May 28, 2013

Emotional Rollercoaster

I've been absent from the blogging world this last week because it's been such an emotional time. I had every intention of writing a small but, at least to me, meaningful Memorial Day post but to be honest, I didn't have it in me. The men Joshua served with who died on his deployment and their families are never forgotten. They're always in my prayers and although I would have liked to pay homage to them again here, I just couldn't.

There's been so much pain. Good friends who are literally picking up the pieces of their lives after the Moore tornado. Also, a fellow former-nanny friend of mine found out the family she used to work for lost their son in an accident. So much overwhelming grief. Please keep them all in your prayers.

But there's also been joy. My step-brother (the one I like the most-shh, don't tell the others) got married on Saturday to a woman he loves with all his heart-what more could a sister (even just a step-sister) ask for?! And thankfully Joshua, whose Guard unit was called up to provide perimeter security for Moore (and in their "down time" chose instead of sleeping like they probably should have, to run supplies back and forth to the affected areas) was able to leave early to join us at the wedding.

(my step-brother Blain, his new bride and my new neices!-I can't wait to spoil them...'S'-the one on the right had to cover her sweet eyes for the kiss)

After the wedding on Saturday, Joshua and I came home and left the kiddos with Grandma and Grandpa. We picked up the kids yesterday and managed to hang out with family friends in town from Houston. It was just was what I needed to recharge. 

May 21, 2013

Pray for Oklahoma

By now, you've probably heard about the tragedy that hit Moore, OK. There are so many stories...uplifting and heartbreaking.

We're safe. Our home is fine. We live about an hour from Moore. 

Moore is strong city. I lived there in college and am in shock watching the video and pics coming's unrecognizable. 

Everyone we love is safe and for that, we thank God! Many have damage. Some have lost everything.

Pray for Oklahoma. Pray for Moore. Pray for the families from Plaza Towers Elementary, the children and the teachers. Pray for my friend Emily.

May 13, 2013

How To: Grilling Corn on the Cob

This is a particular favorite in our house and people have asked a couple of times how we do it so here it is...

Start by washing and then soaking the corn for about 30-45 minutes...

Then, carefully peel the husk back but be sure to not accidentally pull the husk off. Remove all the little corn hairs...

Add butter and seasoning...we generally just throw a little salt and pepper but a dash of paprika can be yummy and a good complement to red meat...

Next, rewrap the husks...

Inevitably, while you were pulling the husks back in order to remove the corn hairs and season, one of the husks of at least one of the cobs, came off. Now is when you'll use that little rebel. Pull a thin strip of husk...quarter inch or so works great...and wrap it around the tip of the husk...

Double knot the strip of husk-it can be tricky but a single knot just won't keep the husk closed at all...

Grill for about 30 minutes, turning regularly...every ten minutes or so seems to work out well...

Don't panic if your knots come off toward the end of your grilling time. They do that. A lot. The trick is to keep them on as long as possible to keep the moisture in. Your husks will turn black and some of the corn may get scorch marks but they still taste great...


May 9, 2013

Disney World Free Dining 2013

The announcement many were waiting for (and some thought might not happen) came this morning...the 2013 Free Dining offer at Disney World.

This year's offer is more limited than the past but will still help many take a trip of a lifetime they may not otherwise have been able to afford.

September 2nd-25th
*so long as you have at least one overlapping date, you can get the free dining offer for your entire stay


Value Resort guests will receive the QUICK SERVICE PLAN which includes 2 quick service meals, 1 snack and a free refillable mug per person per room.

Moderate and Deluxe Resort guests will receive the BASIC DINING PLAN which includes 1 table service meal, 1 quick service meal, 1 snack and a free refillable mug per person per room.

*guests have the option to upgrade to either the basic or deluxe plans by simply paying the cost difference

For more information on exactly what the Dining Plans cover, visit our Disney Dining Plan page.

You must book a stay with at least 3-nights and 2-days park tickets.

Just call 407-WDW-7675 and ask to book a Magic Your Way package which includes resort stay, park tickets (park hopping and water park upgrades available) and of course the free dining plan. A $200 deposit is required at the time of booking and the balance is due 45 days before you check-in. If you already have a trip planned, call the same number, have your reservation number available and simply ask to add the free dining offer to your vacation.

If you've decided that the dining plan doesn't work for your family for whatever reason, but are hoping to still save some money while staying on-property, Disney is also offering a 30% off room discount for most resorts. THE OFFERS CANNOT BE COMBINED. Depending on the number of people in your party and the cost of the resort you are staying, the 30% off may be a larger discount.

May 8, 2013

Spitting Image

I've been arrogant at times when it comes to parenting...breezing through with an easy-to-parent son and years and years of nanny experience...infants, teenagers, triplets-heck, even a family with ten kids. I was ready to take on the challenge of parenting head on and do it with ease until one little girl came into our lives and uprooted everything.

It's humbling to have a child who reminds you of all your most negative qualities. I have that and so much more in our little princess.  She's our "strong-willed" child and I celebrate it...most of the time...because I know it means she'll grow up to be a brave woman with conviction and determination.

But then, there are days like today when I wake up and my first thought is "oh no, what is she going to do today?!" It's exhausting. Not just having a strong-willed, loud, sneaky, demanding child...just about all nearly-two-year-olds are that way. It's the way she's strong-willed, loud, sneaky and demanding that's exhausting because it's a reminder of all the areas of my own character that are less than stellar.

It's not that she's stubborn, I'm stubborn. It's not that she's loud and abrasive, I'm loud and abrasive. It's not that she's manipulative, it's that I'm manipulative. I feel like a hypocrite trying desperately to teach her not to be these things when I know my heart betrays me. I'm all these things and I've lived long enough to know that they're not good things. They make life more difficult. They make relationships more difficult. 

I'm starting to realize that all I can do is parent the best I know how and let God do the rest. Which, if you've been paying attention, you know isn't easy for me because like my daughter, I want to control everything. But God wanted more. He gave me a child who is bringing me closer to Him. He's using her to show me that He wants better not just for her but from me and I'm listening.

May 6, 2013

Parisian/Marie Custom Disney Dress

Our daughter's favorite Disney character is Marie from Aristocats so it was without question that I would have to make her a Marie dress.

If you saw the Pirate Minnie Dress I made last month, you'll see that I used the same pattern with just a few modifications.

Once again, I made a 2T dress although our daughter really fits an 18mos dress better because...
A-I want her to be able to wear it to Disney World this fall
B-I always prefer too big to too small.

I spun the skirt around to put the ruffle panel in the back rather than the front.

I took out the loops in the back and made it a true halter top with an open back.

I elongated the bodice and took an equal length (about 3 inches) off the skirt so that I could fit a fuller-sized Marie on the bodice and give it an almost flapper-like low waist.

Because the skirt was shortened, the number of ruffle layers in the ruffle panel in the back was essentially cut in half.

If you want to make this dress yourself, you can find wonderful step-by-step directions with the pattern from Fairytale Pattern Designs on Craftsy and the embroidery design from Etsy.

If I had it to do over again, I might skit the ruffle panel altogether in the back and and take some of the extra fullness out of the skirt but that's just me being picky.

May 1, 2013

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party


Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) is a family-friendly night of fun for trick-or-treaters of all ages. In addition to trick-or-treating and dance parties with the characters, the Boo To You Parade, the Villains Show and Hallo-Wishes delight visitors at this "hard-ticket" event get to dress up and play all night.

*a hard-ticket event is an event which requires a separate ticket...meaning you cannot get in with just a regular park or annual pass.

MNSSHP Highlights:

The Boo To You Parade is put on twice nightly (8:15 and 10:30 respectively with the second often being much less busy) but be sure to get a good spot early because the headless horseman will ride through about 10 minutes before the parade starts.

The parade route starts in Magic Kingdom's Frontierland, goes through Liberty Square, circles in front of Cinderella's Castle and ends down Main St near Harmony Barber Shop.

*there is an official area for wheelchair viewing located across from the Riverboat and Hall of Presidents in Liberty Square but be sure to arrive early to get a good spot

The Villains Show takes place on the stage in front of Cinderella's Castle four times a night: 7:45, 8:50, 10:05 and 11:15. The show is spectacular and immediately after, guests get a unique opportunity to meet and greet some of the greatest Disney Villains.

*some of the more rare Disney characters-at least in terms of how often their seen in the parks, are available to meet and greet (example: all seven Dwarfs can be found in Frontierland)

Two separate Dance Parties keep kids partying all night long. Rock-It-Out in Tomorrowland has Chip, Dale, Stitch, Pluto and Goofy.  Woody's Happy Harvest Roundup at the Diamond Horseshoe in Liberty Square has Woody, Jesse and Bullseye.

Upon entering the Magic Kingdom, guests are given a treat bag-although you're welcome to bring your own if your little Pirate or Princess has a favorite. Candy stations are scattered throughout the park so be sure to check your MNSSHP maps. If you have a medical or dietary restriction and need sugar-free or treats without nuts, simply collect the amount of candy you want and take it to City Hall on Main St and exchange it.

*as fun as trick-or-treating in the Magic Kingdom can be (and the candy is usually pretty good), the lines can be long so you may want to limit the number of candy stations you visit

Hallo-Wishes is fantastic! A special, MNSSHP-only version of Magic Kingdom's Wishes, Hallo-Wishes dazzles. The show starts at 9:30 nightly and for the best viewing, get a seat in front of the Castle on Main St.

Children and adults alike are encouraged to come to the party dressed up. There are some dress code standards (remember, Disney World is a children's theme park-no naughty nurses!). Weaponry (swords and the like) is not permitted to be sharp or too realistic and those dressed in Disney costumes are not allowed to sign character autographs.

Dressing up and going to MNSSHP can be the highlight of a vacation. Just remember September and October can still get quite hot on some day so plan accordingly. And have a blast. We sure did.

*Don't forget to look into booking your little one at either the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique or Pirate's League the day of the party and have your little one all dressed and ready to go.


The official time for the party is 7pm to midnight but ticket holders are permitted into the park as early as 4pm. Regular park attendees who do not have the MNSSHP tickets will be asked to leave at 7pm.  

September 10, 13, 17, 20, 24 & 27th

Advanced purchase tickets: 
Adult: $59 Child: $54

Same day tickets:
Adult: $65 Child: $60

Passholder/DVC discount (advanced purchase) tickets:
Adult: $56 Child $51

Military Discount tickets:
Adult: $41.30 Child: $31.80

September 29th

Advanced purchase tickets:
Adult: $62 Child: $57

Same day tickets:
Adult: $67 Child: $62

Passholder/DVC discount (advanced purchase) tickets:
Adult: $58 Child: $53

October 3, 6, 10, 14, 17, 20, 22 & 24th

Advanced purchase tickets:
Adult: $62 Child: $57

Same day tickets:
Adult: $67 Child: $62

Passholder/DVC discount (advanced purchase) tickets:
Adult: $58 Child: $53

October 4, 11, 18, 25, 27 & 29th

Advanced purchase tickets:
Adult: $62 Child: $57

Same day tickets:
Adult: $67 Child: $62

October 31st

Adult: $73 Child: $68

*chances are good that tickets will sell out long before the 31st so be sure to order as soon as you can if you wish to go on Halloween

November 1st

Advanced purchase tickets:
Adult: $62 Child: $57

Same day tickets:
Adult: $67 Child: $62

*all prices are before tax

Order your tickets by calling 407-WDisney or online. You can pay to have the tickets mailed to you directly or you can pick them up at the Ticket and Transportation Center (or TTC-where you park to get onto the monorail if you are not staying at a Disney Monorail Resort). At the TTC, you will need to present a valid photo ID, your confirmation number and the credit card with which you originally purchased the tickets). 

Tickets are non-refundable and often sell out early.