Saturday, July 31, 2010

Need a trim?

Do you remember your first haircut? I know I don't. Not many people do, even though it is often thought of as a big deal. I know local barber shops often have little certificates and do something a little special for a child's first cut. But, in my understanding, there is only one place that I want my son to have his first cut:

The Harmony Barber Shop. Located next to City Hall on the corner of Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom, the Harmony Barber Shop is a real working barber shop known for fun and flair as well as excellent cuts. Not to mentions, the prices are the comparable to the shops in my suburb. For under $20, a child can get their first haircut, receive a special certificate commemorating the event and a pair of mouse ears. Amazing!

Which is PERFECT seeing that Noah will be 13 months old and most likely in desperate need of a haircut in January, for our half-marathon trip. The only conflict - Adam swears he needs a haircut now (the sides are a little long with a short bit of hair over his ears), but I think he can wait. Either way, he won't be having an actual haircut until January. If I can wait several months in between cuts, so can he!

The plan goes as follows: wake up early (as we always do) the morning after the race and head over to the Ticket and Transportation Center. I'm expecting it to be a bit hectic, seeing as the full marathon will be going on, so we'll try to plan for that. I would love to experience the rope drop again and hope that Noah will appreciate it even more this time. I recently read that at 8 months, a baby is finally seeing at 20/40, so maybe at 6 months, he wasn't able to really recognize the characters all the way at the train station from where we watched the show. Or, more realistically, he saw it and watched in awe as opposed to watching with excitement which I hope to witness one of these visits.

Digression!! So, after the rope drop, we'll head straight towards the Harmony Barber Shop, while the majority of the other visitors will be rushing towards one of the mountains and other popular rides. The one (and only, so far as I can tell) downfall is that the Harmony Barber Shop does not take reservations. I've read many wonderful reviews, previous customers saying that not only the experience was magic, but the cuts were fantastic.

Yet another thing to look forward to and continue mentally planning during my runs.
Have a magical day!
~Jenn


This post is part of the Disney Blog Carnival. Head over there to see more great Disney-related posts and articles.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Get out of my head!




Have you ever had a song stuck in your head for DAYS only to have it replaced with an equally annoying song? This has been my life for the past week, only it's not some annoying Jonas Brothers song, it's a Playhouse Disney song!

I decided it would be smart to make a CD of all the Playhouse Disney music from our iPods for Piper to listen to in the car when she got fussy. Little did I know that this was ALL she wanted to listen to, all of the time! Right now, the "Hibiscus Hula" is playing continuously in my head! She absolutely LOVES the CD. She dances, squeals with delight, and has a non-stop smile on her face every second each song plays. And when one song ends, she goes "Uh-oh" until the next one starts! It really is SO cute, but at night when I try and fall asleep, it's REALLY annoying to hear "Minnie's Bow-tique" in my head over and over!

My child has always been very musical, dancing to ANY type of music, but I find it fitting that her favorite is Disney music. It must be something about the characters' voices that makes her happy. I do love seeing that smiling, bow-head dancing in the rear view mirror. It's a good thing I love Disney as much as I do.

As I finish this blog, I am humming "My Friends Tigger and Pooh" which does have a nice key change in the middle-at least it's interesting :)

See ya real soon!
~Mellie

Vacation complete

Today was our last actual day of "vacation" for the year. Tomorrow we pack up the car and drive back home. Four more hours in the car. What will we do!? 4 more hours of the big dogs fussing and the baby crying, oh no!

In hopes of making the trip better, Noah and I took a quick trip to the grocery store looking for the corn snacks (mum mums) he'd had and enjoyed before. The best part of these snacks - their size. He could hold onto the snack and feed himself, entertaining him (if nothing else) for a few minutes. But, of course, the store had none. So, I started reading all the Gerber labels - looking for the little crawler to see what little ones his age can snack on. I settled on 2 more treats, 1 more little puffs kind of treat and another teething biscuit. And, I was bad. The 4 day rule in my head applies to fruit and veg, but not to these weird snacks. Oh well.

Not enjoying the car ride to the store (5, maybe 10 minutes), I decided to try one of the biscuits for the ride home. SUCCESS!! Of course, this may not be replicated tomorrow, but Noah enjoyed the biscuit and it took him several minutes to eat. Hopefully we won't have to feed him for the entire trip tomorrow, but it may hold him off for a few minutes when he gets extra fussy.

And when all else fails, we have our safety net: the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse soundtrack.

if only I was joking..

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Staying on property

To resort or not to resort, that is always the question. I wrote a great blog about this that I'll eventually post (hopefully as a guest blog, hint hint!), but I'll do a small version while I'm thinking about it. There are almost too many options when it comes to vacationing in Orlando. Since Orlando has become a mecca for tourists, deciding where to stay really depends on vacation plans.

For example - our current trip planning is for the Disney Half Marathon in January 2011. Our plan is to fly directly into Orlando (a first for me - we always fly in to see family first) and relax and unwind a few days before the race. After the race, we plan to only do 1 or 2 days at WDW, but we might also check out Sea World or Universal - hey, I may be a Disneyaphile (as a coworker called me), but I also love Harry Potter and really want to visit the Wizarding World.

If you're not completely familiar with Orlando, WDW, Universal, and Sea World are all relatively close. In between , there are thousands of restaurants, shops, and other small attractions like mini golf courses galore and Medieval Times. Universal and Sea World are closer to each other, around 5 miles apart, but about 20 minutes to WDW. Add in rush hour, and it's probably best to stay closer to the parks you plan to spend the most time. For us, that will most likely always be WDW.

However, seeing that we might go visit the other parks, do we really need to take advantage of the pluses to staying on Disney's property? Extra Magic Hours and park transportation aren't useful across town. This is what I started researching in the past month. Where to stay off property. I'll discuss those bonuses in a later post, btw.

That's when I realized - for less then staying at a hotel near the parks, there are rental homes ALL OVER. And please learn from my mistake and don't send a request for information form. I received around 40 emails the first day and several more for the following week. But, I'm learning what to look for. Another plus - the villas I'm currently looking at are in a neighborhood about 2 miles from WDW, but close to neighborhood restaurants and few miles from Celebration, which I personally want to explore. PLUS- they have individual pools! They're barely bigger than a hot tub, but a POOL! Hooray for privacy. And I bet that will feel amazing after those 13.1 miles are complete.

So, if you're planning to see the whole area, not just one place, I'd check into Orlando vacation homes. There are fantastic reviews all over the DisBoards, so I'm confident we'll be in a nice area. Maybe our next trip (Food and Wine half marathon 2012?) we'll do more WDW oriented traveling and stay in a resort again, but for now, off property it is!

Anyone else have any recommendations? Ever rent someone elses vacation home?
~Jenn

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beach Boys

Today we had another first for Noah - our first trip to the beach! We expected to find time in June to hit up the Ft. Lauderdale beach while staying with my parents (before and after our stay at WDW), but we never made it. In Atlantic City, we're staying a few short blocks from the boardwalk and the beach, so today, Adam and I packed some sunscreen and towels, put Noah in the stroller, and made our way to the shore.

It's common on Adam's side of the family to have an aversion to sand. He hates the sand (in fact, while honeymooning in St. Lucia, we rarely went onto the beach and spent the majority of the trip by the pool) and so do his dad, brothers, and nephews and nieces. My family, however, is full of Florida beach-goers. We grew up visiting the beach annually if not more and love it, most of them live very close to the beach. And Noah is a beach lover! For a boy that looks so much like his father, it's nice to find some similarity to me. He enjoyed relaxing on the towels while I lathered him up with sunscreen, then he loved crawling around (while we chased after him trying to keep him from eating the sand).

For more fun, we brought him down to the water. The original goal was to trade the sand on his hands for salt water, but then Adam decided to see if he would like the water. By the way- the ocean is COLD up here. Okay, maybe not COLD but cold. I just checked - 73 degrees. Can't say I was expected that after the last week pushing 100 degrees every day. But, Noah loved watching the water. He was so peaceful (and adorable) watching.... until Adam sat him down in the water's edge, hoping to get him to splash like he does in the tub. Pretty much the beginning of the end of our beach trip right there, but overall, it was a great experience!

Hopefully when he's older, we can take him to the beach and build sand castles, bury him in the sand, and play in the water. For now, we'll stick with a 30 minute trip. 30 minutes, well worth it! All while wearing an adorable Mickey Mouse bathing suit - pictures to follow. I swear sometimes that child looks like a walking Disney billboard...

~Jenn

Monday, July 26, 2010

Another day, another car trip

I've heard stories that some babies love riding in the car. Tales of cars calming fussy babies to sleep and others of babies sleeping for long car trips. These are myths in our household. It's hard to imagine a baby falling asleep that easily. Easy is most definitely not an adjective ever used to describe Noah. Cute, sweet, lovable, cuddly- sure. But easy? No chance.

The first 30 minutes of the drive were fantastic and featured a happy baby who had just woken up from a nice nap and had a full belly. Then reality set in.

That's when I started trying everything. Lots of
toys first. Maybe a minute per toy. Then he got fussy because his car seat was loaded with toys and stuffed animals. After several toys, I tried giving him a snack which just made him even fussier. Next, I pulled out the portable dvd player (can't wait for him to grow enough to turn around and face not only us but the built-in dvd player) and we tried Baby Einstein. That was a no-go. After that I tried Finding Nemo and his plush Nemo. That actually lasted a few minutes longer than everything else AND when he got fussy again, I pulled out another snack which kept him peaceful for a few minutes longer.

Luckily, we were near one of the big Maryland rest stops and took a food break (for all of us). Once we got back on the road, it only took a few minutes for Noah to fall asleep. It only took a couple of hours, but it gave us a nice peaceful stretch of drive. The cutest part- he fell asleep holding on to Thumper. So very cute!

any tricks of the trade to share for our ride home?

Starting off happy

Getting a little louder..

Giving us about 30 minutes of peacefulness

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Oh, what a night!

Just barely 6 and the little one is in his crib.. sleeping? Well, no. But close. Yes, in this house, Noah goes to bed at 6 (hooray!) because naps are often sporadic and rarely longer than an hour. Plus, our standard morning needs to start at 6 to get to work for commutes, so work or not, 6 am it is.

This weekend has been an extra special weekend. Why? TEETHING. Yup, bottom tooth #3. Other than the ridiculous amount of drool coming from his mouth, I saw no signs of another tooth. Though I check on a regular basis, I had yet to see anything until this afternoon. AHA! We finally knew why our sweet baby was extra fussy. We're used to afternoon fussiness, but all day is not normal.

I mentioned that this is tooth #3. When, you may ask, did the first 2 teeth come through? Well, wouldn't you know, but they made their appearance days before our trip to WDW in June. We were terrified thinking - 'of course this would happen.' People told us that he would be fussy for a few days, but then would go back to normal. A few days!? He can't be this fussy (read: impossible) for Disney! No one would have any fun.

Wouldn't you know, the teething woahs disappeared as soon as we hit Disney World. We kept some medicine with us at all times, just in case, and had to use some baby teething gel a few times, but he rarely made a peep. Actually, our regularly fussy baby left almost all of his fussiness at home when we went for our trip.

Of course, we're planning a relaxing trip just to get away and visit some family this week. I doubt we'll be as lucky, but we can only hope. Gotta love those Disney distractions, the perfect place for a teething baby!

Hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend!
~Jenn

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hydrate, hyrdate, hydrate!

Following the title of an email I just received from my 'boss' entitled "hydrate today," I thought it would be a good idea to encourage hydration! That may sound like a very strange email to receive from a coworker, but there is a definite purpose for it. For those that don't know, I don't have a standard 9-5 day job. My hours are sporatic and random, often working evenings and weekends. And tonight, we happen to have a job outside at 6pm. Standing. And for those of you not in the DC area, the high for today is expected to be in the upper 90's with high humidity. At 10:30 am, it's already around 90 degrees and uncomfortably humid. Now, maybe that email doesn't sound so strange. Add that to reading the previous post by Mellie, I decided I should blog about my favorite drink- water!

If you're silly enough to take a Florida vacation in the summer, get ready to spend a lot of $$ on water. Every day, we started our WDW days with a bottle of water for each of us and a sippy cup full for Noah. Many days, we would finish at least one bottle before even entering the parks. $2.50 may seem extreme for a 16oz bottle of water, but not only is it refreshing, it's a NEED in the parks. Thanks to my odd job, I know what heat exhaustion feels like. I've seen many people pass out or get sick due to the heat. The heat is much more extreme than people can really imagine. If you're sweating and losing salt and liquid, sports drinks are also a good idea.

Just yesterday, I heard about a young child getting sick watching our morning mission (9 am outside). I'm sure his mother didn't think that being outside for a short period of time that early would cause any problems, but with the hot sun and no shade cover, it didn't take a long time to ruin their day of tourism. Then, later in the afternoon, another coworker said he started seeing black due to the extreme heat conditions. He had never in his life felt the way he did - even though I have experienced this more than once.

If you want to keep going on your vacation, make sure to drink your water! Avoid soda and caffeinated beverages - they simply dehydrate you even more. Hopefully this will help more families out in the future.

Stay inside and enjoy the AC for me because I'm going to be spending the afternoon outside in this crazy heat!
~Jenn


Thursday, July 22, 2010

To juice or not to juice?

In Disney, we brought 2 cups with us each day, one filled with ice water (that we refilled as the day went on) and the other filled with milk. She would drink the milk for the first hour of the day. After that, I would rinse out that cup and buy more milk at each meal. For all of you planning to go to Disney, this really worked well for us. I am SO glad we hadn't introduced juice then.

In the last month, we introduced apple juice (Piper calls it "doo"). We cut it with water so she get half juice/half water. My child drinks the ENTIRE glass in one sitting, resulting in MANY diaperchanges daily. One thing I was not told is that juice is a diuretic. Oh my, we have hadmore blowouts in the past week than I can believe! I am SO glad that didn't happen on our Disney trip!

See ya real soon!
~Mellie

Monday, July 19, 2010

2.5 Miles

It's not quite halfway... heck, it's not quite 1/4 of the way, but it's closer to 13.1 miles than I was just a couple of months ago! My training is going better than I expected. Adam is, unfortunately, dealing with some of the harder sides of running (shin splints, etc...), but he's been doing pretty well up to this point.

Yes, I'm talking about the half-marathon training. It's our next trip to WDW, so it's on my mind a lot! We're still not sure how many days we'll be going to the parks or where we'll be staying, so I have taken control of the only thing I can - getting myself ready to run around the parks.

I actually wrote a very long and informative planning post tonight, but I'm saving it - hoping it use it as a guest post on Babes in Disneyland.
Maybe some of those Cali people will want to check out the world, so if I'll help out when I can!

In other news, Noah is comfortable and at times even happy sitting in high chairs and shopping carts.
That will definitely make dining in January much easier than our last trip where I wrapped him constantly.
Going to have to start a countdown to the marathon pretty soon.

And for your viewing pleasure, a picture of my favorite cutie cheesing for the camera:

Good readings :)
~Jenn

Friday, July 16, 2010

Eating in the bathroom?

Driving home from work yesterday, my phone rang. A friend from college with a 3 week old had all these questions about her son's eating habits. We talked for a little while and somehow ended on the subject of nursing in public. To this, my friend said "I'm not comfortable nursing in a restaurant, so I just go stand in the bathroom stall."

WHAT?! Who wants to eat their dinner in a bathroom stall? I know I sure don't, so why would I feed my child in there!?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm a PRUDE. In my adult life, I've worn a bikini a couple of times, but generally speaking, I'm fully clothed and don't even really like shorts. And, for a long while, I would go hang out in the "mother's room" at a department store at our local mall when I'd need to feed my son because it has comfortable chairs and a nice changing area. But why should I be banished to the bathroom? You can't even people watch inside the mother's lounge. Don't get me wrong, it took me a while to get comfortable nursing in public and Noah would take a LONG time to eat, so it just made sense for me if I had the chance. But standing in the stall?

Last weekend, we (husband included) met up with some friends at the mall for lunch. We got there a little early, knowing Noah's feeding schedule, so I could nurse him before we sat down for lunch. I, too, prefer not to nurse in a restaurant if that's an available option - if I'm nursing, I can't really eat because at least one of my hands is busy holding Noah and it is distracting so I might miss some conversation. In the past, I would have told Adam I'd meet him after I nursed in the mother's lounge. But this time I decided against that. We sat on a couch in the mall together, so I didn't abandon him and I was stuck staring at the wall while I fed the baby.

Yes, feeding a newborn is difficult, but I guarantee that it is easier sitting in a booth in a restaurant than standing in the bathroom. What this particular mom lacked was a Hooter Hider. Some genius out there created basically an apron so you're not showing anything while you nurse (and I use one at work to pump) and you can still see your child.

I'm not selling this brand nor am I making money from posting this. I just like this one better than others because the brand name is fantastic. Plus, it has a nice loop to see the baby easily.

Then, I started thinking about why nursing in public can be weird: clothes. The first few times, I couldn't figure out how not to show off my back and stomach when I nursed and then I realized - now all of the clothes I buy are nursing accessible. I love the nursing cami's from Target - especially when I'm traveling and stuck with my frenemy, Medela, instead of the baby. But, there are so many clothes that are simple to nurse in that aren't maternity clothes and are just normal clothes. Last time I checked, Kohl's had a ton of cute (and inexpensive) V neck's that are very new-mom friendly. Plus, after much research, I found the website/brand Motherwear which sells cute clothes that are discreet and easy to nurse in. In fact, most of my Disney tops came from that very website. No one sees anything anyway and then adding the cover, you're showing less than wearing a low cut blouse or a bathing suit!

Hopefully this will make people rethinking hiding out. Give it a try - for all mother's out there, you can do it!

This public service message brought to you by:
~Jenn

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Shows, shows, shows!

Over the years, we've seen many 3d shows at Disney World. My personal favorite, being a Disney lover and musician, has been Mickey's Philharmagic since I first watched the attraction. I figured going into the trip that Noah would love the show, too. He loves music and Mickey, so why not, right? Well, because when we went to see the Philharmagic, it was either nap time or food time and Noah didn't really pay attention!

I also assumed (you know where that leaves me) that he would thoroughly love Playhouse Disney at DHS and smile when seeing Mickey and friends on stage. But, of course, it was nap time. Again. Geez, that baby sure seems to sleep a lot! Which in itself is ironic seeing that he didn't sleep for the first few months of life...

We did go see It's Tough to be a Bug from A Bug's Life at the Animal Kingdom. Neither Adam nor I had seen the show before, so we figured it would be fun for us. We grabbed our 3D bug goggles for the 3 of us (yes, even a pair for Noah), and headed in for the show.


At 6 months, Noah kept his glasses on for a few minutes but 1 year old Piper wasn't taking part in the bug fun.

Though Noah didn't keep his glasses on for the majority of the show, he loved the show. For those that haven't seen the show, it's not only the screen that's interactive, but there is an animatronic grasshopper in a corner throughout the show. He loved the show. He payed attention the entire time and never so much as made a peep. I have to say, I think it was one of the most successful attractions for Noah. We'll have to try it again at 1 year and see if it still enjoys it!

Happy 3-d watching,
~Jenn

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dinner, anyone?

I am very excited right now. I just booked my very first Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) ever. We had a few for our last trip, but Mellie took care of all of them, so now it's up to me. And, I used the new fancy online reservation form, so I didn't even have to talk to a human (which, frankly, at 9 pm is more my style).

You may be wondering why I made dinner reservations for a trip 6 months away. Well, I'll tell you. Because I want the Beer Cheese Soup at Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada at Epcot's World Showcase that I keep reading (and drooling) about. And, because even though it's nearly 6 months away, there were 2 dinner reservations left. Yup, 2. I checked an online calender that told me when I could make reservations (180 days out) and I could have sworn it started tomorrow, but I think I remembered wrong. Our reservation is actually at a good time - 7, but the other option was 4:30. Insane! This better be an amazing steak. Or at least a ridiculously good soup.

Thinking about this brought me around to a conversation I had with Adam yesterday - that we need to branch out while we're at Ecpot. There are several countries that we simply walk past without giving a second glance and I think that should stop.

When Noah is older, we'll hopefully enjoy taking him around to the different countries so he can do art projects and learn about other cultures. And take him on the Norway ride to see if the trolls and vikings scare him. :)
I had originally planned to write a review of the San Angel Inn, inside the Mexico pavillion where we had dinner in June, but I'm running out of time tonight. I'll just say this - it was delicious and the margeritas were as fantastic as ever. And, we enjoyed walking straight onto the boat ride with the Three Caballeros afterwards, even though Noah slept through most of it (dinner and the ride):

Happy eating!
~Jenn

Monday, July 12, 2010

Popping up everywhere!

Before our trip in June, I searched and searched for information about bringing a baby to Disney. I was by no means a Disney beginner, but I had never considered the parks with a such a small tyke. During our trip the previous summer, we both figured that we would wait a little while to bring the kids (assuming we'd have multiple before coming back). Obviously, that didn't last, so I wanted to read what other people experienced to see if we were as crazy as I guessed.

The only information I found was from the Disney MOMS panel (which I think I'll apply for next time it comes around... if I hear about it in time!). Now that I'm becoming a blog hound, I've found at least 2 others. Which I know "follow" in my spare time. I found an adorable one for Disneyland (see? different! we've never even visited the land! yet.) called Babes in Disneyland and another one with a title I'm pretty sure I tried to register for - Growing up Disney. I'm glad I didn't see these before because I probably wouldn't have followed through with this blog, which now I'm addicted to (and you are, too. admit it!).

After reading some of the older posts on Growing Up Disney, I decided to take on of their posts and expand upon it with my experiences. Back in May, they did a stroller review on the Maclaren Volo, a stroller that I have absolutely no experience with - however, I do have experience with several others, thanks to my generous family :)

Here is a list of the strollers I've used:

1. Snap and Go-style - it's simply a frame for the car seat - several companies make these now.
- I used this stroller exclusively for the first few weeks, but Noah never enjoyed being in his car seat, so I would often end up carrying him or wearing him (first in a sling, later in my Wrapsody woven wrap). While I saw several of these around the parks, I can't imagine a baby being comfortable all day stuck in their car seat. It would definitely make going into restaurants easier (Noah didn't quite fit in the high chair), he would have been miserable. And I'm pretty sure it's not good for the baby to be in their for such extended periods of time if there are other options.

2. Zooper Waltz - Another hand me down, I loved these strollers. They almost fully recline and we took Noah for walks in these when he was only a few weeks old. It's also great because the car seat can snap right in as sort of a make-shift travel system. I had intended to bring this stroller, but as my sister-in-law, Laura, pointed out, it doesn't fold up very well and was a pain to use on and off the bus, so she loaned me their:

3. Maclaren Quest (I think that's the right model!) - this is an uber lightweight umbrella stroller. It folds up better than any other stroller I've tried and is much easier to figure out than some of the others as well. Plus, this stroller reclined easily to help with naps. Ooh and it has a shoulder strap! The only downfalls were the lack of cup holders and the seriously small basket. But, I can't imagine any compact strollers big enough to carry our giant diaper backpacks..

4. Chicco Umbrella strollers - Another hand me down... this one went straight to my mother-in-laws and she keeps it unfolded there because it is HARD to figure out! Seriously. But, they do have cute colors..

5. The BOB Revolution - running stroller. I love this stroller... for anything where I don't have to put it away. It's HUMONGOUS. It doesn't fold up very well at all, but it's wonderful for long walks and runs around the neighborhood. It's also Noah's favorite - he'll fall asleep in that one in a matter of minutes. And it has a great and easily accessible basket (and an optional strap on cup holder) - so if you're driving to the parks and not having to think about the buses and folding it up, this is a fantastic option.


When I was planning to bring my sister-in-laws, I did worry about one thing - is this really safe? I'm just going to be leaving this really nice stroller in an open area? We only found it moved (by the Cast Members in charge of organizing the strollers) once and only a few spots down. Actually, at one point in time, we left it by Pirates of the Caribbean with Noah's small stuffed nemo doll sitting on the seat, facing out for all to see, then walked all the way to Tomorrowland, leaving the stroller for a couple of hours. When we finally picked up the stroller, it hadn't been moved and nemo was safe and sound. So, erase that worry! It's safe!

I think the only way to get everything you want all in one would be to buy one of those absurdly expensive strollers. I'd rather spend that $900 on another trip!
Hope this helps!

For more in depth stroller reviews, check out my favorite baby planning book - Baby Bargains.
Talk about a lifesaver!

Happy strollering,
~Jenn

Baby-friendly

I was worried about our first hotel experience with our baby. We have a 1 year old who needs certain things to be comfortable. Would our resort be able to provide the things we needed? I know Disney is kid-friendly, but is it baby-friendly?

In our hotel (Caribbean Beach Resort), they provided us with many things for our 1 year old. They had a pack-n-play crib for her to sleep in (with sheets and a blanket), a fridge in the room to keep her milk cold, a baby water play area for her to play in without being in a pool, and they even had kid-friendly snacks like pudding, fruit cups, and fresh fruit.

We found that when she was trying to sleep (she puts herself to sleep), we needed to block her view of the room so she wouldn't be distracted by it. I draped a thin blanket over the mesh side of the pack-n-play. This worked like a charm! She slept so well in the hotel, and we breathed a sigh of relief!

The only problem we had with the hotel was the cabinet that hides the fridge. For some reason, Piper was drawn to this cabinet. Probably because we have all cabinets locked in our home, and she loves opening doors. She smashed her hand 3 or 4 times while playing with it.

We had a great time at our hotel, and I love that it is not only kid-friendly, but also baby-friendly.

See ya real soon!
~Mellie

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Get a move on!

Just last week I reached a milestone; a goal I've been worried about attaining since before I found out I was pregnant: losing the baby weight. Due to my job (military), I have to maintain physical and weight standards. While I intended to not eat junk while I was pregnant, having eaten well for so long, I wanted to cut loose. And boy did I. Bacon cheese fries? YUM (if you have a Ledo's near you, theirs may be the best). Of course, that led to gaining a few more pounds than I had wanted to gain which led to more stress to get the lbs off.

For work, I officially had 6 months. Luckily, the physical test for our group (APFT) happened at 5 months, so I was safe for a few extra months. The weigh in, however, just happened. Almost 7 months to the day. I set 6 months as my goal and tried my darnedest, but with vacations and other trips (and having a BABY), it took all 7 months. But it's GONE! I celebrated with my husband on a date to dinner and Toy Story 3, enjoyed some good food and yummy Sangria, and am immediately back on track.

You may be wondering how this is Disney related, and I'll tell you:
My husband and I registered for the Disney Half Marathon.

I didn't run during my pregnancy for a couple of reasons (heart rate, hatred of running), but knew I needed to get back into running mode for work as soon as possible. We started planning while I was pregnant - we would run the January 2011 half. 13.1 miles. My longest to date is around 5 and that was several years ago. Even though I didn't run, I practiced yoga for the majority of the time, doing Flow (Vinyasa/fast paced) for about 32 weeks then switching to slow preggers yoga after that. I would like to think that helped me, but I'm not sure.

6 weeks is the standard timeline to start diet and exercise, so at 6 weeks, I rejoined (former lifetime) Weight watchers and followed the plan for nursing mothers. Still, several months in, I'm still following the same plan and tracking my points daily. My next goal is to revisit my wedding weight. I also began the Couch to 5K program - an easy to follow and not too strenuous program to get lazy butts like me to run a 5k in 9 simple weeks. Of course, with an infant, these 9 weeks have stretched out over several months, but I'm now close!

13 miles seems insane to think about, but I figure if I have to run, I might as well run from Magic Kingdom to Epcot. I see purpose to that run!

I'm still far from the shape I used to be - a few years ago I worked out 5 or 6 times a week and now I'm happy with 3. But, I make sure to get my running in so I have an excuse to hit up Le Cellier (Canada) for that beer cheese soup I keep reading about. Gotta reach the finish line!

Hope you enjoyed my ramblings :)
~Jenn

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Heat wave!

What is with this heat wave in the North East? I left the deep south - friends in Louisiana and family in South Florida - with several reasons, but one being my hatred for absurdly hot weather. Sticky, hot, humid days and I have a troubled past and while we try to be civil with each other, it's best when we avoid each other at all costs.

This week of temperatures 90 and above (Tuesday and Wednesday reached 100+) could go away. Move South. Stay closer to the Caribbean where at least it's beautiful. We actually just had our lawn landscaped and I felt terrible for those workers stuck outside all day. They did a fantastic job, but how horrible! As for me, I've tried to avoid going outdoors, minus Monday's 2.5+ mile parade in Rhode Island (still 90) and a job tomorrow afternoon outside.

We had similar heat like this (plus more humidity) on our June trip to WDW, though. While it was miserably hot, we were enjoying the most magical place on earth so we made it work. How do you do that with babies? We had a few simple tricks that kept us going.

Before we arrived, Mellie and I purchased clip on fans for our strollers. Not quite sure how effective they really were, but they definitely gave the babies a little breeze. Melissa also "invested" in those nice $2 hand fans for all of the adults. Surprisingly, they really helped. Though I don't plan to visit again during the hottest months (until I forget), I'll be investing in a few more of these to keep us cool.

Adam and I are snobs - we like our water nice and cold. Instead of bringing a lot of water in the parks with us, we usually started the outings with a bottle each and then bought cold water while we were there. Maybe that's not worth $3.50, but in scorching heat, we'll bite. I personally love drinking soda to quench my thirst, but Adam kept me in line and I only had soda when we were back at the resort using our refillable mugs (purchased at the resort cafeteria.. it's a souvenier and is also used for as much soda one can consume during the stay). That helped us stay hydrated. We also brought a sippy cup for Noah and let him have water sporatically in between feedings. And, to our surprise, he never really complained about being hot or tired on the trip (unusual for Noah), so maybe all of our tricks worked.

Our second plan to stay cool was a nice afternoon nap. I really like having Noah on a nap schedule, and while daycare doesn't always allow it to be as routine as I'd prefer, we even tried during our vacation to let him have at least one good nap per day. Usually, right after an early lunch, we would head back to our hotels for family nap time. This way, we all avoided the hottest part of the day, the most dangerous sun rays, and relaxed. Also, it helped us avoid the absurd daily thunderstorms. I know Florida's daily shower. This was definitely not it.

Even for our future trips (next one in January), we will probably try to continue the afternoon nap-in-bed. We all could use it to keep us going strong!

Stay cool :)
~Jenn

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Home, Sweet home

After spending 4 full days away from Adam and Noah, I made it home last night to get Noah in bed. While I'm disappointed that I missed his first Independance Day, I will most likely miss many more, being a military musician. Our work trip went fairly well and was pretty painless, minus the overwhelming time I spent with my frenemy, Medela.

Now that I'm home, I've spent a lot of the day checking out well established Disney blog sites. My favorite, the food blog, always leads me to other sites and today, I found one dedicated to EPCOT. I love Epcot. I've discovered new foods and drinks all around the world and enjoy the slower pace of the park. More interestingly, I found a site dedicated to what EPCOT was
supposed to be, including a 24 minute video that Walt Disney himself made only 1 month before his death.

Watching all this made me realize just how innoventive Walt Disney was and how much more the park could/should have been. In part, it makes me wonder if Celebration (a suburb of Orlando created by the Disney Co. to be an ideal living community, though sadly is no longer connected with WDW), was intended to be more like the original vision of EPCOT. I highly recommended any other Disney-phile to check out the video if you haven't seen it - just imagine - commuting from work to school on the WED-way (people movers, TTA). I'm in!

One comment I've always heard from people traveling to WDW is that they're going to skip EPCOT because it's not for kids. While I understand this thought, I whole-heartedly disagree! Though many of the rides and "educational" areas are in desparate need of updating, there are several attractions for the whole family to enjoy.

1. Soarin' - one of my favorite rides in the whole resort. It's a must see, but also a fast pass-must. The lines are still, several years later, consistently around an hour or more. Our plan is to either ride it first or get a fast pass for later. This year, we let Mellie watch Noah - that's when he met Mickey - and we ran and made it on the second "flight" of the day. You're basically parasailing across California and it's simply stunning.

2. Test Track/Mission Space - both good once, but I will never ride Mission Space again (woah with the motion sickness) and Test Track could use a good Cars themed update.

3. Turtle Talk with Crush - This amazing attraction actually lets children talk to Crush, the sea turtle from Nemo. After the last show, I heard a girl telling her mom "Crush talked to me! I couldn't believe he didn't know what a hospital was!" Very, very cute. I'm looking forward to our first trip when Noah can sit on the floor with the older kids and ask Crush a question.

Noah (and Piper) enjoyed watching Nemo and friends in the Nemo ride and dancing along with Figment.

They now have a Kim Possible (is that still on?) themed scavenger hunt around the parks for the kids probably 8 and up. I've seen a few kids running around with cell phones having fun while looking for clues.

As for the babies, well, they're sort of just along for the ride, so what better place than traveling the world by stroller. We didn't do much shopping, but we had fun checking out all the different restaurants and drinks. I think we'll eventually drink/eat in every country - this last trip we added Germany to our list - in January we'll add Canada (Le Cellier is calling my name).

I'm not sure I said much, but I hope this encourages more to check out Epcot. Or maybe not.. I like not having to fight such bad crowds!

Have a magical day :)
~Jenn

Monday, July 5, 2010

Movie? I think not!


After spending time at Disney with her attention on many things, I began to wonder if my child could make it through a kid-friendly movie. A real movie. Like, in the theater and everything. I mean, she sat through "It's Tough To Be A Bug" and "Muppets 3D" during our trip with no squirming or wiggling to get down, but just how much could she handle? I decided to test her limits, at home, of course.

The first test was "The Princess and the Frog", which I love, btw. It's so fun and vibrant, the songs are awesome, and the New Orleans flair is EVERYWHERE!!! It's so familiar and fun that I knew she would love it, and she did! She sat and watched 20-30 minutes of the movie at a time, mesmerized at parts, and laughing and clapping at others! Then she would get up and play, but she came back 4 or 5 times to sit and watch again! Amazing!

Then we tried "Finding Nemo". This one REALLY held her attention. It's so much to look at that she loves it! She sat for about 40 minutes of this movie without moving! It's probably not good for her to watch so much TV, but she never watches TV except for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and the occasional episode of Special Agent OSO, so I wasn't too concerned. She loves Nemo so much, that she picked out the DVD from the hundreds that I have in our DVD case!!!

Needless to say, I won't be trying the theater anytime soon because it's loud, unfamiliar, expensive, and she would interrupt someone elses movie if she fussed, but it's good to know that there is hope one day!

See ya real soon!
~Mellie

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Rhode Island is neither a Road, nor an Island. Discuss.

Greeting's from New England. Arrived in Rhode Island yesterday via C-130. For those of you now speaking military, that's a cargo plane. Definitely an adventure! Picture those old WW2 movies with all the soldiers getting ready to jump out the back of a plane.; remove the uniforms and parachutes, and that was my coworkers and me yesterday. I'm just glad that no one had to use the bathroom (curtain around a bucket) midair.

We're here performing for the 4th of July. We have concerts tonight, tomorrow night, and a parade Monday morning before we head back on the C130. Though I hate being away from my hubby and baby, it did allow me the guilty pleasure of seeing Eclipse from the Twilight Saga last night. The last time I made it to a movie was around 39 weeks pregnant to see the 2nd movie of the series - New Moon. This one has definitely taken another step in the direction of Good Movie - I think anyone into the series should enjoy the movie.

Of course, being away from my baby for a couple of days does leave me stranded with my evil friend, Medela (most new moms and dads will know what I'm talking about) several times a day, but at least that gives me computer time, right? Optimism...

Well, at least it leaves me time to blog. Thanks to a question I recieved on facebook, I think I'll go into greater detail with Rider Swap.

Rider Swap is yet another genius idea from the folks at Disney. Obviously, many people with little ones simply skip the parks when they have little ones, but they created a way to make the trip more fun and doable for those of us that want to travel with our babies. Child Swap is Disney's program to let families and groups with children ride all the rides even when the babies are too small. We found out the hard way how this works.

Both adults and the baby must be presented to the Cast Member at the entrance to the ride. Tell them that you would like to child swap for that particular ride. From there, they give the adult staying with the little one a ticket that allows up to
three people skip the line when the first person gets back to take over. We tried being smart a few times that backfired, though. Hopefully we can save you the trouble!

The first mistake: not showing the baby.
Our morning in Magic Kingdom, we were walking in Frontierland and saw Woody and Jessie from Toy Story taking pictures. With a short enough line, Adam and I offered to take Piper for a picture while Mell and David headed to Big Thunder Mountain to start the child swap process. That's when they were sent away - no baby, no pass. We took our pictures with the characters and went back to try again.

Mistake #2: not showing the other adult.
While we were waiting for Melissa and David with the babies, I took Noah to the entrance of Splash Mountain thinking - 'hey, I can get a pass for the next ride now.' To this I was told "Sorry, you must have the other person in your party watching the baby." Oops. It makes sense - they don't want people breaking the rules and individuals coming to get these tickets and not ride correctly. But I just wanted our ticket so we could go on later!! Geez. Of course, it all worked out when Mellie and I walked up together with both babies. (Aren't they cute?)





Some rides, such as Test Track and Everest have single rider lines - these are potentially faster and even easier, but if you're with a party and would like to sit together, these won't work. We will be using these lines in January!

Secret weapon: Fast Pass.
While I'm not going to give away our exact tricks of the trade, let me just put this out there: If you can individually plan your fast passes accordingly, you can work magic and barely wait in any lines at all. Words of wisdom from Jenn.

Hope this helps!
Happy *almost* 4th!

~Jenn

Friday, July 2, 2010

Days 5 & 6-The Finale

Day 5 was pretty calm. We knew it was our last day in the parks, so we took it easy. We headed over to EPCOT to have David ride Mission Space & Jenn & Adam ride Soarin' while I watched the babies by Test track. When we got in the park, our plan was to have David & I have both kids while Jenn & Adam went to their side of the park. The only problem, Jenn & Adam missed seeing Mickey, Pluto, and Minnie interact with the babies! Pluto came by first, waving to kids, and stopped to say hi to both babies in the stoller. They were looking on in amazement. Right after he left, Mickey came by. He "kissed" Piper and Noah on the noses! Piper smiled and waved, and Noah broke into his precious Noah-grin! I know Jenn was sad she missed it, and it was WAY to quick to pull out the camera! Minnie came by too, but didn't stop to give attention to the babies like the other two had, maybe she was PMSing! :)

After we rode Test Track, we rode Nemo, did Turtle Talk with Crush (both babies slept), rode Living with the Land (Piper woke up and started waving at the plants!), had lunch in the Land (YUMMY), and Imagination with Figment. Then we went to the Club Cool where you can sample cokes from all over the world. Jenn & Adam tried "Beverly" from Italy. If anyone ever goes to EPCOT, don't miss this! :)

Then we went to our private Meet & Greet with Minnie and Goofy. Noah was so funny! He chewed on Goofy's whiskers!!! Then we went back to the room for a nap, where I learned it isn't nice to wake a sleeping baby. We had dinner reservations at Kouzzina on the Boardwalk (so yummy!), and headed home. On the bus, it started POURING so this wonderful lady gave us Mommies ponchos to keep us and the babies dry! It was so nice!

The next day, we boarded Disney's Magical Express back to the airport. Piper was awesome for the flight home and slept in the car. We had such a magical time with our friends! We will be back to Disney in 3 or 4 years! We need a break! :)

I am so excited about Noah's latest accomplishments! Yay for crawling and pulling up!

See ya real soon!
~Mellie

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A week for the books..

I'm headed out of town tomorrow through Monday for a work trip - spreading Patriotism through Rhode Island for the 4th of July. Before we left for Disney, Noah was close to crawling.. then spending over a week in Florida giving him very little tummy time, he didn't start moving while we were there or ever after we got back. Until Wednesday.

One of our favorite bedtime rituals is all of us upstairs by his room letting him play on the ground while I play piano for him. I just happened to look back and see him actually crawl, not just scoot, a few steps away. I think I teared up a little. Noah has wanted to crawl for MONTHS. We've watched him try and fall, getting frustrated on the way and crying or trying again. I expected that my traveling away from him for a few days would bring upon all sorts of new tricks. Luckily, he decided to show off while I'm still here. Not only did he crawl, but he pulled himself to standing in his crib. I immediately called Adam up, not only to show him Noah's latest accomplishment, but because I needed help lowering the mattress all the way! Our little boy is growing up! Okay, I won't go that far. But, he'll be 7 months next week and he's mobile now, so watch out world!

I've thought about the next Disney baby topic I wanted to mention and I decided it would be on nursing/feeding. Bringing a baby under 1 year (the recommended goal for nursing by most Drs and my personal goal) to the park meant I wouldn't have the comfort and privacy of my couch for a good period of time. Though I have nursed in public (fully covered!) a couple of times, I have never quite felt comfortable about feeding wherever and whenever and have always tried to plan my days around his meal times. Luckily, Noah is like clockwork and wants to eat every 3 hours, so he is farely easy to plan around. While Disney does have their amazing Baby Care Centers in every park, I knew that wouldn't be practical for the big parks. Especially at Magic Kingdom where the center is by the Crystal Palace restaurant near the front of the park.

Our first night at Downtown Disney, we were so excited and carried away I didn't realize that we sat down for dinner at almost exactly his dinner time. So, I did what I had to do - get over it. That became my philosophy for the trip. Except for the one trip to the baby care center at Animal Kingdom (hey, that park is pretty small, so why not), I nursed him all over those parks. Hall of Presidents, Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Spaceship Earth, Carousel of Progress, Philharmagic and several restaurants - pretty much anywhere we sat for more than 5 minutes. Actually, when I fed him on TTA, we had to exit the ride before he finished eating, so I just picked him up still connected, prayed that I was covered, and walked down the ramp to find a bench to finish.

I have to say, it was much less of an issue than I originally thought it would be. Though it never seemed like it would be easy at the beginning, by 6 months, we've pretty much got the drill down to a routine. And, the only thing I needed for a feeding was my cover - we didn't even bring bottles on our trip.

We started Noah on solids about a month prior to our trip - after a lot of resistance on my part due to the hassle of bringing foods to Disney. But actually, we used foods to keep him calm while we ate our meals. Plus, he's still not all that interested. He likes eating, but we skip days now and then (our Doc said nursing is his nutrition, food is just for fun.. even at 7 months), so we missed a couple days on vacation. He didn't seem to mind and obviously we didn't. And, of course, when we head back in January this will ALL be different. But, I won't be nursing him and he'll be able to eat food from plates.

My point is - nursing originally seemed like a scary thing to do in the parks, but it was SO much easier than I could have imagined. Now, if only my lack of shyness while nursing will continue now that we're back to normal..... probably not. :)

Good night and happy 4th!
~Jenn