5 Tips for Disney World with Little Ones

We’re baaack! From Disney World that is!

I did not intend to have such a long break from the blog, but life got a bit crazy(ier) here for a bit. It’s not exactly slowing down now, but I did find a few minutes to sit and write.
We just spent a week in sunny Florida after surprising the kids with a dream trip to the amazing Walt Disney World parks. If you missed it, there’s a video up on my Facebook Page of us telling the kids. They were surprised for sure. It was a lot of fun!

While there, we learned a few tricks for visiting Disney World with small kids, so I figured I should share them with you!

1. How to Wear Magic Bands
When you go in the gate at each park, you’ll have to scan your band AND your finger print. The best way to do this is to have your band on your left wrist due to the set up. For adults, it’s not a huge deal to wear your band on the right wrist and cross your left arm over to scan the finger. That’s what I did because I wear my Fitbit on my left arm. However, for little kids that crisscrossing arms and reaching up to get their little fingers flat on the scanner is tough! So definitely make sure you get their bands on their left wrists. You also have to use the same finger each time, so if you mess it up the first day, you’ll be crisscrossing little arms all week.

For even smaller kids (our 3 year old), parents can carry or wear the child’s band and even use their own fingerprint for scanning. The bands are sizeable to fit small kids, but our little one kept taking hers off, so I wore it to avoid it being lost. I just turned hers backwards on my wrist so there was no confusion about which one belonged to who (they were the same color).

2. Baby Carrier – A MUST Have!

little girl riding in carrier on dad's back
Invest in a quality baby carrier if any of your kids are under the age of 5, maybe even two, depending on how many littles you have. This was a lifesaver for us. Between our 2 carriers (We actually only used 1 for most of the trip) and a double stroller, we pulled off multiple 12+ hour days. One kid could nap on my husband’s back while another kid or two (or three lol) rode in the stroller.

3. Snacks for Bus Lines
We stayed on resort (best decision ever!! I’m so glad I listened to my husband on that one!), so we rode the Disney buses to and from the parks each day. It worked out great for us! However, if you stay until closing or watch a late show, there’s a good chance you will have a long wait in a crazy, possibly confusing, line. Bring snacks for the kids while you wait! If you’re out of snacks by then, stop on your way out and buy a popcorn. There will be plenty of little ones crying, so save yourself some sanity. 🙂

4. Stay on resort!

IMG_0481
Seriously. Yes, I know it can be more expensive. Yes, it’s totally worth it. We arrived Sunday afternoon and did not move our van all week. No gas being used, no fighting traffic at 8 a.m., no paying for parking, etc. However, if you do choose to drive your own vehicle to one of the parks while staying on resort, you get free parking. By far though, the best part of staying on resort was being able to split up our party. When the boys wanted to stay for a 5:00 show that the girls cared nothing about watching (and were starting to meltdown anyway), I packed them up, headed back to the hotel on the bus, and ordered pizza that arrived even before the boys were back. On Friday morning when the girls had 9:00 appointments to be transformed into princesses – the boys got to sleep in and met us for lunch at Epcot. If we had stayed off resort, we’d have had to all stay together all day, every day. That would have meant the boys missing out on some fun stuff or all of us dealing with really overtired little girls for hours.

5. Bring snacks
Staying on resort, we had a meal plan that included snacks. However, it was still helpful to have our own snacks on hand. I brought some little ziploc bags with us each day that were filled with crackers, veggie chips, trail mix, etc. As I mentioned above, these were great for waiting in bus lines, but they were also very helpful in restaurants as we waited for seating or food, in the hotel room in the morning before we grabbed breakfast, etc. Bigger kids are fine waiting until a meal arrives at the table. Our 16 month old doesn’t understand that as well. 🙂

AK_PANGTRAIL_20170425_8017515660

This is just a small list of the things my husband and I have discussed that made our trip easier. Are you wanting to take your large family or multiple little ones to Disney World? Feel free to email me any questions or leave them in the comments!

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Be Healthy Box from Simply Earth

Cold and flu season is in full force around here! Thankfully, our family has been spared so far, but February’s Simply Earth essential oils recipe box has arrived, so we’re prepared should it strike.

(Disclosure: I received this box of essential oils free from Simply Earth in exchange for this review. However, all opinions are my own.)

Essential oils have been around for a very long time, but Simply Earth has put a new spin on them, offering high quality, pure oils in a monthly subscription box. Each box also includes recipes and most of the necessary supplies for the recipes. Take a look at some of their previous boxes I’ve received..

Simply Earth Essential Oils Recipe Box Contents

This month’s box included several oils that are pretty handy to have around:

Peppermint
Eucalyptus
Blood Orange
Breathe Easy Blend (Fir Needle, Frankincense, Cedarwood, & Myrrh Essential Oil)
Head Soothing Blend (Lavender, Rosewood, & Frankincense Essential Oil)

All seven recipes in the February box required very minimal effort. They were basically all mix-and-go recipes, which is definitely handy if you aren’t feeling your best. I don’t think they would be necessary for the particular recipes in this box, but should you have any questions about completing a project, Simply Earth does have instructional videos for each box available on their web site.

Recipes included:

  • Head Soothing Roll-on
  • Cold & Flu Bath Soak
  • Sinus Relief Roll-on
  • Calming Inhaler
  • Steady-on Diffuser Blend
  • Nausea Relief Inhaler
  • Point Pain Roll-on Relief

My favorite is the Head Soothing Roll-on. I put it to use immediately.

Simply Earth Essential Oils

Want to get started with your own subscription to Simply Earth’s essential oils recipe box for just $39 AND a free diffuser? CLICK HERE (Diffuser offer expires March 19)
Hint: next month’s box involves soap making! 😀

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Homemade Beauty Products with Simply Earth

January’s box from Simply Earth has been my favorite so far!

Before I tell you more about it, let me make the obligatory comment that yes, they did provide the product free of charge, but all opinions are my own. I’m not going to tell my readers I like something that I really don’t. 🙂

essential oils with diffuser
If you haven’t seen my first Simply Earth essential oils box review, be sure to check it out. Their boxes are a unique mix of essential oils and fun crafts! Each box contains 4-5 full size, high quality essential oils, 5-7 recipes for using them (on cute little notecards), and most of the supplies you’ll need for each project. Boxes start at only $39 per month.

January’s box was all about creating homemade beauty products with essential oils.

On several occasions I’ve seen posts on Facebook or heard other moms *cough* my sister-in-law *cough* talking about making things like homemade lip balm and facial products and thought, “Who on earth has that kind of time?! I’d love to do that, but really?” I mean, I was totally confused as to where these women were finding these extra hours in their day. I’m currently sitting at my computer, in the dark, and running back and forth from my kids’ rooms, trying to get everyone to actually go to sleep. On most days, I’m in a dead run from the time I wake up until 9 pm or later.

Well, thanks to Simply Earth’s essential oils recipe box, I realized I was wrong! It’s really simple and not nearly as time consuming as I had imagined. I spent less time making 6 tubes of lip balm than I do trying to decide which one to purchase when I’m standing in the store staring at them.

It was truly a 1, 2, 3 & done process.

Three steps:

1. Melt beeswax & almond oil in a double boiler.
2. Add essential oil
3. Pour into containers & let cool

Yes, it’s that easy.

My little girls love lip balm. They call it their “lipstick,” and want to wear it every time they see me putting on make up. Now I can hand them their own tube of homemade lip balm, knowing it’s free of dyes, natural scents my youngest daughter may be allergic too,  or any other unnecessary chemicals.

And look how pretty they are.

homemade lip balm
This month’s subscription box also included two diffuser blend recipes. I enjoyed them both, and a friend suggested using their “Rejuvination Blend”(lime & cedarwood) as a mom-hack for those days that you don’t get to the cleaning. Ha! She’s such a genius. Why didn’t I think of that?

My second favorite project in this box was making the Beauty Within Face Mask. I don’t tend to have dry skin on my face, but it will be an amazing hand cream for this mama that washes dishes and/or her hands 100 times each day! Again, I was surprised by how super easy it was to make too. It was basically the same process as the lip balm.

homemade facial mask

 

This essential oils box also included a recipe for a Beauty Within roll-on and a solid perfume (along with the supplies for each of course). There’s a fun video of the roll-on over on my page on Facebook.

If you want to try it out for yourself, you can see their subscription box options and individual products over at www.simplyearth.com.

And right now, you can get a FREE diffuser (regularly $50!) when ordering your first subscription box and using this code! {Expires March 19, 2017}

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Homeschooling is messy.

Homeschooling is messy. Very messy.

It’s perpetual snacktime (and sweeping crumbs), spelling lessons, paint and markers, and unending pencil shavings all mixed together.

It’s also grouchy moods from lack of sleep, annoying siblings, complaining about chores, curious toddlers, 3-5 sinks of dishes every day, and an exhausted mama.

All that stuff sounds pretty ugly right? Well, in the moment, viewing it from the midst of it, it is.

messy table with art supplies and snacks

 

But when you step back and view it from a different angle….

it’s not.

school table from above with paint books and snacks

 

It looks like little growing bodies and minds and time spent being creative. It looks like being able to rest when rest is needed (sometimes in a blanket fort), learning patience, love, kindness, work ethic, and how to be a friend. It looks like having fun, having full tummies and hearts, a family reading together after lunch, and a mama learning daily (and teaching her children by example) to lean on God.

Homeschooling is beautiful when we take the time to see it from His view.

 

kids coloring together

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We Date and Paint at Home: January

spirograph art and pen

I love date nights. Looooove them. However, we have 5 kids, recently moved to a new area, and don’t live near any of our family. We totally strike out in the babysitter department. That shouldn’t stop us from having a good time and spending some quality time together though, right? Didn’t think so. For a long time we had one or two shows we watched together each week. Then we chose to get rid of our satellite tv services, so we switched to renting or buying a movie once or twice a month. Life got crazy, and that got pushed to the back burner. This year, we’re revamping our date nights in with a Date Night Challenge. If you missed my last post, or want to join in, go check out the intro post.

This article contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links will not change your pricing, but I will receive a small percentage.

January’s date night wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but we did get to spend some time together creating some fun art, so I’ll call it a success. The baby decided to take a super late nap and then wasn’t ready to go to bed, so he joined us in his highchair. The activity I chose for this month’s date night in was fun though, and I’ll certainly pull it out for other crafts too. I have yet to let my kids touch it. 🙂

First reactions:

Me: Yaaaay! These are so fun! Back to my childhood! I’ve been wanting one of these for years.

Steven: (peeking in the box) You’re such a kid.

January’s Date Night Activity:

The Original Spirograph Deluxe Set

the orginial spirograph set box

My husband’s initial reaction may be a tad bit true. I’ve never denied it though.

spirograph-art-2

The Spirograph set has mostly stayed the same over the years. However, some special edition kits have been added, such as the Spirograph Cyclex.

The appeal of the Spirograph was the open it and go aspect. I wanted something quick and fairly easy to master. As I mentioned before, I’m not very gifted in the drawing area. Who wants to be discouraged on a date night? Not me. I was thankful for the nifty design guide included in the set. The guide gives pictures and instructions on how to create many different designs – from extremely simple to rather complex.

spirograph set box with wheels and pens

spirograph-art

spirograph-set-2

Date nights at home definitely don’t have to be elaborate. Sweet tea, good conversation, and the Spirograph Deluxe Set made a fun and quick at-home date night. I’m sure we’ll get it out again for another date night in. I have a few other ideas for using it to create different crafts too. (And at some point I may even let my kids in on the fun. :-p )

Looking for more Spirograph fun? Check out my Spirograph ideas board on Pinterest!

So what fun activities did you come up with for a January date night? Share them in the comments or over on Instagram. Don’t forget to tag me (@mommythezookeeper) and use #wedateandpaintathome! I can’t wait to see what fun y’all had!

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We Date & Paint at Home: Our 2017 At-Home Date Night Challenge 

 

I have rarely made New Years resolutions. It’s just not my thing. This year though, I happened upon an idea or two I’d like to try.

The last Friday night of 2016, I found myself standing in Wal-Mart with my husband when the crafting bug struck me. I suggested (ok, begged/demanded) that he step out of his “always go by the plan” box and do some painting with me that night. We bought a couple of cheap canvases, paints, and brushes, and headed home. I was glad he didn’t ask if we had any at home. I didn’t want to ruin my chances by telling him I did have all the supplies….packed away in storage 😆🙈

It was the funnest date night we’ve had in a long time. (Nothing will ever top the Valentine’s Day date to Chuck E. Cheese though. Oh yes, we did, and it was awesome! I nearly peed on myself in the front seat of his truck from laughing so hard as we took selfies with bubba teeth.)


Anywho, I stink at painting. My husband is crazy talented at drawing, and apparently painting too. He hadn’t touched paints since high school, and yet, he could have outdone me blindfolded. We did have a great time, despite my lack of painting skills! Our painting supplies, a pot of coffee, and cookies from my mother-in-law, and good conversation made for a fun, cheap date night at home that didn’t involve watching tv or movies, which is usually our go to. My husband even told some friends and family it was a really good idea, and he’d enjoyed our at-home date night!


All of this got me thinking. Why not do a different date night craft or art activity once a month? Cheap, fun, lots of opportunity for conversation, and it won’t require a babysitter, which we don’t exactly have easy access to.

So that’s my goal – 1 at-home date night per month that involves some sort of art or craft and is inexpensive. I’ll try to stay at $20 or less.

Then, each month I’ll share our date night activity here!

PS-If you’d like to share your own at-home date night arts and crafts, be sure to post them and include #mommythezookeeper and #wedateandpaintathome in the comment! I’d love to see what ideas y’all come up with!

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Tennessee Safari Park

tennessee-safari-park-zoo

 

We’ve said for years we’d like to visit a drive-thru zoo, but we never got around to actually doing it. Until our vacation this past Fall! We headed out on our family vacation to Gatlinburg, TN several hours earlier than originally planned, and when we passed a sign advertising the Tennessee Safari Park my husband, who is normally Mr. By-the-Book-Has-to-have-a-Plan, surprised us all by stopping!

wildebeest

There is a billboard advertising the Tennessee Safari Park in the city where we grew up, and now we do a lot of our shopping, so I was somewhat familiar with it, but had never researched to see what they actually had to offer or how close it was too us. Had I done so, we’d have visited much sooner! The Tennessee Safari Park is located in Alamo, TN (about 30 minutes northwest of Jackson, TN), which is an easy drive from Northeast Arkansas.

The zoo today includes over 700 animals of over 100 different species. What started as a family homestead of cash crops and livestock in 1858 is now a nearly 200 acre zoo and conservational breeding center.

 

The park now features a drive-thru zoo and a walk-thru petting zoo. Buckets of feed can be purchased at the park entrance, which I highly recommend. We had a blast feeding the animals. There was lots and lots of laughter in our car! We got an up-close encounter with llamas, camels, Axis Deer, Fallow Deer, Common Elands, zebras, emus, and more!

llama waiting to be fed

A few things we learned:
Bison are even more beautiful in person.
Llamas are hilarious.
We really don’t like ostriches. Really. And my husband thought it was hilarious to roll down MY window every time one came near us.

spotted deer lying in grass

 

When we finished the drive-thru portion, we parked our van and made our way over to the petting zoo. Unfortunately we were there on a pretty warm day, so many of the animals in the petting zoo area were in their shelters to get away from the sun, but that certainly didn’t stop our kids from having a good time. The water sprinklers set up were a nice touch on a hot day too.

 Tennessee Safari Park gets 12 thumbs up from our crew (two for each person that can give thumbs up at this point)! Our experience was well worth the time and money.


 

Want to plan a trip for yourself?

Hours:
Monday – Saturday:

Gates open at 10:00am
Last car in at 4:30pm

Park closes at 5:00pm

Sunday:

Gates open at 12:00pm
Last car in at 4:30pm

Park closes at 5:00pm

Ticket Pricing
$12 / adult
$8 / children
*Group and field trip rates are available*

Tennessee Safari Park
637 Conley Road
Alamo, TN 38001
731.696.4423

For more information, visit: http://www.tennesseesafaripark.com/

Or visit them on Facebook.

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Simply Earth Essential Oils Recipe Box

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that my second subscription box from Simply Earth finally arrived. We’re in the midst of moving (during the craziest holiday & birthday season is the best time to move ya know), and it took an extra week or so to track it down between the two houses and having mail forwarded, etc. I got it though!

A little recap…

I’m testing out Simply Earth Essential Oils Recipe Boxes, a subscription box that includes not only full size essential oils, but recipes and craft supplies for using them. (I am being provided the products in exchange for reviews, but all opinions are completely my own.)

Things to remember about Simply Earth and their products:

Each box contains 6-7 natural recipes, printed on cute little cards on a ring to keep you organized, 4-5 full size essential oils, and most of the necessary supplies for the craft recipes.

Simply Earth gives back by donating 13% of their profits to organizations that aid in ending human trafficking and restoring the victims’ lives.

The essential oils that arrived in this box were spearmint, coffee, ginger, and citrus burst.

Also in this box was instructions and supplies for more holiday blends and a few crafts that would make good gifts. I enjoyed stretching my crafting muscles, which I admit have gotten pretty rusty over the last few years.

bath bombs and recipe cards

The first project I tackled was making bath bombs. This was my very first time to make bath bombs, and I have to say there’s a bit of a learning curve to it. 🙂 They work and smell amazing, but definitely don’t look as lovely as I had imagined. After doing a bit more research though, I have learned what to do differently next time, and it’s a technique issue, not a product issue. (i.e. I’m a #pinterestfail kind of mom.)

essential oils and roll-on blend

I did much better with the second project, the “Digest Roll-on,” a roll-on blend of spearmint and ginger essential oils, said to ease digestion issues. I love that Simply Earth even included a pre-printed label for the roll-on bottle! I’m terrible about having to sniff and pour out my homemade household cleaners, mixes, etc. because I have no idea what’s in the bottle.

Simply Earth essentail Oils and diffuser
The diffuser blend recipe this month is a new favorite of mine! Citrus Burst and Coffee! Who would have thought of that? Certainly not me, but I love it. I love to turn it on in the morning to wake myself up. Other recipes inside this box included a holiday scented body scrub, diffuser necklace (which is super cool and not nearly as difficult to make as I imagined.), and a flannel hand warmer.

Now that I’ve seen two boxes, I can honestly say I recommend Simply Earth! It’s an easy and fun introduction for an essential oils novice and a convenient way to expand your essential oils collection and knowledge for experienced users.

Simply Earth offers three options for the essential oils recipe boxes.

1 Box Every Month: $39 per box
1 Box Every Three Months: $45 per box
Just This Month’s Box: $49
Shipping is free, and you can pause or cancel a subscription at any time.

Looking for a specific oil or a new diffuser? They have those too, and you can order oils and roll-ons individually.So head on over to SimplyEarth.com to get your subscription started, or even send one as a gift!

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It’s Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas (Simply Earth)


At least in my bathroom it does! (And the rest of the house will soon be the same.)

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you should know by now I’m pretty excited about my new bathroom! Just a bit.

It’s still not 100% complete, but it’s amazing nonetheless.
Let’s take a moment to appreciate that subway tile and original shiplap.

Sigh.

Anyway.

When I walked in there last night, it smelled like a litter box.

Y’all, our cat has not been inside in a few days. It could not be blamed on him.

Unfortunately.

I’d also like to note that the smell was NOT present just a few hours earlier in the evening. It appeared sometime between the time I fed my children and the time they went to bed!

I was somewhat shocked by the revolting smell and that it appeared so quickly, but I guess I shouldn’t have been. Two little people that often forget we have modern plumbing (ya know, a flushing toilet), a little one potty training,  and one in diapers, and it’s our laundry room, so dirty laundry too… Yeah, it’s a daily battle.


Good thing they’re cute. 😀

And good thing Simply Earth sent me one of their subscription boxes to review!

I seriously ran to grab that box because I remembered one of the recipe cards inside of it was for a Christmas air freshener! (How lucky was that?)

I pulled everything out and whipped up this easy and lovely air freshener in less than 5 minutes! The box included everything I needed except the baking soda. Now my bathroom smells like Christmas!

Ahhhh, much better.


With the overwhelming smell taken care of and replaced with a lovely, fresh scent, I could clean and search for the source of that stench. 🙂
What is Simply Earth, you ask?

It is a subscription box service with each box containing 6 or 7 different recipes with a new theme each month such as holiday (This one was Christmas!), bath & beauty, or DIY cleaning. Each box also contains 5 FULL SIZE  bottles of essential oils (100% pure essential oils), and extras such as labels and containers to make your recipes.

I was so very impressed from the moment I opened my first box.

I haven’t even done all the recipes/crafts yet from my first box (I’ll share more as I do), but I wanted to share this one with you and tell you how you can win your own Simply Earth box!

Just click the link below to enter, and a winner will be chosen next week! Yep, it’s that simple.

Rafflecopter giveaway

Too impatient and want to order your own subscription right away?
Head on over to SimplyEarth.com and use the code: ZOOFREEDIF to receive a free diffuser with your order! Be sure you have the subscription box and diffuser in your cart to use the code!

Sign up here for the box https://simplyearth.com/pages/subscription-box 

Click here to check out the diffuser https://simplyearth.com/products/essential-oil-diffuser
Be sure to check out Simply Earth on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest too for more info and fun!

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Filed under essential oils, Homemaking, Natural Home, Product review, Reviews

Ripley’s Guinness World Records Museum

sign for Guinness World Records Museum in Gatlinburg TN

 

Ripley’s Guinness World Records Museum was another fun stop on our recent vacation to Gatlinburg, TN. This museum may be small, but my husband and boys agreed it was one of their favorite activities of the week.

We received complimentary tickets to this attraction in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

ripleys-guinness-world-records-museum-1118

Located just a couple of doors down the street from Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze, the Ripley’s Guinness World Records Museum is full of fun exhibits telling about amazing world records and cool facts.

For instance, did you know that the Tulip poplar is the largest tree in the Smoky Mountains? Some of about 8 ft. in diameter can be found near the Ramsey Cascades!

We also learned about the world’s largest rubber band ball, the largest bubblegum bubble blown, the most backward free throws in one minute, and a ton more.

The entry level was a pretty quick walk through, and we were a bit unprepared for the flight of stairs with our big double stroller. However, with myself and my husband, it wasn’t a huge problem. For others with little ones, I’d recommend leaving the stroller in the car and using a sling or carrier. The bottom level of the museum was well worth that small bit of effort though!

The part we really loved at Ripley’s Guinness World Records Museum? The bottom floor of the museum is filled with over 20 interactive games and challenges that allow you to test your own skills at some fun world record activities! No, the results aren’t actually recognized by Guinness World Records, but we sure had a blast trying.

ripleys-guinness-world-records-museum-1124
This interactive area is where we spent most of our time. My boys competed against each other (okay, and myself, and their dad 🙂 ) at speed drumming, soccer, hopscotch, and even breaking concrete blocks! That last one proved to be hilarious. 😀

ripleys-guinness-world-records-museum-1155

ripleys-guinness-world-records-museum-1158

 

The kids also did some speed boxing, started their own rubber band balls, and a whole lot more. Needless to say, we had some happy and exhausted kiddos when we left. The Ripley’s Guinness World Records Museum provided an afternoon of family-friendly fun.

Located at:
631 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Open 365 Days a Year:
Sunday – Thursday: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 10 a.m. to 12 a.m.

Tickets:
Adult: $12.99
Child: $7.99

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Filed under entertainment, Experience Review, field trip, out and about, Reviews, travel