Disneyland 101

Finally I am getting down to writing about our USA holiday, well this is just one part of it really – DISNEYLAND.  Everyone wants to know about it and what we did so the best way was to write it down.  Now I am not going to write every single detail just the main points you will need to know about. We travelled in October so the weather was just perfect.

  1.  Research – as you can imagine there are hundreds of blogs out there about Disneyland.  Before our trip I read a lot of them and each one will have different tips to the other so it is worth doing some research and reading about other peoples experiences of what worked and didn’t and making note of them.
  2. Disneyland Passes – we are a family of 4 and bought our passes online direct through the Disneyland website as this worked out cheaper.  We bought the Disneyland Park Hopper tickets which allowed you to go to both Disneyland and California Adventure Park and it was valid for 4 days at the parks, the total cost for this was NZ $1420.00.  Also keep an eye out as some mornings during the week your ticket allows you a magic morning hour, which means you get to enter the park an hour earlier before the general public.
  3. Plan your day –  plan which days you are going well in advance.  It pays to go during the week when it’s not school holidays in the US and also don’t go on a public holiday or weekend either. We knew it was going to be long days so decided to head out early each day.  We were up each morning at 5:00am had breakfast in our room and then walked to Disneyland.  Magic morning on the Tuesday gates opened at 7am.  The good thing about going early, it is less crowded and it’s cooler.  We did the whole of Disneyland (literally every ride) in 1 day and by 2:30pm when it starts to get crowded and really hot we were done for the day, which meant, afternoon swims at the hotel and relaxing our very sore legs.  California Adventure Park same deal we were there by 6:30am on the Wednesday and did the whole park by 2:00pm.  The following day we went back around 9am, we didn’t get there too early as we have pretty much done both parks it was more going back to see things we may have missed like some shops etc, we were there only for about 2hrs and then went back in the evening for the parade.  We skipped Friday and didn’t go at all.  Saturday we wanted to go back at night for the Fantasmic show and the fireworks display.  We bought a dinner pack from one of the Disnleyland restaurants which got you a ticket in a sectioned off area with great views of the show.  Around 3pm we went into to pick up our food and get out tickets.  I have never experienced being somewhere with that many people, now I know why you avoid going in the weekend.  We couldn’t move there were just people everywhere.  The lines for rides were 2-3hrs long!!!!  We got our food and got out of there as quick as we can which wasn’t really quick because of how many people there were it was like exiting at snails pace. 
  4. Disney Max Pass – if you are planning on spending money to go all the way to Disneyland, trust me the only and best way to do it is by purchasing a MaxPass via the Disneyland app which is another must have.  The Disneyland app show’s you wait times of all the rides so you know which ones to go to etc.  The Maxpass cost  US $10 per person per day.  We bought the maxpass for two days so total of US $80 for both days.  As soon as you enter the park you can book your fastpasses for the more popular rides. You can only book 1 fast pass at a time, sometimes it allows you to book two rides.  By booking a fastpass you don’t spend hours waiting in line.  As soon as you use that fastpass then you can book your next one. The most we stood in line for was about 10mins.  The other great benefit of the Maxpass is it included unlimited photos.  Around the park are professional photographers who take your photos at the popular spots and they scan your maxpass and the photo gets downloaded to your phone.  All the action photos from the rides, you key in the code and you get the photo.  So less time worrying about taking photos and more time to enjoy the park and have fun.  

5.  Food and Drinksyou are allowed backpacks into the park and we took ours on all the rides too.  You can bring in your own food, but not any commercial food, so you can’t buy McDonald’s and bring it into the park.  The park has so many carts and places to eat at, we didn’t as we packed our own food.  We made sure we took lots of snacks and fruit etc.  We had our own water bottles which we filled up at numerous water fountains all over the place.  We did buy ice creams though which was great in the heat.  

6.  Kids & the parks – you are probably thinking why do I need to write about kids going to the park it’s the whole point!  Well let me tell you.  Our girls ages are 12 & 7.  Miss C literally just made the height on all the rides so we were really lucky.  To be honest they were really good, even though we were up early the excitement of going on all the rides just kept them going. Just a note Splash Mountain and the rapids ride at California Adventure park you get soaked.  Our girls loved it and wanted to go a few times.  Because it was so hot, getting wet was very refreshing and we dried pretty quickly. Walking back to the hotel in the afternoon is when the tiredness kicked in, but we bribed them with a swim so it was all good.  However, looking around at all the kids in the afternoon at the park after being there all day, it sure didn’t look like the happiest place on earth!  In my opinion, I wouldn’t take kids younger than 7/8, unless you live there.  It cost a lot of money to go there so you want them to be able to experience it all and go on all the rides and also remember the holiday.  There were a lot of prams, and kids sleeping a lot of the time, or crying because they were hot and tired.  Also going when your kids are older means you can all go on the same rides together which we absolutely loved being able to do with them.

Pixar Pier at California Adventure Park

So, all in all I would say we nailed Disneyland and California Adventure Park.  The months of planning and research paid off, we could not have done it any better.  I would say that the main thing is don’t rush it.  Prepare yourself in knowing that it is going to be busy and you have to wait in line and you just have to go with the flow of things, makes it less stressful.  I hope that if you are travelling to Disneyland you have the best time ever.

Disneyland you were epic

Ronell x

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Crossing the Line

To say it has been a tough week is an understatement.  This week absolutely broke me, to the point where you feel you have no fight left, and you have nothing to give!  My kids broke me –  how is it that kid’s these day’s who are so privileged, compared to when I was growing up, still don’t appreciate everything that we as parents do for them?

What brought me to this place?  Well my youngest has been playing up at school on more than one occasion with her group of friends.  First it was pinching blu tac from teachers classrooms, not just one teacher but five.  Which means I got a call from the deputy principle.  I could have died, who is this child????  Why is she doing this???  She and her friends had to write letters apologising for what they did.  I took out money from her jar which she was saving for our holiday and went straight to the supermarket and bought 5 packs of blu tac costing $20.  The next morning we went to each teacher and she had to replace it.

This week I got an email to say that the same group of girls damaged another child’s squishy toy (never want to f*cking see another squishy) deliberately.  We just went through the whole blu tac thing and now this!!!!!  It was the straw that broke the camels back!!!

I get the whole thing about kid’s wanting to push the boundaries and testing the limits but there is a point when enough is enough!  I don’t think any of these kids are silly, they know that what they are doing is wrong, right???  Surely they must know it’s not good??  But how do we teach kids remorse?  Because it seems as if they just have no clue!  I know my youngest is easily influenced by others, don’t get me wrong she is no angel but I know that this behaviour is way left field even for her.

No child is perfect and I am not asking them to be, but seriously, I just want to scream WHY??????  Actually I think I did do that when I lost it!  The thing is I know I am not the only parent going through this, why doesn’t anyone talk about it, we are all in the same boat, we might as well go down together, or stand up tall together.

Are parent’s embarrassed to talk about what their kids are getting up to? Especially amongst friends, you never know someone might have a brilliant idea on how to help.  Is this second child syndrome?  I keep ticking of things in my head like are there secret messages in her behaviour, is she crying out for help? – no, okay then is she being a total pain in the butt for no reason? – possibly, does she just want to fit in with her friends? – could be, is there a leader in this group? – there is always one that is.

My oldest she has her moment’s too, with her now in Intermediate all I hear, is “so and so’s parent’s let them do this, why can’t I?”.  “You alway’s so no for everything” I was like really???  I say no, how about all the things I say yes to!  But oh no kids love focusing on the no but never the thing’s we say yes to.

Well I hope there is light at the end of this tunnel, and please god let it just be a phase!

Here’s to a better week next week!

R x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Said Yes to Instagram

My tween who turns 12 in less than a month has been asking to have an Instagram account for a long time, and I mean long!  I always made her work for it, she had to demonstrate being responsible, do her bit at home to help out etc

I have had an Instagram account for a long time, and so she has been watching me use it and it sparked an interest.  I had many talks with her about using Instagram, and that she will only have a private account, this is a MUST! Which means not just anyone can follow her and it has to be approved, she needs to check with us.  If she doesn’t know the person then it’s a big fat NO!!!  We have access to her account at all times.   Many girls her age seem to only post selfies with duck face pouts, I mean come on! A selfie here and there fine but not hundred’s of them.  Anyway thus began our lessons about photos and the purpose of having an Instagram account.

We talked about not posting photos that show any of your bits (if you know what I mean).  In her bio, which anyone can view I didn’t want any info about which school she went to or her date of birth, pretty much no personal info.  When commenting on other post’s only positive comments. Also besides just following friends and families I wanted her to follow some other inspirational accounts, like I am Kid President, Humans of NY, a few of the National Geo accounts for inspiration with travel photos etc

The reason she wanted an Instagram account is because, she wants to take photos of food, places that we visit, hanging out with her friends, dancing, nature etc  So I thought that was cool.  I did say to her that the biggest fear for me was I didn’t want her to see what her friends had and what they did, and to then look at her life and be like, well my life sucks because it’s so boring!  Or if her friends didn’t “like” or “comment” on her photo not to take that to heart.  If she loves taking photos of things that interests her then don’t worry about anyone else.

At the end of the day she is a good kid and I trust her!

Ronell x

 

 

 

To Blog or Not to Blog…..

Keep going or stop????  The amount of time’s I have asked myself this question.  Recently I have realised it’s not only just me thinking this, a whole heap of other bloggers are in the same boat.

The thing is I never started blogging to get my followers up or anything like that, I did it because there are so many things I wanted to talk about and also share with people.  Like all my camping stuff, I had hoped that when someone was looking to go somewhere, there would use my blog as their reference point and say, hey thanks for this we checked it out!  But now I kinda feel like no one really gives a sh*t about what I think, let’s be honest here!  You write an article that you hope some people would relate to and then you get nothing from it, no likes, no comments, no nothing…..zilch! Now I get that not everything I blog about would appeal to everyone, but I love being able to engage with people.

I have about a handful of family and a very small handful of friends who actually show my blog a lot of love by their commenting and interaction with either photos or articles that I put up, and even people that I haven’t met interact with my posts more than people I have known for years.

So it kinda makes it hard to keep going when you get nothing in return.  And by that I don’t mean actual material things because that’s not what my blog is about, I am not one that does this to receive products to promote from PR companies, cause that’s not how I roll and I can’t be arsed with fluffing around with staging photos to promote something.  Thank goodness I don’t have the pressure of that.

It’s the same thing with supporting small businesses and all that, support, acknowledgement, interaction, that sort of thing.

So I am in a bit of a dilemma at the moment….I need to give this more thought.

Ronell x

p.s I did not write this so that people could comment and tell me how great my blog is or anything like that.  It’s just what’s going through my head at the moment.

 

DIY Natural Cleaning Products

As a family we are becoming more aware of the effect that plastic and chemicals are having on our environment.  So over the school holiday’s my girls and I experimented with a few homemade cleaning products.  My aim is to slowly replace most of the chemical cleaning products that we have been using.  I use a lot of DoTerra oils already so it made sense to include these great oils into my products.

We first made some toilet cleaning pods.  Here is the recipe, now this was my first go and I noticed that it does fizz a little but not what I was expecting, so it is trial and error.  The next batch I will try and tweak it.

1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup citric acid
1 & 1/2 TBSP liquid soap (you can use castile liquid soap or the DōTERRA on guard cleaning concentrate)
20 drops essential oil, we used 10 drops Purify and 10 drops Lemon.

Mix all together and spoon into silicone tray. They will start to puff up but keep pressing them down until they stop. Let them dry for 4 hours. To use – throw a pod in the toilet and when it stops fizzing then scrub away.

This is great to do midweek between your proper full clean of the toilet.

Recipe for the toilet cleaning pods is from DōTERRA.

Next we made a carpet deodoriser, below is how to make it.
2 cups baking soda
30 drops essential oil.

I used Lavender for its great antibacterial properties and grapefruit essential oil.

I then placed baking paper on top and sealed the lid, then just cut the paper around the jar. Afterwards poke holes with a toothpick. Before you go to bed sprinkle on all the carpets and vacuum the next morning.  The holes didn’t work as good, so the second time I made them a little bigger.

carpet cleaner

 

I was pretty much on a roll now and moved on to make a cleaning paste.  I was sick of having to clean the shower and inhale so much of the toxic smell from using Jif or bleach. Below is an image of the recipe and how to make it (sorry it was a lot to type out so just copied it from my blog facebook page)!

 

paste recipe.jpg

 

So there you have it!  I will be experimenting a lot more as my current products are used up, and having to find alternatives.  If you are not into DIY there are loads of companies in NZ that currently make it really easy for you to order your own kits that you can make up at home etc. or already made products.

Ronell x

 

 

Just Be you

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How do we teach our young kid’s, especially girls that you don’t have to be like everyone else? Be confident in your own skin, just be you!  Everyone is different and that’s okay, no two people are alike because that would be totally boring!

I’m sure even as adults we are still dealing with some demons of always comparing ourself to someone else, or comparing our lives to someone else’s.  Do children learn this from us or is it just a normal human thing that we do and have to get ourselves out of.  This thinking all started due to Pink Shirt day at school today.  I went to Savemart a couple of weeks ago to find some pink t-shirts for the girls.  I chose one for my oldest who was fine with it and stuff then this morning she decided to change her mind (as they do) and wear something else.  She chose a very light soft pink top with jeans, it’s still pink but not in your face pink.  She has accessorised with pink earrings and sunglasses, she even chose fluro pink bands for her braces!  So all cool no dramas.

Then she see’s photos of other kids dressed up in bright pink clothes and fully decked out, pants, tops, hair everything which was so cool.  But instead of looking at it like, “wow they look awesome”, it was more like, ” I am not walking to school, I look horrible, my top is not even bright enough”  You get the picture!  I reminded her that you do have the top that I bought, which you can still wear.  NO!!!  It’s not pink apparently and more purply pink.  I said to her there are lots of shades of pink not just one type.  Anyway she ended up walking to school crying because she didn’t like how she was dressed and how she looked.

All morning I felt like a terrible mother for not being able to choose the right shade of pink or getting lots of pink stuff for her to wear and that she walked to school crying.  When I have gone over the top in the past she didn’t like it so I kept it simple this year, well I was wrong!  How do you win? Can you actually ever win with kids? The lesson here is next time take them shopping and let them choose!

Kid’s seem to ignore all the wonderful attributes that they have all because they want to be like the next person, instead of just rocking who they are.  Right about now I wish I had a Phd in knowing how kids minds work or something.  I’m always conscious of how I speak and alway’s make sure I never compare myself to other people in front of the girls.  I mean let’s be honest every now and again, I do compare myself to someone else in my head off course but not like I want to look like that person or anything, more like if someone is going on holiday, I would think to myself, “Oh how I would love to be on holiday now too” that sort of thing.

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When we start comparing ourselves to others we start to loose our own confidence in ourselves!  The thing is though,  it’s happening with kids from such a young age, how do we fix this?  Imagine how freeing it must feel to just be you, and not give a flying f*ck about anyone or anything else.  Just live and soak up everyday!  Maybe I should print out every type of quote that I can find on the web and wallpaper their walls with them all!  Like I am at a loss because I can tell my girls all the right things and read all the wonderful things there is out there about being yourself but until they start believing it themselves, am I wasting my time?  Am I a nagging mum?

If you have any tips or advice or anything…..throw them my way!

Ronell x

 

 

 

 

Easter Camping at Russell Top 10 Holiday Park

Another successful camping trip done and dusted! This time we ventured further north to Russell in the Bay of Islands.

We knew it was going to be a long drive and with recent slips in the area the diversions added a little extra time to the journey. The night before we packed most of the trailer so we could make an early start. We were on the road by 8am! We decided to pull the girls out of school on the Thursday before Good Friday to beat the traffic and I’m so glad we did.

The kids were entertained on the way up there with a few movies. I don’t have an iPad/DVD car holder so I kinda made my own with ribbon and it worked great! They had headphones too so it was a nice quiet ride for us.

Our first stop was at Kawakawa for a quick toilet break and I mean if you’re going to stop to use the toilet this would be the place to stop at. The toilets are pretty cool made using lots of glass bottles and mosaic.

Next stop was at Opua to catch the car ferry to Russell. It was a short ride across but really picturesque and the girls loved it.

We arrived at the Russell Top 10 Holiday Park just after lunch. It was time to put up the tent. Now that the girls are a bit older we get them to help out before they run off! Their job is to pull out all the poles and start putting those together.

I found this time round putting up the tent wasn’t the hard bit, it was setting up all the paraphernalia that goes with the tent that was a mission. If you’re like me I can’t relax until it’s all set up and in its place! Shortly our friends joined us too and we all got stuck in setting up. The park was in pristine condition. The showers and kitchen always clean. This is the first campground that I have seen the staff walking around cleaning and checking on everything all day!

That’s our two red tents all set and ready for the week. I even managed to put up some fairy lights around the gazebo which was quite nice at night.

After slogging away in the heat setting everything up there was no way we were going to be cooking on our first night. So a week before our trip I rang and made a reservation for dinner at The Duke of Marlborough . It was worth doing that early as they get pretty busy especially over peak periods. A delicious meal and a cold beer was exactly what we all needed. Best part it’s only a 10 minute walk from the campground to Russell town.

It was beautiful watching the sun set whilst having dinner. This beach is on The Strand at the Russell wharf and the water was so clear!

The next day we set out exploring. There are so many beautiful bays and beaches to swim at. Our favourite was Long Beach which wasn’t far from the camp either about a 5-10 minutes drive.

There is even a coffee van onsite for you to get your daily fix while watching the kids play.

When we go camping we always take our Weber Q with us. This time we purchased the Weber pizza stone set to make pizzas. Well the stone was amazing!!! So glad we took it. I don’t think we will ever use the oven again!

And no I didn’t make the base that was a store bought base! Fair to say dinner was a hit.

There is so much to do in the Bay of Islands we spent a day driving through Keri Keri and checking out the Stone Store which has been opened since 1836. We made a quick stop to check out Haruru Falls. Then ice cream in Paihia before heading back to camp.

We barely saw the kids at the campground they spent most of the time at the playground so the adults had lots of time to kick back with a wine or even a gin and tonic!

If you do head up to Russell there are loads of boat tours that you can do, from dolphin watching to exploring the bays. They are pricey so be prepared. We booked the Discover Otehei Bay tour through Explore and a family pass was $110.

All in all this was a great trip. It was so relaxed, the kids didn’t want to leave.

What I learnt is that no matter how many times you go camping there is always something that needs tweaking or changing around.

I’m already looking at planning our next trip! So here’s to more adventures and experiences.

Ronell x