Category Archives: Kids

Disneyland Mickey’s Halloween Party with a Toddler

Choosing when to go
My friend has an annual pass for Disneyland, so she’s constantly telling me stories about it. In September and October, Disneyland has a Mickey’s Halloween Party that includes trick-or-treating and a special parade. I absolutely love Halloween and I have been wanting to take Lana to Disneyland for some time. So this month, we packed up the family car with way too much stuff and made the drive down to Anaheim.

Disneyland was made for kids and families, but Lana is only 1.5 years old, so there were some potential problems. As a toddler, Lana naps for about 2 hours in the middle of the afternoon. This midday nap makes a full day of Disney a little tricky. Plus, tickets for a full day can range well upwards of $100 per person and I wasn’t sure we would get our money’s worth. To top it off, I thought an entire day might just be overwhelming for such a young age.

Mickey’s Halloween Party solves all these potential issues. It is a special event that gives you access to the park from around 3 or 4pm until 11pm. The exact time depends on the ticket. This half day ticket gave us access to the park at a reduced price starting right after nap time. I knew we wouldn’t last until 11pm, but figured 4 or 5 hours would be plenty of time in the park.

A lot of parents have asked me if Disneyland wasn’t just a bit too old for under 2 years old, but it definitely wasn’t for us! Lana is a social butterfly, so I knew at the very least she would enjoy all the people watching. But she loved the rides too! I have to say, I think people of all ages really can enjoy Disneyland.

With our alien filter
With our alien filter

The Boy Scouts have it right – be prepared!
We made the mistake of walking into Disneyland without a plan. We just walked straight ahead, through Cinderella’s castle and into line for the first ride we saw. It was a mistake. The line took forever even though it appeared short and the ride, which was a train, was short with very little to see. We wasted almost an hour with this boring ride. After that, we met up with our friends, the Disney experts, and had a much better experience. I learned two things from this mistake: 1) map out what rides you want to go on to maximize your time there, especially if you have a toddler who won’t last that long, and 2), don’t go on a busy day.

We went to Disney on a Wednesday evening to minimize the crowds. I highly, highly recommend this. I didn’t think anyone would be there midweek, but it was still pretty crowded. Although, my friend said that by Disney standards, it wasn’t that crowded at all. I don’t think I could handle Disney on a crowded day! I’ve become a small town girl in recent years, I guess. I can’t take throngs of people pushing and waiting in line forever, anymore. In an ideal world, I would live on a small, private island. My husband and Lana would go absolutely crazy, but the dog and I would be in heaven. Every day, we would take a long walk around the island, spend the afternoon sunbathing, then finish up with a coconut curry dinner or fresh sushi. Ahhh, the dream.

Disneyland rides
But back to Disney! Once our friends rescued us from our own lack of preparedness, Disney was fun! We headed over to It’s A Small World ride which I remember from when I was little. It’s changed a little and includes the Disney princesses. Lana’s favorite ride was the Jungle Cruise. It was a tiny bit scary for her because we didn’t get to ride it until after dark. She still loved it because she loves animals and she was making elephant noises for a while afterward.

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Mickey’s Halloween trick-or-treating
In addition to the ride, Mickey’s Halloween also includes special trick-or-treating activities. Basically, you stand in a line that moves really fast and Disney characters hand you treats ranging from Reese’s to Halloween Peeps to apple slices. Lana had her first bar of chocolate there. We didn’t go to Mickey’s Halloween with the goal of getting candy, but it is a really safe and easy option for trick-or-treating.

One of the trick-or-treat lines went through the Star Wars Launch Bay. Because we had a larger group, we decided to dress up in what I like to think of as Hipster Star Wars costumes. Basically, they were Star Wars characters printed onto shirts from Amazon. Unfortunately, we were too busy to get many good pictures.

With our alien filter.
With our alien filter.

Frightfully Fun Halloween parade
Part of the entertainment at Disneyland includes a parade. For Halloween, they do a special Nightmare Before Christmas parade called the Frightfully Fun Parade. It starts late and so we were on our way out of the park when it was happening. It passed right through downtown Disney, though, and so we got to see all the dancers and floats on our way out.

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After the parade, they have a big firework show. We didn’t realize this, but we could see the fireworks from our hotel room! We were getting ready for bed when we heard the explosions and ended up watching the whole show through our hotel room window. It was so much fun.

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Tips for toddlers
Disney definitely has a lot to offer and we probably could have used at least a full day at the main park or two to go to California Adventure. I don’t think toddlers need quite that much stimulation, though, and our afternoon was plenty for Lana. Our drive to Disneyland wasn’t bad, but the traffic going home was horrendous and it took twice as long. Lana hates driving, but I downloaded the first season of Curious George onto our iPad and she must have watched 4 hours of it. I highly recommend having lots of entertainment if you’re driving through Los Angeles.

Parade at the end of the night.
Parade at the end of the night.

Some additional tips and tricks for surviving an afternoon at Disneyland include:

– Bring snacks! Or whole meals. Just have lots and lots of good, healthy food to give everyone the energy they need. I packed a cooler of food and brought an insulated lunch box into the park. We had sugar snap peas, carrots, apple slices, grapes, low sodium hot dogs, and string cheese and ate everything while we were in line. Disney has good restaurant options, too, but it makes it easier having easy access to food at all times.

– Bring water! It is actually okay to bring water bottles into the park, as long as they are not glass. Anaheim is hot more often than not, and even on cooler days you’ll do a lot of walking.

– Go midweek if at all possible. I know most people can’t run off to Disney on a Wednesday, but it really helps to minimize the crowds and how long you’ll wait in lines versus having fun on rides. My husband took a half week of vacation and worked a bit from the hotel.

I really want to go back to Disneyland and California Adventure now that we have more experience and we would go with a plan for the park. What do you think about a Disney trip? Would you take a toddler? Do you have any tips or tricks for theme park vacations?

We’ve got spirit, yes, we do: Spirited Kids

On the long and winding road of our sleeplessness saga, I began researching child issues by temperament. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense that an easy-going child is going need a different method of– everything — from a child who is more stubborn, or timid, or whatever.

There’s a lot of information out there on child temperament. Sleep consultant Rebecca Michi categorizes children as “easy,” “difficult,” and “slow-to-warm.” The easy child is, well, easy:

  • Regular eating, sleeping, elimination cycles
  • Not easily frustrated
  • Adapts to change
  • Good mood most of the time

Then there is the difficult child:

  • Irregular eating, sleeping, and elimination cycles
  • More easily frustrated
  • Negative response to new situations, such as tantrums
  • Slow to adapt to change

I have to admit that I have not read this book, only overviews online. These descriptions are so black and white, so divided, that I don’t find them helpful — at all. My daughter is bits of both. Irregular and easily — and loudly — frustrated, but she thrives on new people and places. In fact, she’s so social, she’s usually in a better mood at a big party then she is playing at home.

Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka has a much more interested take on children who are not that easy to parent. She calls them “spirited” and refers to them as “more” children. She has her own spirited child and so she speaks from personal experience. Right off the bat, she lists traits of the spirited child, similar to Michi, but a bit more complicated. The gist is a spirited child is “more.” More intense, more persistent, more sensitive, more perceptive, and more uncomfortable with change. She also lists bonus characteristics, including irregular schedules (yes!), more energy (yes! yes!), more time to warm up to new things, and more serious mood.

Kurcinka emphasizes that not every spirited child possesses all of the traits, but her or she will possess enough to make them stand out. My daughter fits more bonus characteristics than the first 5 traits, so I am still not sure she would be considered spirited. If she’s not, that’s enough to make me seriously afraid of having another child. Maybe she’s actually going to be easygoing and I have yet to find out what a truly spirited child is??? Shudder.

Regardless, I think Raising Your Spirited Child is one of the more helpful baby/toddler/child/whatever books I’ve read (part of. Sorry, I have a spirited 1 year old baby. I’m busy.) to date. Kurcinka has a positive perspective on the more trying aspects of raising children who expect more from their parents (read: are demanding). It’s geared to kids who are a little older than mine, but it still gives me insight into her personality and what to do about it. If you, like me, suffer from night-waking-toddler induced insomnia and are looking for good midnight read (or 1 am, 3 am, and 5am read, I mean, who am I kidding?), check it out.

 

To Sleep or Not to Sleep

Toddler and baby sleep is such a big part of being a mom and having a mom blog, I just have to cover it at least once. I was actually inspired to write this post after writing a review of the Dockatot Grand (the bigger one for babies 9 months and older) on Amazon. You can read my review here, or wait for my upcoming blog post for more details. It was actually a comment from another parent who was going through the exact same sleep issues that made me think I should share my sleep story here.

When MK was about 4 months old, she just stopped sleeping. Yes, I know there is a developmental leap at that age and that babies go through a sleep regression. What you do during this sleep regression will, apparently, haunt you for the rest of their childhood. No one told me this at the time, but I’ve decided it is the undeniable truth.

At around 7 months, sick, exhausted from getting up every 45 min to 2 hours and not being able to get back to sleep, having failed at variations of cry-it-out because she lasted longer than I could (2 hours!), and feeling the pressure from folks who kept saying, “well, we co-slept for years and my baby slept through every night,” I finally brought MK into bed with me. And we finally, finally slept. For a few weeks that is.

Since then, my husband and I have been trying to get her to 1) sleep through the night, and 2) sleep in her own bed. Trying to get her into her crib was like trying to hold a hysterical, 20lb fish.  A red, swollen-faced puffer fish. I can’t do the Ferber Method, cry it out, or Ferberize her, whatever you want to call it. She can cry longer than I can stand it. That means we’ve stuck to “gentle sleep training” methods, the no cry-it-out kind, which means it’s not at all effective.

I did all the things – black out curtains, white noise, sleep routine since day 1 at home, dream feeding, cluster feeding, co-sleeping, milk in a bottle, milk in a cup, night weaning, night feeding. I even bought an over-priced dog bed for her — I mean Dockatot ;). I read all the books: the Sleep Lady,  Pantley, Dr. Ferber, Dr. Karp, Dr. Sears, Dr. Weissbluth, Dr. Seuss. You know who else read all these books? Everyone on the internet. At least everyone with a baby with “sleep issues.”

Some days MK sleeps perfectly through the night. Some days she still wakes every 2 hours. Sometimes I am woken up by dreams that I’ve been wrongly accused and am suffering sleep-deprivation torture at a secret facility.  Some days I’m woken by dreams that Charkie from Curious George has gotten off his leash AGAIN (seriously, people, that dog is a menace) while I’m out walking with the little and he will not leave my overprotective dog alone (do you really want to die, Charkie??) The only consistency is what I’m not getting — consistent sleep.

Do you have a baby or toddler who has trouble sleeping? Or did you solve your nighttime and nap time sleep problems? Please feel free to share in the comments.