10 Things to do Before You Go to Disney World

May 21, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Disneypost

 

1. Make your Advance Dinning Reservations (ADR) as soon as you can. The earliest you can make reservations is 180 days in advance. To do that call 1-800-407-WDW-DINE.The Disney Dinning Blog has a great review of how to do this, which you can find here.

2. Schedule your fast Passes. This can be done 60 days in advance. There is a great article on WDW Prep School that you can find here.

3. Order Groceries from an online grocery service and have them delivered to your hotel. We don’t eat any meals in our room but it is great to have snacks and drinks in the room and not have to drag them from home. We have used Garden Grocer in the past.

4. If you will be renting a stroller call and reserve it. We used Kingdom Strollers and had a great experience. There are several other companies that rent strollers as well.

5. Watch Disney Movies. Everything is more fun when you know who the characters are. Peter Pan, Dumbo, Aladdin, Finding Nemo, Cinderella, Toy Story, Lilo and Stich, Allison Wonderland and the Little Mermaid are just a few of the movies featured in ride.

6. Let your kids know what to expect. This is huge for our kids. We talked a lot about what to expect before we got there. We explained we would ride in a car to the airport, then get on the plane, then get on a bus and then get to the hotel. Knowing each step of the process really helped the kids. We talked about the fact that there would be lines and that the characters might not talk to them (only face characters talk). All of this was great for our kids.

7. Buy some shirts for the family. I ordered shirts online from the Disney Store and got a great deal. It was fun for the kids to wear them on the way there. I have also seen shirts at Old Navy, Target and Walmart featuring characters. You will save a ton of money buying them before you get there.

8. Order personalized maps. Disney World will send you personalized maps through the Disney website. The kids loved getting them in the mail and going over all of the rides. It was a fun way for them to help with the planning.

9. Make sure everyone has good tennis shoes. You will be walking a lot and everyone needs to have good shoes. Don’t wait until the night before to check on shoes only to realize your son’s shoes have a hole or are a size to small.

10. Download Disney Apps. We used the My Disney Experience Mobile App for wait times, show schedules; changes on dinning reservations and you should be able to change your fast pass reservations. We also used an App from Disney World Touring Plans and found it extremely helpful.

 

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Rodeo Day

March 14, 2014 at 8:22 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We have been playing a lot of Wild West around here lately. Jack and Leah are really into the new show Sheriff Callies Wild West on the Disney Channel. They constantly dress up as cowboys and cowgirls and look for bandaids aka bandits. This week at school the kids had Rodeo Day at school. They were beyond thrilled to get the opportunity to wear their costumes to school. I just wanted to share a pic from the day.

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Fat Tuesday and Shrimp E’touffee

March 13, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This is a little late but I still wanted to get it posted.

Growing up my parents would have a big Cajun party every year. Their friends would all come and everyone would bring a Cajun or Creole dish to share. In the beginning I was super picky and never tried anything but as I got older I became more adventurous and enjoyed trying all of the new and yummy things. Over the years I have to say my favorite things were Pecan Pralines, Hot Spice Shrimp and Shrimp E’touffe. I have never been to New Orleans but I imagine if I get there someday I will spend a big portion of my trip eating.

On Fat Tuesday (which was a few weeks ago at this point), we made some Shrimp E’touffe to celebrate. The recipe is the one my mom made when I was growing up. It is from a very small cookbook/booklet that my Mom got one year in New Orleans. It is the kind of cookbook that the pages are extremely worn and have splatters of butter and cooking stains on most of the pages. When you see a cookbook like that, you know its going to be good.

Shrimp E'touffee

Shrimp E’Touffee

1 cup onion finely chopped

1 cup celery finely chopped

½ cup green onions with the tops finely chopped

4 Tablespoons chopped Shallots

2 cloves garlic mashed

1 stick butter

2 cups chicken stock

½ cup Rotel (I use original. You can switch to hot or mild depending on how hot you like it)

Salt to taste

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (add a little more if you like it hot)

Dash cayenne pepper

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 ½ pounds peeled and deveined shrimp

 

Directions:

  1. In a heavy Dutch oven sauté onion, celery, green onions, shallots and garlic in butter until the vegetables are soft but not brown.
  2. Stir in flour and cook until light brown stirring constantly.
  3. Gradually add the chicken stock stirring constantly with a wooden spoon
  4. Add Rotel and simmer for 10 min.
  5. Add salt, pepper, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce.
  6. Add Shrimp to mixture and cook for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve over white rice.

Here are a couple pictures of the kids.

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Sweet Things

February 21, 2014 at 9:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yesterday I got the chance to meet one of my very best friend Lindsey’s new baby boy Liam. There is nothing sweeter than a new baby and little Liam is one cute guy. I could have stayed there all day snuggling him. It gave me some serious baby fever. There is something special about meeting a baby for the first time and knowing that you will watch him grow up. Jack and Leah are pretty excited to meet him as well although Jack has already informed me that he doesn’t want to play with Liam he still wants to play with Aiden, Liam’s older brother.

baby liam

Jason and I have been trying to do a little date night at home once a month. Yesterday after the kids went to bed we made cinnamon rolls together using Pioneer Woman’s recipe. They turned out great; however, I made the mistake of not reading the whole recipe and after I had made the dough we realized that it made not one but  seven pans. Eight cups have flour really should have given me a clue. We made three pans and have some dough left in the fridge. Now I need to figure out who I could deliver some cinnamon rolls to.

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While we waited for our cinnamon rolls to bake we watched a couple episodes of House of Cards from Netflix. I am really liking it. We recently finished Breaking Bad and having been looking for a new series…this one fits the bill.

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The kids enjoyed the cinnamon rolls this morning for breakfast.

Our Valentines Day

February 15, 2014 at 10:09 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Valentines Days have changed a bit since we had kids. While it was fun to get dressed up and go out I have to say that I almost prefer staying at home for a nice meal. Yesterday we had a whole day of Valentines fun.

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Valentines Day Pancakes

I surprised the kids and made pancakes with whip cream and heart sprinkles with strawberry smoothies for breakfast. We also got them each a little surprise. Jack got a minion hat and Leah got a polka dot twirl skirt. They were both loved their surprises.

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Showing off their presents

Some of our best friends were at home for the day because school was out so we had a quick play date. I love watching the kids with their friends they had a great time and I enjoyed some grown up conversation.

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These girls are best buddies

After getting my haircut we stopped at Grandma and Grandpas to say hi and Miss Leah ended up spending the night with them. Grandma and Grandpa had plans for the evening so Leah was going to have a girls night with her Aunt Bailey…and from the pictures on facebook it looks like Uncle Stephen may have crashed the party.

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Little man had a quick nap in the car.

Jason and Jack and I made steaks, fettuccini alfredo and roasted asparagus for dinner. Jack said we were having a restaurant table because I set the table and lit candles. It was nice to have some time with him one on one. He was cracking me up in the car on the way home from Lawrence. I asked him what he wanted for dinner and he told me “a pile of steak with bacon and salt.” Healthy right? He was disappointed when his steak came with vegetables instead. After Jack went to bed Jason and I watched About Time. It was a great date night movie.

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Valentines Steak Dinner

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My two favorite guys.

 

 

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

February 14, 2014 at 1:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Today I am linking up with Kelly’s Korner to share my favorite soup recipe. I have shared this before but it is still our favorite. Its quick, easy, delicious and it freezes great! I also added a link at the bottom for my new favorite chicken soup recipe… I found it on another blog and have been making it as much as possible.

Tortilla Soup with Chicken and avocados

6 Tblsp oil
8 6-inch corn tortillas cut into bite size pieces
1 medium onion chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro minced
6 garlic cloves minced
28 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
8 cups low salt chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tblsp chili powder
4 bay leaves
4 skinless boneless chicken brest halves (to make it easier use rotisserie chicken) 
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
avocado 
Monterey Jack Cheese 
Sour Cream

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large sauce pan over high heat and add tortilla pieces, onion, cilantro and garlic. sauté for 3 minutes.

2. Stir in tomatoes with juices and bring to a boil.

3. Add Broth cumin, chili powder, and bay leaves and return to a boil.

4. Reduce eat to simmer and chicken and cayenne pepper. Let simmer until chicken is cooked (about 15 minutes).

5. Remove bay leaves and shred chicken.

6. Top with avocado slices, sour cream and monetary jack cheese and serve

Chicken Noodle Soup recipe on Sophistimom. I have made it multiple times and it always turns out great. We normally skip the heart shaped carrots…but seriously how cute is that.

Lately

February 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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Surprise Birthday Dinner

February 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This past Saturday Jason and I threw a surprise birthday party for Jason’s Mom. We both feel so lucky to have such great parents and love having an opportunity to do something nice for them when we can.

With the help of Jason’s Dad and a couple of their good friends we were able to truly surprise her. They brought her out to our neighborhood and suggested that they just drive by our house. She called when they got close to see if we were home and Jason told her to stop by. When they walked in we had everything ready and Rosemary said, “we better leave they are having company.” It cracked us up. I wanted to share a few details from the evening and some pictures.

We served Italian food because it is the birthday girls favorite. I used this lasagna recipe from all recipes and it turned out great. The only change was I used twice as much ricotta cheese mixture and added extra mozzarella as well.  Rosemary likes chocolate so I knew that we would do chocolate for dessert, but I wanted to do something special so I decided on a chocolate trio. I made chocolate mousse, chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting and chocolate covered strawberries.

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The food was good and everyone seemed to have a great time… I think it was a success!

Books

February 6, 2014 at 10:33 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I am trying to read more this year and so far I am actually sticking to my goal. I finished The American Wife, by Curits Sittenfeld and loved it. I highly recommend it. I am reading The Paris Wife by Paula McClain right now. I like it but am only a few chapters in at this point. Here are the other books on my list so far:

The Supreme Macaroni Company, by Adriana Trigiani

Girls in White Dresses, by Jennifer Close

Serendipity by Louise Shaffer

A Hundred Summers by: Beatrice Williams

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

I’m also always on the lookout for great kids books. The kids love to read and I want to encourage that as much as I can. I wanted to start reading a easy chapter book this year and I have had a little trouble finding something they would like. I tried to start the Little House books but they aren’t really old enough yet. We did read, Two Times the Fun, by Beverly Cleary. It is four short stories about twins. The kids loved it. If anyone has any recommendations of other books like this I would love to hear them.

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Here are the kids other favorites right now:

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

Animal Band by Christopher S. Jennings

The Very Best of Olivia

If you Give A Mouse A Cookie by Lara Joffe Numeroff

What are you reading? Do you have any recommendations of good books for preschoolers?

10 Tips for Visiting Disney World With Preschoolers

February 5, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Image10 Tips for Visiting Disney World with Preschoolers

I love Disney world. I have been more times that the average person and I’m always looking forward to going back. This past year was my first time visiting Disney World with kids. I have been looking forward to taking my kids to Disney World since they were born and I am happy to report it was a truly magical experience. I did a ton of research and planning before our trip and I learned a few things about taking four year old twins. Here are my tips for visiting Disney world with preschoolers.

  • 1. Use a Stroller. Even if your kid never rides in one at home they will at Disney World. It is a lot of walking. Its really not uncommon to see five or even six year olds riding in a stroller by the end of the day. We rented a double citi mini through Kingdom Strollers . It was delivered to our hotel and it was great! I choose to rent one through a rental company rather than through the parks because the stroller we rented was more comfortable for the kids and we had the stroller to use to and from the buses. If it is easier to bring yours from home do that. We decided we didn’t need it for the airport and didn’t want to hassle with dragging it through the airport.

 

  • 2. Stay on Property. The Disney hotels have transportation to the parks, they have family activities and great pools. The moderate and deluxe resorts all offer fridges in the room. If you are staying on property you can also use the Magical Express to and from the airport, which eliminates the need for a rental car. They are so many other great benefits. I won’t repeat them all because any good guide book will tell you all about them. This past trip we stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter. The hotel was great. The kids loved the pool and it was nice to have a boat to downtown Disney and view of a river.

 

  • 3. Don’t Plan too many sit down dinners. We got the Disney Dinning Plan for free and there were so many cool looking places that I made reservations for us for almost every day. This was too much. After day two of kids squirming, misbehaving and not eating anything during dinner my husband and I looked at each other and decided we need a new plan. We cancelled some of our reservations and ate a few more counter service meals. Everyone was happier. A few of our favorite Table Service Restaurants at Disney World were: Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria at Epcot, La Hacienda De San Angel at Epcot and 50’s Prime Time Café at Hollywood Studios. A few of our favorite Quick Service Restaurants include: Casey’s Corner at The Magic Kingdom, Wolf Gang Express at Downtown Disney and The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor at Magic Kingdom.

 

  • 4. Skip the Parade one night. Don’t get me wrong, the night time parade at Magic Kingdom is very cool and you should go see it, but one day skip the parade. During the parade go to Fantasyland and ride all the rides that normally have really long lines. We were able to ride seven things in about two hours and then stopped behind the castle to watch the fireworks. It wasn’t prime fireworks viewing but it was the kids favorite night. We alternated between Dumbo and the Goofy roller coaster for an hour and the kids had a ball.

 

  • 5. Use one of the Disney Apps touring plans. Find an app that has Disney touring plans and use it. We used one from www.touringplans.com for two or three days of our trip and found that our wait times were much better than the days that we didn’t do this. We also used the app from Disney called My Disney Experience for show times, wait times and to change reservations.

 

  • 6. Don’t expect to see it all. Disney World is too big to see it all in one trip or even two. Sit down with your family before you leave and pick two or three things at each park that you can’t miss and make sure you get to them. If you try to do it all it will become more like work than a vacation. To help us decide what things we wanted to do I ordered custom maps from Disney’s Website and the kids had a blast looking at them deciding what to do.

 

  • 7. Keep your normal routine most days. We tried to stay on our normal schedule the majority of the days we were at Disney World. We went back to the room and took rests, we went to bed early and ate at normal times. We picked two days to stay up late and do night time things. While the kids had fun doing the night time activities, they were kind of a mess the next day. It was worth it for us to keep them well rested and made the days more fun for everyone.

 

  • 8. Remember to check out the little things. There are tons of little things that amaze preschoolers at Disney. It isn’t all about the big attractions. My kids were amazed at the jumping fountains at Epcot and we spent a half an hour one day letting them run around and try to catch them. The kids also loved the side walks that light up at Epcot. Some of our best memories are little moments like that.

 

  • 9. Plan for a rest before you go home. We normally head to the beach for a few days after going to Disney World. Disney World is fun but it is also tiring. There are lots of people and lots of stimulation and some times you need a little break before heading back in to normal routine. Even if it is just taking the last half day you are at Disney World and spending it at the pool, plan a little time to chill before navigating the airport or a car trip with preschoolers.

 

  • 10. Remember this is a vacation, make it fun! It’s easy to get caught up in planning and have an unrealistic vision of how things are going to go. If things stop being fun  ask yourself, “What is going on?” Are we tired? Hungry? If the plan that you set out isn’t working, make a new plan.  If the kids want to go back to the hotel and swim, do it. The idea of taking your family to Disney World is to make great memories. If everyone is tense and stressed that isn’t going to happen.
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