Monday, September 29, 2014

The Magic Kingdom at Christmas time? You should be planning already!

You think, maybe, you want to visit The Magic Kingdom around Christmas time? I say DO IT. It is magical and beautiful and charming. But if you haven't begun planning, you'd better get on that. As in today.
We are already at the point where most resort and park restaurants are sold out of dining reservations at any normal meal times.
Are you thinking of visiting The Magic Kingdom on a day where they are having the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party?  If so, you may be interested in these tips I wrote last year after an amazing 6 hours engulfed in the joy and magic of the season (despite that it was not even Thanksgiving yet).

  • The Christmas party requires a special ticket, about $65-$70 per adult. It is less expensive than a full-day park pass but you cannot enter the park until afternoon. 
  • The Christmas party begins at 7:00 p.m., but ticket holders are allowed through the Magic Kingdom gates at 4:00 p.m. - people will begin lining up at least 20 minutes early.     
  • Only Christmas party ticket holders can enjoy the special holiday parade, shows, castle projection show, and fireworks on party nights. Disney Cast members line the pathways at various points throughout the park, checking for the party wristbands, so get the ticket if you want to attend. 
  • Select food service locations throughout the park offer FREE tasty treats like snickerdoodle cookies and hot chocolate.
Here is how we packed a full magical Disney experience into our evening-only Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party ticket:

Choose a less popular day. In the past, the December weekend party nights have been sold out and jam-packed. We intentionally chose the Friday before Thanksgiving week, and it was a very good choice. Florida schools were still in session until the following Wednesday.

Friday, September 26, 2014

No-Sew Girls' Wonder Woman Costume for School or Halloween

Amelia needed a book character costume for a school parade this week. Having already purchased her a Halloween costume from the store, I did not want to have to buy another. Because she is "too old" for princesses these days, my grown-up first grader insisted on a Wonder Woman costume.

She placed the book "I Am Wonder Woman" in her pink backpack and filled out her story map to share with the class. After a trip to the fabric and craft store, I got to work making a no-sew costume for the occasion. Luckily, I had some of the materials in my sewing box at home (Velcro and no-sew hem tape) so this custom costume was under $20.

CAPE:  Red smooth/satin fabric (1 yard should do it); Heat-N-Bond hem tape, Adhesive Velcro dots.

Cut the cape to size. Don't cut a perfect rectangle, it should taper smaller towards the neck to flow properly down the back. Like a pyramid with the top chopped straight across. Use an iron and Heat-N-Bond to hem the edges so the cape won't fray. When hemmed, use strong adhesive Velcro dots to attach the cape around the neck.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Moms' tips for saving a little sanity

If you are a parent, I bet you would agree that life is often quite hectic. As I always say, I will never be a balanced mom... I am always balancing. There is always one more surprise, one more crisis, or one more "oops" in a day, it seems.

I have a favorite tip for saving some sanity on a crazy day with kids, school, work, shopping, etc. Since it seems dinner time is the most stress-inducing, I get a jump on it. Prepare dinner at the most quiet part of your day.

This could mean fixing up a slow cooker meal in the morning or grabbing a few minutes before the after-school chaos ensues. I try to cook dinner when the baby is taking his afternoon nap. Sometimes I cook dinner at 3:00 pm! Microwaves were invented for a reason. I feel a huge weight lifted from my shoulders when dinner is ready and I know that I am simply a few microwave minutes away from a family meal. When the evening crazies begin, I don't have to tend to fifty things at once!

Other Georgia mom bloggers had these tips to share as well:

Handle school needs the night before. Anyone with school-aged children know that the morning can be an aggravating rush. Packing backpacks, searching for that missing library book, and packing lunches can be completed the night before to save everyone some sanity come the early morning hours. (tip from Amy,

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

#WW: Soccer season once again

Goooooo Cosmos!

Amelia is really beginning to show some savvy for the game. Her speed and accuracy are improving. The games are becoming fun to watch - instead of just funny.

Soccer practice again tonight.

Happy Wordless Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Favorite Halloween Pins for the Kids

No, I will not look at the Christmas d├ęcor in the stores or the oodles of Christmas ideas that are popping up all over Pinterest already. It is September. We still have a whole week left of September, as a matter of fact! Halloween is my family's second-favorite holiday and we are getting into the spooky and fun of monsters, ghosts, pumpkins, and vampires.

Here are some of my favorite Pinterest pins for Halloween that would be great fun for my elementary school aged daughter. (Click on any image to see the original pin and follow through to their site.)

First up, my own pin from last year - a fun no-carve solution for young children to decorate all by themselves. The Mummy Pumpkin.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mommy and Me: Beach Vacation

Fall break was wonderful! I am struggling with the to-do list already this morning, after an early and hectic back-to-school routine. Why must vacations end?

We enjoyed Destin, FL very much. It is a nice fall-season locale for families with lots of activities, restaurants, and stores. The white powdery sand is soft and smooth, and perfect for baby hands and feet. Andrew was not a fan of the ocean, but he managed to investigate the sand without shedding a tear. Amelia was a mermaid the entire week - catching waves in the ocean with her new boogie board and swimming, swimming, swimming.

I will catch up to real life eventually this week. Until then, enjoy some favorite photos!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

From vacation to Type A

Our beach vacation is coming to a close, which means I have quite a bit of packing to do this evening and a long drive tomorrow as well. I am missing the start of the conference, but I'm excited to make it to the evening #DisneySide party sponsored by Disney Parks! Stay tuned on Instagram to see how I channel a bit of Tinkerbell to show my own #DisneySide.

The Type A Parent conference is taking place in Atlanta again this year, so I will be popping in and out and driving back home to the suburbs. It is a bit of work (should have stayed in the hotel), but I am so glad to be able to attend. It is an educational, motivating, and social event all in one. Type A has some fantastic sponsors again this year and I also look forward to connecting with them.

If you haven't heard of Type A Parent before, check them out! Great people with great info.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mommy and Me: Cabin Fever

So yes, I am happy with the mom life that works for me - as I posted last week. No commute, 100% virtual, part-time advertising/marketing consultant while taking care of (and playing taxi driver to) my sweet little kiddos.

But there is a side effect to working solely from home.

Cabin Fever!

I have been getting pretty bored of my own house. The baby, the big kid, work, and regular life keep me quite busy, but I was in need of a change of scenery. Which repeatedly made me think of one of my favorite Muppet movie songs. From Muppet Treasure Island: We've Got Cabin Fever!

Luckily, I'm getting that change of scenery right now. And it includes an ocean view. It is the perfect prescription to cure the cabin fever that certainly ailed this mama.

Last week at home.....

Linked up to Mommy and Me Monday with Really, Are You Serious.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

An orchard of memories

One of the writing prompts for this week is "write a post inspired by the word apples". The moment I read the prompt, I envisioned summer days at my grandparents' house in northern Virginia.

Way back when, before she was a grandma, my grandmother worked at the apple plant, an imposing factory and warehouse that employed a sizeable portion of the community. Acres and acres of land near their home were working orchards, bearing apples of varied colors and sizes each fall season. A quaint red barn apple market was opened a few decades later when I was a child, and we would often walk for a sample of homemade warm pie or to select apples and other fruits, freshly delivered in trusty pick-up trucks from area farms. Just across the street from their little white house with the welcoming porch swing, "folks" could admire a giant red apple perched on the top of a building. My sister and I used to play a game upon arriving at the end of our 5-hour car ride; whomever spotted the apple first and yelled "big red apple!" won. (Of course, there was no actual prize, but sibling bragging rights were surprisingly valuable back then.)

It is funny, now that I think about it, how big a role apples play in my memories of summer weeks with Grandma and Granddad. I guess that's why I enjoy fall outings to area farms and orchards with my own family. We enjoy the rows and rows of fruit-bearing trees and the markets remind me of the market up there. I enjoy watching Amelia peruse the aisles of produce and homemade goodies. I feel like I am passing on a bit of my childhood to her. This year, Andrew gets to go along for the ride!

- - -
Linked up to Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop this week

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Why I ditched the commute: the mom life that works for me

The 1950s stay-at-home mom (SAHM) supposedly looked like June Cleaver: wearing her dress, heels, and pearls to vacuum. She supposedly had matching oven mitts to pull the pan out of the oven, and the pan was always oozing delicious goodness from something homemade. She greeted her husband at the door and took his hat and briefcase before serving the entire family with a huge pearly smile.


I have no idea what it was really like back then, what I know came from television. I'm sure that era did have the formality, the nice clothes, and moms who were called housewives. Fast forward to the twenty-first century, however, and you have a whole new distinction: the work-at-home mom (WAHM). Women's lib created more opportunities to get away from the home and chances to be more equal with men. Technology helped those working women to have a more flexible environment because work can be done on the go or from various locations. No more being tied to an office file cabinet and one huge desktop computer - we have laptops! And VPN access, and call forwarding, and cell phones!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Our family road trip in the Toyota RAV4

Did your family have a great Labor Day weekend?
Our Labor Day weekend began with a brand-new shiny red vehicle in our driveway!

The kind people at Toyota's PR firm arranged for us to borrow a 2015 Toyota RAV4 to take on our Labor Day weekend road trip to the mountains of North Carolina so I could tell you all about our experience.

I am a mid-size SUV owner, so my first plan of action was to find out if my family, our luggage, and the various baby gear could fit comfortably in a smaller SUV/crossover for a road trip. The interior of the Toyota RAV4 is surprisingly roomy. In fact, I could not tell much difference vs. my current SUV. The infant car seat and Amelia's booster seat fit just fine in the back, with plenty of space at their feet and in between their seats for various baby toys, books, and snacks.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Family love and adventures

As a teen, family vacations with my parents were not always at the top of my "most favorite things" list. Most teens want to stay home, hang with their friends, and walk a good 20 yards behind their parents anywhere, at all times.

When parents become grandparents, though, the dynamic really changes. The same goes for other extended family. It is a joy to see my children interact with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I like to watch the unique games they play together and listen to their conversations. Amelia has experienced beach activities, toured Hawaii, picked fresh berries, chatted with a donkey, and had countless hours of playground fun with extended family. Andrew is beginning to recognize and remember family faces as well, and I look forward to watching him grow up with amazing family members too.

It is almost time for our annual beach vacation with my side of the family. Amelia is excited, and I look forward to that extended time all together.
Having help with the kids on vacation is an added perk!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Mommy & Me: Tallulah Gorge State Park #Georgia

Labor day weekend gave us another chance to get away and enjoy family time. We traveled in a brand new Toyota Rav4 (review coming soon!) to the mountains of Western North Carolina. On our way home, we stopped at Tallulah Gorge State Park, just over the border back in Georgia. Near Dillard, Georgia to be more precise. The gorge and falls are really gorgeous!

We had the stroller with us, but it was easy access to overlooks 2 and 3 on a trail paved with fused rubber mulch (the path removed hundreds of tires from landfills!). If you want to visit and feel adventurous, you can take a path of 640+ stairs to a bridge that crosses the gorge - strenuous! But it looks like you would catch a phenomenal view from the bridge.

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