Disney

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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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!
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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!
  1. 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.
  1. 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?
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Favorite Holiday Movies

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?

Tooth Fairy

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.

Three months left in this decade!

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!

Embracing this Phase

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.

Spooky Popcorn Bark

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!!

Fall Bucket List

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!!

Lunches for the Littles

“I love packing lunches every day!”- said no mom ever. It’s really not THAT bad, but when you have the pickiest kids on the planet, it’s tough to get creative and switch up the menu each day. This year we have two of the three girls in school full time (1st grade + Prek4) and I made sure to start the school year off with semi-healthy and fun lunches. Uncrustables and mini bags of goldfish may be in my near future, but so far so good! 😉 I turn on my “happy morning” playlist, diffuser, sip on my coffee and get these done as quickly as possible.

I order all of our groceries on Sundays thru Shipt. (Click here if you want a coupon) I enjoy shopping, but am also all about being smart and selfish about my family time. If that means I get an extra hour to be with family on the weekend instead of being at Publix, sign me up! Anyways, I make sure we have enough of a variety of fruits and snacks for the lunches. The protein/veggies are the tough part. When your kid thinks hummus is “yucky” you have to think outside the box. I use these cookie cutters to make fun shapes for sandwiches + cheese/veggies. Now that Harper is reading pretty well, I pack her a daily lunch box joke for giggles and fun with her friends. My mom packed me a note every single day growing up and it always brightened my day! Harper told me she’s collecting the jokes in her desk to make a joke book at the end of the year- the pressure is on now to never miss a day or I won’t hear the end of it.

Main Item Ideas: PB sandwich with banana slices and Nutella, turkey or ham and cheese on a Hawaiian roll, cheese and crackers, classic PB & J, turkey and cheese roll-ups, Greek yogurt with granola

Fruit Ideas: grapes, strawberries, blueberries apple slices, Cuties, banana slices

Veggie Ideas: baby carrots, cucumber slices with a dash of salt, celery with PB and raisins (ants on a log), the end. yep, no other veggies will be consumed my the Brower girls.

Snack Ideas: PB Ritz Bitz, Pirates Booty, goldfish, Pik-Nik sticks, Veggie straws, pretzels, pistachios, string cheese, applesauce, rice cakes, granola bars, Skinny Pop popcorn

Sweet Treat Ideas: Teddy Grahams with 2-3 mini marshmallows, Annie’s fruit snacks, yogurt covered raisins, animal cookies – I don’t want the teachers to hate me so I only fill the smallest part of the Bentgo box with a treat. #sugarbuzz

Here are examples of the last seven school lunches I’ve made for you to use as inspiration! These Bentgo boxes are the best and are way cheaper then the ones with 5+ trays (I just add a cold pack to the outside zipper of the lunchbox). So many of my friend’s kids are not picky eaters but it’s still fun to share ideas with each other so that no one is getting bored. What are some of you favorite go-to’s for lunches?

Summer Book List

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!

The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy // Lola Dutch // Virginia Wolf // Miss Lina’s Ballerinas // Cat & Bunny // I Had a Favorite Dress
The Pink Umbrella // Extra Yarn // Home // Gaston (Gaston and Friends) // Mary Poppins // The Honeybee // Julia, Child // The Fox Wish // You Belong Here
100 Days to Brave // Where the Crawdads Sing

Ava’s 2nd BEE day

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

Empty Honey Bear Bottles

Bee Felt Garland: https://www.etsy.com/listing/692683874/bee-felt-ball-garland-bunting-banner-50

Bee Party Backdrop: https://www.etsy.com/listing/689923097/bee-party-backdrop