Monthly Archives: May 2015

Disneyland Trip: Toddler & Preschooler FAVORITES

Our vacation to California was FULL of  fun and daily adventures.  One of the highlights of our trip was definitely going to Disneyland with our two kids.  Going to Disneyland with a toddler(almost two) and preschooler(three year old) went swimmingly thanks to using our list from A DAY at Disneyland: Tips & Tricks.

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Our day started off with Breakfast at the Plaza Inn with the characters.  Delicious all you can eat meal-probably my favorite at Disneyland( toddler eats free-high-five).  All of the characters come around to the table(multiple times) and hangout for pictures and delighting the kids-young and old alike.  Emma Marie screamed, “TIGGER!!!” when the bouncy figure entered our area.  We only own one book about Tigger, so apparently we need to up our stash.  Emma Marie just about lost it when Minnie realized that Em had on a Minnie dress… commence cutest gushing moment ever.  Minnie also taught Raymond about how to kiss a lady on the hand.  He kept trying to fistbump her. Mom fail.

Raymond’s favorite characters had to be Captain Hook-who is a giant character-which makes him all the more menacing.  He also loved the always hilarious Chip & Dale who were constantly getting into little fights.  Breakfast and a show.

Emma Marie stole all of my croissants.  Girl’s got good taste. Literally.

As with last year we emailed ahead of time to let each restaurant know that Raymond has multiple life-threatening food allergies.  The Head Chef comes out and asks what he would like and makes the meal themselves.  Love that we can eat safely at the happiest place on Earth.

We parked our stroller outside and made sure to have my fanny pack, and the backpack with us.  We actually left our stroller at the “stroller parking” in front of the Plaza Inn for over five hours.  With an almost two year old and three year old they truly wanted to walk most of the time- much slower-but we weren’t in a hurry to get anywhere.

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Favorite Rides

Emma Marie:

Emma Marie was ALL about the slower character rides.  Last year she loved going on Pirates of Caribbean-but this year it was a little too real.  Her favorites were Dumbo, the Carousal-only on a purple horse– girl knows what she wants, Autotopia, and the train.  We rode Autotopia twice- each time she declared that she would have a purple car to drive-unbeknownst to her we don’t get to choose the colors of our cars.  Well luck would have it that the second time we rode the sparkliest purple car you’ve ever seen screeched to a halt in front of us.  It was fate.  The happiest of dances were had and we were off to the races. Girl couldn’t reach the pedal but loved steering us on our journey.  Made for one bumpy ride.

 

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Raymond:

Raymond loved going on Star Tours.  He LOVES Star Wars and we were pretty excited that he was tall enough to go on it this year.  The ride has been updated since the last time I’ve gone on it and there are three parts to every ride that change each time on your 3D adventure.  Darth Vader attacked us, giant sea monsters, rogue storm troopers, and other surprises that I will not giveaway.  He rode Star Tours SIX times.

Every single ride that has a height restriction has a Rider Swap program.  You simply wait through the ride once and upon exiting(or about to get on the ride-differs greatly) you ask one of the Disney Personnel for a Ride Swap pass.  This enables the family member(s)-up to three- to go the fast pass way OR the back entrance.  What should take 30-45 minutes to get on a ride then takes less than five minutes.  Hence the SIX times Raymond was able to ride.

 

 

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With a toddler and preschooler this time around there were a lot more things to just see and touch.  We wandered through Toon Town opening all of the doors and ringing all of the doorbells… don’t forget to set-off the fireworks if you find yourselves there and scare the crap out of other tourists.

We took time to travel around on the Train for two entire laps as the kids just needed a break and we happily relaxed.  Emma Marie slept soundly the whole tour and Raymond took delight in watching the Conductor and waving at everyone.

Tiki Family

 

Thanks to Scooby Doo our family has a thing for Tiki’s- next year we will have to watch the show-but waiting in long lines just aren’t our cup of tea.

Looking back at our photos I now know that I am the only one that didn’t attempt to get the Sword out of the Stone.  And if you are lucky enough, some say that the Wizard appears and asks for a strong volunteer… the large man or woman chosen never are able to claim The Sword- but upon a second victor to be chosen-a child is able to wield The Sword.  Would LOVE to be present at such a sight.

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Raymond tried his hardest.

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Emma Marie gave a big shake and tried to release The Sword.

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And last, but certainly not least.

Disneyland with Walt

As the park started to shut-down we bundled up and took a leisurely walk back to the shuttle.  We stopped off to get a picture with Walt- the kids were not impressed- but they did, “OHHH and AHHH,” each time we entered the Castle.   The hubby and I celebrated with a coffee at the Disneyland Starbucks-who has old fashioned phones that the kids went nuts over-and I grabbed a commemorative mug-because coffee is my love language.

As we slowly exited we high-fived each-other.  The only tears shed were when a forty-five year old woman saw Woody and literally ran Emma Marie over.  I know she is small… BUT SERIOUSLY?!? Emma Marie smacked the ground face-first(how is that possible?) and her tooth went through her lip.  Blood gushed everywhere and the mom just said, “Sorry,” as she kept running toward the character.  There was no line for Woody.

Color me un-impressed.

BUT that was after dinner and all of the rides.  So Emma Marie just cuddled with me after we got the bleeding stopped.  So an entire day and night without tears of frustration with a toddler AND preschooler meant for another successful trip to the Happiest Place on Earth.  Thankful that they are still talking about their favorite moments and that we were able to make family memories together once again.

 

You can check out our DAY OF Adventures on Instagram.

And don’t forget to check out our post about A Day at Disneyland: Tips & Tricks.

Last year-Disneyland or Bust.

 

What are your favorite rides at Disneyland?  

Are you planning on visiting sometime soon?

 

 

Star Spangled Marshmallows Recipe

Perfect treat for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July- Star Spangled Marshmallows!  Loved that this sweet treat hit the spot with our guests, young and old.  Thankful that a I made these the day before the party as there was a slight learning curve for me.  Don’t worry- with these tips you will have delicious and STAR-TASTIC treats for your next holiday bash.

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Star Spangled Marshmallows

Supplies:

Camp Size Bag of Marshmallows

Paper Straws

Candy Melts- One Pound Bag of Each Color- Red and Dark Blue 

Parchment Paper or Wax Paper- Two Sheets Will Work

I wanted an allergy-friendly option for my gluten-free, nut-free, egg-free, preschooler to munch on and BOY did I find a keeper.  I grabbed a Camp Size Bag of Marshmallows(who knew those even existed???) and two bags of candy melts(in the decoration aisle, not baking section) and used some sturdy paper straws.  HINT: Do not use plastic- they slide right off.

You will need to actually read the directions on the Candy Melts to melt them.  Please don’t make my mistake and glance at them while throwing them in a glass jar in the microwave.  They can and will BURN and turn black.  Not exactly the look I was going for.  Thankfully I just used about 1/3 of the one pound bags and could throw out that first batch.

After warming the Blue Candy Melts you will make a hole with your paper straw in the marshmallow and then remove the straw.  Place the marshmallow side down(the one with the hole) into the Blue Candy Melt. I let the residual candy drip off then placed the marshmallow blue side up on a baking sheet.  I then IMMEDIATELY stuck the straw back in through the blue candy.  This helps the straw stick as the candy dries and you don’t have to worry about cracking the candy goodness if you put the straw in later on.

Let dry. I was doing multiple party-prep items so this wasn’t so much me watching the candy dry as it was me multitasking.

Thirty minutes later(approximately) I warmed up the Red Candy Melts-the right way- and was able to hold onto the marshmallow part below the blue candy and dip it straight into the red candy.  You do not want to use the straw to dip from because the excess Red Candy Melt sometimes is a bit too much weight and there could be a straw-tastrophy.

I kid.  But really.  Hold from the marshmallow.

 

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You will then want to place the Red Candy Melt side down on your Parchment Paper or Wax Paper- I used one of each because either I was helping you all out or I ran out of both and used what I had…

Putting the Red Candy Melt side down on a baking sheet or glassware will cause the red to stick to the sheet or glass and will cause you to either ruin your marshmallow entirely OR you can simply re-do the red with the 1/3 Red Candy Melts that you have left.

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Steep learning curve for this novice.  But with these helpful hints you will be able to avoid my mistakes.  These were the BIGGEST hit with the kids.  So much so that I will always make a batch of color coordinated marshmallows for any and all future parties.

Star Spangled Marshmallows

We used these for our Avengers Unite Superhero Party.  BUT the supplies are bought to make a batch for Memorial Day and of course our Fourth of July BBQ.  This treat is seriously cheap and non-messy for those pesky preschoolers that like to get ooey-gooey chocolate all over EVERYTHING.  Or for that matter… adults that don’t want sticky fingers.

I know there are some of you out there that know what I’m talking about.

Memorial Day Marshmallows

 

Captain America Approved.

Any festive ideas to spice up our Memorial Day and Fourth of July BBQ plans?

Would love to try a new recipe! Thanks for sharing!


Mom’s Night Out

 

This past Thursday was National Mom’s Night Out and I loved being able to invite friends over! Fabulous evening of good food, drinks, and even better company.  Definitely realized that I do not take time away, aside from business conferences, to get out and be with friends.
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Chalkboard Wall complete with National Mom’s Night Out Hashtag.  Definitely get my inner-nerd blogger on when I get out the stencils and put the hashtag up.  But I LOVE.EVERY.BIT of it. #NMNO15  Our DIY chalkboard wall is the perfect background for party pictures!  I laid out an array of props-because I love a good photo-op with props.  AND so do my kids.

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As the party was set to begin, my two munchkins were clad in their pajamas, freshly bathed, and relished in the fact that they could photo-bomb me.  Attack by toddler.  But I’ll take all the kisses I can get!

Our Menu:

Olive Garden Knock-Off Salad

Olive Garden Copycat Zuppa Toscana

Veggies

Cheese & Crackers

Chips & Salsa

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Olive Garden Knockoff Salad

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Olive Garden Copycat Zuppa Toscana

beech-nut-mimosa

Mimosas with Beech-Nut Organic

Recipe:

Bubbly

Orange Juice

Beech-Nut Organic Puree- Just Pear & Black Cherry

Honestly, you can’t really go wrong with any combination of the three above.  Delicious AND Gorgeous.  WIN.  At Mom 2.0 Summit I was lucky enough to attend a dinner with Beech-Nut.  A little more than halfway through the dinner they let us in our their secret ingredients… that’s right BABY Food.  I was shocked.  Honestly, it was great and you shouldn’t knock it until you try it!  I can’t wait to add some of their purees, that Emma Marie was brought up with, into pancakes and waffles.  What a sweet and healthy addition to one of our favorite weekly meals!  Will definitely update you with a recipe.

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Iced Tea Bar

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Loved the little touches- Caravan Shoppe Prints

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YES- Caravan Shoppe Print

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#NMNO15

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Party Favors Included- MyPrintly Grab Bags, Bicycle Playing Cards & HP Photo Paper

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Beverage Bar

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A couple days before the party I found out I would be having a procedure done to test a lump mere hours before.  I put a Hail Mary call to the girls about sweet treats and they brought lots of fabulous goodies!  Seriously, so much yum!  Those professional looking cupcakes are ten times better tasting than they look- and they look GOOD.  She is on a hiatus through the summer but locals- check out Simply Sweets!

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So very thankful that after a rough day and an incredibly stressful week-that I could sit down with these ladies and just be.  Listen, share, and eat.  What more could a girl ask for?  It has been WAY too long since I’ve hosted a get together like this and I definitely plan on doing it more than once a year now.

Moms need a break more than once a year.

When was the last time you were able to get a night out?   Do you schedule that it in regularly?

 

The post is sponsored by MomSelect.  All opinions as always are 100% my own.

Make YOUR Own Captain America Shield DIY

For our Avengers Unite Superhero Party I wanted to make sure that there were plenty of activities for kids of ALL ages.  The Make Your Own Captain America Shield was a HIT with the toddlers and my preschooler!  The craft is really simple to put together and is an awesome party favor for your guests to take home!

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Superhero Party Ideas

SUPPLIES:

Frisbees

Print Out

CrayonsPaint(if you dare)-Markers(washable for sure)

Blue Painters Tape

Price: $10 for 6 Frisbees & Crayons

Thoughts: Remember it doubles as a take-home favor and the kids are immediately able to play with their new shield.  Love imaginative play in our house and we were thrilled with the outcome of this craft!

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Emma Marie and Raymond painted a shield of their own ahead of time… because PAINT… and so that the other little superheroes could see what the goal was.

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Craft Table set-up during our Avengers Party.  If it wasn’t for the Hulk Smash Wall outside- I might have put the craft out there.  BUT nothing was colored on that wasn’t supposed to so- WIN.

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Captain America gave his SEAL of Approval.

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Our little Superheroes snacking on some delicious Patriotic Popcorn!

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My darling nieces got in on the action in Hawaii! Love my two Hawaiian Captain America’s!

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Sweet Baby Kai- Perfect Craft for young toddlers!

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WHO SAYS girls can’t be Superheroes?  Not this family!  Love that my sister’s and I grew up knowing that we could be anything that we wanted… even a superhero!  Our family favorites are Thor, Captain America, and Hulk.  My sister’s family LOVES Superman, Supergirl, and Captain America!

We celebrate heroes that make a difference and our kids aspire to be more like them! Plus, there are incredible teaching moments when you look at the personality of each hero and what they are capable of, what they choose to be, and who they choose to be. Being a hero is a choice.I think that everyone can aspire to be a hero to someone in their time of need.

BOOM.

Superheroes for the win!

Superhero Party Ideas

Avengers Cityscape

Patriotic Popcorn

Hulk Smash Wall

 


A DAY at Disneyland: Tips & Tricks

Last year we DID Disneyland in a DAY with our baby and toddler.  Over 17 hours worth of fun without one single tantrum nor tear.  As we rode the tram home after the fireworks display late that night my husband and I HIGH-FIVED each other and chalked it all up to good old-fashioned planning.

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A Day at Disneyland: Tips & Tricks
Disneyland

A DAY at Disneyland: Tips & Tricks

MEALS

ADR (Advance Dinner Reservation) – cuts wait times down to 5 minutes(or no wait-can I get a high-five?) instead of the typical 40-50 minutes and get in to Disneyland Park BEFORE it actually opens for the public.  Rockstar Status.  Can also get Character Meets done as well.  We ate at the Plaza Inn(in Disneyland) and were able to take pictures with characters who came around to our individual tables. We ALWAYS bring a ton of dry cereal, baby food pouches, camelback water bottles(easy to refill), and rice-krispy treats.  For dinner our MUST for every visit is Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue.  Delicious, finger-licking good time.  Drinks flowing(hello Diet Coke) in large mason jars, a live band(great for kids to watch), and all you can eat BBQ, corn, beans, and cornbread. Plus being tucked away from the crowds of the parades(during dinner time) is most pleasant-surrounded by cool pine trees.

Or – save time and money and bring your own food. You can eat snacks while waiting to board rides; just be ready to store those snacks. See Fanny Pack.

RIDES

Road Map to Rides – Check height restrictions, make a list of which rides are a must. My husband made a spreadsheet. Don’t forget about Baby Swap(Rider Exchange)! Hello secret path through Indiana Jones! Know which ones are Fast Pass and USE THEM. A lot of the kids rides have a large line and no fast pass… know which ones are height and AGE friendly for your family before waiting.  Little known secret for tiny tots?  The ride hidden behind the Splash Mountain Exit NEVER has a wait and is baby and toddler friendly.  The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. LOVED being able to ride that a couple times with two EXTREMELY happy little ones.

FANNY PACK

I’ve worn one in each adult trip I’ve taken.  At first I’ve had a few snickers and a couple call outs BUT when they are asked to store their backpack after they’ve waited an eternity to get on a ride? Payback? Knowledge is power.  You can ride EVERY SINGLE RIDE at Disneyland while wearing a fanny pack.  The same sadly can not be said for the much cooler looking cousin, the back pack.

Snacks, Epi-Pens(crucial for us), Cell Phone, Keys, Tickets. BOOM.  Always with you.  Please remember to bring a ziplock bag to store your cell phone in(in the fanny pack) because you can AND WILL get wet on Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain(does that really need to be written?) and by a wayward toddler trying to “help” you with your water. Inevitable.

Last year I forgot my precious Ergo in the car(and it is a TREK to go back to the car) and goodness my back paid the price.  Babywear for the WIN! 

Strollers are necessary.  Our baby and two year old took multiple naps throughout the day.  Plus we just “parked” our stroller outside each ride with about fifty of it’s stroller friends and never had a problem.

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POWER

Bring extra power – Disney doesn’t have Wi-Fi and some rides bring you deep underground with no cell signal (battery drain). Peace of mind you won’t run out for families who may separate and need to communicate.  There were many times where we split up to take our toddler on a ride and for me to go to the Baby Care Center to feed the baby in peace and quiet.   Also would be bad if you were depending on your phone for pictures! Don’t forget to LIVE in the moment though.  Technology is not an end all.

 

FAMILY PHOTOS

Memories – Use Disney Photo Pass(for a price) – no cameras required and pro quality pictures with no obligation to buy online later BUT can get pricey. Bring your own camera and let the photographers use it!  I did not feel at all shy about giving my camera to the pros to get a picture of our family ALL DAY LONG.  They are photographers and we paid good money to get into the park.  Plus all of them were more than happy to help.

 

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NAPS

Nap Time – … kids may not be willing take a nap until their eyes are too heavy to keep open. Make plans mid-way through the day for a quiet, sensory-limited break. That is why we NEVER make a meal reservation for lunch.  Snacks and watching the Jedi Training Academy(1, 2 or 3 times in a row) is a great way to decompress AND for you to go on Star Tours while the kids are relaxing.

TRANSPORTATION

If not staying at the Resort –  Buy tickets/parking pass online and print out ticket – skip a line and go straight to the park entrance. They will exchange the print out for a fast pass ticket. If you are not bringing a car, use ART (get it from hotel concierge) an easy-to-use bus system that my husband and I have used on baby-free trips.

 

CALL

Call Disney – Extremely friendly, knowledgeable staff and will answer any question! (714)781-4636

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FREE SOUVENIRS

Free Souvenirs – Get the Buttons – First Disney Trip, Birthday, Honorary Citizen of Disneyland, Family Reunion, Happy Anniversary, Just Engaged, Just Graduated, Just Married….there are even more from City Hall and any of the shops on Main Street.  Ask a cashier.

Also get a Jungle Safari Map – just ask one of the tour guides. Speaking of Jungle Cruise.  It is the FIRST ride we go on.  Everyone in the park makes a BEELINE for Indiana Jones and we just grab our fast pass for Indiana(or rider swap-MUCH faster) and then get onto a boat for a hilarious ride around.  Every single trip at Jungle Safari brings different jokes.  Last year while holding the baby on my lap I forgot about a certain part that JUMPS out at you and nearly lost my marbles.  Lucky that Emma Marie thought it was hilarious.  Message me if that information is need to know.

COFFEE

Starbucks on Main Street- not advertised at all and it’s probably the fanciest one we’ve ever been to. Crucial for our 7th inning stretch before fireworks.

APPS

Disneyland Map Apps – find everything and anything; from rides (wait times), food, bathrooms and character locations. There are free and pay versions. We didn’t use the free version while in the park much, but it was helpful to find the Starbucks. See above.

 

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In a week we will be traveling back to California for a vacation and a DAY at Disneyland with our toddler and preschooler.  Our tickets are purchased, parking pass printed, and the fanny pack is ready!

Our breakfast at the Plaza Inn and dinner at Big Thunder Mountain Barbecue are BOOKED.  Plus- if you have food allergies and you book two weeks in advance they are more than willing to accommodate you and will work to make sure your meals are safe and MAGICAL.  Each time we have had the Head Chef of both restaurants come out and welcome us, letting us know that they are making our meal.  Not having to worry about life-threatening food allergies?  Now THAT is another reason that Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth.

 

What is your NUMBER ONE tip for Disneyland?  

 

Would LOVE to hear about your experiences!  Please let me know if you have any questions and don’t hesitate to shoot me an email.

 

Fanny Packs Anonymous UNITE

 


 

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