Even Gymnasts Have a Disney Side

One of the great privileges this blog has brought me has been the opportunity to work with great brands that I love. I have been very, very, VERY picky and selective over the years in who I work with, what kinds of posts I write for companies, and how often I write a promotional post. I’m glad that one of my final posts on this website will be for a brand that I know and love.

Disney Side1

Disney. Who doesn’t love Disney, right?!

Living in Florida has a lot of perks, one of them being our proximity to the Disney parks. The truth is, I can only take so much of a theme park in one day. After a few hours, I’m usually done feeling magical, which means living nearby is nice because we can pop in for a quick visit, hit up the attractions we enjoy the most, and leave before major melt downs occur.

That is what we call “Winning.”

Last year I had the honor of being invited to the Disney Social Media Moms event, where I learned so much more than I thought I would. I went to the event with a little bit of trepidation because I thought it would be all MAGIC and FAIRIES and LOOK AT DISNEY FROM EVERY ANGLE!

Even grown ups (especially grown ups?) enjoy showing off their Disney Side.

Even grown ups (especially grown ups?) enjoy showing off their Disney Side.

It was none of that. I left encouraged, inspired, and with the germ of an idea to start a new website. Fast forward ten months, and that germ of an idea is about to take root.

A few months ago, I was selected to take part in Disney’s new at home Disney Side Celebrations. I didn’t really know what this meant until a large box showed up at my door with a beautiful plum-colored American Tourister suitcase filled to the brim with Disney product.

Nobody does magic like Disney, eh?

A friend made Tia this super cute Frozen-inspired leotard with snowflakes all over it and "Let It Go" across the top. It is her new favorite.

A friend made Tia this super cute Frozen-inspired leotard with snowflakes all over it and “Let It Go” across the top. It is her new favorite.

The idea was to have a party in my home in which I, along with my kids and their friends, could show off my Disney Side. This posed a slight problem in that we had already hosted several home parties over the last few months, and I wasn’t really prepared for another one. I did, however, have Tia’s 8th birthday party planned at her gym, so I took my one stone and flung it at both birds.

(Do you love how I used that totally cliche’ figure of speech? Wasn’t that fun?)DisneySide4

I brought the Disney cups, and plates, the tattoos and games and spread them out on the table, and laughed when not only the kids, but also the adults started ooh’ing and aah’ing over the goodies. Disney brings magic in so many ways.

For the kids, the magic is in the now. The songs, the colors, the lights and characters that come to life.

For the adults, it’s in the nostalgia. Everything is new, and yet it is just as it was when we were young, and the early versions of ourselves get to fly again through the power of imagination.

As commercial as Disney may seem to some, for me it holds just the right amount of nostalgia and magic to bring out my own Disney Side. It must be all the fairy dust they sprinkle around the parks.


Disclaimer: I was asked to be a part of the Disney Side at home celebrations, and Disney provided me with all the product necessary to throw a party. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Scenes from a Holiday

Remember when we were kids and all the futuristic movies we watched were set in the 2000’s? The year 2025 seemed to be a popular setting for movies filled with flying cars, highways in the sky (skyways?), and robotic keepers of the peace.

Basically what I’m saying is car makers only have 11 years to get that flying car up in the air or Hollywood is going to lose all credibility.

Flying minivans?



Also, it’s high time someone came out with the Hoverboard. The future is now, people! Get on it!!!

Happy New Year, everyone. This is a year of expectation for our family. We are looking forward with great expectation of all that God has for us to do. Last night I rang in the New Year with a kiss from the most precious 17 year old old who has stolen my heart right away, from the man who has been a rock through a couple of rough years, and from a ten year old with a heart as big as the ocean.

This morning I kissed the freckled cheek of a six year old who giggles his way through life in a way that projects sheer delight. Soon I will welcome home a seven year old who got to ring in her new year with a sleepover at a sweet friend’s house, and I will force her to hug me because she’s not really the touchy-feely type.

I’m so blessed it’s ridiculous.

Here’s to a great 2014! I am thankful to have 2013 behind me. Looking forward to this new year.

Happy New Year fist bumps to everyone!!!


Enjoying one of our many morning walks.


So cute! The birds are fun, too.


Playing with “The Girls.”


I love these kids!


Florida + December = Awesome


Exploring a new park.




New cowboy boots, which she has worn every single day since Christmas.


Tampa Aquarium


If only they had some personality…


Rainbow Loom – It’s universal…

Insta-Wednesday is BACK!

My dog ran off this morning and came home covered in crap – LITERALLY. She’s an old woman, but when she sees a pile of poo, the puppy in her comes out and she cannot resist. So I spent a solid fifteen minutes chasing her around the yard with the hose, and now I smell like a wet, crappy dog.

You’re jealous of my glamorous life…

Insta-Wednesday photos for you to view while I go clean up.


Tia’s cheering square at her meet Sunday. Sweetness.


We served a Thanksgiving meal to people in need at our church’s food pantry Saturday morning. 


You know…just monkeying around. And still loving’ our St. Louis Cardinals!


I just don’t even have words to describe this photo…


Lovin’ this Florida Fall Weather!

And last but not least – video evidence that my growing addiction and need for strong caffeine is warranted and justified. This was shot before 7:00 am, and before I’d completed my first cup of coffee. Their energy exceeds mine by miles….


Win 4 Tickets to the Tampa Boat Show: A Giveaway


There are few things I love more than spending an entire day on the water. I love the sound of the ocean lapping up against the side of the boat. I love the way the seagulls shout their praise from the skies. I love that when we are on the boat, we are together.

Boating with family is basically forced together time. There’s nowhere to go. If you’re on a boat, you’re required to actually interact with one another. Basically, boats are the minivans of the sea. There’s no technology to distract you, no separate rooms to escape to…at least not on the boats I’ve ever been on. Boating is, perhaps, one of the best ways to enjoy being together as a family. It’s fun, relaxing and the scenery can’t be beat.

Living in Florida, it is imperative to either own your own boat, or be friends with someone who has a boat. I mean, I guess imperative might be a strong word, but it’s a shame to be surrounded by ocean and never have the opportunity to float on said water. Which is why The Tampa Boat Show is kind of a big deal.

See how happy he is to be on a boat?!

See how happy he is to be on a boat?!

The Tampa Boat Show is the region’s premiere boat show, showcasing the best of boating plus the latest marine accessories and aquatic activities. I love going to boat shows because every year the gadgets for boating get cooler, plus the boats are so shiny and pretty. Honestly, boats are better than minivans, mainly because minivans usually smell like moldy sandwiches and stinky feet while boats smell like paradise.

Ride on a boat, then ride in my minivan and tell me I’m wrong.

In addition to seeing and experiencing all the latest and greatest that marine sports have to offer, The Tampa Boat Show offers attendees the chance to have a little bit of fun. John Hillstrand from Discovery Network’s Deadliest Catch will be on hand for interviews, guests ages 10 and older can try their hand at diving in the heated 15,000 gallon Be a Diver pool, and attendees can experience seminars and different interactive learning events throughout the arena.


The Tampa Boat Show is coming to the Bay Area September 6-8. Tickets are $12 for adults ages 16 and up. Children 15 and under are FREE when accompanied by an adult. This makes the event the perfect weekend outing for families as you look, dream, and enjoy all that boating has to offer.

If you’re in the market for a new boat, or are simply interested in seeing what is new and cutting edge in the world of marine life, then I highly recommend The Tampa Boat Show. The good news is, I get to offer four tickets to one lucky reader today! Simply leave me a comment, any comment, and you will be entered to win four tickets to the upcoming Tampa Boat Show.

You can tell me your favorite boating memory or why you think boating is the perfect family activity. You can tell me your favorite color or your dog’s name, or the name of your favorite Aunt.

The point is, any comment will do, and if you’re anywhere near the Bay Area, you should enter because your chances of winning will be pretty good!

Comments will remain open until tomorrow night, Friday, August 30 at 5:00 PM, at which point I will draw a winner. Be sure to check your email to see if you won so that I can get your information and get the tickets in the mail to you quickly. And please share this with your local friends!

So who’s ready to start boating?


Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. I received Complimentary tickets to the Tampa Boat Show for my participation in this giveaway. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Land After God’s Own Heart

The things I see…






Lizard Catchin’…


Got him! (And later released him. Dear PETA…please don’t come after me.)


I think Jesus loves palm trees more than all the other trees.

I don’t know if that’s theologically accurate but I feel like it might be based in some pretty solid Truth.

(And it’s probably best if you don’t mention this to the other trees. I don’t want to offend…)

We’re at the beach for the next couple of days basking in the glow of God’s beloved land.

White sands and rippling waves beckon as summer settles down and who are we not to answer her blessed call? 

If you need me, I’ll have my toes buried in the sand and my nose buried in a book. Something about the beach seems to unbraid the knots in my neck and the pangs in my shoulders.

God speaks to me here. 

Probably because He loves the beach. It’s a land after His own heart.

Again, feel free to question my theology.

(But before you do, think about how often Jesus seemed to be walking along the shores. A LOT. Jesus loves sand between His toes, I’m certain of it.)

(Just kidding Kansas and Nebraska. Jesus loves you, too. *wink, wink*)

Summer Rules. Amen?

And we all said amen…

When you wish upon a star

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

We are home from a magical, fantastical, exhaustical weekend. My pile of laundry rivals Mt. Everest and my head is full of ideas and thoughts as I try to process all I saw and heard. It was truly, truly an honor to be invited to this year’s celebration. It wasn’t anything like what I expected.

I don’t really know what I was expecting, honestly. But this exceeded whatever it was I thought I was going to experience. I learned a lot about business, entrepreneurship, blogging and Disney. From beginning to end, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

As a disclaimer, I will tell you that I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. As an invitee I received a discounted rate on my hotel room, some lovely swag (that’s a fun word to say, isn’t it? Especially when it’s prefaced with the words, “Here’s Your…”), amazing once in a lifetime experiences and 7 Day Park Hopper Passes for myself and all those who were registered to attend with me. 

There – now that I made the FTC happy, I will show you pictures. And while you browse, I will begin to tackle my laundry. It’s too bad Disney couldn’t have hooked me up with a couple of magic fairies to take care of these menial tasks for me…Where’s Tinkerbell when you need her?!



Front and center to watch as Merida is officially made a Princess.


Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas was there to help with the coronation. Tia (and I) were so excited by this surprise.


How adorable is this? This was right after Merida was crowned the newest Disney Princess. I mean, seriously…Girl heaven.


All the princesses together.


Even “Jessie” was on hand for the coronation. Um…is it just because I’m a mom, or does it seem like she’s wearing too much make up? I sound like an old lady, don’t I…Carry on.


Friday night we were treated to dinner on the set of Lights, Motors, Action! We got a little up close glimpse of a stunt man doing his thang…


We met the ever charming Minnie Mouse (as well as her husband, Mickey. *wink*)

We met the ever charming Minnie Mouse (as well as her husband, Mickey. *wink*)

One of the joys of the conference was seeing Tia's face light up when we'd return to our room at night and find surprises left by the Disney elves. The night before Merida's coronation we received a huge bag full of Merida goodies including this doll and wig. The hair kills me. It's as though Little Orphan Annie and Cher had a love child...

One of the joys of the conference was seeing Tia’s face light up when we’d return to our room at night and find surprises left by the Disney elves. The night before Merida’s coronation we received a huge bag full of Merida goodies including this doll and wig. The hair kills me. It’s as though Little Orphan Annie and Cher had a love child…


I'm gonna wreck it!

I’m gonna wreck it!


The boys, unfortunately, could not come over until Saturday night due to baseball, so my mom joined us for the first couple of days. It was so sweet to have this time with her on Mother's Day weekend.

The boys, unfortunately, could not come over until Saturday night due to baseball, so my mom joined us for the first couple of days. It was so sweet to have this time with her on Mother’s Day weekend.


It wouldn't be a Disney weekend without a little Star Wars involved. R2D2 also made an appearance.

It wouldn’t be a Disney weekend without a little Star Wars involved. R2D2 also made an appearance.


Me with the adorable (and super savvy) Shannon Miller. I can neither confirm, nor deny, chasing her down to get this picture…

A little Disney Magic fell in my favor when we were assigned a hotel room with a view of the castle. We sat on our balcony at night and enjoyed the fireworks without the crowds.
A little Disney Magic fell in my favor when we were assigned a hotel room with a view of the castle. We sat on our balcony at night and enjoyed the fireworks without the crowds.

Honestly, I never thought I would be one to enjoy Disney World so much. The crowds, the heat, the insane overstimulation…

But if you do it right, Disey really can be a magical place to build memories. And let’s face it, unless you’re a robot (or perhaps a male), you’re bound to get a little nostalgic and goose-bumpy when you look up at the Castle and hear Jimmeny Cricket urging you to wish upon a star.

That doesn’t move you? How about the song Baby Mine as images of Dumbo being rocked by his Mama float by?

No? What about Cinderella singing A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes as she gazes out the window at the castle?

Surely one of those things brings just a small sigh of sweet nostalgia to your heart.

Walt Disney may have been one of the greatest visionaries and imaginators (let’s say that’s a word for now, okay?) of all time. He believed in dreams and magic and his legacy still lives on in the form of both of those. Let us never stop dreaming.

Happy Monday, everyone. I hope your day is magical, blessed and filled with imagination and dreams. 


(I also hope it includes less laundry than my day.)

Zippety Doo Da!

I have a confession to make. When my mom called and told us last fall that she and dad wanted to take us all to Disney World as our Christmas gift, I wasn’t all that excited. It had been a long, long time since I’d been to Disney and honestly, the thought of navigating the parks with the kids sounded more hellish than magical.

Of course, we agreed to go because it was an awesome gift and because I wanted my kids to experience Disney at least once in their lifetimes. I figured it would be a little like ripping off a BandAid – get it over with quick and we would never have to do it again.

In my mind, I was sadly (and very mistakenly) comparing Disney to Six Flags in St. Louis. Dirty, sticky, hot, crowded, congested and in general not very enjoyable. I forgotten just how magical Disney makes the experience.

I had no idea how much fun it would be to spend time in the Magic Kingdom.


After our Christmas visit (and my parents double blessed us with season passes), I realized how truly amazing an experience Disney can be when it’s done right. We went when the weather was nice, during the holidays and on a weekend that wasn’t overly crowded and it was such an amazing trip for all of us.

We’ve since been to Disney three more times and I can honestly say that I love it every single time. I don’t think I will ever get tired of walking into the Magic Kingdom and seeing the Castle, especially at night when it’s all lit up. It really is…magical.



I am incredibly honored and humbled to have been invited by Disney to join them at this year’s annual Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. I leave Thursday for another long weekend of Disney magic and I keep wondering how on Earth I could have ever dreaded spending time at Walt Disney World.

Unfortunately, this is the final weekend of baseball for the boys, so they won’t get to join us until Saturday, but Tia will be with me for the weekend as well as my mom, which will be a sweet little girl’s weekend away.

IMGP7478While I am excited to see the castle again and to experience Disney magic up close and personal, I am even more thrilled about the conference portion of the weekend. There will be amazing speakers, opportunities for networking with some of the top bloggers in the country and from what I hear, there will be some amazing parties to enjoy.

And food. People keep mentioning food. I like food. I really like it a lot…

One year ago, right at this time, I was in Tanzania being changed radically from the inside. That trip set off the series of events that led us to where we are today. It’s not where we thought we’d be and the disappointment is still raw and real, but in the last few months, the Lord has constantly reminded me that the is still Hope.

It’s slow, of course, but it’s there. I’m grateful for the friends I made in Tanzania who were there as God began to work His plan. Many of them will be there this weekend and I’m so looking forward to touching base again.

I wish I could take all of you with me as I experience the magic of Disney this weekend. I’ll do my best to give you a glimpse of it all here. I’ll also try to eat a Mickey treat in your honor.

It’s a sacrifice, but it’s one I’m willing to make for you all.

Zippety Aye!


As long as he doesn’t mutate, we’re good

Weeks ago, I looked in our bathtub and found a small lizard wandering around. I laughed because, you know…only in Florida, right?

Also, it was way better than finding a cockroach in my bed.

I briefly considered relocating the little fella, but decided against it mainly because picking those things up freaks me out. I know they can’t hurt me, but they’re wily and quick and I’m a coward so I left him there and figured Lee could deal with it later.

Only when we came back later, he wasn’t there anymore. Which disturbed me in other ways, but I pushed the thoughts of a lizard crawling in my ear or up my nose in the middle of the night deep into the recesses of my subconscious and went on with my life.

Until I noticed that he continued to show up here and there, always in the bathtub. And I finally figured it out – he lives there. Everyone, I’d like to introduce you to the newest resident of the Stuart House: Bernard (“Bernie”) Stuart – our lizard in the drain.

Yes, my bathtub is atrocious. It has been since the day we moved in. It is nasty and disgusting and I’m waiting (not so paitently) for the day when we can rip that sucker out and put in something functional.

We’ve never used our bathtub, but Bernie seems to have found a home there. He hangs out in the drain. Some nights, we even walk in to find his little head laying just outside the drain, eye closed, snoozing.

So far, we are all living peacefully together. Bernie stays in the tub and the rest of us leave him alone. It says a lot about just how disgusting our tub is that he can apparently live there comfortably. It’s like the friggin spa for lizards with all the crap that he can apparently feed on.

The only thing that gives me pause about the whole situation is my overactive imagination that has, at times, envisioned him mutating from the grossness on which he feeds. If he starts growing at an alarming rate, we’re going to have to move.

Bernie: Teenage Mutant Ninja Lizard.

It could happen…

Mom of the Year 2013 – Not Looking Good

Alternately titled:

I’m here to make you all feel better about yourselves

Photo by Avodah Images.com

We’ve had a blustery couple of weeks here in the Sunshine State. I love Florida in March simply because it’s unpredictable…but unpredictable in a good way. It can be warm and sunny one day and cold and windy the next, but by warm I mean 85 degrees and by cold I mean 55 degrees.

In case you were wondering, that is the perfect range of temperatures. It means that many days we have stretches of time where we hang out in the upper ’60’s/lower ’70’s, which I’m fairly certain is the temperature heaven will be set at. An eternity of 75 degrees.

Yes, please.

But this story isn’t about the weather. Oh, no. It is about my stellar mothering skillz. I spelled skillz with a ‘z’ so you’d really get a feel for just how much I’m rockin’ this Mommy gig.

Like any good mother, when the temperature dips below 60 degrees, I insist on pants and at minimum a light sweatshirt. This is becoming increasingly more difficult to keep up with because my kids don’t own many pants anymore since we only need them about 15 days a year.

But this post isn’t about pants, either. Well…not entirely.

It was a cold morning a few weeks ago, so I grabbed a pair of sweat pants out of Landon’s drawer. He is my child who hates wearing pants…and shoes…and underwear. He likes freedom. You can’t fault a kid for it, right?

We put on his pants and a t-shirt, then did all our morning activities. I had to actually get myself ready that morning as I was meeting a friend after I dropped Landon off, so it was a little more hectic than usual. We finally hopped in the car and drove quickly to his preschool.

Just as I pulled into the preschool parking lot, Landon pipes up from the back. “Oh no! Mommy! My pants!” I pull in and park and turn around to see what the problem is and almost choke on my own spit.

The crotch of his pants was caked in dried Nutella. It was half an inch thick and ran from the middle of his crotch down to the middle of his thighs. Dark, dry chocolate.

Now, after I got over lamenting what was an apparent waste of perfectly good Nutella, I asked Landon how on Earth that happened…and when.

“‘Member the other day when you gave me Nutella on bread and I accidentally sat on it?” He asked. No son. I DO NOT REMEMBER THIS!

“Well why were your pants in your drawer, then?” I asked.

“You told me to clean my room,” came his answer. “I just was putting everything where it goes like you said.”

People, this kid. This child of mine. Between his round face, his freckles and his love of snuggles, I’m pretty sure he will get anything out of me that he wants. Ever. I can’t get mad at him. Plus, he had a point. I did tell him to put everything where it goes.

Clearly I need to be more specific about where dirty clothes go.

I jumped out of the car and searched frantically to see if I by chance had a spare pair of pants or shorts anywhere inside. I had a half-empty bag of Cheezits, four single socks (of course), three pairs of shoes, a tennis ball and what I think may have been a ham sandwich at some point, but no pants.

School was about to start and I had to meet my friend, so I walked Landon in and told him to sit on his knees, not sit cross legged. As long as he kept his legs together no one would see. But as I left, I knew I couldn’t leave him in those pants all day. All it would take was one forgotten Criss Cross Apple Sauce and I had visions of him forever labeled as Poopy Pants Landon.

Because Nutella looks delicious on bread, but dried and crusted on a pair of grey sweatpants is a whole different story.

Thankfully, mercifully, Lee was in town that day and on his way home from having his oil changed. I called him and tried to be all cool and casual. “Hey Babe. So, can you swing by Target and buy Landon a pair of pants…and then drop them off at school?”

Lee: “Do I want to ask?”

Me: “Probably not.”

And THAT, my friends, is the day I lost my place in line as Mom of the Year. I think I solidified my low ranking this week when I got a text at 6:55 from Sloan’s baseball coach asking if we were going to make it to the 7:00 game.

See? Skillz.


Spring Break Photo(s) of the Day: Magic Kingdom

First time on Thunder Mountain Railroad: Nervous

IT WAS AWESOME! (So awesome, in fact, she made us ride it three times - once in the dark under the fireworks, which was a really amazing experience.)

Happy Thursday, friends! We’re headed to Animal Kingdom next. The kids are having a blast and are showing no signs of slowing down (if you ignore the fact that Landon passed out on my back tonight on Main Street). I, on the other hand, am completely exhausted. This is one of those vacations that require a second vacation to recuperate.

Or I could just send the kids back to school and lay comatose on my couch for a couple of days.

Yeah…I’m going to hold on to that dream.


See you soon!