Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Thursday Thirteen

Since we are on the subject of packing tips I thought I would share my list of "must have" items to pack for a trip with the kids. After packing up all the essential items (clothing, toiletries, prescriptions, etc...) you may want to add the items on this list. Obviously it is not a comprehensive list of everything you need on your next family vacation--just some of the items that I have found came in handy:
1. Ziploc Baggies-- I put these first because they really come in handy. They are great for storing items that leak, soiled clothing, snacks and so much more.
2. Binoculars-Kids love to get a better view of things. Pack a miniature pair to save space.
3. Wet wipes-Even if your kids are out of diapers these will most likely come in handy to wipe sticky hands and faces.
4. Floatation Devices -If you are staying somewhere with a pool and your little ones don't swim you will be glad you packed them.
5. Sunscreen--We prefer the spray on variety. Don't forget protective lip balm while your at it. Nothing ruins a vacation faster than a bad sunburn.
6. Snacks - Pack enough non-perishable snacks for the entire trip. Avoid anything that can be easily squished or messy.
7. Rain Ponchos and travel sized umbrellas-Why let a little rain spoil your plans?
8. Stainstick or other stain remover-Stains are bound to happen--why let them set in until the end of your trip?
9. Wrinkle Release Spray- Your clothes are going to wrinkle. This may save you from having to iron.
10.Small toys or travel games-Keep the kids busy. I may do a separate 13 on ideas for this. Stay tuned...
11.Favorite blanket or stuffed animal (for bedtime)-It is hard to sleep in a strange place. This familiar item will relieve some of the anxiety associated with traveling.
12. Medical kit: -Thermometer, Neosporin, Band Aids, Children's Tylenol, any prescription medication
13. Cereal or Breakfast bars--This is a great money and time saver. Plan on eating in your hotel room. Don't forget the plastic spoons.
Have anymore great items that I forgot to include on this packing list? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday

Here is my travel tip for today:

When taking a vacation that involves the potential for lost luggage (such as flying or cruising), make sure to pack a little bit of everyone's clothes in each suitcase. If someone's bag gets lost, there will at least be a few outfits in the other suitcases.

This tip may be something that everyone already does, but it never really occured to me until I had read it online a few years ago before one of our vacations. Although it felt a little odd at first, it is now a MUST for us.

No lost luggage yet, but if it were to happen we will be prepared.
To see more WFMW tips, visit Rocks in my Dryer.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Rumor Has It...

Disney may be planning a new theme park in Branson, Missouri.

Read this article for more details

Friday, April 20, 2007

Frugal Friday

Here's a quick travel tip for you:
When you rent a car, it is not always necessary to purchase the additional rental insurance. If you already own a car, a lot of times your regular car insurance policy will also cover a rental. Another possibility is that the credit card that you use to rent the car will also cover rental cars as a benefit. A quick call to both will get the answer and you can decide if it is enough coverage to decline adding it on.
Why spend the extra money if you are already covered?

For more Frugal Fridays posts visit Biblical Womanhood.
Looking for more money saving vacation tips--sign up for my travel deals newsletter.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Narcoosee's Review

In honor of the FREE Dining promotion at Walt Disney World this fall, we are featuring reviews of different WDW restaurants on our blog. If you have a review that you would like to submit, please contact us.

Who better to review one of the most romantic restaurants in Walt Disney World than a newlywed?

We are happy to feature a review of Narcoossee's written by one of our readers named Heather. She agreed to let us post her review and photos of her meal on our blog. Thanks Heather!!

Our Review of Narcoossee's Restaurant

The last night of our January 2007 Honeymoon, we had reservations for 6:00 at Narcoossees. This was by far our favorite meal of the trip, I am so glad it was the last night, it was a great way to top off our disneymoon!

We got there at about 5 till 6:00, and were seated right away. It was pretty empty in there, so we got a seat by the window, and it still wasn't quite dark so we could see the castle and the water, the view was great!. Our server was a middle aged lady who was so sweet. We told her it was the last night of our honeymoon, and she brought us complementary champagne. how nice!

The bread we started off with was very good, and my husband ordered crab cakes for appetizer and I ordered some kind of cheese platter. ( we were using two TS credits each on the Dining Plan)
Our Appetizers:

Then I ordered the filet mignon for my entrée, and I told her I wanted the steak a little pink in the middle and she said they would butterfly it. I was hoping they would cook it right, sometimes there seems to be problems with this at different restaurants! My husband ordered the whole Maine lobster for his entrée. our appetizers came very quickly and my husband said the crab cakes were really good, and well...I'm sure the cheese would be good to a normal non picky person, but I don't like weird stuff. I ate some of it that was good, but to me some of it just wasn't great. My husband liked it though.

Our food came out in about 20 minutes or so, and my husbands lobster was HUGE! It was 2 and 1/4 pounds. we both began to eat and MAN was it GOOD! I eat a lot of steak, and am very much a meat and potatoes girl, but this was amazing! whatever glaze they put on it was awesome! They cooked it just right. I usually get full quickly but I ate every bite!

So we ordered dessert next, and I got the sorbet and my husband got the almond crusted cheesecake (we were going to share both). The cheesecake...oh my gosh SO GOOD! if you like cheesecake this is a must! we were so full but stuffed it in anyway! The sorbet was good too. Lots of fresh fruit, it all hit the spot!
As we were leaving wishes was starting, and it was amazing!
The thing I liked about this place is we were there for 2 hours, and never felt rushed to leave to give our table to someone else. We will definitely be going back here!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thursday Thirteen

13 Local Places I Want To Visit With My Kids This Summer

East Fort Avenue, Baltimore

Hunt Valley, Maryland to PA Line

3. Carrie Murray Nature Center

1901 Ridetop Rd, Baltimore

25 Light St, Baltimore

5. Presidential Pet Museum

1102 Wrighton Road, Lothian

6. Rocks State Park

3318 Rocks Chrome Hill Road, Jarrettsville

1800 Glenallen Avenue, Wheaton

8. Chesapeake Beach Water Park

4079 Gordon Stinnett Ave, Chesapeake Beach

41 Tailwinds Lane, North East

10. Smith Island Visitor's Center

20846 Caleb Jones Road, Smith Island

2145 Key Wallace Drive, Cambridge

401 East Pratt Street, Baltimore


The Maryland Once Upon A Trip Family Travel Club has plans to visit these spots, as well as, other fun family destinations in surrounding states. We are always looking for new members interested in joining us.

Want to find out more about these 13 and other fun things to do with the family in Maryland, check out this book:

Thirteen Things about YOUR NAME

1…. Start your list here!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

"Looking for Peter Pan aboard the Disney Wonder"
Want to see more Wordless Wednesdays? Visit 5 Minutes for Moms

Wordless Wednesday

Snorkeling with the sea turtles in Akumel Bay (Riviera Maya, Mexico)

To see more Wordless Wednesday pictures, visit 5 Minutes for Mom.

Works For Me Wednesday

Yet another post about food. I'm starting to see a pattern here. :)

I'm not sure where I read this tip, but I think it was on a Disney message board or email group. I would love to give credit to whomever came up with this awesome money saving idea, but I just don't remember where I read it.

To save money on food, try ordering a double cheeseburger and then ask for an extra bun. They may charge you an extra dollar or two for the bun, but it will be a lot cheaper than buying two burgers.

This tip is a way to save money on food at WDW, but I'm sure this could be applied to eating out in other places.

I love burgers and I love saving money so this tip works for me!!

To see more WFMW tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Need Directions to Paris?

Since this is a travel related blog, I thought I would share a funny way to get from NY to Paris.

Go to Google Maps.

At the top, click on Get Directions.

Put New York, NY in the first block and Paris, France in the second block.

When the directions come up, scroll down to #23.

I thought this was pretty funny! I wonder how many people will give it a try. Thanks, but no thanks, Google.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Frugal Friday--Disney on the Cheap

Who doesn't love to save money? I know I'm always looking for ways to cut corners and put away a little more into my vacation fund. For lots of frugal ideas, check out Biblical Womanhood.

Here is my tip:

I found this article on USA Today about "Doing Disney on the Cheap". There are lots of really good suggestions in the article including:
-Staying in a Value Resort or campground
-Not getting the hopper pass and just doing one park per day
-Pack breakfast items to eat in your room
-Do counter service meals instead of sit downs

Probably the best deal that Disney offers all year is the Free Dining Plan. If you can go in late August/September, this is your best option. The crowds are low, the weather is still warm enough for swimming and who doesn't love FREE FOOD??!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

'Ohana Means Family

On our first night in Disney World, we visited 'Ohana's for dinner. It had been a long day of traveling and we were looking forward to a nice, relaxing, savory dinner. Well, this place did not disappoint us. In fact, it was probably our favorite meal of the trip.

We took the bus to the Magic Kingdom and then the monorail to the Polynesian Resort to get to the restaurant. This was a bonus magical experience because we got to sit up front and be co-pilots. The kids loved this (and the grown ups thought it was pretty cool too)!

When you arrive at the restaurant you sign in and relax in the lounge while waiting for your table. The theme here is Polynesian, so it really puts you in vacation mode. Be prepared to wait even with an advanced dining reservation--this is a popular restaurant.

Once seated, the food started coming and didn't stop. They start you off with Fried Won tons served with peanut sauce, chimichurri sauce and harissa mixed greens with a honey-lime dressing. This is followed by appetizers: Spicy-sweet and sour shrimp and Honey-coriander chicken wings. Can I just tell you that at this point we were all pretty much full and they hadn't even brought the main course. The main course is a carnivore's dream come true. You are served marinated meats (steak, pork and turkey) on skewers. The sides were stir fried veggies and scalloped potatoes. You definitely want to bring your appetite!!

We were on the free dining plan, but I think this place is well worth the cost of $25.99 for adults and $11.99 for children 3-9. You definitely get your money's worth with all the food they bring. I think we would have been full for the rest of the trip from just this one meal!

This is all you care to eat and is served family style (served on a Lazy Susan in the middle of the table). I really like family style over buffet--so much more relaxing--especially with young kids that need help getting their food.

'Ohanas has a really great atmosphere for adults, but is fun for the whole family. They have fun activities including a coconut race and a hula hoop contest. These were really cute to watch and our kids really enjoyed them.

Overall, I rate 'Ohana's an A+ and I look forward to going back again this December!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dinner with a Princess, a Prince, two mice and a Fairy Godmother -- What's Not to Love?

A Royal Experience

1900 Park Fare

During our Disney vacation, I wanted my daughter (then 5) to dine with Cinderella without having to go into the parks to do so. 1900 Park Fare in Disney's Grand Floridian provided the perfect opportunity!

This was to be a girls only dinner -- thus the men stayed home and fended for themselves while four generations of women in my family went off to dine with royalty!
To say that Disney's Grand Floridian is a perfect setting for a Cinderella dinner would be an understatement. One can not walk into the lobby of the GF and not feel at least slightly in awe at the beautiful and elegant furnishings. 1900 Park Fare is located right off the main lobby so it is an easy walk from the parking lot or monorail stop.

We had a minimal wait before we were escorted to our table. As with all Disney character dining experiences, we were told that Cinderella, Prince Charming and Suzie and Perla would come to our table individually and that there was no need to get up to go see them elsewhere in the restaurant.

We anxiously helped ourselves to the lavish buffet and were in a for a treat. Luckily, I had done some research online about this particular dining experience and had read that an absolute must-try was the chilled strawberry soup. It was wonderful! I am so glad I had read that bit of advice or I would have easily passed it up as not something I would care for. I liked it so much, in fact, that I have since my return made the soup at home for a special occasion meal.

The other items on the buffet were equally as tasty. My daughter enjoyed the children's buffet, as well as, the fresh fruit on the adult one.

Throughout the meal we were visited by Suzie and Perla, Prince Charming and of couse, Princess Cindrella. All were wonderful to meet but Cinderella poseses such a sweet nature that it is great to see her interact with young girls.

Full beyond belief, we exited the restaurant only to encounter the Fairy Godmother herself waiting for us in the lobby.

All in all, a magical meal we will definitly remember.

Would you like to dine with royalty?

Disney is offering a delicious new offer -- Guests can experience the magic of the Disney Dining Plan for free during select travel dates. Click here for more information.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Zippideedoodah--Free Dining Is BACK!!

Rumors have been floating around for weeks that Disney is going to be offering the FREE Dining package again! They have done it the past couple of Septembers.

Well, it is no longer a rumor! FREE DINING IS BACK!!!!! This is a substantial savings! A family of four (2 adults, 1 junior and 1 child) will save almost $900 off their package price!

The Disney Dining Plan allows you to choose from over 100 restaurants throughout the Walt Disney Resort and costs 38.99 per adult (10 and over) and 10.99 per child, per night. This is an unbelievable savings!!!

At this point they are only allowing Disney Visa card holders to make take advantage of this deal, but it is expected to be opened up to the general public on April 12th or 13th.The travel dates are August 26-September 22, 2007 and there are a limited number of rooms available with this promotion. The package must be booked by 6/24/07.

For more information or to receive a free quote, go here.

To celebrate this amazing offer, the magical moms will be featuring reviews of some favorite Disney restaurants over the next couple of weeks. If you would like to submit a review email us. We would love to feature it on our blog!

To see more WFMW posts, visit Shannon's blog.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Making Memories on a Disney Cruise - Part 1

Once upon a time there was a mom and this particular mom really, really loved Disney. In fact, in this mom's household it was often debated who loved Disney more....the mom or the kids. The answer was definitely not the Dad because the Dad liked to visit other theme parks in the Orlando area whose names we will not mention at this point. It wasn't that the dad found anything wrong with the Big Mouse or The Happiest Place on earth, he just preferred a little diversity in his amusement park touring!

To those who knew this mom's love for "The World", it came as no surprise, when she announced that her family was going on the Disney cruise!!!!! This announcement was made almost 3 years ago.

In December, I being the magical mom who loves Disney more than.........well, let's just say, a lot, went on vacation to Disney with my "other Orlando park liking" husband, my 6-year-old daughter and my 3-year-old son. Also, on the trip were my parents and joining us for the cruise, my grandparents and good friend with her mother and 4-year-old son!

In my next blog, I'll tell more about the trip and all of our adventures!

Stop procrastinating!

Procrastination! That seems to be a universal theme weaving its way in and out of my days.....I put off going to the grocery store....delay doing the laundry.....wait a few more days to pay the bills.......and then one day it hits me.....I have no food, no clean clothes, no electricity (no, just kidding -- it hasn't gone that far)....and today I realize I have no passport for my kids and no current passport for my husband!

Now, this may not seem like any great cause for concern but it is when it has the potentional to affect our summer travel plans!

To give you a little history of why we need a passport to travel this summer, I will tell you of the new requirements for travelers. For more information you can visit

Beginning January 23, 2007, ALL persons, including U.S.
citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport, AIR NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document, or an Alien Registration Card, Form I-551, if applicable.
As early as January 1, 2008, ALL persons, including US
citizens, traveling between the US and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and the Bahamas by LAND or SEA (including ferries), may be required to present a valid passport.
There isn't really great cause for panic on my part as our summer travel plans are for a 5-Night Bermuda Cruise from Baltimore thus a passport is not actually required at this time since we will be entering and exiting US by sea, BUT (there is always a BUT, isn't there?) lets just say we were to get 3-days into our wonderful cruise vacation and are relaxing on the beautiful pink beaches of Bermuda when we find out that there is an emergency back home and we need to return right away! One big problem, we don't have a passport so we can't fly home.

Other situations could arise besides emergencies that would hinder those traveling without passports -- imagine you are departing for a cruise from a different city/state. Your plane is delayed and your much-awaited cruise sets sail without you. You arrive at the port hours later and the ever-helpful cruise official tells you that they will fly you to the next port where you can board your cruise ship and enjoy the rest of your vacation. Guess what? You don't have a passport so you can't fly to the next port!

With all that said, I am making an appointment first thing tomorrow morning to get the ball rolling on our passports. We really can't delay any longer as the estimated wait time for non-expediated passport applications is 3 months from date of submission.

If you are planning on traveling in 2007 here are some tips for submitting your application.

  • You can complete and print the passport application at
  • Most post offices require an appointment for passport applications so call your local post office to find out
  • Bring with you a certified US birth certificate/Naturalization, etc; proof of ID (driver's license); two identical passport photos
  • Children under 14 must be accompanied by both parents
  • USPS accepts cash, check, money order or credit card for payment of fees -- $97 for adults/$87 for child 15 and under

Mom My Ride

Someone just sent me this hilarious video and I just had to share it. This just about sums up the state of my van. Too funny!!