Tag Archives: family

Filling My Backpack - Empty backpack on grey background

Filling My Backpack

Filling My Backpack - Empty backpack on grey backgroundMore than once in my life I have been asked if I ever wanted to find my biological parents, and if so, why? People have said “You have a family, aren’t they enough? Why do you need to find these other people? Just be happy that you had a good life.” And I get where people are coming from. From the outside, looking in I can see how it may appear that I was searching for some sort of replacement. It may look like I didn’t think my family was  enough. Honestly, that’s not the case AT ALL (and I don’t speak for all adoptees, but I don’t think that’s the case for almost all of us) My family has always, and will always be enough. These are the people who raised me, cared for me, gave me everything I ever wanted, supported me through every dream, and every heartache I ever had. They are my family and always will be. I love them unconditionally.

Now here’s the “but” This is something hard to describe to anyone who is not adopted, but … There has always been a missing piece. A part of my history – my identity -that I had no access to. Vital information that nobody could provide. It’s not a “hole” exactly. I, as a person, wasn’t empty. I had everything I needed to fill up my soul.  But…I guess, you could look at it like a backpack. Everyone has this backpack, and inside it are files, and photos, and information. My backpack was pretty much empty.

For example, in school when  they’d talk about heritage and family trees, everyone would open up their “backpack” and pull out the files about where their family came from, what nationality they were. I could guess that I was Irish because of my fair skin, but that never felt right because I didn’t really know. I could use my family’s history and say I was Italian and Norwegian because my dad is, or German, French, English, and Irish because my mom is, but that didn’t feel right either because I wasn’t those things. Their DNA wasn’t my DNA, and I felt like a fraud claiming their heritage. Everyone else in class just knew. Everyone else in class had a backpack full of information.

Mine was empty.

Every doctor’s appointment I ever went to they’d ask me to give a family history. But I’d open my backpack and there’d be nothing to tell them. “I’m adopted…so…I don’t know…” Everyone else has those files in their backpack, they can pull them right up and say “Yes, my mom had cancer, my dad had heart disease, my grandmother had a thyroid condition, my uncle had a genetic condition.” I had “Biological mother allergic to strawberries and tomatoes.” That never got me very far. Doctors tend to roll their eyes at patients with empty backpacks. Doctors like to have a place to start when diagnosing medical conditions.

All I could give them was an empty backpack, and my apologies for making their jobs harder.

My backpack didn’t have the photos showing who I looked like, where I got my blue eyes or my dimples, or strawberry-blonde hair. My backpack had no photos, while everyone else had full albums.

And everyone else was always adding to their backpacks, while mine stayed empty.

What my backpack DID have were little scraps of paper with words like “unwanted” and “unlovable,” “given up” and “abandoned” Little reminders of that first trauma that would fall out every time I opened that backpack

My empty backpack has affected every relationship I have ever had. Friends, family, boyfriends, coworkers, every single relationship. Even my own child. Avery was my first blood relative. The first person I could look at and see myself looking back.  Having Avery was profoundly healing in ways I never imagined, but it also picked at that primal wound. Having a child added some items to my backpack, but it also reminded me of the things that were missing.

In searching for my biological family, I have just wanted to fill my backpack, to have access to the same information that everyone else has access to.

But in finding them, I have gotten so much more. While those little scraps of paper are still there, and will likely always be there, they are smaller, and don’t fall out quite as often. Because now, when I open my backpack, they aren’t the only things inside. Now those scraps are at the bottom of my backpack, under the photos, and the medical history folder, and the family tree.

My search was never about replacing anyone. It was never about finding something NEW or BETTER. It was always about finding MORE. It was always a search for MORE information. But, through this search I have found even more than that. I have found MORE people who love me. MORE people who want me.

And MORE of my story to fill my backpack.

Escape your reality at THE New England Renaissance Faire

*Disclosure* Our family received tickets to the Faire to facilitate our blog post. All opinions are our own!*

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! FALL! I know, I know, it’s not TECHNICALLY fall yet, but… Pumpkin Spice is back at my favorite coffee shop, Avery is back in school, I need to wear a sweater in the morning, and King Richard’s Faire is open!

Our family has been visiting the Faire every year for the last 4 years. It’s fun for our whole family. I love people watching and seeing all the amazing costumes. Avery loves the performers, and of course the unicorns (Yes, they do have unicorns in Carvershire!) and Dave loves the food!

Avery at King Richards Faire

Each weekend has something different to offer. Our favorite time to visit is during Harry Potter Fan Fest Weekend, which is coming up September 21 & 22. This event features Sorting of Houses (Ravenclaw here!) trivia contest, and a costume parade for all ages. It’s a lot of fun.

Not a Potterhead? That’s ok, members of all fandoms are welcome at the Faire! Game of Thrones fans will want to visit the shire on 9/28 or 29. Do you like men in kilts? Are you a man who wears a kilt? Then visit on October 5 for the Highland Hunks competition! Are vikings or pirates your thing? Maybe you’d like to visit during Invaders Weekend, October 12 & 14.  Love it ALL? The last weekend of the faire, 10/19 & 10/20 is the Fantasy Finale, and features the best costume contest you’ve ever seen. It is sure to be amazing!

No matter when you visit King Richard’s Faire, you’re going to have a great time. With eight stages of live entertainment, a joust, a few hundred actors, singers, dancers, stage combat pros, acrobats, puppeteers, and general (planned) mayhem of “Carvershire” (all free and included with admission!) how could you not??

We look forward to sharing all our photos when we visit in a couple weeks!


Escape YOUR reality at King Richard’s Faire, New England’s largest and longest-running Renaissance festival!

Visit the Faire weekends and Monday holidays from August 31-October 20, 2019, where entertainment, exciting rides and skilled games abound on the Faire’s enchanting 80-acre wooded site (235 Main Street, Carver, Mass. 02330). You’ll be dazzled by acrobats, aerialists, and jugglers! Be captivated by minstrels, dancers and puppeteers and enthralled by fire-eaters, magicians and exotic tigers. Hundreds of talented performers perform non-stop for you throughout the day on any one of our eight vibrant stages. The King’s handsome knights battle on horseback as bawdy beggars compete in mud. Wacky wenches will leave you in stitches while happy villagers engage you in the lanes. Frolicking faeries can be seen dancing through the forest, where you can try your skill in his majesty’s Gaming Glen.

See the website for new acts and special events for the 2019 season!

Afterward, epicurean pleasures suited for royalty, will tantalize even the pickiest of taste buds. Satiate thy palate with giant spit-roasted turkey legs, ringlets of fryes, and boules of chowder or stew, and quench thy thirst with champagne, specialty cocktails, wine and brew.

Many of the King’s talented artisans journey from around the globe and have much to offer all who enter the gates of Carvershire. Discover beautiful handspun pottery, fabulous jewelry, and incredible face painting. Delight in period clothing, leather, armor, and moccasins. Be amazed by our blacksmith and forged weaponry and other works of art. Revel in scented oils, perfumes, handmade crafts and psychic readings as you make memories to last a lifetime.

New in 2019: a new King Richard XI to lord over Carvershire with his lovely bride, Queen Anne and visiting princesses in the village to sample talented artisan wares, food and drynk, and entertaining new performers. New to the entertainment lineup in Carvershire this year: The Accidental Acrobats, a duo of contortionists; Sir Guy, the comedian; Kasam the Masked Master; GoGaucho, a dynamic blend of dance, music, comedy and other tricks; and mesmerizing music from Moon Chariot and piping by the Portland & District Pipers.

Visit kingrichardsfaire.net for a site map, event schedules, and ticket sales.
235 Main Street, Carver MA 02330
adult: $34
child 4-11: $17
children 3 years of age and younger are free
Website link: http://kingrichardsfaire.net
Ticket link:

Black & White Halloween Movie Party

This Black & White Halloween Movie Party shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and the Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #FrightAndDelight #CollectiveBias

This Black & White Halloween Movie Party is sure to fright and delight your guests! Enjoy simple party snacks while watching your favorite classic Halloween films!

Black & White Halloween Movie Party

Sing it with me… It’s the most wonderful time of the year…. That’s right! It’s Halloween! You guys know how much I LOVE this time of year! We’ve got our yard decorated with our growing “family” of skeletons, we have our costumes ready to go, and we’ve made fun plans for trick-or-treating, and we had a fun Halloween party when my cousin came to town! Yeah, this is OUR season!

Let’s talk about that Halloween party, shall we?  It was a lot of fun, while still being simple and laid back.Halloween Designs Fanta

I was inspired by the Fanta Halloween packaging, featuring Noma Bar designs inspired by Universal’s new Mummy and their other classic monster characters.  I loved the black and white designs so much, I thought it would be fun to create a Black & White Halloween Movie Party!  The orange Fanta was the perfect pop of color in our spooky tablescape!

IMG_9196When I saw the Fanta’s Halloween packaging at Shaw’s I knew it would be perfect for our little get together! The designs are really cool! I love the classic Halloween film characters!

Fanta at Shaws I grabbed a 2-liter bottle to use in a punch recipe and a 12-pack of cans for party guests to enjoy. Fanta OrangeFanta’s irresistible fruity flavor and fun, bold colors bring scary movie night to life (and put mom in the director’s chair of creating a moment her family will love).

The punch was the centerpiece of the food table. All of the food was black and white, so the orange of the Fanta really popped!

Fanta and punch This punch recipe is super simple and only calls for 3 main ingredients (+2 if you’re adding eye balls!)

-1 2L bottle of Fanta Orange

-1 bottle (approximately 2 quarts) of Pineapple Mango juice (or other tropical pineapple juice)

-3 cups any flavor sherbet (I used Lime-Orange-Lemon)

Pour the Fanta and juice into a large punch bowl, and stir. Add the “eyeballs” if desired, and  then add in your sherbet! Done!

Fanta Halloween PunchIMG_9196

spooky punchNow, about those eyeballs…

There are a few ways you can make them. The easiest is to use lychee, and pop a blueberry in the middle. I didn’t have lychee, but I did have apples (because it’s fall in New England and we’re all up to our eyeballs in apples *pun intended* haha)  I used a melon baller to carve out little balls of apple. Then with a knife, I carved a smaller hole in the middle, and pressed the blueberries in.  If you don’t have apples  or lychee, you could also use melon or pears. apple eyeballs

I also made a yummy Black & White popcorn mix! pop secret popcornFor this I used:

-1 bag Pop Secret microwave popcorn

– 1 cup crushed chocolate sandwich cookies

– 1 bag black candy coated chocolates

–  marshmallow sauce ( 4 heaping tablespoons marshmallow cream and 3 tablespoons water. Combine in a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring continuously, until smooth)

Black and White Popcorn MixPop popcorn according to package directions and pour into a large bowl. Pour the marshmallow sauce on top and mix well.  Add crushed cookies and candies and mix again. halloween tablescapeI set up our food and drink on the buffet which sits just below the TV. It was the perfect spot. Our guests wouldn’t miss a minute of the movie if they got up to grab more snacks!

I had picked up some white and black gauze material to use at the table cloth. Small black and white skulls, pumpkins and trees made up the rest of the decor. black and white party decor

I had a lot of fun coming up with ideas for black and white snacks! I grabbed a bag of blue corn tortilla chips and paired those with queso blanco, served in a spider web bowl! black and white theme

black and white chips and dipI also made some cookies and cream marshmallow pops and white chocolate covered cookies.

black and white desserts

The punch, snacks, and sweet treats were a hit! Avery was thrilled that we let her stay up and hang out with the “big girls”
watching movies

What do you think of our Black & White Halloween Movie Party?  What is YOUR favorite Halloween film?


Black & White Halloween Movie Party Black and White Halloween Movie Party Easy Party Plan

Find Fanta on:




Red Sox Peanut Allergy Friendly Nights

Red Sox Peanut Allergy Friendly Games

I’ve talked to quite a few parents who want to take their kids to Red Sox games, but worry about their child’s severe peanut allergy.  We all know that Peanuts are a baseball stadium snacking tradition.  They are even in a song you may have heard…Take me out to the ball game. Take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks. I don’t care if I never get back.

But, for many kids (and adults) those peanuts can cause severe reactions. Even if they are just sitting near someone who is eating them.

Because the team wants ALL Red Sox fans to be able to come out and enjoy a game at Fenway, they are offering Peanut Allergy Friendly Nights! On select nights, they will have a Peanut Free Section for fans who buy these special tickets in advance.

Red Sox Peanut Allergy Friendly Nights:

Tuesday June 27th

Sunday July 30th

Sunday August 6th

To purchase tickets for the Peanut Free Section e-mail peanutallergy@redsox.com


Also, the Pawtucket Red Sox will be hosting two Peanut Free nights at McCoy Stadium. Those games are Monday, July 17th and Monday August 21st. Peanut products will not be sold anywhere throughout the ballpark during those two games. Those tickets are available on their website, or at the box office.

WebI am a proud member of the Red Sox Parents. I was not compensated for this post.

Program Your Night – Nacho Cups

Nacho Cups Nacho Cups

This shop/post has been compensated by Collective Bias, INC. and The Coca-Cola Company, all opinions are mine alone. #PlayPauseRefresh #CollectiveBias

Nacho Cups Recipe - Perfect Family Movie Night or Sports Night SnackFamily time is very important to us. One of the ways we spend time together is through sports. Dave and I coach Avery’s tee-ball team.  Avery and I go to Dave’s baseball games. We go to see our favorite local sports teams. And, we watch sports on TV.  Watching sports on TV at home is always a nice way to just relax, and  enjoy each others company.

TV Night with Coca Cola We love to hang out, make some yummy snacks and appetizer type foods, and grab a Coca-Cola as we snuggle in to cheer on our favorite teams! I grew up watching sports at home with my dad.  The teams we loved were out of state, and too expensive to go to games, so watching from the couch was the only way we’d get to see them play.  It was such a fun way to bond, and for him to teach me all about the rules of the game, cheering, and of course, heckling!

I love that I can share that with Avery, who has become the biggest smack-talker in the family!  My goodness, that girl is ruthless!

I also really enjoy the fact that at home, we can enjoy the game in a nice, comfortable, climate controlled environment, and I can wear my pajamas.Family Movie Night with Coca-Cola

And I can enjoy a cold Coca-Cola and not have to worry about the person next to me stealing MY cup holder, or an extra excited fan knocking my drink out of my hand and all over my shirt (It’s happened!)  I can snuggle with my kiddo, I don’t have to worry about a rogue foul ball ruining the night, and did I mention I can wear my pajamas? I can program my night just the way I like it!

Coca-Cola wants to see how YOU Program your night! Do you spend time watching the game with your family like we do?  Maybe you have the girls over for that must see show. Or perhaps you are the queen of movie night with friends and family? Share how you Program Your Night, and you can win some cool prizes!

Here’s how you can enter the sweepstakes:

1 – Pick up your favorite Coca-Cola beverage and Program Your Night.

2 – Take a photo of how you enjoy Coca-Cola during TV night. Make sure the program you are watching stays on your TV but out of your photo.

3 – Share your photo on Twitter or Instagram with both #programyournight and #sweepstakes for a chance to win cool prizes.

You can find all the details, some great recipes, and more HERE

Coca Cola and snacks

As I mentioned, our sports nights include Coca-Cola and SNACKS! One of our favorite snacks is nachos, but sometimes we like to mix it up a bit and make nacho cups! These are single serving cups, loaded with our favorite nacho ingredients!

Nacho Cups Ingredient homemade nacho ingredientsIngredients:

  • small soft tortilla shells
  • ground beef/pork/chicken (I used pre-seasoned Mexican Chicken crumbles to save time!)
  • Shredded cheese
  • Salsa
  • Beans (I didn’t include these, because Dave prefers his nachos sans legumes)
  • Olives, jalapenos, peppers, whatever you want!
  • Sour cream

How to make taco cups and taco bowlsTo make the “cups” I used a muffin pan and turned it upside-down. I placed the tortillas in between the muffin cups, to form the shape. I then baked them at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until they were starting to crisp up. Recipe nacho cupsNext I filled the cups with a mixture of the cheese and chicken, and then topped it with another layer of cheese. I baked that at 350, until the cheese started to melt.  Easy Nacho Cups - Appetizer RecipeI added the olives, peppers and salsa, and another sprinkle of cheese (we love cheese!) and baked again, at 350, until the cheese melted.  Easy Nacho Cups - Taco Cups RecipeI removed them from the oven, topped with sour cream, and served them with an ice cold Coca-Cola!  It was the perfect snack (or meal, sine we ate a few!!) for our family baseball night! Dave has requested them for EVERY game this season. (Do you KNOW how many games there are in a baseball season?  That’s a whole lot of nacho cups!)  Nacho Cups and Coca-Cola

What do you think of these Nacho Cups? What is your favorite TV/Movie night snack? Share it in the comments below! And don’t forget to enter the Program Your Night Sweepstakes!!

6 Tips for T-Ball Coaches

tips for t-ball coaches

*This post contains affiliate links*

6 Tips for T-Ball Coaches

6 Tips for T-Ball Coaches

We just started our second season coaching Avery’s t-ball team! It really has been so much more fun and rewarding than Dave and I ever imagined. That’s not to say it can’t also be tough, and exhausting but, overall, it has been one of the best experiences we’ve shared as a family.

The majority of our team from last year returned to our team this year, which has given us a little baseball family of sorts. It’s been truly wonderful to watch these kids grow, not just in their baseball skills, but friendships and in life.

We’ve had many friends come to us asking for advice as they embark on their first-time coaching journeys, and I remember how completely lost, nervous, and unqualified we felt last year. Now that we have a full season under our belts, I feel slightly more qualified to share our tips for coaching t-ball!

Here are our 6 Tips for T-Ball Coaches

  1. Establish Team Rules & Have the kids help:   It’s really important to set and stick with some basic team rules. Ours include  “No bats in the dugout”  and “Everyone must sit on the bench until it’s their turn to bat ” (Which we’ve found to be the hardest rule for 4 – 6 year olds to follow)  Instead of making all the rules ourselves, we asked the kids to help come up with rules they thought were important. They came up with things like “No throwing rocks” “Do not pick up sticks” and “No digging in the dirt!”  We asked them at our first practice this year if they remembered the rules from last season, and they remembered every single one!T ball team rules tips for t-ball coaches
  2. Give Everyone a chance to field the ball: Whatever the sport, when you have a team of little kids, and a ball, there always seems to be a huge group of kids, piling on top of one another. We saw that in our first few practices and games. The ball would be hit, and every single kid would run and throw themselves on it. It’s cute, it’s funny, BUT it can also be dangerous, and the kids aren’t really learning anything. We use two methods to combat this issue
    • The first method is to call out a player before each at bat, and let them know this ball is thiers, wherever it goes.  This way, each kid get to “Make the play” This isn’t a perfect option since, sometimes you’ll have a kid on 3rd base, running over to first to get the ball, but more often than not, it works well.
    • The other method is to assign “lanes”  or  “circles”  This is great for when the kids have a few games under their belts, and are starting to understand the game a bit more.13002599_10153588493041452_7383471611128937680_o
  3. Rotate the Batting order: Our games are 3 innings long (I think that’s he case in most leagues) So we rotate our batting order through 3 innings. That way, you don’t have the same kid leading off every inning, and the same kid waiting, and waiting, and waiting to bat clean-up. We also rotate fielding positions. That way, each kid has a chance to try out, and learn a bit about each position. They learn to throw to first base, and the first baseman learns to throw the ball home (after touching the base, of course!) etc.batting order
  4. Hand out a Game Ball at the end of every game: We give one player the “Game Ball” We don’t give it to the kid who had the best at bat, or threw the farthest. It goes to the kid who showed the most team spirit (cheering loudly for every teammate) or the most hustle, or the most determination. We want them to see that being a great teammate and trying your best is what is most important here. The kids love it and work very hard to earn the game ball every week.  Sometimes we give it to the kid who is struggling the most, to help get them excited about the game again.  Make sure you give one to every player by the end of the season. That may mean two game balls in one game. But definitely don’t leave anyone out!17835128_10154524167441452_5225914154550494141_o
  5. Mix it up!: Find new and fun ways to teach the basic skills.  This helps keep the kids interested, having fun, and excited for the next practice “What will coach do this week?”  Maybe you set up an obstacle course or relay that includes  hitting of the tee, throwing  baseballs to a coach, and running the bases. On a hot day, try playing a game of catch with water balloons or throwing the water balloons at a target (Give parents a heads-up about this so they can bring a change of clothes!) The possibilities are endless, and a quick google search will give you tons of ideas for games you can play incorporating baseball skills.tips for t-ball coaches
  6. Most importantly, BE PATIENT and HAVE FUN!: Remember that these are little kids. They will not always pay attention. They will not always listen. They will not always focus. They just can’t do those things, all the time, yet. And that’s ok! Your job is to show them the ropes. Guide them, teach them. They are retaining so much more of the information that you may think! And kids definitely pick up on your attitude. If you are having fun, they will have fun (and guess what happens when coach is miserable…everybody is miserable! )  I should also add that it is important to learn your player’s strengths and weaknesses, and understand how they learn, and what motivates them. Every kid is different, and therefore, you may need to coach each kid a little differently. Have fun ncoaching youth sports

Remember these kids are there to learn and have fun. You may end up having a 4 year old phenom on your team, but it’s more likely that you’ll have a group of silly kids who have never picked up a bat, have little coordination, and just want to dig in the dirt and pick dandelions in the outfield! But enjoy it! There will be many, many years where they’ll need to take the game much more seriously. But, if t-ball isn’t a fun experience for them, they may quit on the sport all together. 13497573_10153735433931452_2236781920021500076_o

Do you coach t ball or other youth sports? Share you coaching tips in the comments below!!

Easton Baseball

10 Ways to Save Money on a Disney Cruise

10 Ways to Save Money on a Disney CruiseWhen we started planning our Disney Cruise, the number 1 comment I heard from friends and family was “I wish we could afford to do that. It is SO expensive!” The follow up question is “How can I save money on a Disney Cruise?”

I am not going to lie. Disney cruises are not cheap.  Especially when you look at other, less magical, lines. Which is why it’s always best to have someone else pay for it.

KIDDING (sort of!)

While it would be nice to have a wealthy family member, friend, benefactor or fairy godmother, that’s just not the case for most of  us.

A Disney Cruise is not something our family could do every year, or even every other year. But, it was something we really wanted to do with our family, and so we found ways to make it work and it was worth every penny!

Since so many of my friend have asked how we saved for our trip, I thought I’d write a post sharing what we’ve learned. In the planning stages, we heard so much great advice from experienced cruisers that really helped us.

Here are our Top 10 Ways to Save Money on a Disney Cruise

#1 Book Early (Or Late)
If you know you want to book a cruise, it’s best to book as early as possible. As soon as the dates are released. A year (or more) out.  Prices go up and up and up as the months go by and the ship fills up, so for your best rate, book as soon as you can.  There are times when it may pay to wait, however. SOMETIMES Disney Cruise Line will release special discounts closer to the time of sailing. Also, you can often find last minute deals on Guaranteed category rooms (These rates guarantee you a stateroom in a certain category–Inside, Outside, Verandah– but you cannot select your room or specific category.

#2 Use a Travel Agent
A travel agent save you time, stress, and MONEY. (Some even offer on-board credits!) Even though we are Disney pros, we use a TA because of the convenience, and the fact that our agent is always on the lookout for the best rates, and knows what to do to ensure we get every deal or discount we’re entitled to! A good agent will also help with all your planning needs and questions.

#3 Buy Gift Cards at Target
Since you’re  already at Target 6 days a week,  this should be easy.   Oh. Just me?  Well. It’s worth stopping in!  Did you know that you save 5% on Gift Card purchases when you use your RedCard?  It’s true. So basically you’re getting free money. 5% may not seem like much, but every little bit helps! If you buy $1000 in Disney gift cards, you’re only paying $950.  The “downside” is that Target typically only carries the $25 or $50 cards, so for a cruise, you’d need to buy a LOT (And Target often limits the number you can purchase in one transaction. This is due to fraud, and will vary from store to store)  and then you have a whole bunch of cards when you pay (online, by phone, or on the ship) So what I do, is enter the cards on the Disney Gift Cards site. There you can manage and transfer balances, adding all your $25 cards onto one (up to $1,000) So you don’t have a massive stack of cards. (Sam’s Club and BJ’s also offer gift cards at a similar discount)

#4 Use the Disney Visa
The Disney Visa is great because not only do you earn Reward Dollars on eligible purchases, but you also get a promotional APR of 0% for 6 months on select Disney vacation packages and Disney cruises!! This gives you a little extra time, if needed, to pay off your trip without accruing dreaded interest!! There are also some great Disney Cruise Line perks that you can enjoy when you use your Disney Visa onboard. You can find more info on that HERE

#5 Cruise in the Off Season
I know this can be difficult when you have children in school, but if you can make it work, you’ll often find much cheaper rates during the off-peak times, like Fall.

#6 Go Inside
Inside staterooms are the lowest priced staterooms. So, if you’re ok to book one, you can save a good bit of money. I know many people don’t like the idea of an inside cabin, do to the fact that it,s well…inside. But, Disney has made inside cabins a bit more desirable on their Disney Dream and Fantasy ships by featuring a virtual porthole! The porthole is basically a TV screen, but it has a real-time view of the outside, making it feel like you have a real porthole. And you can see some of your favorite Disney Characters as they make fun appearances on the screen!

#7 BYOBeer or Wine
Alcohol is not included in your cruise package, so if you plan to have a drink or two, or more it may be a good idea to bring your own! Disney Cruise Line policy states: Guests 21 years and older may bring two bottles of unopened wine or champagne (no larger than 750ml) or six beers (no larger than 12oz) on-board in carry-on luggage at the beginning of the voyage and at each port-of-call. Please note, there is a $25 corkage fee for guests who bring their own wine to dinner in the restaurants. All liquors and spirits (including powdered alcohol) are prohibited and will be stored until the completion of the cruise.

#8 Book Two Rooms
If you are a family of 5 or more, it may be cheaper to book two adjoining rooms than to book a larger stateroom or suite. Definitely take the time to price it out, to see what your savings might be.

#9 Book Excursions on Your Own
Shore excursions can be pricey when booked through the cruise line. With a little research, you can often find the same excursions on your own, for much less. You can also find different excursions that may suit your family’s need better (For example, in Grand Cayman, our family wanted to visit Stingray City. The Disney excursion required children to be at least 5 years of age. Avery is 4, so we looked on our own. We found GREAT reviews for one company, and their price was half what the Disney excursion cost.)  I was a bit hesitant about this at first, and we did book two of our three planned excursions directly through Disney (it was our first big family cruise, and I liked the convenience of having someone else handle the details, especially since we were going to countries we’d never visited before) The benefit of booking through Disney is that they have already done the work of vetting the tour operators, and should any issues arise, Disney is there to step in and resolve it. But, if it is cost prohibitive to book through DCL, then definitely check to see what other options are available for your family!

#10 Open a Disney Vacation Account
The Disney Vacation Account is a great way to budget and save for your trip! You decide how much you want to put aside, and when.  Maybe it’s $25 a week, or $200 a month, it’s all at your own pace, and you can set up the account up to 5 years in advance of your trip! Contributions are automatically deducted from your debit or credit card, and you can book your trip directly through Disney with the funds in your account! Another benefit of the Disney Vacation Account is that for every $1000 you spend on qualified vacation purchases, you’re eligible for a $20 Disney Gift Card!  You can learn more HERE

Bonus Tip! Book Your Next Cruise While On-board!! If you LOVE your Disney cruise, ad know that you’ll ant to cruise with DCL again, you can book your next trip while on-board! You will save money (Typically a discount of 10% off), receive and on-board credit ($200 for sailings of 7 or more nights. $100 for sailings less than 7 nights) a discounted deposit (10% as opposed to the standard 20%) And, if you want to use a travel agent, you can still rebook on-board and then transfer the booking to the agent (they can help you with that!)

A Disney Cruise IS expensive, but with a bit of planning, and by following these money saving tips, you can bring your family on this most magical adventure!!

Have you been on a Disney Cruise?  Please share you best money saving tips in the comments!