Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Disney Q&A

I can't believe our Disney trip started almost exactly a month ago... I'm still having withdraws!  Tatum has been playing with Mickey, Minnie and all the other "friends" he brought home since the day we got home - he loves them.  I'm sharing my final experiences and things I learned during our magical Disney days... 

Tatum's Favorite rides?
It's a Small World
Peter Pan's Flight
Buzz Light Year's Space Ranger Spin
Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid

What souvenirs did you buy?
My two favorite keepsakes are a handout custom silhouette of Tatum and a Mickey Christmas ornament.  The silhouette we got down a small alley on Main Street - it was only $20 including a frame.  We let Tatum pick out a few toys - including a plastic set of Mickey & friends, a medium sized Mickey and Minnie and a bigger Pluto to add to his set.

Where did you stay?
We stayed at the Grand Floridian and couldn't have loved it more.  It's right on the monorail line - the first stop after the hotel is the Magic Kingdom so it's great when you're rushing out in the morning.  There are a bunch of restaurants and Tatum loved the pool - we didn't even make it to the main pool since he loved the one by our room so much.

Favorite meals?
Our character meals were hands down everyone's favorite!  Since Tatum is young, it was the easiest way for him to quickly interact with the characters.  The buffet meals were even better - not having to wait for food to come when dining with a toddler is the best.  My favorites were 1900 Park Fare (we did breakfast and dinner since it was at our hotel) and Chef Mickey's!

Are extra magic hours worth it?
100%!  Nobody in our group wanted to spend a long time waiting in lines and Tatum would not have handled that well (especially since you park the stroller before getting in line).  We knocked out about 5 rides during the extra magic hours and a few more quickly in the first hour the park was open.

What was in your park bag?
Honestly, a lot of stuff I never touched!  I had a change of clothes for Tatum in a plastic bag (in case anything was dirty or wet), his iPad, bandaids, extra phone batteries, etc.  The items in the bag that we used were snacks (I did overpack them though), diapers/wipes, sanitizer, autograph book and sharpie.  I kept items for Derek and I like sunglasses in the outside pocket.

What would you do differently next time?
Not much!  I loved how we broke up our days by doing the park early in the morning and having a nice long break in the afternoon.  For really little kids I'd make sure to break up Magic Kingdom into two days and pick one other park - since we already did Epcot, next time I'd probably try Hollywood Studios.  Depending on how long you're there or if just two days, maybe just do two MK days. 

Until next time... 

Monday, November 4, 2019

Halloween 2019

Happy Monday!  These pictures might look like a Christmas photo shoot but today I'm sharing about our Halloween.  Tatum went as Santa and Derek and I joined as Elves and Stella as Rudolph.  I figured I could only get away with this costume being cute while he was two or under and next year he'll also probably want to pick his costume.

We had a great year this year - Tatum was at an age where he loved trick-or-treating.  He'd speed from house to house and grab candy (not that he knew it was candy which was good!)  We had some treats for him to eat instead.  We had a little party with a bunch of his friends before then trick-or-treated as a group before doing a little bit by ourselves.

It was rainy all day but dry for trick-or-treating hours so we lucked out - it was weirdly warm, in the lower 70's though and a couple hours after trick-or-treating we had a tornado warning and the craziest storm.  My brother handed out candy for us at our house and Tatum loved showing off what he got when we got home.

I had chicken tortilla soup going in the crockpot so we enjoyed a late dinner and watched It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown before Tatum went to bed quite a bit after his bedtime!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Pumpkin Carving Party

Halloween Eve Eve we had our usual Pumpkin Carving Party with family.  We did four pumpkins - carved by the guys and Tatum wanted so badly to help out.  We brought in a plain little pumpkin from the porch and his little tool set and he "got to work!"  He also used his Halloween stamps to decorate it.

We got some catering from on of our favorite local places plus some cheese and crackers and funfetti cupcakes and it was an easy hosting night!  This is always such a fun night during Halloween week and I'm glad Tatum enjoyed it as much as he did this year.

Happy Weekend! xx 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween: This & That

Happy Halloween!  I'm very excited to Trick-or-Treat tonight as well as give out candy because I think Tatum will really like doing both this year!  We've been having fun doing Halloween things here and there when we can fit them in!

While we watched the Penn State game on Saturday I got my Halloween bags ready for all the trick-or-treaters we'll get tonight... I always love doing this.

I love that Tatum's finally to an age that he can color and do crafts a little bit - he does get bored after a few minutes so we do it in stages!  He did really like this one though - I got a plain wooden pumpkin at Target and he used paint dobbers to put Halloween dots onto it.

This is the second year we've done a Halloween hayride with friends.  We went with four other families on a weeknight last week for a hayride to the witches house a local farm which the kids loved and then came back to our house for a chili/white chicken chili night - it's always such a fun fall event.

We've had a bin of Halloween books sitting out in the family room that we've been reading this month - I'll be sad to put them away.  Tatum's also brought home some cute crafts he's made at school.

Yesterday for Halloween Eve, we finished up all the Halloween things.  We tried a new recipe of Sausage Tortellini Soup which was delicious, watched The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown before bedtime and tested out our newly carved pumpkins.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Disney World: Tips & Tricks

With Tatum's age, I tried not to have too many expectations going into the trip but luckily we had no major tantrums or flip outs.  Occasional fear but so much happiness and excitement.  His favorite characters were Mickey and Minnie and he actually learned how to say Mickey and Minnie while we were there!

We booked our trip just over six months in advance to be able to get dining reservations right when they opened up.  Many people plan even more in advance of this but also even closer to their travel date and are still fine!

I'm sharing a few tips and tricks that I learned throughout the months of planning and experienced during our days at Disney...

Things to Get Ahead of Time:
We went just as summer had ended so I was able to easily get some inexpensive Mickey shirts for Tatum to wear - I found a bunch at Gap, Kohl's, Target and Amazon - I don't think any shirt was more than about $8-$10.  Take snacks with you, I packed anything we'd need for our stay in a carry on so we didn't have to worry about wasting time to buy there (though I did notice the 24 hour store in our hotel had most of what I needed - pouches, little snacks, etc. so I might consider that next time!)

I also got a few fun little extras like an autograph book, Mickey stroller tag (which is actually a luggage tag so I can use it on Tatum's suitcase on future travels) and a monogram shirt from Etsy.

Disney Dining:
Definitely make in advance if you can!  I cancelled our lunch at The Crystal Palace we had planned for the first day in case our flight was delayed and regretted it the second we walked into the overly crowded quick service lunch.  If you're staying on site, you can make your reservations 6 months in advance and have up to a day before to cancel.  

For some days I made multiple for breakfast or dinner just to get them and then decided which we'd prefer later.  If you can't quite find the time you want, take what you can get and work on modifying it later.

On the day your reservations open up make your choices in order of preference, not chronologically. Things go fast so this will help!

Fast Passes:
These open up two months ahead if you're staying on the property.  If you have a little little like Tatum, aim to grab these between 10am and 1pm.  You'll be able to hit some rides right when the park opens and things are quiet but still get back to the hotel for naps during the afternoon hours.  I tried to get ours mostly back to back (with the exception of an evening Mickey Meet and Great) which is beneficial as I was able to pick up a couple more some days once we used our three.

Constantly refresh the Fast Pass app (especially when you're waiting in lines) because different ones are always popping up.

Traveling with a Toddler:
Try not to have too many expectations!  Some people will say two is "too young" but I thought it was a great age!  He was old enough to get excited and really enjoy things but young enough to not notice if we missed something or cause us to wait in a super long line for something he just had to do.

Go with the flow - he slept through a few things and we just went with it even though I wanted him to see or do them.  We got to the parks early, spent the morning and took a nice break at the hotel in the afternoons before going off somewhere for dinner and that schedule worked really well for us!

Get out before the fireworks.  You can beat the crowds and if you're staying on the monorail line you can just watch from your hotel and still hear the music from the show.  If you really want to watch there then watch right outside the entrance by the monorail to get out quick.

Prep for the Next Day:
During our afternoon break I'd usually clean out the park bag and refill anything like diapers, snacks. I'd charge the iPad and backup phone chargers and also lay out our clothes for the next morning.  That way when we woke up we just had to get ready grab the stroller with the bag in it and go!

Memory Maker:
I think this is 100% worth the price if you're going with a group of family, staying more than a few days or just love pictures.  The quality of the photos the staff members get is great and they snap a ton!  They will also take the pictures on your phone or camera as well so that's another option.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Weekend Scenes

With Penn State weekends, Disney, Tatum's birthday and some other things - we haven't had any time in October to do Halloween things so we packed in anything we could this weekend!

Friday night our country club had a Halloween event for the kids and they went all out - the whole place was decorated, there was a huge food buffet, games, dessert decorating, a bonfire and more. There was a DJ for the kids to dance and we could barely get Tatum off the dance floor, he loved it... and the games!

Our first Saturday morning at home in a while felt good!  We got some things like laundry and tidying up done then all took a family walk.  I wanted to try some slice and bake cookies with Tatum to see if he liked baking with me and he really enjoyed it - we also had sprinkles all over the place!

There was a local Halloween parade so we went to lunch and then watched the parade.  Tatum was very into it and loved chasing after the candy to put into his bag.

He's being something different for Halloween but this $11 skeleton costume from Amazon did the trick for the weekend events.

In the midst of the Halloween fun, we couldn't forget about the Penn State game!  They played at 3:30 on Saturday and we settled into the family room to all watch.  Derek's parents got there at half time to visit and watch Tatum for the night so we had some potato soup and appetizers then finished watching a great win for us - 28 to 8 over Michigan State.

That night we had a Halloween party which was lots of fun.  Derek and I went at Zach and Kelly from Saved by the Bell.  It was such an easy/comfortable costume and we had a great adults night out.

Yesterday it was absolutely pouring!  Derek was supposed to golf but that got cancelled so other than a trip to the grocery store for me, we had a quiet day at home!

I'd been saving some Halloween masks and stickers to put on pumpkins to do sometime during Halloween week and I'm so glad I did - it helped pass the time since we couldn't go outside.  The rest of the day was a mix of lazy, getting some things done around the house and then delicious chicken enchiladas for dinner.