Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Room on the Broom

Hello friends!

Just wanted to pop in in case anyone still subscribes to my poor neglected blog and let you know about a little deal. I was at Barnes and Noble the other day with my kiddos and when I went to check out the cashier told me since I was buying two kids books I could get this board book, Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, for only $3.99. She said it was a cute story and it looked good and we don't have many Halloweeny books at our house, so I said sure and bought it. My hubby read it to the kids when we got home and he was impressed with it. He wouldn't normally comment on a book, so I took that as a sign that it was a good one. :) I just read it with Olivia and I love it! Such a cute, fun little story with wonderful rhyming text. And since there is still the deal at Barnes and Noble, I thought I should share with others so they can take advantage of the deal too. You can see it on B&N website here.

No affiliate links here, just wanted to share a good deal on a cute book with you all. Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Driveway chalk scenes

We tried out another fun activity from our summer fun list today. I originally saw the idea on Pinterest. You can do a search for "chalk drawing photography" on Pinterest to get some inspiration. I did as I am not much of an artist, but my son came up with his own scenes and drew them. Fun little activity this morning! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Things I learned on our Disney World trip: Part 4

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom was fun. Not my favorite park, but we did discover a few fun things I had not done before.
We really enjoyed our ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris. We went at a great time, not too much wait in line and a lot of animals were out and about. Even though I know the animals are separated from us with deep ditches and various things, it still feels like you are right there with the elephants and lions. It is a great attraction and you should definitely go on it if you visit Animal Kingdom. It does have fast pass available, but we did it very early so we didn't have any problems.

Animal Kingdom has a thing called Kid's Discovery Club. The kids can stop at 6 locations around the park and do little activities to find out more about different animals. In the picture below the kids are learning about tracking an animal in the wild and how you would be able to tell what kind of animal it is. So they walked along a path and discovered the animal's footprints, poop, and finally looked through some binoculars to see a photo of the animal. The kids really had a lot of fun with it and they got a little book once they had collected all 6 stamps from doing all 6 activities. (If your kids are like mine, they will NOT be happy if you suggest not getting all the stamps. One is out at Rafiki's Planet Watch and you take a train out to it. My husband did not want to go out there, but my 6 year old was going to be very unhappy if he did not complete his stamp book, so off we went to the Planet Watch area. So just a tip to make sure everyone is on board with the idea of getting all the stamps.)

My son wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up (or an astronaut, or Jedi knight) so he was LOVING DinoLand U.S.A. I couldn't talk them into going on Dinosaur, they thought it would be too scary, but they did ride TriceraTop Spin. They probably could have played all day in The Boneyard though. I wish we would have allowed more time for this area because they were having so much fun, but it was hot and it was our last area of the park to visit before we were leaving for the day. Great area to run and play. No standing in line!

Aidan was the only one who wanted a picture with Dug and Russel. The PhotoPass border was too cute, I had to share. :)

Us big kids liked Expedition Everest - get a fast pass for this one if you have roller coaster lovers.

We tried to go to the Character Greeting Trails in Camp Minnie-Mickey because I had read that it is a great place with not too long of lines. That was not our experience. Long lines for all the characters, and you had a different line to stand in for each one. Goofy's wasn't too long so we saw him, but I knew we could see Mickey and Minnie at Magic Kingdom.

The only other thing we really did was the show It's Tough to be a Bug! It was a good show, though my youngest got a little scared when the mean bugs came on the screen.

I feel like we were there longer, but we really didn't do much. Oh well. Sorry I don't have too many tips for this park. I do remember liking the Baby Care Center here as I used it 4 years ago when we went with baby Ella.

Three parks down, 1 to go!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Things I learned on our Disney World trip: Part 3

Hollywood Studios


My favorite of all the parks. :) When my hubby and I were discussing our goals for this vacation he said he just wanted the kids to have fun, he didn't care if he went on any rides. I said that is all fine and well, but I would not be happy unless I got to ride Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at least once. Which I did, once. :) Oh well, there were still plenty of other awesome things we could do with the kids here.

We got there as the park opened. As soon as we made it through the gates, I immediately went back to the ABC Sound Studio with Aidan and Ella to sign them up for the Jedi Training Academy. We are big Star Wars fans in this house and I knew the kids would love it. Well, I knew Aidan would love it, not sure how Ella would react, but knew she would be super upset if Aidan got to do it and she didn't. Anyway, the point is, if you want your kids to be able to do the Jedi Training Academy, go early and sign up. As I said, we went as soon as the park opened and we were already placed in the second show of the day, the first was filled. Your children must be with you to sign up because they will ask them if they are able to follow directions and if they are prepared to fight against the dark side.

You have to return about 20 minutes before your show starts and the show lasts about 20-30 minutes. The waiting time beforehand was fun though too because they had an awesome guy come in and ask all the kids Star Wars trivia. The picture above is my little Padawan taking on Darth Vader, and some fun graphics I could add on my PhotoPass pictures. Aidan LOVED it! Ella was super nervous and then when an older boy started crying when Darth Vader came out she decided it might not be a good idea to fight Darth and wouldn't do it. No biggie. I should have prepared her more for what all the show entailed, but I didn't want to get their hopes up that they could be a part of it in case we couldn't sign up in time. Seeing Aidan take on the dark side was definitely a highlight for me though.

As I was going back to sign the kids up for this, the rest of our party went over to grab some Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania. Which is a very cool ride - everyone loved it. Go for the Fast Passes - it is a very popular ride.

Another favorite of ours was Star Tours. Besides wanting to do the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, I told hubby that I would need to ride Star Tours until I got to go to a good planet. I didn't want to go to Naboo or any scenes from the "new" Star Wars movies. I wanted to go to Hoth, the Death Star, something from the originals. If you like Star Wars, you know what I am talking about. If you don't, you now think I am nuts. We were able to go on a few times and we loved every adventure.

We did one character meal and it was at Hollywood and Vine. It was a good little buffet with characters from Disney Junior. We saw June from Little Einsteins, Special Agent Oso, Handy Manny, and Jake of Jake and the Neverland Pirates. The funny thing was, we chose this one because I thought Livi would love being able to see June, because she LOVES the Little Einsteins. As you can see, she freaked out. She said she likes little June, not big June. Oh well.

 In the Streets of America area we did the Muppet Vision 3D and it was very fun. It was more than just a 3D movie, and both kids and adults enjoyed this one.

Lights, Motors, Action! was cool too. I missed a lot of it as I had to take the littlest to the bathroom, but there is a guest appearance by Lightning McQueen, which the kids thought was cool.

The Voyage of The Little Mermaid was good. As we sat down though I kept thinking my seat was wet, why is my seat wet? Well, because they sprinkle water on you during the show is why. :) It wasn't bad at all, I was just not expecting it. Learn to expect things like this, especially on 3D movies or rides, water spritzed on you, puffs of air, etc.

Disney Junior-Live on Stage was a lot of fun. My kids watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Little Einsteins and Jake and the Neverland Pirates so they really enjoyed this show.

We had talked Aidan into trying the Tower of Terror. He wasn't too sure about it because of a friend from school had told him it was too scary. But then our little neighbor girl who is four-years-old loved it and went on it three times. And Ella wanted to go on it. So he changed his mind since he couldn't let 2 four-year-old girls go and not him. I will say that it is spookier than I remember it. When you are looking at it through the eyes on your young children, it is pretty scary. They didn't even mind the drop and going up and down, it was mostly the spookiness of it that freaked them both out. (the same is true of the Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom).

Fantasmic was great. We were running pretty late and got in just before the show started. Our seats were on the side, but it was fine. The kids enjoyed it and it was a good way to end the night.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Disney Tips: Autograph Books

Part of the reason we went to Disney World while our kids are young was so they could enjoy the "magic" of Disney. For Ella and Livi, when they met Belle, she to them was the one and only Belle. And to me, that is just kind of fun. So we knew we would be trying to meet characters and they would have a lot of fun collecting their autographs. I wanted something a little different than the ones they sell at the parks so I decided to make my own. I went to the artist section at Michaels and found these sketch books, I think for $7.99, but I of course used a 40% off coupon (you can download the Michaels app to your smart phone and always have at least a 40% off coupon with you - and actually the Michaels I was just at had them on sale for only like $3.50). The pages are nice and thick so even the sharpies we used did not bleed through the pages.

I grabbed a couple of Disney scrapbook papers and decorated them a little. Nothing too fancy, just cut and glued some scrapbook paper and used letter stickers I already had to fancy them up a little.

Before we went to Disney I counted out 20 pages (which is about how many characters I thought we might see), then put a binder clip around the rest of the book. I put a paper clip on the page in the autograph section so we could instantly find the page we wanted the character to sign on.

At Epcot, when we did the Kidcot Fun Stops, we also had the cast member write the word "family" in their language. That was kind of a fun little thing to add to our books.

Another fun thing about the books is that we saved pages in between autographs, so now I can print off a picture of my kids with Jake (of Jake and the Neverland Pirates) and put it right with his autograph.

And all those pages that I put a binder clip around, we used those to write or color pictures about our trip. We would do these at night when we were trying to wind down and get ready for bed, or when we were waiting at a table for daddy to bring us our meal. It worked wonders for us to have something quiet like this for them to do instead of going crazy while we waited for our food. This is my son's picture of the Monorail (Monarale) :)
I took a variety of colors of sharpies and they kids liked picking out which color each character should sign with. I think it is fun that the signatures are all different colors and not just black or in pen. One time I did not have two pens out for like Chip AND Dale to both be signing at the same time, but the cast member that was with them had a sharpie so we borrowed it. I noticed from then on that the helpers always had a sharpie (in that characters signature color) and a pen handy for just those occasions, so maybe you wouldn't even need to take your own.

I also always had crayons or colored pencils with us for those waiting times so the kids could color. I did not want sharpie marks all over them and their clothes so I was mean and did not let them color with the sharpies.

One last tip about autograph books, near the end of the week I had two different cast members tell me to write my name and address in the book cover. If they got lost Disney would mail them back to us. I thought that was a great tip and I had not read that before in my research so there you go!
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Things I learned on our Disney World trip: Part 2

Magic Kingdom

We had a pretty good time at Magic Kingdom. We went three times during our trip. It is so big I am not exactly sure where to start, so I am going to just look at the map of the park we brought home and try to think of any tips I discovered.

Main Street, U.S.A
We got there right at rope drop and went right into the line at Town Square Theater to meet the princesses. It was a fun way to kick off our visit, for the girls at least. The line was fairly short and they got to meet Aurora, Belle and Cinderella. There are two lines inside the theater, one is for the princesses and one is for Mickey and Minnie. There is a sign above the lines telling you which is which, but I missed that the first time we went in so I wasn't actually sure who we were going to see. But it worked out great. We saw Minnie and Mickey the next time we went in the evening, no line whatsoever, as we were waiting for the Main Street Electrical Parade to start. (Oh, and we watched the parade from the train station platform and it worked out great. The kids could all see, the characters in the parade waved up to them, and since we were at the beginning of the parade, and we were on the side closest to the exit, we could easily leave before the big rush)

  • The kids liked exploring the Swiss Family Tree House. They have only seen the movie once so I wish I would have remembered to watch that again before our trip so they would have had a better context of what all we were looking at. They still thought it was kinda cool though. 
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin was good. All three kids could ride, so that is always a plus for us.
  • Jungle Cruise is always silly. Though most of the jokes were over my kids heads, they still enjoyed it.
  • My older two liked the Pirates of the Caribbean, youngest, not as much, it is a little dark at first. And my 6 year old wasn't too fond of the little drop the boat takes, but overall, good.
  • I had taken the girls to Tinker Bell's Magical Nook to meet the fairies, but as we were going in to that excellent, air-conditioned room that had a huge t.v. playing fairy videos, I saw Ariel and Prince Eric right outside and the line didn't look too long. I asked a cast member which line he thought would be better for me to get in, he said Ariel, because she is not out as often. So we did. And then 2 minutes later Ariel and Eric took a 30 minute break. I was soooooooo irritated. Particularly because at that point I was alone with the two girls, the other three grown-ups and my son were at the Hall Of Presidents, and then my youngest says she has to go potty. Luckily it was more of an "I'm bored and trying to think of how I can get mom out of this line" than actually having to go potty. So in the end we did see Ariel and Eric, but they really weren't that fabulous, they took the least time with my girls than any of the other characters we saw. I am probably a little biased because of how long we had to wait and the lack of info I was given, but it was my least favorite moment at all the parks. So lesson learned: When getting in line to meet a character, ask the cast member in charge of that character how long until their break and how long the break will be. We found that most characters took a 2-3 minute break for the costumed characters because they just switched out a new person in a costume, and the face characters were about 10 minutes, so I had no idea Ariel was going to take so long.
  • Sadly, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was closed when we went. I thought it would be an excellent coaster for my older two who was just starting to like coasters, but oh well. 
  • We happened upon a dance thing which was awesome. One cast member started dancing and soon about 30 were out there doing a line dance. After they finished they each went out in the crowd and got someone to come out and dance with them. My 4 year-old, Ella, was chosen and she had an absolute BLAST! 

 Liberty Square
  • I did not go to the Hall of Presidents, but hubby, Aidan and in-laws did and I think they liked it. My 6 year old really likes learning about the presidents though.
  • Haunted Mansion was okay. It is scarier when you look at it through the eyes of a child though. I remember it being just kind of silly, not really spooky. I saw it much differently this time as I tried to calm my almost 3 year old as she was freaking out in the dark before we even got on the ride. And the older two weren't all that thrilled with it either. Ella has even had some nightmares of things floating around her room. Just something to think about. I really didn't remember it being that spooky.
  • "it's a small world" was my girls' favorite. My youngest kept shouting, "Look at that! Look at that!" She absolutely loved it and it was so fun to see her excitement. There was very little wait and you get to sit down and it is cool inside, so all around win on this one. And no I don't have the song stuck in my head. :)
  • Peter Pan's Flight was good. We only went on it once, it seemed to have a long line the other times we were by it and it didn't seem to be a favorite of the kids so no use standing in line for 40-50 minutes.
  • Prince Charming Regal Carousel is a lovely carousel, and always a favorite with the kids.
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was really cute. It also had long lines, but we got a fast pass. Always go for the fast pass if a ride has one!
  • All three of my kids LOVED the Mad Tea Party. We went on it 3-4 times. Daddy and Papa don't like spinning rides, but they were troopers and took the kids on it one more time on our last day while Grammy and I shopped for souvenirs.
  •  Dumbo the Flying Elephant was fun too. It is a classic though so it was a little bit of a wait in line.
  • Aidan and Ella both rode the Barnstormer. Aidan wasn't too sure about it the first day so only Ella went, but the next day Aidan wanted to do it too. They both enjoyed it. :)

  • Aidan was a little intimidated by how high up the Astro Orbiter was, so we never made it on that one. Though I bet he would have loved it had he been a little more daring. 
  • Instead we rode the PeopleMover. :) Which of course all kids thought was fine and gave everyone a chance to sit for a little bit while still feeling like they were on a ride. 
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin was fun for all. I think we all liked Toy Story Mania over at Hollywood Studios better, but this was still good fun.
We never watched the "Celebrate a Dream Come True" parade for some reason, but we did happen upon the "Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party". Aidan was dancing along to all the songs and then Mr. Incredible came over and pulled him out onto the street. Then Aidan went over and danced with Donald Duck. He loved it! Everyone could join the dance party on the street. In our family, it was one of those special memories for Aidan that I will remember. 


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