Sunday, September 28, 2014

Universal on a Budget...

We went to Universal with some students… all the way back in the beginning of May.  And I have been meaning to write this post since then, better late than never I guess.

As I said when I talk about going to Disney on a Budget… we are more into experiences these days than things.  We love to make the memories and we already have enough stuff.  

So anyways… on to the tips :)

Tickets/Where to go...

*Unlike Disney, there are deals to be had when it comes to Universal.  Mousesavers has some good deals.  Sometimes you can do tours of time shares and such as well to get a deal.  
*Like Disney the more days you get the better the deal.
*Also unlike Disney, I think hopper passes are worth it when it comes to Universal Studios and the Islands of Adventures.  The parks are much closer together than those at Disney so moving back and forth is much quicker (also I believe the attraction that moves between the parks is now open).  I would even venture to say if the crowd level is not too high you can do most of the attractions in both parks in one day.
*Universal also has a downtown area that you have to walk through to get to the parks.  It is something to do but not necessary, especially if you are trying not to spend too much money.


*Universal's food policy is a little stricter than Disney, but you can definitely bring food in the park.  There food policy allows bottled water and "small snacks that do not require heating" (because I was planning on bringing something that needed to be heated up???).  Anyways, we brought sandwiches, apples, granola bars and the like.  
*We tried to eat breakfast, one meal from one we brought with us and one meal in the park.  
*In my opinion the food at Universal and Islands of Adventure leaves much to be desired.  The only exception to this is is the Three Broomsticks in Harry Potter world in the Islands of Adventures (this might be because I am a Harry Potter Fan).  The fish and chips is $12.99.  It is good and enough for a meal.  The grand feast is also a great option at $49.99, it says it feeds 4, but we fed five and a baby and there was enough.  This a good option because of price and because you actually get a pretty balanced meal with Garden Salad, Rotisserie smoked chicken and spareribs, corn on the cob, and roast potatoes.
*And I did have to get a frozen butter beer to complete the experience at $4.99.  Not exactly a deal, but so good :)

What to bring…

*Stroller AND baby wearer- BD napped/ slept in both.   I love my Ergo :) 
*Snacks/meals as mentioned above.
*Diaper supplies were packed into a book bag with the rest of our snacks and things.  We did use Honest Company disposables instead of cloth for the day and I survived :).
*A change of clothes and a bathing suite for the little, they have great water ride/attractions in both parks.
*Water bottle.
*Snacks- sandwiches, granola bars, apples and the like.
*Camera/phone… pictures are a must!


*My first comment here is child swap at Universal is much better than switching off at Disney.   At Disney one person (or part of the group) has to wait in line by themselves,  while the other person (or part of the group) has to sit and wait outside of the ride's entrance.  You get a little ticket that allows you  that allows the other part of your group to go to the front of the line later.  This is especially unfortunate if you only have two people with a baby- you are separated for the wait time and the ride.  Universal's works differently depending on the ride.  Most of the rides with carried BD through the line with us.  This was great because for one our group got to stay together and two BD got to experience the line which can be very detailed and fun part of the ride! When we got to the front, one person (or part of the group) stayed with the baby and all of our stuff in an air conditioned child swap room.  Not only was the room air-conditioned, but it often had a changing table and a water fountain!  And when the first group has gone one the ride, only one person has to switch so some in your party may actually get to ride twice!  There are a couple of places that the baby is not allowed through the line, like The Incredible Hulk.  But you still get to sit in the air conditioned room! :
*Most people deem these parks more grown up, especially compared to Magic Kingdom.  But there are still a few kids rides and play areas.  Our favorites were the Curious George Goes to Town and Fievel's   Playland.  To be honest though, we did not plan our day around the kids rides.   We knew at Bd's age she would just enjoy seeing the sights.
*At Universal there is not a free fast pass program like at Disney.  They have Universal Express Passes which are just too steep in my opinion.  Extra $40 on a regular ticket, each day… no thank you!  If you plan out your rides right you should not have to wait too long, at least not until later in the day!
*Universal Studios order:
1. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit 
2. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (This may seem silly to start with, but I promise the line gets so long!)
3. Mummy the Ride
4. Transformers the Ride
5.  And so on… we did not plan this trip as thoroughly as we did in the past because we went when the parks were pretty empty.  If you are going during a busy time and you want thorough pointers about attraction order I recommend signing up for touring plans!  They have fanatics touring plans that work especially well to minimize wait time on busy days!
*Island's of Adventure order:
1. Everything Harry Potter world.  Seriously the lines get so long there.  But only go there first if you get there when the park first open!
2. The Incredible Hulk
3.  Then work your way back  We like saving water rides for the afternoon.  They have great water rides!

Souvenirs and stuff…

*As usual, most rides dump you in some sort of gift shop... just avoid buying things. They are just overpriced and not necessary.


*While it would be nice to stay on the property, we always recommend Priceline.  We always find great deals.
*Just be prepared to pay $17 to park each day.

And some pictures :)

Y'all have any other tips?  

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Thursday, September 25, 2014


Just for kicks… what I am up to lately :)

Making... Lesson plans and blog posts… if that counts. 
Cooking : Pesto Talapia
Drinking... Green smoothie- I am trying to prefect making this without a $300+ blender.  
Reading… Children's books… lots of children's books.
Wanting... To find some sort of schedule but having trouble doing so...
Looking... Forward to Bd getting to be a flower girl in a wedding next weekend!  We will see how our 18 month old does!
Playing... Criminal Minds on Netflix… it is addicting.
Trusting… God in his perfect timing.
Wishing… for Christmas time.  I know, everyone wants fall, but I keep thinking about Christmas.
Enjoying… Free coffee from Mcdonalds in the morning through the 29th. 
Waiting… For the right time to move into a new place (again).
Liking watiching BD pretend.  Yesterday she put a person on a block and pretended it was a train.  It melted my heart.
Wondering... What our ministry is going to look like in this new stage and place.
Loving... Inexpensive fun dates with the hubs.
Marveling… at this beautiful day.
Anticipating: What this next year holds for us :)
Contemplating… ministry, discipleship and missions and what they should look like in my life write now. 
Wearing... My riding boots.  I have had them for 5 years and they are my favorite.  Hello fall :)
Following... Too many blogs.  
Noticing… How quickly time passes.
Feeling… Curious :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What You Wish Wednesday #19

Have you had a chance to follow What You Wish Wednesday Features on Pinterest? 
You can find all of the host's features there!  It is a great way to connect :)
Aaaaaaaand you could also follow me here :)

Now for this week's features….
A Hot Southern Mess wrote about Brazilian cheese puffs that just look amazing.  Cheese is practically a food group to me, so I think I will have to try these :)
The Contented Wife shared 10 things she has learned to do one handed since she became a mama.  I would say yes… except I have not mastered most of these yet!
Amelia at Someday is Today wrote about why she "broke up" with google.  As a mom that has googled everything under the sun, I can relate.  I try to talk to more real people now and follow my intuition :)

If you were featured this week, or have been featured before, be sure to grab a button below! :)


Time to link up! :)

Link-up details. It's too easy not to join in:

*share a recent post of your choosing (link-up at very bottom of this post)
*include the WYWW button and/or a visible link-back to this post
*check out the hostesses' blogs and follow along: StasiaLeslieNikkiMelissa and Amanda 
*check out a few posts and share the love (pinning your favorite post is a great way)
*check out our bran new WYWW Pinterest board!


Follow Your Hosts….
    An InLinkz Link-up

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Those days {learning to let it go}...

It has been one of "those days."
You know the ones.  You think you have it all planned out and then nothing goes as planned.  
Where you have a million things on the to do list, nothing crossed off and you will just use the exact same to do list again tomorrow.

Following Elsa's advise from Frozen… I have to Let it Go.

But really in all seriousness, I have to take this time to evaluate and reevaluate.  
Is my day about crossing things off my to do list or is it about making an impact?
Am I more concerned with tasks or people?
Am I more concerned with my plan or God's plan?

I am brought back to the story of Mary and Martha (a lot) from Luke 10:38-42

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

What am I spending my hours and days toiling over?  


Thursday, September 18, 2014


This week our *almost 18 month old* decided naps were a thing of the past.  As in tried to drop ALL of her naps… what 18 month old does that?  The thing is, as her mama, I know that she needs a nap.  Desperately.  
 I think about how often I resist the everything I need most- 
to be teachable.
Before we moved this summer I started looking for another mother's day out job.  One of the jobs I applied for had the   l   o   n   g   e   s   t   application that I have ever filled out.  Not exaggerating- full-time jobs, college applications etc… and the part-time preschool job takes the cake.  
One of the questions on this said application was

How do you describe a person who has a “teachable spirit?” How close do you think you come to that description? How do your respond to constructive criticism?

Cue gut punch.  Immediately Andrew knew by the look on my face that I had reached an especially difficult question.  Then he read it and laughed… he knows me all too well.  

See, this is not my strong suite.  Let me teach people and lead all day- but have some one else tell me what to do?  To listen to how I can do things better?  I struggle with this.  

And how do you even answer this on a job application with integrity- "I think this is important and I am ahem… working on it."

Little did I know when I came across this question on the job application that God was actually beginning to refine my heart in this area.  I was reading through Proverbs and came across these verses…

Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days. Proverbs 19:20

A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind. Proverbs 18:2

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel. Proverbs 12:15

The Word lead me right to the importance of being teachable.  I mean really, it calls us fools (really, me a fool) for not being teachable.  

I recently started a new job (ironically not the one with the super long job application- that is 5 hours of my life I will never get back).  And even in this new job God has put me in a place again where I don't get to lead, that someone else is leading me and teaching me.  And  have had to swallow my pride and say 

No, I don't know it all.
Yes, I am teachable.

What about you?  Are you teachable?  Have you ever struggled with this?


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What You Wish Wednesday #18

Wahoo for hump day!  Time to link up and have some community! :)
have you had a chance to follow What You Wish Wednesday Features on Pinterest? 
If not you should… and you could also follow me here :)
Now for this week's features….
Pumpkin Pallets - cutest, cheapest fall project ever :) 

Hymn Studies- never thought of this… I often listen to hymns, especially when I am going through trials.  But the stories behind the gyms give them even more meaning!
Kitchen Remodel- just a little kitchen inspiration!
Project Buy a House- This is so pertinent to our lives right now.  One day we may buy a house… great things to think about!

If you were featured this week, or have been featured before, be sure to grab a button below! :)


Time to link up! :)

Link-up details. It's too easy not to join in:

*share a recent post of your choosing (link-up at very bottom of this post)
*include the WYWW button and/or a visible link-back to this post
*check out the hostesses' blogs and follow along: StasiaLeslieNikkiMelissa and Amanda 
*check out a few posts and share the love (pinning your favorite post is a great way)
*check out our bran new WYWW Pinterest board!
Follow Your Hosts….
    An InLinkz Link-up

Monday, September 15, 2014

Becoming {more} of a morning person...

A while back when shared 7 Facts About Myself, I confessed that I am a complete morning person (think like 3-4 in the morning person).  Carolina from Mama Insticts suggested that I share some of my tips for becoming a morning person.  Now, since I am already a morning person I am not quite sure this is fair to tell you how to become a morning person.  What I can tell you is what I think makes me a successful morning-person (at least most of the time:)).
All that being said…

8 tips for becoming a morning person...


{start in The Word}

I can't stress this enough.  The days that I get up and don't spend my first bit of time reading my Bible, devotional, praying and journalling, I just end up feeling frazzled- no matter how early or late I get up.


{don't hit snooze}

Seriously, it is like a chain reaction, once you do it once you will do it more.  And this causes more interrupted sleep.  Get your sleep in one good solid chunk!


{get some coffee}

My morning cup is a wonderful blessing each day:).  


{realize what a productive time it is}

This is the only time of day where I don't have a million other things begging for my attention.  I also think when you start with an early morning you start your day more proactively (what do you want or really need to get done) rather than reactively (responding to what the day throws at you).  


{make a to do list}

Okay, this one may not be for everyone, but I thrive under a good through to do list.  I put things on there that will be easy to accomplish to get myself rolling each morning.  I even prioritize mine (weird right).  But even a simple to do list can give you the motivation to get up in the morning- I want/need to get ______ done.


{make more time during the day}

When I get stuff done in the morning, I have more time to spend with my husband and our daughter later in the day.  I think about how much I value and don't want to sacrifice that time and that motivates me to get out of bed!


{early to bed, early to rise}

I am not recommending you sleep less… though I do struggle with getting enough sleep (I think that is a common problem for most moms).  If you want to get up earlier, you are going to have to go to bed a little earlier.  I suggest getting off the social media or turning off the TV- those can be time suckers late at night that keep you up later.


{just do it}

Just commit… set the alarm… and don't let yourself hit snooze.  I think after a week or so of getting up a little earlier you won't regret it!

Are you are morning person?  What do you do/have to do to make sure you get yourself up in the morning?