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This blog will contain a little bit of everything, from cooking and crafting to fashion and fitness to marriage and mommyhood.

Find out more about each of us in our introductory posts: Julie, Jennifer, Jessica and Jamie. Also, find out who all the players are here. Contact us if you have any questions!

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Influenster #JAdoreVoxBox Review

I signed up for Influenster at the encouragement of some other bloggers. It’s basically a company that helps brands get the word out about their products. As part of the program, you receive things and then you are supposed to try them and then post about them via blogging or other social media.

Since I’ve been a member, I’ve received several boxes full of goodies. It’s been fun to test things out and the post my thoughts on them.

Here are my thoughts about my latest box, #jadorevoxbox:

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  1. Vaseline Men Spray Lotion: This was fun – Aaron got to try something! And I’ll admit, I tried it too because I love a good lotion. Aaron liked that this was a spray lotion so it was easy to apply. It had a fresh scent to it and seemed to do a good job.
  2. Hershey’s Kisses: These are always a favorite! My son loves them. He is 3.5 years old so it was fun telling him that they are kisses. He eats plenty of chocolate but this was the first time he had kisses.
  3. John Frieda Frizz Ease 3 Day Flat Iron Spray: I tried this today. So far so good. I like that it is a spray because sometimes the other stuff feels greasy on my fingers when it comes out and I work it into my hair.
  4. Red Rose Tea: I’m not a huge tea fan, so Aaron tried this. It was caramel flavored and got great reviews from Aaron.
  5. KISS Lashes: Haven’t tried this one yet but I plan to soon! I don’t go out very often, so I haven’t had reason to try them. But I’m looking forward to it. I’ve had fake lashes for weddings when I was a bridesmaid but I’ve never put on my own.
  6. Boots Botanic Clay Mask: I really really liked this product. I could feel it at work on my face. It scared my son a bit. He looked at me like I was a crazy woman!

If you are not a member of Influenster and are interested in signing up, let me know. I’ll send you an invite!

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Kids Meal Toys

kids meal toys

Aaron and I were having a conversation the other day about kids meal toys.

I have very fond memories of McDonalds from when I was younger. My mom would pile my three sisters and me in her green minivan and we would go through the drive-thru. We each sat in our assigned seats (otherwise we fought over who sat where) and she turned Joyce Meyer on the radio. I don’t know how she stayed sane with four girls in six years, but that is another story for another day…

The McDonalds happy meal toys that I remember most are the Barbie miniatures. In a family with four girls, we LOVED Barbies. We played with them in the bathtub, we named them and wrote their names on the bottom of them.

I searched for photos of these old toys, and seeing the pictures take me back to that sweet time in my life.

Barbie miniatures in Happy Meals

And if you care about the boy happy meal toys, Aaron told me that he always loved his happy meal toys. They were always sturdy and fun.

We don’t take Sawyer to McDonalds very often (we might if both of us didn’t work outside of the home). But the few times that Sawyer had a happy meal, I can’t say that we were overly impressed with the toys. They always seem cheap and have to be assembled. Sawyer thinks it is cool for one minute and then quickly forgets about it.

I mentioned to Aaron that Chick-Fil-A includes a book in their kids meals. While Sawyer loves to read books (especially if it is about construction vehicles), he isn’t thrilled to open that package. We often trade it in any way for a scoop of ice cream.

Those Barbie miniatures lived in our house for years until my mom sold them at a garage sale. Call me crazy, but I’m tempted to buy a set off of eBay!

In searching for a picture of Barbie miniatures, I also came upon some of my other McDonalds toy favorites – the trick-or-treat bucket and beanie babies. Can you believe they used to give this stuff out with happy meals?

I thought it would be fun to write about this memory and see if you had any attachment to kids meal toys. Do you remember any happy meal toys specifically?

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Five on Friday

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Yay! It’s Friday! I’m joining DarciAprilChristina and Natasha today for Five on Friday!

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I have this post brewing in my head about my mom. As I’ve reflected on my parenting style the past few weeks (and how I still have no clue what I’m doing), I’ve realized that I can never remember my mom EVER yelling at me or taking my arm sternly in frustration. Sometimes I’m not proud of the way I treat Sawyer. I don’t know how my mom had 4 girls in 6 years and didn’t lose her cool. Mom, how’d you do it? Maybe Mama J needs to write a post on parenting…

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I’m starting to feel overwhelmed with Christmas activities. There are so many great Christmas things to do in St. Louis, and I want to do them all! Need.More.Time!

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“Buckeye” and I are thinking about going to see a comedian for our date night tomorrow night. Comedians are often too vulgar for me, but I think it would be great to get together with my husband and just laugh. Last night at dinner “Huck” was making motorcycle noises and my little guy (who has yet to get a blog “name”) was “screaming.” And “Buckeye” and I were trying to have a conversation. Life is crazy now and “Buckeye” and I just need an opportunity to laugh.

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I’m due for a haircut. Thanks God for beautiful friends who are also talented hair stylists. I think I’m going to keep my hair long but I’m tempted to go for a choppy shoulder length, cut. Because then I will look like Reese Witherspoon, right?

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I am loving faithit.com.  Have you visited this site? It’s been all over Facebook. I absolutely love it. Heartwarming videos. Clever ideas. Check it out!

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Five on Friday

Ummm….hello? Anyone still reading?

Well we have taken quite the hiatus. I’d love to post more often, but sometimes I can’t keep my mind on one topic long enough to write a post about it. There is just too much going on and too much to juggle.

So what’s the next best thing to do? Participate in “Five on Friday.”

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So here are my Friday random musings:

  1. About a month ago “Buckeye” and I made an effort to simplify our calendar. We had a few weeks that we are going non.stop. It wore us down; it made “Huck” fussy. It made our family miserable. So we have made a conscious effort to not schedule [almost] anything during the week, except for the occasional meet up on Thursday nights with this lady and her wonderful family (it’s practically tradition!). And we’ve also said “no” to a few invitations for weekend events. I am a “yes” person, but I started to feel like life was passing us by as we ran from one thing to the next. We LOVE our rare weekends that we can spend relaxing as a family. Now we do go crazy on the weekends if we have no plans, because “Huck” often gets bored and that’s when he starts misbehaving. Nevermind the fact that he has 12,504 toys…
  2. I’m REALLY excited about the holiday season. I’ve signed us up for a few fun Christmas activities (there I go again, filling up our calendar) that include a ride on the Santa Express and a walk through the lights at Tilles Park. I’d also love to do Advent activities with “Huck” this year.
  3. I host an annual “Favorite Things Party” that has traditionally been in December. I think it will be my 7th or 8th year hosting it! This year I think I am going to wait until January. I hate competing against other holiday parties and I think it will be fun to have something fun in January. I just hope I don’t run into snowy, icy weather!
  4. I think I am over TV. I’m really only watching Revenge and Survivor regularly and I’m even a little tired of those shows. By the time we get the boys to bed, I’ve been ready to put myself to bed. Good thing “Buckeye” has a DVR full of shows he wants to watch while I sneak to bed at 9:30 every night!
  5. We are re-doing our kitchen and I cannot wait until it is done. It has taken forever to get moving on it and I’m not looking forward to the pricetag at the end. But I’ve hated my kitchen ever since we moved in, so it was time!

What’s on your mind this Friday?

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National Running Day

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Today is National Running Day so get out and run!  Today is a day to get inspired, motivated and to celebrate the reasons why you like to run!! 

run3The reasons I run are….(1) the way it makes me feel afterwards.  I feel so accomplished and healthy.  Also, as crazy as it sounds, I love the sore feeling after running a half marathon or full marathon.  (2) for the me time.  There are times when I leave the headphones at home and let my mind wander and think about things.  These are my best personal therapy sessions and are good for the soul!  (3) to enjoy food and wine!!  It makes me feel better when I occasionally splurge.  Not that I don’t splurge on non-running days, but it gives me a good reason to have a glass of wine or a smores blizzard from DQ (go try one, they are amazing!). 

memphis_7Some of my best running moments….(1) Running Big Sur with Jessica.  By far, the most beautiful course that I will EVER run on I’m sure. One side you see mountains, the other side you see the ocean.  Amazing.  Also, my PR (personal record), so that means even more to me.  Also the race Jessica qualified for Boston at! (2) Running Memphis with Jennifer. This was my 3rd marathon and Jennifer’s first.  Weather was amazing (in the upper 30′s) and first time I broke 4 hours.  This was the St. Jude race and we ran through the hospital grounds and were cheered on my many of the young patients (tear).  Also, Jennifer announced she was pregnant just a few weeks after (she was pregnant running it little to my knowledge).  (3) Running with my family in other races.  thanksgiving_2For the United Way 5K, my sister Jessica and my dad ran it.  Believe it or not, we all got medals (top 3 in our age groups!).  Someone caught on to the last name (before I was married) and commented on how it must be a “family thing”.  Also, my whole family did the Turkey Trot one year.  And another year, Jessica and Jamie ran the full marathon (Jamie’s first) while Jennifer and I ran the half.  Must be in the family ;) .

And here are some more random running pictures of us:

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Oh and did you know I was featured on billboards throughout St. Louis promoting the Go! St. Louis race a few years ago….yep, that is me (see pic above)!! 

So many good memories and as you can see, I share most of them with my sisters, my best friends. 

Why do you run?  What are some of your favorite memories?

Happy National Running Day :)

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Nashville Review!!!

T-Rex and I had an awesome time in Nashville!  I’ve been to the city for work before, but have never been able to really enjoy myself during the day, so it was fun.  If you are into live (mostly country) music, then you NEED to visit. 

Where did we stay: Brentwood, TN.  Brentwood is about 10 minutes away from downtown and was the perfect place to stay.  I wanted to stay downtown, but it was expensive and you had to pay for parking at most hotels.  Our hotel (a Hyatt) was right off of the highway and extrememly easy to get in and out.  It had a small fitness center (we used once) and an outdoor pool.  Also, complementary breakfast was included.  Rooms were decent and I would give the hotel probably a 6/10. 

Where did we eat: nashtrip 1(1) Pub 5 on Friday night (right off the Broadway strip).  We had a blind date with another couple (going to Cabo with them and they are friends with the other couple we are going to Cabo with).  Our blind date went well – the couple were so much fun and we are excited to spend a week with them in Cabo, at the same resort they got married at 2 years ago!  Such a sweet duo.  Pub 5 was really good.  Started with some hummus and I got a salad, Trevor got the hamburger.  nashtrip 2(2) Pancake pantry Saturday morning.  This is a staple breakfast place in Nashville (everyone told us to go there).  They are known for their unique pancakes.  I got the carribean pancakes (with coconut shavings and bananas on top) and T-Rex got the sweet potatoe pancakes.  Both VERY good.  We got there around 8:15 and only had to wait about 20 minutes for a table, but when we left a hour later, the line was very long.  If you want to go here and not wait long, go early!!                nashtrip 3(3)Sambuca – Dinner Saturday night.  This was more of a lounge type restaurant.  The meal was pricey, but well worth it because the food was great.  Our table was right next to the stage, whch was nice because the singer was great -only country music we didn’t hear as she was more mainstream.  If you go here make reservations. 

nashtrip 4What we did: (1) We went to the country music hall of fame and museum on Saturday.  T-Rex and I are big country music fans, so we thought it was neat to see this.  We had to wait in a nice 30 minute line to get tickets (get them online before you go if you can).  Let me tell you that probably 85% of the museum is dedicated to OLDER country.  I didn’t know who the people were, although it was interesting to read their stories.  Out of the 3 stories, I could really nashtrip 6only relate to the bottom floor, with the most recent people/memorabilia on it.  I’m glad I went, but not sure that it was worth the $22/person knowing that I couldn’t really related to most of it.  Maybe it’s my age?  Maybe it’s my taste in country (mainly the newer stuff)?  Keep this in mind if you are wanting to go. 

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nashtrip 9(2) We bar-hopped/listened to live music.  We did this before dinner on Friday night and during the day (after the museum and before sambuca) on Saturday.  I would recommend going during the day if you can.  I feel like it is more laid back and chill during the day.  It’s not as “clubby” as it is at night.  We found a few good spots to sit down and relax/have a cocktail and listen to the live music.  The singers were REALLY good.  nashtrip 11They only work for tips and there is no cover charge, so really the tip money is how they make their living.  A few of our favorite spots (most of the places with open-air bars) were Honkey Tonk Central (3 story open-air bar), Rippy’s (2 story open-air bar) and Cadillac Ranch.  We also visited Tootsie’s and Legends, but those bars were SO crowded and not much air movement.  The weather was beautiful, so we didn’t nashtrip 10want to sit in a bar that was like a box, would rather sit with the sun shining in and the wind blowing.

To sum it all up, we had an awesome time.  T-Rex and I are big into music (especially country) so we had a great time.  People of all ages frequented the bars we went to and everyone seemed to have a good time.  It’s definitely touristy, but that is what makes it fun.  If you haven’t been to Nashville, GO!! 

 

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Weekend get-away

So much has been happening in life lately, that hubs and I decided to get out of dodge.  We planned to take Friday off weeks ago, now really knowing that it was memorial day weekend, but oh well.  So….we’ve decided to go to…..

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We’ve both been here before, but not together.  I’ve had a client in Nashville and spent a few weeks there about 6 years ago, while T-Rex went there for his bachelor party.  Both of us really didn’t do much “sight-seeing” while there, so we were wondering what we should do.  Here are a few things from trip advisor that are encouraged:

nashville 21.  Grand Ole Opry - The Grand Ole Opry, an American Icon and Nashville’s number one attraction, is known for creating one-of-a-kind entertainment.  Travis Tritt is singing/playing there, which actually woudlnt’ be too bad to see. 

2.  Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum – This museum highlights the history of country music from its birthplace in the Music City to present-day.  T-Rex and I are big country fans, so this might be worth seeing. 

3.  Bar/music scene.  We’ve heard that Nashville is the capital of GOOD karaoke, like the kind you don’t get up and sing unless you are good.  Like the kind I will never get up and sing no matter how many drinks I’ve had.  There are a few places that we’ve heard of to go to – Legend’s Corner and Tootsies.  Really, we were just going to walk around downtown and see what we find. 

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4.  Homes/museums/tours.  The home of late President Andrew Jackson.  The Johnny Cash museum (The Johnny Cash Museum features the world’s largest collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world), Lane Motor Museum (Lane Motor Museum in Nashville features the largest European collection of cars and motorcycles in the United States), Fontanel Mansion (a huge, beautiful log cabin) and others.

5.  Food.  Not what yet, but hopefully we find some good stuff!

Has anyone been to Nashville?  Any suggestions on whether the items mentioned above are worth-while?  Any food/bar/music suggestions?  Honestly, we will just be happy to get away and if we end up just walking around down town, I think I will still be happy.  Also, if all else fails, our hotel has an outdoor pool and I can work on my tan :) .

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Build Em Up: Confidence in Motherhood

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This topic has me stumped.  Am I confident in my choices about motherhood?  Are we ever fully confident? I always feel the need to explain my decisions. Am I trying to rationalize my choices and convince myself of my decision? Am I too concerned about what others think? Am I too introspective?

Or maybe I am too confident in my decisions? When other moms passionately display their choices for the entire world to see (via facebook or blogging or wherever), if it is different from my choices, I get fired up. Is that normal?  I feel like it is an attack against me, and I take it personally. In order to preserve some friendships, I’ve had to keep my mouth shut.

Example: Do I feel like God created all women to stay at home with their kids? Absolutely not. Do I think God created some women to stay at home with their kids? Yes. Do I think the outline of a godly woman in Proverbs 31 tells all women to stay at home? I don’t. But that’s just me. No judgment to others!

My husband and I have made some unpopular decisions concerning our parenting. The biggest one is our decision on vaccinations for our children. Another unpopular thought we’ve had (it’s not a decision because it won’t happen for a few years) is the possibility of homeschooling.

Vaccinations and homeschooling are two topics that people get VERY passionate about. Likewise, I am very passionate about them. The opposing view can be yelled at me or whispered softly to me, but it won’t change my thoughts and my decisions. It’s kinda like politics. Let’s just not talk about politics because although you may think you have this great wealth of knowledge and the ability to “educate” me, I am not changing my mind. I’ve done my research and I’m confident in my views, however absurd they may seem to you.

Back to motherhood…

Rather than rationalize things, here are things I am confident about that may be different from others (and that’s okay!):

  • I am confident in my choice on vaccinations.
  • I am confident in my choice to still have girls nights and date nights and get out of my house and have a life outside of my children.
  • I am confident in my choice to work four days a week.
  • I am confident in my choice to feed my son mostly healthy food, but let him enjoy some of life’s pleasures

But am I confident about how I’ve potty trained my son? No.

Am I confident in my decisions about discipline? No. We are still working on this!

I saw a little post on facebook recently about motherhood and our choices and thought I would share it in case you haven’t seen it.

  • To the mom who’s breastfeeding: Way to go! It really is an amazing gift to give your baby, for any amount of time that you can manage! You’re a good mom.
  • To the mom who’s formula feeding: Isn’t science amazing? To think there was a time when a baby with a mother who couldn’t produce enough would suffer, but now? Better living through chemistry! You’re a good mom.
  • To the cloth diapering mom: Fluffy bums are the cutest, and so friendly on the bank account. You’re a good mom.
  • To the disposable diapering mom: Damn those things hold a lot, and it’s excellent to not worry about leakage and laundry! You’re a good mom.
  • To the mom who stays home: I can imagine it isn’t easy doing what you do, but to spend those precious years with your babies must be amazing. You’re a good mom.
  • To the mom who works: It’s wonderful that you’re sticking to your career, you’re a positive role model for your children in so many ways, it’s fantastic. You’re a good mom.
  • To the mom who had to feed her kids from the drive thru all week because you’re too worn out to cook or go grocery shopping: You’re feeding your kids, and hey, I bet they aren’t complaining! Sometimes sanity can indeed be found in a red box with a big yellow M on it. You’re a good mom.
  • To the mom who gave her kids a homecooked breakfast lunch and dinner for the past week: Excellent! Good nutrition is important, and they’re learning to enjoy healthy foods at an early age, a boon for the rest of their lives. You’re a good mom.
  • To the mom with the kids who are sitting quietly and using their manners in the fancy restaurant: Kudos, it takes a lot to maintain order with children in a place where they can’t run around. You’re a good mom.
  • To the mom with the toddler having a meltdown in the cereal aisle: they always seem to pick the most embarrassing places to lose their minds don’t they? We’ve all been through it. You’re a good mom.
  • To the moms who judge other moms for ANY of the above? Glass houses, friend. Glass houses.

What things are you confident about in motherhood? What are you not so confident about?

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Book reviews

Tonight, I’m hosting our monthly book club meeting with friends.  We take turns hosting and the person hosting makes dinner and an appetizer, someone brings dessert and the others bring wine.  It’s a good time to catch up with friends and have a fun evening.  I really enjoy my book club group and so glad we started this a few years ago.  Anyways, I wanted to give you my personal review of the books I’ve read lately (some through book club, some on my own). 

Tonight’s book club book discussion – Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman.  Here is the description:

515RSBjzOiL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX285_SY380_CR,0,0,285,380_SH20_OU01_Rory Hendrix is the least likely of Girl Scouts. She hasn’t got a troop or even a badge to call her own. But she’s checked the Handbook out from the elementary school library so many times that her name fills all the lines on the card, and she pores over its surreal advice (Uniforms, disposing of outgrown; The Right Use of Your Body; Finding Your Way When Lost) for tips to get off the Calle: that is, the Calle de las Flores, the Reno trailer park where she lives with her mother, Jo, the sweet-faced, hard-luck bartender at the Truck Stop.

Rory’s been told that she is one of the “third-generation bastards surely on the road to whoredom.” But she’s determined to prove the county and her own family wrong. Brash, sassy, vulnerable, wise, and terrified, she struggles with her mother’s habit of trusting the wrong men, and the mixed blessing of being too smart for her own good. From diary entries, social workers’ reports, half-recalled memories, arrest records, family lore, Supreme Court opinions, and her grandmother’s letters, Rory crafts a devastating collage that shows us her world even as she searches for the way out of it.

I’ve been reading A LOT of teen lit books (see below) lately and was excited to read something different.  Honestly, this book didn’t live up to the expectations I gave it.  The story jumped around a lot and was sometimes hard to follow and looking back at the book, there wasn’t a really “meaty” story line.  It was made up of a bunch of smaller stories (many insignificant).  I thought I would be cheering for Rory and her trying to prove the county wrong, but there wasn’t much to cheer about I feel like.  The story was a quick read with really short chapters – some of them only 1/2 a page long.  It was also almost depressing to read about people who live that way – little to eat, no parental role model, etc. 

 After I finished up Girlchild, I picked up a recommendation from a friend at work – Pure by Julianna Baggott.  Here is a description:

41Pbwb3CdGL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX285_SY380_CR,0,0,285,380_SH20_OU01_We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost–how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked: Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss–maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.
When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.This is a teen lit book and like a lot of the other series that I’ve read in the past – Divergent/Insurgent, Hunger Games, Matched, The Maze Runner.  I have about 50 pages left, but it has been a pretty good read.  Definitely “out there” with interesting characters that have survived the detonations and now scarred.  Some of the survivors have mutations, with others are fused to things (like birds, their children, a dollhead, etc.) that have now become a part of them.  The story has taken so many different turns and when you think you know what is going on, a new piece of information arises and you go down another avenue.  If you are into teen lit and sci-fi books, this is a must read.  It’s a trilogy and it looks like the second book, Fuse, is out. I’ve also read Legend by Marie Lu.  Here is a description on this book:610KOt2cm5L__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX285_SY380_CR,0,0,285,380_SH20_OU01_What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.Another teen lit book (and series), I also liked this book.  It had a good balance of action, suspense and romance.  It hasn’t been my all time favorite series (I still think Divergent/Insurgent has been the best), but it is a good and fast read.  The second book, Prodigy, is sitting at home waiting for me to start reading it!!  I know Jessica has also read this book and liked it!

Other books I’m wanting to read: The Dinner by Herman Koch and Scarlet by Marisa Meyer (this is the second book of the Lunar Chronicles, first book was Cinder, which I’ve read and was also good). 

What books have you read lately?  Do you agree with my reviews above? 

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Disney Tips – Things You May Not Know

Disney Tips

There are a gazillion websites out there that tell you how to get the best deals on Disney trips and special Disney tips.  I’ve compiled a few of my own, some of which I don’t remember seeing on those sites. Hopefully you already know some of the basic tips, like how to use fast passes, and the magic house at the parks. Here are some things you may not know.

In April, I took a 2-week trip which consisted of 2 work conferences, and time in between to go to my sister-in-law’s gorgeous beach wedding and 3.5 days at Disney World. My friend was able to hook us up with a great deal and we enjoyed our stay at this moderate Disney resort – Caribbean Beach.

Carribbean Beach Review

  • We don’t have any major praises or any major complaints about the resort.
  • Pro: One of my favorite things was that we could watch the fireworks from our resort’s pool. Two of the nights we were back at our resort and in the pool by the evening, and my son loved seeing the fireworks as we splashed in the pool.
  • Minor Con: Mickey Waffles! This complaint might be the same at all resorts, but one morning I ordered my son the Mickey waffles. In the picture, it showed Mickey waffles that looked huge and included a side of fresh fruit and bacon and sausage. In reality, the waffles were teeny tiny, he had to choose one side of bacon OR sausage, and he received pre-packaged sugar-free applesauce. Now he had plenty to eat, but I was excited about his big Mickey waffles and they were not impressive. But this is typical of restaurants everywhere – the food always looks better in pictures and on commercials than it does when it comes out! Again, not a huge issue; just an observation.

Epcot:

  • I wasn’t sure if we needed to spend a day at Epcot, but I’m so glad we did. There were several slow-moving rides that my son loved. This was a short day for us and we headed back to our resort for an afternoon nap and pool time.

Animal Kingdom:

  • We only got to spend about 3 hours here before we had to head to the airport. I would have liked a little more time, but I think a half day would be sufficient. The dinosaur area was fun for my little guy!

Hollywood Studios:

  • We did not make it to Hollywood Studios and instead spent 2 days at Magic Kingdom. I heard that most of the rides were too big for my 2-year-old.

Magic Kingdom:

  • Magic Kingdom Electrical Lights Parade: So the parade occurs at 2 different times. You have to get set up EARLY if you want a front row spot for first parade. I think the later time is 11 pm. Yes, that is late and way past my son’s bedtime. But after we had a horrible spot for the first parade, we ended up running around and going on some more rides since many people leave the park after the first parade. After going on some rides, we headed out of the park as the new parade was beginning. Much less people watching this later parade. I wish we would have just gone on rides during the first parade and planned on setting up a little early for the 2nd parade.
  • Magic Kingdom Mickey Meet & Greet: This is a tip that my friend gave me when we went the first time, and it worked out well both times. Right inside the Magic Kingdom to the right in a large building, there is an area for Mickey Meet & Greet and the Princess Meet & Greet.  The best part is, you can get fast passes to do this! I highly recommend this. My son got his own few minutes with Mickey and we got great pictures! And, it is indoors and air-conditioned!

Other tips:

  • Age: This was my son’s second time at Disney World.  I was always against taking my son to Disney World until he was old enough to really enjoy it, but let me tell you, 2.5 years old is the perfect time to take a kid!  First and foremost, kids are free until age 3. Also, he was old enough that he knew Mickey, but he was young enough that he didn’t know many of the characters. Why is that a good thing? Well, we were able to bypass all of the LONG lines to meet the characters. Standing in line for 45 minutes, waiting to see Daisy Duck was NOT something I wanted to do. And I wasn’t sure he could last in a line that long! Another good thing about this age is that he didn’t ask me to buy him everything in the gift shops. We walked through them, but he didn’t want me to buy him stuff like some of the older kids do.
  • Strollers: Rather than haul our stroller down to Orlando, we rented a stroller. I had heard that the Disney strollers don’t recline and aren’t comfortable so I wanted to get something better. There are many stroller rental options and I selected a company that I found through a blogger review – Theme Park Strollers. The stroller arrived at the resort for us, it was clean, and we LOVED the stroller. It was a city mini, and I paid the extra money for the rain canopy and cup holder. We LOVED the city mini, so much so that we are thinking about buying a double for when baby #2 is here. Expensive and a little out of our price range? Yes. But we loved how easy it was to fold up, it wasn’t heavy, and it ran smooth. You could navigate it with one hand. My other strollers aren’t that easy.

City Mini Stroller

  • Pregnancy: I was at the start of my third trimester when we went this time.  It was hot, and sometimes hard for me to breathe. By the end of each day, I was exhausted. There wasn’t much seating available throughout the parks, which I found disappointing for all of the pregnant women and older people who needed a break here and there!

We didn’t plan far enough in advance to get restaurant reservations at the cooler restaurants, and we opted out of the character meals since my son doesn’t really know many of the characters.

I wouldn’t change much about our trip – great memories! My son asks repeatedly if we can go on the bus and go to Disney (since we always took a bus from the resort to the parks). If only it were that easy…

Do you have any “secret” tips to share?

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