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DISNEY WORLD WITH A TODDLER

September 22, 2013

First of all, I am a big Disney fan. I love how much thought they put into making your visit truly magical. I’m not, however, a Disney Veteran like my Mom and Mother-In-Law. They LOVE Disney and have visited a gazillion times, I’m sure. They know all the ins and outs, every hidden Mickey and the secrets to navigating the parks successfully. I went to Disney with Bryan and Brady a bit of a novice. Normally, I don’t like to plan everything out when we visit Disney (Brady has visited three times prior to this starting when he turned two in February; this was his first overnight stay) but this time I wanted to make sure we made the most of our three day trip.

TipsForDisney

MAGICBANDS: I was excited to find out about Disney’s NEW MagicBands. We were selected (along with a lot of other guests this weekend) to test out this new system. About a week ago, I received a letter in the mail inviting me to personalize our MagicBands and begin planning our Disney Experience online. I chose colors for our bands (they’re really nice rubbery bracelets you wear throughout your stay) pink for me, blue for Bryan and (his favorite) red for Brady. They came in a really nice presentation box with our names on them. But, these bands are really magic. They carry around our resort reservations, FastPasses, dining reservations and even our account information if we’d like to charge purchases to our room. Don’t worry, those things require a secret PIN only we had access to. Overall, they were AWESOME. We could even unlock our room door with them at Disney’s Beach Club!

DISNEY’S BEACH CLUB: Speaking of Disney’s Beach Club… WHAT A PLACE. We are fans for life. When we arrived to our resort, we walked in with a sea of other guests checking in. A cast member approached us and asked me if I was Mrs. Ley. Bewildered, I said yes. And he immediately bent down to shake Brady’s hand. “Welcome to Disney World, Brady!” he said. I cried. Why do I ALWAYS CRY at Disney World!? I’m so impressed by them. But mostly it was Brady’s face that got me. He was excited they knew his name. Our room was wonderful (we got the standard view and it was fine!), the sand bottom pool was bliss and having an ice cream parlor (Beaches & Cream) on the bottom floor is never a bad thing. We took the resort transportation (boat and bus) to and from the parks every day and that was super convenient. More than anything, there’s something magical about staying on property. And because we have annual passes, we got a GREAT rate on our room.

THE “MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE” APP: This app was amazing. I loaded it onto my iPhone and used it throughout our visit to find attractions, book or update FastPasses and make plans. While we were on the bus to Fantasmic on Friday night, I overheard someone say that Disney was now allowing you (if you had a MagicBand!) to book a FastPass for the Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom. We were planning to stay and watch that parade on Saturday night, so I hopped into this app and reserved a FastPass. Because we had this, we were able to have access to a special reserved section right smack in front of the castle on the curb for the big parade. Brady LOVED IT! The parade is late at night and all the dancers and floats are covered in lights. Very fun. For the record, only ride rides when you have FastPasses. Those lines get LONG and we were able to hop right to the front with ours! Brady’s favorite… hands down… It’s a Small World.

SIPPY CUP: Mom-of-the-year here forgot to pack Brady a sippy cup, so the minute we got to the first park we picked one up and filled it with water. Thank goodness because it was HOT. Way warmer than I expected. I even got a little dehydrated on Saturday morning and that was no fun. Brady stayed hydrated and cool with his sippy cup. A good $5 investment.

BAG OF SEMI-HEALTHY TREATS: Brady must be growing or something because he is starving ALL. THE. TIME. In anticipation of “Mama can I have a banana/grapes/raisins/cookie/sandwich/chickennuggets,” I packed his dinosaur backpack with Ella’s Kitchen organic squeeze packs (we like the green ones the best – peas and pears), yogurt raisins, organic fruit strips and these new organic PBJ sammies I found at Target. This was one of the smartest things I did. Disney’s made an incredible effort to offer healthier food choices, but to save a little cash, having these on hand was awesome. And I’m pretty sure he ate every last thing I packed.

BRADY’S STUFFED MICKEY: I don’t know how much longer this trick will last, but we brought Brady’s stuffed Mickey (that he’s had for about a year) with us to Disney World. He got to carry it around from time to time and this helped us avoid any toddler tantrums over must-have stuffed animals that are perfectly positioned outside of EVERY ride and attraction. We did buy him a Donald Duck stuffed animal after he fell in love with DD during Mickey’s Philharmagic, but Mickey got us through two parks successfully. :)

And now that you’ve all seen my happy Disney pics here and on Instagram, here’s a few behind the scenes moments. When traveling with a toddler ANYWHERE, know that there WILL be a giant, harry, hysterical meltdown or two along the way. Especially when they’re overstimulated and overtired. Don’t be surprised if it happens right smack in the middle of your best-made plans. In front of Cinderella’s Castle. Right on top of your perfectly chosen fancy Fast-Pass parade seats. For everyone to see. Pick up the pieces. Life goes on. :)

SO, what tips and tricks do YOU have? We have annual passes, but only take one big trip like this a year. We’re planning on one more one night stay later this Fall plus maybe a few Saturday morning trips. (It’s kinda nice living 1.5 hours away from Orlando!)

xo,

Emily

PS: Thanks, Disney, for crafting incredible memories for families. Watching Brady be brave on the Winnie the Pooh ride (what he calls his “first roller coaster”) and seeing his eyes LIGHT UP as he stalked Donald Duck through our character breakfast at Cape May (culminating in the BIGGEST hug ever) filled my heart to its brim. He hasn’t stopped talking about our experience since we got home.

PPS: Lots of friends have asked where I got Brady’s adorable personalized Disney tee shirts. I ordered them from a sweet gal in my hometown. She has a Facebook page called All Ears Sewtique. I was referred to her by my friend, Heather, after I saw the tees she had made for her precious little girl and their recent Disney trip! :)

 

The Best Kind of Growth

February 26, 2012

Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up so DRAINED that you know SOMETHING has to change. Something has to give…

I woke up like that today. Just exhausted. Just ready to take the bull by the horns and take CONTROL of the noise that seems to float around me all day long.  I say that in the sense that I have SO MANY THINGS going on that its hard to focus sometimes.

When I started my business I took on anything and everything that sounded like a good fit – I spread myself thin quickly. The better I got at my craft, the more opportunities came my way and the more I said YES. I thought that growth for a business happened just like growth happened for plants – one flower, two flower, three flowers – we’re growing!!

YAY RIGHT!? For a while…

Then add other priorities into that mix (family, baby, friends, self, God, etc) and what are you left with? Easily a jumbled mess.

I haven’t made it to the jumbled mess stage yet, but before I did… I knew that there were changes to be made. NOs to be said – though they may be painful. I decided a few weeks ago it was time to prune – like you would a plant (oh wait, we DO grow like plants?) cutting back the extra to allow room for the rest to grow, grow, grow in the purest, best, most authentic ways possible – the things that meant the most to you.

Life is too short to be spread thin.

This feeling started a LONG time ago. And looking back, it’s actually a very powerful, resolved, peaceful feeling. It’s a fierce dedication to what matters most.

Last week I was so conflicted over a few big, big, BIG business decisions that I had to sit down and write an actual pros and cons list. On one side I wrote down all the cons of this big decision… there were about ten cons for if I went this route. And on the pros side, I wrote on… MORE TIME, MORE FOCUS.

Done.

That pro might have well taken up twenty lines. And so the decision was made – after wavering back and forth, shedding a few tears and really struggling with it… it’s done. I feel so at peace with it. And so excited for the direction it is headed, even without me.

I decided to leave the Stationery Academy. I will always and forever love what the Stationery Academy is about and LOVE the girls who are at the helm, but I just couldn’t give it the love and attention it deserved. This year’s Stationery Academy is going to be WONDERFUL and I highly recommend it. Last year’s class is so close and so supportive. It’s a joy to know each of them. This will allow me more time to continue offering private stationery business consulting as well as focus more attention on MBH and the new Emily Ley Paper Shop.

How did I come to this conclusion? Well, another list. I’m a list maker.

One of my favorite parts of Making Things Happen is our YES/NO list. After doing a lot of deep digging exercises and coming to some pretty big conclusions, we do what might seem so simple and easy – we write YES/NO lists. And that’s what I did last week.

I took this giant list and whittled it down into something manageable. Something I could base these big decisions on. And here it is.

I love the concept of the YES/NO list. I’m just going to keep coming back to it every time I get overwhelmed. When all else fails, try one of these. Or heck, before everything fails, try one of these : ) Make decisions, stand firm and move forward. Something my dad used to say to me that stuck with me.

All that being said, I am SO EXCITED about what lies ahead. We’ve made enormous progress with the Simplified Planner – and the next release will knock your socks off. I say WE because I’ve hired an AMAZING (!!!) Assistant Creative Director. More about her soon with a proper introduction. And the ELP shop…. it’s been a long time coming and is going to be GORGEOUS : ) Fully based on the Simplified Collection.

The Making Brands Happen webinars are filling up QUICKLY and kicking off soon – as is our Making Things Happen East Coast tour coming up! It’s going to be an amazing Spring : )

Something that I learned throughout this entire decision making experience… is that sometimes in order to grow, you have to cut back. Sounds silly, but its like pruning plants – cutting back to allow room for pure, good growth.

xo,

Emily

A special SALE to get ready for…. the new ELP SHOP!

February 23, 2012


To prepare for THIS AWESOMENESS, all prints and Simplified Notepads are now 50% off in the Pop Up shop!! Today and tomorrow only! Use code HAPPYDAY at checkout.

xo,

Emily

PS: Have you seen Boatman Geller’s super cute new iPhone covers below. I die. You better believe I will be ordering my own soon.

copyright 2018 emily ley