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Disney Tips

Disney ArrivalWe took a short trip to Disney recently to celebrate Roo officially being potty trained. (Which only took 14 months to do if you must know. But that’s a whole nother story for another time.)

I started planning our trip about four days before our departure, which didn’t give me much time to prepare, but since we only spent one day at the park, it turned out to be a good trial run. There is a plethora of information about Disney on the world wide web and you seriously could research until the point of nausea. Which is what I did while I drove myself crazy trying to find the best ways to meet characters at the park.  Here are some things that I learned that I wanted to share with you!

  • Setting up campDisney’s most popular resort is their campsite called Fort Wilderness which just happened to be where we wanted to be. We hauled our pop-up camper down there and enjoyed the gorgeous park, clean bathrooms, and complimentary shuttle and ferry rides. Plus, they offer so many activities day and night, that it would be virtually impossible for anyone to be bored! You could seriously play there all day long and not even have time to go to the Magic Kingdom. Chip & Dale come to the campsite every night at 8pm for a campfire, singing, dancing, and pictures with your kids. There are also daily pool parties, craft time, outdoor movie on a big screen, and much much more.
  • buildabettermousetrip.com – If you sign up with their site, they will automatically email you a list of 45 things you can do for free at Disney. The list was very helpful and has several gems that you wouldn’t know about otherwise.
  • Snow White gave Moo a kiss that lasted all day

    Snow White gave Moo a kiss that lasted all day

    When you arrive, go to guest services and request buttons. They have buttons you can wear for “1st Disney Trip” or “We’re Celebrating” and often if cast members notice you wearing them, you will get extra attention!

  • If you have a smart phone, download the Disney World app. This helped us tremendously with planning out which characters we were going to meet where and when. In addition to that, the app also offers information about wait times, dining info, and park hours. That is just the tip of the iceberg with this app. There’s so much information on it, it will blow your mind!
  • Meeting Cinderella was her dream come true!

    Meeting Cinderella was her dream come true!

    Ask yourself, “What is the most important thing for me to accomplish at Disney?” Make a MUST-DO list and get it done first thing. Here’s a little story- When we walked into the park, I immediately felt overwhelmed with the thought that “One day at Disney is not enough to do everything!!!” So I turned to Roo and asked her, “What do you want to do the most?” And she replied, “Meet Cinderella!” So I found a cast member (employee) and asked how to make this happen. Five minutes later we were in line for an intimate meet & greet with Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. (Bonus!) Once I had that out of the way, I felt relieved because I had met my daughters expectations for Disney and we could just play and ride the rest of the day!Riding Dumbo

Another tid-bit I recently found out, is there’s an area called Downtown Disney and it is free. Although we did not get to experience Downtown first hand, we hope to go next year and use this information that my girl friend Jill wrote up.

  • Important: parking! You want to park in the “Marketplace” area (sections A-D). Downtown Disney has three areas: Marketplace, Pleasure Island, and West Side. In my opinion, the Marketplace section is the only one worth visiting if you have young kids. Pleasure Island is closed for construction, and if you accidentally park on the West Side, you will be walking a long long way. Also parking is free, but the lots tend to fill up fast, so I recommend getting there early.
  • Lego Store: it’s worth walking around on the outside to see the Disney characters they built out of Legos. There’s also a section inside with legos and tables that they can play with for free. And there are Disney characters made out of Legos on the inside too.
  • World of Disney: It’s huge and one of its entrances has Stitch, who shoots water at people as they pass. It’s also fun to look up at all the characters on the ceiling inside the store. If you go into the Princess room, in the very back, near the Bippity Boppity Bootique (where you can pay like $100 to make your kids look like they stepped out of Toddlers in Tiaras), on the wall, there’s a mirror, and if you stand in front of it, it’ll make you look like a princess.
  • Restaurants: be prepared to wait and pay a ton of money. It’s good food and a good atmosphere, but it’s expensive. Be sure to bring lots of water, snacks, hats, and sunscreen for children.
  • Carousel & Train: they have both in this area. I think it cost $0.75 for my child to ride the carousel. My husband was able to ride for free because he sat on the bench and didn’t use one of the “moving” animals.
  • Ferry: It comes by every 20 minutes or so. It docks by the Rainforest Cafe.

If you have any tips or tricks to share about your Disney experience, please share in the comment section below!



DIY Deodorant

Have I gone too far with the DIY stuff? If someone told me five years ago that I would be blogging about DIY  deodorant, facial scrub and detergents, I would have been like, “Whaaat?” But here I am and I’m truly enjoying these easy recipes that I have found that are both cost effective and better for you.

Recently my sister, Laura-Leigh, and I were discussing how we stink at the end of the day. (TMI?) We both use deodorant religiously every day, and have even tried using our husbands deodorant in hopes that the “man strength” will cover our smell. People. That did not work for either of us! Is that normal? Gosh I know I am really over-sharing right now but can I get a “amen”? Does ANYONE out there have B.O.?!?!

stinky sisters

we stink-you don’t. haha.

Well Laura-Leigh found this link via pinterest for “Man Stink Killer” and she said it WORKS!!! Not only that, she said it was super easy to make. Here’s our conversation after her trial run…


Y’all know I had to blog about it if I loved it!

The ingredients are very simple and I whipped this up in less than five minutes. Does it get any better than that? Here’s what you will need.

  • Coconut Oil
  • Corn Starch
  • Baking Soda
  •  (Essential oils can also be used to add a scent. I used lavender.)

DIY Deodorant

So grab a bowl and put in equal parts baking soda and corn starch. Then spoon in some coconut oil and mix in till it’s light and fluffy.

Spoon the mixture into an air tight jar or an old deodorant container.


I have been using it for days and I have no complaints. Only a small amount needs to be used and the best part- I don’t stink! 🙂

Let me know what you think!


*Store at room temperature. Heat may cause the oil to separate from the deodorant.

**This is MUCH easier to put on if it is in an actual deodorant container!

***My friend Heidi has been doing this for the past five years and explained that  the reason this recipe works so well as deodorant is because coconut oil (cold pressed) has anti- bacterial properties, corn starch absorbs moisture, and baking soda neutralizes odor. Makes perfect sense!



Household Budgeting Tips

22It’s obvious to most people shortly after starting a family that there is a serious need to budget. You would think that the more money you make, the less budgeting you have to do, but I think the opposite is true. Janna and I have had a few years to try several different things to help manage our money, some have worked and some have not; that being said here is a list of 13 different household budgeting tips that we feel helps us the most.

  1. Be Unified – If there is no unity between the people involved in the budget, it will fall apart. When you sit down to plan a budget, talk through each category of spending and actively negotiate. Also, having separate checking accounts or any other type of money account that your spouse has no access to is probably not wise. This could foster dishonesty and makes budgeting for a household difficult.
  2. $1000 Saved– Having $1000 saved at all times just in case you need to suddenly pay for an unplanned expense, has been for us, a lifesaver. This is also a great credit card deterrent.
  3. Budgeting Software– It’s important to have a way of tracking your budget whether it be with pen and paper or electronically. Janna and I use a software called You Need A Budget aka YNAB. I’ve used several other budgeting programs and this is the one I like the most. One benefit I love is that it is very simple to use and it has an app for your phone which works great. It updates all devices that are using the same budget in real time using dropbox. It is not free but well worth the money, you can get a $6 discount by clicking here.
  4. Negotiate Bills– Believe it or not, you are probably being ripped off as we speak by your service providers. Most of the bills you get each month can be reduced. Unfortunately, it’s often very difficult for the average person (me) to negotiate their bills lower. That’s why I was so intrigued when I first heard about BillCutterz. BillCutterz.com is a bill negotiating service that doesn’t charge you anything until they’ve saved you money. They’re very nice and it’s super easy to sign up. Check out my experience with them here.
  5. Buy Online– This may seem obvious to some but in case you didn’t know, you can buy most things online for cheaper than you can in the store. Amazon is a great place to check prices and see if what you need is cheaper there.
  6. Ebates– This goes right along with buying online. Ebates.com is a rebate marketplace that connects you with online stores; when you purchase through the ebates links you get a cash back rebate that varies store to store. My total Ebates so far is $47.07! Click here to find out more.
  7. Discounted Gift Cards– I found out about this one recently; Raise.com is a gift card marketplace where sellers discount their gift cards to get cash. This results in some pretty sweet deals. I bought a $100 Home Depot gift card for $91! Since I go to Home depot frequently this was a great way to expand our home improvement budget by almost 10%. Plus if you use ebates.com in conjunction with Raise you’ll get 1% cash back! What an awesome deal! Click here to find out more.
  8. Pay Back Debt-I think most of the world is in debt right now, so you’re not alone but, how cool would it be to not have any debt! Make a plan to get out of debt. We are working on a debt snowball which involves paying off the smallest debt first then moving to the biggest debts as they get payed off. It’s a great feeling to get that first debt in the snowball payed off.
  9. DIY– Janna and I are big DIYers, we have wrote about several of the projects that we’ve done in the past. Click Here to see what we’ve done.
  10. Blow Money– No matter what, we all want things in life and what’s funny is they’re often small everyday things. This is why it’s important to have what we (and Dave Ramsey) call Blow Money. Blow money is a defined amount of money each month that you can blow on whatever you want. What do we spend our blow money on you might ask? Jesse- movies, eating out, and tools. Janna- clothes, nails, and beauty products.
  11. Sell it on ebay or Craigslist- I think we all have stuff in our house that we do not use. Chances are this stuff can be sold online. Why not get some cash out of the things you don’t use. If you plan to sell on craigslist or ebay I’d recommend reading my post on how I sold our car on craigslist in 3 hrs. (This article has a redirect to a different website that is currently leasing this content)
  12. Stick to it– One of the hardest parts of budgeting is sticking to the plan and staying motivated. So whatever it is that keeps you motivated just keep doing that. I enjoy reading other personal finance blogs, one of which is by a friend of mine Greg; his blog is GregOutofDebt.com he’s very funny and very real.
  13. Tithing– We pay 1/10 of our income to tithing. Both Janna and I believe there are many blessings that come from paying tithing, so many in fact that we can’t afford not to pay tithing.  If you have never payed tithing now would be a great time to start. The Lord says he will “open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” -Malachi 3:10

There are plenty of right ways to budget and save money. We hope you enjoyed these 13 Household budgeting tips. They come straight from our everyday life. That being said we’d love to hear your ideas and what works well for you or your family. Please let us know in the comments below.




DIY Rocket Ship and “Parental Guilt”

This afternoon in between watching conference sessions, I had some craft time with my girls. Roo requested that I make her a rocket ship. (Okaaaaay, let me whip one right up.) My girls have been loving the Toy Story movies lately, so the idea was fresh in her mind. Luckily with a little improvising, I did my best and came up with this…


DIY Rocket Ship

First I found a piece of trash, an empty Dr. Pepper box, and taped a funnel to the top.

Funnel + Box

Next I pulled out another piece of trash, a piece of packing paper from an online order for us to color. We then wrapped the box in the paper.

color time

I had to improvise one more time and find an empty aluminum foil roll to give the rocket more height. And there you have it. But that’s when trouble began…

aluminum foil tube


My normally sweet-loving-thankful-Roo had a FIT shortly after those smiling pictures were taken. “It’s not big enough! I can’t ride on it! I want a rocket tent!”


The past couple of days have been full of tantrums like that. All of them have boiled down to her being ungrateful. I know she is only three, and gratitude is a big concept but I am appalled at her behavior and want to teach her to be thankful for what she has, and not complain. Is that too much to ask? How can I teach that effectively? I ended up putting the rocket on a shelf out of her reach until she calmed down and apologized.

I think my point was made but she had the same meltdown just hours later when I was making her Halloween costume. I made the mistake of buying one at the store a couple of weeks ago as a back up plan, in case my DIY idea didn’t pan out. She saw it and has talked about it non-stop. When she saw that I was working on making one, and that it didn’t meet her standards, she pitched a fit and only wanted the store bought one. I was thisclose to pulling out my hair.

Luckily when I got to a stopping point with it and she tried it on, SHE LOVED IT. Naturally. She even asked if she could sleep in it.


All day has been a roller coaster of  “Parental Guilt”. I recently identified with “Parental Guilt” when I read the hilarious book by stand-up comedian, Jim Gaffigan titled, Dad is Fat. He jokingly talks about growing up Catholic, and how he thought nothing could top “Catholic Guilt” until

“I became acquainted with ‘Parental Guilt’ which puts ‘Catholic Guilt’ to shame…No matter how hard you try to be a good parent, you always know deep down that you could do more. I feel guilty when I travel out of town to do shows. I feel guilty when I’m in town and I don’t spend every single moment with my children. I feel guilty when I’m spending time with my children and I am not doing something constructive toward their intellectual development. I feel guilty when I feed them unhealthy food they like. I feel guilty when I feed them healthy food they don’t like. I feel guilty when I drop them off at school. I feel guilty when I pick them up at school. I feel guilty mostly for writing this book instead of spending time with them. Great, now I’ve probably made you feel guilty too.”

He always puts a funny spin on things, but his point is very valid. It really hit home with me because I deal with most of that guilt every day! In addition to the following:

I want my daughters to be happy. I want to give them things that they desire. But I don’t want them to be selfish. I want to give them everything and yet I want them to live on next-to-nothing so they will be grateful for the little things. We are so blessed. I want my children to see that.

And now I feel guilty for showing this atypical side of Roo to y’all when she really is a sweet, helpful, loving girl. I wouldn’t trade her for a gold guinea!