For months, Stephen and I have been wanting to take a family vacation. I kept putting off getting our daughter a passport because the task seemed daunting, but finally in January, we decided to get everything together to get her first passport and get mine renewed, and with the expedited process, it was way easier than I expected.

We still were dragging our feet in booking a trip because I was worried the passports wouldn't come. Finally, they both arrived and we made a very last-minute decision to book a trip to Atlantis in the Bahamas. We booked our trip about 10 days before we left, and despite the last-minute planning, we had the absolute best time!

Where We Stayed

Atlantis offers five hotels all within the resort - The Cove, The Reef, The Royal, The Coral and Harborside Resort. I've been to Atlantis in years past and stayed at both The Royal and The Cove, but I wanted to make sure we picked the best option for traveling with a toddler. 

Ultimately, we decided that The Reef was the best fit for us and I would absolutely stay there again if we took Virginia Parker back. The Reef offers studio, suite and penthouse rooms. We chose an ocean-view studio and that ended up being a great option for just the three of us. It had two refrigerators, a stove, dishwasher, microwave, and more - all set up to make a little home away from home. We didn't utilize some of those options as we ate out for all of our meals aside from small snacks. 

We also had a balcony on our room which was perfect for naptime. VP would nap inside the room with draperies closed and Stephen and I would sit outside on the balcony so she could get rested sleep without us being in there and we could still enjoy some of the scenery. 

We requested a crib when making our reservation. They delivered it up to our room after check-in and before bed that night, I wiped it down with wipes and packed our own crib sheet and sound machine to make it seem a little more like a home-away-from-home. 

Though The Reef is the furthest hotel from some of the amenities, it is still walkable to everything (there are also shuttles running continuously). The Reef and the Cove also have access to a private strip of Paradise Beach which is right out the doors of the hotel as well as The Cascades Pool, a zero-entry pool that's exclusive to guests of the Cove and the Reef. 

If you are traveling with littles, I would highly recommend The Reef as it is very family friendly!

What We Did

We stayed on property throughout the majority of our stay! Atlantis has so much to do and we also tried to keep our usual nap-time schedule with our toddler. Parts of our day were just spent exploring - there is so much to see so we would put her in her stroller and take off walking. 

If we were to go back, we would probably book an off-site excursion, like a powerboat adventure tour. We considered it and were even invited to go with friends, but with a toddler, we decided to play it safe at the resort. 

The Cascades Pool
Though we walked the entirety of the resort almost daily, our days started out at The Cascades Pool as it was right out the doors of our hotel and has a zero-entry area that's perfect for toddlers. We ended up meeting a few other families our first full day and everyone came back to Cascades each day. It was fun watching the littles play together each day, sharing (and sometimes not sharing) their toys, and meeting others. We were able to eat poolside each day and grab quick drinks from the bar. It was the perfect base for our activities each day!

Paradise Beach
Right off of Cascades Pool is a beach strip that's exclusive to guests of the Reef and Cove. Despite VP loving the beach at home, she preferred the pool on our trip so we spent less time out on the beach but still enjoyed the gorgeous views. 

Aquaventure Waterpark
VP is still pretty little for most of the waterpark things but we did head over for Stephen to do a few slides and for VP to check out Ripples Pool and Poseidon's Playzone. Ripples had a couple of small slides I did while holding VP while Poseidon's was full of splashing activities and a water play fort. 

Marine Habitats
The many marine exhibits were beautiful and captivating. We all loved walking through the Predator Lagoon - a tunnel which gives you up-close, underwater views. The Dig features many exhibits from lobsters to jellyfish and more. Our exploring also took us along the reef lagoons where we saw many turtles, sharks and more. 

Where We Ate

The only issue we really had with booking last minute was dinner reservations. As soon as I had our trip booked, I hopped on to the Atlantis website to see what was available in terms of reservations. Not all of the restaurants accept reservations but many do, and all are booked through OpenTable. We were able to get two reservations for dinner so we booked those and then decided to figure out a dinner plan for the other two nights when we got there. 

I had Poseidon's Table on my list for breakfast each day but we never actually went! There is a Starbucks in the lobby of The Reef, so VP and I would head out to the pool to our spot and Stephen would grab coffee, bagels and fruit for us to have poolside. That honestly worked out so well for us with a busy toddler. 

We were creatures of habit on this trip! As soon as we arrived, we grabbed lunch at one of the little poolside grills at the Cascade Pool. It ended up being our lunch spot daily as it was convenient and yummy - we had the jerk grilled chicken sandwich the first day and we all loved it so much that it became a daily thing!

  • Carmine's - Marina Village - (reservation) If you love Italian food, this is a great option. Everything is served family-style, so it was honestly too much food for our little family but would be perfect if you're with a party of four or more!
  • Bimini Road - Marina Village - (reservation) This was a great option for easy dinner. Everything we ordered was great. It was definitely packed and everyone coming in without a reservation had at least an hour wait so I'd recommend trying to get a reservation.
  • Sip Sip - Marina Village - For one of the nights with no reservation, we decided to walk to Marina Village to see what we could find. We walked into Sip Sip and were able to grab a table. To be honest, this was not my favorite. The restaurant originated on Harbour Island and we've heard it was wonderful there, but wasn't overly impressed at the Atlantis location. 
  • Dune at The Ocean Club - (no reservation, but recommended) Prior to leaving, a customer of mine highly recommended eating at The Ocean Club (The Four Season). I didn't make a reservation and then was wishing that we had! I decided to call and while they didn't have any open spots, they recommended coming early and getting a spot in the bar. We were able to get a perfect table that overlooked the ocean and couldn't have imagined a more perfect view!
Other restaurants we wanted to try:
  • Nobu
  • Seafire Steakhouse
  • Carna at Baha Mar

Traveling with a toddler

Most of the questions I received was the general experience of traveling with a toddler. I honestly went into it with the mentality that it was a trip, not a vacation, and also tried to have low expectations in terms of what to expect because we had never done this big of a trip with our daughter before. 

Virginia Parker ended up doing so great - she was adaptable and adventurous the entire trip, up for each new thing we tried. She was, of course, still a toddler who didn't always want to leave the pool, get in her stroller, or sit in her high chair, but we were so impressed at her ability to adapt to our on-the-go schedule. That's not to say it won't be different the next time we travel, but we were very proud of her and loved getting to make incredible memories with her. 

Children under the age of two can fly as an "infant in lap," which is what we decided to do. We booked middle and window seats for each flight and she would mostly sit with me by the window. Even though she's a tall toddler, she was great sitting in our lap and even preferred it on one of the flights that we had an extra seat in our row. Our first flight out of Wilmington was her very first flight ever, so that in of itself was enough distraction to keep her entertained! Thankfully, on our second flight, she fell asleep almost immediately and when she woke up, it was just about time to land. Our flights home weren't quite as easy, but they were manageable. 
  • Screen Time: If you let your child have screentime, this is a game changer. VP watches plenty of shows but we introduced an iPad for the first time with pre-downloaded shows and games and she loved it.
  • Window Clings: On our trip home, this occupied her way more than watching shows. I found some window stickers on Amazon and she loved playing with them.
  • Naps: We lucked out that she was tired both to and from the Bahamas so she napped in my lap.
  • Snacks: Pack snacks, snacks and more snacks. I packed this snack spinner and lots of pouches. I packed them in her diaper bag in a ziplock bag along with milk boxes so that I could hand them directly over to TSA when going through security and we had no issues!
  • Pacis / Sippy Cups for Takeoff and Landing: VP has sensitive ears and is prone to ear infections so I was really worried that the pressure would bother her. She loves her paci so we let her have it the majority of the flights and had no issues! I also gave her a sippy cup of milk at the start of one of our flights and that may have helped as well. 
VP is a fairly good sleeper, but does still love to rock each night to settle down. Because of that, I wasn't sure how well that would work out but we made it work! She took every nap in the crib that we requested from the hotel but ended up sleeping with us more often than not at night. Because it was temporary, we were okay with it and she actually slept really well, as did we. I was worried it would disrupt our sleep routine when we got back home, but I think she actually was glad to be back home with her own crib.

We have many friends who love the SlumberPod! If it was something we had used earlier on, I think it would work well for us, but I didn't even consider it as I knew she would probably not love me laying her down awake being enclosed.

The Best Week

As a whole, we had the best week. Unsure of how traveling with a toddler would be, we booked a 4 night stay, but by the time we were leaving, I wished we had at least one more night! I would definitely recommend Atlantis to those who want to travel both with children and without!

One last note - we actually were charged incorrectly at checkout - we ended up getting charged for both our dining charges as well as someone else's. After a few phone calls, Stephen was able to get it resolved and the staff at Atlantis was very helpful in getting those excess charges reversed. I add in this note to say that it's always important to double check your statements when traveling as it's easy for a quick mistake to be made!

Outfit Details & Sources:


Virginia Parker:

It's hard to believe that Christmas is less than two short months away! While I always have gift ideas on the brain, I started a true list of ideas for Virginia Parker a few weeks ago. She has grown so much in these last months and with that, her interest in things is ever changing!

We are trying to be very intentional with what she gets for Christmas this year as 1. she truly doesn't "need" anything, and 2. we don't have a playroom which means we have to store toys very meticulously. We have a few top things we think she would love and a few little ideas as well. At the top of my list is a play kitchen so I have a feeling Santa may be dropping one off at our house on Christmas Eve. 

Our list for Virginia Parker:

  • Play Kitchen - There are several kitchens I love but I'm leaning toward this one due to the size. This one is cute as well and I of course love this one from Pottery Barn. 
  • Outdoor Play House - I think this outdoor play house is adorable! I'm hoping this is something she will love to play in outside. 
  • Books - Our girl is very into books - right now, The Night Before Christmas and David and Goliath are her two favorites. A few on my list to get are:
  • Doll House - I think this doll house is so sweet and would work great in her room for imaginative play.
  • Table and chairs - We have the Skip Hop activity center that we converted to a table once she grew out of the interior play setup, but I wouldn't mind a true toddler table and chair set that we can have set up near our breakfast nook for her to play on and have her snacks. 

Gift Ideas We Have and Love:

  • Anywhere Chair - Santa actually brought this chair last year and while she was a little small for it at the time, she has absolutely loved it! She will sit in it to play or watch a show and while she often loves to cuddle with us, she will also hop into her chair with BunBun to hang out on her own.
  • Name Puzzle - This is a great gift for toddler age! I got this for her last year but it's definitely more age-appropriate for her now.
  • Baby Doll - one of my best friends got VP this doll for her first birthday and she has absolutely loved it (we now have two). Target has so many cute accessories as well including strollers, feeding items, etc. It's one of the things she plays with daily and she's so sweet wanting to push, rock and feed her baby.
  • JellyCats - We were gifted several different Jellycat stuffed animals when I was pregnant and she has taken up with her bunny - aka BunBun! We have two pink ones and the small one goes to school when she goes. They make adorable gifts and it's safe to say we've loved ours. 
  • Bunny Slippers - since we're bunny obsessed, these BunBun slippers are so much fun! My mom grabbed them for her and they are absolutely adorable. They would make an adorable gift. 

Shop the Gift Guide:
It feels like yesterday that I was setting up Virginia Parker's nursery, and yet here we are almost 15 months in! I was doing some cleaning and organizing today, packing up clothes, and restocking diapers and as I looked around, I realized so much of her room is still the same. We've of course adapted to our current needs, especially with drawer organization and things like that, but we are still using and enjoying so much of what we first had in the initial nursery design!

Crib - We chose this crib and we've really ended up enjoying it. It's a convertible crib so we can turn it into a toddler bed eventually should we choose to do so, but for now, it's on the lowest level and perfect for our busy girl. We still love our Newton mattress as well and she seems to sleep great in this setup. 

Wicker Stroller - This was a precious gift when I was pregnant and VP loves it! It stores some of the toys in her room and she now loves to push it around as well.

Lellobaby Changing Station - We repurposed my old dresser with new hardware and added this acrylic changing area to the top and it has been absolutely perfect. It has a large place for her changing pad and we keep all of her lotions, wipes, etc. in the side compartments. Eventually, we'll pack it away and just use the dresser as that, but for now we continue to love this. 

Acrylic Drawer Dividers - VP's drawers used to be stuffed full as we had so many gowns and onesies and these dividers were absolutely necessary! Now, her drawers mostly hold pajamas as I hang most of her clothes, but these dividers are still used to keep the small clothes organized in neat sections!

Wicker Toy Box - I initially ordered this thinking it would go in the bottom of her closet but it just didn't work. Instead, it sits in the corner of her room and stores toys we don't regularly play with or items that are new. It's a great storage option for all of the baby things.

Glider - While having a white glider is definitely a risk (and ours has a few spots to prove it), I have really enjoyed our glider. VP very much loved to be rocked most of her first year, and I have rocked many hours in that chair. We still use it every day for story time and cuddles. I will say that the gliding feature is wonderful but I don't love the reclining option - it doesn't stay reclined well which wasn't helpful in some of those sleepless regression nights - but it's not enough of a pain for it to be a dealbreaker!

Storage Baskets - The key word here seems to be storage! We have lots of these in her closet (you can check out more nursery organization here) and they proven to be necessities. We have both the square and the rectangular baskets and use them for a variety of things. 

Shop the Post:
It is hard to believe but our daughter is officially one! We celebrated with a low key day on Virginia Parker's actual birthday before celebrating with friends and family in our backyard on a beautiful May afternoon. The last year has absolutely flown by. I get emotional when thinking about how quickly my girl is growing but each new day is so exciting with her. 
When I first started planning, I knew I wanted to have her first birthday in our backyard. I was praying we would have beautiful weather as I didn't have much of a rain plan, and sure enough, it ended up being a sunny (and hot) afternoon. Stephen worked long and hard on our backyard in the months leading up to her party as it needed some work. Funny enough, the night before her actual birthday, we lost power for an unknown reason and the power company had to dig quite the hole in our backyard to fix the problem. Thankfully, it wasn't in a spot where grass had been freshly laid but it will certainly be a funny memory and story to tell. 

When planning her party, I wanted to keep with a simple and classic pink and white theme. I made a crest for her invitations that we ended up using on several things, including her cake and favors. Despite my comments during pregnancy that I wouldn't put my tiny daughter in a huge bow, it's become something she wears quite often so I used a sweet bow detail as well. 
I ordered her cakes from Whole Foods and asked them to match her invitation. We did a vanilla with strawberry buttercream icing cake for our guests as well as cupcakes and did a smaller little vanilla cake for VPW to smash. She was so cute and delicate as she took tiny bites! Below the cakes, I hung photos of her from the last 12 months. I made little month signs to go on each one, using tiny clips to attach to gingham ribbon. 
We decided to rent a bounce house for the backyard and I would do it again in a heartbeat. VP absolutely loved it as did her cousins and friends - and her mama did too! Virginia Parker loved to bounce on her own, show off her front rolls she's learned at baby gymnastics, and be held all around the bounce house. Coastal Bounce Houses was amazing in that they came and set up and broke down and I loved the all-white castle that fit in perfectly with the rest of her theme. 

For other backyard activities, we set up this blow-up pool and added in play balls instead of water and the babies of the party had the best time. This is also such a great backyard activity for when you're spending time outside and I love that it is a multi-function play option.
We kept the food simple for the two o'clock in the afternoon party. We did sandwich, vegetable, and fruit platters from Publix, the always popular nuggets from Chick-fil-a and I made pasta salad to go along with those. I found some adorable cupcake tins from Home Goods and they made the perfect little dishes for baby gold fish and Pirate's Booty. And of course, we served apple sauce pouches for the littles as well!
We set up this beautiful high chair (borrowed from a sweet friend) in the backyard for cake time! Virginia Parker was so sweet with her cake and loved to delicately eat it. Her party hat was gifted to us from Little Happies - and it fit in perfectly with the theme!
Another way to commemorate her first birthday was this beautiful milestone commission done by Christy Britt Designs. I've had my eye on her work for awhile and this felt like the perfect keepsake to display at her party as well as to keep in her room as she grows up.

I also ordered this adorable mini cake stand and plate from Holly Slay Designs with her birthday. I used it as part of her display for her party but used the precious plate for her birthday morning cinnamon roll, which I think will be a monthly tradition!
For favors, we went with decorative cookies and bubbles. My Gals Cookies made some beautiful cookies for a baby shower my cousins threw for be last spring. I used that similar concept for cookies and it only seemed fitting to have Sophie cookies as well since VP loves her puppy and they share the same birthday! The silver platter we used belonged to Stephen's grandmother. She passed away a few short months before we welcomed VPW and she was just so thrilled that we were about to welcome a daughter. It felt special to use a piece of hers at her party. 
Stick bubbles are a hit at our house so I attached a little thank you note to each one. 
I am still in awe that her first birthday has come and gone. It feels like just yesterday that we were in the hospital holding our tiny newborn and we now have a sweet, inquisitive, exploring little girl. We are so thankful for you, our precious Virginia Parker. We love you so very much!


VP's Outfit: Smocked Auctions
Hair bow: Wee Ones (clipped to a headband)
Party Hat & #1 Cake Topper: c/o Little Happies
High Chair: Borrowed from a friend
High Chair Banner: Etsy
Cakes: Whole Foods
Birthday Plate & Mini Cake Stand: Holly Slay
Monogram & #1 Balloons: Float Balloons
Balloon Arch: Amazon
Cookies: My Gals
Milestone Print: Christy Britt Designs
Pink Blowup Pool / Ball Pit: Target
Gold Bar Cart: Wayfair
Bamboo Frames: Amazon Here & Here
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