Using the ‘fancy plates’

You know the ones I mean. The ones being saved for when Royalty pays a visit. Well I don’t think they’re coming. I know some are saved for Christmas but that’s only once a year. Price per use on that is well…a lot.

If I were fancier, would I use the fancy plates more often? Old me probably would say yes, when I’m fancier, when I have more money or when I can afford even FANCIER plates for the fancy ones to become the normal everyday ones. Entering the cycle once again.

I could be waiting for the ‘when’ for an awfully long time and how do I know when I’ve got there? From one or two or 5 years ago I’ve probably got fancier without even realising it and just upgraded as time went on and didn’t think to look back at all the tiny steps that led to the right here, right now.

This thought doesn’t stop at plates. I recently cleared a lot of mismatched glassware and only kept my favourite LSA Polka glasses, that I was originally saving for best. Then I thought any occasion where I’m drinking champagne should be a ‘best’ one anyway and that I deserved to drink from my favourite *more expensive* glassware whenever I want to and not the 50p mismatched flutes I was hanging onto for reasons unknown.

I’m sure it’s become clear that I’m using the term ‘fancy plates’ as an umbrella term. I’m using it to mean anything that is being saved for best when in reality every single day of life should be worthy of using the fancy plates.

A Gentle Reminder

I’m not a self help expert.

I’m not a life coach.

But by heck I will cheer you on to live your best life. You get one go in this life, in this body you’re living in right now, with the people who surround you right now.

Don’t waste it. Don’t keep thinking you’ll have fun…when you lose weight, when you get a new job, when you have a bigger house. Life is happening right now. Enjoy it.

Take notice of the little things you love. That can be anything from a warm coffee in the morning to a hot dinner when you get home, starting a new book or getting out for a walk.

Take notice of the big things you love. Maybe it’s a holiday you’ve been waiting for or some time with loved ones. Sit with those feelings and realise that you are already living the ‘good old days’.

Take notice of the ones who you love and who love you. Keep them in your thoughts, see them when you can and enjoy their company.

Some days are going to be a little harder than others. Some weeks may be a little harder than others but don’t let too long pass by without focusing on being happy and fulfilled and living the life you want to live.

Taking our 5 Month Old To Disney World

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It was on the cards for a while that we would be travelling with a five month old and whilst I was pregnant I was like ‘yeah no problem!’ Then when our daughter was born it turned to ‘I’m so not sure!’ I took some convincing but we booked and flew internationally with our 5 month old baby with, wait for it…hand luggage only. To this day I’m still not sure I could do it again and me and my husband agreed from then on to just pay for a hold suitcase!

To extend our time over in the US before visiting family, which was our main reason for the trip, we decided that we’d head to Disney World in Florida for a week and booked our park tickets with Attraction Tickets.

We went with no expectations of filling our days with tonnes of rides and went simply to soak up the atmosphere and that is what I’d say to anyone with small family members now. Maybe have a few things that you’d love to do but nap times, feeding and changing (and walking to places where all of this is possible) takes up a lot of the day, especially when nap times are so frequent at a super young age.

Walking through Disney Springs on our last morning

We spent a lot of time eating (which we absolutely loved of course), met plenty of characters and watched the parades and shows which always got the little ones attention. We also managed to go on the slower rides too which came as a slight surprise to me. Whilst I knew there wasn’t a height limit on many rides I was unsure to how she would take to being on them and the overstimulation or the movement etc. We were super lucky and she was fine but I’m aware that not every baby would have the same reaction and maybe wouldn’t like rides at all. She mainly spent time staring at what was going on in front of her with a blank face or open mouth. The only time we almost got a cry was in the 4D Bugs Life show when it got a little dark and scary but this reaction lasted a brief moment and was quickly diffused with a reassuring hug to know that we were still there.

A ride moment where I myself was unsure of what would happen was on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad in Hollywood Studios. The car started to move fairly quickly in my view but looking at her she was clearly unfazed by the whole thing and came off the ride like she’d just stepped out of a car, says a lot about my driving I’m sure!

Just before seeing Kevin at Animal Kingdom

At 5 months old she also LOVED character meet and greets. The interaction and focus that they gave her was lovely to watch and see her respond to. Amazement, excitement and awe are probably the best words to describe meeting the princesses, characters and of course main mouse Mickey himself. All of the characters were absolutely fantastic with her including the cast members in stores and after the parades too with lots of them coming over to say hello. Months later we still comment on this ourselves. You can see some of these interactions on my TikTok @magicofmeandmini or Instagram @lorenjessica_

If you haven’t read it already I’ve written a blog post on the baby changing centres in the Disney parks just here if you want more information on what to expect and our hand luggage only trip.

Are you planning on taking your little one away or have you visited Disney while your little ones were super little?

Planning For Disneyland Paris with a Baby

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When we go to Disneyland Paris at Christmastime our little girl will be almost 1 year old. The last time we were away in Spain she was 9 months and the time in Walt Disney World before that she was 5 months old. This visit will be different for a few reasons so I’m planning a little more than I usually would. And just to let you know, I am NOT a planner. I’ve always been a ‘turn up and have a look’ kinda gal. I’d say being a mum now has definitely had to change that mindset as food, drinks, temperature, weather, transport and more all have to be considered for a little one travelling in a different country.

I’d describe myself and my husband fairly laid back when we’re away and we tend to just wake up and see what we’re going to do that day. We’re usually early risers and aren’t too fussy about where and what we eat or if we miss something one day we’ll do it the next. When you add a baby to that more planning is generally needed as they’ll need changing, more frequent feeds and naps amongst other things.

One weaning baby

All my husband wants from a holiday is to make sure that he’s well fed. I can do that and he could eat pizza everyday for a week and be happy (it’s been proven on our stay in Italy). Now that there is a weaning baby under 12 months to consider I feel like it’s a different planning level. It’s not just finding a restaurant where we can eat, it’s finding a restaurant that serves baby friendly food with different textures, flavours and something she’ll enjoy and actually eat rather than throw on the floor (if you know you know). We could – and probably will – take a little food with us to get us through travel days but I’m sure she’d like some warm, fresh food as much as any of the adults and I think it’s important that she’s tries different foods too. So far I have looked at menus in Disneyland Paris and created a shortlist of where we can eat and what they serve suitable for the little ones. I’ve done so much research I’ll probably do another blog post about just this!

Hotels and Park Facilities

Our little girl will still be on formula when we go and part of my planning was to figure out how this will work. After a little research our rooms don’t include a kettle for bottle prep but I’ve been informed by the online chat that one can be requested on arrival so fingers crossed we’ll be fine to make up milk and for boiled and cooled drinking water throughout the day. Within the parks there is also a Baby Care Centre. We found these to be great at all of the Disney Parks in Florida so hopefully Paris will be the same and we’ll have somewhere nice to change and to clean and sterilise for bottle prep.

The baby care centre at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, newly refurbished when we went in May. I’m hoping Disneyland Paris facilities will be just as nice.

We’re going with friends.

With friends and babies on different schedules it can become even trickier to keep the days on track. You want to make sure everyone is getting to do something they’ll enjoy and having a good time especially when there’s little ones there too. Even if we all wanted to do the same thing it could be a little difficult turning up and finding that your bigger group can’t be accommodated for. So planning for the Disney rides, restaurants and experiences of what we definitely want to make time for I think will be needed as we’ll be a bigger party wanting to see and do things together. As for schedules we’re all being pretty relaxed that yes they may change for a few days but not massively and the little ones (and maybe big ones) will still nap at eat as usual, just maybe at a different time. We’re not planning on changing anything about our little ones pattern, we just know from experience she will want to be awake longer than she usually would at home.

We’ve booked our stay through Attraction Tickets who have been great so far organising our character dining and hotel and tickets package. We also used them for our Florida parks tickets so knew I was happy to use them again!

I’d love to know if you have any questions about travelling with a baby or come and say hi over on Instagram @lorenjessica_

Differences in travelling with a 5 month old vs 9 month old

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In May 2022 we flew long haul to Orlando and in September 2022 we flew short haul to Spain. Even though 4 months doesn’t really sound a lot a there is a lot that changes in a baby’s development and what they can do that makes all the difference when taking them on holiday so I’ve popped down some of my most memorable.

First difference we saw was that older babies tend to move – and want to move – much more. Whether that’s at the table in a restaurant or just before take off when that seat belt sign is on or even when you’re trying to put sun cream on them for the day. Wriggling, wanting to crawl or roll over or grab something it took a lot more energy to keep our little one entertained, safe from anything in her reach and happy to sit with us. Some people say take new toys they haven’t seen before and others say to take what they know. For us it didn’t matter whether it was new or old toys, simple or complex, the menus still looked like they’d be more fun.

Another difference that I was super happy about was that our girl could now wear sun cream at 9 months, something that she couldn’t do at 5 months. Although we kept her out of the sun as much as possible still there’s still the walk to the car or the way she sticks her foot out of the pram mesh that makes me glad she could wear sunscreen. I chose the Child’s Farm Sun Cream for her after seeing that it was suitable for babies and using it for a few weeks at home to see that she wouldn’t have a reaction to it or anything. We also used their bath products whilst we were away and loved those too.

One of the biggest differences for us was that on our last holiday where she was 9 months old she was eating actual food. We still gave her her usual milk but alongside this she could now join us at mealtimes and pick a few bits to eat herself. Without a doubt her favourite thing to eat was bread but she did have plenty of new things too and it just made mealtimes lovely and more inclusive, especially having her sat in the high chair level with us.

When flying there was a few differences that I’ll put in a separate blog post because I have plenty but for now I’d love to know if you have anymore differences in travelling with different aged babies too!

Where We Can Still ‘Shop Small’

I follow a lot of small businesses and love that they offer different things compared to what you can get on the high street. ‘Fast shopping’ is what I’m going to call it, a little like fast fashion but for everything else like homewares, accessories, baby items. I could go on of course there’s loads!

But what I have unfortunately noticed recently is a lot of these small businesses closing their virtual doors, marketplaces and online stores. With material costs going up along with marketplace fees and postal fees it’s becoming a difficult sell. On top of that we are hearing about a cost of living increase and more and more people are feeling the pinch. I know, it’s difficult.

Knitted word from Milling_Miller on Instagram

There are however a few occasions where as buyers, we could still think about shopping small. Those birthdays throughout the year, new baby gifts, weddings, engagements and new home treats are just a few reasons to celebrate and get a little something special. I know I love when someone gifts something thoughtful, maybe personalised for any of those occasions and it goes a long way to helping a small business than a box of chocolates and bottle of wine from the supermarket does.

Small businesses make up so much of our community even where we don’t realise and even the big shops had to start somewhere so hopefully next time you’re looking at that ‘congrats on your new home’ card and £5 box of chocolates, bottle of wine and gift bag you might aim that same money towards a personalised card and a couple of homemade cookies from a local small biz instead!

My husbands Father’s Day treat box from TheBaking.Booth on Instagram

Remember too that no one needs a huge hamper of goodies for every occasion or to make it look like you bought more. Thoughtful gifts are even better and one or two special ones might even save you money on buying stuff just for the sake of it.

Let me know your thoughts let’s chat shopping small.

Flying long haul with our 5 Month Old Baby

We flew internationally from the UK to the US in May 2022. To put it mildly I was a little nervous. I’m not a great flyer myself (well obvs, no wings) and I hadn’t flown long haul for about 15 years. But I was also worried our baby would have been able to pick up on these feelings (I’ve heard they’re clever like that) so kept them locked as tight as possible and just focused on the excitement instead. My husband also suggested that I focus on Darcie having a good experience from it so that was a huge focus shift too and one I’ll be doing again.

As usual with me we were running tight on time, especially as it was reported the airport queues were unbelievably long at the time. We were able to check in all of our hand luggage apart from the baby bag and pushchair and we also checked the travel cot we took into the bulky items desk so we had free hands which was great.

I had booked the airport lounge for three hours before our flight but we arrived an hour late. I thought we would never get in but I genuinely think the lady behind the desk took pity on my dishevelled appearance and let us go through. A full breakfast and coffee later we were ready to board, taking the pushchair to be gate checked which was super easy.

Our luggage for the trip – we only took Hand Luggage

The staff on board our Virgin Airlines flight were great throughout and it appeared that they upgraded us and another family with a baby which was lovely of them. Granted mine was an accidental upgrade as I didn’t realise the plane was so big but they let us stay there and put the other family where *I’m pretty sure* they were going to seat us. They made a great fuss of Darcie and I thought it was an excellent touch that they served the two mums with babies first. Now that’s thoughtful and considerate service.

We were able to have a sky cot for our flight and this was such a relief as it meant Darcie wouldn’t have to sit on our laps throughout the whole flight. She slept soundly in the sky cot a few times and enjoyed watching people walk past while we ate dinner. When not in the cot she was happy to play with the toys I’d packed and yes she did have a little screen time, the choice for kids was quite good and it kept her entertained for a moment or two on a long flight.

On board, the sky cot was great while we ate a warm meal

The on board changing tables were pretty good and there was enough space. The only thing I would say is it was a completely flat surface with no straps so you’ve got to keep hold of baby.

I would definitely fly with Virgin again after that experience and think I’d probably pay for premium economy too so we know what we’re getting and get the checked luggage allowance of a suitcase per person rather than just hand luggage, especially for trips longer than a week. Although we did it we could have made it easier for sure.

I’d love to know if you’ve flown with Virgin or long haul with a baby of any age and if you’ve got any tips for future travels!

You can read more on our Florida adventures here.

Booking and Planning Our Next Disney Trip

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I think it’s safe to say that I am super excited for our next Disney holiday. This time we are visiting Disneyland Paris during their Christmas celebrations, something I have never done before but it’s definitely been on my list.

Initially we were planning a trip with friends to Disney World in Florida however things changed and evolved as they often do and instead we found ourselves looking at a completely different season, one much closer in time in fact than the Summer break we were looking at!

As you know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while I’m always on the lookout for a bargain and a short break or trip is no different. The Christmas season isn’t the cheapest anyway which is understandable but I managed to find an offer for £923 on Attraction Tickets. A package that included hotel and tickets with €25 Disney credit too. We booked our Disney Florida tickets from here too in May 2022 so was confident to book our stay through them this time.

Disney Holiday Planning
Planning our WDW stay and a couple of pins from DLP, one from their opening of Walt Disney Studios in 2002!

We are taking the Eurostar and all I can say here is booking in advance helps as the price continued to rise. Recently I’ve learned that they’re looking to stop the direct Eurostar into Disneyland Paris in 2023 so holiday makers will be going via another station first. I believe from the UK that Lille and Paris are the most common changeovers.

Of course we’re taking our daughter and with her being a little older since our Florida trip I’m looking forward to seeing her take in the experience this time round and looking forward to what will be the same and different on our next visit.

We haven’t set a budget for food and merchandise but there are a few restaurants that look really good from what I’ve seen. I watch a lot of Disney World Florida vlogs so I think I might have to brush up on some knowledge about where to go and what are the must do’s in Disneyland Paris.

The Disneyland Paris castle on their 10th Anniversary on one of our previous family trips

If you’ve got any recommendations on food or rides or general tips let me know. The last time we went was for the day in 2014 so I know A LOT will have changed since then!

We took our 5 month old baby long haul – hand luggage only!

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The story starts months and months before when we were invited over to the states for my cousins wedding. It would be a once in a lifetime opportunity so we said yes! Even being pregnant I thought it would be great. It wasn’t until we had her and she was just over 3 months old I started to get cold feet, really cold feet. And about everything. Flights, waiting around, food, heat, money. You name it, I worried about it however a few things came to pass, I had some conversations that put my mind at ease so the flights were booked with help. We’d made the crazy decision that as we were out there anyway and the fact that flights were cheaper to fly to Orlando and do internal flights than straight to our original destination that we’d visit Disney too. And we’d take our baby who was to turn 5 months old whilst we were away. Even now I look back and wonder how we did it. Two Brits used to 90% overcast cloudy days and a Winter baby going to America in May. It was going to be warm.

Remember those times where you had to pack everything into a big case and your 2 pieces of hand luggage? Well we had booked the low cost flights that came with hand luggage only and again, with a baby that takes over half the house on a normal day we must have packed like Mary Poppins herself. Two hand luggage cases, three bags the pushchair and a travel cot later we were off with the reassurance that if we needed anything there were shops.

Two small cases, 2 overnight bags, 1 rucksack and the travel cot

It sounds easy I hear you say. It probably would be have been a lot easier however I wanted to pack plenty of nappies and wipes (we still ended up buying two packs), and formula as the USA were struggling with a formula shortage and I wanted to stick to the same brand we use at home and bottles, pumps, sterilising equipment and all the other bits that we have for babies everyday.

We had some saviour products that even now I’m so grateful we took with us. Our portable fan being one of them. We wrapped the grips around the pushchair so it faced baby and she was so much happier. Such a good pre-holiday purchase for sure and we’ll be using it again and again.

Secondly our Deryan travel cot. I looked at loads, I literally cried over the stress of finding one suitable and I got annoyed that something classed as a travel cot was actually not as lightweight as you’d want them to be. I eventually found the travel cot we purchased thinking if I wasn’t happy it could be returned and little did I know I would actually be sad to part with it now after it suited us so well. It was light for me to carry, Darcie was happy to sleep in it and I felt comfortable her sleeping in it even at a young age. We’ve also used it since we’ve been home which is great.

Just pulled the handy mosquito net back so I could get a quick photo. I didn’t think we’d need the net at first but we did at our second location!

We were able to do a clothes wash half way through the almost two weeks we were away and this helped massively but I still overpacked clothes for me and baby so could have saved space there and I definitely will next time. (Show me a person who’s never packed too many clothes!) For our next holiday – which won’t be long now – I’m getting these packing cubes to separate my clothes from baby clothes to make it easier to find things and to also separate clean from dirty to make it easier for when we’re home too.

On the return flight we did have an extra bag to pay for as we’d used a baby bag for our travelling day. If we’d wanted we could have packed this into a case or somewhere but it already had everything good to go so kept it as it was.

In terms of luggage we were able to check most of our luggage in at the check in desk on the way out to Orlando. We were able to check the travel cot at a separate bulky items desk and took the pushchair through so we could use it before it was gate checked just before boarding. The other flights weren’t so easy and we had to take our luggage with us and although we could do this next time for ease we’ll just check it in. It meant my husband carried A LOT of luggage in crowded airports and we had to sit with it whilst we we waiting. Not so much fun and I’d pay for the convenience on another flight for them to take it at initial check in.

It was a new set of rules for us flying this time with a baby, not so long after new rules have been put in place and never having gone long haul together before but I’m very proud of us if I can say so myself!

There are some things we’ve learnt along the way and some things we’d change or do exactly the same. Let me know if you have any questions or if you’ve done the same!

A Bit About Disney’s Baby Care Centres

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I started this piece about 5 baby things in Disney but found I could go on and on about the baby care centres in the parks. I didn’t know much about them before we went and only knew they were there and yet found the baby care centres in each of the Disney parks to be an absolute saviour. Not only did it provide a cool place for baby to be inside for a little while but they had comfortable padded changing tables, separate nursing rooms and a kitchenette where we could use the microwave to sterilise bottles before prepping one to take with us for later in the day. We use the Tommee Tippee and Boots own sterilising bags for use in the microwave and I love the MAM dummies and case that can be sterilised in the microwave too. The baby care centres are also manned so if you have any questions or need to buy nappies, wipes and such they’re on hand. Our favourite was Magic Kingdom and I heard it had had a remodel just before we got there. The Alice in Wonderland theming was lovely, they all felt clean and there was always a changing/nursing space whenever we got there. Even at Hollywood Studios which was the smallest care centre.

We always went first thing in the morning to sort/prep everything then we’d go back on occasion throughout the day. This was when it was the quietest and at this time upon park opening we were the only ones there.

Darcie on one of the changing stations at the Baby Care Centre in Magic Kingdom

There are as you’d expect changing areas in restrooms throughout the park which is super handy. I would just say remember to take a change mat with you as these are like marble worktops and not the padded ones like in the baby centres. Don’t be like me and forget it. At one point I had to take the wipes out of the pack that I was going to use and rest baby’s head on the packet. Never forgetting the mat again!

The baby care centre at Animal Kingdom was I’d say the biggest. It had a great family room to wait or feed as I once did as Animal Kingdom does only have two nursing rooms and both were in use at the time. We found ourselves in the communal areas of the centres a couple of times just to let Darcie start a cooler, quieter and still nap before heading back outside.

Darcie in the changing crib at the Animal Kingdom Baby Care Centre

At one of the centres we found ourselves short of a nappy right at the end of the day. We were about to buy a pack from the centre until the excellent cast members said they might have one just to get us back to our hotel and they did. She let us have this for free from a previously opened pack. There was only one size open and in the cupboard so I think this was a rare occurrence and wouldn’t rely on it but it was a lovely gesture and saved us from taking a full pack back that evening. We bought one the next day of course but used them so weren’t carrying them around.

When using the changing stations the cast members asked that after use we threw the paper on the table away so that they could clean and wipe it down. This in itself made me feel confident that the places were kept on top of and that cleanliness including in the kitchen and nursing rooms were all important.

As the Magic Kingdom baby care centre recently had a refurb I would think that the rest would be having one soon too and I’m looking forward to seeing how they do each one up. I would definitely visit them again and know they were a HUGE help during our trip.

A corner of the nursing room at Magic Kingdom Baby Care Centre

I’d love to know if you found the baby care centres helpful on your Disney trip or if you’ve got a trip planned soon!