Thursday, February 25, 2016

Her First Bike

So, this happened the other day. Apparently the other day when the weather was actually chilly. Great Grandma found this here Minnie bike for a few bucks at the Salvation Army. And, we all know a Great Grandma can't resist the spoiling of the great grandbabes.
Sweet Turtle Soup - Her First Big Girl Bike
The only place she has to ride it is on this little patch of back deck. But, that doesn't stop her from getting on it every day and practicing. It was a lot of breaking instead of pedaling, and a complete lack of steering at first. 
Sweet Turtle Soup - Her First Big Girl Bike
Slowly but surely she got the hang of it while mom or dad followed along giving pointers and pushes and foot placement help and turning the whole thing around when she pedaled into the wall or plants.
Sweet Turtle Soup - Her First Big Girl Bike
 After a few days of practice, she really got the hang of it.
Sweet Turtle Soup - Her First Big Girl Bike
And she has been biking in tiny circles ever since!
Sweet Turtle Soup - Her First Big Girl Bike

Here she is in action:


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tips For Planning Your Next Disney World Vacation with Young Children: when to go & where to stay

Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Tips

When will you visit?
This is very dependent on when you can visit. When do you have the ability to take vacation time? How busy or free are your schedules? Your children's schedules? Do you want to stay during the off season for the best prices? What dates can you realistically visit? etc.

If you have a lot of flexibility in when you can visit Disney World, then you need to ask yourself what do you want to do while you are there?

  • Do you have your heart set on walking down Main Street USA lined with Autumn decorations and Mickey pumpkins? - go in September or October. 
  • Does the thought of Cinderella's Castle lit up for Christmas make your heart happy? - go in November or December.
  • Do you want to go when the crowds are at their lowest? - try February or September. 
  • Do you want to eat your way around Epcot during the popular Food & Wine Festival? - go from September through November. 
  • Do you want to avoid the Florida heat? - you'll be hard pressed to find nicer weather than Florida in January or February.

After you figure out when you can travel and what you would enjoy doing on your trip then you can narrow down your vacation dates.

Keep in mind that Disney World runs specials on resorts and dining throughout the year. For example, you may be able to book a resort stay for 25% off during certain days this spring at qualifying resorts. Or, usually in the fall you can book a resort stay and receive the Disney Dining Plan for free - this is hugely popular and books up quickly, but it hasn't been announced for 2016 yet. If you are trying to get the biggest bang for your buck consider taking your vacation during an offered promotion.

Here are a few helpful websites to help you plan your dates:

Where will you stay?
In my opinion, you cannot beat a stay on Disney property at one of the many resorts. We've stayed as a family at The Boardwalk, Fort Wilderness campground, and Wilderness Lodge. The first thing you should ask yourself is what is your highest priority when it comes to your resort - budget, location, theme, transportation availability, amenities, pool size, etc?

The majority of my advice speaks on resort location because that is how we've prioritized our resort stays. When we stayed at The Boardwalk we were attending a wedding, so we wanted to be right there. When we stayed at Fort Wilderness campgrounds we wanted to see how camping was at Disney World. When we stayed at Wilderness Lodge we wanted to be close to Magic Kingdom because it is Aria's favorite, but we also took into consideration that it was Christmas time and the holiday decorations at Wilderness Lodge make my heart happy. As soon as we stayed there it became my favorite Disney World resort - I've also stayed at Pop Century, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans - Riverside, and The Polynesian before I married my husband.

With a child or more in tow you'll probably want to spend a good chunk of your time at Magic Kingdom. It's the park with the most to offer young children. Consider staying on the monorail loop - The Contemporary, The Polynesian, or The Grand Floridian. Or, a resort that has a boat to the Magic Kingdom - The Contemporary, The Polynesian, or The Grand Floridian as well as Fort Wilderness, and Wilderness Lodge. We absolutely loved the convenience of taking a short boat ride to Magic Kingdom from Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness. However, the boats don't operate until 30 minutes before park opening which disappointingly never got us to Magic Kingdom in time for the welcome show. I think that is a huge flaw in the boat system, and definitely something to think about when planning a Disney World vacation. If you aren't antsy to be at Magic Kingdom precisely at opening then it might not be a big deal to you. If you however want to maximize those key early hours where the crowd levels are low and the line waits are short then you might want to rethink a stay at Fort Wilderness or Wilderness Lodge. You can of course also take a bus, but you are paying for that close proximity to Magic Kingdom. You can take a bus from anywhere. For Aria's 3rd Birthday Disney trip we called Wilderness Lodge home and since we already knew the boats were less than ideal to get you to Magic Kingdom early we didn't sweat it.

Or, maybe you want to be close to Epcot instead. You like the idea of taking a quick boat ride or even a short walk to the back entrance (or the international gateway) of Epcot and being able to get a bite to eat at the many many World Showcase restaurants and food stands. Are your plans revolving around enjoying the Food & Wine Festival or the Flower & Garden Festival? Then consider staying at The Boardwalk, The Beach Club, The Yacht Club, or the Swan/Dolphin Resort. For Aria's very first resort stay we called The Boardwalk home and we walked over to Epcot almost every evening after spending our morning at one of the other parks. It was absolutely glorious.

I wouldn't personally prioritize resort location near Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom because they don't have quite the same draw as Magic Kingdom or Epcot for our family. You can also take a quick boat ride or a short walk to Hollywood Studios from The Boardwalk, The Beach Club, The Yacht Club, or the Swan/Dolphin Resort. Animal Kingdom Lodge, Coronado Springs, and the 3 All Star Resorts are closest to Animal Kingdom, but there are no boats and it is not walkable. That isn't to say you shouldn't stay at any of those resorts. Personally the Animal Kingdom Lodge is high on my resort wish list, but that is so that I can have a balcony looking out on animals not because it is near Animal Kingdom.

Something else important to ask yourself when deciding on a Disney World resort is how much time will you be spending at your resort. If you are only wanting a place to sleep at night before and after spending nearly all of your time at the parks, then spending a large chunk of cash on your resort might not be the wisest use of your money. You can stay at Pop Century or Art of Animation at a much more reasonable price point. But, if you want to take afternoons back at your resort and spend a day or two at the pools or take advantage of all the amenities that come with your resort then staying at a moderate or deluxe level resort might be a great fit for you.

If you want to immerse yourself in a certain resort theme be sure to check out all the different resorts to choose from at Walt Disney World. The Boardwalk is like staying on the Atlantic coast at the turn of the century. It has a carnival themed main pool, many dining options, and even nightlife in the form of a dance hall and piano bar. The Fort Wilderness campground is like a stay in the wild American frontier. It has a large pool with slide, the favorite Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue restaurant, horses, and golf cart rentals. The Wilderness Lodge is like staying at an early 20th century National Park lodge in the Pacific Northwest. It has one of my favorite pools, a huge fireplace complete with rocking chairs, and a geyser. There's a little something for everyone!

You can check out each of our Walt Disney World resort stays here!

The Boardwalk

Fort Wilderness

Wilderness Lodge

And, here are a few more links to help you with all your planning needs:

If you have any questions I'm always happy to chat about Disney World! Shoot me an email (sweetturtlesoup@gmail.com), or leave a comment and I will help to the best of my ability.


You may also be interested in this post on packing for a day at the parks with a toddler:
http://sweet-turtle-soup.blogspot.com/2015/02/what-i-pack-for-trip-to-disney-with.html


Monday, February 22, 2016

$10 at Target - February, PLUS A Giveaway!

Welcome to the first link up for the $10 at Target challenge! It's simple enough to join in - take yourself to Target with 10 bucks of fun money and see what you can find. Then take a picture of your haul and let us know if you came in on budget by linking up below.
Sweet Turtle Soup: $10 at Target - February, PLUS A Giveaway!
Becky at bybmg // Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest
Elizabeth at Chasin' Mason // Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest
Stephanie at Wife Mommy Me // Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest

Last month my goal was to enjoy the experience and find a few fun things. We wandered around the store for a long time before landing on the right combo of items. This month I wanted to see what I could find in the clearance clothing racks. Aria and dad went off to the toy aisles and I took my time looking through all the discounts. I ended up liking a pair of yoga pants and a long sleeve top, both around 9. I decided on the pants and then went over to the dollar spot to find something fun to use up the last buck.
Sweet Turtle Soup: $10 at Target - February, PLUS A Giveaway!
So, what did it all end up costing?
Sweet Turtle Soup: $10 at Target - February, PLUS A Giveaway!
$10.10! One penny more than last time. I'd be terrible at the price is right.

Now for the giveaway! In honor of Becky's Birthday and Blogversary we've teamed up to give away 6 $10 Target gift cards. Just enter via the widget below. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sweet Turtle Soup


If you joined in with us for this month's $10 at Target challenge please link up below. And, mark your calendars for the next challenge link up on March 21st.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Oh Hey, It's Five on Friday: Sick, Sunshine & TTBH

Happy Friday! I've got 5 this week.

ONE - Sick, sick, sick
Sweet Turtle Soup - Oh Hey, It's Five on Friday: Sick, Sunshine & TTBH
This month has flown by as we've been under the haze of another round of illness. Aria picked something up, and next thing I know I'm down for the count as well. While Aria's was the light version mine was the double whammy version. Hers has finally run its course, and I'm just waiting for my nose and cough to get the memo that they are unwanted.

TWO - Sunshine
Sweet Turtle Soup - Oh Hey, It's Five on Friday: Sick, Sunshine & TTBH
Aria is pleased that the weather has been sunshine and 70s this week. It's been warm enough for one of her favorite activities. Playing in the hose! She's been out on the back porch all week and in the yard making a lovely mud hole for herself.

THREE - The Pioneer Woman
Aria and I have been having an almost daily Pioneer Woman date. It's been a nice break in the afternoons this week while we've been recovering to cuddle up together and watch an episode. It also makes us itch to get in the kitchen. Aria wants to make the blueberry lemonade, and I've been drooling over her frozen mochas we saw on recent episodes. I've also got my mind on her pot roast, an old favorite around here.

FOUR - Mommy & Me
Sweet Turtle Soup - Oh Hey, It's Five on Friday: Sick, Sunshine & TTBH
I try to get a picture of me and Aria each week. Since I'm always the one behind the camera. I've been making an effort to get a few more photos of me with her. If you follow me on Instagram then you'll have seen these too, but the #mommyandmeafb is fast becoming my favorite.

FIVE - Teaching Together Blog Hop
Sweet Turtle Soup - Oh Hey, It's Five on Friday: Sick, Sunshine & TTBH
And, lastly a quick reminder that the next link up for the Teaching Together Blog Hop is on March 3rd! My last post was the first half of hand and foot print animal ABCs, so stay tuned for the second half coming up next.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Birthday Throwback

I finally got around to cleaning up my video folder the other day. I've just been tossing them in one spot and calling it a day for months. I'm happy to say that I got them all organized and am now dreading how long it will take for me to transfer them to our external.

But, I did find a few gems. This particular gem is from Aria's 3rd Birthday.




This kid has blown out dozens of candles, yet she forgets how it all works for the big moment.

You can also check out the rest on my vimeo page.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Picture Perfect Project: 12 in 2016 - February

Valentine's Day Mini Photo Session, Heart Balloon
"My Heart" 

Hello! It's time for another round of The Picture Perfect Project. I am joining up with Beth of Our Pretty Little Girls, Whitney of Work it Mommy, Stephanie of Wife Mommy Me, Elizabeth of Chasin' Mason, and Desiree of Macke Monologues to encourage you to challenge yourself in 2016 to take pictures daily, monthly, weekly, or any combination under the sun. And, then link-up with us on the 2nd Thursday of each month to share your progress. Challenges are always more fun when you do them with friends.

My challenge is "12 in 2016" - taking a photo of Aria once a month all year. Not just any picture (because I can usually be found behind my camera) but a picture where Aria is both looking in my direction and with a genuine smile. Some months are more successful than others but the only picture you regret is the one you don't take.

This month I didn't get her looking or a big smile, but this picture was my favorite of the bunch. I love the way her little hands are holding each other and the string. Sometimes life knows better than the photographer.

This is also the third year of having a mini photo shoot with a heart balloon (or three). I'm a sucker for the traditions!

2015
Valentine's Day Photo Shoot, Heart Balloon

2014
Valentine's Photo Shoot, heart balloon

Sweet Turtle Soup

Please link-up any photography challenge you've been working on this year below! The link-up will be open until the end of the month, so add your link anytime between now and then. You can also  share your pictures on instagram or twitter using #thepictureperfectproject. And, don't forget the next link up is on March 10th.


 Have a wonderful Valentine's Weekend!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Kids Behind The Blog: February

Beth, Stephanie, Crystal, Meghan, and Jessica have gotten together to host The Kids Behind The Blog. Each month there will be a new set of 5 questions to use for a mini interview with your kids. Simple and fun. I love kid interviews. You never know what will come out of their mouths.

Sweet Turtle Soup - The Kids Behind The Blog: February

Here is the very first set of questions:

1. Where is your favorite place to go?
To home.

2. Who is your best friend?
Cupcakes! (Good answer)

3. If you could be a superhero what would your superpower be?
Cupcake power! And ice. And fire! And marshmallow power! (Complete with superhero hand movements)

4. What is your favorite candy treat?
Marshmallows. (She almost never has candy. So, I tweaked it to treat)

5. Who is your valentine?
My buddies.

Our Pretty Little Girls


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!

Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!
Aria and I joined in on a Blogger Valentine's Exchange this year. (Similar to last year's) And, it was fun to put them all into the little mailbox I found at Target. Until of course they wouldn't fit anymore! The Valentine's were huge this year, and many were much more creative than the ones Aria sent. But, hers had gummy bunnies so that's win, yes?

After they all arrived I let Aria go to town. She got crayons, and awesome cards, and all the mnms in the world, and heart glasses, and a flashlight, and a really cute candy counting booklet, etc. Aria's favorites were the marshmallows and the flashlight, which were both in the same Valentine's card so way to rock it Desiree! And, the one with PJ Masks too.
Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!
Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!
Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!
Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!
Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!
Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange! Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange! Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!
Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!
Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!
 Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!
Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!
Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!
Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!

Here are all the cards after a fun morning of opening envelope after envelope. Thank you so much, ladies. We love them all!
Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!

Here are all the other bloggers who participated as well:
Tawnya, Scarlett, & Bodhi @ All of Life's Little Adventures
Jennifer & Hattie @ And Hattie Makes Three
Ashley, Waverly, & Avalon @ Being Brickner
Jess & Abbie @ Being Mrs. Beer
Elizabeth & Mason @ Chasin' Mason
Liz & Jude @ Ellie and Addie
Crystal & Mason @ Hall Around Texas
Desiree, Marcus, & Julia @ Macke Monologues
Natalie & Blair @ Nat Your Average Girl
Sara, Mac, & Mim @ Running From the Law
Jess, Cameron, & Louise @ Scott Family of Maine
Jessica, Cameron, & Emerson @ Secrets of a Stay at Home Mom
Sarah, Brantley, & Holden @ Seeing All Sides
Karli, Kaye, & Sawyer @ September Farm
Chrissy & Elin @ Simple Joys Blog
Courtney & Aria @ Sweet Turtle Soup
 Meghan & Noah @ The Adventure Starts Here
Stephanie & Connor @ Wife Mommy Me
Whitney, Kinsey, & Brielana @ Work it Mommy


p.s. Valentine's from the past...
2015
Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!
 2014
Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!
2013
Sweet Turtle Soup: A Valentine's Day Blogger Exchange!