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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Disney Channel Games Finale!

image003A summer of exciting fun is wrapping up on the Disney Channel as the “Disney’s Friend’s for Change Games” conclude this weekend with a half hour special airing on the Disney Channel Sunday, July 31st at 8:30p.m. The Games have been airing for the past five weeks throughout Disney Channel’s Friday, Saturday and Sunday primetime programming as well as recaps Monday nights on Diseny XD. We've been watching in our house as the teen favorites have faced great challenges and competed for the coveted title, while bringing the friends for change program into the spotlight.

The GAMES have attracted over 32 million viewers to promote conservation and the power of coming together with friends and family to make a difference in one's community and the world. Kids and families worldwide have been able to join in the fun by visiting Disney.com/projectgreen, to pledge actions they will take in their own lives that will make a difference and help the planet, and to play online versions of the games.

Which team will take the coveted FAN FAVORITE crown and which team will win the $125,000 charity donation?  Katie's favorite has been the red team and they're currently in the lead! Tune in please to find out if they hold on to that number one position and win the money for their cause, the World Wildlife Fund.

Midway's Old Mill

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Feelin' Fab Friday - My goals

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Welcome to the Feelin' Fab Friday Blog Hop!
Please take a moment and thank each of the hop hosts

As I mentioned not long ago I've been having a terrible attack of the lazies, to be honest it hasn't really gotten any better. Together with a few friends I decided to up my accountability and start checking in with my fitness goals on for a regular Feelin' Fab Friday Blog Hop. It's my hope that this is going to give me that extra boost of motivation I need to get down to business.

I'm registered for Disney's Halloween 5K through Animal Kingdom on October 1st, it's sneaking up fast on me and i'm not ready AT ALL.   I've even considered telling my friend that I just am not going to make it. I mean, it's vacation, right?  Why on earth am I planning on getting up before dawn and walking 3.1 miles?  Because it's fun I tell you!!  Was the convincing?  No, I didn't think so either.  The thing that's *REALLY* bothering me is that I've gained 20 pounds this year, and that just is not acceptable to me.   Weighing in today, I'm 250lbs. My goal weight is to lose that 20 by the end of 2011.  You're my witness, this is going to get done.

I got to the gym twice this week. I rode 5.5 miles on the bike, one day and I walked a mile the next day.  It's Friday so I should be getting to the Y again today, and I'll update the miles when I get back. You can track my progress on Daily Mile.  My healthy tip for today that makes me feel fab is that some exercise is better than no exercise, and exercise with a friend or family member is a lot more fun!  At the very least it means that you'll have someone you can complain to afterwards!  You really just need ten minutes of something new every day to start making a difference in your health.  Walk one day, ride a bike the next, swim, or walk up and down some stairs.   Just get out there and get moving!  You really will start to feel fab.

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Are you Feelin' Fab? Please take a minute to link up your blog post about what makes you feel fab. A couple of friends and I started this hop as a way to share weight loss tips and tricks and just some ways to feel fab each and every day. We certainly hope you're feeling fab while enjoying this weekly hop!!
Just a couple of rules for posting links:
Please post a permalink to your post - not just a link to your site.
Linked posts should be weight loss or fitness related or sharing what makes you feel fab
Links must be family friendly
Please no spam or sales links - they will be removed

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Disney's Senses Salon & Spa isn't just for the Girls

Erik and his Magical StarI'm thrilled to welcome Erik Hilton to the team here at The DVC Mom Blog. Erik was my traveling companion for the May Land/Sea vacation, and is a DVC Owner.  He will be joining our regular team as a gaming and entertainment contributor.  Today he shares his thoughts with you on his first spa experience, which took place at the Disney Cruise Line's award winning Senses Salon & Spa. ~Kristen

Going on my first cruise, I decided to make it all about things I had never experienced. More than just new foods and exotic locations, I booked my very first shave. You have to understand that growing up without a father figure and have bristles that have been compared to porcupine needles; it was a no brainer that I went the route of an electric shaver. Showing up at the spa, I realized that I arrived with two pre-conceived ideas: the first was that I would be getting a shave from a guy and second that the shave was going to be from a straight razor. I guess after years of media induced barbershops, this was how I saw things. So armed with these assumptions, and a few others, I walked in and was pleasantly surprised that none of them held up.

SENSES SPA  SALON - RAINFOREST ROOM ON THE DISNEY DREAM
Rainforest Rooms PhotoCredit: Disney

For all its snooty spa looks, everyone was very friendly… which I chalk up to the wonder of Disney magic. The girls’ behind the desk greeted me with genuine smiles, handed me a robe and showed me to the locker (changing) room. For the record, this was the nicest, cleanest locker I have ever been in, in my life. It was full of beautiful hardwood everywhere, so much so that I was almost too afraid to touch anything. Since I was early for my shave, I tried out the rainforest room which was about 50/50 for me. The room consisted of three aroma-therapy saunas of increasing heat which I enjoyed, three ‘rain’ rooms which I didn’t enjoy at all as the water was just freezing cold, a hot tub/Jacuzzi with an incredible view of the port and island. My favorite thing, however, was these ceramic heated lounge chairs. So relaxing, I think I actually got in a twenty minute nap before they came to get me for my shave.

SENSES SPA  SALON ON THE DISNEY DREAM
Heated Lounges PhotoCredit: Disney

By far, the shave was one of the most relaxing experiences ever; warm towels, ice cold lotions, and gentle massages stand out in my mind. The girl took great care, making sure I was always comfortable and soothed. It was definitely an experience that I would not hesitate to do again. There was only one minor problem, a few hours after my shave that my skin turned bright red and burned for a couple days thereafter. Since I have never had a real shave in my life, up until that point, I don’t really have anything to point at as the cause. Maybe it was the razor, the lotion, the exfoliation, who knows. In the end, I still enjoyed the experience very much and next time I might even drop the extra money for the deluxe shave over the basic.

Please guys, do yourself a favor, if you find yourself on the Disney Dream (or any Disney cruise) please take the time to get pampered and get yourself a real shave.

Erik




Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Burgers & Beaujolais

Last night I had the honor of participating with the Wine Twits in their summer tasting event BURGERS WITH A SIDE OF BEAUJOLAIS!

Georges Duboeuf’s Export Director Yann Bourigault and Chef Bob Waggoner, of PBS’s Ucook with Chef Bob, hosted a live Beaujolais and Burger Event which was streamed out to hundreds of other tastemakers from around the country. Chef Bob will demonstrated three mouthwatering burger creations, and Yann will pair each burger with a fantastic Beaujolais from the cellar of Georges Duboeuf. Tastemakers were encouraged to try out the fabulous burger recipes and pair them with exciting french wines while they tweeted away with other participants across the country.

I found this an exciting opportunity because I don't drink a lot of french wine. I tend to frequent local vineyards and I have some Californian favorites, so this event was going to introduce me to a whole new selection of wines that I wouldn't have normally picked up on my own. The first wine that we tried, and the one that I'll be talking about today is Georges Duboeuf - 2009 Beaujolais-Villages.

Beaujolais-VillagesFrench wines are labeled by appellation, not varietal.  The Beaujolais Villages AOC includes 39 communities in the Haut Beaujolais, which is the northern part of the region. The most common grape grown in Beaujolais is the low tannin Gamay, and makes up 100% of the Georges Duboeuf - 2009 Beaujolais-Villages Wine.  Beaujolais tends to be a very light-bodied red wine, with relatively high amounts of acidity, and this one has an alcohol content of 12.5%.  Beaujolais-Villages is meant to be drunk young.

Tasting Notes Kristen: The deep reddish blue color of the wine is lovely, it has a slightly floral nose that reminded me of a dry meadow. On first sip the high acidity is what struck me most, I found it thin in the mouth, but the flavor rounds out with light red fruits and soft tannins. My impressions of this wine consistently included words like smooth, soft, and rounded. Overall I found it to be a pleasant, easy to drink accompaniment to a meal.

Tasting Notes Geordon: Slighly tannic, but not oaky. That decreased after letting breathe.
Pleasant aroma, but not terribly memorable. Fruity, though rather nondescript on my palate. "soft" flavors. Not harsh or bold, felt like it had rounded edges, rather than hard corners.

Disclaimer: Wine Twits sent me three bottles of Georges Duboeuf wines for the event, with no requirement for a review. Opinions expressed in this post are purely those of the authors. All wine consumed by and tasted entirely by persons over the age of 21. This information is intended for those of legal drinking age, and is for entertainment purposes only. The author advocates moderation and caution when drinking and this Wine Wednesday is in no way intended to promote binge-drinking, alcoholism, underage drinking, hazing, drunk driving, or any other form of alcohol abuse.





A Sleeping Beauty

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Focused on the Magic


I'm still wishing... east coast or west I'm a sucker for a Disney Castle and love taking pictures of them.  I've read discussions on fan boards over which castle is the best and why one is better than the other.  I think that each and every Disney castle is full of it's own unique magic and it's unique beauty with more than enough pixie dust to spread around.  How to do feel about the Disney Castles? Do you have a favorite?


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

RN’t You Glad I Graduated?! Day by Day Plans

Deeper into her planning today Becks share her day by day  for her coming August Disney Vacation.   ~Kristen
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Since I am currently in the graduate nurse purgatory known as “waiting to take my boards” (read – unemployed) and Carlos has vacation time to burn our itinerary currently looks like this:

1 Day Before – The Imp is flying out to California. Once he’s underway, I’ll finish up any extraneous packing or errands and look forward to my sweetie getting home from a short work trip.

IMG_0199Day 1 – Getting the show on the road – Since C has a comp day after business trips, our time is now our own! I will no doubt be like the dad in the Disney commercial “Can’t sleep. I’m too excited.”  I’d like to be on the road reasonably early – maybe 8:00 am?  After dropping the cat off with C’s parents, we’ll be traveling down I-65 through Indianapolis and continuing to Louisville where we’ll stop for an early dinner at one of my childhood favorites, The Old Spaghetti Factory. After dinner we’ll continue on I-65 towards Nashville, picking up I-24 towards Chattanooga. Depending on how we’re feeling, what traffic is like and whether Venus has aligned with Jupiter we will either stop near Nashville or push on farther south towards Murfreesboro. In the morning, we’ll continue on I-24 to Chattanooga and pick up I-75 through Georgia.

Day 2 – Hotlanta and points south – Depending on where we’ve stopped for the night, we should be no more than 4 hours from Atlanta. We’ll be stopping off for some shopping and lunch before our next section of driving, continuing on down I-75 towards Valdosta. I confess that I don’t have pleasant memories of this part of Georgia. On my last Disney road trip, we finished 18 hours on the road in Tifton, GA when my brain abruptly decided that I couldn’t drive one more mile. It was Christmas night and not a single solitary restaurant was open for business save the Awful Waffle (aka Waffle House) and a decidedly fishy smelling Chinese buffet. I am allergic to seafood so we ended up eating some truly revolting microwave cheeseburgers, chips and soda from a gas station. In retrospect, I admit this was incredibly poor planning on my part. Even Denny’s closes on Christmas! In any event, I recall the landscape was fairly uninspiring with a lot of scrub pine, sand, kudzu vine and not too much else. I’ll be just as happy to get through this part as expeditiously as possible. Four to five hours of driving should put us within striking distance of either Valdosta or Lake City, Florida.  Here’s hoping Georgia and I can kiss and make up.

Day 3 – We’re HERE!

Only a few more hours to go! Depending on when we arrive in the Orlando area, we’ll probably stop at Downtown Disney to lunch with His Excellency, The Earl of Sandwich followed by a grocery/sundries run prior to checking in at Pop Century. After arriving at Pop, I’ll be picking up our swap fridge from Luggage Services and by then we’ll both be ready for a nap. We have an ADR for Crystal Palace at 8:00 pm and it’s an Extra Magic Hours night for the Magic Kingdom. It’s also our engage-versary – C proposed to me a year ago tonight and made my dreams come true.

Disney Wedding Chapel
Day 4 – Hippo birdies to me!

It’s mah birfday! Let’s….sleep in! No seriously, since I’m the birthday girl AND the bride-to-be, I’m dragging my dearest darling fiancĂ© over to Franck’s Studio and the Wedding Pavilion bright and early! Hopefully we won’t be gate crashing any weddings and can take our first in-person look at the space where we’ll be married.

This part needs a little back story. Kristen and I have been friends for ten years and one of the first things we clicked over was our massive love for Disney. However, despite tremendous struggles and massive effort we have YET to be at Disney together. Our latest near miss was this year during the Disney Social Media Mom’s Conference and the Disney Fairy Tale Weddings Showcase. I was supposed to be attending as Kristen’s guest but academic obligations in the form of a comprehensive nursing test I absolutely had to take meant that I couldn’t attend at the last minute. I was utterly dejected – it wasn’t about staying at the Grand Floridian and the perks and the stuff to me. It was about not getting to experience all of this with the best friend I’ve ever had, whose been there for me so many times, whose pulled my butt out of the fire more than once and who has never stopped cheering me on. That’s what really broke my heart. I wanted to be able to see the Wedding Pavilion for the first time with her and really be able to go celebrate being a bride and our friendship and what she means to me. I would have liked that but its okay; I’ll see it for the first time with the person I want to spend my forever with. And that feels just right.

I’m really excited about our visit to the Bridal Studio as well. I’m a visual/tactile gal and I’m looking forward to seeing the sample cakes and playing with the bouquets and all the little touches that makes Disney Weddings …well…Disney! I don’t know where we’ll go after our visit. Maybe over to the Grand Floridian to see the Commander’s Terrace? Maybe brunch at Kona CafĂ© or the Grand Floridian Cafe?

Tonight we’re “auditioning” Yachtsman’s Steakhouse for our wedding dinner as we celebrate my birthday. I’ve heard lots of good things about this restaurant and I’m hoping it lives up to its reputation. I’m hoping to book the semi-private dining area for our wedding. I want to get a good look in order to get ideas for centerpieces, etc.

Day 5 – Score!

This morning, I think we are going to head over to Hollywood Studios. Since they had EMH last night, I’m hoping the park won’t be too crowded in the morning. We gave this park something like a whistle stop tour last year and spent most of our time at Epcot and Magic Kingdom. We haven’t yet been on Toy Story Mania and Star Tours is new this year as well. C historically trashes me in video games and so I’m prepared to get trounced on TSMM. Originally, I had planned dinner at Le Chefs De France but I’m leaning towards doing an “Eat Around The World” instead. I’ve found some interesting “rules” for this game on a few websites.  Epcot has EMH tonight so we’ll watching Illuminations and hanging out for the evening.

Day 6 – Jambo means hello

No doubt we’ll be sleeping in after our late night. Nothing definite planned today and we have an ADR at Boma for dinner. I think this would be a great opportunity to explore the beautiful Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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Day 7 – A Fantasmic Finish

This is our last full day at Pop Century so we’ll be starting to pack up this morning. Tonight we’ll be having an early dinner at The Hollywood Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios and then seeing Fantasmic after. The Brown Derby is the one place C requested when I was making our ADR’s and I’m hoping it doesn’t let me down.

Day 8 – Oh noes!
Its departure day and I have a confession to make. I bought our tickets before the price increase took effect earlier this summer. I should have bought 5 day tickets, but I goofed and bought 6 day tickets instead. (Apparently I can graduate from nursing school but I still can’t count.) The silver lining is that our KTTW cards will allow us to go to Extra Magic Hours at MK tonight if we’d like, but we’ll need to find a place to stay for the night. I’d like to try an offsite hotel called the Buena Vista Suites since it’s one I’m thinking of suggesting to family who don’t want to stay onsite for our wedding.

Days 9 and 10 – East or west, home is best!

Time to hit the road. We have to be back in town by 8:00 pm on Day 10 in order to pick up the Imp at the airport and collect the cat from the ‘rents.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Christmas At Sea

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Photo Credit : Disney
Hi and welcome to the Disney Christmas in July Blog Hop!  
If you're joining me from Mama of All Trades, Welcome!

Are you tired of being the family’s happy hostess? Ready to get away from it all and let someone else do all the work? Does the thought of one more winter with the car buried in snow make you cringe? Have I got a great way to spend the Holiday for you decked to the “raft-ers” with holiday cheer.

The Disney Cruise Line goes out of it’s way to make your holiday the most magical ever. From your first night onboard you’ll feel the magic of the holiday season all around you. A special tree lighting ceremony takes place in the atrium lobby, which becomes filled with Christmas carolers, and Disney characters dressed in their holiday best, as one special family throws the switch to light the tree snow flurries start to fall down through the air. Through the cruise you can take part in several themed activities like candy cane making, story time with Mrs. Clause, you can even design and decorate your own gingerbread houses.

Don’t worry, you won’t miss your traditional Christmas dinner when traditional Christmas feasts are thrown in the ships' themed dining rooms.  On Christmas morning, you will find Santa and his elves holding court at the main Atrium Christmas tree with special surprises for all the kids, cookies, and milk. For those cruises stopping at Disney’s private island Castaway Cay, you’ll find the island is decorated with a festive feel complete with snow flurries and decorated trees.

Disney’s Holiday sailings are very popular, so don’t waist a minute before you book your magical escape. If you’re ready to take it easy this Holiday Season and let Mickey do the work, The Disney Cruise Line has several options for your Holiday Cruising Fun:

  • Disney Dream - 4 Night Holiday cruise on Dec. 22 to Castaway Cay and Nassau, Bahamas.
  • Disney Magic - 6 Night Caribbean Christmas cruise departing Dec. 24, with visits to Cozumel, Key West and Castaway Cay.
  • Disney Wonder - 8 Night Holiday cruise departing Dec. 18, with a Mexican Riviera itinerary calling at Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas

To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, guests can visit disneycruise.com, call Disney Cruise Line at 888/DCL-2500 or contact their travel agent.

But wait!! What would be Christmas without presents!? To celebrate Christmas at Sea I’ve got a little cruise themed giveaway just for you! One of the best souvenirs I’ve ever bought in the parks in this little card case. It’s the perfect size to keep my credit card, ID and a little cash. The perfect grab and go container for a girl on the run. When I was on Castaway Cay this Spring I picked one up just for you. In addition you’ll receive the 2011 Official Disney Cruise Line Guide to help plan your cruise vacation, and a lovely picture of Walt Disney enjoying a cruise.

Winner will be picked using Random.org on August 8th, 2011.  To Enter:
  • Leave a comment telling me where you would most want to spend Christmas *mandatory*
  • Like me on Facebook at DVC Mom Traveler, and leave a comment saying we’re friends. (1 entry)
  • Follow me on Twitter @DVCMom, then leave me a comment with your twitter name. (1 entry)
  • Tweet about this giveaway then come back and leave me a link. (1 entry daily)
Contest is now Closed
JackieWins

Thanks for visiting the Disney Christmas in July Blog Hop!  
Hop on over to see what Babes in Disneyland has in store for you next!




Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Tiki Gods

Tropical Rooftop

Enchanted Tiki Room Queue

Tiki Trio

Island Fire

Tiki

Tiki detail on a roof

Tiki love

Jungle Cruise Queue Flora

Tiki Snot?




Friday, July 22, 2011

WDW Parkhoppers Podcast Episode #4

WDWParkhoppers125x125I'm so thrilled to be part of the WDW Parkhoppers Podcast today in episode #4.  I had a blast taping the episode and hope that you enjoy hearing some of my thoughts and opinions on a wide variety of things Disney.  Stop by and give it a listen at WDWParkhoppers.com, leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

RN’t You Glad I Graduated?!

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Me & Becks in Wisconsin
posing with the wrong mouse. 
I am so excited to welcome Bekah Pierce (soon to be Monzon) to the team here at The DVC Mom Blog.   A close friend for 10 years, Bekah and I have spent more than our fair share of time geeking out over the vast Disney Universe.   I am beyond excited to say that she has agreed to share her adventure through trip reports and restaurant reviews during her up-coming August Disney Vacation.  So put your virtual hands together and Tweet out a Disney-riffic welcome to Becks! ~Kristen

Who’s going?

Becks (That’s me!) 35 (turning 36) Graduate nurse, encore bride-to-be, mom of a teenager, main trip planner and fledgling trip reporter. I’ve lived in the big city for over a decade but grew up in California riding horses and chasing cows around, I’m shy but I’ll talk your ear off, my favorite color is pink but I’m not prissy and of course, I love me some Disney.  

C (34) - Computer dude, love of my life, future husband and general all around wonderful guy. Unashamedly cries at the end of Disney movies, is a veteran business traveler, doesn’t like to drive at night, can sleep literally anywhere, makes killer limeade and is a freakishly cheerful morning person – except on vacation. He gives me a giant hug and kiss first thing every morning. (I love that!) He’d also trip me in a race to be first in line at Earl of Sandwich – but he’d save me a spot so I guess that’s okay.

As one of our tram guides put it last summer – we’re the snooze button pushers. When we’re at Disney, we take it easy. We like to sleep in, we park in the back of the lot and we don’t do breakfast ADR’s. I have only ever seen the Welcome Ceremony at Magic Kingdom by accident! Evening Extra Magic Hours are where it’s at for us and I organize most of our dinners and touring plans around them.

Whose NOT Going

The Imp (13) Mostly darling son and typical surly teen-ager. He’s passionately devoted to his Xbox 360, Gears of War and all things HALO. He tries to hide the fact that he’s pretty darn smart and loves to read. He’s a mess and he eats everything in sight but he’s ours and we love him like crazy, even when he’s ticking us off. I am unashamedly shipping him off to California to spend time with his grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins.

 Why This Trip is Special

Hmm, let’s see…it’s my birthday and we’re getting married next year and OH YEAH! I graduated from nursing school in May. Finally! So this is our birthday/wedding planning/graduation trip. It’s also the first time C. and I have really traveled together just the two of us. I’m wavering between periods of “Yes! No kid!” and “I’m a bad mom for not taking him!”

First Time Stuff
This will be:
·      Our first time at Pop Century
·      Our first time participating in a ‘fridge swap
·      Our first visit to the Wedding Pavilion and Bridal Studio (Squee!)
·      Our first time eating at Yachtsman’s Steakhouse (likely venue for our wedding dinner), Crystal Palace and the “Nosh Heard Round the World.”
·      C’s first time at the Brown Derby and Fantasmic.

The Plan So Far…

This whole escapade got started when I received a Disney Pin Code email back in October. I was slogging my way through a truly hideous psychiatric & mental health nursing rotation and my spirits were lower than a well-diggers shoe. I remember sitting at my desk, reading the email and shrieking, “Why does Disney mock me so?! My birthday week is one of the dates for this pin code!” C, ever the calm voice of reason in my world, simply said,“Email Wendy and book it. We’re going.” (Wendy is our utterly fabulous travel agent at Magical Journeys. She rawks.) Two emails later – done. Reservations made for 2 adults at Pop Century for 5 nights.

Usually for a trip like this we would fly down. However, as the summer schedule was released on Southwest, I just wasn’t thrilled by the prices on the flights. Last summer I got tickets for all three of us for roughly the same dates for $600; this summer I was looking at $500 for just the two of us! We enjoyed the flexibility of having a rental car on our last visit so we’ve decided to drive down. C is the veteran of many Florida road trips in his childhood and I’ve done it once before. It’s a long drive but I found that I truly enjoyed it. In all honesty, it’s one of the only good memories I have of my ex-husband -  proof that Disney really can make anything magical! 

~ Becks 



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I'm wishing... wordless wednesday

Castle w/ Reflection

Focused on the Magic



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Aulani Magic

Disney has released it's first commercial for the much anticipated Disney Resort & Spa on Oahu, Hawaii, called Aulani. This jewel in the crown of Disney vacation experiences offers a family friendly resort & spa, state of the art convention center, unique Disney Weddings, and beautiful Disney Vacation CLub Villas. Aulani is all about local traditions and story telling, embracing the culture and people of Hawaii where the spirit of giving lives on.



Aloha...


Monday, July 18, 2011

Midwest Mom Media summit 2011

As promised, a guest post by Geordon, Hurricanedad411.

First, I am very glad that I attended this conference. There was a lot of good and pertinent information that is coming out that day, related to engaging and being engaged by news media and brand representatives. I didn’t take a huge amount of notes, but there is the #bbsummit11 hash tag that was used to live-tweet the event, and @DVCMom was typing away at her list of notes.

Second, I was amazingly outnumbered, being one of about 10 men total in the room. Most of the other men were brand representatives, so they don't exactly count as conference participants. It was an interesting and eye-opening experience being the minority. As a white man, that doesn't happen very often. Not only was I outnumbered as a man, but also as a blogger who doesn't focus on raising kids, parenting, and product-related posts. My blog is mostly about emergency preparedness for a family (and "regular folks") which is a niche within a niche. There was nothing that anyone did or said that made me feel unwelcome or unwanted, which I was grateful for.

The most interesting thing to me was the speaker who talked about engaging news media. Thank you, @NancyLoo, for some really useful suggestions. Since I am interested in getting my message out to the public, I think that the information that you offered will be directly useful come National Preparedness Month later this year.

Sarah Evans (@prsarahevans, website) spoke in some depth about the rules for disclosing compensation and how it impacts and involves bloggers. I am grateful for her thoughts on blanket disclosures, as well as "negative" disclosures, since that's how I had my blog set up: I had a disclosure statement that tells readers that I am not compensated for my postings or product mentions unless I state otherwise.

The rest of the afternoon, when the networking time is up, will be taken up with a discussion about "Taking the Stage". Miss Lori (@misslori) was rather adamant that we owe it to ourselves to be bold in how we present ourselves, rather than being wall-flowers (like I was at the conference). She had great things to say about presenting ourselves to others, and how to get the inner desire to show in our outward expressions.

I would especially like to thank Tara P (@3psmama, website), Melissa (@SippyCupMom, website), Kelly (@KellysLuckyYou, website) and Xenia (@thxmailcarrier, website) for being so friendly, encouraging, and welcoming to a total stranger who was lost and confused.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lessons from the 2011 Brands and Bloggers Summit

Yesterday Hurricane Dad and I attended the Midwest Moms Media Brands and Bloggers Summit at the lovely Double Tree Hotel in Chicago, IL. It was a fantastic conference and a day that was completely packed with useful information from leaders in the blogging community. As a new blogger, and not a “Mom”, Hurricane Dad also gained some a unique knowledge from the experience and has offered a guest post to share which I will post later.

I came away with a new appreciation for myself, my blog, and a confidence in staying true to the things that I believe in. It can be easy as a new blogger hoping to work with brands to be dazzled when a brand or network asks you to review their product or attend their event. The compliment and excitement of being the one that they want can seriously overshadow common sense and you can get lost in the process. The speakers at the conference nailed home the idea that my voice as a blogger is important, and that my time is valuable, not something to just be given away.

The confirmation I received yesterday that I need to stay true to myself and the brands that I love came at a very good time. With the support of the other bloggers at the table I made the choice to leave a network that I had recently joined, but wasn’t sure was a good fit. The network offered me a certain amount of exposure, however in return I had to tweet (a lot) about products that I had no connection with. In addition, several other Disney bloggers were in the same network, which was creating a flood of identical tweets in the twitter stream about products and services that didn’t have anything to do with our primary focus. I was annoying myself with the requirements of the network, I’m sure that my followers weren’t enjoying it any more. This morning I sent them a letter saying that I no longer felt I could participate.

I promise that in the future I will be much more thoughtful in my advertising connections. The DVC Mom Blog is moving forward and in doing so I hope to share with you, my readers, a broader selection of experiences reflecting a standard that I can be proud of.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pretty Nassau

Welcome to the Bahamas

Nassau, Bahamas



Supreme  Court

Near Queen's Staircase

Ahhh... chill out

Palm Tree!

Lighthouse

This was a very challenging photo story for me to put together, and perhaps even misleading. Nassau is a dirty, gritty, (for me scary) place where lovely pink government buildings sit right next to blocks and blocks of ruins. Rush hour traffic jams wind through housing areas that have no electricity or running water. It was a very surreal place to visit and took me out of my Disneyfied comfort zone. The zoo, was perhaps the saddest place that I had ever visited.


Friday, July 15, 2011

A long week...

It’s been awhile since I’ve made a general life post.  That’s probably because things have been just swimming along nicely. However this week, I have had a very long week and I just need to vent a bit.  

Way to exciting activities have included the following comeuppance . Finances were already tight, then the power went out for 24 hours causing an unexpected hotel night and the loss of everything in the fridge.  We had to quickly obtain non-existent documents to get my daughter a state ID so she could start her job, then her employment was in question after the second day due to a mistake in the grant the company was given.  My husband had a lung doctor appointment from his March hospital stay.  I was faced with a serious infection and medication to fix it that has left me feeling ill.  My ex-husband got the date of my son’s return home wrong.  AND Geordon and I have a Blog conference to attend on Saturday in Chicago.   Oy vey… it’s been a very long week.

Tonight however things are feeling more stable.   The power is on, and for the most part I’ve caught up the bills (mostly).  I canceled my hotel for Chicago when DH and I decided to day-trip to the conference.  Victoria is an “official” adult with state ID, a voters registration card, and tax paperwork on file with her employer.  The employer, who decided to keep her on staff even though they lost the grant that they were paying her with.   I got the date straightened out for Kirk to come home and everyone is happy with it.  I went to the spa and got my nails done, my toes no longer look like zombie toes with purple pirate nails and have returned to my beloved OPI Bogada Blackberry.  This gave me time to think about nothing but myself and talk vacation.  The spot that I had which had gotten infected looks fantastic and is healing in a healthy and quick manner.  As of Thursday night, though I still feel icky, I feel less icky than the last three or four days. I poured myself a glass of wine, and was able to chill out on the couch for a much earned relaxing evening.

Thank god it’s Friday, I think I’ll take the family out to see Harry Potter.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa

In march of 2009 my husband (Hurricane Dad) and I took our very first vacation with the Disney Vacation Club.  Though we had purchased our points at Animal Kingdom Lodge, we were given a number of developer points for our first year that had to be used at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort.  At the time, after reading mixed reviews, I was not real happy about the restriction.  However I must say staying at this Resort removed all doubt to it's beauty and quality.  I wasn't blogging back then, but this week I went through all of my pictures to try and put together a small look at this lovely and sometimes maligned Disney Vacation Club Property.

SSR Tower SSR Main Pool
Saratoga Spring Lake
Artists' Palette Entryway Statue

Because it's not connected to one of the theme parks Disney's Saratoga Spring  Resort and Spa is a sprawling, laid back and relaxed property that includes the villas and the treehouses.  The graceful buildings and landscape of rolling hills is designed to transport guests up north to the legendary "late-1800s New York retreat famous for its spas and horse racing."  Sitting across the lake from Downtown Disney the property is both removed from the hustle and bustle, and yet right next to the action.  The perfect retreat for a couple on their own, this resort offers to luxury pools, 18 holes of golf on the Lake Buena Vista course, a full service spa, and some fabulous dining at the Turf Club.  Guests can also hop on the ferry to be transported across the lake for an evening of shopping and entertainment.  This would be the perfect resort for a dedicated runner to stay at with a great 3 mile loop around the lake.

SSR Congress Park
SSR Replica Fountain Lake View from Congress Park

After reading through several Disney message boards I had requested a room in the Congress Park building, and was thrilled to find out home away from home located there.  The location was a pleasure, in the middle of the bus routes we never had to wait very long, or a problem getting where we were going easily.  It was also just a short walk up to the main buildings for shopping, food, or to catch the boat down the river.  The view from Congress Park was way more than I could have expected.  Our first floor room overlooked gardens with the lake beyond, and when the sun went down at night we had a spectacular view of the Empress Lily (known these days as Fulton's Crab House) all aglow in sparkling lights.  

SSR Studio Bed & Sitting Area
SSR Studio Kitchenette SSR Studio View into room

The 355 square foot Studios at Saratoga Springs, like most DVC Studios are extremely comfortable for two adults.  You are allowed to have a maximum of four guests plus one child under age 3 in a crib.  However I like to have some space in my room, so I wouldn't stay in a studio if I were traveling with more than three people. As is standard for DVC Studios, there is a queen size bed and a double sleeper sofa.   A table and chairs pushed against the wall are near ample outlets and a high speed internet connection, you can likely find the ethernet cable in the closet.  The Studio offers a kitchenette with a sink, microwave, coffee pot and dorm fridge.  There is ample closet space and a standard bathroom with a separate vanity area so that more than one person can get ready at the same time.


Towel BirdOf course, no Disney room is complete without it's adorable towel animals. This little bird welcomed us home to enjoy our very first DVC experience.   We were delighted with our stay at Saratoga Springs and simply blown away by the level of customer service we received when our vacation hit a snag.  The magic of Disney is alive and well with these cast members who went above and beyond to make our stay go smoothly.