Friday, September 19, 2014

How to Take a Disney Vacation without Planning

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When I decided that I was going to do a series of Disney posts counting down to our next Disney vacation, I asked my friends on Facebook what they wanted to know about a Disney vacation. And one of them through me for a loop, she wanted to know how to go on a Disney vacation without the overwhelming amount of planning that seems to be involved.

As someone who loves planning the vacation just as much as I like taking it, it's hard to imagine not planning anything. But then I remembered the first time we took Jackson to Disney World, the trip was pretty much a whim that I didn't do too much planning. So here goes, challenge accepted how to plan a Disney Vacation without Planning.

Disney vacation without planning

Buy a Guidebook. I get it you don't want to plan but you can't take a trip to a place you haven't been without knowing something first. I recommend The Unofficial Guide to Disney World with Kids. This book offers great tips and touring plans. Read the plans you don't have to follow them but this book is full of great advice. Even someone like me who has been 20 + times gets a lot out of it.

Go During the "Off" Season. While I get this may not be possible but if you can go when it's not crazy busy you will definitely see and do so much more without planning. We tend to visit in October and in January which are great times to go and avoid crowds. Also check out a Disney crowd planner so you can determine when it won't be crazy busy. Avoid summer if possible.

Get to the park at opening. Even with a plan I think you should get to the park at opening. One you get to see the park open, at the Magic Kingdom this experience is particularly magical and I get teary eyed every time I experience rope drop. Two because the park isn't crowded yet, you have first dibs on rides. The first time we took my son we got to the park at opening most days with no Fast Passes or plans and were able to ride about 6 rides or more before we took a break for lunch.

Take a Break. Just cause you have no plans doesn't mean you need to run through the park trying to do it all. Break around lunch time if you got to the park at opening then you will be heading out as everyone is pouring in. Go back and enjoy the pool or the resort or take nap.

Get a Park Hopper. The park hopper allows you to go to more than one park a day. This will cost you a bit more per ticket but it is definitely worth it not to be locked into one park for the whole day. Having to see only one park for day will definitely leave you feeling like you must do it all. Having the hopper gives you freedom to go with the flow without feeling like you need to check things off, so that you can finish a park.

Dine Quick Service Style. Disney is known for having many really great dining options but many restaurants require reservations 180 days in advance and they mean it. But Disney also has a lot of great Quick Service dining options that can be just as fun and delicious as the sit down meals, without the need for reservations. Quick Service meals, also known as counter service offer great eats at a lower price and shorter dining experience. In the coming weeks I will share my favorite Quick Service meals.

There's an App For That. Have you checked out the My Disney Experience App? This app is a must have for traveling in the parks. It has maps, wait times and you can make Fast Passes and meal reservations from it. Use the app to check wait times while on the go.

Always Ask. If you don't have reservations for Be Our Guest but you happen to be near there at dinner ask what the wait is, I have heard plenty of stories of people being able to walk in. And this goes for any of the restaurants. Don't assume because you didn't plan that you are shut out of all the reserved activities. If there is something you really want to do call guest services and ask. On a few trips I've made last minute reservations at great restaurants and gotten my son a hair cut at Harmony Barber Shop with just a few days notice. So don't think you are shut out, after all this is Disney magic does happen.

Just Go. Seriously just go, don't plan, don't worry, don't stress. It is vacation after all and I really do believe that the best memories are the ones that weren't planned.

My sons first trip to Disney was completely unplanned and it was easily the best vacation of our life. You have to remember that whether you plan every moment or go with the flow the memories you make along the way are what you will remember not thing things you might be missing.

Want more Disney Tips and Tricks, visit my Disney Travel posts for more!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

8 Lessons I've Learned in 8 Years of Marriage

I find it hard to believe that our wedding was 8 years ago. That 8 years ago we said "I do" in front of all our friends and family. I remember getting lots of marriage advice and thinking we don't need that, we got this. After all we had been together for 7 years and lived together for 2. But marriage is different than dating and I've learned a lot these past 8 years.

8 years of marriage

1. Socks will still not be picked up. You know the annoying habits your husband had before you married him? Well, they don't disappear after you say "I do", in fact they stay just the same and they might even get worse as now he is more "relaxed" around you.

2. Speaking of relaxed you will likely prolong how long you go between shaving your legs and the number of days you wear the same sweatpants will multiply. He may not shower on his day off and and yes he will likely start farting in front of you. The impressing you stage is over.

3. When you have children your love for your spouse will change. The feeling of having created another human being that you would both die for is pretty powerful stuff. Watching your spouse and your child together sometimes will make you teary-eyed.

4. The words, "I'm going out tonight" won't matter anymore. When we were dating I always wondered where he was going and who he was with and why I couldn't come too. Now I, thank god I have the Netflix's all to myself. You'll wonder why he doesn't go out on his own more often.

5. The list of things that aren't worth fighting about will grow. I remember when we dated where the smallest thing could spur an argument. After 8 years of marriage I know which arguments I won't win and which aren't worth having. Note to self 99% of them aren't worth having.

6. You will complete each other sentences, finish each others thoughts and eat off each others plate. There is a comfort in knowing someone for so long that they know all your likes and dislikes. We tend to pick the same restaurants, activities and adventures. Our separate interests have become shared.

7. It's important to go to bed. No, not that kind of bed, though that's important too but not really the kind of thing I talk about here on the blog. But go to bed at the same time even when you may not want to. There is something to be said about going to be together and waking up together.

8. Love changes. It's not that immediate honeymoon phase love but a comfortable, stronger more resilient love.

One of the things I love most about marriage is seeing how much we've grown and changed together. Seeing how becoming parents has made our relationship stronger. There is a joy in being a family, that I can't really put into words. Marriage isn't always easy but these past 8 years have been pretty amazing.

What have you learned about marriage?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Food For Sleep - Review

Disclosure: I was given a 6 pack of Food For Sleep to review, all opinions are my own. 

If you have read the blog for awhile you may know that I'm fairly obsessed with getting a good nights sleep. More so I'm obsessed with my son getting a good nights sleep. A regular bedtime, bedtime routine and getting enough sleep are all so beneficial to kids. It keeps them focused in school, keeps them healthy and generally makes them less cranky.

But what about Moms? I know getting enough sleep definitely makes me more productive and less cranky but, I'm not always the best at getting my 8 hours in. I like to stay up late, I like to get up before everyone else in the house does. And I have a really hard time falling asleep. It seems that just as my head hits the pillow, is when all the things that didn't get done on my to-do list suddenly come back to me. I go through phases where it's really difficult for me to get a good nights sleep and have been known to take sleep aids as needed. Which I'm not a big fan of because they leave me feeling groggy and grumpy, and in my book that's just as bad as cranky.

My own sleep issues are the reason I was excited when I had the opportunity to review Food for Sleep, a "science-based recipe" for sleep. Food for sleep is, like it's name says, derived from foods that will help you sleep. Personally I know I would rather get a good nights sleep from food rather than from medication. I love the idea of getting a good nights sleep naturally.

Food for Sleep provided me with a sample and the first night I took it I was feeling pretty wound up from a busy weekend and an upcoming week that had a really full schedule. Food for Sleep provided me with a cute diary to log my sleep patterns so that I could track when I went to bed, what time I fell asleep, how easily I fell asleep and if I woke up in the middle of the night. There is also a place to track when you had your last caffeine or alcohol, both big inhibitors of sleep. Yes, even that glass of red wine that you think will help you sleep can actually make it harder to sleep.

At first I was a little wary about drinking it as I'm not a huge fan of cherries one of the main ingredients and I had never tried anything like this for sleep. Also it is a brownish color and does contain some pulp, again because it is made from food, shaking it up before drinking it helped with the pulp.

After drinking it I had a great night of sleep and didn't even wake up once which is really, really rare for me. And when I did wake up I didn't feel all the side effects of having taken something to make me sleep. Instead I was well rested and happy. And my experiences have been similar on nights that I've needed a little extra help going to sleep.

Here are 5 Reasons Why I Like Food For Sleep:

  • The ingredients are on the back of the bottle. I don't know about you but I like knowing what I'm taking. 
  • I recognize all the ingredients on the back of the bottle. There's no wondering, "hey what is this stuff". I know exactly what it is. 
  • It's made in the USA. 
  • It does not need to be refrigerated. I like that I can keep it in my medicine cabinet for nights when I'm having trouble sleeping. 
  • Food for Sleep provides you with an owners manual which explains how and why it works. 
I think it's incredible that more and more often we are using food to cure what ails us. I love knowing that I have a food or diet based option as opposed to taking a medication. To know that I can get a good nights rest and not wake up feeling cranky is a huge bonus to me. 

Do you have trouble sleeping?

Want to try Food For Sleep for yourself? You can order Food For Sleep for $24.99 for a package of 6 2.5 oz containers.