Disneyland for Our Daughter’s 13th Birthday

Having a Blast on California Adventure's Tower of Terror

Having a Blast on California Adventure’s Tower of Terror

Going to Disneyland for our Daughter’s 13th birthday was a great idea!  We had a blast!

We stayed at the Grand Californian which was quite expensive, but we were able to get into California Adventure at 7:00 am with hardly any other people, and we were able to ride 15 rides before 11:00!

Because our family likes Disney for the rides, we find it worth the extra money of staying at the Grand Californian for the perks: 2 days “Extra Magic Hours” even with only 1 night booked, IN California Adventure & Downtown Disney, you can see the Disneyland Entrance from the hotel.  If you don’s use the perks, I’m not sure it’s worth it.

Splash MountainBesides being an incredible 5 star hotel with very comfortable beds, soft sheets, many pillows, great service,  fun pools, good restaurants, etc, we like how close it is to California Adventure and Disneyland and the “Extra Magic Hours” the most.  This is worth the $450 per night price tag for our family. If you can’t get to the early hour…don’t stay here.

There are other hotels close by, like our other favorite, Park Vue Inn, which is right across the street, about a 5 minute walk.  This hotel usually runs $190 per night, includes a light breakfast, and if you buy a 3 day Disneyland pass, you can go into the park for 1-2 mornings on the “Extra Magic Hour”.  The difference in these “Extra Magic Hours” is that the entire crowd of all the other hotels goes into either Disneyland or California Adventure and ONLY the Grand Californian guests go into the OTHER.  It changes daily.

For example:  Sunday, Monday, Wednesday & Friday are California Adventure, and the other days are Disneyland early entry for Grand Californian guests.  These days change randomly, so make sure to check when you are booking to see which park is on

We LOVE California Screamin' in Disney's California Adventure! Our Favorite ALL TIME ride!

We LOVE California Screamin’ in Disney’s California Adventure! Our Favorite ALL TIME ride!

which day.  All the “neighbor” hotels get in only 2-3 days per week early, and the number of people with this option from the “neighbor” hotels is many compared with the handful of Grand Californian guests going in the OTHER park on the same day.

So, for us, by lunchtime, we have finished one park.  We eat lunch at the Big Thunder Mountain Ranch BBQ, take a nap at our AWESOME hotel, and then we are back at it until Midnight.  If you EVER have Disney questions, PLEASE email me!  I would love to give you any tips I can!

Happy Birthday our gorgeous, brilliant, courageous, funny, obnoxious, playful, happy, kind, daughter!  We love you!  I’m so thankful that you are in our lives.  You rock.

Love, Mom & Dad

 

A Week In the Life…as an Established Self-Employed Massage Therapist

A Week In the Life…as an Established Self-Employed Massage Therapist

Massage Room

_MG_2702What is it like to be a massage therapist?  Are you thinking of starting a career in massage therapy?  You Should!!!  It’s an awesome career! If you have compassion for others, you will get more out of a career in massage therapy than you will put in.

There are pros and cons, just like any career.  Each massage career is
completely unique, so you can truly build the career you want.  This is excellent for some and for other therapists, this free will is what challenges them the most.

After working hard to plan your massage career path, make goals &
work towards them, you can establish a wonderful career.  Please remember that this takes years of hard work and dedication.  If you can stay positive and focused, you can create the massage career you dream of.

An Example Week in an Established Self-Employed Massage Therapy Career of a Mom with kids:

DSC_0121You work when your kids are in school, Monday-Friday, from 8:00-3:00, massaging your most favorite people in the world and help them feel better for 12-20 hours per week.   The rest of your days are spent with your family.  You
also offer personal fitness training for your clients which has been a great addition

The appointments you make are mostly 60 minutes with 15 minutes in between treatments.  You try not to see more than 4 people per day, and bring a snack to eat between clients.  The perfect day is 2 personal fitness training hours & 2 hours of massage with a Tuesday weekly lunch date with your spouse.  You keep several calendars:  a pencil written small calendar, MassageBook, and iCal.  These you cross-reference incase any of them are damaged, stolen or lost.  You have backups of all your records.DSC_0723
The advertising, website and phone presence you maintain is a daily chore and keeps you on your toes of what is relative to your current client load.  The most important is keeping the MassageBook calendar up to date.   The work you put in on the website and with social media make it easy for clients to make appointments online with you, which makes things very easy for you

scheduling.

You make between $70-$150/hour, depending on the type of pressure you’re using and whether or not it’s Tigger, it's Me!a package, for which you offer a discount if the clients pay ahead. For an “Emergency Massage” or an “in-home” massage you charge more per hour.  You don’t usually do the out of office calls anymore, instead send one of your sub-contractors, since it takes so much planning around your childcare.You have a regular exercise and stretching routine in order
to keep your body (especially your hands) healthy and happy.  This includes receiving regular massage sessions from your favorite massage therapists around town.

An accountant does all your taxes & payroll.  You enter your clients’ information into MassageBook daily and keep both a hand written and electronic log of treatments & payments.  The continuing education you take to maintain your license is paid for out of your own pocket, so you get to look for the best and most relevant courses you can find.DSC_0695
You bring in $40,000-$60,000 working under 20 hours per week and get to take vacations whenever you like.  You find people to barter with:  carpet cleaners, dentist, hair dresser, handyman, mechanic, groomer, photographer, music teacher, etc.  You take good care of your clients and they in turn take good care of you.

REMEMBER:

This career will take about 3-5 years to create.  Consider having enough saved up to live on for at least 6 months (a year would be better) as you start this business.

Don’t take for granted the many, many, many hours and years it takes to establish a business, especially a business where you work the hours you want with the price you want to charge.  This is not overnight.  This is not simple nor is it guaranteed. It’s lots of hard work, dedication, and most of all, it’s working outside the “box” you want to eventually work in.  Late/early appointments.  Free appointments as you establish yourself.  Don’t give up.  If you ever feel like giving up, call me!

3 Days in Boston with Family

DSC_5797Boston is loaded with family friendly activities, and these sites were helpful in choosing what to see:

TripAdvisor’s 3 days on Boston most helpful, with pics and ratings

Independent Traveler’s 3 Days in Boston My favorite itinerary

Suggested 3 Day Boston Itineraries interesting, with several ideas

Pictures of what to try in Boston I liked these pics and reviews

The best advice I can give for an outsider coming to visit Boston:  hire a guide!  Per hour. Several days in a row.  $65/hr. Next time I will plan a 6 hour tour with a guide.

It’s worth it.  I’m not kidding, nor am I loaded with extra cash.

There’s oodles of history in Boston.  Oodles.  A plethora.  Books and books worth.

In 4 days, we missed some of the most important sites on our “Must See” list.  If we had hired a guide, we would have seen everything, we would have known at what we were looking and why AND had extra time to eat more cannolli in North End at Mike’s Pastry.

Mike's Pastry, North End, Boston There is usually a line out the door, but it moves fast

Mike’s Pastry, North End, Boston

The North End was our favorite, besides Cape Cod, but that’s not really Boston. North End includes a section of the Freedom Trail, including Paul Revere’s house, several churches, and many many plaques with historic info.  But, what is most fun about North End is all the  great food.

 

We really enjoyed:

  • North End
  • The Museum of Science x 2
  • The Blue Man Group!
  • The Freedom Trail
  • Harvard Square
  • Walking around

What we didn’t quite dig… see this other post How NOT to Visit Boston with Family.

 

How NOT to Visit Boston with Family

Boston rocks.  There is so much to see and do, it should be fun & exciting…if you have planned your visit.

I have to chalk this trip up to “How NOT to visit BOSTON”.  A wonderful opportunity to experience lack of planning in action.  A solid list of Don’t’s.  The CARDINAL SINS OF TRAVELING…all in ONE trip!

DON’T:

  • Pack for the entire family the night before without checking the weather  (this paved the way for the other disasters)
  • Check to see if lodging is comfortable (and quiet…but HOW do you check that??)
  • Have a lodging back up plan in place
  • Study the subway lines to know where to go
  • Make a list of the “Don’t Miss These” places, and make them a priority
  • Have sanity, confidence, & rational thinking

This trip was a great example of how lack of planning can create “I wish we were home” type statements…which for me is like a traveling death sentence.

Why was this trip was not our favorite?  Partly because of the cold April weather and mostly because this was the least prepared I have ever been for travel in my life.

I was off my game.

It may have been because of last year’s bombing at the Boston Marathon, or maybe the unexpected cold weather in Spring…I’m not sure, but I was in SLOW MOTION!    It was weird.

First of all, I rolled the dice to save money with lodging, using Airbnb.com for the first time, and choosing a small condo outside of Boston Proper, in Jamaica Plain. I booked months ahead of time.   The condo was charming and a great choice to save money by taking the “T” (subway) into town instead of dealing with pricey parking and LOTS of traffic.  All that was true and money saving.

But…it was loud for our family.  It was ON a main street with traffic noise 24/7,  we didn’t sleep much.  By the 2nd day (out of 8 nights), it was like pulling teeth just to get out of bed…much less go walking for 15+ miles each day in the freezing cold to see Boston.  At 2 AM I was surfing the net to find a different place to stay…but everything was $500+ per night because of the Boston Marathon.  Lesson Learned.

Add 35-45 degree weather with freezing winds…and our family dressed for 65 degree weather (MY FAULT-I KNOOWW) then looking for/at those brass signs “of historical importance” becomes not so important.

Hot chocolate, warm feet and pasta become important.

DSCN1107So, we got to see many Italian restaurants in North End, which we could find, instead of the site of the Boston Tea Party or the Tour of Fenway Park.  We DID get to Fenway park, where we bought $35/each hats because of freezing weather for which we were under-dressed, (And a whopping $150 off budget with one purchase). But, we didn’t get to go on the tour because it was sold out.  This describes our typical luck of this trip:

  • Get up tired from nooo sleep, dreaming of getting hit by the numerous busses that pass by each hour
  • Dress the kids with pants on pants, shirts on shirts, while they grumble, tired & hungry
  • Eat out because our “budget condo” has a vegetarian kitchen…
  • Walk to the “T”, trying to find Fenway Park
  • Get lost.  Ask for directions, get lost. Walk all the way around Fenway Park to find the “tour gate”, which, btw, was RIGHT next to the “T” doors.
  • Miss our chance to go on the Fenway Park tour because of for said “Walk AROUND the OUTSIDE of Fenway Park”
  • Take the wrong “T” train, get lost, ask for directions, realize the directions are wrong
  • Have Pasta, Thank Goodness we could find THAT!
  • Get home, exhausted, to another night of no sleep.  “Yay.” whispers my daughter…

    Boston Subway... Jake dropped his new hat... it was gone in a flash. :(

    Boston Subway… Jake dropped his new hat… it was gone in a flash. 😦

For the Fenway Park Tours, fyi, noon is a popular time, so try for 11 or 1:00.  They leave on the hour, so plan for that.

Just to keep the positive of Boston positive, I separated what worked during our trip to a different post in this post 3 Days in Boston with Family.

If you have any questions about this trip, let me know.  🙂

Disneyland or Walt Disney World?

Mickey MouseI’m a Disney lover and am always happy to find so many Disney lovers all over the world!  I used to keep my “Disney talk” to my family only, but I have realized how many families love Disney as much or more than we do!  Now, we have Disney parents who compare Disney plans & past experiences.  I love that!! It’s the best way to learn.

When starting the planning process, the question is:  Disneyland or Walt Disney World??

First, it depends on where you live and your budget.  The closer option is easier on the family travel exhaustion and family budget.  If you live on the East Coast or West Coast, your option is clear. If you have a choice, here are some things to think about:

  1. Disneyland is typically cheaper and easier to see in a shorter amount of time
  2. Disneyland is 300 acres while Disney World is 30,000 acres! (47 square miles!)
  3. Disney World is good “All-inclusive” where Disneyland is not
  4. Disneyland is boxed in, so some outside hotels are closer to the entrance than Disney World hotels

Pros for Walt Disney World:

  • It’s huge…also a con
  • all inclusive: if you don’t want to leave “campus” you don’t need to.  Everything you need is right there.  This also saves on a rental car.  This also makes it easier to focus on Disney instead of other options
  • More to see:  Disney World is much bigger than Disneyland and you could take days to enjoy all it has to offer
  • Many options to stay:  the “on property” hotels & places to stay in Disney World make much more sense than the “off-property” hotels, unlike Disneyland, where the hotels by the main-gate are closer than The Disneyland Hotel to the Main Gate.  Fort Wilderness Cabins, for example, in Walt Disney World give a great “suite” type cabin with a full kitchen and 2 sleeping areas while being very close to Magic Kingdom. (our favorite!) see Tips to Planning a Trip to Walt DisneyWorld
  • There are more specials for Disney World for longer stays, but Disneyland is catching up

Pros for Disneyland:

  • It’s small…also a con
  • You can get the entire 2 parks covered in 2-4 days
  • They offer a VIP tour that really rocks 714-300-7710 (Disney World is too big for this same tour)
  • There are many hotels RIGHT there….our favorite is Park Vue Inn which is closer to the main gate than the Disneyland Hotel (btw)
  • You are not too far from the beach…we always include a few beach days during our stay
  • It’s the original and there are some historic coolness you can find

We tend to choose Disneyland over Walt Disney World because of how close it is to us and our familiarity with Disneyland and the area around it.  We know exactly where to go…

Which would you choose?

Alaskan Whale Watching

DSC_0947 DSC_0950 Bubble Netting…from far awayWe took a shore excursion in Juneau after docking with our Holland America cruise line.  There were many Whale Watching excursions to choose from.

I turned to TripAdvisor.com to help me research the reviews other people had left for various options of shore excursions for each port of call.

About 2 months ahead, I booked with “Harv & Marv’s Outback Alaska” .  Book early.

There are 2 camps: Pro or Anti “Cruise Ship Shore Excursions”, or the excursions that are offered through the same company you are cruising with.

There is a large consensus that “Cruise Ship Shore Excursions” were NOT to be done.  Why?

  • Too many people
  • Too expensive
  • Not as “intuitive” because it’s not a “Local” company
  • There are less options on time, where to go, when to come back

There were also some good reasons IN FAVOR of “Cruise Ship Shore Excursions”:

  • If the boat is late, you don’t loose your money
  • If for any other reason that the excursion doesn’t happen, you are also protected and don’t loose your money
  • You can make your plans all in one place, all at one time
  • It’s simple to check on your excursion as you are arriving…because the leaders are on the ship and know what the plans or changes in plans are. (keep in mind that  there is no cell phone or internet access…so you have to go “Old School”, trusting that your excursion people are waiting for you if you pay a local company)

I decided to go with a local company because I wanted a smaller boat that would help my husband want to come:  less people, less boat motion, more freedom of where to go, and less restriction on what time to leave and/or come back.

Harv & Marv’s had great reviews and they answered my questions quickly.  Making a reservation was easy, and I decided to go for it.  I chartered a boat that could carry 12 people, but we only had 8 go with us. The price was still comparable to the Cruise Ship options. They met us at the port and our round trip van ride included some sight seeing and a stop at Mendenhall Glacier, which is a great perk.

Here is my review of Harv & Marv’s from TripAdvisor:

“Worth Extra to Have Private Tour!”
5 of 5 starsReviewed June 30, 2013

Captain Sean took us out on the Alaskan, with hydraulic seats & big windows. Great ride! FYI, even though it was a heatwave of 78 degrees on land, we needed jackets to stay warm on the water. We were thankful that we brought them along.
Snacks & water/soda is provided if you are interested, but most of our time was spent watching the Humpback Whales bubble net feed over and over.
Thanks, Sean & Jaqulin for making it possible to witness up close such a wondrous show of these graceful animals. You are truly lucky to see this over and over.
As we watched in peace from our boat, asking questions of Captain Sean & learning oodles, the packed cruise boat next to us was tipping from side to side as groups of people rushed to one side of the boat for a glimpse of the whales. Lines of people were jumping up and down in the back, trying their best to see something. Then, they would rush to the next sighting, rocking the boat again. This is exactly why we were happy to be on our own boat.
Video taping will get more out of your time than still pictures, in my opinion. I took 2000 pictures, yet the video taken by my 8 year old caught the moments better than the still pics.

Visited June 2013