Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sweet 16 - Spring


Spring
I almost let March slip by without continuing the Sweet 16 tradition I started in January.  Spring is in full swing so I thought I'd share 16 sweet spring favorites.  

Wildflowers....the highways and fields are lined with Bluebonnets and Indian Paint Brushes.  Pastures full of yellow flowers everywhere.  It is the most beautiful time of year in Texas.

New life....everything has turned green almost over night.  We lots of trees in our backyard and I love this time of year when they fill with green leaves and the grass is green.

Fresh flowers....I cannot pass up a bouquet of flowers every time I head to the store.  Tulips are my favorite.

Lazy afternoons.....this time of year I love to have lazy weekend afternoons laying on my backporch with a good book.

Cookouts....being able to cook many of our dinners outside this time of year is one of my very favorite things.  Having friends over for burgers and enjoing the spring air brings a smile to my face.

Baseball.....opening day is just around the corner!  It's a good thing I love the game as most of our weekends will be spent at the ballpark watching Dillon or watching Riley on the computer.

Yardwork....there is just something about turning over the dirt and weeding all the flower beds to get them ready for new mulch that gives me peace.  Once all the new mulch is put out and everything looks so fresh and clean I can sit back and enjoy.

Spring cleaning....I'm not going to lie I enjoy a little cleaning this time of year.  Not the regular every day cleaning but the organizing and cleaning out closets and freshening up some things that are often overlooked throughout the year.

Perfect temperatures....this time in Texas the temperature is just right.  It's not too hot to be outdoors and just cool enough in the evenings to possibly need a jacket.  The humidity comes and goes but there are many days in the spring the air is dry and comfortable her in Texas.

Longer days....I love having daylight until late in the evening.  As a mom that works outside the house it sure makes for some nice evenings to have a little extra time to enjoy outside activities.

Toes....my toes often receive little attention from fall through winter but in the spring I love getting my toes ready.  OPI Mod About You has become my go to on my toes for the spring and summer.  I still love OPI Cajun Shrimp for my nails but also love mixing up some blues and pinks.

Shoes....since my toes are ready I'm excited to be pulling out my open toed shoes and sandals.  I love all the sandals and wedges I've grabbed so far but really think I need these and I also need a great new pair of flip flops.

Fresh fruits and veggies....this is the time of year I love going to our local Farm Patch and grabbing juicy strawberries, blackberries and all kinds of veggies.  Everything seems so fresh and I begin craving these types of healthy foods.

Olive skin.....I love the color this time of year brings to my skin.  While I do wear sunscreen always my skin grabs color like crazy and I would lie if I didn't say I just love the way it looks with a little color.  Of course I also have my Rodan and Fields sunless tanner and it is almost the same!

Spring clothes....from the lighter fabrics to the fun colors I am loving pulling out all my spring clothes.  Teals and greens and yellows and pinks.....all my favorites!  Definitely ready to mix in lots of floral and stripes with my fun open toed shoes.

Exploring.....the longer days, the perfect temps, and all the new life make it the perfect time to do some exploring.  Visiting parks, taking Dutch for long walks through our nature trails, a little fishing are all some of my favorite things about spring.

What are your favorites about spring?  

If you missed last month you can read about the Sweet 16 Dates I'd love to have in 2016 here

Joining these ladies for the Tell Us About It linkup!  

See where else I might be linking here.  

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Disney Dos and Don'ts

A week away at Disney has never been something to fit for our family but we have been lucky enough to travel near Disneyland twice and Disney World once as part of a bigger vacation.  One thing my family loves (not so much) about vacationing with me is I will pack in all the fun I can every single day but one thing I have learned is this will not be enjoyable without a great plan.  After one very miserable, no, I would go as far to say wasted trip to Disneyland in 2006 I vowed to never let that happen again.  Today I'm sharing my dos and don'ts for creating a magical day at Disney!
Disney

Let's start with what not to do!  

Disney Don'ts

Don't choose the busiest day of the year!  The first time we ventured into Disneyland it was the day after Christmas which is one of the busiest days of the year.  People everywhere, screaming kids everywhere and my family who has no tolerance for crowds was the perfect combination for a miserable day.

Don't set unrealistic expectations.  Kids may decide after standing in line they don't actually want to meet a character.  Better yet your kid may do something crazy like bop Goofy on the nose (gasp) and thankfully in true Disney fashion Goofy will then follow your kid around and harass him back.  Not everyone is going to love the same rides and sometimes there will be some whining and general sibling bickering.
Don't show up mid day.  I was so shocked at the floods of people still arriving as we were already leaving to take our first break for the day.  At this point many of the ride times were already 45 minutes plus.  

Don't go to the park on "magic hours" day.  Disney Resort patrons are given the opportunity for an extra hour in the park some mornings.  Be sure to check the schedule and avoid the park with the early magic hours or you will show up at 9 and wonder where the heck all the people came from.

Don't wander!  If you are not familiar with the park and where everything is located you can waste a lot of time just wandering around and that leads to so much frustration for everyone.
Don't buy a park hopper ahead of time.   We knew we had limited time and really wanted to park hop but without knowing exactly how the day would play out ahead of time this could be a huge waste. The park hopper can always be added at the ticket counter if you realize time allows.  

Don't be afraid to ask questions!  Every person at Disney both inside and outside the gates seem to be fully prepared to answer questions.  If you are unsure of something just ask.   

Orlando Vacation

Disney Dos

Do choose a time to visit during a non peak period.  The very busiest times for Disney are the week after Christmas, Spring Break and summer.  While your kids are young take the opportunity to pull them from school and head to Disney when the crowds are low.  

Do arrive before the park opens!  I cannot tell you how big of a deal this is.  If you arrive early you will make it through the gates and be allowed to wander just inside which will allow you to take a few pictures, etc before the official opening time.  This way you don't waste valuable time when the rides are open for business.  

Do buy your tickets ahead of time.  This is pretty much a given for most people planning a multi-day vacation but we are Disney marathoners and have mostly done Disney in a day type outings.  The sooner you can plan your trip the better because as soon as you have those tickets you can immediately begin scheduling your daily Fast Pass.  Read up and understand the Fast Pass you will be so happy you did! 

Do study the park map and become familiar with the layout.  The parks are large and you can waste so much valuable time wandering from area to area if you are not aware.  So much information is on the internet to help you plan and I would definitely suggest reading up.  Specifics down to where to stand for parades, fireworks, etc will be so helpful.  When we went to Disneyland I remember a suggestion to watch the parade near the area where the princesses are available to meet and as soon as the parade passed we jetted over and there was no wait. 

Do go left!  I thought this was a slightly odd piece of advice but it is so true.  Most people instinctively will head to the right upon entering the park.  Study up and head left and you will find a much emptier area at the beginning of the day.  

Do download Disney apps.  The Disney Experience app held all of my fast pass info at a glance and actually was critical at one point when my actual band was not showing I had a fast pass.  The gate attendant was able to see the data on my app and see the FP was unused and let me right through. The Disney wait times app was also very helpful especially when noting a ride was closed.  

Do take snacks!  Disney allows you to bring food in so take advantage.  There will be some rides and character lines you will have to wait at least some time in which is the perfect time to have snacks ready for your family.  We ate a big breakfast at the hotel but skipped a traditional lunch and instead drank plenty of water and ate snacks. I carry a backpack with a water bottle for each member which can be refilled, nuts, beef jerky, goldfish, etc.  

Do purchase My Photo Pass package ahead of time as it is cheaper than if you wait until after your trip.  With the Photo Pass anytime you see a park photographer (lots of them!) they will take your picture and with just a scan of your ticket or wrist band the picture will be loaded to your account.   You can still have your pictures taken and sent to your account but buying the package is definitely the way to go.
Do take a break in the afternoon.  The crowds will become larger as the day goes on so plan an afternoon break.  Leave the park and head back to your hotel for some swimming and naps to be sure everyone is ready to head back and finish off the night at the park.  You don't want to miss the fireworks! 

Do dress comfortably.  There will be lots of walking (I logged over 18K steps both days) and be prepared for layers depending on the time of year.  Watch the forecast and plan accordingly if there is a high rain chance.  Rain will not be a fun killer unless you are not prepared.  I packed ponchos and flip flops in my bag the first day just in case.   So many rides are actually inside so rain will not shut them down.  

Do bring your best patient mom attitude!  Kids will get tired, there will be other people there who are not like you and every attraction may not be for every member of your family.  Losing your cool will surely have your kids telling stories about "that one time mom cried at Disneyland" for years to come. 

The Disney Tourist Blog has endless information and pretty much all the "insider" tips that will definitely make your trip more magical.

Check out our fun four days in Orlando here and details on what I wore for Spring Break here.

See everywhere I may be linking here.  

What's Up Wednesday {March 2016}

Today I'm linking up with ShayMel & Sheaffer for this months What's Up Wednesday!  The questions are in green so check it out and join the fun. 

WHAT WE'RE EATING THIS WEEK

Well....I have been slacking with meal planning lately and we have seriously been eating leftovers for days.  I love that Keith doesn't mind me being a little creative.  We had pork loin leftover so we mixed with a little BBQ sauce and made some yummy nachos.  
Seriously if you can make a nacho or a taco out of something we are going to do it!  
Now all our leftovers are gone so it's time for me to decide on dinner for the rest of the week.  Skinny Suppers arrived last week and I can't wait to try a few things.  Thinking I also need a spiralizer to start playing around with some zoodles.  

WHAT I'M REMINISCING ABOUT 

Timehop has been killing it all week with all these bluebonnet pictures from years back.  This is definitely somewhat of a tradition in Texas and we have not missed too many years.  

WHAT I'M LOVING

Longer days and perfect spring weather.  Of course I believe I have probably just jinxed this as we have lots of rain in the forecast the next few days!  

WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO 

We have been having lots fun this month!  
We had four days of fun in Orlando which included Disney World.  If you are planning a trip be sure to check out my Disney Dos & Don'ts .
Carly Jo and I ended Spring Break road tripping to Fort Worth with our besties!  If a trip is in your future be sure to head over and check out this post on Fort Worth Fun for 10 ways you can experience this fun town.  

WHAT I'M DREADING

Filing my taxes....boo
And filling up with gas....I know I will have to do it today and I just hate it.   I can't explain why but I will drive to the very last little drop before finally stopping.  

WHAT I'M WORKING ON

Mastering using Wunderlist.  As mentioned on Friday I decided this would be worth a try to help me get back on track with time management.  So far I'm thrilled with what I'm finding and there are so many cool options like being able to use hashtags and adding a tool to directly save from your internet browser back to a specific list.  It is going to take some time to learn everything it can do but it is proving to be handy.  

WHAT I'M EXCITED ABOUT 

We should find out shortly where Riley will be assigned to start the minor league season and I'm really anxious excited to find out where that might be.   Yesterday a short interview was posted and it always cracks me up because he seriously was my shyest child and I just can't believe he seems so at ease when he's being asked questions!  You can watch here.     

WHAT I'M WATCHING/READING

I just finished reading Still Alice and y'all it is a tear jerker but such a great read.  Very well written and I am eager to watch the movie.
While I was in Florida I finished The Choice and it is a typical Nicholas Sparks love story but very touching.  

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO

I have been loving this song!  

WHAT I'M WEARING

Spring shoes...yea!  The toes are ready so I've been wearing some of my open toe shoes this month.  I'm loving all the options I picked up on sale at Target earlier this month.  Still haven't decided for sure whether I'm keepign these DV wedges but I'm 99% sure the answer is yes.   I'm still really thinking I need to pull the trigger on these this year.  
Halogen studded flats in lots of colors here||Merona Gladiator Sandals ||DV Wedge also in Camel||Similar Huarachi Sandals at Target almost identical to the Steve Maddens I purchased on clearance||Lace up Wedges
 I'm also loving this new Halogen skirt which I received as part of a trunk club order.  Thanks to Cassie for highlighting this perfect top because it helped me pull together this outfit for Easter.
I splurged on this NYDJ top and I'm so glad I did.  It is so flattering and I can see myself wearing it tons all year long.   It comes in so many fun colors and has the sweetest pleet in the back.  

WHAT I'M DOING THIS WEEKEND

We only have 3 weekends between now and June that do not include a baseball tourney.  Dillon has grown so much taller and gained lots of weight (muscle) in the past year and I am excited to see him play.  

WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH

I have been saving to have the master shower and the tile around the kids bath redone for some time and April is going to be the month!  While I'm not looking forward to the mess and hassle of having a renovation I am super excited to see the finished product! 

WHAT ELSE IS NEW

I'm pretty sure as a chronic over-sharer there is nothing I have failed to share!  

Wishing you all a fabulous Wednesday!  



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Orlando Fun in Four Days

Florida Vacation

I know I've already shared a few tidbits about our trip to Orlando but for the sake of documenting our entire little vacation I decided to give you the run down with 10 Orlando vacation highlights! 

1.  Flight

We are actually closer to Houston but it is almost always easier and cheaper to fly out of Austin.  We flew Jet blue and I love this airline.   The planes have always been clean and comfortable and the staff so friendly and professional.  

2.  Caribe Royale

After researching a few hotels and reading reviews online, I picked the Caribe Royale and it was perfect.  We had plenty of space in our room and the pool was heated.  
I think Carly would have been content at the pool our entire vacation had she had some friends to hang with.  
There was even a water slide!  It is a conference hotel but there were quite few families.  Every staff member I encountered was super helpful and friendly.  There was also a shuttle to Disney World throughout the day.  

3.  Cocoa Beach 

 On our first day we took a drive down to Cocoa Beach about an hour away from Orlando.  
 We toasted to our first official day of vacation at Pelican's Bar and Grill
Chowed down on fried seafood and gator because when in Florida!  
And dipped our toes into the cold Atlantic ocean.  Had the weather been warmer the beach was nice and clean and rental was available for both chairs and umbrellas.  

4.  Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center was our next stop.  There is quite a bit to see on site and we also watched an Imax film which Carly was super pumped about.   A bus then takes you for a tour about 15 minutes away at the actual launch site.  This is really an outing you would probably need a minimum of four hours for in order to experience it all. 
 This was pretty cool just to see the actual size of the building required to house a space shuttle or rocket.  I knew I totally remembered this from watching Armageddon.  Ha! 
 This is the actual tractor which transports the rocket to the launch site.  Each "foot" on the tractor weighs one ton.  That is crazy to me! 
The site where the magic happens!  See that water tower?  Well I didn't realize the smoke during a launch is actually steam.  Evidently the water is used to create the steam at liftoff to reduce the sound to a manageable level.  Had no idea.  I love vacations that include a little bit of learning! 

5.  Fishing

We tried to schedule a fishing trip for all four of us but the guides would not allow anyone under 12 so Carly was out.  The boys scheduled with Fin and Fly Charters and as  you can see they had a successful day in the Indian River Lagoon.  Giving the boys a day to do their favorite thing meant they would be so happy and relaxed the rest of the trip!  

6.  Disney World Park Hop

While the boys were fishing Carly and I headed to Disney World for our first visit!  We arrived before the park opened and immediately headed left to Adventureland and were the 2nd to hop on Pirates of the Caribbean.  
We walked right up for Splash Mountain (her favorite!) before entering Frontierland and riding Big Thunder Railroad.  Then it was the Mad Hatter, the speedway and Buzz Lightyear and back for one more ride on Pirates of the Caribbean all before 11:30!  It pays to be early friends...and to head left!  
I registered our Fast Passes ahead of time for 3 rides at Animal Kingdom so we hopped a shuttle and headed on over.  We road Dinosaur which was so awesome and then we rode Everest and it may have been my favorite roller coaster!  Our only complaint was it was too short.  The Kilamanjaro Safari was just okay to me.  We saw lots of animals out in a natural habitat but there just didn't seem to be that many different kinds of animals.  The line at the time was over an hour long and I'm just saying I'm glad we had a Fast Pass.  We headed back to ride the Dinosaur ride one more time and we wrapped it all up by 5:30! 

7.  Disney Magic Kingdom 

We headed back to Magic Kingdom with the boys again arriving before the park opened.  This time we headed straight for Big Thunder Railroad then over to Buzz Lightyear, the Speedway and Mad Hatter.  
I used on of our Fast Passes for Splash Mountain at 11:00am and the boys were impressed because the line was already over an hour long and we just breezed on through right to the front!  They loved it as much as we did.  
We had to rush off by noon to pick up Riley's girlfriend and stop to see him at the field before getting her to the airport.  We came back to Disney to use the Fast Pass for Space Mountain.  I could not quit laughing because the entire time Keith just kept saying "holy smokes, holy smokes".  It was hilarious!  This ride rocks!  We also had a Fast Pass for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train which I thought was awesome but the boys were unimpressed.  People were still waiting up to 2 hours to ride this sucker!  Back to Buzz Lightyear again and then a run through Haunted Mansion.  I screwed up big time and had the wrong time for the fireworks and we walked out of Haunted Mansion just as the finale was going on.  Super bummed about that!  

8.  Wildlife

 For real you can just see alligators in the ditches up and down the highway!  Dillon thought this was the greatest thing.  
And the beach was covered with these Man O War Jellyfish.  So pretty....but glad we were aware not to get to close.  

9.  Spring Training

Of course the real reason for our whirlwind trip was Spring Training.  We did have a chance to see Riley in his uniform which was so exciting!  
And we were able to catch a big league game against the Nationals.  I obviously have not been around because I had no clue how many people actually go to Spring Training games!  It was so much fun.  

10.  Random Fun 

Souvenirs are the best and Carly was insistent that she needed some mouse ears!  She was so excited. 
But not nearly as excited as finding Pasghetti on the menu with white cheese sauce!  She always called it pasghetti and she always orders white cheese sauce instead of alfredo.  Giordinos had both!  

So, full disclosure, this is not really how I would recommend doing Orlando to just anyone on vacation.  You could easily spend 4 or 5 days at various Disney parks and have plenty of time at the hotel pool as well.  We were squeezing in every single thing possible in a very limited time and working around Riley's schedule which was not very concrete.  All in all we had a super whirlwind trip and really did so much!  It is possible to have a blast at Disney in a day or two with some good planning.  

If you are looking for some Disney Dos and Don'ts be sure to come back tomorrow as I'll be sharing mine!  

Linking up today with Karli at September Farm for Ten on Tuesday!  
and Linking with||Tuesday Talk with a few of my favorites BethMichelle & Jessica.  See all the weekly linkups here.  
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