Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Obvious Easter Egg in Disney's "Cars 3" we didn't notice until Thanksgiving!

Anyone who knows me understands how much I love Disney - what's not to love about those cuddly animals: Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, and my favorite; Goofy, to name a few!  So of course we were interested when Pixar joined the Disney family. I was still a minor myself when "Toy Story" first premiered.  And they didn't disappoint.  From "Monsters Inc." to "Wall-E", we've always laughed and cried more with movies designed for the young than those created for us adults. But throughout seeing ALL - I mean all- of the Disney/Pixar films available to the public, I never really understood the fun of finding the bread crumbs that link each of these films to another.

Our family doesn't like reading articles before we see a movie, because we don't want to be exposed to any spoilers, and with that in mind:

*WARNING - THOSE THAT DON'T LIKE SPOILERS OF ANY KIND SHOULD STOP READING NOW!!!! While I'm not going to give away a lot of plot information, I while be describing a bit of background setting and scenes.   If you haven't seen any animated movies from "Cars 3" and on this year (including "Coco"), come back and read this after you view the films.

Seeing Sulley in "Monster's Inc." pick up a toy in Boo's room that we can easily recognize from the movie "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo".  While watching "Toy Story" for what seems like the umpteenth time, I finally saw the Dinoco filling station sign that links that movie to the "Cars" line of films.  And its even more exciting when you realize that what appeared to be a scene that could have been an inside joke is really reference to yet another movie that hasn't even arrived in theatres yet!  That's what happened yet again this year!  We saw both "Cars 3" and "Coco" at the theaters during their opening weekends... and purchased the "Cars 3" movie for home viewing once that arrived, and there is a scene while they are at the all new Rusteze Training Center on the treadmills that immediately rang a bell in my head as loud as the bell that hit Ernesto De La Cruz in "Coco"!
In the scene around the 28th minute of the movie, Lightning McQueen is undergoing his tour of the center and being introduced to Cruz Ramirez.  There are 3 cars she's training on the treadmills that are having issues with reaching their full speed potential.  The last one, Gabrel, is slowed down by his homesickness.  Cruz projects a picture of a Mexican town on his screen above his treadmill, and he almost instantly finds the motivation he needs to run faster - as he shouts, "Santa Cecilia! My pueblo!"   This is the same pueblo that the movie "Coco" begins in!  Ah! Disney does it again!  I love it!  Some time can pass before you start recognizing the significance of certain images or phrases, and it allows you to appreciate the detail that these animators put into each film they create!

Disney Pixar "Cars 3"

By the way, "Coco" was a movie I was apprehensive about in the beginning because my 4 year old hasn't experienced much death in his life. The skulls everywhere I thought would be a bit overwhelming and could possibly be a movie he would be bored in.  But they made it something that even he could relate to, with him understanding the importance of family, even if he didn't quite grasp the dynamics of things such as song writing and ownership, and the afterlife. It's a good movie to have your child see if they are not prone to be easily frightened.  You laugh and cry, and they learn a lesson. "Coco" is now in theatres across the country.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

New Childcare Provider Review Site!

Our friends at myChildCareCrush.com have created a wonderful option for parents wanting to know what other parents are saying about their child care provider!

This site is brand-new, and looking for parents like you to add your favorite (or not-so favorite) childcare provider in Ohio or Kentucky and to the list, and leave a review based off of your experience for already listed providers.

Listing and Leaving a Review is easy!
  1.  Visit mychildcarecrush.com 
  1.  Search for your provider name by name, address, or county - add a Review if they are listed
  1. If you don't see your provider listed, click "Add A Provider" on the top right of the Homepage and List for free! Only add the provider's/Center's name and address. 

You will be prompted to sign in/sign up so that you can be notified when your provider has been published.  Once your provider is published, you can then add your review.

   This is a site by parents, for parents!  The more providers that are added, the more of resource it will be for parents looking for new providers!  

If you review customer reviews of hotels before you stay,  why are you just shoving your kids into a stranger's place before getting reviews??

Why I like this site:

1. Signing up and listing a provider is easy- you just need their name/center name and address.
2. Providers will have the chance to respond to your concerns and make it right.
3. You can read articles and discuss child-related topics with other parents in the Tea Time Discussions forums.

Sign up today!  myChildCareCrush.com

Friday, October 6, 2017

I disapprove of childcare at church

I almost lost my cool when a man sitting 1 pew behind TOUCHED me to say that childcare was available - just because my 9 month old was babbling a little during service.

Courtesy of Gennadij

CHILDCARE. More and more churches are including them in their ministry - the larger the church, the more likely they are to exist these days.  While I agree that it might be good for infants to be temporarily taken out from the sanctuary when they become overly distracting, I don't think taking them to a childcare room for the whole service is helpful in the long run. 

1.  If your child never sits with grown ups, how will they ever learn to behave as one?
           They attend school most of the week with tons of peer pressure & very few adult role models. We then like to allow kids as old as preteens and such to go off to "Children's" or "Youth Church" while we fellowship during the weekend (This is not to be confused with a breakout session for kids during Sunday School, where everyone afterwards congregates together for the main Word).  When are they actually seeing how you, their parent is behaving?  When are you taking the time to show them how to be an adult? Do you really think they are listening when you "instruct" them?  No, they are more interested in watching behaviors- as most humans learn by experience or my mimicking. Stay-at-home-moms may see this clearly when their perfectly behaved child goes off to school for the first year, and comes back like a totally different child; complete with new unattractive learned behaviors.  If all they are around are other children, they will never learn to behave as an adult.  You need that balance - time spent with children and with adults, so they can learn to reason when to use certain behaviors, and when its inappropriate.  Church is a great way to begin that. Take a quiet toy/tablet for your child if they are super young and need to have their attention caught.  Just show them the importance of being quiet in certain settings, and that you love them enough to keep them by your side as much as possible; which brings me to the next point.

Courtesy Of Honey Onshawee

2. It's YOUR responsibility to rear this child.  Having them in daycare during the week while you work is an evil most working-class parents simply cannot avoid.  But having them there while you praise God is totally avoidable! People have asked me how my son is so behaved during the adult church services and at the movies (See my post on how my son has been movie-going without disturbing others since he was a couple months old), and I answer that it's learned behavior.  According to Galations 5:22, two of the fruits of the spirit is longsuffering and faith. I utilized the patience it needed to guide his behavior through the Screeching phase. It wasn't easy, and even my husband had doubt, but my faith saw us through.   We as parents talk about how smart our babies are, but then stifle their abilities by underestimating them.  My son as an infant may not have understood the words I was using , but he fully understood the tone.  I regularly spoke to him with joy and gentleness when he displayed good behavior, and used a more stern tone when his behavior went south.  He sensed something was different with me - because instead of always handing him off to someone else, HE'D BEEN AROUND ME LONG ENOUGH TO DISCERN MY MOODS. 
        Don't get me wrong, I'd never yell at an infant.. so I kept the same volume, but only changed the seriousness of my tone.  You know your child notices, because they stop temporarily to look at you after your tone changes.  They scan your face to interpret what's going on. Most try the disruptive behavior again shortly after... That's when you reinforce your serious tone again (and facial expression) to show them you're disappointed.  When your child is with you long enough to desire love, respect, and affection from you, you'd be surprised what they do to earn it.  Even at an infant age.    

Don't worry about those families that may judge you for starting the process of integration earlier than they'd do it. Those are the ones, like the man touching me at my church, that are ADULTS TALKING while the pastor is giving the message - which can be even more distracting.  Most speakers know that babies may coo or babble; and the good ones don't allow it to disturb their train of thought.  You'll find that you can share more "family" time with your child, if you trust in God to give you the perseverance, love, and faith needed to begin the journey of teaching your child about God, and the patience that it may require to trust in Him.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Will your toddler/preschooler love Disney World's Pandora:World of Avatar?

We loved the movie.  My preschooler was not even born when the movie was released, but my husband had the bluray 3-D disc and my son began his love for Avatar with the amazing colored visuals that seemed to pop right into your family room.  As he aged into a toddler, he began to recognize characters and become more engaged in the plot as well.  Even now, it is one of the movies that can hold his attention in its entirety.  So it was only natural that when we heard of a world of Avatar coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom, we'd make haste to see it for ourselves. Disney World advertised that we'd "immerse" ourselves in this world, and we sure were ready to do just that.  But here's why we were underwhelmed after visiting:

1.  The lack of cutting edge biochemical luminescence that Disney alluded to.
     In the months leading up to the opening, there were many Disney sound bites and video snippets of professional interviews with those integral with the creation of Pandora here on earth - saying how advanced this land would be to the Animal Kingdom.  They spoke about bio-luminescence and how they were going to integrate that with their land.  I almost peed in my pants with excitement. I knew it would be possible because I'd read articles about glow-in-the-dark trees.  I also didn't think it was far-fetched for Disney as they had the wherewith all to bring that dream to fruition.  
But we noticed that although you can interact with the plants by placing your hands in certain areas on the plants, they were not bio reactions, but more so technological reactions. There was a lot of black light usage at night plants that looked more like lamps than actual plants.  That was disappointing. My son seemed fooled enough though, so I was okay with it. 

2. No Animals/No Na'Vi 
     What made the movie was due in part to the interesting animals the Na'Vi people interacted with, and how they were part of the balance of the plant.  I searched everywhere for animatronic dinosaur-like creatures that we were introduced to on the movie.  NOT A ONE animal or Na'Vi person.   The whole planet at Animal Kingdom is just plants and water.  The only animals/indigenous people you see from the movie are in the two attractions - the rest of the planet was just there to serve as a queue for the attractions.

3. What to do?
     There are only two ride attractions in this 'planet' so naturally there were long lines of people waiting.  The only issue is that with a preschooler/toddler, there is only one ride we could enjoy, due to height restrictions for the Flight of Passage. So of course all we could do was River Journey - although the aesthetics were great - and we loved the animatronic Shaman and the overall environment - we were hoping for some kind of story line or way for us to interact.  In the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney's Magic Kingdom, we feel as though we are now pirates, following the crew along on their quests, and even immersed within one of their battle scenes.  There was action and suspense on the Avatar movie as well, and this could have played out on the River Journey ride.

Basically Pandora is great to experience at least once, but I can't see it being a land that brings a lot of return guests within a few years.  You just keep feeling that something is missing as you roam through the area, and it gives off a rushed appearance; like they ran out of time developing and implementing, so they made a lot of cuts.  There is a wide expectation/rumor that the land will be expanded around the time that the newest Avatar movie is released, so we are hoping Disney takes its time and provides us with the space to be truly "fully immersed".

Headed to Disney World soon or thinking of taking a trip? READ more about taking a toddler.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Diversity and Culture post-Charlottesville: Expanding your child's horizon reduces ignorance

(Click Here to read ALL available posts on Culture & Diversity)

Okay, by now most of America (and the world) has been apprised of the issues that has plagued this country for years.  Racial tensions have been refuted and swept under a rug for so long that the tension has swollen and taken on fever. We keep seeing eruptions here and there as those who'd like to see America revert in part back to the 1500's-early 1900's make efforts to have their dreams made a reality; while the oppressed - and those who know equality is right- try to gain true equal rights for everyone here in the country they love.  This is true for almost every shade, religion, sexual orientation, and disability.

A lot of recent awareness by those who were in denial has created a sense surprise.  How could this be happening?  It's been happening outside of your neighborhood, or covertly if it has.  People have been red-lined and steered out of certain neighborhoods while the privileged enjoy their privilege in naivety, or even out of selfish aloofness.  People have experienced these civil rights violations under the guise of something else at work:  "It's hard to approach you".  "Your food odors bother others," are some of the complaints often seen in evaluations of the people you regard as great employees at the workplace.  Having been pulled over regularly and even harassed by law enforcement with "What are you doing in this car, What do you do for a living," questions.  Simply because you happen to like Mercedes brand cars, and worked hard to buy one.

If you now see that racism comes not just by blatant words or vicious attacks, welcome to your awakening.  Stay woke. And enlighten your Alpha Gen child. I know what you're thinking. Whoa, Ele, you're going to far, I don't want to have my child(ren) exposed to that just yet.

I understand - I'm the same way.  But here's how to get started without burdening them.  EXPOSE THEM TO OTHER CULTURES. Plain and simple.  Stop sheltering them; creating a false "universe" by making them believe that their culture is the only that exists.   Place them in a multi-cultural school.  If that's not possible, have them participate in multi-cultural activities, sports, camps. etc. Let them learn at a younger age to be understanding of other views, religions, skin tones, and personalities.   Humans have a huge propensity to adapt to our environments, and children are the best at this gift.  Immerse them early so that by understanding, they can learn to appreciate the cultural ingredients that make up this melting pot. As they grow older, teach them how having differences doesn't mean one is better than the other, but makes us stronger if we embrace it.

If we find this difficult to do, then we ourselves need to get out of our comfort zone and immerse ourselves in other cultures.  Start small and work your way up.  Meet people you may have not have approached before when you sign up for that Frisbee league. Create new comfort zones. For yourself, for your children.  For your country. Be that example, that newly planted seed as we weed out the bigotry and hate that hinders us from reaching our full potential as humans.  Let get more focused on forwarding the human race instead of hindering it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Review: Disney's Wilderness Lodge

We just decided to book a new trip to Disney World in a few weeks, and I realized I hadn't shared my 1st experience staying at a Disney Property.  Read my review and see if this property would work for you and your family!

PICS coming soon!

“Surpassed Expectations”

We have always stayed at the Dolphin/Swan hotels while visiting the "World", but decided this time to stay at a Disney Owned property since we are now Annual Passholders. While we were researching- initially the only thing that looked grand about this property was the foyer/lobby, and we began to wonder why this hotel was considered "deluxe". 
 We arrived with sort-of low expectations but were pleasantly surprised! I'm very picky about certain things, and guest rooms are on that list...But our room was quite clean! No dust, no dirt! If you've ever been grossed out noticing that your bath mat is dirty at the bottom after it slides on the bathroom floor BEFORE you even take a shower; then you'll appreciate how I felt when I noticed my mat was still white AFTER the floor was wet from my shower: Ecstatic & Ready to go spend some more money with Disney! 
That alone was big for me. The carpeting looked well maintained, there was no dust/dirt on the furnishings either: the headboard included. I have been to many places where the TV remote is sticky-That wasn't the case.. I'm hoping that it wasn't a fluke - and that wasn't the only clean room on Disney properties....we'll see.
Since we had a balcony- with a lovely view of the bay - we were provided with complimentary OFF spray to combat Disney's mosquito problem. We had no bites at all during our stay. I loved the online check-in, the fact that they held our groceries that were delivered while we were at the park, and the receptive staff.
The gift store lacked the proper sizes for Wilderness Lodge t-shirts, but the team worked hard to try to find us something that meet our needs.
My toddler loved it! He had a blast with other toddlers and preschoolers running around the in the kids pool and even in the lobby on the bridge. There were rocking chairs for us adults to sit, listening to the babble of the creek's water under the bridge, meet new parents, and watch the kids have a ball! 
Everything was close enough for the young and the mature adults to not be tired going from the room to eat, or from the room to the transportation stops.
The only gripe I have is for the bellhop we had. He was grumpy and was not friendly at all. We decided to take our own luggage to the Magical Express when it was time to check out - to avoid having someone's attitude affect our energy. But overall, I shall return. The western-US themed property felt like we were at a fishing retreat.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

How Did I Take a Baby To A Movie Theater?

Everyone has their opinions on what age a child should first experience movies at a theater - Should you listen?

I love movies - I was the type of person that found it imperative to see a movie the first day/weekend it premiered.  If I could be invited to some early screenings, I was totally there. I'd be angry if my schedule required me to see those favorite movies on my list on the 3rd week or later.  So when I got pregnant, I lamented the thought of waiting until a movie went to DVD or digital.  

I started reading the internet and the dichotomy of positive and negative opinions on the subject: To take or not to take your baby/toddler to a movie. Some people were even saying kids shouldn't even be at the theater for rated G movies (who would be at those movies, then?)  because they may not know how to be quiet/behave.  I came to realization that getting advice from the internet wouldn't be beneficial for me.  I wanted to break traditions and think outside the box a bit. 

After my son was born, I decided to watch him and his temperament around certain stimuli - loud family picnics and dinners and amusement parks, shopping malls and even worship & praise service at church (which is becoming more and more like a concert).  I liked how he handled them all, remaining calm and happy- or just sleeping through it all.  After watching my baby sleep through the surround sound theater system and the 3D large screen tv my husband created, I figured it would be okay to test the actual movie theater.  

I wanted to see a PG rated movie that I figured would have a few loud scenes, and chose that as the 'transitory movie pilot' for my experiment.  I made sure we had everything we thought he might need; including having his favorite blanket and his bottles on deck.  I had a sound reducing hat (HUSH Hat) that I placed on his head that also kept his head warm in the chilly theater.  We got there around the time I figured he'd be napping, and I fed him during the Lights On commercials.  By the time the previews started, he was already gone to dream world.  I held him so that I could feel if he'd be startled.  But he never flinched.  He was still sleep when we placed him into his carseat for the drive home.  I felt relieved and ready to try it again.  

Kids are much more than what we give them credit for.  It's up to parents alone to know their child's personalities, limitations, and temperaments so that they can make a decision accordingly.  I was raised up on the premise that kids will never learn how to behave in certain situations until they are placed into those situations.  I see a lot of 7 or 8 year old kids at the movies for the first time, and they still exhibit some of the behaviors of a young moviegoer; talking too loud during the movie, getting up and walking over to other family members in their party while effectively blocking your view of the movie, and even screaming during action or intense scenes (intense as rated PG gets).  My son absolutely demands to see a movie each week, and has never screamed.  He pointed out a favorite character ("Iron Man, Mommy!") aloud when he was 2, but quickly learned by my shhh's that this was inappropriate - within minutes.  Now, at 3 he's a "pro".  We rarely even have to leave the theater during the movie for potty breaks anymore.  He sits quietly and eats his popcorn and candy, fully enjoying his experience, and whispering to me if he has a comment.  People have asked us how he's so well behaved, and I reply that this is because he was immersed at a young age and took social cues from everyone else on how to behave at a theater. 

So while there will always be parents shunning those making this choice, if your child can handle it, go for it. Have those great experiences that they remember for many years. Not all children should be held back from doing what they love simply because some kids can't handle it.  Discern your child's capabilities and act accordingly.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Steve Stephens is an example of why we need a better US political system

Why I'm becoming more independent in an increasingly polarized political country 

(Click here to read another post on Culture & Diversity in America)

I hear constantly on the news that our country is becoming more and more polarized, as it seems that voter views are less cooperative and "center-aisle," but more increasingly divided.  We have always had factions within each party, but it appeared that as early as 25 years ago, people were more likely to truly "reach across the aisle" to reach a compromise for the good of the country.  This allowed for our country to focus more upon the things that mattered:


Don't get me wrong, the idea of war has always loomed over us like a dark cloud, and there have been some that have fully embraced and encouraged it -for whatever reason - but it seems now that people are crazier; just up and deciding to kill innocent strangers that they might encounter on the streets, or pushing propaganda to spark wars because they have significant investments in defense equipment.  Long gone are the days where you can leave your doors unlocked, but now it seems you can't even drive home or walk along the sidewalk.  Legislation has been proposed to control violence, but they're constantly blocked because either the person sponsoring the bill is part of the "enemy party", or because legislators have become puppets of the lobbyists that support them. Whenever we think we're getting somewhere, the next group comes in an removes any progress made. We send troops to a region, the next administration takes them away without a solid strategy.  We set up laws to improve the environment or transform our healthcare, and our successors start removing those as soon as they take office instead of acknowledging the good intent, and working to improve upon the areas of those laws that need improvement.  It's no wonder so many polls reveal we don't feel any safer than we did a little after 9/11. 
Then in 2002: 

Spurred by the catastrophic events of Sept. 11 and the organizational aftershocks that followed, President George W. Bush and Congress recently established the ...
Recently, 4th quarter 2016 poll
As Acts of Terror Proliferate, Americans See No End in Sight August 22, 2016. By: Dina Smeltz, Senior Fellow, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy; Karl Friedhoff ...
And remember we are not just fearing our safety from external terror.  There are many forms of terror arising within our own borders.  Random disgruntled or mentally disturbed people are shooting random strangers at movies theatres, malls, churches, and schools.  Bigotry, racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia are on the rise, and people are acting on impulses more than ever. Large corporations are treating both its employees and its customers more like easily replaced commodities than humans. Neither political party has provided us with a sound direction for easing the tension and fear. Something as simple as mandating recurring mental health screenings in order to retain a lawful firearm license could help combat issues... but that would never become law. While we can argue this could be due mostly to political obstructionism, there still lies the responsibility to respect all opinions and cooperate for the greater good.   Would Steve Stephens have been able to kill Robert Godwin if a proper mental health screen was done?  Maybe- but it most likely wouldn't have been done with a legally purchased gun, and would have reduced the likelihood of the death.  We'll never know. We've got to stop with the party-against-party model and work together. 



It seems like those days where you work your way up the education system to have a leadership role have departed. Now, you can sit on a board or obtain a leadership position if you donate enough money and align yourself with other well off donors and lobbyists.  Next thing you know, your child's education is in the hands of someone like this just because of we utilize electoral college versus popular vote.  Cabinet members full of people that didn't even have to campaign.  We have a very limited understanding of their viewpoints and in what direction they'd move the federal department they've been cherry picked to run.  Then the next administration could very well dismantle (for better or worse) what was put in place by the current administration. Over time, we see that our country is pretty much at a stalemate...moving forward at a crawl pace, if moving at all. We need to push past all of this back and forth, and actually make progress for our country, for our youth, and for our safety.  Maybe, just maybe, it would benefit us as a whole to have more independent thinkers and those willing to work with others (not just give rhetoric) to actually get something accomplished.

These are my opinions- just opinions - on why those considered Moderate Republicans or Blue-dog Democrats should resurface and let their voices be heard again.  Why is it so wrong to think progressively while also valuing a great defense program for your country? Why can't you have a mix of liberal and conservative ideals in this country anymore without being attacked for not being a loyal party member? Aren't we all here to support the growth and strength of our country?  Why do you have to choose one side or the other? Humans are an ever-evolving species, so why can't our politics evolve accordingly to better our society and WORK TOGETHER for a change?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Maxi Cosi Pria 85 - Two Years Later

Most people review products as soon as they get them.  I prefer to see those reviews where the product has been tested through time.  Here's one of those!

I was in the market for a convertible car seat and had no idea where to start. My baby was outgrowing his Chicco Keyfit 30 infant car seat, and I needed to find a great alternative that also appealed to my aesthetic nature.  I looked at several different brands, from Chicco to Britax to Evenflo.  I had it narrowed down between the Chicco NextFit and the MaxiCosi Pria 85, and ultimately went with the latter because it looked relatively easy to install in the car. Below are a few things I liked and disliked about it.

The Pros:

  • The Color choices. They have Black, Pink and Blue. I immediately liked that the black color I chose worked well with the dรฉcor of my car interior.

  • Material. The fabric was firmly pulled around the frame of the carseat to allow for easy vacuuming without parts of the fabric being sucked into the vacuum. With some other brands, you'd have to take it out of the car to dry clean. The material also keeps your child from overheating too much- they call  the technology used for the fabric and the padding CosiComfort, which can be removed for spot cleaning as well.

  • It's Safety. I'd read many reviews before I decided to purchase, and even more recently, people are expressing how the seat kept their little ones safe through an accident.  I myself can vouch for it as well - being in a side impact car accident where my son had not even one complaint of whiplash.  The doctors looked over him for good measure and gave the green light. They have AirProtect, the technology used in the side head structures, that protected my son's head and neck during the impact. If you have no other reason to purchase this car seat, this would be enough.

  • It's weight range. There are other car seats out there that offer a true convertible experience, transitioning from convertible stage to the booster seat stage.  But with this seat, you need not worry about losing or damaging pieces that allow for the transformation from one car seat type to the other. Instead, you can have a baby 15 pounds all the way up to 85 pounds in this seat without needing to make any additional changes. There are not too many convertible seats that allow for such a high max weight. You can get your money's worth before you child outgrows it.
  •  Sturdiness. The build of it withstands when my son is a bit rambunctious and decides to use it as a jungle gym when he's not riding.
  • Removable Material.  This is vital if you wish to keep your little one's chair clean.  Mine gets everything known to man in the chair: popcorn kernels, cookie and bread crumbs, as well as a few "unknown" substances, most likely jelly.  I simply take the cover off- the first time was the hardest to do - and wash. 

Weight. When you do need to transfer the seat to maybe another car, it's quite heavy. But I'm okay to sacrifice it being lightweight if I can get stability and sturdiness.

 Few colors.
 While some like they have Black, Blue, and Pink, I'd like to have seen a few more options, like chocolate or beige, so that it can match the interior of other cars.

After two years, I still don't see many negatives to owning this type of car seat.  It's relatively easy to install, and quite safe.  If you are still on the fence, read the reviews from other parents and decide for yourself!
The "dirty" truth of this carseat!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

More magic to the WDW trasportation experience

There's always room for more magic, right?

With my upcoming trip quickly approaching, I encountered a couple of things that would have made my planning process even more magical.  Maybe you've experienced the same frustration??

So when you arrive at the Orlando International airport, Tinkerbell is already at work, making sure that your bags "magically" get from your airplane to your resort hotel room without you lifting a finger.  But alas, there is apparently no more pixie dust available to transfer your luggage to your room after 10pm.  While you can still ride on the Magical Express (the transportation coach that takes you to your Walt Disney World resort) after this time, you must lug your own bags from place to place.  This bothers me most when we plan last minute trips, and can't find reasonable flights arriving before ten pm. Arriving at 11 or even midnight means that your family is sleepy - and would most likely appreciate that "magical' service even more than if you came 12 hours earlier. A sleepy toddler or infant can add to the drama.  You then find yourself planning naps throughout the day to help mitigate a tantrum or two that could ensue.  Having my bags taken care of lightens that burden a bit so you can focus on your family.  EXTEND THOSE HOURS, DISNEY TRANSPORTATION!!  I'm just saying...

I completed the online check in process, and later got the lovely email saying I won't have to visit the front desk of my resort. Instead, I'd receive a text from the front desk indicating my room number and when I can enter said room with my Magic Band.  Yay!  Except for the fact that while speaking with a castmember, they informed us that because this year we are pass holders, and received a passholder rate, we'd need to visit the front desk nonetheless to present our cards to show that we indeed are passholders.  Wouldn't it be grand if this was somehow validated via the My Disney Experience
online?  Our passes are attached there onto our account along with our reservations and preferences. We had to have our passes synced to our account in order to book the reservations, so why have us lose some of the check-in magic just for being passholders?  I am secretly hoping this was actually incorrect information provided by the castmember.  **fingers crossed for a few days until we go.

Don't get me wrong.  I love knowing that all we have to do really is just take our magic bands with us to while within the resort boundaries once there, but these things would help in the process leading up to the visit. Maybe one day Disney will notice and integrate them into their processes??

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Why is my Little One Saying, "What the Hxxx??"

In these days of the Hell Challenge, I started wondering where kids learn it from

When I was in first grade, I remember quite vividly being outside during morning recess with my "boyfriend" (yes, kids are talking about these things at this age) running around and enjoying life.  I remember someone coming up to us and asking what I thought was a ridiculous question.  My reply was "Hell naw!"  And boy, virtually everyone on the nearby monkey bars within listening range took over from there…."Awwwwwwwwww!  She said a curse word!"  Of course some practically fell over themselves trying to get to the nearest teacher.  And of course, my freedom was taken from me- or at least my recess freedom.  I had to stand on the wall for the remaining recess periods the duration of the day.  I remember how puzzled I felt.  My parents, who both had leadership roles at our church, had told me that hell was where you were going if you were not saved. I'd heard my mom say the phrase many times before so I figured there should be no problem in saying it.  So why was I missing my recess? Were these people such heathens that they couldn't stand to even hear the word describing where they might be going?  These thoughts swirled around my mind all day until the teacher told me that I could participate in the final free-time activity if I'd apologized.  I stood and gave a very enthusiastic answer:  NO.  I felt I was indeed the victim.  The teacher, sensing that I was not feeling apologetic about the matter decided to call my mother.  "I guess I'll be letting your mom know then," she said confidently.  My mom was very active in the school PTA group so the teacher knew I'd change my act once my mom got involved. Surely, she'd knock some sense into me.  Imagine her mouth dropping when my mom said "We don't believe, or teach her that hell is a curse word. It is simply where the unsaved is going."  The teacher gathered her jaw from the floor and tried to regain composure and control, "Well, we do not approve of that phrase in school."  

My mom told me just not to say it around school anymore.  I always had better sense than to say, What the Hell around my mom, so I never had an issue with that.  I understand that the phrase might have a different connotation, so I didn't dare use it until I became an adult.  But my 3 year old son has decided that saying, 'what the hell' is his new choice phrase. Where he learned it from? I cannot pinpoint a direct source. But since he's started using it, my ears have been sensitized, and I now notice that so many places use variations of the phrase. Some had me a bit surprised.

  • Grandparents - this one isn't surprising.  My parents have always said it.  I've asked them to refrain until my son matures, but understandingly it's been rough for them to reverse 40-50 years of saying a phrase. 
  • Disney - Now this was surprising.  While watching his favorite movies, Cars 2 and Toy Story 3, I heard the phrase, "What the…?" multiple times.  I believe Mater says it multiple times, but I know he says it when the computer is changing his disguise to a 'monster' truck, and on Toy Story 3, the janitor of Sunnyside says it while in the bathroom cleaning.  Immediately, my son repeats it.  They seem to like phrases that express emotions at this age, and oftentimes learn those words or phrases first.  I've even heard the phrase used during a Disney Jr. cartoon. 
  • Other kids at daycare or school - As kids learn from adults, they widely use what they've learned with or against their peers in this setting.  Chances are that your child will pick up one or more of those bad habits.
  • Your daily news channel - While watching the latest "Breaking News" an analyst used the full-out phrase, What the hell.  And who was right there with me to instantly repeat it?? Yep, my son. What the hell?!  

What do we do now?  Well I spend a good 1-2 minutes directly after hearing my son repeat the phrase trying to explain that it's not what we should say.  Although sometimes he still says it, he remembers quickly after that it shouldn't be said, "Oh, sorry mommy."  At other times when he's more alert, he will scold whomever said it in the same fashion I use with him:  "No Mater, No Grandma, we don't say, 'what the'…You can say, What?! Instead. " It works for now.  It's hard trying to tell your 2-3 year of child that using the word hell isn't appropriate for some people, when it's widely used around you.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Relationship Misconceptions

Shedding 4 common misconceptions for improved marriage and familial relationships

                One of our basic needs as humans is to be loved.  Here’s just a few things that can cause difficulties in meeting that need because we choose to believe in the illusion.

You can change people.
                This is a big misconception with a lot of people, especially with women in dating.  We see a guy and notice a few things that we definitely don’t like about them.  We decide to stick it out, however, and “mold” him into the guy we think he should be.
                When a man changes, it is because he himself wanted that change, which is in fact the only thing we can influence: that desire to change.  If he is stubborn and feels who he is just fine, you’ll never be able to spark that desire for change. Then you’ll need to decide whether you can live with whatever behavior or attributes they possess that you find disturbing.

Age is nothing but a number. 
                Where there is some truth to this clichรฉ, we also know that age brings about wisdom through life experiences. With each passing year, we discover new lessons to life; some of which cannot be taught otherwise.  We have to recognize that our parents, spouses, and/or other older family members have learned valuable lessons along the way that we can benefit from if we respect the hardships they had to endure to learn those lessons, and the fact that their love for us was great enough to impart this wisdom to us so that we can avoid falling into those same pitfalls.  At times, my parents voiced their opinions on the choices I made- Even though I respected them and their opinions, I would choose to not heed their advice.  Sometimes this worked in my favor, and sometimes it didn't.  Ultimately, although we make our own choices, the key is to respectfully decline without belittling your loved ones or sounding condescending. 
Respect also goes both ways. When you, as the older one, demonstrate to your loved one that their feelings and views are appreciated, it allows for more peaceful, adult conversations. Both parties need to acknowledge the contributions the other brings to the table so that no one feels small or marginalized. 

“You First!”
                I think this is one of the hardest things for a lot of us to work past.  Issues such as communication can be cyclical, and isn’t really dependent upon one person or one specific action. When my husband shuts down in his anger; refusing to respond to me or even communicate at all- it serves as the catalyst that ignites my own shortcomings; like raising my voice. My raised voice irks my husband, and thus he expands his “shut down” behavior.  We go in circles until one of us decides to take a different method.

“I’m not convinced.”

                When you have an argument with a loved one, and they finally apologize to you, are you guilty of making them apologize until either 1. You feel that they truly have learned their lesson, or 2. Until you feel better?  If so, this can be widening the divide between the two of you.  It already is a hit to their pride to apologize, even if they deserve to, but you rubbing their faces in it doesn’t improve matters.  Pretending they didn’t really apologize because you didn’t feel they were truly contrite can bring about feelings of resentment from your loved one.  Depending upon their feelings, you may even find that you all are right back to square 1 again - and arguing or not talking- with the addition of this new issue looming over you. It’s important that we understand our loved ones are also adults, and that you have not been appointed to enforce punishment upon them. If they have apologized, show them that you TRUST that they are contrite by not trying to further control the situation. Do not attempt to have them suffer until you feel better. Forgive and move on.  This doesn’t mean you cannot step back for a while, but let it be because you need to collect yourself, not because you want to punish them.  

Until next time...

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Toddler's 1st Visit to Disney World

What's it like?
A guest post from one of our moms sharing her experience

(Trying to Decide where to stay in DisneyWorld?  Read a RESORT REVIEW to help)

As we are planning our upcoming trip to Disney, I thought it would be great to share our son's first trip to Walt Disney World with Ele Millenia's readers.  We absolutely love Disney.  It brings to life the characters of the cartoons, movies, and shows that we've watched.  Imagine having your favorite movie, and then somehow being able to immerse yourself in that environment, effectively becoming a part of the movie yourself- or at least having that feeling. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ Usually, I'm not the extrovert, and prefer to be behind the scenes showcasing someone else, but here I can feel like I'm also a star of the show.  I grew up during the era of powerhouse Disney movie releases like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid, so of course being able to share those memories with my children is something I'd look forward to.

My husband is not a big fan of amusement parks (we're trying to wear him down), so for most of our trips, I'd have to go without him.  For my son's first trip, though we all went with my parents since they were excited to go themselves to see my son's first reaction---well, at least my mom was excited.  My dad feels like my husband on the matter.  He and my husband spent a lot of time at the resort while us women took our children out to the theme parks, and we'd meet back at the resort for lunch and dinner.
The boys in our family were 1 & 2 at the time we visited for Christmas, and I appeared to be more excited than my son, but I expected it because he was always quite reserved.  As we drove through the gate of Disney World, he showed signs of excitement, and then became more alive as we got settled into the resort and interacted-alongside other families-with the snow generated from the machines in the lobby.  He was happily jumping around the lobby and having a blast.  This carried over to Disney Springs, where we ate dinner and bought a few Disney products.  He happily ate his food and had smiles on his face the whole time.  By the time we saw the new Star Wars movie at the AMC Theatre within the Springs, we was fast asleep.  TIP: I recommend having a travel stroller with you on the trip so you can tuck your toddler in for sleeping while you walk. You can rent one from the parks, but it's based upon availability.  If you flew, chances are that you'd benefit from a stroller while in the airport as well, so you might was well save money by bringing your own.  Your toddler will appreciate having something recognizable during a period of heightened stimulation due to all the new experiences.

The next day we visited Magic Kingdom. Without the men.  But who knew we'd forget they weren't there?  TIP: If you're a single mom or your husband refuses to go, find a girlfriend, or family member and go!  It will be just as fun. I am actually even thinking of going alone with my son once he gets
older.  Again, I advise you bring your stroller, as my son was got a little scared of the sheer number of people at first, and used the stroller as his safety zone; refusing to leave it until we saw Mickey & friends at Cinderella's castle during the park welcoming show.  He then was more than willing to get out when we headed over to Fantasyland to ride on the Winnie the Pooh attraction.  Although he was too small for the Seven Dwarf's Mine train ride, we rode many other rides without him refusing:  It's a Small World, the little Mermaid, the Barnstormer, and the steam boat ride, which put us at Liberty Square  just in time for the Very Merry Christmas parade. By this time it was time for lunch and my son was starting to revert back to his stroller.  I knew that was a signal that he was tired.  TIP: when you see signs of your child getting tired, that's the best time to leave the park and head to the resort for a nap.  We left to find the rest of our party, ate, walked about the resort grounds for a spell, and then went inside to sleep.   I find that planning to leave at lunch and return to the park after dinner works best for our family.  We went during the busy season, and the parks stay open until 11pm (or later during extra magic hours), so returning at 6pm was okay for us if the parks didn't close until 1am. Once we return to the park, we're refreshed and ready to re-commence.  We did this for the rest of our time there- and limited our total stay to just 4 days to avoid burn out from either the adults or the children.  I would recommend that you not visit the park each day of your visit unless your situation calls for it.  The extra day or two of down time allows you to experience Disney Springs and the amenities the resort you're staying at offers, like pools, cycling, arcades, golf, spas, etc.

Characters: My son was amazed when he saw the characters, but as they approached, he retreated!  He would run the other way with sheer terror on his face... I mean, who KNEW Doc McStuffins and Mickey would be SO BIG?!  He preferred to sit down and just watch the characters from afar, and I was fine with waiting until he felt more comfortable. As he became more familiar, I would remain quite close to him as we approached a character, informing them that it was his first time and he was shy so that they weren't too assertive.  It worked out well, and soon he was on his way to initiating contact with them.  I wouldn't worry if it takes a few visits for your child to become comfortable.

Dining? Easy breezy.  Staying on property provides you with so many options you won't need to leave Disney World at all.  And that is their plan.  Their quick service is similar to a fast food or casual restaurant and allows for families to eat and get back to their fun. The table service options were great ways to see characters while you dined, and choose from plated or buffet styles.  With children under 3, they are allowed to eat off of your plate to save you some extra money.  If they require special plates of their own, ask the server to simply bring out a separate plate that you can use to share your food and also be able to give them their independence. At this age, they get pleasure from being able to do things on their own. TIP:  Bring their sippy cup if they have not yet mastered the use of straws or drinking.

One thing to remember is that while we adults may seem more excited to get to Disney World the first time, your child most likely will be the one most excited for subsequent visits.  They have to have time as little ones to digest what they are experiencing and fully decide if they enjoyed it.  Once they become more comfortable with the excitement, they will display their feelings more. This is speaking for your first child.  Your 2nd and third has the preceding children's emotions to use as a reference for how they should feel/behave.


Mrs. Katsande

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

6 Things not to forget in preparation for baby

We all know to have clothing and other essentials ready early for the arrival of our babies, but here is a highlight of a few that most parents (I'm guilty as well) forget to do as part of the preparation process.

  1. Remind your out-of-town family to pack a "hospital bag" too.  Okay, although it's not quite a hospital bag, it's still a bag they should pack if they plan to stay and enjoy new baby and parents for a few days. It's good to have this bag readily accessible so that they can just pick up and go if the baby decides to comes out of the schedule.  Chances are, they just may. The BBC reported that there is only a 4% chance for the baby coming on the due date.  They are more likely not to come on the due date if it's the first baby for the mom.  I and my family got caught off guard a many times before - finding out a loved one is going into labor and we have nothing packed.  It can slow your travel plans down by hours or even a whole day, and greatly increases the chances of you forgetting something. Avoid all that and tell your family to get their bag(s) ready.
  2.  Arrange for an emergency pet sitter. You never know when the baby is coming, so knowing that you already have arrangements for the other member(s) of your house gives an added peace of mind.
  3. Sleep.  This seems automatic, but you'd be surprised how many people don't try to get adequate sleep before the baby arrives.  The excitement and planning of it all can be overwhelming, but you cannot forget to take care of yourself first. You'll get very little sleep once your LO arrives and it's easier to deal with post-baby sleep deprivation if you've made great efforts to get the appropriate amount of sleep in the time leading up to the birth
  4. Install your car seat and set up your crib.  If you're not good at doing this, purchase your crib from a company that offers free set up on site, or have someone you know either help you or do it for you. I had a bassinet for my son during the phase I worried about SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), but moved him to the crib in his own room because I was not interested in being a co-sleeper for years to come. I was happy that the crib was up and ready, because my husband had encountered missing parts during their set-up process that they needed to go and find. Had they waited until after the baby was there, it could've prolonged the wait for weeks. The car seat was much easier to install, as we used the Keyfit30; but my husband had this already setup so that all we needed to do was walk out of the hospital and go.  It decreased the number of things for us to worry about and should be something you should think about doing as well.
  5. Discuss with your spouse/partner the important decisions you'll have to make. At the hospital, the doctors will give you options on whether to administer certain medicines or preventative shots. Research and/or ask your medical providers beforehand the purpose for, and side effects of each of them so that you can make the best decision for your family without hastily making a last-minute decision.
  6. Make primary and secondary plans for feeding. By the third trimester, most of us have settled upon a primary decision, and then we just make plans for that.  But we can forget that situations can arise that  don't allow for us to continue down that original path. While planning is very beneficial, and is recommended, we will not have total control over every aspect, as I wrote in my previous post. This is where the alternative plan comes in handy.  I'd previously made the plan to breastfeed and I drank teas and made other preparations to ensure my milk came in, but when I had to have an emergency C-section, my milk just didn't come in enough to satisfy my son, so we were then presented with the question from hospital staff, "What type of formula is your preference?"  Because I remembered what formula my mother used for us when we were babies, I simply decided upon that brand, but if you aren't familiar with a brand, then the hospital will give your baby what they themselves decide- which may or may not be to your liking. Avoid that by having an alternative available, and maybe even having it in the hospital bad just in case they don't carry it.  I knew that since I had sensitive skin, and my husband had a sensitive stomach, I might have needed to have something formulated for sensitive tummies ready just in case my son couldn't take the original version the hospitals provide. It came in handy when we found that indeed he did.  
    The breast pump is another area where moms can prepare for.  Start learning how to setup your pump and learning how to properly use it before the birth.  Lactation specialists come around to the hospital rooms after your child's birth, but they can be sought before the birth to help with breast pump usage.  The last thing you want to do is to add pain to already painful breasts with improper pump usage.  You may have to wait weeks to secure an appointment with a professional, so it definitely helps to seek that appointment before you need it so that you don't have the urgency of the need to feed, or the pain of already improperly feeding/pumping, and then having to un-learn bad habits.
Having a plan doesn't mean things will go as planned, but having an alternative provides a better scenario for you and your partner should things present themselves as atypical.  Making sure you take care of yourself is one of the biggest lessons I've learned as a mom.  You cannot take care of your baby sufficiently if you are not well yourself.  Get your sleep, get your nutrition, and make prepare yourself where you can.

*Visit us for our next post on Walt Disney World with a Toddler****

Monday, February 20, 2017

Planning a last minute Walt Disney World Trip

I wanted to share with you the most glaring pros and cons of planning your vacation late.  Some people say it shouldn't be done, and here's what I've found.

Disney Springs (c) Ele Millenia


Anticipation. If you have told your child of your last minute plans, they won't have much time to let their anticipation drive your bonkers.  From experience I understand that telling a child under 8 means they will remind you of your promise every time they get,"I'm going to Disney World!"  "When are we going?" "Is it time yet to go?"  "We're going tomorrow!"  Believe me, I've experienced it.  Even when you tell them the exact date you are going, they may be too young to fully understand, and will think they are going "tomorrow" as each day passes. So if you only have to wait a week or so until your visit, it's better than having to hear your child go on and on for 6 -12 months about your visit. A lot of parents remedy that by keeping it a secret, but it's hard with observant children.  Even my toddler recognizes the signs of an upcoming trip, like buying new t-shirts and spending time online reading blogs about Disney or watching Disney vlogs.  Plus, if you're like me, your own excitement often inhibits your ability to keep it a secret.

Your Stay. You may be able to snag a good deal on resort stays and airfares.  I say "may" because it depends upon other factors, like how flexible your days to visit are.  If you decide that you can go anytime within the next 30 days, you have more flexibility in finding a deal than someone who is planning to go the next weekend. But there are just those last-minute specials that some airline companies and resorts run that make your last-minute trip worth the while.  If they find they still have empty inventory: seats or rooms, they may deeply discount those seats and rooms to entice families.  We have been able to book last minute trips for quite low when this happens: paying $150 for a deluxe hotel room per night (on property), and $200 roundtrip airfares from the north-central region of the US.  And this was during peak season!

Dining. I talk more on dining later on, but I want to mention that you very well can reserve your favorite restaurant last minute, but it depends upon the popularity of the restaurant and the number of visitors there at Disney.  Checking a day or two before you go may prove beneficial as other families have canceled their reservations right before the penalty period as described in the reservation terms. This has been a good excuse for our family to get out of the box and try a new restaurant as well- and adding that restaurants to our list of favorites.

House of Blues (c) Ele Millenia


Price. Although you could very well snag a deal, you'd most likely pay more for your resort when planning late, especially when your dates are firm.  If there are special offers available for your dates, chances are that they have been taken by those families that planned earlier.

Dining, cont. You may not be able to eat at your favorite restaurants.  Most of the restaurants (table service and signature) take reservations up to 180 days in advance.  This means the restaurant you've either been to or have read good reviews about is fully booked on the days you are visiting- especially if you're going on popular dates. You can still find a table service restaurant, however, if you are flexible in the times you can eat, the type of food, and the location.  Restaurants in and around Magic Kingdom park typically book early, so if you don't mind eating at another theme park or resort,  paying more for a signature restaurant, and/or not dining with characters, you may still find something good.  You can always opt for a quick service restaurant as well; finding one that serves more than just hamburgers and fries, like the Express at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe in Disney Springs.

FastPass+ availability. Ahhh, the best thing since sliced bread, right?  Well only if there are passes available.  This is a hit or miss, but I listed it as a con because the odds are that you'll not be able to get a fastpass for a highly sought-after ride, like Toy Story Midway Mania at Hollywood Studios.  We purchased our tickets last minute (at the resort itself), and found that although we got fast passes for many of our desired attractions, we were unable to obtain one for the popular ones.  When we arrived at the Toy Story Mania attraction, we found that the wait was 4 hours!  And we were never able to pick one up the whole time we were at the park, so we didn't get to ride it that visit.  If you come often, it may not be as big of a deal as would be for a family that visits Disney World much less, so it would be your preference.

In my opinion, planning last minute trips to Disney World can be very beneficial, but can also be disappointing.  There may be more advantages and disadvantages, and you'll encounter them with experience. It all depends upon your expectations and your chances of meeting those expectations. When we go last minute, we anticipate availability to be limited and stay open-minded to alternatives, so we typically have a very enjoyable visit.