A Disney fan blog about the good things in life.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Ahhhh..A blast from the past

Yes my rings are on and yes we are still married.



Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Disney Wedding: Part 1 - Picking a Location

Let me start by saying, I am not a princess bride. My dream wedding was always on a beach with only a handful of people attending. Bare feet, palm trees, and the most basic of dresses rounded out my fantasy ceremony. So I think it came as a surprise to just about everyone when I chose Disney as my wedding destination.

Disney? Cinderella's hometown? It just didn't add up. Well actually, it did-- in a really bizarre way. My dream wedding destination was Hawaii. It was my first choice until I really thought about what I was asking family and friends to do. Not that people would not love Hawaii-- just traveling 12 plus hours did not seem fair.

I checked other beach locations on the East Coast but I could not let Hawaii go. I fretted over the destination until one day my mom said to me, "you could always get married at Disney's Polynesian. It's like fake Hawaii." A light-bulb went off and the idea steamrolled. I had never even thought about Disney as a wedding destination and had no idea if they even allowed weddings on the Polynesian site - but it seemed too perfect and idea to let pass by.

Turns out, they not only hosted the weddings at the Polynesian, but they have a whole wedding planning department that can make almost any wedding dream come true.

You want to ride to the wedding in cinderella's coach? Check.
How about Mickey as a guest? Check.
Pictures in front of the castle? Check.

Picking a location became as easy as a phone call to the Fairy Tale Wedding 800 number.


Next Up: A Disney Wedding: Part 2  - My Best Friend the Wedding Planner (check out her most recent post for all the Disney wedding updates)


Fireworks, castles and gowns..oh my!

Have you ever dreamed of getting married at the most magical place on Earth? Having an illuminated castle as your backdrop , fireworks sparkling overhead or a large mouse dressed in a top hat as a wedding guest? Well I have and I've been married for the last 10 years. Too late for me but not for you, you lucky princess.

Walt Disney World weddings are extremely popular even though some might never have considered it. When my best friend decided to get married there I sprang into planning mode, after my heart stopped palpitating from excitement, and began to do my wedding research. There's a package for all budgets, all wedding sizes...if you've envisioned it chances are Disney can do it. There is so much to discuss about WDW weddings that I'll have to break it down weekly as my fingers just can't handle all the typing. Things are always happening so count on me to keep you in the know. Today I'm going to start with two of my favorite things..fireworks and gowns. Oooooohhh.....

Recently WDW just released new info on adding a little sparkle to your wedding reception with your own personal fireworks display. Seriously how fabulous is that? At the end of a magical day you can surprise all your guests with a fireworks display made just for you. A champagne toast with Cinderellas Castle glowing in the background and fireworks overhead. Sign me up. The cost, I don't know , but if your going to go the distance to get married at WDW then save those pennies and make it a night to remember for all.

Now how about the gown? Designer Kirstie Kelly has partnered with Disney and has a collection of gowns aimed at making any princess happy. Feeling like Cinderella? She's got the look. More of a Snow White gal? She's got that too. After looking at the collection I found myself partial to the Giselle gown . I may be biased by her red hair or the fact that Prince Edward is a favorite. You can even pick out the matching his and her rings at the site as well. Talk about easy one stop shopping .
Disney is quite frankly an ideal place for a "destination" wedding. It offers something for everyone and obviously very family friendly. With so many different reception sights to choose from , from the exotic to traditional, it's a winner in my autograph book.
Next time we'll talk about all the different locales to choose from. I'm dreaming of Epcot as I type this and envisioning an exotic Moroccan wedding, where guests enter through an authentic Koutoubia minaret, smell roast lamb and olive trees and..... hey look there's Donald Duck!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Day at Disney in Under Three Minutes

Two of my loves are combined in the following videos:
1. Disney
2. Photography

The following "movies" were made with a type of photography called "tilt shift". I am now on the quest to get more info on this style to see if I can either buy a lens or do this post production with my own photos.

This also makes me want to hop a plane to Disney tonight.



Monday, April 26, 2010

Sunny days are here again-The sunglasses trends for Spring and Summer

I have to admit that I am not at the forefront of fashion when it comes to what's hot and what's not. The shirt I have on right now would fit right in on a makeover show, think what not to wear, and may be over 5 years old. It's not to say that I don't have an appreciation for fine clothes and I want to look hot and current, it's just that most or all of my hard earned dollar, dollar bills go straight to my very fashion forward 6 year old daughter. When mom can't wear the skinny jeans she sure can.

I do however love good sunglasses and always buy the more expensive ones. Polarized is a must. Maui Jims have been in my life for over 10 years and Jim has never done me wrong. Currently I have a great pair of aviators that I adore and I am stoked that they are current right now. I never had the right shape face for the big , oversized Jackie O glasses that all the little girls wear, so am happy that "my" sunglasses are popular.

Solstice Sunglasses has a link to the trends for Spring and Summer on their site right now so check it out for some great finds. I have my eye on a great Marc Jacobs pair that I will surely have to tell my husband came from TJ Maxx if I buy them. What he don't know won't hurt him. So if your like me and are wearing jeans when "Hip to be Square" was a top 40's hit, then splurge on sunglasses and a small part of you can rock the runway.


Reading is Fundemental - Except on Sunday

I feel like I have taken the library for granted. I recently took a trip to the local branch with my oldest son and marveled at the fact that a system based on a free loan has worked so well for so many years. It's really one of the only places you can go without a dime in your pocket and walk out the door with the promise of returning borrowed items. Try it at Macy's-- it does not work.

So it's sad to see budget cuts impacting local libraries. Recently it was announced that the Quincy Public Library would close on Sunday due to budget cuts. There was also the report that a number of Boston Public Library branches would close (of course impacting the one closest to my house).

Quincy library to close Sundays - Quincy, MA - The Patriot Ledger

Boston library branches could close amid cuts - The Boston Globe

I know there are some hard budget decisions to be made. And frankly, books are becoming less and less relevant (more on my love of the Kindle later). But there is something charming about walking the stacks and finding that book you forgot you wanted to read.  The crinkle of the plastic protective cover. And that funny smell that library books all seem to have. Should the brick and mortar library someday be replaced with a digital version (download your library books to your IPad and they expire in three weeks!!!) I suppose some money could be saved. It's just not going to be... or smell... the same.



Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Hey look kids, Big Ben, Parliament." - Clark Griswold

Before I had kids I remember saying to my husband, "I don't want anything to change about our lifestyle. I want to travel just as much. I want to spend as much time on my hair. I want to watch the same TV that I would have if kids were not in the room."

Obviously, I was completely mistaken.

Two and a half years later, my oldest son controls the TV remote with an iron fist. My hair has been in a ponytail for the better part of two years. And travel... well actually that's the one thing that remained somewhat the same.

Before kids I was always on the way to someplace else. Business trips blurred into pleasure trips and frequent flier miles added up. I would stand at the front of the line with my gold encrusted magic flier card and shrug as families with entire living rooms for carry on baggage watched me board with only a laptop and purse. I glared at kids who screamed on flights. I mentally willed the woman with the infant in arms to sit anywhere but next to me. 

In my second life as a parent,  my gold travel magical front-ofthe-line card has expired and I have joined the masses of families waiting for the red carpet business travelers to make their way onto the plane. Instead of glaring, I get glared at.

I love to travel. I think I may have some gypsy blood in me and I want more than anything to pass this love to my children. So far we have done the safe family trips. Disney, Disney, and Disney. Beach vacations and the mother of all vacations, Hawaii. One location remains uncharted, Europe. So it was with interest that I read the article, Travel to Europe on a Family Budget in the May 2010 issue of Parents magazine. 

After reading the article I realized that I have been playing my vacations child-safe. Europe is possible with small children, you just have to be smart about your choices. I was thinking in terms of big foreign cities with even bigger toddler melt-downs -no thanks. However, there are more than enough alternatives off the big city grid to satisfy all ages. 

Take Ireland for example. I have been two times as an adult. Dublin - loved it. But now? With kids? What would we even do? Well skip Dublin completely of course. What kid wouldn't love a horse and buggy ride around the Aran Islands? Or explore some really old castles or even older caves. It didn't dawn on me until reading Ms. Klurman's article that this same logic could be applied to most every European country.

The question really is, is traveling overseas with children under 10 worth the hassle? Depends. If your goal is to sit in a Parisian bistro, smoke cigarettes and drink a glass of red wine... well, a toddler may cramp your style. I would suggest hitting up Epcot faux-France and pretend. They have red wine. A smaller version of the Eiffel Tour and a smoking section if you must.

Chances are I will stick with the kid friendly vacations for now. But as the boys get older and the itch to broaden our travel repertoire grows I will think back on my pre-kids travel self with fondness and chart a new travel path that the whole family can enjoy.

Happy Travels!



Is Disney World just for kids? Oh hellllllllll no!

When Davina got engaged and started her quest for the perfect, low key destination wedding I crossed my fingers, rubbed Buddhas belly for luck and prayed to the Mouse gods that Disney World would somehow end up on her short list of options. Well don't you know that her quest for a tropical setting would lead her , and me, right up to the doors of the Polynesian Resort. Buddha...many thanks.

Once her decision was made of where to have her wedding at the beautiful Poly this naturally called for a girls trip. When I say girls trip I don't mean a caravan of biddies trying to get their groove back, I mean just Davina and me..really you don't need more than just your bestie. Because the wedding was going to be miles from our Massachusetts homes we decided that of course we had to go check out the hotel rooms and possible restaurants for a reception dinner. We absolutely had to stand in the spot where the ceremony would be. While we're their why not check out the spas and salons too? And no trip would be complete without riding all the rides as well. This was right after Pirates of the Caribbean was refurbished and the animatronic Captain Jack was put in. Oh did we ride that more then just a few times..

So much planning so little time.

But really this first "girls only" trip to Disney would pave the way for more and create some memories that will last forever. There are a multitude of "grown up" activities at Disney World so don't write it off for your next girls trip. We of course did the parks and rode all of our favorites because really no trip is complete without it. We also checked out the Spa at the Swan and Dolphin. Ahhhh...massages and me time. Lounging by the pool with a few tropical drinks before getting ourselves ready for a FANTASTIC dinner at California Grill. Our server was phenomenal and I think just a wee bit happy to encounter 2 girls without kids who wanted to drink some fine wine. Is there really any better way to end your day than watching the fireworks from the observation deck there with a glass of champagne? The answer would be no.

California Grill would become the place for Davina's post-wedding dinner. Because of our wonderful experience there it's now our favorite restaurant to go to and we plan a visit each girls trip. Husbands are also allowed to tag along too.

The long and short of it is Disney World is not just for kids or families..but for friends looking to get together, reconnect, relax, revel in feeling like a kid again, and in our case plan what would be the best day of ones life. Thanks for letting me be a part of it all D. Girls trip 2011 coming soon!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Go Go Kidz TravelMate Review

There was a time in my life when I would check out another woman's pocketbook or shoes. So imagine my surprise when I found myself ignoring the Louis Vuitton carry on bag and instead checking out another woman's infant car seat hand roller. I watched with admiration as a mother pulled her two children through the airport. Both kids snugly attached in their car seat, this super-mom rolled them easily through the check-in line at Orlando's airport. "I must have that", I thought to myself.

Knowing an airline trip was coming up with a car seat required at our destination, I started my research. All signs pointed to a giant headache manually carrying car seat, stroller, baby, and luggage. So what was the magical device this woman used to transport her children?

Turns out, she was using a Go Go Kidz TravelMate.

What is is: A piece of plastic with two wheels that attaches to your car seat. The buckle that holds the Go Go Kidz and the car seat together is pretty simple. If you have ever ratcheted ski boots, this will seem strikingly similar.

What it is not: Useful in any other capacity than pulling (or pushing) through airports and train stations.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the equivalent of the invention of the disposable diaper), I would give it around a 5. It does the job it is supposed to do and it freed up our hands for wrangling everything else. Mission complete. However, there were some things I would love to see the 2.0 version do.

  • It cannot roll onto the plane. Not really their fault as the plane aisles are small. You just need to know that there will be some disassembling and reassembling on your journey.
  • It cannot be attached to the car seat while on the plane. I would love a version of this product that could somehow transform itself into plane seat compatible so no overhead space is needed.
  • It does not like to lean against walls. When not attached to you car seat the product is in the way... all the time. something that prevents it from rolling so you can lean it against a wall would be nice.
  • It does not fit every car seat ever made. A tall order, I know.
  • There are x-ray machines that this product will not fit through. We had to have it hand checked by security at Logan. It went through fine in Maui... go figure.

All in all, I was thankful I had this with me. Until they make a car seat that can convert into a roll-on (now there's an idea) I say go for it if you have the extra $70. It saved some headaches, it was easy to hook up and take off (for the most part) and I received a few envious glances myself as I rolled with ease through the airport.

Some notes on where to buy: I bought my version through Amazon. I tried the Go Go Kidz website and found the check-out process clunky. I trust Amazon and they delivered the product within a week.

Happy Travels!


Antics of the Disney sweepstakes Queen

I'll start by saying that it's no secret to all that I love sweepstakes... better yet I love any sweepstakes involving Disney World. At the end of the day as I am huddled over my computer, feverishly entering one after the other I can hear my husband sighing behind me, and even without looking at him I know his eyes are a rolling. I have no excuses - my name is Karen and I am a Disney addict.
Upon searching for the newest sweeps to enter I happened to stumble upon this one on the visitorlando site.


It's fantastic for many reasons but the main one being you can donate to the smile train directly on it. Being an educator I have seen several children throughout my years suffering with cleft and lip pallete. They however were lucky enough to have the resources to get them surgically repaired. So many others are not. Check the site out and while your there make a donation. It's a very worthy cause and you'll be helping out some children who want nothing more than to grin from ear to ear. Enter the contest while your there too but if you win the trip to Orlando you just have to take me.



Friday, April 23, 2010

Nick Drake - Not Your Average Children's Music

On my quest to avoid purchasing a Wiggles CD for my two year old I stumbled down the rabbit hole of modern artists moonlighting as children's musicians.

There are the obvious ones such as They Might be Giants and Barenaked Ladies. Both artists have some great kids albums available that will not make your ears bleed.

Ninjas - being one of my favs...

I recognize that I am exposing my son to these artists for my own sanity and musical snobbery, but it feels good to look outside the itsy bitsy spider box. I've burned him CD's with songs I've dug up on ITunes. I've also gone and thumbed through my old CD collection for anything that may fit for a "night night" CD. Coldplay, Nina Simone, Miles Davis being a few that seemed to fit the bill.

However, now that he is well into his two year old months, he has started developing an opinion on what he wants to listen to. Green Day in the car, no thank you. He'll tolerate top 40 pop, but only for a small amount of time. Though I hold the keys to the musical kingdom, he is really the one who dictates the playlist.

Each night before bed we put a CD on. I had a mellow Disney CD that seemed to soothe him as an infant. That CD was replaced by a Baby Einstein classical medley. Most recently the playlist has taken a surprising turn. For reasons unknown Nick Drake's Pink Moon has been in the CD player for the past few weeks.

It never dawned on me that my son was actually appreciting the music and not just letting the sounds fill the background before sleep. He's formed opinions-- "Nine" is how he refers to his favorite song (the track number on the CD display). He's memorized lyrics-- or rather made up what he understand the lyrics to be. And he asks me to hum Pink Moon songs at random times during the day. For all intensive purposes, my two year old is a Nick Drake fan.

This does not mean he will turn down a chance to sing Wheels on the Bus or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. He's no fool and please, he's only two. Should he request Barney's Greatest Hits at some point in the future, I suppose I would have to give in. I would just be sure and look for the version that included the duets with Rhianna and produced by Jay-Z.



Vogue Letter to the Editor

The most recent issue of Vogue (May 2010) had an article on premature babies. The author discussed her experiences with her premature daughter and the comfort it gave her to dress her small daughter in outfits outside of the standard hospital wear. 

Having just given birth to a preemie, I really related to this article and was compelled to write a letter to the editor  (and besides, a Letter to the Editor may be my only chance to be within the pages of Vogue). 

I'll be sure and update this post with the article I referenced (if I can find it) and any updates if Vogue decides to use it. 


(Response to the article Small Wonders)
I started reading Veronica Chambers article Small Wonder hesitantly. I could not help but wonder how on earth commentary on premature babies would fit in the pages of Vogue. Having just had a premature baby 6 weeks ago, I am hyper-sensitive to the emotional rollercoaster a premature baby can bring into a new parent’s life. Thankfully the author’s tone was just right.

One thing a parent of a healthy, full term baby cannot understand is what it feels like to be a helpless outsider to your newborns care. You watch as a team of nurses and doctors take care of everything.  Sleepless nights and 3AM feedings are replaced with a closely placed telephone and the NICU’s phone number nearby.

It was because of this helpless feeling that I brought my small son a striped beanie hat to wear while in the NICU. The hat was too big for his head but I stuck it on him anyway. It was a small statement in a huge situation. This was my son. This was his hat and I, as his mother, felt slightly less helpless.

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