mickey's not so scary halloween party 2017

I did it! I was able to convince my husband that we should totally take the boys to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP)!!! We attended the party on October 5th (a Thursday evening) - and we had so much fun!

Here's a recap coupled with tips & some other pertinent information...

The party started at 7pm, we arrived to the park literally right as it was starting. This was not our original plan, but because of naps & some rain delays, this is how things ended up for us. We had our fingers & toes crossed that the rain would hold off...the forecast looked terrible! It stopped raining around 6:15pm...and did not rain again the rest of the evening!
Upon entering the park, you are greeted by cast members, in their Halloween attire, holding wrist bands. They put them on your right wrist, and you must keep them on the entire night. They are not a nuissance - I never noticed mine....and neither did the boys.
That wrist band is the party identifier, you must be wearing it to gain access all over the park.

Our first stop was to get a map and figure out times of shows, character stops, and trick or treat spots. I went into this knowing there would be a lot to see & do, but I really underestimated HOW MUCH there would be. I thought that we would have plenty of time.

I had an idea for autographed tote bags, and luckily a talented friend was able to execute them! Since characters would be out for meet & greets, that are not normally around the parks, I thought this would be perfect for my boys to get some awesome new signatures. Due to lines, and time constraints, we saw a total of THREE characters, and only obtained ONE signature. This is the biggest regret I have, not prioritizing the characters.

We prioritized the show, which was the Hocus Pocus Spectacular with all the villains - - I mean, how could you NOT? Sanderson sisters!? Hello. So we had a great spot in front of the castle to watch this. The boys did great through it....no one cried :)

We then bolted to get the boys more candy from the various trick or treat stops. The trick or treat stops was probably the main thing they had an interest in. The shows they didn't really care about, and they definitely did not like the fireworks. (I on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed them!) I will say, the fact that Disney provided an alternative to the candy being distributed, for kids like mine with food allergies, in clearly identifiable trick or treat bags, was awesome! (I did go ahead & give verbal reminders to cast members distributing the candy throughout the park, because while Beau's bag was teal....it wasn't painfully obvious once dark set in).

I was the designated stroller pusher (we brought the double stroller to accommodate a tired 5 year old) and I also would stand in line to wait for characters while the boys would hit the local trick or treat spots. I did exit 2 different lines because of the time constraints with wanting to watch a show or the parade.

Here's what we did...
1. We got trick or treat bags upon entering the park by Main Street
2. We caught the 1st showing of the Hocus Pocus Villian Spectacular - it was awesome! My inner child was over the moon.
3. Did some more trick or treating on the way to Tomorrowland. Once in Tomorrowland, because wait times for rides were non-existant, I stood in the line to meet Lotso with the boys while Matt & Hannah (my sister in law), rode Space Mountain. Matt & Hannah got done in time to join us....which clearly shows: 1. ride lines were SHORT 2. character lines were LONG.
4. We started to make our way to Fantasyland, and I made it a point to stop at each Photopass photographer we saw! The wait times for the pictures were never crazy - but I definitely asked for as many magic shots as possible.
5.While we were in Fantasyland, we were on the hunt to find more characters. We stumbled upon the lines for Queen of Hearts with Tweedle Dee/ Dum...and the line for Mad Hatter & Alice. I got out of one line because the other line "was going faster" and the characters left to go do their rotation. (While I was in line, the boys and adults rode the tea cups, and hit 2 trick or treat spots.)
I ended up having to get out of the line again in order to catch the fireworks show. This was FRUSTRATING and left me so hacked off - - I gave up because I knew the boys could care less about these characters.
6. We caught the fireworks show which was the middle of the night. There is only 1 showing of the fireworks show. My boys are still scared of fireworks, so we made it a point to walk all the way back to the front of the castle. A cast member let me know that the further behind the castle you are, the louder the fireworks are....
7. We headed back to Fantasyland - caught a glimpse of Minnie, Daisy, and Donald dressed in their Halloween costumes, but the lines were too long in order for us to catch the parade. So we did a quick run through trick or treat spots, checked out the exclusive MNSSHP gear for sale, and headed towards Liberty Square. On our way, the boys and I stopped for a non-Halloween photopass: the lantern shot by the Tangled bathrooms! (Matt & Hannah were riding Thunder Mountain while we did this!)
8. Once we were at Liberty Square we found a great spot to watch the parade! My boys had a front row view. The only thing I regret: not getting their sooner. We missed the start of it, which was the headless horseman. Otherwise, it was a great showcase of all the villains!
9. We raced to Main Street to try & locate Jack Skellington - we finally found him...
10. We headed to the front (by now it was 12:30pm), and caught the final photopass photographer for one last shot

What I would do differently:
1. I would have caught the 2nd showing of the stage show. The boys were not interested in it, so they could have slept through
2. I would have prioritized CHARACTERS. My boys got one signature: Lotso. Although they saw Jack Skellington & Sally, they were not giving autographs
3. I would have stopped right away to get the popcorn my 5 year old requested - - as stupid & silly as that sounds, this event was for them & I felt terrible that they sold out.
4. I would have started in the back of the park & moved forward

What I wish Disney would do differently:
1. List what characters are in each area of the park!!!! PLEASE!!!!
2. Have enough merchandise for each event - why did stuff sell out so fast!?! Even the passholder merchandise was gone!
3. Offer a half off ticket price for the event for passholders, not just $10
4. We had a terrible encounter at the Jack Skellington stop. It was 11:38pm and I RAN to get into line as soon as I saw it. I was greeted by a cast member who abruptly told me the line was closed. I had to turn and tell Beau, that the one character he was wanting to see we were too late for, and he of course started crying. The cast member would not make any exceptions. This kind of stuff needs to be posted or something. Luckily, there are still amazing people in the world - a twenty something gal and her friends her me pleading with the cast member, and they offered up their spot in line for us!!! The boys got to meet Jack & Sally - but no autographs :) <- - - all that to say, this needs to be made clear. The party ends at midnight, I get that - but then PLEASE clearly lay out where the characters are so as to avoid this!

All in all, it was a fun event. The boys had fun, the adults had fun, and it really did feel like an exclusive event. Logistically, with this being our first, I really had nothing to go off of except for the map provided at the entrance, which I've linked to HERE and what fellow bloggers have offered up for tips. Hopefully I'll do better next year ;)

I did a detailed Instagram post for all the various magic shots we did that night & their locations...
Would I attend again? YES.

a look into our battle: epigate

I recently posted about Beau & his allergy diagnosis...you can see that HERE

Because of Beau's allergies being so severe, we have to carry an epinephrine auto injector with us at all times. These are sold in twin packs...so because Beau can not keep these in his posession while at school, we have to buy a twin pack to leave with his school nurse. We also have to buy a twin pack to leave at my parent's house, since that is Beau's after school care. And of course, we purchase a twin pack to keep with us & at our home. This totals THREE twin packs of auto injectors.

It's become habit to call these auto injectors, EpiPen's. And this is where the confusion & ridiculous pricing lie.

First, let's take a look at the EpiPen branded products. Due to epigate that came into light last year & the price gauging that Mylan was doing, there are now 2 branded EpiPen options:
1. EpiPen & EpiPen, Jr.
2. generic EpiPen - produced by Mylan

The EpiPen is what I feel most comfortable with - especially since during the school year, Beau is not with me more than he is with me. I want to ensure that the injector is user friendly, and I feel like EpiPen is. The instructions are clear & on the outside of the device. Plus it comes with a practice injector.

However, we have to pay out of pocket on these devices. Last year, I bought them through a pharmacy in the UK for $139.99 per twin pack. But I was only allowed to purchase 2 twin packs. Which as unsettling as that was, I had to split between all 3 locations (school, grandparents, and home).  To purchase these in the USA in 2016, was going to be $600 PER TWIN PACK. This was prior to the generic being released. 

In 2015, our allergist was able to hook us up with 2 twin pack samples from their rep. Their Mylan rep has since been unreachable, and now we have no assistance. 

When I took Beau for his last allergy test, I knew we were nearing expiration on our current devices and needed to purchase new ones. The doctor specifically wrote up our new prescription for "generic epinephrine auto injector" - - - > that is KEY! I went in thinking that the generic version would run us somewhere around $150 - just a number I felt comfortable with in my head.

Boy was I wrong. 

Upon calling the pharmacy, the generic Mylan EpiPen version was $300 per twin pack. My insurance only "cover" 2 twin packs per year - and by "cover" I mean contributes $140 max. The rest is on us.

Those "savings cards" that Mylan puts out do not help us. One in fact we do not even qualify for, the other shaved off $25 dollars. 

So I went up to my local CVS pharmacy because they have recently released a generic Adrenaclick version. This is a different injector, but the same drug inside, and same dosage for junior versus adult.

I was not comfortable with this injector. There was no "practice injector". The pharmacist even fumbled around with this device!

I made the financial decision that I had to for our family & in my son's BEST interest: I purchased TWO Mylan generic EpiPen, Jr. twin packs, and ONE generic Adrenaclick. In order for me to get all THREE as the Mylan generic EpiPen, Jr., that third pack was going to be $300....so I defaulted to the other generic at only $54.  My total was over $550 when everything was said and done. 

Here are my tips....and I'm still learning!

  1. Make sure your prescription is written up to include that "generic is acceptable". If your insurance will cover non-generic, GO FOR IT! Glad that worked out for you! 
  2. Ask for coupons from your allergist, your primary care, check the GoodRx app, and then check the pharmacy for coupons.
  3. Do not be in a rush! Go to the pharmacy and have them run your costs a variety of ways. You are not required to fill nor purchase
  4.  Keep in mind that all epinephrine auto injectors contain the SAME DRUG....epinephrine. You are just having to choose between the injector itself. 

I am praying that the cost on these LIFE SAVING devices will continue to decline. I left the pharmacy in tears when I dropped off the prescription for fulfillment - I hated having to choose between the brand I was familiar with and a brand that I knew nothing of with an entirely new injector. You can not put a price on this!

a look into our battle...

For the past 3 years we have had a bit of a battle in our household. I'm now ready to take our experience public, in hopes of helping at least one of you...

Rewind to when Beau was a little over 1 year old, and had the WORST case of eczema. We tried nearly every prescription steroid cream and wash. It provided topical relief, but we could never quite figure out what the actual CAUSE was. He never had that "soft" baby skin...it was always rough & patchy. After the last steroid cream prescription that our pediatrician called in was over $200, I threw my hands up and said THIS IS IT.

Enter the allergist.

I was referred to our current allergist by a friend on Facebook (one of those times that Facebook does good!), and we started our next uphill climb. Allergy testing.

We went into this with a basic blood panel - which tested all the common allergies, for which he was diagnosed with the following: egg, peanut, and dog. 

My brother has a service dog, and given that Beau spends 2 days a week under the care of my mom, I started connecting the dots. Perhaps his eczema WAS related to allergies?!?

Our first allergist appointment was when Beau was 3 years old. Our plan of attack was another blood panel (the first one was done when he was 1 year). The blood panel still was positive for dog & peanut, but no longer egg.

Peanut we can avoid.
Dog we can not.

The allergist put Beau on a regimen of Singulair and children's Zyrtec.

Beau's eczema cleared up almost immediately. 

We have kept him on this regimen every single day since that initial appointment, and his skin is 1000 times better.

We had no reason to test for allergies, until the unthinkable happened. I had taken Beau & Brooks to a friend's house, who also has a young son. The boys were all playing together while us moms talked & I did a little shopping. When it was time to leave, I was buckling Beau in his car seat and he said "mommy, I did not like his snack". I didn't think much of it, and then in the car, Beau said "mommy, my mouth feels weird". Again, didn't think ANYTHING of it, we get home, I put Brooks down for his nap...and Beau comes to tell me "mommy, my belly itches". I finally stopped and listened. I lifted up his shirt & his poor belly was COVERED in hives. His back was covered, his bottom was covered...he was having an allergic reaction. I grabbed Brooks from his bed & we raced to the pediatrician's office which is literally 5 miles away.

At this point, Beau had only 1 twin pack of the EpiPen Jr. (more on this later), but I was not educated in ALL of the warning signs for anaphylaxis. We got right in to the pediatrician, and ultimately, that was THE most expensive dose of Benadryl. When I finally had time to breathe, I texted my friend to find out what her son was eating....CASHEWS.

Hives on his neck

He was breathing fine, which was where I was wrong with warning signs! Hives are normally a first indicator! I had no idea.

We had no reason to test for other nuts....and the allergist does not do random testing "just to see".

I immediately got on the phone with the allergist office, they ordered a blood test to be run. We had those results in a few days: NEGATIVE for cashews.

HOW CAN THAT BE? Beau had head to toe hives. CLEARLY there is an allergy there. The doctor was on the same page as me, the rest of our family thought that I was off my rocker, and that Beau clearly got in to something else.

2 weeks later we found ourselves back at the allergist for Beau's first skin prick test. After a LOT of tears, from both Beau & myself, we walked away with the results: POSITIVE for cashews. The reaction was immediate on his poor back. (More on this later: in regards to prepping for a skin prick test).

First skin prick test, just testing cashews

It was immediate relief, yet also a gut wrenching "oh no". More items that we have to avoid.

The allergist ordered another skin prick test for when Beau turned 5...we recently had that done, along with another blood panel test. He still has ALL of these allergies. Many people ask us "Will he grow out of the peanut allergy?" - - > NO. Chances are good he WILL NOT.

The skin prick test also covered airborne allergens, which we found out Beau is also allergic to such things as ragweed & pig-weed, along with oak tree & Australian pine tree.

He was not excited about this...tears started FLOWING

The start of the test - Beau has to lay flat for ALL of this or the results get skewed. 

About half way through the test - results are becoming more apparent

Final results

I'm not crazy about putting these pictures of Beau out there, but I feel like it's absolutely necessary to drive this home. Allergies are severe & not to be taken lightly. 

I'd love to hear from you! Do you or someone you love face allergies? Our bodies react in different ways - perhaps what you don't think is an "allergy" or something to be concerned about, does require attention! 

disney race: star wars dark side

Well, the running bug is back. A little....

My dad & I recently ran the WDW Star Wars Darkside 5K. We were actually hoping for a 10K race, but per usual with RunDisney at WDW, that race sold out super fast.

Luckily, things have changed and the 5K's are no longer timed races! With this being my first race since 2015, I was very excited to not have it forever on my racing history!

I had 2 main goals with this race:
1. to run / jog the entire time
2. to finish sub 34 minutes

Happy to say, I accomplished both!

My little man also completed the Kids Dash for his age bracket.

Disney gives out the best race medals, hands down....which makes the crowds far more tolerable.

Star Wars drew in a huge crowd, naturally. It was pretty clear that people may have fudged a bit on their "projected finish times" because our corral had a LOT of walkers in it. To the point that my FitBit said I did over 3.5 miles by the time I finished. We did a lot of weaving in & out of people!

The corrals were spaced well. We finished just as the last corral was being released (kinda crazy!).

If you haven't done a Disney race, you should definitely add one to your bucket list!

jeepers it's january - blog hop

Hosted By: The Kids Did It http://thekidsdidit.com
& The Mommy Island http://themommyisland.blogspot.com

Thanks for 'hopping over'!

One winner will receive a Stella & Dot  jewelry travel pouch!

Image from Stella & Dot

(Jewelry not included)

This fun ikat print makes any day brighter! The jewelry pouch is perfect for any tote you have. It can safely hold all of your jewelry, and is the perfect size for travel. You can see all of its details HERE. 

Enter below to win:

Don't forget to HOP on over to the other blogs for all of the other giveaways!

jewelry gift round up

These are stylist links, it will link back to my stylist website. If you already have a stylist that you love to work with, please take note of the names of the pieces & use your stylist's link. 

I have some gift ideas for you for the ladies in your life! Know their style? Use these handy guides to pick out a Stella & Dot piece that is sure to delight!

Here's the good news! Shop TODAY (December 20th) and you are guaranteed delivery by Christmas with no added cost! (Tomorrow begins the need for expediting!)

Happy Shopping!

techie gift idea + huge savings + a giveaway!

First thing - - in no way am I a "techie"....but I have a few ideas for those of you that are looking for something to gift this holiday season from the Microsoft Store!

I work from home the majority of my week, with my 2 young boys (who are 4 & 2). I need portability. I can not be tied to a desk for all 8 hours of my work day. So for me, laptops & tablets are the way to go. 

Microsoft Store recently launched their new Microsoft Surface Pro - - and in my opinion, really brings the portability that I need. 

I especially love that they have a portable docking system to really turn your tablet into a desktop!

I have been wanting to take my scripting up a notch & do some digital works. The Microsoft Store has a Surface Pen to let me do this! 

It comes with 4 different tips to take you from fine point to bold. 

And check out the Surface Dial! Put this directly on the tablet to adjust volume, change color, or turn your entire drawing! How cool is that? 

Until December 24th, you're able to save $150 on the Microsoft Surface Pro! Fellow bloggers, this may be right up your alley with blogging on the go! I know that my fellow WAHM's would love this....plus my fellow working moms who travel. 

Microsoft offers free shipping & returns. Plus there is an extended holiday return & exchange, for purchases made from November 11th thru December 31st. 

Even if Santa doesn't leave this for you under the tree....you can get your own! Enter the giveaway below to win a $500 Microsoft Store gift card!

(Giveaway open to US ONLY, 18 years and older, Giveaway runs from 12-9, 2016 to 1-6, 2017 11:59 PM EST.  Giveaway will be one $500 Microsoft Store gift card)  

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 This is a Fashionista Event and a promotional item was provided to me. Hosts for this event are 
Still Blonde after all these Years and ModlyChic

i'm going "there" - - - > bra-blems!

Sorry, this one's for the girls....

Ladies, we have ALL had "bra-blems". You know, those bra problems. Too loose, to gappy, too tight, not enough support....which one do you loathe the MOST?

For me? It's the bra lines. I hate seeing any kind of lines through clothing! What's the point of wearing a bra that digs in to your back fat? Yuck.

Third Love has the remedy, and is not keeping it a secret. In fact, they have this handy guide, that I think you should print out & keep for reference!

Ladies, it is time we make sure those under garments are properly fitting! "Quad boob"??? No thanks!

If you're ready to up your game, take advantage of this exclusive offer from ThirdLove....
all of my readers get 15% off with promo code TLBBOCT16
You can use that promo code on any of their bras!
Check them out: https://www.thirdlove.com/collections/bras

I would love to hear form you! Sound off in the comments....what's your biggest bra-blem? 

beth moore's new study: entrusted

A little back story...before I tell you about this launch team I'm on....when I had my first son, (who is now 4), my world was rocked. As I'm sure every other woman has experienced with their first child! I was working full time, trying to be a mom, and still trying to be a loving wife! Needless to say, it felt like efforts were getting nowhere, the baby blues had beyond set in...and I was just done with life.

It was then the love of God helped my mind refocus. I have been a Christian for many years, but the importance of daily time with God, in His Word, had not been a priority. I shifted my priorities, and realized making Him number one on my "to do" list will cause the other things in life to fall in to place. I started doing Beth Moore studies, on my own. I did jump in to a few studies with my church's women ministry as well. But I spent more time studying on my own.

Fast forward to today....and 2 kids. I now have such a passion for women's ministry - specifically young moms & working moms of preschoolers. Life is tough. Raising toddlers is no joke. But putting yourself on the backburner is not the remedy to "getting through" everything. If you're not healthy, how can you raise healthy kids? If you're not focused on your relationship with God, how can you teach your children to be? Questions I battle every day.

So when the opportunity came up to help launch Beth Moore's new Bible study, Entrusted, I jumped on board!

Here is a video with some teaching snippets, and Beth explaining the study & what it is about.

Here is a quick video on the study, and how it will be formatted....with different options to suit you.

I can not wait to jump in to this study. I'm currently walking through the Armor Of God study by Priscilla Shirer, and facilitating a discussion group with some fellow women whom I love, at my church. I plan on jumping in to the Entrusted study once we break.

So tell me, are you going through a Bible study? Looking to start one?