…sometimes I can’t find the words. And Facebook is such an instant kind of interaction whereas blogging has some sort of responsibility associated with it, to have a subject or theme rather than just stream of consciousness rambling… (although anyone who’s followed my blog for a while will be used to that!).
I guess it’s a bit hard to think of pithy subjects for blog posts when there’s such a lot going on in the world. And I have a lot of other outlets for discussing that, and others have done it far more justice than I ever could, so I’ll just say I’m saddened and kind of scared with what’s going on right now. It makes me wonder if one day in future we will look back on these days and think they were peace time. I hope that isn’t the case.
We all have a responsibility to speak out. As a transracial adoptee I feel my “foreignness” more than most people, and I’m astounded and saddened by what is happening in America now.
B turned seven months old! I can’t believe my baby is over half a year old. It’s gone by so quickly. I’m sure this happens to every parent but I feel like this time I’m sort of at peak love with him. Although probably next month I’ll think I love him even more. He’s at a great age now where he gives a fair amount of feedback, smiling and giggling, and he’s almost confident at sitting up (only falling over occasionally and slowly) and trying to crawl (but only succeeding in moving backwards, generally under the sofa). He’s tried food but doesn’t like it much. Which means: We’ve now reached seven months of breastfeeding!
One of my biggest surprises about this entire journey is how much I’ve enjoyed breastfeeding. I started out thinking I’d probably end up doing formula, because my body manages to cock up everything else, but for some reason I seem to be made to nurse my baby.
It’s an amazing feeling to think that my milk has nourished him to seven months. And he’s really pretty healthy. He’s quite big for his age – we know other babies who are a few months older and he doesn’t look significantly smaller. And aside from the occasional snotty nose and nursery bug, he’s been really well.
Also as an adoptee who wasn’t breastfed, I feel that it’s a very healing thing to be able to nurse my own biological baby. That’s not to say I wish I’d been breastfed. I really find that difficult as a concept from an adoption standpoint. We have had many discussions about it in adoption groups – suffice to say that pretty much all the adoptees were against it and all the people supporting it were adoptive parents. It’s a very emotive subject for adoptees and led to me deciding to leave my local LLL group. (I really support breastfeeding but adoptive breastfeeding is something else. I understand different people have different views and I can only speak for mine as an adult transracial adoptee, that it is deeply taboo in our community.) It’s a shame as we have had such a good breastfeeding experience and I was thinking of becoming a peer supporter. But still – we are still enjoying it and will probably end up doing the extended breastfeeding unless he decides to wean himself earlier! I’m not particularly worried as I guess most 15 year olds aren’t into it!
We are starting to wean B, but we are a bit lacksadaisical about it. We wanted to do baby led weaning, but he really isn’t very interested in food, so we’ve ended up doing some mush as well. I have to say I’m grossed out by mush. Especially banana. I hate bananas but it turns out babies love them. B doesn’t seem averse although he never voluntarily goes for food. He’ll eat mush offered to him on a spoon but stuff in his hand he just waves around. Apart from the baby chocolate biscuit. He’s clearly a man after my own heart.
We decided to hold a naming ceremony. I guess really we would have had a christening but neither of us is religious and so it felt like it would be a bit hypocritical. We wanted to mark B’s entrance to the world somehow… I guess it’s a natural inclination to want some sort of significance to it. Anyway I was going to do it myself and then thought about it and how I’d probably turn to mush and start crying, so I found a humanist celebrant who’s going to do it. Quite excited as we’ve been to humanist weddings in the past and they are really nice and personal. Anyway will have to write more about that on another post!
We are finally completing on our new house! Wow, it’s been an insanely long wait. We first made an offer that was accepted back in April. It’s been a bit frustrating – like what are they actually doing? – but feels amazing to think we will get our dream home this week! I actually feel a little sad for our lovely tiny current flat, but we are keeping it and hope to rent it out. I would love for us to keep it for B so he has some security for when he’s older, but we shall see. The new place isn’t actually a house but another flat very nearby – it’s just that it has a terrace so we will have some outside space, and it has two bedrooms so B can have one of his own! And a slightly bigger living room so he can actually learn to crawl! So exciting. It’s funny when I see people’s homes outside London and they are massive! We have low expectations for space here! I absolutely love London though and can’t really see us moving until much much later. Maybe when we retire to Disney World!
We have booked B’s first Disney trip! Before I was pregnant we went to Disneyland Paris each year during the Christmas season, and last year was the first time we missed it as I was heavily pregnant at Christmas. We decided because we both have our “big” birthdays this year (don’t mention it!) and it’ll be B’s first Christmas that we would go all out. We always go past the Disneyland hotel and sometimes even pop in for a drink or dinner. Well we have booked a posh room there with a park view! So excited. Now to find some good outfits for B…!
Stuff is actually going okay at work. The funny thing is, I made a decision to try and get on with The Woman (my new manager) and actually we’ve been getting on really well. She went on holiday and left me in charge of a piece of work and I caned it (up till 3am one night finishing it!) so I think she appreciated that I was pretty good even though I’m working from home most of the time. So although it’s hard work, I do tend to enjoy working hard periodically. I like that I have other days when I have hardly anything! Anyway it’s sort of nice to be able to take pride in my work!
My sister had her baby! I now have another niece. She was absolutely tiny weeny (a bit over 6lbs) and she’s super skinny… I don’t think B was ever that tiny! She ended up having a really similar experience to mine – ending in an unplanned caesarean. On the flip side she doesn’t really seem super happy about it – I think it has all gotten on top of her. I may have mentioned before she is quite highly strung… So I think the whole thing has traumatised her. I’m hoping that it’s going to pass and she won’t end up having postnatal depression – although I can see it happening. Luckily baby is fine and hopefully with a period of adjustment my sister will get into the swing of things.
I was finally a bridesmaid! They do say, “Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride!” So I kind of thought seeing as I’ve been a bride, maybe never a bridesmaid. Anyway it was such a fun day. Our bridesmaid crew was just the three of us and it was a great experience. I mean really all you have to do is turn up and have your hair and makeup done and wear a dress. It was kind of great. I even managed to nurse in the bridesmaid dress although it was a bit of a “wap ’em out” situation. Also I almost gave people an eyeful during the ceilidh dancing when the boob tube part of the dress came fully down! Fortunately I had some fabric over my boobs but there is no time during Strip the Willow (energetic Scottish country dancing, lots of spinning) to correct it. Ha! It was wonderful to see my friend so happy and to get married to the perfect guy for her. (I take full credit for persuading her to do internet dating!)
I think that’s about up to date with the news. Oh aside from the fact that I woke up today with what feels like horrendous whiplash. How did that happen?! Who knows. I’ve barely been able to move my head all day. I’m in agony. I’ve been taking painkillers in between pumping and feeding (as B is at nursery I have a safe-ish gap) but I am in massive pain. I don’t know how to do make it go away. I have a feeling it’s from side sleeping (co sleeping and feeding during the night) as I tend to get a sore back, but usually that’s manageable lower back pain rather than crippling under neck pain. I had a sports massage which helped a bit but ow!
I guess there was too much good news so I had to have a bit of pain mixed in!
I was looking at old photos of myself on Timehop (God bless Timehop, the regurgitator of past lives!) and realised that I was really skinny. This was something of a surprise to me as I spent a good proportion of my life and most of my adult life feeling fat.
It's like a lot of my old life is something of a shock to me now. I remembered with a jolt the other day that I didn't wear trousers for five years because my ex told me my legs looked a bit like sausages in them. Five years! When did I allow someone else to have such agency over my body?
Even before I met my ex, I think I had some pretty disordered eating. Not quite anorexia – I never really was one for seeing things through – but I did maintain a pretty low body weight that is significantly lower than I am now. (For context: I am around 5'2", and I used to be a UK size 8-10, and now I'm about a UK size 12. Generally not considered "overweight".)
I'm not sure when my disordered eating and strange body image first started. A lot of people (especially girls) start this around puberty, and perhaps that's what happened for me. I think it's a bit deeper than that, though. I was adopted as a baby, transracially, and I grew up around white people so all my life I've looked different from most of the people I was around growing up.
When I went to a predominantly white school, all of this got amplified. I remember that it was a shock because I slowly realised that I was "less than" because of my race. I realised that I was supposed to be blonde haired and blue eyed and I was about as far from that as possible. I started to find myself ugly (and people started to tell me I was ugly to my face). I never had the skinny white girl legs. Mine were muscular and I was just a different build. Really average for my race, as it turns out. But you don't know that as a child if you grow up with people who don't look like you.
Adoption is complex, and I don't know how much of this was tied up in adoption, but I do know I can't separate out being a different race from my overall experience of growing up. My feeling of not fitting in, even though that was all I knew. Anyway, I got kind of chubby. Although looking back, I wasn't chubby. I don't think I was ever actually chubby – I was just short, and not lanky.
Then one time when I was around 16, I went away on a holiday (to learn a language) and when I was there I got pretty sick and I couldn't really eat anything. And I dropped a load of weight. When I got back, suddenly everyone said how amazing I looked because I was skinny. I was suddenly approved of, and I liked it. So I maintained it.
I maintained it for a really long time. The thing is, I'm not naturally meant to be that weight. (It's about 20-30kg lighter than I am now. I don't know exactly how much as I don't know how much I weigh now.) So I got by on some disordered eating that kept me at my magic weight. My magic weight crept up over time… I kept in a 5kg weight range through school, and then it kind of crept up during my time at university, until it was +10kg, and then it was about +15kg in my last few years with IVF and everything. And even +20kg post miscarriage.
For me, I always thought I was "happy" when I was a lower weight. But when I look back, I was always kind of unhappy. I was happy that I'd managed to keep my weight down but I always felt a kind of anxiety about it. I used to weigh myself every day. The number on the scales made me feel like I was achieving something or I was failing something.
When I met T, after I'd split up with my ex – I had to adjust to a new way of being. I was always very controlled with my ex. He wouldn't think he was, but he controlled a lot about me. He had a huge effect on my feelings of self worth (or not). This was someone who had always dated very skinny women and even told me I was the fattest person he'd ever been with. It made me feel pretty bad about myself that I was that. The whole thing with my ex was that I never felt good enough. With T, I felt good enough. He really didn't care about weight. I actually met him when I was still pretty skinny and I piled on the relationship pounds… I let myself go.
I'm still conflicted about how I feel about it, because I recognise that my magic weight wasn't magic at all, but a strange idea of how I was supposed to look. And T tells me he loves me the way I am. But it was hard in the beginning putting on pregnancy weight – not just because of the weight itself, but the fear that it might be for nothing, like our first IVF and pregnancy was.
This pregnancy that gave me B also gave me a lot of weight. Firstly I had to take IVF drugs which make you put on weight. And also I had to take steroids which make you put on weight also. I got to halfway through pregnancy in a state of fear that it wouldn't work out, but then when I got halfway I decided I was going to try my best not to fear it any more.
I also decided to stop weighing myself. I have weighed myself every day, sometimes multiple times a day, since I was a teenager. I even recorded my weight every day in an app so I could see how much weight I put on. It's a bit crazy obsessive.
When I was properly pregnant, I gave myself permission to stop weighing myself. And I let myself relax into the pregnancy.
And you know what?
The strange thing is, I have no doubt I'm at least magic weight +20kg. Possibly +30kg. And I definitely have my moments of feeling a bit concerned about it (especially if I catch a glimpse of myself coming out of the shower – stretch marks and overhang and pendulous mammaries hanging out) but I generally feel absolutely awesome.
I don't know how it works for other people but for me – my body was always this thing that failed me. I wasn't the same as my white friends. I looked different. I was ultimately not enough – I wasn't enough for my birth mother to keep me; I wasn't enough for my ex to love me how I needed to be loved; I wasn't thin enough or attractive enough or whatever.
But having B was like all vanity went out of the window. I love myself now, because I know I'm just the same as anyone else – I'm fallible and imperfect, but my messed up body gave me B and I love myself for that.
I love my ridiculous humungaboobs that feed B like a dream… when his dad "flies" him over to me for a feed, he giggles and opens his mouth to latch on. They may be saggy and baggy but they do exactly what they need to do to feed my baby, and I'm proud I've been able to do that and even to pump for him so he's been exclusively breastfed for his entire life, for half a year.
I love my saggy stomach. (This one requires a bit more imagination!) I love that it carried B safely (even though he needed cutting out at the last minute!). I love that I got to experience being gloriously, amazingly pregnant. I once had a big bump that I never thought I'd get to have, and I grew a human in there, and if it looks like a fleshy deflated balloon well – so be it. My bikini days are over anyway and I have an awesome very flattering swimsuit with tummy panels!
I love my fuller face. (Again this is a hard one!) I love that it's the face that my son loves. His eyes light up when he sees me. He giggles and reaches his arms out. We even had to hide the cushion with my face on because he kept staring at it! Yes, I don't have the cheekbones I used to have but they'll come back one day. Or maybe they won't. But I refuse to hate my face because it looks a little bit like my boy's and I love his.
Anyone who sees me now probably thinks I've "let myself go". And I really have.
I've given myself permission to breathe out. (You kind of have to if you had a caesarean, just saying.)
I've given myself permission to not care. I don't have to listen to the whispering voices of bullies from the past, who said I was fat and ugly. I'm not fat and ugly. I am the size I needed to be to carry my baby into existence. I'm the face of my ancestors, who I'm finally beginning to connect with through adoption forums and same race groups, and I refuse to be ashamed of my non-whiteness because I don't ever want to see that shame in my son's face.
Of course I don't advocate being unhealthy. (Well, chocolate notwithstanding.) The thing is, I'm a size bigger than I was pre-pregnancy. But there's a freedom in letting myself have this. I have told myself I won't diet until I finish breastfeeding. Right now, I don't know when that will be. I want to do at least a year. In fact I'm enjoying it so much (never thought I'd say that!) that I joke I'll do it till he's 15… although I think he might decide to wean himself before then! (We have started baby led weaning but B is not interested in the least… It's a messy business!)
I will start exercising again when I have the time, for sure. But it will be just for myself. I miss the enjoyment I used to get from exercise, a bit, but then we are pretty active as we walk almost everywhere and we have Dog, and he gets us out and about. Plus I do swimming with B once a week, if bobbing around in the shallow end counts. (Yes it does!)
The important thing is that I want B to have a healthy self esteem and be happy. And a huge part of that is having happy healthy parents. I don't want him to see his mother dieting or hating the body that he changed by coming into existence. I don't want him to hate half of his race that came from me. We've taken steps… He's in a diverse nursery in the diverse area we live in. So he will never have the experience of feeling the odd one out, like I did.
And his parents are currently happy together and don't argue that much! (And when they do, it's his mama's fault… Hopefully the hormones will have died down a bit by the time he's more aware!) We are hopefully moving to our new place soon, so he'll even have a bit of outside space. And he has an awesome Dog for a buddy, and a load of new buddies at nursery… Life is good… and we are going to focus on the good things we are grateful for, rather than the bad things we wish we didn't have.
Those of you who have followed my blog for a while will know we are massive Disney fans. We have booked to bring B to Disneyland Paris this year, because even though he won't remember it, it's our happy place (and we will save Orlando and the transatlantic flight for when he's older!). We have been every year apart from last year (heavily pregnant) as a couple and now we're going back as a family.
And of course, one of the best Disney songs ever is from Frozen: Let it Go. I don't tell that many people this, but I can barely ever listen to that song without wanting to cry. It's the perfect song that sums up so much of how I feel. (Which is strangely embarrassing given I'm an almost-40 year old definitely not Scandinavian most likely not a princess archetypally buttoned up British-by-adoption person.)
Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!
So here's the thing… I never was perfect. But I was trying to be, and it was exhausting.
And I never realised that all this time I needed to find acceptance. Not from other people, but from myself.
Beauty and the Beast live action is finally out in the UK and we went to see it. Hurray! It is my favourite Disney film and I’ve seen the cartoon like a million times.
We went to baby cinema which is called The Big Scream. Once a week they show a baby friendly film and you can take your baby along and not worry if he/she cries. Now, we have unlimited cards for the local cinema and I’ve taken B twice to the local showings but T was keen to try it and I thought, Why not?
OMG. So in a way it’s good because you really don’t worry about your baby screaming. They all do. Usually quiet B did too! The last two films we went to see in our normal cinema, he slept through. (Lion and Hidden Figures.) This one he decided to get a bit annoyed and cry, even though he had boobs available and was being fed! Poor B – not sure he enjoyed Beauty and the Beast that much!
Would I go back? Personally I’m not in a rush. T says he would when he’s on his own with B. I’d rather just sit in a nice dark mostly empty cinema in a normal morning screening that hardly anyone goes to. (I also prefer complete darkness but they had the lights partially on for the babies.) I find other parents kind of annoying too! I was on the end of a row at the back and people kept standing next to me with screaming babies! I figure it’s easier to cope with one baby and take him out if he starts crying.
It’s not all bad though. You definitely do relax. And it’s good because you really don’t worry about anything – if your baby cries, it doesn’t matter. You can get up and rock them. You can feed them. You can do whatever. So it’s easy that way.
My long awaited viewing of Beauty and the Beast was… entertaining, but as expected, not a patch on the original. I thought that Emma Watson was well cast – I usually don’t like her particularly but she was suited to the role of Belle… She is very pretty and has the kind of innocent look about her. And for a peasant she sure does have a nice line in dresses.
It’s an all star cast. I thought it particularly amusing how Cogsworth (the clock) even looked like Sir Ian McKellen! The weirdest thing was The Beast. He’s the guy out of Legion, a series we are watching… It is really good but very odd and couldn’t be more different than Beauty and the Beast! I really couldn’t change my view of him as a mental patient, so that was a bit funny!
The biggest thing I missed was – minor spoiler alert for immense fans – skip to next paragraph – the song Beauty and the Beast (Tale As Old As Time). They did it, but for me (superfan) the best part is that song (as well as Be Our Guest and Something There) and it just didn’t have the same emotional resonance, especially where the camera pans up through the chandelier at “as the sun will rise”, which is the bit where I usually gasp and feel emotional.
In general, I think the entire film had too many fillers in the form of back stories and justifications, when really it’s based on a cartoon that works perfectly well without them. And that cartoon was a very good cartoon which was almost perfect so didn’t really need improving on. Also I may have been distracted by babies screaming!
After that excitement, we had to go for my favourite meal of the day… breakfast! I can eat breakfast at any time of day! I actually think maternity leave should be renamed breakfast leave…
Wowzers, it’s been a bit of a week!
Firstly, we went on our annual trip to Disneyland Paris! It’s our pre Christmas tradition (yes, I know we were just back from Orlando – what can I say?!) and it’s always a fun way to get into the Christmas spirit. We have already done all our decorations and our tree has been up since November – this is the kind of kickoff into the Christmas season!
As you’re probably aware, there were recently some terrorist attacks in Paris so we weren’t sure what to expect. Also we went during the week as we thought it would be less crowded and it really was – maybe a combination of the two things but we hardly had to wait for any rides. I think that Disney always feels like another protected world, separate from the real world. It is the perfect place to escape to. We had a really lovely time getting into the Christmas spirit, having mulled wine and nice food! And Dog went to stay with our friends who absolutely adore him so that was great! I always feel bad he can’t come but I think he spent the time being spoiled!
Here are some pics…
All in all, we had a lovely trip. We also spent a day shopping and went to the nearby outlet village which was great! I got a load of Christmas presents and also discovered they had Sephora… I was happy! There was some heightened security like we had to have our bags checked in the shopping centre and there were soldiers/police with guns (something we don’t really have in England apart from in airports) so that was noticeable, but other than that it was really just our normal trip. It was nice to get away for a bit. Everyone at work is getting into the Christmas spirit so that helps!
As luck would have it (not) I got my period whilst we were away. It was really awful and early so involved going around trying to find sanitary products – they do sell them at Disney but only in one shop and not to cope with really awful heavy flow. The doctor who did my fibroid op did say it might be worse. Man, it was pretty awful and the only reason I could cope with the pain (and shedloads of blood and clots) was that we were at the happiest place on earth. And the queues were short and there are lots of bathrooms! But not fun! I eventually managed to get some strong painkillers on the last day but ugh, I really don’t think they’re getting any better.
That meant when I got back I had to go and get my bloods done for IVF and also the baseline scan. Which is a bit nasty when you’re still bleeding although it was tailing off by then. The really weird / concerning thing is that the ultrasound technician said it looked like I had a fibroid… right where is supposedly had the op to remove it?!?!? I don’t know. I called the surgeon and he said that there may be some left as he couldn’t get rid of all of it. I asked the tech what that meant and she said that it was up to the doctors to decide. But confusingly / frustratingly I’m just in this process where I have to wait for them to come back to me so I don’t know if they’ll look at the scan before or after the four month wait – we are on a waiting list for IVF round two so I’ve no idea when they look at it. My surgeon was private so it’s all a bit “He said, she said”.
I’ve spoken with T about it and we are definitely up for some sort of private consultation but it’s figuring out who to go to and what to ask for. This whole thing is really confusing. Also we don’t want to jeopardise the cycles we are in. I doubt we can really do anything over Christmas anyway so I’ll just give it some thought.
The sort of nice thing was that when I was in the waiting room for the scan, I got talking with another lady who was there for her first round of IVF. She was there with her mum and because we were the only ones in the waiting room we had a good chat. I was able to explain a load of stuff to them as I had already been through it at that hospital (like where the blood testing is, stuff like that, but also what to expect). We both felt like they don’t give you much info and you sort of find it out as you go along so she said it was nice to be able to ask someone. I told her I’d been blogging and found out a lot through this online community and she said she’d been looking at blogs too. It felt great to be slightly useful in this process! I guess I feel a lot of the time that it’s all outside of my control so it was nice to be able to answer her questions and hopefully put her mind at ease a bit.
Other than that I ended up having another cake commission that needed to be done when we were back from Disney. I didn’t have much time at all to do this and had no prior experience. I just sort of think of things in my head and it is a challenge to try and make it a reality (in cake!). Anyway I was asked for a golden rhino… I rarely turn down a challenge! Even though I don’t always know how it will work out!
It really was one of the hardest cakes I ever had to make in terms of not knowing how to do it. Firstly I don’t do fondant or Sugarpaste usually so I had to make him out of buttercream. Secondly I wanted to make him 3D and not lying down or in a swamp or something as it felt like that would be cheating. Thirdly I couldn’t figure out how to remove the buttercream palette knife marks for a while and make the rhino skin. And fourthly I didn’t know how to do gold as I’ve never done gold icing before!
In terms of reception a lot of people seemed to like it a lot. Personally I felt a bit dissatisfied with him as I wanted him to be cuter. My other animals like the turkey are more smiley! And his legs were much chunkier than I wanted but I needed to make sure he would stay up and not collapse. I think I was kind of beating myself up a bit. But to be fair to myself, I only had one evening to ice and assemble and I was working late so only able to start after 21:30 so I did what I could! Actually T said he thought it was one of my best but I think he was trying to make me feel better! Anyway, the person who commissioned it was really happy with it so that was good.
Happy golden rhino time and hope we all enjoy this pre-Christmas week!
For the last couple of days in Orlando we ended up having a bit of downtime – mainly because T had sprained his toe(!) somehow and couldn’t walk very far so the parks would have been difficult during the day. We had already planned for a shopping day so we hit the outlets and the mall (with T limping very slowly!). Fortunately I knew exactly where I wanted to go! I had lusted after a Coach bag – they aren’t very common in the UK. And everyone from the UK who comes to Orlando gets something from Michael Kors.
Michael Kors is a weird one in the UK as a lot of people have them. Although they’re probably fake! I do like them but it seems like they’re maybe a bit passé now (but it doesn’t stop me liking them!). I managed to be talked out of the canary yellow handbag by T, which I had liked a lot when it was in the MK shop in London last year. It is a bit bright! I got a little evening / going out bag instead (in the canary yellow, haha). I knew that the bright yellow would probably get all muddy in the everyday commute anyway.
This didn’t stop me from getting two handbags in Coach! Super excited. I’m really not a fashion plate (I’m currently living in Disney themed clothing just for this holiday!) but I do like a good handbag. I got one brown everyday bag and one red one that would be nice for Christmas. I also got two other red ones in various sizes for my mum and sister – lucky them! It will be nice for Christmas to give them something lovely. I also got my sister a watch from Marc Jacobs which matched mine! It is so cheap in the outlets – about half the price we pay in the UK or even less.
T got some stuff from Calvin Klein but it’s safe to say I got the bulk of the shopping. He did do quite well as I bought him an Apple watch for his birthday… after buying myself one! Everything is so much cheaper in the US (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself!). We had a good couple of days shopping and we ate dinner in the parks so we still got the magic experience.
If it seems extravagant it’s a lot different than our trip last year where we were on a really tight budget. We were on a single income unexpectedly and we didn’t know when we would be able to afford anything so it was quite stressful. We had already paid for the flights and hotel so decided we would still go, but try to do NYC on $10 a day! We tried to do everything cheap or free (and for the most part we managed it!) so this year we decided to splash out. We’ve been saving all year for it so it felt good to let loose for a bit!
Here are some pics…
The Mall at Millennia. This is a standard shopping mall (not outlet, which looked less fancy), or should I say shopping planet. For those of you in the UK, it’s larger than the Trafford centre by quite some margin. I would say it would take a day to walk one end and back. We had a limper (or Mr Hoppy as I’d christened him) so we pretty much just went to the Apple Store and looked at the shops near to that. T went into Coach which is opposite Apple to check that I’d gotten a bargain at the outlets – I apparently had! They had the same bags for about twice as much!
This is my midway shopping point at the outlet whilst T was in Asics – he got two pairs. The ones he wanted are a bit harder to get in the UK and he hardly ever buys trainers so he was pleased.
My end of day shopping: L-R – Michael Kors (evening bag), Coach (2 handbags for me, 1 each for mum and sis), Kate Spade (a wallet for the person who’s lookin after Dog), Calvin Klein (T’s smalls!), Apple (watch; we went back next day for one for T and my first ever iPad!), Watch Factory (matching Marc Jacobs watched for me and my sis). Quite a haul! I never shop this much in the UK! I reckon I saved around 50%.
New watch with Mickey on! He taps his foot for the seconds and moves his hands for the time! Sweet. You can change it to other stuff so I might when I’m back.
Our fanciest meal at the second most romantic restaurant in WDW (haha). The first most expensive was all booked up and would require a mortgage to afford! It was at Monsieur Paul in France in Epcot. It was really nice for a treat and even though it was about twice as expensive as any other meal we had there, it was about the same as we would pay for a mid range restaurant like Gaucho in the UK.
Carrot soup with a Parmesan froth. Not pictured – delicious warm home made bread!
Steak with mushroom and bacon topper. I don’t often have steak and I had it twice in Orlando and both times it was amazing.
Truffle mash. Looked liquid and was quite mushy but really good.
Something I won’t miss: your toilet doors! Seriously what is with this?! In the UK we don’t have gaps or peepholes. It’s just odd and rather disconcerting to find that in the US you’re generally visible. Also the self flushing toilets! It all takes a bit of getting used to!
We went to Walmart and bought a case for our extra shopping! We needed it! I tried churros and they were delicious. Probably really trashy but the cinnamon sugar was great! We also got dog sweaters for Dog… He will be overjoyed!
Here were my handbags all packed up in the case. The red ones were packed inside each other – I got my mum and sister matching versions to mine, just different sizes. They’ll be nice and Christmassy!
On our final night we went to the Boardwalk (Disney resort) and I finally got to do the pick your own pearl. I’d wanted to do it as I thought it sounded fun. I was worried about the oyster but the lady said he died of old age! So I didn’t kill him or anything. They are farmed oysters and you pick your own and then they open it to see what pearl you have and they can put it in a necklace or ring for you. This was mine.
I was so excited as my pearl turned out lovely!
It was not a white pearl – it was peacock coloured which I like even more! Usually they’re white so I was really pleased. I got it put into a little necklace so I’ll have a nice reminder of our trip (to go with the handbags and pandora bracelet! Haha!).
Our final evening was at Beaches and Cream. It’s a 50s themed cafe, very casual and fun.
Pink lemonade. Lovely!
They’re famous for the Kitchen Sink which is their signature ice cream. We couldn’t eat any ice cream after our meal but lots of other people could! When they bring it out they dim the lights and do a whole routine. It is fun! And was the cheapest meal of our stay. Although I have to say that I hate to think what we’d look like if we ate this kind of food every day! Good job I have some clothes with elasticated waists!
Thanks Orlando… We had a blast!
I loved Epcot! We managed to land right in the middle of their annual Food and Wine festival… Some might call this serendipity!
We also went on the rides. Epcot is more of an experienced based park rather than ride based so it’s more about visiting the different “countries” and exploring those. Nevertheless we enjoyed the rides!
Spaceship Earth was our first fast pass. (You can have 3 a day/park booked in advance which I highly recommend. It takes a lot of stress out of the whole thing meaning you know you will get 3 good rides and you don’t have to queue.) We didn’t queue for long for anything really – the longest queue (line, Americans call them lines!) was to meet the seven dwarves at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!
In Epcot we enjoyed Spaceship Earth – it’s a bit old fashioned but fun. Then we went on Mission: SPACE which replicates (okay I don’t know if it does!) a trip to Mars. Omg it was horrific! I mean, it’s a great ride and very clever how it makes you feel the g forces but it made me feel so sick! I enjoyed the fact we went on it but I’m never doing that again! You can do the Green (non g force) version so I might do that next time! Finally we went on Soarin’ which is a dangly leg ride where you feel like a bird. Great fun. We didn’t bother with Test Track as it had a 2hr queue and I’m sure no ride is worth that. Next time!
The real fun came from visiting all the different countries. Because the Food and Wine festival was on we got to try lots of different food and wine. Annoyingly I got IDed at the champagne bar and they wouldn’t accept a European driving licence as proof of age! I’m about 15+ years older than drinking age! They said they’d only accept a passport but who carries that around? If I wanted to get illegally drunk I’d choose a cheaper means! Also UK driving licence is the same as all of Europe… Anyway, it turns out that the other stalls let us order alcohol so all was not lost! Plus at least it means I must look young! 🙂
Artist palette of cheese and wine
America. We heard / saw Sugar Ray’s Eat to the Beat concert from here!
Japan, where we ate dinner at Teppan Edo – teppanyaki / hibachi grill. It was great. Although they don’t do the sparks volcano (made from onion) for reasons of health and safety – lots of kids around! I was slightly disappointed but it was still a lot of fun and we were sitting with an American family so had lots of chat with the mom about their trips to WDW and what they should do when they visit London next year!
In summary, I really liked Epcot and would definitely go back. And it has great food!
A packed day at Hollywood Studios! It was great fun. There are lots of shows as well as some great rides like the Tower of Terror and Rock n Rollercoaster. We then had VIP dining package for Fantasmic – a great meal at the Hollywood Brown Derby (highly recommended) meaning guaranteed centre stage seats for Fantasmic. After Hollywood Studios we then went to Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney) to soak up the atmosphere. Another great day! We love WDW!
What could this be?!
This was T’s favourite thing of the entire trip! Haha. The narrators (not in the original Frozen story) were really funny. I got totally emotional in Let It Go!
Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant. Amazing. A 3 course meal (dining package for Fantasmic) for $60ish, which for us in the UK is amazing value. My steak was absolutely delicious and would have been about $45 on its own!
Indiana Jones stunt show. Really fun. We didn’t see the car stunt show as we watch it every year in Paris so we were prioritising stuff we don’t get to see usually.
Not a great picture (all my pics are iPhone but we also got the Memory Maker which means I’ll have loads to download when we get home – you get the parks photogs to take your picture which is fun). Fantasmic employs a lot of laser projection type stuff so they show animations on huge water screens. It’s very impressive!
Beauty and the Beast boat. Ahhhhh.
Mickey saves the day!
I treated myself to a little memento! I do have a full Pandora already but just wanted something small to commemorate our trip. This has the parks exclusive bracelet plus a bead for 2015, one for Epcot and one for WDW. I’ll try and get one for Paris but otherwise just going to try and get one a year, Disney only! 🙂
The coveted dinner at Be Our Guest (the Beauty and the Beast themed castle experience in the Magic Kingdom, probably the hardest reservation to get as it is the only chance to meet the Beast).
After breakfast and lunch on the first full day, we were lucky enough (persistent enough – T found the reservation after checking lots of times for cancellations!) to snag a dinner reservation for day 2. I swiftly cancelled our reservation for Animal Kingdom dinner and booked BOG instead.
We already did BOG breakfast and lunch on our first full day so we knew what to expect. I do love it though and it was a fabulous experience. The food was tasty, the ambiance was a bit more grown up than in the day time (but not too grown up!) and I got my castle themed goblet to take home! (It flashes blue and red… So funny. I noticed a lot of adults had them after they saw mine so I started a trend!)
The difference with dinner is you get proper table service and you can have wine – we had the rosé, naturally. And after dinner, the Beast receives guests in his study!
Did you know that WDW has more parks than Magic Kingdom? They also have Hollywood Studios (we have MK and HS in Paris) plus Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Sea World. On top of that they also have two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, and a huge shopping, restaurant and entertainment area called Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney), not to mention all the resorts.
We decided to skip Sea World mainly because of the animal rights issues and I felt like I would be upset by seeing Shamu in a tank, but half of me wondered whether we should go just to see what it was like. I love going to aquariums (acquaria?!) but they don’t usually have orcas in tanks doing tricks. Anyway we ended up skipping it as we only have a week so thought we could always do it next time. T didn’t really want to do it either. The ultimate parks ticket gives you unlimited entry to all parks for a set time (we had 7 days) so we could have fitted it in if we didn’t go shopping!
Day 2 of the full days (we managed Epcot on the first night for the Illuminations) was Animal Kingdom. We are DLP (Disneyland Paris) aficionados so we are quite used to Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, so I was really excited to go to AK. It didn’t disappoint!
First off though: drama. I realised that morning that I couldn’t find my wallet. Agh. We had taken it to MK the previous day but I hadn’t even used it. We thought maybe it dropped out of my bag when we were getting our Halloween costumes out for the party. (We were in MK all day then Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party was in the evening until late!) We went to guest services and got a number to call. They log all lost and found items and send to one single place (the transport hub near Epcot) so I was on hold for around 40 minutes when we got to AK. It was kind of stressful.
Fortunately, Disney magic being what it is, they had it! Whoop! So we could carry on the rest of the day without being too stressed. So here is AK day in pictures…
The Tree of Life that is the symbol of AK. It has lots of animals carved into the trunk and it’s huge. I love it.
The Lion King show. We are off to see The Lion King in NYC and we wondered if this might spoil it – it was amazing! Lots of acrobatics and singing and animatronic animals, including Simba!
One of the monkey islands.
Animal spotting tour. We spotted a lot of birds but the tigers weren’t playing ball! Made me feel quite happy to know they can go off and hide if they want to.
Great music – I think this was in Africa. They have Asia and Africa areas plus a random dino land (notable mainly for the Dinosaur ride where there is a hilarious picture of me screaming in horror at the T. rex).
Then Kilimanjaro safaris. This was a real highlight. You go around in a safari truck driven by a guide and you can see loads of animals in a semi wild situation. Of course they are cordoned off in some way but it’s a bit like a large open zoo – you don’t see bars or anything but there are some ditches between you and the lions. They said that they’ve trained some of the animals to come in for the night and it can take a few hours for them all to show up! It was really interesting and fun. I’m always conscious of not wanting animals to be suffering and obviously it’s better if they can be in the wild, but these guys did seem like they were almost wild and just wandering around.
Our plan was to go back today (our last day) but unfortunately T has sprained his toe and is having trouble walking so we are going to have an easy last day today and do some shopping. (Day #2 of shopping – I’ll post an update as we are playing catch up here!) It’s a good excuse to go back next year! We are already planning a return trip for maybe 2 weeks instead of 1. There is so much to do in WDW. Apparently it’s 30 times the size of NY! We have our annual Disneyland Paris trip for Christmas (we always go in December) so that should tide us over until then. If you ever get the chance to go, I would really recommend it!
Some highlights from our trip so far. I’ll have to split posts as we had a lot of photos!
We arrived just in time to rush to Epcot for late opening on the first evening… The big globe at night! Never seen this before.
First view of the castle at Magic Kingdom… Early entry to the park for our breakfast reservation at Be Our Guest. Almost empty!
My favourite statue. Sniff.
My favourite ride as a kid: It’s a small world.