Friday, December 31, 2010

It's been a Disney kind of year!

Happy New Years Eve!

I can't believe 2010 is already coming to a close.  Some days, I can't believe I'm still writing this blog or even more crazy, that people are reading!  

In June, I created this blog with a reference to Chicago, that pretty much everyone missed.

July rolled around and I planned Noah's first haircut!

In August, Melissa had some adorable pictures and a great little post about Magic and Pixie Dust!

In September, I shared 5 reasons to travel with the little ones.

October had some of my favorite posts so far, including my case for PhotoPass

November saw the beginning of the Magical Blogorail Loop which is going strong!

And here in December, Disney World Made me a Runner, posted over at Chip and Co., to which I'm  not officially a staff writer for!  How cool is that?


And, I wanetd to share one last video to help spread some holiday spirit and to make sure that you Don't Stop Believin' in the magic!

That's me with the bob in the front right.

Enjoy!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursdays with Mel - My Favorite Time of Day

As I sit here typing, it is not without a keen sense of irony. You see, my absolute favorite time of day at Walt Disney World is in the early morning hours. It is ironic because I am a classic night owl. But at Disney, all the rules seem to change, and the magic calls to me at the earliest of hours.

I love heading over to the lobby and common areas of the resort right before the sun rises. Only a few other early birds are awake, and the grounds keepers and other Cast Members are busily preparing to make the magic happen. If we are staying at the Polynesian Resort, a quick stop at the Kona Coffee Shop is certainly in order. Otherwise, even this coffee snob is satisfied with the NesCafe which is served all over WDW...well mostly.

Even the lack of really good coffee would not be enough to lessen my enthusiasm for mornings at Disney World. On most vacations I long to sleep in. At Disney I figure that I can sleep when I get home.

The opening ceremony at Magic Kingdom is particularly wonderful - “Good mornin’, Good mornin’, Isn’t it great to stay up late?” - Everyone sing-a-long! I get chills typing the lyrics. When you enter the parks first, everything is fresh and untouched. The streets are damp, partially from the Florida humidity, and reflect the sunlight. Cast members are all smiling. Lines are short. But mostly, there is a quiet anticipation that something magical is right around the corner, and the best thing is, you never know which corner it will be.

And there are benefits to waking up early. While wandering around the opening gates, our family has participated in special surveys, asked to try out Disney Parks software loaded onto Nintendo DSs, and even been given a special Disney Trading Pin or two, all for waking up a bit early.

One of the best rewards was being allowed on Main Street before the park opened. We didn’t get onto any rides or anything, but what we did have was something money could never buy. A family photo in front of Cinderella Castle with no other park guests in the shot. Priceless! Sometimes it pays to wake up early.
Note from Jenn - Isn't that a cute family?
If you want to read more from our Thursday regular, Mel, check out her blog Main Street Moms and read her adventures in parenting and life!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On a More Personal Note

I don't always post too much about Noah, but this week, he's most definitely deserving his own post.
From his 1 year Photo shoot
Obviously, he doesn't realize he's about to take a big trip back to The Happiest Place on Earth.

He doesn't know that he will *hopefully* get to meet his FAVORITE Minnie Mouse - he has 2 different Minnie Mouse toys that he carries with him whenever possible.  He has the Mickey Mouse toys that go with them, but most of the time, Minnie wins.

What does  he know?  

He knows how to say "cracker"  
and how to say "Daddy"
and while he knows that I'm "Mommy," he refers to me as "Da Da" (not my fave, but we're working on it)

Noah looks for his "ruckies" (trucks) when he's playing then calls for the "oggies" when the dogs bark.

He knows when we're turning on On Demand episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

But best of all, he knows how to show love.


When I pick him up (from daycare, for example), he leans his forehead up to my lips for a kiss.  When we say goodnight, one of us puts him down while the other one goes downstairs to start dinner.  He'll "blow kisses" to us, or lean between the stair rails to get more forehead kisses.

And, he loves as much as we do our favorite game: giving hugs.

Noah runs between both Adam and me and gives us hugs back and forth.  "Go to Daddy" and he turns around and runs full of smiles to Adam.  Adam will follow with "Go get Mommy" and then he runs happily to me.  (On a Disney-related note, this could be part of his "training" for his 100 meter diaper dash next Friday!)





And aren't those eyes heartwarming?

Thanks for reading :)
~Jenn

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Travel Tips Tuesday - Parade Viewing!

This tip is taken from a coworker of mine.

As I've never actually sat and watched a full parade at the Disney Parks, I'm sharing some advice from a coworker and seasoned Disney veteran.

If you're planning to go to the parades, get there EARLY!  I've always seen people set up shop and thought "Awesome - time to get on Space Mountain," but this time will be different.  This trip, we're going to try to WATCH a parade!


Here's the game plan: Have at least one person set up shop.  Get comfortable and up close.  If you're not close up with little ones, they'll have a hard time seeing and could easily lose interest.

One person can set up shop - take a bag and sit down and get comfortable.

Then, the other parent can keep the little ones entertained - grab food, ride a quick ride, wonder a store.  If you have kids like mine, sitting and doing nothing is NOT an option.

We're excited to show Noah his first parade on our trip (in under 2 weeks!).  Hopefully these tips will help us and can help you, too!

Do you have any tips for getting a good parade viewing spot?

Thanks for stopping by!
~Jenn

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Change of Plans

We're leaving for Orlando in just over a week!  I can't believe how quickly time is passing! 

A few weeks ago, I posted our tentative schedule and had purposely scheduled 3 park days without visiting Disney's Hollywood Studios.
DHS Before it opens!
Now, we're starting to reconsider.  After that first ride on the Rock 'n Roller Coaster last June, we're both craving another ride, even though we'll be going single rider this time.

And, we've never made it in time to ride Toy Story Midway Mania without a 90 minute wait, so we're reconsidering arriving for their weak (read: no show) rope drop and making a break for TSMM.

After listening to a WDW Radio Podcast the other day on my 11 (yes, 11) mile run, they were discussing getting there ASAP, foregoing the fastpass, and hopping right on the ride when the park first opens.  Sounds like a plan to me!

The big attractions for us at DHS will be TSMM and the Rock n Roller Coaster (Did Tower of Terror in June.  Once was enough for me!  However, Playhouse Disney, soon to be renamed Disney Junior, will be a must see.  Noah adores Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, as well as several other Playhouse shows.  Hopefully he'll stay awake for it this time!
Noah's 2 favorite characters!
I've never seen Lights, Motors, Actions, after seeing Noah entranced by a garbage truck last week, I think this show might make it on our "to do" list.


And, I REALLY want a cupcake from the Starring Rolls Bakery.

What are your favorite parks?  What are your favorite attractions at Disney's Hollywood Studios?  We would love to hear your responses either as comments below, on our facebook page, or over on twitter @disneybabiesblg

Thanks for stopping by!
~Jenn

Friday, December 24, 2010

Exciting!

I have some exciting news!!  I am now a staff writer over at Chip and Company, your #1 source for Disney news and views.  I'm very excited to be apart of such a great site.  I'm having so much fun being absorbed into the Disney Social Media world.  Thank you for reading and being a part of it!!


And, more importantly, from us here at the Disney Babies Blog, we want to wish you all a very

Happy Holidays!!





Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursdays with Mel - Magic of Disney Movies

While I love the Disney parks, Disney movies keep the magic alive the other 355 days of the year when I cannot be at Walt Disney World. Since Christmas is upon us, it is the perfect time to talk about Disney’s holiday offerings, and Disney has been creating holiday features since the early 1930s. One of my earliest Disney holiday memories is the animated short, “The Night Before Christmas” with the toys dancing about. Perhaps this was the inspiration for Toy Story?

I also have wonderful memories of the classic Disney short “Pluto’s Christmas Tree.”  In this featurette, Mickey’s best pal Pluto finds himself matching wits with the unflappable team of Chip and Dale. This short solidified my love for the fabulous duo.

However, my favorite Disney holiday classic is Disney’s take on my favorite holiday story, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Mickey’s Christmas Carol is beautiful, a touch scary, and completely heartwarming. 

Others that top my list are “The Small One” - which is also a wonderful Christmas book - “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and all of “The Santa Clause” movies. Let the Disney Christmas memories begin.

While we are in a holiday mood, Turner Classic Movies is hosting a Disney Marathon event on December 26th which is co-hosted by Rebecca Cline, the Director of the Disney Archives. Classic Disney favorites like Old Yeller and the Swiss Family Robinson will be aired during this mega-Disney movie event.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Daily Dose of Disney

Outside of my house, I keep my love for Disney on the d-l.  I know not everyone feels the same way (heck, I know several people that have never been), and I get that, so I don't push.  Always willing to talk about it, but I won't bring it up most of the time.

Then, I went to the local UPS store to mail Melissa's Christmas presents out (for her and the adorable Piper).  After I declined their $40 fancy box/wrapping for her gifts (seriously?! no way), the manager came over to put Melissa's gift in bubble wrap for me and noticed that it was most definitely Disney related.  He commented that he and his wife (also working there) were huge Disney people.

The girl who originally was helping me seemed less than thrilled about the 5 minute conversation that ensued, discussing Disney Cruise Line (DCL), Disney Vacation Club (DVC), and our upcoming trips, but I certainly enjoyed the random acts of Disney-ocity.

That made me wonder if they happened to be the same people living in my neighborhood whose house I ran past with DISBoards and Mickeys drawn on the dirt on the car window... hmmmm

Then, this morning at daycare, I watched a dad drop of his son, just a few months younger than Noah, with a Mickey blanket that we have - one that matches Noah's entire nursery - and made a comment which he said "Oh yeah, we're Mickey people."  I love that.

Keep 'em coming.

At yoga, of all places.  I was talking to the woman next to me before class started.  We were discussing a newer shopping center which is centered around a big, amazing Wegmans (read: best grocery store. ever.).  And, while the store is great, the parking lot is a zoo and to exit, you must drive through the rest of the shopping area - dozens of stores and restaurants.  To my amusement, she compared leaving the grocery store like exiting a Disney ride: having to exit through shops, etc...   So true - that definitely made me laugh!

Now you know, if you see me and want to talk Disney, you may just make my day.  Go ahead ;-)

Thanks for stopping by!
~Jenn

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Not Your Average Book Review

I interrupt your normally scheduled Travel Tips Tuesday blog post to make this important announcement:

School teacher and author, Tracie Cook,  has created and published an amazing guide - this one for the children, not for the parents.  Tracie has also penned Kids Tips for Walt Disney World: Touring Advice by Kids for Kids and though I haven't read that one, after reading her newest book, I'm sure that one is fantastic as well.

Walt Disney World Adventure: A Field Guide and Activity Book for Explorers is Tracie's newest publication and I am excited to have the chance to complete the activities review this book myself.

For anyone who has ever said that a vacation to WDW isn't an educational experience, this book is proving you wrong.  For every park and, as far as I can tell, for every attraction/ride, there is an activity connected.

With the obvious learning opportunities like the Hall of Presidents there are trivia questions along with fill in the blank answers, so kids of all ages can learn new and interesting facts related to the ride.  Such as "I was the first president to live in the White House" with the answer being J  hn    d   ms.  My husband probably knew that, but I definitely didn't know that off the top of my head!

Now, maybe that's too easy.  Obviously, an attraction with the Presidents about U.S. history is an easy target for a history lesson.  But, what about The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh?  Tracie has turned this attraction into a Mad Lib (which I completed with the help of my husband), making the Adventurers practice their grammar lessons by giving nouns, adjectives, etc...

Filled with too many different puzzles, games, logic problems (another one I had to complete!), and many Explorer Challenges, this book should make any parent feel less guilty about pulling their children out of school for a couple of days for their family vacation.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through this book and I am SO impressed with what Tracie has put together.  I highly recommend this book to anyone taking their older children (10-12, but suitable for approximately 8-14) to the parks.  I know my 6 year old nephew will be receiving a copy before his next trip in a couple of years!!

To learn more about Walt Disney World Adventure: A Field Guide and Activity book for Explorers and continue your adventures, check out Tracie's website, follow her on Twitter (@WDWFieldGuide), or find her on facebook.  Find her books available for purchase on amazon.



Though a copy of the book was provided for review from the author, I have put forth only my true opinions into this review.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Parades!

I've never been one to watch parades.

Actually, I've always been in the parades.  But, other than Mardi Gras parades, I've never been one into watching them.
Marching in the 2009 Inaugural Parade.  I'm in the middle

And, I have to admit, I'm the same at Walt Disney World.  Other than the Spectromagic Parade that I marched in with my high school band in 1997, I've never really paid that much attention to the parades.  Parades to me mean shorter wait time at the big rides.
A random parade shot fro 2006

We even had to rush past the Main Street Electrical Parade with the babies last June, though that one did have me wishing we didn't have to go back.

But when we were staying at the Contemporary Resort in June of 2009, we discovered a different type of parade.  The Electrical Water Pageant is like a secret parade.  We only discovered it by seeing it outside our resort balcony.
Blurry Dragon
Every night (weather permitting), this parade "floats" through the lagoon, making its way between the different resorts located on the lagoon.
Flags and such. 
Please excuse the terrible photography!

The "best" photo I could find!

Next time I visit my parents house (spring probably), I'll go digging for some memories from 1997 with the Spectro Magic Parade, but for now, these are the best pictures I could find.

What are your favorite Disney (or other) parades?  Have you been lucky enough to spot the Electrical Water Pageant?

Thanks for stopping by,
~Jenn

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursdays with Mel - A Disney Family of Five: Fitting in to a “World” Made for the Family of Four

We have all seen the promotions and giveaways luring families to the resort.  Book now and save big for a family of four. What?  Of course, you can book that 5th family member for an additional cost, which likely means a larger suite, for a much larger price tag.

So what is a Disney Family of Five to do? 

Step 1: Relax. This is Disney we are talking about, not rocket science.

Step 2: A little research goes a long way.  Disney moms with families of all sizes have had to face the daunting task of choosing which resort hotel will make their vacation the most magical experience possible, while not busting the budget. This is a breakdown of resorts that fit a party of five without the cost of upgrading to suites.

Value resorts: Forget about it.  No standard rooms accommodate five people.  Adjoining rooms are an option, and at these prices, the suites are available too… but I this involves upgrades and additional rooms.

Moderate Resorts: The Port Orleans Riverside is a family favorite – there will likely be future blogs dedicated to this wonderful property.  With an under bed trundle, a family of five, can enjoy a standard room without the upgrade to a suite. The Fort Wilderness Cabins come in a one-size-fits-all package, holding up to six guests. These have the added bonus of a full kitchen, making this a resort of choice for the family of five, and Grandma can come too!

Deluxe resorts: I will just say that most Deluxe resorts will accommodate a family of five in a standard room via a couch / daybed contraption, which was surpizingly comfortable, and gives mom a place to take a nap while the kids watch a few classic Disney cartoons.

*A word of warning: Do not try to ‘sneak’ in a fifth member of your family into any Disney resort hotel.  It may work off-site, but not on Disney property.  Be honest, and everyone will have a great trip.

So, your family (or traveling party) has more than 5? Great!  Disney has a suites and villas to accommodate you too.  In fact the Walt Disney World is currently building the Art of Animation Resort. This all-suite resort has entire wings themed after Disney favorites like Cars & The Little Mermaid. This new resort is located near the Pop Century Resort and is scheduled to open in late 2012. Rumor has it that rates at the Art of Animation Resort should fall in line with suite pricing at current Walt Disney World Value Resorts,

I am partial to families with just 5.  That’s all.  No more, no less. Just the 5!After all, even the First Family of Disney – the Fab Five, otherwise known as Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy & Pluto – is a family of five.  Magical!

See you next week!

~Mel

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Running updates!

With 24 days to go until the Walt Disney World Half Marathon (hooray!), I finally feel as ready as I'm going to be.. well not quite, but I know I'll be ready when I get there!

I've been lucky enough for the past couple of weeks to have a new running buddy.  She doesn't (seem to) mind my complaining and she helps me push at the end.

Saturday, we went out for a 9 mile run.  We started going and I started my GPS watch, only to realize that it restarted a previous session, so the first nearly 1/2 mile wasn't tracked.  In a way it's good - it pushed me over the 9 mile goal I had.

However, after an hour of running, it was 34 degrees, and my body did not like that.  I think "hot" (88 degree room) yoga is making me really appreciate the warmth.  7 miles in, my body finally broke into a comfortable stride which lasted through the 8th mile.  The 9th mile felt.. well, it didn't feel good, but we finished it and then had a nice 3/4 mile walk back to our cars.  And, with the accomplishment of having completed 9 miles.  My running buddy (hi, Cat!) had done a half- marathon the weekend before, so 9 wasn't huge for her, but it's still a great feeling.

I have 1 more long run, Christmas weekend I'm headed out for 11 miles, and then it's short runs until the actual show!  Ooh, I can't wait!

And, as a bragging wife, my husband completed his first ever 13.1 mile run in under 2 1/2 hours last Friday.  He'll head out for a 15 mile run on Christmas day as his final preparation.

We both have new running shoes that we're semi-breaking in, and we're SO ready to go!  I downloaded a cool new widget for my phone with a countdown for our trip!

We're still raising money for the WDW Running team - for Lou Mongello's Charity, Dreams - raising money for the Make a Wish foundation to help children visit Disney World!!  Donations are totally welcomed, so please let me know if you're interested in helping!

Happy running!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Walt Disney World at Christmastime

tJenn blogged previously about seeing Walt Disney World decorated at Christmastime, and I must say, I LOVE this time of year.  The holidays feel magical as it is, but when you add Disney to this element, the magic is EVERYWHERE!  Last year as a family, we decided to book a Disney vacation together instead of presents for Christmas.  Almost my entire extended family did this.  My mother has 4 sisters, and 3 of them, with their families, and my grandparents all travelled to Florida on Christmas Day!  This was Piper's first trip; she was 6 months old.  We drove from Louisiana, which took about 11 hours, and my immediate family and I (8 of us) rode down there in my parents' Motor Home.  Boy, was that fun!  We had the Pack-n-Play tied to the back bed with bungee cords, and Piper played in there a lot.  She also slept back there.  We had a restroom, fridge, couches, and beds to relax on.  It really is the way to travel with a small baby! 

All of the family arrived within a few hours of each other (there were 21 of us in all), and we checked into our rental house for the week.  We all shared the expense of renting a 6 bedroom house, which was okay.  I would rather stay on property, but this was a vacation with the group and it was inexpensive.  Each morning, we loaded up the Motor Home and drove the 5 minutes to our desired park.  It was great having the Motor Home in the parking lot - we even napped in there one day with Piper.


On our way to Magic Kingdom
Anyway, back to the holidays at Disney.  Walt Disney World goes ALL OUT when it comes to decorating, and Christmas might be the most beautiful I've ever seen it.  There are Christmas trees in EVERY park and hotel on property, and in EPCOT, there were trees in most of the countries as well.  The trees are decorated with ornaments that represent where you are.  For instance, the Animal Kingdom Christmas tree had animal ornaments all over it.  It definitely had an African Safari feel about it. 

My brother and sister-in-law in Animal Kingdom
The tree at Hollywood Studios had a film strip running underneath it, and different movie memorabilia on it.  The one at EPCOT had flags of different countries on it.

When we entered Magic Kingdom, the first things I noticed were the giant tree at the start of Main Street and the garland that stretched over the street.  In the center of the garland was a wreath shaped like a Mickey!  There were giant Toy Soldiers lining Main Street, and Christmas music filled the air.  It was beautiful!  The castle was draped with icicle lights that changed color at night.




I loved going to Disney's Hollywood Studios and seeing the Osbourne Family Lights.  It is overwhelming, but amazing.  They even make it "snow" on the street with bubbles!  It's so fun to watch the kids' reactions when that happens! 

MoMo at DHS in front of a decorated window display!
At Epcot, there are storytellers at each country's pavillion who tell their own version of Christmas.  America has Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, Kwanzaa activities, and the story of Chanuka, Mexico has Los Tres Reyes Magos (the Three Kings), Norway tells about the Christmas gnome, Germany tells of the Nutcracker, Italy's storyteller speaks of the First Christmas and Epiphany, Morocco celebrated Ramadan, France has Pere Noel, and England has Father Christmas!  My parents enjoyed walking to each country and watching these live shows.

At the Grand Floridian, there is an amazing gingerbread house that is practically life size!  It is in their lobby and is awesome to see.  You can smell the gingerbread when you walk in, and the store there sells gingerbread all season!



David and I wore our Disney Santa hats all over Magic Kingdom!


Here is our entire group (minus PaPa who was napping!) at DHS!
Disney is so magical at Christmastime.  If you are thinking about going then, DO IT!  It's never hot, and I hear Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is awesome!  

See ya real soon!
~Mellie

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holidays in the Parks!

Welcome back for the 2nd installment of the Magical Blogorail Loop!  A special welcome to those who have followed the blogorail over from The CanaDisney Blog!  For everyone starting here, I hope you enjoy my take on the holidays and continue along with the other blogs.  Thanks for reading along with us!


Something that most of you probably don't know about me is that, unlike my fellow Blogorail folks, I'm Jewish.  Why does this matter?  Because I have a drastically different perspective on spending the holidays at Disney World.

I remember growing up driving around with my parents looking at everyone's Christmas decorations.  I loved the pretty lights and I'll love showing them off to my son in a few years.  As far as I know, I never asked why we didn't have them - I don't think I was ever jealous.  I just knew that it wasn't something we would do, and never thought twice about driving around.  I think that is how I feel about visiting the Disney Parks for the holidays.  I totally get that some people find it the absolute best time of year to visit, but it's never been on my list of "must sees".  Maybe I'm alone, but the Osborne Family Light's at Disney's Hollywood Studios actually look a wee bit overwhelming (have you seen them? Good grief!).  I have been more than once in between Thanksgiving and New Years, so I've seen all of the extraordinary decorations and I will admit they do "wow" me.

December '05 - with college friends


And, I have to admit - I've seen David Bromstad's behind the scenes special more than once.

But, with all that said, I've never really thought "we should celebrate Chanuka this year at Disney."   The holiday is a much smaller holiday on the grand scheme of things, even though it is in the same month as Christmas.  We do light the candles on our menorah every night, exchange gifts (mostly, we give our son gifts daily), and when he's older, we'll happily share our childhood traditions of playing dreidel, but it has never been a vacation holiday for us.  

For Chanuka, there is a celebration at the American Adventure Pavillion in EPCOT where the Voices of Liberty sing a few Chanuka songs along with having a Story Teller.  I also stumbled upon a video of an African group playing and singing some Chanuka songs as well, but it's a very small portion of celebration compared to the millions of Christmas lights and celebrations everywhere!


My co-blogger, Melissa, would have an extremely different take on this - she has been to WDW for Christmas Day.  Check back in the coming weeks to see a post about her holiday experience!

Please continue on to the next stop in the Magical Blogorail Loop -Cooking with Mickey

Or you can check out all of the stops on the Magical Blogorail Loop starting at the top:

Growing Up Disney
**Disney Babies Blog*You are here**


Thanks for stopping by,
~Jenn

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thursdays with Mel - Pin Trading!

Welcome back Mel, blogger from Main Street Moms, for another edition of Thursdays with Mel!

Pin trading, the unofficial sport of Disney resort guests, has been around for over ten years, and for eight of those years I resolved not to get sucked in. And for those eight years I was successful. So what happened?

Mr. Incredible (my Disney-tolerating husband) and I took our kids to the Magic Kingdom on our older son’s 9th birthday. With $10 of birthday cash in hand, he proudly announced he wanted a Disney Trading Pin. He bought it, and we were hooked.

That Star Wars pin seemed so innocent. Something that cost less than $10 made him so happy, therefore I was happy. But those little shiny pins are like potato chips; you cannot stop at just one.
Mel's boys at DHS in their favorite lanyards!
Those who love Disney Trading Pins usually fall into one of two camps: Collectors or Traders. My older son and I are collectors. I collect pins from special Disney moments. I have pins from every resort where we have stayed and every character dining experience.  My son collects pins, mostly from attractions. He likes pins with some sort of movement to them. Some whirl, some spin, but they all move somehow.

Then you have traders. My younger two children fall firmly into this camp. Like most kids, they will trade any pin with any willing trader. If you are like me, and worry about your kids talking with strangers, here are my favorite kid-friendly pin trading tips.

1.    Have your kids trade pins with other kids. Make sure both parents are there to supervise and that both are cool with the trade.

2.    Disney Cast members with GREEN lanyards are specially trained to trade pins with children and are extremely unlikely to say ‘no’ to a trade.

3.    Any cast member can trade with any guest, though they are free to say no to trades they feel are not equitable. Though my kids have never had a bad experience trading with any Cast Member, the best, and most enthusiastic pin-trading Cast Members can be found in the Downtown Disney Marketplace.

4.    Lastly, if your child does want to keep a pin for their permanent collection, secure it with a locking pin-backer, available Disney Pin Traders and the larger pin trading stores. This prevents trader’s remorse and keeps pins safely secured to the lanyard.

The crazy thing about traders is that sometimes they trade their way into a collection. My daughter naturally chose the Baby Princess pins during our last week-long vacation. Now she has a respectable handful of these adorable pins, and so she is torn. Does she trade with them on our next vacation, or does she become a pin-hoarder, I mean collector, just like her mom? Stay tuned.

... Next Week on Thursdays with Mel I will be talking about our family’s favorite resorts and great upcoming news for big families traveling to Walt Disney World! See you next week. And don’t forget you can check out my blog any day at MainStreetMoms.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The important things in life

Recently, my daughter has been impressing us with her learning skills.  At 18 months, she can count to 16, spell her name, tell us her full name, identify shapes, some colors, and sing the ABCs.  But the thing that I am most concerned about is her Disney-knowledge!  :)  This week, we have been working on the Princesses (her new obsession).  I made a PowerPoint using some pictures I've taken, and some from the internet, and every few days, we look at it and try and name all the princesses.  I also have one started with random Disney characters, like Chip and Dale, Stitch, some of the dwarfs, Woody, and Buzz Lightyear.  It's so much fun to see her face light up when she sees her favorites (Minnie, Belle, any princess!)  The way she says, "Pocahontas" is the BEST!

She really adores the classic 6: Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, Goofy, and Daisy.  2 mornings ago, I awoke to her voice on the monitor saying, "Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald, Daisy" over and over.  When I walked in, she had her Mickey and Minnie dolls, one in each hand, and would not let them go.  She carried them everywhere she went, even to the potty, for 2 hours that morning. 

We are starting to get excited about our next trip in March, knowing that she will be 21 months old by then.  I'm expecting her to recognize many of the characters, sights, and landmarks (Cinderella Castle, EPCOT ball, etc) by then.  Oh, and I guess I'll get her started on recognizing numbers.  Ah, the important things in life :)

See ya real soon!
~Mellie


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

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Travel Tips Tuesday - Birthdays!

In honor of my amazing son's 1st birthday, I thought I'd share some of my favorite ways to incorporate Mickey Mouse into any birthday, at home or in the parks.

I'm not sure if/when we'll celebrate Noah's actual birthday in at Disney - with our talks of running, we may become January visitors.   Since we couldn't celebrate there, I decided to bring home the magic!

Noah always notices the balloons at the grocery store.  He loves looking at them and playing with them.  Several  months ago, I found a Mickey Mouse Happy Birthday balloon that sings "Happy Birthday."  It's awesome.  Noah loved it, but I wasn't about to buy a 9 month old a Happy Birthday balloon.  So, I found it today.  And, as hoped, he loved it.

For older children, Playhouse Disney has a "birthday" party that will wish your child Happy Birthday during their birth month.  Check out the Playhouse Disney Birthday Celebration Site then give Mickey call 1-866-4-MY-DC-TV and you might have your birthday celebration announced during their monthly celebration!


If you're celebrating in the parks, that's another whole story!

First  - the most obvious - the Happy Birthday button!  Make sure to tell a Cast Member when you're buying your tickets that it's your birthday.

Second - make sure to note the celebration on any and all Advanced Dining Reservations!  When Melissa made our ADR's for our joint birthday lunch at the 50's Primetime Cafe in Disney's Hollywood Studios, she noted our birthdays and we both got complimentary Mickey decorated cupcakes!  With some advanced notice, you can also have a cake ready at any meal that you choose.
Mickey Mouse sprinkles and M&Ms.. Delicious!


Third - If you're staying on property, you can register for yourself or your little one to get a phone call from Mickey or one of his friends to call and wish them a very Happy Birthday!  For my 29th, I didn't get a phone call to my room, but a Cast Member I talked to in a store saw me and after a few minutes of talking to me, he said "Oh, Jennifer from VA?  We have a phone call for you" and right in the middle of the store, I stood on the phone "talking to" Goofy, who sang me a very magical rendition of the birthday song!

These are my favorite ways to have a Mickey Mouse Magical birthday.  Do you have any favorite ways to celebrate?

Monday, December 6, 2010

What a day!

Yesterday, December 5th, was the 109th anniversary of the birth of Walt Disney.

Now, lets fast forward 108 years to December 5th, 2009.

I woke up "early" (pre-baby early) to call the hospital about being induced.  My induction date had been set for a  few weeks (set for 41 weeks - 1 week past due date), but I had seriously hoped not to need it.  However, by the time I reached 41 weeks, I was more than ready to have the baby.

We had expected to have our baby come into the world on 12/5/09 - he would have shared a birthday with Walt!  How amazing would that have been?  I share a birthday with Paula Abdul.. not quite as cool..

However, the labor and delivery ward was booked and I didn't end up being induced until 11 pm that night.  He really didn't want to come out (took 24 hours!).. which means..

Today is my son's 1st birthday.  I have a ONE year old.  That just boggles my mind.  I teared up thinking about it last night..
Asleep on Daddy.. check out the Mario pj's
How is it possible?

How time flies!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The conversion

When I first met my husband (4.5 years ago.. we worked quickly), his major passion was sports.

I remember thinking "I hope to someday marry a man at Disney."  That was my dream.  My passion was music - I am a clarinetist, after all.  But, I loved Disney.  I went regularly and it was (and obviously still is) my happy place.

But, when we got engaged and started planning our wedding, I didn't really look into the Disney Weddings.  The castle weddings cost a minimum of $50k and it just seemed out of reach.  Plus, my husband had most of his family and so many friends living locally, so in the end, practically won out.  

It turned out beautifully.  We still hear from friends and family that it was one of the best weddings ever (man, imagine how amazing with the same people/spirit but at WDW?!).  The day was incredible.  And really, at the time, I didn't think my husband liked Disney nearly enough to want to get married there.


Fast forward 4 years (Adam proposed on Dec 29th 2006). 

Chanuka - I gave Adam a fish tank with the condition that he could get a bigger one if he wanted, but he could also get frogs, lizards, or a turtle.  No snakes, but basically anything else.

He decided quickly on a turtle which he planned to name "Crush."  Isn't that awesome?  I love that!

Now, he's decided (I gave him the fish tank Wednesday.  I told you we work quickly!) he's thinking of trading in the fish tank (figuratively.  I never actually bought the tank) into a model train hobby - less maintenance.  With 2 big dogs and a baby, that's enough to take care of - which I totally understand.

So, after spending a day researching turtles and habitats, he's looking up train sets.  He found a Hogwarts Express model train which he thought was cool (we both love the Harry Potter series, but he then followed the discovery with "it's cool, but I'll obviously get a Disney one."

How awesome is that?  My husband now wants to plan his next hobby around WDW.  I love it!  Can't wait to get that train set!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cute idea!

Okay, so this has nothing to do with Disney but, I just found the CUTEST baby gifts..

I don't know about you, but I know what seems like 6 women expecting their first children in the spring.  And with that, comes baby showers.  Which can totally be fun (though I personally despise the "how fat is the prego" game) and are a GREAT place to show off cute gifts.

I've seen a couple of good ideas on blogs, but I just came across a new one - IN GIVEAWAY FORM.  And, you know I love a good giveaway!

The Baby Bunch has taken baby clothes (onesies, bibs, etc...) and turned them into floral bouquets, cupcakes, lollipops, etc..  They're adorable and actually reasonably priced.  I just discovered these thanks to a blog contest - You can check them out too!

Hop over to the blog Mom to bed by 8 for a giveaway of a bouquet of adorable baby clothes!

Tell them I sent you ;-)  Okay, you don't have to do that!

Happy shopping!

Beyond the Attractions - And the winner is...

Jenn - Mom and blogger of Middle of Mommyhood has won the giveaway!
Congratulations, Jenn! You will love this and it will definitely help plan your trip with your 3 little ones!!


Thanks to everyone for entering (and reading!).  Make sure to pick up a copy of Beyond the Attractions on Amazon if you didn't win!


Thanks to author Lisa Battista for a review copy and giveaway copy of a fantastic travel guide.

Thursdays with Mel - Our newest series!

Fellow blogger and Twitter pal, Mel (@MainStreetMoms), is going to be joining us on Thursdays to share her perspective of the World.  Following is her introduction and first blog post for us.  Welcome to the Disney Babies Blog, Melanie!  Please leave her a comment to let her know you're excited to have her write for us, too!  ~Jenn


Welcome to my first post as a guest blogger here on the Disney Babies Blog. Jenn has been kind enough to allow me to blog here each Thursday, so I thought I would take this opportunity to introduce myself.

My babes aren’t really babies anymore. I have two sons, a 6th and a 3rd grader, and a daughter in the 2nd grade. They just seem to keep on growing, but they will always be my babies. I have been married to my own Mr. Incredible for almost 15 years. I am a nurse, so if you stop by my personal blog, MainStreetMoms, you will likely see posts about health and family life, often with a Disney twist. I am also a freelance writer, and you can find my work on eHow.com and LIVESTRONG.com.

But here I will focus on My Disney Life. I love the parks, the movies and what I call the Disney Experience.  My Walt Disney World travel specialty is fitting my family of five into a world designed to accommodate families of four. I have also learned a few tricks on how to please different age groups - even different generations.

What I love the most about Disney is its rich history coupled with magical new experiences around every corner. No matter how much I learn about Disney and Walt Disney World, I know with each visit, I will learn something new, and I hope to be able to share it with you here!

~Mel

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Running Update - Running with a Purpose

With just over a month to go, Adam and I are continuing  our training so we'll be prepared for (and hopefully not too sore after) January's Half Marathon.

I had to take some running down time for injuries - doctors orders.  I was getting a little worried and even looked into the WDW Marathon Weekend 5k (already sold out)  But, I've logged over 8 miles this week and feel GREAT, so I'm absolutely back in the game and planning to finish the 13.1 miles!

Being behind on my podcasts (I caught up this morning!), I missed last weekends WDW Radio podcast in which Lou Mongello announced that he has a WDW Running Team and it's open for anyone to join.  Luckily, I saw it mentioned on facebook or twitter and jumped on that idea.  Not only running through the Happiest Place on Earth, and not only running with a team of avid Disney lovers, but running to donate money to an amazing charity - the Make-a-Wish Foundation through the Dream Team Project.

Now, Adam and I will be purchasing WDW Radio Running Team race t-shirts, and helping to raise a minimum of $100 for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.  I haven't done a fundraiser since high school and I never liked fundraising.  However, if you're interested in donating even $1-$5 for a great race and a great cause, please let me know!

Anyone else running or want to be a part of the team?


*****You can donate through paypal to Aslissak@gmail.com******
Thank you all for all your support!

~Jenn