On Working Out and Becoming a Lightweight (#FreshStepCats)

Additionally, while I’ve found some good aerobic routines, I’ve learned that I really do need to incorporate strength training into my routine. But do I really want a set of weights in my house taking up space? Especially when I have other things I need to buy for my kids and my kitties? So I decided to find something that I could make use of that also had a more practical application.

Bingo!!!!

 photo freshstepcats1_zps813db80c.jpg

Fresh Step® Lightweight Extreme Litter, available at Target, is now offered in a 30% lighter variety. It’s down to 15.4 pounds for the box as opposed to 25 pounds.

Hmm…..Challenge accepted!

 photo freshstepcats2_zpsef4db251.jpg

I most definitely worked out with a box of cat litter this week. No shame in my game. Workout when you can, however you can in the time and space you can scrape together with the equipment you have on hand. In my case, that means utilizing the landing on the stairs and a box of cat litter. Welcome to real life as a parent and cat owner. Your needs do NOT come first! So if you have to choose between getting yourself a free weight set and getting your cats the best cat litter, this is going to be the end result:

 photo freshstepcats4_zps25d6e374.jpg

While I have to make some sacrifices for my cats, they are certainly worth it. And in this case, I get to keep on working out and doing good things for myself while also doing good things for them. How could I deny these precious faces, anyway?

 photo freshstepcats5_zps58ff35af.jpg  photo freshstepcats7_zpscdc19e4b.jpg

Stay tuned for an update about how the cats are enjoying their new litter, and about how my guns are coming along. I’ll have some new crazy cat lady photos you won’t want to miss! :-)

Visit Sponsor's Site

Snapping Family Selfies, Seeing the Beauty, and Winning Awesome Prizes

Special thanks to Global Influence for partnering with me to make this post possible. All opinions are my own, as always! 

Some days my family gets on my very last nerve. I’m sure you can relate to that sentiment. And then on other days, (perhaps days when my mood is better), I step back and just marvel at them all. What tiny little wonders I have in my home, and what a stellar partner I have in my husband. Friends, I’m not trying to be braggy, but I’ve got it good. I wish I could appreciate that fact more often.

It’s a beautiful life, even if every single moment isn’t beautiful. I’ve been working on recognizing and soaking up more of those beautiful moments, and it’s been a really good move in the right direction. I’m so much happier any time I take off my grumpy glasses and just look around at all the awesome.

I bet you’ve got a lot of awesome at your house, too. Look past the clutter. It’s just under the surface. See it? Now go capture it for the world to see!

Suave Family Selfie Sweepstakes

Image 1

You can even turn that captured memory of your awesome family into a winning sweepstakes entry. All you need to do is snap a selfie of your family, upload it to Instagram using the following hashtags: #SuaveFamilySelfie #LB2LB and #Walmart. Then submit your Instagram link via this form: lbx.la/sffs18. Then sit back and wait to see if you won!

When Seconds Mattered and I Wasn’t Prepared

Special thanks to The Motherhood and Energizer for partnering with me to make this Emergency Preparedness Month post possible. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own, as always. 

EnergizerLogo

I grew up in a part of the country where tornado sightings weren’t uncommon at all, especially in the spring months. In fact, I’m actually from Enterprise, Alabama, which some people know of because it is the place where a tornado hit a high school in 2006, killing 8 students. It was a tragedy, and also a miracle that the number of students killed was so low. After all, classes were in session. My own little sister was in the building that day, in fact.

So understandably, in many ways I am prepared when it comes to emergency weather situations. I take tornado warnings VERY seriously, and stay up-to-date on the latest weather conditions thanks to apps. I know the safest place in my home to go, and I have taught my children where that place is so that they know to go.

But I am embarrassed to admit that until this year, I wasn’t as prepared as I should be. I used to have an emergency supply kit, but I let it sort of fall apart over the years, as food in it expired and was tossed out, or as we moved and found ourselves needing some of the supplies for other purposes. We never rebuilt that kit, and frankly, I never really thought about it until April of this year, when my weather alert app went off during the night while I was home alone with our kids (Tim was 2 hours away in Atlanta at a conference).

When that alarm went off, I was completely startled. It wasn’t a tornado watch. It was a warning. Warnings mean that you need to take cover IMMEDIATELY. I woke up both girls, only half-awake myself and completely running on adrenaline. I carried them down the stairs and into our downstairs bathroom, which is a room with no windows. I put them in the tub, and then I raced to the nearest room with pillows and brought those in, as well. At that moment, I realized that I didn’t know where the flash light or the weather radio was located, and since we were in a tornado warning, I knew better than to separate myself from the girls. Seconds matter in times like these, really and truly.

It was dark outside, so there was no way to see if a funnel cloud was nearby. All I could do was hold my girls and pray. It was an incredibly scary moment in my life because when it comes to tornadoes, they are so random and so horrible, and I felt completely out of control and unable to shield my girls from what might have been headed our way.

We sat there for 45 minutes before the warning was lifted. I managed to get the girls back to sleep, but as for me, as I was completely restless. I would wake up every 30 minutes or so and frantically check the weather. I also wrote notes down about the things I needed to have with me in that room that simply weren’t there. It was foolish of me to ever assume that I could just gather those things when I needed them. You don’t have time to do that in an emergency, and you certainly don’t want to get separated from your family all for the sake of trying to find a flashlight.

September is National Preparedness Month, and that makes it a great time to take just a few minutes out of your day and get your family prepared for an emergency situation. Believe me when I say that you will thank yourself if and when the time comes that you need to reach for your kit. According to a recent Energizer survey, only 38% of Americans have emergency kits for severe weather in their homes. Let’s do something to change this statistic!

national preparedness month

One important item that many households don’t have on hand is a hands-free light device, such as a lantern or a head lamp. We have a head lamp, but on the night in question, I discovered that it had dead batteries. Needless to say, that wasn’t very helpful!

Twitter Party!

Join us for a Twitter party on September 23rd at 1pm EST to discuss ways you can easily get prepped for emergency situations. You’ll learn a lot, have some fun, and be eligible for some useful prizes! More info here: http://twtvite.com/poweringsafety

You can also get more information about how you can get started today putting together an emergency kit for your family by heading over to the Energizer Facebook page.

Does your family have a plan and an emergency kit? Do you keep it in the safest room of your home, where your family is likely to gather during severe weather? 

 

What to Do with Leftover Essential Oils Bottles

A good friend of mine recently shared this fun tip with me for what to do with your leftover essential oils bottles. I thought the idea was pure genius, because it ensured that you will get every last drippity drop out of your bottles. Quality essential oils are not exactly cheap, so I’m all for any hack that will help me make sure no drop gets wasted!

Here’s a 1 minute video showing you exactly what I’ve done with all my 5 ml bottles that came in the Young Living premium starter kit.

Very simple, right? All you need to do is grab a glass container (glass is important because essential oils will eat plastic!). Fill it with Epsom salts (I found mine at Walgreens for just $4 and I didn’t even use the entire bag! You can also find it on Amazon).

essential oils bottles 2

Don’t forget to take apart the bottles, meaning to take off the caps, take off the little stopper pieces, and to throw all of those in the mix, as well. All of them have tiny little scraps of essential oils on them, and the Epsom salts will pull them out!

essential oils bottles 1

Since the end result is still going to be bath salts that only have trace amounts of essential oils, I don’t think it too much matters which oil bottles you add. I added every single empty bottle I currently own, and I plan to keep adding to it as I empty more bottles!

Let me know if you try this essential oils hack out and what you think!

Other Helpful Essential Oils Posts

Our FastPass Disney World Strategy

Well friends, we’ve booked our FastPasses for our upcoming trip to Walt Disney World.

Let me clarify: Tim booked our FastPasses for Walt Disney World. It turns out that the whole affair turned my stomach into knots and brought out the worst in me. You guys, I got completely overwhelmed the more I read online about tips and tricks and strategies to get the whole FastPass experience just right. I’m not too big on perfectionism at this season of my life, but my goodness did I want to get this perfect. So much so that I lost sleep over it. And that’s when I turned it over to Tim and begged him to do it for me so that I could let it go, Elsa-style!

And speaking of Elsa, we did have to let her go, or at least the idea of getting to do a meet and greet with her. I’ll explain exactly what our strategy was so that you can think about what you might like to do differently.

fastpass disney world

photo credit: insidethemagic via photopin cc

Tip #1: Every Family Has Different Needs

Let me save you some time researching: there is no such thing as the ideal FastPass plan, and that’s because every family is going to have different wants and needs. We are traveling with a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old, so the fact that Space Mountain is one of the very most popular FastPass choices at the Magic Kingdom is irrelevant to us. We are not likely to ride it at all on this particular trip, so why kill ourselves trying to get FastPasses for it? Another family might be traveling with teenagers who want to ride Space Mountain as many times as possible. So it just depends on what you want! So what if your top 3 ride choices aren’t the top 3 most popular FastPasses? Get exactly what you want…not what someone else wants!

Tip #2: The Early Bird Catches the Ana and Elsa

So we are traveling to the parks at a low crowd time of year, and we are doing so quite intentionally to minimize our wait times all-around. But we still want to take advantage of those FastPass opportunities: why wait in line for 20 minutes when you can wait in line for 2 minutes, right? But if you are going during a low-crowd time, and if you REALLY want to do something that you KNOW is super duper popular (currently the very most sought after FastPass is the Elsa & Ana meet and greet), then you really DO need to be at your computer at midnight EST on the day you are allowed to book your FastPasses. Tim booked ours the morning we were allowed to book them…so, around 6:30am, and Elsa & Ana were already gone, as was priority seating at the parade. The reason these can be gone so quickly is because families who are staying on property get to book 3 FastPasses per day in advance, and they get to book those passes for their whole trip 60 days prior to the first day of the trip. So in other words, at any given point, there are always going to be vacationers there whose trips started 1, 2 or maybe 3 days before yours who have already picked out FastPasses. Make sense? So while you DON’T need to be up at midnight for most things (again, I’m only talking about lower crowd times of year, as that is my point of reference), you DO need to do it if you are going to have an absolutely heartbroken child over a particular ride or character greeting.

Tip #3: The Early Park Goer Doesn’t Need Early FastPasses

My kids are EARLY risers, so we plan on being waiting at the gates of the parks as soon as they open, and we’ll be there an hour earlier on magic hour days! One tip I’ve read again and again (to the point where I trust it to be true!) is that the park is significantly less crowded in the first few hours that it is open than it is during the rest of the day and evening. So if you can get your crew to be up and ready to go early, you really can knock out several rides in your first two or three hours in the park without having to use one of your FastPasses. Book your first FastPass for around 11am so that you can take advantage of short lines once they are no longer short for everyone!

The reason you don’t want to just go ahead and book early morning fast passes is because you only get to book 3 in advance. Once you have used up those 3 fast passes, you can book additional ones while you are in the park, However, FastPass stations aren’t super plentiful, and you don’t really want to find yourself running around like crazy looking for them and chasing down FastPasses all day…kind of takes away some of the magic and fun, in my opinion! That’s not to say that you should ONLY use 3 FastPasses per park day, but in my opinion, it’s not fun to break your neck trying to secure 6 of 7. Enjoy those low crowd mornings, then make use of your FastPasses when the crowds swell, and then, if you want, get an extra FastPass or two.

Tip #4: Use Your Disney Travel Agent!!!!

My first Disney World vacation tips post included all the reasons why I’m so glad we worked with a Disney travel agent. Definitely go back and give it a read, because I’m NOT the type of person who uses travel agents, in general, and if you aren’t either, then you’ll appreciate hearing about what they can offer you, and about the fact that they are really and truly FREE.

The fun is NOT over with your Disney travel agent once you have booked your tickets and your hotel rooms, friends! S/he is available to help you along every step of the process, including developing a FastPass strategy! My agent sent me a list of all of the FastPass attractions at each park, as well as her personal recommendations for ones to consider going for based on their popularity. That was such a helpful start!

Additionally, my agent offered to book the FastPasses for us if we simply didn’t want to deal with it at all (I was sorely tempted to do this!). And she offered to look over our selections and make recommendations for changes, if needed, once booked. We DID take her up on this offer, and I’m so glad we did! She did suggest a few switches for us, and also put our mind at ease about the fact that we missed out on the priority parade seating. Because of the time of year when we are going, she said that we will not have any problem finding a great viewing spot as long as we are in the viewing area 15 minutes before the start time. She would have suggested switching out the FastPass for the priority seating if we had been able to snag it! We also had one show at Hollywood Studios on our FastPass that she said likely wouldn’t even fill up at this time of year, so we switched that out for a ride. Now we feel absolutely GREAT about our selections!

I’d love to hear from folks who have already had the experience of booking FastPasses in advance. What other tips do you have for a smooth process that doesn’t cause you to lose (much) sleep! Since I haven’t yet put my FastPasses to work, I’m only sharing advice here on the front end. Those of you who have already gone might have some ideas about things you would do differently the next time. I’m all (mouse) ears!

And if you are in the same boat as me, and currently in the planning stages of a trip to Disney World (or just dreaming of the day when you can start your planning!) take a look at our Walt Disney World vacation budget breakdown and our Disney World vacation tips for when you are just getting started.