Family in Fifty: Mississippi

When our family took the unplanned path toward adopting Collins this year, we knew a big summer vacation wasn’t in the budget.  But we didn’t want to abandon our #familyinfifty goal of visiting all fifty states as a family.  When our dear friends moved to New Orleans last fall we knew we wanted to visit.  It was drivable, we were missing our friends, and they were kind enough to offer to host us in their home.  It was the perfect way to check Mississippi and Louisana off our list.  We looked at the calendar and found a long weekend, Thursday through Monday, that I wasn’t scheduled to work, and made our plans to head south.

Three kids-check!


DVD playing in back-check!

At Home in the World on audio up front-check!

We were ready to go!

Rather than taking the interstate all the way we chose the scenic view of the Natchez Trace Parkway.  Beautiful views and no traffic!

Goodbye Tennessee…Hello Alabama!

Then on to Mississippi!

One of our Family in Fifty rules is that we actually do an activity in each state, not just drive through.  We have been to Tennessee and Alabama already so we just trucked on through.  But Mississippi was new for us.  Our first stop…Tishomingo State Park.

After a long day in the car we were ready for a hike.  Notice sister in the background was too impatient to stop for the photo.

This old suspension bridge was beautiful, but there was a definite lack of safety measures.  I was convinced one of the kids was going to fall off.

Creek bed rocks are always a hit.

A family that explores together, stays together.

Three little monkeys, sitting in a tree.

She loves to explore.

And she also loves bugs.

We made it back to the trail head.

Back on the bridge.

Successful hike with three kids in tow.  We were happy campers.

We spent the night in Tupelo, Mississippi.  Tupelo is the birthplace of Elvis, and they like to remind you of that everywhere.

With all of the car lovers in this family, a visit to the Tupelo Automobile Museum felt like the perfect outing.  We were told it is the private collection of a car enthusiast whose goal is to have 10 cars from each decade.  The cars are displayed in chronological order which is fun to see how they evolved.  The brilliant staff at the museum gave us this little car to push Quinn around in.  What a smart idea to corral the littles and to to keep hands off of the cars.

The oldest car was from 1886.  My favorite part was the old signs decorating the walls.

After the museum we strolled down the main street of downtown Tupelo.  We stopped for lunch at Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen.  It is a delicious farm to table restaurant that did not disappoint.  If you find yourself in Tupelo we highly recommend checking it out.

Look at all of those gorgeous fresh ingredients.

After lunch we strolled down the street and popped in to a few cute little shops.

Then it was time to jump back into the car and make the final leg of our journey to our friends in New Orleans.  Louisiana, here we come!

Linking up our favorite way to spend our weekends-TRAVELING-with Erika and Shay for Working It Wednesday: Weekends.

Magnolia Market

We’re back today for Friday Favorites with part three of our spring break trip to San Antonio and one of my FAVORITE adventures from our vacation.  Our trip to the silos and Magnolia Market!

Day Five

Like a lot of the gals I know I’m a huge HGTV and Fixer Upper fan.  So after a great week exploring all of the family friendly activities in San Antonio, we had a day for mama and loaded up the rental van for a road trip to Waco, TX.

The kids were pleasantly surprised to arrive and find the lawn full of balls, frisbees and other fun activities for some outdoor play time.

A very serious game of corn hole ensued.

And then sister took off with the bean bags.

Somehow it turned into a game of chase.

After spending some time playing on the lawn we decided to check out the food trucks for some lunch.  The lines were pretty long, but the food smelled so good.

We landed on some yummy bar-b-que.

While Shane stood in line for food, there was a rare moment of sibling cooperation with some adorable swinging.

Look mom!  We’re sharing!

There are a ton of picnic tables around, but it was very busy due to the lunch time crowd.  So we decided to have a little picnic on the lawn. (I think it is worth noting that Anderson is drinking a rootbeer 😉 )

They have these fun chairs sprinkled around.  Somehow little miss snagged the chair.

With lunch finished we took a few pics in front of the famous silos.  I would love to know the number of photos taken at this place each day.

Finally it was time to head inside and do a little shopping.  I love all the men in the background sitting on benches while the women are inside shopping.

Look!  My name on a place card.  It’s like JoJo knew I was coming in today.

This was my favorite corner of he store.  I love the tile, the scale, everything about this little space.

Since we were flying home and I’m currently saving up for adoption expenses, we just left with a couple of small items.  If you purchase anything large, there is a FedEx shipping desk right in the store.  Aren’t the shopping bags fun?

While I was shopping Little Man was outside relaxing.

And Quinn was swinging.

Next we wandered over to Magnolia Seed and Supply.

They had a tub full of baby chicks for sale that belonged to the Gaines’ daughters.

A nice lady that had just purchased some chicks let us hold them.  I thought I might be buying her a new one when Quinn suddenly launched her chick across the yard.  Thankfully, baby chick seemed to be ok and the kind lady didn’t seem to mind my less than gentle three year old.

After lunch time, the crowd really thinned out and there were much less people around.

Can you believe that before this trip Mimi had never heard of Fixer Upper or Chip and Joanna????  Apparently I have failed as a daughter.  So in preparation, she read The Magnolia Story (which I happened to have on my kindle app) and we watched two episodes of Fixer Upper on my iPad in the hotel before we headed to Waco at the end of the week.  She is now a Fixer Upper convert 🙂

DudDud wasn’t feeling well, so he stayed back for the day.  I have a feeling he wouldn’t have been as impressed by my day of fandom anyway.  Ha!  But we made sure to remember him on our next stop…The Silos Baking Co.

Yes, that is the line around the building to get in.  While the crowds were significantly smaller in the late afternoon, apparently everyone was ready for an afternoon sugar high.

Thankfully the line moved fairly quickly and soon it was our time to head inside.

Someone skipped nap (again) and was just ready for a cupcake.

While you wait in line you are given a menu card so you can make your selection, then when it is your turn you just hand your card to the cashier and they box up your order.

We took our cupcakes and headed out to a picnic table to enjoy our treat.  Notice that Owen has eaten almost his entire cupcake before I even took my first bite.  The carrot cake cupcake was delicious!

One final photo before loading back up into the van.  I was shocked that we ended up spending over five hours at the silos.  We had plans to visit some other shops and sites in town from Fixer Upper, but we really needed to be heading back to DudDud and San Antonio.

As we pulled out of the parking lot we turned in the opposite direction of how we had come in.  When I asked Shane where we were going he said he had looked up the address for Magnolia House and that it really wasn’t much out of our way to swing by.  And that, my friends, is why I love this man.

The sun was extremely bright and in a terrible location for photos, but the Magnolia House was so adorable.  There were guests staying inside that we could see through the windows.  Can you imagine hanging around on vacation and see random people pop out of their car to take photos of your house?

Another nice couple was also Magnolia stalking and offered to take our photo.

And that concluded my Fixer Upper fan day.  JoJo, call me!

If you are thinking of making a visit to the silos, here are a few things we learned:

  • Go early in the morning or late afternoon.  Around lunch time was the busiest.  (Although it was kind of fun to see a crowd and everyone was incredibly friendly.)
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen!  We spent several hours just simply hanging out on the lawn people watching and playing.  I was glad I had a small tube of sunscreen tucked away in my purse because I did not think about it ahead of time.
  • If you want to purchase a large item, you can ship it!  Or you can just order it online when you get home 🙂  It’s more about the experience than the actual merchandise in my opinion.
  • Don’t let the bakery line intimidate you.  Yes, the line was long but it moved quickly and the cupcakes were delish.
  • The town of Waco itself is not exactly picturesque.  It was strange to see these beautifully re-done buildings in a neighborhood that is not necessarily in the best shape.  I love that a couple like Chip and Joanna are trying to infuse some love into their home town.

Day Six

Our bags were packed, the rental van returned, and we made it to the airport for our flights home.

Here I need to say an enormous thank you to my mom and dad.  They are so very generous and treated us to this amazing trip.  We are so very thankful for them and that we get to experience such fun adventures with them.  Thank you Mimi and DudDud!!

That’s it for our spring break in Texas.  If you are looking for a family friendly vacation destination other than the beach, I would highly recommend it.

As usual I’m linking up with Erika, Narci, and Andrea for Friday Favorites.

P.S. If you are interested in supporting our adoption and helping us bring Peanut home, feel free to do your Amazon shopping through our blog affiliate link. It costs you no additional charge and we will earn a small portion of your purchase in commission. All earnings will go into our adoption fund to bring Peanut home. Thank you for supporting our family!

To start your Amazon shopping, click here.

San Antonio: Part Two

I’m back today with more of our visit to San Antonio for spring break.  Make sure you check out Part One  if you missed it.  We left off last time after spending the morning at the Alamo and lunch and boat tour on the Riverwalk.  After our boat ride we decided to walk to Market Square.  On our way we stumbled upon something super fun.  They were setting up to shoot American Ninja Warrior!

It was so fun to see the obstacles in person.  We chatted a bit with the crew and found out that it takes almost a week to set up and that they begin filming after dark and usually film all night long.

By the time we made it to Market Square it was WAY past Q’s nap time, so she had a little nap on DudDud while the rest of us walked around.

The boys chose Icee’s as their special treat of the day.  Perfect for a hot afternoon.

For some reason, Anderson had really been wanting tic-tacs lately.  Mimi promised to buy him some on spring break, and finally his wish came true.  Thumbs up for tic-tacs!

While browsing thru Market Square we spotted a playground across the street.  A great place to let the kidlets play after a full day of sight seeing.  This fella loves the monkey bars.

Shane can be a bit of a monkey too 🙂

After running off a lot of energy and making new friends at the park, we headed out in search of some Texas BBQ.  It did not disappoint.

We headed back to the hotel to drop the men and Anderson and Quinn off to do a little evening swimming.  Owen chose to go with the girls to the grocery.

We have a little vacation tradition in our family.  It’s known as “vacation cereal”.  We typically try to keep most junk out of the house and that includes sugary cereals.  But on vacation, all bets are off.  Each kid gets to pick his or her very own box of junky cereal.  Whatever their little heart desires.  Owen takes his vacation cereal decision very seriously.

(In case you are wondering, he chose Cocoa Puffs and Anderson sent us to the store with his pre-chosen selection of  Trix while he stayed back to swim.  Quinn, she ate some of both.)

Day 2

It was supposed to rain most of the day, so we chose to check out the DoSeum.

It is a museum filled with all hands-on, mostly STEM focused activities targeted toward kids ages 2-10.  We expected to spend the morning there, but ended up spending an entire day.  It was a big hit.

They have a specific area for the younger kids that includes a grocery store (complete with working registers), bank, food truck, gas station, vetrinarian office, and airplane.  Even my big boys had fun.

Building creations to test on different activities.

Even though the forecast called for rain, it ended up being a beautiful day.  We were thankful because the DoSeum has some great outdoor spaces as well.

Anderson was obsessed with the tube slide.

We had a blast at the DoSeum.  If you are in San Antonio with younger kids, I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Day 3

The next day we decided to check out the San Antonio zoo.  Q is a huge animal lover so we thought the zoo sounded like a great idea.

Tip: We have a membership to the Louisville Zoo so we were able to secure a 50% discount on admission at the San Antonio Zoo for all seven of us just by showing our Louisville zoo pass.  Always check for reciprocal programs to other zoos and museums if you have a membership.

Anderson and Quinn were all about petting the snake.  Owen decided to pass 🙂

Brushing the goats was a highlight for little miss.  (Sometimes I just can’t quite get over how beautiful she is.)

Ganging up on the poor goat.  Thankfully, they were very tolerant.

I didn’t take many pics at the zoo, but we were shocked at how active all of the animals were.  Typically I feel like zoo animals just lay around and sleep all day.  Almost every animal was walking around and very active.  It made for a great zoo experience.

After the zoo we had a delicious Mexican dinner at Rosario’s, where I apparently took zero pictures. Side note – If you like a margarita with a little kick order the La Piña. We then walked to the HemisFair park where we we went the first night for more playing and a movie on the lawn.

They had a huge outdoor movie screen set up and everyone brought blankets and lawn chairs.  The movie for the night was Nacho Libre.  It wouldn’t have been my first choice of movies, but the kids found it hilarious.  It was the perfect night for a movie in the park.

Day 4

Sunday had us heading to Sea World!  San Antonio may not be anywhere near a sea, but they have a Sea World.  Random, right??

Check us out in the back row.  Hands up!!!  The boys were obsessed with this ride.  What you can’t tell from this pic is that there is a huge lake of water at the end of that drop.  I’m not a huge fan of water rides that don’t involve wearing a bathing suit, but in the pursuit of being a fun mom I took one for the team and rode with them as many times as they wanted.  For the record, wet tennis shoes and undies are the worst.

Enjoying some cotton candy during the beluga whale and dolphin show.

There was one roller coaster that neither boy was tall enough for, but Owen was tall enough for the Steel Eel.  He waffled back and forth and in the end decided to go for it.  He and I are somewhere in this pic loving it.  I was so proud!

When you are too short for rides, you get dip-n-dots instead.  She didn’t complain.

Waiting on Shamu.

Notice the crowd in this pic.  It was not busy at all.  We were able to walk right onto most rides.  We only had to wait on one.  There was plenty of seats during the shows.  Apparently we timed our visit well.  The week before had been the local spring break in Texas and apparently everywhere was crazy busy.  We were thankful for the small crowds.

I didn’t get any photos, but there was a great area for younger kids called Sesame Street Bay of Play.  They had several rides, a splash pad, and a huge climbing area.  Mimi and DudDud took Quinn there to play while Shane and I rode the big rides with the boys.  Huge shout out to Mimi for climbing through tunnels and giant rope nets with Q for over an hour.

We left Sea World at closing time and made our way to dinner.  Quinn played until she dropped and spent most of the dinner snoozing away.  I would call that a success.

That’s the end of day 4.  I’ll be back tomorrow to finish off our vacation recap with our road trip to Waco and Magnolia Market.  Fellow Fixer Upper fans, you won’t want to miss it!

P.S. If you are interested in supporting our adoption and helping us bring Peanut home, feel free to do your Amazon shopping through our blog affiliate link. It costs you no additional charge and we will earn a small portion of your purchase in commission. All earnings will go into our adoption fund to bring Peanut home. Thank you for supporting our family!

To start your Amazon shopping, click here.

San Antonio: Part One

Friday means Friday Favorites and the definite favorite from this past week has been our spring break trip to San Antonio.  Today I am beginning the recap of our trip.  Being the over sharer that I am I have to split it up into more than one post 🙂

When my answer to “where are you going for spring break?” was San Antonio, I got a lot of funny looks.  Yes, San Antonio seems like a random spring break destination to most people in the Louisville area where Destin, FL seems to be the number one spring break choice.  We’ve done the spring break beach trips.  And we love them.  But there is a huge country out there and we want to see it all.  In fact, we have a family goal to visit all 50 states as a family.  I’m currently working on a catchy name (because I LOVE to come up with cheesy names for things).  I originally coined it “Five in Fifty”, but then we decided to add Peanut to the mix which will make us a family of 6.  So I’m on the hunt for something new…Family in Fifty?…hmmm…that might work.

Anyway, let’s hop on a plane and head to San Antonio, Texas!

Travel Day

We boarded our plane before 7 am and landed in San Antonio around lunch time.  After picking up our rental van we headed to the hotel to drop off our luggage, then headed out to find some lunch.  We have always heard great things about In & Out Burger (something we don’t have around here) so we decided to give it a try for a quick lunch.

Enjoying our first In & Out experience.

After lunch we headed to Hemisfair park to burn off some energy after being stuck in an airplane for most of the day.

This park was recommended to us by our good friend.  She described it as a “ninja warrior park” and she was right.  It did not disappoint.  The boys loved it!

The park also had lots of fun games such as ping pong…

and Foosball.  I think Owen was kicking Mimi’s booty 😉

Quinn fell asleep in the car on the way to lunch so she enjoyed her In & Out in the park later.

After the park we headed back to the hotel for a little swim in the pool.

After our swim and baths we grabbed dinner.  Anderson was pooped after an early morning start.  He fell asleep at the table before our dinner arrived and stayed asleep through dinner and Shane carrying him back to the hotel.  Travel is exhausting!

Day 1

This was the day we did the traditional San Antonio activities.  Up first, The Alamo!

We were pleasantly surprised at how interested the kids were in the Alamo and it’s history.  They have really improved the exhibits since we were there 10-ish years ago.  These fellas really enjoyed learning about the weapons of the time.

Apparently these are their “Alamo faces”.  On a side note, this guy looks exactly like a guy we know.  We were convinced he was related to Ray the Painter.

After the Alamo we headed across the street to the Riverwalk.

We enjoyed some Mexican food and watched the river.  Anderson was enjoying the view and a cold root beer.

Then it was time for a Riverwalk boat tour.

Owen wanted to sit between Mimi and DudDud.

We rode right by the stage used in Miss Congeniality.  A co-worker of mine gave me the idea to watch a movie set in your vacation destination, so we watched Miss Congeniality one night in the hotel.  The perfect San Antonio set movie!

Sibling love in San Antonio.

We’ll pause here and wrap it up today.  Make sure you check out yesterday’s What’s On My Bookshelf post if you missed it.  See you on Monday for more of our San Antonio adventures!

As usual I’m linking up with Erika, Narci, and Andrea for Friday Favorites.

P.S. If you are interested in supporting our adoption and helping us bring Peanut home, feel free to do your Amazon shopping through our blog affiliate link. It costs you no additional charge and we will earn a small portion of your purchase in commission. All earnings will go into our adoption fund to bring Peanut home. Thank you for supporting our family!

To start your Amazon shopping, click here.

Friday Favorites

Today’s favorites are short and sweet because we are off enjoying a kid free weekend with friends. Woohoo!


Butler weekend

Last weekend we headed up to Indy to spend the weekend with some of our favorite friends from college and to cheer on our Butler Bulldogs.

A huge thank you to Jen and Scott for hosting all thirteen of our crazy crew.

We had stop for a quick photo on the sign before heading into the game.

Future Bulldogs.

After the game they allow kids onto the floor to shoot around.  What other university allows your six year old onto the court to shoot baskets?

We also got to meet Butler’s mascot, Trip, after the game.

Nana and Aunt Abby met us for the game then we headed to Broadripple for our favorite Thai food.  Yum!



This week Anderson wrapped up his final basketball game of the season.  What a great surprise to have one of his teachers show up to cheer him on.

They ended up losing the final game in double overtime.  They played so hard and it was fun to watch.  Great job, boys!



For our getaway I made it my personal goal to pack everything I need into a bag that will fit under the airplane seat. Mission accomplished! Four days, three nights into this tiny bag.  I borrowed this carry-on suitcase that fits under the seat from my mom and it holds a surprising amount.  I was also able to make good use of the small bag by packing clothes in my beloved packing cubes .  I love those things!


Self tanner

Before heading off for the weekend I had to break out my favorite self tanner to take the glare off of my pasty winter skin.  I always have the best results with this product.  Tip: the applicator mitt is a must.


Blog love

I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU for all of the positive feedback and support of my What’s in a Name and Owning It posts this week.  I was shocked by the number of comments, messages and emails I received with name suggestions and encouragement.  As for choosing a name for Peanut, the suggestions were overwhelming and fantastic!  It is clear that you gals are as passionate about names as I am.  I think we have paired down the list to just a few and are excited to pick the perfect one.

That’s it for this weekend.  I’m going to enjoy every second of it and try to release the guilt of planning a getaway months before we knew we would be facing funding an adoption.  It is important to get away. Right?

Happy weekend!

As usual I’m linking up with Erika, Narci, and Andrea for Friday Favorites.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday Favorites: Pigeon Forge Edition

Thanks to MLK day it’s been a short week.  Friday means time for Friday Favorites!  This week’s favorites are courtesy of our short 28 hour getaway to Pigeon Forge.  It was short, but we managed to really pack in the fun.

The original plan was to spend the weekend in St. Louis to celebrate Anderson turning six.  Well, the ice storm caused us to change directions and we decided at the very last minute to head to Pigeon Forge, TN instead.

We arrived to a surprising  72 degrees.  In January!!  So much better than ice!  We were ready for a day full of whatever Anderson chose!

After a quick burger for lunch (birthday boy’s choice), we hit up our first go-kart track.  This car and speed loving boy LOVES go-karts.  Daddy-O likes them too 🙂

Then we hit up go-kart place number two!  Whee!!!

Owen got in on the fun as well.  Please note that mama has not yet been included in the fun (and Q was too short, but perfectly happy to watch).  Apparently there was concern that I may not be a fast enough driver.

Happy happy boys.

After two tracks, we headed over to the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster.  Finally, mama gets a turn!  This coaster far exceeded my expectations.  It was so fun and very reminiscent of riding the toboggan down the Great Wall.  But with more focus on safety.  Ha!  It was much faster and longer than expected.  It looks deceivingly slow from the ground, but you really pick up speed.

At this point we were way past naptime and she just could not understand why there is not wifi on the mountain.  Poor thing REALLY wanted to watch YouTube kids.  (She loves the handle on this case for carrying her “pad” around.)

Next up were these two handsome fellas.  Owen declared it “the best ride ever”!

After the mountain coaster we headed to Mellow Mushroom for Anderon’s favorite.  Pizza!  After we had a serious dance party in the parking lot.

We finally headed to our hotel for the night.  We stayed at Dollywood’s DreamMore resort.  It’s a new resort that reminded us a lot of some of the places we have stayed at Disney World.  They have lots of fun activities including a nightly bedtime story reading, fire pits, a playground and a great pool/splash pad.  The bunk beds were a definite hit with our crew. (Tip: if your kids insist on keeping a hotel room super bright and you like it dark, I LOVE these sleep masks.  My love of them started during my night-shift days and I still sleep in my “diva mask” every night.)

I loved the fun orange mirror.

And I would love to find this mirror for our basement bath.

After checking in, we headed to the indoor pool.  There was a large church group there, but still plenty of room to play and have fun.

Thankfully they provided life jackets because in the rush to pack at the last minute and leave, I forgot her’s at home.

In the morning we headed out for pancakes (a must if you are in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area) then went to check out the WonderWorks museum.

They loved the upside down building.

On the way in you walk thru this tunnel that feels like you are spinning.  We were all SO dizzy!

This was a great place for kids of all ages.  Not only were most of the activities fun for the big kids, but there were a few fun things for the littles as well.

Laying on the bed of nails was high on his priority list.

His number one request while at WonderWorks was laser tag.  Apparently the Elsbury men were awesome and Shane walked away the overall winner of everyone playing.

We then headed to The Island for a late lunch at The Bag Lady (Paula Deen’s sandwich shop).  The BLT was delicious.

How can you say no when this face asks for ice cream after lunch??

We took up residence in these comfy chairs to enjoy the warm weather and watch the fountains that are choreographed to music.  Another dance party broke out.  We love to shake our booties to some good music!

The last stop was one last go-kart place.  If you’re counting, that makes three!  Finally he agreed to let me ride.  When we were finished (we won!) he said “Mom, why didn’t you tell me you were an awesome driver?  I would have gone with you earlier.”  Ha!  Never underestimate a mom’s go-kart skills.

After our last race it was time to load into the van and make the long drive home.  I’m not going to lie.  Everyone was a bit worn out and cranky during the drive.  But we had so much fun celebrating our little man.  As the easy-going middle child, he doesn’t often get an entire two days to get to do all of his favorite things.  We loved celebrating with him.  And we learned, when life gives you an ice storm…go get pancakes.

Also, thank you so much for the nice feedback on my take of social media envy and creating your own highlight reel (here).  And in case you missed it, feel free to check out #everydayelsbury2017 and What I (really) Wore from the week.

As usual I’m linking up with Erika, Narci, and Andrea.  Until next week!




In case you missed it, here’s a quick look at our past week…

Bachelor ready. We missed you Kelly and Katie!

She has the best belly laugh.

That’s one way to get hot toast out of the toaster.
Someone requested cupcakes for Rainbow Day.

Are we the only parents that cannot even deal with the idea of taking our children shoe shopping? Instead we order a giant box of like 10 different options so we can try them on in our own home without losing our minds. Love free shipping and free returns!!!

Our St. Louis plans were cancelled by freezing rain and icy roads. So we made a last minute decision to head to Pigeon Forge, TN instead!

Bye bye Pigeon Forge! It was a whirlwind 28 hours including lots of go karts, a mountain coaster, wonderworks, and swimming. What a great way to celebrate our big six year old!

More on our Tennessee weekend later.  Feel free to follow along with #everydayelsbury2017 on Instagram @litlblogmegan.

Disney Packing Must-Haves to Add to Your Christmas List

I’m changing things up a bit today.  Owen was (once again) looking at pictures from our fall trip to Disney World and it reminded me that I never posted about the items we consider must-haves for our family to make the trip  bit more enjoyable.  Since holiday shopping is upon us, I thought they might be good ideas for stocking stuffers or gifts for anyone headed to visit Mickey over the holidays or spring break.

Portable Cell Phone Charger

This was our number one must-have.  Not only were we constantly using our phones to check our My Disney Experience app for fast passes or dining reservations but we decided not to bring our DSLR camera this trip so we relied solely on our phones to capture our magical moments in photo.  Among our four adults, someone always had a phone with a dying battery.  We carried this portable charger in the bag we kept with the stroller.  It’s a bit big but it can fully charge multiple devices before needing to be re-charged.  It was also a life saver on our long flights to and from China.

I also had a smaller charging stick in my purse that came in handy.

If a separate portable charger isn’t your thing, I would consider a case that can charge your phone like the mophie charging case.  I have considered getting one of these for a while.

Stroller Fan

Hot humid Florida weather plus a toddler that hasn’t had a nap?  A meltdown ready to happen.  This stroller fan helped Quinn snag a stroller nap on several occasions.  Plus it’s cute!

Disney T-shirt

I am not a person to plan coordinating elaborate Disney outfits for each day, but everyone enjoyed having at least one fun Disney shirt to wear during our visit.  It also makes a great conversation starter with the characters.  For the ladies, don’t forget to check out the kids section.  I scored two of my Disney shirts on clearance at Target in the girls department.  They fit perfectly.

Pop-up Hamper

I cannot stand a cluttered unorganized hotel room.  A small pop-up hamper is a sanity saver.  It gives somewhere for all of those clothes to go at the end of a long day at the park and not spread all over your room. These are great to buy at the Dollar Store.

Packing Cubes

Speaking of unorganized hotel rooms.  An unorganized suitcase can also cause me serious stress.  We bought these eBags packing cubes before our China trip and will never pack again without them.  They help to save so much room and keep everything nice and organized.  I packed a full outfit for myself and all three kids in a bag for each day.  Then I labeled the outside of the e-bag with the day it was to be worn.  For example: The bag labeled Magic Kingdom had an outfit for me, Owen, Anderson, and Quinn.  Just unzip the bag and get dressed in the morning.  No need to search through suitcases looking for socks, etc.


It rained a little every day on our trip.  I was so glad I threw ponchos in the stroller.  We got this pack of ten ponchos off of Amazon.  They are individually wrapped would make a great stocking stuffer.

Native Shoes

There is nothing worse than wet tennis shoes.  But wearing comfortable shoes in the parks is an absolute must.  On the days we knew we would be riding a water ride the kids wore their Native shoes.  They say they are just as comfortable as tennis shoes and they dry super quickly.

Ear Phones

Disney is an overwhelming experience even for adults.  Have a child that is sensitive to noise or with sensory issues?  We packed these noise blocking headphones/earmuffs in the bag for when Quinn got a bit overwhelmed by all of the noise.  They allowed her (and us) to enjoy every experience.  When things got to be too much, she would pull out her headphones. They come in lots of fun colors. All three of our kids own them for loud events.

Fun Suckers

One of these Finding Dory suckers could instantly entertain a fidgety kid while waiting in line for a ride or show.  I picked up a bag at the Dollar Store before we left and I’m so glad we did.  I always had some in my purse in case we were on the verge of a meltdown.

Heads Up

The phone game/app Heads Up was a life saver while waiting in lines.  It’s an oldy but a goody and definitely worth the 0.99.  Plus there is a Disney deck that is free if you download it while on Disney property.

That’s it for my list.  I also realized I never mentioned our wonderful travel agent that helped us plan our vacation.  This was not our first trip and we definitely could have planned it on our own, but it was so nice to have her do some of the work for us.  Why not, it’s free!  I didn’t have to price out a million different resorts or worry about remembering when I needed to book things like dining reservations and fast-passes.  Erika was wonderful to work with and I would definitely recommend.

Happy shopping!

If you missed the recaps of our trip, make sure to check them out:

Day 1: Magic Kingdom

Day 2: Animal Kingdom

Day 3: Stormalong Bay, Disney, Springs and Rest

Day 4: Magic Kingdom

Day 5: Epcot


Show and Tell Tuesday – Lottery Edition

Taking a break from the oh so fun election night coverage for a fun distraction.  It’s Show and Tell Tuesday and I’m sharing about what I would do if I won the lottery.


In this fantasy world of lottery winnings (complete fantasy as I’ve never even played the lottery) I am assuming I am winning a huge jackpot.  We’re not talking a few million here, we are imagining a huge jackpot of hundreds of millions.

First thing, while I love my job and the people I work with, I would first say bye bye to my days in hospital pharmacy.  I’ll remember you with fond memories 😉  While my work situation would change, lots of things in my life would not.  I would be perfectly happy to stay in our home, keep our kids at the same schools and you would have to pry me out of my trusty minivan (or maybe I would upgrade to the fancy one with the built in vacuum #momgoals).

When I think of what I would do if I suddenly came into this kind of money, I can separate it into two categories…

1. Do good

On top of my list would be to adopt again.  I would be back on a plane to China as soon as I could.


I would also love to set up grants for adoptive families to help with adoption costs and more importantly help fund costs of medical care and therapies once children are home.  And when better than during national adoption month?

I would love to be able to support the needs in schools.  From Blessings in a Backpack to technology needs to building funds.  I think supporting our children’s education and basic needs is so important and I would love to get rid of box tops and other fundraisers and be able to make a difference.


Lastly, I would love to use my pharmacy skills on medical mission trips.  This is something I have always wanted to do but am not currently in the season of life to make it possible.  Even if I no longer had an official job in the pharmacy field, I would love to use those skills to make a positive difference.

2. Splurge

While lots of people would want a new house (nope) or new car (nope), I would splurge on travel.  My home will always be my home, but I want to see the world.


Currently my passport has been to Germany, Austria, Mexico, Canada, Australia, England, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and China but I want to see so much more.  While my bucket list includes many more countries, I currently have a new travel goal for our family in the works that will show us that you don’t have to have a passport to have adventurous travel.  If I won the lottery travel would be a major priority and would help these dreams come to life.

If I’m going to be honest, travel is the only major splurge I can come up with.  I am so blessed with so much in my life.  I would hope that winning the lottery would not change me, but afford me the luxury to enjoy some travel and be a blessing to others.

3.  And the rest of the fam

Just for fun I asked everyone else if they won a lot of money in the lottery what would they do.  Their answers?

Anderson-“I would buy lots of remote control cars!”

Owen-“I would build a huge mansion on Disney property and buy a season pass and go to Disney World every day!”.  I’m telling you, this kid LOVES Disney.

Quinn-“Fruit snacks.”  There you have it folks.  If my daughter won hundreds of millions of dollars she would squander it on fruit snacks

Shane-“Travel”.  I’m glad we are on the same page 🙂

Thanks for taking a fantasy lottery winning journey with me.  If you won the lottery, what you would do???

Linking up with Andrea for Show and Tell Tuesday


Disney World Day 5: Epcot (Last Day!)

Here we are revisiting our last day in Disney World.  It was a day full of character visits and re-riding the same favorite rides over and over.  But before we hit the park we had breakfast with some very important people.

We had originally planned a character breakfast at O’Hana for this morning, but the thought of trekking across property for an early breakfast and losing some park time didn’t sound ideal.  The night before our reservation a 7:30am  spot opened up for the character breakfast at Cape May Cafe and Shane quickly snagged it.  Cape May Cafe was right in the lobby of our resort so we decided it was a much better option.


Our first visitor was Goofy!


Who is goofier?


Not only are characters exciting, but Mickey Waffles are pretty special too.


Donald stopped by to say hello.


DudDud does the best Donald Duck voice.  Even Donald himself was impressed.


Minnie is Quinn’s favorite.  Remember in our first day at Magic Kingdom when she didn’t want me to take a photo with Minnie?  Well that feeling continues as she was not too happy that her brothers were cramping her moment with Minnie.  Owen’s face says it all.


Still trying to push them out of the frame.


Finally!  She has her all to herself.

Breakfast was over and we all agreed that we liked the Cape May character breakfast better than our visit at Chef Mickey’s on our last trip.  It was much less busy, not nearly as loud, and the characters got to spend quite a bit of time with us.  Goofy even stopped by twice.  It was also SO convenient that it was right at our hotel.


Happily walking to Epcot.  She carried this pine cone around forever.  It was awesome to be able to walk to Epcot from the Beach Club.  We headed strait to the boys’ favorite ride: Test Track!


For months the boys have been talking about the cars they were going to design for Test Track.  They made a special request that a pic of their first two cars make it onto the blog 🙂


Their love for cars runs deep so it is no surprise that Test Track is their favorite in all of Disney World.  From designing your own car, to the ride on the track itself, to the competitive component of comparing how their cars tested to others.  They absolutely LOVE it.


Possibly a bit gun shy after being beat up by their sister during the Minnie encounter.  This time they gave her some space for her first time meeting the big guy himself.


Mickey! (Anderson told me right after this that he was making his “creepy face”)


Best Friends.  I hate that the photographer’s flash ruined this, but I just had to include it.  It’s a perfect capture of her excitement.


This time everyone was allowed in the pic.


We spent a lot of time in the aquarium area.  Such a fun place to explore.


Why ride in a perfectly good stroller when you can hitch a ride on daddy’s shoulders?


Princess time!  I have been to Disney World three times and the only Princess I have ever met was Snow White (the boys’ favorite).  Well, I finally have a daughter and thought I deserved to meet some princesses!  (I might have been a bit of a diva about it.)  Anna and Elsa, or “Go” as she calls them, are Quinn’s favorite princesses.  Anna was so chatty and just delightful to talk with.


Please notice that Anderson is not in these pics.  Apparently he is too cool for Anna and Elsa.


I love how Elsa took time to talk to Quinn for a while even though she isn’t the best conversationalist 😉


A hug for her favorite princess.


While walking around the World Showcase we spotted this mug in the China pavilion.


Even the too cool man Anderson couldn’t resist his favorite Princess.  Even if he was a bit embarrassed by her attention.


We love Snow White!


Snow White and our Sleeping Beauty


Who’s the fairest of them all?


Crazy in the World Showcase.


Catching a ride with DudDud.


Just riding in a clam shell with my girl.


I asked her to pretend the shark was eating her and she gave me this.  Perfect!

We ended the day with rides on Soarin’.  There was no wait so they didn’t even make us get off the ride.  We just stayed in our seat and rode again.  I wish I had a video of Anderson’s enthusiasm during this ride because it was absolutely amazing.  He was hilarious.

Our Epcot itinerary looked like this:

Test Track (rode twice) (FastPass) (Rider Swap)

Character Spot-Mickey, Goofy, Minnie (FastPass)

Turtle Talk with Crush


Finding Nemo Ride

Lunch at Seasons

Frozen Ever After (FastPass)

Meet Anna and Elsa

World Showcase

Caramel Apple in Germany (a must!)

Meet Snow White

Test Track (twice) (closed due to rain storm while waiting) (FastPass)

Dinner at Coral Reef


Living with the Land

Finding Nemo Ride

Bruce’s Shark World

Soarin’ (rode three times in a row)

That’s it!  Our vacation is over.  And we couldn’t have timed it better.  Our flight left the Orlando airport at 12:30 on Thursday.  They closed the Disney parks that afternoon at 5 and the airport at 8 in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew.

What great family memories were made during this week.  I never thought we would be a family that has been to Disney more than once, but the kids absolutely love it and talk about it constantly. A huge thanks to Mimi and DudDud for an amazing trip.

If you missed them you can check out days 1-4 here:

Day 1: Magic Kingdom

Day 2: Animal Kingdom

Day 3: Stormalong Bay, Disney, Springs and Rest

Day 4: Magic Kingdom