Tips & Tricks to Show Your DisneySide @ Home

Our family adores everything Disney and as a Disneyland Passport holder we are regularly displaying our Disney Side there. But why should you have to leave your Disney Side at the parks? Our celebration, as shown here, can easily be duplicated with just a few tips , tricks & Disney Magic.

When I heard that I could host a Disney Side @Home Celebration for family and friends my girls and I squealed with glee! Disney is more than just a place, it’s a magical feeling… one that you can share, at home. 20150222-100202-36122433.jpg
I received an exclusive Disney Side Princess Party Kit filled with all of the necessary party planning tools needed to spread our Disney magic, at home. And with just a pinch of Pixie Dust and imagination our Valentine’s Day Disney Side Princess Party was a ROYAL success.

Photo Tip: Squat down at your child’s level for a better shot.

My girls were eager to open the box, get started with the guest list and create handmade invitations for their fellow princess friends.

Tip: Allow your kids to help decorate the invitation. I made a prototype that my five-year-old could easily copy.
Let’s Party!
Valentine’s Day 2015
10 little Princess were invited to join in the festivities. We had sweet plans for our Princess Brunch. 20150309-192128-69688425.jpg Our dining table was covered with an array of princess decorations. We had Sophia the First snack bowls, napkins, placemats, cups and plates on the cutest Sophia the First tablecloth. The centerpieces were delightful… surrounding them, we placed our collection of princess toys.

Decorating Trick: It’s fun to incorporate the toys that you already have.

In the mix we displayed the prizes and party favors. Each girl went home with a little something special. Our Disney Side @Home Celebration Kit came chalk full of goods for the At-Home-Princess.
The Palace Pets were a huge hit!
20150309-182912-66552952.jpg & Lucky us, the owner of Pegatopia sent over some of her adorable, hand painted, peg Princess dolls as prizes too. Check out her adorable Etsy shop! 20150309-183304-66784254.jpg
Our takeaway favors included a plastic princess cup (I bought the cups for $1 at Target.) overflowing with goodies! Complete with a lipgloss, nail polish & nail file, stickers, tiny Disney Princess themed heart-shaped-candy box, tiara, pencil and wand.

Party Favor Tip: Place take away items in something that guests can look at and remember over and over when used. i.e. Cup
20150309-183437-66877163.jpg We served breakfast treats for even the most picky of princesses.
On the Menu:
❤️ Pastries
❤️ Olaf Noses (Mini Carrots)
❤️ Fresh Fruit
❤️ Princess Punch
💛 Twinings Tea for the moms. My fave was “Nightly Clam.” Shhh… I had a second helping when the party was over. One lucky mom went home with a box of teas.

Guest Tip: Moms of partygoers love a little attention too!
Let the games begin!
With a slight amount of preparation, all of our guest princesses had a ball playing these games:
💛 PinThe Smile on Mickey
💛 Disney Parks BINGO
💛 Fortune Tellers
💛 FROZEN Bowling
20150309-190912-68952034.jpg 20150309-191006-69006869.jpg
Our day came to a close after a stroll through the wildflowers.

Trick: Add an element of the outdoors to your party and create a carefree full-circle ending to their magical day. 20150309-191947-69587373.jpg 20150309-191946-69586979.jpg Lastly, an Ode to the fabulous Sleeping Beauty. Clearly, my preschooler had a dreamy day. 20150309-192407-69847678.jpg
Cheers to celebrating your Disney Side @Home!
❤️ Jen
Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate a Disney Side @Home Celebration, with the expectation that I would share this experience with my readers. All expressed opinions are strictly mine.

Earning Kudos // Children

Receiving kudos can be extremely powerful especially when you are a child. 20150118-104928.jpg
Our daughters are five and six, one is in kindergarten and the other in preschool, TK. I was thinking about the value of earning kudos and which quick ways to earn them, are important to teach children. This thought popped into my mind after my five-year-old ran into my bedroom, handed me her bowl of cereal and proceeded to skip to the bathroom. For a second I totally thought that I was getting breakfast in bed. Wishful thinking. 20150118-105116.jpg
Then, I started to think even more about this concept, the concept of giving kudos. Even at preschool age, this list will come in handy. {Not only for the child but for you, the parent, as well.}

Teach your children these five {easy} tasks:
1. Allow mommy and daddy to sleep in on a weekend day.
We keep very few toys in our daughters’ bedrooms. {We have a playroom downstairs for toys.} At an early age we taught our girls to wake-up-&-play-quietly with the few specialty toys that are kept in their room. The adorable peg dolls shown here can be ordered from: Pegatopia … Be sure to browse the vast array of adorable peg dolls, hand made, for girls & boys — Of every age. {I ordered a Star Wars – Princess Leia one for my friend Liz. Swoon.} 20150119-094741.jpg
2. Bring mommy and daddy breakfast in bed.
This is the perfect opportunity to teach your child how to read a digital clock. After the clock reads 9:00, your little darling can bring up a bowl of dry cereal, banana or an apple. It’s the little things. {See cereal pic above. 😉}

3. Making your bed and tidying up your room without being asked to do so by mommy & daddy.
This task is simple and my girls find it fun. Teach your sweetie to straighten up the comforter and display their decorative pillows to their liking. 20150119-094621.jpg
4. Giving someone a compliment.
I have taught my daughters to use kind words and to complement others. When I hear them demonstrate what I’ve taught them I go out of my way to praise them and give kudos. Something as simple as, “You’re funny.” Or “That’s a beautiful necklace.” A complement can go along way.

5. Getting along with your sister {Or brother in some cases.}
It warms my heart to hear our girls getting along and playing nicely together. Being sisters can be tough sometimes. Being a year apart can be even tougher. When I hear them using kind words and playing gently with one another I am sure to give them kudos.

Do you have any parenting tips regarding giving kudos?

Please share them in the comments below.
❤ Jen

Swim Lessons // Hire Someone!

All through high school and into college I was a lifeguard and swim instructor. Teaching comes naturally to me, pair it with swimming {one of my loves} and life is good. Family and friends found it a tad comical that we wanted to hire someone to teach our girls to swim though.

Asking, “Didn’t you used to teach swim lessons?”

Yes, but I just couldn’t make it work; we were swimming everyday, having a blast, but going nowhere fast. My suggestions to help the girls swim were just ignored or quickly batted down. I have always heard that it’s difficult to teach your own children & to hire a professional. Prior to Day 1 of swim lessons, I would describe Addison (4) as our “Amazing Dog-paddler” and Delaney (3) as “THE Sassy Floatie Princess” who vowed to never take her floaters off. They needed swim lessons. Badly! 20130716-191913.jpg
While in the process of researching ALL of the local “Learn-to-Swim” facilities a friend of mine told me that her son was taking private lessons from a fabulous instructor. She gave me his name & number. Amazingly, he turned out to be someone I knew. His family and mine went way back. To like the late 1980s! {Miraculously, his mom, sisters, brother & I are back in contact & are up to date due to Instagram & Facebook. Gotta love social media outlets… Crazy!}

Small World!
Leading up to swim lessons I made sure to mention them to the girls along with how great they were going to be. “Coach Trevor this & Coach Trevor that…” Addison was gung-ho from the start! Delaney, not so much. {Picturing here stubborn wheels turning as she processed the thought of not wearing floaties & being in a pool with a stranger was a sight to see.}

Then came Monday. Addison was thrilled and Delaney was okay considering I bought them new swimsuits.

“Sunsoups” {DEA’s way of saying ‘swimsuits’.} were on, both girls were sunscreened up and we were out the door. Actually got there early! At first, Delaney just hid behind me until she saw Addison heading toward the pool. {She followed.} Both girls were filled with questions: “Where’s the vacuum?” & “Is Coach Trevor wearing a sunsoup?” “What’s the line on the bottom of the pool for?” & “Is he going to make us jump off that super tall diving board?” 20130716-165017.jpg
Then, Addison hopped right in. She was still asking questions, a mile a minute, totally eager to learn. While AKA showed off her dog paddle and kick board technique DEA just tapped at the water a bit. It quickly became Delaney’s turn and her defiance wasn’t as bad as I’d anticipated. After some negotiating she took Coach Trevor’s hand and plopped right into the pool. Nice. A tad uneasy, but willing. {Funny thing is… there are times at family functions where she won’t even look at our relatives. Too stubborn. LOL!} Both girls laughed. They kicked. Blew bubbles. Fantastic!
At the close of their lesson, Coach Trevor asked if they’d like to dive off the diving board. Delaney said, “No fanks.” Addison happily obliged.

Trevor, even after one lesson, has done wonders with them. Thank you. Thank you!

What’s that one “thing” that you suggest hiring a pro for?

Cheers to Coach Trevor & Hiring a Pro!
xoox, Jen

{In the market for a kid’s swimsuit? Be sure to check out my Sweet Summer Swimsuits // Kids blog post.}

Cheers to Blogging! // Why I Blog

Why on Earth did I start a BLOG? I teach middle school full time. I’m tired. I was the LA Fashion Editor for a plus-size eMag. I spent my free time volunteering for Backstage Creations {Still do. That’s a story for another day.} & when I had this brilliant {I wanna create and write a blog} epiphany I had two babies, under 2. Not on purpose.

Side Note: I’m okay with having back-to-back babies, now. 😊 Just to clear “things” up, my IUD failed – causing me to have our second daughter one year & eight days after our first daughter. Yep, two in diapers, two in strollers, two in highchairs, two who would cry to try to express their needs and wants. 😳 Ha! You could call me a baby expert. Thankfully, AKA was an easy baby because, DEA, her baby sister, wasn’t so easy.
Needless to say, our life is crazy-busy-fun, on most days! With quick click access to Facebook, Instagram & Twitter, it was easy for me to share my everyday. Especially helpful since I never {Uhhh, still need to get right on that…} even started a baby book for DEA.

As the girls began to speak I’d quote them, tell of their daily antics {I can’t even count the number of times that someone would suggest that I write a book. Honored.}
Posting daily photos of the girls, our family, mommy & toddler fashion, and my “go-to” family-with-baby necessities became my calm way of regrouping at day’s end. Having a blog made sense. Keeping family & friends in the virtual know, of our crazy-busy-fun, always laughing right along with me and my dear husband. He’s so patient. *Insert chuckles {HERE.}

Observing my successes, and creating a “name” quickly led to building a lifestyle blog. With the guidance of my beautiful stay-at-home-mom sister – Kristin Strange (who started her blog My Strange Family about 6 months before me), attending thrilling events, a few perks and reading inspirational words of other amazing Mommy Bloggers like: Big City Moms, Savvy Sassy Moms, the little style file and Mom Trends would, and still do, drive me.

Here’s a photo of an HP event, at the glamorous Dwell Studio, that I was fortunate to attend with my sister.
Time was spent focusing & blogging on everything I do & love… from tips for dressing fashionably, shopping and traveling with kids. Sharing must-haves for moms {sometimes even dads}, babies, toddlers and beyond. Music, milestones and motivation are my passion; here, I assist and inspire other moms to be confident, savvy & lovers of their everyday.

Here are a couple of my fave examples of what I’ve created for my blog:

Each Mommy on the Go… collection includes a stroller, posh oversized bag, on trend outfit & accessories. {Along with links, not shown here, taking my readers directly to the site to purchase featured items.}
Each themed Toddler Trend… collection includes a book, toy, snack, on trend outfit & accessories. {I create collections for both girls & boys, they’re usually separate.}
I’m a mommy // wife // friend // plus-sized // confident // fashionista // savvy shopper // decorator // totally random // self-proclaimed photographer // writer // editor // blogger // talker // teacher // coffee lover
{Not always in that order.}

Our family is ALWAYS laughing, OFTEN Dancing in Carseats , asking, “Did that just happen?” & loving our crazy-busy-fun life. Every second of it! The great, the chaotic & the oh my God!
So that’s it! That’s why I started my blog. ❤

Cheers to Blogging!
xoox, Jen

Organized Spice Rack | Chaotic Life. LOL!

I wish the rest of my life was this organized.
The key {if you don’t have one of those fancy spice racks with ALL matching containers} is to place like containers together. Arrange each jar/container so the label is facing forward.

Life: Actuality, you ask?
Organized {CHAOS}!
A little less organized and a lot more chaos. 😊

I did manage to make a pretty tasty dinner though. {Roasted Garlic Teriyaki smothered Steak & Potatoes with Spinach & Romaine Salad.} Yum!

Cheers to getting organized & cooking!

Family Home Improvement Project {Papa & his Girls}

It only took two trips to Home Depot to find the perfect window to replace a vintage 1940’s window {it was painted shut & had no screen} in our 1980’s add-on room that, until today, was our ✌Hot Box✌ of a room. Always at least 10° warmer than the other parts of the house.

Both girls did their share of ✌helping✌Papa. Once again, here, you’ll see that Addison4 is defying Papa & wasting the drill’s battery.

Don’t mess with a girl & her power tool Papa. LOL!

Here’s a proud Delaney3 showing off Papa’s handy work. We couldn’t wait to get that puppy open to cool off our family room.

Looks great. Thanks for helping us out & putting up with hundreds of questions Papa! We love you!

Big shout out to our favorite home improvement channels HGTV & DIY for your how-to programs & the best home improvement ✌teachers✌ out there.

Cheers to DIY!
xoox, Jen