Dark Places: Book Review

Well it's a miracle I learned how to read again!!!  I used to be a book worm and loved reading a good book especially in the Summer by the pool.  However, I don't know what happened but I seemed to set down the books and just run out of time.  I became so tired that in my free moments or at the end of the day I chose to watch mindless television instead of feeding my mind.  I'm happy to report I've started reading again and wanted to share my reviews with you.

All the books I've read recently came from recommendations from my girlfriend Rema of Jewelry and Jeans.   Rema liked this book, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn and I've loved other books from this author so I decided to give it a try.

It's a quick and easy read but I give it about a B.  It's worth reading but not a page turner and not at the top of any list.  It's about a troubled young woman who was the only survivor in a tragic shooting when she was a young girl.  Her mother and two sisters were killed and her brother went to jail for the murders.  Decades later her past is reopened and she starts to uncover that the truth may be far different than what it seemed many years before.  The book follows her journey to uncover the truth.

The main character wasn't a very likable person and to be honest I'm not sure I loved or connected with any of the characters.  What I did like was that the story was told from present day as well as from the past.  It jumped back and forth which kept it a bit more interesting.  Also capturing my attention was telling the story from several points of view.

If you have any book recommendations I'd love to hear them!

4th of July Outfits for Girls

As most of you already know I love any excuse for a cute outfit and the holidays are at the top of that list.  Fourth of July is just around the corner and I've picked up some adorable looks for the girls that we are already sporting around town.  I can't wait until next year when I'm also coordinating baby brother with these two cuties.  Can you imagine how much he's going to love looking back on all the photos!

Click on any of the items to get shopping details and links.

Morning Routine for a Stress Free Morning

This post is sponsored by Natrol but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

1. Lay out Clothes the Night Before

It's amazing to me how much time this can take in the morning if I don't do it the night before.  My girls are old enough now to have opinions about what they are wearing and somehow laying it out the night before almost eliminates the complaints.  I also pick out my own clothes the night before which saves so much times especially if I have to try things on (super common now that I'm growing in all directions).

2. Pack Lunches the Night Before

The more that I can get done the night before the better.  The mornings are too chaotic so packing lunches for the girls the night before is a necessity.  I even have the girls help with them like grabbing their lunch pails and snacks.

3. Get to Bed On Time

Well rested equals a much happier morning for everyone!

4. Wake Up at a Consistent Time

This goes for adults and children.  Our bodies do much better with consistent sleep patterns and so the morning can feel smoother if we get up at the same time each day.

5. Get Ready Before Kids Get Up

My girls are very early risers so this one is a hard one for me but we've got them staying in bed and mostly quiet until their "Wake Clock" turns green.  This way I can shower and start getting ready in peace.  It's the only way I can quickly get all three of us ready in the morning.  If I stay in bed until they do my mornings are always crazy and stressful.

6. Have a Visual Chore Chart for Kids

Even from a very young age children can assist with chores around the house.  My girls have visual chore charts since they can't read (Emily can at a beginning level).  So every morning each girl must make their bed, get dressed, brush hair, put backpack by the back door, put out placemat for breakfast, take plate to sink after breakfast, put placemat away, brush teeth (only my oldest), let the dog out, and get themselves buckled in their carseats.  If I didn't have them assist in the morning there is no way I would get all of us out the door on time.

7. Eat Breakfast, Take Vitamins

I strongly believe in breakfast and that it's the only way to start a morning.  We try to eat a nutritious breakfast but every now and then it's cereal or even a treat like donuts.  Our go-to is Oatmeal with raisins and peanut butter or English Muffins with avocado or PB.  During breakfast we have our daily vitamins from Natrol.  The whole family enjoys the Natrol Gummies because they are great tasting; the girls think they are covered in sugar.  But it's not just the taste that mommy likes, I've selected them because they are made with organic ingredients, non-GMO, no artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners or preservatives, gelatin-free, vegetarian and made with 26 fruits and veggies.

"These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any diseases."

8. Brush Teeth

Emily is old enough to brush her teeth in the morning and an adult brushes them at night just to make sure there's one good brush a day.  I assist Madi and then of course take care of my own.

9. Head Out the Door

I do a quick double check to make sure I have everything I need for the day and then we head out and load up the car.

These steps help ease the stress and chaos in the mornings and help us to start the day on the right foot.  What are your tips for getting through the morning?

Surviving Disneyland: Top 12 Tips

Disneyland may be the Happiest Place on Earth but meltdowns, swollen ankles, sore backs, empty wallets and then some come with it.  So I've compiled a list of my top tips to survive and have the best time in Disneyland:

1. Find the Right Place to Stay
2. Plan Your Trip Itinerary
3. Prepare for the Car Ride/ Travel Time
4. Take a Picture of the Back of Your Tickets
5. Arrive 30-60 Minutes Before the Park Opens
6. Forget Magic Hour and Go To the Opposite Park
7. Don't Miss Character Dining
8. Experience the Magic of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
9. Take Advantage of Rider Switch Pass
10. Indulge in Must Have Disney Food, Snacks & Treats
11. Go On Rides During the Parades
12. Use an App

1. Find the Right Place to Stay

Friday Favorites 6/8

Madi had her last day of school yesterday so it was the official First Day of Summer for her or us as an entire family.  No better way to celebrate than a day at the waterpark.  We grabbed some of our besties and headed to the Island Waterpark.  We love The Island and had a great day.  We grabbed a spot around Ohana Bay which is the little kid area.  The kids are able to run by themselves to play in the water and enjoy the slides; us moms lounged in the shade.  We also enjoyed the wave pool and lazy river.  Emily and Colton were super brave and did the big slides all by themselves.  They walked up the million stairs, stood in line and slid down all on their own.   I was super impressed by these brave little ones.  We enjoyed our time so much we will be back several times this year.

A full day of sun requires lots of water so we took our new Nuby cups to survive.  The Thirsty Kids Flip-It Active cups are perfect for on the go activities.  I've purchased so many thermos cups that leak but these didn't spill a drop in my bag.  I loved their flip up handle for easy carrying and lid that protects the straw to keep the germs away.  The girls loved the colors and I like that each girl has their own so we can tell them apart.  Another huge plus versus other cups is how light weight the Active cups are.  They were the perfect way to cheers to the start of Summer.

The girls bathing suits are amazing for a long day in the sun because I don't have to worry about sunburns on half of their bodies.  They are also on sale right now (shop below).  My suit is not maternity, I just sized up (also on sale).  This is what a FULL day in the sun looks like: sun kissed cheeks, messy hair and tired eyes!  

Last weekend was the annual PINC party which benefited Children's Hospital.  It was the first year we sold out very early on and it was such a great night for a great cause.  Loved dancing to the Valley Cats and especially our silly photo session in the bathroom, lol!

We ended last weekend with a Gender Reveal BBQ for some of our best friends.  My girlfriend Rema and I are only a few weeks apart and it has been beyond special to share this journey with her.  I was the lucky one who found out the sex of the baby and ordered the confetti canons for the reveal.  I knew the sex for almost two weeks and it almost killed me.  But to say it was worth it is an understatement but it was the best reveal and surprise ever!  Rema and Kevin have two little boys and you can only imagine how Rema wanted a little girl.  When pink confetti literally covered the sky Rema just about died and I just about melted.  I can't wait to raise these two babies together (can you say 3 prearranged marriages?!?!).

Emily started swimming lessons with our favorite teacher ever: Darla of Bullfrog Swim School.  Emily is a great swimmer but working on strokes.  Madi was still in school so she will start after we get back from vacation.

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This is a sponsored post.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.

Prepping for Disneyland: Saving Money

We're almost headed to Disney and we so stinking excited.  Since it's just days away I'm in full prep mode.  I wanted to share my best tips for saving money and preparing for a Disney trip:

1. Purchase Disney Gift Cards at Target with Target Red Card to Save 5%

Set your budget ahead of time and purchase Disney Gift Cards in that amount ahead of time.  You can save 5% when you use your Target Red Card.  If you buy $500 worth of gift cards you save $25 which for me is totally worth it.  Then use your gift cards for all your meals, photo passes, souvenirs, etc.

2. Purchase Hotel & Tickets with Get Away Today

I'm always looking for the best places to book travel and for Disneyland I have to recommend Get Away Today.  They have won several awards and offer discounted travel that can't be beat.  Please be careful where you buy your Disneyland tickets because not everyone is an authorized dealer.  With Get Away Today you can get $10 off any 2+ night Southern California package with my code (exclusive for my readers only) below.  On top of discounts Get Away Today offers free travel insurance and a Layaway Payment Plan.

Get Away Today is not just for hotel and park entrance but also offers discounted Character Dining which is a must for every trip.  If you're taking a long vacation and attending other So Cal parks Get Away Today offers discounts to many of those parks as well.

3. Pre Purchase Souvenirs

Disney Park Bag- Souveneirs

Souvenirs are wildly overpriced at the resort so buy ahead of time and hide the goodies until you get there.  You can place a new souvenir on your child's bed each morning and pull it out once you get to the park.  This cuts down the amount of begging inside the park.  Be sure to also grab bubble guns and glow sticks ahead of time for parades.  You can also make your own Autograph Books to save lots.  I used printables from Pinterest, laminated them and bound them myself.  Of course there are some items you might just have to buy if you get asked but at least you can save a few bucks.

4. Stay at Hotel with Breakfast Included

Save time and money by grabbing breakfast in your hotel.  The best case scenario is a hotel that includes continental breakfast.  You could save at least $50 a day for a family of four which can really add up.  If breakfast isn't included you could pack breakfast items to eat in your room.  If that doesn't appeal to you eating breakfast at your hotel will still be cheaper than in the park.

5. Take Snacks and Lunch into the Park

My kids could eat all day long and tell me they're hungry about once an hour.  I can't imagine the amount of money we would spend if we bought all their snacks at the resort.  Plus if I bring items with us I can choose much healthier options.  Don't get me wrong there are lots of goodies that we can't pass up in the park but those are specialty items.

6. Don't Buy Bottled Water

Carry refillable bottled waters or when making food purchases ask for complimentary ice water.  We drink a lot of water so we take in refillable bottles.  Even our waters have to be cute so when I found these refillable bottles I was giddy.  They are so cute and very functional.  They are double-walled 18/8 stainless steel thermal bottle which keeps hot drinks hot for 12 hours and cold drinks cold for 24 hours! You can grab yours from Isty Bitsy Wear.

7. Plan Sit Down Meals Ahead

Plan out your budget and start looking at menus online.  Plan meals that fit within your budget.  Make sure you call 60 days ahead to make your reservations.  You can't make them more than 60 days out and you don't want to wait past that because they sell out quickly, especially during peak seasons.

8. Don't Buy Park Hopper Tickets

A Hopper Ticket can cost you as much as an additional $25 per day.  That adds up for a family who is going for several days.  We purchase tickets for 1 park per day and we never feel like we are missing out.  Especially because we have little ones so running back and forth from park to park isn't really a viable option for us anyway.  We just plan each day out ahead of time based on parades and shows so we know which park we want to hit on what day.

9. Don't Pay for Parking

If you're not staying on the resort you have the option of walking, taking a hotel shuttle or using an Uber.  Otherwise, parking at the resort is $20-$35 per day.  Again that really adds up.  Ideally pick a hotel that is within walking distance but most area hotels offer shuttles that run all day which will save you lots of money.

10. Utilize Disney Photographers

You don't have to purchase a photopass to use the professional photographers around the park.  They are happy to use your camera to take a photo.

For an extra $10 off your vacation package through Get Away Today use code: fresno10

Be sure to check back to see all the details from our vacation which will include reviews, tips and way too many pictures.

Also be sure to check out Disneyland Reveal,  Packing Your Disney Park Bag and Disney Style

Friday Favorites 6/1

Madi is still in school and the First Day of Summer hasn't officially hit but we are well on our way to checking off our Summer Bucket List.  It was a full week and I just love this time of year.  Why anyone prefers any other season is beyond me.  When else can you have backyard bbq's, swim in the pool, run in the sprinklers, make ice cream just for fun and have lazy lake days?  Gimme Summer all year round!

We had a playdate at the zoo and got to see the new water exhibit which was too fun for the kids.  Love our zoo and all that it has to offer.

I know I'm not alone when I say I'm addicted to my phone.  I'm not proud about it but at least I'm not in denial.  If I leave the house without it I act like I left my right arm.  I was so excited to receive a new iPhone 8 Plus for Mother's Day and I had to protect it in style.  I snagged the Rose Gold Metallic Presidio case from Speck Products which features two layer of protection, raised bezel screen protection and slim design.  

We had our first lake day of 2018 over Memorial Weekend which seems to be our traditional launch weekend.  We went with lots of friends and just enjoyed a lazy day on the water.

Anyone else love a clean home but doesn't like to clean so much???  I have the holy grail for you...the bObi Classic Robotic Vacuum which automatically cleans your floors for you.

My goddaughter was throwing the first pitch at the Grizzly Game on Memorial Day and we were lucky enough to attend.  It was so much fun to see how brave she was and then we got to stay and enjoy the game from a suite.  I don't think our kids have any idea how good they have it.  My girls are wanting to go back and I don't think they realize it won't be the "Suite Life" every time.

In preparation for baby boy's arrival in the Fall I'm working on a revamp in the girls room before the I tackle the nursery.  It's not an overhaul but just a few small changes to make them feel special as well.  Our first new piece is this amazing sign from Pink Lemon Decor.  It's such a unique and special piece; I can't express how in love I am with it.

Madi still has a little bit of school left but she had her End of the Year Performance this week and it was too cute for words.  She smiled and performed her heart out and we are very proud of her.  Madi is so blessed to have such loving people support her and even attend a preschool event.  Thank you to everyone who came to cheer Madi on.

This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are honest and my own.