Posts filed under viola

Little London | Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

 

There are a few things that are just hard to beat. The glorious department store of Harrods is one of them, as is anything that comes from the world of Disney. This week, Viola & I got to tag along as our friends experienced the new Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Harrods.... and we had so much fun! In case anyone is looking for a special birthday treat or day-out with your daughter, here's a quick overview of what the experience is like.

When your child arrives, they check-in and are met by their "Fairy Godmother-in-Training." Once you enter, you're brought to Cinderella's magic mirror for an introduction to the famous Fairy Godmother. Wands are waves, magic words are said, and then you're on your way into the Boutique.  The Boutique is was built by the same team that works on the Disneyland Parks, so the experience is 100% Disney.

The Boutique is a little girl's dream spa. Set up with adorable salon chairs and subtly-themed Princess areas, the girls get to choose their hair style from a book and then go to the changing room where the "little mice and birds have been working throughout the night" to make her dress and shoes are awaiting them.

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Once they change into their new clothes, princess hair and makeup is done, nails are painted all while pictures are being taken of your child enjoying the experience.  At the end, the princess gets crowned with a pretty tiara and sprinkled with pixie dust.

After the "transformation" is complete, the new Princess gets to pose by a Cinderella Carriage and sit in a throne to take her Princess Promise. It's too cute watching these little girls look completely shocked by the amazing experience they are in the middle of. 

The, admittedly indulgent, experience is for children 3-12. Viola was too little to get the full "princess" experience, but she had a great time tagging along, dancing to the music and watching in awe. You pick your princess ahead of time, so you can have your choice of Disney Princess. Obviously, our group couldn't resist the Frozen Snow Queen Experience.... because, well... what little girl could resist being Elsa? You'll definitely want to book in advance because the line to get in was pretty deep by the time we left!

Can you tell how much fun we had? Someone even got to bring their favorite Frozen character home with them.

Get all the other information about Harrods Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique here. I have a feeling your child (and you!) will not only have a great day, but make some memories that will last for years to come!

 


 

Leave it to Disney and Harrods to create something this charming! If only they had a spa for grownups, too.... 

 

 

 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

EURODISNEY | Worth the Trip?

 

When we were in Paris this spring, my sister & her husband came to visit. As it wasn't their first time to Paris, they were a bit more relaxed in what they wanted to see. In fact, the only place they really cared about getting to during their week in France was Disneyland Paris- or "Eurodisney" as it was once known.

I had been 10 years before while backpacking through Europe, and the golden memory I have of my unbathed nineteen year-old self stumbling into that slice of Americanized heaven was enough to charm me into the idea of going back. We used the excuse of going for the sake of our kid, and headed out to make the trek to Disneyland. And of course, once we got there we reused that same excuse when making the leap into season passes.

We went out to Disney three more times during our time there, which more than paid for our season passes. We tried the park out on a number of different days: midweek, rainy, sunny and on in the early days of peak season. As you can imagine, the lines are better earlier in the year and on the weekdays. However, you'll also miss out on many of the rides and restaurants being closed as the park operates on a slimmer staff. For us, that was a small price to pay as we were stroller-laden and visiting with a baby. We, literally, could stay on It's a Small World and loop it as much as we liked. 

Even though the park is smaller, it has many of the Disney essentials you'll hope to experience (Madhatter's Tea Cups, Pirates of the Caribbean, Pinocchio, Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, Main Street, It's a Small World, Space Mountain, etc). You'll see all the characters and there are daily parades. 

Also, sitting next door to the Disneyland Paris is the Walt Disney Studios Park. You'll need a ticket that allows for both parks. These are about €10 more per day, but you can access a slew of more rides and attractions like The Tower of Terror and the newly opened Ratatouille ride.

 



Here are few tips & thoughts that can help your visiting Disneyland Paris be a bit easier:

GETTING THERE: Eurodisney is easily reached by the RER. Literally, you're dumped out by the gates of the park at the Marne-la-Vallee stop. Just take the RER Line A from Central Paris all the way there. It'll take you about 45 minutes. Read more on how to access the park here on the Disneyland Paris website. The round-trip RER ticket price to the park is roughly €15 per person. These are available for purchase at any metro or RER station.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST: The standard day passes can give you a bit of the sticker shock that you might expect. However, there are few ways to work around the normal pricing. First, check the offers page on the site. They are typically family passes or other seasonal promotions. With a valid student ID, you can get a daily ticket for €41 for both parks. Most of the must be purchased in advance, so do this before arriving at the park. The basic ticket for one park is around €79 per day.

The season pass start at around €120, but you can't use it for a second day until 5 days have passed from having your card issued. (It's a tricky system that makes it really hard to use unless you're living locally or in Paris for an extended time.) The general pricing page can be found here.

EATING AT THE PARK: The park has various restaurant options available. Some are hilariously overpriced in the seated options (around €75 per person!), but if you grab lunch or dinner you can typically get a LOT of food for around  €10 per person. At the various restaurants, they have a standard menu of items... but the value comes in the meal deals. You can get a main item, fries or salad, yogurt, dessert and a drink for a few euros more. With all the various sides, we easily shared a couple of meals between three people. You can find a full list of eateries on the property here.

We would pack snacks for the morning and the train ride back at the end of the day. It's fine to bring food into the park, if you'd like. Either way- I'd recommend bringing a bottled drink for your day at the park. You'll be glad you grabbed one at the grocery store when you see them for €4 at the park.

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So, overall, would I recommend going out to Disneyland Paris? Sure! Maybe not if it's your first time to Paris, or if you're time there is rushed, but if you're a repeat visitor to the City of Lights or you're traveling for a longer stretch of time? Why not?

 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under france, kids, travel, viola, traveling with kids, paris.

Notes from the Road | Iceland's Golden Circle

I've got about 12 minutes before dinner, so in the midst of Tyler & Viola taking a quick catnap on the bed by me... I thought I'd jot down a few notes about today. I guess in a way to store them up so that on a less happy day, I can come back and remember them because it was a really nice day.

After a long day out on the Golden Circle, we've seen Skogafoss (this waterfall), Seljanadafoss (this waterfall), Dyrholaey (this amazing overlook of the coast) and Reynisdrangar (this black sand beach), we have finally wrapped up for the day. We got in our rooms at the hotel (Fosshotel Nupar) for the evening about thirty minutes ago and are decompressing before dinner. One of my favorite times of the day when traveling is that quiet hour between a long day of being out and dinner.

It's not just the sites that make these trips good. Who you're with while you travel has a big impact on the experience you have in that place. I'm lucky to be traveling with great people this trip to Iceland- eager faculty & students, an ideal guide, and a husband + baby who happily tag along on these crazy trips.

One of the most memorable things about Iceland (beyond the absurdly high cost of everything) is the sky.  It seems like there are always clouds, and they illuminate the sky in the most outstanding way. Our hotel room has big windows that over looks lava fields outside. The combination of the weird terrain and crazy sky makes me feel like we are on some other planet. Iceland, you're a weird little island.... but I like you. It's good to be back.

Anyway, dinner calls. (Thank goodness, I'm really hungry.) Tomorrow should be just as great- we hit up two of my favorite places: Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon & Skaftafell National Park.


*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on September 6, 2014 and filed under travel, viola, iceland.

6 Things To Make Traveling Europe With a Baby Easier.

 

Is it possible to travel with a baby and not be completely out of your element? Is there any hope that you won't look like a flustered hot mess with stuff flying everywhere and baby gear strapped to every part of your body? Well, in the airport, no.  I haven't mastered that yet (so much stuff to carry!), but once you arrive to your destination? Yes, I daresay it is possible! Here are six things that help you travel with a baby and still keep some dignity in tow, too.

ONE  |  BYOHC

Bring your own... high chair? In England, a few places will have high chairs. In France, we probably encountered three. One being at the newly opened Chipotle. Holding a toddler during a meal can be described in many terms, but "relaxing" is not one of them. Plus, it makes eating nearly impossible.

We marched to Monoprix and bought a cloth one that slipped over the back of chairs and snapped Viola into an inescapable sitting position. It was amazing, and it folded up in my bag. We loved it, and I have a feeling it will travel many places with us over the years to come. 

Here's a similar one. If you use a high chair at home and are planning to travel: buy it! Trust me.

 

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TWO  |  WEAR A SCARF

 Wear a scarf? Yes. Stop hauling around your nursing cover and just get a large summer scarf. It's one less thing to schlep around, it is way more inconspicuous than a giant paisley shawl, and hey- it's Europe. You'll probably be wearing light layers and a scarf anyway. This is my #1 trick I like to share with people. All the modesty, way quicker than "cloaking up", and looks like the baby is just snoozing on you. And yes, that is why I wore a scarf for pretty much the entire year of 2013.

GAP has these ones on sale that should do the trick.

THREE  |  DOUBLE'S TROUBLE

If you have more than one child, a double stroller can be a great thing on a day with lots of walking. On behalf of all the citizens of a large city, can I ask you a favor? Don't get a double-wide! The side-by-side strollers are great for surburban walking trails and amusement parks, but in cities where massive amounts of people use sidewalks? It's one of the worst offenses possible. It bottlenecks the traffic and people have to dodge around you to get past. Just trust me, a stadium seating stroller will save you annoyed glances and mumbled comments. Plus, the side-by-sides don't fit on buses!

The Baby Jogger City Select is what we bought. We love it, and it collapses in half quickly when you're in a pinch. Just make sure you check it when you fly. Airlines have broken two of ours from handling it when checking it at the gate, and airlines take no responsibility for them.

 

FOUR  |  URBAN JUNGLE GYM

Give your little a break and take advantage of the playgrounds and parks around the city. Not only is a great time for them to get out some energy, but they are typically in amazing places. It's fun for adults, too. 

Some of our favorite places to let Viola play in Paris are the park alongside the grass in front of the Eiffel Tower, a tiny garden playground right next to the Pompidou, the playground at Place Des Vosges and a neighborhood park in the shadows of the Picasso Museum near our apartment.

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FIVE  |  LIVE LOCAL

Hotels have some great amenities, but when traveling with a kid- renting an apartment is so nice. You can get cozy, have access to a fridge and food, and extra space to stretch out with little. Plus, the lower prices make it way more affordable. Almost all of them can provide you with a pack & play, if you request it in advance. We typically book through AirBnb or One Fine Stay.

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SIX  |  PACK SOME SNACKS

Maybe this seems obvious, but I often forget. Meals are long and there is no "hold-over" food waiting for children once you're seated. No chips and salsa. No bread. No kids meal out early, It's a good habit to form, but it may save some sanity to have some small toys (we love finger puppets) and puffs or crackers to munch on while you wait.


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There you have it. Six easy things to make your trip overseas a bit more doable... and, hopefully, a bit less hectic!

 

FIND MY OTHER POST ON FLYING WITH BABIES HERE.

 

*all images via Aspiring Kennedy

Three In the Bed...

 

Here's a confession I can't believe I'm putting online: somehow we ended up letting Viola sleep in our bed. We would have never thought we would do, but somehow amidst the shuffle of traveling, blur of late night feedings and emotions of losing Baby B, it just sort of happened.

Sometimes hotels wouldn't have cots, sometimes it was easier than putting her back in her crib, and sometimes- we just felt better being able to hear her breath next to us.

I know most people feel very strongly about keeping their bed as their bed. No babies allowed. I get it- those little guys end up hogging the bed and you have to move tiny feet out of your face throughout the night. It's a different type of sleep. But man... we loved it. The three of us cuddling up in bed was pretty sweet.

Since we've been in Texas, Viola has officially moved back into her own bed. It's kind of great and kind of sad. (Like all milestones are, I guess?) So here's to remembering a year of feeling like my shoulder was permanently out of socket and the sweetest spooning there ever was.

 

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*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy.

Posted on June 16, 2014 and filed under life, viola, babies kennedy, family, kids.

Paris | Locks (and Locks!) of Love

 

You know those locks along the Pont Des Arts in Paris? The one where lovers go to lock up their love forever and toss the key in the Seine below? Well, over the past year that novel idea has seemingly made the must-do list of every tourist couple to touch down in France.When we were in Paris for the spring, the bridges were absolutely heaving with them.

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There were men dotted along every ten feet or so of the bridges with assorted locks and sharpies out for purchase.

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The once romantic gesture has transformed from something quite to something that... well, had gone too far.

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And this weekend, it really went too far. Like down-into-the-river-too-far.

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Apparently, the locks have gotten so out of control that they weighed down a portion of the railing and ripped it down into the Seine.That's pretty in-seine, isn't it?

Read more about it here.

After seeing how out of control they were, I'm kind of ready to see Paris stop the tradition like Florence did on the Ponte Vecchio in years past.

Then again, I was really sad when Venice outlawed selling birdseed and feeding pigeons in St. Marks Square. (Though selfishly, who really cares after snagging a photo like this?)

 



What do you think?

Should the tradition be locked into the culture of Paris

or should it be tossed to the bottom of the (key-ridden) Seine?




*images by Noah Darnell for Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on June 10, 2014 and filed under france, travel, viola, paris.

For the Love of Paris... and Babies.

 

Now then...you didn't think that I'd be satisfied simply with prancing around Paris in a giant black tulle skirt with the Eiffel Tower in the background, did you? Oh no...I had to take it up one more level. Stacy & I decided to make the second half of the day a bit more... kid friendly. Baby friendly, actually. For all of you that are wondering: How do you have TWO dresses this huge and fabulous? Well, the answer is: I don't! The black & pink tulle wonders were made by Stacy that she uses for photo shoot when clients request them. All I did was toss on an American Apparel bodysuit with the black one and a too-short dress that I had in my closet with the pink one. The result? Well, a look far more fabulous than it really was....but when it looks this cute- who cares? So, no more babbling from me, straight on to the pictures...for sure my favorite part from our day. Regardless of Viola wishing she could have been anywhere else rather than having her picture taken as made evident by the first half of the shoot. Oh well, c'est la vie avec le bebe.

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To see the first half of our shoot in Paris, click hereStacy Reeves is a talented photographer who shoots visitors in Paris every day. She's a Texan, like myself, who moved overseas to live out her dreams... and now spends her days helping other Americans enjoy their trips to Europe, too. Let her shoot your trip to Paris by booking a session and capturing your trip.

(And yes, you can even wear the skirts, too!)

 

*photos by Stacy Reeves & L'Amour de Paris for Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on May 19, 2014 and filed under fashion, beauty, paris, viola.