Our little family

Our little family
Our little family

Monday, March 31, 2014

Cruising with Mickey: Planning & Booking Tips

Well, after tons (literally tons!) of research and back and forth choices, my husband and I finally sat down and booked our next cruise...which happens to be our first cruise with Disney. Needless to say we are all very excited (OK, I'm not sure my 1 year old even knows we are going but he will be excited when he sees Mickey!) to get going on this cruise. Here are a few planning & booking tips for those who are looking into cruising with Mickey....

*This is a several parts series...as we get further along/ closer to our cruise I will share tips on how to get ready and then after the cruise I will share our experience! be on the lookout!

Photo courtesy of Bing.com

Cruising with Mickey... (Planning & Booking tips)

1. Be flexible...with everything! 
                When we first started talking about where we wanted to cruise we were set on Alaska. We have already cruised the Bahamas and wanted a different scene. However after looking at pricing for an Alaska Disney cruise at the time we wanted to go, it was way over what we wanted to pay for a week long vacation. Timing brings me to another aspect of flexibility. When it was all said and done we went from planning a summer cruise to booking a week before Christmas cruise to the Western Caribbean. Timing is everything with Disney cruises. You can save thousands of dollars by changing your time frame a little bit. Make sure you check into all potential cruise times and dates. (for example..the week after our cruise going to the same places on the same ship is almost $3000 more, and two weeks before is almost $1500 more!) Make sure you are willing to take into account the place, time and ship you are looking at. Even the newer ships on Disney Cruise Line can cost more and they go to the same places..only difference? one single water slide. (honestly how many times are you going to go on that slide to make it worth all that extra money...probably not many)

2. Book as far in advance as you can! 

              Disney has a wonderful cruise line blog as well as the DIS boards (forum) that can keep you in the loop as far as when the next year cruise schedule is coming out and sales they may be having, as well as all the info you need from veteran Disney cruisers. I was able to ask when the new schedule was coming out (couldn't find it online) and received an answer within an hour. As soon as the schedule is out...start looking and choosing a date!! We booked our cruise 8 months out and saved a bunch of money doing that. You are required to put a deposit down (normally between $200-$500 depending on how much the total cost of the cruise is) to book the cruise and the rest isn't due until 45 days from your sail date. There is no interest charged while you leave your account in the owe. This will guarantee you a great price and plenty of time to pay each month or pay in a lump sum down the road.

3. Buy the travel insurance that Disney offers! 

              My husband is military and booking a vacation this far in advance can be scary (even when you get permission ahead of time), however with Disney their insurance policy is great (it is through a 3rd party but they provide contact info for them and plenty of info on what you are paying for). They provide full refunds (and % refunds after a certain time) for your cruise and anything you purchase with your cruise (airfare, excursions, etc.). I was also told by Disney that medical is free of charge on board if you have the insurance with Disney (I busted my toe on our carnival cruise and they wanted $100 just to look at it, not including what they needed to do) so that can be helpful if something like a smashed toe on a lounge chair happens (again!).  Our insurance for the trip was around $100 total for the 3 of us, not bad for peace of mind and the just in case.

4. Speaking of extra purchases...buy airline tickets, hotel stays or anything else you need as a package with Disney! 

            We winded up getting a free hotel stay the night before our cruise because we purchased our airfare with them (if you buy airfare with Disney they have you arrive the day before your cruise so you don't risk missing the ship due to late flights). Also, it is covered in the insurance. The wonderful people at Disney (they are seriously amazing and answer every request you have!) will track our flight and if there is a delay THEY will move our flight, call us and tell us where to go. Uhm, talk about not having to lift a finger. All we have to do is pay, show up and of course...have fun! They think of and do everything for you. Need a pack 'n' play for your stateroom?..they have them, need a high chair? they have them...they even have diaper genie's for the staterooms! They will also arrange free of charge (or included, however you want to look at it) shuttle transfer from the airport to hotel, and from hotel to ship both before and after your cruise. I was able to also request a crib/pack 'n' play in the hotel and they took care of that as well. I am very impressed with their customer service in the booking process!

5. Consider the upgrade if possible. 

              When we started looking we were set on at least an ocean view room...I need at least a window. After picking our cruise date/destination we found out it was only $90 more for a verandah. For us...it was worth the upgrade. Yes, we haven't sailed yet but let me explain why it is already worth it... we are traveling with a toddler...a toddler who will still be taking naps..what better way to spend his nap time than my husband and I sitting on our private verandah while he naps in the room. Room service is free! Order some food and enjoy a snack or meal while your little one naps. How about a late night snack on the verandah while your kids watch a movie in the room before bed? How about sitting on your verandah while you pull in to each port and get some amazing photos? If the price is right...do it! We had the choice between the navigator's verandah and the normal open verandah. We went with the navigator's because I am one of those freaked out mom's who thinks her kid will try jumping over the railing on the more open ones. The navigator's verandah's are also more private and closed in with a large oval (wonder has oval, magic has smaller round cut outs) cut out with a bench and table and chair, seems a little more private to me. another plus of the navigator's verandah is that they are located at the forward and aft parts of the ship..there are only 4 rooms after ours...big bonus of that? not as much foot traffic near our stateroom late at night/early in the morning.

Okay...for now that is all I have (pinterest is a great place to find more tips and info for actually cruising time tips). I will post more about planning the actual parts of the trip and all that fun as the time gets closer! And be looking for my post about Fish Extenders!!! (we are excited to do them as well!)

DIS Boards link : http://www.disboards.com/forumdisplay.php?f=9

Disney Cruise Line Blog Link: http://disneycruiselineblog.com/ships/disney-wonder/

Until Next Time...

Monday, March 24, 2014

12 Things I Have Learned in the 12 Months I have been a Mom

First of all who can tell me where the first year of my son's life just went? Before I could blink he is one! Wow, time really does flash before our eyes. The First year of being a mom has been glorious to say the least. What an honor it has been to have been given this gift from God.

Here are 12  silly and serious things I have learned this past year:

1. You can indeed function on 20 min of sleep in a 24 hour period of time.

2. The Keurig coffee maker was created as a gift from God to new mothers.

3. There are never enough pictures of your baby on your phone, camera or computer.

4. Nothing can put fear into you like a gagging 8 month old trying new chunks of food.

5. I take 4 back, the fear of a 11 month old learning to walk is worse.

6. Holding your baby in the dead of night while the house sleeps is one of the most comfortable things.

7. You do a happy dance, praise the Lord, and post it on Facebook the first time your baby sleeps through the night.

8. You realize that you miss those middle of the night cuddle sessions.

9. You learn that every person on the planet you do not know just HAS to touch your baby or give advise on how to raise them. Then you learn to ignore them.

10. Changing a diaper on a crawler has to be an Olympic sport. (maybe next games!)

11. Your love for your baby is just a glimpse of God's love for us.

12. You learn that you do know what is best for your baby after all. Mother always knows best ;)

I hope you enjoyed these funny and heart felt quick moments from the things I have learned this past year! Here's to many more amazing years watching my little man grow!!!

Until Next Time...

Lake Tahoe, CA Photography

I thought I would share some of the photos I took at Lake Tahoe this past weekend! It was so beautiful up there and we can't wait to go back and visit! Enjoy!!

My brother and his wife

My brother and family

My nephew and my son sharing a moment :)

Until Next Time....

Monday, March 10, 2014

Our Favorite Children's Books

We have tried since the beginning to read to Jackson on a regular basis. We try to at least read at bedtime if not at some point in the day (he isn't one to sit still for long so it is normally while drinking formula we read to him, right before bed as part of our bedtime routine.) Here is a list of our favorite children's books that we have enjoyed this first year as parents :)

1. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction site: Simply put...it is a book about all the construction vehicles getting ready for bed. Very cute and wonderful illustrations. It is a bit long but we don't mind and we normally only will read this one the night it is picked up.

2. Steam Train, Dream Train: This was one of Jackson's Christmas books he got this past year and I love it! Written and Illustrated by the same crew from book number 1, it creates a dreamland of all the dreams loading onto a train for the night, it's adorable. Another longer book but again...worth it, we love this one quite a bit!!

3. Little Blue Truck/ Little Blue Truck Leads The Way: Another great series of books. About a little truck and his adventures in the country and in the city. Average length for a toddler book.

4. Sandra Boynton Collection: OK I am a HUGE sucker for this collection. I am pretty sure we have them all, or are very close! This are quick little reads but oh so cute! and quite funny too! Titles include the going to bed book, Belly Button Book, and Tickle Time.

5. How Do Dinosaurs Collection: This collection has many books in it covering just about any and all milestones in a young child's life. Going to school, learning colors, birthday, having pets..you name it and there is probably a book in this collection about it. We really like them because they are also quick reads but very cute and fun. They have both board style books and larger hardcover thin page books. (we keep the board ones on the play shelf and the others on a higher shelf...leaned that lesson the hard way!)

Some of the other books we really have enjoyed are...

Giraffe's Can't Dance
VeggieTales How Many Veggies Book
Llama Llama Series
Eric Carle's ABC's
Duck & Goose Books
More Books...the collection grows constantly, just the way I like it! 

What are your favorite children's books??

Until Next Time...