Monday, March 31, 2014

Menu Monday

The weather is going to be so nice this week.  And I am glad--I am ready to play outside and I'm ready to put away the heavy casseroles and soups for a little bit.  Here's our menu for this week!

Monday-bbq chicken sandwiches with cheesy spinach and fries

Tuesday-quesadillas (using the leftover cheesy spinach and bbq chicken)

Wednesday-Mahi tacos from Puttin' on the G.R.I.T.S.

Thursday-turkey burgers and veggies

Friday-leftovers, or breakfast foods, or pizza--I'm leaving our options open

Saturday-grilled cheese sandwiches--I'm making mine with pesto, but the kids will probably just eat plain.  The Professor is having some friends over, so they are grilling out a late dinner.

What are you fixing this week?

Peek A Boo

Peek A Boo!!  I see you.

You don't see me?  Well, you aren't looking in the right place.  Today, I'm talking about how the song "Let It Go," has made me into a better parent.  Check it out here on the Knoxville Mom's Blog.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Where Am I Today?

Today I'm over at Knoxville Mom's Blog posting on Feeding Twin Babies!  I hope you'll join me and share your feeding story.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Menu Monday

Seems I lost my blogging mojo after Disney. Now I'm back with our menu this week. Happy eats!!

Sunday-I fixed a frozen dinner. Shrimp voila for the win.

Monday-cheese enchiladas

Tuesday-breakfast for dinner (aka brinner)

Wednesday-chicken breasts stuffed with spinach & sundried tomato feta cheese served along with vegetables

Thursday-bow tie fiesta (making an extra for a friend that recently had twins)

Friday-turkey burgers & fries

Saturday-baked chicken, broccoli casserole & carrots 

What are you having for dinner this week?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Catch Me at KMB!!

Sorry to leave y'all hanging after our Disney recap.

Poor S had bronchitis and F & C had ear infections.  And none of us got much rest--so I chose sleep over blogging.

I'll try to have a Menu Monday post up later today, but now you can head over to Knoxville Mom's Blog to read more from me.  I'm talking The Humbled Mom--you know, when your daughter tells you you are a better snuggler that dad because your tummy is softer.  Yeah, that.

Be sure to leave a comment on that post too.  I'd love to hear your humbling stories.

Happy Manic Monday!!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Disney World Tips

I'm going to start off by saying I am no Disney expert.  Far from it.  We didn't do a lot of research in to going-other than picking a date and choosing rides for our FP+.  So, while these are my opinions, I suggest you do some additional research on what might be right for you.

When to go
Since S isn't in school yet, we were able to take advantage of going during an off season.  Late January/early February and September (after Labor Day) seem to be the best times to go to avoid the crowds. There are probably other times, but I have been during each of these times and it has been nice.

Staying on or off Disney property
We prefer to stay on Disney in a value resort.  Read about Pop Century here. We flew and took the Magical Express from the airport to the hotel.  They delivered our luggage and we didn't even lift a finger.  Now, if you are flying in late afternoon, I suggest you not use the luggage service--or pack your pjs in your carry on.  Bedtime was later than we wanted the first night because we were waiting on luggage, but hey, it's vacation.  And since we were with a younger child, we were needing an earlier bedtime than usual.
Also, staying on Disney gives you the opportunity to use their transportation to the parks (or not).  Depending on your hotel, you could use the bus, boat, or monorail.  I've seen comments about the bus being too crowded, etc.  It wasn't a problem for us, and yes, we stood on a few rides.

Dining plan
Our Quick Service plan was included in the package we purchased through Disney World.  Was it worth it? To us, yes.  We liked having everything paid for upfront.  But, portions are huge.  We had some leftover meals that we used to purchase snacks and cookies bring home.  If you get the table service plan, your Character Meals are included in that.  The difference between Quick Service and Table--basically if you have someone bring you food, then you are Table Service.  Quick Service is kinda like fast-food.  We had 2 meals & 1 snack/day per person.  We packed breakfast bars and since we had free drinks at the resort (in the refillable mugs), we just ate in the room most every morning.  And you aren't limited to follow the meal parameters.  You basically get a lump sum and can use them however you want (all in one day, ok!).

Magic Bands
If you are staying at a Disney resort, you will have a Magic Band.  These bands are your lifeline.  You use them to open your room, gain admission to the park (plus scan your finger), use of the Fast Pass+, and pay for food (plus PIN code).  We also attached our credit card to The Professor's band so that he could make purchases in park (Minnie ears, etc) without having to carry a credit card or cash.  If you are purchasing food or other items, there is a PIN code required--so that way if someone else has your band, they can't make purchases with it unless they know the code.  We would let S swipe her band, and then we would type in the code.  She felt big--like she was paying for our food.
We customized our bands ahead of time and were able to pick colors.  If you decided not to do this, they are a generic grey.  However, the Disney gift shops sell things to spruce up your bands, if you decide to do that.

Fast Pass +
If you've been to Disney, you may be familiar with the Fast Pass system.  You would scan your admission ticket and then get a paper admission to a ride for a later time.  That way you wouldn't have to stand in line.  Well, the paper machines are gone.  Now there is FP+!  You are limited to 3 FP+ per park per day.  If you are a Disney guest, you can reserve your FP+ times 60 days in advance of your arrival.  These are loaded onto your Magic Bands and you are able to make changes as much as you like.  If you are not staying at Disney, from what I understand, you will need to go to the FP+ kiosks with your admission ticket and choose rides on-site.  Be warned--there are lines to the FP+ kiosks.  We downloaded the free My Disney Experience app and was able to make our FP+ changes with that and didn't have to stand in line at the kiosk.  I recommend you do that--it was such a time saver!!!

Character Autographs
Disney sells autograph books that you can buy there (park, hotel, Downtown Disney) or you can even make your own.  We didn't do an autograph book.  We had the characters we met sign a picture mat.  I'm going to let S pick her favorite picture and then frame it with this mat and hang it in her room.  And I have to thank Pinterest for this idea--totally wan't mine.  I kept it between cardboard so it didn't bend and then that inside a plastic bag so it wouldn't get wet if we were in the rain.  The Professor carried it in his backpack.

I searched quite a bit online for the best time to go (value/low crowds) and what attractions needed a FP+ reservation.  Here are a list of the websites and FREE apps that I used.

1. Morgan Crutchfield was such a big help.  I met her through a friend on FB & Twitter and she answered so many questions for me.  She has a website DVC Central, a FB page here, and you are welcome to tweet her here.  Seriously--she knows EVERYTHING!!!!

2. Easy WDW--this website is where I found the crowd calendar that we used.  Also lots of useful information.

3. WDW Prep School--this had lots of information, touring guides, etc.  A great resource.

4. My Disney Experience--I also downloaded this as an app.  It had all of our trip information on it, where I managed our FP+ reservations, ride wait times, character times, park maps, photos--everything we needed before, during, and after Disney.  We also ordered personalized park maps from this site too.

5. SeeYaReelSoon--Joe and Ashley, I don't even have words.  I love them so much.  After we booked tickets, I wanted to show S what Disney was all about, so I YouTubed it.  After scanning through what seemed like a million videos, I found these two.  And y'all, we were hooked on them.  They release a new video every Wednesday night--sometimes they are just at their house answering questions, but a lot of times they are vlogging in the park from a recent trip!!  We get to go on rides with them, visit characters with them, and eat with them.  S calls them the funny people at Disney because they are so cute and make us laugh.  And they have a website with a Dining Calculator and other tips.

6. DIS discussion board--I also downloaded this as an app on my phone.  I never joined or left a message, but it was fun to look at and see what people were talking about.

There are quite a few things I didn't touch on.  We didn't purchase the Memory Maker photo package--we just took our own pictures or asked a Cast Member to use our camera.  The pictures the photographers took of us are able to be purchased, if we choose.  We also didn't use a stroller.  S walked the entire time we were there.  I'm very surprised because Disney is ALOT of walking--especially for an almost 5 year old.

Also, Disney World is expensive--even if you go off season and stay at the value resorts.  We had saved money to go, but for our next trip, I am going to pay a little at a time.  Our local Kroger sells Disney gift cards that can be used toward your stay.  And certain times of the year, I get 4x fuel points for gift card purchases.  Ch-ching!! Paying for Disney and getting a gas discount.  Woo Hoo!!

I hope you enjoyed our journey to Disney World!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pop Century

We stayed at the Pop Century resort.  It is part of Disney and offers lots of amenities we were looking for.

As part of the Disney group of resorts, these were some of our amenities
*ride the FREE Magical Express from the airport to the hotel (and back to the airport)
*free drink refills in our souviner mugs (at the resort only)
*opportunity to use Disney transportation from hotel to park/Downtown Disney
*Exra-Magic hours (hours the parks are open only for Disney resort guests)
*free Wi-Fi
*and many others

Pop Century is one of the value resorts at Disney and that was a big appeal to us.  We knew we wouldn't be in the resort a lot, basically we just needed a place to sleep.

The rooms at Pop Century are small-at least ours was. But for 2 adults and a small child, we were fine.  We would have been fine with two small children (two double beds).  If we had taken the twins, it would have been difficult to find a place for a couple of pack & plays, or really even one, unless you wanted to close off the bathroom.

Pop Century resort also offered a large food court area that was considered Quick Service and part of our dining plan.  We ate there more than I thought we would, and they had a nice variety that suited all of us.
Enjoying Mickey Mouse waffles al fresco on our last day there.

Pop Century had a theme of the 50s-90s and was decorated with some of the biggest trends of each of those decades. We stayed in the 70s which was very close to the Classic Hall.  The Classic Hall is where the front desk, food court, gift shop, and arcade are located.

Lady and the Tramp

Play-doh and Mowgli & Baloo

Mickey Mouse phone and Big Wheel

Roger Rabbit and a Walkman


Pop Century has 3 swimming pools spread out throughout the resort.  We were closest to the Hippy Dippy Pool in the 60s area (steps from the Classic Hall).  The pool was at most almost 5 ft deep.  And there was a kiddie pool area that was much like a big saucer in the ground.  No climbing in or out.

Hippy Dippy Pool

Tomorrow I'll be sharing tips, explaining Magic Bands, and trying to help you understand Fast Pass +.