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12 Ways to Prepare your Preschooler for you Disney World Trip

Ways to Prepare your Little One for your Disney World Trip

I love Disney! It can be a little overwhelming to young kids. Here are 12 ways to help get them ready for their first trip to Disney World. Or if they have been before, to help build up the excitement. Your preschooler will love these!

 prepare preschoolers for Walt Disney World

  1. Telling young kids ~ This in itself can be a lot of fun. Take them to their first Disney movie at the movies. Do a picture treasure hunt. Do a whole theme evening at your house. They are little and so easy to please ~ have fun with it. Wait till they are teenagers ~ the little things are just not as exciting to them. Take advantage of this time!
  2. Make a countdown ~ for little ones I have seen a lot of people do a paper chain, they can help make it. I just did a Disney Countdown Calendar . You could print out Disney coloring pages, let them color them, and then use them for decorating the calendar. 
  3. Watch Disney Movies ~ Disney Movie are great for the whole family. If they have not seen many, this is a great way to get them ready for the characters on your trip. Wait till you see their little faces light up when they see their favorite movie character.
  4. Make Mickey Mouse pancake ~ I did this for my kids and now for the little ones I keep during the week. Always a big hit!
  5. Read Disney Books ~ Princesses or All Characters ~ Or maybe Disney books from when you were little. Where ever you get them ~ you can never go wrong with reading.
  6. Listen to Disney Music ~ When you get to Disney World, you will be immersed in all things Disney. The more they recognize, the more fun it will be. If you don’t have a CD ~ you can use Pandora (the free version) to listen to music. Or if you belong to  Amazon Prime, take advantage of their free music. 
  7. Souvenir Budget ~ Have you little one help you around the house. They can make a little jar to save the money to buy their own souvenir. This helps them learn about money and makes them feel important. It also might help them not ask for everything. Extra Tip ~ buy cheep little Disney things at home they would like. You can save them for the trip and give them to your little one in place of all the expensive things at Disney. 
  8. Play Disney Games ~ These are great ways to learn to take turns. There are also lots of free games you can download on your phone or iPad for little ones.
  9. Watch Disney Movies ~ refer to #3. I believe you can never watch too many Disney Movies. Make brownies and pop corn for a movie night. Put on your pj’s and remember what it was like to be a kid.
  10. Packing ~ Let them help you pack toys for the trip to Disney World. If your driving and have a DVD player, let them help pick out movies too. 
  11. Use utube ~ This is a great tool to help show them a little of what they will see. There are lots of  videos to choose from. You can check out rides, fireworks, or  whatever you think will help them feel more comfortable on your trip. 
  12. Talk to them about if they get separated from you. You hope it never happens, but it does. Come up with a plan for your family. It happened to us. We lost my niece for the time it took us to run to a show. Fortunately we talked about how to find an employee and stay with them. My niece still reminds us of it 13 years later. Always pays to be prepared.
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Walt Disney World Trip Countdown Calendar

Walt Disney World Countdown Calendar

Here is a great way to get more out of your next Walt Disney World Trip! I love Disney ~ but let’s face it, it is expensive so you need to squeeze out as much magic as possible.! 

I do a Disney countdown when we take our trips now. It is a great way to build the excitement!! You can go really simple or get very crafty. Some people start theirs 90 or 100 days away. I keep mine to 60. Usually, I just do a number countdown with a themed background. Last years was Disney Quotes. I love the idea of a countdown because it really extends your trips magic. 

This year I did a calendar with the theme ~ Movies We Love. It was nice looking back and remembering some of the movies we had forgotten. Movies that my kids would want to watch over and over again when they were young.

First I bought a piece of poster board. I went online and picked out picture of the movies I could print out.  I have these at the bottom so if you like, you can just print them out.  Somewhere it the process I decided to put some more  color into my design. I went to Michael’s and bought 4 sheets of scrap booking paper for the background. So, in all I spent $4.26. Don’t forget to use your coupon at Michael’s. 

 First I drew on my calendar Walt Disney World Trip Countdown CalendarThe squares where 2 inches by to 2 inches. This left about 4 inches around the perimeter. I’m telling you this because it drove me crazy coming up with the sizing I wanted ~ but I obsess. 

Next I took my colored paper and glued it around the edges. Then I cut out my pictures and letters I had found on the internet.  I used a hard clear plastic paper with white polka dots (found with the scrap booking paper)  over my black paper at the top for a little extra design. 

mickey mouseI also used this on my walking Mickey that I will use to move from day to day. Get it!! He is walking towards our trip date!!  (Yes, my son looked at me strangely when I told him that too) This way he would be less fragile as he went along his way. 

Now the fun part. Decorating it was the easy part.   I also thought if you had little ones at home you could print off Disney coloring pages. The kids can color them and you can cut them out. Then use them to make your poster. What a great way to get them involved!

The finished project

Walt Disney World Trip Countdown Calendar

 Here is everything I used if you would like to print them off:

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Appreciate & Celebrate Our Daily Lives

Why is it so hard for us to celebrate and appreciate our daily lives?

After we have lost someone and felt that pain and heartache that is unbearable, how do we wake up one day and complain about it being Monday. How after being through that kind of pain do we forget how fragile life is. Why do we not appreciate what we have more? 

I have been through this recently. My cousin passed away almost 6 months ago. She was one of three people in my life I ever told anything deeply personal to. Also she helped me become the mother I am today, and I am so thankful to her.  She was only 46, she  had three children, and was one of the kindest people I have known. She was so important to so many and left so many feeling her loss every day.  

 My best friend died 18 years 3 months ago. She was well ~ what can I say……she was my Best Friend. She was 32  with 2 young babies, and she was my person. I miss her just about everyday and wonder how my life would be different if she was still here with me. At her funeral the pain was so bad ~ I remember thinking ~ if I can get through this I can get through anything.

Both deaths were so hard on me.  Both amazing women gave so much to those who loved them. I felt pain I did not know was possible or bearable when I lost them. I have a friend who is going through this right now. My first thought is, I wish she did not have to or that I could take the pain away for her.  That would mean we would live forever and we know this is not true. So each of must go through grief at some point in our life.

So I ask again ~

Why is it so hard for us to celebrate and appreciate our daily lives?

So my question is ~  how after having been through something like that ~ do we not appreciate our everyday lives?  Why am I not more about all the little things? Don’t get me wrong, I do notice a pretty sunset or a quiet moments. I just feel like there should be MORE of an inner shift. I am a very lucky women to  have 4 stupendous kids and a wonderful husband. We have always had what we really needed. But I let the  little things sit too much in my head. 

No, we are not rich. Yes, there are things that I want. Things I wish I could give my kids. When I say we should be happy with what we have ~ I do not mean~ take what you have and that’s it. I do believe we should strive for more ~ just that we should know how lucky we already are while we are looking. That we should know ~ if our goal today doesn’t work out the way we wanted ~ that it’s okay, because we are already so blessed.

We should be happy. Not because life is perfect. Not because our vacation is next week. We had to wake up early and maybe we were grumpy to a loved one while they were headed out the door. We must be careful how we live those everyday moments . ~Things happen ~ life is not guaranteed ~ you never know when you might turn around and your life looks completely different than it did that morning. Life is too short ~~ not love our everyday.

Appreciate & Celebrate Our Daily Lives Why is it so hard to appreciate and celebrate our daily lives?

So that is what I want for my friend. I want her to grieve and feel the loss and then hold the happy times in her heart.  My wish is she carries her dad with her every day. I hope she sees his smile in her children. Knows his laughter in the good times, and feels his arms on a tough day. That even though she will miss him every day ~ remembers how lucky she was to have him shape her life. I know I miss the people I have lost in my life and wish they were still here with me. But I am also so Thankful that I had the chance to know and love them while they were here, because I know they made my life better while they were here.

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Save Hundreds on Your Trip to Walt Disney World

You see the headline ~  save hundreds ~ and think ~~ yeah right!

I am here to tell you, you can save hundreds on your Walt Disney World Trip

I found this out a little while back and could not believe it would work, but guess what? It did!!

Okay what you need to know to save money on your next Walt Disney Trip. First you will need a Target credit card. Then you go to Target and buy Disney gift cards on your Target Card. Save hundreds on your Walt Disney TripYou will save five percent just like anything else you buy on your Target card. So if your trip costs $4000.00 you will save $200! I could not believe they would take the five percent off gift cards, but they do.

Now to really save the money you must remember to pay off your Target card before it accrues interest!! I keep the page  where I pay my Target card, right beside my Disney apps on my phone. This is a good reminder. Be sure to write down when you got the cards,  and when you paid Target. I keep track of this is my Disney Binder.  Target will only allow you to buy about $500 worth of Disney gift cards at a time. So you will have to make a few trips, but it is worth it.

You can also use the Disney gift cards at some restaurants at the parks. Don’t forget to use them at the stores for souvenirs. We usually go in May, so I always get my kids gift cards for their Easter basket so they will have their own spending money.  

It’s okay if you don’t believe this amazing tip. Like I said earlier, I didn’t believe it when I read it either. I am so glad I tried it and that I can pass this great tip onto you.                                                                                                                                    Now get out there and save!

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Stress and how it is Stealing our Life Moments

STRESS Takes more Than our Sanity~ It is Stealing Our Life Moments

When I was young I used to look at stress as a motivator. Now that I am older and look back I realize what a threat it is to us. What stress really does to us is steal our moments and yes eventually our sanity.

 stress

When you have something large to accomplish. The stress often yells to you ~~HEY LISTEN UP~ you have something  that must be done. If you are a procrastinator you might especially think it helps ~ the deadline it tomorrow,  so you better get moving. Yes to a point this does work and is okay to use every now and then. However, when you are so busy and the school  asks you to do the sports  banquet, do not say yes just because when it comes time you will have no choice but to make it work. That is a bad way to make decisions when what you are really thinking is that I can not do one more thing.

I started out as a mother of 1~ like most of us do. It is amazing how the simple task of taking a shower became ~ I TOOK A SHOWER TODAY ! Hurray!! But we adjusted and sometimes went on to have more kids and look presentable most of the time.

What comes up next is what no one tells you. You will one day wish for those days back because now you live in your car! Your kids have started going to school and your new stress is keeping up with homework and school activities. Now let’s add in dance class, PTO meetings, basketball, music lessons, and oh yes you agreed to do the banquet for the  school. These all seemed harmless at the time because you added them slowly and over time. Now you look at your calendar and realize that, in the next 3 months, you only have one evening without something written on it. This was me and so many other mothers I know.

Moms start out with many things on our to do list! As the kids get older you only add to it. If we are not careful, stress can have a very negative affect on us and our family. One day you will be trying to tell your daughter to pick up her ….. something off the floor. You will be looking at the offending object on the floor and, although your brain knows what it is, you cannot name that you want her to pick up her SOCKS!  Don’t laugh ~ This can happen to you. If it has happened to you~ I hope your are relieved to hear it is happening to other mothers and you don’t need a CT scan. 

I know I am joking about it, but stress puts a lot of “stress” on our bodies. Are you having more headaches lately? Not sleeping well? These are minor problems related to stress. However, years and years of constant stress to your body can cause serious health issues.

Stress can also affect your mood and your happiness. There are the every day moments you are missing. Yes, your adorable chubby 2 year-old just did the cutest thing and you thought “awe” for a moment, but then your brain went back to hurry we have to get dinner and leave it 10 minutes for baseball. Or you just watched your daughter in her first concert. Yes, you saw it, but did you experience it? Or were you in your head thinking ~ if this ends by 7, I can still make it to the basketball game.  When we have so much to do ~ stress is literally stealing our moments.

One day I called my grandmother looking for some advice. I was feeling like a failure as a mother. I just  could not accomplish enough. The to-do list was so long. Now I thought my Grams was just amazing. She would watch all the grand-kids,  sit and talk with me while she made lunch, and make cinnamon rolls from scratch ( I have had this on my list for 20 years).  She raised 7 kids and all without a microwave, dishwasher, and (for many years) a washing machine. How come with all of these conveniences, I could not keep up. You know what she told me~ “Times have changed Christy. I did not run my kids all over town for the whole evening. The kids were not involved in basketball year round. And most moms were at home with me so we had a lot of support.”

We as moms have picked up many new jobs! Working outside the home is just the tip of the iceberg. However, we really have not let go of anything. The stress we put on ourselves is not worth what we are getting back. We don’t need to be perfect. The only person who expects that from us~ is ourselves.

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Questions to ask Before ~ You Plan Your Walt Disney World Trip

What should you ask yourself before you plan your Walt Disney World trip

The first question is where do I get my information?

I will not lie to you, a trip to Disney World takes a lot of planning. It  can also be overwhelming your first time.  I promise you it will be worth it! If you have never been or if you have had a disappointing trip (this makes me so sad) lets start from the beginning.5 questions before you plan your Disney trip

First of all Walt Disney World is HUGE. I am sorry to say unless you are staying a month or more~ you will not see or do everything. That is okay. You will do and see what is most important to your family right now. This will change as your kids get older so eventually you will see almost everything.

Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World Book – I will also tell you about some great places on line to find information. I always like one of these books on hand. Web info is great but can sometimes be a little all over the place. With this you can highlight things or write in the margins. It has so much information right in your hand.

Mousesavers.com – This in one of the first websites I found when I started doing my research. It really has almost anything you will need to plan an amazing  trip. They even have a newsletter that comes to you every month if you’re interested. I found their information to be invaluable.

Undercovertourist.com – I came across this while in Mousesavers. It has a lot of great information, especially if you had thoughts of visiting other attractions in Orlando.

Alright these are just 3 sources. If you are interested there are literally too many to count. Feel free to explore to your hearts content. If you are just learning these 3 sources will provide more that enough information.

Now that we have some good sources, what questions should you ask yourself about planning your trip to Walt Disney World?

When do you want to go?

There are a lot of factors that come into play. Is that predetermined by your vacation time?  Is your budget the most important thing?  Do you have kids in school? I always take my kids out of school. I know a lot of people cringe at this but it is definitely way less crowded during the school year. While we are zipping through lines I am always thankful I did. Keep in mind that holiday weekends can be as busy as the summertime. Also remember just because it is sunny Florida that there are months that can be quite chilly. To find the best deals coming up go to Disney’s Website ~ they have all their specials and discounts listed for you to help  save some money.

Where to stay?

I will be honest with you, I have only stayed on site, so I cannot give you any great incite.  Advantages to staying off site are you will probably save some money. These hotels usually have more space also.  Some hotels off site from Disney do offer transportation to the parks.

Staying on site you are immersed in Disney and transportation is easy and free to anywhere in Disney World. Disney World has 3 tiers of resorts. There are Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. They each offer different experiences. We usually stay at one of the All-Star resorts. This is a value resort and we choose it for two reasons~ the cost is lower and we spent so little time there it doesn’t make sense to  spend more. All resorts have restaurants and pools on site. If you think you will spend more time at your resort, you should certainly look into the others to make a good decision.

 Disney World Dining Plan or Not?

This is a tough one. I am visiting in May for the first time in a long time without using Disney’s Dining plan. After this trip I will do  a blog with more information. I do not think there is really a wrong answer. With the dining plan your whole trip is paid for up front. The only money you might need to take would be for souvenirs. This is really great knowing everything is paid for.  If you do get a dining plan do not get the deluxe (sorry Disney).  Eat breakfast in your hotel room. It saves money and time.

If you don’t get the dining plan you will probably save some money, especially if your group are not big eaters. This is great if you are worried about that budget. I will give you some quick tips. Disney allows you to take food into the parks. There are some constraints but feel free to pack your lunch. If you do not pack a lunch at least take snacks into the parks. This will save you a good bit if you have little ones.

How long will your stay be?

Keep in mind there are four big parks so if you can do the minimal of 4 days, that at least gives you time to get to each park. Also remember there are also 2 water parks, Disney Springs, miniature golf, and a partridge in a pear tree………… oh no sorry about that. But you get my point ~ it is BIG. I will repeat ~ you will not get to do everything. We have been there 5 times and still not done everything. Disney is always growing and changing. Six days is probably a really good average. Two days at Magic Kingdom, two at Hollywood Studios, one at Animal Kingdom and one at Epcot. However everyone is different ~ so do your research after you book your trip. I will work on that blog next!

 

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Giving Away Pieces of Our Self

 If you go back and read my About Me page, I go into some detail of why I started this blog~ this is the longer version and hopefully the beginning of the journey back!

 

I gave all of the pieces of myself away. Then one day when there was a pause in my life ~ I looked into the mirror and there was no one there. How do you be a mother, a wife, a person when there is nothing left? 

It happened slowly over time. No one demanded it of me, nor did I do it purposefully. I love my husband and my children more than words could ever express.  All the things I did (most the things) were because I wanted to, so we could all have the things important to us. Over time though, when time was short, and I was tired, things had to be discarded.  You paid for their lesson- they must go, your husband is coaching the team- you can’t miss practice, school work must be done!

So it happens, you begin to stop doing the things that are important to you. Your family is the most important thing in the world to you ~ so you do not comprehend what you are giving up of yourself.  Until you realize there is little joy in what you are doing ~ instead they are just items being crossed off a list. You feel empty and there is  nothing more to give  to the people you love the most. The cycle continues  and you have no idea what is even causing this sadness you feel. 

Giving away pieces of our self

Then one day you are out~ away for a few minutes from your usual routine and for a brief second you catch a small glimpse of the person you once were. It happens so quickly and so shockingly that for a moment you cannot catch your breath and you stand there scared, amazed, and baffled at the revelation. You were once a person of your own right ~ with her own wants and needs.   However,  time does not stop and you must move on. Deep inside you know something has changed. Not big ~ but small and quiet. She is still there ~ the person you have forgotten and that was erased. 

 How do we begin to reclaim the person we once were? Time does not stop for us to figure it out.  You have to do the basics ~~feeding your kids, laundry, errands  jobs,  and the list goes on.  The truth is ~ I do not know.

 That is one of the reasons I started this blog. So I could help you, and you could help me.  Hopefully together ~ we can show women how important it is to make time for ourselves without the guilt. What time is there for us to take this journey?  Once again ~ I do not know ~ but we have to find it. We have to make time for ourselves a priority. Otherwise how can we keep giving to the ones we love.

Right now as I am writing this, I am fighting the urge to stop. Everyone is coming home and dinner is not made. I’m losing my concentration but I have decided  to finish this important post that is very personal to me. 

If you have felt this way, please join me in searching for what we have forgotten. If you are a young mom, let us warn you to not take the same path. You can be a great mother and still take the night off. Tell us something you have done for yourself lately. Maybe we will be inspired to spend some time with that person in the mirror.

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Top 15 Apps & Websites to Plan & Enjoy Disney!

I have  searched for the most useful apps and websites for your trip to Walt Disney World. Some are great for planning and some for getting around at Disney World.  There are also a few to help pass the time in lines. All are free except the last app which is 99 cents.

Top 15 Apps & Websites to Plan & Enjoy Disney!

1. My Disney Experience  is #1 on my list ~  it is  THE  Disney App and you can make plans and keep track of  your trip using this app.                                                                                                                                                    

2. Magic Guide for Walt Disney World  ~ This has maps, dining, ride wait times, and park hours.  The above app does the same but this one is more streamlined and I find it useful while we are in the parks.

3. Undercover Tourist Orlando ~ This tells you the crowd estimates for the parks and gives you the weather forecast.          

 4. Disney Countdown ~ Great app for your phone to help you make the big countdown. It has pictures of Disney or you can add your own. I screen shot it on my phone and text it to my family!                                                                                                    

5. Walt Disney World Trivia ~ Fun trivia game about the parks to play while you’re in line.                                                            

6. Disney Trivia ~ Trivia about Disney movies and music.                                                                                                                                      

7. Disney Side ~ Cute picture app to have Disney fun with your pictures.                                                                

8. Shop Parks ~ This will help you find specific merchandise in Disney World. You can look it up and then find it at a park or resort.

9. WDW Phone #’s  ~ This app holds all the phone numbers you could possibly need to ask any question you could think to ask.              

10. My last one is Heads Up ~ It is not a Disney app but they do have a Disney version. We played it in line at Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster on our last trip. Yes we looked silly ~ but guess what ~ one of the workers came over to play with us and then others started playing it too!!! It was a fun way to pass the time.

Next are the websites:

1. My Disney Experience ~ Yes, this is the same as the app but you can use it on your computer. As long as you’re signed in any plans you make are saved. This is the best website to help plan your trip.   

2. AllEars.net and themouseforless.com ~ These are both websites that list all the places to eat at Disney. Not only that, but they include the menus and the prices! I know, I know you don’t need two but I could not decide between them.  They are a great way to pick the perfect restaurant for your family

3. Distripplanner.com ~ This is a Disney dining calculator. It helps you to decide whether to get the Disney Dining Plan or not. I was pretty amazed when I found it. I was also skeptical, so I went through myself and calculated and guess what it works really well. This is a great tool to use to help plan your trip.

4. Last but not least is the Disney World website!

Now that you have all the tools to make your trip stupendous ~ get out there and plan!!