Planning for Walt Disney World: 3 Questions

We’ve finally decided the kids are all old enough to do a family vacation to Walt Disney World early next year. It’s something Tony and I have been talking about for about 18 months… we wanted to wait until Kate would be old enough to really enjoy herself (and remember going)… yet not wait so long that Leo’s bored with all the “kid stuff.” I think I hope we’re hitting the sweet spot. Leo will be 9, Alex 5 and Kate 3.

In addition to the five of us, we’re also planning on traveling with my parents, my sister, her daughter (age 4) and Tony’s parents. It will be really nice to have all of the family there. It will give us the ability to split up in a variety of ways so each kid will get a chance to experience stuff together, but also things specifically of interest to them.

So far the biggest bulk of my planning and research has been on my own. It’s really helped us get a better idea of what we want to do while we’re there. But I still some lingering questions/decisions:

  1. Should we use a travel agent? We went to a AAA gal here in Topeka, and I didn’t find the experience to be particularly helpful. She basically covered things I had already read about in my research. I was hoping she’d help with booking Fast Passes and Character Dining opportunities, but she didn’t act like that was something her services would cover. For those of you who used a travel agent, what all did they help you with?
  2. Where should we stay? I know we want to stay on the property, but trying to decide which resort is tough. Right now we’re leaning towards the The Wilderness Cabins, mostly for the extra space. Has anyone been to those recently? Where else should we consider (we need to have enough space to accommodate 5 people in a unit, plus some type of room division to separate beds so the snorers can be in a different room than the non-snorers).
  3. I like the idea of the meal plan, but is it worth it? We will want to do Character Dining, and I can see us eating snacks at the parks but I don’t know that we’d all eat enough times to make it worth it. Plus, if we do stay at the Cabins, we’d have a full kitchen in each unit and could easily do big breakfasts and evening snacks/meals there.

We’re planning to do five days at the parks over the course of seven days. Plus we’ll be flying (the first time for our youngest kiddos). It should be a fun, although probably exhausting, trip.

My image was pulled from the Walt Disney World planning site, where I’ve spent entirely too much time reading about all the things available. 

Change’s Coming: Land for Sale

For the past few years, Tony and I have been contemplating our future living situation. We really like the house we live in – the location is great, it’s a good size for our family, we love our neighborhood, and everything about this place is perfectly fine. But it’s still never been quite right…

We need another bedroom (which we have plenty of space to add). We’d like to put a porch/deck on the front of the house (which we’ve discussed and would get around to in the next 9-12 months). We’d like to put a flat patio in the back where we could setup a basketball goal and not have to worry about it rolling down the driveway (probably not anything we’d do in the next year or two, but it was on the list). We’d love to upgrade the master bathroom and the kitchen. None of these are critical, just things you want and dream about in the house that you’re going to raise your family in and spend all your time in after you retire.

But even after all the work and projects, the fact that we live 45 minutes away from our hunting land will never change.

We’ve considered building a house on Tony’s Lebo land, but it’s just not realistic. Tony works in Topeka. I’m working in Kansas City. Both of us commuting an hour each way makes for a pretty poor quality of life.

So we’ve come to the conclusion that neither piece of property is the ultimate answer.

We are in the final steps of getting Tony’s Lebo land ready to sell, and we’re starting to look for new property. Hopefully something with a house, or maybe a space where we’ll build a house. And once we figure the house thing out, we’ll put our current house on the market.

If you know of anyone selling a decent chunk of turkey hunting land in the Osage County or Wabaunsee County area, let us know. We’re looking to buy. (Especially if it has a 4+ bedroom house on it!) Or, if you know someone that’s looking for a good piece of hunting land in Southern Osage County, let me know. We have 147 acres of prime hunting land that will go on the market in the next few weeks.

The dreaded 4-letter word M-I-L-K

I have no idea what’s happened to me. Maybe it’s part of the way a person’s body changes as they get older. Maybe it was triggered by hormones after having the kids. Maybe it’s always been there, but I wasn’t in-tune with my body enough to notice. One thing has become incredibly clear to me… my body doesn’t like milk anymore.

And when I say doesn’t like, I mean, punishes me for days.

Over the course of the last year, I’ve began to notice some tummy troubles after eating ice cream or yogurt. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve started to avoid both. But since I rarely drink milk, I hadn’t really thought too much about how it might cause issues too. After this past weekend’s bowl of granola cereal, I’m afraid my days of milk are pretty much done.

Being the Parent of a Youth Athlete: Am I Doing It Right?

I grew up playing sports (particularly softball), and as an adult, I’ve looked forward to the day my kids would play. My summers were spent at the ballfields – playing, practicing or tagging along to watch mom and dad play.

When we weren’t at the field, my sister, myself and various neighborhood kids were playing wiffle ball in the big yard that separated my parent’s house from Mindy’s parent’s house. We’d play for hours on end, or until a fight broke out (always a crapshoot as to which would happen first). During the summers Amy and I lived for softball and were devastated when bad weather would cause our games to be rescheduled.

Because my early years of ball were such a strong influence in my life, I’m hopeful they will be for my kids too. But I’m starting to realize being the parent of an athlete is hard.

Really hard.

It’s a constant balancing act, and all you really want is for them to have fun (and hopefully love the game).

I hope to be like my mom and dad were. Supportive and helpful – teach them to become better players and understand the game, but also knowing where to draw the line. Give suggestions for improvement, but don’t go overboard. Analyze and talk through the game after it’s over, but not to the point where they aren’t interested anymore.

I want to give my kids all of the encouragement in the world, but I’m not going to baby them. If they don’t put in the work, I won’t tolerate “it’s not fair” complaints. It’s just not my style, and it’s just not the way life works. If you’re not willing to practice pitching at home, I’m not going to let you be upset with anyone other than yourself if you don’t get the chance to pitch. Sorry, not sorry.

Sports are a great way to learn life lessons, all while having fun and making lifelong friends. I was fortunate to have great coaches and great opportunities to play. And I’m going to do everything I can to make sure my kids do too, for as long as they want to play. Even if it makes me an emotional mess in the stands.

Photo credits: Megan Mullins, a fellow Kansas Hammers parent.

Curious George and the Case of the Broken Arm

Last Saturday, Kate and I were on our way to Tony’s parents’ house when I got the phone call. Tony said our plan to attend Curious George and the Golden Meatball that afternoon at the Granada Theatre in Emporia was changing. He was on his way to the Emergency Room with Alex. He said he was pretty sure Alex had broken his arm after taking a fall down the slide.

Apparently Alex had been at the top of the slide and was trying to pull his cowboy boots in front so he could sit down and go down. Instead, they got caught up causing him to lose balance and fall down. Poor Tony was only a few feet away helping one of the cousins go across the monkey bars and saw the whole thing. 

At the ER, Kate and I hung out in the waiting room with Tony’s sister Melissa (she drove them) until the nurse said we could go back to Alex’s room. We made it back to the room just in time for quick hugs and some consoling before they came in for x-rays. Alex was mellow. Tony was a little shaken up.

The x-rays confirmed Alex had broken both bones – one pretty much set in place and the other, not so much. After getting consultation from the bone doctor, the nurses put Alex in a temporary splint and sling. Then they told us that we were going to need to follow up with an orthopedist on Monday to get a cast and determine if additional work would need to be done to set the bone back into place.

Overall, Alex tolerated the pain well and mostly was just disappointed that we weren’t going to make it to the Curious George play. (For a brief  bit of time he was also worried the nurses were going to cut his shirt off before they splinted his arm. I don’t know why… I don’t think he has any particular affinity for the plain blue shirt he had on, but nonetheless, he was concerned.)

As we were leaving the ER, one of the nurses brought out a stuffed monkey for Alex as consolation for missing the play. He loved it and declared he should be named Curious George. I just love this photo of him playing on the LeapPad and making sure George was positioned to watch.

Determined to make it up, we decided to take the family to see Curious George and the Golden Meatball on Sunday when the traveling production stopped in Ottawa. Alex was super excited, and I was interested to see how the kids would do during a theatre performance. I was not prepared for the play to be a musical… so I was a little caught off guard. The kids seemed to enjoy it though, especially Alex.

On Monday, I was able to get Alex into Cotton O’Neil Orthopedics & Sports Medicine to see Dr. Deister. After a quick review, he decided it would be best to sedate Alex and set the bone before they put on the cast. No plates or screws, just a little bit of pushing.

So we went back bright and early Tuesday morning for the quick procedure. The sedation was minor (gas only), but it was Alex’s first anesthesia so we were a bit nervous. Other than being pretty pissed off for awhile (“I hate this world!”), Alex handled it all really well.

I’m hopeful that we don’t have to go through this again – or at least not anytime soon. But, being realistic, the entire situation went as well as it could. And we have three kids. Things like this happen. Accidents happen. I’m just glad that Alex has been a good sport about it (except for when he’s not… like in this photo where he’s super mad).