Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Disney Summer of Fun unboxing!

Thanks to Jones' Family Travels & Destinations in Florida for this awesome box of Florida goodies! This month was a Disney themed "Summer of Fun" box and had lots of great surprises from Finding Dory, Star Wars, Alice in Wonderland, and more! The girls had a great time opening the box and we had a great time repurposing the confetti too! ;)

Check out our unboxing on YouTube!!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Legoland Discovery Center at Great Lakes Crossing Michigan

Bella celebrated her 6th birthday at Legoland Discovery Center at Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills, Michigan! Great Lakes Crossing is a large outlet mall in our area that has a large number of stores, great restaurants, AMC theatre and also two new entertainment options - a SeaLife Aquarium and newly opened Legoland Discovery Center! We had tried out the SeaLife Aquarium right after moving here, but since the Legoland Discovery Center opened during Spring Break, life had been so crazy for us that we hadn't had a chance to go.

I decided that it would be a great surprise to take the girls there for Bella's 6th birthday! She woke up that morning and opened the presents waiting for her...

Then later that morning we headed to Legoland! I think the picture says it all... they were definitely... EXCITED!!

The Legoland Discovery Center is a smaller type of entertainment center than a full theme park, like the Legoland Theme Park in Orlando - but our Discovery Center in Michigan does have two smaller rides, which the girls both enjoyed, a number of building areas, a 4D theater, and a large play structure. (Probably their favorite part!)

The girls were aged 4 and 6 on this trip, and I would say that the Discovery Center is most applicable for ages 4 through 10, although they did have a Duplo Farm area for the little ones and we did see children older than 10 having a great time. That would be my target age range to visit.

One of my favorite parts was the replica Lego version of the city of Detroit! Since we are transplants to the area, I haven't been downtown Detroit a TON, but the Lego version was truly breathtaking. Even not knowing what I was looking at. (Okay, okay... I've lived here long enough I know a fair number of the landmarks. I knew this was the Renaissance Center! Points??) The detail was amazing - and we even got a kick out them including the Metro Airport (including the giant tire you drive past on the way there!!), and a Lego version of the Great Lakes Crossing mall that we were standing inside.

We ate lunch at the Discovery Center and the girls got the kids meals that came with the mini Lego boxes to take home. They are working GREAT as Lego storage containers now a month later! (Natalie has quite the collection of the Disney Lego Minifigures going on!)

All in all, it was a great time and this is definitely something I would take the kids to do at least once a year! We the thought was in line with what you're getting, we had about 4 hours of play time inside and lunch was an additional $45.

Check out our VLOG of our day at the Legoland Discover Center in Michigan HERE:

Also, if you're interested - see what we thought about SeaLife Aquarium also located in Great Lakes Crossing HERE:

Monday, June 20, 2016

Our Magical Disney World Vacation!!

Most magical entrance in the world!
This recap has been WAY overdue! We went our family vacation to Walt Disney World in April 2016 with our girls - then ages 4 & 5 (Bella has since turned 6) - and had a fantastic time! I feel like I definitely learned some things from our previous trips, so I will share those in a future post - but really above all I can sum my advice up in one tidy package... DO LESS. Which sounds crazy when you're talking about going to Walt Disney World... do less? But down time really is more sometimes, especially when you're crazy exhausted!

Chef Mickey's - A Mommy Favorite!

On our November 2015 trip, I just tried to put TOO MUCH into a week time span. Too many reservations, it was incredibly hot (abnormally so for that time of year), too many videos to complete while I was there, and we were feeling the effects by the end of that week. I tried to take all of this into account when going into our April 2016 trip, and scaled back. The interested part was though, it didn't FEEL like a scaled back trip! We still did Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for BOTH girls at the same time, for the first time ever! We had a number of dining reservations, and new on that trip, Bella was tall enough to ride the "big" rides... so we had a blast riding tons of new (to her) things! It all came down to not being afraid to skip a Fast Pass, stopping to take plenty of breaks, and not over scheduling.

We started out the trip at Downtown Disney/Disney Springs, as per usual and then due to Florida Annual Passholder dates having a blackout on our first park day, I switched around our park days and we ended up at Animal Kingdom on our first park day instead of Magic Kingdom. It worked fabulous for our family and in fact, because we love animals and zoos so much - Animal Kingdom is probably our second favorite (if not top favorite, depending on the crowd level at MK...) theme park at Walt Disney World! We went through Animal Kingdom in the rain and had a great time splashing through the park! Bella rode Expedition Everest for the first time - and thus, a love of the "big rides" was born!


On our second park day, we went to Magic Kingdom and both girls had Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reservations inside the castle. We also had a dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table, which in my opinion is a MUST DO for any Disney enthusiast. There is just something so magical about being able to eat, inside the castle! And we had a great time playing in the park until dark!

Although after our November trip, I had said "Never again" about EPCOT with small kids.. we revised that and did give it another shot. We had a great lunch at Akershus, and it got hot walking around the World Showcase, but being there during Flower and Garden was fantastic, decidedly our favorite time of year for EPCOT. (I'm undecided on our upcoming trip while Food & Wine is still going on whether we will go to EPCOT or not.) It was a fun day, at Bella rode Test Track for the first time which was fun to watch!

Noticeably missing from this trip is... Hollywood Studios. I did make the executive decision to skip that park on this trip. Because of a large amount of construction, and that we had just done  (almost) everything we would want to do there on our November trip - I opted to save that one for later and hopefully there will be more completion on new projects by our end of the year trip. The only thing we missed out on that I'm slightly bummed about, is that Lights, Motor, Action closed after that trip, so the kids will have never seen that one. (I didn't get show time to work out for it on our November trip.)

Our last theme park day was at Magic Kingdom, and I think that's always a fun way to end a trip! The girls had a ton of fun riding rides, and I am already noticing a shift from the trip being "character focused" to being more "ride focused" as they get older. We had a number of great dining reservations, most notably Tusker House in Animal Kingdom has been stellar every single time we dine there and this trip was no exception - as well as some great food too.

Tusker House in Animal Kingdom

I thought this trip was a great balance and gave even more insight into how we might want to run future trips. On our end of the year trip, we did make the decision that we wanted to go "FULL OUT" and do a completely on property trip for the experience - to see if not having to rent a vehicle and if using Disney transpiration is indeed easier for our family. I'll report back on that. For now, I'm happy to look back on our pictures and video from our spring trip and looking forward to planning the next one!

Video recap HERE:

Check out the full playlist of Spring 2016 Walt Disney World Family Vacation Videos HERE:

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Life in the middle of the whirlwind

What can I say, life hasn't just BEEN a whirlwind lately - it has felt like I've been living IN the middle of a whirlwind. Constantly. If the only thing for certain is that there will constantly be change, then our family has that one covered.

New hair color!! Holla!
So much has transpired, I truly don't know where to begin. We started out in April with a magical trip to Walt Disney World and rounded out the month with a jarring and unexpected incident, with a car driving into our house. Our lives were then turned upside down (again?) as we moved into an extended stay (again?)... and spent almost a month there before we could get back into our house. The process of rebuilding and fixing our house will be a long one, and if its any indication - a house in the same town that this similar type of thing happened at a year ago, they are still putting the finishing touches on getting the house done. It will be a long road.

Then tragedy at a further distance from our house, but still close to our hearts - a weekend full of tragedy in Orlando. A place I've visited since I was a little girl, gone "home" from college to my dad's house in Orlando (where he moved when I was in college), stayed summers at my dad's house there in Orlando, and spent every major holiday in at some point. Even though I'm originally from the state of Illinois, I've spent more cumulative hours in the city of Orlando, tenfold, than in the city of Chicago. My heart continued to break a million times over with each new event that happened there within a 5 day period there in June.

All of these things could be their own posts... but for today - a start. Every journey begins with a step, and I'm stepping back on the blog bandwagon. For an outlet, just for me. I enjoy writing out my thoughts, especially on events like these that personally affected me. I have been told that readers enjoyed my writing on my old blog Mom's Got a Brand New Bag, and yet, blogging always seems to fall behind the demands of YouTube. I found my niche with making videos and enjoy it as well, but I always wonder if I can "get it all together", and manage to write again as well. Every time I start to get my different outlets effectively managed, being held together like a Jenga tower - someone walks by and pulls a piece of the tower out and the tower comes crumbling down. So I regroup, and attempt to get my schedule pieced back together again.

Here at the end of June, the girls are finally out of school (Michigan school goes later into the calendar year than most states because of a law to promote tourism, schools do not start the school year here until after Labor Day), we have lots of fun learning projects planned that I would love to share in both video and blog format - and we also will be doing our regular fun outings like the zoo, beach at the lake, library, splash pads, and more. I plan to check in more often here on the blog, because well... something is always more than nothing. And as always, you can usually find me on Instagram (@beingmommywithstyle) and YouTube.

If you MISSED what all happened with a car driving into our house... check that out on YouTube HERE:

And I will be doing a separate written recap of our April 2016 Disney World trip (which I normally would have posted by now, but you know - whirlwind=life)... in the mean time, the playlist to our April 2016 Walt Disney World trip is HERE: