Monday, May 16, 2016

Disney World Planning in Progress

I have planned and gone on two Disney Cruises (find all of my cruise posts here) with my family now, so I feel a little like a pro when it comes to that aspect of Disney.  We'd planned on booking another cruise while onboard the Disney Wonder in January, but decided at the last minute that we'd like to try our hands at Disney World for our next family vacation.  Once I had nailed down dates, I did what I do best and started obsessing over trip planning.  I thought there was a lot to learn to plan a cruise, but holy heck, Disney World planning is nuts!

The first thing I did was talk to our Disney travel agent and get some advice from her on places to stay, the amount of time to stay, and get information on package options.  If you are going to plan any type of Disney trip, I highly recommend using a Disney authorized travel agent.  They are free to use and it has been such a tremendous asset in planning our vacations.  I can't say enough good things about Carrie Johnson at Small World Vacations.  If you need an agent, she's been an amazing help for all our trips.  She recommended 5-7 days in the parks for a first visit, and with our schedules we are able to do the full week.  I looked through the different resort options, did a little research, and based a lot of my decision making on price.  In the end I chose Port Orleans Riverside and when I asked our travel agent, she said liked that resort very much.  We also decided to do the Disney dining plan.  I've read reviews for pros and cons of the plan, and I really do think it will be the best option for my family.  We shall find out in October!

As soon as I had nailed down dates, resort, park tickets, and dining details I pretty much just started adding every bit of Disney World info I could find to my Pinterest board.  I have boards for Disney World and for Disney Cruises that you are welcome to follow to save yourself the time of searching through everything.  I am an obsessive planner, what can I say?

Aside from using our travel agent and Pinterest, I picked up a book called The Unofficial Guide to Walt Dinsey World 2016 from the library (recommended by my travel agent) that has more information than you can even imagine.  When I had no plan at all, this book was overwhelming.  Once I had mapped out a few things it became incredibly helpful and I just keep renewing it from my library instead of returning it.  I have used it a lot and definitely recommend it.

So far, the only other big planning thing I've had to do was make our dining reservations.  This was a really overwhelming task for me and I am not sure what I would have done if I hadn't been able to chat with my travel agent about it.  I'd read some different blogs and posts on Pinterest about how to best use the dining plan and recommended restaurants, but there are so many to choose from that I didn't even know where to begin.  My husband thinks I'm nuts, but I sat down and made an Excel spreadsheet to keep everything organized.  I had to first decide the order we wanted to do the parks in, and how many times we plan to go to each park because I opted out of Park Hopper tickets.  I just didn't see my family going from one park to another in the same day, so the cost didn't seem worth it to me.  I broke each day down into breakfast/lunch/dinner and kept a running total of what dining credits we'd be using for each meal.  I told my travel agent that we'd like to do some character meals, but didn't want them all that way, and she gave me an amazing list of her restaurant recommendations for each park.  I looked through the menus and reviews for each of those restaurants and then made my list of where we wanted to eat each day.  You may begin making dining reservations at 6am EST 180 days out from your vacation date.  There were a few restaurants that we really, really wanted to go to and I'd read that you have to be on right away to make reservations.  To add to the list of things I do that make my family think I'm crazy, I got up before 4am (because we are MST) to make our dining reservations.  I was able to reserve everything I wanted to, so to me it was worth it.  I lucked out and it was on a weekend, so I just took a nap later that morning to make up for it.

My next big planning task will be to figure out FastPass+ reservations.  Luckily I have a few friends who live in Florida that frequent Disney World and they've offered to give me some advice with this part of my planning.  I still need to figure out flights and a handful of other little things for the trip, but I feel like I've got the big things covered so far.  I love a good project, which is what this trip planning is.  I'm excited to share more of what I learn with everyone and we can't wait to experience the magic of Disney again!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Art of Procrastination - Wrapping Up the School Year

In the fall I wrote this post about my need to get the kids back to school and back into a routine. Well, here is my late spring post about needing to get the heck out of school and dive head first into summer. The last few weeks of school always seem to be packed with projects, choir concerts, presentations, and craziness.  I've got to believe I'm not the only one who lives in survival mode for the majority of the month of May each year.  Show of hands please?

I'm a crazy planner, so it may come as a surprise to those of you that know me, to find out that I consider myself a professional procrastinator.  It is an art, and I don't mean to brag, but I'm sooooooo good at it.  Like, really, really good you guys.  I don't care if you tell me that something needs to be done months in advance, I promise you, I will complete whatever it is with approximately 12 hours to spare (on a good day).  Yes, I'm aware that this is stressful and is an unfavorable way to go about life, but I'm certain that I can't function any other way at this point.  I like to say that I work best under pressure.  I will have it written on every possible calendar and have a list of all the things I need to do to complete the task, but I will without a doubt be working right up until the final hour.  To make life a little more fun, my kids both seem to have inherited this trait from me.  To them it is no big deal at 7:00 am to mention that they have to take snacks to school, or to tell me at 7:00 pm that they have a big assignment due the next morning.  Every time this happens, we have a big talk about not waiting till the last minute, but deep down I can't even be mad at them.  I've been that way my whole life.

Yes, this is us...


[proh-kras-tuh-ney-shuh n, pruh‐] 


the act or habit of procrastinatingor putting off or delaying, especiallysomething requiring immediate attention:
She was smart, but her constant procrastination led her to be late withalmost every assignment.
Both kids have had some major projects due the last couple weeks.  R is in 1st grade and her class was assigned a big animal research project at the beginning of the trimester.  I will say that we actually worked on that a little at a time for about two weeks prior to the due date.  We did however, still have a giant poster we had to make the night before.  She has one more project due next week and then she can sail into summer.  J is in 6th grade and also had a big project due last week.  Luckily the majority of the research for that had been done during class throughout the trimester, but again we were making a poster and cooking a Brazilian recipe the night before.  I'm pretty sure he feels like school should have ended after the presentation of that project because he'd worked so long on it.  Not much longer to go and he's done with all the big stuff.  So, we had a crazy little dash of projects in the last week, but I will say that both kids totally nailed them. 

We have made it through several projects, two presentations, a choir concert, the school carnival and field day. Not to mention that we've been to dance classes and a competition, baseball practice, and soccer practice/games.  There are 8.5 days left of school and I'm finally feeling confident that we are  going to make it through!  Summer will be here before we know it, at which point we'll gradually drive each other crazy until school starts again in the fall.
It is the circle of life folks.


How to Start Planning Your Disney Cruise

How to Start Planning Your Disney Cruise   Our family has been on three Disney Cruises so far, and we've sailed on three of the...