Disney World. I feel like you either love it, or you hate it. I grew up going to Disney World with my family several times a year (Florida native over here) and have the best memories! I knew once I had a family of my own I wanted to create those same kind of memories. It’s so nice being able to take an impromptu weekend trip to Orlando when its only 3 hours away. When Harper was 2 years old we decided to take her on her first trip and it was indeed, magical. We’ve been passholders ever since. There is just something so heartwarming when you see your kids light up from excitement at Disney. Yes, it’s hot as heck, the lines are hours long, and the princess bubble wands that light up cost as much as your weekly grocery bill. However, there are a few hacks to make your time a little less stressful and a lot more enjoyable. I’m no expert but can tell you what has worked for us each time. We are already booked for our next trip to kick off summer break and can’t wait to share our experience at the newest Disney Resort, The Riviera! Here are my top 10 tips + tricks to do Disney right:
Get Annual Passes. If you go to Disney twice a year this makes the most sense. We have found that not packing all the rides into one day helps us to feel less stressed. If we only go on 5 rides and head back to play at the pool, we don’t feel guilty. For our girls we also alternate each year between a birthday party or family Disney trip for a night so we definitely find that we utilize the passes enough.
Stay on Disney Property. In my opinion this is the way to go when you have little ones. They provide transportation to and from the hotels which is huge and the overall experience and feel is “Disney.” We typically stay at Wilderness Lodge or Animal Kingdom Resort – they are our favorite. We made a bad decision (well, it was actually really good) and stayed at the Four Seasons as part of the girls Christmas gift in December. OMG. If you ever decide to splurge, this is the place to go. The service, food, transportation to parks, rooms and pool were over the top. Warning- once you go Four Seasons everything will feel like the Motel 6 after. 😉 When I booked our upcoming trip I did first look at Four Seasons but almost fell off my chair when I saw the prices for May. We are super excited to explore the Riviera Resort- I have heard only good things!
Bring Snacks & Bottled Water. We bring a backpack filled with Uncrustables, bottled waters and LOTS of snacks to avoid meltdowns at the parks. Waters are overpriced and if your kids are picky eaters like ours its best to pack known crowd pleasers before they have Mickey Ice-cream or cotton candy.
Buy Disney Treats at Target or Amazon. Do yourself a favor and buy a few “Disney” themed items for half the price on Amazon or at Target. I love surprising the girls and having treats when we get to the hotel that they can play with (princess bead making, coloring books, barbies, etc). We usually get suckered into a treat at the park but we don’t go overboard.
Fast Passes & Dining Reservation. Don’t skip this step. Set up your Fast Passes and make dinner reservations as soon as possible. Especially if you want to do a character breakfast (Ohana at the Polynesian Resort is a must) or dinner. There are a ton of great options at Disney Springs too!
Take a Nap. Staying on Disney property allows you to have “Extra Magic Hours” so get to the park early, but plan to head to hotel around 2pm for naps. Then you can head back to the park for dinner or after dinner for shorter line times and fireworks.
Stock your Hotel Fridge. We usually eat breakfast at hotel before parks and because our kids wake up at sunrise. We bring bananas, cereal, milk, granola bars, etc. to keep in the room so they don’t get hangry!! We also bring adult bevs for when the kids are napping. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?
Keep your Magic Bands. Until recently, Disney sent you Magic Bands for each trip you booked. We always lost them post vacation but now you have to pay to replace them. So, make sure you collect them from your family and keep in a safe place for your next trip.
Download the “my Disney Experience” app. It is so helpful to see wait times for rides, park maps, your fast passes and so much more.
Outfits. Naturally, I have to touch on this because I love dressing the girls in matching clothes while I still can. We find cute Disney tees at Old Navy, Gap Kids and Target. Mickey overalls from Pepperkids are darling, Eli and Emery have custom shirts, and June and January have comfy solids that pair with Disney graphic tees.
Alright friends, as always thanks for following along! If you haven’t been to Disney yet I hope this helps in making your first trip a magical one.
A few months ago Nick and I were talking about how we haven’t hosted an ADULT ONLY party in years. In fact, it’s been about 7 years because #kids. We decided to claim NYE ‘19 and host a soirée going into the new decade. If you know me at all you know I LOVE throwing parties, even though they are usually for my girls. Either way, I usually go all out! Nick and I put a list together of our closest friends and I got an adorable invite made. Then the planning began…
I knew from the start that I wanted to create an entire charcuterie table because it would offer so many different options of snacks for everyone throughout the night. I bought everything from Trader Joe’s + Costco as it was most cost effective. We even got all the champagne, wine and beer from the two stores. I am not gonna lie, I was a little nervous that the table would be tough to put together but it was so easy (with help from my sister + BFF). We covered the table with craft paper and placed boards down that would have the meat and cheese on them. I had a festive champagne tower as the center piece and we just started loading it up!
My mom convinced me to have “Nothing bundt Cake” as the desserts and they did not disappoint. The leftovers didn’t go to waste 😉
I used our farmhouse sink as a giant cooler for all of the drinks. We had a separate tub for the champagne and a small “mule” area- which was a huge hit for the guys.
We had three cornhole games going allll night, major fireworks and fire pits to hang around. It turned out exactly as I had hoped and we had a blast ringing in 2020 with our friends!
I had so much fun making the girl’s shared room extra festive this year! Target for the win (as always!) They had a sale on Christmas sheets so I picked these up for under $25 a set! I added Stress Away + Peppermint essential oils to my wool dryer balls so their sheets smell like candy canes!
We picked out very girlie ornaments & tinsel for their little tree and I am keeping my fingers crossed that Ava doesn’t knock it down at night from her crib.
Harper & Emmy made a paper countdown to Christmas chain to add to their room. This was a fun craft for them to do together with minimal arguments until they started to talk about who gets to rip the first one down on December 1st!
I know, I know…it’s not even Thanksgiving yet but our family has already started watching our favorite holiday movies! Sunday nights are the best for painting the girls nails (and mine), unwinding from a typically hectic weekend and watching a movie together. Since the weather has been AMAZING here in Naples this past week though (low 50’s at night) we are loving having the windows open, fire place going and snuggling up together on the couch to get a head start on memorizing every line in these movies.
Here are ten of our favorite movies to have on repeat during the holiday season- some are family friendly & the others for the adults. What are your go-to’s year after year?
When Harper lost her first tooth a few months back I knew I wanted to start a special tradition that would be easy to re-create a lot because #threegirls. A dollar bill covered in “pixie dust” sounded magical so that’s just what we did. The first tooth she lost we wrote a note from the tooth fairy and rolled up the sparkly dollar and tied it with a ribbon. It was perfect. Until she lost another tooth and we were scrambling to find a dollar bill and a glue stick. Luckily we found one but it was a lesson learned. I created a little “tooth fairy” kit and keep it hidden in my room. I put several dollar bills, glitter and a glue stick in it. Harper has lost six teeth now and I love that she wakes up just as excited as the first time she lost a tooth with pixie dust under her pillow.
Can you believe there are less than 90 days left in 2019? I feel like there are so many more things I need to accomplish before we head into a new year. Here are 6 things (among 100+) on my list. But first, coffee.
✖️EXERCISE. Freaking get back on the fitness bus. I fell off a few miles back and can feel it with my energy, patience and overall mood. Running is my favorite but summer heat in Florida is no joke. So now that temps are getting a little more tolerable, I can hit the pavement again. I am shooting for 4-5 workouts per week in general. Wish me luck.
✖️COOK. Dinner time kills me every single night. Chicken nuggets anyone? My plan is to prepare 3 meals a week that my ENTIRE family will eat without tears (remember, pickiest kids ever)! I work full time so it’s not easy preparing QUICK and EASY meals at 6pm -all suggestions welcome!
✖️PAINT HOUSE. When we bought our house in 2014 it was ORANGE everything (gag). We wanted a light blue house with a navy door so that’s what we did. Now we hate it. So we are planning on painting our little Naples bungalow white when the rain stops and the humidity moves on. Never thought picking a white would be so tough…
✖️DISNEY. Our kiddos get SO spoiled from the grandparents each Christmas and I honestly find myself hiding unopened gifts in closets for rainy days. This year Nick and I decided to fill the stockings (my favorite ever), get a few gifts and give the girls the most memorable trip to the most magical place, Disney. We are annual pass-holders so we go to Disney a few times a year which is how I grew up and I have the best memories. The girls legit cry every time we leave and want to live there too. We are going with my sister and her crew so it makes the trip that much more special! Stay tuned for all the magic and let the Type A planning begin!
✖️SILVER. This won’t mean much to most people but it’s still something on my list. I run a wellness business in addition to my full time job (I love both) and have been pushing to hit my next leadership rank. Essential oils have been such a blessing to our family, first with sleep and immune support but now financially. I want everyone to experience the magic they create. Girl boss hustle is on!
✖️EMBRACE 35. I am turning 35 on November 1st and for some reason this is the first age I’m a little scared of. While I feel more comfortable in my own skin than ever before, I also feel like 35 just seems “old”. I know it’s all mental so I’m ready to embrace my mid-30s and have FUN! Nick bought me a ticket to the Rachel Hollis RISE Conference in January 2020 as my early birthday gift and couldn’t be more excited to go with my friend Amber. Perfect gift 🖤
There are three months left in this decade! What is on your list that you are looking forward to checking off? I think you should just go for it!
I took Harper & Emerson on a 24 hour trip to West Palm Beach this weekend to celebrate my nieces birthday. It was so nice to spend a little time alone with these two girls, even though I felt like I was forgetting something the entire time…Ava. I’m so used to packing diapers, snacks, pack and play, change of clothes, milk and binkies that when I just throw a quick overnight bag together it feels odd. I’ll be honest, sometimes I get really sad knowing Ava is our last “baby” because I feel like it’s going by too fast. Gone are the days where I could lay on the couch and the girls would just sleep on my chest. The sounds of a little one running through the house in diapers will be over soon too. Time is a thief.
There is beauty in this next phase too though. I treated the two girls to manicures & pedicures on Sunday after we went out to breakfast. An older woman was watching us while we picked out our nail colors and giggled because Emmy had to have several pillows put behind her to get her toes in the water. She came over to me and said, “Enjoy this time with your kids. It’s the sweetest time and these are the best days you will have with them.” I honestly thought about that the rest of the day. I am embracing this phase of the girls getting older and realizing we can do so much more at the ages they are right now (2,4 & 6). It’s getting easier to go out to dinner, sit through a movie, and even travel. I am also super thankful God gave me the clingiest mama’s girl as my last baby so that I can hold a piece of that phase a little longer too.
I saw this festive and easy “spooky popcorn bark” on the Garvin & Co. blog last year and immediately made it with my girls! It’s the perfect mix of sweet + salty and great to keep in a glass jar on display in your kitchen- give me all the fall vibes! This year we added candy corn, halloween sprinkles and candy eyes!
Directions: Lay out parchment paper and drizzle with white chocolate (we used Ghirardelli white baking wafers) and place a layer of pretzel sticks. Drizzle another layer of chocolate and add Chex cereal. Drizzle another layer of chocolate and Skinny Pop popcorn followed by one last layer with chocolate. Finally add candy eyes (found at Target), sprinkles and candy corn. Enjoy!!
We started making seasonal bucket lists with the girls and it’s so fun! They get really into it and hold us accountable for each and every item listed (lesson learned to not put “convince daddy to let us get a white kitten named Pearl” on a list and not get one because I will never hear the end of it). We keep it on our fridge where the whole family can see it.
This season in life is absolutely insane with school, gymnastics, Awanas, birthday parties, work, and all the things but sometimes it almost feels too routine. Anyone else feel that way? Making some fun and festive intentional plans makes life interesting, magical and full of memories. Fall is my favorite time of the year, and while it’s still 98° here in south Florida, I am busting out all the cozy blankets, pumpkins and cobwebs to create fall vibes all throughout our house. Here is what we came up with…
What are you adding to your Fall Bucket List? Let’s make magic all season long!!
I am a total book worm. I love to read at night to unwind and you can always find a book with me on road trips and vacation. It takes me a lot longer to get through books these days because once my head hits the pillow I’m usually OUT. Kindles are not my thing, I love holding a good ‘ol book with pages and dream of having a library wall in my house one day-please tell me I’m not the only one. One of my favorite things to do is read with the girls and now, have Harper read to her sisters. We have books everywhere in our house and I am always on the hunt for new favorites. Ikea floating shelves are in the girls bedroom & playroom and I choose fun “seasonal” books to decorate them with. Here are a few of the girls favorites from this summer, as well as what I’m currently reading (links below). Tell us all your favorites. Fall list coming soon!
When we bought our house back in 2014 we were a family of three. It’s a three/two but is on three acres of land, so we knew if we decided to stay once our family grew we had the option of adding on. Well, we are now a family of five and still haven’t added on! Embracing one of my favorite quotes I suppose, “Love grows best in little houses, with fewer walls to separate. Where you eat and sleep so close together, you can’t help but communicate. And think if we had more room between us, think of all we’d miss. Love grows best in houses just like this.” Also, we live in Naples, FL and it isn’t cheap- so we are making the most of our three bedroom bungalow.
We decided to embrace the season we are in (TOYS) and transform our front room, that is a waste of space, into a playroom for the girls. We ordered the Billy bookcases from Ikea to store puzzles, games, Calico Critters, Barbies, etc. That was the plan. Until Nick was away on a guys trip for his birthday last weekend and I started moving stuff around. I will admit, I am a serial decorator- I just love creating new spaces! Once I moved the eye sore of a Barbie house into the front room I cringed. There is no way I could walk into that everyday. So I made the executive decision to switch Ava’s nursery into a playroom and move all three girls into one bedroom. This was the best decision ever! Nick wasn’t super on board with the shared bedroom idea at first but after seeing how well they all sleep together he’s a fan! We are still in the process of the building the bookcases to use for storage in the front room. Now let’s get to all the details….
Shared Bedroom: I love the idea of having a room dedicated to sleep with a minimal amount of toys. I am sure more dolls and Barbies will move their way into this room but for now it’s a quiet space for reading & dreaming! The transition of having all three girls sleep together was a breeze. We are firm believers in sound machines and essential oils for the best sleep ever. All three have an 8pm bedtime and now that school is back in session, Harper & Emmy are ready for bed and ignore any “chit chat” from Ava. I also think Ava feels included and safer in her new room because she is sleeping past 6:30am (never slept in past 5:30 since she was born). All the happy dances over here!!
Playroom: Most of the decor from Ava’s nursery was repurposed in here and I went with a whimsy coastal theme. Harper is SUPER into art so I knew we needed a space for that and of course, homework. Ikea wall desks are AMAZING for small spaces! We had extra knobs from the kitchen reno so we added on the drawers and found these chairs on Amazon. Touches of nostalgia make me happy- the girls great grandpa Brower’s ukulele is displayed, along with some of my old books, and a blue mason jar from our wedding filled with shells from Harper’s first trip to the beach.
Baskets and bins are a lifesaver for storage of stuffed animals and baby dolls. Target always has fun ones!
The girls love the Barbie house so I just have to embrace it and at least I can keep the door shut. We also have a play kitchen & karaoke machine for hours of fun 😉
Now that it’s all complete, I’m wondering why we didn’t make this switch sooner? Both rooms make me happy and are both functional & fun!
I have always dreamed of having a magical playhouse for the girls to play “family”, do crafts, or just have a few good ‘ol tea parties in. Nick and I bought a cedar wood KidKraft playhouse on Wayfair back in April and decided this summer we would do the damn thing. By “we” I meant “me”. I was determined to build, paint, hack, and decorate this baby all on my own. Girls can do anything, right? Well, about 5 minutes into me reading the directions I threw in the towel on my solo project and begged for help. It took about 4 hours total for us build this gem.
Painting the playhouse was my favorite part because I actually really love to paint (I get that from my mom). We chose Behr Marquee exterior paint in white for the base of the house and interior, Pink Quartz for the door, and Rust-oleum black spray paint for the windows and accessories. I am not going to lie, I was sore after a FULL weekend of painting 3 coats! I am so glad I painted the interior roof white PRIOR to building because I can only imagine how much more paint I would have had on my body and in my hair- I was covered just from painting. HACK- use Lemon essential oils to remove paint from skin 😉
The little details made such a huge impact on the overall look. The “3” address number was from Home Depot, for our tiny girl gang. The black bell from Amazon is just the cutest ever and it’s a good thing we live on 3 acres because any neighbors would hate us by now! The hanging wall rack with pots will be fun to switch up for each season and was also from Amazon (flowers from Michael’s Craft Store). Nick put 2 puck lights inside to keep it bright once the sun goes down. We originally were going to put the playhouse in the yard but want it to hold up for a while and summer rain in Florida can be brutal (oh, and hurricanes). Instead, we placed a piece of soft turf on our back enclosed patio which will also keep bugs away and it has become our favorite hangout! Nick can grill out and I can enjoy a glass of wine while they play 😉
I can’t wait to decorate the playhouse and make it festive for each holiday and watch the girls make so many memories in it! There is no place like home. Who’s ready to tackle building a playhouse for their kiddos? It’s a lot of freaking work, but you won’t regret it.
This birthday hit me HARD, knowing I will never have another “baby” or one-year old. Instead of crying (too much) about it, I decided to throw a sweet & memorable party for our girl. Ava has been coined “queen bee” in our house since day one so it was only fitting to throw a 2nd “bee-day” for her. If you are searching for an easy and fun theme for a birthday, go with this one- you can run wild with it!
Decorations: I kept the decorations pretty simple and let the flowers be the focal point. Costco has the BEST bunches of flowers for cheap so I made my own boutiques with daisies and other wild flowers. Pearl and Jane has the CUTEST felt garlands and the bee one will be fun to use for the girls playhouse.
I made a super simple bee hive out of popsicle sticks and downloaded the bees & flowers from Etsy. My mom found a black and white gingham table runner on sale at Hobby Lobby and I love the way it looked on the food table!
Food/Desserts: Publix for all the pinwheels, subs, and cheese platter because who’s got time for that ?! Harper wanted to make her “famous” PB& J for all the kids so we used a hexagon cookie cutter to go with the theme. Sam’s has really tasty (and cheap) cupcakes so I just added candy bees from Amazon to make them festive. Bee Hive party mix with chocolate Teddy Grahams, Honeycomb cereal and marshmallows was a huge hit for the kiddos. The CAKE. A friend of mine makes the best cakes and brought my vision to life – My Sweet Addiction Cakes.
Drinks: The party was at 11am so naturally, The Bees Knees (mimosas) were in order. “Lemon Nectar” lemonade for the kids was served in empty honey bear bottles found on Amazon and most kids wanted to take home with them.
Party Favors: Sorry, I am that mom who hates party favors because it’s usually slime that gets stuck in hair or whistles that I want to throw out the van window. LOL. We sent our guests home with a darling cookie (or two) and they didn’t disappoint. I love supporting small businesses when I can and A Cookie Shoppe in Estero was amazing!
We had such a sweet day celebrating our queen bee!! #queenbeeturns2