Planning 101

Yesterday when I got home from work, I tossed aside my "paperwork" to tackle some weekend preparations. Why do I still refer to it as paperwork? Typing my notes, altering my care plans, adding call logs into my mini; hardly PAPER work. Well, whatever that mini is (most days my nemesis), I tossed it aside and got right to work organizing a weekend bag for each kid. There is no school on Friday on account of a teacher in-service day. My lucky two will be spending the day at the beach with Kiki and Papa.

I overthink. I stress. I pack and repack. I always bring twice as much as is required. The weather is still lovely, but cooler in the time between beach and bedtime. Shorts, t's, dresses, jeans, sweatshirts, long sleeves. Additionally, wouldn't you know that we are now venturing head first into Seve's favorite season. He just just adores fall with those crisp early morning tailgates, last ditch stops at the portajohn before hustling to his seats, kicking a hole into the toe of his sneakers banging on that metal wall in front of Marc's seats. Ah, football season, you come so fast, taking copious amounts of time with planning and executing the perfect game day packing job. It's not just about the tailgate treats, but also bibs, wipes, diapers, amusements, blankets, sweatshirts, and eagle paraphernalia/propaganda.

Saturday is opening day. So in addition to swimsuits, I had to be sure to locate some Eagle wear for the kids as well. Those bags are stuffed, zipped, waiting by their bedroom doors.

I couldn't just pack. No, no, no. That would be far too easy. I also started thinking about the looming clothing switchover, my most dreaded part of the season. That time of both t's and sweats, ugh, I hate that time. Then because I cannot help myself and am a sadist I started mentally packing each of them for 6 days in Florida... with that new storm looming off the coast of Africa, picking up speed each day, and I had to stop letting my mind go to that awful place. It will be fine. It will be.

Later this week I plan to tackle that other packing as best as I can manage. I'm utilizing auntie c's suggestion to use gallon ziplocs, one for each day. (Monday, Connor shorts and t, Caroline tutu.) I won't be able to stop myself from tossing another ziploc for each of them with some extra t's, shorts, socks, but this method will hopefully limit my packing Achilles heel; the what if items.

I opened my closet yesterday and looked through the bag in the corner that I have been stashing "things for Florida." Coloring books, stickers, Caroline's special request of goggles for the pool, balls to entice Connor to spend time in pool too, travel sized containers to fill, one time use laundry detergent, a Cars Matchbox car, two princess tiaras (Aurora and Ariel), and those amazing collapsible cups. It's a lot and it all has to go somewhere.

I am in a rare situation where I want to check as much as possible. Im hoping two large checked items will be enough. Boys in one bag, girls in the other, or big person/little person pairings which i suspect will fit better. We have Magical Express delivering our bags to our hotel from the airport. With no stroller until we arrive at the hotel, we will need all available arms and energy to contain the kids in the airports. I'm planning on "personal items" for all three ticketed passengers and one larger carry-on with swimsuits, a change of clothes and must have items like diapers. I'm looking at this as an opportunity for Caroline to help pack her own entertainment, to be reponsible for, carry, and enjoy digging through on the flight. We are flying JetBlue (sidebar, you fly to Orlando yet do not have Disney channel?) which will be great for Caroline, but not for Connor who is like the dog in Up. "Squirrel." I'm hoping the window is intense flight entertainment for him... or that the passengers around us have a great sense of humor and are easily charmed.

Any other packing strategies from seasoned travelers with kids?

the not so sick sick day

Today we have finally pulled back the heavy curtains of the loathesome fever.

Caroline developed another fever at school on Monday afternoon, a fever I was not alerted to until they checked it a second time at 4:15pm. This removed my ability to have picked her up at lunchtime when she first showed signs of sickness and "monitor her" or play a game we like to call "daycare roulette." It's a fun game where you determine your child is well ENOUGH to go to school, though probably not completely recovered. Oh be quiet, you do it too.

I had to keep her home for observation and seeing as how I was still feeling terrible myself, I planned a nice little Mommy Daughter Movie Day. We dropped Connor at school and then went to the grocery store to pick up some needed items and ingedients for a crock pot meal to share with Lyle's new parents. There was no fever in sight, this was a day for napping, snuggling and reconnecting one on one with my sweet girl.

We had a morning snack, sticking to a preschool schedule rocks by the way - there are lots of snacktimes! She helped me salt and pepper chicken for two batches of sticky wings before we retired to the family room. Curious George helped me complete the least amount of work possible while still maintaining employment. When you carry a caseload and are the only social worker on staff you can't really ever take a full sick day. After I put out some fires, it was time for lunch. See! More food! Thank you preschool schedule. Muffin tin lunch - try it - it's awesome. Works like a charm, best way I have found yet to get a healthy midday meal into my finicky daughter's belly. This same picky girl requested peas during the grocery store sprint. When Steve looked at me sideways upon seeing the peas at dinner last night, I just shot him the "she asked for a green vegetable shhhhhhhh" look and he was dazzled watching her scoop them into her perfect pout. I am onto this game. I know better than to go to BJs and buy 25 packages of peas. This was a one time request. I have learned a thing or two in 4 years.

With work done and lunch in our bellies we cuddled up to watch Pirates of the Caribbean. I had been talking like a pirate all day. It was "Captain Jack Sparrow" this and "we be peppering the chicken matey" all day and if I am being honest, she was slightly terrified of the movie by the time I pushed play on the DVR. Perhaps you don't think a TV14 movie is an appropriate choice for a 4-year-old. I would usually agree with you, but the cueing area for the Pirates ride at Disney is a bit S-C-A-R-Y and I cannot go to Disney without Pirates. See where I am going with this? She had to LOVE this movie - even the ghosts and the fighting and yeah, it was a bit more scary than I remembered. So I was all, "oh, isn't Jack so funny?" "this is all pretend!" "everyone is ok!" About halfway through I worried I was going to be up all night with a little girl afraid that Captain Jack Sparrow and his band of ghoulish pirates were coming to get her. Instead she totally ROCKED the movie, LOVED it in fact! "Mommy, let's go find me a pink pirate hat!"

We finished the day off with a trip to the library where we found books on princesses and pirates, of course. She sat on the floor and read Sleeping Beauty while I chopped cucumbers because wouldn't you know it, SNACKTIME again. Suddenly from behind me, "touch it, touch it I say." Creepy, right? It's from the movie, she found the page and inserted the appropriate dialogue and while I was totally creeped out, I was also proud of her. This moment, her reading on the floor, me chopping vegetables, pouring lemonade, putting things onto the tray I purchased months ago imagining a moment just like this one; this was what I had always thought motherhood would be like. As I placed the glasses and napkins into the tray I heard her out on the porch talking to herself, creating some little story and I remembered the story my mother always told me... the one where she asked if I wanted to play with her and I told her, "we're fine." I was alone at the time, but not really. My imagination was just as active as Caroline's at her age and here she was, waiting for me to read the "Encyclopedia of Princesses."

and so we read, and we cuddled, and I stroked her hair and looked at her beautiful big girl face - so changed from it's baby roundness, each cute freckle a memory of a day spent at the shore. I thought of little Lyle, just five minutes down the road, in the arms of his mama and how my own Caroline was once so very tiny and fragile. Such long legs, so tall, with curls and a killer smile with wide eyes full of happiness. There was a small breeze and the only sound in our little neighborhood was our laughter. Four and a half years ago in CT I never would have imagined we would live here, that I would have this little porch, that I would have a day like this with her. It was a sick day, yes, but it was so much more. I think I'm going to have to build these "sick days" into our routine. So, so worth it. Cherish that baby Auntie C, celebrate his milestones, take mental pictures everyday, don't wish away his baby ever, but I cannot wait for you to have a day like this with big boy Lyle. I'll buy him the pirate hat and teach you how to "Argh, matey!"

Lo, the sick.

I posted a couple weeks back that the kids' goopy noses had resulted in antibiotics for Connor. Those colds started to resolve last weekend and all was happy in the world. Until Wednesday. When I woke up at 5am with the telltale "you are so getting a cold" sore throat. "Fabulous," I thought.

That same day I got a call from daycare that Connor had a fever, had not been interested in sprinkler day and had not eaten. So I took the poor little bug home, in his vomit covered car seat, and spent the afternoon with him on my chest. We feared for Caroline and later that night she spiked a temp. Steve and I pulled off the ultimate coup the next day splitting it into morning and afternoon. Steve had wild Indians. I had spiked temps and sweaty nappers.

In the midst of all of this sick, my amazing sister in law auntie Colleen and hokie were busy at the hospital bringing their little boy into the world. I sent Steve to the hospital to see his nephew and while he was gone, I spiked a fever.

Steve had a golf weekend he offered to cancel, but I wouldn't have it. Steve's parents offered a beach respite on Saturday, but between connor's fresh behavior and my continued illness, it just wasn't a good idea. I aborted the mission. We did do a little swing by the hospital for the most well of our little group to meet her cousin, Lyle. The plan was for me to call to have the grandparents come down to retrieve the preschooler, but she was having none of it. A balloon later she she was tearful and scared and meeting her cousin in person. Colleen graciously let me see him, but I felt super guilty even catching a glimpse of him in person. His perfect little pouty lips and dark hair.

The weekend continued from there; fever gone. Fever spiked. And repeat. The kids were mostly better, but Caroline spiked again last night, approximatly 4 hours after Steve returned from his golf and a double header softball game. I managed to get it together to bring the kids to thie game and they witnessed him hit a walk off to win the first of the two games. I sent them over to him, running full speed and man, I doubt I've ever seen him happier.

I pulled it together this weekend, I wasn't always the best mom, but it was the best I could manage given the perfect storm of asshatness I was presented with. I cannot wait to hold my new baby nephew, but I can wait until I don't pose a danger to him and his mom.

Until then, I'll just keep bringing balloons.

For Ann - The Great Stroller Debate

Ann commented back there a few posts ago inquiring about stroller rentals and her wish is my command a la Aladdin's Genie. (See, all WDW all the time here.)  Here is the information for all you would be Orlando Stroller Rental debaters to digest and file away.

According to my WDW Bible, all parks have rentals and you can even simplify your life by purchasing a length of stay stroller pass. This would enable you to pay once and pick up a stroller each morning with no hassle whatsoever. I also saw that one rental in one park could be "hopped" to another park, meaning if you start your day at Epcot and decide to head to the Magic Kingdom after you force your children to REST, REST, REST for the love of all that is holy, you can simply switch parks and have a stroller with no hassle at the new park. Nice feature. I was almost sold. Then I read about how the strollers might not be very appropriate for littler ones and that while they are a great improvement from the blue ancient strollers from my era of WDW, they aren't very comfortable. I read things about bringing blankets to make them more comfortable and ugh. That was a bummer.

I started looking into other options mainly because I had a panicked moment where I thought about these scenarios:

Getting children, towels, sunscreen and snacks from hotel room to pool and back with potentially exhausted children

Waiting for the bus to drive us toward the parks.

Waiting for the bus to take us back to the hotel.

Getting from the dock at Fort Wilderness to the Hoop De Doo Review and back.

See where I am going with this. If I leave the stroller at the park, yes, I won't have to be labored with a stroller, but I will be chasing two tired and cranky children in the Florida heat. Sounds fun right?

I then considered the annoyance of having to fold up and transport said rented stroller from the park on the bus and on the monorail and in a cab and that wasn't so fun, but you know what is less fun? Dealing with a tired on the lose Con Con, that's what.

So my friends in my WDW Bible recommended a resource and it sounds to be good to be true. Time will tell. I'll of course be sure to tell Ann (and all of you) my thoughts when we return.

Orlando Stroller Rentals

Not only was the price reasonable, but the stroller was also pretty amazeballs. All those worries about folding and transporting kind of disappeared when I watched the stroller in action courtesy of the the company site.

My one area of concern was theft. In the parks if someone takes your park issued rented stroller by accident, yes it is a pain, but you can easily have it replaced with little effort. It does happen, the Cast Members can and DO rearrange them in the stroller parking areas outside attractions. I cannot tell you how many times I saw parents looking through strollers for theirs only to give up and just grab one. This was how I amused myself outside "It's a Small World" on cooler days when no one was buying ice cream. I would wait for someone to snag someone else's stroller and then try to pick out the family searching for the stolen stroller. So having a non-WDW rental seemed ideal - it will stick out - it won't be confused for some other family's.... except it is a rental and there are bound to be other saavy tourists who did the same thing and there are some not nice people in the world. So I got the insurance. BINGO. BANGO. DONE. I even read on the site that the wheel comes off with the push of a button. If I am having a paranoid moment that wheel can come with me in my soon to be purchased Camelback Day Star.

That is (more than) my two cents worth on the topic of Strollers.

And he just kept pinching

The kids sits side by side at the dinner table. Caroline doesn't have to sit next to him, but she really likes to. They typically get along well at the table and actually enjoy their close proximity. Sometimes though we enter a dangerous place where acting out and curls go hand in hand, literally.

For no reason at all Connor will grab a fistful of her hair and not let go. Her reaction is to freeze and scream. While I appreciate that she does not get involved in a scuffle with him, obeying the "keep your hands to yourself" rule, I sometimes worry that she isn
T defending herself at all. That boy will not let go until a grown up forcibly removes his hands from her curls. He get a little slap on the offending hand and off he goes to his room to sit in his crib for a few minutes. He cries, she smiles telling us he is in timeout, and when he is released he returns to give her a hug and say sorry.

Last night Steve and I were putting together the plates for our dinner while the kids were starting on their own dinners. We both watched him grip onto her arm and pinch the skin around her elbow. We asked him to stop. We yelled at him to stop and he released her arm only to pinch her again and harder. Only when Steve removed him from his seat did he let go. The protests from his room were awful, as was his injured and sad sister who went from physically hurt to emotional victim. We talk a lot to her about telling us when he takes something, if he bites her, puts his hands on her... Tell a grown up we say, and she is getting better about it, but not always.

This kind of thing is happening more and more often. He will not relent. He always says he is sorry, but I wonder if we are not sending the message correctly? He won't sit still on a step for timeout yet. My gut says this is just one of the many blips on the timeline of his youth where he is testing limits, pushing boundaries and demanding attention even if that attention is negative. I think we are getting it across effectively that this is not tolerated, that there are consequeences and we do not hurt our friends. This is just one of those things that is going to take swift and just response isn't it?

For those keeping count

24 days.

I got a reminder in my email this morning that in two weeks I can complete "online check-in" at the resort. I nearly leaped out of my chair I was so happy, particularly on this dismal rainy Monday. What better to have to look forward to this wet week than a trip to Florida with your little family? Well, besides a nephew, but we won't go there today. Not a good day for talking about babies.

Steve has already expressed his concern about what I will fixate on after we return home from the Happiest Place on Earth. I must admit, I am a bit worried about this too. I have really enjoyed researching this, studying this, learning about how Fastpass works. I have mostly enjoyed watching the youtube videos of attractions and shows with Caroline to better explain what things like Soarin' or Illuminations are. They didn't have Fastpass when I worked there. There also was no Soarin'. So there are some new things for me to experience with Steve and the kids, but watching the Spectromagic parade videos (they retired this parade for now) make me so nostalgic I get teary. I spent 4 months of my life on the parade route, watching Ursula lit up spin by me, watching the lights turn from colors to white, hearing that music. I didn't take it for granted, I knew each night when that parade went by that I was about to get slammed by the crowd getting a snack between the parade and the fireworks and I didn't care. I knew that the end of my work day was watching Tinkerbell fly across the sky and BOOM. Fireworks. Nearly every single night. So really, I think we just need to figure out when we plan to go back to WDW with the kids. I think for now knowing when will tide me over. For now.

It's funny. I worked hard for the mouse at the end of my time there. I would fall into bed early in the morning and wake up a few hours later to catch the bus back to the Magic Kingdom. Once I worked a certain number of hours it was all overtime anyway and what college kid couldn't use some overtime pay? I'd stay on past my shift to lend a hand to my friends and I could always count on Brandon or Shane to bail me out on Popcorn 2, notoriously right in the hub in front of the castle, a beacon for tourists waiting for fireworks or the parade. It was long hard work, but the nostalgia. I can't wait to share it with Steve and the kids. Steve has been of course, but not with me. It's special and there will always only be ONE first trip to Disney. I hope it is the first of many, but in order to ensure that, I have to be sure this gets off without a hitch.

I've been taking the notes I prepared while reviewing my massive Disney Bible, "The Unofficial Guide," and adpating them for use on the trip that will make more sense than say a scribbled on piece of plain white paper tucked into the spine. My fav app Evernote seems to be helping me accomplish this and I think it is going to work out perfectly.
You already know I am a planner, so it should come as no surprise that I have several Evernote notes compiled in a notebook called "WDW." I've got my highlights from the Guide going, a before we go to do list, a tentative game plan, the park hours, all the confirmation numbers for lodging, meals, and stroller rental, and a packing list for myself and the kids. In this age of technology, I am capitalizing. I'm sure as I decode the paraphrased notations I made and random page numbers scribbled on that piece of paper I will create more notes for Evernote.

That's why I also got into the touringplans.com website and checked out the recommended parks for each day we are visiting and let that guide me in the choices I made for when to do what. Brilliant, brilliant website based off the historical findings from the writers of my WDW Bible. I get an alert from them whenever the crowd calculator for one of our vacation days is updated so I don't have to obsess about monitoring this and boy, does that make me happy. I also downloaded their app Lines so we can get real time updates on attraction wait times. So before we promise Ariel's biggest fan that if she eats her dinner we can see the red headed princess, I can check it out on the app. It's not about planning, it's really about preparing.  No one will be happier than my husband who will not take kindly to a long wait when it could have been avoided or having a chat about how we can't see Ariel in action because the line we just arrived at from across the park is too long. Preparation! How do you even explain to a four-year-old what 30 minutes feels like when she cannot stand holding still for the 3 minutes it takes me to part her hair and make pigtails?

We're packing multiple devices; Steve's Blackberry, my iPhone, the iPad. We'll use the iPhone for evernote, the Lines app and photos in the park, along with a point and shoot camera and the Flip. We're planning on watching shows from our DVR on the Xfinity app and streaming movies through Netflix for when the kids need a break or for the grown ups after the shortest members of the fam hit the hay and we find ourselves in a silent darkened hotel room.

That is five electronic devices total, four we plan on carting with us everywhere we go. Four.

Stay tuned for my next Disney blast wherein I discuss convincing my husband we need to invest in a Camelbak day pack.

It's suspicious

The kids have had hacking coughs and runny noses since last weekend. The middle of the summer loathesome cold. As Friday rolled around and Connor still needed to be chased down several times each evening to wipe the GREEN discharge from his nose. It's gross and it made me start thinking; is this going to turn into an ear infection?

This is yet another example of the second baby phenomenon. With Caroline I would have taken her to the pedi for an ear check by Wednesday. With Connor I called casually on our way out to the grocery store Saturday morning. I got an appointment for 11:50. We shopped. We picked up trial sized items for Florida. Connor fell asleep at 11:00 in the car. Connor woke up to go back out to the doctor at 11:30. He and I waited until 12:30 to go in to see the MD. We waited until 12:45 for him to come in. This boy regularly naps at 1pm. The pedi looked in both ears, declaring the left clear and the right "suspicious." He said it was difficult to see past the tube. He removed some wax with the fancy micro wax remover tool. He looked again. The green goop, the "suspicious" looking ear. Antibiotics 2x day for 10 days.

Poor Con Con. I hope it clears up quickly and completely for him.

"in one minute"

On Friday night Steve looked at me and asked me tell me our Disney trip synopsis "in one minute." He got that look in his eyes that said he meant no details, just the facts.

I took a deep breath and in 30 seconds told him.

"Land around 11:00, shuttle, pool, rest, Hoop De Doo.
Princess Breakfast, Magic Kingdom, pool, rest, Hollywood Studios, Pizza Planet, Fantasmic.
Animal Kingdom, pool, rest, Epcot, Biergarten, Illuminations.
Sea World or Water Park
Magic Kingdom, pool, rest, Magic Kingdom, Plaza, Main Street Electric Parade, Fireworks & Ferry.
Chef Mickey's, Take Off 4:30, land around 7."

and then I said, "very flexible."

Reading it, I guess it doesn't look all that flexible, but I swear it is.

Smiles

For Ann.

There is little in our home that works better than promises of ice cream or mini peanut butter cups to encourage good behavior. The exception is smiles. When I hear Caroline start teasing Connor, "I bet you wish you had shoes like me ," I instantly remind her that this kind of talk will ensure she does not get her "no teasing" smile tonight. When she sasses me, I ask her if that is showing me she has earned her "show respect" smile.

I can't take credit for the Smile chart. A friend (thanks Terri) recommended it to me when we were looking for a new way to provide Caroline with guidelines for acceptable and unacceptable behavior. This chart by Melissa and Doug is amazing. We let it fall by the wayside for a bit of time and we noticed that the behavior was getting out of control. Of course it was, the motivation to acheive smiles was missing. Caroline knows the rules, sometimes she just needs reminding, and this great tool shows her clearly what is expected and how well she has been doing or not doing.

I admit, sometimes it is hard to not give her a smile when I know there was just one teeny tiny incident. I also admit that sometimes it feels darn good to deny her a smile for a particularly naughty incident. I make only one exception, if she can correct her actions and do the right thing for the rest of the night she can still earn that smile. I have also learned that sometimes once she has lost the smile, she feels there is no point in changing her behavior. I make sure to explain for instance that "I heard you teasing Connor, but when I told you there was a risk of losing that smile I also heard you apologize and I didn't hear anymore teasing all night." I think sometimes that is even more important than earning it outright.

We give rewards for multiple days in a row of "all smiles" and she is so proud of herself when she does well. On hard days though, like Monday for instance this week, it provides an opportunity for us to talk about how things can be different tomorrow.

Here it is in action:


If Caroline gets all her smiles again tomorrow it will be the third day in a row and that is simply wonderful.

I highly, highly recommend it.

Fearless

Connor respects stairs. We usually don't even have to put the gate across the steps upstairs when we are in the family room. If he goes over to the steps it usually means he needs something he forgot in the kitchen, most likely his lovey "monkey." He'll motion to you, tell you in toddlerease what he needs and wait patiently there for you to return with whatever it is he needed. "Tank ooo."

Last night we watched him race over to the bottom of the stairs and I was hot on heels, but not soon enough to catch him as he fell face first from the bottom step.

The Parental Panic Pause.

Is he hurt? Hold your breath. Did he knock the wind out of himself? Can he breathe? Is he hurt? Don't be hurt, don't be hurt. Don't react. BREATHE.

That boy rolled over and erupted into a pile of giggles, stood up monkey in hand, climbed the step, turned, looked high into the air and fell forward, laughing all the way into my arms. He wanted to do it again and again and again and while laughing along with him was definitely the best decision, it was seriously hysterical. No care in the world, not a fear, not a second thought about what might happen to him. Pushing for that rush of adrenaline. At 18 months old.

This is what it's like isn't it? I don't just have a boy. I have a daredevil. I may never sleep solidly again.

It's ok, I won't be offended

While I am going to desperately try not to become all Disney all the time in the next 36 days, I have to be honest, it's going to be extremly difficult. Between the rough spot I have found myself in professionally and the incredible excitement (the most excited by far is yours truly) it's kind of an awesome thing to look forward to. In 36 days.

Here's something: Tinkerbell watching over Caroline's smile chart to ensure she is on her very best behavior, just as good if not better than Santa himself and his little elf on a shelf Peter. Tonight when she got all her smiles, "Tinkerbell is going to be so happy!" ALL.HER.SMILES. Even the respect smile, by far the most challenging one on her chart these days thanks to sass.

Here's another thing: That sweet boy Connor is Mickey obsessed, pointing at him on TV, searching for him in the container of mini characters, trailing plush Mickey around the playroom behind him. We'll see if that lasts when he actually comes face to face with the real live 4 foot tall Mickey.

I spent four months in Florida in 1998, working for the Mouse, living with 5 other girls from NY, NJ and AR. I spent my days selling ice cream, popcorn, soda, frozen lemonade with my besties, and roasted nuts in Adventureland and Fanstasyland. I wore ridiculous outfits.

Here is me in action in Liberty Square at the Haunted Mansion entrance selling ice cream.



Look at that fresh faced 20-year-old Kerri. She seems happy enough, I mean she is selling Mickey Bars to smiling tourists, what's not to be happy about. She is absolutely freaking out inside though because she is working out of an apron and accepting cash only. Kerri's biggest strength is not Math. This caused much stress and anxiety, particularly with the fruit bars that were 2.75. WHO MAKES A BAR 2.75 WHEN PEOPLE ARE PAYING CASH??? Clearly, I'm not over it.

I have a rich Disney history. My parents first took Uncle Bubba and I when I was four, the same age as Caroline is today. My actual memories of that trip are limited to being absolutely terrified of Snow White's Scary Adventure and cruising around the Tommorrowland Speedway with my mother. We made several more trips including one when I was probably 17 that involved a 24-hour stratight roadtrip and nickaming my father Big Daddy as we cruised past the last Shoney's for 50 miles. My mother's entire family spent the day after Thanksgiving together in Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom while I was down there. It was special in the most special way. I haven't been back to Disney since I left my mouse ears and all their perks behind to return to school during a raging blizzard. I swore I wouldn't be back until I brought my own kids.

My father spent that entire first trip with my brother on his shoulders. We were probably too young to truly appreciate the experience, but I commend my parents for creating that magic for us, for just going because they knew we would love it, even if we didn't remember all the details. I always swore I wouldn't be a stroller wielding mother pushing my kids through people to get ahead to the next attraction. I should warn you that my attire for this adventure is pretty much limited to work out wear; tennis skirts, tanks, t's, sports bras. I rented a mack daddy double stroller for the kids last night. I created a powerpoint for Caroline to watch that includes trip rules, routines and even a TSA primer. Uncle Bubba would be proud. I have researched nearly 600 pages of an 800 page book that includes field tested touring plans. I have organized dinner reservations and created a plan so brilliant for our last night that I literally took a bow when I finalized it. I'll share it with you, when we get back. No secrets before we go. I don't want to look over at you standing in my spot for the Main Street Electrical Parade. My. Spot.

So I apologize in advance for all the Disney. Consider it something YOU can thank me for when you have some archives to review for all the planning tips and tricks I am sure to pass along when you start planning your own little Mickeypalooza.

Today's nugget. I purchased these
for splitting up drinks at the parks. No fighting, no needing their own drinks, no drama. Perfection.