Posts Tagged ‘travel’

I’ve been home for a few weeks and still trying to process the experience. Three weeks ago I got on a plane and flew further from home than I have in my entire life. About 15 hours later I landed in a little country about the size of New Jersey smack dab in the middle east. A little country called Israel.

Luckily last month I challenged myself to a crazy task to record and edit a video a day. If I hadn’t I’m not sure I would have documented the experience as thoroughly as I did. I’m so glad I did though. Every time I watch them I’m taken back to the beautiful country, people, and delicious food. And reviewing them will help me describe the experience. If you missed my daily travel vlogs from Israel while there you can catch up here.

So what was I doing in Israel anyway?

Discovering Israel with Vibe Israel

Vibe Israel is a nonprofit that’s working to create new conversations about Israel throughout the world. They invite influencers from around the globe on tours several times a year. I was invited to be a part of the 2017 Mommies Tour. The experience is less touristy and more of an opportunity to explore the people and culture of Israel.

Visiting Israel as an American was one thing, but visiting as a Mormon made things especially interesting. The LDS (Mormon) church has doctrine about members being adopted into the Tribes of Israel and the eventual gathering of those tribes. Our church believes it’s not so much a literal gathering to one place, as it is missionaries spreading the gospel to bring people (from those different tribes) into our faith. (Though based on an agreement, Mormon proselytizing doesn’t take place there).

Visiting Israel with Vibe Israel

Ok, so I’ve been fascinated about Israel for a little while. I’ve been dabbling in world religion studies for the last year and Israel comes up over and over. Jerusalem is holy place for three of the world’s largest religions: Christian, Judaism and Muslim.

Noticing the similarities in religious culture and some traditions was truly beautiful. I realized that Mormons and Jews may be more alike that we think. Here’s how:

Shabbat Dinner

Discovering Israel with Vibe Israel

One of my favorite experiences in Israel was the Shabbat dinner we had with the Hermoni family. At sundown we sat around the table, had great conversations and good food. They kicked off the meal with a prayer and songs. It reminded me of what many Mormons do (usually on Monday nights) called Family Home Evening. Families typically stay in together, go over how things went during the week, and just reconnect. These meetings also typically start with a song and prayer.

It’s not something my family does officially, but participating in Shabbat made me realize it’s something I definitely want to reinstate, especially as the kids get older and our schedules get busier. Reconnecting at least once a week is so important.

Sabbath

No, I’m not repeating myself… Well, not exactly.

Shabbat is the Jewish Sabbath and it’s on Saturdays. Friday night at Sunday everything (ok, well, most places) shut down. And people enjoy a day of rest. In the Mormon religion (and many Christian religions) this happens on Sunday. Now here’s the kicker… In Israel, Mormons actually have church on Saturday as well! Guess it doesn’t make a son of sense to avoid everything on Sunday when you can’t do much on Saturday anyway. Sunday is a regular work (and school) day in Israel.

Zion in Israel vs Zion in Utah

Discovering Israel with Vibe Israel

Our Jewish tour guide joked with me when I told him I was Mormon, saying “Zion is here! It’s not in Utah!” I wasn’t going to disagree with him. But if you know the history of the Mormon religion you can see why some people call Utah Zion.

Moses led the Jews from bondage, parted the Red Sea and settled in Jerusalem… Zion. Brigham Young helped lead Mormon pioneers after years and years of persecution and multiple settlements, to Utah. Utah was their “New Zion.”

Cultural Mormons and Jews

Visiting Israel with Vibe Israel

A vast majority of Israel is Jewish, but not everyone is extremely religious. You can witness an underlying Jewish culture: People speaking Hebrew, stores closing down on Shabbat/Sabbath. But when you talk to everyday people–Especially the younger generation, they aren’t as devout as you might expect.

I spoke with a mom who is getting ready for her son’s bar mitzvah but she said they don’t do all of the regular Jewish practices. It’s more of a tradition they carry out.

I see some similarities in our religion. Varying degrees of membership and activity level. But even if you’re not going, or haven’t gone for years–You’re still on church records and considered a Mormon. Children are expected to get baptized at the age of 8.–Not necessarily understanding what they’re committing to, but many families participate in the ritual for the sake of tradition. I had an interesting conversation with this mom about tradition versus beliefs and found the parallells compelling.

Diet/ Restrictions

Discovering Israel with Vibe Israel

A lot of people are familiar with, (or have at least heard of) kosher foods. It’s more than just what foods you can and can’t eat but what foods you can eat together. For instance–Meat and dairy can’t be prepared or eaten together. It also encompasses how the food is prepared. Most of the people I met in Israel didn’t follow these biblical food laws, but some of the restaurants we ate were kosher-compliant.

In the Mormon religion we have a Word of Wisdom most people know that we’re instructed not to drink alcohol, coffee or tea (not caffeine like many people misclassify… I happily enjoy my diet Dr. Pepper and occasional energy drink, thank you very much!). But they don’t realize it also says we are to eat the “flesh of beast and the fowls of the air” sparingly.

Discovering Israel with Vibe Israel

The wine was flowing abundantly on this trip and I didn’t enjoy any of it (aside from a sip from the Kiddush cup during the Shabbat dinner). But I happily poured the sparkling water into my wine glass, and toasted with my new friends.

I loved discovering some of the Jewish community and culture in Israel. What started out as a curiosity before has deepened my passion for exploring Judaism and other world religions.

It’s inspiring to realize we are so much more alike than we think. We fear what we don’t understand. So let’s get to know our brothers and sisters around the world. It makes me hopeful for what we can accomplish the more we learn about one another.

Photos by: Shani Sadicario

I’ve always had a bit of an impulsive streak inside me. I can’t help but jump head first into new things, look back and ask questions later.

Exactly two weeks ago I decided to start a vlog. A video blog for those of you who don’t know. I felt like I needed a pickmeup. Something new and exciting to try. A new challenge to commence. I knew if I set a goal to do one once or twice a week I’d procrastinate and quickly fall off. I had to go big or go home. So I decided to start a DAILY vlog for the month of March.

What I’m loving about it so far is the rawness and spontaneity. I never really know what is going to come out of my mouth, or my kids’ mouth, and it’s capturing a lot of the REAL here and now. I take photos and write about our days here on my blog, but some of the day-to-day things have been feeling too boring to document.

The silly random thoughts and moments that no longer make the cut on my blog seems to be finding a place in the vlog. I am enjoying that.

So I don’t know if you enjoy watching vlogs (I’ll admit, it takes a special person I think, because I can’t always sit through 15 minutes of someone else’s life) but if you do, check ours out. We’re doing daily videos through March then I’ll reevaluate what I’m going to do after that. We’ll see how it goes. I’m not sure how they’ll come into play here on my blog, maybe I’ll share a couple favorites once a week, or maybe I’ll keep it completely separate. Let me know if you have an opinion.

Ok, so when I started this thing, it was just in time for me to go support my best bloggy friend at the We All Grow Latina Bloggers conference. Vanessa from De Su Mama is an incredible mother, photographer, writer and friend. She was honored as a Storyteller at this fabulous conference. She presented a powerful story on stage about her journey to discovering, and falling in love with the country her family immigrated from.

Keep checking back on her blog for her story which should be up soon! I was so incredibly proud of her.

Vanessa knows I’m a huge Disney fan and she was so thoughtful to invite me to experience this with her. While there we also got to have a special Disney Princess experience, go to an early screening of the new Beauty and the Beast (my review is here) and tour the Walt Disney Studios lot. We even bumped into Bob Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Company! I have two or three vlogs about the conference, I’ll share a couple below.

Vanessa and I, and parts of our family have been on about a half a dozen little adventures together with another coming up this summer. She listens to and supports my impulsiveness and talks me of the ledge when I’ve gone too far. She’s an amazing woman and I’m so lucky to call her my friend.


Do you ever hear someone speak, meet someone who inspires you, read a good book or watch a documentary that just makes you want to jump into action? You just can’t wait to change your life/start something new/ pick up a new hobby.

That’s basically me every other week.

Mom 2.0 Summit recap

My husband is used to my random epiphanies by now. When I watch Oprah, have a really good Sunday school lesson, or watch something like Cowspiracy on Netflix I come out ready to save the world and turn vegan.

The most recent source: Mom 2.0. A blogging conference I attended last week at the Ritz Carlton in Dana Point, California.

mom-2.0-summit-2016-8

I haven’t traveled to a blog conference in years, YEARS people. After having a second child leaving them both plagued me with the worst kind of mom guilt. But this year I went for it. I packed my bags and flew halfway across the country to meet people I’ve admired and connected with online for months, years even.

It was amazing.

First of all, there were so many people that I met 5-6 years ago at my first blogging conference who still remembered me. I mean dude, some these people have exploded into [bloggy] stardom and are like “sup Jenn?” and I’m like “who me?!” (I really wish I came up with a cool pen name that wasn’t so common).

Mom 2.0 Summit recap

Then there were all kinds of sessions that made me feel all kinds of ways. Some made me go “Oh, I totally know what I’m doing, ok, yea, I’m legit!” and others made me go “Ok, I’ve been doing this all wrong.”

Mom 2.0 Summit recap

Mom 2.0 Summit recap

I even taught my own session with my girl LaShawn from Everyday Eyecandy. It was a lesson on visual storytelling with photos and videos. The room was packed and people seemed to enjoy it. Definitely a win in my book.

Mom 2.0 Summit recap

I left the conference with a full soul and a million ideas.–Telling myself I need to redesign my blog, start a podcast, make an e-course, organize a writer’s retreat, become a motivational speaker, hire a Facebook sorcerous, fly to Trinidad to find my roots, write a book, and learn the wobble.

Mom 2.0 Summit recap

It was a bit of inspirational overdose, but I loved it, I needed it.

First things first, I need to decompress and write a list of priorities. As I come down from the motivational high hopefully those things most important for my business will come to focus in the forefront.

Mom 2.0 Summit recap

Mom 2.0 Summit recap

I actually won’t have much time to come down from this high as I’ve climbed right back on a plane to head to the Disney Social Media Moms Conference. Yea, the one I wasn’t invited to last year, or any year every before! They must have realized what they were missing cause I got a golden ticket this year baby!

Remember the aforementioned mom guilt? Well, it gets worse. Lil’ J has already missed too much school for our other TWO Disney trips in the last 4 months, so she’s staying behind. I’m bringing my little sister instead, making it a big girl’s trip and for the first time ever giving myself a chance to ride Disney World roller coasters, stay out extra late, have less frequent potty breaks, meltdowns and whatnot. I’m so sad to not be bringing my kiddos but so excited to see Disney through a new lens (aaaaand I may or may not already have another quick mommy/daughter trip planned for October).

I was trying really hard to keep it a secret from Lil’ J but she’s so smart. I guess she put all the pieces together. She cried when I told her I was going out of town again but didn’t bat an eye when she questioned if I was going to Disney World. She even asked God to bless that I’d have fun at Disney World in her prayers. Talk about a SWEET girl (ok I’m not gonna lie, she also prayed that I’d bring her a present back).

Telling her I’m bringing her favorite aunt/idol with me on this trip would just not be smart, so I left out that detail. I’m sure that would send her over the edge, but I’m glad she knows at least part of the truth, and is ok with it.

Mom 2.0 Summit recap

I’m sure once we land the guilt will wear off and excitement will set in. I’m eager to get pumped up with another serving of motivation, this time with an extra dose of Disney Magic. Who knows what kind of epiphanies I’ll come home with this time. Hopefully nothing too outrageous. I’m not sure my sweet husband can take too many more of my ideas.

My family and I just got back from the happiest place on earth: Walt Disney World. If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram you probably saw some of our excitement.

best disney world castle photos

This was an unexpected but truly amazing vacation together to learn more about Disney World and what they have to offer preschoolers. You’d think I’d know a lot by now with the amount of Disney trips we’ve had lately, but I learned even more! I’ll be writing more about that soon, but first I wanted to share the best kid quotes from this trip.

Last year, on our first trip to Disney World the phrase we all heard and loved was “choo choo.”

Disney World for preschoolers #DisneyKids

We knew he loved trains, but we didn’t know just how much he would love not only the magical train around Magic Kingdom, but every single ride or vehicle that resembled a train to him. From the parking lot trams, to the monorail, to the PeopleMover, he was in heaven. If we had a dollar for every time he said “choo choo” we would have enough money to fund our next three Disney trips.

This time, there was another continuous phrase out of his mouth, which leads me to number 5.

5. “We’re going backwards!”

Disney World for preschoolers #DisneyKids

Any time a plane, bus, shuttle, train or the stroller we were pushing backed up he’d exclaim “We’re going backwards!” Even if we were going forwards he’d turn around the say “I’m going backwards!” It was pretty hilarious, and adorable. If your preschooler loves vehicles as much as this little guy, he or she will be in HEAVEN on all of the ones at the parks!

4. “If they were extinct then how are they here?”

Disney World for preschoolers #DisneyKids

We went on the Kilimanjaro Safari Ride in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and my kids were SO into it. We saw hippos, giraffes and elephants (my son’s favorite), and zebras (my daughter’s favorite). But during the tour the guide said that one of the animals we were looking at was extinct but they’re slowly revitalizing their population. At least that’s what I heard. And apparently so did my daughter because from the back of the truck she yelled: “But if they were extinct then how are they here?” with her arms stretched out in question. A few people laughed and I told her that was a great question and that we’d have to ask later. If anyone knows, let us know!

3. “Hi Mater!”

Disney World for preschoolers #DisneyKids

We stayed at the Art of Animation Resort. It was our our first time staying on site at Disney and it was gorgeous! We were in the Cars section of the resort and we walked past characters from the movie every day. The kids liked them all but they both seemed to really LOVE Mater. Every time we passed him they would stop and say “Hi Mater” or “Open your door Mater!” Every. single. time.

2. “I love the pole!”

Disney World for preschoolers #DisneyKids

Whenever we’d get on a bus or monorail that had poles to help people keep their balance, Lil’ J would try to swing around it or climb on it and say “I love the pole!” This was hilarious for obvious reasons. But what was even more funny was the fact that we couldn’t tell her why it was so funny or find a way to get her to not say that. So I just chuckled to myself as my husband tried to get her to stop.

1. “Remember me from the cruise?!”

Disney World for preschoolers #DisneyKids

On the first night of our trip we had a special dinner at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and had a surprise visit from Mickey Mouse. Lil’ J ran right up to him, gave him a big hug then said “Remember me from the cruise?” I stood there and for a split second I wondered what he’d do. Would he unknowingly crush her heart? I mean, he sees millions of kids a day. No. Mickey Mouse pointed to her and nodded in recognition. She started bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet, looked at me with a huge grin and mouthed “he remembers me!” My heart exploded.

THIS is what my love of Disney is all about. This magic, at this age, you can’t beat it. Everything is so real for her and I can’t convince her otherwise. I never want it to end.

Sure, between our cruises and park visits in the last year we’ve had a lot of Disney. But that look on my daughter’s face is priceless. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I’ll never get enough.

Looking to plan your first Disney trip with your kiddos? Here’s some info on a great “kid-sized” deal. Book your vacation for as low as $908 for a family of 3; details HERE.

What were some of your favorite quotes from your trip to Disney?

I have so many more magical moments to share from this trip and I want to get as much as I can out while it’s fresh on my mind. I’ll try to spread them out a week or so apart as to not bombard you with my Disney withdrawals. If you have questions in the mean time let me know and I’ll answer in the comments and include it in an upcoming post.

~Lil’ J is currently 5 years 7 months. Big T is 2 years 10 months.~

Last year when my husband and I debated which popular Disney theme park we wanted to visit as a family he argued for Disneyland–The one he grew up visiting, and I lobbied for Walt Disney World. –The one I visited once as a child. With four parks vs just two it had to be better right? Wrong.

People who have been to both parks say it’s like comparing apples to oranges and it’s true. Having visited both popular Disney theme park resorts within five months I have a several differences to share about Disneyland vs Disney World and some may surprise you.

I started out with a small list but it kept growing and growing and I wound up with 10 reasons to consider one over the other. And I also am sharing some important amusement park safety tips to keep in mind when you visit either!

While there we met up with De Su Mama and her adorable kiddos for some Disneyland fun, so those are the sweet faces joining us in some of the photos ahead. 

Disneyland vs Walt Disney World: A quick comparison about the differences between the two theme parks.
1. There are just as many rides. Ok, so I’m not 100% sure about this, but in what I’ve read, the numbers add up to about the same at Disney World (4 parks) vs Disneyland (2 parks). The rides are closer together at Disneyland, and there are several that you won’t find at Walt Disney World. It’s a Small World seemed even more magical at Disneyland with really cool sneaky character appearances.

Disneyland vs Walt Disney World: A quick comparison about the differences between the two theme parks.

2. At Disneyland Resort EVERYTHING is close. And it ROCKS. I didn’t even bother with park hoppers at Disney World because we’d have to pack up the stroller, wait for a monorail, and re-enter the parks over and over. At Disneyland (and Disney California Adventure) one day we literally went back and forth at least six times like it was nothing. Running from character greeting to ride, to lunch back and forth across parks. You can actually easily park hop at Disneyland where as for us, it wasn’t worth it to even try at Walt Disney World.

I took a quick video between one trip because I was so amazed.

Downtown Disney is also just right around the corner. No need to get on a ferry ride, plus shuttle plus…etc etc. Getting between parks with kids is SO much simpler at Disneyland. Not only that but there are several inexpensive hotels within walking distance (literally across the street). You won’t find that at Disney World.

Disneyland vs Walt Disney World: A quick comparison about the differences between the two theme parks.

3. Less princesses at Disneyland BUT They’re EVERYWHERE. In just two days Lil’ J met just about every princess at Disneyland, but all 13 (14 including Sophia) of the princesses aren’t even there. Pocahontas is only at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, and Jasmine and Mulan are easily greeted at Epcot. At Disneyland Pocahontas and Mulan didn’t have greetings while we were there, and I’m not sure where Merida was either. However we saw ALL of the other ones just walking around all the time. Belle, Tiana, Aurora, were out near the front of the park. We also saw Mickey and Minnie and their pals all over. Captain Hook just strolled right up to us. It seemed a lot easier to meet the characters at Disneyland.

Disneyland vs Walt Disney World: A quick comparison about the differences between the two theme parks.

4. More tourists at Walt Disney World and locals at Disneyland. So comparing visiting Disney World in the off-season of February, and Disneyland in the dead of the summer, it seemed like Disney World is the more crowded of the two. BUT goodness, Disneyland gets PACKED at night. It’s right in the middle of heavily populated California where many people have season passes and drive in after work to have some hot chocolate and watch fireworks. I felt like many people were heading home early to rest from WDW in the evening, but at Disneyland the party was just getting started.

5. California has better weather. I didn’t even check for rain before we went because California just has such great weather. It’s not as hot and it’s less humid.

Disneyland vs Walt Disney World: A quick comparison about the differences between the two theme parks.

6. Less planning required for Disneyland. I LOVE planning for vacations so it was weird booking dining reservations without a problem, and not needing to schedule fastpasses for rides a month or two in advance. We even got a Bippity Boppity Boutique reservation no problem a day before at Disneyland.

7. More restaurant options at Disney World. There’s no Cinderella’s Castle to dine at in Disneyland however there is Ariel’s Grotto which is fabulous, and you’ll meet 5 princesses while eating there.

Disneyland vs Walt Disney World: A quick comparison about the differences between the two theme parks.

8. Cars Land! Only at Disneyland (well, on the Disney California Adventure side). The Radiator Springs Racers ride is incredible. And if you or your kids like Cars, they’ll love this place. It’s seriously right out of the movie. There’s also Bugs Land which Lil’ J absolutely loved. She met flick and rode her favorite ride… The spinning Lady Bugs (which made me want to barf). And Toonstown, which looks like it’s straight out of a cartoon.

Disneyland vs Walt Disney World

9. Pin trading is cool at either one. I was under the impression that pin trading wasn’t a thing at Disneyland but it is! Sadly we left our lanyards and pins at home, but we saw many cast members wearing pins we could have traded with.

Disneyland vs Walt Disney World: A quick comparison about the differences between the two theme parks.

10. Walt Disney was there. I watched a 2-hour documentary about Walt Disney before going to Disneyland and it truly made me appreciate the visit that much more. Walt really wanted to create a place where parents could ride with their kids, and he succeeded. Disneyland is the one park he lived to walk through and there’s something about that that makes it especially magical.

Bottom line: Both were so much fun and great for families. I’d have to say Disneyland seemed easier to navigate for pure distance sake, which I LOVE for my younger kids and it’s totally worth considering when deciding on a Disney vacation (I used to think Walt Disney World was the only real option).

Walt Disney World is fantastic if you have time to spend and visit all of the various parks, and without strollers, is a piece of cake to navigate. It feels more secluded and like you’re really in a magical little world.

Going forward for my family I think we’ll visit Disneyland for budget-friendly trips 5 days or shorter. and Disney World for trips longer than 5 days.

In December I’ll be able to throw Disney Cruise Line into this comparison.

Disneyland vs Walt Disney World: A quick comparison about the differences between the two theme parks. Cars Land Dress

If you’re planning a theme park visit soon with your family make sure you take a moment to read some amusement park safety tips, especially during the crowded and busy season. It was just Lil’ J and I on this trip but goodness, had I brought her brother he would have been strapped in a stroller or possibly on a toddler leash (the kind I said I’d never use) to keep him close and safe.

amusement park safety tips

Check out some important theme park safety tips that the Allstate Information Team has to share:

  • At either park you’re going to do a lot of walking (don’t forget your fitbit like I did!), so make sure you wear good shoes.
  • Stay hydrated and avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks.
  • Wear lightweight clothing and find shade when you can.
  • Lather up with sunscreen. Don’t forget to reapply throughout the day.
  • Always pay attention to the ride guidelines.

Have you been to more than one Disney Park? Which was your favorite?

This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held insurance company, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.

Disneyland vs Walt Disney World: A quick comparison about the differences between the two theme parks.

I’ll be sharing the adorable Princess Aurora photos we took at the castle next week!

Have you ever had someone say something to you that made your day? Maybe it was a compliment about your style, how you made them feel, or a job well done? What’s the nicest thing someone has ever said to you?

It used to be that compliments about my work made me feel best. When someone praises a photo I took, or tells me a story I wrote moved them to some emotion… Happiness, tears, action. I feel so grateful and appreciated.– Validated if you will.

As I’ve grown older, gotten married, and become a mother, compliments about my children feel like compliments to myself. Hey, I’ll take it. But lately, compliments about my mothering seem to be what brighten my day the most.

When we were on day two Disney World (are you tired of these stories yet?) Lil’ J had basically been scared of most of the rides. We canceled a fastpass for the popular new Mine Train roller coaster after the Peter Pan ride scared her to tears. (To her credit, she was fine until the ride stopped midway through and an announcement came on for us to stay in our seats. She wasn’t fooled, and thought we were trapped).

The best compliment every mom needs. Words every mother should make time to share with another.

We were at Epcot and I had another fastpass for the popular Soarin attraction, that takes you on a sensory ride with wind in your hair, and smells of the scenes around you. I didn’t want to force her on any scary rides, but I knew this would be something she’d enjoy if she gave it a try.

We waited in the fastpass line and were immediately brought up to get on with the next batch of riders since we were only a party of two.

I had a few moments to tell her we’d be pretend flying in the air like they did in the movie Rio.

“On a hang glider?” she asked me.
“Exactly like that!” I told her. “A pretend one!”

When we sat down in our seats she started to get a little nervous while I tried to adjust her seatbelt, and everyone was getting situated. I talked her through it, telling her to look at the big screen, and that we’d be watching a movie on it, and that she could hold my hand.

As the ride started and we began to lift up in the air she squeezed my hand, and I squeezed back, telling her how much fun we were about to have, and that she could look at me instead of the screen if she got scared. I told her we were about to pretend to be like birds and fly!

The screen lit up and we began flying over mountains, trees, the ocean and snow. I whispered to her the entire time. I stayed completely enthused and joyful, making her laugh as we tried to “kick” the surfers and snowboarders. I asked her if she could smell the California oranges and the pine trees. And I encouraged her to look for her Uncle Matt on the ski slopes, or Grandma’s house in what looked like Utah.

I watched her nearly as much as I watched the ride and saw her face change from nervousness to sheer glee.

She was having so much fun and started pointing out everything she saw. I was so proud of her conquering her fears. Right at the very end she saw Tinkerbell and got excited. Then that little fairy cued the fireworks–which we weren’t expecting–and the loud noise and sparks in our face sent her back into tears.

We were so close!

I tried to calm her down and reminded her of all the fun things we saw, and that we love fireworks, but man, we wish we had known those were coming! I was hoping that last tiny little surprise wouldn’t ruin her entire memory of the ride.

I was hugging her and consoling her as we walked out the exit. The older woman who was sitting next to us on the ride approached me. I wasn’t sure if she was going to make a remark about my talking during the experience or what. I didn’t expect what came out of her mouth.

“I just wanted to tell you that you are a great mother!” She smiled and glanced between me and my daughter.

Her words instantly touched me, warmed my heart. She continued.

“You were so great on that ride. She is so lucky to have such a good mom.”

Here I was feeling guilty for not making it through yet another ride without tears, feeling like I was probably being judged for bringing her (almost pushing her) on the ride with me, and this stranger (without a hint of sarcasm) went out of her way to give me the best compliment a mother can receive.

The best compliment every mom needs. Words every mother should make time to share with another.

I’ve thought about that moment several times since then. How it made me feel, and how it makes me want to be. When have I noticed a mother doing her best, maybe even clearly struggling to do so, and reached out to her with words of encouragement, or applause?

In a society with so much negativity and judgement, we need to offer more support and encouragement.

How can I make someone’s day? And I don’t mean by offering a backhanded acknowledgement of some sort like “my, you have your hands full!” I mean a genuine compliment on a stranger’s parenting.

Of course we are never seeing the full-picture in passing, but I think it would be safe to tell a mom she’s doing a great job, when we see a job well done. Especially if it can make her feel as good as I did, when I was feeling as bad as I was.

 

*This post was written as a part of a the #SisterhoodUnited campaign by Similac. Here’s my thoughts on mother’s supporting one another no matter how they feed their babies. All opinions are my own.

I am a huge planner. I enjoy it. But nothing has been as fun to plan as our trip to Disney World. I literally planned more for this last trip than I planned for my entire wedding.

Granted, it’s not saying much cause we had a super small uncomplicated wedding, but still. I was probably just as excited for our Disney trip as our wedding (kidding honey!)

MK_MSCINEMA_7187794929

Although there are tons of Disney blogs all over the internet, I’m going to give you my informative yet simple and concise take on planning a Disney Vacation. Hopefully this will help make it as easy as possible so you can enjoy your vacation once you get there.

1. Choosing the “best time to go”: Although we were there in early February when crowds are relatively “low” it’s still crowded. I mean, it’s always going to be busy, so don’t expect NO lines on a slow week. That’s just silly. But the lines will definitely be much slower (and it may not be as hot, so that’s a perk!) Consider checking out a crowd calendar if you have flexibility for your trip.

2. Figure out where you want to stay and consider a dining plan: We stayed at a relative’s timeshare during our visit, but if that wasn’t the case (and next time we go) we’d probably stay at a Disney value resort or splurge and stay at the Animal Kingdom. That way we can be close to the parks, get free transportation to/from the airport, and possibly get a discounted dining plan (especially if it’s on a discount for your trip).

mickey-mouse

3. Consider using a travel agent: Authorized Disney Vacation planners don’t charge you a thing and can help you find the deals, and book all of your reservations for you in advance. I had WAY too much fun planning each and every detail myself, but if you hate this kind of thing, feel overwhelmed, or just want someone to bounce ideas off of, consider using an agent. I’ve been using with Matt from Wish Upon a Star With Us to help us plan a Disney Cruise vacation and he’s been extremely helpful answering all of my questions, giving me cost comparisons, and answering my emails at the strangest time of day. It’s been nice having someone to bounce ideas off of, who knows all sorts of things I’d never know about the parks and resorts.

Interacting with Snow White at Disney World. 13 tips to planning a Disney World vacation without all the stress! love these tips. #5 is great!

4. Six months out book your dining reservations: Before that, decide where you want to eat and when. There are SO many restaurants, but the popular ones go fast. Which ones are popular? Pretty much any of the ones you can make reservations for, especially the character or themed dining meals. I’d recommend Akershus (in Epcot) or Cinderella’s Royal Table (in Magic Kingdom) if you want to dine with princesses. There are so many options though, so have fun researching which ones you think you’d like before, then 120 days out book it online. You need a credit card to hold your reservation but you’re not charged until you eat. This is another task an agent could help you plan if it’s too overwhelming.

Toddler enjoying toy story mania at Disney World. 13 tips to planning a Disney World vacation without all the stress! love these tips. #5 is great!

5. Book your FastPasses: This is your ticket to skip the long lines for popular attractions. Whether it’s meeting your favorite princess, or riding a popular ride. Everyone gets three each day and they’re free, so there’s no reason to skip this! It may seem like over-planning, but you can always change it while there. And trust me, with amount of people at Disney World these days, it’s wise to have reservations just in case, to save yourself from standing in line for hours.

Toddler enjoying toy story mania at Disney World. 13 tips to planning a Disney World vacation without all the stress! love these tips. #5 is great!

6. Don’t quit trying for reservations: If everything is booked when you are trying for a reservation, don’t get discouraged. Keep checking or calling, something will open up. I called for a Bibbity Boppity Boutique reservation at least a dozen times. The night before I got one at Magic Kingdom and my daughter had a blast. Same went for FastPasses to meet Anna and Elsa (the most popular attraction right now). Don’t give up! Keep trying.

Toddler enjoying toy story mania at Disney World. 13 tips to planning a Disney World vacation without all the stress! love these tips. #5 is great!

7. Rent a stroller locally: Don’t worry about packing your huge double jogger, there are several companies locally you can rent a stroller from. Disney World also has stroller you can rent, but they’re more expensive and less comfortable in my opinion. We used Orlando Stroller Rental. It was the first thing that popped up in google and they ended up being fantastic! They dropped off the stroller to our resort, we used it for a week, then they picked it up from the bellboy as we headed home. It was so nice that they could recline and take naps during the day, and Lil’ J definitely rode more than she walked. There’s also handy stroller parking all over the place, so don’t worry about them getting in the way of lines. It’s SO organized.

packing-for-disney

8. Pack light: Make a list ahead of time to decide what you want to bring. Disney Resorts all have pack n’ plays you can rent for free. The timeshare we stayed at did as well. If you’re bringing a baby or toddler, call your hotel ahead of time and ask if they do too (most do). I probably over-packed on the kids’ outfits, but they had plenty to choose from while we were there, and backups in case of messes.

9. Buy Memory Maker: If you do it ahead of time you’ll save about $20, and if you’re traveling with friends or family you all can link accounts and share a photo package (only one fee!).

Toddler enjoying toy story mania at Disney World. 13 tips to planning a Disney World vacation without all the stress! love these tips. #5 is great!

10. Download the My Disney Experience App: It’s free, and it gives you access to park wait times, the maps, and your FastPasses. As well as your dining reservations, and other things I’m probably not remembering.

11. Make a countdown: Because what better way to get excited for your trip? I just used an app on my phone, but if we hadn’t been surprising our kids the day of, I probably would have made a fun Mickey Mouse paper chain or something.

Toddler enjoying toy story mania at Disney World. 13 tips to planning a Disney World vacation without all the stress! love these tips. #5 is great!

12. Join some FB groups: This was probably the single most helpful part of planning my trip. I joined a Disney World Junkies group, and asked several questions that were answered almost immediately. The a woman saw my questions and invited me to a Disney World February 2015 group (yes, I know it sounds like a birth club). It was a smaller group and everyone was so helpful and informative. I found out about fastpasses and reservations others visiting the same time as us were giving up. Super helpful if you’re trying to book a trip last minute! Search and see if you can find a social group visiting the same month as you.

Toddler enjoying Tigger at Disney World. 13 tips to planning a Disney World vacation without all the stress! love these tips. #5 is great!

13. Be flexible: As much planning as I’ve touted in this post, it’s important to be ready and willing to go with the flow as things arise. I had to change almost every fastpass and ended up canceling two dining reservations the day before because plans changed.

Whether you’re planning for a vacation you’re dreaming to take years from now, or you decided to go on a last-minute road trip, keeping these things in mind will make your trip less stressful, and even more magical.

Let me know if I’ve forgotten anything you have questions about! Or if you’ve been and have more tips for first-timers who are reading this please share in the comments!

Disney-World-2015_0308-copy

I’m speaking in Disney movie quotes and song since getting back three weeks ago. And my poor husband hasn’t gone one day without me talking to him about my obsession. He is a fan of Disney but I don’t think he’d call himself a Disney fan. But I can tell that’s changing. He has dance parties with our kids in the garage and listens to Disney radio on Pandora, racing to name the song before our daughter. He’s beginning to hold his own.

Disney World debate: He says/ She says

Day by day we’re making our way through all of the animated classics he hasn’t seen (which sadly is a lot). He’ll get there.

Meanwhile I’ve reorganized all of our animated Disney movies in alphabetical order and ordered the half a dozen movies I didn’t already have to complete my collection. I’ve persuaded friends from work to change their current spring break plans for a trip to Disney World (and succeeded!).

I’ve told every unsuspecting soul how Disney World is the place to be and given random tips to remember for that trip some day.

I’ve spend an irrational amount of time wondering how difficult it would be to relocate to Orlando.

And I’ve been researching the other Disney parks to see where we should visit next. I found a list of top 10 Disney parks and discovered Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland. Then it hit me…

She says: You know there are Disney parks all over the world? I want to make it a goal to visit them all some day.
He says: What?
She says: There’s two Disney parks in Tokyo! And one in Paris! That would be so awesome to visit before I die!
He says: That’s crazy, why not just keep going back to Disney World?
She says: Well, it would be fun to see what the other ones are like around the world.
He says: That’s just a dumb goal, I don’t want to go to Japan!
She says: Well… I could take the kids…
He says: Take the–
She says: When they’re older!
He says: *frustrated sigh*
She says: Ok maybe I should have said it’s a DREAM of mine to do something like that some day, not a goal. Maybe my goal will be to visit the other parks in the US and do a Disney cruise. A lot of people even rank Disneyland higher than Magic Kingdom.
He says: Whatever, World is way better, there’s way more to do.

… Is this really my husband talking? Remember this conversation? The transformation is working! He’ll be a Disney fanatic in no time.

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget



I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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