Posts by christy:

Top 10 Tips for Visiting Disneyland with Toddlers

Disneyland Tips for Toddlers

Disneyland.  A place that promises magical moments, special family photo ops, quality time with your children and FUN!  Absolutely true!  But, if you have little ones like I do, a trip to the most “magical place on earth” with toddlers can also mean over-stimulation, skipped naps, cranky mid-afternoon meltdowns, and overwhelmed munchkins. Here are my top 10 tips for visiting Disneyland with toddlers to maximize your fun and minimize the meltdowns!

My little family is incredibly lucky to live about 20 minutes from Disneyland – so we “vacation” in our own backyard and take advantage of Disneyland a couple of times a month. Whether it’s your first visit, or your 50th, I hope these little tips and tricks help you and yours have an extra fabulous time!

 Top 10 Tips for Visiting Disneyland with Toddlers 

10.  Prepare, prepare, prepare!  We usually like to get there when it opens…which means an early morning.  I don’t know about you, but just getting myself ready and the kids ready is enough work, without adding in special packing.  So, I do this the night before. 

I pack the following…

~ A lunch tote filled with plenty of favorite snacks (pre-packaged munchies that are easy to grab and take with us in longer lines)
~ Water bottles for everyone (plus extra – they are expensive to buy in the park)
~ Sunscreen, hats and kid sunglasses
~ Autograph books/pens
~ Layers (Anaheim can be cool in the morning and warm up by lunch, so layers are key)
~ Any medicine (if needed), camera, an extra outfit per kid, diapers, wipes, binkies, sippy cups, etc. 
~ We find a backpack is easiest.

9.  Once inside the park, there is a fabulous Baby Care Center and childcare station at the end of Main Street (like you’re walking to the castle) on the right side – walk all the way down Main Street…it’s the very last part of the building on the right side, tucked back in by the adult bathrooms.

It has mini potties, a nursing station with rocking chairs, changing tables, AND you can buy any childcare supplies you may have forgotten (granted, expensive, but worth it if you need something in a pinch!).

8.  We have found that Mickey’s Toontown is the best place to take pictures with the “classic” Disney characters.  Pluto, Goofy and Donald typically take turns walking around and smiling for posed photos. Mickey and Minnie’s houses are usually a little bit longer wait for pictures, but the walk through their houses is pretty fun for the kiddos.  Plus, it’s Mickey and Minnie!  They are not always there, so just make sure to double check.

Disneyland Tips for Toddlers

The Skinny on Rides

7.  I’m sure most of you are familiar with FastPasses” – here’s how to work the system. You can only FastPass one ride at a time per Disneyland ticket (kiosks can be found by the ride, if it’s available), and they give you an hour timeframe to come back. You just go to the FastPass line, hand them your FastPass ticket, and usually only have to wait 5-10 minutes for the ride.

FastPass what you think is going to be the most popular ride first.Go to the next ride on your list and wait in line.
  Usually, by the time you’re done with that ride, your FastPass will be ready.
  Go to your FastPass ride and enjoy!  
Get your next FastPass immediately after, and then repeat the cycle.  That’s why we strategically decide which ride to head to first to get a FastPass.

You can also download a Disneyland app on your smartphone (i.e. Disney Parks Mobile Magic, MouseWait (for iPhone and Andorid phones), etc. to keep you up to the minute on ride wait times and let’s you find the nearest bathroom, restaurant, etc.

6.  We just found out about “Switch” passes (“Rider Switch Services“). Um, amazing!  Because my five-year-old is tall enough to clear the height requirements for rides my two-year-old does not.  When one parent stands in line with the older child, ask for a “switch” pass (they’ll hand you a ticket).

Once off the ride, hand the pass to your partner – then they get to take your kiddo back on the ride – without waiting in the full line!!  That way both parents get to enjoy the experience with their older child (your kiddo gets two rides!), and the little one(s) are taken care of.

Need a break?

5.  Need to cool off…or just need a break?  Visit the Tiki Room in Adventureland – your little ones will love the singing birds show, you get to sit down in air conditioning for 15 minutes AND you can order a pineapple whip before or after (at the stand right outside of the Tiki Room) – yum!

4.  Go on popular rides DURING the parade times – sometimes, there are fewer crowds.

3.   Want to go on a “big kid” ride without your little ones?  For most of the roller coasters, you can ask for the “single rider line” at the beginning of the ride line (where the Disney team member is standing) – this will cut your wait significantly.  So, leave your munchkins with your spouse (or whoever else is with you) and go enjoy a few minutes of “big kid” fun!

Your Exit Strategy

2.  Pack a pair of pajamas if you plan to stay until bedtime…my hubby and I change them in the car on our way out and just transfer them to their beds in their jammies when we get home.  Much simpler!

1.  Think about your exit strategy. Have an idea when you may want to leave your Disney adventure…because sometimes it takes us a half hour to an hour to get back to our car and headed on our way from the time we decide we want to go.  That is a loooonnnngggg time to wrangle cranky, fussy or screaming children, if it can be helped (i.e. maybe you plan to leave before nap, after lunch, before bedtime, etc.).

Have any great tips or Disneyland advice that works for you and your kids?  We’d love to hear it!  Share the wealth of information, mamas!

Disneyland Tips for Toddlers

A Super Fun Stay-at-Home Activity for Your Kids

Fun at Home

I threw a birthday party for a lamb. Lamby-lamb to be exact, my five-year-old’s well-loved stuffed lamb given to her as a baby.  Take note mamas – this was a FUN three hour stay-at-home activity for both kiddos – and a great (sneaky!) way to get some educational lessons in.

Now, this wasn’t just any stuffed animal’s pretend birthday party.  The celebration included a real cake and candles, a wrapped present for Lamby-lamb (what’s a birthday without a present?) and decorations.

I am a mama on the go.  My babies and I are always out and about, doing something. But, sometimes rainy days, sick munchkins, or even just overtired kids (or mamas!) require a day at home.

I found myself staring down one of these days, wondering how to entertain my two very active little ones.

My little girl had mentioned that Lamby-lamb had recently turned four (she loves imaginative play and is always making up stories for her animals and dolls), so I suggested we throw a real party.  The kids were beyond thrilled (probably because I mentioned birthday cake).

Party Planning

This is what we did – you can vary to cater to whatever you need (or already have at home):

1. Make a small, one-stop outing for supplies

First we raided the kids’ piggy banks and they each clutched two dollars. Teaching moment: have them count out their money.

Then we went to the Dollar Tree, but you could find the same products at the Target dollar spot…or your local store of choice.

They each had two dollars…and they each got to choose one card and one present…not for themselves, but for their friend Lamby-lamb.

My oldest actually counted all of the money to the cashier.  They took this step very seriously.  (What would a lamb like, anyways?  They each had ideas.) Teaching moment: how to shop on a budget.

Mommy’s present to Lamby-lamb was cake mix and frosting – for the birthday cake, of course!

2. Make a birthday card

Next came coloring at home in their birthday cards – I asked my older one to practice writing her name and a personal message.

Crayons, stickers, and a good 20 minutes of fun. Teaching momentcoloring works on fine motor skills, plus letter recognition and practice.

3. Time to bake! 

Each put on an apron, got their little step stools and we started cooking together. Teaching moment: read the instructions together, have them measure, stir and talk about setting the timer for the correct amount of time.

4. Wrap your presents

While your treat is baking, wrap your presents! 

Teaching moment: practicing with safety scissors, working on fine motor skills and learning how much tape to use.

5. It’s time to decorate!

We have a birthday box in the garage with leftover or recyclable birthday decorations – get as crazy as you want!

We always include hats, plates, napkins and banners. Teaching moment: talk about the colors on the decorations, where to place them and count out the correct number of hats/plates/etc.

6. Get on your party clothes

I always frost the cake myself (it just gets so messy and crazy with two kids trying to do this with me) – so while I was frosting, they went to get dressed up for the party.

Teaching moment: pick their outfit and use their imagination! My little girl actually dressed up Lamby-lamb, too!

7. Celebrate

PARTY TIME!!!  Light candles, sing happy birthday, have a treat, let their friend “open” their presents, read them their cards…and take LOTS of pictures!

Happy party planning!

 

Potty Talk: Potty Training Tips from the Trenches

Potty Training

There are about a million and one things that I LOVE about being a mama. And then there are a select few things that I just dread. Potty training is one of them (“Pooh” on the potty anyone?  I know, I know…but it had to be said!)

So with my son’s third birthday approaching shortly, I knew it wouldn’t be long before potty training began with my little man.

So, after “watching for the signs” like so many books and blogs say to do to determine potty “readiness,” (and digging out the Elmo potty DVD from a storage box) my munchkin was (very sweetly) against it.

The Dreaded Perky Potty Talk

So I went into the perky potty talk mode, but no amount of positive potty talk and introducing him to the potty seemed to change his mind.

“Honey, let’s go pee pee in the potty!  You are such a big boy!  Let’s go check out the potty! Let’s go see what big boy under pants look like!  Let’s pick out a little potty together at Target! Look – little (insert his buddy’s name) can go pee pee on the potty!  (and on and on and on with whatever other perky potty talk I could muster).”

His response?  “No thank you mama.  I like my diapers. No potty please.”

Well, I’ll give him this.  At least he was polite about it.

Seeing that my potty enthusiasm wasn’t convincing him, my hubby and I had several “discussions” about this subject.  My feeling? Let’s keep waiting until he tells me he is ready.

Because guess what? I potty trained my first on MY timetable, not hers. And guess how successful we both were with THAT strategy? I’ll give you a hint…it took a long time for it to click.

My hubby’s take?

“He doesn’t like broccoli.  But, it is our job to keep introducing it to him and making him eat it…or other vegetables…to be a healthy, happy kid.  Just because he doesn’t like it, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be encouraged to eat it.”  And he related this to potty training.

Well, humph. So we eyed each other down. And then decided to compromise as best as possible.

Operation Potty Time: Choosing Our Strategy

We came to the decision we would pick a potty training method together (not the easiest decision since everyone seems to have the answer…or an opinion on why a method does not work) and agreed on the following:

1. He would be an active participant (we picked a long weekend so work wasn’t much of an issue).
2. We would deal with the messes together (i.e. he had to clean up just as many stinkers as I did).
3. We would stop and take a break from training if our little man was terrified/traumatized/etc.

I was convinced that my little guy wasn’t ready.  I was convinced that this was going to be a disaster.  And, you know what?

He was ready.

To my delighted surprise (and to his daddy’s triumphant, but very sweet, “I told you so”), he actually was ready and responded to the training method we chose.

We also went through about four packages of M&Ms in the process (but hey, I didn’t say I was above positive praise…and flat out bribes.)

Potty Training

Four days – completely housebound.  Four packages of M&Ms (so much for broccoli!). Twenty-one new pairs of Cars and Thomas the Train underpants.  About 1,651 times of saying, ‘Tell mama when you need to go potty!”  Eight loads of laundry.  One special Thomas the Train toy set for the first time he was completely dry and clean for one full day (no accidents).

THEN NO MORE DIAPERS – well worth every second!  Not to mention a confident, happy, proud little boy who now loved the potty – again, well worth every second!

I would love to take credit for my fabulous potty training skills. Boast about how I developed this insanely wonderful, fabulous way to convince your child that pee pee in the potty is the best.thing.ever.

Nope, it wasn’t me.  I have to give major props to the woman, Lora Jensen, who wrote “Three Day Potty Training.” (for us, it took a solid four days).  Note:  we followed most of the method…but we still tailored it to my son’s specific needs.

Bottom (no pun intended) line: every kid is different. And every kid is motivated by different things. And every parent has to do what works for them.  When I mention this method, some people love it…others, not so much.  But for us, this method worked.  And, I am completely grateful.  Four days…and it’s DONE.  And, we have only had one daytime accident in three weeks!

My Potty Training Advice

So, my advice for deciding when to potty train your little one?  Do your research. Pick your method in advance. Prepare everything you will need in advance (undies, sheet savers, bribes, laundry detergent, snacks, sticker charts, DVDs, books – whatever you decide you want to use). Talk to your partner and make sure both of you are on the same page. Then, pick a time block that you can devote to your munchkin.

And remember – breathe!  Do your best to stay positive and encouraging and patient (and excited to your child!).  Your little one will mirror your behaviors.

That’s all for now on this stinky subject.  Next, I’m going to have to write a blog on taking your newly potty trained kiddo a to public restroom (because I am now remembering how difficult this actually is…my little guy accidentally peed on my shoes…while sitting on the potty in a Target bathroom yesterday…but that story is for another time).

What potty training secrets do you have?  Any “potty whisperers” out there?  Please share – we want to hear what worked for you and your kids!

Babies, Crosses and Sprinklers

The day started off like any other Wednesday driving to school.

My five-year-old daughter was tucked safely into her car seat, quietly “reading” a book.  The radio was turned low to a kid friendly station. My eyes were barely open, but everything was stable. No coffee yet, but I was so close.  So close.

Then, my daughter looked up, opened her mouth…and started the Spanish Inquisition. Scout’s honor, this is what came out of her lips.

“Mommy, how does a baby get IN the mommy’s belly?  I know a mommy and a daddy decide to have a baby, but HOW does it get IN.  I need to know.”

(I freeze. Obviously, we were passing the “when a mommy and daddy love each other, they decide to have a baby phase.”).

Okay.  Deep breath.

(Literally, as I’m opening my mouth to babble some brilliant response…I’m sure it would have been brilliant), she then hits me with, “And, mommy?  HOW exactly did Jesus die on the cross?  I know he’s on the cross, but how did he die?  What’s “die?

Are you kidding me, kid?!  Our commute to school from home is exactly 16 minutes.  We had 13 minutes left. Oh, Mother Hubbard! (my favorite kid-friendly phrase).

Okay.  Deep breath.

“Oh, and mommy?  How do sprinklers work?  I mean, how does the water come OUT?

Ding, ding, ding!  I’ll take the sprinkler question for 500.

I calmly explain how sprinklers work. Verrrryyyyy slowwllllyyyyy.  Okay. Deep breath.

Just as I’m about to embark on babies and crosses, she starts singing to the “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” theme song.  Distraction!  I blast the song.  We pull into the parking lot.  Score!  I made it.

But, what happens when she asks me after school?  Mother Hubbard.  Call the husband and explain.  Better be on the same page.  Oh, and moral of the story?  Delegate. HE can figure out the brilliant, age appropriate answers!

Any of you mamas out there have funny Spanish Inquisition moments lately?

Oh Very Young Children’s Resale Boutique

Oh Very Young

I don’t know about you, but my kids grow overnight. Literally. My “little” ones have always been on the tall side…frequenting one size for only a few precious months (or even weeks when they were babies!) before springing into the next, which is why I was so very excited to learn more about Oh Very Young children’s resale boutique in Long Beach – a family friendly shop run by a mom and her two daughters.

You can sell clothes, buy clothes and shop for fun accessories (hats or bows, anyone?) – all in fantastic shape and adorable. Oh, and browse lots of name brands.

Give these lovely ladies a call, make an appointment, and take your gently loved kiddo clothes in for their buy back program – they make it so easy and will work around your schedule. You can drop off your items and come back later for your total, or stay and chat if you have time, have a cup of coffee and go over each item (this takes about a half hour).

I say have a cup of coffee because when you talk to these ladies, it feels like you’re chatting with a fellow girlfriend.  Building community is one of Oh Very Young’s top priorities – whether it is supporting a local fund raiser or school, or participating in their business neighborhood “Art Walks” on the first Friday of every month (moms – take note…they provide free arts and crafts and snacks to your little ones in their booth).

They want their customers to feel like family.

Oh Very Young Now, onto the topic of shopping…shopping by myself is a luxury at this point in my life. I usually have my two very active munchkins in tow…so I typically avoid shopping for my kids, with my kids. I know you understand.

But not at Oh Very Young! Fellow mamas, this shop is made for you and your kids to enjoy.

While you browse the racks and find great deals, they provide coloring projects, let the kids play with their toys for sale (Their motto? If it’s within a kid’s reach, go for it! It was meant to be played with!), and have even been known to dole out snacks (ummm, this is particularly helpful if I’ve run out of my granola bar/raisin/apple slices shopping combo to bribe my kids to sit still).

Now, throw in a “Mommy Happy Hour” every other month with complimentary hors     Oh Very Young d’oeuvres, refreshments (sometimes even wine!), fabulous raffle prizes, and shopping for adorable kid stuff, and I am one happy mama!

So, take a little shopping trip and see for yourself – I am confident that you will find something here you that you love…whether it is a super cute kid outfit, a “new” toy or book for your little one, or even a homemade goodie bag for car trips.

And, let the kids play while you shop – enjoy!

What you need to know:

Oh Very Young     

Phone:
Call them at (562) 492-6200

Hours:
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (special event times may vary)

Address:
4378 Atlantic Ave.
Long Beach, CA  90807

*If you would like to sell your kid clothes to Oh Very Young, please call to make an appointment!

 [Images provided by Oh Very Young. Disclosure: This is a sponsored post to help spread the word about this amazing shopping experience for So Cal families!]

 

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