Disney Fun and Chaos

Disney Fun and Chaos

I got hooked late in life

In the Fall of 2010 My husband and I had a business trip to go to in Orlando which had one free evening on the agenda so Greg suggested that we go to Magic Kingdom for the evening. I actually resisted going, it seemed like a big hassle and since I hadn’t gone as a child I really didn’t care about going. Sure, I’d always been a Disney fan but not a sold out, decked out, nut! I reluctantly agreed but little did I know that Greg had it in his mind that we would have our wedding there. I will never forget the feeling I had when I first walked into Magic Kingdom and honestly its because I get the same feeling each time we go back. I thought I would write this to help those that are planning their first trip or even if its your fifth trip…we learn something new each time we go!

This year was our 15th Trip to Walt Disney World (and 1 trip to Disney Land) and I know there are things we still haven’t done yet. We have always stayed on property for our vacations and when we have gone for business trips we have stayed at the Ritz Carlton Orlando (which is amazing Ive stayed there 3 times). For this post I will only refer to the Grande Floridian and The Animal Kingdom Lodge because those are the only two hotels that i have stayed in.

These disney bags are discontinued but we also have this one and the Disney Dooney Weekender.


The Animal Kingdom Lodge

Last year we were asked to partner up with Disney for the Media Preview of Pandora World of Avatar opening (see previous blog post here) I thought the hotel was very nice and definitely would’ve been cool for kids but it just didn’t give either of us that relaxed feeling you get at The Grande Floridian. The positive of it is that it feels like you are on an adventure. I don’t like the layout of the Resort, its super long and we felt like it was a mile to our room.

The Grande Floridian

The bulk of our stays have been to The Grande Floridian. The first stay there was to plan our wedding and then the next trip was when we flew some family in for the wedding. We had to essentially book 6 vacations for that trip so we went through AAA, I didn’t really see much of an advantage booking through them so we haven’t booked with them since. Ill give more details on how I book next. The experience of the Grande Floridian is so relaxing. When you get there they greet you so warmly. If you stay in the main building (we have done that twice) you have a personal cast member to greet you and check you in and somehow they always know who you are are (total magic). The smell is so fresh and intoxicating in the lobby and if its the evening, there is a band playing. The main pool area is clean and classy, there is a fun pool with a slide and an under 10 area with a water play jungle gym. Really the resort is a vacation in itself. My children love it there and haven’t wanted to try any other resort.

The boys swimsuits can be found here, they are amazing quality

On a Side note-if you are going to Disney on a budget I think that its worth it to stay right on property just for accessibility to the parks without having to deal with parking. I will tell you about how it makes the Theme Park experience so much better.


From my experience booking in January works the best for our June trip. I book directly with Disney online and there is usually some kind of a deal on the Deluxe Resorts at that time. The deal may come at other times of the year but I don’t like paying for next years vacation right after I get back from this years vacation. If I do run Across some great deal I have gone ahead and booked it with the $200 deposit though.


I book the trip in January and if I’m unsure of schedules for the kids I just put the deposit down and wait to pay the balance because you have until a couple months prior of your trip to pay the balance.  I never charge more on our personal credit card then I can pay off. I use a Southwest Chase Credit card throughout the year to get points for our flights and to date I have never paid for any of our flights to disney. I recently signed up for a Disney Chase card just to get the merchandise discount honestly. One tip for if you are trying to stretch out paying for your trip is to go to to Giant eagle and get $500 Gift cards and apply them to your account one at a time until the balance is paid. You can put one gift card in each time you go online to pay. So you get to earn free gas and if you use the Southwest Visa you get points to use toward your flights there. You also technically get an extra month to pay off the trip if you wait to pay right before its due because that amount will fall on your next months Credit Card statement. We fly Southwest for two reasons. 1. Its cheap and you can update your ticket if you see better deals! 2. There are a couple of non stop flights out of Columbus, let me tell you that is huge when you are traveling with 3 little ones. We also book to ride on the Magical Express when we book our hotel which is amazing because they get your bags from the sky cap directly to the hotel for you! No Baggage Claim!!!! We just bring a bag on the plane with us with one change of clothes for everyone Incase it takes a while for it to get to our room. I also go ahead and get park hopper passes with our tickets so that we don’t feel like we have to stay at one park all day.  (update: in the process of writing this we closed on DVC so next time we go I should have a totally different perspective!)

Dining Plan

We have gone back and forth with the Dining Plans worth now that we have been to most of the Character Dining Experiences. We don’t eat a whole lot and I don’t like sitting for 3 meals, so last year we didn’t do the Deluxe Dining Plan like we have normally done, we only did the Disney Dining plan which seems to suit us better. I would say if you can do it sit down for a least one meal a day…its relaxing. I have realistic expectations so I know generally that Buffets aren’t going to be the best food ever but honestly I have never had a meal at Disney that didn’t meet the expectations that I had for the type of restaurant it was. I would say for us the benefit of the dining plan is that our trip is totally paid off before we go, plus gratuities. The first thing I do is book Chef Mickeys when I know the dates we are going. This is a hard to get reservation and if its your first trip its a must! You see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Daisy and Donald and the food is really good. Here’s a list of our favorite restaurants and one that we are trying new this year. We also plan our days around what is available at these.

Chef Mickey’s (The Contemporary)

Tepan Edo (Epcot)

Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom)

Mama Melrose (Disney’s Studios)

Dino Cafe (Disney Springs)

Pandora’s Quick Service Cafe (Animal Kingdom)

Hollywood and Vine (Disney Studios)

Be Our Guest Cafe (really hard to book but lunch is open for quick service)

The Boathouse (Disney Springs) tried it this year and loved it.

Some others we have been to but just haven’t gone again yet are Victoria and Alberts (AMAZING Anniversary dinner), Cinderella’s Royal Table and The Brown Derby.

Book your sit down meals early! You have to confirm with a credit card but its so much better for your overall experience. I have heard so many fights in the waiting areas of families that are hungry and tired that waited too long to go to the restaurant and have an hour long wait. My husband likes to sit down for at least one meal each day, its quiet, not as chaotic and also a good time to chat with the kids and hear what they are enjoying. If you aren’t on a Dining Plan you can still pre-book but they just hold a card for the reservation.

Another benefit of some restaurants is priority seating for shows so you don’t have to waste your fast passes. I usually book the Dinner package at Mama Melrose or Hollywood and Vine so that we can get priority seating at Fantasmic.

How to Keep it Magical


This may seem silly… don’t under-plan but don’t over-plan, Ive done both. Over planning (yea I’ve done spreadsheets) makes it seem like work keeping right on schedule and under planning can lead to a lot of tears (and I’m not just talking about the kids). We have literally seen a fist fight, sun burned kids screaming and adults yelling at each other and their kiddos (not judging because I have fussed at mine). I mentioned earlier that we like to stay on property and even if you have to stay at one of the Value Resorts in order to stick to a budget its worth it.

We get up between 7-8am we don’t set an alarm unless there is something special or a breakfast that we are getting to). We get breakfast at the quick service restaurant and bring it to the room (we have done a lot of Character Breakfasts over the years and the kids are usually too cranky to enjoy it honestly). We get ready and head to whatever Park we are going to between 8-9am. We already have 2 fast passes booked sometimes they are set for the evening if that’s the case we ride a couple rides that aren’t long wait times.  Jaden and Christian both have sensory issues and ADHD so having a flexible agenda has made trips to the park so much more enjoyable.

Capture the moments

I would recommend having family Pictures done or at least using the Memory Maker program. Here are a couple of our family photos that Disney Fine Art Photography has done and that reminds me, we are way over due for more!  I don’t take many myself as I have decided to be present when I am at family things so it helps to know they still will be captured!


Have a magical Vacation at Walt Disney World Resorts!


Pre-Mother’s Day

Pre-Mother’s Day
Similar Kate spade dress / Daisy Garden Dress

I on purpose am not going to look at what I wrote last year about my mother (bare with me if I repeat anything).  I am curious to see what comes from my heart this time.  When I was little (as you may have read last year) my mother was an addict so she didn’t raise me much of my life; consequently Mother’s Day has always been a hard day for me.

I am so blessed with my children and by plenty of people that love me so don’t feel bad.  I just got thinking this morning that I have come so far.


I went through very bitter dark feelings until I was a young adult.  There are a couple of poems that I wrote her (a shared interest that we had) at 12 I wrote “Someday”  which was when I just wanted her in my life so bad, I would just sit and cry and write.

Someday I’ll see you.

Not alone.

Not in hiding…Someday I’ll see you. 

Someday I’ll see you 

We’ll be together.

In the same room.

Together…Someday I’ll see you.

Someday I’ll see you 

everything will be okay.

No one will care…Someday I’ll see you.

Someday I’ll see you. 

Nothing will matter. 

My love for you will never die…Someday I’ll see you.

Someday I’ll see you. 

“I love you Mommy, I love you Mommy” 

I will say….soon 

Someday I will see you.

I don’t remember if “Soul” came before or after but I felt so abandoned and just plain mad.  I would caution any parent that has a child that has lost a birth parent to really listen and if you listen good you can hear them screaming inside.



Hate, the burning desire to hate creeps up into my soul everyday

I try to push this feeling away.

But, sometimes no more can i take 

Hate is bad, I know 

but, why must life provoke me so.

I have shed many tears through hate

Im not proud, Im ashamed 

are so much

My soul can only take so much.

This can be controlled…I tell myself day by day.

I think the last dark one I wrote (there are many others) was “Fly Away”.  Stick with me, its gonna get happier.  

Lord, take me to a place unknown. 

I feel that I’m ready to go home.

Lift me up to flyaway there, like a flock of birds flying high in the air.  

The earth is filled with so much hate. 

Of which I feel that i should not participate.

Lead me to this paradise, so that I don’t have to feel this rueful strife.

Bring me through those golden gates.

I just cannot take much more of this place.


On 03/01/01 (I know the date because I wrote it down) a Pastor at the Lutheran Church I was attending talked about forgiveness and she said something that struck a cord.  She said “Make a list of people that have hurt you and forgive them.  Im not going to share the whole list But #1 was My Name and #2 was My Mother.  I don’t remember why I put myself down first…maybe it was because I knew that my heart wasn’t right but regardless, that day was a breaking point.  I forgave her.  I forgave her for the drugs and life that she let consume her.  I let her back in.  I had for the sake of protecting myself pushed her far away and convinced myself I didn’t need her anyway.  Fast forward to the day she week before she died: I sat in the room with her by ourselves, she couldn’t really talk from her stroke.  We just stared into each others eyes for a while and she just kept nodding at me like she could her my voice.  I wasn’t talking but I was thinking; I love you, I forgive you, let go of your pain go home and be new.  I had several more moments like this with her, one where she confirmed that she had already trusted in the Lord.  When I got the call that she was close to the end. It was just her daughters sitting around her after my Nana went home for the night.  We sat there for a couple of hours and then with my hand on her chest, and hovered over her I felt her last heart beat and heard her last breath.  I think she gave that to me. Somehow in that one moment, that one small gift made everything amended.  The closeness I needed all of my life, I finally received.  I hold on to that moment every-time I get sad.

I Love you Mommy, I will see you again.





I had time in-between meetings today when l was driving down Lane Avenue in Upper Arlington I started reflecting on myself and realized a few things. (I happened to have my camera too so that was a bonus!)  I’m gonna share one of them today.  I have in some ways held myself back not even realizing it.  My sister got married this weekend (Yay!) and one of the things our Dad said about her is so true, “When Shelby says she is going to do something…she does it”.   I have always thought she was amazing in so many different ways but that comment right there summed it up.  She is confident!  I think I have a little of that but, I somehow revert back to this place of feeling that I am so different that I try to fit in.  I need to remind myself that my differences make me unique, they make me interesting and they make me special….and thats ok!  Pink Lemons Right?!?

I bought this outfit last week, totally out of the realm of my normal style but its kinda saucy!  Red is the ultimate confidence color and Linen is extremely comfortable.






Banana Republic jacket can be found here and Banana Republic jumpsuit here. (I know there aren’t many sizes left but this romper version is cute!  The espadrilles are old Kate spade but here are some cute ones! Necklace can be found here at Tiffany and Co. (this is not sponsored) go see Bob at the Easton Store if you live in Columbus he will take good care of you!


Black and White

Black and White

Ok not to be cheesy but todays outfit kinda reminded me of something.  Life isn’t always Black or White…  Im not talking about right or wrong because there are definitely lines in the sand there, Im thinking more about how we feel.  (I was thinking about the verse where God says he’d rather we be Hot or Cold just not lukewarm)  I have to admit my   attitude about almost everything has been so bleh lately.  Think about it coffee is great Hot or Iced Cold just not room temperature.  Although I’ve let somethings get to me Ive not been angry but I’ve not been happy go lucky either. I am so very blessed and I have the ability to choose my outlook no matter the circumstances. Today I choose happy.IMG_0065KAT_0898

I think I fit every possible trend in this outfit (Tweed, Lace, Velvet, Leather, and Suede!!!)

This Jacket is my favorite purchase this fall  I love the quality and how versatile it is, Talbots really hit it out of the park.  The velvet trim on this lace top is very sweet (currently 25% off)!  The leather skirt is from a few years back but current version is linked.

KAT_0891.jpgThese Kate Spade shoes also come in vintage rose.  I love anything with cute details like these pearls and ties.



Hot Pink

Hot Pink

I absolutely love bright pink, so when I saw this dress pop up on the Nordstrom Anniversary sale I knew I had to have it!  Everyone that knows me knows that I love Kate Spade, but Ted Baker carries very similar styles and colors.  This dress also comes in black.  My shoes are old Stuart Weitzman but here is the style and I think these sandals would look great as well.  My earrings were a very special gift a couple years ago from Leo Alfred (they make a lot of custom pieces) but here and here are similar styles for less.  Finally, you can’t have a good work look without a pretty computer case, similar style here.

In other news I bought this kit for my nails and I love it!  With a business and 3 kids it’s hard for me to go get my nails done so it’s nice to be able to be able to knock it out myself at home!


Paint your Lemons Pink today!

Curly Girl

Curly Girl

So lets talk about natural hair!  I had big bouncy curls as a child and then when I was 10 I was taken to get my first relaxer….BIG MISTAKE!  I continued getting relaxers till about 7 years ago when I met Becky at the Kenneth’s in Dublin.  She convinced me to grow the relaxers out and I am so glad that I did because honestly I still had to flat iron my hair when I wanted it straight but now I don’t have all of the chemical damage.  I don’t think I have the best curls but thats what the good Lord gave me to work with so I have just learned to embrace it.

The only downside to going natural is that when the humidity is high there is no keeping my hair straight….it just gets puffy.   July is usually super hot in Ohio so I was on the hunt recently for a new curly product to use.  I am mixed so typically products for Caucasian hair don’t work that great for me but on the flip side some Black hair products are too heavy.  Whats a girl to do!  I saw Ouidad at Ulta and instantly the Marketing compelled me because of the diversity they showed in the models!  I walked out with these three products as well as a shampoo sample pack just incase I didn’t like it.  I have kinky curls but I also bought the beach wave foam.


Wave Create, Curl Immersion, Melt-Down Extreme Repair Mask, and The Trial Kit

My process was to wash and apply the Melt Down Mask for 30 min.  Then I rinsed with cold water and applied the Immersion section by section and dry with a defuser attached to my GHD Dryer .  Here is the finished look,  I will say that if I do curls for a week usually the curls get better after a couple washes. The pic makes them look a little frizzy but they really aren’t its just back lit.

KAT_6582 copy.jpg

Old Kate Spade Dress, my shoes are Classic Salvatore Ferragamo Kala pumps in Navy which are fairly hard to find but I did see that Zappos has some right now.  Usually Bloomingdales restocks them.

Here is a pic from today all I did was put a tiny bit of water in to reform the curls on top but Im really happy with this because usually I can only get one day out of my curls.


How cute is the Zara top and it is on Sale!!!! Lip stick is Chanel Le Rouge Crayon in Cassis

If you get Lemons today paint them pink!

Her Success is not Your Failure

Her Success is not Your Failure

Im smiling through some of life’s lemons today, I have to be honest. The title says it all and thats what my friend Maggie gave me as encouragement that people aren’t always going to respond the best because unfortunately a lot of times when you have success in their mind it degrades them somehow.

If Blog, Instagram or Facebook posts etc. aggravates you: remember you have a choice to look or not to look.  Gosh that sounds so harsh but how many times, if we are honest has “did you see what she posted”  come out of our mouths.  Just because “she” doesn’t hear it doesn’t mean you aren’t tearing her down. I guess the saying could go the other way as well,”Her failure is not your success”?!

I remember looking at one of those backpack things with the lease on a kid and saying maybe they should just make their child obey.  Boy did I eat my words when I had Jaden. I don’t have one but I seriously contemplated it several times.  The bottom line I learned was parent how I want to parent but if something another mom does different works why not use that success to enrich my parenting.  The same is true in a general sense. I don’t have it all figured out and neither does the next person but I will never look at the success of another woman and think that it creates a failure in my life.  Thats a choice!

IMG_8094.jpgWhen Maggie and I were talking about this tonight it sparked so many thoughts in my head.  About 6 years ago I heard a motivational speaker talk about the crab mentality (if I can’t have it then neither can you).  You see the crabs when caught in a bucket could escape but instead they will grab at each other to prevent the next from escaping preventing any of them from getting out.  Huh?! isn’t that crazy?!  I think Woman are like this in a lot of ways. The bottom line in my mind is beyond the “if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say it at all.”  I really think we should look at the next woman and say instead of counting her success as my failure, let me look at it as my opportunity for enrichment.  I have a list of these women in my life some of them really good friends, some friends, some acquaintances, and some just merely those I’ve watched from a distance.  There are several that came to mind tonight while I was taking pictures at our churches Vacation Bible School…so I snuck shots of the ones that were there.

Maggie- I could write a book.  You have helped me raise my boys and taught me patience.  You have been patient with me and loved me through seeing the ugliest parts of me.  Your style is laid back but still cute.  You have a big heart and a wise soul.  I value your opinion above most and admire your faith.

Jules- (not pictured)  Your heart inspires me and your willingness to help anyone is something that has inspired me over the years that I have known you. You are an amazing mom to those 2 girls and I have learned that somethings I can give up control of to have a better quality of life.

Jessica- (not pictured)  You are open and un afraid of the truth even if it stings.  When I first meet you I always admired your ability to make a friend easily and your loyalty to your friends.  Being around you has enriched my personality.  You know how to have fun and you do an amazing job raising your 2 kids to have fun and you do so in a selfless way.

Brianna- Girl you are more organized then I will ever be. I love how you do so many things to support your husband that are unseen by many.  You have preserved through many trials and yet still have faith.  I admire how you have taught your 2 kids to love and to be kind and to be thoughtful of others.  I have taken many parenting notes from you and I will continue to watch how you do things.

Marcia- You have a joy about you that I had never seen when I met you.  I believe you truly would give anyone the shirt off your back and you showed me love when I was so down and feeling bad about my life and i have to say that I am better 8 years later in part, because of you.

Woman that may not know -but I see you….

Cristin- You have a personality that I have never seen, full of joy and life.  I admire your faith and family and can’t wait to see how God will put you in my path over the years as help as he did with you and your Mom already!

Nika- I admire your willingness to be open and share your faith

Kelsey- The first time I met your daughter she was covered head to toe in mud…have my kids ever done that, no but I took a parenting note from you.  I don’t remember exactly what you said but basically it was oh well it will wash up.  I am uptight about messes but what you said was right who cares no big deal it will wash up.  Let them have fun!

Stephanie- Your smile lights up the room and your heart shines right through.  I can appreciate your passion for our church and the kids in it and I am sure I will learn lots from you.

Trisha- again, do you ever have a bad day (I know you do) but I don’t see that you do.  Even through a tremendous opposition you smile and you 3 babies are so blessed to have you as their mom.

Tina- You have encouraged me so many times when I should have been encouraging you.  You have taught me to suck it up and keep moving (without even saying it to me)  You inspire me without even saying a word.

Jenny- I don’t know you well but that is what i notice.  You are quite and sometimes I don’t know when to shut up.  You are raising 3 kind hearted kids with great work ethic and I need some of that secret sauce.  I don’t want to have to google it (inside joke)

Abigail- You and your husband work together in the financial industry so we have something in common.  I feel like we can relate in so many ways.  I can’t wait to see how you will enrich my life.

Jen you successfully manage a home full of 5 spirit filled kids, you have a heart of gold and a forgiving spirit you are wise beyond your years.  You are tenacious and strong!

Stacy and Kayla I love our random conversations,  I love that we can walk by each other and spark a conversation about anything.  I admire both of your dedication to the church as well.

Im sure I didn’t list everyone,  I can say that there is not one lady on the list that is exactly like me or thinks like me.  Actually I would say most are very different.  I chose to let each of their personalities and successes to enrich me.  In other words I want to learn from them and let their successes help me grow as a Wife, a Mother, a Friend and most importantly a person.

When life gives you Lemons, paint them pink. Remember who you are and whose you are and choose to be positive.