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!

From Sea to Shining Sea

From Sea to Shining Sea

Hello my friends!!!

It’s been a while since I caught you up on what’s been going on around here.  I’ve been home for almost a week now from my big trip to Utah for the Young Living International Grand Convention.  I went with 2 of my grown kids who also love the oils and we had a grand old time.  Since there were three of us, we decided it would be more economical to drive.  To Salt Lake City.  From San Antonio, Texas.

I don’t know what I was thinking.  It seemed like a good idea when we were looking at the cost of flying, but on the seventh hour of the second day I wondered what on earth had come over me when making that decision.  My back side is still protesting when I go to get in my car.  I feel like I drove form one side of the country to the other.

The long drive was really pretty easy though, so I shouldn’t complain.  My children that were with me are adults so they don’t require any sort of entertainment or stops for diaper changes and snacks.  I met several ladies at the convention who had driven further than I did with babies and toddlers in the car.  My hat is off to them….I have nothing to say after that.  Frankly I was harder to travel with than my kids, with my constant need for Sonic ice and freezing air blowing on me.  At one point my daughter was in the passenger seat next to me wrapped in a blanket and shivering…..it was 100° outside.  It was 60° inside.

But convention was AMAZING!  I shared a lot of live videos on Facebook showing the new products and how I kept my anxiety in check.  Hop over there and you can see the beauty of where we were and how much fun we had.  I learned lots and fell even more in love with what this company does for its members and the people in the communities where the farms are.  I so wish you had been able to hear all of the beautiful stories of service….that’s where my heart is!

On the way back we decided to take a detour and drive south to see the Grand Canyon.  I had not seen it since I was about 13 years old and my kids have never been there, so it was a real treat!  Of course, it was so majestic that it took our breath away and we took a zillion pictures.  I spent about an hour and a half just staring at it and praying while my kids made videos and went walking down the trails a little ways.  Even though it kind of ended up adding a whole day to our trip it was totally worth it.  Now I want to take my other kids there….especially the 4 youngest who are still in school.  I feel a homeschool road trip coming on!

canyon07

Once I got home it took me 5 days to unpack.  I was worn out and spent the first day resting.  Then ever so slowly I started putting things away.  First my suitcase got unpacked, but it was all kind of piled in the bathroom.  The next day I put those things away either where they belong or in the washer.  I tucked all of my oils and supplements back in their places and started finding places for all of the new products and junk I bought.  By junk I meant things I am sending to my new members….I absolutely LOVE to send them gifts!  And I found a bunch of good ones at the convention from various oily vendors.  There were books and cases and gadgets and bottles.

Why oh why do I love those empty bottles?!  I think it’s that they’re nothing but possibility.  I can fill it with anything I want and create.

By the weekend it was all cleaned up just in time for one of my boys’ birthday, which meant a trip to the city with him and a couple of brothers.  We saw “Finding Dory” which they liked, but I thought was pretty much the same as “Finding Nemo”.  I wasn’t that impressed, but who cares?  They had fun and it was a clean movie, so that’s a win-win in my book.  It is way too much to ask for me to enjoy it too.  Then we shopped for his birthday presents and I got home that night and fell into bed.

One of these weeks I’m gonna do nothing at all.  No parties, no shopping, no cleaning, no nuthin’.  Don’t you ever feel like you just need to stop so you can miss some things and want them again?  I need to miss people.  And grocery shopping….if it is ever possible to miss grocery shopping.  I think I could go the rest of my life without grocery shopping and never miss it.

For the fourth we had friends over.  These are some of our best friends and we generally spend all holidays together.  There’s never an end to the things we talk about, from the state of the church today to food from the 70s.  The flow of conversation is always interesting, although in the end we really never settle any of the world’s problems.

This next week it gets even busier for me because my nieces and nephews arrive tomorrow to spend 10 days with us.  We are really looking forward to seeing them and spending time together, but I am trying to find ways to fill the days and wear everyone out.  My theory is that if they’re exhausted then they won’t complain about missing their parents or not having their own beds.  I have a feeling, however, that I will be the only one who gets truly exhausted.

Have a great week!  See you in the funny papers.

There’s still time to register for my Moms’ Summer Camp!!! Hop over and join us!!  You’ll love it.  :)

The Best Memories Are Made When Things Go Wrong

The Best Memories Are Made When Things Go Wrong

How can I sum up a whirlwind weekend of travel and mishaps?  In three words: hot, draining and delightful.

Last summer our oldest daughter moved to Dallas last to live with my amazing sister-in-law and this past weekend she was moving out of their house and into a house shared with 2 other girls.  But she needed bedroom furniture.  Simple things, a bed, dresser, desk and a few odds and ends.

I was finally going to be able to prove to my husband that my obsession with keeping furniture piled up in our storage building is worth it.

So last Thursday I rummaged around in there and found what we needed, except a bed which I have no extras of, and loaded it all into our 15-passenger van.  We’ve had this van since the dawn of time and it’s got some wear and tear.  But since it was supposed to rain, we decided to use it to carry the furniture so we didn’t have to figure out tarps, etc.  We removed 3 of the 4 benches and everything fit with a little room to spare.

In order to tell this story, you have to know that something weird started happening with our van a couple of weeks ago.  We suspect it has something to do with all of the rain we’ve been having, but who knows really.  That’s just our theory.  First one of the side doors wouldn’t open from the outside.  The handle did nothing.  So we had to reach in from the front door and pull the latch from the inside.  OK, not super convenient, but we can do that.  Then one of the back doors did the same thing.  So now we had to crawl to the back and open that from the inside too.  A bit less convenient, but onward and upward, as they say.

On Saturday morning we got up early to make the 5.5 hour drive to Dallas only to discover that the side door wouldn’t open at all.  Not from the inside or the outside.  So NOW we all have to get in and out of the van through the front doors and CLIMB to the back.  Nice.  Can you say “Redneck”?

But it got worse.  Hang on.

We got to Dallas, unloaded at the new place (climbing in through the front door and crawling over all of the furniture to the back to open the door from the inside), then went to my daughter’s boyfriend’s parents house to pick up a box spring they were loaning her.  “Hi, nice to meet you, thanks for letting us borrow this.  Hang on while I get my 13 year old to crawl through the driver’s door to the back of the van so we can load it up.”  On the way back to my daughter’s house we stopped at Sam’s Club to get a mattress….same story.  He kept cheerfully crawling over the furniture to open the back door for us.

When we got back to the house to deliver the bed, my son did his thing, headed to the back of the van to open the door, and guess what.  Yep.  The door wouldn’t open at all.  We stood there stunned.  I mean, really?  WE HAVE A BED BACK THERE!!!

My daughter’s boyfriend made his way inside to the back of the van and worked on it with nothing but YouTube videos and a paint can opener.  The girls had NO tools.  While he did that, my boys and I removed what we could through the front doors, even getting the mattress out.  But there was no way we could get the box springs out.  After an hour we gave up on the back door and started trying the side door.  That took another half hour and I was beginning to think I was going to have to go buy a box spring, strap it to the top of my daughter’s car and just keep the boyfriend’s parent’s box spring forever in the back of my van.

Finally, after another 20 minutes, my other daughter got her tiny hand up in the side door mechanism and clicked it open.  SWEET RELIEF!

Since we have never been able to it again, we think it was just a God-thing.  He had mercy on us before we all fainted from heat strokes.

We took the bed out, made triple sure we didn’t need to have the door open anymore and went to close the door only to discover it wouldn’t close.  Um, this might be a bigger problem.

I will spare you the rest of the details except to say that we did finally get it closed about 40 minutes later, went to get food and collapsed.

The next day we evaluated what more she needed to get her room organized and decided she needed some shelves.  So I headed to IKEA (only 20 minutes away….dreamy!) and I wish you had seen us in the IKEA parking lot pushing huge boxes through the front window into the back of the van.  I know people were wondering why we didn’t just open the back door and set it in.

But we do like an adventure and as much trouble as it all was, memories were made and everybody had a great time.  Well, maybe not the boyfriend whose legs cramped from sitting on the floor in the back of the van for an hour.  But he never complained.

I started to feel like I needed to repay him somehow.  Then I remembered that I am essentially giving him my firstborn child, so I got over it.

We hung around until around 3:00 Sunday assembling IKEA furniture (I bought tools while I was out as a contribution to the girl’s house) and enjoying being together.  Oh, and did I forget to mention that the A/C in my daughter’s new place was out?  Uh huh.  I have had my quota of heat for the summer.

When we got back home Sunday night, I was retelling the whole adventure to my husband, who sat quietly and listened to me unfold the details all about the heat and the bed and the van doors and feeling faint a few times.  I told him about my daughter’s little room and how we figured out the best arrangement and got her all settled.  I apologized for spending more money on her furniture than we had planned.  When I finally stopped talking he just smiled at me and said, “You loved every minute of it, didn’t you?”

Yep, I sure did.

8 Summer Vacation Helpful Tips AND a Terrific SHOE Giveaway!!!

8 Summer Vacation Helpful Tips AND a Terrific SHOE Giveaway!!!

This post contains affiliate links.

Have you made any summer vacation plans?  I know many of you are going to be packing up and heading somewhere this summer.  I have several trips planned myself that I am super excited about!

I get so many questions asking for Disney advice or airplane tips, since I have been so many times now.  You might notice, however, that no one asks me for camping tips.  I’m not a camper since I’m a big fan of air-conditioning and indoor showers.

If you're traveling this summer, here are some great tips for travel PLUS a favorite travel shoe giveaway!

 

Anyway, I love sharing what I have learned from my experience of traveling, especially from my Disney and Universal trips.  Traveling to Disney or anywhere you’ll be walking all day long, high activity and crowds is a whole different kind of vacation.  You walk so much that your feet need extra care, the heat is a problem and sometimes people cry.  Or is that just me?

I’ve discovered products that help make traveling easier and simple tips to smooth out the bumps.  And there are always bumps.  That’s my first tip….

7 great tips for summer travel, product recommendations PLUS a favorite travel show giveaway!

  1. Expect there to be problems.  No matter how well you plan your trip, there will be kinks along the way.  Tires go flat, lines get long, rain pours, people get sick, it can’t be helped.  That’s part of it, the messiness.  That’s what adds the flavor to the memories.A couple of years ago we went to Disney World with 11 people: James, me and 9 kids (although a few of them were over 18, we still call them kids).  It was 3 hotel rooms, 33 meals every day, no one replying to text messages, not knowing where half of them were most of the time, etc.  After a couple of days I had a Mom-meltdown and started crying in the lobby of our resort, like bawling.  The kids stood around me like I was a display in a freak show, not knowing what to do.  Should they pet me or walk away and pretend not to know me?  We laughed about it later, it was pretty funny.  On another day we were so late for our dinner reservation that we had to wait until about 9PM to eat.  We sat on the sidewalk outside the restaurant like beggars, waiting to get some food tossed out to us.  Those things weren’t part of our plan, but honestly, they are some of the funniest memories.  Make the best of those hard times and let them add to the fun! (the crying wasn’t fun, but even in the middle of it I could see the humor of how ridiculous I looked)
  2. Relax.  Active trips can make you forget to just relax.  Parents all around you will be begging their screaming children to stop crying.  Bribery (“Want an ice cream cone?!”), empty threats (“If you don’t stop that we are going to leave.”) and throwing their hands up in exasperated defeat is what you will witness everywhere you turn.  You don’t have to be one of those parents.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed by it all, take a step back and relax.  Sit down with your kids (this is MUCH better than having a meltdown in a resort lobby) and chill for a minute.  Yes, you might miss something, but in the end you will be better for it.  There’s always plenty to do on these trips, so if you miss a Fast Pass just let it go or try to get another one.  If you don’t make it to a show because you were resting, so be it.  You will enjoy your trip so much more if you slow down.
  3. Eat well.  This is tough, but if you eat well you’ll have a much better time if you eat as healthy as possible!  Even if you’re dining out for every meal, you can stick close to lean protein and veggies as much as possible.  Instead of giving the kids a bunch of sugary treats, stick with fruit, water, hummus, veggie sticks, etc.  You can find these on the snack plan at Disney or you can bring them with you.  Here’s a post about how I went to Disney without eating sugar!
  4. Wear comfortable shoes.  Before my last trip to Disney a few weeks ago I was on a mission to find shoes that would keep my feet from hurting after walking over 20,000 steps every day for 7 days.  I don’t ask for much….comfortable, water proof, and look really cute.  I went out three times and looked for shoes.  I could wear sneakers, but it’s really miserable once they get wet and it almost always rains in Florida.  I could wear my Birks, but they tend to hurt my feet after a few thousand steps and they also don’t do well in water since they’re leather.  I tried everything from Chacos to Crocs and nothing worked.  I love my Otz shoes, which is what I wore the past few trips, but they get ruined in the rain and I didn’t want to lose another pair.

    I was just about to give up when I found the perfect shoe.  I saw it on my way out of my last store, giving up all hope.  I’m pretty sure a sunbeam was shining right on them so I couldn’t miss it….a sign from God that this was the answer to my search.  They’re made by Oofos.  They had all of my requirements….comfy, cute and waterproof!  And believe me, I tested them thoroughly by wearing them for my entire trip and my feet never hurt at all!  I am not kidding, they gave my the arch support I need.  It feels like you’re walking on a cushion.  In fact, I am so amazed by them then whenever I run into anyone on the street or in the grocery store I make them try mine on so they can experience it for themselves.  Trust me, you want these shoes and they come in both between the toes (this is what I wore) or as strap over the foot (this is what my husband wore).I’m going to be wearing them all summer! (read all the way down to see how you can WIN a pair of these!)

  5. Stay cool!  Like I said above, I like air-conditioning.  But this is summer and it gets hot.  You have to be outside in the heat sometime.  So I found this great way to stay cool.  Or cool-er.  I used to carry a small fan with me and hold it up to my face when I got hot, but then some friends on Facebook told me about this little beauty!  It’s a fan you wear around your neck and it blows on your face.  Oh. My. Heaven!  I ordered two and I don’t care that it makes me look like I have on a medical alert necklace, I will be wearing it all summer!  I even added something extra to mine by putting a piece of sticky felt to the top and now I can add a drop of my favorite essential oil.  It blows the aroma right up to my face, which is perfect!!!  I’m going back to Orlando in September for Universal and this personal fan will be my BFF.7 great tips for your summer vacation with product recommendations AND a giveaway of the perfect vacation shoes!
  6. Stay hydrated.  Water, water and more water!  I decided to get a holder for my water bottle so it’s easy to access without my needing to hold it all the time.  I like my camelback backpack, but you can’t add essential oils to the water pouch on that.  You have to use glass or stainless steel when you’re adding oils, and I prefer stainless since it’s lightweight and not breakable.  I got this bottle holder that makes your water available to you hands free!  I wore it crossbody and even rode the rides with it still on with no problem.  You can buy the companion water bottle, but I found that a plastic bottle fits in it and so does the stainless steel bottle I already own.  I’m going to get a few more for the kids before we go to Universal in September so they can carry their own.7 great vacation tips with product recommendations AND a giveaway of the perfect pair of vacation shoes!
  7. You know I have to add my beloved essential oils to this list.  I can’t make a helpful travel list without including my oils.  They bless me so much on all of my travels both for the plane and through the exhausting days.  I carry around with me peppermint, PanAway, StressAway and Thieves (usually more but these are my must haves).  Those are all in the Premium Starter Kit that I am always talking about.  Plus I take a diffuser for the hotel room which is fantastic for eliminating odors and germs.  I make sure to have lemon, lavender and Purification with me for the room diffuser (also in the kit).  Using the oils while traveling helps me deal with the inevitable problems I mentioned in #1.
  8. Prayer.  I saved the best for last.  Places like Disney and Universal are incredible family trips, but there is a lot of pressure around any vacation.  What to pack, how to pay for it, what activities to do (because you can’t possible do it all), how to get there, keeping the kids (and Mom) happy, being patient with other travelers and the workers who are not always in a good mood are only a few of the hard things that we need help with.  Put on the armor of God be “prayed up” every day and throughout the day.   There is so much peace in His care….prayer is a vacation MUST!

Now…..you will LOVE this so be glad you read all the way to the end!  I reached out to the folks and Oofos and told them how much I loved my shoes and they offered to let me give away a pair to TWO of you!  HOW COOL IS THAT?!  You have got to enter as many times as you can to improve your chances of winning!  And if you don’t win, I urge you to go find where they sell them in your area and try them.  Or just believe me and order a pair for yourself right now!

7 great tips for summer travel PLUS a giveaway of my favorite pair of sandals for travel!

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All in all, vacations are a blessing, but tiring and challenging.  These 8 things will help you no matter where you’re going and what you’re doing when you get there.  But especially if you’re planning a trip that is demanding, you’ll want to gear up and say those prayers!

And yes, I realize the picture says 7 things and the list has 8.  I didn’t realize it until after I had published and I was going to make a new graphic, but then I thought, “Nah.  My people don’t care about that,” and I moved on.  See?  There’s always a mess.

Have a great summer vacation!

If you liked this, you will also love “10 Ways to Lighten a Traveler’s Load” and “9 Things You Must Have at Disney“!

How I Went to Disney and Didn’t Eat Sugar

How I Went to Disney and Didn’t Eat Sugar

This post contains affiliate links.

I just got home from a marvelous, magical Disney vacation.  My husband and I went for a week….no kids.  My BFF and her husband went also, but we only hung out together a few times, mostly it was just my husband and I.  Disney isn’t just for kids, my friend.  There’s a LOT to do for grownups.

We went to Disney with just the two of us, no kids, no worries.

There’s also a lot to eat.  Like, a LOT.  We did the Disney Dining Plan, which means each day we had one sit down restaurant meal, one quick service meal and one snack.  Both daily meals come with a drink, entrée and dessert.  I am telling you, if you’re not careful you can spend the whole time just rolling around like a over-inflated tire feeling ill from overeating.

I made a promise to myself a couple of months ago to remove sugar from my diet.  Well, I actually removed a LOT of things, but sugar is one that I determined not to add back in even when I was on vacation.  This, when you are getting three desserts per day, is not an easy task!  But I did it…..I went the entire week without eating sugar.  I told myself that I could have one sugar dessert the entire trip, which I chose carefully.  I had an ice cream cone on the last day of our vacation at my favorite ice cream shop in Disney Springs, Ghirardelli.  That’s it.

I went to Disney World without eating sugar.  Here's why I did it and how I made it work!

If you’re wondering how I did it….I want to tell you.  But first let me express WHY this made my vacation so much better than any Disney trip I have taken before.

  1. I never got a post-sugar crash.  That lovely high you feel when eating a sweet treat, there’s always a crash that comes after.  But because I didn’t eat the sugar, I didn’t have any big lows.  That was really nice.  It definitely helped me keep my energy levels up and at Disney you need a lot of energy, even when you’re there with only slow-poke grownups.
  2. My good mood was easy!  I tend to get very grumpy when I eat a lot of sugar.  I kept that in mind as I made my food choices because I was enjoying my easy, joyful moods and I knew if I ate much sugar I would start to struggle to stay cheerful.  I still had a few of my normal ups and downs, but overall I found it SO much easier to get over things and relax.
  3. I didn’t gain 10 pounds.  I did gain a little, I mean, it’s not like I fasted!  Since I cut wheat, dairy, corn, potatoes and more out of my diet a few months ago, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay away from all of that.  I was definitely eating things that my body wasn’t used to.  I tried to order salad as much as possible, but occasionally I’d just get a burger.  I would eat the meat without the bun or only a little of the fries.  I never felt stuffed (except for this one steak meal that I ate like a pig).  I did gain a little weight from the trip, but nothing like the times when I have just had a sugar-free-for-all.
  4. I proved something to myself.  Honestly, I am not super strong when it comes to staying away from sweets.  I definitely have issues.  I kept telling myself that I could do it and thinking about how great I would feel knowing I did this very hard thing.

You can have a great time at Disney and not eay any sugar!!!  Here's how and why!

Interestingly, it got easier as the trip went along and as I found ways to get around the treats that came with my daily plan.  Here are the things I did to avoid the sugar and not feel deprived.  I mean, everywhere you look there’s someone eating a Mickey shaped ice cream bar or an apple on a stick covered in candy.  I had to make sure I was feeling treated and enjoying some snacks without the sugar.

  1. I read through the dining plan and discovered that for the quick meals it’s not actually “1 drink, 1 entrée, 1 dessert”.  It’s an entrée with 2 “snacks”.  In other words, you can substitute the dessert for anything that restaurant considers a snack!  So I would get my entrée with 2 water bottles.  I’d drink one with my meal and have the extra water to carry around the park with me afterward.  A couple of my restaurants had sparkling water so I would get that as my drink for a carbonated treat.
  2. I found snacks that weren’t sugary.  There are not a lot of non-sugar snacks, but they are around if you keep your eye out.  At some kiosks/restaurants you can get fruit, popcorn, pretzels, hummus cups, even a bagel or hot tea.  Also, the gift shops have candy that you can use as a snack option and so I used the snacks I had left on my account (I only used a few of my snacks credits the entire time) to get fun treats to bring home to the kids.  There’s a beautiful candy shop at the front of Magic Kingdom where you can get some darling take home gifts with your snack credits.
  3. I carried snacks with me.  Disney doesn’t care if you bring food into the parks, so don’t be nervous about it.  You don’t have to bury them under feminine products for the bag check.  It’s totally fine to bring snacks in.  So I carried nuts and my little GF-sugar-free crackers and ate them when I felt a need for an energy boost.
  4. I drank a LOT of water.  Did you know that any place they serve drinks will give you a free cup of ice water?  I made sure to keep myself hydrated.  The free cups are really small so I would just ask for 2 or 3.  That helped me not get as many cravings.  I carried a small stainless steel bottle that I could pour the ice water in and add a few drops of essential oils (like Slique, lemon or peppermint) and that felt like a cool treat!

    In choosing a water bottle, here are some things to look for (THIS is the one I use).  Trust Aunt Lisa, I learned from my mistakes.  You want your bottle to be insulated.  A non-insulated one will sweat and make the things in your pack get all wet and ruin your little package of Bandaids and your receipts, which your CPA husband might want, hypothetically.  You’ll need it to have an easy to use lid so you can take a sip while you’re walking in case the people you’re with won’t slow down even if you’re painfully thirsty.  Lastly, I ordered some of THESE holders so you don’t even have to put it in your pack if you don’t want to.  We will be using these for all the boys in September when we go to Universal!

  5. Speaking of adding oils to water, I carried 5 of them with me to the parks every day.  My Young Living oils make me feel like a princess.  I know it’s silly, but if you’re at Disney you are supposed to feel like a princess even if you’re in your 50s. They don’t talk much about it in the movies, but Cinderella had to get old at some point, right?  I mean, what does “happily ever after mean if not turning 50 and gaining weight?!  My oils are such a blessing and they are so precious to me because I can feel God’s love for me through them that it makes me feel spoiled to have them.  Here’s what I carried: peppermint, StressAway, lime, PanAway and FUN.  (yes, there’s an oil called FUN!)
Disney World is a place I use my oils a LOT!  Here are some tips for what to bring and also how to avoid sugar while you're there!

Now, I did have my one sugar treat on the last day and I have to say, it didn’t live up to my week long anticipation.  It tasted good, but after I ate it I wished I hadn’t.  It is such a momentary pleasure with long term consequences.  I felt sluggish for a while after that and didn’t want any more sugar.  So, when I ever go back I won’t even do that.  I will just enjoy the other great foods and leave the sugar to the whining kids and exhausted parents.

I want to encourage you that if you have removed sugar from your diet you can keep it up even on vacation!  It is well worth the effort.  Oh, and don’t feel sorry for my kids who stayed home while their parents went to Disney World.  We took them last November and they get to go to Universal Studios later this year.  They’re perfectly fine.

If you liked this you will also like, “9 Things you MUST Have at Disney” and my “Not-So-Scientific Experiment” about why I stopped eating sugar.

Thanks for stopping by!

Doth Thou Feelest Ready for Summer?

Doth Thou Feelest Ready for Summer?

There's always a slew of things to do before the summer.  Like, put away the stuff still out from last summer.

Are you getting ready for summer?  With school winding down and vacations being planned and the heat coming upon us it’s prep time.  I am trying to clean the house and the spiff up the porch and our pool is getting the care it needs to be ready for daily swimming and splashing that happens all summer around here.  At some point I guess I need to see if everyone’s last year’s swimsuits still fit and/or have any elastic left.

My summer is already looking full on the calendar.  I am traveling a couple of times each month plus we have nieces and nephews visiting for half of July.  I am really looking forward to their visit….they are so precious!  I am going to plan all kinds of fun times while they’re here.  Pennington Summer Camp complete with NingXia red popsicles and diffusing peppermint.  My 7 year old nephew might not realize how awesome this is, but he’s getting it anyway.

This past weekend I made a quick trip to Dallas with my husband for the Republican Convention and to visit my oldest daughter.  When I got home on Friday night, being in my summer prep mode, I started to unpack and then wondered about the suitcase…..to put it away or not to put it away…..that is the question.  Really, it always comes down to Shakespeare, doesn’t it?  Once more unto the breach, dear friends and all that.  Yeah, I don’t know what I’m saying.  It’s possible that the suitcase now sitting in my bedroom with no purpose but proving that I am too lazy to carry it to the storage building then go get it back out in three weeks has gone to my brain.

I did clean my bedroom on Saturday.  I was alone with my 3 youngest boys all day so we decided (well, I decided and they went along with it since I promised them a junk food dinner) to have a bedroom cleaning marathon.  We made lists on our giant white board of tasks in each room then set a timer and blasted fun music while we worked.  After the timers went off we all checked each other’s progress.  We got a lot done that way.  List, work as fast as we could to the music, timers going off, check, repeat.  3 rooms cleaned.  Now we only have the rest of the house to do.

Their reward was going to the dollar store for food.  I let them each pick a frozen dinner and chips.  Don’t judge me.  A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.  I’ll feed them veggies all week to make up for it.

I am also getting my wardrobe ready for the heat wave that’s about to hit.  I haven’t heard any weathermen saying there’s a heat wave coming, it’s just that I live in Texas and there’s no avoiding it.  I am also making sure all of our fans are working and I have freezer space for bags of Sonic ice.  I read recently that it’s healthiest to only drink room temperature water.  While this may be ideal and maybe I will shoot for that in the mornings and evenings, I can’t do it in the mid-day-summer-temps.  My survival depends on crushed ice.

I am also hoping to get the yard cleaned up before summer, but that may be overshooting our abilities since all my bigger kids have jobs, are in theater performances and doing extra activities that keep them out of the house.  It takes a village to run this operation and half my villagers are running around all times of the day and night.  Although one day last week my girls got the urge to clean out the pantry which absolutely made me giddy until I saw the mountain of “extra” food covering the kitchen table.  “We weren’t sure what to do with this stuff,” they said.  Um…..great.  Now I have a pile of expired soup and half used boxes of dry milk to feel guilty about.  #thestruggleisreal

Maybe if I promise someone another dollar store TV dinner with Nacho Cheese Doritos they will just throw it all away without asking me and I can pretend I never saw it.

Yes, I teach parenting tips.

And now I shall leave you with this thought, “Goodnight!  Goodnight!  Parting is such sweet sorrow.  That I shall say goodnight ’til it be morrow.”

Come join me on Facebooketh for more sweet delight!

Celebrating ALL MONTH LONG

Celebrating ALL MONTH LONG

I am over the moon excited about my essential oil deal this month!  I decided to do something extra special for the month of May to celebrate Mom all month long.  ‘Cuz moms are th’ BOMB!

So, you know I love my oils and how they have changed my life and how I can’t stop talking about them, right?  I remember before I ever got any essential oils wishing I could try them, then finally jumping in and ordering some, then letting them sit in the drawer for a long time. But one morning I decided to take them out where I could see them all the time and voila!  Instant love.  I started using them every day and soon wondered how I ever got along without them.

If you're not unsing your essential oils, maybe it's because they're not sitting out where you can see them everyday!

I have a large collection now because, well, I am hooked.  H-O-O-K-E-D.  I’d call it a problem, except they have rescued me so many times that I think of it more as a solution.  I want to encourage you that it took me time to build up my arsenal of oils by buying a little each month.  Keep going and you will have what you need!

Oils have made such a huge difference in my life that I want to share them with everyone!

Because I want you all to have a starter set to begin and that’s why this month I wanted to send my new members something special.  Because you all are SO special to me.  The members I work with are one of the HUGE blessings of being part of Young Living.  I have gotten to know some incredible people and been able to share in their journey toward natural health and wellness.  I love each person and pray for them regularly and I want to add you to my list!

Here’s what I am sending my May members who order the Premium Starter Kit:

1. A diffuser necklace – This is a small silver medallion necklace that opens up and holds a small pad that you can put oils on.  Then you have them on you all day long.  I have several diffuser necklaces and adore wearing them!
2. A bottle of Orange Vitality Oil – Orange is one of my favorite oils to combine with other oils in the diffuser or in water.  It boosts the flavor or scent of other oils and is a great way to extend the life of your more costly oils.
3. A great reference book – As soon as you get your kit you will want to explore ways to use them.  This is a very full book that will keep you perusing for hours (in fact, I keep one in the bathroom just to look through!).
4. A starter guide made just for you by our team – You will be added to an amazing team called Oily Families who has put together a simple starter guide to help you with just the oils in the kit.  It’s like the quick start guide when you receive your electronics….not comprehensive but a great thing to get you going.
5. Mama Needs a Do-Over – Yes, I am sending my book, which has nothing to do with essential oils and everything to do with finding joy through the hard days.  It’s a great read for moms and I wanted to add it to my gifts for new members this month to encourage you to be JOY-FILLED!

A great deal for May.....come join the Young Living family!

 

Oh!  And I will also add you to a great Facebook group where you can ask questions.

Isn’t that a great deal?!  That’s just the extra stuff from me to you.  That’s not even mentioning the incredible set of oils you will get when you order your kit.  Thieves Vitality, Lemon Vitality, Lavender, Peppermint Vitality, PanAway, Frankincense, Copiaba Vitality, Purification, RC, Digize Vitality & StressAway.  Plus you get a diffuser, some sample bottles for sharing, and a few other samples you will enjoy!  You can click HERE to see how I use the oils in the kit.

So what are you waiting for?!

Click HERE and go get signed up.  And be sure to join as a wholesale member so you get the 24% discount and other great deals.  You never have to sell if you don’t want to, you can just order for yourself if you want.

I’m so, so excited to add you to my list of oily friends!

We’re Ba-ack!

We’re Ba-ack!

I am back from vacation and not so raring to go.  In fact I slept until 9 this morning, which is very unusual for me!

My husband and I got home yesterday after a week at Walt Disney World.  We went with another couple, my BFF Sara and her husband, and had an action packed Mom & Dad vacay.  It was wonderful!  We planned to just go slow and enjoy the days instead of the rushing around like we do when the kids are with us.  We didn’t spend the whole week together as couples, but more just on and off got together.  James and I slept in almost every morning, went to bed around 10:00 all but one night, ate way too much food and strolled around holding hands.  That makes it sound like I should be well rested, but even with all of that sleep I got in over 20,000 steps each day and lots of sun, which always wears me out.  Plus we had to rise before 4:00 am yesterday to make our flight.  So I am preeeetty tired.

I am going to share some tips for Disney travel later this week, so today I will just tell you some of the more personal stuff.  James and I do enjoy ourselves and we like to get silly.  I like to dance with the street music and I don’t care what it looks like.  And he has no problem acting like a junior high boy trying to beat my score in Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (it’s a target shooting competition ride).  In fact, he was so intensely shooting that he couldn’t open up his hand for 10 minutes after the ride was over.  I may have had the lower score, but at least I could use my fingers afterward!  Who’s the smartie now, huh?

Husband vs Wife

We did get some rain while we were there. One night after dinner with our friends, we left the restaurant to discover that it was absolutely pouring.  There was so much rain that the streets of Hollywood Studios were flooded. I made a run for the next overhang and when I got there I discovered that none of my group was with me.  I didn’t know where they were, but I was concerned about my phone getting wet, so I dashed into a shop to buy myself a poncho (I had left the one I brought with me back at the resort) and when I finally caught up with my husband he had gotten himself one too.  Now we each had TWO ponchos.  But, of course when we went out the next day to Disney Springs (it’s a great shopping area) and it started to rain and we didn’t have the ponchos AGAIN.  So, we are now also the owners of new Disney umbrellas.

You can bet after that we carried the ponchos and umbrellas everywhere with us and, of course, it never rained again.

This is a great time of year to go because it’s the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot.  The grounds are INCREDIBLE!  I loved walking around and looking at the beauty of it all.

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is amazing!

One challenge for me while I was there was my sunglasses.  It was very sunny, but you’re in and out in and out of the sun.  Even on a single ride you’re in the sun and then in a tunnel, then in the full sun again.  My eyes are very sensitive and if I don’t have sunglasses on I will get a headache within minutes.  I tried keeping them in my pockets or on a chain, but I still continually lost them.  By lost I mean they were on my person somewhere, I just wasn’t sure where.  One morning at a bus stop we dumped everything out of my backpack trying to find them.  We discussed missing the bus and running back to our room OR me just buying a cheap pair at the park.  That’s when James saw them buried under my hair on the top of my head.  Another day I actually went into a shop to buy some because I had been searching my pack, hair, etc for 15 minutes with no luck.  Then I brushed against a counter and felt them in the left pocket of my dress.  I didn’t even know that dress had a left pocket.  When I strike it rich I am going to hire someone to walk behind me with a pillow to carry my sunglasses on.

disney-couples03

One thing we did that was really fun and I would recommend it to anyone is the Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour.  It was affordable and we got to learn all kinds of fascinating facts about Walt and how the park was made.  It was definitely a highlight for us.  You have to call to sign up for it.  We also did something called Early Morning Magic that was great!  If you’re going to Disney, you will want to look into the tours and extra options to make your trip so much better!

disney-couples04

We got home on Sunday and after spending a few hours with the kids, I slept.  And slept.  And slept.

That brings me to today, which is so full that I am thinking of going back to sleep.  But I can’t because I am only home for three days and then I am off to the Republican Convention in Texas.  I’ll be pulling out my super-mom cape in an effort to get everything done that I need to do.

I hope you have a fantastic week!

Getting Ready for Summer

Getting Ready for Summer

Since I am traveling this week, I thought it would be great to share with you some posts you may have missed.  It’s the time of year when we all gear up for graduations, swimming, traveling and THE HEAT!

While I am traveling, be sure to follow my adventures over on Facebook and Instagram and even…yes I am going to say it….SnapChat.  I know, believe me I didn’t want to, but a couple of my kids are into it so there I went down that slippery slope.  You can find me there at “penningtonpoint”.  Trust me, you won’t see anything inappropriate on my feed, but I can’t speak for anyone else.

If you’re wondering what homeschoolers do for graduation, we have lots of options!  Many people I know pull together a group ceremony that’s very sweet and they often follow traditional graduations.  We have done several things.  Having graduated 5 kids, they’ve wanted different types of events.  The most recent one a couple of years ago was for two kids at once.  We had it at our house and it was a like a fun summer party.  We even built this yard game for the kids and it’s been reused and repainted several times since then, including for an outdoor wedding!  Another graduation a few ears earlier was more traditional.  We had it in a church and did a whole presentation, etc.  That was really nice too….it really depends on your style!

Now, what will we all be doing after graduations?  Getting the yard ready for summer of course!  A few years ago I built this deck beside my pool and got it all pretty for summer.  Since then I have moved stuff around, changed chairs and replaced pillows, but it’s never lost its charm!


Speaking of the pool, last summer we really struggled with our pool turning green.  It was such an ordeal getting it clear and keeping it that way.  I did a bunch of research and discovered that you can use regular old bleach for the pool, so that’s what we have done ever since and it’s been much better!  Right now we are getting it all cleaned out for swim season and I can’t wait for my first mid-morning escape!

Lastly, summer brings boredom.  Here’s a list of things to ask your kids when they say they are bored.  This list is the number one reason my kids never say that to me anymore.  wink-wink.

I hope you have a terrific week!

10 Ways to Lighten a Travel’s Load

10 Ways to Lighten a Travel’s Load

I’ve been planning a trip I have next week.  I am making lists and packing  and finding ways to reduce the amount of “stuff” I take.  I tend to be an overpacker, so I try at least shrink the size of the junk I am carrying.  If I have to have hairspray, then at least I can take a mini-bottle and not my 12″ monster.

I’ve got a few tips that I have learned over the past few years of traveling a lot.  With each trip I figure out something new, so I am sharing it here for 2 reasons: so you can use these tips if you want and so that I will remember them the next time.

travel-tips03

  1. Put supplements in teeny ziptop bags.  I take so many supplements that if I took all of the bottles it would take up 1/3 of my suitcase.  So I use teenty bags and make a little bag for each day with whatever pills I need.  This only takes up a speck in my travel bag.  For this I use a 2×3 bag.Great tips for reducing the amount of stuff you take when you travel!
  2. Pre-prepare your make-up remover.  I love my coconut oil + frankincense homemade makeup remover.  But I don’t need the entire amount for only a few days.  So I swipe a tissue in the remover and fold it up.  I make one for each day then stack them inside a small ziptop bag.  For this I use a 4×6 bag.
  3. Roll your clothes.  This tip has been around for years, but to add to it, I roll whole outfits together so I don’t have to dig around for the separate pieces when I am getting dressed each morning.  It really makes the mornings easier to have them all rolled together!
  4. Pack an extension cord.  This isn’t a reducing tip, but it is such a help and takes up hardly any space that I had to share it. You never know where the outlets are going to be wherever you’re staying.  Having an extension cord makes it easy to plug in chargers, fans, diffusers, whatever.  Plus it gives you a few extra places to plug in.  Just wrap it around the outside edges in the suitcase and it take up no room at all.
  5. Put your oils in sample bottles.  I travel with at least 20-30 essential oils so I need to reduce the size of the load.  If it’s one that I don’t need to put in the diffuser or use in my water, I like to put them in small roller top bottles.  I also get to use my label maker when I do this, which makes me happy.Great tips for reducing the stuff you need to take when you travel!
  6. Use an old spice jar for powder.  I love my powder and don’t want to be without it, but I keep mine in a large container I make it myself with cornstarch and essential oils).  So I put some in an empty McCormick’s spice jar and it’s perfect for travel.
  7. Audiobooks or Kindle.  One thing I love about traveling is getting time to read!  But I also get travel nausea if I look at teeny letters so an audiobook is the way to go for me.  I will have several books ready to start before leaving so I can enjoy them from the first minute!
  8. Take minimal makeup.  If you’re not going to an awards ceremony, leave the heavy makeup behind.  Dump out the old makeup bag and just take the 2-3 things you really need.  In my case that’s concealer and eyebrows.  Without those I look like I’m having a near death experience.  It’s really a favor to other people.
  9. Take a small purse.  I will fill up whatever size purse I have, so I take a small one that will only hold my essentials…money, ID, sunglasses, my phone, lip balm and a few teeny containers of oils.  Anything else I can do without and just enjoy the experience.
  10. Be fearless.  If you don’t absolutely need it, don’t take it!  Do you really need a whole package of batteries?  Or can you just take 2 from the package?  Instead of bringing along your shampoo bottle, put some in a small container that you can throw away once you’re finished with it.  Don’t take a whole tube of sunscreen, squirt some in a small ziptop bag and just use that!Instead of the entire pack of feminine products, count out how many you’ll need per day and just take that.  Those small changes will significantly lighten your load!

I tried to find some other great travel tips online for y’all so we could learn from the pros.  I’m sure there is a lot of useful info out there, but all I could find were super cool people traveling all over the world and experiencing life in a way that I can’t even think about.  Many of these blogs think a great place for a weekend break is somewhere like Morocco when I’m thinking more like hanging out at the nearest state park eating chickfila.  We just have different ideas.  And budgets.

While I am sure there are many great, more down to earth sites out there…great blogs with travel tips that are more my speed, Google wasn’t finding them for me.  Clearly I need to up my game though because I never go anywhere fascinating, unless we can count all of the countries in the back of Epcot.  If we get to count that then I am totally a world traveler!

Speaking of, I do have a post with 9 things you must have if you go to Disneyworld.  And here’s how I did the city of Chicago in one day all by myself!  And if you’re going to conferences of retreats, here’s one that you will like!

If you have more, hop over to Facebook and leave them in the comments….we’d all love to hear ’em!