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OlgaDavis30: 2018

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

WDW Wednesdays - What To Pack for a Disney Trip


I love my pink polka dot luggage

The second most asked question I get is, “What do you pack for your trip to Disney World”. Well even though I had my list, let’s just say things don’t always go as planned. So if you run into issues, don’t sweat it, you’re at Disney World!

Let me just start with my OMG moment that happened on the plane on our way to Disney World. I had a Kevin’s mom moment. You know the one from Home Alone, where she can’t remember what she left behind, and then she does? Well that was me. I’m just sitting there thinking, I know I forgot something, something that was on my mental list that I never checked off. Well then all of a sudden like a pile of bricks it hit me…Oh no, I had forgotten to pack the girl’s leggings! I was pretty positive, but couldn’t confirm until that night, after we got to our rooms for the night. But yes, after a long day at the park it was later confirmed that my girls had only had the bottoms they wore on the plane, plus one more sweatpants outfit. #MomFail.

Ugh, how could I forget. I also got a look from the husband that said the same thing. Well I know exactly how I forgot, I was doing laundry to have all the pants clean for our trip, but then after folding them I never added them to the suitcase. To make matters worse, the forecast at the time only called for high 60s, so any shorts I had intended to bring I took out, thinking it was going to be too cool for shorts. And boy was I wrong, well the forecast, not me. It ended up being in the 80s most of the time. 

The girls also managed on the extra dresses I packed. There were other possible solutions, like I did eventually think of ordering from Amazon Prime (which would have added a $5 fee to hold at our resort), or getting an Uber to go to a local store, but then that would dig into our park time. All in all, we didn’t let the situation sway us from our fun, we are at the happiest place on earth, nothing a little Mickey and Friends can’t fix. 

What I've learned is to pack the essentials, and remember if you forget something you most likely can find it at resorts or parks.

Here’s my list!

1). Clothes! We had one outfit per day, plus 3 extra tops in case of accidents/stains. Swimsuits if you have any intention of making it to the pool. We brought ours, but were too exhausted to go. Next time we’ll add an off day to just relax at the pool.  We also brought some princess dresses, cause the kids will want to wear them...until they don't. I'm the mom that likes to dress my kids alike. I think they look cute, and if I misplace my child I can just look at the other and know what they were wearing, LOL! All joking aside, I found having matching outfits/shirts, really did help keeping track of the whole family.


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2). Two pairs of shoes. You never know when you’ll get hit with the Florida rain. It would suck for your shoes not to dry by the next day. For us we also included one pair of “dress” shoes with sneaker soles. This was for our dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table. 

3). Water bottle. For us it made sense to just fill a water bottle at the drinking fountains. Most of the times the lines were pretty long to just get a cup of complimentary water. But if you don’t want to carry a bottle, comp water is a great perk, just ask at any counter. 

4). iPad. Are your kids like mine and obsessed with unboxing videos, or kids (adults) playing with toys? Well this certainly was a good, last resort tool on the airplane in order to get them to sit still. This time around the kids didn’t need it as our flights were spent mostly sleeping, but it’s good to have. I like to limit its use, but lets face it, sometimes mommy and daddy need a break.

5). Toy figurines. We brought our mini princesses figurines for the plane and park. Olivia entertains herself with these toys. They are small and lightweight and a good distraction for her as her big sister rides the big kid rides. 

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6). Your phone. We used our phones to book fast passes as soon as we swiped our 3rd fast pass. This is how we managed to also ride Na'vi River, Toy Story Mania, Mine Train, and other rides more than once, or as an extra tier one. Keep checking different times, and something usually pops us. You can also use fast passes for easy rides, and just skip to the front of the line, and after you swipe,  get another fast pass again. Rides such as Dumbo, Flying Carpets, and Tea Cups, we didn’t have to wait in any lines this year.  

7). Your plan/agenda. Look I’m a planner and although I don’t plan every detail, I like to know that I’m at least a little prepared. We had our fast pass times, the land locations, show times/meet & greets, and our food choices kind of planned out. Then everything else was just as we go.  

8). Dramamine/Medicine/Sunblock/Toiletries Just your typical mom kit. Dramamine for me mostly so I could enjoy all the rides with my kids, including the teacups. Which I would otherwise not be able to handle. When we went to Disney it was during the Disney Flu outbreak. So they did end up getting it and needing medicine. You don’t really need to bring shampoo/soap, since what they provide is pretty good. And if you need more you just have to call Mousekeeping. Which by the way you can opt out and receive a gift card in exchange. Ask guest services when you check in . 

9). Snacks This year I actually packed a small carry on suitcase and filled it with tons of snacks. Muffins, granola bars, cheesy puffs, fruit snacks, etc. This saved us time and money. We used them for a quick breakfast, and as energy boosters between meals at the park. Sure we still indulged in some awesome Disney snacks, but with picky eaters this is a must. 

10). Stroller If you have kids bring one. And don’t let any one judge you. Parents need a break too, and if that means putting your kid in a stroller, do it. I think I’ll bring a stroller as long as the one of the kids is under 6. Then after that they can both handle the park and small breaks on a bench. But for me, right now, naps in a stroller are a gift. 

11). Backpack Yes it may slow you down to get into the parks, but it is nice to have all you need in one bag. Snacks, diapers, phones, toys, extra tees, and anything extra you may need. 

12). Ears and Souvenirs If you can purchase Disney themed items, you can save some time, money and crying time from your child. Many of the items you can find at the dollar store can be just as good for your child to enjoy while on vacation. Bubble wands were a big thing at the parks, I didn’t bring those just because I didn’t want to carry that bulky of an item. But I did bring along ears. We did end up buying one pair while were there for Madeline since I had spiked her interest because I was on the hunt for the Rose Gold Ears, which they didn’t have until a couple of days after we had left. But I'm happy to report, I was finally able to buy a pair online at the Disney Store.

13). Mother-in-law LOL. I love her and could not have survived our trip without her. She helps my husband and I keep our sanity, and allows us to have a little fun too! Extra help is always appreciated. 

What else would you or have you brought on vacation? Anything you would leave off?

Monday, April 30, 2018

Mighty Big and Super Great: Texas is the "Lone Star State”! - Book Review

 
I received a copy of the book to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own.


As a parent I’m always interested in fun, easy to read books for my daughter that will teach her some new things. Mighty Big and Super Great: Texas is the "Lone Star State”! by Amber Manning is a fun way for kids to learn and remember some of the history of Texas. The author engages kids by using rhymes, storytelling and fun facts to keep the young ones interested in reading. 

This book has me wanting one for each state, quick someone work on one for Illinois! Even I learned a couple of new things about Texas. With a plan for a future trip to San Antonio, Texas to visit family, this book arrived with great timing. Madeline is ready to show off her new found facts with her family. She’s already mentioned visiting the Alamo, and wanting to meet an armadillo. I thought there was a good about of facts that were easy for my daughter to try and remember. I’m not trying to quiz or anything, but I’m glad she’s remembering some things on her own.

Mighty Big and Super Great: Texas is the "Lone Star State”!
Bluebonnet Kids
ISBN-10:0998770442

 



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

WDW Wednesdays - At What Age Should You Take Your Child To Walt Disney World?

I love her reaction to meeting Elsa
A very popular question among family and friends that causes some debate is what age do you take your kids on their first Disney vacation. You will get many different answers and reasons as to when. I always like to start my answer with: Every family is different, and you as a parent will know best.
 
When we decided to go our first time, my youngest was about 15 months old and oldest had just turned four. At the time I was surprised by how many responded with, “but they are too young, they won’t remember”. But for me it was more than them just remembering. It was about living in the moment and making memories. It’s quite possible that yes they won’t remember down the line, but guess what, I WILL. Disney is also about parents making memorable memories with their children. And at such a young and tender age, they can see the magic. Meeting their favorite characters is something they had only dreamed of, and now they can see them. Everything is real to them. The look in their eyes and reactions are priceless. Something we may not have seen had we waited for them to be much older. 
 
Then we also get, “but they won’t be able to go on any of the rides, they won’t be tall enough”. But surprise, there is so much for a toddler to do. And you won’t have to wait in long lines either, as those lines go pretty quick compared to big kid/adult rides. For us the Magic Kingdom was the best park for a toddler. We did two days there, and could have done three. As far as Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot, we found that it was fine for a toddler, but as far as rides, yes those were limited, but these parks have so much to see and do (and characters to meet), so it works out. Just be prepared for lots of walking and breaks. Below is a list of our go to rides according to our kids, while on our first trip and height requirements were met.
A classic - Dumbo the Flying Elephant
 
  1. Mad Tea Party (Tea Cups were by far my littlest’s favorite ride, she still talks about it)
  2. Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid (my oldest loved going on this multiple times, and we didn’t mind since the waiting area was very well air conditioned)
  3. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  4. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin 
  5. Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  6. It’s a Small World
  7. Peter Pan’s Flight (although my youngest did not like the darkness or Captain Hook)
  8. Enchanted Tales with Belle (not a ride, but a fun experience)
  9. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (not a ride, but a real laugh riot!) 
  10. Walt Disney World Railroad (a nice break for the whole family, and multiple stops along the way)  
Enchanted Tales with Belle - I think she likes her dress

There many more things to do with you small kids, and this is just our short list, I asked my kids which rides they’d like to go on and this is what they came up with. 
 
At Animal Kingdom we’d recommend you do the Kilimanjaro Safari for sure, and try to do it once in the morning and once at the end of the day, to get two different experiences. 
 
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios definitely go to Toy Story Mania, blasting moving targets, you’ll want to go on as many times as you can to beat your score (looking forward to the new Toy Story Land!!!) 

Meeting Olaf - He really does love warm hugs
And at Epcot, of course our girls loved the Frozen Ever After ride. And although not a “ride” Turtle Talk with Crush was a great way for the girls to interact in a show. 
 
So in the end I say take your kids as young as you want. Remember that at every age there will be different experiences to be had. Older kids may not want to ride these fun “kiddie” rides, or you’ll have to skip them in order to stand in the lines of the bigger coasters/rides. Let them be little and enjoy them while they still believe in the magic.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

WDW Wednesdays - Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On-the-Road


This morning I woke up to some pixie dust in my inbox! Super excited to have received an invite to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On-the-Road in Chicago. I knew I'd be excited when something like this came, but I didn't realize how giddy I would be. I cannot wait to attend and tell you what I learned. Stay tuned next month! Dare to Dream. (Next I'm dreaming of the big celebration, small steps).

Monday, April 9, 2018

Macy's Culinary Council - Rick Bayless

Meeting Chef Rick Bayless at Macy's on State Street

Last weekend I was invited to Macy's Culinary Council at Macy's on State Street. They had a special Children's Cooking class with Chef Rick Bayless. My niece came along with me so she could partake in the the days lesson. She, as was I, were awe struck by the opportunity to learn from one of my favorite chefs.

Before the day's class I was able to sit with Chef Bayless and ask him a question.
Why should be include our children when we prepare our food and at what age should we start including them?

Chef Bayless began by answering the second part of the question.

"There is never an age that is too young for people to get involved in how they are going to nourish themselves, because you die if you don't eat. So to me it's an important part of just being a human being. If you don't know how to make your own food then I think you are at an incredible disadvantage. There is something that is hardwired in human beings to connect to the source of their food. In the last, probably about 30 years or so, we have fully disconnected ourselves from the source of our food, so that people don't have to ever come in contact with it, they never have to know where their food comes from, and they don't even ever need to see it being prepared. They can just buy it all prepared for them so that all they do is put it in their mouths. And I think that is a pretty dangerous thing for us to do because it takes away a basic understanding of what their food is.

Chef Rick Bayless Macy's Culinary Council

I give him an example of how I've tried to involve my kids in our cooking process. We have started making their mac n cheese from scratch, and we like for our kids to see the different cheeses that go into the dish, and how we can add different flavors by adding other ingredients like bacon.

He goes on to say, that there is nothing wrong with the components of mac n cheese, "but making it from scratch lets them know what is going into their food. Suddenly the flavors are also more lively because they are not using dehydrated cheese, but real cheese. Then you can start doing add ins, what does this flavor give to it, and all that. Its just a great way to think about food. And that's why I said there is never an age at which they are too young to do that.

My niece excited for her class

I grew up in a restaurant kitchen and by most peoples standards today, everyone would say oh its so dangerous, you can't be there, you can't have kids there, they couldn't be there until they were fifteen years old, or what ever. I started hanging out in our restaurants kitchen when I was four years old, and there was never an accident or never anything because you learn to respect it, even at four year old. And I think keeping kids away from the kitchen is doing a disservice to them. There is nothing that a child can not handle in the kitchen".

Every participant received ingredients to make their Guacamole

My niece and a big group of children were given all the ingredients and extra fixings to make their own Guacamole. They were able to experiment by adding cheese, bacon, lime, cilantro, etc, until they found a combination that they liked. I was happy to see Chef Bayless taste some of the participants samples, and give words of encouragement. He tasted my nieces, and told her "you really like lime", LOL, I think she may squeezed her lime a bit too much. After the class I made my way to her table and got my own taste. I think she did a great job, and once I got through chip number 3 the lime wasn't as strong, so my guess is she must have splashed some extra lime last minute. After attending this class and see how organized it was and how involved the participants and chef were, I look forward to attending a class myself.

Check out upcoming events at Macy's Culinary Council!

On a side note...I do love my Big Macs, but now I'll think about what goes into them.

The finished dish, yummy guacamole!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

You're My Little Cuddle Bug - Book Review

I received a free product for review. All opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.




Olivia enjoyed her review copy of You’re My Little Cuddle Bug. It was the perfect size for her to hold and flip through. I liked that the story was easy to read and that my 5-year-old could also read to her. It was a good way for these two sisters to bond. Madeline has been reading this book to her little sister as a bedtime story for the past couple of nights.


The illustrations are vibrant and colorful, and the cut outs are a cute way to showcase the books words. Olivia likes touching the raised pictures. She gives the book two thumbs up!

If you’re looking for a cute board book to add to your child’s Easter basket this year or for the upcoming "Dia Del Nino" (Children's Day, April 30th, Mexico), we recommend this adorable bug book.


You’re My Little Cuddle Bug
By Nicola Edwards
Illustrated by Natalie Marshall
Silver Dolphin Board Book $8.99
ISBN: 978-1684122585
18 pages; Ages 0-2


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.
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