Thursday, April 5, 2018

Top Three Reasons To Visit Walt Disney World In May

Top Three Reasons To Visit Walt Disney World In May

We are going to Walt Disney World. Yay! There has been a lot of behind the scenes planning going on around here. As you can probably imagine we are extremely excited! We love everything Disney. One look at our social media feed and the secret is out! We have been pretty loyal to Disney Cruise Line for the last few years, so we thought it was time to take another trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth. And since we love to share, we thought we would give you our top three reasons we are choosing to travel to Walt Disney World in May (other than my birthday and Mother's Day).

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is the main reason we are traveling to Walt Disney World in May this time. We have looked on enviously over the past few years as our social media feed fills with glorious garden filled photos from Epcot every Spring. We have never been, but this year will change that! Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival runs from February 28 - May 28, 2018 this year. As part of the Festival, there are Outdoor Kitchens offering amazing food and drink options; Disney-themed topiaries; garden spaces and wildlife habitats; and even an outdoor concert series called Garden Rocks.

We are foodies, so I think we are most excited to try all the delectable treats the Festival has to offer. The Outdoor Kitchens are set up in World Showcase and are open daily from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM. CLICK HERE for a list of all the amazing offering this year. We will be sure to post plenty of pics of all the yummy creations we try throughout the trip!

The Weather

May in the Orlando area is usually warm, but most of the time not unbearably hot. Just the way we like it! We can freely swim in the pools without shivering but not bake in the heat all day long. Temps are generally in the mid 80’s. That doesn’t mean that it can’t get hotter. This is just general temperatures. The later in the month you go, the hotter it gets. Mid May does start rainy season so you need to be prepared to get a little wet, but showers usually move through at a decent pace and unlikely to rain out your entire day.

The Crowds

For the most part, after doing a lot of research, I think the beginning of May is one of the best times of  the year to visit Walt Disney World. Kids are still in school, so the summer rush has not started yet.  But it is after Spring Break so you don’t have to deal with those crazy crowds. If you check the crowd calendars, they are lower in May than during the peak summer months. There are many great crowd calendars out there. Two of my favorites and I think some of the most accurate are Kenny the Pirate and Dad’s Guide to WDW. Now it appears that crowd calendars are not as accurate a predictor of actual crowds as they have historically been in the past. Let’s face it, Walt Disney World just keeps getting busier and busier as years go on. But these calendars do help.

Is There Really A Bad Time to Go To Walt Disney World?

Honestly, I would go to Walt Disney World any time I had the chance. There is always something special to see or do going on, from holiday festivities to grand openings and everything in between. In fact, if we could have waited just a little bit longer and planned our trip at the end of June, we would have made the grand opening of Toy Story Land. While we are sad to miss this one, we are happy to take advantage of all the great things a trip to Walt Disney World in May has to offer (and now we have another great reason to plan another trip!)

I can hardly wait to share our trip with everyone. Stay tuned as our trip gets closer for some fun posts including tips and tricks about what to bring and wear. We are excited to be going to Walt Disney World in May. We scheduled the trip for my birthday which is coincidentally on Mother’s Day this year. I can’t think of a better way to spend the day than at the Most Magical Place on Earth with my most precious things on the planet!

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Why I Light It Up Blue Today

Why I Light It Up Blue Today

We all think that we have the most perfect children. I am no exception. My two boys are wonderful, sweet, caring, loving, rambunctious, energetic balls of excitements. In some ways they are so similar, but in others they are worlds apart. You see my youngest baby is on the Spectrum. We are not alone. Autism now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys. Autism prevalence figures are growing. So if your family is not personally touched by Autism, I am almost certain a close friend is. April 2, 2018 is World Autism Awareness Day. Joined by the international community, hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes and communities around the world, light up blue in recognition of people living with autism. Even more wear blue in support!

Joel's Story

Most people at first glance would never believe my Joel has Autism. He is very high functioning. He gets high marks on test scores, loves being the center of attention and makes everyone in the room light up with laughs. But behind that adorable face lies his daily struggles. A mind constantly racing, a body constantly moving and a soul that appears constantly uneasy.

Joel’s struggles are focused mainly with sensory processing, self-regulation and adapting to change. He needs more stimulus than most. He excessively seeks out touch. Touch is his way of finding his place and balance in the world.

We are lucky in many ways. He “gets” that he is different. Many times when asked why he is not participating in an activity or wanting to try something new, he’ll say “you know I not that kind of kid.” Knowing you are different and understanding why are two different things. And in all actuality, how can I expect him to understand, when in truth, do I or anybody else really understand? Rather, we stress how being different is a good thing. Your uniqueness can make you great! There are things that only you can do and these things will make the world a better place. Only you can do it!

Still he’s eight and struggles on a daily-basis to “fit in”. Wanting to be one of the pack but not quite sure how to break into the group. I always say Joel is everyone’s friend but nobody’s best friend. He has figured out how to make connections, but not how to keep and grow them. This is my hope for him. This is what we work on. This is what I strive for. We make lots of little connections looking for that big one. And every once in a while, I see a twinkle in his eye. He meets someone and says he’s like me. And I know exactly what he means. For while he is different in many ways, he really is the same. He is just a kid in this big world in search of a little tribe to call home.

Joel sees this world in a different way. He sees black and white so many places that the rest of us see so many shades of gray. Yet if you delve a little deeper, you would see an imagination filled with more colors than the rainbow. His mind bursting with an abundance of energy wanting to break free and be shared with this world. A world that in many ways is way to big for him to understand yet way too small to contain him. So, I like every mother, I encourage my Joel, my perfect Joel, rather than be contained within the restraints of this world, to keep reaching for those stars above and beyond. Because yes you are different. But your difference is your greatest asset and it will change the world! You have already changed mine.

How You Can Help Support Autism Awareness and Light It Up Blue

I encourage you to show your true color today and wear something blue is support of Autism Awareness. All of April is World Autism Month filled with Autism-friendly events and educational activities to increase understanding and acceptance and foster worldwide support. I would also love for you to click and share our story on social media to help get the word out! Feel free to comment below and share your story to help spread the word about these wonderful people that light up our lives every day.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

Whipped Topping Dyed Eggs

Whipped Topping Dyed Eggs

Are you looking for a fun way to get the kids in the kitchen and dye some eggs this Easter? Whipped Topping Dyed Eggs are a great kid friendly activity. They are quick and easy. But I'm not going to lie, things could get a little messy!

What You Need

They only require a few ingredients. Combine this with a little imagination and a lot of fun and you’re good to go!
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Large Pot
  • Large Baking Pan
  • Vinegar
  • Food Coloring
  • Whipped Topping
  • Spoons
  • Wooden Skewers
  • Paper Towels

How To Make Your Whipped Topping Dyed Eggs

In a few quick and easy steps you'll have some beautifully decorated and uniquely original dyed eggs. These eggs will steal the show at any Easter table.

First soak your hard boiled eggs in vinegar for at least ten minutes. Here’s a few tips. If you add a little salt to the water when you boil your eggs and they will come out of their shells easier when you go to peel them.

Next remove the eggs from the vinegar and pat them dry with a paper towel.

Spoon the whipped topping in your large baking dish, making sure to spread it out pretty evenly. You want the pan to be filled around an inch deep. My pan took two regular size containers of whipped topping.

After the whipped topping is smooth, randomly add dots of food coloring to it. You can use liquid or gel food coloring. The gel will give you more vibrant colors, but I actually used liquid this time because it is easier to work with. I like adding blue next to green, red next to yellow, and yellow next to blue. 

Then swirl your colors together with the wooden skewers. If you don’t have skewers you can use a straw or even the back of a spoon.

Next roll each egg through the food colored whipped topping, make sure the eggs are covered completely.

Leave the eggs to sit in the whipped topping for at least fifteen minutes.

Then remove the eggs from the whipped topping and gently rinse with water and pat dry again with paper towels. Make sure to be gentle with the eggs and do not rub too hard. The dye will not be completely set yet.

I like to place the eggs back into the carton to store in the refrigerator until you are ready to enjoy!

Easter Traditions

I hope you have as much fun with this project as we did. This is the first year we have dyed eggs this way and my kids have already said it is our new tradition. Have you ever made Whipped Topping Dyed Eggs? Let us know in the comments. If you haven’t, I hope you try this project out in your home. Maybe it will even become an Easter tradition for you as well. Have any traditions to pass on to us? Let us know below. Happy Easter!

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Four Reasons You Should See Sherlock Gnomes

Sherlock Gnomes

If you follow us on social media you would have seen that we had a lot of fun last Saturday morning! We were lucky enough to be invited to a screening of Sherlock Gnomes by our friends the Ed Huck Team. It was such a cute movie that we wanted to give you four reasons to head to the theater and see it yourself!  Rest assured this is a brief review with no spoilers and I can assure you no gnomes were smashed in its creation.

A Predictable But Entertaining Plot

Ok so Sherlock Gnomes is probably not going to be high on anyone's ballot come awards season, but that doesn't mean you should write it off. The plot is pretty simple. Sherlock Gnomes, the detective and self proclaimed sworn protector of all garden gnomes in London, is helped by his sidekick Gnome Watson and Gnomeo and Juliet as they try to solve the disappearance of the missing garden gnomes in London. Sherlock takes on his arch nemesis Moriarty and learns a few lesson about friendship along the way.

Sherlock Gnomes is a follow up to the movie Gnomeo and Juliet. And while our family seems to catch every animated movie under the sun, we hadn't seen it, so I was a little concerned we would be lost. There were no worries needed. While there were brief references, nothing was lost. In fact we are probably going to add a copy of Gnomeo and Juliet to our next Amazon order :)

Sherlock Gnomes follows a pretty predictable plot. There are a few tricks and turns along the way. Nothing that will shock and awe adults, but will entertain the family none the less.

The Cast of Characters

Sherlock Gnomes is full of recognized and loved voices. With James McAvoy as Gnomeo, Emily Blunt as Juliet, Johnny Depp as Sherlock Gnomes, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Gnome Watson and Mary J. Blige as Irene, Sherlock's ex-girlfriend, there is a full line-up of talent. There is even a brief appearance by Ozzy Osbourne as Fawn, a garden deer.

I have to say I love Johnny Depp so that is pretty much enough for me. But I have to admit Mary J. Blige really stole the show. She did a pretty amazing job as animated characters go. I genuinely enjoyed her performance.

A Lesson in Friendship

I love taking the kids to the movies for many reasons. I'm not going to lie, as a homeschooling mom, one of the biggest reason is the possibility of someone or thing other than me entertaining them for a hour and a half. Sometimes a mom just needs to sit down and take a break and not feel guilty about it. The movies is a way to make everyone happy. It is an added bonus if the movie is not only entertaining but also teaches a lesson. Sherlock Gnomes does just that.

I am always stressing to my kids the need to be kind, respectful and not take your family and friends for granted. Some may not agree with me, but I teach my kids that you may not be friends with everyone, but you need to be respectful to others. You need to treat people the way you would want to be treated. And when you find great friends, you should make sure they know you always have their back. Sherlock Gnomes does a great job at showing what to do or not do to be a good friend in terms kids will understand.

Fun for Everyone

In a day where we are inundated with less than appropriate content for young kids, Sherlock Gnomes does a pretty good job at staying family friendly. There weren't any parts that I questioned whether my children should be seeing this. As a mom of two boys, one of which is approaching the tween years (ugh!), I have really began to think about what they are being exposed to and what questions will come from it. I also stress an open line of communication with them, but I must admit I like it better when we can just sit down and watch a movie and not think about needing a question and answer session after.

Sherlock Gnomes was filled with whitty little jokes and one liners like: "No ship, Sherlock" or "Forgive me, but I've never been in the back end of a squirrel before." The jokes were for the most part cute and simple. The kids loved them. My youngest is on the Spectrum so sometimes he has difficulty getting complex comedy. No issues here. I have to admit I also caught myself and Steve laughing at quite a few of them.

Final Thoughts

So if your looking for a little family fun you might want to head to the movies and see Sherlock Gnomes. With many families on Spring Break this week or next, this would be a great time to go. If you're heading to the movie or have already seen it, you might want to take a peek at the Sherlock Gnomes official website. I was surprised at the fun little games and activities available there.

Have you seen the movie? Make sure you leave me a comment below and let me know what you thought of it!

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Why I Became an NYR Organic Independent Consultant

I try to live the most organic lifestyle that I can. I believe in knowing where the food and products I eat and use come from. So when I came across NYR Organic, I was more than intrigued. Their philosophy is simple, “transforming people’s lives, educating and empowering them on how to live more healthy through the power of nature.” What more can you ask for in a company?

NYR Organic products are not only made with organic ingredients, but they also use ingredients produced through FairTradeFair for Life and FairWild means. What does that mean? Well put simply, the products are not only good for you, but they are also good for the planet and its people. They believe in helping people, protecting the planet and caring for animals.

NYR Organic was founded in England in 1981 where they are still headquartered. They grow as many of the herbs and ingredients they can in their gardens in Peacemarsh, Dorset, UK. This sings to my heart and goes to my mantra of know where your ingredients come from! NYR Organic products are certified by the UK’s Soil Association who are internationally recognized for their high standards. Furthermore they are in the process of having their products certified by MADE SAFE!

The first product I tried was Rejuvenating Frankincense Refining CleanserThe website said the product would cleanse, tone, nourish and moisturize. Well, I have pretty dry and somewhat sensitive skin. I am usually skeptical and have never really gotten into a real skincare routine, mainly because I never really found products I truly loved. With the first use, I was hooked! NYR Organic products do not contain any synthetic fragrances, rather they are made with essential oils. The smell of this product was amazing! It left my skin softer and smoother than ever before. I started using it twice a day in conjunction with the Rejuenating Frankincense Toner and Frankincense Hydrating Cream  I started a routine and I was loving it. My skin was feeling and looking so good. Soon people started asking me what I was using. This is when I became a believer.

I started telling people about these wonderful products. Spreading the word! This is when I realized that I should become an NYR Organic Independent Consultant. It has been the best decision ever! I have made some wonderful friends all while earning money and free products that I love!! I can’t believe it has been almost 2 years since these products have come into my life and I began to quietly spread the word. I was doing a make and take workshop a few days ago when I thought to myself, I should put this project on the blog. That is when I realized that I had never introduced all of you to NYR Organic. I had put up links to my shop, but never introduced it properly. I had never shared the love!

I hope you enjoy learning a little bit about these products! I’ve only scratch the surface of the amazing products offered. I plan on sharing my love of these products more often. Please feel to reach out to me with any questions. I love answering product questions and matching people with the best products for their needs. And if you want to try the product that started my journey, the month of March is a great time! When you spend $100 (excluding tax and s&h) you will receive a full size Frankincense Refining Cleanser. This is a $35 value!’

If you are interested in starting your own journey with NYR Organic and becoming and Independent Consutlant, I would love for you to join my team! Take a peek at the current starter kit and CLICK HERE to find out more! You get all you need to start your own business at home. You can begin earning income the first day as well as free products and maybe even a trip to England, where it all started! Together we can change the world one blue bottle at a time!

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Family Fun At Spangler Candy!

Have you ever heard of Spangler Candy? Well you might not know the name, but if I was a betting person I'd say you've had their candy! Headquartered in Bryan, Ohio, Spangler is the manufacturer of Dum Dums®, Saf-T-Pops, Circus Peanuts and Spangler Candy Canes. In fact they are the only candy cane manufacturer that still manufactures their candy canes in the United States!

I'm born and bred in Ohio and I never realized our State was the home of Dum Dums®. Well when I found out this amazing news and the fact that you could take a tour of their factory, the kids and I backed up for the drive and headed out for a yummy adventure!

The facility is quite impressive. It comprises over 500,000 square feet including office, manufacturing, and warehouse space. Spangler has a museum and store attached to it. When we got there we took a few pictures in front of our favorite Dum Dums flavors and then headed in to get our tickets for the tour. You can check their website for updated tour time, date and pricing information as it changes seasonally.

To start the tour, we donned our flattering hair nets and took our place on the trolley and we were off. Due to safety and FDA regulations, the trolley tour does not go through the main kitchen areas, but we got to see the warehouse, the palletization area and automatic case packers. The tour is supplemented with videos showing candy cooking and forming in the kitchen areas. The videos are shown right on the trolley so there is no interruption in the tour.

It was so cool to see and we learned some very interesting facts. They make 12 million Dum Dums® each day! The mystery flavor is created when the line is finishing one flavor and starting another so it is different every time. And since Spangler is the last candy cane producer manufacturing in the United States, they make candy canes for other companies so they produce branded candy canes including Jelly Belly®, Smarties®, Oreo®, Swedish Fish®, and Sour Patch®. It was pretty amazing to see and yes smell, all the different candies in the warehouse.

Photography is not allowed during the tour but you are allowed to take pictures with the trolley at the end. The kids couldn't resist. We then had to quick head out to the store and explore.

Yes they had free samples! We even got to taste the newest flavor of Dum Dums®, birthday cake. They were so good we had to buy some to take home (along with a ton of other taste treats including Circus Peanuts, more Dum Dums® and candy canes in too many flavors to count!)

If your live in the Midwest, Spangler Candy makes a great roadtrip! It is in a quaint little town and easily accessible by highway. Young and old will all enjoy!

For more information about Spangler Candy Store and Museum, contact them at:

Spangler Candy
400 N. Portland St., Bryan, Oho 43506
Telephone:  888.636.4221 or 419.633.6439


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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Why I'm Entering The Disney Parks Moms Panel Search 2018 And You Should Too

Photo courtesy of the Disney Parks Blog @Disney

How I discovered the Disney Parks Moms Panel

Disney is in my blood and it has been from a very early age. I love everything about Disney and strive to learn as much as possible about the Walt Disney Parks and Cruise Line, movies, products etc. I can remember when I was planning our first trip to Walt Disney World as a family. I already knew a lot about the parks because I had traveled there several times as a child and as an adult without children. This however was my first trip with kids and I wanted to know it all so I didn't miss anything! This is when I stumbled upon the Disney Parks Moms Panel and fell in love all over again!

Do you know about the Disney Parks Moms Panel? Well first it's not just moms. It is moms, dads and grandparents who love Disney and are experts in planning Disney vacations. Disney Parks Moms Panel was started in 2008 and ever since the panelist have helped others online, by answering vacation planning questions using their own personal Disney experiences. They basically spread their own version of pixie dust on others vacations.

After a couple of family trips to Walt Disney World and a few cruises on Disney Cruise Line, I saw an advertisement for the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search. Up until this time I had never really thought much about how the panelist became panelists. I just enjoyed all their tips and tricks. But now I had my own tips and tricks and I wanted to be a part of it! But do I know enough?

Jumping in the deep end! My first time entering.

Well I stayed on the sidelines for a couple of more years too scared to put my feet in the water. Last year I finally got up the nerve to give it a try. It was a nerve racking experience. I knew it would be tough, but I never realized how tough! No one knows how many applicants there are because Disney doesn't release the numbers, but it is estimated that this year 20,000 people will apply. That's a lot of people for roughly 30 spots (and some people come back from the previous year so there are probably less). Why go through all of this? Well besides getting the coveted title of Disney Parks Moms Panelist, you get to go to exclusive training at Walt Disney World including access to many backstage areas. And if that isn't enough, you also receive a trip to a Disney Destination for you and up to three family members and/or park tickets for their participation on the Disney Parks Moms Panel.

So how did my first time applying go? Each year can be different. Last year there were 3 rounds. You enter under a specialty: Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club and runDisney. I entered for Disney Cruise Line since this had become our Disney vacation of choice and I felt the most well versed on this type of vacation. Round one is questions with a certain word count allowed that you answer online specific to the specialty for which you are applying. I have never spent so much time to answer a few questions. After I wrote, rewrote and rewrote about 25 million more times, I was still no more confident in my answers, but time was running out so I hit submit. 

Then the wait began. It seemed like an eternity. I didn't think I could last. I needed an outlet. But what? I'm the only Disney crazed person among my friends, so no one to commiserate with. My family just thought I was crazy. So I did what any social media loving mom does. I turned to Facebook. There I found a couple of wonderful groups with people from all over the world applying for the Disney Parks Moms Panel. It was amazing. All these people going through the same excruciating wait. And the longer I waited, the surer I became that I wasn't moving on. But at that point it didn't matter. I had met some many fabulous Disney loving people. And if I didn't make it, one or more of them would. We were each others chEARing (couldn't resist) section! 

A little over two weeks after submissions were due the wait was over. The beauty of Facebook is I knew exactly when the pixie dusted emails came out. But then the fear set in. Should I look at my email? I avoided it for the better part of the day but then I couldn't ignore the elephant in the room any longer. I took a deep breath and opened up outlook. There was an email. I made it to the second round! A minute of pure ecstasy followed by shear terror! Now I would have to make a video.

So the process started over again. The sleepless nights. The cold sweats. More questions to write, rewrite and rewrite 25 million times more. And yes the dreaded video. At least I got my husband to get the kids out of the house to film. Everyone says be yourself. The problem is I don't think of myself as all that entertaining and add my nervous self to the mix and well you probably get a hot mess! Below is what I came up with. Feel free to laugh! I go between laughter and tears when I look at it. But I try to remember a quote from Walt Disney himself "The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique."

Then the wait began...again! This time it was still bad but I had my people from the beginning. We talked. We laughed. We sometimes cried when we thought we forgot to add the most important thing or used the wrong nomenclature. But in the end we had each other. 

This time there was no pixie dust filling my inbox after the wait. I didn't make it to the Round 3, the final round. But I was okay with it. I had made it farther than I thought I would and made some amazing friends along the way. I did still anxiously await who made it and celebrated their victories!

Already another year has passed. I have continued my Facebook friendships with my fellow future Disney Moms Parks panelists. It's almost time to start the process again. September 6th is the magical date the applications website opens. There are butterflies in my belly and hopefully soon there will be pixie dust in my inbox!

Have you ever wanted to be on the Disney Parks Moms Panel? Here's what you need to know for the 2018 Search!!

Applications for the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search 2018 open at noon EDT on Wednesday, September 6, 2017 and round one closes at noon EDT on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Discover more about being a Panelist by clicking here and check out the participation guidelines. Then be yourself, apply and Follow along with #DisneyMP have fun! Yes have fun because that's what Disney is all about and know that I'm wishing everyone that applies faith, love and pixie dust!

Follow me on social media and I'll keep you updated on my progress. Let me know if you're applying. I'd love to chEAR you on!

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