Lake Como, Italy

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We’re back!!  After a magical week at STUNNING Lake Como, we have so much to share!

Can we just start by admiring that incredible view from the villa we found with Luxury Retreats?!?  The first picture really captures the beauty of Bellagio, which is the town we stayed in, and it’s where the lake splits and goes to each side of this peninsula.  The mountains surrounding all of Lake Como really are the icing on the cake for the views, in the distance you can even see the Swiss Alps!

Two days of our trip were spent on the cutest wooden boat with a captain to show us all the sights.  You name it, we probably saw it.  Richard Branson’s house, Orrido di Nesso (aka the secret waterfall), the gardens at Villa Balbianello, and of course The Clooney’s home… we saw it all!  And it was fabulous!  We enjoyed gelato on the steps of Varenna, had lunch at the cutest and quaintest spot that for some reason I don’t remember the name of (whomp whomp) but when I do I will update!

On Sunday, Husband & I took a cooking class (with wine pairings ;)) from a place I found on TripAdvisor that ended up being really fun and full of Americans!  We made pasta, gnocchi, and creme brûlée’s, all of which were delightful.  Highly recommend!  Did I mention or did you notice in the pictures that grandparents of the boys were on this vacation with us?!?  Husband & I were able to go out on dates and do fun things like the cooking class because we had so much help with the boys.  We are so thankful for them!

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When we first landed in Milan it was pretty early in the morning so we had some time to kill before heading to the lake.  We decided to go into the city and admire the Duomo… omg… the most stunning architecture that literally takes your breath away as you turn the corner and it comes into view.  WOW!  On another note, there were tons of pigeons who love the tourists.  There are gentlemen who make a a living off giving tourists handfuls of corn and the pigeons literally flock to you like bombs out of the sky almost nailing you in the head in the hopes for one small kernel.

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There were yummy street carts set up with fresh made donuts and churros that would be split and stuffed with Nutella. My mouth was watering from the moment I smelled the dough frying!

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We also went into Milan one night to see the opera at one of the most beautiful and world renowned opera houses, Teatro alla Scala.  We got all dressed up, had a nice dinner, and enjoyed the ensemble in the historic building.  There was no AC, nor were they selling water… it must have been about 85 degrees in that building, but it was worth it just to say we have been.

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We did a day trip to Switzerland which I will write about in my next post, but I wanted to dedicate this entire entry to beautiful Lake Como, Italy!  I feel like we did it right by going and exploring all of the little towns for the entire week.  We ate so much pizza and drank too much wine ha ha ha… but dang we lived it to the fullest!

Ciao!


The Dietrich Boys Take NYC!

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Approximately number 13 on my bucket list would be to stay in a hotel that completely overlooks Central Park without any obstructions.  Well… CHECK!

Yes, it was excessive.  Just a little.  But dang, it was worth it!

The Dietrich boys painted the town red!  Our weekend started with a trip to The American Museum of Natural History which itself could have taken up an entire day if my boys were that patient.  When researching fun things to do with the kiddos in NYC, I saw that there was a limited time exhibit dedicated solely to the T-Rex!  Bingo!  From the moment we started the walk through, Bennett was engrossed by every little detail surrounding the ideals of this no longer existent predator.  There were sculptures of how scientists believe it was created, what it looked like as it transformed into the beast we know it as today, there were interactive tools that kids could enjoy to learn more, there was even a 3D video-like imagery that took up an entire wall (think maybe 2 times as big as a movie theater screen) of a T-Rex and baby stomping around the woods, breathing heavily, grunting, and staring at you directly like it was there in real life… yep!  That’s what we saw!  It was so life-like, Remy flipped the ‘F’ out!  He was so scared!  Poor guy, it kinda ruined him for the rest of the museum.

We moved on to the entire dinosaur wing, which is the largest dinosaur collection in the world (by the way), where Bennett had to see the Stegosaurus which is his current favorite dinosaur.  We also got to see the newest member to the museum, the Titanosaur, which was discovered in Patagonia, and the cast of this dinosaur is 122 feet long!  It’s only been there since 2016, go check it out next time you are in New York!

On Saturday we spent majority of the day in Central Park.  The boys loved climbing all the big rocks and staring out at the skyline.  We rode the Carousel, which they absolutely hated.  We then moved on to the small, but fun (!!) Central Park Zoo.  Our favorite thing to see was the penguins.  They were SO interactive!  They loved coming up to the glass window and diving right in front of everyone, they really put on a great show for us!

To top off the trip we had a late lunch at Serendipity 3 where we indulged on the frozen hot chocolate (the best!), then moved on to Dylan’s Candy Bar where Bennett got a cotton candy bigger than him!

We had such a great time and did more than I thought we would!  There’s just something about doing all the kid things in NYC that is just SO.MUCH.FUN.  Seeing and experiencing everything new to them is what makes patenting the best!  I don’t know… now that I have my sons, I feel like I have such limited time to share with them.  I want to show them the world!  We are not promised tomorrow, take the trips now! Who cares if they are wearing the latest designer outfits and who cares if they miss so-and-so’s 3rd birthday?  Make the sacrifice, plan the trip, and go.  There’s nothing more educational than traveling.  I promise.  Someone once asked me, “Why do you travel so much?  Do you not like being home?” It really took me aback a little bit and made me judge that person slightly (if I’m being honest)… my response was probably something like…. “uhhhh… because we love it… and it’s awesome!!” but really, I felt happy in that moment with this person, because it’s not every day you get to try to influence someone to travel more :)

Anyway, that’s my daily rant for now!  WE LOVE NYC!  Gotta go pick up my little rugrats from escuela!

P.S. Guess who’s turning 4 years old on Wednesday?!?!?!?


In-Flight Entertainment

Entertaining a toddler with never ending demands and an attention span the size of a peanut can be extremely daunting, this is especially so, when said toddler has to be confined to 18″ wide seat for what some might feel like hours on end, even if it’s only an hour long flight.  So, wether it really is an hour long flight, or 15 hours, here are some ideas for entertaining small children on the airplane.

Books, Puzzles, and (some) Electronics

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So… I tend to over pack in all aspects of the term.  I recently got the boys new carry-ons to hold all of their traveling fun and they are the perfect size for someone like me (and my boys) who wants to bring ALL the things!  First things first, books.  Both of my boys, like most children, LOVE books.  I try to pack at least 8-10 of our favorite books, small/ lightweight ones for the plane, and the others get checked with the luggage.  Books are the easiest entertainment in my opinion.  My boys read the whole library of books I bring, repeated amounts of times, on every trip we go on together.  Sooooo books are a no brainer, and I’m sure you all knew that.

Small puzzles are such a great airplane activity.  We like these Melissa and Doug ones and I just recently got this Djeco AnimaBasic for Remy because they help with his sorting skills in addition to his fine motor skills.  Speaking of fine motor skills, this Melissa and Doug Lace & Trace is sooooo good for killing time, but the little ones might need more of your attention because they will need a bit of help, but my kids “need” my attention 100% of the time, so nothing new here…

As for electronics, we do have iPads for the boys, and we do use them often on flights, but I prefer that to be a last resort option (more about that later).  The electronic I like to whip out first would be this LeapFrog My Own Leaptop.  It has different levels of skills for toddlers which is nice because what Remy is learning in school is certainly not what Bennett is learning.  It’s nice that you can change the program to something a little more advanced for the older kiddos.

Play-doh & Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

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Ok, if you have kids on a plane and you do not bring Play-Doh, I don’t know how you do life.  In fact, I don’t want to know, because there is no better place to bust out play-doh than on a plane (I NEVER DO PLAY-DOH IN MY HOUSE).  I keep this sacred activity special by only allowing it on the plane.  Now, they play with Play-Doh at school almost every.single.day… they certainly are not deprived of it.  I just prefer the nasty crusty mess to be somewhere else.  K, thanks!

P.S. bring ALL the accessories- not just the Doh. Again, part of my over packing problem.

We also tend to over indulge in small airplanes, trains, and monster trucks, but who doesn’t?

Window Clings

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I feel like this is another “duh” product that everyone knows about and uses, but in case you haven’t seen these things before, or maybe you haven’t thought to bring them on the plane, do it!  This most recent flight, Bennett was more interested in the Play-Doh than the window clings, but let me tell you, when we had downtime at the resort, those boys proudly displayed almost every single window cling we brought on the windows in our room.  The best part, they can be used again and again.  I found these to be the most economical.

More random small stuff...

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The fox sweatband is Bennett’s headphones that he just started allowing me to put on him.  They are soft on his ears so if he happens to lean his head against the window or lay in our lap they are not all bulk and in the way.  He can easily sleep with this on his head.

I always find a lot of small travel activities in the dollar section at Target.  The little Dinosaur book, card games, stickers, etc… all from that (soul sucking) section that you cannot avoid when you first walk in to the mega store.

Have y’all played with Kinetic Sand?!?  Ummmm… can we all agree it’s so much better than Play-Doh?!?  I always grab a couple packs of it when I see it to throw in for extra fun on the plane.  To me it is not nearly as messy.

I also bring a pencil bag (the shark one pictured above) full of those special markers that only mark on special paper. Such magical little things!

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Now this Skodzy set was initially introduced to me by Bennett’s speech therapist who has really been such a blessing to our family.  For those who may or may not know, Bennett was a late talker and struggled behaviorally (think frustrated because he couldn’t express what he wanted, when he wanted) for a while before starting the therapy.  He started right when he turned 3 years old and not even a year later, he is a totally different child.  He talks with ease (almost too much now) and is so much happier in life now that he can communicate.  I highly recommend this for anyone who thinks their kid needs a little push with speech.  Anyway, this activity is great for helping your kids learn their prepositions such as over, under, beside, and on top of.  You can say something like, can you put the green peg on top of the red peg, and they will do as you ask.  You can make it more complex with numbers and color coordination.  My son loves this “game”.

Thoughts about the iPad

So, here are my thoughts on the iPad… I am ALL ABOUT the iPad.  My problem is, the iPad is a special treat while traveling, so my kids are not the best navigators on the iPad which causes a lot of melt downs at the absolute worst times on the airplane.  Which sucks, this is a double edged sword for me.  I don’t want them playing on an iPad at home.  When my kids have access to YouTube Kids on the iPad- its like a crazy vortex that takes over their ability to be human beings and they instantly become zombies.  Then, when you are on an airplane and you cannot stream YouTube Kids- they are psycho!!!  It’s seriously the worst.  Now, Bennett is getting better at navigating around and finding matching games that can entertain him an entire 2 hour flight (crazy!!), but with Remy, he is unreasonable and I dread the moment he loses it while playing on the iPad which happens within minutes of getting his little hands on it.  I know I will grow to like to iPad… Remy just needs to mature a little bit before I do.  For now, it’s my last resort.

The New Carry-On!!

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I’m obsessed.  Great size, fits right under the seat in front of you on the plane.  Some might not like it because it is quite large for small kids, but if your kids are like mine and enjoy having their own bag of tricks, this is a great option!  It holds ALL the things!  Seems that’s the theme of this post… ALL THE THINGS!

You can find it here.

I hope this post was somewhat helpful! Oh!  And if all else fails, SNACKS!!!  Bring ALL THE SNACKS!!

xx


Ambergris Caye, Belize

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Oh, Belize… you were so good to us.

Going to Belize, I really had no idea what to expect.  Everything that I heard about Belize was not the most flattering of reviews.  People said the bugs are insane (which they are, but manageable), that Belize wasn’t the best idea for a family vacation (false), the infrastructure was terrible (yes, but… whatever).  As soon as we arrived at the resort, White Sands Cove, (three flights and almost 5 hours of travel), I knew I would never want to leave.  This place was pure paradise.

The backstory… so my good friend (you all know her- Laura- she takes all of my family photos) went to a charity event and won the trip at an auction.  When she was telling me about it at church one Sunday a few months ago, I obnoxiously and overwhelmingly invited myself and my whole family to tag along with!  Of course, she said yes, because… who wouldn’t want me and my two terrorist (JOKING!!) children to join them on their fabulous trip?!?  All in all, I’m so glad we went with another family.  The kids entertained each other and the adults got to hang out and sip the local cocktail favorites.

We spent a lot of our time hanging by the pool, beaching at the not-so-secret Secret Beach, eating so much good food, drinking all the drinks, and oh, yes (!!), we took a private catamaran trip for a whole day where my TWO YEAR OLD swam with sharks!  No need to clean your glasses, or re-read that last line.  You saw correctly.  My baby, Remy James, swam with sharks in Belize.  We did some snorkeling too.  Did you spy the Spotted Eagle Rays and Green Moray Eel in the underwater pictures above???

We drove around town to see all the sights via golf cart which is the ideal transportation on the island.  The roads are very rough, but not the worst I’ve ever seen.  Everything was extremely casual.  No need to dress up for any of the restaurants, even the nice ones on rooftops were shorts and flip flop appropriate.  Speaking of restaurants, the food… my mouth is still watering over the wonderful Snapper they would prepare in the Belizean way, wrapped in foil with spices, peppers, and onions.  Wowza!  So yummy!  Another thing, the first language of Belize is English.  All of the signs and locals speak it perfectly, no language barrier whatsoever.  This makes traveling there even more perfect!

Our whole family had the best time with our friends in this wonderful country!  Hope you guys enjoy the pictures!


Big Sky, Montana

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Has anyone been to Big Sky, Montana?!?  This was a first for us and it was incredible!  And cold!!  The highs never got above 30 and it snowed almost every day we were there which was pretty chilly for these Floridians.

The trip was dedicated to skiing with our friends, we stayed in a ski in/ ski out home that was absolutely fabulous, but unfortunately Bennett (who was allowed to start ski school because he is 3 and potty trained) did NOT enjoy it.  Not surprising… it takes him a while to warm up to new things, but he didn’t even give it a second chance.  I’m hoping we can do another ski trip next year and try again, that way Remy will be able to join in on the fun and hopefully encourage Bennett to try.  Although, I must say, Remy HATED being cold.  Every time we went out and played he cried the entire time (see solo picture above ha ha ha!).

I took a lesson since I haven’t skied in over 15 years.  I learned so much in that three hour private lesson than I ever did as a teenager.  I feel like as adults we appreciate the time and energy it takes to do activities like skiing, so we pay attention better as to really avoid hurting ourselves ;).  I didn’t want to go home with two very energetic little boys and a broken leg or hip!  So, I was very attentive and felt like I got the hang of it fairly quickly.  Now… I’m very slowwwwwww.  This mama won’t be going down a black diamond any time soon.  But, I did enjoy myself every day that I got to ski and cannot wait for the next time!  Husband grew up going on ski trips with his family and friends, so he is a fantastic skier.  He picked right back up where he left off and was feeling pretty sore after the first day going down blacks.  He was super sweet and went skiing with me a couple of times and was super patient while coaching me down the mountains.  Love him.

When we weren’t on the mountain shredding powder ;) we were hanging with our kiddos.  We got to experience authentic dog sledding which was an interesting adventure.  It was like a blizzard that day and the kiddos were freezing, so just getting them into the sled was a complete sh*t show.  Everyone was staring at us like, get your kids under control and wipe the snot please.  But once the doggies started running and as long as they were at full speed, my boys were silent and enjoyed the moment and scenery.  It was so beautiful.  I don’t think I will ever need to go dog sledding ever again, but at least I can check that off the bucket list.

Another day was spent traveling over to West Yellowstone where we actually got to drive through the outer side of the national park (gorgeous, would love to go back in the summer) and visited the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.  The boys loved it!  The wolves were stunning and so interactive.  We only saw one bear and he seemed a bit old… but still entertaining for a few minutes while he moved logs around and ate.  Highly recommend if you are visiting the area with small children, it’s nothing fancy but it was interesting.

Most of all, what made the trip so fun was going with some of our great friends and their kiddos.  We spent many nights making dinner at home, warming up in the hot tub, and cuddling up enjoying the log burning fireplace with a nice glass of wine.  We had a great time and hope to visit again real soon!

 

 


Alaska on the Disney Wonder

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If you are considering taking a cruise through Alaska,  if you are dreaming of taking a cruise through Alaska, if taking a cruise through Alaska is a top bucket list item, if you have heard about cruises through Alaska and you thought to yourself, “hmmm… that might be something I want to do some day”… Stop whatever planning you have for your next family vacation (you know it’s probably somewhere Caribbean…), and book a freaking cruise through Alaska!!

We decided, on a whim, to make the trek to the opposite coast to catch the Disney Wonder for a 7 night cruise out of Vancouver, B.C. and I can’t even begin to describe how great it was!  We stayed in a hotel that was connected to the boat terminal called Pan Pacific and they all but carried us to the boat.  They brought our Disney luggage tags, transported our luggage to the boat so we didn’t have to hassle with them, and we just went down the elevator the morning of departure, checked in, and got right on!  Not one issue whatsoever!  Here is a view from our room of the boat:

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Now, I did not have the highest expectations for this cruise even though everything I had heard about Disney Cruise Line was extremely positive.  To be honest, I’m just not a cruise person.  I like to plan my own trips, be able to rent a car and just go.  I don’t like the idea of being confined on a big ol’ boat, around thousands of people I don’t know, in a shoebox sized room, with germs everywhere… ewww…. but y’all, this Disney cruise exceeded every single expectation… by a lot!

From the moment we set foot on the boat and they introduced our family to the whole entire boat our experience started.  We went and ate fine dining, which you would think with kids would be a complete sh*t show, but for some reason it was like a dream.  Disney sure knows how to pick their employees, they all seemed to LOVE my children!  I mean, my kids are no angels, and I don’t even pretend that they are.  They can be real a**holes sometimes.  But the staff, literally every single one, pretended to LOVE my kids.  It was a little weird at first, but you get used to it.

Next, we explored the ship.  First things first, the kids club and nursery. This is where you can drop your kids pretty much any time of day (if not all day ;)) and they can play and be entertained with children their own ages!  DREAM!!!!  So if you and your hunny want to frolic around like teenagers, go see a movie, get drunk… kids club is what’s up!  If you scroll up to where you see Bennett in a area that looks like “Andy’s Room” from Toy Story, he literally would wake up wanting to go to kids club.  And surprisingly, Remy didn’t mind the nursery!  Again, all of the workers were super friendly, always knew my kids names, the check in and check out was super secure, and if the kids were ever not 100% happy and wanted us, they would call us on our portable ship phone which is in every stateroom.

Speaking of stateroom, they were cleaned twice a day, spotless.  One night we ordered room service (because it doesn’t cost anything on the boat- yeah, you heard that correctly) and Bennett accidentally spilled BBQ sauce on the carpet.   I quickly cleaned it up and thought no one could see where it was, well, I have no idea how they knew, but our carpets were professionally cleaned the next morning while we were out on an excursion.  CRAZY!!!  We had a veranda were we had plenty of whale sightings.  We even witnessed a baby Orka learning life strategies from it’s mama!  It was amazing!  We also saw icebergs, up close and personal, going through the Tracy Arm Fjord to Sawyer Glacier (pictured above).  Just stunning!

We did plenty of excursions, I cannot even remember them all.  One of our favorites was the train ride via White Pass and Yukon Railway (starting from Skagway) which takes you across the U.S./ Canadian boarder.  The views from the train cars are incredible. Bennett especially enjoyed this!  Remy participated, but chose to take a nap instead of enjoy the scenery.

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  Another thing we really loved was the seaplane!  It was about an hour long ride in and out of the misty fjords.  It was stunning!  We couldn’t get out (which was the plan) because of the rain, but it was still a great experience.  It’s all Bennett could talk about for weeks!

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Again, Remy participated, but chose to sleep instead of enjoy the views.

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For the seaplane excursion, we got to ride in this trolley to the Docks!

The other excursion we really loved was whale watching in Juneau! Unfortunately, it was a longer excursion, I think it was about 6 hours total, and Remy was not able to participate (age) so he had to stay in the nursery.  Which, again, he didn’t mind ;).  So it was just  husband, Bennett, & I!

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We also got to hike a little bit to see Mendenhall Glacier!

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But every day we would get back on the boat, have a fun dinner, see something entertaining, and enjoyed it to the fullest!  I hope this post inspires some of you to take the adventure to Alaska.  Even with small children, it was truly remarkable!

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Los Cabos, Mexico

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I wish I had all the time in the world to write the most detailed blog post about our trip to Cabo right now, but to be honest, I have two boys who are still awake (it’s 10PM on a school night) and just keeping it real… the pictures tell the story. BUT I’ll say a few words anyway ;)

It was a glorious week in paradise with our family!  The boys enjoyed being transferred from the pool to the beach, then back to the pool again just to want to go back to the beach once more.  This was pretty much the daily routine :) We did rent a car one of the days and drove into San Jose del Cabo where we walked around the cute historic district filled with restaurants and shops.  Every morning when we would wake up, Husband & I would make our coffee and we would sit out on the balcony and watch the whales.  One morning there were at least 15-20 whales way out in the distance blowing their air holes and breaching.  It was absolutely amazing!  Seriously made my day every morning.  On Thursday we chartered a sailboat out of Cabo San Lucas where we enjoyed some light snorkeling (my brother in law says he saw a white tipped reef shark- no… just, no.), did some more whale watching (this time it was much more up close and personal), saw a huge pod of dolphins, and then sailed the Sea of Cortez/ Pacific Ocean.

We ate so many tacos, quesadillas, skirt steak, chips and guac, and ceviche- I swear I gained 10 lbs in a week.  Not to mention all the margaritas that were heavily flowing ;)

It was a beautiful vacation, much needed for this hard working husband of mine.  I’m so thankful for my in laws and their generosity and for inviting us to tag along with our energetic, slightly bi-polar boys!  We love y’all!

P.S. take note of the incredible sunsets!!