Should You Visit Kennedy Space Center With Young Kids?



We almost didn't go to Kennedy Space Center on our trip to Florida.  This was a special (ie. expensive) trip for us, and we barely had enough budget to cover everything we wanted to do.  We considered skipping Cape Canaveral to save a little money, but I'm so glad we didn't!

I did not expect us all to enjoy Kennedy Space Center as much as we did, but my excitement spilled over onto Instagram, and I got a few questions about whether it is worth it to go with young kids.  My short answer is yes, depending on ages!  But I wanted to give a few more details on what we enjoyed about our visit there.

(Rockets in the rocket garden.)

1. I could tell they really want to inspire kids.

The first thing we did when we arrived was to get on the bus to visit the Saturn V rocket, which is the rocket that took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins to the moon.  They played a video on the bus, and I could see right there that one of the goals of the Center is to inspire kids to be interested in space.  They showed interviews with kids, the video was really friendly, and they talked about an "astronaut in training" program for kids to give them an idea about what it's like to be a part of the space program.  I was inspired myself!

When we arrived at the Center, my kids were genuinely interested in seeing the rocket and the moon capsule.  It's honestly hard not to be interested in the rocket, because it is so huge!  You can't help but be impressed.  We also got to look at the moon capsule, and I explained a little bit about the thickness of the walls.  It was cool for them to see it and have that tucked away in their memories for when we learn about space in school this year.

They also had a show about the history of the moon landing, and once again, my kids were way more fascinated than I thought they would be!  It was a gripping show (there was alot of drama with the moon landing!), and you could see the goal of it was to not only inspire adults but kids too.  Afterward we exited into a room that showed artifacts from that period of space exploration, and my kids loved seeing the space suit with moon dust still on it!


(Outside the Kennedy Space Center.)


(The Saturn V rocket.  These pictures do not do it justice!)

 (We couldn't even get the whole circumference of the bottom of the rocket, it was so huge!)
(My girls, looking at the moon capsule.)

2.  There are many activities specifically for kids.

Aside from all the history at the Center, they also have alot of activities that are specifically for kids. After we visited the Saturn V, we came back and checked out the Atlantis exhibit.  We watched a short movie about the development of the space shuttle, and it was incredibly well done.  We exited from the movie right into into the room that holds the Atlantis space shuttle!  The whole production was really well done and inspiring, and on top of that the sheer size of the shuttle is absolutely amazing!

I was also surprised at how many activities they had for kids in this area specifically, but at the Center in general:

-They have fun green-screen photo booths where kids can pretend to be astronauts in a photo. 

-At The Kennedy Space Center they had a kids' play area.  

-At the Atlantis exhibit they had a very fun slide that coincided with the angle/curve the space shuttle uses to land  (you can watch the video on my Instagram highlights!).

-At Atlantis, they have a faux International Space Station tunnel play area for kids.  My kids did not want to leave!

-They have a shuttle launch simulator.  My biggest three (5 years old and up) were all able to go on the shuttle launch experience with me, and it was really cool!  They had a fun educational video to explain what was happening, and the simulator experience itself was fun and wild!

-They have "astronaut training simulators" for moving a robotic arm, docking a space shuttle, etc.

Keep in mind that this was only at the areas of Kennedy Space Center that were able to visit.  There are two or three other areas that we missed, including a section called "Journey To Mars: Explorers Wanted", the new Mars rover vehicle, and various shows and IMAX movies that I think my kids would have also enjoyed.

 (My kids by the rocket that launches the space shuttle into space.  I couldn't even get a picture of the whole thing, it was massive!  That orange bit is the very bottom of the fuel tank.)
 (Derek under the space shuttle rockets.)

 (The space shuttle.  I can't even explain to you how huge it actually was!)

(My kids playing inside the International Space Section playplace!)

(A slide that simulated the angle the space shuttle uses on re-entry!)

3. I can't think of a better place to spark an interest in space and STEM topics.

As I said in my first point, I think there is an active effort to inspire an interest in space in children at the center.  NASA and companies that have an interest in space extortion know that they need bright young people to continue the effort to explore space, and they do everything they can to interest over kids in the program through their "astronauts in training" camps, and just fun exhibits.  If you want your kids to learn a little more about space, or if you want to share a love for space science and engineering, this is the place you need to go.

As far as ages, I think my big three really enjoyed it, so I would say 5 and up is a good age to shoot for.  My 3 year old liked the slide and space station play areas, but I don't think she understood as much of what was going on.  And obviously my 1 year old didn't either.

As an adult, I wouldn't classify myself as a space nerd.  I have developed a little bit of interest in the history of the space race over this past summer, and that's been the extent of my interest in space during my life.  However, by the time we left Cape Canaveral, I was seriously regretting not buying myself a NASA t-shirt, and I immediately downloaded more space-related books to read on my phone.  You do not have to try very hard to be inspired at this place.



(The kids in the rocket garden on the way out, holding the astronaut teddy bears we got them for a souvenir.  Those bears have gotten some good playtime since then!)

If I were to go again, I would absolutely spend a whole day there, instead of just half a day.  I was regretting that we didn't get to check out the Mars exhibits or other areas.  Overall, the Kennedy Space Center was a fun and relaxing visit for us, and my only regret is that we didn't have more time!  Maybe we'll just have to go again one year!

Have you been to the Kennedy Space Center, ever or recently?

They have added so much, and we loved it!

Homeschool Bravely | A Book Review



I picked up this book in May, right before we finished school for the summer.  It has taken me this long to finish it because I basically took a break from even thinking about school as soon as I could.  But with starting up homeschooling again in the fall, it was time to finish this book.

What I Liked

Homeschool Bravely by Jamie Erickson is a book to encourage Christian homeschool moms who are doubting their homeschool choice or worried they aren't doing a good enough job.  I thought it completely lived up to that purpose.  Erickson has so much hard-won, practical encouragement for homeschool moms, and she tells it all from her own experience.

This book is solidly a Christian homeschool book.  Erickson weaves her faith through every aspect of homeschooling that she addresses, and I love that - it's as it should be!  Her encouragement is definitely geared toward Christian homeschoolers, and I appreciated alot of what she has to say, especially her encouragements to trust God for our homeschools, not on ourselves or crossing things off our to-do lists.  She encourages Christian moms to keep their eyes on the big picture of why we are homeschooling in the first place, and that is always valuable to me.

What I Didn't Love

My only complaints with this book have to do with some muddied Christian messages in it.  Though Erickson refers to the gospel, and based on different things she says she seems to understand that we are saved by faith in Christ alone and His atoning sacrifice for our sins, it's not really clearly explained.  If a book is going to focus on Christian encouragement and teaching, and refer to the "gospel" so much, I really appreciate when the gospel is clearly spelled out.  Not everyone who picks up a book like this may have a clear understanding of how to be saved.  This book didn't reach that bar for me of clearly explaining the salvation message.

The other thing I didn't love was the way Erickson took different Bible stories or isolated verses and applied them to a homeschooling point she was trying to make.  Sometimes I felt like she seemed to reduce everything Jesus did on earth as merely for our example.  He is our example, but that is not the primary reason He came.  Her use of Scripture felt forced sometimes, and also led to some theological interpretations I would question.

The best example of this is on page 141.  Erickson writes:

"God constrained Himself when He took on human flesh.  He gave Himself physical limitations.  If God recognized the need to do less for a time, then why shouldn't you?  Why shouldn't I?"

I think it's a big jump to use the fact that God became flesh in Jesus Christ to then state that God recognized a "need to do less".  I just cringe even typing that. I may be misunderstanding her, but I still need to point out that God is not like us, He has no need to rest or "do less".  He wasn't doing any less when He became flesh in order to live a sinless life and take the punishment for our sin upon Himself!  Sure, in His humanness, Christ rested in His physical body.  But as He was also fully God, He was also doing everything God normally does, upholding all things by the word of His power (Heb 1:3), even while He had become fully man in order to become the sacrifice for our sins.  He certainly wasn't doing any less.

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Anyway, aside from all that, I did appreciate how Erickson wove the Christian faith into her encouragement for homeschool moms.  Alot of her homeschool advice was right on the money, and I appreciated reading it.  I'd recommend this book to Christian homeschool moms, while encouraging them to still read with discernment since I thought some of her use of Scripture and theological statements were questionable.  But there is certainly alot of encouragement to be had here.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

What Would You Tell New Moms About Labor?

(Our little big family two years ago at this same time of year.  Man, I miss my pregnant belly sometimes!) 

"What should new moms know about labor and delivery?"  

This is a question I've been mulling over for a couple months, since I started writing a post for Tommy Nelson's new website, Rooted Family, on this subject.  The topic honestly felt too big for one person to tackle, because birth experiences can be so different depending on alot of different factors.  What is one piece of advice that could apply to everyone?  I knew what I would say, but I was curious about what other people would say.

I asked Facebook and Instagram friends to tell me their best advice for different types of birth experiences, and it was so interesting to read about everyone's experiences!  But it also struck me how the same refrain came from so many different people.

The bottom line is that most of the people I asked wanted to let new moms know that their birth experience probably won't go exactly as planned.  

I think that tells you something about birth.  No matter how much we plan and try to make sure things go a certain way, when a baby is ready to make their entrance into the world, all bets are off.  It's important to make plans for how you'd like labor and birth to go, but it's also important to remember to trust the Lord with how your birth story plays out, and lean on Him to help you through no matter what.

All that to say, my final post with a TON of wonderful birth advice is on the Rooted Family blog now!  You can read it here:


I asked for tips for handling these different types of birth experiences:

Epidural Hospital Birth
Natural Hospital Birth
Emergency C-Section
Scheduled C-Section
VBAC
Home Birth
Birth Center/Midwife Birth
Birth In An Unusual Place
Premature Birth
Stillbirth

My mom friends really came through and gave so many specific tips and general encouragement for birth.  I love how through so many of the stories that I have had the privilege to hear, God's faithfulness shown through, even with the hard stories.  I hope the post is as encouraging to read as it was for me to put together.

And if you gave me a tip that I didn't have room to include in the article - I'll be sharing a few on Instagram in the next couple days, so take a look at my Highlights to read more quick tips for labor and delivery!

Friends, what would you tell expecting moms about labor and delivery?  Comment with your tips below, I'd love to hear what you'd add!

On Knowing My Ancestors' Names | Short Thoughts #2



I heard a speaker a few months back who pointed out that by the fourth generation, your descendants probably won't know your name.

That thought immediately pierced my heart.  "No," I thought, "surely not," and I scrambled to extract my great-great-grandparents names from my brain.

I came up with nothing.


It made me really sad to think that their names could be so easily lost, not to mention their stories.

Another Reason I Blog

I like to think that this blog will help my grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and beyond, to know me some day. So maybe I won’t be just a name, but if they want to, they could dig a little and know what my life was like, what I thought when I held my children for the first time, what aspects of my personality might have passed on to them.

I wonder those things about my ancestors. I wonder what it was like to live at the dawn of the last century, what struggles they faced, how they handled things. I wonder if any of them ever kept a diary, and if so, what ever happened to it? Surely I’m not the first in my family with this drive to document personal stories.

(Me, and the first generation after me, on a hike this week!  Isn't the slight golden tint to the leaves gorgeous?  I like to think a love for the mountains is passed down from generation to generation.)

Anyway, with all this running through my brain the last couple months, I’ve been gathering names from my grandparents, writing down details that they remember, trying to preserve these memories. Trying to think of different ways to do that so it would actually work, since not everyone wants to record all their innermost thoughts on a blog like I do.

A Resource I Wanted To Share

In perfect timing, this book caught my eye:

(Note: I am on the launch team for this book and got a free copy.)







I knew I had to have it.

I was able to join the launch team for the book, so I got a free copy, but I’m actually thinking of buying a few more as gifts for my parents and grandparents!

Dear Grandchild, This Is Me is a prompt book to help someone get started in recording bits of their life story. There are a ton of questions, as well as more unique pages like envelopes to tuck in letters, a map to record all the places you’ve traveled, places to write memories of historical events, etc.

The only complaint about this book that I have is that some of the “where were you when...” historical events were kind of a stretch. Is Michael Jackson’s death really noteworthy? Should we even honor a per.vert with a mention in a book like this? I think not. I might scratch out his name and write “Elvis’s death” or something instead.

Aside from that, I will mention that this book is really versatile. Several pages have “choose your own question” options, so if one prompt doesn’t apply to someone’s life and personality, a different one will. The whole idea is just to get started in recording life memories, and this book is such a great tool for that! 

I want to pass this book on to my parents and grandparents, but I also might even fill out some of the book for my own grandkids...or maybe I’ll just take some of the questions and write about them here, as is my style.

Back To My Ancestors

Back to the topic of ancestors though, now that I have a few names, I am seriously considering joining Ancestry.com to see if I can start to construct a family tree. I have a few records and names from my parents and grandparents, and I’d like to continue, for my own curiosity and for the sake of my kids. I really don’t want to be one of those people who can’t name their great-great grandparents, and I want my kids to know who they came from too.


Have you ever looked into your family tree? Can you go back four generations, or are you wracking your brain and coming up empty like I did?

Video review here, if you want a closer look at the book:


How We Homeschool On The Go

(Picture from our nature hike the other day.)

Today I had a dental appointment, and it got me thinking about homeschool on the go. 

Ideally we could be home every day until we finished our school work, but that is not always how it works our. Sometimes we need to schedule appointments or errands in the morning. For our family, this particularly complicates our homeschool day, because we live in a rural area and it typically takes us 30-45 minutes to get to town. Factoring in drive time, whenever we have a morning appointment we end up being out of the house for at least half the day.

However, that doesn’t mean the day needs to be a wash as far as school goes. When I was a homeschool student (4th grade through high school), I would just grab all my homeschool books and do my school work in the car. While its best to work at home, a nice thing about homeschooling is that you can do your work anywhere! For the younger grades, when kids are less independent, school on the go is a little trickier, but still doable. Here is how we make those days work.

1. Make it a light day.

I’ve come to accept that appointment days are going to end up being lighter days for our homeschool - and that’s okay. Homeschool days do not all have to look identical. If I know we’re going to be out and about, I’ll try to plan for a lighter day, and save more difficult subjects for another day. It all evens out by the end of the year.

2. Bring worksheets.

Before we leave I’ll look through our lessons for the day and see if there are any worksheets we can bring. Worksheets are one thing my kids can do independently!

3. Audio resources.

Because we live in a rural area, we usually have to drive 30-40 minutes to get wherever we’re going. Sometimes (if I'm thinking ahead), I'll see if I can find any audio that goes along with whatever we are studying in history or science, and we can listen to that in the car.  This might be the audio version of one of our read-aloud, historical dramatizations or stories, or even podcasts!  There are some great Adventure In Odyssey history stories that are free online, and a lot of fun educational kid podcasts if I take a minute to look before we leave!

4. Games on iPad.

I try to limit my kids' screen time when we are home, but when we are on the go, it's a great time to let them play with some educational apps.  These apps don't replace curriculum, but they can be fun for review or light learning on the go!  A couple that we've used are Teach Your Monster To Read (one-time cost) or ABC Mouse (monthly subscription for which we occasionally splurge).


5. Educational stops.

Because of where we live, a quick appointment can turn into a half-day event, so I try to consolidate trips and think of any educational places to stop while we are out and about.  If I know we will be going somewhere, I almost always squeeze in a library trip, which absolutely is included in school time.  I might turn the day into a mini field trip by stopping at a museum or historic park, or doing a nature hike on the way home.  You could even get a little creative and use somewhere like the grocery store for math practice (I have my oldest add up the prices for me while we shop).  There are all kinds of ways to incorporate learning opportunities and real-life experiences if you keep your eye out, especially for younger kids!




(Just a few more pictures from our nature hike.)

Homeschool moms (especially with non-independent kids), how do you get school work done while you are on the go?  Any other tips you want to add to mine?

On Spying On People I Used To Know | Short Thoughts #1


I sat down this morning to write a chatty post and realized that each mini-section was ending up too long for my typical "tea on a Tuesday" type post, so I'm going to try something different this week.  I'm splitting up what could be a very long post into "short thoughts" posts.  So expect a few of these posts this week, because I've had enough on my mind lately.  Here we go.

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Yesterday, while not feeling well because of some sort of ear infection I have brewing, I picked up my phone to zone out for a while and somehow found myself looking up people that I used to know on Facebook.  Not to friend them, just to poke around and see what became of them.

I know I am not the only one who does this, right?  But after looking up two or three people I suddenly became aware again, and asked, "Self, why are you doing this?"

I didn't really want to be friends with these girls again, so I had no intention of adding them on social media.  And it's not like they were the mean girls and I needed to prove something to myself either (well, not too much anyway - maybe a tiny bit).

I was mainly just...curious.

What a weird world that we live in, where we can remember someone from 15 years ago and immediately go spy on them on social media.  It's the kind of world that makes high school reunions obsolete, and that kind of makes me sad.

I think I would rather go 15 years without the ability to know anything about a person at all, and then run into them in the flesh at a reunion.  Catch up on their life all in one go, hear it from their own mouth, make note of the look in their eyes as they tell you what they've been up to.  Physically and emotionally see if there is any hope for a friendship left there, or if it was a good thing it faded in the first place.

And then I thought, I wonder if people that I used to know are spying on me.

That is a weird thought.

In many ways social media and blogs are a blessing - they let us keep in touch with people that we care about who may have faded away otherwise.  But they also allow us to keep people in our lives that it might be better to have fade away.

Perhaps it requires a lot of wisdom to know the difference, and to know how to handle these current times.  It's hard being the first generation to really figure out how to navigate the social media era with wisdom and grace and proper boundaries.

And as my little exhaustion-induced spying proves, I clearly have not figured it all out yet.


I guess if I have anything else to say about it, it would just be to encourage you (and myself) to evaluate whether it's worth reconnecting with the people that come to your mind - and if it is, reconnect!  Send a quick message and say hi.  Social media can be a wonderful way to naturally rekindle friendships.

And if you know that person you are curious about is not the kind of person you should reconnect with - well, try to pretend social media doesn't exist, mind your own business a bit, and let it fade.  Some people are only meant to be in your life for a season, and with social media now, sometimes we have to actively choose to keep it that way.

Have you ever spied on someone you used to know on social media?  (Come on, guys, 'fess up.  I know I'm not the only one.)

Why did you look them up?  Do you think it would be better if we didn't have that option?  


Any Other Day

(Me and my littlest girls.)

Today my kids woke up as I was finishing my quiet time, and I was greeted by a chorus of little voices calling my name (which is "Mommy", of course).  They grinned at me, and laughed with each other, and ran to make their beds and get dressed before breakfast.

Today is just like any other day to them.

For the first time, I realized this summer that while 9/11 will always be a vivid memory in my mind, from here on out all brand-new, 18-year-old adults are people who were not even born then.  There is a whole generation of kids who will only read about 9/11 in the history books, the way I read about Pearl Harbor.  My kids are in that group.

That is so bizarre to me.  Because my memory is crystal clear of my mom rushing into my room one morning to tell me to get upstairs quickly to watch the news.  A plane had crashed into a building.  I had no idea what she was talking about, I thought it must be a history program she wanted us to watch for school.  So I had another half hour of living in my own pre-9/11 world while I got ready for the day.

I remember being glued to the TV for the rest of the morning.  I remember seeing black specks falling from the building and realizing with horror that those were people.  I remember sitting in silence, watching the first tower fall. Then the second.  I remember seeing the clouds of debris taking over the streets, swallowing people on the streets.  First responders covered in gray dust.  I remember the black scar on the Pentagon building, the news that another plane had crashed in a field.  I remember when everyone realized that this wasn't just an accident.

That afternoon I needed a break, and I went outside for a walk.  Yellow aspen leaves rustling in the breeze.  A blue, blue sky, and autumn in the air.  I thought, and I prayed, and maybe I grew up a little right then.

I remember how the country pulled together afterward.  I remember how for a little while we weren't Democrats or Republicans, we were only Americans.  Maybe that was the one good thing to come out of the horrible tragedy of that day, that we all had the chance to know what being united feels like.

I don't know if schools even teach kids about that day as history yet, but they should.  I know I plan to educate my children about 9/11 and tell them my story.  But maybe not yet.  They are small still, and prone to nightmares.   Maybe I just want them to be little a while longer before they fully know what kind of place the world can be.

But some year soon I'll pull open the news footage on my computer or we'll watch a documentary, and I'll make sure they know.  About the towers that fell, planes that were used as weapons, heroes who ran toward the danger, and countrymen who were lost.  I want them to remember what happened that day, even if it feels like distant history to them.  I'll tell them my memory of 9/11, just as I hope others are doing with their children who are old enough.

I would hope this day is commemorated, some of the footage shown, those who died honored in memory forever.  So that even those who don't remember would never forget.


How I'd Do Disney Differently With Five Young Kids


The story is out - our trip to Disney World was less than I had hoped it would be.  And honestly, my expectations were rather low in the first place.




(The photo opportunities were gold though!)

I've told a little bit of our experience on Instagram and in this post, but today I just wanted to share a few of the things I would do differently were we to visit Magic Kingdom again with young kids.  These "tips" are coming from a non-Disney person who does not like to plan excessively for trips, so these are basic suggestions in case you are like me and just want to keep your Disney experience relatively simple!  If you are not like me and like to plan your Disney trip within an inch of it's life, I'm hoping that some of you will comment your favorite in-depth Disney planning resources below!

Here are my very basic ideas on how I'd improve our Disney experience next time.

Skip Disney World And Just Get A Character To Come To Your Kids' Birthday Party

I kid, I kid.  Kind of.  But honestly, some of my kids' favorite moments of the Disney trip were when they got to meet the princesses.  They burst out laughing when Pooh Bear found a water puddle right in front of us and splashed in it.  I didn't expect my kids to love the characters so much, because they acted so shy, but it was definitely a highlight. If we went there again, I'd try to meet a couple more characters.  Or save the $750 it cost for us to all get in there, and just hire a character to come to their birthday.  Kidding!  Sort of.  It would be cheaper.




Have A Plan For Navigating The Crowds

A huge reason why we didn't enjoy Disney as much as I expected was the massive amount of people there.  Unfortunately that can't be helped.  However, I had not been to Disney, or anywhere with that many people, in so long that I did not really think through how we were going to get from one place to another with five small children, and only four hands between Derek and me.   We just walked together like we normally would, but I forgot how people cut in front and between groups when it is so crowded. We ended up briefly losing various kids THREE different times while we were there!  Losing my child once in their childhood would be quite enough for me, so feeling that panicky I-don't-know-where-my-kid-is feeling three times in one day was a little much.  If we went back, especially with so many kids, I'd make everyone hold onto backpack straps, shirt hems, or the stroller at all times when we are walking.





Figure Out The Fast Pass Thing Before We Go

As I've already established, I am not a planner.  When I go on vacation, I like to just show up and have fun.  I heard about Fast Passes, but I thought it was a special perk that you paid extra for.  When we bought our tickets, I found out that you actually get three free Fast Passes with each ticket.  However, since I had done zero research, I did not realize that you still have to go to a special Disney Kiosk and pick your Fast Pass time slots for specific rides, or that you could even do it online before you even show up.  By the time I figured this out, there were hardly any Fast Passes left for the day.  So if you want to make use of your free Fast Passes at all, I'd recommend reserving them before your trip, or at the very least at the beginning of the day when you visit Disney.  Unless you want to waste it on the teacups, which never have much of a line anyway.




Only Go On Rides We Could Do All Together 

We picked a pretty difficult age to bring our kids to Disney.  We only have one kid who could ride on the bigger rides by himself.  We had three kids who could ride, but they each needed an adult to ride with them because of their ages.  And of course we have one baby who can't ride the bigger rides at all.  If you are doing the math, that means we'd have to go through the line for each ride twice, while taking turns waiting and holding the baby, in order for everyone to get a turn.  We did this with one roller coaster, and getting everyone a turn, even with Fast Passes, took over an hour.  If I were to do it again, I'd just skip the big rides, except maybe a really special one that we didn't get to go on at all (ahem, Splash Mountain), and I'd just focus on all the rides we could all ride together.  There were plenty of them, and I think we all would have had more fun that way.




Focus On The Movie Themed Rides

Our favorite rides in the park were the really simple ones that basically take you through the stories of Disney movies.  We could all ride them together, and the kids (8 years old and younger) were at the best age to enjoy those rides.  We did a couple of them (Little Mermaid, and Winnie The Pooh), but there were a few we missed because we ran out of time.  If we went with the kids at this age again, I'd do all the movie themed rides first!




Leave During The Fireworks

We had grand plans to sneak over to Splash Mountain and try to ride it when everyone was leaving after the fireworks.  To which plan I can only now say...ha!  The line for Splash Mountain was still quite long, and we decided that we didn't want to keep the little ones up another hour while we waited.  So instead we rode the Magic Carpets, and then headed out of the park.  I expected we'd be back at the hotel in time for a late-night swim in the hotel pool, but...no.  We waited for over an hour just in the line to get out of the park.  There was a lot of complaining about sore feet, alot of asking how much longer, and a danger of developing claustrophobia.  And that was just me.  If we did this again with young kids, I'd probably try to beat the crowds to the ferry and leave while the fireworks were still going.  (Of course, I can say this because we ended up missing the fireworks anyway - that whole lost kid thing.)




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Despite a few of the rough patches and lessons learned, I am really glad we did visit Disney!  I think the kids had fun overall, and it'll be fun for them to be able to talk with their little friends who have already visited Disney.  It is just naturally a fun thing to experience in childhood, and I'm glad we got that chance.  It wasn't all bad.  We made plenty of fun memories at Disney too, so I'm tacking on a few things I'm glad we did...

Using The App

The Disney World app tells you all the wait times for the rides, meeting the characters, etc.  I'm so glad we had that, because we were able to get on a few rides when the lines were shorter!

Packing Snacks And Eating At Casey's Corner

We got out of Disney World only spending about $50 on food.  I think that's pretty good for a family of seven!  We packed a ton of snacks in a backpack, and we snacked straight through lunch.  Then when they shut some of the rides down for rain in the evening, we took that opportunity for dinner.  We got two corn dog nugget meals for the kids to split, and Derek and I each got a hotdog.  I think we accidentally found the cheapest restaurant to eat at in Disney, and I'm glad we didn't have to spend an extra $100 on food like I thought we would!



Watching Movies Beforehand And Enjoying The Atmosphere 

Alot of you have seen every single Disney movie, but my poor kids have not.  Alot of them are too scary yet for my particular kids, and we are not as into Disney as alot of people are.  However, I did try to pull out a couple new Disney movies before we went, and I'm glad I did!  One of our favorite parts of the day was visiting the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse.  I bought the movie for our kids to watch on this trip, so when we visited the treehouse at Magic Kingdom my kids were fascinated!  It was also a slower area of the park - so many people are focused on the rides, but alot of the atmospheric elements were just as fun to us!






I don't think we'll be visiting Disney World again in the near future, just because of the distance and expense.  But if we did, I know what to do now!



Disney Experts, now is your chance!  Give me all your additional tips, especially for making the most of Disney with young kids!  

You never know, maybe we'll end up going back sooner than expected!

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