Saturday, June 29, 2013

Disney on the "Cheap"

Well, we are finally home and trying to get back into the "normal" swing of things, if that is even possible.  The girls had a fabulous time in Disney and were totally surprised. (Doug and I also greatly enjoyed the magic.)  Watching the joy and amazement on their faces with every new ride and character brought so much thrill to us.  As I stated in a previous post, our two days in Disney was the only big expense on our vacation.  Our ten days in Siesta Key were spent at a relative's condo right across from the beach and the five days in Amelia Island were spent with very good friends.  We are lucky to have such wonderful family and friends all over the place.  Our two days at Disney (not including food and other small purchases) cost roughly $875 in a value resort.  This seems like a lot of money for two days but since our other stops were free, we had no problem spending the money, and it was totally worth it!  We discovered the key to doing Magic Kingdom cheap is to bring in your own snacks and drinks and plan it so you only have to eat one meal in the park.  We ate breakfast at the hotel and filled up on fruit we had brought with us, then ate snacks around 11, followed by lunch at 3:00.  Dinner consisted of more fruit and healthy snacks.  The girls were so excited and busy they didn't even really want to eat.

We stayed in the new value resort, The Art of Animation, and it was fantastic!  Our room was filled with all things Ariel; the girls were in heaven.  The pool was clean and loads of fun.  I would highly recommend this resort if you are looking at getting a value.

If you are planning to head to the land of magic, make the most of your trip by getting fast passes to popular rides.  We got them for Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Ariel's Under the Sea ride and Peter Pan's Flight.  We lucked out the second day because of storms in the area.  Outdoor rides were closed for several hours, which sent a lot of people home.  Once they reopened, there were very little lines!  Another thing we did was focus only on one area of the park at a time.  We crossed off the things we didn't care to do on the map and once we rode a ride, we crossed it off the list.  We did Fantasyland and most of Tomorrowland on the first day and took care of everything else the following day.  We were warned that summer months are very crowded and try to avoid going then, but with that being the only vacation time we can take, we were left no choice.  We were quite shocked that the park really wasn't that crowded at all!  Wednesdays and Thursdays are supposed to be the best days to go to avoid large crowds, maybe because most people begin their vacations on Monday and always hit Magic Kingdom first? Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of people, but nowhere near what I expected.  Maybe it helped to go the first part of summer too.  Regardless, we had a wonderful, magical time; I was sad to see the time go so fast.  I just hope the memory of this trip stays with the girls forever.

A few photos of the resort:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Goin' to Disney!!

Look out Land of Magic; here we come!  Yes, tomorrow we are heading to Disney!  This is a total surprise to the Monkeys, so keep it a secret!!  The girls have been asking to go to Disney for so long and we keep telling them that when Big Monkey is 8 we will go.  It is a conversation they want to have multiple times a week.  We are only doing Magic Kingdom and staying 2 days/2nights, just enough for the girls to experience the best part.  Other than the hotel room on the way down to Florida last week, these two Disney nights are the only nights we have to pay for on our three week adventure, thanks to amazing family and friends who are opening up their homes to us.

While in the Disney store one evening, one of the girls picked up an autograph book and said she wanted it.  I told her what it was and said maybe we could get one in a few years when we go to Disney.  Autograph books from Disney range from $8.00 for a basic, plain book to $18.00 for one with space for photos.  I decided I could make my own that were so much cuter at a fraction of the cost.  All the materials were $18.00 and with that are enough materials to make two autograph books and even a little scrapbook once we get back.  All the materials shown are from Michael’s craft store.  I found a pack of chipboard with holes already punched and rings included. 

First, I traced the covers on the pink paper, cut them out and glued it onto the chipboard. 

Then I found a template for the mouse ears online and traced it onto shiny black paper and glued them onto the pink paper. 

Next, I put the Disney Memories tag on (it came as one piece),

Followed by tying a cute pink polka-dot bow for Minnie. 

I used a Walt Disney font in word a printed an O and A in white against a black background, cut them out with an Exacto knife and glued them onto the mouse.  

I then punched holes in multiple sheets of the polka-dot paper, placed it face down inside the two covers and put rings through them.  

The rings are temporary; once we get home and add our pictures I plan on loosely tying the black, yellow and pink ribbon through the holes to make it a bit fancier.  I cannot wait for the girls to see their books and experience a whole lot of magic!  

Monday, June 10, 2013

Schools Out!

Wow, I finally have time to breathe!  School is officially over, my room is packed up, and I’m looking forward to fun, 3-week vacation. School for the Monkeys is also officially over; they get to go once a week as part of paying a holding fee, which is heavenly.  It gives me a chance to have one day out of the week to clean the house.  The end of the year always has me stressed trying to get, papers graded, grades done, room cleaned up, cum files organized and reading assessments recorded in folders, plus think about what kind of gift to not only get for my kids but also my own kids’ teachers.  This year, my teaching partner, Amy, and I decided to make something for the kids that would cost us next to nothing and once we were finished, I decided to stay on the frugal side with the Monkeys’ teachers as well.  Amy had a great idea to make a special magnet for the kids to put in their lockers next year. (They will be big fifth graders and get to use lockers for the first time.)  She found a fun website, Tagxedo, where we could enter in words and it forms them into a word cloud.  We had the kids pass around notecards with their names on them and each child came up with a word or short phrase that described that person.  We chose a peace sign cloud because we have been talking a lot about getting along and peace topics this year.  We printed them on card stock, laminated them and added magnet strips to the back.  The kids loved them and couldn’t wait to bring them back next year for their lockers.  Unfortunately the last day was so crazy, I didn't get a picture of them.
These were so much fun that I decided to make one for each of my girls’ teachers.  The girls helped me come up with words and we framed the final product in colorful frames.  I also threw in a box of stationary note cards (I love having notecards around as a teacher!).  The frames were a hit!  I spent $4.99 on the frames and the cards were also $4.99.  So, total I spent $40.00.  Much better than what I have spent in the past.  This website will be used a lot this coming year!