14 May 2016

Retro Kitchen Inspiration

Hey all!
So! I'm super excited for today's post!! I'm teaming up with Big Chill, an innovator of reproduction vintage kitchen appliances. Our family LOVES the look of the classic vintage stoves and refrigerators, so I was beyond thrilled when I was contacted to feature their products in some dream kitchen ideas!

One of the things I might love best about vintage appliances? Color! Why are appliances only mundane black, white, or grey today. So uninspired! If you're like us, we spend a ton of time in our kitchen- it's the heart of our home, to be sure. So why not make it beautiful and colorful?! Let's see what I mean...

Pink shabby chic kitchen

Pink shabby chic kitchen by skstudios

How fun would this shabby chic kitchen be to bake in? You can bring in your own style in in so many ways... 
  • a beautiful set of table and chairs in your eat in kitchen 
  • a small buffet for a coffee station
  • dishes and serveware can be perfect for subtle color, whether you buy it new or check out second-hand options like a thrift store or even Goodwill
  • decor like a beautiful clock or herb garden containers
  • tea pots and even countertop appliances can be found in beautiful colors! 

Don't forget to bring in color through beautiful fabrics for upholstery, dish towels, even curtains. And, of course, the crowning glory in this kitchen is the pop of pink in the stove and matching range hood! Want some more inspiration? Ask and ye shall receive ;) Here's a vintage farmhouse inspired kitchen with tons of charm and COLOR!

12 May 2016

Spring Cleaning tips

Spring has officially sprung here in the south, how about where you live? With the arrival of spring (aka. mud season!) our home was due for a bit of spring cleaning. I'm teaming up today with the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center to share with you some of my favorite tips for cleaning up around the home- I like to err on the natural side of cleaners for the most part, as you'll see here shortly!
(below contains some Amazon affiliate links)

08 February 2016

A Family Valentine's Day (on a budget!)

Coming up rapidly is Valentine's Day! Now this is typically my least favorite holidays- all about mandatory affection and buying go chocolates and candy. Not my thing. And then I had kids! Hehe... but we celebrate as a family! There's so many ways to celebrate love- the love of family, the love of Christ, the love of close friends.

Today I'm teaming up with Personal Capital to bring you just a few ideas of how to celebrate Valentine's Day without breaking the bank! We are saving up for an upcoming family reunion trip as well as working towards becoming debt free, which leaves very little wiggle room in the budget! Personal Capital has great tools for helping with your financial planning, so be sure to check them out! Whether it's a goody bag for the kids or a family movie night, we keep Valentine's Day celebrations  small, fun, and on budget! Here's a few ideas to get the wheels turning...

(1) Create goody bags for your kiddos 
Use Target's Dollar Spot, the Dollar Tree, or consignment stores to keep costs low! Don't be afraid to include practical items too- our goody bag this year includes fruit snacks and a diaper cover for our young toddler, and a second-hand shirt and stickers with notepads (to be used also for homeschooling!) for our preschooler!  Last year I shared some ideas for a Toddler Goody Bag and joined with The Twinery to embellish the Canvas Valentine's Bag you see above!

(2) Crafting bonanza
A fun way to celebrate might just be have a full day of heart-themed crafting! Make a handmade card for your the wee one's grandparents, friends, and of course dad! Create heart garlands to string up around the room or mantle. Hang red and pink balloons from the ceiling, door frames, etc. String up red & white crepe paper. Create an art masterpiece with stickers (maybe even sneak in a little counting practice while you're at it... "this tree needs 3 hearts, 4 in this tree, 1 in this tree")

(3) Do a family Bible study
Focus on finding all the way God shows his love for us. Discuss "agape" love.

(4) Have a family game night
Just make sure it's a game all members of the family can play, of course! Chutes and Ladders, Go Fish, Candyland are just a few games that kids of nearly all ages can enjoy :) If you have really little ones, maybe make a fun obstacle course instead! Whether it's a true test of skills (maybe even working on motor skills!) or just creating some tunnels and tents with couch cushions and blankets, it's sure to be a hit with kids of every age!

(5) Have a family movie night
Disney movies are rather perfect for a family movie night- Lady & the Tramp, Snow White, Sleeping Beautfy, Frozen, Lilo & Stitch- all great love stories! From puppy love, to a true love's kiss, to the love of sisters, to remembering that Ohana means family. Check out some of our own Family Movie Nights here to get ideas- decorations, food themeing, and of course the cinematic feature! Or maybe you just have "Tea for Two" (whether it's you and your spouse or you and your wee one!) and watch Mary Poppins or Alice in Wonderland- make your favorite finger sandwiches, brew a cuppa, and snuggle on the couch. Another staple in our house is Charlie Brown- there's quite a few Valentine's/love themed episodes to choose from there!

I hope this gives you a few new ideas how to have fun on Valentine's Day while keeping it family-focused and easy on the budget. Don't forget to check out Personal Capital for great tools to help organize your own finances, too!

22 January 2016

Designing a Dream She-Sanctuary

Hi friends!
I was recently introduced to Chairish, an online marketplace for vintage furniture, and I was invited to create a sort of  "she-sanctuary" or "woman cave," if you will, featuring their bar stools. Chairish is a really neat site with LOADS of vintage goodies to choose from at various price points. So fun to dream up a space, with the hopes of maybe creating a similar room of my own one day! I'll share a few tips for pulling together a room- perfect for whether your room is just in the "dreaming/Pinterest" stages, or whether you're really creating your own dream "she-sanctuary" in real life!

Nautical She-Sanctuary

Nautical She-Sanctuary by skstudios featuring Chairish's nautical teak bar stools
Traditional "manly" themes, such as Nautical or Industrial, can easily be made feminine! When designing, opt for softer fabrics, pastels, and curved lines to make any space light and airy! Whether you're watching your favorite show, curled up with a book, or pulling up a bar stool around the table and having a glass of wine with friends, this room is designed for all sorts of relaxing.

Where to start? 
Well, that depends on you! Here's a few things to consider...
- Do you have a favorite piece that you want to feature? Be it a set of bar stools that you just fell in love with or a piece of artwork passed down from a cherish grandmother.
- Do you have a color scheme that you've been dying to work with?
- Do you have a theme in mind? Beachy, industrial, shabby chic, safari...

Whether it's a piece of art, furniture, or a color scheme, make sure to keep that the central focus, keep it at the forefront of your mind as you design your space. Make sure you always remember your initial spark of joy that's driving the room design. 

Don't Be Afraid!
Whatever you're starting point, don't be afraid to go for it! Who says the industrial look is only for men? If you love it, use it in your space! Love pink but have been dying to do a safari theme room, mix it all together! Remember that this is YOUR sanctuary- use whatever makes YOU happy!

Disney's Animal Kingdom She-Sanctuary

Who says libraries or dens are only for men?! I love Disney World, so this library is inspired by Disney's Animal Kingdom! You'll notice a tilt-top drafting table, perfect height for pulling up a bar stool. It also does double duty for both sketching and writing letters or business notes. Relax with a cup of tea and a good book in a cozy chair. 

Go Big or Go Home
Gather your big pieces, your furniture. Furniture naturally takes up the most space in a room, and thus your eye is often drawn to it first. Make sure you like how all your pieces work together. If you're highlighting a piece of furniture you love, make sure none of your other pieces draw attention away from your focal piece.

I've found personally that your larger pieces are a good place to spend your budget on. If you skimp on quality, you'll just end up having to buy a new piece later. Buying solidly made furniture will pay off in the long run. You can save on your budget with the smaller supporting pieces in your space. 

Textile Talk
Gather your textiles- these are your throw pillows, your rugs, curtains, all the fabrics that co-exist in your space. Physically throw them all together in a pile- making sure you're happy that they all blend together well. 

Fabrics can really make or break a design. Smaller pieces, like throw pillows, can be a fun place to make a bold color statement without overtaking or detracting from the overall design of the room. Larger textile pieces, like curtains, can really help tie a theme or color scheme together. They can also take a back seat, say, if you want to really highlight the upholstery of your grandma's settee. Textiles can be the perfect place to blend two styles together- if your larger pieces are all "safari" theme, but you love pink- buy some solid pink throw blankets and a cushy pink rug! The only one who determines if they "go together" is you- so go with your own gut.

Beachy Crafting She-Sanctuary

Beachy Crafting She-Sanctuary by skstudios featuring Chairish's silver bamboo bar stools
Crafting, scrapbooking, card making- these are a few of my favorite pastimes! Having a standing height desk is wonderful, but having cute bar stool to pull up is also key. Keeping the furniture and curtains neutral allows the beach accessories and other textiles to really shine!

Bits and Pieces
Don't forget the finishing details. Your small containers to hold office supplies or your car keys. Change out the hardware on a piece to make it match your design perfectly. Just because lamps and trash bins are utilitarian doesn't mean they can't be cute too! A well placed, loved piece of art can round out your space. Maybe even a DIY piece! Going with a beach theme- why not frame your personal drawing with seashells from your recent trip to the shore?! Fill a cute container up with sand and those seashells you collected as a constant reminder of your favorite vacation.

Think outside the box too! That cute trash bin you've been eyeing up at Target doesn't have to hold trash- why not use it to corral your gift wrapping paper. That rug that isn't quite right in the living room, maybe it would be the perfect fit in your sanctuary! An adorable vase catch your eye at HomeGoods? Use it to hold pencils on your new desk!

Sweet Scented Serenity
Now that you've designed your perfect space, don't forget to make it smell good! A shameless plug here, but Scentsy has scents and styles for every space! Whether it's a scent pak tossed in a drawer, releasing fragrance every time you retrieve a notepad or pencil, a tiny, sleek travel tin on your desk top, or a a beautiful, bold diffuser or warmer- just poke around on my site to find your perfect fit, and let me know if you want any help or suggestions :) My SKStudioScents Website

Beach & Luna room sprays, Thunderstorm wax bar, Fitzgerald warmer, Crinkle nightlight warmer, Aspire diffuser, Bliss & Calm essential oils. Find them all HERE.

Purple Petal warmer, Blue Diamond Shade warmer, Weathered Leather & Mochadoodle wax bars, Moroccan Stencil warmer, Parlor Shade warmer. Find them all HERE.

By The Sea scent pak, Sunkissed Citrus travel tin, Bonfire Beach wax bar, Chasing Fireflies warmer, Sand Dollar & Key Largo nightlight warmers. Find them all HERE.

21 January 2016

Lung Leaving' Day

Hi friends!
Today we're going to chat a little about something scary- cancer. Yup, we're going there. So many of us have been touched in some way by cancer- my own father battled (and won!) against cancer, while both my Pop Pop and grandfather-in-law died from cancer. Today, though, we'll be specifically digging into Mesothelioma a bit. I'll share some quick facts and info and ask you to join in the effort to raise awareness, as well as celebrate and participate in Lung Leavin' Day! What is that? Well, we'll get to that ;)

Today's story is about the lovely Heather Von St. James....
In 2005, at 36 years old, Heather gave birth to her sweet daughter, Lily. A mere three months later, she was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. As a girl, she wore her dad's work coat which contained asbestos from his construction job. She was told she had 15 months to live. But Heather fought- having surgery to remove her lung a few months later, and she ultimately won her battle with cancer! Now 10 years later, she has made it her mission to help other mesothelioma victims worldwide. Her story is one of hope and awareness.

Mesothelioma, the nitty gritty....
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects people who have been exposed to asbestos. It can metastasize in different areas, like the lung, abdominal cavity, and heart. Mesothelioma can be very difficult to diagnose because early warning signs can be misinterpreted as symptoms of other illnesses. Currently, radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery are the most common treatments but the medical field is making great strides toward finding new ways to treat this type of cancer.

So! Now on to the fun stuff - let's celebrate! February brings the celebration of Heather's Lung Leavin' Day- an idea her sister came up with when Heather first underwent surgery. It now stands as a yearly reminder of how far Heather's journey has come and serves as awareness and inspiration for all those facing trials, tribulations, and, of course, cancer. Come join!!!

***** Lung Leavin' Day 2016 *****

09 December 2015

Cloth Diapering: Newborn Stash

Hi Friends~
Today I'm continuing a mini series all about how I cloth diaper! This post will be how I cloth diapered our 7 lb 3.5 oz newborn along with reviews of my choices and some tips and tricks! Again, this is just MY personal stash and opinions- some may work for you and some may not. So be flexible when you start to cloth diaper your newborn :)

Personally, I generally love snaps and natural fibers. You'll notice a lot of cotton, hemp, and a bit of bamboo in my stash. I lean towards snaps on my covers, but some hook & loop (aka. velcro) since it's so adjustable, especially at the super tiny NB phase!

2 diaper pail liners
diaper pail
6 newborn covers
12+ fitted diapers
4+ doublers
2 dozen flat diapers
3 dozen cloth wipes
spray bottle (filled with water/witch hazel blend)
small container (filled with coconut oil)
EcoNuts Baby powdered detergent
Scentsy (warmer or room spray)

The top picture I've laid out kind of in order, my top choices down to my second-string newborn diapers & newborn covers. So here's what we've got, in order...
Imagine NB Diaper Cover (bright green): One of my favorite newborn covers. Three rise settings and four waist snap settings. This fit well past my other newborn diaper covers. No leakage issues, and the gathered elastic in the front mean no issues with the umbilical cord stump.
Thirsties XS Sized Cover (light blue): Thirsties is my go-to brand for covers, and their XS is perfect for the newborn phase. No leaks and good room for extra nighttime stuffing. The hook & loop closure, which includes a crossover tab, allows for a great custom fit.
Thirsties Size 1 Duo Wrap Cover (pictured below): my go-to for once they're a touch bigger - you can see it pictured below, it's just a bit bulky for my NB, and didn't leave ample room for the umbilical cord, but was in our regular lineup within the first month. I also only use the snap closure on this cover- their new version of hook & loop, while super sticky, is just really thick and I noticed it left angry red marks on my little ones (who have a tendency to have sensitive skin like their mama!) because it IS so sturdy and thick.
Imagine NB Bamboo Fitted Diaper (light yellow): This is my favorite favorite newborn diaper! I love fitteds in general, as they keep breastfed poop contained really well. Imagine's are super soft, wash well, fit great, and have an umbilical cord snap down too. This is one that I ordered extras of after our initial purchase!
Organic Caboose NB Snap Fitted Diaper (natural with black tag): This one fits great for the early weeks & months. It's the thinnest diaper in my line up, bamboo, and is nice and trim. I always add a doubler under it just to be safe though. A great fit and includes an umbilical cord snap down. I think it was the first to be outgrown of the fitteds, but I got a lot of use out of it.
Cloth-eez NB Organic Cotton Workhorse Fitted Diaper (orange trim): A great diaper! My first experience with Cloth-eez brand, but I can highly recommend them. A close second favorite, after my Imagine fitteds. They have a crossover snap, so they work well even for the tinniest of waisted newborns! They wash well, and are just as nice as when they came home. Made exclusively for Green Mountain Diapers, which is a Christian cloth diaper store!
Thirsties Size 1 Fitted Diaper (white): Again, I love Thirsties. Their fitteds hold a good amount, and I used them with a booster as my overnight diapers. They do great for a half night- I'm always paranoid about letting newborns go all night without a change, for fear of leaks or diaper rash or just generally being uncomfortable. Sadly these don't stay quite as soft as when I first bought them, but still plenty comfy. My husband's exact words when we first bought them, "I wish they made underware like that for ME!" lol. They have three snaps in the rise, and include a crossover snap at the waist, so the waist is super adjustable, but you can see in the picture below that there's a bit of a gap in the legs on my ~7 pounder!
Bummis Super Brite NB Diaper Cover (bright pink): The only reason this is part of my "second string" is because they were the first to be outgrown out of all my covers. They are perfect for the NB phase though! Since they really are so small, and have the adjustable hook & loop closure, they fit even tiny ones super well. I'd probably get a few more for our next go around honestly- they just worked THAT well for the earliest newborn days. They really are pretty trim, so a trim fitted diaper or flat diaper works best under them, in my experience. This was actually the first cover that my littlest ever wore! With crossover tabs too, this could probably fit even premies.
Little Bee Size 1 Hemp Fitted Diaper (natural with yellow/red tag): This brand went out of business a while back, and this fitted is leftover from my first babe. You can still find these kicking around on the secondhand market usually. Made well, but the hook & loop closer is so thick that I don't know how comfortable it is for little ones. It washes well though and stays pretty soft & smooth, so it's a solid second string fitted. It tended to be a nighttime back up diaper for me.
Kissaluvs Size 0 NB Cotton/Hemp Fitted Diaper (natural with tan trim): Another one that I really wanted to love. They're a great American brand, Christian too, and sadly just went out of business. , and I love the snap down umbilical cord closure, but it's so bulky and not that soft, so it is never the first one I reach for... though it IS my backup nighttime diaper for the NB stage. Very absorbent, especially with an added doubler. There's also a ton of snap options on the front of this diaper- I honestly don't even know how it's supposed to snap up, but it gives a lot of options of how it can fit! Hehe. It also lasted the longest of my NB fitteds.
Rumparooz Newborn Diaper Cover (dark teal): I really wanted to like these because they come in SO many cute colors & patterns. While they're almost the same as Imagine's NB diapers, these only have 3 snaps in the waist, and it seemed like my wee one was always just in-between snap sizes. So these were typically the last covers I reached for, sadly.

Infant/Newborn Unbleached Prefolds (not pictured): These were a little too bulky really for the first few weeks, but around 10lbs or so I started using these, just trifolded in cover. I have both Bummis and OsoCozy unbleached ones- both great choices.
OsoCozy Unbleached Flat Diapers (pictured below): These were our travel diapers for our oldest, and washed & held up so well that we ordered a second stash for our youngest. As a NB, we used the origami fold to create "fitted" diapers with these when we ran out of regular fitted diapers. A solid second-string choice! Personally we skipped a fastener since NBs don't really move around a ton! We now use them as our primary diapers (just pad folded) since she has now outgrown the NB prefolds.
EcoNuts Baby Powdered Detergent (not pictured above): This is my go-to detergent. Most mainstream detergents are not cloth diaper safe- they wreak havoc on the elastic and PUL in the diapers. I've used this not just on my diapers but our regular laundry too! We have hard water AND highly chlorinated, and this takes care of all those issues when it comes to diaper laundry. We've used EcoNuts Soap Nuts as well, which worked great in normal water, before we moved. If you're interested, (shameless plug) Scentsy's Laundry Liquid is also cloth diaper safe!!
Rumparooz/Kanga Care Diaper Pail Liners (pictured in "Our Setup" below): Even though I wasn't a fan of their NB diapers, I love their pail liners! Built sturdier than other brands I've tried (Thirsties lasted about 3 years, and GroVia has lasted a year but starting to show wear) and they come in most of the super cute colors & patterns that their covers come in!!

All the above photos were taken within about a week of birth, right around 7 lbs
(Top-Bottom Left-Right)
Rumparooz cover, Imagine fitted, Thirsties fitted
Imagine cover, Organic Caboose fitted, Bummis cover (put on a bit too loose here)
Thirsties XS cover, Thirsties Size 1 cover, OsoCozy flat diaper (origami fold, no fastener)

Do your research! There are so MANY options and brands, so read through Cloth Diaper 101 articles to see what you think may work best for you and your lifestyle!
- Order a few different styles in different brands- there are many places where you can sell your diapers second-hand if you find a particular brand or style doesn't suit you or your baby. You'll find that different brands fit different baby body types- from long and lean, to short and chubby, but there IS a brand & style for everyone!!
- Check out your local cloth diaper store or online store- many offer newborn packages where you can try different styles, often with great return policies once you decide what you do & don't like!
- Rent newborn diapers! Some stores offer newborn packages that you can rent for a few weeks so you don't have to spend as much for a full newborn diaper stash that you only use for 2-4 weeks. We plan to have future babies, Lord willing, so it made sense for us to invest in a full newborn stash! We also did not buy newborn diapers for our first baby as we didn't plan to start cloth diapering until a few weeks/months in (we started her at 2 months, our youngest we cloth diapered from birth at the hospital!).
- Nickis Diapers- my favorite online cloth retailer, check them out! Great selection, reasonable shipping costs, prompt shipping, and great rewards program! I truly can't say enough good things about them (and no, I'm not paid to say that, hehe), but we've been using them since the very beginning of our cloth diaper journey about 4 years ago and plan to continue using them for a long time to come!

Our Setup:


Here's just our personal set up. I find the regular size changing tables to be way too small, especially for cloth diapering. So we just used a regular size dresser, popped the changing pad on top along with some of our essential cloth diapering supplies in a small basket, and there ya go! We use a Simple Human tall trash can as our diaper pail. Regular pail liners fit perfectly. (You see two pails here because we had two girls in cloth diapers for about 8 months, and I separated their diapers.) Below is a close up of what I keep on top of our changing table. In each drawers, I have separated out cloth wipes, everyday diapers, overnight diapers, diaper covers, etc. This JUST fit our complete stash when we had two in cloth diapers- and in the bottom photo, you can see that I had little labels on all the drawers to remember which girl's stuff was in each drawer!!

Water & Witch Hazel spray bottle = spraying our cloth wipes to wet them as we use them
Honest Co. Diaper Cream = our personal favorite cloth-diaper safe cream for really bad rashes
Olive Oil (or Coconut Oil) = our go-to for minor rashes & irritations
Face Wipes/Washcloths = for boogers, dirt, etc!
Scentsy Warmer = an essential, in my opinion! Because it warms at just above body temperature (unlike other wax warmers on the market), it's safe for kids & pets. Both my infant and preschooler have plopped their hands in the warmer with little more than a startled whine. My oldest even poured the hot wax down her bare chest, then proceeded to ask me straight faced "what happened, mama?" LOL. Anyhoo, I turn it on after changing a poop, or sometimes leave it on all day! A Scentsy room spray would work fantastically too- and the bottle lasts a really long time!! OK, yes, admittedly I'm a bit biased since I'm a Scentsy Independent Consultant, but seriously, I love these products in the nursery!

22 November 2015

Cloth Diapers: at the Hospital

Hi Friends~
Tonight I'm starting a mini series all about how I cloth diaper! The best thing I can tell you is to do your research! Cloth diapers have come a LONG way in the past few decades- they're no longer just pinned diapers with plastic pants! Hehe. There are MANY options- with my first little one, I ordered a few different styles in different brands. After she was born, I figured out which worked best for our lifestyle, and which brand fit her build best. Check out your local cloth diaper store or online store as some offer newborn packages where you can try different styles!

Anyhoo, so that's some starting advice! Today I'll focus on how I cloth diapered our little one, starting right from birth at the hospital! When you tour your personal hospital, ask how receptive they are to cloth diapering. Different places have different rules, so hopefully yours will be open to it!

2 large hanging wetbags
small wetbag 
6 newborn covers
3 dozen flat diapers
3 dozen cloth wipes
travel-size spray bottle (filled with water/witch hazel blend)
travel-size container (filled with coconut oil)
Scentsy Scent Pak (in Winter Pine)

How to:
- I hung a sign (with washi tape, or masking tape) on our bassinet that stated "cloth diapers only: no disposables please!" so that the nurses were on board with our diapering choices. Since our wee one only left my sight once (for the discharge hearing test, blood test, etc), I didn't really have to worry about anyone else diapering her.
- I hung a wet bag inside the private bathroom that my hospital room had, which is also where I hung the Scentsy Scent Pak! They're great for covering up the "hospital" smell as well as any diaper smells and just the general funk from after giving birth! ;)
- I used the spray bottle to gently wet the cloth wipes. Another option I use when away from home sometimes is The Honest Company's wipes. When I first started cloth diapering, I just used Viva brand paper towels and a spray bottle of water & witch hazel. I then moved over to cloth wipes, which is really convenient when you're already cloth diapering!
- I used the "origami fold" for the flat diapers, which in effect created a faux "fitted" diaper! This fold fit well under my newborn covers. We didn't use any fasteners, but feel free to purchase some if you'd like! I didn't both since I knew we'd be switching to a "pad fold" or "trifold" as soon as the wee one got a little bigger.
- The little pot of coconut oil was for any diaper rash flare ups. It also helps in removing the sticky first meconium poops, and helps keep future sticky poops from sticking to the bum! I did not have any problems with meconium staining our diapers, by the way- nothing a little sunshine couldn't bleach out. If you're concerned though, you can purchase some fleece or disposable liners!
- Be flexible! Your birth may not go quite as planned, so even if all your cloth diapering dreams don't come true while you're in the hospital, don't fret. You can start up at home when you're ready! Our oldest didn't get any cloth diapers until she was 2 months old, when I felt ready to tackle it.

Next post, I'll show you our whole Newborn set up at home! Can't wait to share with ya'll :)

31 Days: To Nap or Not to Nap at Disney

Hey friends!
I'm back to continue and finish up our 31 Days of Disney World with kids! We just got back from a trip this past week, but of course the wee ones brought home some germs and have been sick, so I'll try and finish up this series as frequently as I can manage to get to the computer :)

So today I bring you a few tips with regard to the important topic of napping while at Disney World! 

(1) Strollers
Get them. Use them. Every child of course is different, but even those not generally inclined towards napping in the stroller may be so tuckered out from fun that they'll get in some naps while at the parks during the day. Our oldest, who doesn't always take a nap, often took two naps this past trip. I'll admit, there are some die hards that refuse to bring strollers, and I do get the hassle of schlepping it all over, but I definitely think it's worth it! You can bring your own, rent the standard hard plastic ones at the park, or rent from an outside stroller company (there's many good ones in Orlando).

(2) Carriers
The above picture is from our trip last week, and how my little one mostly napped throughout the week! If your wee one is used to a carrier, bring it along. Especially young ones may get over stimulated from all the excitement and just want a snuggle. Our youngest has napped in the carrier on me, dad, Grammy, and Grandpa! If your wee one has not tried a carrier before, try them out before the trip and not during the trip for the first time! Some kiddos just don't like them. I'm blessed that both of my little ones love them!

(3) Resort Room
Get a feel for how your little ones are doing over the first day or two. It might work best for you to head back to the resort early afternoon. Young kiddos can get a good nap in their beds. Older kids can hit up the pools. Everyone can grab lunch or a snack, and you'll skip the busiest hours at the parks, not to mention the hottest hours of the Florida sun!

(4) Rest Days
Sometimes all your little ones need is a break from the parks. We plan two days on and one day off (from the parks) on our trips. Whether it's a short week-long trip or longer 10-14 day trip, we always schedule "down days." These days mean heading to the pool, maybe letting off some steam at the miniature golf courses, just chilling in the room (getting schoolwork done, playing games, going on a tour of the resort, etc) or maybe going to Disney Springs for some shopping part of the day. A day with minimal car rides, and stroller time, and just generally being cooped up! Even with older kiddos, you may find this is just what is needed to help recharge the batteries after non-stop days at the park!

01 November 2015

31 Days: Tinkerbell Gifts at Disney

Hi friends!
Today I am excited to share with you the idea of "Tinkerbell Gifts" - festive gifts that "Tinkerbell" leaves your children before or during your trip! You can gift these at all different times... 
  • surprise them with the trip by giving them a gift saying "we're going to Disney World!" 
  • give them a gift when you leave for the airport (for use on the plane!) or leave for the car ride road trip down to Disney World
  • gift them each morning when the kiddos wake up (that's what my cousin and I are doing for our littles on our upcoming family reunion!). If you're *Disneybounding*, theme the gift to the character you're dressing like that day!
  • arrange with your hotel to have them waiting in the room when you arrive
  • have your spouse take the wee ones to the pool or walk around the resort while you zip into the room and set things up!

Disney Gift - packaging

Pick your packaging!
Start from the bottom up- figure out what you want to present your gift in! This can be anything from a bowl to a bag to even a lunchbox for the wee ones to use to bring snacks and lunches to the park during your trip! If it's a smaller gift, choose something like a small glass, sippy cup, or new water bottle! If think is gifting before the car/plane ride, maybe use a new (or even fill up a current bag!) backpack as your child's carryon or you bag for the road trip!

Disney lunch

Add some snacks!
Whether it's a whole lunchbox full of Disney-themed goodies, or just one tasty goodie, some princess or pirate goodies are sure to be a hit.

Disney clothes

Disney clothes by skstudios on Polyvore
Dress them in style!
Whether it's a new t-shirt, fuzzy comfy socks, bracelets, or new PJs, some new clothes or accessories are a great addition to Tink's gift!

Disney School

Disney School by skstudios on Polyvore
Make learning fun!
Whether you're a homeschooler like us, or pulling the kids out of regular school, you'll likely need to squeeze in some homework during the trip. Make it a bit more fun by Disneying their learning tools! Whether it's a new notebook and pen or flashcards, puzzles, and worksheets- make learning fun!

Disney bath products

Practical gifts can be fun too!
Your wee ones will still need to do mundane things, so make it fun! New Disney toothbrushes or potty training tools, wash cloths or hand soap  can bring a little extra magic to the trip!

Disney toys

Disney toys by skstudios on Polyvore
Just for fun!
Of course, we have to throw in some toys for fun! Something to keep the littles occupied on the plane, bus ride from the airport, or just during stroller rides around the park- the possibilities are endless here!

Here's a sneak peek at what our preschooler will be getting one morning during our trip...

Frozen gift set

30 October 2015

31 Days: Road Trip (Planning Edition)

Hi friends!
So! Tonight I'll share with you my best planning tips when it comes to road tripping, especially to Disney World! So let's just dive in... 

So, when I plan, I include as much info as I can in our itinerary- it just helps make me feel prepared. Below is a peek at our last trip's itinerary for our driving days- the rows are as follow....
day of the week
hotel for the evening
event for the day/final destination
breakfast (where & what we're eating)
morning plans
afternoon plans
evening plans (hotel reservation #s)

And we've already discussed a few topics earlier in the series, like- 
So here's a few other tips and tricks to consider when planning out how you'll be road tripping...

My first piece of advice? Make sure you do plan ahead of time! Road tripping with kids is a big undertaking, no matter the age, so make sure you set aside time to plan out the details!

Get an early or late start:
Some of the best times to travel with kids are early in the morning and late at night. In the morning, the kiddos will be fresh as daisies (hopefully!) and less irritable. Maybe they'll even go back to sleep for a while if you get out early enough! Bring a portable breakfast for the road, like dry cereal, granola bars, or drinkable yogurt. 
If you're night owls, drive at night when the kiddos will be sleeping mostly. This way, they'll have spent most of the morning/afternoon NOT being cooped up in the car, and thus hopefully again not irritable yet! Bring a portable dinner to eat on the road, or plan to stop for dinner 1-2 hours into the trip. Also bring night-friendly activities for any kiddos that'll stay up after the sun goes down- book lamp for reading, iPad games/movies, or glow sticks!

One day, two days, three days, more:
We've done our 12 hour trek to Disney in one day and two days. When we knew we wouldn't be guaranteed an early start, we decided to break up the drive into two days. On the way home, when we hoped that the little one would be tuckered out from a whirlwind vacation, we did the whole thing in one day. Ironically, the straight shot drive was better than the two-days (due to a variety of unavoidable factors)! So just don't be too daunted to try and do it all in one day- it CAN work, if it's your only/best option! Just know that it'll be a long day, there will be delays, so just be prepared to go with the flow :)

Rest stops:
You'll be making them, so try and plan some fun ones! We planned stops at battlefields along the way (we're history buffs!), zoos, and "Diner, Drive-ins, and Dives" restaurants! Does your family have a hobby- baseball, hiking, etc? See if there's any stadiums along your trip, or awesome state parks! Parks & battlefields are also great places to have picnic lunches and let the kids run off some steam, kick a ball around, or just stretch out on a blanket and nap or read. 

There's kind of two schools of thoughts here- (1) make reservations in advance or (2) when you've decided you're done for the day, find a place with vacancies in the nearest town. The OCD planner in me always goes with option #1! While it's often not necessary, I always like to call the hotel and let them know if we'll be rolling in late at night- it's not unheard of for reservations to be given away. If option #2 is more your thing, just be prepared to drive around a bit. You never know if there's a big local event going on and thus no vacancies in town, so you'd have to keep driving. So just be flexible!