Saturday, May 30, 2009

That's My Name, Don't Wear It Out!

(WARNING -- I have hundreds of pictures from our trip to Disney, and I reserve the right to use those -- excessively -- in posts, as I see fit -- regardless of their relevance to the subject matter of said post. Excessively.) My nearly 3-year-old has taken to calling my name (Mommy) REPEATEDLY to get what she wants, particularly when she wants to get up in the morning or get up from a nap (she's still in a crib, until her 3rd birthday in July, when she'll get her first "big girl bed")... This morning she made me chuckle by calling my name over and over in her usual sing-songy style, "Mom-mee! Mom-mee" This morning I was feeling quite tired, and she was up quite early sounding her "alarm" so I chose to just lie in bed a little while longer. Finally I heard, "I SAID -- MOM-MEE! MOM-MEE!" Oh, right! That's me -- I'm coming!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Whine Time

The other day, my 8-year-old daughter came up to me and in a whining voice said, "Mommy, my sister hit me in the wrist!" So, after telling her sister our household mantra, "No hit, no kick!" and requesting that she apologize, I asked my older daughter if she really needed to continue to whine and whimper... Apparently, she did. She said (in a whiny voice), "Well, it makes me feel better!" So I thought, ok, what's the harm other than a little irritation on my part? Since she tends to whine and whimper at great length over small things (her little sister, on the other hand just bounces up and says, "I'm okay!") I thought, let's put a time limit on this. I suggested that she could whine all she wanted for 5 minutes and then we would move on with the day. This seemed to work for her and so I took note of the clock and she started, "Whine, whine, sniff, sniff, whine..." Every once in a while this would be interupted with, "How much time do I have left?" "Two more minutes" And then, "Ok! Whine, whine, whimper..." (I can't really type the sound of the whine -- kind of hmmm, hmmm, or something -- you get the point!)

This worked out great, because at the end of the 5 minutes she felt better and had gotten it out of her system, and I did not get irritated listening to it, because a) I knew when it would end, and b) it ended up being pretty amusing with her calling out for time checks! I highly recommend this -- I'm sure we'll have cause to use this tactic again!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

“Children Learn What They Live” by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

My sister-in-law, Jenny, sent me the loveliest card for mother’s day and inside she put a copy of “Children Learn What They Live” by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D. You may already be familiar with this piece, but I thought it was worth posting here!

“If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.”

Children learn by example and this is such a wonderful reminder of how easily we can impact the lives of our children either in a negative or positive way. Thanks for sharing, Jen!

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Last night as I was tucking my 8-year-old into bed, she said this to me, "Mommy, I'm glad we get to spend the long weekend together, and even though I get mad at you on the weekends, I love spending time with you!" I'm definitely embroidering that on a throw pillow!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Really? THAT Was The Highlight Of Your Day…?

Grandpa told me a funny story the other day. He and my littlest girlie had had a very busy day, full of adventures. They walked Grandpa’s dog, Griffin, around the neighborhood and my girl inspected many sticks along the way (her new favorite – loves to pick up sticks!). Someone in our neighborhood is doing a large project and so they saw a big piece of equipment (backhoe?) breaking ground and they watched that for a few minutes. When they got back to our house they went in the side yard and played on the swingset – she went on the swings, the slide, and the glider… Then they piled into Grandpa’s truck (SUV) and went to the bank. When they got out of the truck, they spotted a nickel on the ground, which my girl got as a “treasure.” They went into the bank and while Grandpa was making a deposit, she got a lollipop and got to wander around a little bit. Grandpa had to meet with someone about closing an account and so my girl explored the woman’s office, playing with a toy magnet and then pointing out an empty fish tank on the woman’s desk. The woman from the bank explained that the tank was being cleaned, and she made a point to show my girl her fish that were in a big cup on her desk. After their adventure at the bank, they went back to our house and had lunch together before her nap.

When Daddy came home from work, he asked her, “Did you have a good day today?” And she answered enthusiastically, “Yes! Griffin pooped!”

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Disney Vacation - It's the Little Things...

I thought I would share some of the little things that we did that worked out great:

Bringing a soft-sided cooler! My friend Kim who recently traveled to Disney with her husband and their triplets recommended this, and I’m glad I took her advice! We tucked a small, soft-sided cooler into one of our bags that we checked, but we could have used it as a carry-on, if we needed to. Having the house with the full fridge & freezer, we were able to buy cases of water at the nearby Super Walmart, and freeze the bottles of water to pack in our coolers. This was a great cost-savings with water at the parks being sold for $2.75 per bottle, and with the temperature in the 90’s we were going through water, well, like water! The other great thing about the cooler (and Super Walmart…) was that we picked up Lunchables, apples & grapes to bring for the girls – this was after getting lunch for each of them (kid’s meals ran about $4.99 - $6.99) and combined, our girls did not eat enough to make up 1 kid’s meal! This was not even about the money savings, but the desire to have our children eat something other than ice cream and popsicles!

Speaking of Super Walmart, on the way to the parks the first day, we stopped in to pick up autograph books – $1.50 per spiral bound Disney autograph books – not as fancy as the ones I bought two years ago for $15 (!) but, they more than did the trick! Around the Orlando and Kissimmee area, there are tons of places that sell Disney souvenirs for less money than you can buy things inside the park. Now, my husband will tell you that I am the FIRST one to buy souvenirs at the parks, but I would rather spend my souvenir money on snuggly, adorable stuffed animals that my kids will love and cuddle with, as opposed to $15 on an autograph book that will sit in their memory box.

This trip and our last trip, I bought a few inexpensive Disney souvenirs in preparation for the trip, and brought them along to surprise my kids. This is something that my friend Kim also did for her kids. It’s a little touch that helps to make the trip special for your kids, and it can also significantly cut down on the amounts of souvenirs that you buy at the park. The week before we left, I lucked out, walking into Target to find their $1 section filled with Disney princess pens, pencils, notebooks, sticker books, and even socks – I picked up a few things for each of my girls, handed them out here and there on the trip, and they loved them!

If your kids love to dress up in costume – bring a costume with them to Disney! There are tons of kids walking around in princess costumes, Jack Sparrow costumes, you name it! We were able to bring Minnie Mouse for my littlest one and Tinkerbell for my older daughter (their costumes from Halloween two years ago!). My little one wore her Minnie costume all over the park and was very happy! My older daughter wore her costume from the rental house to the Magic Kingdom, and then just as we got to Main Street USA (you know, 2 feet into the park entrance…) she decided it was itchy and decided to change! Imagine how delighted Mom and Dad would have been if we had gotten there without a costume and fell into that spell of “oh, ok, we’ll buy you one because they look so cute and everyone else is wearing one!” and THEN she had decided not to wear it! You know your kids – if they like to dress up, it’s worth looking for an inexpensive costume at home, pulling one out the closet, borrowing one from a friend… And, you know I’m a sucker for pictures – another great photo op!

In this age of digital cameras, I was concerned about running out of space on my camera’s memory card. For $20 I purchased a 2GB memory card for my digital camera and this was WELL worth the expense! Previously, I was able to take about 100 pictures on my digital camera. With the new memory card – over 1000!! And as I mentioned in one of my previous posts – I ended up taking over 570 pictures! This is one of those trips that you will not want to miss taking pictures of your kids – their faces when they see the characters, the castle – it’s a magical place! I was happy that I thought to get that card prior to leaving – I may have been able to buy it at one of the parks, but I would have paid a fortune for it, and I would have hated to run out of memory and miss a great photo opportunity!

This one I didn’t plan – just lucked out – but next time I will do the same thing for sure! I had packed lots of clothes for us, and when I unpacked at the house, I realized that I had lots of options for matching shirts! The first day I did this, my husband said dryly, “Really? We’re going to be one of those matchy-matchy families?” Yep! But in the end, he didn’t mind and played along (except for pink shirt day… he just didn’t have anything with him to match!). It ended up being great for a couple of reasons – first of all, it’s a GREAT way to keep track of your family! One of use was always with our kids, but if he or I went to the bathroom, the Fast Pass line, to get the stroller, we could easily find our family again in the crowd! And an added bonus? We looked cute for pictures! Disney is a GREAT place for family pictures, and who knows, maybe you’ll end up with next year’s Christmas card photo! I was showing my pictures to our intern at work, and she mentioned that her family did the matching shirt thing when they went to Disney – but they had fun with it, they made tie-dye shirts – a different color for each day, and they got the kids in on the fun of making them!

There were lots of little things that worked out well on this trip, but these are the ones that really stuck in my mind and helped us out a lot! What ideas do you have for making traveling with the kids easier?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Disney Vacation - What We Did Right - Planning

As I mentioned, we just got back from a wonderful trip to the "Wonderful World of Disney" and there were some things that we would do differently (which I'll address in a later post), but there were many things that we were happy we did. Here are some of the things that helped us plan our trip:

1) Flexibility - we were able to be fairly flexible about when we took our trip. This helped with expenses, because originally we talked about going in March or April and airfare was VERY expensive at that time. Ideally, we would have gone during our daughter's school recess, but for the 4 of us to fly during that week would have cost us $2400. We weighed our options, fortunately our daughter is a good student, and we spoke with her teacher well in advance and were able to get the work that she was going to miss. Being able to be flexible on the dates saved us a lot of money, which was great!

2) Pre-planning - we knew well in advance that we were going to make this trip to Disney and that along with our flexibility on travel dates, allowed us the time to watch the airfares and buy tickets when they were at their lowest -- we flew roundtrip, all 4 of us for $708! BIG difference from the $2400 I mentioned earlier! We also had the time to check out a lot of different options for our trip - I priced out regular hotels, Disney hotels, rental houses... I also checked out different rental car options, Disney ticket pricing options -- all of the "big ticket items" for a trip to Disney. It's great to have the time to do a little research and make sure that not only are you getting the best price, but that you are making plans that make sense for your family.

3) Booking a house instead of a hotel - now, this is a personal preference and of course, not everyone feels the same, but one of the best things that we did was to book a rental house instead of a hotel room. We traveled with my brother-in-law, his wife and their 2 young children and we talked about staying at a Disney resort, which we had done once before prior to having kids. It was nice, but it was still just a hotel room. When you have kids, you get back to the hotel room at night or for naptime, and you aren't going to leave them on their own -- so you end up sitting in the hotel room with them, either trying to be quiet (low talking, low tv) so as not to keep them awake, or it's early to bed for you too! The house we rented (through Orlando Villas) was a 4 bedroom home with 2-1/2 baths, laundry, game room, screened-in pool right off the living room, with a piercingly loud alarm that went off if anyone opened one of the doors to the pool -- perfect for kids! We were able to put our kids to bed in their room, and either go into our own room to watch tv or make a plan for the next day, or we could go downstairs to the living room, game room or pool and know that the kids were safe and sound -- just like at home. We were able to have breakfast at the house every morning, we were able to come back after a long day and relax in the house or in the pool, we made dinner in at least one night, and everyone had a room to sleep in -- we didn't have to have 4 people in one room keeping each other up. We also had a laundry room and did our laundry as we went along -- which was great! We packed a lot, but not as much as we might have... And also, we happily threw loads of laundry in at night and folded it and when we got home we did not have tons of laundry to do! And my husband pointed out that while it is nice and sometimes convenient to stay at a Disney property, he thought it was great to get us and the kids out of Disney a little each day/night -- let them unwind and get out of that crazy, overstimulating atmosphere for a little while!

4) Shop around for rental cars - in my preplanning, I had looked on for a rental car. It looked like we were going to pay about $450 for a car from Sat - Mon (10 days). I plugged this into my budget and was fully prepared to pay this amount. When I finally went to book the car, I did a search for rental cars and I tried Hotwire just for the heck of it. Well, I found that I was able to rent a full-sized car (just like on Expedia) for $287, all things included and for the same amount of days! I asked around about Hotwire, and heard good things about them. The only "catch" is that you have to book and pay before they tell you who you are renting with -- but, they guaranteed it would be with Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise or Hertz -- all companies I was familiar with. We decided to give it a try and it worked out great -- no hidden costs (I double-checked with my car insurance carrier and confirmed that my insurance would cover us in the event of an accident, so no need to get the extra insurance) and we ended up with an SUV just because that's what they had -- and no additional cost for that.

WHEW! That's a lot for one post -- even for long-winded me! Those are the big travel planning-related items. Stay tuned for more!

Too Funny Not To Share...

Here's an exchange that occurred between my daughters last night:

Older one, "Ugh! I smell dookie!" (I don't even know how to spell that, to be honest...)

Younger one, "It's ok! It's just my butt!" (And sure enough, she needed a diaper change...)

Sorry -- I try to inform on this blog, but I do like to entertain as well! And these two are pretty entertaining most days!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Taking the Kids to Disney – A Preview

We just got back from a wonderful 10-day trip to Florida, split between Disney and Nana’s house near Tampa. With regard to the family trip to Disney, I have so many things to share, I thought I would split it into two upcoming posts entitled “Things We Did Right” and “Things We Would Do Differently.”

All week, I have been thinking of all of the tips I would like to share – hopefully these will be helpful to anyone either planning a trip to Disney with their kids, or thinking of planning a trip! (Which I highly recommend – we truly had a wonderful time!)

Oh -- and I promise not to bore with you with ALL of my pictures – so far I have gotten the original 583 (did I mention I’m from a Kodak family?) down to 437 – still have some more to take out… I promised my sister-in-law Jess that I would take out all of the bad pictures and all of the duplicates before I send them out to family and friends...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Jumping in Puddles

After dropping my older daughter off at Girl Scouts, my little one was so sad to leave – she loves going to the meetings and she SO wants to be a Girl Scout! It had been raining and there were puddles on the ground, and on our way out I said, “Do you want to jump in a puddle?” She was holding my hand and together we went over to the first puddle that we found and we both jumped in and splashed around! This brightened her mood considerably – mine too, actually! We went around the parking lot and found as many puddles as we could and splashed around and laughed!

Sometimes I feel like I’m always being the practical mom and worrying about safety and worrying about keeping clothes and shoes neat and tidy. Last night I thought, what’s the harm? It’s great to shake off that serious side and just have fun and act like a kid – and most importantly, let your kids act like kids!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Blow Horn Etiquette (I don't know what to call this...)

The other night my youngest and I went to Target to get a new memory card for the camera in preparation for our Florida trip. Getting into the car, she noticed a party “blow horn” left from a birthday party goodie bag. She tried and tried to make it work and finally got a little sound out of it – not too offensive, so I let her take it into Target. She was blowing on it and blowing on it, having a great time -- the thing would roll out, it would make a little horn noise -- loads of fun.

We get to Electronics, and I talk to someone about the memory card -- they are out of stock, and I ask if they can tell me if they have any at another Target. One of the guys working there squats down on the floor to scan the inventory code with his little scanner thing, and my little one looks down at him and says to me in this serious voice, "Can I horn him?" No, no -- you don't need to horn him! Then she looks up and points to the other guy working at the counter and says in the same voice, "Can I horn him?" This little girlie is constantly making me laugh – she definitely makes the most mundane tasks entertaining!