Things I wish we brought with us to Universal Studios

Planning a trip can take weeks, sometimes months. I like to plan a couple months in advance for trips, especially big trips, like going to Florida for a week. But sometimes you just have to go on random road trips. Like deciding Friday afternoon that you want to go to Florida for a week, and get a 5 day pass to Universal Studios, and leave Sunday morning at 4am to drive 24 hours straight there. Oh, and doing all that with 3 little kids.

I tend to over pack. Ask my husband, it drives him nuts. I’m the person that packs 20 pairs of underwear, 15 outfits, and 3 pairs of shoes, for a 1 week trip knowing full well I can do laundry there, and won’t even wear half of what I packed, and only actually use 1 pair of shoes. So when I had about 24 hours to pack for a family of 5 for 1 week in Florida, it was a bit crazy around here. And I forgot some stuff. Even with all my lists I made.

So here is what I wish I had brought with us. That in hindsight, may seem obvious.

1. Extra sunscreen. Especially a bottle to actually put in my backpack that I brought to Universal Studios with us every day.

2. Umbrellas, or better yet ponchos. It rains in Florida, a lot. One day when we were at Universal Studios, we got caught outside in a Tropical Storm! There was no shelter expect a patio umbrella with 8 other people under it. In the middle of a Tropical Storm. A storm that lasted 30 minutes, soaked us all, and knocked down palm trees. Oh and I should mention that my daughter is scared of storms. Not out greatest moment.

3. Fan water bottles. I have two at home. I got them for like $4 each. But I forgot them at home. They would have been super awesome to have in the Florida heat walking around an amusement park all day. And yes the do sell some at Universal. But they were smaller, and the ones I saw were $15. I seriously could not justify buying them. We made do with ice cream and lots of slushes.

4. Stroller. Yes my daughter is 5. So let’s hear it mommy shamers. No my kid doesn’t use a stroller on a regular basis. But spending all day, every day for 5 days, at Universal Studios, in that heat, chasing after her big brothers, a stroller was nice to have. Plus I could hang bags on it. So yes, I did give in and bought one of those cheap little ones from a department store. When the cost of one of those was the same as renting a stroller for 1 day from Universal, it made sense to buy one. We found her a cute one with a canopy and a basket underneath. Perfect for holding extra bottles of water, and putting bags on.

5. A hat and sunglasses. I managed to pack a hat for everyone else in the family, but me. And I managed to pack all the sunglasses, expect for my 13 year old. Not my finest moment.

6. Extra hand sanitizer. I love those pocket size ones, but they can be lost easily. It would have been really nice if I had thrown in the extra one like I had debated about before leaving the house.

7. Bathing Suit. We didn’t actually go to the water park, but there is a splash pad and water play area in one of the kids areas. I did pack extra clothes, so that was good. I just never thought to throw in a bathing suit.

8. Change. Pennies and quarters. My daughter kept finding those machines that you put a penny in and and some quarters and you get some thing with a design on it out of the machine. I can’t for the life of me think of what they are called at the moment.

9. Portable charger for my phone. Between taking pictures, videos, using the Universal Studios app, sending pictures to grand parents, my battery took a hit each day.

10. Wipes/ Hand wipes. For messy faces and hands covered in melted ice cream and chocolate. So much easier than having to take them into a crowded bathroom.

 

Having listed all the things I forgot, you would think I was horrible at packing, have no idea what I was doing, and that we didn’t have a great time. But none of that is true. We had an amazing time. And I do know how to pack. I just was very forgetful this time on such short notice for a trip!

So hopefully this list will help you, and me, next time!

~ Michelle

Why Mom Should Get To Spend The Day Alone On Mother’s Day

Mothers Day is quickly approaching, and I have been seeing so many posts and articles all saying the same thing “10 Reasons Moms Should Get A Day Alone”, or something along those lines. The post then proceeds to list off all the reasons why a mom should get a day alone. I’m sure you have seen these posts, they show up every year. So being a mom, I thought I would throw my two cents in.


Let me just start by saying that I hate these type of articles. Mothers have a hard enough job as it is. We are moms, first off. We take care of our families, our house, the family schedule. We grow another human inside of us! We have to defend every choice we make. How we became mothers (Adoption, step parent), how we got pregnant, what age we got pregnant at, activity level during pregnancy, how we choose to bring our how child into the world, what we feed our babies, if we stay home with our kids, if we go to work, I could go on. The list is endless. For real.

Then once a year here comes Mother’s Day. A day that is supposed to be set aside to honour mothers, spoil mothers, let mothers know how much our families appreciate all our hard work. Then come these articles and blog posts, which are filled with nothing more than lists of multiple reasons defending and justifying yet another choice of ours – the choice to spend the day alone.

Don’t we have enough to defend without having to list off a whole bunch of reasons to justify what we want, on our special day of all days?

So I will tell you the reason, not 10 reasons, not 20 reasons, one reason, no arguments, no justifying, no defending, one reason why a mother should get to spend the day alone. Here it is: Because she damn well wants to.

No mother, scratch that, no person, should have to argue, defend, justify, be made to feel guilty, or give a list of reasons as to why they want a day alone.

The simple fact that a person asks for, needs, deserves a day alone, should be respected, and accepted without question.

Mom, if you want to spend the day alone, if that is what you want, I hope you get it! I hope you a relaxing day alone and that its all you ever dreamed of.

Now, I don’t know about you, I personally have never spent a Mother’s Day alone. But I will be honest with you, the thought of it does sound nice. Maybe I will ask for that this year.

~ Michelle

Reindeer Food

Every year we make Reindeer Food. Every year on Christmas Eve before the kids go to bed they go outside to spread out the food. They leave it all over the yard, just to make sure the Reindeer find it! They love this tradition. It is so much fun.

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Here is our recipe for (super special, super magical) Reindeer Food.

What you will need:

Bird Seed
Coloured Sugar (A whole mix of colours, or just red and green)
Little Plastic Bags

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We get a bag of bird seed and coloured sugar from Bulk Barn. That way you can decide how much of each item you need.

Next pour your sugar into the bag with the bird seed and mix together.

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Make sure you have your bags ready, we make one bag for each child. Pour in the amount you want in each bag.

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Wait for Christmas Eve and go out side and sprinkle the special treat on your lawn.

Enjoy!

~ Michelle

Depression And The Holidays

Hello New Day.
Hello New Week.
Hello New Adventure.

HelloMonday

One step closer to Christmas, and yet I feel like I took 50 backwards. How is that even possible? One of life’s great mysteries, along with were they socks in the dryer go, or where toddlers who don’t sleep at night still get all their energy from.

Last week I did really well with working out. It was much fun to get back into it on a daily base. I was feeling really good. Happy. Then I went out dinner Saturday night, and then out to the movies Sunday afternoon. Hello unhealthy food. So gross. This week is about eating healthy and working out. Which I admit is a bit hard to do before the holidays. All I want to do is drink hot chocolate, and eat cookies and comfort food while wearing comfy clothes and hiding under a blanket. A warm cozy, crazy soft blanket.

With the holidays quickly approaching, depression and anxiety and go into overdrive. I am trying to get a jump on it by staying active and eating right, but like I said, I want all the cookies and junk food. I’ve also started to make a point to have some ‘me time’. Nothing major, just little stuff I can fit in during the day, facial masks, painting my nails, reading, bubble baths, journaling. Anything small that I think can help. You know what they say, its the little things that matter the most.

The holidays are always hard. Mix in everything going on, mix in being a birth mother. I sometimes have to try extra hard to get out of bed and put a smile on my face. Its not that I don’t want to, its not that I’m not happy. Its just that it is hard. Its hard to explain to some who doesn’t understand or has experienced it. I can be happy, but still be so physically and emotional drained that it is hard to show just how happy I actually am.

I have a feeling this holiday season will be the most exhausting holiday yet.

~ Michelle

Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

It is that time of year again. Valentine’s Day.
The one day set aside to show your love for all the special people in your life.
However I also go back and forth in a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. So much pressure on one day! And why one day, why can’t we show our love every day? But it is nice to have a “special” day. And it is a nice excuse to do some crafts with the kids and decorate with all things pink and red and of course glittery!!!

If you are stuck for what to do this Valentine’s Day, I have ideas to help ease the pressure!

Here are 10 fun Valentine’s Day activities that you can do with just you and your partner, or all together as a family!

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1. Treasure Hunt around the house. Or outside if its warm or you don’t mind the cold. You can make this romantic, go to places that mean something – first date and such.
If you have kids you can make it fun for them. Hide heart shaped candy around the house.
You could hide love notes around the house, write it on different pieces of paper so they have to find all of them to make up the message. This can work with or without the kids.

2. Share the love. Volunteer somewhere. Homeless shelter, animal shelter, or both. You can do this as a family or just with your partner for some special one on one time.

3. Wine and Dine your partner. There are a few different ways you can do this one. This one is really just one to do with your partner.
Go out for a taste test. Visit a winery.
Find a place that you can make your own wine.
Buy several different wines and cheeses and snacks and go home and sample them by candlelight or by your fireplace.

4. Travel in the comfort of your own home! This can be done as a family event or just with your partner after the kids go to bed.
Decorate, put up pictures of Paris, or some other place you have always wanted to travel. Make authentic food from that place. Find some music online from whichever place you picked to travel to, to complete it all.

5. Reenact your First Date.
Remember the first place you had your date? Bonus if you remember the actual meal you ordered and not just the restaurant.
Take the kids with you and tell them your love story.
( I remember the place, and my meal, however I’m a vegetarian now and wouldn’t be able to eat it!)

6. Go Skating.
I am not one for the cold, but there is something romantic about Ice Skating outdoors. Either at an outdoor rink, or if there is a frozen lake near you (just make sure the lake is frozen enough for this and it is safe! Safety first!)

7. Family Picnic, or a romantic picnic for two!
Make some yummy food you can eat with your hands, bonus if you can cut it into heart shapes. Spread a blanket on the floor, put on a romantic movie or music, and ta-da!

8. Trip Down Memory Lane.
This can work with or without the kids.
Go for a drive to where you first saw each other. Then to where you had your first date. Got engaged. Got married. Tell the story to the kids, or just talk about your story together.

9. Write Love Notes to each other.
This can work if you have kids or if you want to do this just you and your partner. Write a bunch of little love notes, make some funny, some serious, some romantic *wink wink*, or write a whole love letter.

10. Craft night / Movie Night.
Make it a family fun night with the kids. Make some crafts together and watch a movie.
When was the last time you watched Cinderella?

 

Whatever you decided to do on Valentine’s Day I hope it is fun and filled with love and happiness!
~ Michelle

25 Christmas Books

This is a tradition we started last year. I love it. The kids love it. I wrap up 25 Christmas books. Some we already owned and mixed in a couple new ones. It is the boys job to pick one each night and then read it to their sister. Everyone has so much fun. I love creating life long memories with my kids like this.

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What Christmas and Holiday traditions do you have in your family?

Do you have a Wordless Wednesday post? Link up below!

~ Michelle

Favourite Holiday Movies

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One of my favourite parts of the holiday season, besides family, food, and Christmas lights, is Christmas movies!

I LOVE Christmas movies.

I remember when I was little cuddling up and watching “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” every Christmas Eve, and we can’t forget watching “A Christmas Story”.

Some of my favourite Christmas movies are

1. How The Grinch Stole Christmas. (The original cartoon, although the Jim Carrey one is funny too.) I remember laying on my grandparents bed in Florida and watching this moving. Such precious memories as they are no longer with us.

2. Scrooged. Bill Murray. Enough said.

3. A Christmas Story. Classic.

4. White Christmas. All time favourite. I was lucky enough to go see the broadway show with my mom it was amazing.

5. Frosty (the original cartoon).

6. The Santa Clause. (All 3 of them. Who doesn’t love Tim Allen?)

7. The Polar Express. Mostly because my boys love it, and every time I watch it with them I am brought back to the first time I watched it with them. We watch this every year and cuddle up. Such great memories with this movie.

8. Home Alone. (Only the first one.)

9. Elf.

10. Miracle on 34th Street.
What are some of your favourite Christmas / Holiday Movies?
~Michelle

Cotton Ball Snowflake Craft

My toddler loves crafts. We try to do something every day. So naturally with winter upon us and Christmas quickly coming up we decided to do some snowflake crafts.
We did an easy and fun cotton ball craft.

Here is what you will need:

Paper
Cotton Balls
Glue
Optional: You can either just simply spread the glue on, or use a paint brush. In that case you will need a bowl and paint brush.

Next draw out your design with glue.

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Next fill in with cotton balls. My daughter thought this was funny and so much fun. After she had to squish some of the cotton balls and throw them around the kitchen.

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And done!
It’s that simple!

After we finished the snowflake she ran to the living room pointing at my snowman decoration. So we attempted to make a snowman after. It pretty much turned out like a lump of cotton balls on the paper, but she had fun, and that is what matters.

So here is our lump of cotton balls, I mean snowman!

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Hope you and your little ones have as much fun as my toddler and I had making these fun cotton ball crafts!

~ Michelle

 

Getting Ready For The Holidays

Hello New Day.
Hello New Week.
Hello New Adventure.

HelloMonday

It is already the last week of November. Holy jumping, this year has just flown by. My Christmas tree is already up, the house is decorated, gifts have been bought, I am (mostly) ready for the holidays! Bring it on!

Like I said, I am mostly ready for the holidays. I say mostly because no matter how much planning I do December is always full of surprises, and there is always something I tend to forget, no matter how many lists I write and re-write.

So my goals for week are to prepare for the holidays so for once, just once, I might actually be ready and not running around like crazy the week before.

So my 10 goals for the week are:

Home

1. Clean. And then clean some more and organize. So that when it comes to the holidays and company coming over I am not doing a major clean 10 minutes before.
2. Have a grocery list ready for the holidays and buy anything I can that will not go bad ahead of time.

Family

3. Mail out christmas cards! Seriously. I started writing them November 1st. They are still sitting on my desk.
4. Visit Santa and get our traditional photo of at least one kid crying. Because they end up being so cute and I can’t wait to show the kids when they are older.
5. Go for a drive and look at Christmas lights. The past two years we haven’t done this with bed rest and a baby who hated the car and would get sick in the car. This year I want so badly to do this again. I have missed it so.

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6. Find time to relax. Journal, colour, read, take a bubble bath. Whatever it is as long as I am relaxing.
7. Realize that no matter how many lists I make, how many goals I make, no matter what I do, things will go wrong, I will forget things, but at the end of the day none of it truly matters. Time with family is what matters.
8. Go with the flow. Remember to breathe. Workout, when something quick, just some yoga, a dance party, something as long as it gets me moving!

Work

9. Set “work hours”. Working from home it is hard to separate work and non work stuff. I need to learn to set “work hours” and learn to walk away and not stress about it.
10. Don’t be afraid to try new things!

What do you hope to accomplish this week and before the holidays?

~ Michelle

To Decorate Or Not To Decorate Before November 11th?

The debate continues. But does anyone know when it started? I do not.

When did it become a bad thing to decorate for Christmas early? When was it deemed disrespectful to decorate before November 11th, Remembrance Day? Who decided that if you have Christmas decorations up and a Christmas tree decorated that you are spiteful and disrespecting our Veterans?

Growing up I never heard of this debate. People were free to decorate whenever they decided to. When and who decided this?

My opinion, as someone who has had family members fight for my country, as someone who knows people enlisted in the army right now, the act of putting up my Christmas decorations on November 1st vs November 12th has no baring what so ever on my level of respect for my countries Veterans, my family members and my friends.

I respect the Veterans every minute, of every day, not just on one day for one minute.

If you so believe that in your family you would rather wait till November 12th or later to decorate, go for it.

But please lets not start a fight and start insulting people over this. Lets show respect and love to everyone.

You would not tell a person born on November 11th to not celebrate their birthday because it is Remembrance Day, so do not criticize people for decorating for a holiday.

Santa and the Poppy can go hand in hand in friendship if one so desires. So lets stop the arguing, stop the nit-picking, let us just all show respect, and on November 11th, no matter what your house looks like, whether you have Halloween decorations still up, Christmas decorations or even a couple Valentines decorations lying around, lets just focus on the importance of the day, no matter what our houses look like.

Looks don’t matter when it comes to how we view people, it is their character, their being, their spirit. Just as what my house looks like does not matter, but the people in my house and their love and respect on such an important day.

On November 11th, let us focus on our Veterans. Let us focus on all they have done for us and our country and what they continue to do.

Remembrance Day

~ Michelle