Thursday, March 8, 2018

Making Our Way to Walt Disney World

We are back from our fun filled Disney World adventure. I can’t wait to share our experiences with you, who know maybe you’ll pick up a trick or two along the way.

For us, we try and maximize all available days while we are there, and that includes taking the first flight of Chicago to Orlando. So we made sure to book a 5:30 AM flight. Yep, that early, even with two kiddos in tow. We know are kids and were lucky enough to have them sleep on the flight. That also goes for the flight home. We try and get the latest flight we know our kids can handle. In this case it was an 8:45 PM flight, arriving in Chicago at about 11 PM. Again kids slept on the ride back. The other good thing about these times is that when traveling with Southwest, the prices are always the lowest. And who doesn’t want to save a little cash and use it at Disney.

We decided that once again we were not going to tell Madeline or Olivia about our trip. Cause there is nothing worse than days, weeks, or even months of, “Mommy, are we leaving yet?”; that would not be fun for me. I’m sure once they are older a Disney Countdown will be a good fun activity. So early that morning, after not much sleep (because we are all kids inside and super excited to go too), I woke up Olivia first. I got her dressed in a Minnie Mouse outfit and asked her “Guess where we are going?”, but she was still so sleepy, LOL, she just went back to bed!

Next was Madeline, “honey, wake up, time to go to school”, ha, that wasn’t going to get her up. I said, look I got you a new outfit, she opened her eyes a little. At which her Daddy said, “how would you like to skip school today and go somewhere fun?”. Well now we got her attention. Her Daddy gave her favorite stuffed animal and he was wearing a Mickey shirt. “How about we go to Disney World”? Well that got her right up and was excited, just as we had hoped. She jumped out of bed and said, “I have to go tell Olivia!”.

We all got dressed and ready to go. Getting to the airport and getting on our flight was uneventful. I have to say that booking a February flight in Chicago, I was a bit worried that the weather would somehow affect our trip. Thankfully it didn’t. Once we arrived, it was a smooth transition. Because we booked with Disney, and were going to use the Magical Express Transportation, (free to resort guests), we were able to bypass baggage claim. Disney had sent over special luggage tags that would indicate that those bags would be picked up and delivered to the resort we were staying at. This was a great convenience as it allowed for us to get on the bus to our resort a lot faster, and allowed for us to maximize the time we would be spending at our first park the first day. Normally in the summer time, the parks are open later into the night, 10pm to sometimes midnight. In the winter we were looking at anywhere from 6pm to 9pm closing times. Can't wait to tell you about Hollywood Studios!

I hope you follow along as I recap our trip.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Disney World Here We Come

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Shh, I've got a secret, but you cannot tell my kids. We are heading back to Disney World. Time to get away from the Chicago cold. Brrr. And as the date gets closer by to do list seems to be getting longer.
So I'll be sharing some of the things I've learned along the way.

180 days out

Make your dining reservations. We knew that this time around we'd try and get some breakfast times so we could get into the parks earlier. I like this idea because we can beat some of the crowd and try and get on some the most popular rides before the queues fill up to capacity. So we, like many other Disney early risers, will be heading to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan, and Winnie the Pooh. This is also in case we weren't able to get fast passes for any of the above mentioned rides. Rope drop has become very popular as well where you show up early so you can be among to first to ride as soon as the park opens. Disney has even added a special ticketed event, Early Morning Magic, to some Tuesday and Sunday mornings at Magic Kingdom where a limited number of tickets are sold and those three rides are open for your enjoyment (and breakfast is included). No real line waiting. I've heard great reviews about this option. Some people even getting on the Seven Dwarfs ride 15-20 times! Wow. I'd say it's worth the additional $69.

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When making dining reservations you could call or if you're like me, make reservations online. It's easy to see what times are available for your party size. And if you have any children under 3 be sure to include them on the reservation as they need to count all bodies (I'm sure ifs a fire code issue). Children under three are welcome to dine on a complimentary basis with their parents at restaurants that serve buffet or family-style.  At a la carte restaurants--where you order from a menu--children under the age of three can eat for free from your plate.  If your child has a big appetite, you are welcome to order a meal for them, but be advised that you will be charged for it. The restaurants we liked so far have been Cinderella's Royal Table, Be Our Guest, and Chef Mickey's. This time around we will be giving Tusker House a try at Animal Kingdom, another character dining experience.

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You can also make your reservations for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. These reservations can fill up quick as well. And if you are like me you'll want to time it so your child can show off her princess look at Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table. BBB is also available at Disney Springs if you aren't able to get the reservation on Magic Kingdom or plan on going to a different park or restaurant, such as the character meal at Akerhus - Epcot. I've also learned that there is something that is more geared towards boys (but girls have packages too). Its Pirates League at Magic Kingdom, and its where you can be transformed into a pirate, empress or mermaid. These packages are also a lot more wallet friendly depending on what you are looking for.

Well that's all for today.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The King of Too Many Things - Book Review

I received a free copy to facilitate this review
The book, The King of Too Many Things, is about a king, Jasper, who as king can ask for anything, and poof, there it is. My daughter, who is five, and I read the book together. Jasper asked for many, many, things, at times creating more of a mess than anything else. The story does a great job illustrating to children that they should be careful what they wish for. In the end it may not be what they wanted. I also liked that the king couldn’t just have the Wizard clean up his mess. I made sure to point out to Madeline that sometimes having too many things can be a lot of work, especially because one is responsible for their own messes. But I also like the underlying message that friends are there for you when you need them, and sometimes the best things we have we don’t have to wish for. Madeline enjoyed the illustrations and I really liked the diversity in the character illustrations. 
After reading the book we were able to do a couple of activities, like if you were king/queen, what would you wish for. And then I would come up with some messy scenarios, and we would see if it truly was a good wish, or not. We also decided to look at her room and think about all that she has, and how she should be cleaning up her room and toys. It being the holiday season we are also using this opportunity to show her that she may have many things, but there are some children who don’t. Madeline will be looking through her toys and picking out a few to donate. 
Madeline gives The King of Too Many Things a thumbs up.
The King of Too Many Things
Author: Laurel Snyder
Illustrator: Aurore Damant
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Rodale Kids (September 5, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 162336874X
ISBN-13: 978-1623368746

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Check out Oakbrook Center For Some Winter Fun

The holidays always make me think of Family, and with family coming over for Thanksgiving what could be more fun then heading to Oakbrook Center for some Winter fun. Oakbrook is located just outside of Chicago, so it's any easy trip for some great shopping and activities. My family was invited to visit Santa. I was happily surprised with the great photos the photographer was able to take, especially of Olivia, she's not really a camera person. Literally you say "Cheese" and you will have 2 seconds to snap that photo. Santa was very friendly and talked to the girls about how good they have been (or not) and what was on their wish list. The cool thing about this experience is that you can sign up online prior and enter some information on the children so Santa has all the info he needs like Magic! Yay to technology. I for one did not pick the highest level of niceness, I almost wanted to go lower on the scale, but I didn't want to scar my kids, LOL. They were one level below perfect so Santa was able to tell them to work on their manners and chores. Reservations and photo purchases are not required to visit Santa. Santa is located inside the Glass Pavilion (across from Starbucks).

For readers Pets: Pet Nights
Mondays from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM (November 13 - December 11)

Have you checked out the District? It's the mall's new updated food court, entertainment area. It looks awesome. Lots of food choices to pick from. My girls and I love Mexican food, so Cilantro did not disappoint. My husband opted for a burger and fries from DMK Burger, it was a pretty big sandwich, and the fries were full of flavor. Of course the highlight for my girls was a pit stop at Stan's Donuts. Obviously there aren't any pictures since the girls devoured them. 

Oakbrook has also updated their parking structures. Now your shopping can start sooner since it's easier to see where you can park. Again, thank you technology. Outside each lot you'll see the total number of spaces, and as you go up any green lights mean park here, and red means occupies, Pretty easy and such a time saver. No more waiting behind cars that slow down to look for spots. 

And of course it rained the day we were there. Madeline was super disappointed as she was looking forward to ice skating for the first time. But no worries, we'll be back. The ice skating rink is open  through February 28, 2018 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday ONLY until Thanksgiving). Mondays – Saturdays: 10am – 9pm and Sundays: 11am – 6pm. Admission is $7 for Children 12 and under and $9 for adults. If you need skates you can rent them for $5 (Presented by Samsung).

For those who like to shop local check out the Holiday Market where you can shop for unique and handcrafted goods. Open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. 

My little snowflake 

Naughy or Nice List?

Say Cheese Santa!

So apparently all the reindeer are on her Christmas List. Build a Bear will be a must stop for me.

What fun activities do you do around the holidays? Drop a note below and lets trade ideas. 
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