Thursday, March 31, 2011

Coping with the Monsters Under the Bed

At our 15 month well-visit, our pediatrician told me that we would probably start to see some fears developing in our daughter over the next few months, and that this is normal for the course of development. It seemed like with just those few words of advice AJ immediately started becoming afraid of the dark.

Of course, it took me nearly a month to figure this out. Mother of the year award, right here. ;)

AJ has always been especially clingy right after we come home from a trip. This is normal. After being with mom and dad 24/7, sharing a bedroom and getting loads of attention from other family members, it's hard for a toddler to adjust back to "real life." Well, a few days after we got back from our Disney trip, AJ started waking up in the night nearly every hour. Cry cry cry, fuss fuss fuss. She was never one to be held and rocked to sleep, and had always soothed herself really. (Literally from two days old, she wouldn't allow me to swaddle her. My slings immediately became useless.) All of a sudden she was demanding we rock her and of course, the minute we lay her back down in her crib fast asleep, she would jolt awake and the process would start all over again.

I didn't think that the darkness could be an issue. I mean, she did have a nightlight in her room. I was pretty convinced that it was teething. We'd been through it plenty of times before... this round just seemed a little more persistant. So I'd give her baby Orajel (which always satisfies her for a minute) and put her back to bed.

Well what really tipped me off was the monster under her bed the other night. I put Mia to bed as usual, and since the days are getting longer there was still a bit of daylight streaking in her window. She settled in, snuggling with her animals, and within two minutes I heard a scream.


I rushed in her room to find our cat, Genevieve, in her crib with her. Great, thanks for scaring the crap out of my kid, Genevieve. Now she'll never go back to sleep. I check under AJ's crib literally every night to make sure that the cat isn't lurking around under there, and for some reason on this night I just assumed she wasn't. As soon as the initial fright wore off, AJ was mad that I took the cat away from her and that they couldn't share the crib. Sorry kiddo.

After that she wouldn't go back to sleep. Could I blame her? A monster had literally jumped out from under the bed and tried to snuggle her in her crib. I resorted to find another, brighter night light and that seemed to do the trick. Thank you, Lord for using my cat as a device to teach me a lesson.

To make matters worse though, last night I forgot to plug in any night light at all, so after the 5 minutes of light that her musical  seahorse gives off, she was alone in the pitch black. Scream! She's only 16 months old, but I'm surprised she hasn't yelled out, "Mommy what is wrong with you!"

To make a long story short, the brighter light was plugged in and the rest of the night went well. Our little girl is afraid of the dark. But now I will always check for monsters under the bed before shutting the door.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spotlight Disney World: The Magic Kingdom with a Toddler/Young Children {Review}

Holly at Nap Time March 2011
 Even as an adult, my favorite place at Disney World has got to be the Magic Kingdom. It's just the best, hands down. This was my first trip to the Magic Kingdom as a parent though. Our daughter was 16 months old for the trip. I'll be honest with you - if you're planning a Disney trip with a toddler you will hear people ask why? isn't that too young? will they even remember it? Don't let these people get to you. You're going to Disney World because it's the world's best family vacation destination. There is no such thing as too young for Disney World (in fact, I was surprised at how many 2-3 month infants I saw here!). Will they remember it? Probably not in detail, but rest assured mom and dad will, and the memories are some of the sweetest that you'll ever have. And that is what really matters. I personally thought that 16 months was the perfect age for a first trip to Disney World.

The Magic Kingdom for Toddlers & Young Children:

The attractions, parades, food, characters, shops and sites of the Magic Kingdom make it perfect for children of all ages. Here's our "Hot Tips" for taking your toddler!
  • Upon arrival, head up through the castle to Fantasyland. Right away you'll want to get a FASTPASS for Peter Pan's Flight. It's pretty normal for this ride to have a wait from 30-90 minutes. Since strollers are not allowed in line, this can be a pretty grueling experience with a toddler.
  • You'll also want to get a FASTPASS for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. This is a fun, musical adventure recalling some of the classic Pooh stories.
  • Disney makes the first haircut a magical experience for the entire family. At just $18, this trip to the little barber shop on Main Street is well worth it. (More details below; see: Harmony Barber Shop)
  • Mickey & Minnie Mouse are often posted by the restrooms near the Exit of Splash Mountain. We visited the characters here several times and the line was never very long.
  • The fastest way to zip up Main Street on a crowded day is to go through the shops up the left side of the street. They are all connected and usually not very busy early on in the day. Bonus: air conditioning!
  • Personalized Mickey Ears run $15+ at Chapeau on Main Street, right near the confectionary. The wait time here was around 10 minutes for personalization, whereas we found that the well known hat shop at Disney's Hollywood Studios often had a pick-up time of several hours later.

Holly at Nap Time March 2011
Attractions for Toddlers: 

There are plenty of rides and shows for toddlers at the Magic Kingdom park. Remember to take breaks often. The stimulation can be really exhausting for the little ones!
  • Walt Disney World Railroad: This railroad travels the outside perimeter of the Magic Kingdom, and takes approximately 20 minutes round trip. If your toddler is not one to fall asleep in their stroller, try taking a ride on the Walt Disney World Railroad. It's relatively quiet and you can stay onboard for as long as you like.
  • Swiss Family Treehouse: Visit the home of the Robinson's! This amazing tree has bedrooms, a library, even a kitchen! Note: No strollers allowed on this attraction.
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin: My daughter loved this ride. Much like the Dumbo ride, this attraction goes up and down and gently round and round. I loved hearing my daughter say "Weeee! Weeee" as we rode around Adventureland. The lines are much shorter around mealtimes.
  • Jungle Cruise: A fun, relaxing boat ride for the little ones, a silly safari for the adults. Everyone wins.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Older toddlers may find this find to be scary. My 16 month old daughter was a little unsure at a couple points, but mostly just mezmerized at the "doggy" with the key.
  • Country Bear Jamboree: Exactly how I remembered it as a child. This fun animatronic show features bears of all shapes and personality in a 17 minute musical show that kids will love.
  • Haunted Mansion: Again, this attraction might be scarier for older children. I think unless kids have it put into their minds that this is supposed to be "haunted in scary" then it's really harmless. Our daughter thought it was great, especially the ghosts ballroom dancing.
  • "it's a small world": In my mind, the best attraction for toddlers in the Magic Kingdom. This boat ride will take you around the world, and there is so much to explore! Because there is so much to see, this is one ride your little one will love doing over and over again - making it a new adventure each time.
  • Peter Pan's Flight: Fly along with Peter Pan as he takes us through the classic story.
  • Snow White's Scary Adventures: We did elect to skip this one, as I thought the witch might really terrify my daughter.
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: I was at first sad that Mr. Toad's Wild Ride wasn't around anymore, but this is a suitable replacement for today's generation of Disney kids.
  • Mad Tea Party: Who doesn't love a spinning teacup? We didn't think our daughter was quite ready for this one either, but it is great fun for older toddlers.
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor: This comedy show in Tomorrowland is fun and suitable for all ages. It's interaction with the audience will keep the adults entertained and the animation and effects will keep your toddler in tow.
  • Other: There is a stage that is just right of Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. Several times a day during our visit, some of the Disney Characters (Goofy, Pluto, and Stitch) would host a "dance" party here, performing both on stage and in the crowd with the kids. We ran into this party by luck, and it was one of the most fun things for our daughter for the whole week!

Holly at Nap Time March 2011

Disney Parades:

Right now Disney is showcasing a fun, music filled day-time parade in the Magic Kingdom called Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade.  Parade times may vary by day and season. This character filled parade is camera worthy and is sure to make the kiddos smile.

The parade route is either from Main Street up through Frontierland or vise versa (see schedule). 

Holly at Nap Time March 2011
We found that a great place to view this parade is on the street right in front of the Country Bear Jamboree in Frontierland. Plan to line up for the parade about 45 minutes in advance for a good spot. If the kids are restless, have an adult take them in to watch the Country Bear Jamboree while another adult stays with the strollers/saves your spot.

Holly at Nap Time March 2011

When night falls, you don't want to miss the Main Street Electrical Parade. A Disney favorite for years, the music and (most of) the floats are still the same as they were when I was a kid, which is the perfect way to bring back all the magic again. Times vary by day/season. Check the schedule upon arrival. It is worth keeping your little ones up late for this one!

 Our favorite spot to sit for this parade is right in front of the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. From here you'll have a fantastic view of the parade floats coming down Main Street, as well as a beautiful backdrop of Cinderella's Castle lit up at night.
 Dining with Your Toddler at the Magic Kingdom:

Most every restaurant at Disney World is both acceptable and appropriate for kids. Here are my family's favorite places to eat at the Magic Kingdom:

Tony's Town Square Restaurant: Just inside the entrance at the Magic Kingdom, Tony's Town Square Restaurant is a classic Italian eatery with all your favorites. Perfect for a dinner out with the family or a romantic date, a la Lady & the Tramp. As of March 2011 Tony's is undergoing some renovations. It may look closed from the outside, but it's certainly not! Reservations highly recommended (407-WDW-DINE)

Aloha Isle: This small snack shop is located in Adventureland. If you like soft-serve ice cream and tropical flavors, you will NOT want to miss this one! They have the most delicious pineapple "Dole Whip" that will tingle your taste buds. Hosted by Dole.

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe: In the heart of Frontierland, this saloon style eatery has some of the best bbq sandwiches I've ever had. They also have the typical burger and fries fare, and of course, for the picky little eaters you can order pb&j. The dining hall is typically very crowded. If the second floor is open for dining make your way up there for a quieter experience.

Columbia Harbour House: This quick service eatery serves fish and chicken baskets. Delicious foods, long lines. Have your party find a table outside and sit down while you wait.

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe: When everyone in the family is wanting something different to eat, Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant is the place to go. They have three separate "Bays" in which to order different types of food from, from sandwiches and salads to specialty burgers and chicken meals, they pretty much have you covered. Relatively short lines, both indoor and outdoor dining available.

Harmony Barber Shop & Your Toddler's First Haircut:

Holly at Nap Time March 2011
Harmony Barber Shop is more than just a store-front ole-timey barber shop in the Magic Kingdom's Town Square - it's a real barber shop! For just $18, you can have a memorable first haircut that the whole family will remember, including a special certificate to take home, a lock of hair, and Mickey ears that have "First Haircut" stitched in the back of them.

My 16 month old daughter loved this experience. From the dozens of stickers our stylist Yvette (whom I highly recommend) gave her, to the spinning Minnie toy she played with, AJ didn't even notice that she was getting a haircut. She did such a good job, and we have some fantastic memories now.

Reservations are highly recommended. Call 407-WDW-DINE (yes, you call the dining line for a haircut appt.) to make your appointment today.
Stroller Parking:
If you've been questioning whether or not to bring a stroller to Disney World, even if for your older toddler, the answer is yes, yes, and how could you ever doubt yourself?

Strollers are key to a happy and successful Disney World trip. Pack yours along, because they aren't cheap to rent ($15/day for a single). There are designated "Stroller Parking" areas throughout the parks, and Disney cast members are constantly organizing and reorganizing the strollers so that they don't become a jumbled mess. We often came back to our stroller moved to a different location within the parking area, but with Mickey stickers (our daughter's FAVORITE) inside the seat.  YES, bring your stroller!

More Disney Reviews:

For more on traveling to Disney World with a toddler, please check out my other reviews. I hope you have the vacation of a lifetime!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

24 Hours of Progress: The 17th Hour

About 24 Hours of Progress:

So often, the only projects that get "done" around our homes is dinner (and no, takeout doesn't count) and the laundry. Out of necessity though. There are so many little nagging projects that linger for most of us. Yes, we can live with a little clutter here or there, but it sure feels good to get those little things out of the way!

Spring is a natural time of rebirth and shedding the layers that has descended upon our house over the winter. The Holly at Nap Time series 24 hours of Progress is designed of 72 household projects that will take on average about one hour to do. Pick one project each Monday, Wednesday and Friday to work on from now until April 1st. By the end of the session, you will have made 24 Hours of Progress towards the home you deserve!

The Seventeenth Hour:
Eyes to the Skies: This morning I was preparing a grilled cheese sandwich for my daughter when I decided that I would get the cookie cutters (which are stored on top of my cupboards in jars) down and make a flower shaped sandwich for her. I pulled a chair over and climbed up... yuck!! Being short and near-sighted has certainly let the cobwebs run loose in my home. Which made me wonder, what other high locales have I been missing lately?
Now is the time to dust up high and make sure to get rid of all those cobwebs. Other areas to check include ceiling vents, ceiling fans (especially before you turn them on for the first time as warm weather nears!), crown molding, etc.
Organize Your Coupons: When it comes to couponing, I go through phases. I'm really diligent about collecting and keeping coupons for awhile, and then... they start to pile up. I don't know why, maybe I just don't have the couponing soul that some women have, but I cannot keep my coupons organized. And... I'm ashamed to say it, but I would rather pay full price for all of my grocery items than take the time to sort through my coupons, throwing aside expired ones and seeing which ones I can double.
It's sad, really, I know. It seems like when I wasn't really focused on saving money, I would often forget the coupons all together. To motivate myself to stay organized, I bought a Vera Bradley pencil pouch, the perfect size to store my coupons in. To make sure that I stay organized, I never let the pouch get too full and I only cut coupons for items that I know I'm going to buy. (After all, it's not really a bargain if you bought something with a coupon that you really had no intention to buy in the first place. That's just good marketing.)
Rotate Your Mattress: Rotating your mattress is a good way to keep it in the best shape possible. We have the tendancy to sleep the same way night after night, and in time it can really wear on our mattresses. Some mattresses can even be flipped over and used on both sides (most without pillow tops). I try to rotate our mattress every 2-3 months.

Monday, March 28, 2011

24 Hours of Progress: The 16th Hour

About 24 Hours of Progress:

So often, the only projects that get "done" around our homes is dinner (and no, takeout doesn't count) and the laundry. Out of necessity though. There are so many little nagging projects that linger for most of us. Yes, we can live with a little clutter here or there, but it sure feels good to get those little things out of the way!

Spring is a natural time of rebirth and shedding the layers that has descended upon our house over the winter. The Holly at Nap Time series 24 hours of Progress is designed of 72 household projects that will take on average about one hour to do. Pick one project each Monday, Wednesday and Friday to work on from now until April 1st. By the end of the session, you will have made 24 Hours of Progress towards the home you deserve!

The Sixteenth Hour:
Change Your Air Filters: It is recommended that you change the air filters in your home every three months, but if you are leaving this chore up to your memory it often becomes 5 or 6 months, and then you've got an entirely disgusting, dust and grime filled filter to take care of.
Our house has 2 cats and 3 people who like to breathe. Because of the extra dander, we try to change our filters every month. I highly suggest Filtrete filters. They are slightly more expensive, but after all, we're talking about the oxygen that you breathe here! Let's make sure that it's clean.
Find a Recycling Center: Last summer our home owner's association met up and discussed that our neighborhood was not going to begin a recycling program because of the fees associated with pickup in our area. This wasn't a real surprise to my husband and I, who have been avid recyclers for years. Our kitchen is often called the "Family Recycling Center" because at any given time there will be 3-5 paper bags filled with newspapers, empty jars, plastics, etc. In fact, when we moved here I was so excited to find that I could bring my recyclables to a local fire station that was just about a mile down the road.
I was shocked when a neighbor of mine nonchalantly said that it was a shame that we wouldn't be getting pickup because she and her husband threw away at least a couple dozen newspapers every week.
Was she serious? People actually throw away paper? I mean, I'm not the greenest person on the planet, but could somebody fine her for this? My heart literally began to ache in my chest.
Growing up in Michigan, I was exposed to local recycling programs at a young age. Pretty much all plastics are recycled there now, and everyone does their best to pitch in. The local libraries in West Michigan will even collect old alkaline batteries to be recycled. Of course there was a way to recycle your goods, lady! Recycling pickup is a luxury!! If you don't have it available to you please drop your stuff off at a center!
To find a recycling center near you please visit
Fluffen Up Your Furniture: Couches and chairs with big cushions often have zippered seams in the back of them where their foam inserts lie. And of course, after awhile they begin to feel "loved" and aren't as presentable as they once were. Take your cushions and fluffen them up the best you can. A simple bag of stuffing (found at most fabric and craft stores) can help you fill in the gaps and bring life and shape back to your furniture. No more slouchy couch!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How My Toddler Became Rich

One of the activities we've been doing to practice our fine motor skills is putting coins in the piggy bank. AJ has quickly become a huge fan, and how can I resist this face when she wants to feed her "giggy" ?

My husband and I laugh that our 16 month old has a higher net worth than us, but it's true! No mortgage or debt for her! ;)

24 Hours of Progress: The 15th Hour

About 24 Hours of Progress:

So often, the only projects that get "done" around our homes is dinner (and no, takeout doesn't count) and the laundry. Out of necessity though. There are so many little nagging projects that linger for most of us. Yes, we can live with a little clutter here or there, but it sure feels good to get those little things out of the way!

Spring is a natural time of rebirth and shedding the layers that has descended upon our house over the winter. The Holly at Nap Time series 24 hours of Progress is designed of 72 household projects that will take on average about one hour to do. Pick one project each Monday, Wednesday and Friday to work on from now until April 1st. By the end of the session, you will have made 24 Hours of Progress towards the home you deserve!

The Fifteenth Hour:

Although the majority of Spring Cleaning is based around revitalizing your sleepy house after a long winter, I find it also important to revitalize yourself. Now is the perfect time to dust off those running shoes and revisit your New Year's Resolutions (which I need to do myself!) By now you probably already realize that my blog is more about finding ways to motivate myself than to motivate my readers. *wink*

Dust Off Your Cookbooks: I envy the women (and men) who can pick up a few random ingredients at the supermarket and make a fantastic, creative meal for their families night after night. As creative as I am in some areas of my life, the kitchen is just not one of them. I prefer following a recipe to the T, and maybe after I've done it a couple dozen times, then just maybe I will make my own tweaks on it (how adventurous, I know...)

In the winter months especially, I find myself making the same warm comfort foods over and over again. Especially now that our toddler is eating "big people food" along with us and has a very limited palate. So for this challenge, I ask you to do one of two things:
          a) go to your cookbooks (or and try something completely new that you think your family will love, or
          b) take one of your favorite family dishes and recreate it in a new way! My family did this with pizza with my mom's famous (well, to me anyways) Pizza in a Bowl recipe.

Dust Off Your Exercise Equipment: I was at such a good place with my exercise routine until we went on vacation. I don't know about you, but once I take the smallest break from a project I have going like this, it's so hard to get motivated again.


That's really all there is to say about it. Exercising gives you more energy, and the more you do it, the more you are motivated to do it. So clear your folded laundry off of the treadmill, put on your tennis shoes and go for a walk, and check out that bike trail that your kids keep talking about.

Dust Off Your Calendar: So some of us are saying, "Well gee, Holly. I don't have time to try a new recipe or exercise. What do those things have to do with Spring Cleaning, anyways?" The point is, Spring Cleaning can be a real chore. It can be slightly less of a chore if you're feeling good about yourself. Trying something new or getting into a good habit (which I heard takes at least 21 days... ugh!) can boost your motivation to make your house the spotless place it should be.

I don't know where the saying comes from, but I'm sure you've heard it before. "If you think you don't have time for something, then stop watching TV."  After the kiddos are in bed, the laundry is done and the dishwasher is running, it's hard to think of anything to do but flop down in front of the television. I get that. It falls under the definition of being a parent, the right to flop TV-side. But if you really want to get something accomplished, the best way to find time is to stop watching TV.

Go through your schedule and see what you can do to buy yourself 30 minutes of time to do something that you want to do this week. You may not want to go back. ;)

I do have my favorite shows (The Office, Modern Family, and yes, I'm still sucked into The Secret Life of the American Teenager), but at some point I had to sit down and think about which shows were worth it for my to watch (ok, stop making fun of me... Secret Life IS that addicting!) I decided last fall to stop watching Grey's Anatomy. I was really into the plot of the show, but after some thought realized that I didn't like all the blood and guts (it's why I quit being a nursing major), there was way too much drama, and it left me almost always going to bed sad/angry for the characters involved. The fake characters. I didn't believe that I'd just be able to stop watching it without caring about what was going on in the plot, but it's an hour of my time that I now have back EVERY week. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

24 Hours of Progress: The 14th Hour

About 24 Hours of Progress:

So often, the only projects that get "done" around our homes is dinner (and no, takeout doesn't count) and the laundry. Out of necessity though. There are so many little nagging projects that linger for most of us. Yes, we can live with a little clutter here or there, but it sure feels good to get those little things out of the way!

Spring is a natural time of rebirth and shedding the layers that has descended upon our house over the winter. The Holly at Nap Time series 24 hours of Progress is designed of 72 household projects that will take on average about one hour to do. Pick one project each Monday, Wednesday and Friday to work on from now until April 1st. By the end of the session, you will have made 24 Hours of Progress towards the home you deserve!

The Fourteenth Hour:

Back-Up Your Computer: Most of us don't back up our computers on a regulary basis, if ever. Somehow we trust the box of a machine to protect all of our documents, photos, videos and music without a second thought. This task nearly came too late for my family.

When our computer started acting a little bit quirky a few days ago, my husband noted that we should be backing up our files in case everything happens. You can do this to discs or flash drives, but your safest bet is purchasing an external hard drive for all of your files. Anyways, less than 48 hours later our computer crashed completely and we had not yet backed up a single thing. Great.

Luckily, my husband was able to download a different operating system on our laptop, and we were able to get it to run on our PC long enough for us to locate our files and have them transferred to the external hard drive. But for a few hours there, I thought I was saying goodbye to hundreds of thousands of baby photos, honeymoon memories, and blog files. Sickening. Back-up your information people!

Have Your Comforters Dry Cleaned: For a lot of people, the little tag suggesting "Dry Clean Only" means it'll never get cleaned at all. Gross! For me, beating the dust out of a comforter and using a little Febreeze is just not enough. I suggest taking your comforters to the dry cleaner at least twice a year if they are labeled as dry clean only. A little freshness can go a long way.

Change Burnt Out Lightbulbs: Some people change lightbulbs as they go out. I'm not one of those people. With a toddler on the loose in the house, burnt out lightbulbs in a chandelier of 5-15 bulbs are pretty low on my list of priorities. However, after a year of this happening every so often, it kind of catches up to you. I probably have between 8-10 burnt out lightbulbs around my house right now. I know it's time to take care of the problem because my kitchen/dining room is now giving off that "maybe they're going for a haunted house kind of look?" vibe.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spotlight Disney World: Coronado Springs Resort {Review}

If you're planning on taking a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida, your best bet is to stay at one of their amazing hotels. From Disney's Magical Express shuttle taking you to/from the airport to the internal shuttle taking you to all of the Disney Parks to the endless hotel amenities, you really can't go wrong. For our March trip this year, we chose to stay at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. Our full review is as follows:

Disney's Magical Express:
Disney really has an eye for making your vacation as stress-free as humanly possible, beginning with their complimentary airport shuttle, Disney's Magical Express. Prior to your Disney vacation, if you didn't already book your flights through the Walt Disney World website (the packages make it super convenient!) make sure to call the Disney reservation specialists to let them know your flight information. You will be mailed a special voucher with personalized luggage tags and a bus ticket for each person in your party. No need to worry about your luggage here! If you have checked baggage, simply put the personalized luggage tags/stickers on your bags before departure. When you arrive in Orlando, Disney will take care of the rest and make sure that they get to your room (though it should be noted, it sometimes takes 4-5 more hours than collecting the luggage yourself).
The airport has sufficient signs pointing you directly to the Magical Express terminal. Once there, have your voucher handy and the Disney specialists will guide you to the correct bus for your hotel. The trip takes around 40 minutes, in which a Disney video plays - highlighting all the fun that is to come.

Disney's Coronado Springs Resort: Overview

Holly at Nap Time March 2011

Disney's Coronado Springs Resort is listed as one of the "Moderate Range" resorts at Walt Disney World, meaning that it generally has more dining options/amenities than the Value Resorts, and is less pricey/has slightly fewer amenities (no monorail) than some of the Deluxe Resorts. From our experience though, the comfort of Coronado Springs made us feel high class all week long. We stayed at the resort for 7 nights/8 days.

Description from the Walt Disney World website of the Coronado Springs Resort:
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is an American Southwest-themed Resort hotel set on a 22-acre lake that invokes the spirit and romance of Spanish-colonial Mexico.
Holly at Nap Time March 2011

The lake really is amazing. I often walked with our 16 month old daughter in her stroller around the lake, which took approximately 30 minutes. It's a beautiful walk, and the sounds of nature were right there to help her get to sleep! Sound like a lot of walking? No fear! Coronado Springs has 4 bus stops to help you get around the resort and Disney Parks. They also have a golf cart service. Simply call the front desk and someone can come pick you up and help you get to your destination.

Check-In Process/The Room:
Approximately 10 days before your Disney vacation begins, you will be able to check-in online. This makes your check-in process a whole lot faster, and even lets you "jump the line" at registration once you get to the hotel. Not really jump the line, but you do have your own "Online Check-In" line that goes a lot more quickly than your fellow patrons will be waiting.

I was a little disappointed that our room was not ready when we arrived, as I had noted several times prior to travel that we would be arriving early with a toddler. However, there was a big conference going on and I was told that the hotel was at 100% capacity the night before. I understood the situation. Luckily, the hotel offers a baggage check that allows you to drop off your items and enjoy your Disney vacation right away, free of charge. My only criticism here is that I wish that the staff member would have been more direct with us from the beginning. He had said our room was going to be ready very soon, and that turned into over 4 hours. Thank goodness we didn't stay at the hotel and wait.

Upon check-in, you will receive a room key that acts as your "Key to the World." With a credit card validation, you can use this same card to charge up to $1,000 at any of the Disney Locations, which means you can leave your wallet safely in your hotel room. If you have the Disney Dining Plan, this card also acts as your voucher to be used at meals. If your room is not yet ready, the front desk will text message you with your room number as soon as it becomes available, and activate your room key, meaning that you don't even have to stop back at the front desk.

When I was booking our vacation last August (yes, 7 months prior), Disney made it seem like a huge deal that I could upgrade my stay to a "Water View Room" for $0 at the time. Sure, why not - I had said.

Again at check-in, the staff member helping us brought up the words "water view" several times. "Your water view room is not yet ready." "Please enjoy your stay in your water view room here at Coronado Springs Resort."  I got the picture. This is special, I thought.

When we arrived at our room, I was slightly perplexed. Water view? OK, maybe if I walked 3 feet out the front door and stood on my tippy toes to see over the bushes. Yes! There was the water! I was less than impressed, but seeing that this "upgrade" was free, it didn't bother me in the slightest. However, if I had paid for it, I would have said something.

Disney Every Day

The room itself was really nice. It was smaller than I had imagined, but I wasn't planning on spending too much time there anyways. The decor was classy and seemed very up-to-date, and the room was immaculately clean. I should mention that the Coronado Springs Resort is the only facility in which I have witnessed staff members even dusting off the sidewalk lamps and trash cans. So very clean!

Of course, I wasn't able to snap any photos of the room before my toddler's explosion of "stuff" was everywhere, so I'm borrowing these photos from Disney Every Day with Amanda Tinney:

I, naturally, loved all of the "hidden Mickeys" throughout the room. On the bedspread, the pillows, the corners of the mirrors... fun for the kids and mom and dad!

Disney Every Day

As with any hotel room, I was worried about finding ample room for setting up a play-n-play (which your Disney Resort will gladly provide, linens included). I was so pleased with the set-up of this room. The bathroom extends to a "dressing room" with sliding wooden doors. There was more than enough room for the pack-n-play to be set up in here without blocking our way to the sink or the bathroom. Better yet, the doors close so quietly, making this the perfect little "bedroom" for a toddler. The setup allowed my husband and I to keep the lights on past our daughter's bedtime.

Just prior to our trip I had read nearly a dozen reviews stating that the walls of this resort were "paper thin" and that the noise was unbearable. Luckily, we didn't find this to be an issue at all. After 8pm (which is the time we tried to get back to our resort with our daughter each night), the resort was quiet as can be. Though we did see some of our neighbors come and go, we never heard a peep from them. In the mornings, around 8am, we did hear the bustle of families zipping by our room on their way to the parks, but this is not any noise to complain about! After all, get your butt out of bed and enjoy your vacation, already!

Holly at Nap Time March 2011

Pools & Recreation:

If you're staying at Coronado Springs Resort, I highly suggest you plan to spend at least a half of day at The Dig Site. Though the resort does have 3 smaller pools representing each of their hotel room locations, The Dig Site is definitely the place to go with your kids.

The Dig Site acts as the "Lost City of Cibola, complete with "ruins" and a playground where children can dig for lost artifacts. Very cool!

Here are some of the pictures we took:

Holly at Nap Time March 2011

Holly at Nap Time March 2011

Holly at Nap Time March 2011

Holly at Nap Time March 2011

Toddler Pool - a big hit!

Holly at Nap Time March 2011
My daughter enjoying the toddler pool!

The pool area has fantastically clean restrooms that even include full service showers, changing areas and lockers (available for $1).

The arcade, on the other hand, is nothing special, and you will not regret it if you're kids never learn of its existence. It's pretty similar to any hotel arcade.

Coronado Springs Resort is home to the Maya Grill, The Pepper Market and Cafe Rix. Though we never made it to the Maya Grill, we did go to The Pepper Market and Cafe Rix several times.

The Pepper Market is a Quick Service dining location in which each guest can travel to a variety of "chef's stations" to create the perfect meal. Along the way, they will stamp your card with the items you purchase so that you can pay as you leave. The Pepper Market is set up really nicely, the staff is extremely friendly, and the food is simply delicious. If you're looking for some Mexican flavors, I highly suggest the chicken quesadillas and nachos. Yum!

Cafe Rix is also a Quick Service eatery in a "grab-it-and-go" set up, which came in handy for our daughter. Being the picky toddler she is, we stopped by Cafe Rix each morning on our way to the park to pick up a pint of fresh strawberries that she could snack on during the day. You can't beat fresh fruit! Cafe Rix also has delicious breakfast sandwiches such as egg, ham and cheese on a croissant, and fresh baked goods. The chocolate chip and blueberry muffins were so yummy! For an afternoon treat, make sure you stop by for some of their gelato. You won't be disappointed!


Holly at Nap Time March 2011

Panchito's has all of your Disney Favorites, plus some Southwestern flair! Chances are that if you forgot something (ie bathing suit, hairbrush, sunscreen) that you can find it at Panchito's. Near the back there is also a snack section. We were able to purchase a half gallon of whole milk for our daughter (easily stored in our room's refrigerator) for around $3. Not bad for a resort price! You can also purchase beer and wine at a reasonable cost.

If you have the Disney Dining Plan, you will be able to use a "snack" on several of the items in the snack and candy section.

Disney's Resort Airline Check-In Service:
The day before your departure from the Walt Disney World Resorts, you will receive a notice on your door indicating what time your return Magical Express shuttle will arrive to take you back to the airport (this time is approximately 3 hours before domestic flights and 4 hours before international travel). You will also receive directions for the Resort Airline Check-In Service.

I LOVE this service! If you are flying on one of the following airlines, you can check your luggage at the hotel, pay for any associated fees, and even have your boarding passes printed out. (Yes, meaning that the stresses of everyday life really don't come back until your vacation is completely over!)

Affiliated Airlines: AirTran, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Continental, Delta, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways

It was so nice to check our luggage at the hotel and not have to worry about it until our flight landed back in Virginia. Better yet, the Disney hotel was able to weigh my checked bag and tell me that it was 2lbs heavier than the limit, allowing me to rearrage and save a nearly $50 overweight baggage fee.

More Disney Reviews:

For more on traveling to Disney World with a toddler, please check out my other reviews. I hope you have the vacation of a lifetime!

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Disney or Walt Disney World Resorts, other than a satisfied customer who likes to share her opinions!

Friday, March 18, 2011

24 Hours of Progress: The 13th Hour

After 8 amazing days at Disney World, I'm having a little bit of trouble getting back to my "real life." Good thing I have this 24 Hour of Progress to keep me on track, right? ;)

And yes, we had an awesome vacation. Please stay tuned for my series of Disney reviews coming soon. :)

About 24 Hours of Progress:

So often, the only projects that get "done" around our homes is dinner (and no, takeout doesn't count) and the laundry. Out of necessity though. There are so many little nagging projects that linger for most of us. Yes, we can live with a little clutter here or there, but it sure feels good to get those little things out of the way!

Spring is a natural time of rebirth and shedding the layers that has descended upon our house over the winter. The Holly at Nap Time series 24 hours of Progress is designed of 72 household projects that will take on average about one hour to do. Pick one project each Monday, Wednesday and Friday to work on from now until April 1st. By the end of the session, you will have made 24 Hours of Progress towards the home you deserve!

The Thirteenth Hour:

Change the Batteries in your Smoke Detectors:  When my husband and I first purchased our home, it was about 5 years old and only had one previous owner. On one of the first nights in our new home, we were awoken by the chirp of a dying smoke detector at about 1am. Frantically searching the house, half-asleep, we learned that there was a smoke detector in every single room of the house (not complaining!) Because the chirping would only go off once per minute, it took us quite awhile to discover which one was dying. We put batteries on our shopping list, but before we got to the store that weekend we went through the same experience of finding a dying detector two more times!

The general rule of thumb is to change the batteries in your smoke detector every year around your birthday. For our family, this didn't work so well. We tried it, but then wait - did we do it around my birthday or was it my husband's? Did we do it at all last year? The system just threw us for a loop. That's why Spring is a great time to change the batteries. During your routine Spring Cleaning, make sure to check them out.

Now would also be a good time to create a family fire escape plan. Designate a meeting spot outside of the house and have a fire drill to make sure that everyone is on the same page in case of emergency.

Clean Out Your Freezer: Somehow I usually find myself saying that we have "absolutely nothing to eat" even though my freezer is overflowing. I'll admit that I'm usually not one to go digging through the freezer. If it's not in plain site when I open the door, it might as well not be in there at all.

Take the time to go through your freezer and clear out anything that a) you don't remember buying - it's probably old and gross and b) that you don't anticipate eating. Awhile back I was on a health kick and bought a ridiculous amount of frozen spinach. I really need to incorporate it into our meals because it takes up a lot of space.

Update Your Address Book: Friends move, phone numbers change, and if you're like me you like to have a hard copy of these records other than your digital rolodex on your computer. I usually end up sticking envelopes with new addresses inside my address book with the intentions of updating it later. Over time, the envelopes add up pretty quickly. :) Take the time to get everything up to date so that you don't make the mistake of getting returned Christmas cards, wrong numbers, and wrong locations later!

Monday, March 7, 2011

24 Hours of Progress: the 12th Hour

I'm an hour behind on my progress here... mostly because I've got vacation on the brain. It's getting so close now. I never really anticipated being this excited about going to Disney World, but I'm like a toddler on Christmas morning. It's a wonderful feeling. :) With that being said, today's post is inspired by my friend Jen, and is all about indexing and getting organized.

About 24 Hours of Progress:

So often, the only projects that get "done" around our homes is dinner (and no, takeout doesn't count) and the laundry. Out of necessity though. There are so many little nagging projects that linger for most of us. Yes, we can live with a little clutter here or there, but it sure feels good to get those little things out of the way!

Spring is a natural time of rebirth and shedding the layers that has descended upon our house over the winter. The Holly at Nap Time series 24 hours of Progress is designed of 72 household projects that will take on average about one hour to do. Pick one project each Monday, Wednesday and Friday to work on from now until April 1st. By the end of the session, you will have made 24 Hours of Progress towards the home you deserve!

The Twelfth Hour:
Travel Checklist: Every single time we go somewhere away from home I end up scrawling a list, usually on the back of an old receipt or something, making sure to write down all the things that we will need to pack. Prescriptions. Swim diapers. Phone charger. Toothpaste.
And almost as often I misplace the list and find myself rewriting it - trying to remember all that was on it.
Then it dawned on me... why not create a travel checklist and save it on the computer? It will be there everytime I look for it, and I can even change it to suit the type of trip (ie beach vs snow) that we'll be taking.
Sometimes I think I'm a genius, but if I were a genius, I would have thought of this idea sooner. ;)
Pantry Inventory: Last week while out to lunch, my friend Jen confessed that during her pregnancy she did some extreme nesting that involved not only reorganizing the spice cabinet, but making an index of all her spices so that she knew exactly what she had on hand. GENIUS! Take this concept and apply it to your pantry the same way. Six jars of peanut butter? You're probably set for awhile. No macaroni and cheese? Put it on your list!!
This task is really going to help my kitchen. Last I checked I had about 3 little bottles of vanilla extract open but still no cinnamon.
Mail Sorter: A constant source of clutter at our house is mail; notably JUNK MAIL. A small pile on the couch, a small pile on the stairs, a small pile on the kitchen counter. It drives me crazy!!! Recently I've taken a more proactive aproach to mail and I look at it as soon as it comes in the house. Right away it gets sorted into one of four categories: 1) Junk Mail - goes to recycling bin 2) Bills - goes to the computer desk 3) My Mail - I read it right away and then either recycle, shred or put somewhere away, and 4) Hubby's Mail - once he gets home he sorts fairly quickly as well. It's been a lifesaver!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

24 Hours of Progress: The 11th Hour

About 24 Hours of Progress:

So often, the only projects that get "done" around our homes is dinner (and no, takeout doesn't count) and the laundry. Out of necessity though. There are so many little nagging projects that linger for most of us. Yes, we can live with a little clutter here or there, but it sure feels good to get those little things out of the way!

Spring is a natural time of rebirth and shedding the layers that has descended upon our house over the winter. The Holly at Nap Time series 24 hours of Progress is designed of 72 household projects that will take on average about one hour to do. Pick one project each Monday, Wednesday and Friday to work on from now until April 1st. By the end of the session, you will have made 24 Hours of Progress towards the home you deserve!

The Eleventh Hour:

Clean Your Kitchen Cabinets: Regularly cleaning your wooden kitchen cabinets will keep your kitchen sparkling, and prolong the cabinet life as well. I prefer using wood-safe sanitizing wipes to wipe down all the initial food splashes, handprints and gunk. The gently polish with a furniture cleaner. I prefer to use Murphy's Oil Soap, which is also good for hardwood floors.

Get the Tough Spots: Sauce splatters on my stovetop, spilled oatmeal that has cemented itself onto the counter tops, crayon lines that were accidentally drawn on the dining room table, marks on the wall from where a toy or chair bumped it and shoe scuff marks in the entryway. My house has plenty of "tough spots" that just don't get cleaned up right away. They are no match for a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser though! Because I'm easily distracted and need to do only one thing at a time while cleaning, I like to take my Magic Eraser around the house and get all the tough spots at once.

I cannot fathom what cleaning was like before the Magic Eraser was invented.

Microwave Steam Bath: Cleaning out your microwave can be the biggest pain in the butt if you don't know how easy it could be. Give your microwave a steambath and leave it smelling lemony fresh!!

Squeeze the juice of one lemon into a microwave safe dish and mix with 1.5 cups of water. Microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes, allowing the steam to loosen all the gunky junk you've got going on in there. When it's finished, carefully remove the bowl (it's HOT!) and you should be able to wipe down the interior with paper towels with hardly any effort at all. (Of course, your husband doesn't have to find out how easy this is. Let him think you slaved your afternoon away!)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Giveaway: A Year Supply of Purina OM Dog or Cat Food!

GIVEAWAY CLOSED!!! Thanks to all who entered!!! Congratulations to Shanna from Minneapolis!
In October of last year I introduced you to my overweight cat, Nessie. At her three year checkup she weighed in at 17.2lbs. Our vet suggested that we try her on Purina OM (overweight management). For our household, it was a double thumbs-up because our other kitty, Genevieve, also needed a diet extremely low in fat for her chylothorax.

We signed Nessie up for the Project Pet Slim Down right away. She has not yet been back to the vet for a weigh-in, but her eating schedule is more routine not and she definitely has more energy to snuggle and play with her family.

The Purina Project: Pet Slim Down™

The wonderful folks at Purina are determined to create a healthier world for our pets. Often, we feed our pets without even thinking about it too much. Are we measuring the amount of food they get? Do we let them graze how they please throughout the day? How about treats? Are we really keeping track and limiting intake? Would we feed our children this way?

It's a lot to think about. Here are some of the facts from Project: Pet Slim Down™:
-58% of cats in the United States are overweight or obese (that's you, Ness)
-An extra 3lbs on a Boston Terrier is equivolent to an extra 30lbs on an 150lb adult human.

Yikes! Luckily, the Project: Pet Slim Down™ is a proven way for pets to eat healthier, get active and lose some weight! I was amazed to read some of the success stories, like the one about Jodi, a bullmastiff that lost 16% of her body fat in just 12 weeks.


Thanks to the wonderful people at Purina and Project Pet Slim Down, one very lucky Holly at Nap Time reader will win a YEAR supply of Purina OM for their dog or cat! This could be the contest to help save your pet's life and give them a better future! Enter below!!

3 Ways to Enter Per Email Address:
- Subscribe to Holly at Nap Time via email (right sidebar)
- Follow Holly at Nap Time via Google Friend Connect (right sidebar)
- Like Holly at Nap Time on Facebook

Disclaimer: Please see fine print in entry form. I was in no way compensated for this post. I won a blogging contest with Purina that allowed me to giveaway a year supply of OM dog or cat food.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spotlight Williamsburg, VA: Great Wolf Lodge {Review}

In today's world we live with a diminishing ozone layer and 100+ SPF sunscreen. When the weather is warm enough, you'll trek to overpriced water parks where you are willing to wait in line for 45 minutes for a water slide and pay $5 for a snow cone. You get back in line for a ride and just as your turn is about to come up, thunder booms through the air. A summer storm is passing through. Sorry, folks, the rides will be shutting down until further notice. Everyone out of the pool. Please make your way into one of our overpriced restaurants or gift shops or towards the exits. We apologize - there will be no refunds or reentry.
The scenario described above is a nightmare for any parent. So to think, that somewhere out there, there is an indoor waterpark designed only for hotel guests. The sun shines in through enormous floor to ceiling windows, but you don't have to worry about being scorched or staying dry long enough for new sunscreen to set in. Sounds like my kind of place.

My husband travels a bit for his job, and when winter's fury gyped my daughter and I out of not one, but two trips to NYC to tag along, I suggested that we still get away for a weekend to Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia. He wasn't very hard to convince (he's still an 8 year old when it comes to theme parks) and the trip was booked by the end of the day.

About Great Wolf Lodge:
From their website:
At Great Wolf Lodge - Williamsburg, VA, we offer many unique suite styles that comfortably sleep from four to eight guests. All of our rustically elegant suites are well-appointed with premium features such as granite counter tops and mini-refrigerators, and they all are non-smoking. At Great Wolf Lodge, you can trust that we have a suite that will be the perfect base camp for your family's adventure!

The star of Great Wolf Lodge is our indoor waterparks, 300,000 gallons of swirling, sloshing sliding water make it one of America’s largest. With 8 huge slides, 5 pools, giant water fort, a lazy river and more, it's a howlin' good time for the whole family. And, as if that weren't enough, we've got a enormous outdoor waterpark (weather permitting).

What we LOVED About Great Wolf Lodge:
    "Two Days of Play for One Night's Stay" - What a fantastic concept. Even though rooms may not be ready until 4pm on the day of your arrivals, guests are permitted to arrive as early as 1pm to use the waterpark. On the day of checkout, guests are permitted to stay at the waterpark until closing. 
  • High-tech wristbands. Not only does your wristband give you access to the waterpark, it's also your room key! Simply scan your wrist against your hotel room door for access. GENIUS! Oh yea, don't feel like carrying your wallet around with you? You can also use your wristband to charge the restaurants and giftshops to your room.

  • Each guest suite has a separate "living area." In some of the larger suites, this might mean an actual full sized living room, but even in our standard family suite there was a six foot high (guessing... it was taller than me) half wall that divided the living area from the sleeping area. This was perfect for putting our daughter's pack 'n play in for bedtime, and allowed us to keep the lights on a little longer to read while she slept.
  • Cub Paw Pool. An entire area dedicated to the little ones in our lives, this pool has plenty for water exploration and a maximum depth of one foot. Our daughter loved the slides and the fountains in this section.
  • 82 degrees in the water park. Need I say more? My winter skin thanked me!
What Could be Better About Great Wolf Lodge:
  • Noise levels. Great Wolf Lodge is home to this interactive scavenger hunt (think Harry Potter) where kids (and I saw plenty of adults participating too) use wands to hunt down clues on each of the floors of the hotel. Though the game itself is not in the guest wings, it sure is pretty freaking close. My family had the misfortune of being the closest room to the main hallway on the forth floor, and until 10pm (which I thought was a little late) we heard gargoyles growling and excited kids running up and down the stairs to their next clue. This is probably something that wouldn't have bothered me at all if we didn't have a 15 month old toddler trying to catch some ZZzzs after a long day of play. If you have small children, I suggest requesting a room away from the MagiQuest action. :)
  • The televisions. Granted... you're not going to Great Wolf Lodge to watch television, but we're talking boxy, bubble domed screened, circa 1999 televisions. It's time for an upgrade folks. I turned the TV on for 5 minutes for our daughter so that I could get dressed while my husband showered, and the quality was just as bad. I'm just sayin', for the price of a room I think you'd expect a little more.
  • Prices at the Loose Moose: Really, Great Wolf Lodge? Did you think I was going to eat $13 worth of scrambled eggs? Or was it the potatoes? I'm not a huge fan of all you can eat buffets as it is, but didn't want to waste time before getting to the water park. I'm already paying for a room! Thank goodness children 3 and under are free. Your best bet for breakfast? Have dad drive around the corner to McDonald's and pick something up.
Holly's Nap Time Review:
In my opinion, the bottom line should actually be at the top so that you know whether or not to read on. Yes, I'd stay at Great Wolf Lodge again and yes I would recommend it to a friend (and all my Holly at Nap Time readers.)

Don't be thrown off by your arrival. The website states that guests may arrive as early as 1pm to gain access to the water park. As much as I wish that this was an insider secret, it's far from it. Everyone and their brother arrived promptly at 1pm. The parking lot is a mess, there are people honking at each other and children running around in flip flops whining if it's time to go play in the water park yet. It's not a very pleasing first impression. 

I told my husband to find a parking space while I went in and checked us in. Upon my entrance into the lobby, I was greeted by a line of at least 50 people ahead of me. Sigh. I was really hoping that this was not a sign of things to come. I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly the line moved though. There must have been at least 10 GWL staff members checking guests in, and taking the time to answer their questions.
As I suspected, our room was not ready at 1pm. I was able to to get our wristbands, and after finding a parking space we were able to enjoy the water park. When our room was ready, the front desk called and told us our room number. They also activated our wristbands so that we could gain access to our room that way.

We really enjoyed the water park! The slides were fun and the water was just the right temperature. More than any of that though, the joy on our daughter's face made the whole trip worth every minute. She loved the water! From what I saw, the restrooms and changing rooms were very clean (though small). The lifeguards were very attentive and changed stations often. My only gripe with the water park at all is not at the fault of Great Wolf Lodge, but of parents in general. It really irritates me when parents let their 5, 6, 7 year old kids run loose in a place doing anything they want, figuring that it is a family place and that an adult is watching them somewhere. It's irresponsible, but you'll find that anywhere you go... (which is a post for another time, I suppose).

We went across the street to Jungle Jim's for two of our meals during our stay, and quite liked it. AJ of course loved the macaroni and cheese, and the kid's meals came with a trip to "Captain Jim's Treasure Chest." Argh, matey. Though the chest itself could use some more enchantment (a brown rubbermaid), AJ was quite pleased with the new Dora bracelet that she picked out herself.

I would go back, but I think that if at all possible I would avoid going on a Saturday again. Though limited to hotel guests, the park gets busy pretty quickly.

Watch for great packages and deals to Great Wolf Lodge! If you live near Richmond, VA make sure you sign up for your 2011 Savvy Saver Card to save 20% on the Best Available Rates and Spa Services (some restrictions apply, and YES you do need to have a card at check-in. You cannot just use the code!)
Bottom Line: 4 out of 5 Stars.

Disclaimer: I was in no way compensated for this post, nor am I in any way associated with Great Wolf Lodge other than a happy customer. The opinions expressed are my own and may vary from yours. The picture is borrowed from the Great Wolf Lodge Website.