The Rain is Good for Everything but My Hair and the Ceiling at Belk

The Rain is Good for Everything but My Hair and the Ceiling at Belk

Rain!  We finally got rain after months of dryness.  There were cracks in our yard so big I was worried that one of the chickens might fall right in.  And the horses have been wandering around in the dusty field scavenging for anything worth eating.

So yesterday when we got stuck in town after church, unable to drive because I couldn’t see out the windshield with the rain pounding down, we rejoiced.  I had the 3 younger boys with me.  They needed shoes so I decided to take them to get some before I head out of town this week to go to the Focused Conference.  It turned out to be a good thing because one of my sons has apparently been torturing his poor feet.

We got to Payless and I suggested we measure his feet on that metal thing (which I Googled and found it’s called a Brannock device).  It turned out that he needs a size 6 1/2 shoe but he’s been wearing size 4 1/2.  In my defense, he only mentioned that he thinks he needs new shoes a couple of weeks ago.  How am I supposed to know your toes are squished if you don’t tell me?!  Yesterday I asked him, “Have your feet been hurting?!”  He said, “No ma’am.  I just noticed recently that my toes are kind of pushed toward the end of my shoe.”  Yep, we homeschool.

I got him a couple of pair and promised to pick up another pair soon, but Payless was kinda low on their stock.  My other 2 boys also each got a new pair of shoes whether they need them or not because the mom-guilt rolled over onto them.

It was after we left Payless that we decided to pull over where it was safe since the rain was obstructing my view.  I may not notice tight shoes, but I can tell when you can’t see the road.  We started off just sitting in a parking lot, then decided to pull around to a Belk that was nearby and kill time there instead of just sitting in the car looking for nearby Pokémon.

One of the boys needed some shirts so I told him to grab what he liked off of the clearance rack and go try them on while the rest of us waited outside the dressing room.  Just as we were getting bored we heard a crash!  Water had started pouring in through the ceiling about 30 feet from us.  And when I say pouring I mean it was like a waterfall.  One of the ceiling tiles had crashed to the ground and that let the water out from where it must have been trapped and the downpour started.  Employees came running from all directions and started trying to save the clothing racks and were putting large trashcans under the waterfall.  I couldn’t see how that was going to help for long considering one of those giant cans (the kind you put your trash out on the street in) was already halfway full of water before 5 minutes had passed.

My boys thought the whole thing was cool and asked if they could go watch.  I let them as long as they stayed way back and out of the way of the mad rush to move every rack from the men’s section into aisles all over the store.  I don’t know what those poor Belk employees walked into this morning considering it rained all night long.  But I’m thinking I should go look for some discounts on water-soaked men’s clothes.

It finally let up enough for us to leave and drive home so off we went with our new shoes and shirts.

I really should have known it was going to rain that day because I decided for the first time all summer to blow dry and style my hair.  Isn’t that basically the same as doing an Indian dance around a fire sending smoke signals?

I styled my hair because I got it cut last week and I have to tell you, it was a relief.  For some unknown reason the gal I have gone to for years messed up my hair terribly on my last visit and I had been contemplating finding someone else.  I put it off until my hair looked so bad I had to either get it cut or start wearing hats.

I finally decided to go back and have a serious talk with her about the hack job she gave me last time.  I told her all about the mess and she was very apologetic and we made a plan to grow out the bad cut and she did some transitional things for now.  So my hair is happier, but I will be really glad when it’s all grown out and I can move on to other problems.  Like finding an eyeliner that doesn’t smudge.

I also had her color it.  I have been doing it myself for about a year and I like the results, but I wanted to have her do an ombre thing at the bottom so I went ahead and had her cover the gray roots while she was at it.  It looks really pretty, not too old, not too young.  It’s the Baby Bear of hair color.

But I think I will be letting it dry naturally for a while instead of styling it.  It’s supposed to be raining here all week and also in Virginia, where I will be all weekend.  If you see me there, expect curls.  Or curls may be an exaggeration.  Expect frizzy waves.

Have a great week!

I Love Gadgets, but They Don’t Love Me

I Love Gadgets, but They Don’t Love Me

Sometimes you're in the mood to just read something light and funny.  This is the blog for you!

There’s a lot going on around here this month.  We have lots of travel, lots of celebrations and lots of effort to stay out of the heat.  Last weekend on my way home from Dallas it was 109° and every time I stepped outside it felt like I was heading onto the surface of the sun.  I don’t remember it being this hot the past few years.  But of course it’s possible that I’ve blocked it out.

In an effort to stay cool I have been equipping myself with cooling gadgets and devices.  I like gadgets and new technology.  I can’t always figure them out, but I still like them.  To prove my gadget inadequacy, you need to hear the little fan story.

I bought a small, pen-sized fan at The Container Store last December.  It was in those stocking stuffer bins that you dig through to see if there’s a good gift for that hard to buy for guy but instead find things you want for yourself.

This fan is barely bigger than the AA battery required to run it and I knew it would be perfect for me to carry in my purse over the summer (and on planes or in church or the backseat of any car ‘cuz I get hot everywhere).  When I got it home I took it out of the box and put a battery in it only to discover that the blade moved backwards and wasn’t blowing, but pulling the air.  “Um, this dumb thing doesn’t work at all,” I thought as I tossed it on the foot of the bed and looked through the garbage for the box so I could return it.  Then my husband came in, saw me with my head in the trash and asked what I was doing.  “I have to return that little fan because it doesn’t work so I am looking for the box,” I murmured. He asked what was wrong with it, I told him and he laughed.  I recognized the tone of his laugh.  It’s the one that says, “Oh Lisa, you really are a cute dingbat.”  So I stood up from my trash search in time to see him take the battery out of the fan, flip it over and put it back in the fan.  “No!,” I rolled my eyes,” It will turn on, it’s just going the wrong way!”  That’s my own tone that says, “You men think you can fix everything but you’re not so smart.”  He grinned like the Grinch and held the little fan up to my face and I felt the breeze….his trick had worked!  The blades were going to right way!!!

He still teases me about that, but in my defense I had never heard that a battery could work in either direction.

I also had an issue once with a portable DVD player in which I got my favorite movie (“You’ve Got Mail”) permanently stuck.  I told my kids, “Sorry you can’t use the DVD player anymore.  It won’t open.  I have tried 1,000 times to get that DVD out.”  That’s when my 5 year old took it, pushed the button on the side and it flipped open.  Oh.  I hadn’t seen that button.

At Disney World last May I bought a cute little Minnie Mouse umbrella that I had a devil of a time opening and closing.  I’d have to press it closed by sandwiching the umbrella between my body and a wall and shove against it.  Then to open it I would have to pull it with all my night.  I kept thinking it seemed unusually hard to open & close.  Then one afternoon while waiting in a covered area for the rain to stop I saw a little girl with the same umbrella.  I was thinking about how it must be impossible for her to open when I watched her pull it out, push the little button and pop it open.  I sent my husband a text, “THIS DUMB UMBRELLA HAS A BUTTON ON IT!! LOL!!!”

And don’t even get me started about the hands free faucets in public restrooms.  I have never in my life been able to make one of them turn on.  I am at the mercy of other ladies in the bathroom who are willing to swipe their hand under for me.

I did figure out how to use my small necklace fan.  It hangs around your neck and blows on your face.  That fan, Sonic ice and my bottle of peppermint oil are my summer BFFs.  I will wear that little necklace fan anywhere and everywhere and I don’t care if it makes me look like a sci-fi creature or that it makes a humming sound.  I NEED it.  (although I have thought of trying to bling it up somehow)

In Dallas also went to a used bookstore which, frankly, I generally stay away from.  As soon as I entered I knew it had been a mistake.  I didn’t even get past the second display in the front of the store before I had an armful of books to purchase.  Did I need these books?  No.  But that’s what happens in used bookstores.

I walked out with $60 worth of used books, but no gadgets.  I at least had the wisdom to avoid that section of the store….even though I really wanted this cool looking booklight that I saw out of the corner of my eye.  I felt certain that I would somehow put the batteries in wrong and never hear the end of it.

Have a great week.  Stay cool!

If you like this post, you will also like How to Keep a Simple Summer Menu and 10 of My Favorite Summer Oils

Clearly We Need to Eat Out More Often

Clearly We Need to Eat Out More Often

It was such a sweet weekend….filled with family time together, crafting and snacking.  I mean, what’s a better way to spend a couple of days?

Generally James and I have a date every Friday night, but this past Friday we decided to invite the 4 boys who were home to go with us.  It was a last minute decision since all of the older kids were gone and it was only going to be the 6 of us.  For a big family, having only 4 kids to take with you means you can drive a normal-ish sized car and eat at a normal-ish sized table so we thought it would be a fun thing to do.

I told the boys, “Hey, y’all go get your shoes on and come to dinner with us!”

I thought they would be all excited but instead they looked at me like I had invited them to go to the moon with me.  “But Mom, what’s going on?  Is there something happening?”  “Did you forget to cook dinner?” “What’s the occasion?”  One of them even asked me, “Are you about to tell us something bad?”

Gee, I didn’t realize going out to dinner would be such a shock to them.  Clearly we have given our children the impression that it only happens when there is a serious reason for it.  Like a birthday or announcing terrible news.

Once they warmed up to the idea and accepted that it was just for fun, we had a blast.  Over burgers and salad we talked about our upcoming trip to Universal and what they’ve been doing lately and a little about politics, geography, whatever crossed our minds.  We ate and ate and then drove around looking for PokeStops for a while.  Perfect evening.

On Saturday I got the urge to create something and since I had borrowed my BFF’s Cricut machine for the weekend I got the boys to help me design some t-shirts for us all to wear to Universal.  I like having matching shirts in crowded places and since the theme of the event we are attending is super-heroes, I wanted something to celebrate that and also share our faith.  We came up with a design and went to Hobby Lobby to pick up the supplies.

We had packed a lunch to take with us (dinner the night before was all the money I was willing to spend on eating out for the weekend) and no one remembered to pack napkins.  So we ate our lunch on Kleenex from the car, which didn’t work as well as we had hoped considering we brought Cheetos and cheese cubes (not me, I had sliced veggies which weren’t any better for our napkin needs).  I finally got tired of fighting with my Kleenex and decided to drive through Sonic and get us all a drink and some napkins.  I pulled up and ordered, “2 medium Root Beers, 1 medium Coke, a large cup of ice (that was for me) and a handful of napkins.”  I’m sure that didn’t seem odd to the Sonic employee at all.  No food, just the napkins please.  But, of course, the boys were thrilled to get the rare soda.  I’m surprised they didn’t start asking me again if someone was dying and I was just sugaring them up for before I dropped the news on them.

I spent the rest of the afternoon making t-shirts in the kitchen and being the audience for a bunch of magic tricks my boys made up.  That was fun.  Cut some vinyl, iron-on the transfer, pick a card, any card, just a card.  For 2 hours we did this until I couldn’t take it anymore.  The magic tricks were slowing down my t-shirt making.  So I said, “Hey boys….why don’t y’all go swimming?”  They replied that they would rather do more magic tricks, at which point I offered to buy them some ice cream if they would leave the room for an hour.

It worked.  They swam, ate ice cream and I got an hour to myself.

I finished the 6 shirts and they are so much fun I had to show you….

cricut02

I also made some numbers for the new mailbox we put up last week….

cricut01

Cute, right?

I’m gonna have to borrow her machine again soon and do some more crafting.  I have a Cricut, but it’s an old model and it doesn’t do nearly as much as hers does.  I can use mine in a pinch, but being able to use the app to do all your designing and just sending it to the machine via Bluetooth is th’bomb.

Sunday was lovely….just quiet family and games and snacks and finishing up my Cricut crafts before I had to give the machine back.  And naps…..oh the deliciousness of a Sunday nap.

nap01

I hope you have a great week and find some quiet time to spend with your family before the summer passes you by.  Maybe take the kids out to dinner and teach them some magic tricks.  If you do that though….be sure to have some bribery ice cream in the freezer in case it gets to be too much.

See ya!

If you liked this you might also like my Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios.

Why I’m Playing Pokémon Go

Why I’m Playing Pokémon Go

If you're not sure wheteher or not to pick up this latest craze, or how to keep it under control, here are some great tips for you!

Yes, we have gotten into the new craze…Pokémon Go.  Before you throw stones and tell me how it was started with evil intent and Christians shouldn’t be spending time on such terrible things, let me fill you in.

I have been looking for things to do with my 3 youngest boys that don’t involve yard work (which we do a lot of) or home repair (it never ends) or school (being the mom and the teacher has its challenges).  I wanted to do something they would enjoy, but didn’t cost much and we could build memories with.  And since lately I have been seeing this Pokémon game being discussed all over the interwebs, I downloaded the app.  Of course, because I am old I didn’t understand anything about it, I had to ask my 15 year old to look at it with me and that was the end of that.  He took over and his 2 younger brothers gathered around him like moths to a flame.

After we got it set up and started it became obvious that it wasn’t something we could do at home.  Living in the country means no PokeStops or Pokémon to catch.  You have to go where the people are.  You have to be active.  So I suggested we go for a drive and see how it all works.  For the next hour and a half we explored our town and met some interesting young people.  And that’s when I fell in love with the game.

I wasn’t actually playing, I was just driving my boys around as they took turn catching and colleting.  And I had such a fab time with them!  Here’s why I am all for the game and why we will keep playing….

  1. We do it together.  It depends on how you play, but since we were all working off of one phone it became a group activity.  They take turns and help each other find things.  They tell me where to go and when to turn and I enjoy being led by my little men.  They get excited together and we have plans to do it as often as possible.
  2. We explore our town.  The PokeStops are places like monuments, murals, churches and city buildings.  We walk around and learn about our town and places we had never really noticed.  It is such fun to find out more about the place we live!
  3. Historical markers!  Some places we have to go are the local historical Markers.  I told the boys that any marker we stop at to get Pokémon we also have to actually READ the marker and discuss it.  We decided to do some more studying later about some of these incredible historical spots!
  4. Meeting new people.  We meet a lot of new people!  I will chat with other Pokémon players while the boys look for Pokémon and I really enjoy meeting some people I would otherwise never have met.  I don’t care if they are a group of young men drinking beer while playing Pokémon or moms with their kids or teen girls with all colors of hairstyles.  It is such a blessing to interact with them, ask for their advice on playing the game and get to know a little about them.  Everyone has been friendly and I hope I will get to see them again!
  5. Adding a new dimension to our travel.  My boys kept talking about how fun it will be to look for Pokémon when we go to Universal Studios in September.  Or the airport.  Or when visiting their sister in Dallas.  I can see that we will get to explore new things about these places too, things we would never have discovered otherwise.
  6. Believe it or not, exercise!  There’s one part of the game where you get rewards for walking….actually walking (or running would work too, but you can’t drive or ride).  So we are going for walks and talking about life while our steps work in the game.  LOVE!

I know there are bad things about this game.  People getting hurt or being careless.  There is probably some wicked intent with the whole Pokémon thing that I am unaware of and, frankly, not worried about.  I do have some requirements that I added to the game to make it family friendly and as long as we stick to those I think it will be a great way for me to spend time with my boys.

  1. We do it together only.  No one will be going off to play alone and they have to take turns.  Once someone catches a Pokémon and goes to a Poke Stop they hand the phone to the next person.  Their turns can vary in length and style, so you have to be patient and a bit selfless.  If your kids aren’t good at this, it’s a perfect way to teach this concept.
  2. Be careful, for goodness sake!  Really, I can see how someone would just step into the street or if you were driving and doing it, man it’s dangerous. Even though I am not looking at the game at all when I am driving, the boys shout out directions to me like, “Turn left NOW” as I am driving in the right lane.  They’re excited and I can’t see what’s happening in the game so it gets hairy.  Just keep your wits, remember what’s most important (staying safe, that’s what) and you’ll be fine.
  3. We have to look around and not just at the phone.  Anytime we are in a spot that is interesting (which is almost everywhere) I take the phone from them and we look around.  We talk about the area, what happens there, why we think it is a PokeStop, etc.  Like I said above, we read all historical markers and study the murals and statues.  There is some amazing stuff out there!
  4. Talk to people.  If we see anyone else playing where we are, the rule is that one of us has to say hello to them and ask them one question, either Pokémon advice or something about themselves.  Smile, be friendly, get to know someone, and shine the love of Christ to others.  This is my favorite of all the rules we made.  🙂
  5. No getting obsessed.  We are an obsessive bunch around here.  We get overly attached to things and can let it control our minds.  We do a lot of Bible memory and make it a habit to focus on what is good, and true and pure.  So when my mom-radar detects a kid getting overly consumed with something that is just fluff and not valuable to their life, I nip it fast.  The boys have been told in no uncertain terms, if they talk too much about Pokémon, or seem like they’ve gotten carried away with it we will stop.  Nada.  No mo.
  6. No spending money! There is no way I am going to spend any money on in app purchases no matter what….we won’t be doing that.  I don’t care if the world’s rarest Pokémon treasure is within our reach if we would only spend 99¢, I’m not doing it.  Got it?  Not my money, not their money, NO money will be spent on this game.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am really enjoying this.  It’s not just another video game that my boys play and I know little to nothing about.  This is something I can do with them and I have at least a clue what the different parts are and what they’re talking about (although I will never understand it all).  I love listening to them in the backseat strategizing and sharing their victories with each other.  It’s a delight to play this game with my boys and have something we do together.

When I run into town I invite one of the boys to go so they can play alone for a few minutes.  I’ll run my errand then spend 10 minutes or so looking for Pokémon at their direction.  This morning my youngest son and I discovered a park that we didn’t know was there and made plans to go back and play on the playground there when it gets cooler.

If you’ve been on the fence about this or have decided it’s a bad thing to stay away from, I hope you will consider trying it.  Just stick closely to the boundaries you create for it and you’ll have grand time!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram where, of course, I don’t share any Pokémon pictures because I don’t have access to my phone/camera when we are playing….which….if you think about it is another plus.  No one is doing anything except playing and enjoying the outdoors.  But I do share other fun stuff there….. 😉

And if you have any other Pokémon tips we would love to hear them.  Hop over to Facebook and tell us all about it!

If you liked this, you will also like my Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios —>

A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios, Pt 2

A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios, Pt 2

This post contains affiliate links.

Recently I shared my mom tips for what you need to do when you go to Universal in part 1.  Universal is so much fun and you don’t want a little lack of preparedness to spoil it.  With just a teeny bit of thinking ahead, your time at these parks can be stupendous!

I had so many things to share to make your trip better that I divided it into two parts.  Part one is things to DO and part two is things to TAKE (or not take).  And if you’re wondering how I figured all of this out, it’s been from experience.  Last year when we went to Universal I actually made notes on my phone of things I would do differently if I ever got to go back and what I wished I had known in advance.  We had an amazing time there and I really hope you will consider going there with your family!

And when you do, this is a list of things you will want to take with you when you go!

universal05

Mom’s List of What to Take to Universal Studios

  1. Take ONLY what you NEED! I love to use a cinch bag because they weigh nothing and are so easy to slip on and off.  I carry in it only what I absolutely must have.  Resist the urge to take big, heavy things.  You just don’t need them and these parks are very active.  There isn’t a lot of moseying along the street.  It’s rush, rush, ride, ride, go, go and you’re going to need to stay energized.  I will reduce the size of some things, like sunscreen.  Instead of bringing the whole bottle, put a big squirt in a small ziptop bag and just carry that.  Instead of regular bottles of my essential oils, I put a few drops into a teeny bottles.
  2. Prepare for rain.  When we were there last year it rained every day for a little while.  We didn’t slow down, but put on our ponchos and kept going.  We were prepared with not only ponchos, but waterproof shoes and ziptop bags for our phones.  I’m not all fancy with special gear to keep phones dry….a ziploc bag does just fine.  In fact, in the rain I am a fan of the poncho/teeny umbrella combo.  You’ll stay almost completely dry.  Speaking of bags, they will inspect your bags when you enter.  Actually, they do it outside of the City Walk area before you even get to the parks.  It’s no big deal, I just wanted you to be prepared.
  3. Keep your temps down.  We went over Labor Day weekend and it was H-O-T.  So it’s vital you make sure to stay as cool as you can.  Besides drinking water, you can use a fan.  I’m a big fan of fans.  I wear this one around my neck and sometimes also carry a small misting fan in my pack.  Another thing I carry is a Frog Togg.  These are cooling rags and they are amazing for cooling you down and there’s also a cooling headband that I am going to try for this year.  I cut my Frog Togg into smaller pieces so I didn’t have to keep a whole big one in my pack.  Universal also has a misting station across from the Incredible Hulk Coaster and misting fans all around the park.  You can ask for ice water at any of the drink locations for free.
  4. Comfy shoes.   Here’s the thing with shoes….they have to be more than just comfortable.  Comfort is vital….you need shoes that you can walk around in all day and then again the next day without hurting your feet.  But there are other needs too.  Like they need to dry quickly.  Like I said in #2, you will likely get rained on.  There are rides that get your feet wet.  Walking around in squishy, wet shoes is misery.  Also, you want lightweight shoes.  This is a hard day and you don’t want to add any extra weight to what you’re carrying around. I love my Oofos.  They fit every one of those needs plus they’re cute.
  5. Have power.  You will want to take pictures and be able to be reached, so be sure you have ways to charge your phone.  I like to carry a retractable power cord and light power pack.  I have never regretted having these with me.  If you don’t need it you can help someone else who needs a charge!  (although I take so many pics that I have always needed it!)
  6. Sunshade.  The sun will suck the energy right out of you! So I always take a hat and wear it when I am going to be without shade for long.  THIS HAT is the one I carry because it’s affordable and rolls up for easy packing.  I also use a chemical-free sunscreen and I put a little bit in a ziptop bag (like I said in #1) and carry just that amount with me each day.
  7. Earbuds.  I always have a pair of earbuds (or two) with me for a couple of reasons.  First, the day at Universal is a lot of activity and can be over-stimulating for the kids.  So I like to let them relax and listen to music or play a game occasionally to help them regroup.  Second, they help on the rides if anyone in your group is sensitive to loud noises.  I will give them to my kids (not plugged into anything, just the earbuds alone) to wear through a loud ride.  My 9 year old will ask for them because he doesn’t like the noise.  THESE wireless buds are great for that!
  8. Essential oils.  Come on, you knew I was gonna say it!  I lean heavily on my oils when we are at any long-day activity.  I put them into small bottles so my load is still light, but I always have them with me.  I wouldn’t go to Universal Studios without peppermint, PanAway, Lavender, StressAway, or FUN.  And you will definitely want to have NingXia Nitro for when you really hit an energy slump!
  9. Leave the jewelry at home.  I am a jewelry girl, but this is not the place for it.  I don’t wear any jewelry to the theme parks except my silicone wedding band.  I tried not wearing a wedding band at all, but it bothered me not to have it on.  I kept suddenly panicking that I lost it (even though I didn’t wear it in the first place).  So I got a silicone band and it doesn’t interfere with the fun and keeps me from freaking out that I lost my real one.
  10. Credit card.  Obviously you will need money here and there after you get into the park.  I never carry cash, I only take a card that I can use just for this trip.  I call the credit card company in advance to let them know I will be traveling and I make sure there’s no balance on it (unless it’s a bank card in which case make sure there is money in there).  I keep it tucked somewhere on my person (like a Secret Stash Pocket or a passport holder) so it’s not in my pack where I can lose it.  I will also keep my resort room key in there.
  11. Moleskin and blister balm.  I never got any blisters while I was there, but one of my boys did and oh man, was I glad I had this stuff ready to use.  I like this moleskin because it’s a little thinner than what you can buy locally.  And it comes in strips, unlike others that you have to cut (and I don’t want to travel with scissors).  If you haven’t used moleskin, it’s like an extra layer of “skin” that you put over your sore place to stop it from rubbing on your shoe.  Also, if you tend to get blisters, use Blister Balm as a preventative.  Rub it on before you get a blister to keep from getting one and if you still have a problem you can also use it on the blister.  I’d also have some lavender to put on as well, maybe applying it at night and again with the balm to promote healthy skin.
  12. Cotton clothing and limited makeup.  You really want to be comfy and cool!  Of course we like to look good, but honestly I don’t worry too much about that when I am going to be out all day in the sun with my family riding rides and trying to keep up with their energy.  I have a few linen dresses that I like to wear, but whatever you are comfortable in is what to take with you!  As for makeup, I don’t wear anything except for drawing on my eyebrows because that’s what my comfort level is.  Sure, I’d rather look glamorous all of the time, but frankly it would sweat off in the first 2 hours and then I would look like a freakish comic book character, so I skip it.  For my eyebrows (I have no eyebrows so I really like to always wear that) I use Too Faced Bullet Proof Brows because it stays on all day no matter what I do and it looks natural.  It’s one that I just put on in the morning and don’t have to worry about it again.

What do you need to take to the theme park?! Here's a tried and true list by a mom of 9 for all moms!

All in all this is a really fun and binding day with your family!  The more you can prepare in advance, the easier it will be for you to be able to relax and enjoy your time in the rides and with the fam.  Think it all through and have FUN!!!!  Each of these products I mention above are ones that I personally bought, tried and use myself….and I have tried a lot that didn’t work so I have done the legwork for you.

I just know you will have a mah-velous time on your trip to Universal Studios!  Of course, these tips will work for any theme park and even other family trips.  With just a little advanced preparation you can have a blast!

Don’t miss Part 1 of A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios where I share the things you MUST do while you’re there!

And if you have issues with big thighs and chafing, be sure to check out “I Got Big Thighs and I Cannot Lie”

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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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!