March 2020 Wrap Up

With March behind us now, I have to say it was one of the craziest months I can remember. It started out normal enough, but with COVID-19 hitting the US mid month it definitely took a different turn.

March 1st started out with Andrew’s 31st birthday! It was a Sunday so we went to church and really didn’t do much of anything else. We stayed around the house the rest of the day. The kids were quick to tell the servers at our local Mexican restaurant that it was his birthday so he got ice cream and the happy birthday song with a sombrero.

This month the twins started a new language arts program called Logic of English. We chose the cursive curriculum, if you have questions about LOE I’d be happy to help. Their website also has a wealth of knowledge. The twins have been doing really well with it so far. It’s not as pretty as The Good & The Beautiful, but I do feel like it’s fundamentally sound and ultimately that’s what I care about.

We had a slight reprieve from the endless rain for a little bit which enabled our new shop construction to finally make some progress only to be halted again by endless rain.

The slight break in the rain also meant the farm life picked up and at the end of the month we got one field of corn planted before the rains began again.

All 4 kids started back to swim lessons at the beginning of the month but we were only able to go for 2 weeks before COVID-19 put a stop to it. Lorelei’s dance classes were also cancelled but she really doesn’t know or care. I’m the most bummed about no swim lessons because that’s a life and safety skill I want the kids to have sooner rather than later!

Our new corgi puppy is about 13 weeks old now and is starting to find his place in our family. He has been through a series of names but we have finally stuck with Harry and it fits him so well! If you’ve read any of the children’s books about Harry the dog, he is the spitting image of that Harry and the name fits him perfectly! Our German Shepard, Thor, really loves him and has truly enjoyed having someone to play with. Thor even lets Harry snuggle on his bed with him.

We managed to get in a quick weekend trip to Gaston’s White River Resort at the beginning of the month and of course had a wonderful time.

Mostly this month we have done a lot of playing! COVID-19 has shut down the world but it’s pretty much business as usual around here. Farming is in full swing so our travel was already halted for a while and Andrew still has to go to work to feed with world. It’s been a bummer to not be able to get away from the house much. We enjoy our Walmart trips, dance, swim lessons etc and those have been stopped. Thankfully we have plenty of space for the kids to run and explore and a lot to take care of with all the animals and our 5 honeybee hives are out and hard at work now that it’s spring! We are looking forward to a better April and praying the world calms down!

Walt Disney World February 2020

Considering we’ve been confined to our homes for over a week now due to COVID-19 and social distancing you would think I would be caught up on my travel posts by now, but I am not, of course. This is the last post in our winter travel adventures though so I wasn’t too far behind!

We’ve been going to WDW the second week of February for the last 4 years now. We started going in February because it’s down time for us farmers, the weather is usually perfect, and crowds are low because most kids are in school. With that being said February has now become one of the busiest months for WDW! In the last 4 years we have seen our usual week go from almost empty to crazy packed. It steadily increases every year! We always avoid Presidents Day weekend and Mardis Gras because lots of schools are out during those times, but even avoiding those the crowds have taken over our peaceful week. I’ve actually noticed that our middle of the summer Disney trips have become the least crowded because most people want to avoid the heat and rain.

For this trip we decided to stay at Disney’s new Riviera Resort. It had just opened about 2 months prior and we got a great 40% off passholder discount! I was really excited to stay at this resort because it’s a new deluxe resort and it’s connected to the new Skyliner system. We stayed at Caribbean Beach resort back in November that is connected to the Skyliner system also and we really loved the convenience of it. I’m sorry to say though that our experience at the Riviera resort was a major disappointment. I would never stay there again. The resort itself was beautiful, the rooms are spacious and gorgeous. Our main complaint was transportation. If the Skyliner was even running at all it didn’t open until late in the mornings well past park opening which made it useless to use. This leaves the Riviera with bus transportation only. If you’ve been to Disney before you know that Disney bus transportation is a huge hassle. The main reason we stay at deluxe resorts is to avoid buses because the other deluxe resorts are in better locations and have better park transportation like monorail or walking distance to some parks. You definitely pay more for better amenities. Because the Riviera is bus transportation only in the mornings this makes it no better than a value resort and with the rooms being $500+ a night it’s absolutely not worth the price to stay there! We were really upset with the Skyliner situation and even spoke with the resort manager about it. He told us that they were getting so many complaints from guests about the same thing that he’s been working with upper Disney management to get the Skyliner on better operating hours. So hopefully in the future this issue will be resolved!

Disney’s Magical Express picked us up at the airport and dropped us off at our resort on our arrival day around 11am. We decided to stop by Primo Piatto for a quick service lunch before heading to Epcot.

We usually do Disney by ourselves but for this trip we took 2 of our employees with us. They’re more like family and our kids love them. It was really nice to have extra bodies to watch the 2 little girls while Andrew & I were able to ride the big rides together with the twins.

We tried out Teppan Edo for dinner at Epcot our first night. It’s a Japanese steak house in the Japan pavilion. We sat at a grill in the very back room and had a great time. There was 8 of us so we had our entire grill to ourselves, but like most Japanese steakhouses, you will be seated with other parties to fill up each grill.

The next morning we had breakfast at our resort at the new Topolino’s Terrace. This is a character meal (breakfast only) that includes Mickey, Minnie, Donald & Daisy. I had sour cream waffles which I did not care for, but Andrew had a sausage hash that was wonderful!

After breakfast we took the bus to Magic Kingdom. Nothing out of the ordinary on our first MK day. We had dinner at Crystal Palace with Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore & Tigger.

The next morning we had breakfast at probably our favorite character breakfast, Tusker House in Animal Kingdom. Characters are there all day including Mickey, Goofy, Donald & Daisy. It might sound odd for breakfast but get the curry chicken and rice, it’s the best!

After breakfast the park was just opening to guests and we had fastpasses for Expedition Everest so we headed across the park. When we arrived at EE there was no one there! We ended up riding a total of 6 times! Andrew & I rode 3 times and Tyler & Landen rode 3 times while we switched out waiting with the kids. The line was so short we had all rode that many times by 9:30!

We had dinner at Yak n Yeti which is one of our favorite AK dinner spots, but this was probably our worst experience there. Our food was good, as usual, but our service was horrible. I have really noticed if you have a large party where the server is guaranteed their gratuity the service usually stinks.

The next morning we had breakfast at Hollywood & Vine inside Hollywood Studios. This is a Disney Junior character breakfast (breakfast only) that includes Fancy Nancy, Doc McStuffins, Vampirina & Roadster Goofy. The food is a typical breakfast buffet that you can’t really mess up and has something for everyone.

I was able to snag a boarding group right at park opening for Star Wars Rise of the Resistance but all o could get was a standby group for later in the day. I kept it in hopes we would get called sooner, but we never did. Our boarding group did eventually get called at 5:15pm but we were heading to dinner at the Yachtsman at the Yacht Club Resort and all the kids couldn’t ride it anyway so we decided to go on to dinner but Landen & Tyler stayed behind to go check out the ride and they loved it! I can’t wait to ride it on our next trip! Our dinner at the Yachtsman was amazing! The food and service were so good! We loved it so much we are staying at the Yacht Club on our next trip!

The next morning we had breakfast at Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club Resort. This is a character breakfast that includes Minnie, Daisy, Donald & Goofy. Food is traditional breakfast buffet. We loved this character meal so much and love the Beach Club Resort!

After breakfast we took the bus from Beach Club to Magic Kingdom and we made it there just in Rome for opening ceremony.

We had dinner at Be Our Guest, the only place at WDW you can meet the Beast! Rhett loves the Beast and of course of little Belle has to have dinner in her castle!

The next morning we had a pre park opening breakfast at Akershus with the Princesses then immediately jumped over to meet Anna & Elsa and ride Frozen before the park opened and the lines got long!

On this day an unexpected shower caught us off guard and we got soaked along with our strollers. We had to buy the kids dry clothes and beach towels to put in their strollers!

This was during Epcot’s Festival of the Arts and Andrew found an amazing painting of Anna and Elsa that reminded us so much of Lorelei and Maggie Mae we just had to get it! We had dinner at our favorite restaurant in all of Disney, Via Napoli, before calling it a day!

Our last full day we had breakfast at Trattoria Al Forno at the Boardwalk Inn Resort. This is called the Bon Voyage character breakfast and includes Ariel, Prince Eric, Rapunzel & Flynn Rider. This was our first time here and I was really excited about it because I knew Rhett would love seeing Prince Eric and Flynn Rider and I was right! He was so excited to see them, it’s a great change up from the endless Princesses. This is also the only place that has Rapunzel regularly. We have seen Rapunzel at Akershus before but she’s not on the regular list there.

We spent our last day at Magic Kingdom catching up on anything we may have missed and closing out our last day with dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table inside the castle.

Magical Express was set to pick us up the next morning at 9:30am so we had a quick breakfast with Mickey and the gang at Topolino’s Terrace in our resort.

Disneyland Paris

It’s no secret that we are huge Disney fans. We visit Walt Disney World 5+ times a year and enjoy every second of it! So one would think that it would be a no brainer for us to visit Disneyland Paris while in town, but that was not our plan! We only had 5 days in Paris and we were sure there was too much to do for us to go out of our way to see Disneyland Paris which we knew would eat up at least an entire day.

If you’ve read my post about our Paris trip in general then you know that we really didn’t care much for Paris and did in fact end up going to DLP. After a couple days in Paris we realized there was not enough in the city to occupy us and we were so disgusted with the city itself we though a a Disney trip would save the day!

The Paris A line train goes from the city center straight to the gates of DLP. It is well marked in the train stations that it’s the Disney train. From the city center it’s about an hour to the DLP gates. We arrived at DLP right at park opening and there was almost no one there. We bought tickets at the information booth right outside the gates and proceeded through security.

DLP has 2 parks, Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios. These are the equivalent to Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Florida.

We only had one day and the two park entrances are right next to each other, literally 5 steps apart, so we bought park hopper tickets and decided to do both parks.

Once inside Disneyland Park we stopped at the entrance and bought Fastpasses. This is nothing like the WDW system. There’s a thrill ride FASTPASS which gives you a FASTPASS to a couple of the taller height requirement rides and then there’s a family FASTPASS which gives you fastpasses to Pinocchio, Peter Pan, and dumbo. These are the only fastpasses you get though, they aren’t unlimited like at WDW. We chose the family FASTPASS because we figured 3 was better than none.

Next we headed over to the stroller rental place and rented 2 park strollers. They do not have double strollers here, only single strollers. This sucked because 2 of our toddlers had to walk all day. The strollers are a lot nicer than the hard bulky plastic ones at WDW though so that’s a plus. They were $25 each for the entire day.

After hitting up the main street coffee shop we walked down towards the castle which is a beautiful pink castle and caught Elsa and the entire Frozen crew for the opening ceremony and parade. My kids love Frozen so this was a huge highlight for them!

Our first ride stop was Haunted Mansion. This is one of our family’s favorite rides at WDW so we couldn’t wait to see it at DLP! I wasn’t disappointed, the ride was mostly the same with a few changes that I enjoyed. The mansion itself was a lot different on the outside too which was neat!

We spent the rest of the morning wandering around and checking out the different rides. There is not near as many rides here as at WDW, but the ones they do have are similar to the ones at WDW with a few different scenes. There is a Pinocchio ride at DLP than is really cute. 

Inside the castle is a gift shop where we had to buy Christmas ornaments and Mickey riding the carousel I hadn’t seen yet!

For lunch we ate at Captain Jack Sparrow’s and this was such a wonderful experience! Our 4yo Rhett is our only boy and it seems like there just isn’t near as much boy stuff as there is girl stuff so I feel like he always gets less. Rhett loves Pirates of the Caribbean and Captain Jack which is why I chose this restaurant for us, but I didn’t realize until we got there that it’s a character meal and Captain Jack came to see us multiple times! Rhett was over the moon excited and we had a wonderful lunch there!

After lunch we rode a couple more rides including the carousel before we were going to head over to the other park. After riding the carousel we came out to one of our strollers missing. DLP isn’t like WDW in that they don’t have designated stroller parking areas and there aren’t cast members moving strollers around to keep things organized. One of our strollers was exactly where we had left it and the other one that had been parked right beside it was gone. We searched for it but never could find it. We went back to the stroller rental stand to tell them what happened and they said people steal strollers all the time there. We’ve never had anyone mess with our strollers at WDW! Good thing we hadn’t left anything in it!

I was eager to get to Walt Disney Studios park because it has the Ratatouille ride like the new one opening at WDW Epcot next year. The ride was really cute and we enjoyed it! We also had dinner at Ratatouille Remy’s restaurant and the food was wonderful so I can only hope the new Epcot version, Gusteau’s, is just as good or better!

Walt Disney Studios has classic rides like Tower of Terror and a smaller version of Slinky Dog Dash, but our favorite was a ride we had never seen the parachute drop with the toy soldiers for Toy Story. Only our 4yos were y’all enough to ride it but it was so cute and they loved it! My husband rode with them and said it was awesome!

Overall it was really neat to see and experience Disneyland Paris, but it’s nowhere close to as nice as Walt Disney World. One thing I noticed was the lack of cast members. WDW has a cast member helping and directing people pretty much every 5 feet and every ride line queue has multiple cast members but there were no cast members at DLP except for one or two working each ride. The people at DLP were awful too; everyone was really rude and cranky. Besides the fact that some stole our crappy park rental stroller, no one understood the concept of how to form and wait in lines. It was crazy how confused and chaotic the lines were because people couldn’t follow the queue and there were no cast members to direct them. Thankfully it was the middle of January and freezing cold so the parks were not crowded at all! I cannot imagine visiting DLP on a high crowd day because it was kind of a nightmare on a super low crowd day!

February 2020 Wrap Up

One again, February was a busy month away from home for us (I swear things are starting to slow down!) We spent the first couple days of February at our favorite local getaway, Gaston’s White River Resort. If you aren’t familiar with Gaston’s check them out HERE. As always we enjoyed our cottage, trout fishing, the peacocks and turkeys, and the restaurant. The weather was absolutely beautiful and surprisingly warm for early February!

We then spent a few days at home catching up on some preschool work and getting ready for our next Disney World trip!

We have spent the second week of a February at Disney World for the last 4 years now. We really love this time of the year because the weather in Florida is great! It’s not the super rainy season and it’s not really hot! Sunny and 75 most days! I’ll dedicate a post to this Disney trip later!

Disney marked the end of our 3 month span of nonstop travel! We spent the last 2 weeks of the month wrapping up the twins first year of preschool and doing a lot of playing at home.

One big event at the end of the month was getting a new puppy! We picked up a Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy the last week of February. He’s had several names since we got him but I think Yoda is going to stick. He is soooo cute!

We are rolling in to March with lots of big things going on! The twins are starting a new year of homeschool preschool, our new farm shop construction is underway, and farming season has started!

Paris France January 2020

If you have a fantasy like dream of visiting Paris sipping espresso and eating macaroons beneath the Eiffel Tower in a picturesque setting then I advise you to stop reading now.

I too had romanticized Paris. I took French throughout school as my foreign language and was smitten with it. When cheap flights to Paris popped up and we were open for time I was so excited to book that trip!

Our flight to Paris was uneventful. By this point our kids are pros at long haul flights. We try to book our longest flights for overnight so that we can feed the kids dinner as soon as we get on and get settled in and sleep. This has worked out very well for us with our kids sleeping eight or nine hours on an overnight flight.

We arrived in Paris at 10 o’clock in the morning. We walk straight out the airport and found a taxi that could accommodate our family. There are lots of taxis outside the airport there’s a little area where you wait and the attendant will get you the next taxi in line or call for a taxi that fits your family.

We were quickly disappointed in Paris though. The city is disgusting. The sidewalks were littered with trash, panties, dirty clothes, dog poop, and puddles of urine (the human and domesticated animal kind). We saw men peeing on the sidewalks, steps down to the river, and even in front of the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately this nastiness wasn’t limited to one neighborhood, we experienced it all over the city. I would venture to say that Paris is Europe’s equivalent to New York City.

We stayed in an Airbnb apartment right in the city center. The apartment was wonderful as was the host. It was in a great location just a short walk to the Louvre Museum and several Metro stations.

Getting around Paris using public transit is fairly easy. Their bus system is not that great, but Metro is accessible almost anywhere. The metro stations do not run on the honor system like Germany and they’re a little complicated to use. First not all stations have ticket kiosks and you have to have a ticket to even enter the station. This caused a problem for us on our first day because our nearest station didn’t have a ticket kiosk. We ended up having to walk until we can to a metro station with a ticket kiosk. Once you have tickets you slide them through and go through the doors one at a time. This is hard to do with a bunch of kids because the doors do close on you quickly! For us Andrew would go through first and wait on the other side while I scanned and pushed each kid through! The mentor station lines and stops are posted on the walls of the stations and easy to read. Once inside the train you can watch the map or listen to the overhead audio of which stop is next. If you can’t hear or see the maps each station has the station name in huge letters on the wall so you will be able to see if it’s your stop when you pull in.

Paris metro stations and just Paris in general is not stroller friendly! We didn’t have strollers with us so this wasn’t an issue but I know most people travel with their strollers. There’s a lot of stairs and if there is an elevator it’s most likely not working. Also keep in mind if you are traveling with someone in a wheelchair or mobility issues.

Along with not being stroller friendly, Paris is not very big party friendly. Our kids were welcomed and accepted everywhere, but we found almost all restaurants just had tables for 2 and it was hard to find places to eat that could accommodate 6 people.

Our first day in Paris we stayed close to our apartment and just wandered around a bit getting familiar with the area. There was a national worker strike going on that day and protesters out in big public areas so we decided to steer clear of most places. This also caused a breakdown in public transit due to no workers so a lot of metro lines were down that day.

The next day we found a little bakery right down from our apartment that served breakfast and cappuccinos. We ended up eating breakfast here every day because it was so good and close!

After breakfast we took the metro to the Eiffel Tower. We had planned on eating lunch in the restaurant inside the Eiffel Tower but it was closed for renovations. Most likely because January is freezing and dreary so not exactly a popular tourist month. Nonetheless we were about to go up in the Eiffel Tower and the kids thought that was really cool. You have the option of taking the stairs or paying extra for an elevator ticket. We definitely opted for the elevator, I didn’t see anyone using the stairs as that would be a hefty climb!

Although there was a pretty long line to get in and buy tickets I didn’t feel like it was too crowded overall. As I said earlier though January is not a very popular month for tourists.

We had lunch at a very traditional French restaurant on the corner across from the Eiffel Tower and then walked over to the Arc de Triomph. The ADT is a hugely famous monument to celebrate Napoleon’s victories of war. It is also surrounded by an enormous chaotic roundabout that would give me nightmares to drive through!

Because of the national strike The Louvre museum was closed the entire time we were in Paris which was a bummer so we decided to spend a day at Disneyland Paris! There is a train that goes from Paris city center directly to the gates of Disneyland Paris that is about an hour long ride but very comfortable, convenient and cost effective. I’m going to dedicate an entire post to Disneyland Paris later, but I will say it’s definitely not up to par with Walt Disney World!

Our last full day in Paris we had breakfast at our favorite little bakery then decided to at least walk over to the Louvre and have a look around even though it was still closed.

We then walked down the Seine River to Notre Dame Cathedral. Unfortunately the cathedral caught on fire just 9 months before our trip so we could not get very close as they had the entire block closed off with walls up. Our walk down the river between the Louvre and Notre Dame was probably the highlight of our entire Paris trip though. There were so many artists set up along the river selling their paintings, artwork, and other goods. We had the beat time admiring all the stuff and even came home with several paintings!

The next morning we got up early to head to the airport. For our trip to the airport our apartment host set up an Uber for us with a friend that was a driver. Our trip to the airport with him was the same price as our taxi from the airport on arrival but took less than half the time! Instead of driving us through all the crazy side streets like the taxi driver did, he took us directly to the airport. We accidentally left our paintings at the apartment and didn’t realize it until we were already at the airport. Our Airbnb host was the sweetest and she mailed the home to us! They arrived safely a few days later! Her name is Julie and her apartment is listed on Airbnb right in the city center. If you need the direct link to it just ask, she was wonderful!

January 2020 Wrap Up

It seems like I get more and more behind every month with these posts. Better late than never, right?

January 2020 started off with major jet lag! We spent the last 15 days of 2019 in Germany and arrived back in the States just in time to catch the new year and be totally thrown off in time for days. If I’m being honest, it wasn’t that bad. The kids just woke up at 3am for about a week straight. When we went to Thailand Andrew slept for a solid 24 hours because he couldn’t function. I haven’t let him live that down yet because it’s never affected me or the kids that way, we adjust much better.

We were home for close to 2 weeks between our Germany trips and Paris trips so we spent that time getting stuff together for the 2020 farming season and working on building our new shop. The weather has not been our friend through this as it has rained almost every day!

We took all the kids duck hunting. It was Maggie Mae and Belle’s first time. The twins love to go hunting with Daddy! MM really enjoyed it and well Belle, she slept through it. Seriously, she slept through our entire morning of hunting. She slept through the shooting right next to her and everything. The kids have noise cancelling headphones so the shots don’t hurt their ears and apparently they work really well!

We were not accustomed to being home for very long, seeing as how we had been gone since the middle of November, so we decided to get away for a few days before we left for Paris. Our go to quick getaway spot is Gaston’s White River Resort in Lakeview, AR. If you’ve never been to Gaston’s you absolutely should! They have private cottages in all sizes from single bed cottages to large lodges that can fit parties of 10 or more! We love their 2 bedroom/2 bath cottages with a full kitchen and real wood fireplace. Gaston’s also has an amazing restaurant that’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They open for breakfast around 6am so no worries if you’re an early riser like us! Also, one of my favorite things about Gaston’s is that pets are welcome! My kids would say their favorite part is the peacocks! Gaston’s has walking trails through the woods and a large bird enclosure with peacocks, turkeys, pheasants, and other gamebirds. Some of the peacocks and turkeys roam free around the enclosure and come are contained. They love to eat potato chips! There’s also a playground for the kids and a swimming pool when it’s warm. If you prefer to get there quicker, Gaston’s has a private airstrip right in front of the main building for fly ins. Gaston’s is famous for their Sunday brunch which many people fly in just to eat on Sunday’s and leave. Overall Gaston’s Resort is a real treat. The owners Clint & Nicole Gaston are wonderful people. I’ve known Clint since I was a little kid and they’re working hard to keep their family resort in excellent operating order.

A couple days before we left for Paris Belle rolled off our bed and gave herself a beautiful black eye. The very next day she fell in our driveway and cut her other eye! She was quite the spectacle for a week or so!

I’m working on a full post about our trip to Paris so be looking for that soon, but we spent a week there towards the end of January.

The rest of January that we were home was filled with church, finishing up duck season, and some homeschool days.

Baby Jogger City Mini Double Stroller Review

A few years ago in 2017 we were at Disney World with one of our old crappy double strollers (we’ve had a few) and we saw a man get on the bus and fold his stroller flat so effortlessly. I spent the rest of the bus ride trying to figure out what kind of stroller it was and online shopping for it because Andrew and I were both amazed. That stroller was the Baby Jogger City Mini double. We immediately bought 2 of them and never looked back.

The stroller drives like a dream! It is so easy to push and maneuver. The wheels in the front can be locked in place or they have a full 360° swivel. Since we have 4 kids under 4 we have 2 of these strollers and I can easily push them both side by side at the same time!

The stroller seats have a 5 point harness with shoulder straps and belly straps or you can just use the belly straps. I really like The 5 point harness because toddlers can easily crawl out of just the belly straps.

Each seat fully reclines separately of the other. This is probably my kids favorite feature because it makes the stroller perfect for naps! You can adjust the angle to recline to any position you want so you can recline it just a little to accommodate smaller babies or lay it flat for a nap.

The sun shade canopies also adjust separately from each other and they come down really far! This offers great sun protection and creates a dark environment for sleeping. The canopies come out in stages so you don’t have to pull it all the way down if you don’t want. The canopies also have 2 clear peakaboo windows on the top so you can peak in on your sleeping kiddo without pulling the entire canopy back and waking them.

When the seats are reclined the back panel can be opened up to just a mesh backing which allows great airflow through to keep your baby cool and comfortable.

The handlebar is not adjustable like the newer models, but it comes out pretty far back from the rear wheels and I’ve never had an issue kicking the rear wheels. I’m 5’8 and Andrew is 6’3 and that’s not a problem for either of us. The wheel brake is located on the rear wheel frame with a foot flip piece. It’s easy to flip up and down but it does stink if you have on sandals.

The absolute best part about these strollers is how they fold! There’s no buttons to push, pieces to remove, etc. you simply pull the handles in the middle of the seats and the stroller folds in half! It is seriously so easy and it folds down pretty flat for easy storage.

My only major complaint with this stroller is the bottom storage basket is hard to access because there’s a bar to the farm that runs through the middle of the opening. If you can fit stuff in around the basket the basket itself is pretty large.

Our 2 strollers have been to Disney World about 15 times and gate checked on about 20 flights. They are still inreally great shape! They don’t have any rips or holes in the fabric and aren’t stained up too bad. We don’t bag the strollers for flying either so they have been completely exposed to the elements of airline travel.

The video below is much more detailed and shows the features I talked about above! We just upgraded to the brand new body style of these strollers and we are taking them to Disney World next week so I’ll be back soon with a review of those!

Getting Around Germany by Train

Germany has an amazingly efficient and expansive country-wide rail system. You can go basically anywhere in the country quickly and cost effectively. Your public transportation options include high speed ICE trains, regional trains, S-bahn, U-bahn, Trolley/Street cars, and city buses. Germany also has long distance buses but they are not as efficient as train travel and I have never utilized them so I won’t be discussing them here.

Deutsche Bahn (I’ll be referring to it as DB now) is the nationwide company that runs the German train system. With the exception of city metro and buses they control city SBahns, Regional, and ICE trains. I found it really nice that one company runs everything because everything is streamlined and easy to navigate from city to city. The DB navigator smartphone app is an absolute necessity for getting around Germany! You can choose any starting and ending location in the country and it will show you every public transportation option available to get you there! For example if I’m in Berlin and o want to go from my hotel room to the Natural History museum I just plug in the two locations (you can even select points on the map if you don’t know the name or address) and it will pull up how to get there like “walk to ubahn station ____, take U6 to ____ transfer to U4 to ____”. It’s so helpful and very easy to read!

Let’s start with ICE trains because they require the most planning. ICE trains are very very fast trains that travel long distances. Most of their routes are about 4-5 hours long but they make many stops along the way. Seat reservations are not required, but popular routes and times will be very full and you don’t want to get stuck standing in a doorway for 4 hours! Seat reservations for ICE trains can be made 3 months in advance on the DB website. ICE trains have a first class section and a second class section. We chose first class for all our train travels so I cannot speak on behalf of the regular cars but I did walk through one and it seemed to be perfectly suitable. The seats and foot room was smaller and more people crammed into one car but otherwise just fine. I mainly chose the first class cars because you can get quiet enclosed rooms (perfect for families with children so you don’t disrupt the entire car!) and seats of 2 or 4 with tables between them.

We took ICE trains from Munich to Köln, Köln to Nuremberg, Nuremberg to Munich, and Munich to Berlin. Three of those four trips were about 4 hour long rides that went across the country. ICE trains are a great way to take in all the beautiful scenery and get to your destination in a timely fashion while still allowing you to take potty breaks whenever you want and relax.

ICE trains have bathrooms in every car much like airplane bathrooms. There is a restaurant car that will have drinks, pizza, sandwiches, snacks, etc. There’s overhead bin space above each seat and also luggage racks for large suitcases at the back of each car. Some cars are equipped for bike and stroller storage and those will be marked with signs.

Buying tickets for ICE trains is very easy, they can be purchased on the DB website. Since DB runs ICE, regional, and Sbahn services I highly recommend buying a multi day ticket that covers all 3 if you plan on using multiple lines during your time in Germany. We were in Germany for 15 days so I bought a 15 day ticket

When you are in the main train station read the boards or check the DB app to see which platform your ICE train will be leaving from. When you are at your platform and your train arrives the outside of each car will be numbered so you just find your assigned car number. You should have either a picture of your reservation or you can view it on the DB app. It will tell your car number and the seats you have reserved. One in your assigned train car the seats are numbered above them like an airplane. There is a small digital screen by the seat number that will let you know what legs of the journey the seat is reserved for. For example if you are traveling from Munich to Berlin and the digital sign says “Munich-Nuremberg” then that seat is reserved until Nuremberg then free. It the digital sign doesn’t say anything then the seat is not reserved. A DB staff member will check your ticket at least once, maybe a couple times during your journey.

I have no personal experience with regional trains in Germany, but they’re operated by DB so your DB ticket works for them too. You just need to find the correct train you want, platform number, and hop on.

Metro/subway/Sbahn/Ubahn are a little more complicated but super easy once you figure them out. The DB app will be your best friend with what trains to take and what transfers to make. Sbahn trains are operated by DB so your DB ticket will cover them. They are above ground subway lines. Underground subway lines are called UBahn. You can buy tickets for them at little ticket machines at the stations. Nobody ever checks tickets on S&U trains so they simply rely on people to do the right thing.

S & U trains have 2 lines that make the same stops going in opposite directions. It is critical that you make sure you are on the correct side of the platform or else you will go the wrong way. For example if you need to take U4 you go down into the U4 station and read the “map” posted on the wall. The “map” will list every stop that U4 makes. You need to find the correct U4 map to your destination and enter that platform. There will be 2 sides to U4 so you have to find which side is yours. It sounds confusing but it’s really not once you’re in the station.

S&U trains are usually very crowded. There are seats but you will most likely have to stand. Be sure to keep an eye on the screen inside the train that shows which stop is next because you will have to press a button to open the door to your train car when you get to your stop. The train stops and the doors open and close in a matter of a minute so be prepared to get on and get off very quickly.

City buses are not part of the DB system but they’re very easy to use and the DB app will also show you bus routes available to your desired destinations. Buses work the same as the subway system. You can buy tickets from kiosks at the bus stops and you just hop on when your desired bus comes. The driver may look at your ticket if you get on at the front of the bus but most likely no one checks the ticket.

After WW2 Germany spent a lot of time and money building their public transportation system and it is truly awesome in my opinion and I can’t same the same for many other countries including my own. Trains and stations are very clean, well kept, and user friendly.

Munich Germany December 2019

We arrived in Munich on December 26 to find that the city was all but shut down. Apparently this is called the second day of Christmas and is still celebrated as a national holiday just like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Who knew? We had planned on visiting some of the museums and monuments in the city that day but instead found ourselves looking at the architecture and I was just happy we found somewhere to eat that was open! This was a German Beer House where we had traditional food consisting of pretzels, goulash and bratwurst.

With rain in the forecast we thought it would be best to find some things to do indoors so the next morning we headed for the German National Museum. We stripped for breakfast at a cafe on the corner right across the bridge from the museum and I highly recommend it! The museum itself is massive spanning several stories. It’s filled with nautical history, aviation history, space exploration, a physics lab, metals history, a children’s museum, and even an entire floor dedicated to the history of coffe complete with a coffee shop! We tinkered through the museum for the entire morning and had lunch in the on site restaurant.

We spent the rest of that day dodging the rain and sightseeing. We were staying in a great Airbnb apartment right in the middle of the city center in Marienplatz. The first floor of our apartment was part of a large pedestrian only shopping center.

One of the only things I wanted from Germany was a real cuckoo clock. I did some research and found Max Krug, a well known clock shop in Munich that sells real handmade in the Black Forrest cuckoo clocks. They had so many clocks to choose from I was completely overwhelmed. I did know that I wanted a mechanical clock that had to be wound and not a battery powered one because I wanted it to be traditional and authentic. I should warn that these clocks are not cheap. They are hand carved, hand painted, and hand assembled. There’s so many minute details on each clock the craftsmanship is amazing. I chose a mid level clock and it still cost close to €1,000.

I was also able to find a beautiful nutcracker in the Max Krug shop and that was another one of my must have souvenirs.

We had dinner that night at Pasta e Basta which was the sweetest little Italian restaurant. The staff was so friendly with the kids, even MM who doesn’t like anyone, hugged the owner before we left!

Our first impression of Munich was rocky because nothing was open and we couldn’t even find places to eat, but once the city came back to life and we got used to our surroundings we really loved Munich! We left Munich by high speed ICE train back to Berlin to catch a flight home the next day.

Nuremberg Germany December 2019

Nuremberg is a cute town right in the heart of Germany. Probably most famous now for it Nazi history and the home of the post-WW2 Nuremberg trials. We chose Nuremburg as our location to spend Christmas because it’s also world famous for its huge Christmas market!

Spread out all across the city center is a Christmas market for all ages offering food, drinks, rides, toys, crafts, and goods of every kind. Complete with horse drawn carriage rides and live music. Don’t forget to try some roasted chestnuts and mulled wine!

We picked up the kids Christmas presents from vendors here and the kids were smitten with them on Christmas morning. Rhett got traditional German toys, a wooden fire truck and ambulance. The 3 girls got the most precious hand made teddy bears. The woman who made them was so sweet to us! She helped us find the perfect outfits for each bear for the girls while they slept in the carriers. The bears are made from moleskin, stuffed with sheep wool, and hand sewn.

Nuremberg has several beautiful churches and of course a medieval castle that still stands with a large part of the old city wall boasting beautiful views of the city.

We really wanted to go to the Nazi rally grounds where Hitler would host his huge Nazi party rallies and also where prisoners were sorted and sent to their assigned concentration camps. Unfortunately it was closed from the Christmas holidays which in Germany is celebrated for 3 days from December 24-26.

We stayed at a great Airbnb apartment right by the main train station. It was perfect for big families with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and was very reasonably priced. Leaving Nuremberg we took a very quick ICE train to Munich.

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