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Filtering by Category: Tips

Tips for Doing Disney World in Style

Jordan Rhodes


There are tons of great blog posts and resources out there on how to conquer Disney World. If you’re reading this post then you love Disney, and have probably read most of them. So I decided to take a different approach and help you feel stylish while doing Disney - because let’s face it, it’s not the place to go to feel cute. You’re sweaty, tired from all the mad dashes into the parks, stressed from screaming kids, surrounded by junk food and crazy people in a rush. It can be a little daunting at times. But read this and hopefully it will be a little easier.

  • Hire a tour guide.

    We love to hire tour guides, either through Michael’s VIP’s or Stone VIP’s. The guides will meet you at the entrance to the parks, get you inside, and lead you around to all the rides, where you never wait in line. How do they do this? Before you arrive they will arrange your initial Fastpasses, then throughout the day they are constantly on their phones checking wait times, adding new Fastpasses, and planning all of your next moves. It is SO worth it to not be on the app trying to figure all of that out on your own, and you’re free to really enjoy the park. Bonus - they will watch the kids who aren’t tall enough for the fun rides. Pricing varies, but minimum is about $800 for 6 hours plus gratuity.

  • Plan Fastpasses in Advance.

    If you do not hire a guide, make sure you pick your allotted three advance Fastpasses so you’re not running like a crazy person towards a popular ride when the park opens. Fastpasses are available 60 days prior to your visit if you’re staying in the park (including at the Four Seasons), or 30 days in advance if staying off property. To book them, download the Disney app, and make sure your tickets are purchased through the app or link physical passes by entering the number into the app (don’t worry, it is very easy to navigate). Here are my suggestions for Fastpasses, based on popularity: at the Magic Kingdom - Peter Pan, Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (my kids’ favorite); at Hollywood Studios - Slinky Dog, the Aerosmith roller coaster, the Tower of Terror; at Animal Kingdom - Avatar, Everest, a safari ride. And voila! Now you’re ready to wake up a little later and ease your way into the park, because those without Fastpasses are running and waiting. Epcot unfortunately is a little different because the Fastpasses work on a Tier system. You can only book one of the popular rides as one of your three, which would either be the Frozen ride, Test Tracks or Soarin’. Soarin’ is my absolute favorite ride of all (as a travel journalist it’s not hard to see why), so I would book that one and run to Test Tracks when the park opens. But if you have little kids, book the Frozen ride in advance and run to Soarin’ when the park opens, whose line moves a little slowly, then be prepared to wait a little bit at Test Tracks. If you do Test Tracks first the Soarin’ line will get very long because it doesn’t move as quickly as the other. For your other two Fastpasses we like Mission: Space and the other Space ride.

    Now don’t forget, once you’ve used your first three passes you are able to book more one by one. So try to book them all as early as possible in the day so you’re not waiting all day to add be able to add a new one.

A view from the Animal Kingdom safari

A view from the Animal Kingdom safari

  • Book the popular restaurants and events in advance.

    Some of these include the Be Our Guest restaurant, Cinderella’s Royal Table, the Goofy breakfast at the Four Seasons, ‘Ohana at the Polynesian, the luau at the Polynesian, the pirate fireworks cruise at the Contemporary, the Star Wars dessert party at Hollywood Studios, the Princess Tea at the Grand Floridian, Rose and Crown pub for Epcot fireworks, and the rooftop restaurant, Capa, at the Four Seasons for fireworks. Except for those last two which are more for date night, your kids will be over the moon at the rest and thus in better moods.

Happy kids at the Star Wars dessert party

Happy kids at the Star Wars dessert party

  • Speaking of date night…

    if you have young kids, I highly suggest booking a babysitter and doing After Hours at Hollywood Studios and/or the Animal Kingdom. Most of the best rides at the parks are for taller kids, so if you have littles they can’t go on them. After Hours tickets allow a handful of visitors into the parks late at night, and you can do the rides over and over and over. The kids get to bed early and you can really enjoy yourselves.

    The best sitter service is called Kids Nite Out, and we have loved every sitter we’ve hired from them. They are highly reputable and recommended by the Four Seasons, as well as all the Disney hotels.

  • And speaking of the Four Seasons…

    Stay here! It is THE BEST hotel, and I even know people who vacation there and don’t even go to the parks. A more detailed post on it is in the works, so for now just trust me that it can’t be beat.


  • Pack accordingly

    Everyone I know wears athleisure to the parks because it is basically cardio. So buy some new Lululemon and APL’s and feel a little more stylish. My husband likes to wear shorts with golf shirts so he stays cool. Don’t forget the sunscreen and bring some princess costumes or Star Wars t-shirts for the kids. When going out at night I like to wear white jeans, Golden Goose’s, something like a Figue top and my favorite L’agence jean jacket. Crossbody bags are perfect for day and night.

  • Don’t forget the gear

    We love our Bugaboo for the park because the tires are big and can be navigated easily. We also always pack tracking watches for the older kids. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve wandered off, and with crowds like those it’s easy to lose them. We have the GizmoPal2 which allows us to call the kids, they can call us, and we can see their location. It brings us peace of mind. Another important device is a backup charger, because if you are headed to the parks without a guide you are going to burn lots of battery using the Disney app to check out Wait Times, shows and Fastpasses.

And there you have it, a few ways to feel a little less stressed, therefore a little more stylish. Let us know if you have any specific questions!

A Family-Friendly Guide to New York's Art Gallery Scene

Jordan Rhodes


By Katharine Earnhardt

The New York gallery scene is one of the best in the world, but it's also SUPER intimidating; there are so many options that aren't always apparent or welcoming, and figuring out a route that's family friendly (i.e. near some snacks) is so tricky.  As the Founder of Mason Lane, a Brooklyn-based art advisory that styles walls nationwide, I'm into art and efficiency, and as a fellow mama I'm always all about family-friendly anything. SO, I wanted to share some ways to approach the New York gallery scene and have your kids enjoy the ride with you.  

 First, some basics:

1. Don't sweat. Galleries can be quiet, stark, and echo-y, and if your kids come in not bathed and making noise, that's OK. The gallery model is a retail one - people come in and out all the time. Some buy and some don't, and despite the moderately awkward and unwelcoming set up, it's totally fine to pop in, make noise, and take pics. 

2. Ask questions. Galleries will always have a staff member and some reading materials at the front desk. Depending on the gallery, it could be a 22 year old receptionist OR the owner. Either way, ask that person to tell you about the show. The answers you get will likely be much more informative and fulfilling than any marketing collateral that you grabbed and will likely never read. 

3. The Two Rules. No touching, and no wet, dripping foods are really the only two rules to follow in the gallery. The second issue is under your control, and the first is straight forward. I do, however, recommend taking snacks on any gallery hop, and Cheerios in those no-spill containers are an all-around win.  


Next, the gallery hop

The Lower East Side is a great place to take kids and enjoy some art. The galleries are small and manageable, they lack pretension (in general), and there's a wide variety of artworks that would be amusing to people big and small.  Plus, there are retail shops and restaurants everywhere (unlike in the Chelsea gallery district), so taking a break is easy and encouraged. Here's a recommended route: 

1. Rachel Uffner Gallery - A contemporary art gallery, representing an impressive collection of emerging to mid-career artists that are gaining recognition on an international level. 

2. Anastasia Photo - 143 Ludlow Street. One of the city's only true documentary photography galleries that has branched out into mixed media works including collage and painting.

3. Denny Gallery - 261 Broome Street. Specializing in emerging artists that produce compelling, beautiful pieces that are engaged with contemporary issues, materials and technologies.

4, McKenzie Fine Art -55 Orchard Street. A Sizable gallery space showing mid-career artists who work in painting, drawing, and sculpture.

5. Gavin Brown Enterprise - 291 Grand Street. Known for edgy emerging art. 

6. Nathalie Karg Gallery - 291 Grand Street. Showing a colorful mix of abstract contemporary art across various media

7. Canada - 333 Broome Street - One of the most established and largest galleries on the Lower East Side, representing artists with a gritty New York aesthetic

For more on Mason Lane Art Advisory head to or check out their Instagram at @masonlane_art

My Battle with Postpartum Bell’s Palsy

Jordan Rhodes


This article was originally published on our old site in January 2017

Many surprises come with labor and delivery, but I don’t think any are as shocking as waking up with half of your face frozen in place. I have Bell’s Palsy. And I got it as a result of giving birth to my third baby. Some of you probably don’t know what that is, so I’ll break it down simply – Bell’s Palsy is when half of your face becomes paralyzed, and mine was most likely a result of “the trauma of childbirth combined with a severe ear infection” according to my doctor. While I was one of the lucky ones whose facial nerves started coming back within two weeks, it can take up to six months to move your muscles freely again, and some people don’t make full recoveries; four months later I still have pain and tenderness around my eye. It was a terrifying experience, and the worst part about it was not being able to freely enjoy or smile at the little miracle I had just given birth to. But for every bad thing that happens in your life, you have to look for the good, or you’ll never fully heal. Here are the lessons I learned from having Bell’s Palsy, and the things I did to recover, besides constantly praying. Hopefully they’ll help some of you going through the same thing.

1) Don’t panic
Most people make a full recovery, and those who don’t are usually suffering from something much more serious, like a stroke or brain tumor. Bell’s Palsy is actually not uncommon for people between the ages of 18-45, and who are pregnant or have just given birth. Keep that in mind because panic makes everything worse. You need to stay as stress-free as possible to regain full use of your muscles again.

2) Start medication immediately
Go to your nearest Ear, Nose and Throat doctor so they can first, diagnose you, and second, start you on steroids plus anti-viral meds or antibiotics, depending on what ailment most likely caused the BP. Starting the steroids is extremely important because this is what will help reduce the inflammation that is pressing on the nerve. I won’t tell you how much I was on, because I don’t want to contribute to self-medication, but the dosage was high. I credit it to my fast recovery, but a warning – steroids are no joke and made me extremely moody and irritable for several weeks (I apologize again to anyone who had the luxury of being in my presence during that time).

3) Take vitamins
I also credit vitamins to my fast recovery. I admit, prior to this I hadn’t been taking them every day like I should have, especially for someone who was nursing a newborn (by the way, my meds were deemed safe to use while breastfeeding and my now four-month-old is healthy, a normal size, and one of the happiest babies I’ve seen), so this was one of the blessings of having BP. I’m now in the habit of taking vitamins everyday which will benefit my health in the long run.

4) If you believe in the power of crystals, get a Himalayan salt lamp
While I definitely thank God everyday for my recovery, and highly believe in the power of prayer, I also believe in other earthly healing powers. A friend told me about Himalayan salt lamps, which, when plugged in, emit a glow that promotes the sea salt to penetrate the air. As natural negative ion generators, they promote healing by reducing symptoms of illnesses (in addition to cleansing the air and calming the mind as a result of its peaceful glow). I’m not kidding, the first night I plugged it in and slept I woke up with slight movement for the first time. Of course that may have been a coincidence, but I was willing to do whatever it took to improve. And oftentimes people just need something to believe in to feel better.

5) Rest
Obviously as a mom with a three day old this was a challenge for me, but it forced me to give up absolutely everything else in my life – a blessing in disguise. For several weeks I stopped the usual nonstop socializing, the constant charity commitments, school commitments for my other two kids, household chores, work on my website and app. While this wasn’t totally ideal, it did force me to step back and prioritize what was most important in my life, and in the process I reconnected with my husband and kids in a way that I had lost in this social town that I live in. Galas and nights out lost their importance and were replaced with movies in bed and wine on the couch. I’ve cut back on everything I used to do, and I’m thankful for the excuse because my time with my family has become so much more precious.

6) Talk about it
The power of conversation is so important to healing and moving on. I’m not always good at expressing my feelings to others, but this has made me open up, and along the way I have made new and better friends as a result. There are wonderful people in this world, especially fellow mamas who know what it’s like to just be a mom and to struggle. The steroids gave me the baby blues like I’ve never had before, but talking about it with other women has made a huge difference. I’m thankful for my tribe, and while I’m still saying no to a lot of social activities, the ones I say yes to have been really healing.

7) Smile
There’s nothing like waking up and losing your smile. The power it holds is amazing; I realize what an impact a smile can have on your mood. Those days of zero facial movements were dark for me, made worse by my worry over my baby not receiving joy and warmth from this new person staring down at her. I was so worried she wouldn’t be happy, and I hated hearing my two older kids say, “mama, what’s wrong,” and “why are you sick.” Now that I’ve regained the movement, I smile at them as much as I can, because it is a gift, and it also has an incredible influence on the way you feel. Smiling instantly changes a mood. Try it now. Smile. I bet you feel a little happier.


Tips for Flying with Kids

Jordan Rhodes


I'm not going to lie. I dread flights with my kids. They cry, throw food, kick the seats in front of them, stare awkwardly at the people behind them. During boarding, I literally run down the aisle to our seats and avoid all eye contact with my fellow passengers, because I know, at some point, they are going to hate me, and I can't bear any type of interaction beforehand or I begin to feel guilt (okay, I'm being a bit dramatic - there are always a few tolerant, helpful passengers who are, themselves, parents, and to them, I could not be more grateful. But I emphasize the word "few.") Even when traveling on a private plane a parent does not have the luxury of taking it easy.
However, that is not going to stop me from traveling with my family. Because to me, exploring the world, learning about other cultures, giving my children life experiences, and teaching them at an early age that they are blessed, is one of the most important things my husband and I can do for them. So, in an effort to help other parents view it the same way, I have compiled a list of helpful tips for airplane travel, for both commercial and private flights. Read it with an open mind and a glass of wine for courage.

1) Book flights as early as possible
This way you can pick seats close to the bathroom if you are in the toddler phase, and you will be able to reserve a coveted bassinet on longhaul flights if traveling with infants - typically only a handful are available, and allotted on a first-come, first-served basis. Plus, needless-to-say, tickets booked early tend to be cheaper.

2) Try to book domestic flights in the middle of the day
This way kids will not have to get up extra early or stay up late, thus disturbing that ever important necessity we parents call a schedule. And if your kids still nap, hopefully they will do it on the plane.

3) For red-eye flights, comfort is key
Pack a pillow, blanket, pajamas, loveys - whatever will help them get into a semblance of their nighttime routine. Never forget a swaddling blanket for newborns or a beloved stuffed animal for toddlers.

4) Get to the airport early
There is nothing worse than being late for a flight and having to rush. We all know how slow kids are - they're doing this on purpose, aren't they?? - and ample time will be needed to get them through security (especially if strollers are involved,) stop for juice, milk or forgotten snacks, make them use the restroom one more time in case taxiing to the runway takes a while, and get them situated on board. Rushed parents and kids equals stress.

5) Bring a carry-on full of surprises
The biggest issue we face flying with kids is boredom. I like to bring a variety of brand-new toys and simple objects, and pull out a different one each time I start to see movement. These can range from iPads loaded with movies and games, to coloring books and crayons, to thin, paperback picture books or stories. Even completely random items will do the trick, like a mirror from your handbag or a calculator from dads briefcase. Kids will take anything they think is a "present."

6) Snacks, snacks, snacks
A well-fed kid is a happy kid. So I have NO problem whatsoever plying them with goldfish, fruit pouches, pretzels, you name it. Plus there's the chance they will pass out after a meal.

7) When all else fails? Benadryl
Controversial? Perhaps. A desperate solution? Absolutely. Many parents swear by it - I'm merely suggesting what I've heard (promise...)

On a serious note, here is one final, helpful piece of information. I have traveled with my kids dozens of times, overseas and back, and I promise that once the flight is over and they have had one night adjusting to a new time zone, they will bounce back to the delightful kids you once knew, and you will immediately begin to enjoy your vacation. It's getting through the flight that is the hard part. Don't let that stop you. They serve wine.