Saturday, June 22, 2013

Disney Tips

I can't believe it's been more than a month since we left for Disney.  Sometimes it seems like it was such a long time ago.  It always amazes me how quickly life returns to normal when you get home from vacation.  You feel like you should be able to ease back into it, but that is never the case.  Oh well, there's always the next vacation to look forward to!

I know a lot of people think we were crazy to take two young children to Disney.  They will never remember being there, but it was still all worth it.  I will never forget seeing their excitement.  And it could quite possibly be the only family vacation we will ever go on where there was no fighting or major tantrum throwing.  This was a vacation well worth it full or memories Brad and I will always cherish.

We learned a few tips along the way and I thought I'd share them with you.

My Tips for Taking Young Children to Disney World

1. Go to the most important park on the first day.

     The kids will be at their best the first day.  They have yet to be depleted of all their energy and will
     be excited and want to do everything.  So, decide which park is most important and go their first.
     My recommendation is Magic Kingdom.  It has the most to do for young children and really is a
     must see any time you go to Disney.

2. Make time for nap.
     Even if your child doesn't take a regular nap, make time to go back to your hotel and rest.  Get to
     the park as early as you can in the morning, do all o
f your must-dos, then head back to the hotel in
     the afternoon.  After being outside all morning and all of the over-excitement even big kids need a
     chance to re-charge their batteries.  After a couple of hours at the hotel, you can re-group and head
     back to the park for more fun.

3. Bring your own snacks and drinks.
     I highly recommend bringing as much of your own food as you can.  The Disney meal plan is a
     great deal, but not if you only have young children. We stayed in a hotel with a full kitchen, which
     I highly recommend.  Every morning we had breakfast at the hotel.  Then, I packed a lunch with
     lots of extra snacks for us to eat at the park.  We either ate dinner out or made something easy at
     the hotel (usually a pasta dish).  My boys are always hungry so it felt like they were always asking
     for something to eat.  We packed lots of granola bars, raisins, fruit snacks, Mum Mums (Micah's
     new favorite!), crackers, and even some fresh fruit.  I used my thermal lunch bag and it kept
     everything nice and cool despite the heat.  Plus, I don't even know how much money we saved by
     not buying all that junk at the food vendors!

4. Schedule your days beforehand and think it through.
Looks like Mommy kept him up too late last night!
     I researched our trip for a month.  I knew which parks we wanted to go to.  I knew which rides
     we would take the boys on and in which order.  I knew which street shows I wanted to catch and
     any other special attractions we might like.  I even booked us a character breakfast.  I knew Micah
     would be scared, but I hoped that the relaxed setting of breakfast would help him to ease up a
     little bit.  Plus, I knew he would love seeing the characters, even if he didn't want them to get too
     close.  But I made one mistake.  Our first night we went to Magic Kingdom.  I insisted that we had
     to stay for the night parade and fireworks show (which we watched from the parking lot in order
     to beat the rush to exit the park).  And then I scheduled an 8:30 breakfast the next day.  I kept the
     boys out until almost midnight and then made them get up at 7:00 the next morning.  Ooops.
     Don't make the same mistake!  If you're planning a late night, make time to relax the next
     morning.  I fully believe our trip would have gone very differently had we allowed the boys to
     sleep in the second morning (or foregone the fireworks show the first night).

5. Babywear.
      Get yourself a good baby carrier (I recommend an Ergo) and wear your baby as much as possible.       We brought our double stroller with and parked it as we entered each world.  We knew Micah
would want to walk most of the time so we wore Judah and let him walk.  It was much easier than
      fighting the crowds with our massive stroller.  We actually got around much quicker and were
      able to get in the lines very easily.  

6. Distinguish your stroller.
     I do recommend bringing a stroller, too.  We had to have something to carry our diaper bags (we
     brought one for each boy and filled it with their snacks, an extra set of clothes, and their diapers),
     lunch bag, and other miscellaneous items in.  Not to mention, Micah did eventually get tired of
     walking and needed someplace to rest.  But there are thousands of strollers at Disney.  And
     everyone else has the same stroller as you. So, do something to distinguish yours.  I meant to bring
    a scarf to tie around our handle, but I forgot it so we grabbed a bungee cord cable from the car and
    wrapped it around the handle.  Worked great.  We were never left wondering if that was our
    stroller or not and never accidentally took the wrong one.

7. Dress your family in similar clothes.
    I know this sounds corny and it is.  Kind of.  A wise woman told me many years ago that whenever
    her family goes somewhere crowded she made her boys dress alike so that if one of them went
    missing and she was asked what he was wearing she could point to another child and say, "that!"
    What a great idea!  Not to mention it makes the pictures look great, too!  I ordered us all matching
    Mickey Mouse shirts from Etsy because I am corny like that.  We got so many compliments on
    them, though.  Workers, other vacationers, even Mickey Mouse pointed them out in the parade and
    "said" he liked them. :)  Next time I will probably order shirts for every day we go (because I'm
    corny like that).

8. Be prepared for anything.
    Don't have high expectations. We're talking about young children here.  They are like loose canons.
    You never know when they're going to go off.  You might think they'll love a ride and instead
     they're deathly afraid of it.  That's okay.  Don't push.  Be willing to say that's okay and try
     something else.  Know your child well.  Know when it's okay to push them a little bit and when
    it's best to back off.  If you're constantly forcing your child to do things he/she doesn't like it's not
   going to be a very enjoyable vacation for anyone.  There was a lot of things Micah was afraid of,
   but there was also a lot of things t
hat he loved.  I think we rode every possible train ride there was.
   But to see his face every time we stepped on a train was priceless.  And that's what the trip was
   really all about.  No fighting.  No tantrums.  Because we followed him.  And in the end, we all had
   a great vacation.

Those are my tips for taking young children to Disney.  Do you have anything to add?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Before Five in a Row: Corduroy

Summer is supposed to be a fun time filled with lazy days and no cares.  But for a two and a half-year-old, summer is really no different than the rest of the year.  With the exception of a few days spent at the beach or pool it's all the same to Micah.  So, Brad and I decided that even though it is now summer we are going to continue tot school with Micah.

We do want summer to be more laid back, however, so instead of structured time we decided on two things.  First, we will do one "fun" activity every day.  This activity can vary greatly.  It can be a learning activity or not.  It can mean going to the park or staying home and playing with sidewalk chalk.  I have a calendar of the month and filled it in with all of our "obligations" such as Micah's gymnastics class and playdates we already have scheduled.  Then, I fill in the rest of the days with an activity that I want to do.  At the beginning of the week I look at what I have planned and make sure I have all the supplies.  This has helped us already so much.  It helps with the "I don't know what to do" that can often happen when staying home all day.  Micah would be perfectly happy playing with his trains all day long, but he's always very excited to do whatever activity we have planned.

The second thing we decided was to do a literature based curriculum this summer called Before Five in a Row.  I taught this curriculum when I worked at a daycare and fell in love with it.  Basically, you read the same book five days in a row and then do an activity to go along with the book.  The activity can be as in-depth or simple as you like.  I love the wonderful literature that the curriculum introduces Micah to and he has really been enjoying reading the stories over and over again.

Last week we read Corduroy.  This is such a cute book about a bear who is looking for a friend to take him home.  After the first reading, Micah asked us several times to read it to him again, he loved it so much.  Here are the activities we did with it:

By his request, we took out one of our quiet activities.  He loves stuffing the pom poms into his bowl.  To make it a little more challenging, I gave him some tongs to use.  He is really getting good at using the tongs!

We had a rhyme that we said and then he got to color a picture of Corduroy.  He was really interested in coloring at first, but that lasted about 10 seconds and Mommy ended up doing most of the coloring.

After Judah's morning nap, I took out some colored ice I had made the night before.  Then, I filled some containers with shaving cream and one with water and let them go at it.  Both boys loved this activity!  Judah especially loved the smooth texture of the shaving cream.  This kept them entertained for a good 30  minutes.  

After Micah's gymnastics class we came home to find that Daddy had set up the little swimming pool and water table for the boys to play.  Everyone was so happy for the warm weather!  The best part was pouring water!  Both boys thought it was hysterical when Micah dumped water on Judah.  I have a feeling it won't be long before Judah fights back and learns how to dump water on his big brother!

I found some picture cards that went along with the story and printed them.  Micah had a fun time trying to match the cards.  This is the first time we've ever played any kind of memory game.  At first he didn't get it, but he caught on pretty quick and loved getting a match!  He's asked to play this several more time since then.  We might have to buy him his first memory game!

Micah loves doing puzzles!  Here he is putting together his Thomas puzzle.  He can do the whole thing by himself.  He got a new Toy Story puzzle last week.  It's lenticular (when I was a kid I think we referred to them as holograms!) so a lot harder to put together, but he did pretty well.

One day, our baby sitter drew a hopscotch for Micah.  Now, whenever he goes outside he hops on the sidewalk and shouts random numbers.  He loves it!  I decided to challenge that love and draw some shapes on the sidewalk.  Micah loved jumping on the shapes and yelling out what they were.  He didn't even need any instruction for me on what to do, he just did it.  He knew all of the shapes without any help, too.  I really wish we had a paved driveway so that we had more space for chalk--this is one of Micah's favorite activities.

The last thing we did was go for a walk.  Of course, no walk is complete without a stick to carry.  We had a storm earlier in the week so there were sticks all over our yard for him to pick up.  We're still working on being careful with them so as not to poke our little brother, though!

Not all of the activities were geared towards Corduroy, but we had a lot of fun doing different things last week, and as a two-year-old he learns from everything we do!  Stop by next week to find out what activities we do with our book this week.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Everyone has a father.  It's easy to be  father.  A father doesn't have to show up to anything.  A father doesn't have to know his child, doesn't have to support him.  Anyone can be a father

But it takes a real man to be a daddy. 

Daddy.  The word a little boy cries out for in the middle of the night.

The man whose hand that same little boy slips his own hand into as they walk down the street.

Daddy.  A man who chases after his son and when he catches him, nails him to the ground to tickle him until tears are streaming from his eyes.

The man who sits on the floor and for hours pulls a toy train round and round a circle because his son said, "Play trains with me, Daddy?"

Daddy.  The man who pulls his baby into his lap and reads him one more bedtime story and sings him one more song.

Daddy.  The man who teaches his sons what it means to be a real man.  To lead his family by example.  To seek after Christ with everything he has.  To act with integrity at all times.  The man who loves his family unconditionally and completely selflessly.  Who serves not just his family, the his community, and the God who he so loves. 

Not everyone can be a daddy.  It takes a lot.  Sleepless nights.  Long days.  Inmeasurable patience and total sacrifice.  A daddy is someone you should hold on to.  Don't ever let go because they are a real treasure.

I am so glad that my boys have a Daddy.  And I continue to look forward to seeing him grow as a Daddy and every day be more like the man he was created to be.  Happy Father's Day to an amazing Daddy, Brad!