Friday, June 21, 2013

For Safe Teens On The Road - Drive It Home!

Earlier this week I was able to attend the Rockford, IL Drive It Home event that focused on teen and safe driving. As the mother of three young adults (ages 14-20) none who are driving yet, I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity for us all. Tori, Kirk and I have hit the road a couple of times in the past months for some serious driving practice. It’s scary out there and I was excited to attended and hoped to get a little information on how to keep my precious cargo safe once they hit the road.

Me and My Teen Drivers
As part of it's Drive it Home campaign, the Allstate Foundation Drive It Home Show hit the road, stopping in 14 cities across the country giving parents a fun look at the serious subject of teen driving. The show we attended was held at Rockford College’s Maddox Theater, the event featured performers from the legendary comedy troupe Second City.

We learned several great tips to keep in mind during our own driving practice, such as the need to spend at least 30 minutes each week with each new driver behind  the wheel.

Practice specific skills together and provide teens with calm and useful feedback in the following critical areas:
  • Scanning the road ahead to recognize and respond to hazards.
  • Controlling speed, stopping, turning and following distance.
  • Judging the gap between vehicles in traffic – such as exiting parking lots and left-hand turns.
  • Managing the highest risks, such as night driving and driving with young passengers.

Did you know that only 17% of Illinois parents realize a teen’s lack of driving experience is the top cause of crashes? Parents say it’s very important for their teen to learn a variety of skills behind the wheel, but they just aren’t teaching their kids to manage the highest risk driving situations like rain, and snow or being on the expressway.

What struck me most at the event was the importance of teens learning how to be good passengers as well as good drivers. I know that I’ve heard my son talk about his friends not being good passengers when in the car (Trent, I’m talking to you) and that at times it’s made my my son feel unsafe. It’s important that new drivers have a calm and supportive environment to drive in, because emotion and inexperience can be some of the very most dangerous barriers that they face when it comes to getting home safely in the car.

At driveithome.org, parents can sign up to receive weekly driving practice tips and suggestions via e-mail, and print, discuss and sign a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement. They may roll their eyes, but ultimately it’s better to get everyone’s expectations out there at the beginning so that driving practice in your family will be something to look back on fondly.

You can find more information on safe teen driving at the following resources!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dressing Your Teen Daughters for Walt Disney World

Katie's "Tomboy" Dress
One day last week as my husband and I were sitting upstairs at Columbia Harbor House taking a break the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom I got an idea for a blog post.  It would be titled "What to Wear at Disney: My Daughter vs. Yours"  I know... too snarky, and I couldn't bring myself to snap a candid picture of the young lady that inspired the idea, but she would have been better suited for a beach in Brazil, you probably get the gist.

Over the years I've written many different articles about dressing for Disney on a number of websites, however it never ceases to amaze me what some people wear.  So, here's my little rant on covering your daughters.  Of course it's easier when they're young, and many a Disney loving Mom goes to great time and expense in bedecking them in the very cutest vacation gear, but it only takes minimal observation skills to see that when those young ladies become tweens and teens their mothers give up the good fight and let them pack for themselves.  Please... Moms, Dads... Aunts, Uncles and Guardians of all sorts, please don't give up on your girls, you are still in charge, you are still paying for this fantastic vacation everyone is about to go on, and you still get a say how they look.  

I know that it can be difficult, and I'm not saying that making a teenage girl look respectable won't have its drama (lord knows I get enough with Katie) but I want parents to start fighting back.  Though Disney Parks create a fun and casual environment, Disney Parks are not the beach, and they are not a keg party way down yonder on the Chattahoochee (I love that song, but let's not dress for it).  At around $100 a day to just walk through the front gate, you would think people might get the idea that the Magic Kingdom is nice.  Let's leave something to the imagination and swimsuits for the pool.

Tori Cute Dress
Tori's Casual Princess Attire
So how do you get a typical disengaged teenager in the midst of asserting her independence to get with the program?  Well, like everything else Disney, it can take some serious pre-planning.  If you start planting the seeds of a great wardrobe at least 2-4 months in advance it will help ease everyone into meeting the expectations.

Introduce Your Girls to DisneyBound - Just because your girl has grown up, doesn't mean that they can't dress like their favorite Disney character.  While they can't actually wear costumes in the Parks, one of the hottest new trends is called "Disney Bounding".  Also known as "closet cosplay" DisneyBound outfits use colors and accessories to create daily street wear inspired by all things Disney.  There's a whole blog and pinterest board that inspired the craze.

My girls still love the idea of dressing like their favorites, and with such a broad variety of Disney characters to chose from they can still express their personalities while looking great.  You can get your boys to DisneyBound too!  Talk to your teen about her favorite characters and how they can inspire her vacation outfits!  For a little extra fun, be sure to get her picture with the character that inspired her. 

Visit DisneyBound at http://disneybound.tumblr.com/
and http://pinterest.com/lesliekaydb/disneybound/

Outfit inspired by Finding Nemo's "Peach"
Go Shopping - Help your daughter get excited about the upcoming family vacation by taking her to buy some new clothes.  Before you go, make sure she knows that the bill is on you, as long as she follows some rules. You can set your own rules, just be sure to stick to them once they're in place!  My rules include no plaid, at least one sundress, coordinating colors, and some modesty.

Pay Attention & Teach - I know that one of the best things about having teens is that they can pack for themselves.  But please folks, pay attention to what is going into your kids' suitcase.  You know that saying about "garbage in = garbage out" the same applies when packing for vacation.  Help your kids make a packing list and check it twice.  No one just naturally knows how to pack, it's something that you have to learn and setting your kids up for success by getting them organized with appropriate clothes ahead of time will teach them a skill that they will use for their entire life.

When traveling to Walt Disney World my family's default dress code is "Resort Casual" and that means that everyone should be cool and comfortable, yet still look neat, clean, and put together.  Sometimes, that means a cute sundress and sometimes it's just jeans and a t-shirt - but always it means that clothes match, are in good repair, and no one is showing off too much skin.

This message and these methods have been approved my my teenage girls. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Noms of the Day

This is on the schedule for today...


Fruit Filled Nutella Waffles at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments in the Magic Kingdom.  I'm meeting up this afternoon with a group of girls from a forum I'm on to indulge!  We don't have any meals set in stone on this trip, so I think today will be all about snacking our way through the MK. 

Have you had one of these?  What did you think?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Great Wedding Road Trip Day 2

14 Hours in the car, but we made it to Valdosta, Georgia.  Here are the highlights:
  • Somebody, please introduce Kentucky to the idea of Rest Stops. 
  • I love Tennessee - Well at least driving through it.
  • Geordon bought a pecan log at Stuckeys - He made me pull off the expressway for this. 
  • Geordon did great driving through the mountains, they weren't as big as I remembered them being.
  • Tori saw big Southern Magnolia trees in bloom, very pretty. 
  • We hit Atlanta at 5pm on a Friday Afternoon --HA! Can you say traffic?
  • I had a melt down at a Starbucks and yelled at everyone.
  • We stopped at a gas station that set of the fraud alert on my credit card.
  • The roof of the rental car started leaking during a big thunderstorm, rain inside -- yay.
It was a looooong trip.  But the Drury Inn just off the exit in Valdosta is nice, super clean, and has soft comfy beds.  I slept.  Hoorah for sleep!

3 more hours to Disney!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Great Wedding Road Trip Day 1

Happy Kids in the Car
The Kids Get Crazy Eyes While Gaming on the Road
The first leg of our road trip went well!  It was just a short one (4 hours) but it's been ages since we all traveled together like this.  So far, so good! 

So far I'm really happy with the rental from Enterprise, it drives nicely, everyone is comfy and there was plenty of room for all the luggage.  It's a 2012 Town & Country Mini-Van and the kids are being kept busy with it's duel screen DVD player that they can hook up the Nintendo to and play video games.  Notice the gaming controler in Katie's hand.  That's pretty much what they did the whole way.  On the agenda for tomorrow is a Pirates of the Caribbean Movie Marathon!

I'm also thrilled with our budget so far.  We're pinching pennies on this trip, and I only spent $45 total on lunch AND dinner for the 5 of us.  How?  We got sandwiches from a grocery store for lunch ($20), and stopped at Culvers for $4 snack pack meals for dinner ($23).  I think that the better value was absolutely the Culvers because we all got a big bacon cheeseburger fries and a drink.   I'm still on the tank of gas that I picked up the van with and have about 1/4 tank left. I can't decide if I think the EcoFuel feature is helping or not, but I have it turned on.

We stopped at a Comfort Suites Hotel that I had made a reservation at last month.  I got a pretty good deal by signing up for their rewards program and pre-paying.  It's fairly clean and well maintained.  We've got three beds in the room (which means that Kirk didn't have to sleep on the floor).  The kids took adventage of the indoor pool and sauna,  everyone enjoyed cookies in the lobby.  Free WiFi means that I was able to work and Geordon got his homework done.  Plus -- when we got to the hotel we discovered that they do breakfast in the morning. Score!!  We may try and find another Comfort Suites on Friday night. 

I'm hoping to make it as far as Valdosta, GA or maybe even Lake City, FL if my body cooperates.
Watch Twitter and Instagram for hashtag #GWRT for more of our adventure and I'll try to update again tonight!. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Let's Begin the Great Wedding Road Trip!

Today is the day! I'm so excited that it's finally time to head off on this Great Wedding Road Trip! We still have a couple of small things to take care of before leaving, but by this afternoon we'll be on the road. Hoorah! Yesterday was not without it's drama, and Tropical Storm Andrea is bearing down on the south, but we're all looking forward to having an amazing trip.

Becks& Carlos Headed to FloridaThis is Bekah and Carlos, the happy couple that we're going down to see be married!  SHe tweeted this pic while they were waiting in the airport for their flight.  The first of what I consider to be "my family" to leave for Florida.  She's been just a wee bit excited, as demonstrated by the text I got at 3:35 AM as she left for the airport!!  Yes... just a little excited.  I'm secretly way jealous that they're getting to Disney ahead of me.

I'm attempting to get some work done this morning ... which is obviously not going well if I'm blogging to you.  I think I'm rather distracted, but I can't pick up our car until noon, so I need to do something this morning.  Tori has to work until 1:30, the rest of us will just be driving each other crazy.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Join Me In Rockford and Drive It Home

Hey local readers, I'd love you to join me at the Drive it Home Show, presented by the National Safety Council and Allstate Foundation, Tuesday, June 18, If you have tween, teen, or are concerned about teen driving safety, it will be an informative (and entertaining!) event. Please feel free to share this post with anyone who might like to attend. Details are as follows:

  • What: Drive it Home Show, presented by the National Safety Council and Allstate Foundation
  • When: Tuesday, June 18 from 7pm - 8:15pm
  • Where: Rockford College - Maddox Theater (5050 E State St Rockford, IL 61108)
  • Price: FREE!; no tickets required
  • Parking: Parking is available in surface lots at Rockford College. Patrons should look for Parking Lot B or Parking Lot C West to access the Theatre.

BONUS: You can enter in the sweepstakes at the event for a chance to win gas cards and a brand new car!

If you'd like to attend, click here to register and when checking in, let them know that Clever Girls Collective sent you. Hope to see you there!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

3 Days Left -- Looking at the Weather

The one thing that I'm not looking forward to this trip is that the weather forecast is calling for rain. Okay, okay, it's Florida in the summer I know we're going to get some afternoon showers but come on!  This may (or may not) be tropical storm Andrea.  I'm voting for NOT.  It looks like it's going to be raining for most of our drive down as well, which means that I will have to be a bit more cautious than I might otherwise.

Oh well, this is why you should always check the weather for where you are headed before you leave on your trip. Knowing what Mother Nature may toss your way can help you to be prepared and pack your bags appropriately. There are several places on the internet that you can find weather for your travels, I've been using the forecaster at weather.com where I keep one of my blocks set on Walt Disney World.

Weather Report for #GWRT

Now that I know we'll most likely have more than a few showers I'll be adding some things into my packed bags.

Today I'm headed to the Dollar Store to pick up a bunch of rain ponchos, Zip-loc baggies, and extra socks for the guys. We've got a clothes dryer in our Villa, so I don't think that we'll need to pack extra clothes.   I do need to get some rain gear for my ECV though, because it's not advised to let the steering panel get wet.  If you forget, the good folks at Disney would be more than happy to sell you rain gear once you arrive, however like all things Disney, it's not cheap.

You'll be able to follow more of the Great Wedding Road Trip on Instagram and Twitter at #GWRT

Sunday, June 2, 2013

4 Days Left - Packing Day

Today is packing day!  It's unusual for me to not be packed up before now, I've usually got a pretty good handle on packing about 3 weeks before the trip.  This time, I'm only 4 days ahead.  I'm more than a little panicky but have tried to convince myself that this is what normal, non-OCD travelers do. 


Yes, as late as I may be, I still have a handy dandy packing spreadsheet.  What you see above is my basic packing guide that helps me to coordinate what the family will be wearing.  We don't get matchy matchy, but I do try and make sure that we'll look nice in photos together.  Dressing for Disney in my house is all about the photos.  You can see how I create my spreadsheet in depth in this previous post.

We're driving this time, so we don't have to worry as much about fitting everything into one suitcase under 50 pounds.  The girls however have decided to bring enough pairs of shoes to open their own shoe store.  I think that there are 20 or more pairs of shoes going with us.  Yes, I'm serious, and it boggles the mind.  We've got tennis shoes, sandals/cute flats, flip flops for the pool and wedding shoes.  Someone please tell me that 4 pairs of shoes per person is not all that crazy.

I'm excited to get this project done because it puts us that much closer to hitting the road!