Category Archives: Relationships

Robyn’s Tips for a Disney World Vacation

This past August my entire family went on a 9 day trip to Disney World.  My kids had just turned 5 and 3 and my niece was 3 1/2.  It was the MoSt MaGiCaL time of my life.  There are no words to describe the sheer joy and awe that comes with seeing your children experience the magic of Disney for the first time.  Here is a list of tips that I put together based on my experience at “The Happiest Place on Earth!”

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*PLAN AHEAD!!! We had our entire schedule planned out from wake-up through bedtime before we even left for Disney.

*Book all of your meals in advance.

*Bring clear ponchos to put over your stroller if it rains.  They are cheap and fit over single and double strollers.

*Don’t bring ponchos for the kids…they are too big, just pack their raincoat.

*The Hoop Dee Doo Revue is a great show/dinner for a big family trip.

*Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins are going to be characters  in Hollywood Studios. If you do the Hollywood and Vine breakfast they should be characters there along with Special Agent Oso, and Jake from the Neverland Pirates, and Handy Manny.

*FAST PASS EVERYTHING!!! It saves you a ton of time!  Fast passes are available on rides and attractions that have long wait times.  You can take a fast pass ticket and it tells you when to come back and do the attractions with no wait time.

*To see the princesses (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Belle…sometimes they switch out Sleeping Beauty for Rapunzel) without doing a princess breakfast, you can fast pass the line for the Princesses in Town Square at Magic Kingdom. Right next to this is the same spot to get your picture taken with Mickey and Minnie. Fast Pass them both and get all the pictures there. It is near impossible to get pictures with any of these characters unless you do a breakfast.

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*Get to Magic Kingdom a half hour before it opens so you are there for rope drop. The characters come in on the train and fireworks go off…it is AMAZING.

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*Right after rope drop at the Magic Kingdom, if you hang out in town square, there are always characters. Mary Poppins was there every morning off to the right along with Snow White. Goofy and Daisy and Pluto were there most days too.

*If you hang out by the Mad Tea Party ride you can find Alice in Wonderland and the White Rabbit.

*The ONLY way to meet Tinker Bell is to wait on line at Tinker Bell’s Magical Nook (on the right hand side on your way to Adventure Land). Tinker Bell is always there with another fairy. We waited over an hour, but it was worth it!

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Pure Magic!

*You can find Peter Pan on the bridge going into Adventure Land right after the character parade that goes down Main Street.

*Make sure you see the Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It Parade in Magic Kingdom. My kids LOVED it! We went twice a day on some days!

*Pre-purchase your Disney Photo Pass. This is a pass that looks like a credit card. They sell plastic things to keep it in with your park tickets on a lanyard around your neck so that you can access it easily. There are park photographers ALL OVER the place. You ask them to take your picture/family picture and they scan the card.  All of the pictures go onto your Photo Pass account. When you get home you can upload your own photos to this account and make your Disney Memory Album.

*Get a bright colored bandanna and tie it to your stroller. When you get out of an attraction the strollers are sometimes moved around and it makes it really easy to find yours.

*ASK QUESTIONS…Disney employees are extremely knowledgeable and can help you navigate your day through the parks.

*In Hollywood Studios, The Character Department at the Magic of Disney Animation Building is a GOLDMINE for hard to find characters at 5:00.  We were able to get pictures with Pinocchio, The Queen from Snow White, Captain Hook and Smee, Mulan, Goofy, Mary Poppins, Jake, Piglet and Pooh and more!

*Bring your kid’s costumes with you.  There are kids dressed up as Disney Princesses everywhere you look.  My sister and I brought all of our costumes and brought certain ones to the park based on which characters we knew we would see that day.  My son brought his Peter Pan costume and a pirate costume!  It is a lot less expensive to bring the costumes you already own than to buy them in the parks!

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Mommy’s little Peter Pan!

*Bring glow-sticks, glow-wands, glow-necklaces, etc. from your local dollar store with you!  The kids can use them at night at the Main Street Electric Light Parade and lots of other nighttime festivities!

*Grab a park map at the entrance of each park.  Not only will you save time knowing where you are going, but they list the character spots and times that they are there so that you don’t have to guess who is in each park for photos.

*If there is a character that you are trying to get a picture with and can’t seem to find, go to guest relations in City Hall on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and ask.  They have a schedule of all of the characters who will be in the park for the day.

*If you are staying in the Magic Kingdom for the fireworks, make sure you have a view of the top of the castle.  Weather permitting…each night the fireworks are started after Tinker Bell flies out of the top of the castle.  If you are staying that late, with kids…it is a MUST SEE!

*If you are planning a family trip or reunion, you can schedule a photography session at The Grand Floridian.  You are paired up with a professional photographer who will take family photos for a half hour.  When you are finished you get to keep all of the photos on disc that can then be uploaded to your Disney PhotoPass account.

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Family Portrait Taken at The Grand Floridian

HAVE FUN!!!

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~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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What are you worried about?

If someone asked me that, there would be days that my response would be, “ EVERYTHING!”  Do you ever go through phases like that?  It seems like I can go through months without fretting over anything, and then other days where it consumes every part of me!

As a Mom there are SO MANY things that we can worry about; if they will be safe when you leave them with someone else, if their cough is turning in to pneumonia, if they are making the smart decisions with their friends, how they are doing in school, if we are doing the right thing as parents…I could write a novel on all the things Moms worry about!!

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With my daughter going to Kindergarten this year I have been challenged with this more than normal.  We want our kids to be safe, healthy and smart, yet we are reminded by all the negative things in the world as soon as we turn on the t.v.  So what is a Mom to do?

I’m still trying to figure this one out.  I’m not even confident I would be able to answer the question when I am 100 years old, but I’m determined to try.  I just have to keep reminding myself that in some ways, worrying is good because it means that I love my kids so much!  BUT I also have to remember that worrying is a result of the devil creeping into my life, and why let that take away precious time with the ones that I care about so much?!

If you are worrying a lot these days…no matter if it is kids, health, money, your job…try to TaLK BaCk to those negative thoughts as soon as they creep in your mind.  This is sooo hard, I know.  It is a full-time job on its own!  The other thing that helps is to KeEp BuSy.  If silence traps you in bad feelings, turn on the radio, listen to books on tape, or start singing.  If you have too much time on your hands, find a new hobby that requires a lot of concentration so you can give your worrying a break!  And of course, the obvious, pRaY about it.  Try your best to hand your worries over to the one that created you.  That is what He is there for ;)

Take comfort in knowing that you are among the rest of us mommies out there that are losing sleep and feeling like we are going crazy.  That in itself should ease your mind and give you motivation to shake those bad thoughts along with the rest of us!

For another one of my posts related to worrying, read: Become A Trainer

~Lara

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Remembering Grandma

Last week I lost the last of my four grandparents.  My grandma was 91 years old and had been living in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer’s for the past 10 years.  She lost her ability to speak about 5 years ago and hasn’t recognized any of us in over 5 years.  Over the years it has been devastating to watch what this disease has done to the woman who taught me how to sew, bake, cook, and craft.

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As I sat at the funeral home I kept starring at my grandmother’s hands holding the rosary and then all of the beautiful flowers that surrounded her from our family.  Those hands had taught me so much and I immediately began to think about what I could do with all of those flowers.  My grandmother would have hated to see all those flowers thrown away which is what typically happens with funeral arrangements so I asked the funeral director if I could take the arrangement home with me.  Now I have a little piece of my grandmother watching over my family…I know she would be proud!

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grandma

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Parenting Resolutions Worth Keeping

As we all begin our New Years Resolutions I PrOmIsE you WilL NoT find me walking around with a shiny new gym membership. Ooooooooh no!!! You all know I couldn’t even follow through with The Lazy Girls Workout!  Looking back on that post, maybe I was pushing myself with saying I was going to start out aiming to workout 3 to 4 times a week.  If I had started with 1 to 2 and gradually added on maybe I would have stuck with it!  Anyway…I’ll worry about toning in the spring and stick with these ReAlisTiC ReSoLuTiOnS that will benefit my entire family!

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I found this while looking for cute winter crafts on Pinterest and realized these are all things that I need to do not only for my family, but for MySeLf!  I spend way too much time trying to get everything done and need to focus more on the important things in life.  They may seem simple, but they so often get overlooked and could be the difference in making your child’s day go from OK to OuTanDiNg!

Happy New Year!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Infertility During the Holidays

These days our house is filled with toys, laughter, and absolute chaos as we prepare for Christmas.  I’m running out of places to hide presents and our elf on the shelf, tripping over Abby’s little people reindeer thanks to her insisting that they “take off” in the middle of the living room, and loving the million different ways my kids pronounce Feliz Navidad (Denise Nady Na is my favorite) each time they hear the song on the radio!  However, a few days ago as I was hanging ornaments on our Christmas tree I was reminded of a Christmas not so long ago when I was longing to be a mother and that dream seemed beyond my reach.

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Growing up I was a goal setter.  I knew right away that I wanted to be a teacher.  Not just a teacher, but a first grade teacher.  With hard work and a little luck I was hired for my first job the June before I graduated college to teach first grade the following year.  My next goal was to be a mom.  My husband Rob and I had been married for a little over 2 years and figured it was a good time to start trying to start a family.  When month after month turned into over a year and  the little white stick was still showing not a sign of pink I knew something was wrong.  We tried using ovulation predictors and monitors on our own and nothing seemed to help.

Testing came back labeling us as “unexplained infertility”  and 3 intrauterine inseminations (IUI) later I was still not pregnant.  By now I couldn’t hide the fact that we were doing infertility treatments to try to have a baby.  I wear my emotions on my sleeve and it was clear that we were having a problem.  I was also being so closely monitored for egg production that I had to miss school a lot for the insemination schedule that I was on.  Now that I look back, I am thankful for all of the support that I received from everyone who knew what Rob and I were going through.  I saved every card, St. Gerard medal, and well wish that was given to us during our journey and would often joke that I felt like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life from the end scene when he is on the bridge and everyone is praying for him…except everyone was saying…Dear God please give Robyn and Rob a baby!  I had a co-worker who told me over and over that the baby that was meant for me wasn’t ready yet.  I knew she was trying to be helpful, but when you want nothing more than to be a mother RiGhT NoW you don’t want to hear anything like that!  In hindsight…she was right.

After the 3 failed IUI’s we decided to go straight to in vitro fertilization (IVF).  This just had to work.  How could it not?  They take healthy eggs and healthy sperm, put them together, implant them into the perfect location in your uterus and all they have to do is implant.  We did the injections, the 6:00 am blood-work and uterus scans every morning, egg retrieval, and then the big day…the embryo transfer.  I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting it is to lay on the table with a photograph of the embryos that the doctor is transferring in hopes that one will implant.  In the days that followed my transfer I carried around that photograph like I had just been to Portrait Innovations with a newborn!  After the transfer comes the wait.  For a week we waiting hoping those little embryos had nuzzled in to stay, but we were saddened when my blood-work came back to show that I wasn’t pregnant.

Moving on we had to wait one cycle before we could begin another round of IVF.  By this time I felt like a professional at the infertility group.  I sat in the same chair each morning for my monitoring, had become friends with all of the nurses, and knew which parking spots were the best to get out of the hospital lot the fastest to get me to work on time.  My doctor changed my medications a little to get more eggs to fertilize this time and I had 26 eggs retrieved and 13 that went on to fertilize and become embryos.  Getting the call that I had produced 13 healthy embryos had us on cloud 9…we were sure this round would get us the baby we so longed for.   The next morning by a horrible twist of fate, we received a phone call from my Dr. notifying me that due to a “Catastrophic error on the part of the lab” all of my embryos had been lost because there was something wrong with the gel that holds the embryos.  There are honestly no words to describe the pain we felt that day.  Even today when I think of 13 potential lives lost it kills me.  We didn’t even know what to do with the news, we just knew that we wanted a baby and we needed them to get one.

We went ahead with a 3rd round of IVF and by now we were going on 2 and a half years of infertility.  I was emotionally drained and depressed.  I went for my egg retrieval and transfer and I honestly didn’t have much hope this time.  I had been through so much heartbreak that the naivety of the “This is definitely going to work” was LoNg GoNe.  I went for my blood-work the morning of my pregnancy test, but I was already spotting so I figured that it hadn’t worked.  I went back home after my blood-work and put my pajamas back on and laid in bed waiting for the phone call from my nurse.  Rob and I answered the phone together and were shocked to hear, “Robyn, you’re pregnant!”  We both cried along with our nurse who had been through all 3 cycles with us.  My pregnancy wasn’t easy but I delivered a healthy baby boy and finally understood what my friend meant… All of those missed opportunities to conceive didn’t happen because Nicholas was the baby that was MeAnT FoR Me!  If I had gotten pregnant any of those other times I would have had a baby that I would have loved, but I wouldn’t have Nicholas, and knowing that makes all the years, all the heartbreak, and all the lessons learned worth it.  Nicholas is 5 years old now and I still call him my little miracle.  When I meet couples going through infertility I try to remind them of this and to NeVeR GiVe Up HoPe.

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Our Miracle

Finally A Mommy!

Finally A Mommy

Those of you who follow Suede Sofa know that besides Nicholas I have a daughter named Abby who is two years younger.  As shocked as I was the day I found out I was pregnant with Nicholas, multiply that by 100 the day I figured out that by some either miracle or complete fluke we conceived Abby on our own!

My family ~ 2012

My family ~ 2012

If you or someone you know is struggling to conceive this Christmas season please share my story with them.  I know how hard it is to put on a brave face when you want nothing more than to be a part of what it seems like everyone else around you has.  Remember the words of my friend…Maybe the baby that is meant for you just isn’t ready yet!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year…

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Snowflakes for the Newtown, CT Students Return to School ~ How You Can Help!

Everyone has been deeply affected by the tragedy that took place a week ago in Newtown, CT.  All of us at Suede Sofa were teachers prior to turning in our plan books for diapers and mommy blogging.  I was a 1st grade teacher, Lara was a music teacher, and Robynn was a science teacher and school counselor.  Now being stay-at-home moms we felt compelled to do something for the children of Newtown, CT who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School the day of that senseless act that stole the lives of 20 children whose ages are similar to that of our own.

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The following letter explains a simple snowflake project that you can do with your children or grandchildren to send to the Newtown PTA to help decorate the new school that the children will be going to after the Christmas break.  Although my children are too young to understand what took place, I was happy to make a special snowflake with each of them to send off in hopes of putting a smile on the face of another child.

snowflake~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Day 6 – Advent Calendar

Advent Day #6 – Sleep by the Christmas Tree.

{You may choose to simplify the process big-time and do something as easy as  pick one person a day from now to Christmas and pray for them.  It doesn’t need to be time-consuming, stressful, or cost you anything.  Do what works for you and enjoy the season with the ones you love!!}

Alternate Activity: Pray for God’s blessing on someone who has wronged you. 

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”  Luke 6:27-29

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