Tuesday, August 30, 2016

5 Reasons Why a Disney Cruise with Preschoolers is GREAT!

And we're off on an adventure!

I will admit, I was a little bit nervous about taking our first cruise on the Disney Dream. I was nervous about being out of the country for the first time ever, and as a veteran Walt Disney World goer, I was nervous about an all new experience where I didn't know my way around!! I knew Disney would do things right, whether by land at Walt Disney World or by sea with Disney Cruise Line... but WHAT exactly was I in for?!? My girls were ages 4 & 6 at the time of this trip, and none of us had ever cruised before, nor experienced a vacation quite like this!

From the time that we arrived in Orlando and stepped onto the Disney Cruise Line bus transfer, and started to make our journey towards Port Canaveral, my mind started to ease. This was happening! And it was going smoothly! Once we were in the hands of Disney (and thankfully had no airline delays getting there!) I immediately felt like everything was taken care of and caught on to the process of what we need to do for our first ever embarkation on to the Disney Dream!

The girls were in awe of everything being all new, their eyes lit up with surprise as our bus rounded the corner and they saw the ship for the first time. Once inside, they were anxious to get on board and see what it looked like! As we stepped through the Mickey icon and up the ramp to get into the ship, I could feel their excitement building! When you arrive on board, they announce your family to welcome you and crew members clap as you walk into the ship - the girls didn't know quite what to make of it.

Check out the Embarkation Process in this video!

As we stepped into the main atrium area, one of the most magical moments of the trip happened, as they took in the ship for the first time and stood literally turning circles around themselves looking up! It was wondrous! We quickly were able to make ourselves at home and they both wanted to check out the Oceaneer Club quite immediately! (The Oceaneer Club would become one of their favorite parts about the cruise!) We headed to the club to check it out, and we were off on our adventure!!

This was the start to our magical vacation, and now that we are back home and reflecting on our time aboard the Disney Dream - I can say it absolutely went better than I had ever imagined and was a great experience we hope to do again in the future! I have been asked, "What age is a good age to take our kids on their first Disney cruise?", and honestly I can say after seeing and experiencing the ship... When you are ready to take one. It's a very "doable" vacation at all ages, but especially from preschool age on up. They truly have something on board for all ages, whether it be babies or toddlers that can go to It's a Small World Nursery, or ages 3-12, that are able to go to the Oceaneer Club & Lab... and older kids have Edge and Vibe clubs as well. Disney has thought of ways to make the cruise family friendly.

That being said, I think preschool age is a GREAT time to go! Here are a few reasons why!

1. Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab

Age 3 and up (as long as they are potty trained) can use the drop in Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab, as much as they and you want! The children are able to come and go based on your schedule, in this secure and supervised children's activity area. This is a great way for them to participate in kid specific activities while you get some adult time in, catch a show, or just get a quick bite to eat! The kids love the independence, and it gives you a chance to unwind as well! We loved the Youth Team aboard the Disney Dream and all of the actives available in the Oceaneer Club!

Check out my full review of the Oceaneer Club and the process for checking in & out!!

2. Starting a Family Tradition of Cruising!

As we talked to the crew aboard the Disney Dream, one theme stuck out to me that kept coming up in conversation... that some kids that started cruising as young children, and started out going to the Oceaneer Club literally grow with the clubs and look forward to advancing to the new activities and new clubs as they get older and meet the new age brackets. What a neat family tradition to plan a Disney Cruise every year, every other year, or as your schedule allowed... so that your kids could look back on their previous trips and compare how much they had grown, and what they were able to do now that they were "a little bit older"!

3. Where else can you play and interact directly with Disney Characters?!?

One of the coolest surprises aboard the Disney Dream for us, were all of the unique opportunities to interact with characters! At certain times during the day, there were activities in the Oceaneer Club that were open to families, Mickey's Puzzle Playtime for instance was perfectly geared for the preschool aged children, where the kids put together large puzzles on the computer screen and once they "solved" the mystery of the puzzle... the character that it was referencing popped out! And THEN they didn't just wave and go home... they stuck around for a game or song with the kids and they all got to play!! HOW COOL!!

I thought this was a great element and really made the Disney Cruise experience different from anything else we had done on previous Disney vacations. We loved our characters! (Check out the Natalie's Best Character Moments video - if you haven't seen it!!) So this was a huge plus for us!

4. Bunk beds in the Family Staterooms were a neat experience for preschoolers!

So my girls were 4 & 6 on this trip, and they had never slept in bunk beds prior to our cruise. I actually had forgotten to tell them about the bunk beds before we arrived, so when we first got into the stateroom and they saw the couch - they thought that was where they were sleeping!! ;) So it was a magical surprise that first evening  when they walked in to the room and that side had transformed into a sleeping area... complete with star formations on the ceiling! They loved having their own individual bunks and the lights in them.

My 4 year old (who is tiny, about the size of an average 3 year old at 38" tall and 32 lbs) slept on the bottom bunk - and my 6 year old slept on the top bunk. They were both able to maneuver the ladder no problem though! This was a neat surprise for them and I think another one of their favorite parts.

5. Making magical family memories that last a lifetime, at the pace that you want!

I loved that this vacation was so relaxed, that it felt so planned out for me, our Key to the World cards told us where to eat dinner, we could visit quick service anytime the girls got hungry, and our Personal Navigator put in our rooms each night helped us to pick and chose what events we felt like doing on each particular day... Above all though, I very much loved that we made magical family memories together, that will last a lifetime, and a relaxed pace! We loved just hanging out by the pool and letting the girls use the splash pad and water slide, or taking a moment to walk down the beach. Castaway Cay was an amazing experience for all of us. All of the R&R time was really great for our family, and the Disney magic immersed in the experience was just right!

All in all, this is very much an experience that I would recommend trying as a family, if it is something you've been curious about. We loved all of the Disney magic aboard the Disney Dream that we've come to expect from a Disney vacation, and just packaged a little bit different from what we had been used to from prior Walt Disney World vacations. After having done it once, it of course isn't as daunting to try it again! I would say go prepared - check out my Cruising with Preschoolers video if you haven't already, for my tips and what I would recommend bringing along just in case - but also be prepared to have a MAGICAL time!

I hope that you've been able to gleam some valuable information here and that my videos help to make a Disney cruise seem less daunting with preschoolers! As always, let me know if you have any questions! And if you've been on a Disney cruise before, let me know what YOUR favorite part about the cruise was in the comments!

** We cruised with Disney as a part of a media event. We received complimentary airfare, cruise stateroom and activities as a part of the event. All opinions are my own.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Disney Cruise - Fun for ALL ages!

Disclosure: We sailed with Disney Cruise Line as a part of a media event. All opinions are my own.

We went on our first Disney Cruise not knowing exactly what to expect... and found out that there is something fun for ALL ages aboard the Disney Dream!

We recently had our very FIRST cruise experience on the Disney Dream and I've been excited to share all of the fun we had in our vlogs on YouTube! I wasn't quite sure what to expect since it was our first cruise experience all together, but I was pleased to find that I felt quite comfortable on the ship right away and that we quickly got our "sea legs"!

The ship was gorgeous and we made ourselves at home in the Oceanview Family Stateroom with Verandah that was located on Deck 9. The girls were ages 4 and 6 on this trip, and the bunk beds in the room worked perfectly for us to have a separate bed for each of the girls to sleep in! They were also both old enough to go to the supervised kid's activity center at the Oceaneer Club and Lab for ages 3-12. (I will be doing a full review of the Oceaneer Club and Lab in a future video and blog post!) They really enjoyed their time there, and especially Bella found it to be her favorite spot on the ship!

Disney made it easy to keep track of the schedule of events going on with the Disney Cruise Line app, that worked with our phones in airplane mode and running off the Disney Cruise Guest Wifi on the ship. The app had a schedule of events, deck plans to figure out which way to go quickly, and a great chat option that you could send messages to other people in your party on the ship through! We also had a paper "Navigator" with a schedule laid out on our bed each night for the following day, which was a quick and handy reference paper! Using these tools, we were easily able to pick out the events that suited us the most and work those in to our schedule!

Screenshot from our Dinner at Animator's Palate video, showing the app in use!

Very shortly into the cruise, I started to realize that this would be a vacation unlike any other vacation we had been on recently. There were a number of unique things about the trip that made it more of a relaxing vacation, and the girls being able to go to the Oceaneer Club was a GAME CHANGER... completely! My husband and I were able to get some quality time in together while the kids enjoyed programming specifically designed for them!

Our family especially loved Castaway Cay, exploring as a family and the girls' adored Scuttle's Cove, the on shore supervised kid's programming area. My husband and I were able to go snorkeling at the family beach while the girls played at Scuttle's Cove. It was so much fun, and I would definitely love to try snorkeling again!

Snorkel ready!

When I first arrived at the Disney Dream I didn't know exactly what to expect from our first cruise ever, but I came away from our trip with a better understanding of the wide variety of activities and entertainment on the Disney Dream Cruise, and that there really is something aboard for everyone!! I had the wonderful opportunity to film this video while on the ship the day we were docked at Castaway Cay, and I hope you come away from watching the video with a sense of the wide variety of amenities that are available on the ship!

I've had so much fun reliving all of our adventures on the Disney Dream in our daily vacation vlogs on YouTube! We had an amazing time and I'm looking forward to planning another magical Disney cruise in the future!

Check out all of our Disney Dream Vacation Vlogs on one handy playlist on YouTube!!

I met some lovely ladies on the Disney Dream that shared their thoughts about the experience on their blogs too! Check out their thoughts below!

Tessa from MamaSmiths.com has 5 Tips for Disney Cruising with Preschoolers.

Jessica from YoungatHeartMommy.com shares her 10 Reasons to Sail on the Disney Dream.

Candy from CandyPalooza.com is missing all of the fun in her Coming Home from a Disney Cruise post.

** We cruised with Disney as a part of a media event. We received complimentary airfare, cruise stateroom and activities as a part of the event. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sneak Peek! Disney Dream Caribbean Cruise!!

Check out a sneak peek of our Disney Cruise! I love doing these overview videos, because it gives you a little idea of what you will see in upcoming videos! Disney Dream Cruise videos will be running all week long, and I'll be sharing what we did on each day of the vacation!

From the amazing dinners, to snorkeling and the laid back beach experience... we will be sharing it all! Then wrapping it up with a series of review videos and answering your viewer requests!

Here are the different videos you'll see in this vacation series! YouTube upload dates that you can expect that episode to be live on are in parentheses! Click the link to watch the video on YouTube!

Cruise Day 3 - Snorkeling Experience 

It was a jam packed few days and I cannot wait to share all of the FUN!

** We cruised with Disney as a part of a media event. We received complimentary airfare, cruise stateroom and activities as a part of the event. All opinions are my own.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Get ready to SET SAIL! Our DISNEY DREAM CRUISE Experience!

I'm so excited to bring you our most recent vacation video series, of our FIRST CRUISE experience - which also happened to be a Disney Cruise!! (Hooray!) We set sail on the Disney Dream during the second week of August and it was our very first cruise experience for the entire family. The girls truly had no idea what to expect since they had never seen a cruise ship in real life before, and their reaction to seeing the cruise ship for the first time was just as magical as I anticipated it would be!

Thank you to Disney Cruise Lines for inviting us to be a part of a media event aboard the ship! We received complimentary airfare, stateroom, and activities as a part of the event. All opinions are my own!

The Disney Dream on August 12, 2016 before leaving Port Canaveral.

As always with my vacation video series, I will bring you a planning and prep series on YouTube prior to our vacation vlogs, a full set of "day in the life" style videos of our trip while we are sailing, and a series of wrap up & review videos at the end talking about our favorite parts of the trip, shopping haul, cruising with preschoolers, things to do aboard the ship just for adults, and answering questions you have about the Disney cruise experience!

The girls loved helping pick out their Pirate Night outfits!

The cruise was a 4 day/3 night voyage that took us to Nassau, Bahamas and Disney's private island Castaway Cay, also in the Bahamas.

Sneak peek from our Castaway Cay day... it was just as amazing as it looks!!

It included all of the Disney magic you would expect from a Disney vacation experience, great themed dining, fun pool areas, and character interactions - as well as a number of great opportunities to relax and unwind... as a family - and for adults only! The girls loved the supervised children's activity areas on the ship, Oceaneer Club and Lab, and Scuttle's Cove on Castaway Cay! This gave my husband and I an opportunity to explore the ship, take in shows, eat dinner, and go snorkeling - while the kids enjoyed programs specifically designed for them in the secure and supervised activity centers with the Disney Youth Team! This really provided a unique element to our vacation that we hadn't had before!

After our vacation vlogs run, I will be sure to check in with a trip recap, shopping haul, and specific reviews of different areas on the ship! This post is just a little sneak peek of all of the fun that is to come on my channel! Be sure to check the playlists to watch new Disney Cruise videos as they are added!

Playlist will update as new videos are added daily!
Disney Dream Cruise Packing & Prep Videos Playlist:

COMING NEXT WEEK on Being Mommy with Style... Disney Dream Cruise Vacation Vlogs!

I'm looking forward to sharing all of the fun we had while aboard the Disney Dream Cruise! It was truly a fantastic experience like no other!

** We cruised with Disney as a part of a media event. We received complimentary airfare, cruise stateroom and activities as a part of the event. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Back to School Fashion for Moms!

It's back to school time! Some of you have already back to school for a few weeks, while here in Michigan, we still have 3 weeks of summer left and don't head back until September! (Not rubbing that in, I promise!)

I have already begun thinking about what supplies and prep items we need to be getting for around the house and at school though. I had been using this learning space in our home for summer learning, and this will transition to be a great homework space for my new 1st grader this year... homework will be something all new at our house!

Check out the tour of our homework space for younger kids on YouTube:

Our needs for school supplies to actually bring into school are fairly minimal this year, since our school participates in a supply order that we completed at the end of last school year. Bella will show up to school and there will magically be a box of supplies waiting at her desk for her. So while I will definitely miss the supplies shopping because it's always been a favorite activity of mine - it does take one thing off my "To Do" list.

What about the moms though? Often times, at this time of year we are running around getting everything in order for everyone else and we forget about ourselves. I think Back to School time is a great time to freshen up our OWN wardrobe, as well as the kids' - and I'm also planning on taking a few extra breaks to keep my new gel nails filled in, which seriously warrant their own post.... but they are amazing. I had them put on for our Disney Cruise and it was the first time trying them out - two weeks of great looking nails, no chipping, no peeling... I think that gel polish will become my new nail standard!

For my wardrobe, I've been loving loose flowly looks, neutrals, and creams mixed with tans! My Sanuk yoga bottom sandals have been worn a TON this summer and I'm also loving the cross body purse that I purchased from Nordstrom's for our cruise and plan to use that into the back to school time frame as well.

Here's a mash up I made on Polyvore of some of my favorite Back to School picks for MOMS!

Back to School Fashion for Moms!

What are you looking forward to for back to school? Do you have a fashion wishlist for yourself right now?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

At Home Stores Shopping Challenge: Giving My Office a Makeover for Back to School!

I am excited to have partnered with At Home Stores to bring you this post! I received a $100 gift card to give my office area a makeover for back to school in addition to compensation. Come shop with me in my #AtHomeStores shopping video and check out the results of my back to school #CollegeMoveIn challenge!

At Home Store in Utica, MI
This was my first time shopping in the At Home store in my area - they have a large retail space off of M-59 in northeast metro Detroit - and I was excited to see what I would find in store. When we entered I noticed right away that they had displays of similar toned items grouped together to give you inspiration, which I loved, and they also had a helpful take away map area to keep you guided through the store. This came in handy!

We set off with back to school in mind and I wanted to find some great items to refresh my office space! My office also doubles as a filming space for YouTube videos, and makes a great reading nook space as well! I hope this give you some inspiration for refreshing your own office space, or perhaps a great sitting area in a dorm or college apartment!

I was also excited to see that they were starting to place Fall and holiday decor, but was determined to stay focused! (Those items would have to wait for a future shopping trip!) I did love the "Seas and Greetings" section in the holiday section though, and just had to sneak that in to share!

SEAS and Greetings to you!

We found tons of great organization containers, bins, and clear acrylic drawer systems. The clear acrylic drawers are some of my favorite organizational elements, because they are so easy to use and see everything that you've placed inside. We use these in our house for everything from hair ties to washi tape, and they just work great!

Great organization elements!

Throughout the store, I was particularly enamored with the great small table selection! Everywhere I went, there were adorable tables of all shapes, sizes, and colors - and this really drove my inspiration for how to makeover my office! I found about 3 in particular that I loved, but eventually narrowed it down to a great silver and chevron style table that I thought would work PERFECTLY in my office! It only had legs on one side, so could easily be pushed up to a chair to hold a book, my phone, and more!

Tables galore!

They also had a fantastic pillow selection and I saw a ton of great styles I could use throughout my home. When I went down the aisle with predominantly pink and purple pillows, I was particularly struck by a lilac colored pillow with the phrase "inspire" on it... This really stood out to me and immediately went in the cart! A short while later down the aisle I found some great purple ombre pillows that I thought complimented the look and I was set - pillows it was!!

To finish off the space (and my gift card!) - I was drawn to a great selection of faux topiary pieces in all spaces and sizes. I picked a rounded style that I thought would go great in my room and I loved that it had a bit of a purple accent in the plants to tie everything together!

This was my finished office space, given a makeover to Inspire!

Check out my shopping trip on my YouTube Channel - and don't forget to like, comment, and subscribe! Thank you to At Home Stores for this great shopping experience - and I will be back for some holiday decor shopping VERY soon!

* This was a sponsored post in collaboration with At Home Stores and BSM Media. I received compensation for this collaboration. All opinions are my own and I hope you love the look I came up with!