Friday, September 30, 2011

Target, Rhea Lana's and Children's Place! Oh MY!

Shopping for kids can be a CHORE, especially when you have more than one little to buy for. Shopping for kids can also be expensive. It's my hope to help you save some money and find the cutest clothes for your kids at the same time!

First of all, I should mention that I never, we're talking NEVER buy anything retail at full-price. Anything I buy is on sale or is bought with a coupon. It's possible. It's not that HARD, it just takes a little time to get used to waiting for a good sale or for the "final price."

Couponing has become such a big thing these days that you can usually find coupons for just about anything and everything. One of the best ways to get retail coupons is to sign up for emails from stores. The Children's Place has a great email they send out with online and in-store coupons. On average I can save about 40% with coupons there. I love TCP jeans. They always fit my kids well and hold up nicely with wear. I can get them pretty cheap too, as they usually have sales on buying more than one pair. I also loooove the PJs at TCP. They are SO cute and always fit nicely!

Target has fantastic online coupons available for clothing most of the time and usually those coupons go along with a sale they are having in the store. The more you use coupons the more they'll send you via mail, too. I'll often get a coupon book or two each month. Usually one or both of them contain a free gift card if I spend X amount of dollars.

Target also has several racks of clearance things that are anywhere from 30-75% off. Target has such cute stuff right now for fall. I love that I can usually find matching dresses for the little girls(sizes 5T, 3T, and 6-9mths) and something that either matches or coordinates for Olivia(size 7). The girls love to match, so that's always fun for me to find things for them that are matchy. I'm also a fan of Target's shoes for the kids. The sizes are easy to fit my kids feet and their shoes hold up really well for us.

A little side note, if you haven't tried Target's Up&Up brand diapers you should for sure at least give them a try. That's what I've used for our kids for the past three years. There are times when I've had to go back to pampers(like with newborns), but overall they have a GREAT product with a really nice low price, AND they're cute! AND, no this is not one of our baby booties!

So, if couponing isn't your thing(it wasn't mine for a long time, and I still don't spend much time doing it) there are other options for getting cute clothes for cheap. One word: RESALE! My personal favorite is Rhea Lana's, but there are several other sales all around the country that have great merchandise at a fraction of retail cost. Most of these sales provide consigners(people who bring their items to sale) a pre-sale pass. Retail pre-sales are the best place to get the best selection at the lowest price. Check your local sale to see if they have volunteer opportunities. Usually workers get to shop first! I can find just about anything I need(except underwear/panties) at these sales. This is where I get all of the specialty brands that I would otherwise have to shop at expensive boutiques for. Some of my favorite speciality brands that hold up nicely with time and wear are Little Lulu, Miss Tee-V-Us, Matilda Jane, and Zackali.

Consignment sales are usually held twice a year with one sale in the fall and one in the spring. Go ahead and buy anything you'll need for the coming season. In order to best fit your kids get some good measurements before you shop then take your measuring tape with you to shop. Realize that you are buying used, so at these sales there are going to be some stained items that slip through Be sure to look over your merchandise before you buy, and if you find something stained be sure to take it to a worker. They don't want stained merchandise on the sales floor any more than you do!

Some people might turn up their nose at buying resale, but when you think about how fast your kids grow, buying used probably means that it's been worn only a few times before it was too small of the other child and your child might only wear it a few times before it's too small for them! It's a great place to find all of your kids Halloween costumes and accessorise! I usually get all of our bows and hats from consignment sales.

Consignment sales are also a great place to get all your toys and baby items(like swings and strollers). I recently got this amazing Joovy stroller that I'd been pricing at $240 for $75 and it was basically new! Gotta love saving that money. Bottom line=Buy use, save the difference.

Other places to look for good deals at the end of season: Gymboree, Old Navy(sometimes their jeans are hard to fit my kids), and Carters outlet. I can usually get a lot of play clothes from the Carter's outlet, and their stuff lasts forever! CUTE PJ's, too! I can usually use a big coupon at an outlet store and end up saving so much money I can go get my self some things for the upcoming season too! Most Toy's R Us or Babies R us stores will take carters coupons too, but be sure to ask before you stock up there, just in case your local store doesn't do that.
The last great option today for getting stuff for your kids is a clothing swap with friends. This is a great idea for mom's with kids of several different sizes. I have a friend who does this through her church. What a great ministry to mom's! If you've ever seen one of your friends kids and liked what they were wearing, this might be a good idea for your mommy circle! Just call up several moms and have them bring clothes that their kids are no longer wearing, bake some yummy treats to enjoy together and get to swapping! You may need to set up some ground rules so that one mom dominate the swap taking all the best items for herself. Be sure everyone knows this is a friendly event and a way to bless each mom.

Happy Shopping!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You Wanna Whine or Smile

It's all about perspective. I could look in to my life right now and either whine or smile.
You see, raising 5 tiny kids is a VERY overwhelming job. At any given moment in my day to day I can have myself a little fit and feel sorry for myself. Because I'm so overwhelmed at times it's easy for the tiny things to put me over the edge.
No one EVER told me how LOUD 5 kids would be. No one EVER told me that the next time I'd have a moment to think would be once they were old and I was grey. It's TOUGH! Some days I feel like whining and crying and not getting out of bed! BUT, I can sit here whining about how hard it is, or I can stop and be OK with things being the way they are.
I can except that I'll never have a "clean" house and that my life right now is going to be LOUD. Then, I can enjoy that God gave me this life. I can thank Him for choosing me to get to love my kids. I can thank God for the quirks that make my day fun and exciting. I can pray that Addison would stop YELLING WHEN SHE TALKS! When I take a step back and look at the life God has given me to live ALL I can do is SMILE.
 THIS is smile worthy!

Did you know that each year Americans consume enough Candy Corn that if laid end-to-end, would circle the earth 4.25 times?
Seriously? That's a LOT of candy corn. I guess I'm not the only one who let a bag slip into my cart on grocery day!
Need a fun snack around this time of the year? My mom adds a can of salted peanuts to a bag of Candy Corn for a PayDay-like treat. I personally don't like candy too much, but Manly thinks it's amazing and the girls like it too.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Emma Claire(isms)

So often Emma Claire will say something and I'll find myself wishing I had some paper and a pen so I could write it down. She has such a sharp mind, but that girl says some crazy stuff.

Tonight at the dinner table she was going on and on about something then it got quiet for a moment and she said, "Momma. Just how bad is hell(Only when my four-year-old who has a speech impediment says "hell" it sounds more like "he-ya'll")? I mean, how TERRIBLE is it? Cause I think I might want to go there just to see if it's REALLY bad or just kind of bad."
I said, "It's bad bad, Emma Claire, that's why Jesus came to earth to save you from your sins and from spending eternity there."
Her quick response: "I knew you were going to say that, so I decided to believe in Jesus and just go to heaven instead. But.........I would like to SEE hell some time. Badom said he saw it."

I should mention Emma Claire has an imaginary husband named Badom. He works at WalMart(because he was fired from Target) in the daytime and McDonald's at night just so he can give her free food if she wants it. He has "dark skin and is tall and wears sunglasses." He's seen lots of places and done lots of things. He usually sits in an empty chair at the table or next to her in the playroom. You can ask her all about him, any question, and she has an immediate response. It amazes me...

It's a step up from the stories she was making up two years ago when "She was a little boy who rode a zebra around the island(that little strip of land off the river bridge that they recently built the bike bridge to.)."

Fall Television

I just LOVE fall. I love the cooler weather. I love cowboy boots, denim, and sweaters. I love pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and colors. I love crispy leaves dancing in my rear view mirror. I love the fall holidays. I just LOVE fall.
One of the other things I love about fall is the Fall television line-up. Let's just be honest, summer television is the reason so many people go on vacation to the beach in the summer. There is NOTHING on but Reality TV, and Wipeout(both of which give me a nice laugh from time to time).
Some of the shows that have me watching on Hulu the next day(because we don't actually have a television in our home anymore) are:
  • The Sing-Off: Love this show. I'm not sure how I missed it completely last season, but it's got my attention this season. It's a musical reality show that showcases groups that use only their voices, or a Capella music. If you haven't seen it, check it out. You can also download the songs on i-tunes(another thing we don't have, but would be fun for you techies out there).
  • Survivor: I may be one of the only people still watching this show, but I just really enjoy watching the dynamics and social factor of the show. It's so interesting to me how things can change SO fast when you're living on an island or wherever they are. I like that they have two all-star players this time. Interesting.
  • The Biggest Looser: This is a must-see for me. Each season I am inspired by the contestants. I'm usually guilty of watching while sitting in the bed eating a snack, but still. It's a good show! This season it's the "Battle of the ages." They've taken the contestants and split them up according to age. It's going to be interesting to see if that makes a difference in the outcome of the show.
  • The Office: I'm what I like to call a fair weather friend of this show. I only watch it if Scotty is home and wants to watch it and thinks it's a particularly good episode. It's funny. If you've been under a rock for 1,000 years and haven't ever seen an episode it's worth your 24 minutes to watch one (or two).
  • The Amazing Race: Again, this show has been on for a long time, but this season caught my attention because it has the dating couple Ethan and Jenna who also played (and each won) Survivor. Ethan has also survived cancer. I may not watch the entire season, but I did watch the premiere.
  • Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice: I know I know. These are not edifying nor Holy. They are my guilty pleasure shows. They are on back to back. Private Practice is a spin-off of Grey's Anatomy, and the characters do cross-over episodes about 3 times a season. I've seen every episode of both shows. Yes, every single one. I'm not sure how much more I'll watch of Private Practice, because at the end of the last episode I was ready to not watch it any more, but I'm going to at least watch the premiere this Thursday.
  • *UPDATED* Up All Night: This show had me in tears I was laughing so hard. Really cute show, and I LOVE Christina Applegate! A cute show about how having a baby changes things! Thanks for reminding me of this one, Jes.
Some that I watched, but won't be watching any more:
  • Modern Family. It's funny, but doesn't capture my attention for some reason. Maybe the strange collection of characters.
  • PanAm: Just not a GREAT show. I'm sure there will be a lot of sex in this show, which is something I try to stay away from watching.
  • Two Broke Girls: Not good. Bad acting. Choppy story.
  • The New Girl: Scotty has a crush on Zoe Dashmanunu or whatever her last name is. Ha! This is a good idea for a show, but again too choppy and bad acting.
So what am I missing? What should I try watching? What are your favorites this season?

Monday, September 26, 2011

No hair bows for BOYS!

ANYTIME we go ANYWHERE someone ALWAYS says, "MY GOODNESS! Only ONE boy and all those girls?!" Poor Isaiah, at this point it's of no concern to him that he's the only boy, but every stranger in sight seems to think he must have the hardest life with "all those sisters."
There are times when I can see his pent up inner-boy ready to be released. Usually it happens around 4PM every afternoon. As soon as Scotty gets home from work I send Isaiah in for "boy time" with daddy. That usually consists of some wrestling and race cars. Once he's been roughed up a little he's usually back to his sweet normal boyish self.
He's always LOOKED like a boy. As a baby it was obvious that he was a boy. There was just something masculine about his sweet little face. He's always PLAYED like a boy. He loves balls, race cars and the like. He makes just about everything crash off the side of the table and he loves to flick things across the room. He's all boy.
HOWEVER, all of that doesn't stop him from playing with Barbies, magic wands, and baby dolls with his sisters. None of this worries us at all as I'm sure even a brother with one sister would still be caught playing with a Barbie or two in his lifetime. He does usually gravitate towards the male dolls. We have talking "Steve Irwin" and "Moses" dolls that he LOVES to play with.
His recent fascination is with hair bows. With four other girls you can imagine the amount of hair bows in this house. We have an entire drawer in our bathroom full of hair bows of different sizes, shapes, and colors. SEVERAL times a day he'll go in there, open the drawer, and check out all the bows. He tries to put them in his hair, but because he hasn't quite gotten them figured out he usually ends up with a pile on the floor. He'll bring me a hand full of bows and say, "Momma. Ha-bow. PWEEEZZ." The first several  times I obliged his request and we'd all smile and laugh at how "cute" he was with his bow in his hair. After the first few times, though I decided to tell him that boy's(in my house anyway) don't wear hair bows and suggest a nice hat instead. This is usually a wonderful idea in his opinion and he'll go to his room and find his growing collection of hats and choose one(or two) to wear. I'm sure at some point he'll stop wanting to wear hair bows, but for now I'm going to soak up his masculine cuteness and go find that boy some more HATS!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Our Homeschool Journey

When Olivia was about 3 and a half she started really showing an interest in reading. By the time she was four she was reading(we're talking READING), so I decided to try out homeschooling. It was never something we'd wanted to for sure do, but because she was a few months from the birthday cut-off for public school I thought I could get something for her to do with her free time and keep her busy instead of letting her get bored. We would try it this first year with Olivia to see how it went. If it was terrible we'd just put her in school the next year when she was supposed to be in K5 anyway.

Olivia on her first day of kindergarten

When we decided to go ahead and get a curriculum I knew I needed LOTS of structure. I picked A beka, and it did not let me down. I loved that the teacher's books told me EXACTLY what to say in bold print and the worksheets were a great way for her to spend her free time because she LOVES having something like that to do. Olivia did well with their stellar phonics program and within a few weeks of school the girl was reading whole chapter books at nap time. My girl LOVES to read!

About half way through our year I started hearing more and more about the "classical" approach to school, but three words would come to my mind every time. Not For Me! I LOVED the idea of everything and every moment being a teaching moment. I'd always done that with Olivia anyway, but to have it as our only form of school, in my mind, put a lot of pressure on me as a parent with LOTS of littles. I decided that it might be something we could do when all the little kids were older if we were still homeschooling at that point.

As the year drew to a close and it'd gone really amazingly, we decided we'd go ahead and try it again the next year, but this year I was going to pick and choose my own curriculum. Our family went to our first homeschool convention and used book sale and I pieced together a pretty good set of books for us. We decided to go ahead with first grade materials since she'd done so great. Having lots of different books was fine because it was still very structured, but it was fun having new different ways of looking at things. The one thing that didn't turn out was our Math curriculum. I'd chosen one that I'd heard LOTS of great things about, but for whatever reason Olivia just did not do well with Math-u-see. I'd heard at one of the conventions I'd gone to that if something was working to stop using it and try something else, so about half way through the year I cut out all math and for a few weeks. It allowed me to figure out what would work better for Olivia. That ended up being Saxon. Olivia now LOVES math and just eats up the little workbook pages. She's still doing Saxon this year and it's still been a great choice. If you are homeschooling and something just isn't working don't keep trying to make it work! One of our precious privileges as homeschool parents is to be able to make our own decisions about our kids education.
Olivia on her first day of first grade. Love that long pretty hair!

All year I kept hearing about My Father's World. Several people had told me to look into it for our family because we have so many kids so close together. It's a more family approach to education, which is a nice approach when you're trying to teach a lot of kids at a time. I FINALLY looked into it and LOVED it. The curriculum is, as I call it an "organized classical approach." It uses what Michelle Duggar calls the bus stop method. Where all the kids learn the same thing, but get off at their own "bus stop" or level. For instance, if we were talking about the eye, Olivia might label or dissect the eye, while Emma Claire would simply color a picture of the parts of the eye. There is also a LOT of reading on the current subject, and they push library books so that it cuts the cost of the program significantly. The part that sold me, IT HAS A TEACHER'S MANUAL! I still have the structure that I really need, but I get to give the kids the education that I really want them to have. It doesn't drain me of a lot of time as far as the planning goes, which is really nice. I did still need a language and math curriculum, so I just picked A Beka back up and like I mentioned, we are using Saxon Math. Scotty also does a beginning Spanish program that he basically created on his own from a workbook we found at a used book sale.
Olivia on her first day of Second Grade

So far it's been our best year yet as far as the excitement of school and such. I won't lie, it's HARD teaching Olivia while I have four other kids that also need my attention, but I've been able to plan our days so that it's not been too bad. I usually get the other big girls(EmC and Addi) in on most of the day, and I've been using a playpen for Isaiah full of race cars and other fun toys that he only plays with while we're doing school. (This idea was from one of my more experienced mom friends and I'd like to take a moment to give a much needed thank you to Susan Baker! You've made my life a LOT easier, friend!) I'm planning to blanket train Mia, which is another Michelle Duggar tip I found in her book "20 and Counting". This is a GREAT book with LOTS of little tools and some good recipes(including her homemade laundry soap recipe). A must read for larger families for sure. For now Mia is usually sleeping while we do school.

I don't know what our future holds as far as homechooling. We've always said we'd take it year by year and child by child. I don't want to be closed minded now that we've homeschooled for the last three years. I want to be open to whatever plan the Lord has for us. For now, I'd better get off of here and get ready to go to Mexico tomorrow. The plan is to "be there" for two weeks. Adios.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fast Paced is the Life for Me

I do everything quickly. I always have. In highschool I got pulled over no less than 100 times for speeding. I was always able to QUICKLY talk my way out of a ticket. I can't tell you how many times I said, "I'm so sorry, sir! I'm late for Sunday school!" =) So bad, I know.
Now that I'm married with kids the fast paced(ness) works as a great tool for getting things done around here. I always speed clean the house by doing things in the same motion(I always start in the same room and work my way around the house in the same motion) each time and running to do things like dusting and vacuuming. I talk fast. I think fast. I walk fast. I just really like the feeling of quickly getting as much done as possible.

Well, today I found my HELL. ON. EARTH. Today was Lulu's birthday, and Scotty and I wanted to do something fun with her instead of buying her something since they get SO much stuff for their birthday's. She decided that she'd really like to take a trip to the Ozark Folk Center.  She's such an old soul. She is fascinated with "old-timey things" and wishes she lived in the days of log cabins in the woods and rag dolls and home churned butter. She'd seen the ad for the folk center in one of my local magazine's and had been waiting for a time to go. Scotty had to lead a workshop this morning about an hour away from there, so we thought we'd just ride up with him and then head on over around noon.

For those of you who aren't aware of what exactly "ozark" means I'll tell you. S-L-O-W!=) I know I'm being really mean, but it's true! When we got there and went in to the park cafeteria our waitress was in no hurry to take our order, get our food, or refill our drinks, which was fine, because it's kind of a big deal when we go out, so it usually takes us a while to get settled at the table and get everyone's order ready. I should have known it wasn't that she was lazy, only part of the beauty of the place. At this point in the day I am still nothing but excited for Liv.

After lunch we walked SLOWLY out of the cafeteria and into the "crafting center" or something like that. It was soon brought to my attention by my well-meaning husband that I was "rushing" everyone and that he and Olivia were going to take a minute to look at the map and figure out what they wanted to see first. In my head I'm thinking, "Just find the point closest to the entrance, and go in clockwise order. Skip any store with out a wheelchair ramp. Look for things that might be free. Focus on Livi having fun!" After oh, say 8.356 minutes that's the same conclusion they came up with give or take a few things. At this point, I'm still mostly nothing but excited for Liv, but also thinking that at this rate WE'RE going to be old-timey by the time we get finished here...=)

The first store we go in takes no less than 30 minutes. There are 24 small stores. Each store has a demonstration. Each person demonstrating their trade is VERY nice and wants so know EVERYTHING about EACH child. I'm telling you they were so so nice and gave us several blessings on our "sweet beautiful family." No one is in a hurry to do anything. No one has anywhere else they'd rather be. Each store has something EVERY child wants. Each store has something every child wants to touch. There are goats to touch and feed. I'm sorry. That has nothing to do with the pace, just that goats are, in my personal opinion NASTY. We spent almost 40 minutes just looking at a guy spinning tops. I thought I was going to fall on my face.  At this point I'm really excited for Olivia because she's having the time of her life, but I'm trying to see if I've gained any wrinkles or grey hair in the 50 years since we've been here.

Please don't see this as me complaining. I feel so blessed to have been able to take our family on an outing and celebrate Olivia. I'm only mostly poking fun at myself for being so nutso about not "wasting time" which in this case couldn't have been further from the truth. The kids had a BLAST. Scotty liked getting to see EVERYTHING(and I mean EVERYTHING). I found a CUTE bonnet for Mia. Olivia felt celebrated. I loved getting to see the kids try new things and see new things. AND, I GUESS I really could use a lesson in slowing down and smelling the roses, or in this case, homemade lye soap...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Seven years!?

Olivia Olivia Olivia! I can't believe tomorrow you will turn seven. It doesn't seem like it could be true, but then I looked it up to be sure, and YUP, tomorrow seven birthday's will have come and gone. The next thing I know you'll be sixty-four! Tonight I asked you if you'd still love me when you were 64 and you said, "Of course mom. I'll still be your baby." That's right, big girl! You'll ALWAYS be my baby. I love you like CRAZY, doll.
Your FIRST Birthday

Your SECOND Birthday

Your THIRD Birthday

Your FOURTH Birthday

Your FIFTH Birthday

Your SIXTH Birthday

I love your sweet heart.
I love your sweet smile.
I love that you know just how to make people feel special.

About two weeks ago you told me you felt God calling you to be a missionary in Alaska. I loved seeing your passion come out as you went on and on about how you'd need to learn to deal with cold temperatures and the wildlife there. I can't wait to see what God has for your life.
I can't wait to see how God blesses your year this year big girl.

That one is just because it's one of my all-time favorite pictures of you.=)

Disney Do's and Don'ts

First, I am by no means a Disney expert. I am not paid by Disney nor any other Disney affiliate. I did however do my research and have a few ideas to share with you.

First of all, the BIGGEST easiest way to save money is going off season. Disney has several different "season's," but anything that says "value" is good and cheaper.

Try to stay in one of the value resorts. They are still really nice and are even available for larger families. It's also possible that you could stay in adjoining rooms if necessary. There's a brand new value resort opening in the summer of 2012 that will be Ah-MAY-ZING! It's called Disney's Art of Animation Resort. They are already booking nights there, so if you have a trip coming up I'd say for sure see if you could get a room there.

Always wait for a special offer. They always have them, you just have to watch for them and check their ending date. A good way to know about the offers is to sign up to get Disney emails. They don't send a bunch of extra junk mail and you'll be among the first to know about any good offers that would be good for your family. We  did the "kids  stay and play free offer and saved, count it, $900+. Wowzah!!

Always ask for free upgrades once you are at the resort and checking in. You heard me. Sometimes you can get a better view, nicer room, or even a more upscale hotel. You can also always pay for an upgrade too. Sometimes at a discounted price once you're there.

Do online check-in. It saves time.

Get a dining plan. Any of them are good, and you can often get them for free with your stay. It's a good special they run just about all year long. We got the deluxe this last time we went and were able to eat at all the character dining places and get two snacks a day and we got refillable mugs. Look at the different plans and be sure that you don't get too much of a plan, but also that you don't too little. You don't want to get there and not have enough meals left to eat somewhere you want to go.

Use the park schedule to find out where you'll get extra magic hours. You get extra hours in the parks when you stay on the resort. We were never able to use the night-time extra hours, but the morning hours are great. We planned our days in the parks by going to the place where the extra hours would be. Once you have a plan try to stick with it. This will help you be sure to see everything you want to see.

Plan for three days in Magic Kingdom. That's enough time to see everything there. If your time in the resort won't allow you to spend that much time there, know that you will most likely be able to see everything you want to see, so make a list of the most important things for your family.

We only ever spend about half of a day in Epcot. You could spend more time there if you wanted, but for families with small children plan to get there at opening, see what you want to see and end your time with lunch with the princesses at Akershus. Good food, nice atmosphere, and a LOT of princess fun!

Animal Kingdom is like a glorified zoo, but has several must sees. Skip on the animal walk-thru's and do the safari, the parade, and FOR SURE watch the Finding Nemo and Lion King shows. We spend a morning and afternoon there. It's plenty of time.

Once you've seen both Epcot and Animal Kingdom you can hop over to Magic Kingdom as long as you have the park hopper option on your tickets. This is a MUST, I think and totally worth it in my opinion.

Hollywood Studios is fun and there are lots of things to do there for little ones. You for sure want to be part of the pixar pals parade because it's the only place to see many of the pixar characters. The new Toy Story ride is OK, but not worth the CRAZY long(90 minutes) wait. There is a fast pass for this ride, but it's still likely to take all day. We got there at 10 and the fast passes weren't until 3:30.

Fast passes and parent swaps are GREAT for families on busy rides. Most of the busy rides have fast passes. A fast pass allows you to get a ticket to ride the ride at a particular time(a 1-hour window). Fast passes used to be able to be used any time after the time as well, but they are really cracking down on this rule now. Still the hour window is nice. There is still sometimes a short wait, but nothing like what it would normally be. The parent swap pass is available at any ride and allows parents to wait in line together and then simply swap out. For instance since the babies in our family couldn't ride the 40inch rides Scotty would ride the ride with the girls first and then he'd get a ticket that would allow us to skip the line and I'd go with the big girls for my turn. A really nice perk of WDW.

When planning your meal reservations be sure to give yourself breathing room. We felt a little pinned down by our reservations any time we had three in one day. Try to either do breakfast and dinner or and early lunch and dinner. Our favorites are 1900 Park Fare(breakfast with Alice and Wonderland and Mary Poppins and dinner with the Cinderella characters.), Cinderella's Royal Table, and Akershus. Other great places that are quick dining are Pizza Planet in Hollywood Studios(a MUST SEE for anyone who likes Toy Story) and Pinocchio's house in Magic Kingdom.

Make sure you see the Electric Magic Parade, light show, and the fireworks at Magic Kingdom while you're there. The fireworks are every night, but the parade and light show are only on certain nights. It's a MUST SEE.

Fireworks show at Epcot is not worth staying for in my opinion, but you may want to see if if you've never been before. Be sure to get there early, because it's really hard to see if you aren't in just the right spot.

Watch the Magic Kingdom daily parade in Frontier Land. The crowd is so much better there and the characters all had time to stop and shake hands.

Take your own water bottles and fill them in the parks.

Take a cheap poncho. It rains most every day.

Take a flashlight if you are disoriented at night like me.=)

We brought our own strollers. The park has them to rent, but they aren't very comfy and are only for use inside the actual parks. There is still a LOT of walking to do outside the park.

Try to take a little time to visit downtown Disney.

Reserve meals before you go to be sure to get the best times, but if you get there and want to go somewhere but don't have a reservation you can most likely get in as long as you don't go at peak times. Before 11:30 or after 2 for lunch. Before 4:30 or after 7 for dinner.

Go to Mickey's Backyard BBQ if possible. It's a seasonal dinner show, but was the BEST dinner of our trip. We'll be sure to go back any time we are there. The characters come down and dance with the kids. SO MUCH fun!!!

Olivia says, "DO NOT GO TO HAUNTED MANSION!" Scotty was thrown off by the words "happy haunt." I said ARE YOU SURE??? These kids get scared easily. The girls were TRAUMATIZED! Happy haunts? Not so much!=)

Emma Claire says be sure to catch the Captain Jack Sparrow show in Adventure Land inside Magic Kingdom. It's right across from the pirates ride and a lot of fun for pirate lovers.

Addison says waiting in line to see Rapunzel is TOTALLY worth it. She's only in Magic Kingdom and only in one place. You'll have to wait in line, but seeing her is totally worth the wait.

Isaiah says look your cutest for the ladies so they'll give you LOTS of kisses and go see Handy Manny in Hollywood Studios.

Mia says she really likes the fireworks, but be sure to take your time in the day and allow for naps so your not to tired at the end of the day and end up sleeping through the show!

Hope this helps, friends! Let me know if you have any questions.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Then I Had Kids

Today I went to a women's group where they were talking through a book that I'm pretty sure was titled "And Then I Had Kids" or something along those lines. The group was good and the discussion this week was on finding good role models for our kids, which is something that was of great interest to me. I should now mention that I haven't read said book, so I know nothing about what it's really about, but this evening in the calm and quiet of my home I've been thinking over that phrase-"and then I had kids..."
I remember a day, not THAT long ago when I was pencil thin and wore only nice clothes. I ate out most every day and went shopping for fun instead of for necessity. I bought things I liked, ate things I liked, wore things I liked, said things I liked, watched things I get the point. All of that to say I lived a pretty darn good life. I had a handsome guy on my side. We were singing and acting in churches and schools around the country. Life was gooooood. And thheeeeen, I had KIDS.
Being a mom to five kids is a lot of work. There are some days when before I even get out of bed I'm exhausted. Sometimes they suck all the life right out of me and I don't think I can do it even one more second. I am not super mom and my kids aren't perfect. One thing is certain though. I would NEVER want to go back to my life before my kids.
So many times the things that are special about being a stay-at-home-mom-of-five become the things that drive me crazy and make me want to run out and get a J-O-B. For instance, I can't count the number of diapers I've changed in the last seven years, the amount of times I've been spit up/pooped/peed on, or the times I've been up 24-48 hours at a time with a screaming baby(or two), but I'd never want someone else to be doing those things for me. I'd be broken hearted if someone else caught my kids first word, watched their first steps, or pulled their first tooth. I LOVE my times with my kids. There are so many times each day that I think what a blessing it is that I'm able to be the one to stay home and love on all these babies.
God has blessed me so much with this crazy life of mine. I know that he put me on this earth to be a baby-momma. I LOVE having babies. I love being a mom. I LOVE having all these babies in our home. I just LOVE it! I'm telling you, I was made for this! Now, that doesn't make life any easier, but He always gives me the grace to make it through the tough days.
Today was one of those tough days, then THIS happened.

My cup runneth over.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'm BAAAAAAA-ahck!

So, as I promised to several of you, I'm back in the blogging world. We've had such a crazy crazy few months, but blogging and keeping a record of our life is very important to me and I love it that some of my ideas are helpful to some of you too!We have such a busy life right now. We are still homeschooling, so with Olivia in 2nd grade and the two little girls in pre-k along with two other babies under 2, I'm lucky to still be standing by the time Scotty comes home!=)
I've been trying to find a place for myself in the sea of littles around me. I know in this season of life I'm supposed to be the CEO of my home and family, but I am a social being and love having a support team to help me make it.=)It is important for each of us to have something that helps fill our cups. This week I'm planning to start attending a local ministry called mom2mom, and next week I'll start MOPS for the first time. I'm not sure why I've never been a part of MOPS before, but I'm REALLY looking forward to my time in both ministries.
We just returned from a 10 day vacation to Walt Disney World! We decided when Olivia was tiny that we'd go each time one of our kids turned 5. It was, as you can imagine, CRAZY, but fun. I was not prepared for the noise level! I mean, 5 kids in one car for 14 hours can make some serious NOISE!! It was a fun trip though and we made it through. I'll be posting some Disney tips later in the week, but for now a few sweet pictures.

Mia(our 4 month old) was wonderful. She hung out in the front pack on Scotty most of the time. She's just go to sleep when she was sleepy, then wake up and watch everything. She slept well in the pack-n-play and kept her nursing schedule while we were there. I was so glad she did OK while we were there.

Isaiah LOVED the characters SO SO much! It would totally crack us up because he'd just run up to them and kiss and hug them over and over again. He didn't like being in the stroller. He'd rather be running around, but because of all the people we had to keep him strapped in! He got LOTS of kisses from the female characters.=)

Addison was a little toot. I think she's having her terrible twos a year late. She's always been a diva, but she's really started getting disciplined a lot on her bad attitude, whining, and yucky mouth. I think she's going to be our child that likes to press the limits and see what she can and can't get away with. She LOVED anything princess and stood in line in the pouring rain for over an hour to meet her favorite, Rapunzel. She loved being in Disney. She loved getting to be a "big girl" sometimes and going to stuff with Liv and EmC.
Poor Emma Claire spent the first half of the trip pretty miserable. We found out pretty quickly that she didn't like the hustle and bustle of Disney. She'd much rather be playing in the hotel room with her new toys she bought with her spending money. She did, however, find her Disney sweet spot on day 5 when we made it to adventure land and she met Cptn. Jack Sparrow. Wow. She was so happy she was speechless. We were SO so happy she found her happy since it was her special trip to celebrate her 5th birthday. She got to ride her first real roller coaster. She LOVED it!

Olivia, as always, was our easy going peacemaker. She loves Disney and on several occasions asked if we could move to Florida so we could go more often. She'd go nuts at parades because I'd told her if she did the characters were likely to come shake her hand(and they did.).=) She loved the pools at the hotel. She figured out that some of the Disney magic is actually pretend, which was both hard to watch and fun to include her in "adult" conversation. Love that sweet girl.

I look forward to sneaking back into the blog world. Later.