Trip Report The Magic is Back! It's Just More Expensive. May 2023

Hi! It's been a minute.

WHO: Me K, husband R and daughter (4) LP
WHEN: May 15-20
WHERE: Coronado Springs, Gran Destino Tower

I went back and forth about doing a trip report. I haven't done one for my past couple of trips, and honestly it was freeing not worrying about keeping up with all of our activities, but I kind of missed documenting it. I didn't keep notes or anything, so I'm sure I'll miss some of the action, but hopefully it'll still be fun to read!

Another thing that I've debated is whether to share pictures of my daughter. I typically don't share images of her in public places, I only do on my private personal instagram and private FB. I'm going to go ahead and share some here though since I feel like this forum is pretty niche. If I feel weird about it later, I'll just take them out.

Ok with all that out of the way, let's get started!

Arrival Day: May 15, 2023

I forgot to upload any photos from our travels, but it all went smoothly. We flew out of Memphis and got to use the new part of the airport, which is super nice. We got our rental car when we arrived at MCO at about 5:30pm. First up was a Publix run. LP fell asleep in the car, so she and R stayed outside while I loaded up on snacks and a case of water (and subs!)

We dropped our stuff off at Gran Destino Tower, scarfed down our subs and headed to....


Now you may be wondering WHY would we go to Epcot at 8pm on our first day. Surely that's not a good use of a ticket?! You'd be right. But we had other plans.

The sensible thing to do would be for just R and I to get annual passes, but since LP was with us, we justified getting her one by planning to take her for her 5th birthday, which would make the purchase worth it. Me and R will be going for Wine & Dine, but we're not taking LP because it'll be such a quick trip with me waking up VERY early to run a race. But now our plans for these passes are May '23 (this trip), Nov '23 (R & K only), Jan '24, May '24. Then we'll probably go another year before we go back.

This was an expensive night :greedy:

LP was adamant she wanted to ride a dark ride...R must have been trying to explain dark rides to her and why they weren't scary? I don't even know. I was trying to figure out our passes and how to get refunded for the memory maker we'd purchased since we added photo pass to one of the APs. That'll come up again tomorrow.

I got LP to a dark ride pronto. Meanwhile R hit up the Mexico booth for a margarita (not sure if he got any food?)

She loved it. So much so that she insisted we do it again with R when he met us at the exit with his marg. I helped him finish it :happy:

We talked her into moving on after this. I was surprised she was still so spry for how late it was! She did have that little car nap, so I'm sure that helped. We stick to a pretty steady schedule at home, but so far I was pleased she was not breaking down at a shift in things. Perks of getting a little older!

We wanted a little snack on the way out, so we went to the Honey Beestro and got the chicken and waffle

Chicken and Waffles: Crispy honey-brined chicken and honey sweet cornbread waffle with whipped honey butter and spicy honey. I give it a 6/10. It had some good flavors, but the chicken was not the best quality.

B. Nektar New Wave Lemonade Mead (very good!) and Florida Orange Groves Winery Orange Blossom Honey Wine (decent)

LP gets my best angles

Saw the fireworks as we were heading out. Fireworks were not on our agenda for this trip because of how late they are, then the long journey to get back to the room after. Maybe next year.

Step count for the day (which is skewed because I push the stroller most of the time): 8571

Let me quickly address the sleeping arrangement. This is the first time all three of us have slept in the same room since she was a newborn. This first night was TOUGH. She did not want to settle down and sleep while we were reading/playing Zelda. So eventually we put away our Kindle and Switch and just settled in for sleep. Thankfully it was just this first night that she wouldn't settle. She still needed the sound machine and darkness to fall asleep though, so there was no staying up watching tv after she was asleep. But we mostly stayed out until later so it was fine!

Also, my allergies have been horrible this year, and the few days leading up to this trip were especially bad. I hoped being in a new environment would help, but I was at my worst this night. I couldn't breathe all night, and I apparently don't possess logic when I'm half asleep, so I didn't get up to use my inhaler until morning. Once I did that and took a zyrtec, I was fine.

Next: Day 1


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Original Poster
Day 1 continued: Epcot Evening

We continued around World Showcase and stopped to watch the last bit of Sergio's performance.

We ended up back at Magnolia Terrace even though R had already stopped there. LP wanted a picture with the Tiana topiary, but she didn't want to get out of her stroller. Which is rare. Getting her to actually ride in it was a constant struggle!

Such a pretty topiary! I think I took one with my camera instead of my phone on another day.

Muffuletta Panini with ham, salami, mortadella, provolone, and Swiss with olive salad (yesssss so good!!! I was not happy to have to share this with R. LP even took a bite, she does like deli meat!) 99% sure the beer is Central 28 Beer Co. Pretty Things Ale. It was ok.

We continued on after this and stopped in Morocco

I was asked to pose with Elsa.

Tangerine Cafe

Orange Blossom-Saffron Cake (probably my favorite of the festival, this was soooo good!)

This lamb kebab was not on the festival menu online, so not sure if it's a recent addition. It was good!

More photo shoot

Kept walking to France, and I'd heard good things about one item from Fleur de Lys

Croissant au Fromage de Chèvre, Herbes et Ail Rôtie: Croissant with goat cheese, herbs, and roasted garlic (I was a fan, R was not. LP took a bite of just the croissant, but that was it. I think you have to like goat cheese a fair amount to like this!)

La Vie en Rose Frozen Slush: Vodka, Grey Goose L’Orange Vodka, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, and white and red cranberry juices (we all know this is good! It's also frickin expensive, but we had almost $300 on our Disney Visa Rewards card to spend so I let myself splurge)

We just continued on walking. Big thing I forgot to mention, after we were in Epcot for a bit (it was maybe 3:30?) I remembered Guardians of the Galaxy! Derp. I checked and got us a boarding group! I'd checked earlier, but couldn't do anything until we scanned in, then I was caught up with getting to Norway, I forgot for a while. But that boarding group I'd gotten us was getting close, so we were headed that way.

I sent R through the virtual queue since he said he'd rather wait in line longer than entertain LP longer :hilarious: Lazy.

Me and LP went to the playground over near Test Track and she enjoyed that.

This bunny hopped around me for a while.

I think he waited like 45 minutes? Soon enough it was my turn! I was nervous. I didn't know if I'd get motion sick. I don't typically, but Everest does make me ill these days and it has the backwards thing like Guardians.

Up Next: Finishing up Epcot


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Original Poster
Day 1 Final Post: Epcot

I needn't have worried, I had no issues! Holy crap it was amazing!! LP and R were waiting just outside the ride for me and R and I agreed it was the best ride on property. I am sad I don't have either of our pictures because I know both of our faces were probably just pure glee. My jaw was dropped the whole time! We both got "One Way or Another"

Headed out, we figured we'd let LP finally get her ride on Spaceship Earth.

Her face didn't show up this time, but she did ride with me.

And then we got stuck right before you get off. I don't know what happened, but saw a custodian leaving when it finally came back on, and heard the CMs I'm assuming some kind of bodily fluid malfunction on the ride :hungover:

Headed out at about 8pm, it was such a pretty night! We were all ready to crash though.

Overall it was a successful first day! Genie+ was $20 each, I believe. I'd read that the $20-25 range is the good because it's not the cheapest, therefore not the lightest possible days so you'll actually avoid lines, but it's not the highest crowd days so you'll actually be able to get return times. This proved to be true for us. We used it on 4 rides that I can recall. Doesn't seem like a lot, but most of them had pretty high rates.

Step total (R's was way higher since I typically push the stroller) - 14,033

Up Next: day 2


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Good stuff, good stuff, good stuff!!!

Great start!!!

peter pan dance GIF by Disney


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I'm here finally! Your daughter is so adorable and I'm enjoying all the character pictures that she wanted taken! It was always a must do when my girls were little too! So glad you didn't feel sick on GOTG as the backwards motion on EE does make me feel a bit nauseous too.

Tiki Traveler

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So pleased you are doing a report and LP is so sweet. I would love to try and do a report on our trip in September but as I’ve never done one I don’t think it would be half as good as all of the ones on here.
@Wicked Sisters - Absolutely no pressure but I would love to hear about your trip. Even something like your favorite three things from your vacation?? if you didn’t want to do a full trip report?? 😌


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Original Poster
Good stuff, good stuff, good stuff!!!

Great start!!!

peter pan dance GIF by Disney

Excited Season 4 GIF by The Office

Always great to see your photo skills.

LP is growing up so fast! 😱In the pictures thus far I think she looks like both of you but a little more like R.
Agree, I think she came out looking like his twin but it taking on more of my expressions and stuff.

View attachment 718920

LP is so grown up (and so very cute!). Loving your TR and photos.


@sheriffwoody , regarding the fun photos of the meet and greet with Anna and Elsa, I noticed that Elsa wore a white gown. (I thought she only wore blue in the movie, but has there been a wardrobe update that I missed?)
Yep, like Tuvalu mentioned, it changed after the second movie came out. I think I like the white dress better, but probably because we've watched the second movie more than the first at this point.

First off how is LP 4! It looks like you got off to a great first day and I am looking forward to hearing more.

I know, it went by so fast!

I follow you on Instagram, happy to see this report!

I'm here finally! Your daughter is so adorable and I'm enjoying all the character pictures that she wanted taken! It was always a must do when my girls were little too! So glad you didn't feel sick on GOTG as the backwards motion on EE does make me feel a bit nauseous too.
Oh yeah she was so into the characters! Similar to last year. She did like the rides more this year than last though, so the characters have some competition.


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Day 2: MK

I slept slightly better the second night, but still not great. My allergies were still carrying over from home, but zyrtec knocked them out for the remainder of the day. You may be wondering why I don't just take it at night so i sleep better, and I'd tell you I also wonder that. I am not smart.

If I remember correctly, we were all up by about 7, but we are slow to get going in the mornings, so we didn't head down to the bus stop until well after 8. There wasn't really any chance of us making early entry, but since a bus came right away, we did make it in the park before official park opening and we took in the sights headed down Main Street.

Pretty sure the Welcome Show was finishing up as we walked in. We headed left.

Plan was to go to Pirates, but LP spotted the Magic Carpets and requested that. And look who got on at the same time!

LP was a little sad she didn't get to ride with Jasmine, but I told her it's because our family of three takes up a whole carpet.

She quickly got over her disappointment after the ride.

They had a nice little interaction and looked for Abu. It was VERY cute and sweet. This is where my title comes in, this is where I felt like "yep, the magic is finally back" These little unexpected moments make it all worth it, to me anyway.

We continued on to pirates after we said our goodbyes to Jasmine.

Peter Pan was outside talking about recruiting pirates. Like he was saying he wanted to make sure no one was recruiting pirates? That's why he was keep us safe? I don't know...he was just being silly Peter.

We walked onto Pirates and enjoyed our ride. We were in the front of the boat, so that was nice. LP seemed to like it! This was her first ride at WDW, so I hope she always likes it.

Peter was still out when we were done, so she joined some other kids and interacted with him for a while. They were following a treasure map, found a rock, re-hid the rock, looked for Tinkerbell, etc. This friend of Peter Pan was VERY good. He kept these kids entertained for a longgggg time.

They said a pledge after they hid the rock that they wouldn't tell anyone where they hid it.

We eventually meandered away and headed to Haunted Mansion. This was also still a walk-on, thankfully!

I don't think we rode this with her last year, but I felt ok about it this year. She loves spooky stuff and she was into it. Whew! This is my favorite, so I needed her to enjoy it :hilarious:

We made our way over to Fantasyland after this and hopped on the Carousel.

After that, it was pretty close to the LL I'd gotten us for 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. I KNOWWWWWW yes I paid for it, and I just have to pretend I didn't because gross. But I really didn't want to stand in that long line with her. It was $11 this day so $33 plus tax for all of us. For a 90 second ride... sigh. But she frickin LOVED it. So worth it, I guess?

Of course no ride photo. She rode with R and he said she was going "wooooooo" the whole time, ha!

Up Next: More MK


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Original Poster
Day 2: MK Continued

Bathroom break! At some point, I think while we waited for our LL to come up, we'd mobile ordered Columbia Harbour House. It wasn't even 11 yet, so we had to wait for it to open and we killed time over by Peter Pan.

Once they opened, we headed in and our mobile order was ready pretty quickly. LP mostly ate fries and like 1 bite of chicken :banghead: while I enjoyed my sandwich and R had the platter with several different things. This is my new fav at MK after our last trip. Glad we returned!

After lunch we headed back into Fantasyland and crossed over to Dumbo.

There wasn't really a line, but she stopped to play on the playground in there. First time we've done that. I don't really understand how the process works when there is a line, but I guess people get beepers to know when to get back in line. It wasn't necessary for us though. R and I just sat on a bench and enjoyed the air conditioning. We almost dozed off since it's kind of dark in there.

UGHHHH this is one of my favorite pictures of the trip. So dang cute.

R always looks miserable when he doesn't smile for the camera :hilarious: I swear he enjoys Disney.

While we were in the area, we met some characters. LP chose Minnie and Daisy over Donald and Goofy (I'd choose Donald every time, but whatever).

The camera boxes here were terrible. The white balance was super off! I was able to adjust it in lightroom to make it a little better, but it's still just meh.

She twirled for her, but that is the best the box could get.

Next we headed Under the Sea! Another walk on. There were some long lines this day, just not on anything we were riding.

That morning I'd gotten us a VQ for Tron, and it was verrrrry slowly creeping toward our boarding group. One problem: we had a pre booked experience coming up that was clearly going to be at the same time. We headed over there to ask what our best coarse of action was.

I was kind of hoping it would get called while we were over there, R could go ahead and get in line and I could grab my LL to come back for child swap. But it didn't. And the CM just kind of said, it's fine just come back and let us know where you were. He was really dismissive and didn't even look at me, it was weird. Whatever, we headed back toward the castle.

Up next: LP's treat


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Original Poster
Day 2: MK Continued

We had an appointment with Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to get to! The route to the back of the castle was soooo dang long, I swear. It feels like a mile. We checked in about 5 minutes early and sat in the lobby. The very very small lobby.

Cute wallpaper in there though.

LP looked through the booklet and picked out an Aurora dress. I wanted her to choose, but also tried to steer her away from the deluxe dresses. Thankfully she chose one of the regular Castle package dresses. The fairy godmother in training (they don't call them this anymore, but I can't remember the actual name) took us into the room with all the dresses and she stuck to her choice. So she set up a dressing room for us and them came back to take us there. None of these spaces are big enough for the number of people participating in this activity :hilarious: I felt like I was suffocating.

I didn't take pictures or record in the dressing room because I was honestly just taking it all in. The mirror plays a little video of the fairy godmother, it's so cute! Then you get them in their dress and go back to the big room with all the people.

Found a clear corner for a minute.

Finally we were called to go across to get her hair and stuff done. This part actually takes place IN the castle, which is cool. I'll just photo dump here, it was crowded in there and we had nowhere to sit for the first little bit, so I felt bad we were right in the CM's face, but a seat finally opened up.

Those were the ones I took from my seat, but they also have photo pass photographers in there. I'll add those in the next post.

Up next: More BBB


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Original Poster
Day 2: MK Continued

Didn't think to remove the old chipped polish on her nails :hilarious: oops

I am not a bow person, so she has like 1 actual she has two, and this thing is massive. But she loves it.

I definitely stepped in when she was picking out her hairstyle because she was leaning toward the one with the big ponytail attachment, and I really wanted something more simple. I just gently convinced her the bun with the pink braid was a good in-between :angelic:

She was in her element, she is ALLL ABOUT being fancy. Or what she perceives as fancy. She wants her hair in a low ponytail every day, but I guess that's fancy to her. Either way, she loved being pampered, it was so cute. She does not get this from me, I was/am the polar opposite of a princess girly.

Once we were finished, we walked outside and the CM who did her hair and makeup gave her a cute little necklace, which I didn't realize was included, so that was nice. It's a cute pumpkin carriage, so makes a nice keepsake.

A quick note, this whole experience with all the little things she got to keep (tiara, wand, dress, makeup, nail polish, necklace) was around $250 plus tax :greedy: I knew it was expensive, I was prepared, but whew, I needed a fan. Thankful for that Disney Rewards Visa! We used the rest of that and some of my refund giftcard to pay for it.

Our Tron VQ had been called while we were there, which we expected, so we went back over there and had no problem getting my LL to come back and R got into the queue. I took LP on the pathway back to Storybook Circus and we waited for the train. It took a while to get to us, but finally we got on. I struggled with the dang stroller because of all the crap in the bottom storage, but I finally got it folded and got us on. I get embarrassed when I have trouble with the stroller for some reason, but I didn't get too flustered.

We did the circle tour and hopped off when we got back to Fantasyland. In retrospect, I should have just left the stroller there since I knew we'd come back. Oh well, hindsight!

R met us on that back path and as he took over the stroller and I headed on by myself, he goes "not worth it!" hahah. Him and LP tried to meet Chip and Dale, but they left right as they got up there. I can't recall what they did instead.

I got on Tron pretty quickly. The lockers confused the heck out of me. I used my AP card to get one and half of them wouldn't work when I tried to open them? The ones that were lit up are available, right? No one was trying to tell anybody what to do and everyone in there was confused. I ended up opening one that already had stuff in it?! I could have walked away with a free iphone, sheesh. Finally was able to get one, then had to go back and put my dang mickey ears in. I got halfway down the hall before I realized.

I didn't have trouble getting on the bike, but it was super uncomfy. I think if I extend my elbows and ride it like I would an actual bike, it would be fine, but I wasn't sure how much freedom I could safely have with my upper body, hahaha. Pressed down to the front is not easy for a person with bewbs though, let me tell ya.

I was worried about my phone falling out the whole time so I couldn't even enjoy it. I'd ride again, but I would definitely never pay for this one. It was just ok. Maybe if we hadn't just ridden Guardians the day before.

Now I remember what LP and R did!

I saw them pass a couple times while I was walking over. When they got off, we headed to dinner.

Up Next: Dinner at CRT


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Original Poster
Day 2: Dinner at CRT

We checked in pretty close to our reservation time. I'd gotten us an early dinner so we wouldn't be out too late (4:15, I think). I wasn't super hungry yet, but was hoping I would be once we got to our table and got food.

We waited outside for maybe 10 minutes.

We got called in, but then you just wait inside to be called upstairs? I think that's when most people meet Cinderella, but she wasn't in there, so we just sat in there for another 5 or 10 minutes. We eventually walked upstairs (that's a lot of stairs!) and we were seated at the worst freakin table. It was the first one when you get up the stairs, it was so dark and not even remotely close to the windows :cry:

I was so close to letting it ruin my day, but I managed to get over it and LP didn't seem to care, she was just excited to see the princesses. We waited a while for our server to come over, and there were no princesses out at the time. I was starting to get REAL thirsty, but he did finally come take our order and once we got our waters, I had mine gone in about 4 seconds. I also got soda so I sipped on that too.

I was in the mood for a salad so I got the Castle Salad (Romaine, Brussels Sprouts, Goat Cheese, Spring Vegetables, and Green Goddess Dressing). I seem to have forgotten to take a photo. It was ok! Green Goddess dressing is such a strong flavor, I honestly was tired of it after a few bites, but I ended up finishing it.

For my main I ordered:

Grilled Tenderloin of Beef*​

Potato Pavé, Roasted Seasonal Vegetables, and House-made Steak Sauce

I got medium and R got medium rare, but they mixed ours up. And I thought it was right because mine was indeed medium, but his was definitely not medium I talked him into switching. I'm not as picky as he is, so I knew he'd be happier with mine!

LP got mac n cheese, which I think she ate a decent amount of. I knew she wouldn't eat $50 worth, but whatever, it's about the princesses here anyway. Speaking of...they were milling about, but none up in our cave corner.

I didn't even take pictures of the room, that's how annoyed I was with our seating :hilarious:

Around when dessert came out, the princesses started coming by. I used R's phone since it's slightly newer and has a better camera. I was annoying and got all the way up and got the angle with the best light. I'm that mom.

Snow White was pretty quick, I'm not sure what she said she was so quiet. She was probably at our table 1 minute at most.

I think I remember Aurora spending slightly more time talking to her. She made a big deal about LP having a matching dress.

Photos of dessert are next, and I have a story. So I ordered this:

Coffee Pot de Crème​

Coffee-infused Coconut 'Custard', Passion Fruit Gelée, and Crumbled Chocolate-Espresso Beans (Plant-based)

The server made a big deal about it, reiterating to me that it's plant-based and asking what my second choice was, just in case I didn't like it. I was kind of like "geez, what's this guy's deal? It sounds good to me" He obviously knew I didn't eat plant-based only since I ordered steak, so I don't think he would do this if someone was obviously vegan or vegetarian.

With all the hulabaloo, I was SUPER curious about it, and hoping I liked it to prove him wrong. As soon as I took a bite, I BURST OUT LAUGHING. It was SO BAD. Y'all. I cannot stress enough how gross this was. The texture, the taste, it was a sorry excuse for a dessert. I feel really bad for any vegans eating here since that's their only choice.

So big props to the server for seeing it coming and having a delicious dish ready for me

The Clock Strikes Twelve​

Dark Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel and Crunchy Praline Center, served with Chocolate Sauce and Hazelnut Gelato

This is also what R got and it was very good. I ate all of mine, R couldn't finish his, he was quite full. L got the build-your-own-cupcake, which she loved. That was an excellent dessert for kids, it kept her busy while we waited for the next princess.

Ariel was the best of the four! She was so sweet with LP.

Jasmine was fine, but again it was just really quick. At least we got that great Jasmine interaction in the morning! LP didn't seem upset by the quickness at all, so that was good. She was just happy to get a hug and say hello.

When we were done, it was weird just getting up and leaving! Since you pre-pay there's no need to wait for a check unless you order alcohol or something. I thought we might get a reimbursement for having an AP since the server asked for it, but I never got anything.

Downstairs Cinderella was out meeting so we got in line.

Ok so OVERALL, I'd say CRT is not at all worth it based on our experience. If we'd been at a better table, I might feel differently. Maybe they should have tiers where you pay less if you get a crappy table. I don't plan on doing it again unless LP begs for it, but I don't think she will.

Up next: finishing out day 2


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Original Poster
Day 2: Leaving MK

As we headed out for the night, we took a few photos. I honestly wanted to take 1 million of LP while she was all dolled up! I took these with my phone, but I should have pulled out my good camera. It was buried in my backpack and I didn't feel like it.

I convinced them to stop for a photo pass photographer

It was really bright there, so she had trouble keeping her eyes open, but we got one good one! On the way out we stopped to get her silhouette done. I'm glad we did it then with her hair done! I almost forget every time, then happen to look over. She kept asking for a balloon but I convinced her to just take pictures with them.

I feel bad, but balloons just seem like such a waste of money to me.

We kept going down Main Street and stopped at one more photo pass that was in the shade. She did much better this time since the sun wasn't in her eyes.

I know this sounds crazy, but this photo stopped me in my tracks. I LOOK SO OLD! I know I'm 35, but in my brain, I feel 25 so seeing photos where I look like a very mid-30s mom kind of makes me head spin :hilarious: It's probably the dress. It was so super comfy though, so who cares.

This photographer was so sweet and I love that she got some of LP by herself.

We waited maybe 10 minutes max for a bus and I took a few shots at the hotel when we got back

Love that lobby! When we got to the room, we took LP's bun out with all 20 bobby pins. Ok that's an exaggeration but it was a lot!


Something I haven't mentioned is that the rooms in the Gran Destino Tower don't have bathtubs. We do baths at home, so I'd gotten LP in the shower a few times before our trip to prepare. She did ok in the shower, but washing her hair was a challenge. We managed to get it done though!

Once we were clean, we all got to bed pretty quickly, we were beat! I'm sure I read for a while after LP was asleep, but I bet I was asleep by 9.

Step count (again remember this is with me pushing the stroller a lot!): 10,681

Up next: Chill morning

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