Thursday, January 30, 2014

Easy Fix for Chewed Up Straw Cups

Todays blog post will be a short one...

Who has bought these:

Take & Toss Straw Cups

...just to have the straws chewed up after one or two uses?!

I love these cups...they are an in-between choice for us since my son if a "big boy" and no longer needs a sippy cup (however spills EVERYWHERE if he leaves the table with a regular cup).

I don't know why it took me so long to think of this, but I have just started buying regular bendy straws to use with the cups. I don't even bother with the hard plastic straws that come with them any more. The bendy one is easier to use and I can just toss them after each use (so it doesn't matter if he chews them or not)! Bonus!!

Cups - Roughly $3 for a 4 pack
Straws - I have seen bendy straws as cheap at $6 for 400 of them!!!!!

Why, oh why did it take me this long to figure this one out? What easy tips can you share?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Do you want to build (an indoor) snowman?

The temperature is frigid these days in good old Ohio! My son has had a running nose for a few days and although we have lots of snow, I am not allowing him to go play in it. He has been so sad and disappointed. So today...we build a snowman. Made of homemade snow!

Here's what you will need:

A batch of this stuff - Snow Dough
Mini chocolate chips
Circus Peanuts
Black licorice twists

My son LOVES the movie Frozen. So we are making Olaf, but feel free to build a traditional man of snow (or woman I suppose...although then it is still not traditional...whatever)....

Roll the snow dough into your chosen shapes and start building your man of snow.

Once you get your shape you can decorate him! Chocolate chips for the coat buttons. I don't like to keep small beads in the house because of my little one, but you could use those instead.

Moms and will need to cut the orange candy into a carrot nose. I also couldn't find the peel licorice, so I had to cut mine with a knife. I then used them for arms, face and hair..annnnnnd DONE!!
Yes, my son is wearing a hat to build his snowman. When I first told him that we were making one he started to get ready to go outside. I thought he'd be sad when I told him that we were doing it inside, but instead he was super excited!

After we got done building Olaf, we decided to keep going. Little man was so happy with his last design (on the left) that he HAD to pack it up to give to Grandma!'s kinda creepy though, right? It has horns.
Fun was had by all and we got everything cleaned up just in time for my 13 mo. old sleeping beauty to wake up from her nap.
Hope you are finding fun ways to keep warm and busy during this cold, COLD winter!!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Driving to Disney Series / Step #1 - Planning

For the last decade and a half I have worked for a major airline and have flown for free any time we have last minute trips to go on. Sure it's stand-by...but in a crunch it works. I will say that with kids, I have been buying tickets for our large vacations. It is super nerve wracking when we get all separated and everything! I digress. I no longer work for that airline and I am now booking travel as an Authorized Disney Vacation Specialist. I live and breathe Disney! I am a Disney Geek in every sense of the way. I love Hidden Mickeys, Pixar Easter Eggs, Park name it! My son has adopted my passion and he is a Mickey SUPERFAN! We have decided to take him on a short Disney trip tailored to just him. The only problem is that we don't want to buy airfare for a two night trip...time to take a road trip! Cleveland to we go!!!

Departure night:

We will get the kids ready for bed and put them in PJs and I'll drive for about 5 hours...this should get us to WV or VA. I'll be amped up and we should be able to get at least 5 hours into the trip.

-1:30am (at the latest)
Stop for the night...hoping to get as far as Wytheville, VA. We'll see. We will have a separate overnight bag for this one night. Backpack time!

Get up and get crackin'! We are hoping to find a hotel with a free breakfast. If so, we will eat and then get on the road.

I will probably want to drive for awhile. Once again...excited to GET THERE! Hubby can take the wheel after a few hours. In theory we could be there by 6pm without stops. However, besides food and bathroom breaks, we have a few possible longer stops along the way. My son loves trains and there is a railroad museum in GA. I also want to stop in St. Augustine (such a cool city)...and there is a pirate museum there!!

So that's the rough outline! Stay tuned for my next installment. I'll go over what I am packing in the kids tote bags and apps that I have found for my iDevices. I will also let you know if we have any tweaking to the schedule!

Have you driven more than 12 hours with kids? If so, what was your strategy?? Will my plan work?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My MagicBand Experience

This last September we took a week long trip to the Walt Disney Resort in Florida. During our stay at Disney's Beachclub Resort we were lucky enough to be able to try out the new MagicBands that are in Beta. I know many of you have not yet tried them out and I just wanted to share our personal experience. Hope it helps some of you out!

Before the trip:

Customize Your MagicBands! This part was super fun for us. You can add a name (or a fun nickname) for each of your travel party. You can also request a color from these choices: Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, Grey, Pink and Orange. Don't worry, once you get your color you can change up the colors by purchasing a CoverBand (those accessories are for another post completely lol)

Load your MagicBand with Fastpasses! Once you have confirmed your shipping address and customized your are now ready to load them up with fastpasses! The new Fastpass+ system allows you to book your ride times in advance. While this part seems a little silly...I mean I don't know what I want to eat for dinner tonight, how am I going to know what time I want to ride Space Mountain two months from now?!?! Well...we found it to be quite useful, actually! If you are unsure of what to ride when, you can always count on an authorized travel planner (like moi) to help you with your touring plans. We loved the fact that we didn't need to run in seperate directions to obtain fastpasses and head towards rope drop attractions. We moseyed into the park and in some cases even stops for a bite for breakfast!

Receive the MagicBands! Getting that awesome Incredibles box is like Christmas! The packaging for these bands are unreal! You can sure tell that the marketing crew at Disney really thought long and hard about how these bands were going to arrive to you. Enjoy it...because they are meant to be used again and again. Once the system is in full swing, you will not order another one unless your original has been lost.

During your trip:

Use them to board Disney's Magical Express! Make sure you wear them on the plane or have them handy in your carry-on bags, because your DME tickets are now going to be loaded right on your MagicBand! Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

Use them as a room key! Once you check in and get a room number, your bands will be activated. Hold your band to the RFID reader in the door and BAM...your in! We had fun with this. Our 3 year old son would hold his up to the door and use a made up magic words to get us in each time. Have any of you seen that Mickey Mouse Clubhouse where Goofy keeps messing up Hocus Pocus by saying Hokey Pokey? Well...this was our go to phrase ;)

Use them to get into the resort parking lot! If you can, get used to wearing them on your left wrist if you plan on driving a car for your stay. You will be able to pull up to the security gate and tap the MagicBand to enter the lot, however it can be difficult if you have it on your right wrist. I remember seeing a man fumbling with his and he dropped it...then had to open the car door...and now there is a line of cars behind him. Don't be that guy.

Use them to get into the pool! While staying at the Yachtclub or Beachclub you need to prove to the cast members that you belong in the pool. Stormalong Bay is probably the best pool on Disney property and guests and locals alike know this and try to "pool hop". At one time guests wore wristbands to obtain access, now since they have RFID you can either use your key, or as we did, your MagicBand to get in. They have handheld RFID readers that let them know that you are okay to enter. Don't worry...they are waterproof up to depths way deeper than any of the Disney pools!


Use them to retrieve dining reservations! Thanks to your handy dandy travel planner...your ADRs are booked! When you arrive to the table service restaurant, just have them scan your MagicBand so that they know who you are and what time you had an ADR for!

Use them to get food! As previously mentioned, we like the Disney Dining plan. It just works for our family. If you are a DDP hater, than skip to the next point ;) Once you check into your hotel, your dining credits are stored on the band. Use them the same way you would have with your KTTW card...and don't forget to double check your receipts to make sure the correct credits were taken! We found this to be a fast and easy way to order, especially at counter service locations.

Use them to get into the parks! The days of long lines and turnstiles at the park entrances are over! Just tap the Mickey and watch it turn green! Again...this proved to be much easier than fumbling with paper tickets or KTTW cards. We only had one problem with a MagicBand not reading properly and a cast member with a handheld device came over and resolved our problem instantly. Even with the snafu, we still entered the park faster than if we had old school paper tickets!

Use those Fastpasses! You booked the rides in advance...but do you remember what times you had?? Don't can use your smartphone and the My Disney Experience App to locate all of your reservation info! Once you get to the ride...just bang're droppin' like it's hot from 13 stories up on Tower of Terror! Or riding Dumbo (for those of you less adventurous folk). You can also use the app to change reservation times or book dining if you need to! Although there are some charging stations, you may want to bring a portable charger for your device. We never use our enough to zap them.

Use it to SHOP! When you check in you will assign a credit card to your bands and choose a PIN. If you opt to, you can make all of your purchases by a tap of the MagicBand. For your security, you will be required to enter your PIN. We didn't use this feature as much, because we like to take Disney Gift cards with us to control our spending...Disney is the ONLY place where I get out of hand with shopping!

Use it to connect Photopass pictures! This was still just rolling out when we were there, but a couple of the Photopass photographers asked us to tap our MagicBands to load our Photopass pictures. One less card that I need! I like it!!

After your trip:

Save them somewhere safe! We have a large bag that has nothing but Disney vaca stuff in it. We have left over ponchos, plane toys, battery operated hand fans,autograph books, etc. This is where I put our magic bands. If you do happen to lose them, just go to the Disney website and sign in. Click on My Disney Experience on the upper right hand side of the screen and then click on MagicBands and Cards. Just deactivate the MagicBand that has been lost and then is should ask if it is will say yes. You should then be able to order a new one for your next trip. At this point because they are in Beta, it appears that you can order a new MagicBand for any upcoming trip even if you have active bands from your last. I am assuming that this will not be the case once the complete program is rolled out.

So that's it! Now that I am looking at all of the info, it does seem like a lot to take in. If you are ever overwhelmed with planning a Disney trip, I can help! My service is fee free and I can do all of this for you...and more. Just ask! If not...stay tuned for more helpful random info. This is a all purpose blog after all!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Packing for Walt Disney World

Now, I have a tried and tested theory about packing for not over pack. Just don't. You will not have room to bring home souvenirs or Goofy's Candy treats. You won't need those all of those bandaids or asprin (Disney first-aid has all of that...for free). You will eat way more than you plan on in the park and half of those granola bars and poptarts will get left behind for housekeeping. Take them...just not a months supply!

I promise...less is more.
Here is my personal packing list. I am up for suggestions and tips!! I am all about carrying as minimal amount as possible!

 I have also color coordinated what gets put where and I have separate list additions for when I travel with the kids or for a race weekend :)

Edit: Ladies...I have not mentioned make-up or purse...these things should be a part of you ;)

Things to pack in advance:
Water safe lanyard to hold ID and cash
Room decorations
Ziplock bags (quart sized)
Snacks (trail mix, poptarts, pretzels)
Hand sanitizer
Extra pair of sunglasses
Tide sink pak and/or stain stick
Change for tolls / emergency laundry
Travel sized toothpaste
Travel sized deodorant
Disposable razor
Makeup remover
Mousekeeping envelopes
Bathing suits and towel
Flipflops or water shoes for pool
Small sewing kit and first-aid kit
Shorts / jeans
Tees / sweatshirts
Hair ties
Things to pack the morning of departure:
Cell Charger
Blow dryer and straightener
Glasses, contacts and solution

Red indicated things to include in the carry on.
Blue indicates things that we should include "part of" into the carry on.

Packing for Kids:
New toys for plane
Baby wipes
Blanky / stuffed animal
Sound machine

Packing for Races:
Printed waiver
Running shoes
Road ID
WISH singlet
Running shorts
Running socks

That should be it! We have always either rented a car and shopped at Target for a case of water (and sometimes a box of wine) or we have one delivered. We have used Garden Grocer and Staples in the past. Never buy water in Disney.

I love to compare mothers is much longer than mine ;) What do you always take that isn't on my list??

Update: I have read that some of the laundry rooms are updated to use credit cards that you can just slide into the machines?! I'm still not sure if you need change for the soap. I'd still take some in case..


Thursday, January 9, 2014

DIY Natural Floor Cleaner

Hello there!

After a long hiatus I have come to make a quick post.

Moving is hard work!! I don't remember moving to have been so difficult in the past. Then again...I was just moving my own stuff and not a whole families worth!

We have moved from a 900 square foot condo into a 1800 square foot house...that was built in 1924. Yes...1924...which is a bit scary. We have the original door and one window...and original hardwood floors. They are full of character...and have been lived on (which I personally love). I have two kids and two in my world, scratches and dings are stories and memories! Although they are banged up, I certainly want them clean! Which leads me to the topic of this post...

I am currently experimenting on a homemade recipe for hardwood floors. I've heard to use vinegar...I've heard to NOT use vinegar. I have heard that plain old water in a mixter is best, but then how does it kill germies?!? After some trials I think I have come up with a good mixture.

And before I go further - I had been using Bona. I have the duster, mop and spray. I loved this system and it did a great job of cleaning my floors, but I also like to make my own refills. I will use the original Bona mister bottle and mop because it honestly works great!



1 cup tap water
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 drops liquid dish soap

Remember to shake your bottle well before using your spray. You want to make sure the oil gets incorporated.

Any suggestions on a good DIY cleaner for granite??