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Month: July 2017

Grandma Goes to Pandora World of Avatar

Grandma Goes to Pandora World of Avatar

This is a guest post by Mouse House Mom’s own mother, Marg.  While Marg isn’t the Disney enthusiast that her daughter is, she is a huge Avatar fan.  Since Marg recently returned home from Walt Disney World, she’s guest posting to share her Pandora – The World of Avatar experience with you. I hope you enjoy it.


My husband and I recently returned from a 5 day, Walt Disney World vacation with our son, his wife and their 3 kids (17, 11, and 9). This was our second trip with my grandkids in Walt Disney World and what made this vacation extremely special, was being able to experience the newly opened Pandora – The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom. While I booked this vacation unaware of Pandora, I certainly felt blessed that it was able to be a part of our vacation.

Grandma goes to Pandora World of Avatar
Grandma goes to Pandora World of Avatar

I’m a huge Avatar fan and in the lead up to our trip I made a special granddaughter date night to watch Avatar with my two granddaughters who were toddlers when the movie was released.

Animal Kingdom is the perfect spot for Pandora.  You would think the Tree of Life at the entrance was put there years ago knowing Pandora would one day come along to compliment it.

Mouse House Mom's Mom goes to Pandora World of Avatar
Strike a pose!

Attractions

Prepare to be truly amazed with the floating mountains, entertainment, and attractions. My personal all-time, favourite attraction was the Flight of Passage. I have never experienced such a true to life ride experience.  The seat is like getting on a motorcycle, but it is soft and your legs feel the movement of the bird breathing.  I have been on many 3D rides that felt realistic, but none compare to the reality of this ride.  It didn’t hurt that my favourite part in the Avatar movie was where Jake Scully takes his flight of passage. In addition to Flight of Passage there is another major attraction: Na’vi River Journey.  This is a slow ride and has no height restrictions, unlike 44 inch height requirement for Flight of Passage

Swotu Waya Na’vi Drum Ceremony

While walking through Pandora, we came upon a live show, the Swotu Waya Na’vi Drum Ceremony.  The performers in the show got my grandkids involved in playing drums and we all learned a new song.  Thanks to the advice of my daughter, we had purchased a Memory Maker and were able to take advantage of the PhotoPass photographer to capture some great shots during this experience.

Mouse House Mom's Mom goes to Pandora World of Avatar
Time to start drumming!

 

Recommendations to Maximize Your Pandora Experience

Having been fortunate to experience Pandora – The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom in its first month open, I recommend the following to maximize your experience:

  1. Book FastPass ASAP
  2. Bring Snacks
  3. Watch the Movie

More on each tip is provided below.

1. Book FastPass ASAP

Book your 1 Pandora FastPass the moment you get access and book it for early in the day.  Learn from my confusion (I had to call Walt Disney World), when you book your FastPasses for Animal Kingdom, keep in mind you only get 1 Pandora FastPass (per day) for the 2 attractions available (i.e., Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey).  You can use your other 2 FastPasses on some of the other amazing Animal Kingdom attractions.  Don’t book another FastPass too soon because you’ll probably find it hard to leave Pandora!  Although Cast Members do a good job shading the lineups it gets very hot spending up to 3 hours in line is tough for kids and adults.

2. Bring Snacks

Bring water and snacks for the lineups.  It’s important in the Florida heat to stay hydrated. We found munching on snacks kept us from getting grumpy and hungry between meals.

3. Watch the Movie

Watch Avatar before going so you can fully appreciate how true to the movie Pandora is. A word to the wise, Avatar was playing every night on the TV in our Walt Disney World hotel.

Mouse House Mom's Mom goes to Pandora World of Avatar
Everything is realistic in Pandora!

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Cheers,
Marg, the Mouse House Mom’s Mom

Podcasts to Improve Your Commute

Podcasts to Improve Your Commute

I’ve got a career I love and a commute I hate. Listening to podcasts has helped me turn my office commute into me time.  For most of my career (pre-suburb life) my commute was a 30 minutes. The old commute consisted of a 12.5 minute walk, a 15 minute boat ride, and an escalator up to my office. With such a breezy commute, I had no need to listen to podcasts.
My commute now ranges from 45 minutes to 2 hours, on a bad day.  One particular bad day, I spent 3.5 hours in my car on top of my work day.  While I have 5 radio stations to flip between it doesn’t cut it.
My husband introduced me to podcasts and I never thought they were for me because I hate wearing ear buds.  However, in my car I can connect to my iPhone and listen to podcasts through the car speakers.

Here are 5 Podcasts to Improve Your Commute

  1. The DIS Unplugged: Disneyland Edition
  2. Channel 33: Bachelorette Party
  3. This American Life
  4.  House of Carbs
  5. Guys We F****d

These are five very different podcasts and each one responds to my mood on a given day. Not all of them are child-friendly and I’ll discuss that further below. My daughter is only 2 so I never listen to podcasts with her, but some of these would be suitable for younger audiences.

5 Podcasts to Improve Your Commute
5 Podcasts to Improve Your Commute

The DIS Unplugged: Disneyland Edition

The DIS Unplugged: Disneyland Edition keeps me savvy to all things Disneyland throughout the year. It follows a 5 person round table format and covers news, housekeeping, rapid fire, and other interesting events happening in the Anaheim area.  It is available to download Monday mornings.  I began listening 8 months before my Disneyland vacation and it made planning our trip easier.

Each episode is about 1 hour. There is no reason for kids not to listen and in the future I see myself downloading a dozen episodes and binge listening on a family road trip to Disneyland.

Note: If you’re a Disney fan you’ll also want to download “Connecting with Walt” podcast, which is led by Michael Bowling, a Disney historian who is also a member of The DIS Unplugged.  These are longer episodes and cover more of the history side of Walt Disney World.

When to listen: In the morning when you want to get a variety of information.

 

Channel 33: Bachelorette Party

Surprisingly, my husband is the one that recommended this podcast to me. I’m not techy with my iPhone so I find it a bit confusing having to search Channel 33 and scrolling through the feed to find Bachelorette Party, but it’s worth it.  This podcast is hosted by Juliet Litman and is available to download later on Tuesdays.  The show often has a guest co-host (e.g., another writer at The Ringer, Sports Gal, or a former Bachelor contestant) to help analyze the last night’s episode. Juliet hosts this during each season of the Bachelor, Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise.  Watching the Bach is my guilty pleasure and then listening to another intelligent woman discuss it helps me feel validated for watching this reality TV show.

Each episode is about 45 minutes. If you let your kids watch the Bach then they’ll be ok listening to this.

Note: Juliet also hosts Jam Sessions podcast on Channel 33, which covers the week in pop culture and celebrity news, which is just as good.

When to listen: Wednesday commute home – reward yourself after a long day!

This American Life

If you’ve heard of podcasts then you’ll likely have heard of This American Life and Ira Glass. Each podcast has a theme and three or more “acts” that relate to the theme. Each act tells a story of an event or experience.  This is easy listening and I either learn an interesting fact or something new each episode.

Each episode is about 45 minutes.  The host will warn you if content may not be suitable for kids before an Act commences.

When to listen: Listen on your commute home from work as it will help you transition out of your workday and help clear your mind.

House of Carbs

House of Carbs is a new podcast as of early July, but I’m going all in and putting it on my list.  If you like food, then go download it. I won’t lie, the hosts voice drove me insane the first episode, but after listening to a few I don’t even think of it.  This is the perfect podcast for fans of food – it doesn’t discriminate between fast food or gourmet dishes.   The guests have been stellar from premiering with Adam Rapoport (Bon Appetite Magazine) to most recently with David Chang of Momofuku.

Each episode is about 45 minutes. Kids could listen, but I doubt they’ll have the appreciation for the various food cultures discussed.

When to listen: During morning commute, assuming you don’t have an empty stomach that will growl too loudly from food envy.

Guys We F****d

Let me start with: Not kid friendly. Also, the language sometimes has me rolling my windows up on a hot day and turning on the A/C so I don’t surprise nieghbouring cars with my speakers.

That said, I think Guys We F****d has an important place in society.  As a mom, I need to figure out how to wrap my head around “slut shaming” and this podcast is the “anti-slut shaming podcast.” After seeing this podcast as a top comedy podcast week after week, I decided to download an episode and see what it was about.  Two females host the show and interview guys they f**d or other interesting people. These interesting people might be comedians or employed in the adult sex/fetish industry.  Guests often share a crazy sex story. This podcast is unlike any other and if you want to listen to something that will at times shock you, but also educate you, then give it a try.  Swearing doesn’t shock me and there’s plenty of that on the podcast – that’s the least of your worries.

Each episode is about 1 hour. No kids.  New episodes available on Fridays.

When to listen: On the drive home to get your mind off of work.

 

Mouse House Mom Shelby Hancock 5 Podcasts to Improve Your Commute

Those are my 5 podcast recommendations. What are yours?

Fence Staining DIY Fun Plan

Fence Staining DIY Fun Plan

This week I am determined to take a boring task and make it fun. I’m going to become an expert in fence staining. Since we bought our house three years ago we have yet to do anything with our backyard fence.  It looks dry and in need of some love. First off, we will not be exposing our toddler to any paint or cleaning materials (duh!).
Mouse House Mom Fence Staining turned fun
This fence is ready to get stained!

Fence Staining Turned Fun

How do you turn a boring, labour intensive task (i.e., fence staining) into a fun weekend? Find out my plan of attack below:
  1. Plan ahead.
  2. Prioritize the task above all else.
  3. Accept help with the task and/or with entertaining your kids.
  4. Add music to the mix.
  5. Reward your helpers.

Mouse House Mom Turns Boring DIY Fence Staining into fun

Plan Ahead

First, this may sound simple to plan ahead, but it’s really helpful.  In summer the weekends are numbered so put the big task on your calendar and make sure you’re spouse is on board with it. It will be easier to accept help if your loved ones know you’ve got a fence to stain on a specific date! Also, if you’re tackling a DIY home project there’s usually preparations to be made in advance. For example, in order to complete the fence staining, I need to clean the wood and purchase the materials and stain.

Prioritize the Task 

Second, if I want to go to bed on Sunday knowing the fence staining project is complete, I need to make it a priority.  I’m accepting the fact that we’re ordering take-out dinners this weekend. While my dinners may not be homemade, I’ll still be able to make breakfast and lunch.  Snacks always cheer me up!  Therefore, I’ll fill the fridge with fresh berries, watermelon slices, cucumbers, deli meats, salads, and also make sure I have buns ready for sandwiches. In summer the freezer is always stocked with burger patties so maybe I’ll pull off a family dinner after all!

Accept Help

Third, learn to accept help.  This applies to many facets of life, but especially when you’re acting as a weekend warrior to complete a large task in a limited amount of time. I’ve got my parents lined up to help with fence staining and toddler entertaining. If we rotate one person to always be with the toddler then we all get a break.  That is, if chasing a 28 month old dare devil down the street on her scooter is considered a break.

 Add Music

Fourth, I’ve got my portable speakers ready to play us some music. My iPhone will be on Wi-Fi so I can stream music from Google Play.  If we stick to oldies and Motown jams, I think we’ll all get along.

Reward/Surprise Your Helpers

Fifth, assuming my husband doesn’t read this blog post, I’m going to surprise him on Sunday because it is his birthday. While it isn’t ideal spending your birthday staining a fence, I feel no guilt. In the7 years we’ve been married he’s celebrated his birthday in Bali, Rome, and on a Mt. Rushmore road trip. Now he can add backyard manual labour to his list of exciting birthday celebrations!
First surprise, I’ll let him sleep in Sunday morning, but if he’s not up by 9am the birthday sleep-in is over and I’m sending the toddler to get him. I’ll also make him a delicious breakfast of fritti, which is my family’s version of a Churro (see the recipe here). The last surprise is a mid-afternoon ice cream treat and because it’s his birthday I’ll buy the overpriced, delicious Magnum ice cream bars.

Thanks for reading today’s blog post. If you’ve got a big DIY weekend project coming up (like fence staining), I wish you all the best. May these tips help you have a fun and productive weekend.

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom tips on fence staining turned fun
These are the before pics of the fence with my munchkin going from Titanic to “you messing with me” in 2 seconds flat!
Hello Weekend Fun: RecycleFest

Hello Weekend Fun: RecycleFest

My Weekend Festivals and Local Fun blog posts are my favourite part of Wednesdays and today I’m sharing about (1) RecycleFest and (2) Ice Cream.
  • Weekend Festival:  RecycleFest at Trout Lake Park on Saturday, July 22
  • Local Fun: Go for ice cream as a family!
While completely different activities for you to participate in this weekend, both are fantastically family oriented.

RecycleFest

RecycleFest is a local festival taking place at Trout Lake Park (Vancouver) on Saturday, July 22 from 10am to 3pm.  The main purpose of this family-fun event is to drop off any of  old or unwanted small appliances and power tools so they can be recycled properly.  However, this good-for-the-earth event is also good for families as it features:
  • Bouncy Castle.
  • Hot dog BBQ (good if you miss National Hot Dog Day on July 19).
  • Photo Booth.
  • Games and prizes.
RecycleFest caught my eye because it starts in the morning, meaning you could check it out before toddler nap-time.
I also like that it supports a cause I believe in.  I’m already teaching my toddler how to recycle. She knows we separate our waste and she takes yogurt containers to our blue bin for me.
Another perk of RecycleFest is that it fulfills a need. I seem to replace my hairdryer every couple years and I have a stack that I need to recycle – finally an easy opportunity to get these unwanted hairdryers out of my house.
To find more info on RecycleFest click here.
Mouse House Mom shares RecycleFest info
This is the poster for RecycleFest

Local Fun: Go for Ice Cream

I apologize, if you read my Summer Bucket List Check In post then you’ll know I still haven’t gone out for ice cream this summer.  If you get your ice cream in a cone then there’s no container to waste and you can keep with the reduce, reuse, recycle theme.
Summer Bucket List Check-In

Summer Bucket List Check-In

At the end of May my husband and I made a summer bucket list. Now that we are almost a full month into summer, I thought I’d check-in and see how I was progressing with the summer bucket list. I am keen to accomplish our list, which is why I have our summer bucket list on the fridge. I see it multiple times a day – even more now that my freezer is [more like “was”] filled with my grandmas famous cookies!

Shelby Hancock MouseHouseMom Summer Bucket List
See, it really is on the fridge!

My Summer Bucket List

Below is my status update on our summer bucket list. Hopefully you can find some good ideas from the list and make some fun summer memories with your family.

Go to Local Lakes

Living in beautiful BC we have no shortage of lakes within an hour or two of our house.  We haven’t made a trip to the lake yet, but this year we want to try out Whonnock Lake, Alouette,  or Rolley.  I’ve picked these three lakes because I’ve never been to them in summer. Each lake has its perks – Whonnock has a playground and canoe rentals. Alouette is a hidden gem, which I knew nothing about until I saw the breathtaking photos by Cradled Creations photography – after seeing those pics it will get added to your list as well! Lastly, Rolley is a lake I used to run cross country at in the fall and it has a beautiful loop around the lake for exploring.

We know our toddler won’t be up for hours of swimming or wading so we’ve got shovels, buckets, and beach balls ready for when we make our post-nap trip to the lake.

Hubby out for Bike Rides (for Fitness)

Since I have my running routine in place we put this on the bucket list to make it a priority. Summer is best for biking and my husband has a speedy road bike that is collecting dust in the garage. As much as he wants to get out and ride, our weekends are pretty full with family time and this isn’t meant to be a ride in the park. It’s for him to get exercise and cover 30 plus kilometres.

Mommy (me) Do the Grouse Grind

My husband and I began dating in the fall after we spent the summer leading up to it doing the Grouse Grind once a week.  Once we started dating we stopped hiking to the tops of mountains on a weekly basis.  I love the sense of accomplishment I have after finishing the Grouse Grind.  The view at the top ain’t too shabby. Since the trail is fairly rugged its not safe to carry the munchkin in the carrier on our back.  My husband and munchkin can have a morning together and I’ll go do the Grind.  Still need to pick a date and go! Interested in joining?

Go to the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE)

The PNE is comparable to a state fair. We’ve taken our munchkin every year since she was born. They have livestock barns where you can see horses, chickens, goats, and agility bunnies. We take in a show (e.g., horse show or super dogs), eat some fair food (e.g., mini donuts), and see the sights.  One of our close friends has always joined us and I think we all look forward to saying goodbye to summer at the PNE.

MouseHouseMom Summer Bucket List PNE
PNE growth chart. First year was far below sheep. This year she’s on track for Mini Horse!

Go Kayaking or Canoeing

Before I had my daughter, my husband and I would take our moms kayaking once a year.  Now that our munchkin is two, I think she’d enjoy a canoe ride. Ocean kayaking with a toddler seems crazy, but canoeing seems like a fun outing. However, my munchkin has no fear of water.  This means I’m nearly positive that she’ll jump out of the canoe, but with life-jackets on all of us that should be ok.

Host a Canada Day BBQ

Finally something I’ve accomplished on my bucket list!!  We had neighbours and friends over for a simple BBQ. I think hosting a Canada Day BBQ may become a family tradition.

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom Summer Bucket List Canada Day BBQ
Oh Canada BBQ!

Backyard Pool Fun

I found a great inflatable pool and we’ve been enjoying it for weeks now. Another item to cross off my summer bucket list. If you’re looking for more information, I recently blogged about maximizing backyard fun – more than just a dip in the kiddie pool.

Family Bike Rides

We are keeping up our family bike rides that I spoke about in an earlier blog post. As long as the munchkin has a snack, she is happy.

Go for Ice Cream

Last summer I have no recollection of paying a visit to an ice cream parlour for a cone.  I’m a huge ice cream fan and while my freezer is fully stocked, I still enjoy a trip to the ice cream parlour. Ice cream and a leisurely stroll go together like stained glass and churches!  My in-laws live in South Surrey so you might see us in White Rock, enjoying a double scoop cone.

Cook a Low Country Boil

I found out about the low country boil a few years back in a food magazine. My husband’s birthday is coming up next week so I should give it a try.  While I haven’t made one yet, I know that my low country boil will feature red potatoes, corn on the cob, crab, shrimp, sausage (i.e., kielbasa), and Parallel 49 beer!

Make Jam

My grandma and I are a jamming duo when summer raspberries are ripe.  The munchkin enjoys homemade (no sugar added) raspberry freezer jam on whole grain toast every weekday for breakfast so we go through a lot of jam.  I prefer to can my jam and stock my pantry with it.  I only saw local raspberries for sale last week so in another couple weeks I’ll start jamming!

I’m going to make a jam gift for the munchkin’s daycare instructors. I’ll write out “thanks for being so sweet” and share a jar of jam as thank you for taking care of the munchkin. I’ll share more on this in a future post.

Pick Apples

This is one of the last things we’ll do in summer as the apples aren’t ripe yet. Last August we went picking at the orchard the first weekend it opened and I got to enjoy some new varieties, such as gravenstein apples!

Camp in the Backyard

This was on the list because my nieces were here a few weeks back. Unfortunately it rained most of their time here so no camping. I’ll put this back on the summer bucket list when the munchkin is older.

 

What’s on your summer bucket list? Leave a comment in the comments section below.

Weekend: Backyard Fun with Toddlers

Weekend: Backyard Fun with Toddlers

Hello Wednesday! Time to make weekend plans locally. My weekend festival is Aldergrove Fair Days. For local fun, I’m sharing 3 ways to maximize backyard fun with toddlers.

Weekend Festival: Aldergrove Fair Days

Check out Aldergrove Fair Days this weekend (July 15 and 16). The parade starts at 10am on Saturday, July 15 with a flower power theme. Catch the parade on Fraser Highway starting at 270 Street and ending at 273 Street.  Trooper is headlining the fair at 8pm on Saturday at the Aldergrove Athletic Park.

Shelby Hancock on maximizing backyard fun with toddlers

Local Fun: Maximizing Backyard Fun with Toddlers

It doesn’t get any more local than your own backyard.  Our backyard is fairly small, but we do have a lawn, small garden area, 4 potted tomato plants, and a concrete patio area where we can BBQ and sit at our patio table. In our own yard, we can have hours of fun with our toddler.
  
Below are my 3 tips for maximizing backyard fun all summer long with your toddler

1. Garden as a Family

I don’t have a green thumb, or even a green pinkie finger.  However, I still like to grow my own cherry tomatoes in pots. This usually starts as a fun task at the end of May and then we get lots of rain and I don’t need to water them nightly.  We are now in summer and watering the tomatoes has become a chore.  When you involve a toddler in a regular chore and see the task through their eyes it becomes fun and meaningful. On weekend mornings we water the plants in the back yard together – me with the hose, her with a 100 millilitre watering can.
Earlier this year we planted some marigolds and snap dragons in the front yard and my daughter loved getting her hands dirty and shoveling. Thankfully, I don’t care about my back garden since it’s only a tree and a dying hydrangea that the neighbour’s cat sleeps on. I let my daughter rake and dig (from her own garden set) in that back garden and it keeps her amused. A friend dropped some coins in her dirt pile and that brought out the inner archaeologist in my daughter.

2. Enjoy an Inflatable Pool

Inflatable kiddie pools can cost anywhere from $20 to $60 and there’s a large range in sizes. The baby sized pool is ideal for a baby that is able to sit up and splash. Consequently, the amount of water used is minimal. The next range tends to be slightly larger (two babies would fit) and the water level could get a bit higher.  From this size they just keep getting bigger and deeper. 

 

 We opted for a 3 ft by 4ft pool and we rarely fill above 8 inches deep.  This size pool means on a hot day my husband and I can both sit in the pool with our toddler. The neighbour kids also like to get in on the fun and it makes for a great afternoon of relaxing under the warm sun while endless laughs and splashes are enjoyed by all.
It is important to note that you can’t leave young ones unsupervised when the pool is filled – let’s be safe parents! Add some buckets, shovels, or even water bottles to the pool and you’ve got a new game to play.  After each weekend, we scoop out the water and use it to water our plants so we don’t waste the water.
Inflating tip: if you don’t have a special inflater then use your hairdryer to cover the hole and it will inflate. Remember to be quick fastening the hole once its filled.

3. Kicking and Throwing Balls

I fell in love with my house after we toured it and my husband described the backyard as the perfect size to play catch with his future kiddo. The yard and our kid have both lived up to my husband’s expectation. Walmart and even dollar stores have cheap balls of varying sizes.  We have beach balls, a soccer ball, and a football that we pass around.  At 16 months my daughter was mesmerized by our beach ball – it was soft, it was flimsy, and it was large enough for her to be able to swing her leg and make contact with it.  This summer she’s amazed by it, but likes throwing and kicking it. Most of all, she looks at her father and I like we are professional athletes when we can rally the ball back and forth.

I hope you find these tips fun. Stay hydrated, wear a hat, and don’t forget to to reapply sunscreen often!
 

 

7 Low Key & Low Cost Anniversary Celebrations

7 Low Key & Low Cost Anniversary Celebrations

There’s no way I’d be where I am today if it wasn’t for my loving, supportive husband, Tom. Today is our seventh wedding anniversary. In light of this, I’m sharing 7 low key and low cost ways to celebrate your wedding anniversary. When my husband and I get each other gifts we tend to go big. However, we don’t celebrate all occasions with gifts. Most of our wedding anniversaries have been spent apart due to work so we focus more on acknowledging our anniversary through small things.

Shelby Hancock Mouse house Mom 7 anniversary celebrations

1. Make a Nice Dinner on the Weekend

Weeknights are insane for us. We don’t have time for a weeknight date so plan to prepare a nice dinner on the closest Saturday or Sunday.  Yesterday we enjoyed a nice BBQ’d meal with our daughter.  The dinner was ribs, corn on the cob, asparagus, and french bread.  The meal is far from fancy, but we both love ribs and rarely find the time to make them.

2.  Go for an Evening Stroll

You can do this with your spouse or bring the kids along for a walk in your neighbourhood.  You can get your kids’ scooters, bikes, strollers, and all head out for an evening stroll.

3. Enjoy a Dessert Together

I’m guilty of falling into the sofa with an ice cream bar and watching one of our Netflix shows.  Instead of putting on the television, enjoy your dessert just the two of you.  We have a small front porch and summer evenings are the perfect time for us to sit on it and catch up on each others day. Tonight you’ll find us sitting on the patio indulging in ice cream and sharing a laugh.

4. Swap Household Chores

While this doesn’t scream romance, it does show that you care. My husband always cleans the kitchen while I go and water the plants and run a load of laundry.  Switching up the housework, which needs to get done, anniversary or not, can be a small, subtle act of kindness.

5. Cut Back & Relax

My husband and I are normally busy doing yardwork or more stringent house cleaning while our daughter naps on weekends. Give yourself permission to cut back on the bigger tasks.  Number 4 above reflects on the housework that can’t be skipped, but this is the stuff that is nice to do, but not necessary to be done (e.g., dusting the blinds, scrubbing the shower tiles, weeding the back garden that nobody can see).  On Sunday we napped while the toddler napped and my body is thanking me for that extra bit of sleep.

6. Send a Thoughtful Text

I’m sure you’re texting your spouse throughout the day, but this text should be one that’s more thoughtful.  Think of something small that your spouse did and send them a text thanking them. Or sneak a chocolate bar into their lunch bag and text them to see if they found it yet.

7. Renew Your Vows… while folding socks

I’m not a sappy person so a vow renewal has almost zero chance in my future. That said, I believe in my wedding vows and take care in honouring them.  Reflect on your vows and how you chose a vow and not a promise that can be easily broken. You can do this without putting on your wedding gown and inviting people over to witness it. Tonight we’ll renew our vows as we fold the never ending pile of laundry.

 

Shelby Hancock Low Key Anniversary Celebrations
Marriage is more of a marathon than a track meet, but it’s a cute pic.

 

Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland

Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland

Wake up extra early? Check. First in line at the bus? Check. Through the ticket gate and in time for Rope Drop? Check. Take digital SLR camera out in preparation of Welcome Show? Check. Take 1 test picture? Check. Drop camera and have pieces fly everywhere? Check. That was how we started our 2016 Walt Disney World vacation and the reason I became familiar with Disney PhotoPass.

The purpose of this blog post is to save you having to go to the trouble of smashing your camera to find out about Disney PhotoPass. We recently traveled to Disneyland and now I’m sharing my knowledge of the Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland with you!

What is Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland?

Disney has photographers located at most key photo spots (more on this below) where they will take your photo with their professional, high quality, digital cameras. The photographer will initially give you a bar code (via app, web, or a card) that links to your photos. You can continue to give this bar code to each photographer and the pictures get added to your account. A full list of photos included in the Disney PhotoPass is listed in the paragraphs that follow. After your vacation you can download your photos within 45 days. Trust me, it’s easy to use!

Shelby Hancock Disney PhotoPass info for Disneyland
Seeing Mickey with our Minnie Mouse.

Why I Like the Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland:

  • Saves you from bringing a camera.
    • We rely on our phones for the majority of our photos, but we still want some vacation memories we can frame. The Disney PhotoPass pictures are top quality and perfect for framing.
  • You can be in your vacation photos.
    • No more playing photographer or asking a stranger to do that. We also like that some photos don’t look like you’re at Disneyland – they look like we sweat a lot and then hired a professional photographer for family photos.
  • It is a good value to buy a Disney PhotoPass, especially if you want Dining Photos.
    • One day is $39 and one week is $78.
Disney PhotoPass pictures Mouse House Mom
Finally not screaming when she meets a character!

Disney PhotoPass Options + Pricing

You can purchase a one day Disney PhotoPass for $39 or a one week Disney PhotoPass for $78.  The photos covered by both options include:

  • Disney PhotoPass photos (including RunDisney race photos and photos from character greetings).
  • Attraction photos (i.e., see Splash Mountain).
  • Dining photos (i.e., the coveted Mickey Mouse family photo from PCH Grill).
  • Magic shots (i.e., photos with embellishments added by the photographer).

The price for the Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland doesn’t change based on when you purchase it. Unlike the Walt Disney World Memory Maker, the price for a Disney PhotoPass doesn’t increase if you buy it last minute. Also, when you buy it isn’t the same as when you activate it. I bought mine on a Monday, but didn’t activate it until the Thursday when we encountered Mickey Mouse out for an unexpected stroll.

One thing that surprised me was the cost of Dining Photos at the character dining restaurants. If I recall correctly, the photo package at Goofy’s Kitchen was almost $40 and if I didn’t already have the PhotoPass I’d be horrible at saying no. A person actually comes to your table with your photos printed out in a beautiful portfolio, which also includes recipes from the restaurant you’re at and they sell it as a package. Thankfully, if you have the Disney PhotoPass and can show that it is active for that time (take out the App and voila) then you get the digital pictures without having to buy the printed out package.

Stop for Photos

If you’ve spent the money on the Disney PhotoPass, make sure you stop and get your photos taken. Using the Disneyland App you can view where the photographers are located. That said, it is pretty intuitive – almost all of the must have photo spots have a Disney photographer present.

I mentioned above that you can get some photos taken that don’t look like you’re at Disneyland. This adds to the versatility of the Disney PhotoPass because now you have some great professional looking family photos that you don’t necessarily associate with a Disney vacation.

Shelby Hancock Family Photos with Disney PhotoPass
Taken in DCA, but could pass for Whistler or a nature hike somewhere else.

Also if you’re on an attraction that has photos, you’ll want to stop at the end and record the code associated with your photo so you can link it to your Disney PhotoPass account later.  I found it easiest to snap a picture with my phone of the code rather than try to enter it on the App in the moment.

Tip: if you want a less crowded Castle picture then get it taken earlier in the day.  However, we’ve never had a problem with the number of people floating through the background of our photos.

Shelby Hancock Disney PhotoPass Castle
Not too crowded at 3pm on a Friday.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask for a Magic Shot

We weren’t having any magic shots offered to us so towards the end of our trip I asked a photographer if they could take a Magic Shot. The photographer was happy to do so, but didn’t tell me what “magic” they’d be adding. The photographer only advised how to pose.  I’m really happy with how the magic shot turned out and its extra special since we were in Disneyland for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon.

Shelby Hancock shares about the Disney PhotoPass
The Magic Shot of my Munchkin and Tinker Bell.

 

Alternative to Disney PhotoPass

One alternative to the Disney PhotoPass is to ask the Disney PhotoPass photographer to take a photo with your camera. They are going to get a pretty good photo and while they’ll snap some with their official camera, you can simply choose not to buy them. Even during the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, cast members (not official photographers) were ready to take a photo with your phone/camera for you.

Just so we’re clear..

I don’t get paid for supporting or speaking positively for any products on this blog. Anything I choose to endorse is because I truly believe in it.

 

 

See ya’,

Shelby Hancock

 

Weekend Fun: Abbotsford Berry Festival

Weekend Fun: Abbotsford Berry Festival

Happy Wednesday to all!  Each Wednesday, I highlight a festival and local fun from Vancouver to the Fraser Valley. This week’s festival is the Abbotsford Berry Festival on Saturday, July 8. As for local fun, I’m highlighting the simplicity of a family bike ride.

 

Abbotsford Berry Festival

New this year, the Abbotsford Berry Festival is a ONE day event happening Saturday, July 8 from 9am to 9pm in downtown Abbotsford. I grew up in Abbotsford and this wasn’t a big deal to attend. However, in recent years, the downtown has been revitalized. Walking down Montrose Avenue you encounter coffee shops, home decor collectives, baby boutiques, and restaurants. We drove out to the Abbotsford Berry Festival (or BerryFest, for the cool kids) last year with my then 1 year old. It was the perfect excuse to drive the 25 minutes from Langley to visit our favourite baby store [Precious Kargo], buy raspberries and strawberries, and eat some good food as we walked down the streets. We even got to see a horse and a police car – pretty big deal for an afternoon out. This isn’t the PNE or state fair so there is a chance of boredom, but if you are looking to get out of the house and have a nice afternoon then I suggest you head to the Abbotsford Berry Festival.

3 Things to Know at the Abbotsford Berry Festival

  1. Admission is free!
    • Just mosey down the road into the heart of the festival. The web info is limited, but in the past the centre of the festival was Montrose Avenue and Essendene Avenue and one block out in each direction from here.
  2. The Ferris Wheel and Berry-Go-Round are $2 per person per ride.
    • What they lack in rides, they make up for in subsidized ride tickets! My little family can ride the Ferris Wheel for $6.
  3. Plan to stop for a snack a long the way.
    • Food trucks will be in attendance (I hear there’s RAMEN!) and the local coffee shops also offer delicious baked goods.

 

Local Fun: Family Bike Rides

One hand-me-down baby item that I knew I’d come to love, was the bike trailer attachment for my Chariot Double Cheetah running stroller.  We have been enjoying a slower pace on weekends and morning bike rides are becoming the norm. We rented bikes last summer and setting up the bike trailer was a time consuming, pain in the butt.  In order to make family bike rides a hassle-free experience we made space in our garage so that I can put my bike away and leave the bike trailer attached to my bike.  Now we can go for spontaneous bike rides.

We’ve been exploring Willoughby and even throwing the Munchkin’s scooter into the pouch on my bike trailer. We can then ride to an elementary school and let our Munchkin out of the trailer to practice on her scooter or play on the playground. I find giving her a toy or two helps keep her interested in our bike rides. I also stop to look at ducks in ponds, or to see puppies and we are constantly in dialogue while we ride. Give it a try and please share with me how your family bike riding goes.

 

 

Mouse House Mom Abbotsford Berry Festival and family bike rides
Somebody is ready for a bike ride.

 

Happy trails,

Shelby Hancock

My Love of Splash Mountain

My Love of Splash Mountain

Everyone has a favourite Disneyland attraction and for me, it is Splash Mountain.  When I was a kid on Disneyland vacations, we’d always enjoy the queue and the ride as a family. It was our “final attraction” tradition. I’m not alone on this since I can see that this very minute (July 3, 1:20 PM) there’s a 75 minute line for Splash Mountain.

My 3 Splash Mountain Tips:

  1. FastPass or ride it during a parade when lines are shorter.
    • On a cooler day, ride it before you leave so you can get into warm clothes sooner.
  2. Ride it as a family and make it a tradition.
    • Don’t force your family to do the shorter “single rider” line – you need the family picture!
  3. Sing a long to the music.
    • Even if you aren’t alone, sing and wave those hands to the music!
Splash Mountain Mouse House Mom
All by myself.

My Disneyland Has Always Had Splash Mountain

Being a Canadian, child of the 80’s meant that my first trip in 1989 was after the opening of Splash Mountain. As a 5 year old, I have no memory of Splash Mountain from my first Disneyland vacation. However, I know all of the words to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, which was recorded almost 40 years before I was born. This leads me to hypothesize that the memory of riding Splash Mountain didn’t stick, but the experience stayed with me in my love of Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.

Final Attraction Tradition

Growing up, we had a family tradition of making Splash Mountain our last attraction of the day.  Now that my husband and I have a couple Disney vacations under our belts as parents, we’ve started our own final attraction tradition with It’s A Small World.

In my last family Disneyland vacation as a kiddo (not a parent), I recall complaining that the ride was too much build up until the exciting drop. To this day I think Brer Rabbit heard me utter those words and made sure I’d regret them.  As we rode one of the little drops that I found “too slow”, we plunged down it and I got absolutely soaked.  This caused roars of laughter and I’ve never again thought or said anything bad about Splash Mountain!

Famous Splash Mountain Photos, or Not

One family trip we were in Disneyland on New Year’s Eve (20 years ago) and we decided we wanted to be the last people to ride Splash Mountain for the year. We planned to get the photographic evidence to prove we rode it at the insane time of 2AM. Everything was working fine and we got on the final log with a young couple in front of us in the log. When the ride was over my parents went to purchase our photo, but it turns out one of the people in front of us flashed their ta-tas at the camera and we weren’t allowed to get a copy.  In the end we got a funny story that has lived longer than any picture souvenir would have lasted.

Splash Mountain – Not Just a 52 Foot Drop

Earlier this year, after my munchkin was put to bed, I ran back to Disneyland for just over 1 hour.  In that hour, I had to use my Space Mountain FastPass and see everything else I wanted.  After Space Mountain I crossed Disneyland to “single ride” Splash Mountain. There was zero wait for “single riders” and I joined a group on their ride. Exiting the ride I noticed that there was no line. I got my picture code, came back and went to walk up and around in the “single riders” line, but a Cast Member told me to just hop on since the loading area was vacant.  You may be wondering how the ride, which can boast 2 hour line ups was empty.  Lucky for me, the Electrical Parade had just begun and that’s where the masses were.  I rode Splash Mountain twice, completely alone,  in my own log.

Splash Mountain Mouse House Mom
#SplashMountainPoser

Lonely or Amazing?

Riding Splash Mountain in my own log, by myself was amazing. They asked me to sit in spot “3” and I asked a Cast Member if that meant I would be getting soaked. The response back was, “You should be ok” and I truly was. All the thrills and fun, without getting soaked! In the moment of riding Splash Mountain all by myself I realized that I should have had that on my Bucket List and then did a celebratory dance in achieving this newly added, and newly achieved Bucket List item. I was able to ride and sing along to the music without my brother or my husband complaining about my singing voice. This also had the benefit of nobody ruining my coveted Splash Mountain picture!

January or February Vacation

If you have a January or February vacation to Disneyland or Walt Disney World, be warned that Splash Mountain is typically closed for a short while in these months for routine maintenance. When we went mid-January to Walt Disney World it was closed.

Splash Mountain Single Rider Pic
Memories with total strangers. Single riders are usually seated at the very back!

Height Restrictions

There is a 40 inch height restriction on Splash Mountain. We are hoping by the time my Munchkin is 4 1/2 years old she’ll be tall enough to experience this attraction with us!

 

Happy splashin’

Shelby Hancock