Doing Disney World with a Toddler

Strollers are a must for a young toddler at Disney.

I grew up an hour from Disney World and went to the parks far less than my husband did as a Rhode Islander.  His family made the trek to the parks every year and absolutely LOVE parks.  I am less excited about theme parks, but since it is important to my husband we decided to brave Disney World with our 16 month old son this year.

I’ve always thought 16 months was way too young for a park, but you know what? It isn’t. My son had the time of his life for the two and a half days we were in Orlando. The keys to our success were this: stay at a hotel at the Magic Kingdom, go to the park EARLY, plan which rides are suitable for a toddler before your trip and book a character breakfast.

Staying at the Magic Kingdom is more expensive, but you can save money by booking in the off season. If you only have a toddler, don’t go school vacation week: prices double at hotels during this time. The park also raises prices across the board for busy weeks. The main reason I loved staying at the Magic Kingdom (we chose Wilderness Lodge this year) was convenience and the fact if my little guy needed a nap I could get him home in minutes and the rest of our group could stay at the park.

I am not a morning person, but my son is up bright and early between 6 and 6:30 am every day. Another benefit of staying at a Disney hotel is the Extra Magic Hour you receive- you can get into all of their parks one hour before the rest of the park-goers! This is huge with a toddler because you can get to all of the popular rides for them with little to no wait. We made a bee-line to the Winnie the Pooh ride and had less than a 10 minute wait. My son’s favorite ride was the carousel, which he asked to go on “more please” repeatedly. If you’re a night owl, you can also stay later at the park with your hotel key– which could be fun if you have family to babysit or your child is old enough for Disney babysitting.

My husband had the trip thoroughly planned out with what rides were appropriate for our son and had a plan. You can download apps for ride wait times and other Disney tips for your smart phone to make your trip more efficient. We checked out the web site MouseSavers and learned some great Disney World tips and tricks.Micky waffle

My last suggestion for toddler Disney fans is to book a character breakfast. We booked a late morning breakfast at the Polynesian hotel and my little guy absolutely loved meeting Stitch, Mickey, Pluto & Lilo. He wasn’t scared a bit and wanted to chase the characters around the restaurant!

If you were considering taking your toddler to Disney, I say do it! This is coming from a non-park loving, “not a big Disney fan” Mom. Seeing the joy in my son’s face was priceless and he had a fantastic time! Disney might have finally won me over!

What are your tips for traveling with a toddler?

 

The Best Anti-Cancer/Anti-Wrinkle Way to Get a Tan

Could Rhode Island be one of  the first states to ban minors from the tanning beds?

According to a recent study posted on WebMD and The Skin Cancer Foundation: people who use tanning beds have a 74% increased risk for melanoma (skin cancer) compared to people who had never used a tanning bed!  The risk was four times higher among frequent users of high-pressure tanning beds, which emit mostly UVA radiation!

Before I was 20, I went to the tanning bed at least 3 times per week! I was under the blanket belief, it won’t happen to me, but now, as a wife and mom, my priorities have changed. I have had malignant melanoma not once, but twice. The survival rate is only 50% if it spreads into the lymphatic system.  Needless to say, you won’t catch me in a tanning bed.

Here are the ABCDs of Melanoma:

How’s that for a beautiful tan?

You can still get the glow without the radiation or the creepy little eye covers. Here are some of my favorite self-tanning products!
***note, you must exfoliate well and my favorite tip:  put one layer of hand cream on first, let it dry and it will keep your hands from turning orange!
L’Oreal Sublime toilettes,  Bronze One Day Gel and Neutrogena MicroMist self-tanning spray

 

 

What is your opinion on banning minors from tanning beds?  Do you have a friend or relative diagnosed with skin cancer?

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Gone, But Not Forgotten

Paige in Purple
     My baby left me.  Just walked right out of the house in the middle of the night for the desert and dry air of Arizona.  Okay, so it wasn’t quite THAT dramatic….but it sure seemed that way when we were skyping from RI to AZ and she was was more interested in jumping on the couch than talking to her mama!  My husband looked at me as tears started to stream down my cheek.  I quickly wiped them away, so Paige wouldn’t see.
     When My husband suggested he escape the frigid New England air for two weeks to see family in Arizona, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get some work done on this website, maybe even catch up on some sleep.  What I hadn’t anticipated was the emotional toll of being away from her and my husband.  Now, I like my alone time.  In fact, for much of our marriage my husband and I have worked different shifts–at times–even in different states.  Heck, even in different countries!  How do you think we’ve managed to stay married so long, moving state to state, job to job?  (I kid.)   But throw the little one in the mix, and that’s a one- two punch this mama just can’t handle.  Seriously, I was a wreck 75% of the time they were gone. 
     They get back tomorrow and I know my heart will skip a beat when I see them at the airport.  Just like it did when I met my husband at that BBQ in college and when I saw the yes sign on that pregnancy test. (oh, yeah…I got those tests, I wasn’t foolin’ around with the plus/ minus nonsense).
     What’s the longest you’ve been away from your kids?  Was it easier or tougher than expected?  Join the conversation…we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Get More Bang for Your Buck at the Best Restaurants

 

There’s not much this mama loves more than when it’s restaurant week in Rhode Island.  This little state has so many big offerings when it comes to food, but it often comes with a big price tag too!

Newport Restaurant Week  in RI once again returns, this time, with more than 40 participating restaurants March 25th through April 3rd, 2011. Scallops for dinner

Three-course lunches are just $16, and three-course dinners are $30.  Yum! 

Now…if I can just squeeze in a date night, I’m all set.

How a Family RV Trip for 6 Became one of our Best Vacations

Have you ever thought of taking a family vacation in an RV?  Did you end up doing it?  Last year we were coming off the “year of unemployment” and taking the idea of any spending very seriously.  So when April vacation was being considered we tried to think of a fun and inexpensive way to see a lot of places in a week.  We figured it would be wise to stay on the east coast so as to minimize the amount of miles logged and to maximize our destinations.  The first task at hand was finding an RV.  There are websites that exist for just that purpose.  One of the biggest is: Cruise America.  We ended up using Craigslist and found a local man who rents his RV by the week.  Perfect.

The cost for a week using Cruise America for a large 7 person RV is roughly $1050 with mileage costs at about $.32 a mile.  700 miles is easy to do in a week, and that would run another $224.  We paid the private owner from Craigslist $1000 and no mileage fee – just brought it back with a full tank of gas.  One of the options our guy gave us was to rent his kitchen equipment for $150, the items of which he listed in detail.  In an effort to be frugal we passed on the offer and used his list to create our own ‘kitchen to go’.  Personally, I will always prefer my own utensils and pans to someone else’s unless maybe it’s Martha Stewart.  Cruise America offers a Kitchen Kit for $100 and a Personal Kit (towels and a sleeping bag, etc.) for $50.

Our trip began to take shape.  We decided to pick up the RV and leave our car at the owner’s house for the week.  When we arrived to “move in” there was a binder of all kinds of information he’d compiled over the years of renting, and we referenced that often.  At first the rig was very intimidating, especially in its width.  It turned out that the RV was a little on the quirky side maybe due to its older age, and responded to its Master’s Voice better than ours, but we managed.  There were a lot of gadgets and buttons to activate to get a shower, or to cook, so there was a steep learning curve in the beginning.  There’s nothing like a cold shower to motivate one to figure out the system, though.Cold shower

The fun part was narrowing down all the grand ideas we had for our destinations.  The kids lobbied hard for a stop at Hershey Park, PA, so my husband and I wove that into a generally educational itinerary (sneaky, huh?) including Gettysburg, PA and Washington D.C.  We eventually headed back to RI through NYC.  The trick was to find decent RV parks near the cities, and public transportation into them.  We tried RV parks with public bathrooms that had showers and pools, laundry and miniature golf, as well as ones in the dark woods with nothing but water and gas hookups and lots of crickets.  AAA has excellent RV books that tell you just what to expect from each park.  We played a lot of board games at night, and each of us probably read a book or two that week.  All the parks have grills, so cooking was a breeze, and s’mores were the staple dessert.S'mores

If you ask the kids, this trip was epic, and if you ask my husband and me, this is one we would definitely do again.  There’s a lot to be said for staying on terra firma, besides just the significant savings on airfare.

Echo Caverns

Echo Caverns

An interesting road sign could turn into an impromptu adventure, like the awe inspiring Echo Caverns we happened upon, or at least a good ice cream cone.  We’re thinking of a summer RV trip through Canada next.  Well, we’ll see you on the road, and happy trails!

Are there any of you RV adventurers out there with a good tale, tip, or destination to share?  I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below.

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Organical Botanical-A Hidden Gem in Rhode Island

Tucked away along Main Street In East Greenwich, Rhode Island is a gem of a spot, I cannot believe I am just now learning about (although my wallet is probably thanking me). Located in the heart of East Greenwich, Organical Botanical is in a beautiful, historical building that captures the essence of the town’s unique charm and history.  As soon as you walk through the doors, you know you’ve arrived someplace special.  The stress begins to melt away as the intoxicating scent of essential oils permeates this multi-story historic building. Organical Botanical OilsI must admit, I was a little anxious when given the opportunity to recieve a facial as part of Spa Week. I love a good massage, but I’ve only had a couple facials in my lifetime.  I usually consider them too much of a luxury…and I get a little nervous when people start messing with my face.  Years ago, before a big event,  I had a bad facial experience that left me looking like a hormonal teen.

When I arrived for my facial appointment, I was immediately greeted by Tanya Palazzo, the owner, and all my fears were eased.  I am not kidding you when I say this woman has skin just as beautiful as my 14 month old daughter.  Seriously.  She swears it’s because of the organic products she uses (and makes herself). Organic skin care products She could have told me she spreads a mixture of pickle and prune juice on her face and I would have tried it, though, if it meant my skin would look like hers!Organical Botanical product line

After the initial small talk, Tanya got started…asking me if I had any concerns, if I was allergic to anything etc.  The service itself felt terrfic, wasn’t rushed, and you could tell Tanya was beyond knowledgeable.  In case you’re curious, Organical Botanical also does body wraps, gift baskets, scrubs, has a soap bar, and of course massage.

Massage Stones

Being that I went there for a facial, I’d have to say one of my favorite things about Organical Botanical is that I can buy the products Tanya used on my face.  Now, I know most salons sell their own products, but what I like about Organical Botanical is that she custom creates the products she uses for your specific skin type.  I never would have thought that using organic products on my face would make a difference, but an entire week after my facial and I am still glowing.  THIS has made me a believer!

**Note**   Spas all over the country are taking part in Spa Week, April 11th-17th, where you can get spa treatments for just $50!  Now that I’ve seen the results for myself, I absolutely give Organical Botanical the A Mom Knows Best stamp of approval.  Spas are booking appointments now and spots are filling up fast!

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