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.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Disney World Day Four: Grand Floridian

I still have a few more posts with tips and trips, q & a, etc. but today I'm sharing our last day at Disney!  During our stay we stayed at the Grand Floridian and loved everything about it.  It was a beautiful resort, two pools - Tatum loved the smaller one and a bunch of restaurants.  It was on the monorail line which was a huge plus for us - and the Magic Kingdom was the first stop after we got on which was perfect.

We slept in and then went back to 1900 Park Fare for an 8:45 breakfast reservation.  This breakfast was really cute - Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter were the characters and the food was delicious and plentiful.  Tigger was a photo opp at the end but our table was near his area and he always popped out to visit tables close by if nobody was getting their picture taken.

We'd planned to take Tatum back to the pool for one last swim but decided to skip that and take our time packing up, enjoying the hotel property and checking out the shops there.  We were all so sad to leave!

Our flight home was at 2:30 and Tatum handled the flight so well - he slept on my Mom's lap just about the whole way home.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Disney World Day Three: Magic Kingdom

Wednesday was our third day at the parks and we were back at Magic Kingdom - the park opened early at 8am that day but also had Extra Magic Hours for resort guests and due to the early opening that meant those were at 7am.  We decided to just go for it, get up early to beat the crowds then spend the afternoon back at the Grand Floridian and it was totally worth it!

Luckily this was our best weather day which worked well since this was the day we were doing the most.  It had rained overnight and cooled things off a little bit and was also primarily overcast which made it more comfortable.

We left the hotel about 6:45am and the Magic Kingdom was the next stop on the monorail so were were there quick and walked into the park right about 7.  There were staff members inside once you got past Main Street to scan your band and make sure you were staying on property.  

My brother and Derek went right to get on Seven Dorf's Mine Train and basically walked on.  My parents, Tatum and I did Peter Pan's Flight (since he slept through it the other day) and It's a Small World, which continued to be his favorite while the boys were on their ride.

We had a fast pass for Winnie the Pooh later in the morning but decided to just go ahead and do it now since we were right there - I'm glad we did because there was a little play area for kids as we got into line.

At this point it was just about 8am and the park was about to open - we grabbed a couple pictures on the side of the castle before the stampede of park goers went by.  We went over to Main Street to quickly get a couple pictures in front of the castle while it was quiet then it was back to Fantastyland, where we spent most of our time.

We went right back to Enchanted Tales with Belle and had about an 8 minute wait - Tatum wasn't part of the show but he bravely went up to meet Belle at the end.  Next we went back over to Under the Sea since the boys hadn't been on it and it was one of my favorites.  Things were still pretty quiet so we waited about 10 minutes for Dumbo and then went over to do the Prince Charming Carousel which we hadn't done yet.

We had a 9:20 reservation at Be Our Guest so we took a break for a bit - it was a cute setting and the quick service food comes out fast (if you're wanting to really take advantage of the quiet early park time then I'd do a later breakfast or wait for lunch)!  Tatum actually fell asleep so we boxed his breakfast and he ate it in the stroller a bit later - go with the flow!

Since we moved around our first fast pass, I picked up one for the Tomorrowland Speedway since we'd be over that way anyway from 9:40-10:40 for the Tomorrowland Speedway and we just made it in time.  Tatum was measured but was just barely tall enough to ride and loved steering Derek's car - I rode with my brother and my parents followed behind.

We did our Buzz Light Year's Space Spin fast pass right after the speedway as soon as our fast pass opened up.  We all enjoyed that one and Tatum loved it!  There was a short line to meet Buzz after and since Tatum loves Toy Story we did that.  He kept saying "Buzz, Buzz."

We made it over to Main Street at 11:30 on the dot just a few minutes before the Move it! Shake it! Mousekedance it! Parade made it's way down the street and like the other parades, it was a favorite for Tatum.

At this point we were pretty much done with rides - with Tatum's younger age we didn't really want to wait more than 20 minutes for anything.  We jumped in line for the Donald and Goofy Meet and Great which was about a 20 minute wait but in a nice air conditioned area.  After that we grabbed some snacks - Mickey popsicles and ice cream before we headed out for the afternoon.

By 1pm we were back at the hotel and into our bathing suits ready to relax.  There was a chance of an afternoon shower so we got Tatum right to the pool and got lunch there - the others had a nicer lunch inside the main building at the Grand Floridian Cafe.  We had about two solid hours of playing at the pool and then Tatum fell asleep in his stroller - it actually started to rain as we were leaving (and stopped before we left to go back to the park) so the timing worked out perfectly - I was so thankful!

Tatum ended up sleeping almost two hours - his best nap of the trip - so we rested, packed up a little bit and got ready for the evening.

We had a quick drink upstairs at the Enchanted Rose before grabbing the monorail back over to the Magic Kingdom for dinner.  We got back to the parks a little before dinner for our final fast pass - a Meet and Great with Mickey Mouse.

We were in and out of that pretty quickly so we had some time to check out the castle lit up for night and do any shopping we wanted - I took Tatum's Mickey Ears to get monogrammed and it's probably my favorite souvenir now - he also loved wearing them.

When my brother and I were little, whenever we went to Disney my parents would take us to Tony's Town Square Restaurant so that's what we picked for dinner.

We originally had planned to stay at the park for the fireworks but nobody felt like dealing with the monorail traffic after and once we saw the crowds we knew we were right and luckily a boat was pulling in so we took the ferry back to the hotel and got back a few minutes before the show so we only had to wait about 10 minutes.  

The boat launch was a great spot to watch - there were a bunch of people there.  They loop the music in so it was a great way to watch - all the songs were so cute - Tatum ended up falling asleep about halfway through.  We watched the boat parade on the water and then headed up to bed!