Tuesday, May 10, 2022

My favorite place...Disney!

Yes, it has been almost a year, but I am finally doing my Disney post! 

Last year after finding out our cruise was going to be canceled again, we last minute decided to go to Disney. I have been to Disney many times and I have always planned it myself. My mom mentioned using a friend that is a Disney vacation planner and I thought it would be pretty useless having been so many times and already knowing what we wanted to do, where we wanted to eat, etc. I was definitely wrong!!! My mom asked her friend Rachael at Unlock the Magic to help assist in planning. She helped my mom every step of the way from booking the hotel to securing dining and queue passes for the rides. If you are in need of someone as a new Disney visitor or as someone that is quite well versed in visiting Disney, she can help! 


We chose to stay at The Contemporary this time. It was our first time staying at this resort and I was definitely pleased. We liked the convenience of being able to walk to the Magic Kingdom or hop on the monorail. When we were there the monorail wasn't going to Epcot or else it would have been even more convenient. The main building was also under construction, so we stayed in a garden room. The resort was fairly empty, I wonder if it was due to most of the rooms being under construction, so dining etc. were all pretty empty. We also were there the first day that masks were no longer required outdoors so I am thinking covid rules were also playing a part in it being less crowded in general. 

The resort had a nice pool area with a slide and daily activities. It also had a small beach area that never had anyone on it. We were always able to find chairs at the pool. We actually said we wished we would have had an extra day to just relax at the resort in the pool area. 

Our room was a standard garden wing room. It was a small walk to the main building, which we didn't find as an issue. We slept 5 in it without any issues. The room had 2 double beds as well as a daybed. We didn't have many complaints about our room except for the lack of counter space. The bathroom especially really lacked any sort of counter. With 5 girls sharing a room having a lot of counter space is a must! 

The resort did have a few different restaurants that we never dined in and also the food court. This resort definitely had the smallest food court out of the different resorts we have stayed in. Not many choices for food but it was super empty compared to the other resorts we have stayed ins dining areas. One of the changes since the last time we went to Disney was that you could now order your food on an app. A lot of quick dining restaurants actually required it. We also always travel to Disney with a dining plan and that was not an option this trip. We actually liked the ease of using the app to order and we aren't big eaters, so we were able to order kid's meals on the app instead of an adult meal. 

We had very short wait times for busing, even with the amount allowed on the bus at a time reduced. As I mentioned earlier walking to the Magic Kingdom was a huge plus. It was about a 5 min walk to the park. We took the monorail a few times until we realized how close it was to just walk to the park. This made having a park hopper nice because getting to this park even after visiting others was super quick and easy.

Jacket: Old Forever 21, Similar ShortsSimilar ShirtShoes


On this trip, we chose to get park hoppers to make the most of the trip. They also required reservations to get into the parks, so it was easier to experience more with the hoppers. We did like to bounce around between the parks. 

I hear this asked a lot, which park is the best!? I honestly think it depends on personal preference. My own favorite is Epcot and my kids also like that park. There is so much to see and do in that park. I think people think it is for an older crowd but there is still stuff for all ages. A lot was under construction, and they took out some of the exhibits we liked but we still found plenty to do and see. 

Magic Kingdom definitely has the most to do for the little ones. My girls are a little older, but we still managed to spend a day in the park and came back a bit a few other times. My girl's favorite experience when they were younger was the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, which was closed due to covid when we went. If you have little ones, it is definitely worth the splurge. 

Hollywood Studios had changed some since our last visit, so we were excited to experience the new rides. Rachael had secured us a pass to the Star Wars ride which was really cool. We aren't Star Wars fans at all and had no clue what was going on, but it was definitely worth going on. This park also has the only restaurant in it that we always have to go to, Sci-Fi Diner. You sit in little cars like you are at a drive-in movie to eat. We always look forward to this dining experience and it was all booked when we tried to get a reservation. This was another spot Rachael worked hard at getting us a table. 

Animal Kingdom we've skipped our last few trips to Disney. We decided to go this time and my youngest and I spent 1/2 a day here and then went to another park. My mom, sister, and oldest spent almost all day at the park and said they loved the "bigger" rides. This park did seem to have a bit more to do for the older kids. 

Shorts via BeScene Boutique, Target Basic Cami, Custom Toms, Similar Ariel Tank 

Lily's Dress & My Outfit via ZARA, Summer's via Bershka

Downtown Disney

This is another spot that I would like to have spent more time wandering. Over the years they have really built it up and it is a really neat place to just walk around. We always make a stop at Planet Hollywood to eat, and it just happened Guy from Guy's Burgers was actually in the kitchen and at the restaurant that day. We also like to eat our way around downtown with so many yummy treats to try. We actually aren't huge on Disney treats (dole whip, etc.) but definitely did get some stuff here. You have to make a stop at the Sprinkles ATM, Gideon's Cookies, and also Everglazed Donuts. 

Gideon's is known for its giant cookies. You actually had to put your name on a waitlist, and they called you back when it was your turn to enter the line. The line then took about 15-30 mins. The wait though from putting your name on the list was 2 hours. We were told it was best to put your name in before dinner and come back. That was exactly what we did, and it didn't seem long at all. It was definitely worth all the work and wait. 

Photo Pass

This is one thing I could not live without at Disney. If you buy one souvenir, let this be it!! It is so convenient to just walk up to a Disney photographer and let them take your photos. Some even have cute little edits they can add or poses they can suggest. You then get a log in to access the photos to print or post. This is my absolute favorite purchase we make every time we go. 

Disney Outfits and Packing

I thought I would close out the post with some of my favorite things to pack or bring to Disney as well as places to find the best Disney vacation outfits!

Typically, we go in February, and when we do we wear light fleece jackets on the plane and rain boots. We are normally coming from cold/wet in Detroit and Florida tends to be cooler and rainy. The rain boots have really saved our feet a few times. Disney tends to get huge puddles when it rains and nothing worse than cold, wet feet. I also make sure to pack in any weather rain ponchos. Much easier to pack them and not need them than to try and find some after it is already raining. I found this cute umbrella while searching for Disney wear. 

I usually carry around my stuff at the parks in a backpack. It just makes it easier to have it on my back and not have a purse. I like to make sure it is stocked with wipes, sanitizer, band-aids, snacks, water, etc. It is also great for when you get sick of wearing the Disney ears. I purchased my backpack from BeScene Boutique. A belt bag is also a great option. 

Most of our Disney ears were made by my daughter. You can find cute ones on Etsy.  Amazon also has some great choices at a cheap price point. 

Some of my favorite places to shop for Disney gear:

Amazon (Great place to find autograph books, rain ponchos, etc)

Etsy (So many cute ears and custom shirts)

Disney Store (A great option instead of trying to carry home souvenirs, just order and have delivered) 

Hot Topic (Not a place I would have even thought to look, and they have pages upon pages of Disney gear)


Zara (My favorite place to buy Disney apparel/purses etc)



Mango (They don't usually have a huge selection but have cute pieces when they do carry Disney)

Jadelynn Brooke

United Monograms (Cutest monogram matching apparel)

Judith March 

You can always find Disney gear at places like Target, Walmart, Kohls, JCPenney, and other department stores. 


Friday, July 16, 2021

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2021


I used to get so excited to thumb through the pages of the catalog, marking all the items on my wish list. The last few years the sale has left me unimpressed. It seems the same items are on sale (good if looking for staples) but lacking if looking to add new items or brands. This year it seems even some of the brands that are normally part of the sale aren't. 

The items also seem to lack quality. We purchased a pair of Uggs from the sale 2 years ago and after wearing once the whole toe was coming apart. We took them back to Nordstrom and the sale associate explained that Nordstrom makes a deal with the brands to buy x amount of the product at a discount and of lesser quality. This way they can offer them up at a discount for the sale. The items you are getting are actually not the same quality as the ones they normally have from the brand. Luckily they have a great return policy and we were able to exchange for a pair that weren't part of the sale (adding the difference). 

If you are willing to wait you can also find the items that don't sell discounted shortly after the sale at Nordstrom and then after that at Nordstrom Rack. I have been able to find some of the "hot" items for even cheaper after the sale has ended. 

Other retailers often discount items of their own around the time of the anniversary sale to compete. I often check Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomindale's to name a few. 

I did put together a quick list of some of the items that I do own or plan to check out if you are interested in shopping the sale (click links above). I also did find some of the items in similar styles at other retailers (see below). 

Nordstrom True Bra      Target Tru Bra

For shoe brands on sale featuring Ugg, Sorel, Sperry: Shoe sale

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Widow Wednesday- Preparedness

I have seen a lot of talk about preparedness the past week after the crazy weather the US has experienced, particularly Texas. What exactly does this mean though? Especially in a loss sense. 

Can you ever really be prepared? 

In the case of losing my spouse I don't think I could have ever have been prepared. I have watched friends lose spouses suddenly and know that they are even less prepared. You never think to yourself that you will lose your spouse, especially at 30. 

The argument is you have time when the person is ill to prepare, but by preparing are you giving up hope? That is how my spouse thought of it. In the end a lot was not taken care of because he felt it was giving up to do the necessary things. I was left without knowledge of where a lot of things were. I never paid a bill while he was alive, accessed any accounts, even something as simple as put gas in my car. 

Emotionally, you know you will have to live without that person but you still don't know what that will be like until they are gone and you now don't have that person to lean on anymore. 

Would I do things differently now and be more prepared? I think so. A lot was made harder by not being prepared. Sometimes the hard conversations that you don't want to have need to be had and stuff that is put off needs to be taken care of. 

Waiting until it is too late or things do happen is not the time to wish you had prepared.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

New Year

I haven't blogged much in the past year and I miss it. I started this as a way to share many things and even though I felt I had more time this past year, I had less. I was able to accomplish so much in my house over this past year though and hope to be able to share some of it. 

I so often had ideas for posts in my mind and then never got around to actually typing them out. This year I hope to make blogging my thing again. When I started my blog I didn't necessarily "plan out" my posts like a lot of bloggers do. I didn't keep a calendar so I wasn't constantly sharing the same stuff on my posts. For some strange reason I haven't wanted to go back and reread my posts either. Maybe I don't want to relive some of what I shared!? I am not sure but regardless I feel it is time so I don't keep sharing the same stuff. 

I also felt with covid some of what I was sharing might not be relevant or might be insensitive, ie sales and outfit posts. Even though it seemed people were buying online more than ever, I didn't feel it was the right thing to post. I know for some scrolling online is an escape and some bloggers used that as their reason to continue, I felt differently and chose to take a break. 

Even though half of this year was spent in lockdown I felt it flew by. This was the first time I can remember in a long time that I wasn't "running". No school, no sports, no photoshoots, no visiting relatives, we didn't leave the house. I spent a few weeks just reading and relaxing and it felt so good. After I was recharged I started on my projects. I did share my kitchen remodel on here in a blog post. 

I had two totally different experiences as far as at-home school and return to school was concerned with covid. I still have one daughter fully remote. I know I have shared a lot about my fight with their dyslexia on here. Maybe I will highlight this as an upcoming post. 

I have spent this year finally clearing things out. It only took 10 years, but I have finally started throwing things away and changing things. I have found I hoard things in case something happens or I need it one day. I have dresses that I kept because I had a photo of myself in it with Ray that I wouldn't get rid of. I have come to realize those things won't bring him back and the memory will still be there even if I get rid of the dress that I never wear. 

This year was hard because I lost my godmother, my aunt to cancer. She fought and battled for the last couple of years with it continuing to return in different ways. I didn't post anything on any social media about the loss but it was extremely difficult. My mom had asked if I wanted to see her when she was in hospice and I couldn't see her like that. Even while she was extremely sick and fighting cancer herself she sent the girls and I a card thinking of us on Ray's 10th anniversary. Not a holiday went by without her sending a card. She was the most thoughtful person and we spent our first Thanksgiving and Christmas without receiving those special cards from her and missing her. We couldn't even be together as a family as we normally would on the holidays. She will be greatly missed by me, she was always laughing, and had something to show me. 

The start of 2020 I thought might mean a better decade than the last. As I started 2010 with a husband dying of cancer. I also celebrated my 40th birthday this year. I wasn't expecting to be in the middle of a a pandemic and "stuck at home". 

I really hope in this new year I can continue to evolve and be more true to myself.  I hope to continue making our house more us. I hope that eventually we can venture out again and travel. I hope that my blog becomes a more regular spot for me to share again. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Stomach Cancer Awareness Month

 How is it already the end of November? I feel like time is flying. I started my blog as a way to bring awareness to stomach cancer and also talk about our journey. If you have read my blog in the past you know I usually give stats, warning signs, etc. when doing my stomach cancer awareness posts. This year I want to highlight some of the pages that have helped me/us over the years with information, bringing awareness, and also doing research. 

I remember when Ray was diagnosed I scoured the internet for any and all information and it just wasn't as readily available as it is now. I remember looking for and buying any and all books for information about cancer, caregiving, what to expect as a young patient, and further along in the journey and after he died as a widow. That type of information was so hard to find and come by. Now I seem to find so many willing to share their journey or others'. 

Some of the sites that I have found the most useful are:

www.nostomachforcancer.org (also have an Instagram and Facebook page)


CDH1 Mutation Gene





There are plenty of others and by following these pages I have found a lot of others. 

It is great to have a community to talk with and also to share stories. I originally didn't want to be around or talk about cancer because it was too hard and painful. I didn't want to think about it. Now I feel like it is so helpful to spread the word and also to share what I know and learn from others. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Quarantine Project--Kitchen Reveal




Well, I wish I would have taken "before pictures" but this was a spur of the moment project that just keeping turning into doing more and more work. If you don't know me I am a very on the go person and can't just sit. Quarantine was killing me just sitting around. 

Back when I did the work on the laundry room I repainted the trim and doors in that area white so during quarantine I decided to continue the job and do the trim and doors in the kitchen. After the doors and trim were done I decided to do the ceiling. I have painted the kitchen multiple times over the years (always the same color Valspar London Coach) but the ceiling was never done. I decided to just go ahead and paint the ceiling and put a fresh coat of paint on the walls when I was done. 

Once that was all finished and everything was nice and white my floor looked even worse than it had looked. I regularly push my kitchen table across the linoleum floor for photoshoots and it was so scuffed and worn. I started looking at flooring options similar to what I put in my laundry room. I wanted something that I could do myself and that was affordable. I came across this TrafficMaster Carrara Marble Peel and Stick Tile from Home Depot and read every single review about it. It is a peel and stick floor that you can also grout. I decided to just go for it. I mean what was the worse that could happen!? I used the spacers and just kept moving along the floor. I also used the same trick as in my laundry room which was to use a paper cutter to cut the edges along the walls. It saved so much time and work. This flooring is thicker than what is in my laundry room and a different material. It seems durable and well made. Once the flooring was in I grouted using the grout the manufacture recommended in the comments on the product page. As someone that has never grouted I was very worried about messing it up. It actually came out really good! There are a few places that aren't perfect but unless you are laying on my floor looking at it I doubt anyone would notice. My Dad came and helped me put back on all my shoe moldings and that I lightly caulked around them all which gave it a nice finished look. 

Once the floor was in I changed all my window coverings to pure white since they were all off white like my moldings before I painted them. I also changed all the light fixtures, faucet, and door handles/hinges. I decided to put wallpaper on the one wall that is constantly getting banged into to hopefully camouflage all the marks always on it. 

My next project was a huge fail. If anything had to fail I am glad this one did because I would never have bought a new kitchen table (I was trying to do this as inexpensively as I could with the stimulus money). I tried to paint my kitchen table just to freshen it up. I had an all black kitchen table that I was planning to reuse with just new chairs and a new rug underneath it. The table just wasn't looking good. I kept sanding it and repainting and the finish was not smooth. Finally I decided to "shop" for a new table. Of course being during quarantine I couldn't go look for a table so I started looking for one online. I thought I would have to go with another black table since my cabinets are a different color and hard to match. I looked at every store online I could think of and then this table popped up from IKEA as an ad on my Facebook (thanks Facebook for looking at my searches). I measured it out and decided to go for it. I ordered it and it was delivered the next day by the local IKEA. It is the most perfect match for my kitchen and I LOVE it. I am so glad my table project failed because I think this made my kitchen. 

Once the table was in I was able to reuse all the stuff that was already hung in my kitchen or there (bar cart, vases on the wall, and wall art). I only added two new pieces on the walls. 

This job was a lot of work but every time I walk into the room I am so proud of myself for accomplishing it mainly on my own. I never thought I would lay and grout a floor on my own. 

Everything I can link is linked below:

Floor: TrafficMaster Carrera Peel and Stick Floor

Table: Skogsta

Friday, October 16, 2020

Dyslexia Awareness month


October is dyslexia awareness month and it is something that is important to me to discuss and share information about. As most of you know both the girls have been diagnosed with dyslexia and school has not come easy for either of them, or for me as their parent. It has been a non-stop struggle and fight to make sure they are receiving the appropriate accommodations and remediation. 

Learning what dyslexia is and how it affects a person is the first step to identifying if you or someone you love could potentially have it. Statistics show, 1 in 5 are said to have it, and most don't know or have received any type of help. It affects everyone differently so different accommodations and remediation are needed for each individual (hence, why an IEP is an important part of this process). 

I was told so many times not to worry and that they would catch up, they weren't that behind, and they aren't failing so why was I concerned? When you watch your child in 4th grade struggling to read a one sentence easy reader you know that isn't right or how it should be. Every time she would read a page she would read the same words differently and lack fluency. My heart ached for my sweet girl that hated to go to school and was always complaining she felt sick. She spent hours doing extra work, studying, tutoring, etc. with no improvement. Her writing was just as bad as her reading. Everything was always misspelled, lacking punctuation, and just not making sense. Finally in 4th grade she was diagnosed with dyslexia and with the help of both an amazing teacher and resource room teacher she began to flourish. 

Fast forward to now being in 7th grade she is almost reading at grade level and no longer hates school (well she still claims to but hasn't faked being sick in quite a while). She will read to me in the car and the kid who I couldn't bear to listen to even read me a one sentence on a page easy reader is fluently reading chapter books. I now have to ask her if she actually wrote something or she copied it from a board because even her writing is starting to show what she actually knows (still misspelled but everything else has improved). 

They say a lot of people with dyslexia excel at other things and are usually some sort of creative. They are out of the box thinkers as well as learners. My little dyslexic may "read at her own pace" (thank you Walmart for having the perfect shirt for all of our little dyslexic kiddos) but her brain definitely works differently and creates things I could only dream of making with such ease. She created this dress for a photo challenge in a few short hours. To her, books can be used for much more than just learning.