Posts Tagged ‘babies’

Our First Disney Trip: Planning

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Our First Disney Trip Planning

This is going to be an incredibly long and exhaustive series that a ton of people are not going to be interested in AT ALL, but I have gotten so much joy out of reading blogs and doing research and anticipating our first Disney trip. E and I spend many, many evenings booking, canceling, rebooking and changing dining reservations, making notes of which rides we’re prioritizing, creating list of must-see and must-eat things. We haven’t actually told the kids we’re going yet because as much as I want to share my excitement with them I don’t want to be asked 20 times a day if it’s time to leave. The plan is to tell them on Sunday since we want time for them to get excited and they’ll be missing the last couple days of school. I want them to be able to day goodbye to their classes and teachers before summer break. So until then, all my excitement has been focused on the internet.

Let me start with a disclaimer: This isn’t a Disney on a Budget guide. This is not a cheap vacation. I didn’t coupon my way to Disney or pay for it entirely with rewards points. We can only afford to go because Disney offers pretty good military discounts on both hotels and park tickets, plus we’re driving. It’s probably a twice-in-a-lifetime experience (we’ll go again when Linc and Finn are old enough to remember it) so we are throwing all our discretionary funds at this trip.

If you haven’t been to Disney in the last decade, you might not realize that planning is a HUGE part of the trip. Last time I went (2002? 2003?) we stood in a lot of lines and got one or two paper Fastpasses, if we happened to remember. Now you not only need to plan your rides at least 60 days in advance, you need to plan meals and make dining reservations 180 days in advance. NOT planning might sound easier, but unless the only thing you care about is literally walking through the front gates and being inside the park, you will proabably miss a ton of stuff. As much as I realize that making a minute-by-minute schedule when there are 4 kids involved might be pointless, NOT having a schedule would be worse. I am fully prepared to be flexible, but I’m not prepared to come home with sad kids who just wanted to meet Baymax but I had no idea where to find him. Enter: THE INTERNET!

My Disney Pinterest Board is here. I pinned everything from lists to specific restaurant reviews to Etsy shops. There are a TON of pins that relate to Disney but there are surprisingly few really great ones – a lot of links lead to sites that are mostly ads or obvious click bait. I’ve taken to searching “Disney” on Pinterest every couple of days just to see if anything new comes up.

While I was looking for real world vacation recaps and advice, I found the Disney Tourist Blog. I was a little skeptical at first, because the guy who writes it doesn’t even have kids yet. I figured his experiences with the park are vastly different than what I would be interested in. But his photography sucked me in (and he shoots with the same equipment I do, which made it even more helpful) and his site is extensive, so when I’m looking for reviews or suggestions for something specific (is the menu at X restaurant better for breakfast or lunch? If I have to choose between these two rides for Fastpasses, which one should I pick?) he almost always has the answer. He updates very regularly and revises old posts when things change. At this point I’ve read so many posts featuring Tom and Sarah if I were to actually SEE them at Disney it would be as exciting for me as seeing Mickey Mouse. Not that I’m an internet stalker or anything. I’m just a normal fan. Super normal.

Another blog I really enjoyed reading was The Frugal South’s Disney World section. She also updates regularly, is easy to read, and has real-world tips for things like Magic Bands and making room requests. She does do a lot of budget-type advice, which is helpful even if you’re not specifically trying to plan a low-budget trip.

When it came time to make Fastpass reservations, the Touring Plans blog was incredibly helpful. They have the tiers listed for the parks that use tiers, suggestions for which passes to prioritize, even times suggested for each one. I thought having a list of what Fastpasses we wanted was enough, until I actually looked at our day and realized between dining reservation and parades we had very specific windows for rides. They even have current (as in, right now, at this moment) Fastpass times still available for all rides at each park. It was helpful to look at those over a few days and see which rides ran out of Fastpasses (the Mine Train passes were gone at 7 am) and which ones we would be safe trying to book after we use up our initial 3. The truth is even though for ME the Mountains (Splash, Space and Big Thunder) are the most important rides, I need to prioritize the kid-friendly rides more and aim for later Fastpasses for the roller coasters. I never would have even thought of doing that without the info on Touring Plans.

I spent $7 of my actual real-life money for access to all the member info on Character Locator. The website looks like it was built in 2001 and there isn’t an app version so I just pinned the forums to my homescreen, but I really wanted to be able to quickly find out where we can meet characters. There’s also a thing called Characterpalooza that’s super secret and you’re not supposed to talk about (like Fight Club, except instead of punching people you get a picture with Robin Hood) but you can find out when it is if you subscribe. There are a lot of short character meets that aren’t the kind in a building with a FastPass – Belle in France, Peter Pan in Fantasyland – which means they’re easy to miss. I figured on a scale of how much money I’m spending on other things, a few dollars to make sure the kids get to meet their very favorite Disney people is nothing. It also has all the info on parade times, menus and ride info like height requirements and FastPass/Rider Swap. The super-basic layout means that stuff is going to be easy to find quickly while we’re walking around the parks.

As the trip has gotten closer, I’ve been working on adding detailed info to my daily plans. I sorted out our list of must-do rides and attractions by park, then by area, so hopefully we won’t be wasting a lot of time crisscrossing the parks. The maps on WDWInfo we very helpful, although good old Wikipedia also had lists of rides divided up by Fantasyland/Tomorrowland/etc. I’ve also made notes next to rides with height requirements since being prepared to rider swap/handle Caroline’s disappointment is important. It’s also nice to look at how many rides DON’T have any height requirements, which means I can wear or bring Finnegan with me and we can do them as a whole family.

Another thing that has made planning easier and more fun is having a Disney vacation friend to talk to. My friend Alena was planning a trip less than a month before mine AND had been to Disney World with her kids last year, so she was always ready to make suggestions and give me real life updates on what time they got to the park for castle photos and which character interactions should definitely be on my list. I had another real life friend forward me a bunch of email advice she got from a Disney Vacation Club member and I chatting with yet another real life friend about Disney Springs meal options. People who love Disney World LOVE DISNEY WORLD and are happy to talk about their past/future vacations. If you need a Disney friend, I am MORE than happy to be that person!

Next up on Disney planning: What we wore! I’ll include tons of links now and then update with actual in-park photos when we get back. I put almost as much effort into our outfits as I did into where and when to eat.

 

 

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Saturday, January 28th, 2017

My wrist really hurts. I realize that’s not a super good reason to be almost 3 weeks behind in posting, but when you add “typing is painful” to “I could be napping right now” and “WHY ARE MY CHILDREN SO LOUD” it means blogging is really low on my to-do list.

Sunday:

I bought an actual nursing shirt that I don’t hate

PASSED OUT

Dinner helpers

Monday:

Skeptical baby is still very skeptical

Linc stole my phone to take pictures of his favorite thing

Tiny Batman

Tuesday:

Shopping

These were not good

Nope. Did not watch.

Wednesday:

Good morning ducks

In progress

When it’s almost 60 degrees we go for a walk

Thursday:

Evan brushing his sister’s hair before school

Sad baby is calmed by looking at himself on my phone

OH NO WHERE IS LINCOLN I CANT FIND HIM

Friday:

Being kind to kitty

Being kind to brother

Being kind to mama

Saturday:

Fish-tac-toe with the scuba divers

Bye! Have a good trip!

Super Linc is Super Sleepy

My baby just woke from a deep sleep screaming as if someone stabbed him with a needle, so I guess I won’t be a) catching up on the next post or b) taking that nap I wanted. Fingers crossed he doesn’t cry for the rest of the day.

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Friday, November 18th, 2016

A lot of people told me that once you have three kids, adding any more is basically no big deal. You’re already outnumbered and have been practicing zone defense for a while. You probably already drive a minivan. You’re used to multi-tasking while being perpetually tired. The bigger ones can help with the smaller ones.

Although all of those circumstances are true for me, going from 3 to 4 has not been easy. At all. I’m getting my ass kicked a little bit. There’s a Jim Gaffigan bit where he talks about having five kids: “Imagine you’re drowning. Then someone hands you a baby.” I feel like four kids might be the point where I’m still treading water but seriously wondering why the shore is so, so far away.

When I went from one to two, Evan was still a toddler with no commitments. If everyone was tired and wanted to sleep in, we all slept in. When he napped, she napped, and then I could nap. He ate basically nothing but goldfish crackers and cups of milk. We owned 243% fewer toys that could be spread out over the entire house. It was still hard, because taking care of kids is hard, but it wasn’t daunting. By the time I went from two to three, both Evan and Caroline were in school, so although I had to get them up and out the door every day once that was done I just had one newborn to keep alive which I could do entirely from the couch. Linc and I could handle errands or chores or work thanks to babywearing and an infant who started sleeping 8+ hours a night around 6 weeks.

Now I have both big kids who have to be dressed and fed and packed and put on the bus; a toddler who wakes up too early, is trying to give up his nap, needs to be fed a constant stream of pb&j sandwiches; and then I also have a helpless baby who isn’t much of a fan of sleeping.

Being a stay at home mom has always been a weird mix of always having way too much to do and long, boring periods of nothing. There is always something or someone who needs to be cleaned, so my work is never really done. There is so much laundry it feels almost comical – how can we own so many things that constantly need to be washed?! It’s so much mindless work. I can’t trust Linc alone with Finn for very long, so I’m not taking as many showers as I probably should be. (I don’t think he’d hurt him on purpose, but sometimes he gets the urge to just SQUEEZE HIS HEAD BECAUSE HE’S SOOOOO CUTE and doesn’t know that’s not a good idea.) I am currently serving as a 24 hour buffet for the baby, so having to feed everyone else too seems ridiculous. Can’t they all just feed themselves with food that magically appears in our kitchen? I used to love cooking, now it’s tedious. The level of being touched-out has reached new heights – Finn is a very cuddly baby, especially at 2 am, but Linc is also a very cuddly toddler. There are So. Many. Diapers.

I know in my head that this is all super temporary. We missed a lot of our favorite October stuff this year because I was too tired to wrangle everyone out of the house, but there will be 18 more Octobers where I have at least one child at home to do fun fall things with me. Right now I need to choose the less stressful option, maybe let myself be more lazy than I’m usually comfortable with, perhaps do just a little less for the holidays so I don’t end up freaking out completely. I’m hoping my friends and family can grant me some grace for not being as thoughtful and timely with their gifts and thank you notes and baked goods and holiday cards.

One day, in a future I can’t quite imagine yet, having four children will be totally normal for me. It won’t take me 30 minutes to get everyone settled just so I can go do laundry for 5 minutes. I won’t constantly run out of food because I forget how much 6 people eat. I will sleep more than 3 hours in a row and it might even be in my bed instead of on the couch. There’s even a chance I will go to Target and won’t lose ANY of my kids. For now, I will keep my head above water however I can and not pretend I’m doing it very well.

I can, however, occasionally force them into photos.

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Sunday, April 17th, 2016

This week is Spring Break WOOHOO and we have a very full schedule of things to do. Last week I turned 34 fairly uneventfully, but there was cake which is all I need.

Sunday:

sunday1

Spent 2 hours organizing ALL THIS

sunday2

We both love naps

sunday3

She lost count because 34 is a lot of candles

Monday:

monday1

“Helping”

monday2

Just letting you know, I’m totes going to eat this crayon

monday3

The most perfect Tula I’ve ever seen

Tuesday:

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He wanted me to put the lid on it

tuesday2

He loved looking at the chicks. Not so much holding them.

tuesday3

Never not reading

Wednesday:

wednesday1

This is not how that toy box was intended to be used

wednesday2

Again, NOT HOW YOU USE CHAIRS

wednesday3

Play-doh on my back. Sure, what could go wrong.

Thursday:

thursday1

Very interested in Multicultural Night at school

thursday2

Visiting their lobster friends

thursday3

I don’t do newborn photos anymore, except when I actually do.

Friday:

friday1

I will not steal this baby. I will not steal this baby. I will not…

friday2

Front porch sitting

friday3

Caroline is a very patient sister

Saturday:

saturday1

The biggest bag of dirt I’ve ever seen

saturday2

Grocery store: pregnancy craving edition

saturday3

Game night = best night

Because I can’t seem to actually write a real pregnancy update: here’s the latest. I’m 21 weeks pregnant today, everything is totally normal, I’m going to do a gender reveal for the kids sometime this week because we know what we’re having but want them to get excited about it too. I’m slightly too pregnant to be totally comfortable anymore, in almost any situation. I need half a dozen pillows to sleep and I could sleep 12 hours a night AND still take a nap. I cannot wait for it to be summer, not because I like being hot but because then I can go float in the lake as much as possible.

If you like my week in iPhone photos and don’t follow me on Instagram, may I gently suggest this is a good time to do so? It’s a beautiful time of year here in New England so most of the photos aren’t the inside of my house anymore.

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Monday, April 4th, 2016

I would have more nice things to say about our pretty nice week except it’s snowing right now and I am too annoyed to think ANY nice thoughts.

Sunday:

sunday1

Guilty chocolate face

sunday2

Church in their Sunday best

sunday3

My LulaRoe Easter dress

Monday:

monday1

This room is ALWAYS a disaster, but it’s worse mid-purge/clean

monday2

Getting muddy

monday3

Chillaxing in his new kicks

Tuesday:

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Unimpressed

tuesday2

Nap snuggles

tuesday3

Every day they climb this tree

Wednesday:

wednesday1

ORGANIZE ALL THE THINGS

wednesday2

Charge!!!!!

wednesday3

Remember this as the day my house was totally clean before bed

Thursday:

thursday1

Really exciting box from Thirsties for the #mcmschallenge

thursday2

Enjoying our last nice weather day

thursday3

Wild things

Friday:

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Happy morning bebeh

friday2

I’m just going to steal her

friday3

At least I have one kid who sort of looks like me

Saturday:

saturday1

My favorite tank

saturday2

Nervous ear piercing face

saturday3

Evan and Linc are twins

It is now snowing even harder than it was this morning and my mood is not improving. I’m going to go make some bacon and coffee and watch HGTV while Linc destroys the nice clean house I’ve been maintaining so nicely since that picture was taken.

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