Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa {Review}

We have planned our dream Disney vacation for years but things would come up and money was tight and we wouldn't make it.  Finally, right after our son turned 9 years old, we made the trip!  Driving nine hours and packing for a week long vacation and hoping everything goes according to plan is a scary thing for someone with anxiety issues.

When we pulled up to Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa, all of our fears melted away.  We walked into a beautiful lobby with ceilings that seemed to stretch on forever, and we're then taken down a red carpet to the check in desk.  We were greeted with our room keys, a calendar for their awesome kids events and all the information we would need.  Once we got on the elevator we noticed it only allowed you to go to another floor with a room key, so that was really awesome knowing how secure it was!

The moment we walked into our two bedroom suite, we were in awe.  It felt just like home and maybe even a little better.  We stayed in the Antigua suite, which features 2 bedrooms and 2 baths in 1080 square feet of family space and sleeps up to six.  So there was more than enough room for our family of 3!  We loved the full sized living area that led right out to a full balcony with a view of the awesome pirate themed pool.  Another plus was the full kitchen, we were able to cook several of our meals and save some money!  This suite also has a washer and dryer, which really came in handy after long sweaty days at the parks and for our swimsuits after splashing around in the pool!  Now, for the real reason we will be coming back to this awesome resort... the master suite!  For a mom, that never takes time for herself, to walk in and see that amazing Jacuzzi tub in our room, it was just what I needed to start my vacation right!  I loved that our son had his own separate room with DVD player that gave him a place to unwind at night.  Below, I've included photos I took from my phone to share for social media.  THAT was our suite, pretty "sweet" suite, right?!


The resort offers lots of amenities which include a gorgeous Spa and Fitness center, convenience store with Pizza Hut, pirate themed swimming pool and also a quieter pool (usually kid free) and a wonderful restaurant, Frankie Farrell’s Pub & Grille onsite. We went to Frankies one night and every dish we ordered was incredible.  It was pretty pricey, even with the coupon they gave us, it also included gratuity which we thought was strange.  It was a great meal and it was nice to be able to walk right back to our room afterwards.  Below is a collage I created from images of the resort that are on the resorts website. 



Lake Buena Vista is a Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotel, which means you can buy tickets for the parks on site, they offer transportation to and from the parks and they are located conveniently to all of the Disney magic!!

I would highly recommend the Resort and think it's a great off property location for any family vistiting in the area.  What do you think?  I would love to know if any of my readers have had experience with Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa.

Be sure to follow them on social media:


Disclosure: Lake Buena Vista Resort & Spa provided my family a two-bedroom suite in order to facilitate this review. No monetary compensation was received. As always, this is my honest opinion. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Christy Nockels: Let it be Jesus {Review & Giveaway}


Over the years I've added more and more Christian music to our home.  We actually only listen to Christian radio in the car because it's the only stations I can trust that aren't going to be inappropriate for my nine year old son.  I was more than excited to receive Christy Nockels new album, "Let it Be Jesus".  Christy Nockels is a Contemporary Christian Artist that has been entertaining audiences for many years, she has also been an integral part of Passion Conferences from its inception in 1997.

Nockels, a pastor’s kid, was born in Fort Worth, Texas and raised in Oklahoma where she grew up singing in the church. She met her husband, Nathan, at a Christian Artists Seminar and later formed the group Watermark.

Let it be Jesus is one of those albums, no matter where you are when listening to it, you're going to want stand in Worship.  My favorites include, "Wonderful Name", "Let it Be Jesus" and "Who can compare".  There are many days when I feel overwhelmed with work, being a mom and wife and all I need is a great worship album to remind me how much I have to be hopeful for.  This is one of those albums that will be on constant rotation in my car for those moments!  If you're a mom that loves to worship in the car, or if you know one that does, this makes the perfect Mother's Day gift!  It's available now on iTunes!

You can connect with Christy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!  

As an added bonus, I have a few copies of her latest album to giveaway to some lucky readers!  To enter please leave a comment below telling us some of your favorite Christian Worship bands/singers that you enjoy listening to.  For bonus entries feel free to share on social media and link back to those in another comment! 




"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.  Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Friday, March 20, 2015

Our surprise #DisneySide birthday party!


I received free products in order to host a Disney Side @ Home Celebration.  The opinions expressed here are my own.


For months we've been planning our very first family trip to Orlando.  The only thing is, we've had to keep it a secret from our son.  We wanted to wait until his 9th birthday to spill the beans.  So when I was chosen to host a Disney Side @ Home Celebration I was stoked because I knew exactly what we would do. 


We invited our closest friends and family to a local restaurant, the boys favorite, Buffalo Wild Wings.  Everyone got there about 10 minutes before my husband and son walked in.  Our son believed it was just the three of us coming to dinner and he was extremely surprised!  We had 24 people come out to celebrate our boy and we are so blessed to have so much love around him!  Every guest went home with a goody bag filled with coupons from a few of Disney's sponsors, Photo paper, Disney luggage tags, Mickey & Minnie themed treats and a family tree to complete at home.  We played some Disney trivia, and were surprised at how much our family and friends knew!


So thankful that my kit included a Mickey cake pan.  Our friend, and fellow blogger, Kerry not only came to celebrate with us she also made our amazing Mickey cake.  It tasted just as good as it looked!! 


To end the evening, we had our boy open our gift for him.  I included a poem on the envelope of the card to kind of explain the contents of the box.  Excuse the horrible hand writing, I wrote it on the fly minutes before guests started to arrive.


The box included three Disney themed t-shirts and a LEGO luggage tag.  At the end of the box he picked up the envelope and read it again and then it clicked and he said, "Am I going to Disney?" we shook our heads yes and he said, "REALLY?  YAY!!!"  This look alone was worth all the wait and the planning! 


The party couldn't have went better, and we are so thankful we were able to incorporate so much of our Disney Side in our surprise party for our boy!  So, Walt Disney World, The Downing's are coming for you this May!  We can't wait! 



I received free products in order to host a Disney Side @ Home Celebration.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

It's halftime folks! {Personal}

Wow, 9 years old.  We've reached halftime with you!  Just 9 more before you start choosing which college you will attend.

This year's favorites:

Food: Mommy's Chicken and Dumplings (same as last year)
Sport: Basketball (same)
TV Show(s): Once Upon a Time, Under the Dome and Shark Tank
Best Friend(s):  Samuel, Jacob H, Kenan and Kalon
Teacher: Miss Seamster (hasn't changed since 1st grade)
Song: Jealous- Nick Jonas
Singer: Ed Sheeran 
Book(s): "The Magician's Nephew"
Toy(s): LEGOs
Movie(s):  I am Sam, Big Hero 6, Mr Peabody & Sherman
When he grows up he wants to be: "In the Air Force just like my Uncle Chase, I wanna fly planes and protect our country."

As I went through pictures over the last year I realized how many great memories were made.


This year you:
  • probably read close to 100 books, no joke.  
  • were baptized.  You sang with the children's choir at Elevation Church and One7 ministries. You also brought over 15 friends to church with you, we love seeing your passion to spread the Gospel. 
  • volunteered your time to help others (we love your generous heart)
  • became a Godbrother.  Paxton is a lucky boy to have you to look up to.
  • attended your first concert: Elevation Worship at Time Warner Cable Arena
  • visited: Raleigh, Sanford and Lake Lure
  • played Basketball
  • lost: PawPaw {your great grandfather}
  • played Minecraft, Pokemon Omega Ruby and Disney Infinity
  • fell in love with your Uncle Chase, he's probably your favorite person besides mommy and daddy.
Yes, there were sassy attitudes, tears, many fights about cleaning your room and more in between but those are the highlights. You are such an amazing kid.  We are inspired by your huge heart for others and can't wait for you to be a Big Brother!  You amaze us every single day and remind us how lucky we are to be your parents.  We can't wait to see what the next year will bring!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Beat the heat this summer with $1 movies! {2015}



It's back!! This is one thing we look forward to every year. As much as we love Summer, some days we love to beat the heat and stay in the AC and enjoy a movie favorite for $1!


The 2015 Summer Movie Express runs for 9 weeks with select titles playing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the summer. Start time is 10 am, and I always suggest getting there a little early because Summer Camps like to show up for these and the theatres fill up fast! These are great for younger kids too, because if they have a total meltdown half way thru the movie, you're only out $2!

They start in Charlotte and Huntersville June 16th, but please see your local theatre for program start date. Admission to these films during the Summer Movie Express is only $1 and a portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute.


Showing by week:

1 Nut Job PG
1 Annie PG
2 Earth To Echo PG
2 The Boxtrolls PG
3 Paddington PG
3 Turbo PG
4 Rio 2 G
4 How to Train Your Dragon 2 PG
5 Mr. Peabody & Sherman PG
5 Book Of Life PG
6 Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb PG
6 Penguins of Madagascar PG
7 The LEGO Movie PG
7 Dolphin Tale 2 PG
8 Muppets Most Wanted PG
8 Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day PG
9 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles PG-13
 9 The Spongebob Movie PG 
#SummerMovieExpress

Friday, March 13, 2015

Dreaming in LEGO {Giveaway}



We're surprising the boy in a few days with a trip we've been planning to LEGOLAND in May and we just know he's going to flip out.  We'll spend the night in the new Hotel and then spend the day at the park.  With May being so far away we're excited we have Brick Universe right around the corner!  Just 15 days away!  Brick Universe will be in Raleigh March 28th and 29th! 


If you have a LEGO lover in your family, this is THE event to be at!  We had such a blast at Lego Kids Fest last year and we were told a lot of the fun is coming back!  Well, I have a treat for one lucky reader!  A 4 pack of tickets!  Take the family, take your friends, take your neighbor, your choice!  It's a guaranteed fun day! 

Respond here with your favorite character from the Lego Movie and if you haven't seen it yet, you should!  EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!  Giveaway ends March 20th!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Free Easter Bunny Pictures with Portrait Innovations {Giveaway}



This post is sponsored by Portrait Innovations. Compensation was received in exchange for sharing this promo and giveaway.

Easter in our family, is an awesome celebration of Jesus’ resurrection and fun with the family!  We host an Easter egg hunt every year for our friends, and the kids have such a great time.  This beautiful weather we've been having really has me excited for Spring!  Next week, we will be going to see the Easter Bunny at Portrait Innovations for free photos!

FREE professional portraits with the Easter Bunny will be taken Monday, March 16th from 3-6 p.m. at Portrait Innovations studios in Charlotte, Gastonia and Huntersville.


The Easter Bunny will visit Portrait Innovations studios located in Charlotte at the Promenade on Providence Shopping Center, Huntersville at the NorthCross Shopping Center and Gastonia at Gaston Mall. Each child will receive three free high resolution images with the Easter Bunny on a CD.   We will be heading to the NorthCross location Monday!

As if that isn't awesome enough, Tuesday, March 10 through Sunday, April 12, Portrait Innovations will have a great Spring-time offer that includes 43 Portraits and 5 Spring cards for just $19.99, plus a FREE 16x20 Wall Portrait. Coupons for this deal can be found HERE.  That's SUCH a great deal!  Great way to get Spring portraits for the grandparents and other family!

http://www.portraitinnovations.com/Spring-Coupon

I haven't had my sons Spring portraits done in so long and I'm excited to see the all new Spring background's and props!  Looking for some inspiration for your next session at Portrait Innovations? Check out all of their great Pinterest Boards HERE!

For more information about getting Easter Bunny Portraits at a Charlotte-area Portrait Innovations, click here and connect with Portrait Innovations on their social media channels!
Facebook: www.facebook.com/portraitsdotcom
Twitter: www.twitter.com/portraitsdotcom
Instagram: www.instagram.com/portraitinnovations
Google+: plus.google.com/+PortraitInnovations

As a special treat for one lucky reader, a $100 Portrait Innovation giftcard!  Enter to win below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Showing your child Grace when they act Graceless




I feel like a broken record.  For the tenth time this month we are arguing over him cleaning his room.  Keep in mind, he's eight about to be nine and this shouldn't be as big of an issue as it is at his age.  Or so I keep telling myself.  Usually, I get frustrated enough that I just complete it myself but this time we have decided, as his parents, to stick to our word and make him do it himself.

This is day nine that he's been asked to clean the same messy room.  Two hours go by and I check out his room and his definition of clean is no where near my definition or really anyone's definition of clean.  He's spent more time reading things he found, making LEGO creations or just fooling around then actually cleaning.  At this point, I am taking this much more personally than I thought I would.  "If he spent his time picking up instead of messing around this could be done.  After all I do for him, how dare he just not care enough to keep his room tidy.  Does he know how much his father and I sacrifice for him to have all he has or for him to do all the things he gets to do?  This is inconsiderate, how could he be so Graceless?"  Then I start thinking about the surprise Disney trip that we've been planning and how much I don't think he deserves it now.  I'm getting really upset, more than I should have in retrospect, and I just tell him to forget it and just go to bed.  I walk into the living room and just start sobbing.

It's at that moment that my best friend texts me and we start comparing our "kid stories".  I go into mine and telling her about how upset I got and how I just am feeling overwhelmed and out of options.  It's then that she texts me back and says, "I remember when you were just a few years older than he is now and you getting in trouble for the same exact thing.  How your parents would get on to you about cleaning your room and they'd find you in the floor looking at pictures, reading notes or just singing to your CD player."  OUCH.  I know it wasn't her intention to sting me, but those words did.  And it wasn't because they were mean or malicious, it's because they were true.

The same exact issues I've been getting on to my son about, are the same exact issues I had as a child.  I remember being so easily distracted and genuinely feeling really bad when so much time had gone by and I had barely made a dent in my room.  In that moment, I realized, who am I to not show him a little Grace?  Grace: undeserved mercy.  He's trying, he's made many efforts, he's actually stayed in his room for two hours trying to clean just to please us as his parents.  And all I can give him is harsh criticism?

How can I not show my son the same Grace that God shows us every single day?  I mess up, I fall flat on my face, I don't measure up to all the potential God has placed on me, but does he make me feel bad about it?  Does he point out my flaws?  Or does he embrace me?  My God loves me, unconditionally, he shows me Grace.  And I am so thankful for that Grace because I'm hard enough on myself, I couldn't carry that burden too.

So, as I recollected myself and preached a little to myself  I went back in his bedroom turned on the lights and just hugged him.  I told him I was sorry for being so hard on him and that I recognize how much work he put into his room and that I understood what it meant to be distracted.  I told him after school we would work on it together.  I won't do it for him but I will help guide him.

I am writing this for the overwhelmed mom, the mom who feels like her kids just aren't getting it, the mom who feels like maybe she failed somewhere.  Being a mom is the toughest job on the planet, and we are so hard on ourselves and sometimes we mirror that onto unrealistic expectations for our children.  Remember to give a little Grace.  I'm a mom, I'm human and sometimes I get it wrong.  But there's something beautiful about finding a message in the mess you make. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Harlem Globetrotters coming to Charlotte! {Giveaway}



Our little man is a lucky boy, the Harlem Globetrotters come to town every year right around his birthday and right after basketball season is over. This year they will be in Charlotte, NC March 28th at Halton Arena at UNCC, at 2pm and 7pm!


The Globetrotters will face a great challenge this year, as the infamous Washington Generals are more determined than ever to match the franchise’s historic last victory over the Globetrotters nearly a half century ago. It has been five years since the Globetrotters and Generals have faced off, as the Generals have been searching far and wide for the best players to retool their roster and have been preparing for one thing: victory over the Globetrotters.


Not only will we be taking our boy, we will also be giving away 4 tickets to one lucky reader!!

Please follow ALL the steps on the Rafflecopter form to be considered as a winner. Giveaway ends on March 18th at midnight and winners will be notified via email. Once we choose a winner we will give you 24 hrs to respond and then we will go to who's next in line.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 23, 2015

Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starts in Charlotte tomorrow night!



THE BLOCKBUSTER MUSICAL RETURNS STARRING DIANA DeGARMO AND ACE YOUNG


One of the most enduring shows of all time, Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber’s JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT is coming to Charlotte, the irresistible family musical about the trials and triumphs of Joseph, Israel’s favorite son.

The new production will feature Broadway/television star Diana DeGarmo (Hairspray, Hair) as The Narrator and Broadway star Ace Young (Grease, Hair) as Joseph.

Retelling the Biblical story of Joseph, his eleven brothers and the coat of many colors, this magical musical is full of unforgettable songs including "Those Canaan Days," "Any Dream Will Do" and "Close Every Door." Book your tickets and be part of the magic!

See more HERE



Performance Schedule

Tue, Feb 24 at 7:30 PM
Wed, Feb 25 at 7:30 PM
Thu, Feb 26 at 7:30 PM
Fri, Feb 27 at 8:00 PM
Sat, Feb 28 at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM
Sun, Mar 1 at 1:30 PM and 7:00 PM

I've always wanted to see this show but am really excited to see some of my favorite American Idol alums in a Broadway show!  This will make a great date night or a fun show out with the kids. 

Show's social channels:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JosephAndTheAmazingTechnicolorDrea…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JosephMusical
Twitter list of cast: https://twitter.com/Blumenthal…/lists/joseph-us-tour/members
Instagram: Follow Diana at @ADaisyADay and Ace at @TheRealAceYoung
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/josephsmusical
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