5 Tips to Thrive at Lego Land Florida

posted in: parenting | 2

Spring Break was such a fun time for us as a family.  Sun, blue skies, ice cream, and tacos.  And our first trip to a theme park altogether as a family of four!

I grew up in Central Florida going to Cypress Gardens, dreaming of being a Cypress Garden Girl, wondering if I would ever learn to water ski (and I can barely do it now), and enjoying all the gardens that were beautiful.  I thought Cypress Gardens would always be there.  And in a way, it still is.

The grounds at Lego Land Florida are on the shores of the same lake that Cypress Gardens was and you can still watch the ski shows.  You can walk through the grounds of lego central and see spots of beautiful flowers and shady trees.

But, the focus of the park is now little plastic building blocks and themed superhero movies and a really fun water park.

My family was graciously given a two day park pass including the water park for the main event of our 7 day Florida vacation.  Since it was our first time going I asked around for some good tips.  And now, having gone, I thought I would share our 6 top tips for all you parents out there who want to have a fabulous day with your family at Lego Land!

  1.  Bathroom Status.  I would probably advise not to go if your kids are still in diapers, or even potty training.  Even though the restrooms are equipped with changing tables and there are plenty of clean bathrooms throughout the park, it just wouldn’t be as fun.  And, make sure your kids go to the potty before leaving for the park.  My husband had to take one of ours to the potty in the parking line (and all the other patrons who saw were laughing and joking with him…they got it).  And he took the other one to the Lego Hotel before we went through security.  Having kids who are well potty-trained just makes the day easier.

  1. Pay for the Preferred Parking.  Your kids will thank you at the end of the day. Florida in the spring and summer is just warm.  We had perfect weather with not a cloud in sight.  So, our car was rather warm.  But, the second day we chose the preferred parking.  We got to park closer and under the shade of solar panels.  We got into a perfectly cool car at the end of the day.  Our campers were much happier, and so were we.

  1. Budget for food, snacks, and drink.  We chose not to carry anything with us while we were there except our phones and a key and our debit cards.  Our hands were free to ride rides and hold little hands.  We were so glad we did this.  Yes, we could have brought in snacks and water in a small cooler – but then you either have to pay for a locker or carry it or push it in a stroller.  And we could have left it in the car in a cooler, but who wants to go all the way back out to the car when you are in the middle of having so much fun.  So, when you are doing your budget, plan for a 15$ reusable souvenir cup and food.  Your day will be much easier.  My favorite ice cream was the caramel vanilla swirl cone near the Pirate Playground.  Definitely the best food I ate there.
  2. The water park is worth it.  Our kids loved it.  The park provides flotation devices for those who don’t know how to swim, but our two little not-yet-swimming boys thrived well at the park slides for like 90 minutes.  They would have stayed there all day.  We joined them some and we also kicked back in shaded beach chairs.  We loved watching their excited faces!
  3. Don’t buy a fast pass.  I wouldn’t have thought of this one until I was a parent, and experienced some things, so hear me out.  One of the things we constantly try to teach our children is that we should put the needs and interests of others ahead of our own.  And I think the fast pass does exactly the opposite.  When you’ve been standing in line for 45 minutes and you are about to get on, and a family comes and delays your ride because they have a fast pass, your kids (and you) and certainly disappointed.  But, it also teaches them that the person holding the fast pass is better than everyone else.  It teaches them that you can buy first and you don’t have to practice patience.  It also seems to be a status symbol.  Like often times it is those with more money who have a fast pass.  We decided that we wouldn’t buy a fast pass for our family because we want to teach them more important things than just getting to the front of the line.

What are your survival tips for theme parks?

March Read Alouds

posted in: Books | 1

So, I know I’m a little late with March’s list, but we had good reason.

We didn’t read as much together as family because a lot of our month was spent preparing for our renters to come enjoy their stay at our house for The Masters.  Spring cleaning is definitely a new Olympic sport in Augusta.  And we were also getting ready to go on vacation to Florida (more on that in later posts).

I didn’t want you to miss these reads, so here they are.  April’s will be more on time, I hope!

How to Dress a Dragon.  Oh my goodness, my younger loved this.  Yes, I think primarily because he heard mommy say the word underwear several times.  But, I’m raising boys, can any mama relate?

Be Brave Little Penguin was a fun little book, perfect for our boys who were getting ready to go get in some water on vacation.  We are putting them in swim lessons this summer and we will spend so much time at the pool!

I Want My Hat Back.  I read this so much to my younger that he loved flipping through it and “reading” it to himself.  Loved hearing this!

Dragons Love Tacos.  My boys could live on tacos like I do.  Ok, really just chips and guacamole and queso. But they will be the first to tell you they don’t love salsa because it is tomatoes and its spicy.  So, this was a fun book for them to read.

These were just their favorites.  What did you read to your kids recently?

You can see my previous months books for January and February.

The Prayer Bible

posted in: Bible, Books | 1

Raise your hand if you have more than 10 Bibles in your house?  We do…and we’ve even purged so many!  What do you do with Bibles you don’t need/want anymore?

(This post is sponsored by Tommy Nelson. All thoughts are my own.)

Well, I have a new Bible to give to yall today.  Its called The Prayer Bible and Tommy Nelson put it out this Spring.  I think it is a good one for you to share with your school age son or daughter.  The cover is neutral so it can be for either a boy or a girl.  I know that is a secondary topic, but Bible covers are important! 🙂

It is a thicker Bible, but its hardback, so it would be durable.  I think it would be more for one your child could use as they learn to do their quiet time.  Maybe you could teach your child to have their quiet time in their room, and then discuss their thoughts and readings with them.  This Bible offers many devotionals and Q/A about prayer.  I’ve not read every single article, but they ones I read were really good and great for a school-age mind.  Especially as they are starting out in their faith (hopefully) and learning how to pray.

A good tool in this Bible is the Prayer Article Index in the front.  If your child is struggling with something in particular, they can read one of these articles.  I wish the articles were listed by topic and not by title, but they would always be good to read.  There is a verse topic index in the back. That’d be great if you are trying to teach your child what the Bible says about a variety of topics: like happiness, wisdom, and obedience.  You really want to get to a point with teaching your child to understand the Scriptures that you aren’t just pulling out a verse, but i know you don’t always have time for an expositional sermon when talking with your kids.

Come along side your kids when they are learning to read the Bible and to pray.  Its going to be a great adventure for your faith, their faith, and y’all’s relationship.

If you want this Bible, Tommy Nelson has one for you, just leave a comment on the blog to be entered.

Chasing Traffic

posted in: creatives | 1

Why do you do what you do?

I mean, I’m sitting here on the couch, loading photos for my church, writing this blog post, my little is not napping, so I guess I’ll just wait until I hear something crash.  He needs to learn to play in his room quietly right?

Anyway…why do I do what I do?

I cook…because I love to see other people eat my food and enjoy it.  And I like playing with the flavors.  That’s why I usually don’t cook for myself.  Because who likes to cook for one?

I letter and watercolor…to meditate on Scripture and to do art at an affordable price so others can enjoy it in their home or to give as a gift.  And to help them meditate on Scripture too.  To fill their home.

I blog…because I like to talk about what I want to talk about, yes, of course.  But, I also like to encourage other women.  I started blogging back before blogging was really a thing, and especially before making money blogging was really a thing.  I wanted to share devotional thoughts and recipes and travels.  My blog has definitely had different focuses over the years, but it really was and is about encouraging other women in their walk with Jesus.

I do photography….because I love it. I love to look at photos after I take them.  I love to capture smiles and special moments.  I like to do it affordably for others who may not have an unlimited budget to spend for fancy photography.  People without a large budget should still be able to have nice photographs right?

I was listening to Taylor’s podcast Boss Girl Creative this weekend while I was out doing Masters Prep errands (its basically when all of Augusta does spring cleaning at once so that you can rent out your house, get tax free money, and get outta town for the winning of the Green Jacket).  And, if you haven’t had my friend’s Green Jacket salad, stop, go make it, and come back!

Anyway, back to the podcast, Taylor was talking about private label rights and how purchasing what other’s create is a thing…but why?  Why not just create it yourself?  Or hire someone to create something specifically for you or your business.

I really don’t blog to make money…even though it is great when I do.  I blog to talk and encourage and share.  It doesn’t have to perfect or top the SEO charts.  That’s why I do what I do.  SEO isn’t the most important thing to me, though if I got more traffic that’d be nice.  But I don’t want to do things on the blog just to chase traffic.  I’ve always wanted my blog to be me.  So, I’m careful about who I let guest blog and what sponsors or ad posts I write.

It is always an important thing to remember in life: why you do what you do.  And stick to it.  Doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to change over time…but always be true to yourself…don’t go chasing traffic.

 

Growing Kids with Character

posted in: Books, parenting | 0

Ad.  Book from Litfuse Publicity Group for honest review.

Most people right now are thrilled with personality tests. It started out with simple ones, and has moved to complex ones.  My favorite is the Enneagram.  I’m a three with a 4 wing.  What are you?

Hettie Brittz, in her book Growing Kids with Character, delves into parenting and shepherding your children based on their personality types.  This is a simple way of talking about her book.

I didn’t think it would be that.  But, it is what it is. I checked out her personality types and didn’t really see my boys on the grid, so honestly, I didn’t read the rest.  But, I read the first two chapters and loved her thoughts about God being a present gardener who attends to his children.  And how we can attend to our children, especially in their formative years.

Maybe you know someone who would benefit from reading this book.  I think every parenting book is a good place to start, to read, to be encouraged from.  Even if it is just one sentence!

A Very Happy Easter Prayer

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Ad.

Easter is right around the corner . We’ll be starting out vacation the day of Easter, so we’ll be doing things a bit different this year.  But…the reason is still the same for our celebration!

Jesus is Alive!

And a book to celebrate that is A Very Happy Easter Prayer.  It is a cute board book for toddlers from Bonnie Jenson and Tommy Nelson Mommies.

And while I like it and its cute illustrations that might be a good practice for me and watercolor…  And it talks about the incarnation.  And the resurrection.  It doesn’t talk about the death of Jesus at all.  And isn’t that the reason that we had an empty tomb in the first place.

We don’t need to shy away from the death of Christ. Our boys know “Jesus died on the cross for my sins.  Jesus is alive!”  Of course they don’t fully understand it, but they still know it.

I hope you guys, in whatever books you read during this spring season, can share with your kids the truth about Jesus’ death and the empty tomb!

The Turquise Table

posted in: Books, lavish hospitality | 1

 

We have a picnic table.  When we moved into our home here in East Georgia, my in-laws purchased it for us, my husband stained it while our boys were running around him.  Its not painted turquoise.  And its in the backyard.

Now, before you hate, hear me out.

Hospitality is part of my heart.  Not just having people over to eat good food, but more to get to know their hearts, shower them with grace, and help them to feel welcome and loved.

I’ve always had a heart for hospitality because that is what I was shown from others while growing up and in college.  Whether we had a feast or just nuts and water sitting on a barstool in the kitchen…hospitality was a sense of belonging.

So, when I went through a period of my adult life when I felt like I didn’t belong at all, I craved to be able to show hospitality to others, to give to others what I was missing.  And it has stuck with.  And I’m glad.

Kristin Schell, who wrote the Turquoise Table, is a blogger and a cook, and a wife and a mom, and a Texan.  This book reads like her blog posts, with cute pictures, good recipes, and winsome conversation style writing.  She tells the story of how the Turquoise Table phenomenon came to be and the relationships that have been formed over the table in her own yard.

If you are looking for a pretty book with a good message, and an easy read, then pick this up.  The hospitality conversation has so many facets to it. This is just one.  And don’t feel bad if you don’t have a Turquoise Table. Don’t feel bad if you don’t have a front yard (she tells of some stories in the book of how people have taken the idea and made it to fit their lifestyle).  Don’t feel bad if you never sit out in your front yard.

One of my greatest desires is to sit down to meaningful conversation with good food.  And I can do this on our back deck, at a coffee shop, or at our newly chalk-painted table.

Kristin’s heart is hospitality.  Show welcomeness to everyone – no matter where you do it.  And if you need a cute Turquoise Table, go get one!

 

Define Success For You

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

I’m a fan of podcasts.  I have subscribed to probably 30-40 podcasts, then glance through them each week to see which ones I’d like to listen to.  Sometimes I don’t get to them that week, but then they are on my phone waiting for me to have some time to listen to.

I typically listen to podcasts in my car while I’m running errands (by myself, its no use listening to them when I have the boys in the car) or at the gym if I don’t bring a book with.

My podcasts are usually in two categories: business or creativity and faith.  If I am having a business day (my two mornings each week when my younger goes to preschool), or if I’m heading to a creative meet-up, then I listen to business-minded podcasts.  If it is really any other time, I’m listening to faith based ones, either on teaching the Bible, being a mom, practicing hospitality, or book reading.

Tonight, I want to share some thoughts from one of my favorite podcast hosts, Sarah Bragg, over on Surviving Sarah. Kristy Dickerson was her guest a few weeks ago and I finally got the chance to listen to it.

One thing she said stuck with me and I’d like to talk about that a bit: “Define success for you.”

Success as defined in the dictionary means: to turn out well, to attain a desired object or end.  That is such a blank canvas.  We can succeed or fail at anything by that definition.  Yet, in the creative industry or the “momprenuer” world, I think most people have certain standards that, if they meet those standards, it will mean they have succeeded.

So, how do we know if we have succeeded?  There has to be something attainable.  Here are some thoughts:

  1.  Define what success would look like for you.  And don’t do this alone.  Maybe you have a brainstorming session over coffee with just yourself.  Then, you can take that list or those doodles and share them with your husband or maybe a creative business partner.  Or share them with a friend.  Now, you don’t have to take everything they say and throw out your list, but wisdom is gaining understanding from wise counselors.  So, share your ideas, really listen to what a few others would say about those ideas, and revamp your list if necessary.  Only if you know what success will look like for you will you ever really know if you succeed.
  2. Understand your season.  One thing I learned early on from one of Sarah’s podcasts is that you are always in a season.  But seasons change.  And everyone is in a season – and everyone’s season will last for a different length of time.  You may be in a season of sickness, or having to work when you don’t want to work, or shuffling kids to baseball practice or ballet.  Maybe you will have to look at each of your seasons and define what success will look like in that particular season.  It always changes.  Right now for example, these three weeks, we are preparing to rent our house for the Masters.  So, I have less time to blog, read, and create because I’m getting our home ready, clean, organized, decluttered, and packing for vacation.  But, its a short season.  Summer will be another season because both of my boys will be home full time so there will be less time to do stuff for me.  But, definitely more time to spend on the deck, with friends, and at the pool.
  3. Don’t compare.  I’ve been in and out of a funk of comparison.  People say I need to charge more for my art…but I don’t think I should because I don’t think its as great as other art I see.  Some people say I should write more, but I think there are so many books at there, who would necessarily want to read what I have to say.  I’ve got to remember, for me, success isn’t necessarily numbers and likes and followers on instagram, but forming and building relationships with those who do follow me.

I hope these few thoughts will encourage you to look at success in a new way.  And, definitely go check out Sarah’s podcasts, especially if you are a mom or mom-prenuer

 

Link Love Sunday

posted in: Uncategorized | 2

Its a rainy Sunday afternoon here in East Georgia.  Perfect for laying in bed while the boys nap.  Reading.  Preparing to teach a Bible study on Tuesday.  Thinking about a charcuterie board and writing session my mister and I will have tonight.

Here are some things that I’m loving right now:

Trader Joes Dark Chocolate Mint Creams (I finished the contained before starting keto this weekend)

This coffee table (I’m saving up) And stay tuned for some more from Cathy and Rob.

Classes at my gym (specifically body pump and spin)

IG videos on how to watercolor – cheaper than any class I could take

My local library: I can pick out a ton of books then bring them home to see if I want to read them.  Much cheaper that way.

White Collar.  I’m starting my third round of the series.  Love it.

Broadchurch.  We are on season 3.

Bull.  If you think Michael Weatherly is fabulous in NCIS, he is even better (and the writing is amazing) in this show on CBS.

 

 

Gospel-Centered Mom

posted in: Books | 0

(I received this book from Blogging For Books.  All thoughts are my own.).

Books for moms can be such helpful reads.  Believe me, go look at any bookstore and there are plenty to choose from.  For me, books on motherhood can be a source of mentoring or it can just be fluff that I don’t glean much from.

I would put Gospel-Centered Mom right in the middle.  I was hoping that it would be more, that I would find it to be one of the best mom books out there, but it fell short of that.

I did think that Brooke, who is a mother of boys like I am, gave plenty of real life and she didn’t sugar coat motherhood for anyone.

She gave good ideas to help when times get “hard to handle”.

I think for me it was more personal story, almost like a memoir.  I want more Gospel truth, less personal story.  Or some kind of balance there.  And for me it wasn’t balanced enough.  Though, what she said in the way of Gospel was spot on.  She wasn’t saying that we should always seek a break in parenting and she wasn’t saying that we can do it all.  She was saying that we need Jesus.  And so do our kids!