Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Disney trip Part 2! Magic Kingdom

I'm going to be completely honest here, I've been dragging my feet writing this second post because I let so much time go by already! I haven't even been posting about Christmas festivities because I felt like I had to write about our trip to Magic Kingdom next because I said I would. Haha! I'm going to try to keep this brief so I can move onto other things I want to talk about at this point. So if you're new, I'd refer to my last post here about our first trip to Disney World and some info on how we survived the trip with 4 kids, 3 under 6. I'm still laughing at myself thinking they were going to be the best behaved kids because it's Disney World. 

Ha. Joke was on me. 

Anyhow here are some pictures. I have to say I was in major awe of Cinderella's castle. It's even more beautiful in person than just the pictures. I had also never seen it lit up for the holidays so that was a real treat. 

Why yes. Yes that is my kid throwing a tantrum in Cinderella's castle...


The rides were great and again like Epcot, we didn't have to wait more than 15 minutes for a ride because we got there as soon as it opened. My two year old really loved small world. It was so cute! We still have more tickets we need to use and want to visit the other parks, but want to go when it's slow. We're thinking late January or early February to visit the other parks.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and if I don't post before then, Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Our first trip to Disney World! Serena sings at Epcot!

A few months ago Serena informed us that her and her church choir were invited to sing at Epcot's candlelight processional. We had no plans this year to go to Disney World with 3 small children under 6. In fact the mere thought of waiting in long lines in the Florida heat sounded a lot like torture to me. However there was no way I was going to miss my big girl singing at Disney World! No way no how! Not to mention the event was going to be in late November so the weather was going to be nice in Orlando. H and I decided that we were just going to have to go this year, and that is what we did on November 25th. We woke up at the crack of dawn that day and made the almost 3 hour drive with the little ones thinking we were going to Naples. We surprised them just as we were approaching the sign. It was sooo foggy that they couldn't see anything so the enthusiasm was a bit anti-climatic, but oh well. They were happy once they were there. 

Just look at this fog! 

Before going, trying to figure out Disney seemed challenging and overwhelming at first. I kept hearing about fast passes. Do we pay for fast passes? How do fast passes work? Were we going to have to wait 1 to 2 hours in lines just to ride a few rides? How the heck are we going to keep our kids entertained for that long? Is it going to be hot? Is it going to be cold? Do I bring one stroller, two strollers, or a double stroller? Can I bring food in? I had a lot of questions!

Luckily my planner husband informed me of the my Disney app and scheduled the fast passes and I joined a Disney mom Facebook group that I was able to read here and there before our trip. Let me back up and explain the candlelight processional first. It's a holiday event held at Epcot every year that tells the story of Christmas by a celebrity narrator, and accompanied by a 50 piece orchestra and massed choir. You do not need a special event ticket to attend, but you can enjoy guaranteed seating by purchasing a candlelight dining package. We ended up booking a candlelight dining package at restaurant Marrakesh in Morocco just to be on the safe side. 

Next year if Serena plans on singing again we probably won't book a dining package so we could sample more foods and desserts from the different worlds instead. The dining package was pretty expensive but the food was really really good complete with music and belly dancing. Mariam even got up to dance at one point. She loves to dance in public this kid. We made our reservation early so we'd have plenty of time to walk to the gardens theater. We showed up just as the line was getting long but only waited about 15 minutes before they started letting us in for the 5pm show. We had really good seats up front right before the reserved seating. I really enjoyed the show and Serena really loved being a part of it though she said it was really hot in the robes and the stage lights shining on her. The music was fantastic and we can't wait to do it again. I'm going to back up now and answer some of the questions and concerns I had in case you're reading this and you have small children, and if you're reading this--you probably do have small children because it's mainly a mommy blog haha!

 Do you pay for fast passes and how do they work? No you don't pay for them. You can schedule 3 at a time. We figured out a really good system that worked for us. We went during a busy time (the weekend after Thanksgiving) but still never waited in line for more than 15-20 minutes. Most of our wait times were only about 10 minutes. What you want to do is get there as soon as it opens. If you're not a morning person. I'm sorry but get your butt up anyways or you're going to miss out on a bunch of good rides. We accomplished a lot before noon. So what we did is if one of the lines for rides we had fast passes on was short then we would cancel the fast pass and book something else. It's really pretty simple. Get the app. Use the app. Makes your life easier. I thought it was really cool that each ride lists the wait times for standby and fast passes.

Do you have to wait 1 to 2 hours in lines just to get on a ride? No, but it's possible you might....if you enjoy waiting in long lines for a ride. In the words of that famous meme: "Ain't nobody got time for dat!" I'm sorry but I'm not waiting hours in line for a 10 minute ride, much less with several children in tow. No thanks! I'd much rather miss out and do something else. 

How the heck do you keep your kids entertained in a long line? Again, we didn't have to wait more than 10-15 minutes, but that one 20 minute line was a bit challenging. I had actually stopped at Dollar Tree a few days before to buy them a few coloring books and projects but of course I forgot to bring them. When my toddler or 5 year old weren't trying to run away they were entertained by what was around them. A lot of the lines have interactive things along the way and there is much for their small eyes to take in.

Is it going to be hot? Is it going to be cold? We went November 25th on a Saturday and it was really cold in the morning. Bring a heavy sweater or light weight jacket. Basically dress in layers because around 1 pm that day I was sweating! When that suns hits you watch out. As the sun goes down during this time it gets cold again. I'll tell you what, during the afternoon when the sun was the hottest, I really thought about the die hard Disney fans that come out in summer. Holy bajeebus, how do they not roast! I imagine it gets wicked hot.

Do I bring one stroller, two strollers, or a double stroller? We brought 2 strollers. One for my 2 year old and one for my 4 year old. I know how my 4 year old gets having to take long walks so she needed one for sure. She used it every chance she got too lemme tell you. I pushed one and H pushed another. It worked out great. A double stroller can get pretty hard to navigate among the large crowds. 

Can I bring food in? Yes! I was happy to hear this because my girls like to snack. We brought small halo mandarins, apples, ritz crackers, wheat thins and water. They really came in handy!

Our experience at Epcot was pretty great. Due to having to drop Serena off to her group at a certain time and then meeting back up with H and a couple of the girl's, I didn't get to see all of the park, but what I did see was pretty amazing. Even though I had read up on the park. Seeing it in person is so much different than I imagined. I really enjoyed the different worlds and wish I could have seen all of them. I would love to go back and explore the shops and just eat and drink--preferably with no kids in tow. Speaking of kids. Let me just warn you now since nobody warned me. Disney World is wonderful, dreamy, basically all that and a bag of chips, but don't expect your children to behave any different then they normally do anywhere else. Boy was I in for a rude surprise because I walked in with the expectation that they were going to be little angels because it's the happiest place on earth and they were going to be so happy! Ha! Mariam tried to run away like 4 times. Ava tried to squirm out of the lines several times. A few little tantrums were thrown in for good measure. Taking several small children under 6 to Disney can be overwhelming but despite the stress at times, it's still worth it!

The rides were fun for the whole family and it was neat to find out that Epcot is also sustainable. They have several large greenhouses (2.5 million sq ft) which not only produce much of the food for Epcot inhabitants, but has been forefront of experiments with high tech and high yield indoor plant growing techniques. The living with the land ride takes you through some of this. 

We didn't get to ride a ton of rides due to our dining plans and Serena's performance, but I'd have to say my favorite was Spaceship earth. It's a great one for the whole family and even though Ava was a bit nervous of rides that spent some time in the dark, she actually loved this one! Layla and Mariam also really enjoyed the gran fiesta tour and they really enjoyed meeting the characters. We stayed till closing and the next day went to Magic Kingdom. I can't wait to share some of those pictures. Cinderella's castle was so beautiful and they enjoyed meeting the princesses. Now my little ones are obsessed with all things Disney! Next thing you know they are going to ask me to transform their room into a magical kingdom. A good place to start for furniture for that transformation would be here at Stay tuned for my next post on our day at Magic Kingdom.

Have a great day!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Holiday cards made easy with Minted!

If  you've ever been on the hunt for invitations, I'm sure you've heard of Minted. They are the 
crème de la crème of personalized invitations and stationery. Aside from that they also have home decor, art, gifts, and more!

I recently had the opportunity to try for the first time and I am impressed! It's been several years since we've sent out Holiday photo cards and I didn't want to miss that boat again this year. We normally take our own family pictures, but this year we had our family pictures taken by the vary talented fine art portraiture photographer Caitlyn Bom. We had our pictures taken by the beach earlier this year and have a few of the shots hanging in our house. We absolutely wanted to share a photo with our close friends and family so holiday cards are going out for sure. has really just thought about everything in the ordering process. Not only is it easy to filter the cards based on your photos, price, or printing, there is also a wide variety of customization once you select the card. From suggestions to adding postage to complimenting your design or adding recipient addressing, they've thought of it all! Having numerous birthday parties year round with 4 children, I've used a few different photo card services and I have to say is by far the easiest and most user friendly experience I've ever had. The ordering process was so fast and simple. The part that took the longest was just picking a card. It was really hard to choose because they are all so beautiful!

The cards came with free envelopes and you can choose from several color accompanying linings such as gold, glitter gold, silver foil at an additional cost. You can also easily move your personalized text around and pick different fonts. I'm just really impressed by Minted. They were kind enough to offer me a chance to shop around and one of the things I selected were holiday cards. I went with a simple holiday foil pressed card.

I'm completely addicted to foil gold, shiny gold. Anything gold!

I debated between uploading a picture of just the girls, or all of us. I settled on just the girls. Our families would have loved either one for sure, but there's something so sweet about just seeing children on cards. It really is the secret ingredient in holiday cards. Getting your children to pose for a family picture is not always that simple. In fact sometimes they act completely silly and you just have to roll with it. Check out Minted's article for a creating a great funny kid holiday card here.

I can't wait to get my cards in! Once I do I'll be sure to share them in a separate post. Have a great weekend!

Thank you Minted for sponsoring this post. All wording, and opinions are my own.