Friday Freebie: Mouse Ears & Pressed Pennies

I mentioned in my Disney Packed Fun for Less post that I would have a free printable to share at the end of the month. I had fun creating simple labels to dress up mini M&M's tubes complete with a few hidden Mickeys. The "chocolate mouse ears" tubes did have mini M&M's in them (which was a hit as a treat but a miss as I didn't think about the old "melt in your hand thing" - totally will in hot FL weather so have those handwipes ready!). The other held a stack of coins (2 quarters & a penny, repeat) so we were ready for the pressed penny machines. Dylan is really into those right now and they make a fun, inexpensive souvenir.

The labels fit 6 to a sheet on Avery Shipping Labels 8164 or similar. Peel off the original label on the tube. Then print, peel & stick the new ones. Simple as that.

Click here to download the Mouse Ears Labels from Google Docs

Click here to download the Pressed Pennies Labels from Google Docs



The Playroom

Our playroom has been a work in progress for the last 6+ months, but finally feels almost complete. It's the first room off the foyer when you enter the house. Originally intended as a living room. I certainly didn't want a formal playroom, but we did want a space that would be easy to tidy up since it's so visible.

Here's a photo tour of our playroom ...

Lots of storage space with the Expedit!

Fun artsy decor from an old ad magazine & preschool crafts

Lots of natural lighting during the day

Train table "relove" (a bargain consignment find)

Costume & drawing area

A fun new fixture for extra light in the evening

Sources: Ikea - Expedit bookcaseBranas baskets, Duktig mini-kitchenKusiner mesh basket, easel, cord set + shade; ScrapExchange - magazine ad print; Target - poster frame, rug; Container Store - Stockholm storage box; Little Tikes - Neighborhood Market; consignment sale - train table; Cary Creative Center - alphabet poster; DIY projects - art work display framesmirrorGiant Ruler Growth Chart.


Memorial Day 2013

We have yet to find a good spot to mount our larger flag from our previous home, so this year I settled on a smaller flag added to the planter on our front porch. Many thanks to all who have served, those who currently serve, and their families for the freedom we enjoy today and everyday.


Disney with a Preschooler

Our trip to Walt Disney World earlier in the month was a bit of a dream come true. The last time Trent & I visited was before we were parents. I confess, we swore then that we'd never visit with diapers and a stroller. We broke half that promise. We went with a stroller. That said, I'm so glad we did.

Disney with a preschooler is wonderful! Dylan is old enough that he could really enjoy it and begin to take in the magic. But, we saw a LOT of meltdowns around us throughout our trip. We did have a bit of tired whining and tears from our own little one, but nothing compared to some of what we witnessed. It got me thinking why our visit was so cheerful and others seemed to be living a nightmare.

Schedule Young kids are used to their schedule. The best days will always be those that follow that schedule at least to a degree. It won't be perfect. You are on vacation after all. Sharing one room, we all went to bed at one time and we all got up when he woke up. We spent shorter time in the parks than we had when it was just the two of us. It's impossible to "do it all" and, honestly, there is no need.

Keep it Simple Rather than attempting to "do it all," we made a simple 6 item to do list before the trip. The final item - to eat Mickey Mouse ice cream - was one of the last things we did in Hollywood Studios before our ride back to the resort to catch the Magical Express and head for home. After we enjoyed our treat, we all cheered at having accomplished our list.

Snacks A combination of schedule/habit from daycare for him and the heat which had none of us wanting to eat large meals, we all snacked throughout the day. To save a little money and keep snacks more accessible, I packed some from home and carried a few into the park each day in an old Subway kids' meal Lion King bag. Perfectly themed for our trip, plus allowed easy inspection as we entered the parks and for each of us to pick out whatever we wanted. We also brought an insulated sippy cup with us and refilled it with water as needed.

It's their magic! Admittedly there are temptations, and certainly we encouraged a few things we thought he would like, but we mostly let him lead the pace and decide what we would do. On our last day this meant given a choice of three shows, he chose to see The Voyage of the Little Mermaid so that's exactly what we did. Having never seen the movie before our trip to Disney, our son developed a liking to that redhead on our vacation. That's the kind of fun memory that wouldn't have happened if we'd just taken him to one of the other shows. (And, yes, we now own the movie!)

Downtime In line with the "their magic" part - it's their vacation too and don't we all need a little downtime? We ended our day at Animal Kingdom by mid afternoon to head back to our resort for time at the arcade and pool. Two things that Dylan had asked to do several times. We had fun playing together, relaxing and getting to bed the earliest of all our nights there setting us up to enjoy early Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios on our last day.

Photos Want them with characters or major park landmarks? Do it early in your visit when your child is more rested and less overstimulated. We got some cute shots and he was far more willing of a participant at those times.

Take the Stroller Ok so that one applies to the "preschooler" slant to this post as well as those younger and even a tad older. It's a LOT of walking. Whether you bring one from home or rent one from a private company or the park itself, I highly recommend it. Ours provided him a spot to relax with a bit of shade, enjoy a snack, people watch, parade watch and rest his legs. Plus, it was a good place to stash our extra snacks, napkins, hand wipes, the autograph book, sippy cup, bottled water, etc. All the things we needed, but didn't need to physically carry with us on every ride. Our only issue is that our cup holder disappeared while our stroller was in "stroller parking" during a ride at the Magic Kingdom. I had debated adding a zip tie before we left home and didn't. My advice - do it. But otherwise we had absolutely no problems and were happy to have brought the stroller along. Remember to label it! I have free printable label here.

Have some tips of your own for fun with kids at Disney? Share in the comments. Also, be sure to see my Disney Packed Fun for Less post for ideas on fun, inexpensive treats to pack.


Wordless Wednesday: Celebrate a Dream Come True parade

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Bloggy Boot Camp - Charlotte (the after post)

This is one of those times I'm grateful I finally took action on something I've been putting off for a while. Allison (my good friend & counterpart over at Mom in Chapel Hill) and I nudged each other to get tickets and attend our first blog conference.

We listened to great speakers covering a number of topics were we interested in from details about Google+ (totally still learning it) to SEO to blog design and much more ...

We took a few silly photos ... 

Enjoyed a few goodies from the event sponsors (thanks again, Brew Over Ice, Salsaritas, Collective Bias and Mirassou Wine) ... 

We came away with lots of notes, ideas flowing and, of course, a lot of business cards from other awesome bloggers that we had a chance to briefly connect with in person (good to know a few online friends face to face now!) ...

That was our day in a very small nutshell. My brain is so full and I'm still sorting through it all. If for a moment you've considered one of these conferences, go for it! 


Disney Packed Fun for Less

The moment we decided to take a family trip to Walt Disney World was the moment my brain started spinning with ideas for what to pack including little things to add to the magic and save our wallet. Here are a few things I made sure to purchase and stash in the weeks ahead ...

Autograph book. This was a lucky find at Target in the dollar section. Literally there were exactly 2 when I stumbled across it. I had planned to just alter a basic notebook (similar to this idea), but with Peter Pan on the cover, blank pages inside and only $1 - it was perfect. Especially since I wasn't 100% sure that Dylan would even be interested in getting too close to characters.

Party favors. I settled on a few small extras during my shopping trip at Party City - Mickey slider puzzle, small toy camera (similar to a View Finder with Mickey scenes but no removable parts), and small packets of Disney themed candy.

Lanyard. I picked up a Mickey Mouse themed lanyard at Party City for 99c in case he took notice of other kids with pins and lanyards. It was perfect to add his "First Visit" button to and the tiny camera also from Party City hooked to the clip on the end.

Glowsticks. Plentiful for $1 at the dollar store and craft stores. We already had some in the house - bracelet style and fun little car shaped ones that we had bought back at Halloween. Super fun for evening parades and fireworks.

Mini Puzzle. Dylan loves puzzles and while we already have a lot, I couldn't resist a Jake and the Neverland Pirates one in a small tin from the Dollar Tree. It was a nice relaxing pre-bedtime activity after our day in the Magic Kingdom.

Magic Washcloth. Admittedly, he already has a couple of these, but a new Mickey & Donald one seemed fun. It ended up being part of a surprise gift he found in our room with a plush Goofy when we returned from Animal Kingdom. (Thanks to Grama for the Goofy! Another big savings there and he loves it.)

Mickey & Friends stickers. Freebie from the periodic DVD club mailer we get. Funny, as much as he loves stickers, he actually left these on the sheet the entire trip!

Mickey Mouse ColorWonder pad. This went into our carry on bags for the airport & plane. As much as he enjoyed a ColorWonder pad during our drive to Great Wolf Lodge in March, we knew this would be a hit. And, of course, what's better for a Disney trip than a Mickey themed pad?

Altered Mini M&M's tubes. I found the idea to create "chocolate mouse ears" tubes on City Bee Studio blog. I simply removed the original label from the tube of mini M&M's and added one that I created in Photoshop (find my free printable here). I made a second label to mark the tubes we carried stacked with coins for pressed pennies.

For everything mentioned above - I spent under $10. A huge savings compared to prices in the parks. The only souvenirs we purchased on the trip were a couple postcards (we helped Dylan mail one home to himself - a fun treat to find in the mailbox the week after we returned) and Mickey ears. After showing him one of my pairs, I had promised to buy him his own. The cute pirate ears were adorable, but including personalization cost $20. A huge jump in price compared to the last set I bought about 12 years ago. Those still had a $5 price tag inside.

Have any fun money saving trip treat ideas? Feel free to share in the comments. I'll be on the lookout for future trips. :)


Bloggy Boot Camp - Charlotte #BBCChar

This weekend, my friend Allison and I are headed to Charlotte for our first blog conference. We've both talked about doing this for some time but kept putting it off for one reason or another. Finally, we nudged each other and bought our tickets a few months ago for Bloggy Boot Camp.

My new business cards I created specifically for the conference arrived yesterday. Minus a slight graininess (maybe I should choose glossy instead of matte next time?), they look great.

I'll be packing those, of course. My MacBook Pro. A notebook and pen. For those that have been there done that - anything else I need? Advice for us?


Disney All Stars Music

We ended last week with 4 very fun filled days at Walt Disney World. This was our first time staying at one of the All Star resorts.

Supplies: Protectors Set 1 by Karla Dudley; Noted Doodle Stamps by Jen Allyson; Brush Script MT font; scan of resort map.


Friday Freebie: Disney Character Word Search

In planning for our Disney trip, I decided to create a word search to pack in Dylan's carry on bag. He recently began showing interest in them and it was an easy, customizable project.

I made two versions of the search using the same 10 characters. I matched pictures with the names to help him "read" them himself so he would know what he was searching.

Whether planning your own trip or just looking for a new activity, I saved a PDF of the searches to share. It prints as a single 8.5x11 sheet.

Click here to view & print the Disney Character Word Search on Google Docs



Wordless Wednesday: Watercolors

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Indoor Mini Golf

A last minute get together yesterday afternoon equalled lots of fun for Dylan and two friends as we tried out a new indoor golf location. Perfect for an overcast, chilly day (seriously, I've seen the sun once in the last week - crazy!). The boys burned a lot of energy playing all 18 holes multiple times. I definitely see some future playdates here.

Supplies: More or Less collaborative kit from Pixels & Co; Count on Me brushes by Deena Rutter.


Cinco de Mayo

I finally got around to scrapping photos from last year's Cinco de Mayo party last night. This was the first time Dylan & his friends had seen (experienced?) a piƱata. So funny to watch. I think they were quite excited at being allowed to hit this crazy thing with a bat and then weren't quite sure what to do when it broke and treats fell out. They figured it out pretty quickly. ;)

Supplies: PhotoStory templates Set 3 by Mary Moseley; Kraft Fun Day by Robyn Meierotto.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Wordless Wednesday: Bubbles

Linking up to Wordless Wednesday