Tuesday, February 28, 2017

My First Disney Social Media Moms Celebration... Believing is just the beginning!

2017 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration Land and Sea! Photo credit: Disney Parks

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration vlogs are currently running on my YouTube channel, and I've finally gotten some time to sit down and reflect on our experience at the 2017 Land and Sea Celebration! I'll be doing the regular trip recaps, talking about some of our favorite experiences and dining on the trip, what we thought about the different resorts we stayed at, and also a look at our souvenir haul of items we purchased on the trip. In today's blog post, I wanted to sum up the experience and share some of the takeaways I brought home with me from the conference...

I was a Disney Social Media Mom Celebration FIRST TIMER in 2017! These were some thoughts I thought might be useful if you are also thinking of attending in the future as a first timer, if you are a YouTuber like myself, or even if you're just curious what the celebration is entails! It currently is invitation only, and I have a FAQ video on YouTube that explains a bit more what this conference is, if you're unfamiliar with it.

What was in store for us?

Since this was my first time ever at a Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I was really excited to be invited and didn't know quite what we would be in for exactly! This was an all new experience for everyone at the celebration though, with it being Land and Sea for the first time. However with me in particular coming primarily from the "World of YouTube" and knowing that there would be a lot of primarily written bloggers there, I wasn't quite sure where I would fit in to the whole scheme of things! Luckily, I was very quickly put at ease after arriving as everyone, bloggers and folks from Disney alike, were incredibly kind and welcoming. Bloggers went out of their way to introduce themselves, invite me to sit at their tables for meals, and I made good friends along the way that I'm looking forward to keeping up with as time goes by on social media!

We were one of about four vlogging families that attended and I'll be sure to share those vlogger links at the end of this post so you can check out all of their experiences as well!

Everything was very well run and coordinated, and when Disney runs an event, they do it right! We had lots of great knowledge sharing sessions, fantastic meals, and behind the scenes Disney experiences that were one of a kind. We experienced Disney magic both on land at Walt Disney World, and at sea aboard the Disney Wonder! It was a once in a lifetime trip for our family, having never experienced both land and sea in single trip!

One quote kept coming back to me the whole time throughout the experience, whether it be on land or sea. Coincidentally, I had purchased an Alex and Ani bracelet with this quote a few months ago, but hadn't taken it out of the package yet. I tend to do this with items, sometimes an item will speak to me but I almost feel like the timing isn't right to start using it, so I'll save it up for a special occasion - and this Alex and Ani bracelet felt like a perfect fit with the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration event! So I pulled it out before we left for the trip and this quote followed me around wherever we went!

Believing is just the beginning

"Believing is just the beginning..." I purchased this bracelet because of it's purple color, the power of the word "believe" in my life, and also because I thought the saying was a great sentiment - and it turned out to be the perfect accompaniment to this experience.

They say that every journey starts with a single step, and that is what stepping into Disney Social Media Moms Celebration felt like, believing in myself to take that single step to go on this amazing journey and come out anew on the other side. I met so many wonderful people along the way, I felt like I expanded my horizons by being able to talk to so many bloggers in person and in turn share my insight about YouTube, hear how Disney creates things with imagination at Disney theme parks and on Disney Parks Blog, and meet with companies that were interested in what we had to say as influencers. The entire experienced really opened up ideas about what I want to do in the future, and reinforced that this passion that we have to be storytellers as YouTubers and bloggers is valuable to our viewers and readers.

On the other side of the experience, I want to take some time to collect my thoughts and figure out how to structure expanding my social media posts moving forward - but this is what I love to do and this experience just reinforced that I need to pursue my passion for being a social media influencer. I've loved being on YouTube the past four years and I'm enjoying starting to share new things on the blog as a component of that. It was great to meet with people that encourage this as an actual profession and where it felt like an understanding place to "talk shop" about this outlet that we are all passionate about!

Where do we go from here

After all of the amazing experiences at Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I'm of course still enamored with Disney and the wonderful magic that they create for families. I've had a long-standing personal journey with Disney Parks, and Walt Disney World in particular - taking my first trip to Walt Disney World when I was only a year old and typically returning once or twice each year afterwards. Disney is my prime vacation destination for our family and it will continue to be, I think I knew we would experience lots of Disney magic on the trip... I just didn't realize how invigorated I would be to develop my social media outlets in general after the trip and further my "career", if you will, in social media! That truly caught me by surprise!

My word for the year is "Explore" - inspired by Moana, and I feel like Disney has created the stepping stone with Disney Social Media Moms Celebration to go out and explore new things over the rest of the year - new types of posts, new companies to work with, new video structures. Just to think of things differently, possibly how Disney might do things? One of the first things I did when we got back was use this new inspiration and completed a video idea I'd had pop up when we went on the Disney Dream cruise and I was proud of finishing this video, and felt like it brought the sentiment of the sea portion of the conference to viewers!

Believing is just the beginning, and after you believe - you take the first step, to go explore.

What would I say to someone considering going to Disney SMMC in the future?

As someone that was new to the conference myself this year and being very in tune with what to expect from Disney but not quite knowing what to expect from the conference aspect, I did want to share my thoughts on what I would say to someone considering their first trip to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.

In a word... if you receive that magical invite - GO.

Whatever it takes, try to make it happen. It is a lot of re-arranging schedules, moving vacation days around, and adding in travel where you otherwise wouldn't have been planning to travel - but it is OH SO worth it!! I had an amazingly refreshing experience that has invigorated me to keep expanding my social media platforms, and I got to bring my family along with me! Win, win! They had an awesome time exploring the Disney theme parks and the Disney Wonder, and we experienced a ton of new things (like riding Soarin' at EPCOT, staying at new to us resorts, screening Born in China, and going to a Disney waterpark for the first time!) together as a family!!

It was an incredible family time together, incredible personal growth time, and I feel like it's helped me make connections to move forward in the future and have a better understanding of what I should be working towards with my social media platforms.

Whether you are a YouTuber or even if you are a blogger just trying to decide whether to attend - I would say GO... the experience will be amazing, both professionally and personally. Also, if you can take your family, I would most definitely recommend it. I've been to conferences previously at Walt Disney World (2015 Maker All Star Creators Conference specifically for YouTubers) where I did not bring my family along, and the schedule was not as family friendly as the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration had... Disney SMMC is designed for you to have time to spend with your family and enjoy the magic together. It was a great experience for us all!

My advice would be, go. Take that step. Believing IS just the beginning....

Videos on YouTube

Check out the "Day in the Life" style vlogs running on YouTube right now, where you can catch up up with all of the fun of Disney Social Media Moms Celebration day by day - I will also be doing reviews of the different things we experienced!

I hope you enjoy watching our experience as much as I've enjoyed sharing it with you!!

** I am a 2017 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration attendee and have received complimentary items and hosted experiences as a part of the event. All opinions are my own. 

Check out the links to a few other 2017 Disney Social Media Mom Celebration Attendees that I met while I was there:

Jones Family Travels: https://www.youtube.com/user/ufbuilder
Super Duper Kids Blog: https://www.youtube.com/user/SuperDuperKidsBlog
Classy Mommy: https://www.youtube.com/user/mikepadilla1
Vera Sweeney: https://www.youtube.com/user/veryvera1
Audrey McClelland: https://www.youtube.com/user/MomGenerations
Lauren's Latest: https://www.youtube.com/user/laurenslatest
Brought to You by Mom: https://www.youtube.com/user/dglassslipper
Lil' Luna: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChvxZCUKp_CuNDeP1-rnEjQ
Carolina Ortiz: https://www.youtube.com/user/cortizja

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan #2 + Grocery Haul!

It's time again for another grocery haul and weekly meal plan on the blog! We're trying this out over the next few weeks, instead of a weekly grocery haul and meal plan on YouTube, I'm moving that content over to the blog to be able to go more in-depth and also because it seems like it is working out better for everyone!

This week's grocery haul was a rather large one... it came out to $175 (ouch!) - but did include ingredients for a number of crock pot meals that will be reusable, and also some items for a test run of some items upcoming themed meal that I'm planning for a video. (Spoiler Alert: Beauty and the Beast, yay, yay, yay, yay!!) So those items did drive up the price a bit, and will be reused for that movie release meal.

Here's what came home with us for breakfast, lunch, dinners, and snacks this week for our family of four!

Grocery Haul - Week of 2/26/17 through 3/4/17

My girls are 5 & 6, but don't let their ages fool you - they are big eaters! I actually told a lady working at the grocery store today that I felt like I was buying food for five kids!! Alas, it's only two... but they do eat, A LOT.

The grocery haul contains some of our staple items we get every week, the CarbMaster yogurts that have the absolute best consistency, in our family's opinion, my husband's ginger ale and snack cakes, my CoffeeMate French Vanilla creamer. (Coffee in the mornings around here is a MUST.)

I took a separate picture for the Beauty and the Beast meal project items... This will I will be testing out trying to make some "Grey Stuff" and "LeFou's Brew" at home! Fingers crossed that it works, because those are two of my favorites when we visit Walt Disney World!

Items to make some special "Beauty and the Beast" meal items!
Our meal plan for the week includes a number of crock pot meals, I have three currently planned for the week. Our Italian Beef, that I believe I have shared in a video and I will try to share also in a separate blog post because I get asked about that one a lot. Mongolian Beef with a side of Teriyaki Rice, which will be a new one for me this week - so I'll let you know how that goes!! And then a Crock Pot Beef Stew, since it is supposed to be a bit chillier this week!

This was my anticipated meal plan for the week when I went to the grocery store, I did already make one slight change to it based on the expiration dates of the meats - which you don't know until you purchase them... I am switching around the Chicken Enchiladas and the Pork Chops nights, otherwise the meal plan will remain the same.

Here's this week's Meal Plan (2/26/17 - 3/4/17):

Sunday: Caesar Salad Appetizer, Spaghetti
Monday: Crock Pot Italian Beef
Tuesday: Pork Chops with veggie side
Wednesday: Crock Pot Mongolian Beef with rice
Thursday: Tacos
Friday: Crock Pot Beef Stew
Saturday: Chicken Enchiladas with beans

Hopefully you've enjoyed checking out our weekly meal plan! So far, this is working out great for me to put it in one easy to read blog post. And I think once our regular videos start back up on YouTube, this will be an easy way to share meals that I may talk about in our vlogs and our meals without taking up entire video spots for a grocery haul or meal plan. 

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

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Food of the Week! Weekly Meal Plan with Pictures

It's the end of the week and I wanted to follow up on my Weekly Meal Plan post with a look at our Food of the Week in pictures!

The plan....

Here's this week's Meal Plan (2/19/17 - 2/25/17):

Sunday: Caesar Salad Appetizer, Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes Entree
Monday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with beans as a side
Tuesday: Sloppy Joe Sandwiches with green beans as a side
Wednesday: Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
Thursday: Ham Steaks with vegetable salad
Friday: Pizza (A Friday night staple, as you know if you've followed our meal plans previously)
Saturday: Saturdays are commonly what I like to consider or call, "Kid's Choice Night!" - we frequently eat "kid's food" this night like chicken nuggets, mac'n'cheese, and the like.

And here's what actually happened! Real family, real food, real life.

Sunday: Caeser Salad Appetizer, Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes Entree

Kid's version!

Monday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Kid's version!

Tuesday: Sloppy Joe Sandwiches

Wednesday: Life... life happened. So we are always flexible with our meal plans and this day turned into a flexible day. We had lots of "extra" things going on this day, which is why I originally had planned a crock pot meal. However an oil change in the morning that was supposed to be quick, ended up taking 2 hours and threw my entire schedule off, so that I didn't get back to the house in time to start the crock pot meal. Add to that an extra afternoon activity for Bella and a kindergarten information meeting that night for Natalie... and we had Wendy's for dinner. It happens.

Not sponsored people, just busy as all get out this day!

Thursday: Back on track! When I move the meal plan around, I may either trade days for meals or just move the meals down to the next day like I did this week. So we had the Crock Pot Tortilla Soup on this night. (Yummy!) Video forthcoming on how to make this one!

I also made this Cucumber Avacado salad which I've shown in a video previously, that we really love as a staple side dish and also for lunch some days!

Friday: Ham Steaks with potatoes

Kind of reminded me a smilie face! Do you see it?
And Saturday night will be kid's choice! This week we'll move the pizza down to that day and just have the pizza since that's always something everyone likes to eat!

I hope you enjoyed checking out this new format I'm testing out for our weekly meal plans and grocery hauls! I had previously had them on YouTube, but I wanted to see what people thought about having it over here on the blog!

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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Port Orleans Riverside Review + Room Tour

Our thoughts on Port Orleans - Riverside for our family of four, two girls ages 5 & 6 on this trip, and my husband and myself. We are a Disney loving family that enjoys Disney characters and the character experience, and enjoy being immersed in the Disney atmosphere on our stays at Walt Disney World. Here's what we thought about Port Orleans - Riverside!

We stayed at Port Orleans - Riverside while at Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2017 for the "Land" portion of the trip and this was an all new resort for us! Previously, our family of four has stayed at Caribbean Beach Resort, we stayed at All Star Movies Resort and Coronado Springs Resort while on this conference trip as well. I'll be doing a full recap of what our thoughts are of the different resorts that we've stayed at compared to each other and what our favorite picks are after all of the Disney vlogs have run on YouTube, however in this post we'll focus solely on Port Orleans - Riverside.

Southern Charm

Port Orleans - Riverside has gorgeous grounds with Southern charm that are full of vegetation nestled amongst water elements. 

Our room was located in the Alligator Bayou section, room 3705. As with the other Moderate Resorts, the beds were a queen size bed and the rooms came equipped with a coffee maker and mini fridge. These are convenient for grabbing a quick snack to eat in the morning before heading to the parks, or while getting ready to head over to grab a fuller breakfast at the food court. One of our favorite parts about our stays at both Port Orleans and Caribbean Beach have been the little pull down Murphy bed situated in the center of the room across from the larger two beds. My girls are 5 & 6 and love taking turns using the "kid sized" bed in the room, as well call it!

The "kid size" beds at Port Orleans - Riverside feature Louis from Princess and the Frog!

The interior of the rooms were decorated in a rustic decor, with wood frame beds, lantern lamps hanging from the walls, and vintage-inspired touches like a crate side table and washing board accent in the bathroom. 

Beautiful Grounds & Ample Amenities

What we most liked about Port Orleans - Riverside was the atmosphere there, amenities available, and easy access to Disney Springs via boat.

The resort had a really laid-back atmosphere that made you want to prop your feet up and stay a while. I loved strolling down the sidewalks and just talking it all in, while listening to the gentle sound of running water and wind coming through the trees. There were hammocks along the paths, as well as scenic sitting areas, so that if you had the time you could stop and just take in the resort.

Natalie loved the fountains at Port Orleans - Riverside!

At the main building, there was shopping available at Fulton's General Store, with a wide variety of Disney souvenirs to take home. I loved all of the kitchenware!

We also had lunch at the sit down restaurants, BoatWright's, one day and thought the food was great! There is also a food court at the resort called Riverside Mill, that I didn't have a chance to check that out myself since I ate many meals with the conference group. My husband and girls did eat there a number of times though, and he said the french toast was great!

I think our favorite part of Port Orleans - Riverside had to be the location and easy transportation to get to Disney Springs. On the day of the Disney Springs Social Media Challenge, our whole family used the boat transportation to get back and forth to Disney Springs a number of times. It was quick, convenient, and we really had a pleasant time taking the boat ride. 

View from the Sassagoula River Cruise Ferry going from Disney Springs to Port Orleans - Riverside.

Cheesin' on the boat ride back to Port Orleans - Riverside!

Final Thoughts: Port Orleans - Riverside

So.... what DID we think of Port Orleans - Riverside? And would be stay there again?

All in all, we really enjoyed the resort. I loved being able to check out most of the moderates after this trip and I feel like I have a good idea of what the resorts in that level have to offer now after staying at both Port Orleans - Riverside and Coronado Springs (on the day after the cruise) on this trip. Overall, the atmosphere at Port Orleans - Riverside was great, and I would consider it for a future trip when we had more leisure time to explore the resort and areas like the pool. We never even had a chance to take a dip while we were on this trip, since our schedule was so full!!

What I do think I would consider changing, and since we are a family of four this would work for us... are staying in one of the Royal Rooms at Port Orleans - Riverside. These are inspired by Princess and the Frog, and my girls love Tiana and all princesses in general! I think that these would be an interesting option for a stay for us in the future. We aren't the most "rustic fishing cabin room" type people, so while I thought the room was neat to try out, I think there are other room types or resorts we would probably be a better fit for in the future based just on the room decor.

What I did think the resort had to offer that would be a good fit for everyone was great dining, a relaxed atmosphere while plenty of opportunities to kick back and just "hang out" for a while (if you weren't on the conference schedule that we were that is, ha!), and beautiful surroundings that gave you easy access to Disney Springs.

The bus system was very similar to what we found at the other moderate level resorts. We visited Port Orleans - Riverside during February, so it was not a peak time. We didn't have any extraordinarily long waits for a bus to arrive and buses back to the resort at the end of the night were not as crowded as what we experienced at Caribbean Beach Resort in November, however November was a much more peak time with all of the party nights going on. 

Will we stay there again? Probably... there are a number of other resorts that are "on my radar" for the future that are very character focused and I'd like to try out that would be new to us, so I think it may be a while before we rotate back around to this particular resort. I do think it would be a great resort if the goal of your vacation is to have a relaxing resort to use as a "hideaway" to escape back to after the hustle and bustle of a day at the parks - or if you wanted a more leisurely paced vacation with time spent at the pool or riding a horse drawn carriage, this resort would appeal to you!

Watch the full room tour with a brief view of the grounds at Port Orleans - Riverside on YouTube!

** I am a 2017 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration attendee and have received complimentary items and hosted experiences as a part of the event. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Follow along with daily videos of our Disney SMMC trip!!

Daily videos of our Disney Social Media Moms Celebration trip are going on NOW on YouTube!!

Check out the playlist with all of the Disney SMMC videos HERE:

I made a special preview of the Disney Cruise portion of the trip set to the tune "How Far I'll Go" by Alessia Cara from the movie Moana!

Then the daily videos start out with our first day at All Star Movies Resort and going to Blizzard Beach for the first time! That night we ate Via Napoli at EPCOT. We were so tired that we ended up not being able to ride anything that night, so we headed back to EPCOT the following morning! 

We're going to Walt Disney World!!

We headed to Blizzard Beach first thing after getting the Walt Disney World!

That night, we went to EPCOT and ate dinner at Via Napoli!

The next morning we headed back to EPCOT to ride some rides, and Natalie was able to ride Test Track for the first time!! She was so excited! Then our whole family rode Soarin', which was the first time for all of us!

We went to Magic Kingdom for the first time on the trip and grabbed a snack at Casey's, then I had to head off to get ready for a conference dinner. Dan and the girls stayed at Magic Kingdom and from what I heard, got to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train a number of times! I went to a small group dinner at the Contemporary Resort and watched the Wishes fireworks from the patio outside!

The next morning we headed to Animal Kingdom to get some exclusive sneak peeks of new experiences coming to the theme park!

And in videos from the rest of the day, we have a family dinner party present by GoGoSqueez at Animal Kingdom and were able to watch a preview of Rivers of Light! It was a beautiful show and I'm excited about all of the new night time additions!

I will update the rest of the days in a future blog post and they are also available after they are live on the playlist above. We had a magical time on our Disney Social Media Moms Celebration trip!

We spent 3 days at Walt Disney World and then headed to Port Canaveral to board the Disney Wonder for a conference at sea! It was a fantastic time and I cannot wait to share all of the fun with you on YouTube!!

** I am a 2017 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration attendee and have received complimentary items and hosted experiences as a part of the event. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

How Being Successful in Social Media, Can Make You Feel Like a Failure

A Success = Failure?

I use the term "successful" loosely here, because everyone's definition of success is different. For some, it may be in terms of views, for others it may the monthly amount of revenue your social media outlets are bringing, and ultimately - for those that have it figured out, perhaps it is just the amount of joy it is bringing you. However you define your terms of success as a social media influencer, digital publisher, YouTuber, blogger, or whatever terms you prefer to call yourself, I've found the more goals that I achieve or higher amounts of "success" that I achieve, the more it can make you feel like a failure.

With each climb upwards, it makes you wonder how you possibly sustain that? Where do you go from there?

Pondering where you even go from here?

Don't Compare

Very early on in your YouTube career, you learn not to compare yourself to others. Our numbers are very "out in the open", on each video, channel page, and easily searched on Social Blade. There are numbers everywhere you turn. There will always be someone that is "bigger" than you, growing faster, or that grows overnight. Your channel and your social media outlets are on their own trajectory.

Up to this point, I have stuck with letting my social media outlets grow organically. Relying on the YouTube algorithm and search function to help people find my videos, and using additional social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, to stay engaged with my audience and remind them when my videos are posted. Along the way, you realize that it is extremely easy to get "caught up in the numbers" of it all and it can consume you, for some this is too overwhelming and they decide that working in social media is not for them, for others you persevere and keep moving forwards only looking at your own gains and losses for comparison sake... Comparison is still comparison though, even if it is with yourself.

When you lose comparing against yourself

Comparison can still be a thief of joy, even if it is just comparing against yourself. I'm coming off of one of my biggest months in recent months. January can be a down time for many publishers, but for me - it tends to be a higher viewed month with my Christmas videos being highly searched out. Add to that a few additional videos that drove views even higher during January 2017, a Disney World and Disney Cruise reveal video that added over 65,000 views, and a few videos that were done to test the algorithm (which worked, by the way - more on that in a future post) - including a wrapping prank video that brought in a higher than average 15,000 views. It added up to be one of my best Januarys yet, with 745,000+ videos on Being Mommy with Style and over 1.1 million views on all of my channels... A significant percent higher than my average monthly views of 500,000 on Being Mommy with Style and 700,000-800,000 views overall across all channels.

...Yet, come the end of February, I will feel like a failure.

I will feel like a failure, because I know February's numbers will not match January's. Due to either circumstances of Christmas searches starting to drop off, that I was traveling for part of the month so my channel had to be on "auto-pilot" for that time with scheduled videos with limited intervention from me, or the fact that February only has 28 days - February's numbers will undoubtedly not match nor top January's numbers. And then you feel set up to try to "chase" the higher numbers of the previous month, which really - that's not what I started all of this and it doesn't have to be about.

Christmas videos are some of my most highly searched videos in January!

When these thoughts start to creep in and I start to have self-doubt about what this is all about, why I'm doing this, and whether I'm really achieving anything at all, I have to remind myself that I started this to help people, to build that connection. And whether it is 5 people or 100 people, if I can bring some brightness to their day, help them in some way, or entertain them while they are stuck in the house with sick children or nursing their baby in the middle of the night, then that makes it all worth it.

So I would implore you, if you're feeling this way... you feel yourself starting to feel like you've failed even after you've met goals you've set for yourself, consider how far you've come. Consider the positive impact that we are making to help people make informed purchasing decisions, deciding where to vacation, or giving them a bit of company when they need it... We can bring positivity into the world through social media and THAT is what I want my ultimate goal to be. Not to meet last month's numbers, but to bring joy to people however I can.

If we focus on that joy, and let our social media outlets continue to be organic and authentic, then really we are all successful. In the true sense of the word.

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

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan + Grocery Haul!

If you've been following along on YouTube for a while, you'll notice that a video that used to come standard on my channel has been missing since the beginning of the year. At the beginning of 2017, I announced that I was going to be doing "More of This, Less of That" - with part of the less being grocery hauls, which previous to that I had frequently released each Monday of a haul purchased on Sunday.

Grocery Haul items from COSTCO - These will last a few weeks.

I had a number of reasons for discontinuing these videos (or at least doing them LESS)... personal reasons of they just weren't personally my favorite videos to watch or edit. Fun Fact - grocery hauls are literally the ONLY type of video of mine I've fallen ASLEEP trying to edit. Fallen asleep, people. It isn't a type of video that I watch from other creators, and although I understand the appeal (ideas! chit chat! mom life!)... it just hasn't been my favorite.

Top that off with the business decision to lessen them because grocery hauls are the top of video on YouTube that have a cult following, they quickly gain views - mine usually went to 3000-4000 views within the first day - but for me anyways... after that initial audience. They fall flat. They plateau. They are not a highly searchable video for me, nor are they a video that people had been finding my channel according to my channel analytics in 2016. I made the business decision that since they weren't some of my favorite videos anyways, and some of my favorites WERE highly searchable videos that were getting their initial views and then growing immensely in months to follow. (Check out this American Girl video if you don't believe me, initial views were at 4000, it is currently around 16,000 views at the time of writing this post. Or this Target Come Shop with Me video, that also started out around 4000 and is currently at around 25,000 views.) I planned to lessen the amount of the "plateau videos" on my channel to be able to focus more on the ones that create more growth.

However, one thing I have always tried to do on my channel is listen to my audience. Your requests and feedback... and some people really didn't like that I had stopped doing the grocery hauls and weekly meal plans... I mean, REALLY didn't like it!

After giving it some thought, I think I've come up with a plan that *may* (Key word, may) work for all of us!

I posted an abbreviated grocery haul on Instagram Stories today! No editing for me, you still get to see food from me. I've been trying to use IG Stories more lately, so make sure to follow me on my Instagram if you don't already. It's my favorite social media platform besides YouTube!

Then, here on the blog - which I've made a goal this year to create more content, richer content, and some content that differs from what is going on my YouTube channel - I can give you a quick write up of our meal plan for the week, share our grocery haul, and if you want to see any meals that I make I can follow those up in a future post. (And possibly a video if needed.)

I feel like this solution may work out well for everyone... so let's give it a go! I'll try this for the next few weeks and then get your feedback to see what you think!

Here's this week's Meal Plan (2/19/17 - 2/25/17):

Sunday: Caesar Salad Appetizer, Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes Entree
Monday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with beans as a side
Tuesday: Sloppy Joe Sandwiches with green beans as a side
Wednesday: Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
Thursday: Ham Steaks with vegetable salad
Friday: Pizza (A Friday night staple, as you know if you've followed our meal plans previously)
Saturday: Saturdays are commonly what I like to consider or call, "Kid's Choice Night!" - we frequently eat "kid's food" this night like chicken nuggets, mac'n'cheese, and the like.

As always, I run my meal plans from Sunday to Saturday since that is how I write them on our meal planning board in our kitchen and my grocery shopping day is Sunday.

Here's this week's grocery haul!

A few of the meals I have planned for this week are crock pot meals, and I also picked up items for lunches and snacks. The Kroger brand Carbmaster yogurts is one of our staple items, we prefer the taste and consistency of this particular type of yogurt and the kids and I love the "Cinnamon Roll" flavor! My husband's favorite is strawberry!

Here are a number of items I'm planning to use in crock pot meals! I can some of our meals throughout the week as well if you guys would like to see those.

Overall, I feel like this might be a workable solution for us all! I'm sitting here writing this blog post in-between unloading the groceries and getting dinner started, and I feel like other than seeing my bright, shining face (lol!) the information you get should be relatively the same.

I will check in a few weeks to see what you think!

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

Rivers of Light Nighttime Show at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Today marks the official opening of the new night time show "Rivers of Light" at Disney's Animal Kingdom! We were able to preview the show while we were at Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2017 last week, and I'm excited that this night time entertainment will now be open to visitors at the theme park! Animal Kingdom is especially beautiful after dark, and at a park that has historically been one of the first to close in the evenings, the new night time offerings allow guests to have a unique experience there after dark!

Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks, Kent Phillips, photographer

Animal Kingdom at Night

With the new night time show, there are expanded hours and the ability to see the animals later in the day. Riding on the Kilimanjaro Safari is a completely different experience at night than it is during the day, as well as riding rides like Expedition Everest where you get a sweeping view of the terrain around you from atop the mountain. Also, offerings like the Tree of Life Nighttime Awakenings, that have been going on since our trip this past November offer guests a neat "kiss goodnight" as they exit the park.

Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks, David Roark, photographer

Rivers of Light

Rivers of Light will combine the effects of water, light, and fire to create a night time show unlike any other at Walt Disney World, and entertain all ages. You can see the show from either side of the built in seating area around the lake, and we found that by sitting about halfway up the rows you get a great view of both sides of the show. My girls were ages 5 & 6 when we saw the show, and their favorite parts were the images on the sheets of water going across the lake, and the lit up animal floats.

Animal Floats in Rivers of Light: Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks, Matt Stroshane, photographer

Family Favorites

Animal Kingdom is one of our family's favorite parts about going to Walt Disney World, so all of the recent additions to the theme park have been exciting for our family!

Check out a number of New Experiences coming to Animal Kingdom very soon in this video!

We're looking forward to checking all of these things out on our next trip to Walt Disney World!

** I am a 2017 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration attendee and have received complimentary items and hosted experiences as a part of the event. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Caring for Giants - All New at Animal Kingdom!

While I was at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2017, I was given the opportunity to check out a number of new experiences coming soon to Disney's Animal Kingdom!

Caring for Giants

Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks

Coming soon this March 2017, guests will be able to experience an exclusive backstage viewing opportunity behind the Kilimanjaro Safari area at Disney's Animal Kingdom. 

For a nominal tour fee beyond park admission (UPDATED 2/14/17 - Cost is $30 per guest and discounts are available for Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members), guests will be able to take a safari bus through an exclusive backstage area to a viewing spot nestled in the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. This viewing area and tour is ADA accessible and suitable for guests of all ages. Guests will experience an up-close look at the beautiful elephants that live at the Harambe Wildlife Reserve, and will get to spend around 45 minutes viewing the animals, taking part in immersive exhibits in the viewing area, and talking with an animal keeper that actually cares for the animals. Total time for the tour will be 60 minutes, which includes transportation to and from the viewing site.

Photo: Disney Parks

We were able to get a look at this all new area and take the tour as a part of our Disney Social Media Moms Celebration experience, and I thought the experience was a wonderful way to be more engaged with the animal keepers that are caring for the elephants on a daily basis, as well as gain more insight about the creatures themselves. After spending some time watching the elephants and speaking with their caregivers, you begin to realize how different their personalities are and how different they go about their own day to day activities - just like humans!

Some of the elephants were very playful, while some were protective, and others seemed to move at a slower pace. They had unique bonds with each other and we learned there was a relationship structure within their elephants groups. I found the experience to be very enlightening, and gained a new appreciation for these unique creatures!

Photo: Disney Parks

Best of all, since the tour will be open to all ages - this will be something that I would definitely consider taking my girls to do in the future. My older daughter loves animals, and I could see her being very engaged in the research and scientific information about the elephants, while my younger daughter would love the interactive displays and seeing the elephants up close! This will be a great tour for all ages and is coming soon to Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park!

** I am a 2017 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration attendee and have received complimentary items and hosted experiences as a part of the event. All opinions are my own.