Monday, March 28, 2011

We Went to Disney World, and Didn't Spend a Fortune on Food

I was a little nervous about how much money we would need for food on our trip. We packed snacks, I pored over menus of the various restaurants throughout Disney World. I even bought a restaurant.com* gift certificate for Garden Grove, a restaurant at one of the hotels (but not where we were staying).

I'm happy to say that we found the food to be fairly reasonable! Yes, we could have easily spent a LOT more. But we didn't have to. Here's what we did:
Brought granola bars, fruit snacks and jerky from home. This was our snack foundation. Oh yeah, and vodka.  Brian walked to a grocery store from Downtown Disney (about a mile walk) to buy orange juice, bananas, cheese sticks and our very important cocktail fixings. The taxi back to our resort was $20, which we figured was totally worth it.

Most mornings, we started the day with our snacks, plus coffee in our refillable mugs at the resort food court. The refillable mugs were great. They cost about $15 after tax, and saved us a ton over the week. One note about cleaning plastic mugs: if you have a lingering odor from a previous beverage~even after washing~simply fill it up with hot water, let it set for a couple minutes, then dump it and fill it with ice water for a few minutes. Dump, and you're ready to go. It works every time. I shared this tip at the beverage station almost every day. I felt like making signs to post to save everyone the eww factor of drinking lemonade that tastes like coffee.

There were a few days that we ate breakfast at the food-court/quick service restaurant at whichever resort we were staying. Check out this breakfast I got at All Star Movies, for only $9:
Eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, biscuit AND a Mickey waffle.
Most days, we found we were too busy to want to sit down for lunch, so we often ate the snacks out of the backpack as we went about our day, then ate a real dinner.

The kids meals ~ breakfast, lunch and dinner ~ were all only $4.99 each and offered two sides plus a beverage. This seemed consistent at parks and resorts, and the sides were awesome. Grapes, carrots, apple sauce... it was nice to have healthy options. Since we have two kids, we usually chose four different sides and split them all between the two kids. 

We had heard about the T-Rex restaurant in Downtown Disney, and wanted to check it out because the kids are soooo in to dinosaurs. Arriving at 7ish, we found a 45-minute wait. But look! Just to the left was a new little place that sounded right up our alley. Pollo Campero offered a family dinner of citrus grilled chicken, rice & black beans, tortillas, and chips & salsa – all for only $19.99. Plus they had free wi-fi which is rather hard to come by at Disney World. We did make it back to T-Rex another day. We realized we hadn't spent any money ALL DAY. Not a cent. So we splurged on a big dinner. We got there at 5ish, and walked right in – no waiting. Kids were thrilled:

I've got to say that the biggest dining surprise and delight came from Gasparilla's at the Grand Floridian. We ate so well there! I've been craving this ever since I had it:
Grown up Mac & Cheese with LOBSTER. Yes, LOBSTER, and a lot of it! $9.99 at Gasparilla's
I almost couldn't eat it all it was so much, but I somehow managed. Delicious.
Since The Grand Floridian is so accessible from Magic Kingdom, I've recommended to several people heading to Magic Kingdom that they take the boat or monorail over to the GF and have a nice dinner before heading back to Magic Kingdom for the evening.

It's good that we were so prepared with snacks, but we almost had too much. Now that we know we can get reasonable meals, we won't pack nearly as much next time.


*I declined to buy a $25 gift certificate for $10, but then saw a special on MouseSavers to buy the same $25 certificate for only $2! How could I pass that up? We didn't even end up using it, but I'm not too worried about giving up $2.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Renew Our Vows?

Brian and I were married in July of 2001 and had our own version of a fairy tale wedding. Really, it was wonderful and I feel no need to recreate it or redo anything about it.

I've kind of poo-poohed people renewing their vows, because to us, the vows we took are forever. No need to renew. The idea of renewing implies that they're stale or old.

However...
While I was a the Disney Social Media Moms celebration, I learned about a new special promotion that Disney Fairy Tale Weddings has rolled out for their 20th anniversary. All this year, they're offering a special vow-renewal package for $1,991 ~ in honor of the year they started in 1991.
         "In honor of the platinum year, Disney has also created a specially priced wedding package perfect for vow renewals: the Memories Collection. Throughout the 20-month celebration, couples are invited to create new memories through intimate ceremonies at Walt Disney World Resort. The Memories Collection includes up to six guests, including the couple, a floral bouquet for the bride, solo violinist, transportation (three-hour limousine charter) and a professional photographer for one hour.
Ceremony locations include: Conch Key Marina at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Narcoossee’s Landing at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and Luau Beach at Disney’s Polynesian Resort."
Who wouldn't want a ride in Cinderella's carriage? ©Disney

Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings Pavilion adjacent to the Grand Floridian resort on the Seven Seas Lagoon. ©Disney

I wonder if I could talk Brian into a return trip?

I attended the 2011 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World. Although we paid for our own trip to Disney World, the conference fee included 3 nights at the Grand Floridian, the conference and meals for me, several amazing meals for our entire family, park hopper passes for each of us, and some pretty incredible swag items to take home. Disney did not ask me to write about this event, and all opinions are my own.

Princess Wedding Dresses, a la Disney

Last week, I was treated to a Disney Fairy Tale Weddings Platinum Soirée at Walt Disney World which TOTALLY made me want to renew my wedding vows there. The Fairy Tale Weddings Pavilion at the Grand Floridian is so beautiful and magical, and Disney's attention to detail and guest experience management have made me a believer.

Disney and Alfred Angelo unveiled a series of seven Princess-inspired wedding gowns last fall, and they were available in stores in February of 2011. They're really beautiful, and I love that they each tell a little story about the personality or style of the muse princess. My favorite is Snow White... probably because of the nature motifs!

Here's the original Cinderella dress, which I think is just dreamy. Why can't wearing wedding dresses be an accepted practice for old married ladies like me?
One of the treats of the event was getting to see an exclusive preview of the "Cinderella Platinum Anniversary Gown" created by Alfred Angelo in honor of the 20th Anniversary of Disney Weddings.


You know what is totally silly and embarrassing? When the model walked down the aisle wearing this dress, I actually got all misty-eyed. Seriously. It's not even a real wedding, and I've never met this person. I can't help it, I'm a sap.
I don't have a good picture of the dress in person (probably because I was all silly sappy), but Disney Go To Girl has a great one on her site here. 

I attended the 2011 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World. Although we paid for our own trip to Disney World, the conference fee included 3 nights at the Grand Floridian, the conference and meals for me, several amazing meals for our entire family, park hopper passes for each of us, and some pretty incredible swag items to take home. Disney did not ask me to write about this event, and all opinions are my own.

Wedding Dresses

I started making wedding dresses when I got married in 2001. I've been sewing with my mom since I was five, and I knew my whole life that she and I would sew my wedding dress together. I love my dress for it's classic simplicity. It was based on a Vintage Vogue pattern from 1959, and we added a rhinestone inlaid "belt" around the waist, which unfortunately I don't have a good picture of!
But here I am with my bridesmaids, we also made all of their ensembles.

Since then, I've made four other wedding dresses. Here are two of them:

Beautiful Dayl & Jim
Beautiful Courtney
It seems that every two years or so, I get to make a wedding dress. It's fun to be creative and I love playing with beautiful textiles. But I really love that I get the honor of being involved in creating beautiful memories.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Travel with my Family

Wow, I have so much to process and write about from the fantastic trip we took to Disney World. I was fortunate enough to be included in Disney's Social Media Moms Celebration March 17-20, and I'm still pinching myself. It was overwhelming and unreal, to be honest. I learned so much, experienced so much, and met some pretty incredible people ~ all of which I'll be writing about soon!

But the biggest headline from the trip is that my family travels well together.

On the river boat from Port Orleans to Downtown Disney

Fairly early into my relationship with Brian, we realized that we could travel well together, and we were so relieved! It's not that it would have been a deal breaker – or maybe it would have – but since we both love travel, it's nice that we are such a good team.

As we were tucking the kids into bed upon returning from this big trip, Brian told the kids how proud we are of them for also being such good travel team members. I got all mushy when he said that. I'm sure it's just because I was so tired...  But how sweet, right?

And really, the kids were awesome. We've been on many trips together, but nothing this complex or scheduled. We were trying to squeeze as much as possible into this trip! They were such troopers, and I just couldn't be prouder of my little team.

At the airport for our red eye flight, way past their bedtime in jammies & backpacks
I saw so many families at the parks sniping and yelling at each other, and just generally being unkind. It was so sad, and made me that much more grateful that we all discussed it and agreed to be nice to each other. It made the whole trip better. Don't get me wrong, there was tension at times. But we were committed to not taking any frustrations out on each other.

I actually came back from this trip more in love with my husband, and more in love with my kids. That's pretty good for a 10-day extravaganza.

I'm so grateful. And so proud. And already planning our next trip!



I attended the 2011 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World. Although we paid for our own trip to Disney World, the conference fee included 3 nights at the Grand Floridian, the conference and meals for me, several amazing meals for our entire family, park hopper passes for each of us, and some pretty incredible swag items to take home. Disney did not ask me to write about this event, and all opinions are my own.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Social Media Has Made Me a Better Person

I've been wanting to take a couple minutes to write this post for several months, but seeing the "Take the Pledge" campaign by Elizabeth Flora Ross inspired me to finally do so. I  hear a lot about the "Mommy Wars" and the vicious ways that women attack each other online. I've seen it, and it makes me heartsick. In fact, I've been hearing stories of this from my IRL friends on discussion boards since before I knew the term, "Mommy Blogger." It's not necessarily a mommy problem, but there is something about parenting choices that seems to bring up some pretty strong reactions and (unfortunately) judgments in us. Add relative anonymity and it's been a recipe for disaster.

But I've found the anonymity has had the opposite effect on me. It's translated into me being nicer in real life, because I never know if the person who just pissed me off at the grocery store might be one of my online friends!

My experience of joining the online mom community has been awesome. Really — I'm in actual awe of the support, encouragement and humor. I've learned from you all, I've made friends that I can't wait to meet in real life, and my family is better for me having this connection and support. {despite the fact that they sometimes complain about me being on the computer again... balance is the key!}

Knowing I'm part of this bigger – often anonymous – community has given me a new kind of feeling connected to the world. Now, I'm very involved in my local community. I've lived here forEVER, I've been on boards, volunteered, I go to community events and frequent my local merchants. But this is different, because I'm interacting with people that I wouldn't necessarily meet on the street. I first noticed the change in me when some chick in an SUV cut me off on the freeway. My first reaction was to want to flip her off, but then a blog post I read flashed into my head. I thought, oh, maybe she's having a really  hard day and her kids are screaming and her checks are bouncing and the dog is sick etc etc. Instead of flipping her off, I took a breath and got over it. I wish I could do the same for my puppy who ate my shoes. I'm trying, but still not quite over that.
Please don't think I'm trying to portray myself as any kind of Pollyanna saint. I can snark with the best of them, and still do. But I've gotten so much from the online mom community, and I've seen the kind of loving support we can give each other, that it of course had to translate to my interactions in person.
I hope the "Take the Pledge" campaign works, because this is a really good thing we've got going here, and I for one don't want to see it mired in yuckiness. We're better than that!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

*#@$!*#@%!!!!

OK, I bought these super cute shoes at DSW: they're comfy and walkable and, you know, gold:


Riiiight?

Guess what my *#@$!*#@%! puppy did???


That's right. He chewed one up. Grrrr.
I was feeling really upset about it... like ALL DAY! At some point, I remembered that in comparison to being swept away in a tsunami, this really isn't that big of a deal. Then, I was reading Oh Amanda's blog, and she has a whole page dedicated to little kids who need prayers. Gah.

Oh, I feel so fortunate to have healthy kids.
And dang it, we're going to Disney World.
With or without cute shoes.
I have so much to be thankful for. And yes... I do get to be upset about my shoes being chewed. But a little perspective certainly helps.

So now I'm over it! {kinda}

***UPDATE***
I sent this link to DSW via @DSWshoelover on twitter, and they're sending me a gift card to get a new pair! Yay for customer service!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tooth Fairy

The Girl lost a tooth!

OK, this is yet another example of her telling me something and me not taking her seriously. I've got to work on that. She's been telling me for several days that she has a wiggly tooth, but I just thought it was a result of her tumble down the stairs a few weeks ago and would eventually "firm" up again.
Nope!

Well, it may be because of the fall... but it definitely fell out!

I was scrounging for dinner, and Girlchild said,
"Today is the day that I lost my tooth."

I said, "Whaaaaah?"
She said, "I lost a tooth!"
I said, "NO WAY!"
She said, "YES WAY!" and held up a tiny little tooth.

Well, whaddya know? I knew she was advanced in many ways, but sheesh. I didn't think I'd be dealing with teeth for at least a year, maybe two. «scramble, scramble... what do tooth fairies bring these days?»

We talked for a bit about the tooth fairy, and what this all meant, when she told me she needs to go open the window in her room. Fortunately, Yashi was able to convince her that tooth fairies can come in with magic, and don't need the window to be open. When asked for proof, Yashi gave the example of the fairies in Sleeping Beauty, which seemed to convince the Girl. Whew!
Here's the "letter" she made for the tooth fairy:
Note the Sleeping Beauty reference. And the pony.


She asked to make a video {clearly a future vlogger}, here's what she wanted to tell you all:
video




Yup, she asked the tooth fairy for a pony. A PONY! So classic. Way to aim high, sweetie!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dinsey

I keep waiting for someone to post about how excited they are to go to Dinsey.
I know, it's not going to happen. Or will it?
I live for funny typos.
Please, somebody post about Dinsey.
It will make my day.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

giddy

I stopped at a consignment store to check into water sandals for the kiddles to take to Disney World, and just HAD to buy this little number for the Girl:
It's a Tinkerbell-inspired princess dress!
Now, she hasn't been in a princess mood for a while, just OBSESSED with dinosaurs. It's been a couple months since she's insisted on wearing princess clothes or a tiara, so I didn't know if she'd be in to it or not.
Oh, em gee. She took one look at it and stripped off her clothes to put it on. Once on, she had the hugest permagrin, and this deep gutteral laugh just took over her whole body. Seriously, shaking and jumping up and down. Then... screaming laughing running laps around the house. Laughing laughing laughing.
Next, she needed to put on princess shoes. Then, she insisted on making a mask. Mask? OK! I helped her make this:

When my parents arrived at the house for dinner, she ran up and said, "What do you think of my look? I'm the Queen of the Fairies!" {squeee, resume laps and laughter} I tried to get a picture of her, but she couldn't stop moving.
Is she a little excited? Just a tad. To be honest, every time I see the little countdown to the right, my heart skips a beat. I'm tempted to run laps and scream, too!
I'm so looking forward to not only this UH MAZ ING family time at Disney World, but also to meeting all these inspirational women. And I'm certain that the information I'll learn at the conference will be life-changing. I just know it.
So yes, I'm giddy. Yes, I've been informally packing for months. Yes, I'm religiously stalking the #disneysmmoms hashtag. Like the kids, I CAN'T WAIT.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cape!

My little neighbor friend just turned four, and he's super in to pirates & costumes right now. So I decided to make him a cape. Because every kid needs a cape, right?

Digging through my fabric box, I found this old Anne Klein striped shirt. I've held on to this shirt for so long, in hopes of using it for something. A kid's cape seems a little silly for such yummy silk chiffon, but seriously – I've had this shirt in the fabric box for years. It's way too big for me, and unwearable due to some unfortunately placed hot pink stains. Don't ask, I don't know where they came from! So I've given up on turning it into something that I can wear.
It seemed kind of Jack Sparrow-y to me, and it looks good with this brown taffeta.
 First I had to get rid of the sleeves, so I stitched from neck to the bottom of the side seam in as straight a line as possible. That chiffon is SQUIRRLY! It's a little puckery, too, because my needle wasn't fine enough for that delicate of fabric. If this wasn't for a four-year-old's costume, I would have taken the time to switch my needle. Oh well!
 Next I laid the de-sleeved blouse on the brown taffeta, and cut the shape of the cape out of the taffeta. This whole process would have been a lot easier if I wasn't trying to keep the collar. I thought the collar would be cool on the cape. Instead it's kinda weird, as you'll see below.
  I added some black double-faced satin ribbon to the top by the collar, so it could be used as ties. Folded the collar in, and carefully sewed it all together, leaving the bottom edge free.
 Turned right-side-out, here's the finished product:
 Brown shimmery manly taffeta on the outside, black & white stripes on the inside. Tied together with black ribbons straps. Unfortunately, the striped collar makes it look a bit like a Hogwarts wizard cape instead of pirate-y. But wouldn't a pirate be totally in to re-purposing an old shirt? I think so.
Here's my son modeling it in his jammies: