Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Show and Tell Tuesday: Top 5 Favorite Pictures!

Today is Show and Tell Tuesday and I'm linking up with Momfessionals to share my Top 5 Favorite Pictures!

This is an impossible task for me. I take over 2,000 pics a month...easy. And if we're at Disney or on vacation? It's more like 2,000 in a day haha. I just love pictures. I love the moments captured. I've never had a sense of smell and the thing that has always bothered me is that I don't have that ability to smell something and have it be attached to a memory. This makes picture taking even more important to me. I LOVE that I can look at a photo and instantly be transported to that moment in time. I cherish photos. I read some study recently that said even the act of taking photos makes a moment more special. I guess our little family just has a lot of special moments ;)

In thinking of what my top 5 favorite pictures are...I more started thinking about my favorite moments. Because, for me, that's what pictures are. It's not about the actual photo...it's about the moment it captures.


Zach and I love travel. We've loved it since we were dating (I've loved it since childhood but I had to ease Zach into it haha) and we always have such a great time just the two of us on trips. Of course we LOVE trips with our kids too (our favorite family memories are vacationing) but there is just something special about that quality time away together. It's hard to pick through ALL of our amazing travels and pinpoint a favorite. Let alone ONE photo to represent it. But I have to say that our trip to California last spring stands out (yes, even ahead of fancy places like Italy! Paris! New York!) as a top trip for me. We were supposed to be in Italy and it got canceled 10 days before we were supposed to leave. I'm such a planner and having to switch gears in such a short span of time was insane. But yall. It made for SUCH an INCREDIBLE trip. We spent 10 days along the California coast and did it all. Whale watching, road trip in a convertible, golf at Pebble Beach, Jimmy Kimmel Live and (of course) Disneyland. 2016 ended up being a rough year for us and this trip will always be that special time before. It'll forever be a cherished memory for me and I'm so thankful for it!

Our wedding day was magical...our engagement was beyond romantic...but our trips together are the most special for me! 

This is a runner up for favorite trip photo...our very first BIG trip together. An 18 day long summer trip that included two cruises, a stay in the Bahamas, a visit with my family in Melbourne, a Ft Lauderdale stay and a Disney trip all in one! We both always talk about how we had a HUGE tub of clothes in the trunk of our car and would unpack and repack between stays. It was the beginning of our love for travel together!

Tess's Birth

All of the days that our children were born were truly special. There is nothing like delivery day and that moment when a new life enters the world and a new member enters your family. But y'all this picture. It gets me emotional EVERY time I look at it. This was our third time around. And our second daughter. But that look of pure LOVE on his face. The tears in his eyes and the way he's looking at her just shows the love he had for our baby...instantly. There are several from her birth where he's watching me with that same look on his face. He is a man who love his family with all of his heart. I knew this by his actions and words and commitment...but I LOVE having a photo that shows it too :) 

Runner up for favorite looks of love...Kye was SO sweet when Tess was born and was just instantly obsessed with her and I have SO many pics just like this one. With joy and pride and pure big brother love all over his sweet face!


Disney is my happiest place. It's my favorite place in the WORLD and I'd live there if I could. I'm just the best version of myself when at Disney! I loved it growing up, but as a parent I love it in a whole new way. When I think back on ALL of our Disney travels the moment that stands out the most to me was that first "magical moment." The one that just brought tears to my eyes because it was so perfect and special. It was Kye's first visit and we met Woody and Jesse and he was just SO into it. He gave Jesse Mommy's kisses and hugged them both and didn't want to leave them. I was crying. Zach's mom was crying. My mom was crying. It was just such a perfect Disney moment. I've had many, many such moments sense then (I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry at least once every trip...even when there by myself ha!) but this one will always be special to me!

Runner up for favorite Disney picture is also of Kye on our favorite ride together. Is this not the perfect Disney ad or whhhhat?

Girl Time

Having a daughter is such a gift. Growing up in a home where I wasn't ever very close to my own mom has always made me anxious for a daughter of my own. I have so many goals as a mom and one of them is to raise my girls up in a way that they will want to be like me and will want to have a close bond with me as they grow into adulthood. I wanna be a mother that they will be proud to call their own! Holding my first baby girl in my arms that first day brought SO many emotions for me and the day we went to get our nails done together for the first time was just super special. It was the first true "girl time" moment we've shared and is something I've looked forward to my entire life (and, yes, I cried at the nail salon too haha). I know it's only the first of many special girl moments we will share together!

Runner up has to be this pic from our Mommy-Britt weekend together! This Disney weekend was SO fun and SO special for our bond. It really was a trip I'll forever cherish and one that she and I still talk about on a regular basis! You can't fake this look of pure JOY!

Mini Me

Every child is precious and special and when I think of Tess my first thought is how she's my "mini-me." I LOVE it. I love that since she was born people always comment to me how much she favors me. I love that she looks like me and acts like me and is just a mirror image of myself. I know that it may not always be this way so I soak it alllll up while I can! I really want to find us some cute Mother-Daughter outfits to wear :) I'm so thankful my mom saved so many of my baby clothes and that I'm able to do recreation photos with her! 

Little Emily!

There you have it! A few of my favorite photos :) Be sure to come follow me on Instagram to see more of our family (and a daily play by play of our lives in my IG Stories haha) and also follow me on Facebook where I post all of my blog posts as well as tons of other great parenting resources and articles! 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Mickey's Backyard BBQ

For Kye's birthday this year he wanted to go to Disney World. We had just gone for Britt's birthday (and Tess's first visit) but yall know I'll never complain about going back :)

I explained how, right now, Disney is actually a cheap trip for us in this post! This trip we did actually stay for free in our timeshare which worked out great. We did a two bedroom unit and used the extra bathroom for Tess's pack and play. She's in a big girl bed but will still travel in the pack and play for now (which I'm super thankful for as it makes travel SO much easier).

We headed out on Thursday March 2nd. We checked Kye out of school late enough that he'd still be counted as present for the day ;) You gotta work the system with how strict they are about attendance!

We made great time and checked in quickly to our condo. The kids LOVE the unpacking and settling in process. I'm a person who likes to fully unpack. Even for just a short stay somewhere. I like to get everything unpacked as soon as we arrive (clothes in drawers, food in cabinets, everything!) and the kids are catching onto my routine. When we go to Disney we have a tradition of loading up ALL of their Disney friends. We use trash bags and the kids LOVE getting to sleep with them on all our trip!

Poor Tessie felt super left out when the big kids were setting up their room. She declared that the master bed was "her bed" and set up a bunch of Disney friends all on "her bed."

I try to make every birthday for my kids special. I know that just getting to GO to Disney is a special birthday but, of course, I like to make the event extra-special for them. For Britt's recent birthday she was combined with Tess's first visit so it was a MEGA birthday trip. Typically though we keep birthday celebration trips very short (1 park day and 1 fun "special" experience). Kye's park day was Hollywood Studios (hello Star Wars!) and his special experience was Mickey's Backyard BBQ. Not only do I like to do something special for birthdays...I also have this desire to try a different Disney experience every time we visit if possible. We'd never done Mickey's Backyard BBQ and when I saw they had all-you-can-eat ribs? I knew it was the PERFECT birthday surprise for our rib lover!

We told the kids while on the way to dinner. Kye doesn't love surprises haha he prefers anticipation. And it was SO cute seeing his face light up when I told him it was a buffet of ribs haha it was a reminder to me just how well I know my children and what they will love and what will make them feel special. Kye's future wife take note: food is the way to his heart ;)

Mickey's Backyard BBQ is a dining experience located at Fort Wilderness Resort. You must book (and pay!) in advance. You can pay using Disney Giftcards though which saves some money! It is a per head charge and kids under 3 are free. I booked at 180 days out BUT saw that the day of our reservation there were still spots available. I'm not sure if it's always pretty available or not. We also went at a low crowd time so maybe during more crowded seasons you'd need to book earlier! You can learn more about it here! 

You want to leave in PLENTY of time. Fort Wilderness Camp Grounds are MASSIVE and require bus transportation. The stop for Mickey's Backyard BBQ is super far from the parking lot so you want to be sure to have tons of time to get there. I'm a person who gets NERVOUS about timing with Disney related events. I like to be there well before the doors are set to open ;) 

When we arrived I realized I'd forgotten Kye's birthday pin at home. #momfail. I ran into the check-in area of the resort when we arrived and luckily they had some on hand! Most of the resorts (if not all of them) do keep buttons at check-in counters. You can also get them at any guest service area and they are usually on wagons at the front of the parks when they open as well. You can't have a Disney Birthday without a button!

On our way!

Bus seating got everyone excited haha!

I had read to get to Mickey's Backyard BBQ well before showtime b/c the doors open early and you want a good seat. None of this is true. Seating does not matter. And if you need a high chair you'll be seated on one of the ends of the tables anyway so it also doesn't matter. And yes, I said "you will be seated." Because once the doors open they usher families in by groupings and assign you seating anyway. We were there in PLENTY of time and were thankful it was so pretty out because we had a rather long time before we were allowed in. I'm not saying I'd risk getting there right at your showtime, but I also won't stress getting there as early next time. 

Tess LOVED walking around and climbing on all the rocks and of course Britt joined in ;)

They have photo pass cast members at the entrance of the dining and at both character meeting lines! As an annual pass holder we get free photos which is so awesome! I can enjoy being IN the moment rather than worrying about capturing it ;) 

Being a backyard bbq you know I had to get us some themed outfits! Zach and I have talked a lot about ways to cut back on spending and I know not everyone appreciates a well themed Disney outfit...but I LOVE it. I told him I'd rather use the money we save for our kids school clothes on Disney clothes and then they can just wear those clothes to school too ;) I'm planning to have them all wear these outfits for Easter! (they are all from Kohls and are by Carters)

I love this!

Once inside we hit the buffet line to grab all of our food. Next time...we will probably wait to eat and instead see about lining up to meet characters. The food is available ALL night and there is NO rush. I think eating right when we got there made it tough for the kids to focus on eating b/c once the festivities started they wanted to go DANCE. The food is all you can eat and is super family friendly. Hot dogs, bbq, RIBS, corn on the cobb and mac and cheese. Plus unlimited ice cream (Sadly for me they did not have the Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Sandwiches I love...and I wasn't the only adult I saw at the ice cream carts who was disappointed by that discovery haha) and drinks! It's all picnic table seating and is very, very casual. It's outdoors but in a large covered area so even if it did rain you'd be totally dry with no issues (except going to the bathrooms which aren't attached to the covered area). 

Ready to get our groove on!

I get pretty crunk for characters haha

Told you this kid loves him some RIBS!
He did say they weren't as good as Daddy's though ;)

They had some stage show entertainment as well as times of dancing with the characters. It was all live music, very country styled. Some of the lyrics weren't our fav but it wasn't anything crazy inappropriate (if you've ever done the Incredibles Dance Party then you'll know that Disney isn't always super careful with their musical choices!). We didn't actually go sit up front to watch the stage shows as we were more interested in the dancing so we used those breaks to eat. BUT again...next time we'll be more strategic and try to be in line for character meetings rather than spending time eating right away!

Birthday Boy!

The characters are Minnie, Mickey, Goofy, Chip and Dale! They all come out and dance but it's smart to prep your kids in advance: it's DANCING TIME only. No hugs. No touching of the characters. No photos. No autographs. Just dancing! Britt didn't catch onto this very quickly and took a LOT of reminding from both myself and cast members about it. She wasn't alone as it seemed like most kids couldn't resist hugs. It's def something I'll better prep my kids with in the future!

Videos of dancing:

Kye was KILLING me with the dabbing! Thank you public school education haha! This video cracks me up :)

I didn't get a lot of dancing pics b/c it was mostly me solo with all three kids on the dance floor. I will say even if it's cool outside wear layers b/c I was working up quite the sweat chasing after them all AND dancing some myself ;) Especially because Tess didn't want to venture on her own much so I ended up holding her and dancing with her in my arms! Dancing isn't Zach's thing but the rest of us LOVED IT. Kye is very into dancing at school (it's like what they do at PE?) and he really enjoyed it. I think he'll continue to think this kinda thing is fun for at least a couple more years!

I also wish I'd known about the lines for characters. I'm not a huge fan of this. Of course you want to meet the characters as that's part of the cost you pay for the meal! But I wish they had a better system for meeting them. Like have table numbers and that's your spot in line or something. Because it was pretty crazy how long we had to wait for Minnie and Mickey. I was thankful Zach was with us as he stood in the line while we danced. Characters would dance on the dance floor then take meet and greet breaks. Again, I'd recommend hopping in those lines early on in the night to get that part over so you can just eat and dance without worrying about it! The line was tough on Tess and took away from her enjoyment of the event for sure. Zach also cannot stand lines and having to wait was annoying for him. Disney is SO well organized with SO many things I don't really get why there isn't a better system for something like this! I love the casual vibe of the event but the need for organization with character meetings is def something they should look into! 

They make special announcements of anything and everything you may be celebrating...they did Kye's birthday announcement while we were in line for Mickey and Minnie! You can see it here!

Where is Tess? Can you spot her? Crying kids get strategically hidden haha

We danced some more and Zach got to his ready-to-go-point. Tess was tired and fussy and it was a LOT of stimulation. Zach doesn't like dancing or live music. So he didn't last too long either. The big kids and I could have kept on going but we did have a big park day the next day! Zach took Tess potty and we hopped in line for Chip, Dale and Goofy. Thankfully this was a MUCH quicker line than Minnie and Mickey. IF we had the time I'd recommend either a) meeting characters BEFORE eating or b) staying late and meeting characters towards the end of the night. I'm not sure how long the event lasted as a whole? Our start time was 5:30 and we were done by 7 but the party was still going strong when we left! 

Chip and Dale are always such FUN characters to interact with!

Britt's pose game haha

Tess wanted to meet Goofy, even with the tears in her eyes ;)

Goofy ALWAYS loves Zach. 90 percent of the time Goofy ASKS for a photo with Zach b/c of their height similarities! 

Overall we all agreed we had a BLAST at this event! I think Tess was a little young for it and I can see us wanting to do it again in a year or so. That way Kye won't be "too old" yet for it and Tess will be old enough to enjoy it more. The food was really good and the character interactions were awesome. Getting to dance with them like that was really something the kids will always remember! Zach may not like live music, or lines, or dancing but he even said he enjoyed it and would do it again and thought it was worth the price tag! He and I are both big about being "in the know" and now that we know so much about the event, we know we'd enjoy it even MORE a second time around. This was the fussiest Tess was our entire trip and if I had to pick a time for her to be fussy I would have picked this over the park days. Kye LOVED the entire thing from start to finish (the unlimited food, drink, and ice cream helped haha) and it was a great birthday celebration event for him!!!

Everyone was sleepy on the bus ride back!

We got the kids in the bed plenty early and got to have some How I Met Your Mother time together before we went to sleep early too!

Mickey's Backyard BBQ is officially on our list of things we'd like to do again at Disney World! If your family hasn't ever had the experience then it's something I'd for sure recommend and think it makes a wonderful celebration event. If you have done it before...are there any other tips you can offer to make it an even better experience for us in the future? It was the perfect kick-off to what ended up being one of our FAVORITE Disney trips of all time!

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