Cruise Tips for Traveling with a Toddler

We just returned from a fantastic 4-day Bahamian cruise! IbD and I have taken 4 cruises together but man was it different with L in tow. I’m comprising a list of tips for other families that plan on taking a cruise with a toddler. Hopefully they will help you avoid some painful moments.

1. Bring Benedryl. This was a tip from my wonderful pediatrician. Both IbD and I have to take dramamine and I was worried about L getting seasick. Although children tend not to get seasick if they do Benedryl will help. According to my pharmacist the drowsiness removes the nauseous feeling. This is also why dramamine makes you drowsy (I do recommend the less drowsy formula for adults).

2. If your toddler is still drinking lots of milk, grab a couple of cartons from the breakfast buffet to keep in your room refrigerator. Otherwise you might be stuck waiting forever to get a cup of milk from the dispenser next to the coffee machine!

3. Visit the nursery (usually available for an hourly fee throughout the cruise) during it’s open house hours on your first cruise day. We decided not to put L in the nursery but the open house was a good opportunity to get her comfortable with the surroundings. She also had a great time playing with all the new toys!

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4. The ships adult lounges and clubs are sometimes “closed” for the day but are in open spaces around the ship. We took L to several lounges and let her run around, climb the plushy chairs, and inspect the flashy walls.

5. If you try to take in a show, sit in the back. From the cruises we’ve been on there’s no bad seat in the theatre. We took L to one of the shows and I’m so happy we did. She only lasted for the first half but she loved what she was able to sit through. And I did too!

6. If your toddler is teething grab some ice cream cones from the ships ice cream station (there’s one on almost every cruise!) and take them to dinner with you. We broke L’s into pieces and let her nom away and we could usually get through a dining room dinner.

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7. The muster drill is kind of scary for little ones with its loud noises and lots of people crammed into a small place. Our cruise dismissed our family early (right after we checked in) because L was terrified of the muster drill so this may be an option for you. No one wants to be around a screaming toddler!

8. Free room service (but please tip) can be your best friend but don’t forget you can run up to the lunch buffet and bring plates to your room as well. L starts her naps at noon so IbD and I took turns running up to the buffet while she napped.

9. Some cruises have a “toy check out” option at their nurseries where you can check out a bag of toys for the duration of your cruise. If your cruise line does not offer that option consider bringing some new toys to occupy your toddler. L’s birthday was a month prior to our cruise so I held back some gifts for her to open on the ship. Her puzzle and “camera” were enough to capture her attention for 4 days.

10. Bring a tripod or exchange picture taking duties with another family to capture some great family pictures. I was shocked at the price of the cruise pictures. $20 for 1 print or $200 for a photo cd for a 4 day cruise!

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Entertaining and the In-Between Household

Entertaining is on my mind frequently.   Possibly because of my addiction to Pinterest and entertaining blogs.  But like everything else, our house is between opinions when it comes to entertaining.

I like to have people over.   I like to plan a get together, sometimes with a theme, and throw in cute little touches here and there.  I loved planning our wedding (the implementation, not so much).

In-Between Dad likes to have people over possibly once a month.   And by people I mean 2.  IbD’s limit?   4 people.  For his birthday I invited over 5.   Luckily one of the couples had a prior commitment.

Reality check time: IbD’s way is probably better.   Less to stress out about and my budget goes a lot further this way.  For Elle’s birthday I had planned 30 people and we ended up with 18 (including ourselves) after IbD narrowed down the list.  It was a really nice amount of people and this way I barely went over budget.

Having over a smaller amount of people also allows you to spend more time with your guests.  And it allows you to put in some really special touches that you may not have time for if you had to do 16 items instead of 4.

What I really would like to start though is a Supper Club.  A very simple Supper Club, similar to the one that Cake Likes a Party belongs to.  I think I’ll invite my partner in crime Maggie over and see if she can help me convince her to start one with me!

Cheesy Puff Pumpkins! Halloween treats for the 1 year old set

Last Halloween we sat at home and oohhhed and ahhed over the cuteness that was our first child on Halloween.

L First Halloween Costume Ghost

L's First Halloween Costume

This year we’re going out!  I got L a Tinkerbelle costume (costume parameters: lightweight, breathable, requires no head gear, ultimate cuteness) and we will be trick-or-treating with our nephews (14 month old twins) on Monday night.

I wanted to make something special to give the boys but I certainly didn’t want to give them candy.   And I needed it to be easy.

So I came up with the Cheesy Puff Pumpkins.

They were pretty simple to make.

First measure your container  and grab the height and width.  The Gerber Lil’ Crunchies container was 4 inches tall and 12 inches round.

Gerber Lil' Crunchies

Gerber Lil' Crunchies

Cut your paper to cover the container.  My paper was only 11 inches long so I let the nutritional information hang out.  Then you’ll want to draw a jack-o-lantern face on the front of your paper.  I used my Silhouette to cut the faces out of cardstock but this was a bad idea.  The smiles never stayed put due to the roundness of the container.

Pumpkin Faces

Pumpkin Faces

Then tape your paper with the face facing outwards to the container.

That’s it!   I think they’re pretty cute myself and I’m letting them hang out on my entryway table until tomorrow when I give them away to my favorite boys.

Cheesy Puff Pumpkins

Cheesy Puff Pumpkins

Successful Shopping Tip #1: Talk to the sales associates

This post starts my Successful Shopping tips series.   To me a shopping trip is successful if I find what I need for a price that is reasonable to me.  In order for a trip to be successful it must be in budget and I have to walk out not feeling guilty or second guessing myself!

Information is one of the key tools in saving and really getting the most for your money.   You can gain information from blogs, newspapers or books but some of my best money saving information has been gleaned from casual conversations with the sales associates of retail stores.

Now I don’t track down sales associates and corner them for their secrets but I do keep myself open to conversation.  I am friendly and approachable.   If a sales associate approaches me and offers assistance I usually take them up on this offer.  And even though I’m never fishing for sales information I usually get some tips!

You may also want to make a sales associate friend in the stores that you frequent.   At my grocery store I have cashiers that know me and also some workers that know me in specific departments.  Not only do we talk about store deals but they’ve also offered me fresher products then what I currently had in my cart!  When I was a sales associate for a large retail store I had frequent customers that I got along well with and I would always let them know when we were having mark-down nights.   Sometimes I would even give them my friend/family coupons that we received if I had leftovers!

Here are some pointers for getting great information for sales associates:

  • Don’t waste your time on a sales associate that is not in a helpful mood.   They may be having a bad day or they may be overwhelmingly busy.  There’s no reason to waste your time or theirs.
  • Have a nice, easy, enjoyable conversation.  I’ve of course had lots of conversations that ended up in no information at all.  But I left feeling better for having a great conversation and hopefully I made someone else’s workday a little more fun!
  • If you have a maintained relationship with a sales associate don’t feel pressured to always talk to them or choose their line for check-out.   A nice wave is almost always appreciated though!

It’s a Start…

I narrate to myself all day long in my head and I’ve made the decision to start posting my mental ramblings on a blog!  This blog as a matter of fact.

What do I plan for this blog to be about?  Since I’m a type A personality and a professional planner (of software projects) I have many plans.   And since I love a good schedule (and rarely get to implement one successfully) here’s my first stab at blog content.

  • Money Saving Ideas – my husband will also be contributing to these posts.   In our house I save little amounts of money (with coupons and homemaking) and my husband saves large amounts of money (refinancing our car and canceling cable for example).  We’ll share with you how we went from living beyond our means to saving over 10% of our income (while losing 1/4 of it!).
  • Mommy School – we have a (barely) toddler who is my entire world.  I’m absolutely fascinated with how she learns and so quickly!   I’ll share with you our weekly activities to stimulate her little brain.
  • Crafting – I love to make things.  I knit, sew, papercraft, and needlecraft.  I’ll show you all the cute things I make.
  • Random Ramblings – I have a lot of them so be prepared.
  • Stunning Photography – I am my husbands biggest fan but it’s well deserved!
I’m excited to get started and share my life with you!