Chapter 30

Paris, turning 30, 30th birthday, Paris, Europe, Rome, travel, travel blog, faith blog
May 23rd, my actual birthday! do I look 30?! 😝

Turning 30…

Some of us anticipate it with joy and excitement. Some of us cringe and want to hide. Some of us don’t really care because it’s just a number. We get old and life goes on 🤷🏽‍♀️

As I was planning our European getaway for my 30th, I was so excited. I had begun planning it a year out and as the year went on, it still felt so far away. Then the week before came, the day before and at last it was the day of! (I can’t believe it’s already been a month, now)!

I was so nervous, and it all felt so surreal. Was it really happening?! After what felt like the longest travel experience ever (long story, but let’s just say Trump

is literally to blame 😂), we finally arrived in Rome. 

I wish I could say it was all rainbows, birds chirping, and wind blowing in our hair. Instead, I was bawling my eyes out, because they lost our one checked bag that had all of my husband and my clothes and shoes in it. I didn’t even have extra underwear in a carryon because I was too busy worrying and making sure all of the girls’ things were packed in them. 

I was so mad and angry and began thinking that everything was going to go wrong. That it was a mistake going there and I wanted to immediately go back home and crawl into bed! 

We were at the airport making the claim for what felt like forever, and by the time we were finished, our pre planned driver had left. So we stood around waiting for a taxi that would take our family of 5, to our hotel. 

My husband, through it all, remained cool and kept reassuring me that it was ok; It would all work out. 

That night we showered, hopped into bed and I began to reflect for a few minutes before conking out from exhaustion and sleep deprivation. 

The next morning I woke up, put on the same clothes and opened the windows… 

Wow! I realized we were in freakin ROME, ITALY! We had a room with a quaint and beautiful little terrace and from it you could see St Peter’s Basilica and roofs lined with terra cotta tiles. So picturesque and dreamy. 

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My beautiful girls and our beautiful view!

I took a deep breath, and thought about the events that transpired in our travels. I realized that the devil was trying to steal my joy, my peace, and my excitement. In that moment I literally said, “oh no devil, not today!” 

 The night before I thought God was punishing me for something. I thought he didn’t want me to have a smooth, fun and sweet time visiting Rome and Paris and turning 30 with my family.I felt like I was out of his protection because our bag got lost. And as I really thought on that terrace

and as I’m typing now, I realize how completely ridiculous it sounds. 

I know that the God I serve is a loving, compassionate, joyful God who wants nothing but the best for us. And what the devil tries to do is trick us into thinking that we’re being punished and deserve whatever mishap or unfortunate circumstance comes our way. 

What a jerk, right?! 😡

If you’ve followed me long enough, you know that I’ve struggled with anxiety. Anxiety about the future and wanting to control things so that I know what will happen and how it will happen. I’m not God, though. Through this I’ve learned that I need to allow God to be in control of every single situation. Big or small. 

Allowing God to be in complete control sets us up for being completely okay when things don’t go our way. When I realized that the devil was trying to egg my anxiety on, in order for me to lose sight of what was right in front of me, my perspective changed. 

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Same outfit different day, who dis?

Come on, just being in Europe, safe and sound, with actual clothes on my back, dirty or not, was blessing enough! Every material thing is replaceable… and guess what y’all… two days later, our bag showed up and was delivered to our room! 

I mean won’t he do it?! 

So, as I embark on this 30th chapter of life, I just want to encourage you. Shift your perspective to see through the eyes of gratitude, contentment, joy, faith, TRUST that God has your back and release full control over to him.

Whether you have a good day or a bad day, as long as our hope and our trust is in the Lord, nothing can separate us from his love, his goodness, and his promises! 

“Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:34-35, 37-39 NIV

Paris, turning 30, 30th birthday, Paris, Europe, Rome, travel, travel blog, faith blog
Walking towards the Spanish Steps
Paris, turning 30, 30th birthday, Paris, Europe, Rome, travel, travel blog, faith blog
So blessed with the sweetest husband and sweetest little babes

Washington DC with kids

Hey y’all! Hope you’re having a wonderful Tuesday, it’s Mardi Gras here, and we stay as far away as possible… it’s just not our jam and we usually always try to get away.

So, on Thursday night, we flew out of New Orleans and ventured into DC with all THREE girls in tow.

Now, I know what you’re thinking… we’re crazy. Although that may be a little true (haha), I actually love bringing our kids along for travel. I want them to experience the world with us, even at their young ages, and show them all the different places outside of our little bubble down here in the south. I want them to have these memories of visiting different places and cultures and be adventurous.

Having said that, they’re still only 5, 3 and 7 months, so, were there moments when Sam and I let out deep sighs and questioned our choice of bringing them along?!

YES. Yes we did.

We’ve all been there right? 🤦🏽‍♀️😏

Anyway, I’m sure you’re here to see if it’s actually possible to travel there with children, and it is.

HOWEVER, in hindsight, I think planning the trip for summer time, if you’re not used to really cold temperatures, would be a better time to visit with small children. I literally had layers and layers of clothes on them and they were so annoyed and wanted to undress any chance they could.

That was thoroughly frustrating.

Other than that, DC has so much to offer in terms of things to do. All of the museums are free… yes, free! You have the monuments, which are a great experience. The White House (which you can tour if you schedule in advance). We didn’t tour it because the girls are too little and I’d rather them be older to appreciate a tour of it. The National Zoo (also free), and the Museum of the Bible, which you have to pay for, but honestly totally worth it! Everything about it was great, and there is even a little play area for the kids, with  games relating to Bible stories.

There’s so much more that we didn’t get to do because of the weather, it rained 2 of the 4 days we were there and it seriously was so cold, at least for us. We made the most of our trip, I think, despite the weather. The girls were along for the ride and they just love being with us.

In terms of food, I think the best meal we had was at Founding Farmers Everything is farm to table and was seriously delicious, definitely have a meal there.

My mom is from El Salvador, so one thing I grew up eating a lot of, are pupusas, if you’ve never eaten them, I’m sorry. You’re missing out. We ate in this very tiny, literal hole in the wall, called El Rinconcito and they had some pretty tasty pupusas there. I had read that DC was home to a large population of Salvadoran’s so, finding a restaurant that served them was essential for me to check out.

Lastly, another little place we’d heard about, &Pizza. Honestly, the pizza was great, but I think we’ve had better, though it’s worth a try. It was a tiny place as well, but pizza was made fast and hot and it was, pizza!

I like to think of this trip as a pregame to our trip to Europe in May!😬 ahh!!

We survived with a few hiccups, but if you are like me, and love having your kids experience different places with you, I say go for it! They are smart and are attentive to much more than we give them credit for. Our oldest for sure remembers a lot of our trips and things we do even at home, and talks about them for months after.

In summary, summer is better because no layers of clothes, Free, fun, history, Free. lol

 

DC with kids, Washington monument, Washington DC, travel with kids

DC with kids, Washington monument, Washington DC, travel with kids

DC with kids, Washington monument, Washington DC, travel with kids

DC with kids, Washington monument, Washington DC, travel with kids

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DC with kids, Washington monument, Washington DC, travel with kids

Planning for 2019

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My mind is blown! 

How is 2019 just a couple of weeks away?! 

Where did 2018 go?! I mean, are we really sure we’re going into TWENTY-NINETEEN!!!

We were JUST entering 2009 like yesterday 😭

Anyway, since getting married, my husband and I begin planning out our goals, vacations and events for the following year, between October and December. It gives us structure and expectation, and I wanted to share with you, exactly how we plan out our year.

We separate it into these categories:

Goals:

  • Spiritual: we want to read ONE book/month this year. We want to study the Bible deeper, than we ever have. Also, we want to write ONE song/month! 
  • Physical: we’re both into fitness, when we really get into fitness! I’ve got the rest of this baby weight to lose! And he’s got his own physique goals. 
  • Financial: how much we want to have in savings. How much we aim to spend on birthdays, vacations, holidays 
  • Personal: this includes fitness, but also, I have 2 specific projects that I’ve been working on that I really want to finish in 2019! Also, to be an even better wife and mother! I want to begin establishing more time where I focus on really cultivating my daughter’s talents/dreams and teaching my daughters to walk in truth, love, compassion and kindness. As well as diving deeper into the Word, having more devotional time and time for personal development. 

Vacations:

Here, we kind of brainstorm when and where we want to go. Typically, we separate them into a family vacation which is just us and the girls, an extended family vacation, a girls trip, guys trip, weekend get away (usually for the 4th of July) and a trip for just the two of us.

Next year, our biggest trip and our family trip, will be to Europe! It’s been a dream of mine(my 30th birthday wish). 

We still aren’t sure about the other trips we’re taking, but we still write a budget for them, and really try to stick to it!

Events:

These are, birthdays, holidays, our anniversary, valentine’s day etc. 

We set budgets for how much we will spend for each of our daughter’s birthdays, our birthdays and all other events. For our anniversary, we decide if we’ll make that our trip together or if we’ll just go out for a nice dinner and exchange gifts. 

We also set a budget for how much we will give siblings, nieces, nephews, close friends and parents for their birthday(the amount is the same for all) . Same goes for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas presents etc. 

……………………………………….

If you are on the track to financial freedom, advisors will tell you to write out every. single. expense. Down to the penny.

We don’t track every penny, but we’re not that far from doing it. Thankfully the only debt we owe is our house and car. We like to plan and budget, so that we keep the discipline of being responsible and one day having our money go to work for us. 

I mean, who doesn’t want the freedom to travel on the whim without requesting for the time at work?! 🙋🏽‍♀️ Amiright?!

………………………………………

Budget talk in and of itself is a topic all on its own, so anyway…

Planning all of this out, really helps us to see exactly where our money is going and gives us more discipline to stay within the budgets, in order to save what we set out to save. 

It also gives us expectations on what our year will look like. Towards the end of this year, we were a bit more spontaneous than we would’ve liked to have been with our finances, and we fell short on achieving this years financial goal. 

Though we had anticipated that adding our 3rd daughter, would change up what our “normal” looked like, we went a little bit further outside the lines LOL. It’s ok though, because life happens and it’s important to still live your life joyfully!

Smart, but joyful 😊

Can you tell we are planners and detailed people?

It also helps with being disciplined in other areas. Structure is better than chaos and sitting there wondering where your time and money went.

It shows you if you’re growing, because at the end of the year, we check off what we actually accomplished. 

There’s something so satisfying in checking off on a list! 

However, if it didn’t get done, we attach it to the next year and we try again. It’s a sign of success and perseverance to actually DO and not just SAY YOU WILL.

talk the talk AND walk the walk.

I truly hope you found this helpful AND encouraging!

Heres to an even better 2019!

Xo,

 Lorena 🧡

Disney World Planning

Disney World, Planning tips, Disney world with toddlers, Disney family photos, Disney photography, Disney tips and tricks, where to stay in Disney World

PART 1

Hello all you Disney lovers! 😁

This post is all about, you guessed it…

Disney World!

The first time I ever went to Disney world, was for my 15th birthday. My parents gave me a choice of either having a quinceanera or going on a trip somewhere… well I chose an experience! I’ve always been fascinated with travel and while we have barely begun to experience the world, Disney is one world we are well acquainted with! (did you see what I did there)? 😎 ok, I’ll stop.

***Before I begin, I want to add a disclaimer. I am not a travel agent, Disney travel agent, or being paid/sponsored etc by anyone. This is all just my personal opinion and experience through traveling here with friends (some of whom have actually worked for Disney) and lots of my own personal research, planning and experience.

Anyway, there is a whole lot to talk about when it comes to Disney World, so lets begin!

RESORTS

Obviously, the first thing you’ll want to look into before booking, are the various resorts all around Disney; specifically on-site resorts. We’ve only stayed at an off-site resort once, so this post, won’t be much help in that department if you’re looking for off-site suggestions.

If you really don’t know anything about Disney resorts, there are three categories: Value, Moderate and Deluxe.

The Value resort we’ve stayed at is, Pop Century. The resorts in this category will be the most affordable, and in one room, can accommodate your family of four. If you have more members in your group, you’re now looking at having to reserve two rooms. (This is typical for all of the resort rooms in every category, except for family villas which can accommodate bigger families).

While staying at these resorts, keep in mind that the main reason you’re there, is for the parks. The rooms will be just to get some sleep and recharge to hit the parks the next day. They won’t be “luxurious” and are plain rooms, just Disney themed. They also aren’t single-building, hotel style resorts.

In the Moderate category, we’ve stayed at Port Orleans-Riverside and Coronado Springs, which ironically (because we’re from NOLA), our favorite of the two was Port Orleans. Maybe it was due to the fact that Port Orleans was already refurbished when we stayed there versus the room at Coronado Springs, which was not… lets just say I’m glad Coronado springs is actually still being refurbished, because WOW, our room was struggling! Sorry!😬

Anyway, as you’ll gather, these moderate resorts will be about $100 more per night than the values. They are a little nicer, but not drastically, to be honest. The moderates are also spread out into different buildings.

Keep in mind, that if you’re not driving, you’ll want to request to stay closest to a bus stop, or you’re looking at more walking. I honestly didn’t mind it too much, except on the late nights because of EMH or hanging out at Disney Springs. It was dreadful having to walk back when all we wanted to do was fall onto the bed…😴

Lastly, you have the Deluxe resorts and villas. We have not yet stayed in any. We are staying at the Copper Creek Villas this December and we booked it through DVC-rental. So, you’ll have to keep up with me later on in the year to read all about it!

If you stay at the Deluxe resorts, transportation is easier. The perks of some of them, are that you can walk right from your resort to Magic Kingdom! This is awesome, especially if you have babies/toddlers. It’s so much more convenient! They also have more modes of transportation available such as the Monorail, boat and even “Minnie Vans.” (Actually the Minnie Vans might be available at all resorts now). The transportation here, is less crowded, and also less crowded than the value and moderate, which brings me to the next topic.

TRANSPORTATION

I will say this, we flew to Orlando for our trip back in September, and while having the courtesy shuttle, Disney’s Magical Express* (picks you up at the airport and drops you off at your resort and vice-versa), was great, having to wait for and plan for the bus schedules to get to reservations, parks and other resorts, was miserable for us. I’ll say it again… IT WAS MISERABLE!

If you have older kids, disregard this part.

In my family, our girls are still young and having a stroller was a must. That was also the case for our friends. The miserable part was having to wait for the bus (who very frequently, was late), having to break down our stroller before getting onto the bus and finding a spot to sit or stand, because these buses get PACKED; especially at night after the parks close.

That was a huge downside for us, because it made it very difficult when the kids would be asleep at night, one of us having to hold both girls, along with the bags, while the other had to break down the stroller, all while others are packing in the bus, and then lugging it inside with no where to put it.

However, here’s the game changer y’all: LYFT AND UBER! The whole time, I kept suggesting for us to just uber everywhere and the rest of the group was like “nah, it’s fine.” (it wasn’t 😒).

It’s getting even better to use those services around Disney World, because, if you have young ones, you can suggest a car with carseats!

This year, we are choosing to drive and this won’t be a problem for us. It’s about a 10-12hr drive from New Orleans, but I love being able to hop in our car without having to wait and then pack into a bus.

Recently, Disney announced (if you do choose to have a car), that they will now be charging daily fees for parking, so that’s kind of a bummer… but inflation I guess? 🤷🏽‍♀️ HA! (any time prices go up for anything, I always say “inflation”). 😂 So, just be aware of that and factor that into your budget.

Also, I forgot to mention that the Lyft and Uber rides, weren’t expensive! I’m talking $8-$10 to get from resort to park. Everything in Disney is close by, so the fare isn’t going to be much compared to outside of Disney. Well, this was also back in September, so make sure you find out for yourself… I wouldn’t doubt if it’s more now, but it’s definitely worth finding out.

*Disney’s Magical Express: When you book your trip and choose to fly, you do not automatically get this courtesy. You must make sure you add it to your booking by signing into your MyDisneyExperience account. They also mail you where to go once you arrive and provide you with luggage tags as well.

On Site Perks

Once you’ve decided how many days you’re going for, which resort you’ll be staying at and how you’re traveling, then comes the real planning! I will save that for the next part of this blog, but I’ll leave you with this:

The biggest perks, in my opinion, of staying on Disney property, is the reservation window you get for restaurants and fast passes. For restaurant reservations, it’s 180 days in advance and for Fastpasses, it’s 60 days in advance! This is a big deal y’all! Especially with all the new exciting rides that recently opened up, like Pandora’s Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom and now with Toy Story Land opening in June at Hollywood Studios!

The fast passes get booked up quickly, even if you’re up at 6AM and click refresh to start booking! The 180 day mark is crucial for those good times too, if you’re looking at getting into Cinderella’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest.

You also get to enjoy extra magic hours (EMH), which you also need to keep in mind when deciding which parks you’ll go to each day. Disney will post the schedule for the EMH and any other special events going on. So make sure you refer to it to make sure you take advantage and have a well put together plan for your restaurant reservation times/places and your fast passes.

Having all of this information, to me, is crucial to having a well put together plan of what your days will look like. Each time we’ve gone, it’s been for 7 days and each day counts. It’s not a strict, no time for potty break, kind of schedule… we’ve even had down times where we’re just sitting around enjoying a snack! However, planning every detail out has helped keep our sanity all while still making the most out of our time and being able to see and do everything that everyone wants!

So, stay tuned for the next post which will have more details about how I personally schedule our days, what to bring and our favorite restaurants and fast pass worthy rides!

XO,

Lo

 

Chicago

travel tips, chicago, the bean, millennium park, things to do in chicago,

I cannot believe it’s already been almost TWO weeks since we took our trip to Chicago. Time seriously needs to slow down a bit, because that means my girls are growing fast too!

Sam and I went on our baby moon to the wonderful Windy City. The first time I went to Chicago, I was just entering my teenage years and it was for my brother’s boot camp graduation. It’s crazy how different things look to you as a kid versus an adult. I just knew, despite the harsh cold, that Chicago was a pretty cool city, and obviously memorable. I’m glad that I finally got to go back as an adult and with my most favorite person in the world!

Every year since our oldest was born, Sam and I have made it a point to get away together without the girls.

(Also, let me add that my anxiety goes through the roof, having to leave my babies! I don’t like leaving them, but I know that Sam and I really need the time alone).

Day in and day out, we have the same routine of responsibilities we need to take care of. After a while, Sam and I get worn out and stressed and barely spend time together because we’re so tired. Date nights aren’t enough to catch up and take a breath.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re absolutely needed and important, but after a while, you need some alone time with your spouse that lasts more than a couple of hours every few weeks. SO, that’s why we made it a point to get out of town without the kids every year.

Last year on our anniversary, however, we did a little 3 day “staycation” in the city, where we’d spend all day exploring, adventuring and relaxing with couples massages, and came back home at the end of the night to the girls; and that was lots of fun and gave us the alone time we needed just as well.

We feel and believe that as parents, and even if you don’t have kids, it’s good to disconnect from everyone else except each other. We get to focus on just each other and really catch up and talk…actually have conversations without distractions and screaming kids asking us for something every .02 seconds! lol

Anyway, Chicago has so much to offer! We ABSOLUTELY loved and enjoyed it. We went for 4 days and despite battling the cold weather, we got a lot done! Here’s some of the highlights of our trip and if you’re thinking of visiting, hopefully serves as some inspo!

DAY ONE

We caught a super early flight and as soon as we got to the hotel to check in and leave our bags, we headed out in search of BREAKFAST! HA We were hungry, y’all!

Luckily, there was a restaurant called Yolk right across the street from our hotel. Which by the way, we stayed at The Langham and it was absolutely amazing! It’s a beautiful hotel with exceptional service and an A M A Z I N G spa!

After breakfast, we explored Magnificent Mile, before heading back to our hotel for our couples massage 💆🏽‍♀️💆🏻‍♂️ it was much needed and very relaxing.

Chicago, chicago travel, baby moon, hotel, things to do in chicago
The only picture we got of our hotel was the hallway 😂
Baby moon
Feeling relaxed after our massages and ready to eat up some steak!
Chicago eats, chicago food, rpm steak, baby moon, travel, chicago travel, things to do in chicago
I didn’t get a picture of our steaks and our “millionaire potatoes,” which O M G… but here’s our yummy dessert! The cotton candy was complimentary.
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To finish off our first night, we did some bowling, which was also located across the street from our hotel.

I LOVE that everything was literally within walking distance from our hotel. We were right on the river and a short walk from Mag Mile and TONS of different restaurants.

DAY TWO

Ya’ll… day two was CUBS GAME DAY! It was literally a check off of my bucket list! A dream come true for me, as I’ve been a cubbies fan since I was a kid.

chicago cubs, cubs game, Wrigley field, things to do, travel
I bought that hat when I visited Chicago the first time! I told myself that one day I’d be back and wear it to my first Cubs game!! It’s a 14 year old baseball cap y’all!!

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The Cubs lost, but that’s ok! The experience was still AMAZING and Wrigley Field is AWESOME!

Thanks babe, for making this girl’s day!

After the game, we headed back to our hotel and for dinner we decided to check out the famous Chicago deep dish at Giordano’s, and lets just say, it did NOT disappoint!

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chicago deep dish pizza, chicago pizza, chicago eats, travel, things to do in Chicago
I meeeaaan!! drool…

 

DAY THREE

Started the day with a yummy breakfast with a view at NoMi located in the Park Hyatt.

water tower chicago, travel, things to do, chicago eats, chicago restaurants
View of the water tower

 

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Delicious cornbread toast with pear

Chicago eats, chicago, chicago restaurants, things to do, travel, park Hyatt chicago, water tower

After breakfast, I of course had to get the girls a gift… so we hit up the American Girl store and got one each for them. Sam was over it after two minutes of searching for their perfect doll lol

Then it was off to Millennium Park to get in that tourist pic, of course!

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Lastly, we couldn’t leave without catching Hamilton! We were able to see it on Broadway and loved it! We listen to the soundtrack all the time!  So, we had to catch it while in Chicago and it was just as amazing.

Hamilton musical, chicago theater, theater, things to do, entertainmentProcessed with VSCO with a5 preset

DAY FOUR

Was our check out day, we ate breakfast at Yolk again, and just had some good old fashioned date fun. We went to FTW which is like Dave n busters and just had fun feeling like little kids. Afterwards, as our last stop, we went to a little hole in the wall, suggested by a friend, called “Da Lobsta.” It was actually really yummy, we don’t typically eat lobster, I prefer shrimp and crawfish, but this was Maine lobster, the way New Englander’s eat it in a roll and it was yum!

So, that’s it! That was our trip to Chicago! Lots of fun spent with my favorite person, best friend, and baby daddy! We were supposed to check out the Navy Pier but had put it off till Saturday, to kill time, but it was rainy that day… so to that we say, we’ll check it out next time because we’ll definitely go back to Chicago!

xoxo,

Lo