Disney Vacation Tips

At the beginning of May my family took our first vacation to Disney. We decided to do a Disney land and sea vacation, which just really means we did a few days at the parks and then a 3 night Disney cruise. I knew that planning a Disney vacation would require a lot of research and planning and so I thought I would share with all of you what I learned from the experience. Now, I am NOT a Disney travel agent or any type of expert so please keep in mind I am sure you can experience Disney a million different ways and they would all be great.

When to visit Disney?

The first question I needed to answer was when did I want to book our trip. When I researched Disney it said that the least crowded times (now keep in mind crowded is a relative term as Disney always has people) were May and September. This makes sense because it is right before school is out or school is back in session. Since we were also doing a cruise, September was out due to hurricane season. I also was comfortable with taking my Kindergarten out of school for a week so May it was!! Plus, I was hoping it wouldn’t be 100 degrees.

Where to stay?

I am a believer of the mindset “if you are going to Disney, do the full Disney experience”. That being said, we knew we wanted to stay at a Disney resort. When considering the place to stay I wanted to take into account location and cost as the two big factors. I thought my kids would love riding the monorail so I definitely wanted a resort on the monorail. I asked friends who had been to Disney for recommendations and almost everyone said “Bay Tower at the Contemporary Resort”!! You can walk 5 minutes to the Magic Kingdom and and its on the monorail that you can take to Epcot as well. Plus, it has great views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks at night. Now, the Bay Tower is considered a higher end Disney resort and I wasn’t sure I wanted to pay higher end costs. My friend suggested using David’s Vacation Club Rental for this part of our trip. You essentially work with David’s Vacation Club to secure your room. Basically David’s works with Disney vacation club owners and books your trip through these vacation club owners. I was a little skeptical at first but my friend used it and she said it worked great and the best part– it was HALF the cost of getting a room through Disney directly. You get all of the same access and benefits as all other guests (housekeeping service is only once every 3 days though). I had the greatest experience using them and did save 50%. I highly recommend looking into this. It is because I used David’s Vacation Club that I did not use a Disney travel agent for the “land” part of our trip.

Here is a view from our room’s balcony

Another reason to stay on a Disney property is for the added benefits. You get access to the Magic Shuttle that takes you to and from the airport for FREE! You also get access to Magic hours at the parks (where either one park is open earlier or closes later for those that are staying on property). This is great for getting on those rides that have typically long lines right away (or with a smaller wait time). Plus, you get earlier access to make dining and FastPass+ reservations.

FastPass+

Ok, so this topic was one that I was most nervous about. I haven’t been to Disney since I was in junior high, so I was unsure how to navigate this piece. For those that are unfamiliar, FastPass+ is a system in which you make a “reservation” to ride on a ride. It allows you to walk up during your designated time and walk right up to the ride. The longest we waited with a FastPass+ was 15 minutes and that was for a ride that the standby line was almost two hours. In researching what to use our FastPass+ on (each person gets 3 per day at one park then you can get one more at a time after that) I downloaded the Disney app. Within the app there is a feature that lets you see the current wait times for all of the rides, shows, etc so I used that to figure out which rides I wanted to go on that had the highest wait times. Here is what we used our FastPass+ on at each park.

Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine, Splash Mountain and Buzz Lightyear

Animal Kingdom: Dinosaur, Safari, Na’vi River Journey

Now, I will say I was able to get these popular FastPass+ because I stayed on property and got to get my FastPass+ 60 days out. I also decided to not use FastPass+ on meeting characters because we planned that for our cruise.

I also made sure to use our FastPass+ in the morning/lunch timeframe so that we were able to get more (using the app) after we used our 3. Another cool feature I learned about was child swap. For instance, my daughter did not want to ride on Splash Mountain. So we got her a FastPass+ and this is how we handled it. My husband and son would go on Splash Mountain with their FastPass+ while I waited with my daughter. Then my son and I would go back on the ride when they were done. We swapped my daughter’s FastPass+ to my son. All you do is tell the employee at the ride you are doing a child swap. This was a win/win for us because it allowed my husband and I to go on the rides and my son got to go twice.

Disney Dining

Second to FastPass+ was dining in terms of me being worried about what to do here. I didn’t want to go to super fancy/expensive restaurants and wanted to make sure we had some flexibility. Again, we decided to not do any character meals because were going on the cruise and my daughter hates princesses so we didn’t need to worry about that. We also decided against a meal plan. For our family we just knew that we wouldn’t get the value out of it. We tend to share a few meals for each meal so for us it was cheaper to just order as we went. The first day we were arriving we didn’t have park tickets (you need a park ticket to dine at any of the restaurants inside) so we made a reservation at Disney Springs (a free area with shops and restaurants) for T-REX. The kids LOVED this restaurant. I highly recommend, it is similar to Rainforest Cafe but the kids enjoyed it way more. We made reservations at Coral Reef while we were at Epcot. The kids really enjoyed watching the fish swim and while we were there divers were in the tank and it was nice to have entertainment for them during dinner. Our last night there we had originally had reservations at Epcot but I knew we wanted to experience more of the Magic Kingdom so we just grabbed some stuff at one of the little stations with no formal meal. We did use the app to make reservations for breakfast one morning at the Grand Floridan. Staying on property though did give us earlier access to booking places and times that worked for us.

Picture of the TREX restaurant

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Getting around Disney

I have a 6.5 year old and a 4 year old. Neither of my kids have ever been “stroller” kids. I use a stroller maybe once or twice a year for my 4 year old. However, I knew that Disney was going to be big and it would be hot there and the days long. My 4 year old definitely still needs naps and my 6.5 year old loves naps too. I wanted a stroller that the kids could sit in and stay shaded and even take a little nap while we were walking around. It is worth mentioning that my kids are champs at falling asleep in cars and being pushed in a stroller is the same type of sensation for them so I knew they would nap in the stroller. We don’t have a great double stroller and we didn’t want to bring our own and then figure out how do deal with it on the cruise so we decided to rent a stroller. We rented ours through Magic Strollers and we LOVED it. The stroller was waiting for us at the hotel lobby when we checked in and came with a rain cover for free (which luckily we didn’t need). It was clean and in excellent condition. The best part, when we were done we just left it back at the hotel lobby. EASY! The cost was WAY worth it. It was $80 for a city mini double for 4 days. In comparison we rented a crappy double “stroller” at Disney Springs for the afternoon before we went home and it was $50 for the day and it had to stay at Disney Springs. It offered no shade or protection from the rain. If you rent a stroller from a Disney park it must be returned to that park that day. I cannot even imagine how we would have survived without a stroller. Life changing even for my 6.5 year old.

Picture on the left is the city mini we rented and the right is the Disney stroller

Disney Cruise

For the cruise portion of our trip I did use a Disney certified travel agent. We used Mix and Match Travel (run by Shay and Erika). It was a great decision. Erika was able to coordinate our transportation from our Disney Hotel right to the port (there is a fee for this service unlike the Magic Express). I simply told her what type of room I wanted and she made all the reservations. She took care of also securing our excursions as well. She knew that Elsa and Anna meet and greet tickets sell out and to get those and got my son his snorkel gear reserved for the private island. Plus, she signed the kids up for the kids club. It was so easy. She was also great about answering all my random questions, like, do I need to bring towels for the island? (answer: no, Disney provides them). If we ever do another Disney cruise (which we might!) I am definitely going to go through them again.

Our family really enjoyed the combination of the days at the parks and the cruise. On the cruise you get to experience the Disney characters on a regular basis. They are always around for photo ops.

Photo evidence of all the character sightings

The cruise also allowed us to have a “beach” type vacation as well because we went to Disney’s private island and Nassau Bahamas. It really did feel like two vacations in one so we didn’t need to feel sad leaving the parks because we knew we got a whole new adventure in the cruise. Another big perk is the entertainment on board. We got to see two Disney shows in their theater that rival any Broadway shows I have seen (and might even be better than a lot of shows). And it was included in the cost of the cruise. The kids LOVED the shows. I was not expecting them to love the shows as much as they did, they still talk about the shows over a month later.

Another perk that only Mom’s can really appreciate is how CLEAN the Disney boats are. I mean, the “public” bathrooms on the ship were cleaner than my own at my house. Outside of every restaurant staff handed out handi-wipes to all of us to clean our hands before eating. The ship was spotless!! I can understand why adults choose Disney cruise lines over others for this factor alone.

 

Overall, our trip was a lot of fun and as the family’s vacation planner I was actually able to enjoy myself while on vacation because I did so much research in advance and had a game plan. I also knew that it was OK to change the plans slightly and go with the flow. There is no way you will get to experience everything on either the cruise or at the parks so just enjoy what you do experience and remember to have fun!

We would love to hear any other tips and tricks you have for Disney vacation fun.

 

Please note: this post is not sponsored in any way, these were my real experiences without any compensation for my review or opinion.

Sipping with Moms ~ Beth Genengels

We are back with our monthly series (you can check out our April post here) and this month we are featuring another gorgeous and talented mom…

Beth Genengels

Beth
photo credit Ron McKinney

HOW MANY KIDS DO YOU HAVE AND WHAT ARE THEIR AGES?

I have three kids, Two boys, ages 11 and 8 and a little girl who is amazingly just like me. She will be five this summer. We also share an astrological sign, I kind think that’s part of it.

{MyBAB Comments: hmm, you might be on to something} 

WHAT IS YOUR 9 TO 5?

Admittedly, I wear many hats, so my 9-5 changes almost daily. On a client day, I get the kids off to school and head straight to the studio. I prep in whatever means necessary depending on my location. In studio my clients are scheduled typically for 10 am and/or 1 pm. On location sessions are ever changing, so some days I am off to the city and others to local companies. The second Wednesday of every month, The Professional Photographers of Northern Illinois (a Professional Photographers of America affiliate) meet in Aurora for education, growth and networking. The association is very special to me and I have been on the board for several years, currently serving as President. On meeting days, I know I’m gone from 8-8, if not longer, so my husband ups his game and has been very supportive.

Having three kids, and being present is important to me. I am gone several weeks of the year for photography, so I try and make the honor roll assembly and special masses when I can. It’s really a blessing to live, work and have the kids all in the same town.
With my profession, it’s rare that the “9-5” actually ends at 5. Ordering appointments often happen in the evenings and classes are held at the studio, 4105 W. Crystal Lake Rd, Mchenry on weekends.

{MyBAB Comments: hard-working momma right here} 

YOU WERE MCHENRY COUNTY MAGAZINES COVER STORY, TELL US HOW IT FELT

That was fun! Huge thanks to Ron McKinney for the photos and Andi and Calvin at Mario
Tricocci, Crystal Lake for making me look my best! I certainly did not expect this to happen, but it was a huge honor to share an issue with so many other talented women. I say that I’m not often on that side of the lens. In truth, I occasionally am, but those are lighting tests or model stand-ins and those photographs never go anywhere! Needless to say, I was a bit nervous. It was probably a really good thing. I get to experience what my clients feel when I’m photographing them.

{MyBAB Comments: check out the feature here!}

DESCRIBE MOTHERHOOD IN THREE WORDS

Exhausting, Rewarding, Awe-inspiring

{MyBAB Comments: AGREED!}

BEING A WORKING MOM WITH LITTLE ONES, HOW DO YOU STAY ORGANIZED

Orgawhat…..oh yes, organized. As much as I try, disorganization often gets the best of me. I’m really working on this, in fact, it has been top of mind lately. I recently downloaded the calendar app from Readdle for my iphone. I haven’t been this excited about an app in a long time. The app syncs with your google and ical and incorporates a task list into the calendar app. It’s also much easier to view at a glance. The weekly view is my favorite. This is the first year I have been using my phone for my calendar. In the past, I preferred a monthly and daily view planner (specifically the day designer, which I still love.) Readdle calendar is the closest match I have found in an app.

{MyBAB Comments: checking out this app now!} 

DO YOU HAVE A MOM HACK OR TIP YOU CAN SHARE WITH US

I love my instant pot. I didn’t jump on the wagon early on, and even when I did, I didn’t love it. Once I took some time to learn how to use it, it made life exponentially easier! I have a few good go-to’s that we love and they are super fast.

{MyBAB Comments: Wen here – the instant pot has been sitting in my amazon cart for a while, still on the fence}

PICTURE THIS – YOU’RE HOME ALONE, WHAT SERIES ARE YOU BINGE WATCHING?

Binging shows happens more than I care to admit. It’s easy to throw on a series while editing and get through quite a few episodes…or seasons! Lately I have been trying to listen to books on audible. I have just finished “Big Magic,” by Elizabeth Gilbert and “The 10X Rule,” by Grant Cardone. My current read (or listen?) is “All the Light We Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr. My favorite series, though, are always historical dramas; Outlander, Victoria, Poldark and so on. If anyone has any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

{MyBAB Comments: We’re so behind on our reading…}

WE LOVE DISCOVERING NEW BEAUTY PRODUCTS, WHICH ARE YOUR FAVORITES?

When I travel, I find the air inside a lot of hotels is very dry. Recently, I picked up a small trial size of the Freeman Hydrating Manuka Honey & Collagen Cream Mask from Nordstrom Rack. I returned from speaking at The Reset Conference in Indianapolis and had the McHenry County Magazine shoot scheduled for the following day. I hit the store on my way home and applied the mask that night. It was magical. I have since purchased the full size. It’s a steal at $9.00.

{MyBAB Comments: Looking this up now…we’re product junkies}

WHAT IS YOUR MOST LOVED ITEM IN YOUR CLOSET RIGHT NOW?

My favorite item isn’t actually in my closet, but my jewelry box. I subscribe to Fab Fit Fun and I have yet to be disappointed with a box. My spring box included these awesome tassel earrings by Ettica. I find myself wearing them all the time. I feel like the seasonal box keeps me relevant without having to try too hard.

{MyBAB Comments: we haven’t tried this box yet!}

WHAT IS YOUR DRINK OF CHOICE?

Burbon, Vodka or Red Wine… I don’t discriminate much. Unless it’s gin… blech.

{MyBAB Comments: With you on the gin…blech} 

WE KNOW MOM TIME IS PRECIOUS, WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE SOME ME TIME?

I’m a very tactile person. I like to touch and feel. So, for me, I love to walk in town or through antique stores and explore. I don’t necessarily buy things, but I am intrigued. Everyone places value on different things. I am extremely drawn to history, so when I walk through an antique store it amazes me that more things are not behind glass. The stories these objects hold and where they came from is fascinating. Its hard to convince the kids to come with me, and even if they do, It usually is a hands off day for them, and not much fun. My middle son was sick from school one day and I had to shop a vintage item for an upcoming shoot. He spent three hours with me at the Volo Antique mall and didn’t complain once. He was intrigued and it was so much fun for me. He asked questions and made up stories about items. We left with a velvet hat he picked out and wore everywhere for the next few weeks. He’s pretty awesome.

{MyBAB Comments: Such a fun way to spend some me time}

MONEY IS NO OBJECT, WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WANT?

Usually the answer to that is photography equipment. But if I think even bigger, it would be an oceanfront home in Hilton Head, NC. We spent Easter there two years ago and dream daily about going back. We plan to park the airstream out there at Skull creek as soon as we can for a week or two.

{MyBAB Comments: sounds amazing, we’ll take one of these too!} 

WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU’RE WORKING ON RIGHT NOW

In my business, I am booking summer and fall and am very excited about offering my
underwater sessions to clients for the first season.

Personally, We have our airstream to work on. The kids want to help, which is exciting. We built the home we live in as well, and I cherish the memories of my kids building fireplace mantels with my husband. I am excited for us all to get involved. I have the design done and much of it shopped for, but we are a bit ahead of ourselves. We need to figure out the ducting, plumbing and electrical before we can get to the fun part.

{MyBAB Comments: we cannot wait to see this project completed!}

SINCE WE FOCUS ON CHICAGOLAND – KIDS ACTIVITIES, FAMILY FUN, AND DATE NIGHTS, WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO PLACES FOR EACH?

Kids Activities- We have done the tour of usual kids places around here, but I’ve really wanted to head up to Old World Wisconsin and check that out. If not there, the Naper Settlement. When my kids were littler, we enjoyed the Tree House in Lake Zurich. It’s nice that they are a little older now, because they are enjoying museums more than before. We had a great time and would highly recommend the Public museum in Milwaukee if you get a chance.

Family Fun- We just purchased a 1972 Airstream Sovereign that we have gutted and are in the process of renovating. I’m hoping this allows us the opportunity to escape on Summer weekends with the dog and kids. We stayed at the Timber-lee Family campgrounds in East Troy last year and the kids loved it. We hope to make it back to Hilton head soon and up to EAA’s Airventure with the family. Locally, we love the Woodstock square in general. My favorite are farmers market days when they have live music. In the past we have packed a picnic and really enjoyed ourselves. My husband and I will often grab the spicy olive pita from Expressly Leslie’s.

Date Nights- While we love making it out to Chicago, it’s a hike. Instead, we often try and
patron local establishments. One of our favorites is Mixteca in Woodstock. They have the world best margaritas. I recommend the ginger margarita and the barbacoa nachos. We make dinner out of them. We also tried Door Dash a few months back. That was a favorite recent date night of mine. We camped out at my studio and ordered in from Bimbos. Door Dash had it there in less than an hour and the studio is always stocked with wine. It was nice to have some peace and quite away from the rest of our tribe for a bit.

{MyBAB Comments: great idea on Door Dash and we agree on the Mixteca marg’s – yum!}

WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND YOU IF THEY WANT TO SEE YOUR WORK OR SCHEDULE A SESSION

The best place to contact me is through my website at www.bethgenengels.com. I’m also on Instagram @beth_genengels_photographer and Facebook. If you are interested in learning more about your camera or photography, we have been teaching classes in studio. There is a Facebook group for education and classes will be posted there, The Studio at 4105 Education.

Thank you oh so much Beth for sipping and sharing with us!

We’ll introduce you to another rock star mom next month!

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Sippin with Moms

Hooray

We are back with our new series (you can check out our first post here) and this month we are featuring one of our favorite Moms.

Beth Repta

beth

(let’s not even get started on how gorgeous she looks in this picture!)

  • How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

    • 2 Kids – Ava age 8 & Mason age 6
    • MYBAB Comments: We became friends with Beth through our kids being at school together and we are so grateful for that
  • What is your 9 to 5?

    • My 24/7 is Founder of Repta Realty Group w/Keller Williams
    • MYBAB Comments: We don’t think we have seen a harder working Mom out there, she is awesome at what she does, so those of you in the market to buy or sell, definitely check her out. It is so refreshing to meet people who love what they do and Beth definitely is one of those people. 
  • Describe motherhood in three words

    • Rewarding. Exhausting. Exhausting.
    • MYBAB Comments: Agree, Agree, Agree
  • Picture this – you’re home alone, what series are you binge watching?

    • Ozarks
    • MYBAB Comments: Jen here, is this a show I need to start binging?
  • Speaking of TV, which TV/movie mom do you relate to the most?

    • Peg Bundy
  • We love discovering new beauty products, which are your favorites?

    • Monat for my Hair, I LOVE Makeup Forever Foundation, Nars Eye Shadows, Dior Show for Mascara, Rodan & Fields for all things skincare, St Tropez for Sunless Tanning, I could go on and on….
    • MYBAB Comments: We also could go on and on about our favorite products, check out our favorites here
  • Where is your happy place?

    • Simple -A Beach with a Rumrunner
    • MYBAB Comments: A rumrunner sounds amazing right now
  • What is your most loved item in your closet right now?

    • When I mom – It’s my Green Utility Vest & Adidas and when I’m not momming – Gucci Bag & Knee High Suede Boots
    • MYBAB Comments: Jen here again, I can attest that every time I see Beth in the green utility vest I am jealous and want it for myself
  • What is your drink of choice?

    • Pinot Noir
  • We know mom time is precious, what do you like to do when you have some me time?

    • What is this “Me Time” you speak of??
  • Money is no object, what is one thing you want?

    • A house overlooking the Gulf of Mexico
    • MYBAB Comments: Please let us come visit
  • Since we focus on Chicagoland – kids activities, family fun, and date nights, what are your go-to places for each?

    • For the kids – Tubing at Wilmot Mountain or Pinstripes, Three Oaks Rec Beach is our family spot, & dates for us would be a Cubs game or dinner in the city.

 

To learn more about Beth and all of her fun adventures or if you are interested in Monat or real estate, you can find her here on Facebook.

What we are Amazon Priming

MyBAB

I recently saw that Erika from A Little Bit of Everything blog, was doing this series where she will let you know all of the things she is ordering from her Amazon Prime account. Partly because it is fun and partly because who doesn’t love being a little nosy and seeing what other people buy. I thought it was a great idea, so I decided to get in on the fun. Here are the things I have been priming in the last month.

Beamo Flying Frisbee

AP 1

Between the two kids we get invited to birthday parties all the time. I do not have time to shop for presents (and the older kids get gift cards) so I tend to Amazon Prime presents. Brooke got one of these frisbee’s for her birthday back in March and LOVED it (for like the two days it was nice outside and she could use it) therefore this is now my go-to gift for kids. It gets them outside and is way better than a silly toy.

Tinkle Eyebrow Razor

AP 2

Ok, so this is something that I have been using for like a year and half now. These eyebrow razors are awesome. I use them to shave my face. Yep, you heard that right. It is a great way to get rid of the peach fuzz and exfoliate your skin. I saw a youtube video awhile back from Michelle Money and finally took the plunge and haven’t looked back since. Does your hair come back darker or more coarse? NO! You simply dry shave with these amazing little razors a few times a month for super smooth skin. I have never gotten cut from this nor have I broken out. I will say if you are considering this, make sure you buy the specific razors in my link as there are imitation razors out there for this brand that I have heard bad things about.

Australian Gold Sunscreen

AP 3

We are going to Disney World and on a Disney cruise in less than a month so I had to stock up on sunscreen. I love how Australian Gold smells. I ordered SPF 30 but also plan to buy at least 45 or 50 for me and the kids because we are so pale!!

Cover Girl Eyebrow Mascara

AP 4

I had been using Benefit Eyebrow Gel and I really loved it but it was a bit pricey so I was looking for a more affordable option. I have to say, I don’t really like this one. The wand is the same size as an eyelash mascara brush (which is way too big for me) and it is really dark. In the spirit of keeping it real, this was a fail for me.

Pirate Shirts for the Kids

AP 5

As I mentioned, we are going on a Disney Cruise and one night is Pirate themed so I ordered these shirts for the kids to wear.

Coleman Oversized Folding Chair

AP 6

I saw these on an Amazon flash deal (darn those flash sale FB posts, they get me every time!!) and knew I had to get them. We had been needing new folding chairs for awhile. Most of ours are torn apart. The kids have already decided these ones are for them and Mommy and Daddy get the old ones.

 

So there ya have it, what I have been priming in the last month. If you have any good Amazon finds please comment and share them with us! – Jen

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MYBAB Answers: Beauty Questions

beauty edition-the blended blog asks

We are linking up with The Blended Blog in March to talk about our beauty routine. We love reading about this on other blogs because lets be honest it is way better to get recommendations from real people. Plus, as product junkies it is just fun to fuel our addiction!!

Eyelash Curler Yes or No?

Jen: Yes, Yes, Yes. I use Rodan and Fields Lash Boost and my lashes have gotten longer so I feel like this is a must. It opens up your eyes and makes my mascara look pretty.

Wen: Sometimes. It’s not part of my daily routine like it should be and I don’t know why! Like Jen said it opens up your eyes, so I need to use it.

Favorite Nail Shade?

Jen: My current favorite is Sally Hansen Color Therapy in Haute Stone. I do need to find a new spring/summer color.

Wen: I’m extremely boring when it comes to nail colors and only have a few. Right now I grab essie cocktail bling (which if you know me, the name suits me well).

Blow Dry or Air Dry your hair?

Jen: Blow dry. I wash my hair every day. Maybe twice a month I don’t and use dry shampoo. I blow dry because if I don’t my hair gets frizzy and goes it own way (and not in a cute beachy look way but in a what the heck is that way).

Wen: Blow dry. My hair is a hot mess as is, air-drying makes it look frizzy and unruly. Though I do want to figure out how to make air drying work for me.

Artificial Nails Yes or No?

Jen: No. Now in full confession I did have fake nails at my wedding (8 years ago!) but I honestly don’t know what I was thinking. I like my nails short and manicured but I don’t like fake nails and the maintenance/cost related it to isn’t cool.

Wen: No. I don’t even like doing the no-chip manicures.

Foundation Yes or No?

Jen: Yes and No. My daily makeup routine I do not wear foundation. I wear BB cream/SPF and some pressed powder. I love using the Coola BB cream/SPF everyday and I really like it. If I am going out or want to amp up my look I will use a little bit of foundation. I always get hesitant to use it a lot because I don’t want it to look “caked on”.

Wen: Not everyday. Daily, I use Beautycounter Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer or Kiehl’s BB cream. It’s light but provides the coverage I’m looking for. I’ll use Make Up Forever Foundation if I’m going out.
(note: I’m not a Beautycounter consultant, links provided are to my consultants page)

Hair Up or Down?

Jen: Down! I will wear my hair up working out or around with the kids but 99% of the time when you see me my hair is down. I feel like I don’t look like “me” with my hair up. Plus, I am not good at doing my hair so I stick with it being down.

Wen: Both. I am a dry shampoo-er and wash my hair every two to three days. The first few days of no washing I can wear it down, after that, up it goes.

Bar Soap or Body Wash?

Jen: Bar soap. I love Dove. I don’t use any other brand of bar soap. I am a big fan of the Dove Gentle Exfoliating bar. In the winter I might use Dove body wash as well for extra moisture.

Wen: Both. I alternate every other day between the Beautycounter Charcoal Cleansing Bar and Beautycounter Body Wash.

Bath or Shower?

Jen: Shower. I have a bathtub that I think I have used twice. I would like to take more baths because they are so relaxing but with two kids and work etc I don’t have time for that.

Wen: Shower. I do indulge in a hot relaxing bath with a glass of wine and a candle buring about once a month though.

Favorite Body Lotion?

Jen: With the harsh and dry winters, I really like using a combination. I use St. Ives in the morning and then at night put on CeraVe.

Wen: Right now I’ve been using Yes to Carrots body butter. It’s creamy, not greasy, and has a nice scent.

Do you wear perfume? If so, what is your favorite scent?

Jen: Yes, I like perfume but I am really sensitive to smell. A lot of perfumes give me headaches. After awhile I get immune to the smell so I tend to rotate. My go to favorites are: Amazing Grace by Philosophy and Juliette Has a Gun not a Perfume. I also just got a sample of YSL Mon Paris and I really like that one too.

Wen: Yes, but I prefer roller-ball to spray, so it doesn’t feel overpowering. My favorite at the moment is Marc Jacobs Decadence Eau So Decadent.

Do you shave your legs every day?

Jen: Is this a serious question? Who the heck shaves their legs every day? Haha. I am just glad I live in the Midwest and can wear pants most of the year!

Wen: Hahano

Favorite Lip Balm?

Jen: I use Aquaphor on my lips every night and during the day as my preferred lip balm. I also rarely wear lipstick. I just never think about it and don’t like to reapply.

Wen:Dior Addict Lip Glow is about the only thing I wear on my lips. The price is high, but the tube lasts awhile and I use it till the very end.

How old were you when you first starting wearing makeup?

Jen: Um, I can’t remember exactly but I think I was allowed to wear eye shadow and mascara with lip gloss in like 7th grade.

Wen: Probably in 6th or 7th grade.

Please leave comments with any products or things you would recommend, we love trying out new beauty items and routines!!

MY BAB GOALS FOR 2018

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JEN’s GOALS

Ok, it is now my turn to share my goals for 2018. I am hoping by writing them down and sharing out in the virtual atmosphere I will be more accountable. Heck, maybe I will even have goal check in posts!

  1. The first goal is really to spend more time on this piece of the world wide web that Wendy and I share with you. I will admit that most of the heavy lifting of this blog comes from Wendy. My goal is to try and get more fun IG content and posts and make it more interactive and fun!!
  2. Exercise… isn’t this a goal that all of us have every year. This year I wanted to do something different. I work full time, have two kids and the list goes on and on and I feel like I never have time to dedicate to exercise. I get frustrated when I “fall off the exercise wagon” and struggle to get back on. I will also admit that I already wake up at 5:30 am (yep, Wendy you read that right!!) so getting up earlier ain’t happening. I also like my sleep since I don’t drink coffee so staying up late to workout also ain’t happening!! I saw an ad on IG for this app called “7 Minute Workout Challenge” and I thought, I can squeeze 7 minutes into my day. It is the only app I have ever paid for and let me tell you I am kind of addicted now. I have done it 26 days straight– yep you read that correctly and am already starting to see results. I have never stayed committed to an exercise routine that long, ever!! None of the exercises are complex (think: jumping jacks, push ups, etc) but they do enough to boost my exercise confidence and I actually look forward to it everyday. I now find myself wanting to do more than one cycle and keep going. Swimsuit season is just around the corner so this is great motivation!! And no, this is not a paid or sponsored portion of our post this is truly just me finding something and loving it!
  3. Quality time with my husband. I feel like every year I say this and every year it continues to be true. Often times after work, the kids, the house, and doing dumb grown up things (i.e. pay bills) we barely can keep our eyes open let alone spend quality time together. I want to try and make a big effort to get more date nights
  4. Less is More. The day after Christmas we went through a massive purge of toys and stuff to donate to Goodwill. My goal for 2018 is to be more mindful of what we bring into our house and teach the kids more about how you don’t “need” as much.
  5. Monthly Me Time. I always put everyone else first and it is my goal to do things alone, just me to get some breathing room. Fingers crossed I can make this happen!

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Weekday meals that are quick, easy, with a touch of healthy – that everyone eats

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As working moms with busy kids, we struggle to find meals that are quick and easy, throw in you want it to be healthy and something everyone eats and you’re asking for a lot. To be honest, we don’t really cook much and we do not have Instant Pots, so when all else fails, there is take out. But here are a few meals we got from Pinterest, cookbooks, and cooking blogs to come up with meals to fit our criteria and the bubbles we drink with them.

Jen

Hi, my name is Jen and I hate cooking. As in I do not enjoy it in any way. Maybe if I was just cooking for myself and had all the time in the world and a glass of wine in my hand I would like it but when nights are busy and I am tired and the kids are hungry cereal sounds like a great meal. My kids are super picky and of course like different things and I try very hard to not be a short order cook (heck I am barely a “cook”) so here are some tried and true common dinner staples that are not longer than 30 minutes. And don’t require complex recipe following!

  • Fish, veggies and pasta: My kids loved the baked tilapia from Costco (all praise Costco!) and it is a great way for them to get introduced to seafood because it doesn’t have a “seafood” taste. I always pair it with a veggie (my daughter LOVES steamed broccoli, corn for my son) and then a light alfredo type pasta.
    • Bubbles: Pinot Grigio
  • Spaghetti with meat sauce: Again, thanks to Costco I always have ground beef or ground turkey on hand. I brown that up and add can pasta sauce to let it simmer. Then I cook up the noodles and usually garlic bread and veggie sides. While my kids eat it in different ways (one doesn’t want the sauce on top of the noodles…) they at least all agree it is yummy.
    • Bubbles: Red Blend or Cab
  • Taco night! I buy the little taco boat shells and all of the sudden my kids think dinner is fun. My daughter also is obsessed with guac and salsa (who could blame her) so I have that as fun toppings and sides and the kids can make their own.
    • Bubbles: Margaritas or Prosecco
  • Breakfast for Dinner: There are two things that my husband is in charge of when it comes to cooking grill and breakfast. The kids love eating eggs, bacon, sausage and bagels. So when we are in a real hurry we scramble (pun intended, hehe) up some dinner.
    • Bubbles: Mimosa’s
  • Crockpot Meals: My favorites are chili and beef stew, they are super easy, just require me to dump a bunch of stuff in and turn on.
    • Bubbles: Whatever you want, you aren’t cooking!!

My other secret, I don’t even have time to look on Pinterest for recipes. I head to one place: Mix and Match Mama’s website. I have one of her cookbooks and if you want no stress or effort, she does it all for you with weekly meal planning.

Wen

A few years ago we started to cook more and eat out less (can we stop for a minute and talk about how expensive eating out has become?). I have tried Blue Apron, Home Chef, and Hello Fresh – all had pros and cons, but they’re subscriptions and on the weeks that we were unable to use, I would forget to skip the week, so I was spending the money, and in the end cancelled.

Now, on the weekdays we cook Monday-Thursday, Friday’s are moms night off, which tends to be our pizza night. I too, am not a good cook by any means, but meal planning is one thing that I do and try to incorporate something new or different every once in a while.

  • Skillet lasagna: this is my go-to meal since it’s quick, low mess, and we all enjoy it. I make a variation of this recipe from Damn Delicious and serve with salad and garlic bread.
    • Bubbles: Meiomi Pinot Noir
  • Italian Pork Chops: I LOVE one pan meals – easy clean up and boneless pork chops cook up quickly. Sear the pork chops, remove for a few minutes, add garlic, cherry tomatoes (canned work too), and some spices – oregano, basil, a pinch of salt and pepper and cook that for a few minutes, then add the chops back in along with fresh spinach and a splash of the white wine you’re drinking. Cook it all up until the spinach gets a little wilted, add a touch of fresh parmesan cheese and you’re done. Plate the spinach, add the pork chop, top with the tomato mixture, and garnish with Trader Joe’s balsamic glaze.
    •  Bubbles: Any white wine will do, but I prefer Pinot Grigio with pork chops
  • Chicken Parm Meatballs: these are so easy and freeze well too, so I tend to have them on hand for easy nights. The recipe is from Dinner: A Love Story and once mixed up, take about 20 minutes to bake. I’ve served with a side of green veggies or pasta.
    • Bubbles: Red Blend
  • Pasta e Fagioli soup: this pasta and bean soup is a fall/winter favorite that can be made with or without meat. I like to cook this up on a Sunday, enjoy for leftovers, and freeze to have on hand.
    • Bubbles: Cab or Merlot

  • Teriyaki Chicken with Vegetables: sheet pan dinners are the rage right now – quick, easy, healthy, and almost no clean up – winning! I do make my own teriyaki glaze, but you can buy one to make this meal even easier. We use broccoli, carrots, edamame, and I’ll cook up some rice for this one. Pinterest has a lot of sheet pan ideas – I make one a week they’re that easy.
    • Bubbles:  Sauvignon Blanc

 

Happy Cooking, Eating, and Drinking!

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