This is Your Permission to Take Up Space

If you’ve gained weight during this pandemic, I’m here to tell you: that’s okay! It’s a global pandemic and you’re surviving and that’s all that matters!

Our society’s views on bodies and weight are hurtful and messed up at best and toxic and actively harmful at worst. Fat people deserve basic human decency, period.

I know this because I am fat. I am! I choose to call myself fat because I have come to view this word not as a loaded insult or something “bad”—it’s a descriptor of my body. It’s the right word for me, although it may not be the right word for everyone. Again: totally okay!

The decisions we make about our bodies, how we view them, how we describe them, how we nourish them, how we move them, and how we dress them are so deeply personal. I hope we can strive to be more open and accepting of all kinds of bodies without needing a reason. It’s tough work and it means unlearning a lot of the things we’ve been taught.

But try to remind yourself: if it’s not your body, then it’s simply not your business.

But Crystal, you say. Health!

To that I say: you actually can’t tell whether someone is healthy just by looking at them. Fat people are not inherently unhealthy. Medical studies back this up. Doctors can back this up. Science can back this up!

While we are dispelling myths, I’d also like to share:

  • It is possible to fully support science and medicine while also acknowledging that it has very real and very harmful biases towards people who are fat. Medical professionals are not perfect; they are humans living in a society that tells us over and over again that fat = bad, so they are not immune from these feelings or biases. (You can Google this, but here is one study:
  • Even if, in some cases, people who are fat are also unhealthy, that’s okay! Again: not. your. business. Fat people don’t owe anyone their health, just like thin people don’t owe anyone their health.
  • It is tempting to assign food morality. But food is neither morally “good” nor bad—it just is.
  • Not all fat people are looking to lose weight.
  • Fat people don’t need unsolicited opinions or advice and, in fact, please feel free to keep ALL of your opinions about ANYONE’S body (except for your own) to yourself.

I am sharing photos of myself at my current weight, my highest weight, and my lowest weight. And I think I look pretty cute in all three! But it has taken me SO long to get to that point.

Do I feel beautiful every day of my life? No, of course not. I’m human. But I fully believe in the importance of not spending your entire life trying to make your body smaller in order to chase an unattainable dream of being “perfect.” Do what makes YOU happy. Forget everything else.

This, right here, is your permission to take up space.

If you’re interested in learning more about body positivity, the fat acceptance movement, how diets can be harmful, etc. here are some resources for you to check out.

Fat Positive Resources


The End of an Era (Maternity Leave)

As my maternity leave hurtles to a close, I find myself more nostalgic than ever.

Remembering those early days when Bill and I were up every two hours to feed Maya, and the world was dark and asleep, and it was only our little family awake, bleary-eyed, exhausted, but happy.

Tucking my black robe away in the ottoman and smiling at how, some days, I was so tired that was all I could manage to wear (or how, on other days, I’d been covered in spit up so many times the robe was all that was clean).

Finding a leftover size 1 diaper and marveling at how it ever could have been possible that she fit into it.

Getting Maya ready for a nap in her crib and remembering how she used to be neatly tucked inside of her swaddle, nestled up like the tiniest, most delicious burrito. Then opting not to put her down for a nap in a crib and instead, letting her settle into my chest, watching her tummy rise and fall, and savoring every single second of the quiet naps on me.

There is so much.

And I am so lucky.

These last six months have been, without a doubt, the most beautiful, challenging, enriching, fun, emotional, delightful, and messy time of my life (she types, having just taken a quick break from eating her salad to clean up a barf spill that somehow escaped her). They have shown me that I am a stronger, better person than I ever thought. They have reminded me of the parts of me need work, but that I am full of love, and my heart is good.

The phrase, “The days are long but the years are short” has never seemed to ring more true. Some days I felt like I barely scraped by. Other days I was on cloud nine, high off the scent of baby lotion and the feel of baby skin and the sound of baby giggles. Sigh.

If I was a sensitive, emotional, sentimental person before (and I was), motherhood has amplified it. I am obsessed with making sure I savor everything, now, this moment, that moment, the upcoming moment, that! I never thought I’d be a good mom and I certainly didn’t think I’d be this kind of mom, the feeling kind, the type suddenly drawn to things emblazoned with “MAMA” and who has a necklace with her kid’s name on it and who buys matching mother-daughter outfits and whose phone is wall-to-wall photos and videos of her kid (and to my friends who I promised I’d never change, I’m sorry)—but here I am.

And I am so happy to be here.

This long leave granted me so much I wouldn’t have been able to have otherwise. I got to know Maya so well, learning her little intricacies, figuring her out, realizing what she liked and disliked (all of which changed the SECOND I thought I had it figured out, but it kept me humble, you know?). I was able to explore so much with her, taking her to museums and out for food and to bookstores and to shop and for long walks. We got to do a ton together just as mother/daughter and that felt really fucking special. I got to watch her grow and learn and change right before my very eyes. I got to see so many firsts. What a serious privilege.

And being home meant I could document that for Bill, too, who I have an obsessive habit of talking to all day long because I liiiiike him. Which was everything! Truthfully, my biggest fear with having a kid was that my relationship with my husband would change—that we wouldn’t be us, that we wouldn’t find time, that we’d fight, that things would feel off. But things are somehow even better and more magical. He has been so gracious, generous, and loving, in all the ways he always was (giving me back rubs and pep talks when I had a hard day; tucking me in every night even though he, too, is bone tired; listening to me talk about all my feelings) and in new ways, too (surprising me with mornings to sleep in; baking after she’s asleep and I’m tired but dying for some chocolate chip cookies; telling me I look pretty even when my body still doesn’t feel quite right; extending endless patience just when I need it).

And, now I get to watch him share all of the incredible parts of him—the things that made me fall in love with him—with our kid, and that’s everything. Seeing his face light up when she gets excited as he walks into a room. Watching him get on all fours and teach her to crawl. Their special moments together in the morning, when the world is juuust waking up, and it’s the two of them (plus Obi) and I walk in after my shower and get to catch a little glimpse. We made a family built off of this love. Like, damn. That’s on another level.

Bonus: we also get to watch our first baby, Obi, be cute and snuggly and sweet with our new baby, Maya, and my goddamn heart bursts all over again.

Though I’m excited to return to a job I love and for Maya to make all kinds of new friends in daycare, to expand the village of people who love her, and to learn a bunch of new things, I’m sad to say goodbye to the craziness of being in it 24/7.

I will go back to work in less than three weeks. Maya will go to daycare. Bill, who only got a paltry two weeks with us (ayyy, fuck the U.S. government for not making six months of paid maternity leave available for all parents), will continue on. Obi will go back to holding down the fort at home on his own. Things will settle and we’ll get comfortable in our brand new kind of normal.

But I will always look back on this time in my life as the most incredible gift.

Thank you, Bill, Maya, and Obi, for making it everything.

FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You

I’ve had two dreams since I was a kid.

  1. Fall in love with a funny, hot guy.
  2. Become a published author.

I got to check number one off my list a long time ago, lucky to have fallen in love with my person at just 18 years old.

And now I can cross number two off of my list, too! Absolutely THRILLED to follow up on my book baby news and share that my debut young adult book FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA has been picked up by Holiday House Books!

Screen Shot 2019-12-06 at 8.11.31 AM

It has been a wonderful labor of love and is finally coming to fruition thanks to the endless efforts of my agent, the incredible Tamar Rydzinski of Context Literary Agency!

What a literal dream come true. Someone pinch me.

More soon!


I Had a Baby

I had a baby. I had a baby! I HAD A BABY! And I love her so goddamn much!

(Edit as of Sept. 12, 2020: All photos of Maya have been removed from this blog due to ongoing privacy issues with my estranged mother.) 


Truthfully, I spent a good part of my life not sure if I’d ever have a child. I had a tough relationship with my parents, and that put me off having kids for a really long time. I was terrified I’d never be able to break the cycle of abuse and figured that the best and only way to ensure that didn’t happen was to not have children at all.

But then I met Bill. He, the army of friends I amassed, time, and lots of therapy helped me figure out how to communicate better and I realized I am not my parents and I could have a child and treat him or her the way I’d always wished I’d been treated.

I’m so happy Bill and I made that decision because now we have a beautiful baby girl. And I have been working every single day to make sure that she knows she’s loved fiercely, that the world is hers to conquer if she so pleases, that she doesn’t answer to anyone but herself, and that her happiness is the only thing that matters.

The Labor

I went into labor on June 27, 2019, after being scheduled for a c-section that night (I was already more than a week overdue). My water broke at around 1:30 a.m., but I wasn’t having any contractions, so I wasn’t convinced I was actually in labor. When Bill found me in the bathroom Googling “water broke no contractions what to do,” he insisted I shower and we go to the hospital. It was the right move! In the shower, my contractions leapt to 4-5 minutes apart.

But we were in for a long labor: 24 hours of it. I spent 23 hours of that actually laboring. I had irregular contractions until about 7 a.m., then the nurses put me on Pitocin to help the labor along. I lasted until about noon before the contractions were so painful I couldn’t handle it and requested an epidural. Can I just say that epidurals are INCREDIBLE? That was pretty much the only reason I survived the next 12ish hours as I absolutely crawled toward labor, hardly making any progress at all, before my doctor declared we’d need to do a c-section at around 12 midnight on June 28. The c-section was intense, as I got a little too much anesthesia and ended up numb from the neck down—but I survived.

Then, at 1:22 a.m., Bill and I said hello to our little Maya Papaya.\

Hi, Maya Papaya

Welcoming Maya into the world was completely surreal. It suddenly hit us: we have a baby! There are so many emotions those first few days (joy, excitement, fear, exhaustion), but mostly we were just plain happy. We’d look at this sweet little girl and her tiny fingers and toes and it was impossible not to feel like your heart might just burst. We had only just met her but we already loved her so, so much.

The first few days in the hospital were like a fever dream. You’re sleep deprived and then you’re holding a tiny peanut that’s your baby but your body is also recovering and everyone wants to come visit and you’re trying to figure out how to care for this helpless little ball of sunshine that you love a painful amount and it’s a lot.

We were so happy to go home four days later so that we could happily start our new life.

The First Six Weeks

The first few weeks have been beautiful and tough, with every minute feeling like its own kind of adventure. Bill and I are figuring out how to be parents while Maya is figuring out how to be a baby. I’ll say it’s gotten much easier, though each new day brings something a little different. Maya has already taught me that sometimes I just need to roll with it, come what may.

Plus, Obi has been an amazing big brother! He is so protective of her, watching out for her every time she cries or makes a squeak, and can’t wait till she can play. (He already brings her his toys when she’s upset.)

Challenges and Breastfeeding

There have been a few challenges. Sleep, of course, is one, though we’ve settled into a bit of a pattern now. Maya’s initial slow weight gain was another, though she seems to be growing like a weed now. Breastfeeding has been another.

Breastfeeding is a little tough to talk about because there is so much judgment around breastfeeding. The whole ‘breast is best’ mentality in the mom community can be annoying at best and completely crushing at worst. I have always subscribed to the ‘fed is best’ mentality, AKA do what you gotta do to get your little peanut fed and happy! But the hospital we were in pushed breastfeeding really hard and I’m not immune from the world around me, either; I hear them loud and clear when they tell me to breastfeed. I went into my pregnancy thinking I would try breastfeeding but not be upset with myself if it didn’t work out.

Here’s the shitty part: breastfeeding has totally worked out, Maya is a natural, but my supply has been low from the beginning as I have PCOS, so exclusively breastfeeding just wasn’t an option. The tremendous self-imposed guilt I’ve felt these last few weeks for combo feeding has been enormous.

However, most of that seemed to fade away this week and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because we’ve settled into a bit of a routine or maybe it’s just because I am learning to be kinder to myself, but as long as Maya is happy and healthy, I am happy and trying not to beat myself up over things out of my control. I’ve finally begun to let go of some of that guilt and just enjoy the ride!

Support and Sustenance

We’ve had lots of visitors and helpers, and my friends have been incredible by bringing me and Bill meals to help get us through those first couple of weeks. That whole it-takes-a-village thing is never more true than when you’ve had two hours of sleep and you can’t remember the last time you ate!

I’ve kept myself sane in the wee hours of the night by watching Whitney Port’s “I Love My Baby, But…” series on YouTube, and chatting on Reddit/Facebook with a community of women who’ve all had babies in June. On the non-baby-related front, I’ve also been listening to the Gilmore Guys podcast and binge-watching “The Hills” because of course.

However, by far the most important thing that’s kept me sane and happy has been Bill. Before we had Maya, we vowed to continue to prioritize our relationship as best we could. So we are doing our best to make sure the other person feels loved and supported during this crazy time. Bill is the best partner and co-parent I could ever have imagined. He’s so good with Maya and teaches me new things every day. I love watching him be a papa to her and she absolutely lights up whenever he’s around. It’s really magical. He’s also so good to me, not just offering help when he doesn’t have to but taking time to make sure that I’m doing well, too. I’m really lucky.


Six-week-old Maya is eating and sleeping like a champ. She’s playful and even more wiggly than she was when I was pregnant. She can hold her head up on her own. She mostly doesn’t mind tummy time. She likes warm baths. She loves walks and being nestled in a wrap close to our bodies. She’s able to coo. She recognizes her mama and papa. And now she’s smiling. Her smile is the best thing I’ve ever seen. She has already grown so much and part of me wishes I could freeze time and keep her tiny forever while the other part of me can’t wait to watch her grow and learn and create and experience things.

Welcome to the world, baby girl. There’s so much for you to explore.


Goin’ Back to Cali, Cali, Cali

My parents, my grandma, and I have officially mastered the four-day, cross-country vacation. This happened the first time in March 2017 and did a repeat this month — likely my final trip before baby arrives — and I couldn’t have asked for a better visit!

In truth, it will likely be a while before I can make another trip across the country to California, so I really wanted to make sure I could sneak at least another in before I hit the “do not travel” mark of pregnancy.

Last trip, the four of us managed to sneak in a Vegas trip; a trek to the beach; hikes; and more. This time around, we had a busy trip, too, but my tired, pregnant body was happy for some additional reprieves and rests at home, hanging out with each other and the dogs, too.

My mom and dad have started fostering dogs in Bakersfield to help prepare them as they transition from rescue to shelter to fur-ever home, so we were treated to EIGHT wonderful dogs: Cody, Reilly, Lexy, Zai, Denali, and Turbo (my parents’ dogs) as well as Sugar and Charlie, two fosters. It was honestly a puppy paradise full of dog snuggles, which is the best way to spend a vacation.

Plus, we also…

  • Searched for wild flowers and took in some gorgeous sights. California is truly breathtakingly beautiful. Even just a drive to and from certain places feels like an adventure because of all of the scenery to take in. We spent our first day there doing just that and it was great! Cali MUST be the king of rolling hills.
  • Conquered an Escape Room. I’ve always wanted to try an Escape Room, but never bit. It was so much fun to try one out with family. NBD, but we killed it in the Knight & Rook room at Bakersfield Escape Room.
  • Went on a Ross shopping spree. I am not so fortunate to have a Ross nearby, which is a true tragedy, so I love hitting up that store and spending lots of money when we’re there. This time, we were able to get some cute things for baby, too!
  • Toured Heart Castle. Bill and I toured Hearst Castle during our last visit, but my grandma and I didn’t get a chance to do so, so it was fun to go back there. We got an inside look at the stunning cottages! I fell in love with the roofs (and dedicated an Insta album to them here), but the entire place is magical and unreal.
  • Mused at the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery. The seals are too cute to be ignored and given that we were already Hearst Castle, it made sense to take a look at these cuties again. Bonus: beach views!
  • Visited The Last Bookstore in LA. My mom sent me a link to this place a while back so it was a must-visit for me and I’m so happy we were able to make it happen. I love all bookstores, but this one was Instagrammable AF. Part bookstore, part art exhibit, it was like a slice of heaven for book lovers like me.

A great trip all around and so wonderful to see my parents. The next time they see me, I may have a little person around!


Being Fat and Pregnant

I’ve spent a lifetime hating my body.

I was a fat kid who turned into a fat teen who became a fat adult and I live in the U.S., where we are actively taught that being fat is not just unattractive, but unhealthy, worthy of ridiculedeserving of discrimination (even by medical professionals), and something you should actively be working to change at all times no matter what.

I also grew up in a household where I was told I was beautiful and didn’t have to change for anyone, while also knowing that these same family members were unhappy with their bodies, which very much looked like mine. And who could blame them? We are not immune from society and the world around us tells us that fat bodies are broken. I spent years trying to “fix” my body to make it something more appealing — not so much because I cared about my health but because I bought into this idea that my fatness meant I could never be worthy of good things. It didn’t help that I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which made gaining weight breezy.

About two years ago I did lose a significant amount of weight for two real reasons: I was starting to experience some health issues; and my husband and I wanted to have a baby someday and I knew it would be easier if I weighed a little less. But I still never really appreciated my body. There was always something, I felt, that should change or be better.

Weirdly, getting pregnant has finally made it so I see the value in my body as it is.

I won’t lie: I still feel bad about my body most days. I’m putting weight on, obviously, and feeling much less confident in a body I had finally felt good in. I get down on myself because I don’t have the “perfect baby bump.” I fret over the fact that many well-meaning folks say they “can’t even tell” I’m pregnant. I stress.

But then I remember: I’m growing a person.

And doing that while actively battling against the odds of PCOS, which makes getting pregnant and staying pregnant hard.

Every day that passes feels like an accomplishment. Every tiny little kick feels like a victory, a reminder that my body is incredible as it is now, as it was, and as it will be.

I know I won’t feel beautiful and comfortable in this skin every day, but for some moments, I can. And, for the first time in my life, I am finally learning to appreciate this body of mine for its tremendous strength, for its growth, and for its resilience. To my body: thank you. And I’m sorry I haven’t loved you the way you’ve deserved.

Getting Ready for Two Babies: A Girl and a Book!

What’s better than one baby? Two!

First: a beautiful, wiggly, growing baby girl that Bill and I are so excited to welcome into our lives. My due date is June 19, 2019, meaning there’s just 99 days until we say hello to her.

It’s been so much fun preparing for her arrival. Oddly, Bill and I feel calm and excited more than frantic and nervous. There’s a bit of that, too, of course (especially when I think about the delivery), but mostly we’re feeling organized and prepared in a weird kind of way that we never expected.

We’ve been completely overwhelmed by the love and support from our friends and families, each of whom have thrown themselves into helping us prepare for girl in all of the best ways.

Family has pitched in to help with things like the baby shower and getting the nursery ready to go. Friends have offered hugs and real advice and pitched in to generously gift or loan gently-used items for the baby. It has been such a humbling experience.

At times, it is a little stressful. There are so many things to check off of that to-do list in just nine months — plus, preparing for a baby shower (which is not quite my thing) sometimes feels like the end of the world. But we’re all slowly chipping away at things together and soon, we’ll get to have a little person in the world to say love and teach and watch grow and that’s a pretty amazing feeling.

And then there’s Book Baby. Like Baby Cunningham, Book Baby is still cooking. I finished writing my first young adult novel in December 2017. I revised and revised and revised… and then it sat and sat and sat. In August 2018, I thought: what the hell am I doing? Why am I sitting on this? What if I just… tried pitching this thing?

Aside from reading a few Google articles, I had no idea what I was doing. But I was floored when I heard back from a literary agent who was interested in my book.

I’m SO pleased to share that I’m officially represented by the incredibly talented Tamar Rydzinski and Context Literary Agency!

I’m even listed officially as an author on the site, guys. I just. NEVER THOUGHT I’D SEE THAT.

I am still so shy and reluctant to talk about it because I’m fearful I’ll jinx things or no publisher will be interested in my book or it won’t go anywhere at all — but I want to someday teach my girl to be brave and sometimes bravery means sharing things that are scary.

My career as an author is very much still a work in progress, one that’s been slightly derailed by the exciting news of Real Baby, but I’m very much looking forward to nurturing both babies — which will each bring about new and wonderful challenges and enrich my life in ways I never thought possible.

To exciting things happening and a future that looks bright!


Things I Wore (and Did) in January 2019

Some months you only manage to snag two outfit photos because your body is changing and expanding and you don’t feel really comfortable in it yet so that’s that.

I may only be five months along, but it became official in January that I needed to switch out of my normal wardrobe and switch to a leggings + sweaters or tights + flowy dresses type of look and frankly, despite all of the wonderful parts of being pregnant, I wasn’t feeling my best physically, so I didn’t document much.

Here are the two photos I did nab.


I wore this to go to the local casino and felt pretty cute, though the dress was a little on the long side. (Downside to having short legs!)

Outfit details

  • Dress: Old Navy
  • Tights:
  • Shoes: Marshall’s


All right, y’all — my first piece of maternity wear! Yay!

Outfit details

  • Shirt: Target
  • Leggings: Kohl’s
  • Boots: DSW


And, my first “baby bump” pic! It’s not much, but my belly is sticking out further than my boobs now, so that’s an official — if not quite noticeable — bump. So exciting!

In January, I hit five months, found out the gender of the baby (sharing in a post soon), spent time with family and friends, explored downtown Springfield, and worked with Bill to accomplish a lot toward getting ready for baby. I’m just sorry I didn’t take more photos!

A glimpse:


Until next month, when hopefully I’ll take some extra pics! xo.

Let’s Do This, 2019

2018 was good to me. It is weird to feel like you’re thriving personally while the world is sort of crashing around you. I’m not immune to the terrible things that happen — but in my personal life, I’m happy and things are actually going well.

Last year, I vowed to live 2018 with less fear and anxiety and I’m proud (and a little surprised) to say I’ve stuck to it — from small things, like trying to reach out to friends more, to big things, like deciding to try for a baby.

In 2018, I lived big and laughed a lot. I’m so, so fortunate for all of the adventures I get to embark on and that I get to do it with the love of my life and my very best friend by my side. Though there were some hardships — some difficult family circumstances certainly challenged me at times — for the most part, I felt like I was able to live the life I’ve always dreamed of as a kid.

I’ve worked on myself quite a bit in therapy, too, making personal strides, learning to better live with my anxiety, unlearning bad habits, and working on treating myself a little better. Plus, Bill and I proudly got our finances in order (a huge, huge accomplishment, going from poor college students to steady adults). We traveled to countries we’ve never been before and explored museums and drag shows and Disney.

And, I got pregnant.

Professionally, it was a big year, too — I got a significant promotion at work, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been at my job.

Shortly after, I finally started sending my completed young adult novel to literary agencies. And I’m so excited that one was interested; I’m now represented by Context Literary Agency! I’ve been writing stories since I was just a kid and now I have a completed book and, with the help of an incredible agent who believes in my work, I’m one step closer to making my dream of publishing a book a reality.

So, big, exciting things are already happening. Where do I go from here?

I think, in 2019, I need to work on little things that amount to a lot by working to appreciate everything while also being less affected by others. In short, I guess I’ve got to take learn to roll with it.

Speaking of appreciation, I’ll start by appreciating some of the wonderful things from 2018. (Some of these captions may be a little off because they’re part of old posts, but that’s OK!)



2019 is going to be one of the most significant years of my life — for myself, for Bill, for our relationship, for our family — and I can’t wait. To 2019!


Spooky (Not-So) Scary Halloween at Disney World

Disney is definitely one of my favorite vacation spots. It reminds me of my childhood and it’s just so magical and light and fun. So, for Bill’s 30th, we thought there was no better place to celebrate than in the Happiest Place on Earth!

Day 1 – Disney Springs

For the first time ever, Bill and I visited Disney Springs and really checked everything out. In years past, we’ve typically stayed toward the center of Disney Springs without really venturing out and this year, we realized how much we had been missing out on! There’s so much more to see and do there than we originally thought.

It was a little warm when we arrived — in matching shirts, no less — but it was the perfect way to spend our first day in Disney. Our flight had landed in the morning, so we spent the afternoon immersing ourselves in Disney stores, realizing Disney prices are more expensive than we remembered (haha), and getting excited to finally see Disney in the fall. In addition to most of the stores having spooky, Halloween decor, the whole of Disney Springs was complete with fall decorations. So cute!

Favorite moments: Stopping at Amorette’s Patisserie for champagne and a little Mickey Mouse cake; getting silly in the stores.; picking up a nice piece of Disney art; watching the sun set on the water.


Day 2 – Animal Kingdom

We woke up and the sun was shining so it made perfect sense to start our day down by the pool! This time, like last, we stayed at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, so we were already familiar with the entire resort and settled into a routine quickly. We wanted as much sunshine and pool time as we could get!

After a morning of swimming, it was off to Animal Kingdom. Bill and I wanted to try our hand at “Disney bounding” this time around — what the Pinterest/Instagram world calls wearing an outfit inspired by a Disney character without fully dressing up like that character — so we opted to be Piglet and Pooh. (Shout out to for our $10 character ears.) We got a surprising amount of compliments on them all day long, which was super fun.

We visited our favorite staples in the park, like Kilimanjaro Safari, where we saw giraffes and elephants and hippos, and walked the trails to see tigers, zebras, monkeys, and more. I loved it. Depressingly, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, which Bill and I discovered for the first time last trip, was closed! But a quick Google search revealed that they are planning to reopen in spring 2019. Woohoo!

We also tried some new (to us) things, like the Up!-inspired bird show (super cute); A Bug’s Life show inside of the Tree of Life; and the new Pandora/Avatar world. Pandora is nice during the day and really quite beautiful at night! We decided to brave the line for Flight of the Passage and waited a whopping three hours. We ended up missing the night fireworks show, but at least the ride was pretty amazing!

Favorite moments: Grabbing lunch at the Nomad Lounge; getting up close to the giraffes on the safari; walking the animal trails; getting lots of fun compliments on our Piglet and Pooh ears; and eating a Mickey ice cream bar, not even joking.



Day 3 – Magic Kingdom and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Magic Kingdom and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party was the day I was most excited about and kind of the whole inspiration behind our trip! We were both so excited to finally be able to experience Magic Kingdom near Halloween.

I decided to dress up as Minnie, while Bill went as Mickey. And let me tell you: this day/night did not disappoint! I wasn’t sure there would be enough fun and magic to make up for the fact that the Halloween party was a whole separate ticket/fee, but there was so much to do.

We started by taking a bazillion pictures of the decorations and in front of the castle. You don’t go all the way to Disney and then NOT take dozens of photos in front of the castle! Then it was off to Tomorrowland; Fantasyland; Liberty Square; Frontierland, and Adventureland.

In Tomorrowland, I whooped Bill during the Buzz Lightyear ride. Fantasyland was such a blast. I tried a pumpkin churro (delicious), we got some treats in the circus-themed gift shop, and by sheer luck, the wait time to meet Minnie Mouse was only 10 minutes long, so I got to meet Minnie for the first time ever! In Liberty Square, we visited the Haunted Mansion (of course) and pored over the gift shop. In Frontierland, we sat through the bear show and laughed a bunch because oh my gosh it’s so silly.

As the afternoon shifted to evening, it was time for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party! The crowd thinned out a little and we started seeing incredible costumes everywhere, so much so that we felt seriously underdressed. I loved seeing everyone’s over-the-top looks. So fun! With the park a little quieter, we rode the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and then decided to walk through the whole park all over again to check out all of the cute Halloween additions and changes.

We started in Tomorrowland and trick-or-treated in the Monsters Inc. Laugh Factory, where a bunch of adults (and kids, of course) rushed through the building getting free candy. BEST. NIGHT EVER? Plus, by sheer luck, I spotted RuPaul’s Drag Race season 3 icon Alexis Mateo!!! Dressed like Mickey Mouse, she was trick-or-treating with her friends, but was gracious enough to let me nab a photo. I love her so much! WILD.

Then we ventured towards the Halloween dance party with Mike and Sully; watched the Boo to You parade; was mesmerized by the Hocus Pocus show (Hocus Pocus celebrated its 20th anniversary this year so the merch was incredible); and watched the fireworks. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! If you ever have a chance to go Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, I highly, highly recommend it.

Favorite moments: Meeting drag queen Alexis Mateo (!!); trick or treating in the Monsters Inc. Laugh Factory; watching the Boo to You parade; dancing with Sully and George Sanderson during the Halloween dance party; meeting Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck; getting a free pretzel in Tomorrowland AND a free chocolate-covered strawberry in Fantasyland because it was Bill’s birthday (woohoo!); seeing everyone’s amazing costumes; riding the Winnie the Pooh ride at nearly midnight and purchasing an adorable Winnie the Pooh and Piglet stuffed animal; watching the spooky fireworks.


Day 4 – Hollywood Studios

After a really busy day at Magic Kingdom, Bill and I were excited for a more low-key, Star Wars-filled day of fun at Hollywood Studios. To me, Hollywood Studios is still finding its footing, especially as they revamp a huge portion of the park and gear up to launch the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, so there isn’t a ton I’m personally invested in outside of Star Wars and Toy Story Land. But still, we were in for a great day!

As is tradition, we stopped at the Star Wars ride first and then watched the adorable Jedi Academy. Then we booked it to Toy Story Land and were in awe of how beautiful everything was. We loved the details like Andy’s (giant) footprint, seeing the green army men walk the park, and the sheer amount of toys everywhere. We stopped by Woody’s Lunch Box for a snack, where we tried one of their hash brown dishes (yum) and Disney’s version of a homemade Pop Tart (DOUBLE YUM). Toy Story Land is also home to my official new favorite ride: Toy Story Mania!!! YOU GUYS. It’s sort of like the Buzz Lightyear ride from Magic Kingdom only 10 times better. It’s a shootout game, but it moves so fast and you have to try it! Even the interior is beautiful, full of gigantic replicas of games like Uno and Twister.

After spending a thorough time hanging out in Toy Story Land, we left and ran into Phasma, watched the Indiana Jones show, got some beers at Baseline, and then it started to get real warm, so we called it a day, went back to the hotel, and lounged by the pool.

Favorite moments: Riding Toy Story Mania and the Star Wars Ride; meeting Chewbacca; lounging in the sunshine.


Day 5 – Epcot

Epcot always leaves me with belly aches because I eat too much, but I still love it. Though the weather wasn’t so nice and it rained, Bill and I were really excited to check out the Food and Wine Festival. Plus, I was pumped to rock my new Minnie Mouse earrings I had just purchased because aren’t they fabulous (see below)?

I loooved what they’ve done to Mexico by adding all of the Coco displays and merch. I even got a little choked up at one display. Plus, Bill got serenaded with a birthday song by a mariachi band in Mexico, too! I have it all on video and I look forward to blackmailing him in the future.

Mostly, though, we ate, and we ate A LOT. In addition to the normal countries, there also were new, pop-up countries that offered delicious food selections. Since this was the Food and Wine Festival, we felt compelled to try a lot and, like last time, I started to feel sick halfway through and needed a break. But we soldiered on!

Some of my favorite foods:

  • Spicy Tuna and Salmon Handroll in Japan
  • Maple Bourbon Boursin Cheesecake at The Cheese Studio
  • Short Rib Tostada in Mexico

We loved watching the sun set on the water and then, by nightfall, we ventured into the ride area, which was pretty much deserted. We got onto the Finding Nemo ride in seconds and we got to go on Journey into the Imagination with Figment by ourselves. It was great! In the aquarium, Bill and I spent a lot of time watching the dolphins and fish because it was so relaxing. Then it was off to IllumiNations (my first time!), which we wanted to see before the show wrapped for good.

Favorite moments: Eating that maple bourbon cheesecake; riding Journey into the Imagination with just me and Bill; playing around in Journey into the Imagination’s music chamber; watching the dolphins play.


Day 6 – Magic Kingdom (Reprise)

Our final day at Disney was spent back at Magic Kingdom. We wanted to revisit some of our favorites (Haunted Mansion, Ariel’s Grotto, Winnie the Pooh) and we also got a chance to see the daytime parade. We watched from Pecos, the restaurant, which had a patio that offered an incredible view of the action. Tiara even waved at me, guys. I’m kind of a big deal.

Sadly, we couldn’t stick around long as we had a flight to catch, but it was still a super fun day.

Favorite moments: Watching the parade; getting waved at by Tiana; being with Bill.


Then we said farewell to Orlando and wrapped our magical vacation. It was truly a spectacular one full of fun and adventure and excitement (and expenses — lots of those bad boys, too), and I hope we can go back soon.