Thursday, September 29, 2016

Chick-fil-A Mom Panel 2016-17

I'm excited to again be a part of the Chick-fil-A Mom Panel for the 2016-17 panel!

Thanks to Alyssa from EllieGBeansMom for the great blog button!

The Chick-fil-A Mom Panel is made up of a diverse group of women, many of whom are bloggers or YouTubers, who have come together through their love of Chick-fil-A! Here in Michigan, we currently have a majority of Chick-fil-A locations that are within food courts, but the company's presence is expected to grow here over the next few years and I'm excited about the possibility of having a Chick-fil-A drive through and play place for the kids to go to, if one of the new freestanding locations is close enough to our location in metro Detroit!

For now, we are celebrating the opening of a new Chick-fil-A location close to us here in metro Detroit at Somerset Collection, coming Fall 2016!

Here's to another year of delicious chicken and fun cow hats!

** I am a member of the 2016-17 Chick-fil-A Mom Panel and occasionally will receive complimentary samples and items for review. This will be disclosed in any posts with complimentary items. All opinions are my own.

Fabulous Fall Fun!!

I did a round up of all of my favorite FALL inspired videos that I've done in my 4 years on YouTube and compiled them into one handy Playlist! Mommy style, home style, decorating days, and more! I've even included a few videos from my "Organize Mommy with Style" channel, where I shared wreath tutorials over the holidays last year.

Find all of the holiday fun HERE:

I'm very much looking forward to getting to decorate at our house this year, as soon as our items are delivered out of storage NEXT WEEK! (Finally!) It's been a long road, but it finally feels like we are getting our house back! I will be share what decor I decide to place out for the month of October!

The girls always enjoy when the extra holiday decorations go out around our house and I think this year they will especially enjoy it after the long year we've had!

First day wearing coats this year! Fall is here!

Here is our Fall Home Decor Tour from last year!!

And at our old house in Illinois from the year previous!

And tomorrow on Being Mommy with Style I'm sharing some of my favorite Fall fashion picks for moms from the current year! Plus, what I will be shopping for this year!

** All opinions are my own. This is not a sponsored post.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Books we are loving right now! Preschool & 1st Grade Level

We LOVE books at our house! If you've been following my YouTube channel for awhile now, you know that books have been a big part of our life (and playroom!) from very early on! I have an entire reading series dedicated to encouraging little readers that are showing interest in reading, and my Bella was one of those... who took a liking and interest in letters, words, and reading at an early age. She has typically been reading above her age level, and I would definitely consider it just one of "her things" that she loves to do. She's currently in 1st grade.

Natalie, my preschooler, enjoys books and is at an emergent reading stage as a preschooler. She's working at her preschool with letter writing and reinforcement of letters and their sounds, but as always we like to do fun projects around the house and always have plenty of books available for them to peruse on their own!

I chat about some of our favorite books right now in this vlog on YouTube:

I wanted to give a special mention in this post though, of the stand out books that we've been loving recently!

The Wellie Wishers book series by American Girl is a brand new book series targeted at ages 4-7, which is perfect for us since both girls are in that age range! We already had a few of the Wellie Wisher dolls at the time the books were released, so the girls felt familiar with the characters and loved hearing about their adventures! The interiors had brightly colored pictures placed between text on the pages.

Brightly colored pictures inside the Wellie Wisher book series.

The chapters were easy to read and for my avid reader, Bella - she was able to finish the books in one day. For Natalie, a preschooler in the emergent reading stage, the pictures and stories held her attention really well and we read a chapter together at a time. Both girls thought the stories were fun, and especially the book where Camille loses a tooth - because both girls had just recently lost a tooth themselves!

Another series that Bella picked up from her school room library was the Magic Treehouse series, and she's been very into reading those as well. (As long as the stories "aren't too scary" as she says, luckily they have a variety to chose from.) I believe this will be the next series that she starts working on.

Natalie loves her character books - Disney Princess and Paw Patrol are two of her favorites! She's also been gravitating towards the "If you Give a Mouse a..." series and loves the silly premises in those books as well!

What are your kids loving to read right now? Have they started any new book series this school year?

**This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Disney Dream Stateroom Tour!

Exploring our stateroom for the first time the day we arrived on the Disney Dream was an exciting time for our family of four that had never been on a cruise ship before this sailing! We didn't know quite what a stateroom would be like, but we quickly made ourselves at home in Stateroom 9530, located on the 9th Deck Mid-Ship. The location worked out great for our family and we would definitely stay on the 9th Deck again and also felt that the mid-ship location was great for our family. It was centrally located to everything we were going to numerous times (Oceaneer Club!!) and it seemed easy to find from all locations. 

Our stateroom was an Oceanview Family Stateroom with Verandah and I really loved having the verandah to sit on while we were out at sea. It was a beautiful view and so relaxing to just hear the waves crashing against the ship! The bunk beds in our room also worked out perfectly for my girls, who loved the stars on the ceiling of the top bunk and novelty of having one bed over the other!

During our day at Castaway Cay, I took a Stateroom Tour video to share with my viewers on YouTube - and I'm so glad that I chose that day to take the video, as the view on the starboard side of the ship was just phenomenal! I loved capturing views of the island while we were docked and I would definitely stay on the starboard side of the ship again as well!

Check out our Stateroom Tour of Room 9530 on YouTube!

At night, we had towel animals greeting us in our stateroom!

The girls love the bunk beds!

Having champagne on the verandah!

Our door decorations:

View at Castaway Cay!

I've covered our trip in a series of wrap up videos, but all in all - it was a fantastic vacation and I look forward to taking another Disney cruise with my family! We loved all of the Disney touches and character inspirations on our voyage and it was a highlight of our year!

Check out our review of the Oceaneer Club, where the kid's LOVED spending most of their time!

And if you'd like to hear more about our trip... I have a number of review videos on my YouTube channel as well!

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Back to School - 1st grade & Preschool!

Back to school time is finally in full swing around our house! Michigan goes back to school a little later than other states, due to tourism and our weather staying cooler here later in the Spring months... staying in school until June and ending summer after Labor Day works out great with our climate here. This year, the girls were itching to get back to school and into the routine - and I admit as much as I enjoy doing activities around the house with them, I was looking forward to going back to the school routine as well.

This year, Bella is in 1st grade at a great school we absolutely love and I'm so glad that we moved to start her there before kindergarten. I feel like it's a great fit and perfect combination of compassion and academic goals. They want the kids to learn, but also remember that they are people as well and she's had teachers two years in a row that believe in having fun, which I think is great! I'm hoping the transition from kindergarten to 1st grade will go smoothly.

Natalie starts school the week following Bella, at the same preschool she attended last year in the Pre-K 3 program. This year she will be attending Pre-K 4 and at school 3 afternoons a week. I'm looking forward to her making new friends and enjoying her independence at preschool.

I feel blessed that both girls enjoy school and like the routine, because I do think that really helps as a parent when they are excited to attend. I always loved going to school and I had hoped that would continue with them, not only a love of learning - but also a love of the social atmosphere as well.

So as school gets in to full swing around here, I hope your year is also going great whether you've already started back, are waiting to start, or homeschool!

Check out the highs (and lows) of the first day of 1st grade in our daily vlog:

* This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Night Before School... For my 1st Grader & Preschooler.

I wrote this post on Instagram and shared on my Facebook page as well, and the response was fantastic - so I wanted to share on my blog as well... in case this may give you some back to school inspiration. My thoughts on going back to school "The Night Before School"... for my 1st Grader & Preschooler this year.

The Night Before School

"'Twas the night before school starting, and all through the house... Little creatures were still stirring as if we were going to see the Mouse. 
Backpacks were hung in the kitchen with care, in the hopes that homework would not soon be in there. 
I was ready to get all snuggled in bed, when suddenly thoughts started racing through my head. 
The lunches! The folders! Had I bought all the cheese? The new shoes! The clothing, had I gotten all they'd need?!? 
Why what to my wondering mind would appear? ... but the realization I'd prepared the best that I could and from here.... Their cheeks like roses and minds ready to fill, they were off to conquer their new grades with great will! 
With a gleam in my eye and a nod of my head, I soon knew I had nothing to dread. I'll speak not a word, but keep on with this great task - of molding and shaping these little people in a stage that won't last. 
And so with resolve, to all the parents out there, I say Happy Night Before School starting - and have a wonderful school year!!!"

Pottery Barn Kids Backpacks Ready for School!

I hope you have a wonderful school year! I wrote this the night before school started for my girls quickly in an Instagram post, and it quickly resonated with parents after I had posted it. Please feel free to share this page if you loved it too!

** This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Disney Dream Cruise Oceaneer Club Review & Process

One of the most asked about activities from our cruise vlogs on our YouTube Channel while aboard the Disney Dream, was the Oceaneer Club!! The kids kept talking about it, the adults loved the idea of it, we kept making plans to go there... but what exactly was this mystical (and very magical!) place we all kept talking about?!?

On the Disney Dream, the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab are located on the 5th deck in the port hallway. They are a supervised kid's activity center that runs kid centric programming throughout the day, and hosts not only open house times open to the entire family - but also has blocks of time where it is "Kids Only!" (as my daughter so cheerfully pointed out), and is a secured center where parents are able to drop off children ages 3 through 12 for different activities.

Piloting the Millennium Falcon? Super cool!

Since this was our first cruise, I wasn't entirely sure how interested the kids would be in going to the club - but I suspected they would be spending at least a little time there. (Which was the understatement of the year.) I preregistered the girls before sailing with Disney's online system and picked out a password to be kept in their system.

Once on board the ship, we planned to attend the Open House the first night that was open to all families, so that we could go in with the girls and check out the space. Can I just say, WOW... I completely understand why kid's LOVE going there! They had different themed rooms, all visible from a central dance floor area. My younger daughter, Natalie, loved Tinkerbell's Pixie Hollow and Andy's Room, a life-size version of this classic set from Toy Story. Isabella who was 6 years old at the time, gravitated towards the Millennium Falcon area in the Oceaneer Club and also spent quite a bit of time in the Oceaneer Lab side, where there was a drawing studio, interactive game areas, and more!

The Personal Navigators that were left in our room each night had not only the ship's itinerary in it, but also a schedule of activities for the Oceaneer Club and Lab as well. Which was great because the girls could pick and chose what events they most wanted to go to and we could work it into our plans. The Personal Navigator also noted whether it was a secured programming time or if it was an Open House event where parents were invited to attend, and the gates were open during non-drop off times.

To keep the kids secure, Disney has a thorough system of checks and balances in place that we felt very comfortable with. As a parent, I'm always concerned about safety - but especially now that we do YouTube regularly and occasionally are recognized in our daily lives, I have to take into account that people may know how to address the girls and I have to keep their security a top priority. Disney Cruise Line had a number of steps to ensure that each child went with the right family, when checked out of the kid's centers.

All children wear an "Oceaneer Band", which looks similar to a MagicBand, and is clipped to remain on permanently during your time aboard the Disney Dream. (The bands are able to get wet, and are fine after a day at the beach or pool!) The band links to all of the child's personal information - what stateroom they are in, allergy or other personal concerns, and possibly most importantly, the unique password & photo that you set up when registering the children for the Club.

When you check in to the club, you give the attendant your "Key to the World" card to scan in to the computer system, and they verify your stateroom. Then the children scan "Mickey to Mickey"as my family tells the kids, just like scanning in for a Fast Pass at Walt Disney World. This registers the child in the system and they are free to go wash their hands, and PLAY!

Even the bathrooms have some Disney magic!

Upon time to pick up, you go through a similar set of checks to make sure you are picking up the right children - with a few additional layers of security built in. You give them your Key to the World card, they verify your stateroom and the photo they took at registration. Then you also must give them a matching verbal password, which you set up at registration as well. After going through those measures, the children may again scan "Mickey to Mickey" again to open up the electronic lock gates, and they are then checked out of the club.

We felt very secure with the pick up and drop off systems, and the kids LOVED going to the Oceaneer Club and Lab to play! It was such a neat added bonus to our trip, and it even surprised me how much Isabella stayed in the club! (As one commenter on YouTube said, "She totally ditched you guys!" LOL!! Why yes, yes she did!!) I believe one night she was in the Oceaneer Club for almost 8 hours!!

Backpack Bella won during a Captain Hook Scavenger Hunt at the Oceaneer Club!

The great thing is, they offer food at meal times so if you have a special adults only dinner planned, there is an option for your kids to be able to eat - OR, if you child is like mine and never wants to leave... At least you know she can have a meal while she's there too!

All in all, we came away from the cruise with a great impression of the Oceaneer Club, Oceaneer Lab, and the GREAT staff there! I can't make a blog post about the clubs without mentioning the great Youth Team! The girls had a great time interacting with the Youth Team, and they seemed to be very in tune with making the kids feel comfortable aboard the ship, so that they had a great time! More than once, Natalie would be walking down a hallway in the ship, and we would hear, "Hi Natalie!!" and it would be one of the Youth Team members that she had met during her time at the Oceaneer Club!

The Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab were truly an added bonus to the trip that the kid's loved and the adults appreciated as well! While the kid's were playing in the supervised play areas, we were able to enjoy dinner at Palo restaurant, visit Senses Spa, and go snorkeling! All events we wouldn't have otherwise been able to go to with the kids! Our entire family loved the cruise atmosphere, and I know the girls can't wait to be able to go to the Oceaneer Club on a future cruise!

Watch my full review on YouTube!

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