I have never stayed on resort before. In the past, when I visited Disney, we stayed in a variety of hotels, timeshares, and rental homes. All of these options have their benefits, and their drawbacks. It really depends on what you are looking for. This time, I was looking for the full resort experience. And I was incredibly impressed!
Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
The accommodations themselves were fairly standard, and felt a little dated. The rooms came equipped with 2 double beds (not queens – very squishy for people who are used to a king!) and they brought us a crib for Dragon. The crib fit nicely beside the TV cabinet, not sticking out, and neither of us clumsy folks tripped over it even once, which was nice. There was a small round table and two chairs that had no arms. Not exactly conducive for breastfeeding, so I ended up nursing on the bed.
I liked the bathroom setup – the toilet and tub were behind a door, and the sink was outside, but there was a curtain to close it off.
We were in connecting rooms with my mother and sister, which was nice.
The beds themselves were old – creaks every time we moved and either lumpy or V-shaped.
However, despite the meh rooms (I’d give them about a 3/5 – they weren’t bad, but they weren’t great), we had a fantastic experience at the resort. Anything we wanted, the staff went out of their way to get. We weren’t unreasonable with our demands (crib, extra coffee for the coffee maker that you also had to request, extra shampoo, extra blanket) except for once: Bran Buds.
They had nothing with high-fibre content for any of their meals. So we requested something that we have at home, and they went to the grocery store, bought it, and had it delivered to our room.
My mother has very strict dietary requirements – and the chefs met and surpassed every single one of them. It is very difficult to make her happy with her meals, and they succeeded.
They also went above and beyond the call of duty when my mother got sick and had to go to the hospital. For the staff alone, I would recommend this resort.
Other awesome things at our resort include the pool, which was warm enough for Dragon to go swimming at 8 pm in January, the arcade, which we didn’t use, but was constantly in use by others, and the laundry. The facility for laundry was fairly nice, although there weren’t any chairs, which sucked. It cost $3 per wash and per dry, and the detergent could be bought there or in the little store attached to the resort (or brought from home, I suppose). But it was worth it to have a full set of clean clothes, burp cloths, wash cloths, and change mat.
One of the best parts about staying on resort is the dining plan. We went with the Quick Service meal plan, which includes 2 quick service meals (quick service meals are served at a counter, like at a cafeteria, not a sit-down restaurant) and 2 snacks per night per person. We used all but 6 snacks, and we were never hungry. And was the plan ever worth it! The most expensive meal our plan paid for was flatbread pizza – and we definitely wouldn’t have bought it if we hadn’t had the plan.
Extra Magic Hours
We didn’t take advantage of these, and I blame exhaustion from having a baby.
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
This place was fantastic! I am disappointed that we weren’t able to take greater advantage of the pools (yes, plural!) or the lazy river, or any of the other amenities while we were staying here. I was barely able to walk as far as the Starbucks, and I didn’t even see the cafeteria, let alone the bowling alley.
We were in the family suites, again with connecting rooms, and it was SO worth it for the extra space!
You open the door to a small kitchenette that includes a microwave, a mini fridge, a coffee maker, and a sink. They provide cutlery, plates, cups, and bowls. They also provided the coffee. Beside the kitchenette is a raised counter-top (perfect for changing a baby, fyi) and a living space with two chairs and a fold-out sofa. There’s a sliding door separating this space from the bedroom (again with 2 double beds, but much newer). The crib didn’t fit quite as easily in this space as in Disney’s room, but it was a nicer crib. Metal bars – it fit the retro theme of the resort very well.
Just inside the sliding door was the bathroom space – there was a sink with no door, a wc (water closet, or a small room for just the toilet), and another small room with a tub and another sink.
If you have more than just 2 adults going to this resort, you will want to upgrade to the suite. It was definitely worth it for us.
I only got to see one of the pools, but it was gorgeous. I want to go back to this resort purely for this pool. Spend an entire day at the resort and hop in and out of the pool, go down the slide, let Dragon play on the splash pad, etc. They have free swim diapers behind the bar (how awesome is that??) and the pool is warm enough for Dragon.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of both resorts, and can unquestioningly recommend them. I look forward to going back and trying a different Disney resort, and actually getting to experience the Universal one.
When my wife was pregnant, someone recommended that we should take a vacation with the baby. It would help get the baby used to travelling, get us out of the house, and not use any vacation days. It was a great idea and I don’t regret the vacation in the least. However, some have called it THE VACATION FROM HELL.
We went with my fantastic Mother in-law and Sister in-law. The plan was to spend six days at Disney and three at Universal. We wanted to do the whole resort thing so that Jen could be more comfortable selling it as a vacation. The first five days were wonderful and exhausting. The baby slept 9-11 hours a night (and on most rides), the food was good, the transportation was okay, and the rooms were good.
Day six was going to be our second day at Magic Kingdom, but my poor Mother in-law was sick over the night. At first, we were all delusionally hoping it was food poisoning or an allergy attack. Her being hypoglycemic meant we were extra worried for her and after a few more revisitations-of-previous-foods, my Father in-law (still at home) told us to send her to the hospital. It’s also at this point that he decided to fly in and save us.
So my Mother in-law goes to the hospital and my Sister in-law goes with her to make sure everything is ok and keep us updated. That leaves me, the Dragon, and Jen in the hotel room wondering what to do and worrying. We did some laundry (thank you Disney resorts).
My Father in-law tells us not to waste the day and go to Magic Kingdom anyways. We went and had fun but it was always under the shadow of worry. On our way home, we learnt that my Mother in-law was coming back from the hospital and everything was fine.
My wife spoke to a manager at our resort and got us some free tickets for our trouble and reimbursement for the taxi that brought them home. (Really awesome of Disney!)
This is the point where a sane individual would start wondering what had happened. I stubbornly stuck to the food allergy story.
The next day, everyone was exhausted and we needed to checkout and move to Universal. We met in the resort’s cafeteria and hogged a section of wall for all our luggage and waited for our ride and my Father in-law who had arrived and rented a car.
We all transferred to Universal. The transfer company that drove us let us have a grocery stop. Our suites at Universal were great. At this point, to avoid the parental in-law snoring, we had my sister in-law sleep in our suite.
We spent the night chatting and relaxing. The next day we were going to Universal parks and seeing all the stuff we didn’t normally have a chance to see. We planned on leaving at 10am. Jen was sick at 9:45am.
We spent the day in the hotel, except for a short walk on my part to give everyone a rest from the baby. Here’s the thing about spending five or six days with an infant, showing them all kinds of cool stuff and hundreds of people; they get a little stir crazy if you just suddenly stop.
That night my Sister in-law failed her fortitude save to what we are now sure was a Norovirus.
The next day, I decided I wanted to get the baby a Harry Potter Hogwarts onesie and I’d walk to the parks. I was dissuaded from taking the baby (I don’t produce milk for her). I arrived at the City Walk to find out that the best merchandise is in the parks.
As a travel agent Jen had a free ticket. I had her passport and decided to try and sweet-talk my way into the parks. Apparently, a patient attitude and a sob story about a sick family will get them to let you use your wife’s ticket.
At this point I was convinced I was going to be fine. I escaped the plague people and hadn’t caught it yet. So I walked the entirety of both parks on a mission for souvenirs, onesies, and butterbeer. I took the Hogwarts Express between the parks.
Feeling guilty for having had freedom, I walked back to our hotel. While I’d been gone, my Father in-law started showing symptoms. As I fell asleep that night I thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d avoided catching this plague. (sigh)
We were scheduled to fly out the next day. I got sick in the early morning after repeatedly telling everyone and fate, that I wouldn’t, but I did.
So at this point my Mother in-law is feeling crumby but recovering, same with my Sister in-Law. My father in-law is feeling like crap, and Jen is giving the baby all her antibodies and still feeling sick. I was having trouble with this whole sitting thing.
We were still ready to try and fly, but then Jen was sick again. It was decided that we’d split the group. Mother in-law and Sister in-law headed home and the rest of us stayed behind an extra day.
I vaguely remember sleeping the whole day and changing diapers. I also remember that baby decided it was a good day to start teething and screaming about it.
When we did fly out, I wasn’t sure Jen would make it all the way without being sick but she powered through. It was great to finally get home.
The entire family impressed me with their strength and patience. It’s not easy being in a room with a crying infant or someone being sick when you’re healthy.
As a last thought, I have to thank my father in-law for being there and saving us. He dropped everything at home to come help, and once there he did groceries, pharmacy runs, called to reschedule flights, extended the room, took care of everyone, took Keladry for walks, helped us get into the AC lounge, and so many other things that I’m sure I’ve forgotten or don’t know. All while getting sick, or being just as sick as the rest of us.
He’s an amazing man and his dedication, quick thinking, and ridiculously big heart make him one of the best people I know. Thank you so much.
I’d also like to say that both Disney Resorts and Universal Resorts were extremely understanding and accommodating; making a terrible situation much better.
So no more vacations for a little while. (At least a few months.)
As I write this, you’re a day away from going on your first vacation. Tomorrow, at an insane time, we’ll get you up and bundle you and all our luggage and head to the airport. Then we’re off to Disney and Universal with your Aunt and Grannie.
You’ll grow up travelling a little bit everywhere. It’s a perk of your Mum being a travel agent. I hope you appreciate travelling. I hope you realize how lucky you are to be able to go to all the awesome places you’ll be going.
I also hope this new phase of screeching doesn’t last too long. If it does it’ll be an interesting plane ride.
It’s mostly joyful but people can get really cranky when they fly so hopefully you’ll stick to the cuter noises.
I know you won’t remember this trip, but I hope you’ll have as much fun as we will. Someday we’ll go again and I’ll love seeing your excitement. Until then, we’ll just get hundreds of adorable pictures of you at the parks.