A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios, Part 1

A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios, Part 1

This post contains affiliate links.

Last summer I went to Universal Studios Orlando with 4 of my kids.  Ever since then I have been a ginormous fan of that place.  Like, anytime I hear of someone going to Orlando for Disney I say, “Oh!! You HAVE to go to Universal too!!!!!!!!” (there aren’t enough explanation marks, but I didn’t want to get obnoxious).

I am thrilled that this September we are going back and in addition to 4 kids, my husband is going with us (he didn’t go last year).  Honestly, he has heard so much about our trip that I think he couldn’t resist.  We basically have not stopped talking about it.  Every few days we will all be sitting around chatting about nothing in particular and one of us will say, “Hey!  Remember at Universal when ____?!” and the 5 of us who were there will laugh and start to talk about it more and we are all laughing and smiling and those who didn’t go roll their eyes because they are tired of hearing about it.  Yep, good times.

A mom's guide to Universal Studios, Part 1

But even though the Universal parks are awesomely fun and exciting, there are some things you can do to make your visit even better. You need to be prepared.  Not the kids, they don’t need to be prepared.  The kids can just wake up and ride in the back of the minivan to the airport and follow you wherever you go.  But for moms it’s a different story.  We gotta pack and plan meals and make sure everyone in the family has what they need.  It’s a much tougher job than it looks when you’re a kid.

Being a mom of 9, I know how hard it can be to travel with the family.  There is so much to check on at the last minute and so many teeny details that it can make your head spin.  I like to have my ducks in a row as much as possible when going somewhere like Universal because once I get there it makes my time so much more relaxing.  I mean, let’s face it, there WILL be problems.  Someone will lose a toy or drop their ice cream on the ground and you have to handle it.  But you can make it easier on yourself by being prepared for the issues that you know will come up.  That’s why I wrote this list, for the moms.

But as I worked on this list it got so long because I have so many tips, that I decided to break it into two parts.  I mean, we’re moms here.  Ain’t nobody got time to read a 4,000 word blog post.  So part 1 is about what to do while you are there and part 2 is what to take with you.  Easy.

This is part 1 (which you probably already figured out ‘cuz you’re so smart).  There is a LOT that you don’t want to miss and I am making it my mission to help you.

Tips and tricks and things you don't want to miss at Universal Studios written especially with moms in mind. We are the planners and we need some help!

A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios – What to Do

  1. Use the app.  The Universal Studios app is fantastic for keeping up with wait times, restaurants, showtimes, shop hours and more.  This will save you time when you’re hungry or late (or both).
  2. Study the map.  In the app or on the web you can look at the maps of the parks and surrounding areas.  It’s good to familiarize yourself with where the restrooms are, what rides are close to each other, which are in the front of the parks and the back.  Also, in case it isn’t clear, there are TWO separate parks, Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure.  You could buy a ticket to only one if you want, so do all of your research beforehand.  If you have kids who like maps, give it to them to study.  This makes it so much easier to get around the parks from the beginning.  I’ll be refreshing my memory of the maps as we get closer to our trip.Universal Studios Orlando map
  3. Make a meal budget.  Look over the menus of the various restaurants in the Universal area and see what you like.  Plan how much you can spend and know where you have to go to keep within that amount.  OR you can purchase a dining plan which makes it so easy!  You can also bring your own snacks and water bottles with you if you want.
  4. Understand the locker system.  OK, this took me time to appreciate, but once I got it I really liked it!  On the thrill rides you can’t carry anything, and I mean anything, with you on the ride.  So they provide free lockers at the beginning of the lines for you to store your stuff.  They open and close using your fingerprints, so your items are safe.  The first few times I walked right past the lockers thinking I didn’t want to deal with that.  But stuff easily gets lost on these rides y’all (ask me how I know)!  And once I embraced the locker system I saw how freeing it was!  No more worrying about anything on the ride….just lock it up and be free! In order to remember which locker we used, I made it a habit to go to the very back of the locker area every time instead of stopping at the first available kiosk.  That way I didn’t have to remember the area my locker was in.  And once our things were in a locker (you don’t get to choose your locker number so you have to remember), I would tell all of the kids our locker number and we would make up something to remember it (OK kids, our locker is number 173, like the highway near our house or number 42 like there are 4 wheels on a car and two people can sit in the front).  If I said it out loud we could remember the number when we got out.  Rides that have these lockers are: Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, Revenge of the Mummy, Men in Black Alien Attack, Escape from the Gringotts, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, The Forbidden Journey (this is my favorite ride) and Dragon Challenge.
  5. Understand the child swap system.  Universal has this FAB way to ride when you have small children.  There is an area at the end of the lines where you can sit and wait with a child.  So mom and dad can go through the line with the kids, then one person rides while the other waits right there in a little room off to the side and when the first person is finished riding they slip into the waiting area and the other can ride.  It’s awesome!
  6. You can also do a bag swap.  So, if you don’t want to use the lockers or you’re carrying something too big to fit in there (please don’t bring big things, it will hinder your fun!) you can do the child swap plan except with bags.  You don’t have to have kids with you to use the child swap area, so just take turns holding your stuff.
  7. Stay hydrated.  Whatever you do, keep the water flowing.  There are plenty of restrooms and places to stop and refill.  I love to carry a bottle holder like this one so it’s easily by my side with my small stainless steel water bottle.  This makes it easy to take a sip frequently and it’s easy to handle on the rides that don’t have lockers.  Stainless steel so I can add my essential oils which help a ton!  I also love this strap that keeps the kids in a stroller from losing their cups!  Buh-rilliant.
  8. Have a “Must-Ride” list.  Before we even left home we read through the list and descriptions of rides and watched some YouTube videos.  We let each person choose one that they absolutely had to ride.  We made sure those rides got done on the first day so we didn’t miss out on them.  Now that we have been there once, it’s going to be even harder to choose because we love them all!!!
  9. Get the Express Pass.  This y’all, made such a huge difference in our time there!  This is a special pass that lets you go through a shorter line on many of the rides (not all of them though).  Because we were staying in one of the gorgeous resorts, we got Universal Express Unlimited Passes AND an extra hour early in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (This is a perk of staying onsite!).  With these passes you can use it all day that you’re staying in a resort.  If you don’t stay at a resort and instead purchase a pass it’s a little different.  Those are called Universal Express Pass which lets you use it one time per ride per day. There are some rides that don’t have Express Pass lanes.  These are: Escape from Gringotts, Hogwarts Express, Twirl ‘N Hurl, the Forbidden Journey, and Pteranodon Flyers.  But don’t worry, the lines in these rides have some really COOL stuff to look at and they keep you entertained.  Well, I’m not sure about that for the Twirl ‘N Hurl because I would never ride that…..I nearly hurl just thinking about it.  Also, if you want to speed up your wait time you can also go through the singles line.  This means you won’t be riding with your people, but filling in blank spaces with other people.  The rides that have single lines are: Escape from Gringotts, Rip Ride Rocket, Men in Black, Revenge of the Mummy, Transformers, Spider-Man, Dr Doom’s Fearfall, and the Forbidden Journey.
  10. Explore outside the parks.  There’s a great shopping, walking, eating, entertainment area right outside of the parks called City Walk.  We really enjoyed walking around there while we were at Universal and plan to go to City Walk several times on our next trip.  I love how close together it all is so there is no waiting for buses or lines.  You can just walk out and stroll around.  We ate dinner a few times at the restaurants in City Walk and the food was outstanding.  You can also walk over to the resorts and check them out, or ride the boats over.  We took some time to explore each of the resorts and that was fun!
  11. Try everything.  There are some things that are totally unique to Universal and if you don’t try them you’ll miss out!

    –Butterbeer – This drink is only available in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (which is at the back of both parks) and you have to at least try it!  Our family had various reviews of it, but we all thought it was very interesting.  A couple of the kids were crazy about it.  You can even get Butterbeer ice cream in Diagon Alley.
    –Pumpkin Juice- We tried this too (we tried everything we could!) and it was also super yummy.
    –Fishy Green Ale- This bizarre looking green drink is interesting.  Actually, I really liked it, but it’s something you have to try for yourself.
    –Using a wand- We went to the wand shop and chose a wand (or did it choose us?) so the boys could experience the extra cool feature in both Harry Potter worlds.  There are places all around that, if you have a wand, you can do a spell.  My mom-tip for this is to go online and study how the wands work because it’s not as easy as I think it should be, especially considering it’s something children will be doing.  It took us a long time to figure out how to make the spells work.  But we will definitely return with wand in hand to do it all again!
    –Moaning Myrtle- Don’t miss a stop in the Public Conveniences in Hogsmeade to hear her moaning.  It’s hilarious.
    –Hogwarts Express- You can move between the two parks by either going out the front entrance and taking a very short walk to the other, OR by riding the train in the back of the parks.  This is an experience all in itself and we rode it several times and never did catch all of the amazing details.  I was so impressed with the train station that I made the picture my computer screen saver.  No, my screen saver is not a picture of my kids, or my puppy, or my front porch that I love, but the train station at Universal.  That’s how cool it is.Things you don't want to miss at Universal Studios! A guide for moms.

  12. Last but not least, have fun!  Just because you’re the super-mom, trip-organizer, kid-catcher, clothes-washer, wand-carrier, meal-planner and stroller-pusher doesn’t mean you can’t have a ton of fun.  Stop and do a few things you want to do.  Ride the rides, explore the parks, have a Butterbeer and relax.  I’m going to ride the Forbidden Journey like a juvenile and swing my legs and get kid-excited.  I’ll try to shoot all of the aliens on Men in Black and skip around through Seussland.  Just because you’re the grown up doesn’t mean you can’t act like a kid.  Let yourself enjoy it, even if that means swapping off with your husband for an hour to yourself to do anything you want.

A mom's guide to Universal Studios, part 1

I really can’t wait to get back to Universal in September and see it all again.  I hope you will put it on your calendar as something you must do soon!

Next week I’ll have part 2….things you must take with you!

Smile!  It Increases Your Face Value!

Smile! It Increases Your Face Value!

(I am an Invisalign MAB member and one of my sons is receiving complimentary treatment but all opinions completely my own!)

Come on over and share your smile story!!!

Did you know what a smile can do for you and the people around you?  Here are a few fun facts about smiling:

  1. It actually improves your mood.  Studies show that the simple act of smiling sends the message to your brain that you are happy.
  2. It helps others feel better.  Like a kind word or happy song, a smile cad cheer up another person.
  3. It makes you look prettier.  There’s really nothing like a big smile to make you look your most gorgeous.
  4. It can lead to laughter….and we know what the Bible says about laughter….it’s GOOD MEDICINE!
  5. It’s a natural stress reducer.  You’d be surprised to discover how much more relaxed you can be just from smiling a few extra times a day.
  6. It boosts your immune system.  If smiling relaxes you, then it also naturally helps your body fight off germs.  The more relaxed you are, the healthier you are!
  7. It makes you look successful.  Have you ever seen a person smiling and wondered what they have going on in their life that’s so good?  It can actually make you look like you have a great life which communicates success!
  8. It puts others at ease.  Meeting someone that is frowning (like me!) can make someone uncomfortable.  Should you talk to them?  Are they worried?  Do you even want to know what’s happening in their life?!  Smiling helps other people feel more comfortable.

I definitely need to work on smiling more.  It’s one of my many weaknesses….I don’t smile enough naturally.  I can be all happy and cheerful on the inside but often no one can tell.  I am convinced that God gave me a natural frowny face as a life challenge.  I sometimes smile at myself in the mirror so I can see how much better my face looks when there’s a happy expression on it.  It may be embarrassing, but it actually helps!

When I started speaking to women’s groups a few years ago, a friend of mine told me, “You need to smile more when you speak.  It will really bless your audience.”  I knew I wasn’t super smiley, but I hadn’t really thought about how it affected the listener.  So I began to really work on it, besides looking in the mirror and practicing, I also tried to remember to smile at least twice in every conversation.  Even if I am on the phone with someone, smiling changes the mood of the discussion.

Recently I made myself a challenge….to smile for 10 seconds when I am talking with someone.  Do you know how HARD it is so smile for TEN SECONDS?!  Especially for someone like me who tends to have that airport face on all the time.  You know, the one that says, “I am not.in.the.mood to talk to you.”  I will not even realize I am doing it, so I try to remind myself of how great it feels to me when someone smiles at me and then try to give that feeling to other people.  So if you’re talking to me and I look different than usual, know that I am probably practicing my smile.  Maybe even smile back at me to help me see if it’s working.

Come see 8 reasons smiling is good for you!!!

 

I’m not insecure about my smile though, I just don’t naturally grin.  But many people are insecure about their smile.  One of my sons, for example, used to keep his lips closed when he smiled or he covered his mouth.  He was really self-conscious about his extremely crooked teeth.  Of COURSE we encourage confidence no matter how you look!  That’s so, so important!  I am also glad we were able to use the Invisalign treatment and get those gorgeous teeth straightened.

A big, confident smile can really make a difference in every area of your life.  Family relationships, work, church and community friends, even how you see yourself can all be improved with a joyful beam.  I am also amazed at how much better I feel when I am smiling.  It’s an instant happy pill….like sunshine and chocolate.  My son has found his smile and it does my mama heart good to see his face light up with confidence.

Here’s a really sweet video about how some other people found their smile too:

The folks at Invisalign are interested in your smile story!  Click HERE to see how you can not only share your story, but enter to win a “Smile Grant” for free Invisalign treatment!

Say WHAT?!  Now that should make anyone smile!

So, let’s all smile more!!  I hope you’ll head over to the Smile Grant page and share your best smile story!

If you liked this you’ll also like my Ten Reasons to Use Invisalign and 5 Tips for Helping Your Teen with Invisalign!

And for extra fun, hop over to Facebook and tell me if you know what move the title of this post came from!

Again, I am an Invisalign MAB member and one of my sons is receiving complimentary treatment.  My opinions are completely my own and I only work with companies whose products I believe in.  Click HERE to read the full disclosure statement.

6 Must Have New Books

6 Must Have New Books

This post contains affiliate links.

Are you a reader?  I love a crisp afternoon in my hammock with a good book!  Crisp is my favorite temperature.  If you like warm, then you can put your hammock closer to the equator.  Either way, it’s really about the book!

I have 2 book piles in my bedroom right next to each other.  One is for books I am waiting to read and the other is books I recently finished reading.  I like to keep the recently finished books nearby so I can refer back to them or loan them out.  Books are meant to be loved and shared!

Rabbit trail: That’s one thing I don’t like about the Kindle or digital audiobooks.  They’re super convenient, especially with all of the traveling I do, but they are not very sharable.  But if I didn’t have audiobooks I would not get nearly as much “reading” done, so it’s a tradeoff.

Most of the books in my waiting-to-read pile are either something that came highly recommended or books my friends wrote.  I have a lot of brilliant friends who write incredible books.  So I thought I’d share some of them as a recommendation from me to you to add to your own waiting-to-read pile!  I have read all of the books on this list and loved them, plus I do actually know fer realz these authors (well, a few of them have 2 authors and I only know one author from each of those books).  Like, I have met these gals in person and most I’ve talked with on the phone like teenagers do.  This isn’t like my relationship with Lysa Terkeurst where I think she’s my friend but she doesn’t know I exist.  These are my peeps.

Another cool thing is these are all recently released, so they’re fresh off the printing press.  You could be the first in your circles to read them and share.  Your friends will think you’re so cool to know the latest and greatest.  They would make wonderful gift ideas too!  Baby showers, birthdays, Mother’s Day, any old day you want to bless someone!

great-books

 

  1. Planted with Hope  by Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore.  This sweet book is second in The Pinecraft Pie Shop series and it’s a darling story of friendship and community.  Get the first book too….reading them is like a nice, little vacation.
  2. Pressing Pause by Ruth Schwenk and Karen Ehman.  I just got this book and flipped through it and love the simplicity of it.  If you’re thinking you don’t have time to read a whole book, pick this up and just do a chapter at a time.  Each chapter is just 2-3 pages and very encouraging!
  3. The Unhurried Homeschooler by Durenda Wilson.  This short, simple read will be just the reminder you need to keep going.  Even if you’re not a homeschooler you can get a boost of strength from the book.  It’s like having coffee with a trusted friend.
  4. Triggers by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake.  I’ve mentioned this book to you before, and it’s worth adding to your list….especially if you struggle with angry responses.  I read this before it came out and was absolutely inspired by how many women this book was going to help!
  5. Raising Uncommon Kids by Sami Cone.  This is a great book focusing on how we model behavior for our kids….grounded in Scripture and very practical.  I loved it!
  6. Mama Needs a Do-Over by ME!  OK, so I don’t have this one in any of my piles, but I want to remind you that it’s available at most booksellers.  We all need a way to hit the reset button every once in a while.  I know you’ll enjoy it!

And because I truly believe all of these books are amazing and worth adding to your library….I asked each of these friends to give me one of their books to add to a bundle so I can give them to YOU!   And they’re all so kind and generous they agreed without hesitation.  I’ll even toss in my favorite essential oil starter guide for fun.  That makes this bundle valued at over $70!!!

Enter below to win over $70 worth of great reading material!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you win!

Life Lessons and Invisalign

Life Lessons and Invisalign

(I am an Invisalign MAB member and one of my sons is receiving complimentary treatment but all opinions completely my own!)

Great lessons from a mom with TWO teens who use Invisalign #spon

This week we’ve been cleaning out bedroom drawers and finding old pictures of the kids.  My son Noah found one of himself from before he started using Invisalign and couldn’t believe the difference in his smile!

I know he was self-conscience about it before, but it’s been a while and we have all forgotten.  He stood and stared at the picture.  I asked him what he was thinking and he said, “I just can’t believe how different I looked.  I am thinking how glad I am that we were able to get my teeth straightened.”

Me too.  Of course I thought he was gorgeous before, but his confidence has soared since his smile has changed and that makes Mama happy too.

We want our kids to know how amazing they are no matter what they look like, right?  I hope that my children know without a shadow of a doubt that they have everything they need to reach their dreams.  Perfection is unattainable and we can’t let Hollywood dictate our idea of beautiful.  I hope my kids place less value in the perfect LOOK of their teeth and more value in their overall health.  But it’s hard to deny that they do feel more comfortable after we have straightened out some of the crookedness.

It really is about so much more than looks.  It’s about oral health which leads to overall health.  Noah’s teeth are so much easier to clean and he takes pride in them more than he used to.  He has learned some hard lessons through this process including the value of a dollar.  It’s been such a great experience for him.  His younger brother Adam is also in Invisalign treatment and while he’s been doing it for a shorter period of time and we haven’t seen as many physical changes in his appearance yet, he has also learned some great life lessons from using the aligners.

Both boys are involved in the planning of how we pay for the treatment and the sacrifice our family makes.  They know exactly what they cost and how we make that work within our budget.  Another lesson for them has been in how they represent themselves with the orthodontist.  They have been embarrassed when the doctor could tell they had not been wearing their rubber bands like he instructed, or not brushed as well as they should and they didn’t want to feel that way again.

On our last visit they got to look at the computer graphic of their teeth and saw just how much their teeth had changed and how much more they will shift.  It encouraged them both to keep wearing their aligners in the way the ortho tells them and not to be lazy about it.

The teen is getting more and more confident as he gets his teeth straightened! #spon

 

They have learned responsibility as they have had to put their aligners in a safe place while eating and remember to change them on their appointed day each week.  That took a little time to get used to in the beginning, but now they both do great with the management of the process.

I can imagine conversations years from now when they talk about how much they learned during this time of growing up and how much the opportunity to use Invisalign affected them.

I’d really encourage you to look into Invisalign for your orthontic needs.  While I am a MAB member and have received complimentary treatment, I am free to say whatever I truly think about the process and we have been nothing but thrilled.  (and Adam is not part of my MAB membership….we pay for his on our own!)

Check out my Ten Reasons to Use Invisalign

Again, I am an Invisalign MAB member and one of my sons is receiving complimentary treatment.  My opinions are completely my own and I only work with companies whose products I believe in.  Click HERE to read the full disclosure statement.

Take a Smile

Take a Smile

(I am an Invisalign MAB member and one of my sons is receiving complimentary treatment but all opinions completely my own!)

I thought I’d give you an update on the boys and their Invisalign treatment.  We are over halfway through with Noah and 6 months in with our younger son Adam.  We absolutely love the whole process.

 

There were a few kinks in the beginning, like with anything new, that we had to work out.  We needed a place to put the aligners during meals, so I made little buckets for them.  Those buckets have been great for organizing the trays and cases too.

We also found that they were forgetting to change their aligners each week, so to help them we added it to our family Cozi calendar.  This calendar app allows the whole family to see what’s happening in all of our lives.  I added an alarm to go off for each boy on the day they need to change and it goes off on all of our phones.  Every Thursday morning at 9:00 a bunch of us shout, “Adam!!  Did you change your INVISALIGN?!?!”  No forgetting it now.  LOL!

I’ve also shared a few other tips for helping your teens with their treatment HERE.

Since we only have to go to the ortho every 10 weeks, it’s been a great way for us to have time together to run errands, maybe see a movie, talk and just have down time.  Our lives are all so busy that I have set aside appointment days as Mom/son time.

Just last week a friend asked me if we still like Invisalign.  No question about it….yes! While Noah is a part of my MAB membership, Adam is just a normal ol’ user.  We plan to use it again with the last two boys also.

If you’ve been wondering if your child is able to use it, why not find a doctor near you and get a free consultation?  It doesn’t cost anything to go talk to them and see what they think.  There’s a great Doctor Locator on their website.

 

Be sure to check out my 10 Reasons to Use Invisalign!

Again, I am an Invisalign MAB member and one of my sons is receiving complimentary treatment.  My opinions are completely my own and I only work with companies whose products I believe in.  Click HERE to read the full disclosure statement.

This Will REALLY Make You Smile!

This Will REALLY Make You Smile!

(I am an Invisalign MAB member and one of my sons is receiving complimentary treatment but all opinions completely my own!)

The holidays are a time of spending money and hanging onto the budget like a loose tooth.  In other words, not.  It can be so hard to stay within the boundaries you’ve put on paper: $15 per friend gift, $5 each for teachers, etc.  That’s not even mentioning gift wrap, cookie ingredients, gas to get around and lunch a few times at Chick-fil-A!.  Even my hair costs more during the holidays.  You know, for all of the parties I am going to….hey, a girl’s gotta look good!

That’s why I am so, so excited to share this amazing giveaway that my friends at Invisalign are doing right now!

3_DecemberSmiles_INVISALIGN

Our family is so, so thrilled with the Invisalign treatment that 2 of our boys are in right now.  You can read more about it HERE and HERE.  We have an orthodontist appointment next week and we will do some Christmas shopping afterward, maybe catch a movie.  It’s funny how these appointments open up the day and give me a chance to stop and enjoy my boys.  It’s an unexpected blessing.

5_FunFact_INVISALIGN

If you’ve been thinking of looking into Invisalign, this is the time to do it.  Go HERE to find a doctor in your area!  It doesn’t cost anything to learn more about it.

You simply MUST check out the giveaway and enter as many ways as possible!  I want one of YOU to win!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Again, I am an Invisalign MAB member and one of my sons is receiving complimentary treatment.  My opinions are completely my own and I only work with companies whose products I believe in.  Click HERE to read the full disclosure statement

10 Reason to Use Invisalign

10 Reason to Use Invisalign

(I am an Invisalign MAB member and one of my sons is receiving complimentary treatment but all opinions completely my own!)

If you’ve been following our Invisalign journey, you know we have 2 boys in aligners now.  We are so happy with the entire process and I thought I’d share with you some of our favorite things about Invisalign.

10 great reasons to use Invisalign!

1. It’s SO easy!  Like, SUPER easy!  The boys wear them all of the time unless they’re eating, so we just keep their cases in the dining room (I made little buckets for their cases you can see here) and they just take the aligners out for meals and keep them in and the rest of the day it’s a no brainer.

2. It brings us together.  I know, this sounds weird but we really do enjoy the time spent together going to the orthodontist and finding clever ways to store the aligner trays and just working together on this very cool project of straightening their teeth and watching their smile change.

3. They learn responsibility.  There is a level of responsibility to this and the boys have really stepped up and taken charge.  They have to take care of these aligners and they understand the importance of that.  It wasn’t immediate, but over time it’s been less of a mom-job and they have shown maturity in this area.  Oh how I love watching my boys become men!

4. Less Ortho visits.  As much as we enjoy the time together, I also love that I don’t have to go as often as I did with my kids in traditional braces.

5. Easy teeth brushing.  Being able to remove them makes teeth brushing so easy.  There are no wires to work around or brackets in the way.  I have also noticed that the boys are more consistent with their teeth brushing.  They like to be clean before putting the trays back in so they are brushing several times a day.

6. Invisibility.  My boys love the fact that in our experience, you can hardly see the aligners.  It’s kinda like a super-power.

7. Eat whatever you want!  Unlike traditional braces, you can eat anything you want with Invisalign.  There is nothing to avoid, except of course what Mom says you can’t eat….. like ice cream for breakfast.  “Just because you have Invisalign, young man, doesn’t mean you can ACTUALLY eat anything you want.”  😉

8. Know your numbers.  Since the trays are numbered it’s easy to tell how much longer you have to go.  It’s inspiration to keep changing them on the assigned day to keep up with the program.  You always know exactly where you are in your treatment.

9. Being cool.  My boys are so happy to do something their friends do, it makes them feel hip.  Or is it cool?  I don’t know the right word these days.  When I was a teen it would have made me feel like totally tubular.

10. Brotherly Love.  We have the special gift of 2 boys in treatment so they share this project.  They help each other remember to change trays, they share tips, I will hear them say if we are going out, “Hey, don’t forget your retainer case!” and they seem to have developed a bond over the process.  It been an unexpected surprise.

I hope you’ll look into Invisalign when it’s time for some teeth straightening at your house.  It’s free to talk to an orthodontist and just see what you think!

Happy straightening!

If you have any questions, hop over to the Invisalign Facebook page and they’re great about answering!

Again, I am an Invisalign MAB member and one of my sons is receiving complimentary treatment.  My opinions are completely my own and I only work with companies whose products I believe in.  Click HERE to read the full disclosure statement.

Do Your Kids Love to Write?!

Do Your Kids Love to Write?!

Do you want to teach your kids creative writing?

I found it difficult to really inspire my kids to write and know how to get their juices flowing.

Until I found the One Year Adventure Novel.  I have told you about it before, but in case you missed it, I want to tell you again!  AND they gave me a special discount code just for y’all.

Girl, I love me a discount!

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We have used all of the One Year Adventure Novel curricula (someone give me points for using the proper form of that word!) in our home.  We started about 7 years ago with their high school program (called One Year Adventure Novel).  What I loved about it was that through the lessons and assignments, by the end of the year the student has written a book.  It’s brilliant!

It’s very in-depth without a lot of fluff.  Although, the video lessons ARE entertaining and sometimes my younger kids will sneak in and watch just for fun.

There’s a video for each lesson, then an accompanying lesson in the textbook.  After the lessons there’s an assignment that is done in a workbook.  It can be completed in one school year.  Plus there are forums that help a lot if you need it.  And the forums are also great for the kids to make friends.

The OYAN folks make it easy for the teacher too, because the lessons are done for you and they give great instruction for how to check the work.  I love that about it!

One Year Adventure Novel is primarily for homeschoolers, but honestly if I wasn’t homeschooling I still might go through it with my kids (keep in mind I do have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew).  It has inspired my kids to be writers and it tapped into their creativity (in a good way, not like “Hey let’s see what we can draw on the side of Mom’s car with an Exacto knife!” kind of way).

In fact, my oldest daughter has written 5 novels, with her last one, Implant, just released a few weeks ago!  She credits OYAN for much of her education in writing even though she was already out of high school when we started using it.

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They also have a junior high version called, Cover Story.  Our son used it a couple of years ago and I plan to use it again this year with one of my other boys.  Instead of writing a whole book, it focuses through DVD lessons on shorter projects like poetry, short stories, creative non-fiction, interviews, blogs & letters.  We really like it!  The lessons are more playful and if you like steampunk, you will be in for a treat.

Creative writing helps in so many areas of life!  I’ve seen my kids blossom through this class in ways that surprised me.  There is just something about the lessons…..working on the lessons makes them feel loved.

I know it sounds crazy, but that’s the only way I can describe it.

And IF you aren’t looking for writing curriculum, there’s still something you need to know about the creator of the One Year Adventure Novel, Daniel Schwabauer.  He is the author of our favorite, favorite stories that we read as a family.  I got his first 2 books, Runt the Brave & Runt the Hunted and we all flipped over them.  And his latest book, Curse of the Seer (Legends of Tira-Nor), has just been released.  We got it last week and it is already a new family favorite.  No kidding, we ripped it out of the package when it arrived and read it instantly.  It’s wonderful!

If you’re looking for a great series of books for your kids (ages 5-99) this is it.  They will not disappoint.

And now for the good stuff….the discounts.

For the One Year Adventure Novel use the code PP15oyan and get $30 off through the end of September!
For Cover Story use the code PP15story and get $20 off through the end of September!

Both of these codes must be applied at checkout.

I really hope you’ll try these with your kids.  I leaned a lot too, as I was going through it with them.  I know you will love it!

And if you love what they are doing over at OYAN keep updated with them on Facebook!

Fun with the Boys (+ an Invisalign Update)

Fun with the Boys (+ an Invisalign Update)

(I am an Invisalign MAB member and one of my sons is receiving complimentary treatment but all opinions completely my own!)

I thought I’d catch y’all up on how we are doing with our Invisalign journey.  I have 2 boys using the aligners and we are cray-cray about the whole process!  Having had 4 of my kids in traditional braces before this and now being more than halfway through Invisalign with Noah and a few months in with Adam I am sold.

I’m gonna shoe polish this on the back of my car window…..Invisalign or BUST!

And I promise I am saying that of my own free will.  No one is making me give both thumbs up.  I would never tell you something that I didn’t believe.

Besides being so easy for the boys to take care of and manage, it really is changing their looks.  I can tell they are both feeling more confident and excited about their teeth.  I have noticed a change in their attitude about brushing and caring for their teeth too.  I think having to remove the aligners to eat reminds them to brush before putting them back in.

Another thing I love about this is that we only have to go for checkups every 10 weeks.  That turns it into an occasion and we like to make a whole day of it. Our last appointment was this past Monday and my oldest son decided to go along with us.  We had a mom/super-tall-boy day in the city.  We checked in with our orthodontist then did haircuts, jean shopping and saw a movie.  Plus Chick-fil-A of course.  We can’t go to the city without a stop at Chick-fil-A.

Make the most out of the time you spend together anyway....like getting your teens checked at the orthodontist! #spon #motherhood

Speaking of Chick-fil-A, it’s nice that they can take their aligners out to eat.  No broken brackets or food getting stuck in the wires.  That’s one of the things I really love about using the aligners.  And don’t forget to check out my 5 tips for helping them manage the aligners!

This mom of 9 is sharing her journey of using Invisalign after having 4 kids in traditional braces.  Come follow her along! #greattips #momofboys #spon

Let’s face it, the needs of a teen can be overwhelming.  I am so thankful that at least this one area has been made easier and more enjoyable.  Now, I wonder what can be done about the problem of outgrowing their shoes every 4 months.  Someone needs to invent an adjustable sneaker.

Thanks for stopping by and if you have any aligner questions, hop over to the Invisalign Facebook page and they’re great about answering!

Again, I am an Invisalign MAB member and one of my sons is receiving complimentary treatment.  My opinions are completely my own and I only work with companies whose products I believe in.  Click HERE to read the full disclosure statement.

Teens and Confidence

Teens and Confidence

(I am an Invisalign MAB member and one of my sons is receiving complimentary treatment but all opinions completely my own!)

It's hard to find confidence no matter how old you are!  But the teen years are rough.  #ad

Teens and confidence.

Yep.  I remember in my teen years how hard it was to find stability when it came to my confidence.  Actually, forget my teens, I struggled with it last week!  It never fully goes away.

But when you’re a teen and you’re finding your place in the world and figuring out where you fit and how you want to look and what you might want to do with your life…..it’s a lot to deal with!

But self-confidence can be a trap.  If we build our confidence in ourselves then it’s fragile and unstable.  BUT if we build it in God it is on a solid foundation and can never break.  Can I get an amen?!

Even though we teach that to our kids, to look to God for their strength and security, life is a journey and can take a long time to really have that kind of unshakable confidence.  I’m not sure we ever fully get there on this side of heaven.  And while we are looking to God for our source of confidence, we still have to find our personal style, career path, learn how to have relationships….so many things that make us unique and amazing!

It’s a lesson in focusing on God and enjoying the grace of life at the same time.  It ain’t easy for anyone!

Right now I have 4 teens, 2 girls and 2 boys.  My boys are both in homeschool and quickly becoming young men.  It’s happening WAY too fast for this mom!  These 2 are a real blessing!

Invisalign and teen confidence! #ad

One thing we deal with in our family is very. crooked. teeth.  I blame my husband.  His teeth are much worse than mine.  But I don’t tell him it’s his fault because then he would bring up all of the weird OCD problems our kids have and you can only look to me for that mess.  Let’s call it a draw.

Anyway, while we are teaching our kids that their confidence should come from God, we are also sympathetic to areas where they feel insecure and we help them if we can.  Several of our older children had traditional braces.  That worked out OK, but had its share of issues to deal with.  So we decided to use Invisalign with these 2 boys and have been thrilled with that decision!

Surprisingly, they both LOVE the process and the responsibility of taking care of their aligners.  I’ve seen them grow in maturity from it and they each deeply appreciate the sacrifice our family makes to pay for the treatment (which is true of the traditional braces as well, of course!).  Our willingness to do that for them has given them a confidence of knowing how much we value them!

They each have such unique interests and personal style.  Noah is Mr. Snappy Dresser and would probably wear a tie or scarf every day if he could.  He’s a great kid….like I-can’t-believe-he-is-really-mine kind of great!

Teens and confidence #ad

And Adam is his own kind of character.  He’s funny and super smart!  He loves reading and writing more than anything….except eating.  He really likes eating.  He’s just so interesting!  I love him to the moon and back!  No, past that.  To infinity and beyond.

Teens and their confidence #ad

We work hard give them each room to explore their own interests and style.  It’s so cool to watch them become good at something new and just be themselves!

A recent online survey revealed that 94% of teens think their appearance influences their popularity.  How sad!!!  I want these 2 precious boys to not only KNOW that they are amazing no matter how they look, but I also want them to learn not to judge others by their looks either!

I mean, we are happy to help them have straight teeth and fun hats, but that’s not what it’s all about, man!  If we can remove a barrier to feeling confident, like getting their teeth straight, we want to do it.  But while they spend that time in orthodontic treatment, we also pour God’s love into their minds and hearts.  We do service projects and teach them skills and let them explore their own, unique interests.  For instance, Noah loves archery so we got him equipment for that.  And Adam….well….I can’t keep enough books around for that kid.

Let’s work together to help our teens learn that how they look is only a small part of where their confidence should come from!  It’s all about who God says you are, how you treat others, how you spread God’s love.

Thanks for stopping by and if you have any aligner questions, hop over to the Invisalign Facebook page and they’re great about answering!

Again, I am an Invisalign MAB member and one of my sons is receiving complimentary treatment.  My opinions are completely my own and I only work with companies whose products I believe in.  Click HERE to read the full disclosure statement.