Disney Prep: Secrets & Extra Stuff to do at the Park

The Chocolates will be Disney bound in just a few short weeks. I have been up to my eyeballs in Disney for the last few weeks reading websites, forums, books to get us ready for this trip. To be honest I think I am just as excited, if not more so, than my children (since one doesn’t know what Disney is and the other only has a vague notion). I will be doing a series of posts leading up to our trip about what we are bringing, what our tentative schedule breakdown will look like as we balance a 4 year old and a 1 year old, our hotel review (we are staying in a family suite at the Art of Animation), food reviews, photography tips (and fails) and anything else that comes up.  This post is dedicated to Disney extras or secrets I have been trying to find before we arrive.

Ever since I learned about the Disney store opening ceremony, I realized that Disney truly is a place that wants to make magical memories for children. If they do a special ceremony at their stores, you have to imagine their parks must have a few wonderful things hidden up their sleeves. Since Drake and Juliet are both still young and not really Disney lovers to begin with, I am really keen on finding ways to make this trip memorable for them. These are some tips I’ve gathered:

- If you board the Liberty Square (a large replica steamboat), children who ask may be allowed to go into the steering room with the wheel and get to “steer” the boat. They also get a certificate at the end as a souvenir.

(image via disneyworld)

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Moving House with a Toddler

I’m writing this from a phone. We moved to our new home this week and I have no idea where the charger to our laptop is hiding!

A few weeks ago I shared our family’s plans to downsize. With the housing market in recovery, I did not expect that our house would sell anytime soon. But much to our surprise, we had an offer within three weeks, and after some hectic negotiations, we accepted! It took about six weeks, from listing to closing, to sell our house. We had about three weekends to pack up. It was a pretty eventful time for us! Here some of the things that worked out for us, plus the things that we found difficult:

Purging: I took moving as an opportunity to get rid of a lot of the clutter around our house. I figured each thing I got rid of would be one fewer item to pack. Also, our new place is quite a bit smaller than our old home, and we don’t have a lot of storage space, so it was necessary to pare down. Over the course of about three weeks we got rid of probably a third of our belongings. The first two weeks we cleared out all of our valuable, but unused items. The weekend before we moved we had a garage sale. We priced things aggressively to ensure they sold. We also donated a lot of odds and ends. Now that we are in the new house I am planning to get rid of even more stuff as I unpack and can better determine what we need and where we have a surplus.

Use it all up: Once we put our house on the market, I made it my goal to use what we had instead of buying anything new. We managed to eat almost everything in our fridge, deep freezer, and pantry, which made it a lot easier to manage moving those appliances and their contents. Same goes for beauty products, medicine, gift wrap, craft items, and office supplies.

For the last few days, buy shelf-stable foodstuffs: We ate a lot of peanut butter sandwiches in the days leading up to our move. We also did a lot of takeout and fast food, but any time we could make a meal out of food we had on hand was healthier and better for our budget.

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The Every Single Summer Day Dress

This is the type of dress that is a total no brainer to just throw on. But once you do, you end up looking like it was a very well thought out outfit. Dresses that you can wear every day, dress up or down and still be really comfy. Every day dresses that can be layered and kept for years to come. Basically when I say Every Single Day Summer Dresses, I mean every-single-day.

no.1 Target – no.2 Madewell - no.3 ASOS – no.4 F21 – no.5 Madewell – no.6 The Gap – no.7 ASOS – no.8 Old Navy – no.9 Aritzia – no.10 F21 – no.11 ASOS – no.12 JCrew

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10 Books for the Animal Loving Toddler

Reading (or at least the telling of stories and looking at pictures in a book) takes up a big portion of our day here in the Grizzly Bear household. I’m not surprised to walk into the children’s room first thing in the morning to be met by Patrick holding out a book out to me. It doesn’t always mean ‘read this right now’ since both my cubs usually have ferocious appetites in the morning that need to be fed right. this. instant. But I love that it shows his interest to learn. Olivia has even gotten in on the ‘bring-mom-a-book-and-plop-down-in-her-lap’ action. She may not sit still long enough to actually read the book, but she does enjoy flipping the pages and pointing arbitrarily at things.

Both cubs seem to share a very big love for books involving animals or with animals as the main character. I would say that eight times out of ten I’m handed a book full of animals, and not just one animal but several different kinds of animals! So I thought I might compile a list of our favorite animal books for younger and older toddlers:

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Banana Coffee Cake with Chia, Hemp and Flax

Why is coffee cake so delicious?

Is it because it comes alongside a mug of coffee or cup of tea? Is it the light, fluffy cake, or the crunchy sugary topping? Is it subtle spice, or sticky glaze?

Yes. Yes to all of those. Coffee cake is one of those treats that is always good, always appreciated, and always devoured. And because it tastes so good, you can sneak a bunch of healthy ingredients in there, too! You know… if you felt so inclined.

My naturopath encouraged me to use chia, flax and hemp seeds (PowerSeeds) in baking, salads, smoothies and oatmeal, and since they lend a nutty flavour, I thought they would be pretty tasty in this coffee cake. If you don’t have/want to use the seeds, that’s fine – just add an additional 1/4 cup of flour to the recipe.

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Adventures in Potty-Training: Part One

For at least a year I have been dreading the “big transitions” that come at 2 years old. I know every child hits these milestones at different points, but I figured we’d start to tackle them after Little Piñata turned two. Just two days after his birthday party we started weaning from the pacifier and it went really well! My plan was to wait until August to start potty-training because we were traveling some in July and didn’t want to take long road trips with a potty-training toddler.

But, a few weeks ago, Little P started unexpectedly showing some signs of readiness. When he was about 18 months old we would put him on the potty before bathtime (we have a soft seat that goes on a regular toilet seat that we got as a hand-me-down that is similar to this one), but he only went a couple of times and they were definitely both accidents since he seemed very confused as to why we were cheering for him and giving him a special cracker. But, after he turned two, we started just putting him on the toilet every night before bed in preparation of what I thought would be the “disaster” of potty-training in the weeks to come. And he actually started peeing every night, which we took as a great sign!

Then, one day when we came in from playing in the baby pool I put him on the potty thinking maybe he held his pee the whole time in the pool, and he went on the potty again! I did the same every time I brought him in from playing in the pool in the following week and each time he would go! Of course, each time he went we made a HUGE deal, called all of our extended family members and gave him a Bunny Cracker (which is a very special treat in our house). We also took this as a sign that he was more ready that we thought he was.

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The first year with two kids

I can relate to Mrs. Yoyo’s recent post on having two young children and still being in the weeds. A friend of mine said “being a mom of two kids is no joke” and that really hit me; it’s so true. Things are wonderful, but the first year of Summer’s life absolutely flew by faster than I thought it would. I’ve been so busy while time has been passing, and I feel like I haven’t had much time to reflect. These days my mantra is pretty much keep moving. I’ve sort of realized that when I get behind on chores, meal planning, errands etc., it amplifies and creates stress for all of us. As a mom of two, the biggest thing I’ve learned this year is prep work is key to keep on top of everything and avoid unnecessary stress for me, the kids and my husband. Here are a couple of other things that I’ve really learned to manage better this year.

Staggering naps. Alright, admit it — we all look forward to one of the most glorious times of day — nap time! I am aware of the brutal fact that some babies follow their own agenda and absolutely laugh at your “schedule,” and every baby probably has times of nap protest due to teething/overtiredness/other random problem, so this absolutely will not work sometimes. However, the best thing I figured out this year was to stagger naps so that they overlap. In the beginning, when Summer was really little she needed two naps so it was pretty easy to get both kids down around the same time in the afternoon. Ahh, some much needed downtime for me… until she dropped to one nap at 10 months. So after a bit of trial and error, I realized the best time to put her down was around 11:30am. Gemma could be persuaded to nap for a shorter amount of time if I put her down earlier than usual- around 12:30pm. This has been giving me 45min-an hour to eat lunch and rest, and has even moved bedtime up for both girls.

Combining errands. When you go from one kid to two, taking two kids in and out of car seats/shopping carts/carriers is pretty physically draining. I order a lot more online, do bigger grocery runs, and try to combine a few errands into one trip so that I don’t have to run out every day.

Prepping meals while feeding. My ideal is to have meals where I sit down, but right now that’s just not always the case. In general I get to have dinner as a sit down meal with the family which is really nice–when it works out. :) I use most of the time that the girls are eating during the day to cook. I make them meals and then when I get them seated, I turn on some music and they eat and laugh and I start cooking. At breakfast time I pack lunches while feeding the girls, and at afternoon snack time I prep dinner and they have snacks. Then Gemma starts helping me cook while Summer practices feeding herself. These are actually some of my best moments of the day; we all have a lot of fun and the kids enjoy trying new food and playing games in the kitchen.

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