Wordless Wednesday

My Princess Minnie Mouse coffee cozy hand-made by my FABULOUS sister-in-law!

Wordless Wednesday

DisneySMMoms Celebration 2011: A Day of Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living ~ Part Two

DisneySMMoms Celebration 2011
A Day of Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living ~ Part Two

After spending a fabulous afternoon playing at EPCOT, we headed over to World Showplace for a special Magic of Healthy Living press event and dinner. I also had the privilege of attending an informative question and answer session with some of the Disney Channel Stars as well as some other folks involved with the MOHL campaign.

While there, we learned that Walt Disney World has fed over 440,000 guests that have a food intolerance of some sort. We also learned that WDW is changing their options in restaurants to offer more healthy choices to guests. Alyson Stoner joked around saying that cake is an important part of a healthy diet. Then on a more serious note, explained that health is not an appearance but a lifestyle, rather than a fad.

There was also a young lady on the stage named Katie Stagliano who had lots to tell us about gardening at home. She was literally a book of knowledge about growing your own vegetables, entertaining kids while teaching them to eat healthy, and using food as a vehicle to talk about history, science, and culture. I had a chance to speak with her after the session and she was truly an amazing girl. She donates a lot of the vegetables she grows to local food kitchens. She even has her own website called Katie’s Krops! You should really check out her site and read her story!

In between the press conference and dinner, we had a chance to mingle with the celebrities. Our kids have been HUGE Wizards of Waverly Place fans for years and they were INSANELY excited to meet and have a picture with Jennifer Stone, who plays Harper on the very popular series. You can tell how excited Zach is simply by his smile, teeth showing and all!

Next, we met Daniel Curtis Lee, who plays Kojo on The Disney Channel’s Zeke and Luther! Sorry about the blurry/dark pics! They were taken on my blackberry with no flash, but, you get the idea!

The tables for dinner looked so beautiful and each had a gorgeous flower bouquet in the center.

This was our menu for dinner:

Heirloom Tomato Water with Basil Essence and White Balsamic

Fregola, Lentils, Quinoa, and Burgundy Amaranth

Watermelon Radish, Rainbow Carrot, and Quick Pickled Cucumber Summer Roll with Ponzu Sauce

Pan-Seared Poulet Rouge Breast with Heirloom Beans

Paired With

Slow Poached US Wild Caught Striped Bass with Preserved Lemon and “EPCOT The Land” Harvested Greens

Mickey Mouse Polenta with Toasted Flaxseed

House Made Multigrain Baguette with Edamame Hummus

I have to admit, when I saw this, I was a bit scared. I didn’t really *get* what most of it was.

Our kids ate the Mickey Mouse Polenta and their carrots but that was about it. My hubby and I picked at some of it, but it wasn’t really our cup of tea. So, we went and grabbed a quick service meal at La Cantina De San Angel on our way out to the Illuminations Dessert Party location, but not before Mickey and his friends came out to play with the Disney Channel Stars for a bit!

After all of the dancing was finished and people were starting to head outside, Molly spotted Kenton Duty who plays Gunther from The Disney Channel’s Shake It Up and made a new buddy for the rest of the evening!

We were excited to go to the special Illuminations Dessert Party where they had all sorts of healthy choices that were really good! Every time I looked for Molly, she was standing in the middle of a group of the Disney Channel Stars, but RIGHT next to Gunther always!

We have always enjoyed Illuminations at EPCOT and this night was especially wonderful! What a great way to end another fabulous Disney Social Media Moms Celebration!

Disclosure: I paid to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. In exchange for my registration fee, I received deeply discounted rates on hotel, park tickets, events, meals, and swag. I am not required nor was I asked to write about the events by Disney or any other party affiliated with the event. Thoughts are 100% my own.

DisneySMMoms Celebration 2011: A Day of Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living ~ Part One

DisneySMMoms Celebration 2011
A Day of Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living ~ Part One

As most of you know, I had an amazing time and learned so much at last year’s Disney Social Media Moms event. Well, they stepped up the Disney magic this year…BIG TIME!

One of the many things they did was giving us the option of choosing one of three great events for the last day of the celebration. The choices included going on Disney’s new Wild Africa Trek tour at Animal Kingdom, Food Talk with a Disney Chef and Disney Restaurant Manager/Sommelier, or Disney Magic of Healthy Living: Play Your Way kids’ games.

We chose the MOHL Play Your Way kids’ games because it was the one where our entire family could participate. The event took place in the grassy area right outside of the International Gateway entrance to EPCOT. Our kids were really excited and they had a great time, plus, they got some great MOHL swag to take home on top of the experience! A healthy lunch was served to all the kids and families afterwards too! Here are a couple of examples of the offerings:

It was really a great experience to mingle with everyone who attended while we all ate lunch. I also had a little bit of chat time with Laura Spencer and her family who I absolutely adore!

Laura and I

We had a really fun and active morning and spent the rest of our afternoon enjoying EPCOT! I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you about our evening!

Disclosure: I paid to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. In exchange for my registration fee, I received deeply discounted rates on hotel, park tickets, events, meals, and swag. I am not required nor was I asked to write about the events by Disney or any other party affiliated with the event. Thoughts are 100% my own.

DisneySMMoms Celebration 2011: Private Party Along the Shores of The Grand Floridian

DisneySMMoms Celebration 2011: Private Party
Along the Shores of The Grand Floridian

 

Have you ever been riding the monorail and noticed that sandy beach area next to the Wedding Pavilion just before the Grand Floridian stop? Well, that is where our dinner party took place on the first night of Disney Social Media Moms. If I tell you it was amazing, that wouldn’t even begin to describe it!

Disney had a sand sculptor make a sculpture of the DisneySMMoms logo! How cool is that?

The food was amazing! They had these great little salads served in cones and they had watermelon in them! YUM-O!

Since this event was not only for the conference attendees, but the families as well, of course there was lots for the kids to do! There was a carnival set up on the other end of the beach with games and characters roaming around in their carnival attire. My kids both won a bucket load of prizes including a fabulous sandcastle-shaped bucket with a matching shovel! They had so much fun!

There was also live music!

My daughter was very chatty with the musicians and HAD to have her picture taken with them. She really enjoyed listening to them!

The people of Main Street were there too, having a great time chatting with everyone.

We had plenty of casual time to walk around and connect with some of the bloggers we’d interacted with prior to the celebration. I was really excited to meet Ashley, Lori, Amanda, and many more of my tweeps! It was so much fun to not be rushed and our kids were having the time of their lives with the characters and games. What a wonderful experience!

We could have gone to a park after that evening’s festivities but we decided to watch the fireworks from the shore and just soak in everything the Grand Floridian had to offer us that evening. It was amazing.

Disclosure: I paid to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. In exchange for my registration fee, I received deeply discounted rates on hotel, park tickets, events, meals, and swag. I am not required nor was I asked to write about the events by Disney or any other party affiliated with the event. Thoughts are 100% my own.

Walt Disney World Adventure – A Field Guide & Activity Book For Explorers

Walt Disney World Adventure
A Field Guide & Activity Book For Explorers

 

If you are looking for a really fun and educational tool to use while you explore Walt Disney World with your children, “Walt Disney World Adventure” by Tracie Cook is the guide for you and your family!

This book has four sections, one for Magic Kingdom Park, one for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, one for EPCOT, and one for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In each of those sections you’ll find Explorer Challenges, all sorts of trivia, fun things to look for while you’re on your vacation, and tips from other children just like yours! There are even Explorer Challenges, pages to get autographs from characters and much, much more!

Now that we are semi-local, we drive down to Walt Disney World on a pretty regular basis. We brought the field guide with us on our last trip and our kids actually sat next to each other and worked on answering some of the trivia questions during our car trip! It was awesome! They are 9 and 13, and usually they are arguing about something instead of doing any of the fun things they have in the car to keep them occupied. They were also pretty excited to get into the parks to figure out some of the things they weren’t sure of.

Last time we were down, we visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park one day and Magic Kingdom Park the other. The kids have just barely touched on the in-park activities and are so excited for our next trip down so they can work on it some more! Fortunately, our next trip is in just a couple of days!

If you have “Explorers” in your family, you will want to have this book before your next trip down to Walt Disney World! Be sure to check out Tracie’s website too for more great information about exploring the parks with your children!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review. Thoughts are 100% my own.

No Ordinary Family

ABC is looking for the Most EXTRAORDINARY Family in America!

Every Family is EXTRAORDINARY in its own way. You don’t need super strength or super speed like the Powells in the new ABC Series, NO ORDINARY FAMILY to be EXTRAORDINARY. Are you a single parent raising your kids and volunteering at the local community center? Are your kids on the honor roll while you work full time and are still able to coach little league? ABC knows there are EXTRAORDINARY families out there and they want to hear your story!

Submit a video telling them what makes your family EXTRAORDINARY and they might send you on NO ORDINARY VIP vacation — 5 days and 4 nights at the WALT DISNEY WORLD® RESORT in Florida. VIP vacation package for four (4) includes:

• Roundtrip airfare and ground transfers
• Hotel accommodations for four nights including a one-night stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite at the Magic Kingdom® Park
• $1,500 Disney Gift Card
• VIP guided tour
• VIP viewing to select parades and shows
• VIP Disney Character Meet and Greet opportunity with keepsake photo
• Magic Your Way Tickets with Park Hopper® & Water Park Fun & More options
The top 5 video submissions will be posted here from September 27 through October 1 and America will decide who wins this EXTRAORDINARY vacation package to the Walt Disney World® Resort.

Click HERE to enter!

First Look Inside “it’s a small world” And Meeting Snow White…

I did a little bit more digging and found a pic of M inside of “it’s a small world” and she was just mesmerized by the whole thing. Look at her face:

And I found one more princess picture! This time, our little princess was awake for it but she wasn’t too sure what to think, so I had to jump into the picture with them. This was her first character interaction! It was really fun and this Snow White was just beautiful! In case you missed my previous post about M’s big brother stepping in for princess pictures while she was napping, take a look!

It’s such a treat to find these old pics! Having these wonderful experiences & seeing them through the eyes of my children is what has made Disney such a special vacation for our family every single time we go!

People often ask me why I’m not tired of Disney vacations yet & I just laugh…I could never get tired of something so wonderful! How about you? What keeps your family returning to Disney year after year?

First Look At “it’s a small world” And Disney Princesses…

This first trip to Disneyland was such a treasure and the start of many wonderful Disney Parks vacations to come.

I’m going to give you a little bit of history here to start. My mom used to fly down with my brother [who is 13 years younger than me] to California every so often to visit my Grandma. They would go to Disneyland & play after dinner sometimes. Their routine was that they always rode “it’s a small world” first thing. My mom absolutely LOVES that ride! It is her very favorite! Here is a picture that I absolutely treasure:

This is my mom, holding M looking at “it’s a small world” for the very first time! You can just see the wonder and amazement in M’s eyes as she watches what is happening…she didn’t know what to think! Look at the wonderful smile on my mom’s face too! She was so excited to see this & sharing it with her grandchildren was awesome & just such a sweet moment!

Z was such a prince on this trip too! M, being only 2, napped quite a bit during our park-touring time & it just so happened that when the Disney Princesses were all out in their places around the Sleeping Beauty Castle, she was napping! So, Z very modestly said that since it was so important to me that we got autographs & pics of them all, he would step in and take the pictures…FOR ME! What a great sport!

First we met Cinderella….

Next, we met Belle…

Then we met Aurora in her blue dress…

And finally Ariel in her Grotto, Z’s favorite of them all!

It was very fun and we just loved how much attention each princess gave to him and were so excited to see him! It was cute because every one of them told him how cool it was that he was doing this for his sister & his mom!

Kids Getting Ready For First Trip To Disneyland…

I was organizing some pictures from one of the old computers & found a couple of cute ones of the kids getting ready to go on their very first trip to Disneyland! Very fun! Z’s cheesy grin says it all & M just wanted to get in the suitcase & go ~ some things still haven’t changed, LOL!

DSCF0003

Let's go guys

Disneyland: The Travel Agent, The Planning, And The FOOD

Goofy's Kitchen

Sometime during the spring of 2003, we were sitting with the family discussing how my husband and I and our 2 kids (ages 1 & 5 at that time) were going to go to NYC for a couple weeks that summer for my half-sister S’s sweet sixteen party. Now, let me first tell you that I am not an airplane person at all…never really have been. So, when my mom heard me say that we were going to New York, she said, “you’re getting on an airplane?” I told her that my step-mom, (may she rest in peace) convinced me to bring the kids out because we’d get to see everyone and S really would love us to be at her party. My mom right away said that we needed to go to Disneyland with the kids if I was willing to get on an airplane, to which I totally agreed! :)

So, she called her travel agent the very next day and booked a trip for us all to go down for President’s Week. The travel agent booked everything for us. I wasn’t involved in any of the planning at all, which is unbelievable to me now! There were 7 of us total. It was me, my husband, our 5 year old son, our 2 year old daughter, my mom, my step-dad and my brother. We didn’t have any dining reservations at all. All we knew was that we were staying at The Disneyland Hotel in connecting rooms that had a kitchenette and living room in between the bedrooms. We were flying into the John Wayne airport and had the Super Shuttle arranged to take us from the airport to the resort and back to the airport at the end of our trip.

We really didn’t know much of anything about the resort or the park itself except for what we’d seen on the Disneyland website, which was nothing like it is today. We had a few questions for the travel agent here and there but she was not very helpful at all. It was rather interesting because she acted like she couldn’t be bothered most of the time when we called. I was not really sure why this was the case but we were still excited nonetheless and pretty much had no idea of what to expect.

We had a rather interesting experience in dining without any reservations. It was practically impossible to get in to any sit down restaurant. Everywhere we went had a sign up that they were not taking walk-in diners. So, needless to say, we just did the best we could and ate whatever we could find until we stumbled upon Granville’s Steak House (which is now Steakhouse 55) near the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel. We decided, on our 3rd day, that we needed to have breakfast at a restaurant instead of instant oatmeal in our room. Boy, are we glad we did that! Our server was A and she was awesome. Not only was she a great server, but she gave us all sorts of tips about how to tour the Parks. As soon as she figured out that we didn’t have a clue about what we should be doing, she started telling us about fascinating things that you would never know about or even think to ask. It was so cool and we just loved it! We actually wanted her to just leave work and come spend the rest of our vacation with us. I could tell that she had a passion about her workplace like no one I’d ever known. We enjoyed a couple more meals there just so we could hang out with A more and pick her brain! Oh yah, the food was amazing too and very reasonably priced! We really thought it would be cool to eat next door at Goofy’s Kitchen so she helped us get a reservation for the following morning. We were very excited and the kids had a fabulous time!

Notice where M is looking in this picture! More about that later!