Tuesday, May 4, 2010

T-minus 10 days...how we got here

With the trip now only 10 days away I realize that my promised posts on planning this trip have yet to occur. This I intent to remedy now...*trumpets* Planning our Disney Vacation! *fanfare*

We've been talking about this trip for over a year. We priced out various packages directly from Disney and compared them to deals through travel web sites and AAA, etc.

The clincher for us is that we knew we weren't going to fly. This helped us to elimate a lot of the travel deal clutter, since most online travel sites were offering packages including flights.

One nice thing about Disney now is that there are soooo many resorts. I know at first that fact seems overwhelming, but actually it pretty much insures that you are going to find the type of hotel you want, at the price you need. There are also a lot of resources on how to get good deals and money saving tips. We used Fodor's, this book by Beth Haworth, and a little common sense.

We choose the value resorts, specifically the All-Star Movies resort. The price was right and we knew the kids would really love the decor. Free parking, the pool looks A-maz-ing, dining options in the hotel...I think we made the right choice.

Next we priced out park tickets. This was a tougher process than picking a hotel, for us. We thought about the following: How many of the parks would be appropriate for our 6 and 4 year olds? Is it realistic to expect to "park hop" (visit more than one park per day)? Will it take more than one day to see everything in a given park? We originally decided on a 4 day pass, no hopping, no water parks (both are additional costs).

Next we checked out the Disney Dining plans - new since my childhood visits. This is a no brainer, if you are staying on property. We chose the plan that allows 2 meals and 2 snacks per person, per day.

We were close to booking, when Joel got an email with Disney's current promotion - a Disney Gift card upon arrival. We decided to go up to a 5 day pass, and that package earned us a $300 Disney Gift card. This is huge! We can use it for meals or merchandise! That sealed the deal and we booked in January.

I started saving for this trip last summer, and now it's almost here. I really can. not. wait!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Last night's bedtime prayer

Lord, Thank you. Thank you for this day. The sunshine and the blue sky, the smiling faces we've seen today...all have been such a blessing.
Forgive the un-done laundry, the dusty mantle, the un-vacuumed carpet. I neglected them today, Lord.
But Thank you, oh Thank You for sidewalk chalk and bubbles. For tricycles and scooters. For plastic jugs to hold water which is poured and studied over and over. For soft grass and the "what color" game. For smiles and giggles made even brighter by the glorious sun.
Thank you, for this day.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I've got a little list

"Sarah Bramer, you've just booked your trip to Disney World! What are you going to do next?"

HAHA, seriously? I mean, come on...this is me - absolutely my mother's daughter, my sister's sister, a Barber to the "nth degree".... I'M MAKING MY TO-DO LIST!!

I think perhaps literally the day we booked this trip, I started this list. However, that was January...the trip was months away and the list was not very thorough and not very daunting.
Now the trip is T minus 5 weeks and counting and some items on the list really need attention.

Ok, so here we go. The clever reader will observe that I have broken the "list at large" into smaller categorized lists. (insert nerd music here)

To-Do for the car ride:
  • make curtains - This is first on my car ride list because, well, I want to make curtains. When the girls and I were growing up, Nana and Bobo lived in Florida most of the year. I can clearly remember car trips in the mini-van to see them. My mother made curtains for all the back windows of the van. They were used to block out the lights from cars at night, to provide privacy for changing into pjs, and to give shade when the glaring sun was at it's peak. They were simple, grey, bulk fabric rectangles with velcro tabs but I remember when she "unveiled" them to us before one trip - we were so excited. (sure, go ahead, more nerd music) I doubt Luke and Megan will care much about the curtains, but I will.
  • pack activity boxes - Another stroke of Ma P genius came in the form of activity boxes. See back in the day, the bench seats in a mini-van were high enough to slide things under. Not so, in my trusty Saturn VUE. Mom had purchased containers from a Tupperware Party (again, back in the day) and filled them with things to occupy little hands and minds. One held paper, activity books, colored pencils, crayons and stickers. Another held small travel versions of games we liked, decks of cards and books. These boxes, like the curtains, stick out in my mind as highlights to the car trip. I'm going to have to get a little creative with my "boxes", since space in the VUE is already at a premium, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.
  • map out a route - This task I may give to Joel. Then it can be his fault...ahahah! Just kidding! HAHA...aaaahhhaaa...heh....ha...hrmmmm.
  • plan and pack snacks - Helllloooo...we're Bramers. We snack.
  • pack DVD player and choose most non-annoying movies possible
  • bring our CD library of Adventures in Odyssey
  • have the car serviced and cleaned
  • find the roof rack luggage holder

To-do for the kids:

  • go through summer clothes
  • select clothing to pack
  • get/find hats that fit
  • get haircuts!
  • where are those new sneakers I ordered?
  • notify day care and Elementary school of vacation dates
  • get work that Luke will be missing
  • get money out of savings accts that Grandma has given them especially for this trip

To-do for when we arrive:

  • make sure camera has batteries, extra batteries and back up batteries
  • get park maps
  • remember to bring confirmation number
  • get sunblock, bug spray, hand sanitizer, wet wipes
  • clean out over-the-door shoe organizer and pack for hotel bathroom - This is a tip that Joel read in a Disney planning book. It makes sense. Upper compartments can hold toiletries - keeping them off the counter - and lower compartments can hold shoes and socks - keeping them off the floor. WIN WIN.

To-do for me:

  • color hair - Haha, you're getting the nitty gritty list here gang!
  • get haircut!
  • where are those new sneakers I ordered?
  • go to bank - duh.
  • go through summer clothes - *shudder*
  • get a massage - Joel's idea...one I am seriously considering.
  • pack laptop for uploading photos and blogging
  • GET A NEW PHONE - Long story, but this has to get done, like soon.
  • unplug everything from upstairs and living room before we leave
  • get someone to feed Gracie Cat - I think my mom will do this actually
  • reflect on the following: There will be lines. There will be crowds. The kids will get hyper. The kids will get tired. Things will be expensive. It might be uncomfortably hot. It might rain. The drive will be LONG. (doing this will help me because I tend to have very high expectations - perhaps that will be it's own blog entry before we leave)

Ahh, I feel better already. Obviously some of these things are stil weeks off, but it helps my logical, organized, Libra brain to make a list. Or several.

(Joel's name is a link to his blog, where he will be pre trip blogging too.)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Beginning the countdown

We're taking a family vacation this year....next month...in about 6 weeks.
I am SUPER excited for this trip. I look forward to it everyday. My happiness increases tenfold when I think of my children's laughter and joy that I hope (and expect) will come rolling out numerous times a day once we reach our destination....which, by the way, is Walt Disney World!!
I haven't taken a real vacation since Megan was born. A few multi-day trips here and there, the annual summer trip to the lake...but this is like a serious, "saved for a year to pay for it" vacation. Now, thanks to the year of saving and the months of planning...the happiness is one calendar flip away. I thought it would be a good idea to start recording some of the planning and preparation leading up to this trip. So coming up soon, look for posts on itinerary, mentally preparing for travelling with a 6 year old and a 4 year old, tips and tricks for the car (oh yeah - we're driving), budgeting, and more!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ahh...2010....welcome, I've been (trying not to be) expecting you.

Every so often (usually around December 29th) I begin to long for a new year. Fortunately (?), one is always provided a few days later. I always tell myself not to have expectations for the new year, but really whenever you get something NEW you always have expectations. Fair or not, they exist. You expect your new clothes to be clean, that new book to be a great read, the new movie to awesome, that ever-so-satisfying new car smell.

I really want to try not to put any expectations on 2010. I'd rather try to view it as an unexpected gift. The kind where you really have no clue what could be inside, but it really doesn't matter because you're so happy to have received it at all.

Of course there are certain events I know this year will hold...a 4th birthday, a 6th birthday, a 33rd birthday (ick, 33). And there are events to anticipate...the completion of Kindergarten, the first day of Pre-K and 1st grade, a wedding for a "little boy", a vacation to a "happiest place". I await each of these exciting (well, not the 33rd birthday) things - but can I have no expectations for them? I don't think I can.

For me, 2009 was the "Year of Whatever Works". You know: "Is this best?" "Who knows, but it seems to be working." My resolution at the beginning of 2009 was: "Grace in all things". I think I managed ok, but I am still striving to be a more gracious person. Perhaps if I keep the lessons of 2009 in mind, I can make it through 2010 without having whatever expectations I do have dashed.