Hi, I'm Tara and I am so excited that you came by to check out my little corner of the internet! I'm a wife, mom, and a photographer from Erie, PA. If you asked my friends to tell you about me they'd probably describe me as cheerful, laid-back, and always smiling My blog is a mix of my photography, personal, weddings, etc... and I hope you leave feeling refreshed + inspired! :) 

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June 17, 2015

Our First Family Vacation | Travel, Fall in Love, Be Happy

Our first family vacation was absolutely amazing and went so much better than we ever could have hoped for. We were really nervous about taking Emma anywhere away from home for more than just a few hours but she behaved so well the entire trip and both her and Liam made mommy and daddy very proud. Florida was beautiful. We stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando Lake Buena Vista in the Marriott Village when we were in Disney and at a private beach that my family found in Bristol over a small lake for the rest of the week. 

Gigi gave Liam a haircut before we left

Gigi gave Liam a haircut before we left

We drove to Disney which took about 18 hours and drove through the night. We were totally expecting it to be horrible but it honestly wasn’t bad at all. We used our essential oils and bought new CDs to prepare. We spent about a day at our hotel before my parents made it down which gave us time to relax and check out the pool. I spent a lot of time researching hotels even though we planned the Disney part of our vacation pretty last minute and I got a great deal through Expedia on a nice hotel right outside of Disney. Downtown Disney was free so we spent time there since we only wanted to buy park tickets for one day but were waiting for my mom and dad. We had so much fun at the hotel, it was absolutely beautiful and having a few restaurants and shops in the area helped keep the kiddos entertained. 

Sad to say good-bye to his puppy for the week- thank you Uncle Zach for taking care of Bear for us!

Sad to say good-bye to his puppy for the week- thank you Uncle Zach for taking care of Bear for us!

We stopped at a Waffle House in the morning (we left at 6 o’clock Friday night) when we made it into Georgia on Saturday. It was one of the things I remembered my Nin looking forward to when we went on our first FL trip when I was in high school so it was something I wanted to make sure we did again. That’s when we finally told the kids we were going to Disney too! They had a feeling before then, but we were trying not to get them too excited before our 18 hour car trip lol 

I felt a little emotional during breakfast because I was a little nervous to go in, we’ve been avoiding restaurants for months now because Emma gets really stressed and upset and throws a fit usually, but she just behaved like a dream and was so mature and sweet and fun. She sat with her brother and shared a waffle with him, used her manors when talking to our waitress, and walked in and out of the store like a big girl. I felt like there was hope we were going to have a successful trip- and we totally did! 

The kids took a long nap when we got to the hotel and we went to bed early that day. We were absolutely exhausted and wanted to be well rested to visit Disney. The hotel was beautiful and we ended up having two different but both very nice rooms. The hotel had a gorgeous outdoor pool and play area that we loved.

The view from our first room and the hotel pool area :)

The view from our first room and the hotel pool area 🙂

Our room the first night. 

Our room the first night. 

My favorite part of our hotel - the second room we had (we requested to switch after we realized they had these rooms) had a kid's room built in that was separate than the main bedroom with really nice bunk beds and a desk and fridge and TV. The kid's absolutely loved it and we loved having a huge, comfortable king-size bed to ourselves. 

My favorite part of our hotel – the second room we had (we requested to switch after we realized they had these rooms) had a kid’s room built in that was separate than the main bedroom with really nice bunk beds and a desk and fridge and TV. The kid’s absolutely loved it and we loved having a huge, comfortable king-size bed to ourselves. 

We went to dinner at an amazing little restaurant in the same circle as our hotel. It was really nice, had great food, gluten free pizza and dessert for me, and we could eat outside by ourselves which was nice because Emma was exhausted and totally fussy and just wanted to run around. 

Emma and I had a breakfast date our first morning at the hotel. Everyone thought she was too cute while she was waiting in line to pick out her food. 

Liam and Emma were so excited to meet Mickey and Minnie so we took them to Downtown Disney to explore before my parents got there. 

We loved that our hotel was in a little circle with two other hotels and a few little shops

We loved that our hotel was in a little circle with two other hotels and a few little shops

The kids were hot and a little cranky for Downtown Disney from being tired, but we still made the best of it and walked around for a little bit until my parents got in.

D I S N E Y

And off to Disney we went. We only went to the Magic Kingdom for one day, which was totally enough for their first time. Disney was AMAZING. I’m not sure if having kids did it for me or what, but Disney was just magical. I went in highschool and it was not so much but it was so much different this time. Everyone had me worried that taking a two year old to Disney was the craziest thing in the world, but it wasn’t. Disney is SO baby-friendly and both of the kids had a blast. It was perfect for both of them and totally worth the money. I didn’t take nearly as many pictures and I would have liked, but it was SO hot and I had Emma on me almost the entire day. 

It was Nathan’s first trip to FL and Disney too, and it was sooo special for both of us.. I definitely saw the magic in his eyes when we went under the Disney gates and saw him blush for the first time ever because he got a kiss on the lips from Minnie Mouse. I will never ever forget our first trip to Disney <3 

Disney has been developing these really cool waiting areas for their popular children’s lines where there’s a large play area (with a smaller area for babies and toddlers) for the kiddos to play in until a buzzer goes off when it’s your turn to ride the ride. It was amazing and so nice to get out of the hot sun for mommy and daddy too.

Each park had a baby center which was sooo nice because Emma got fussy and we needed to get out of line once. We had an air conditioned place to go relax while Liam could still wait in line and go on his ride. I was really happy Emma fell asleep while we were there. She ended up sleeping for almost two hours in her Ergo while we walked around and caught a few shows. 

Having Emma’s carrier was really helpful in Disney because you needed to go from boat to tram quickly in some places and I hate fussing with a stroller. For waiting in line for the rides, it was sooo helpful because I could keep her under control and entertain her with my phone or whatever while still having my hands free to be there for Liam. We rented a strolled which was nice at times too, but sometimes more of a pain to keep track of. I was able to wear Emma right on some of the rides which was so convenient for me. Having my mom and dad there was also a huge help too. They were able to keep Liam entertained with big-boy rides if Emma needed to slow-down. It was hot so we made sure to stay hydrated and left a little earlier than planned, but it was such a perfect first-trip.  

Meeting the characters was basically all the kids were concerned about, and it ended up being probably one of the most magical experiences of my life. The characters are amazing. The whole staff at Disney really is. They have so much patience and magic and life. Everyone stopped and said hello to us and said hello and played with both of them. When Emma bonked Pluto in the nose, he didn’t care. Minnie gave Nathan a huge kiss on the lips. We saw Daisy boop Minnie on the butt when no one was looking. Pluto walked Liam out of the park at the end of our day and made him feel like the most special little 4 year old ever. It was so sweet. 

Everyone loved the train!

Our new hats!

Waiting in line at the end of our day to see Pluto!

Meeting Pluto made Liam’s entire trip. Pluto signed his new hat and spent so much time hanging out with us before he walked us out. It really was magical and I can’t wait to print out the pictures for their rooms. 

Leaving Disney 🙁 

After we were finished up at Disney we spent the rest of our vacation relaxing at a beach house we booked with my grandparents and parents in Bristol. It was a beautiful house with a big screened-in porch looking over the lake. We spent most of our time enjoying the lake and relaxing on the porch, but we did make enough time to visit the ocean twice. 

There was so much to do at the house and it was really nice to relax with my family for the week. 

The ocean was absolutely amazing. We went to Panama City Beach the first day and Mexico City Beach for the second day. 

There was so much to do in Panama City Beach and we would absolutely love to go back someday to explore the beaches and the city a little more. We visited a few gifts shops while we were there and went out to lunch at a cute place called Wild Willy’s that was built right over the ocean. I had amazing Pulled Pork and the restaurant was beautiful. 

We went swimming at Panama City Beach and Nathan and my dad had a lot of fun playing in the waves. They never got to wear their new swim suits in the actual water because they ended up swimming in their clothes because they jumped right in lol I made them change for our ride home so they didn’t soak their car seats so we snagged a quick pic 🙂 

Our vacation was absolutely wonderful and we can’t wait to start planning for next year!

This weekend we are celebrating our first wedding anniversary! 

I hope everyone enjoyed our vacation photos 🙂 

xoxo Tara 

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