The Tale of the Not So Perfect/Perfect Christmas Card

Let’s keep it Real: Christmas Cards or any kind of family portrait is difficult with a Toddler involved.

You might as well just embrace the fact that the youngest person in your photo shoot is going to run the photo shoot just like a true Diva.

No matter how much planning you do to schedule family photos around their happiest times of day, more than likely they will become a horse of a different color when you want them to stand there and say “Cheese!!!!”

So, this year I decided, instead of the Pinterest worthy, perfectly posed Holiday Card that this year we would embrace our personalities and show that through our holiday photo card to our family and friends. My goal was to have a lot of laughs and hopefully no tears in order to have a great photo to send to our family, especially those who are far who may not have seen us in a while.

This is the tale of Rolling WITH Resistance when you have two year olds.

I picked the late afternoon just before sunset right after nap time to take family photos. I thought my daughter would be rested and ready to “play”.

I think before every shoot, I hold my breath because God only knows how my child is going to act on a day to day basis…

Just look at this little mischievous face … she just looks like “what can I get into…”

Then of course, she is in that phase of “monkey see, monkey do” where she imitates what she sees and hears. So, if the photographer is bending down to get on her level, she squats down too and refuses to stand.

FINALLY, for a split second she stands and the photographer got the cutest shot of Gracia.

When selecting your photographer, make sure that they continue to shoot beyond the poses. Here is why… you get the best natural shots while walking and having personal moments. Life isn’t posed therefore, make sure your entire photo shoot isn’t either. It is how you capture your family dynamics and personalities best.

I suggest picking a location that you love to frequent, where you can run and play if need be.

Some suggested places could be:

The Park (which is where we were – including a pond with ducks)

The Playground

Your own kitchen

Your favorite activity center

Embrace the world you live in.

Literally two shots in, she made us put her down and wanted to go do her own thing. Iris kept shooting away…

Where was she going you ask?

She wanted to sit down.  Great.

We got her to come back to us, but she preferred not to be held but instead wanted to stand and watch the ducks. I would’ve let her play with the ducks, but these ducks were about the same size as she is.

We decided that if we walk away from the family of ducks, we could get her attention back and continue.

Clearly, she did not want to go.

I believe she was even saying “NOOOO” and was trying to pull us in the opposite direction.

And then all of a sudden, the struggle stopped and we have a shot we can use.

The rest of the afternoon was spent embracing “The Gracie Show”.

She does not lack in personality and determination to do what she wants, stand how she wants, go where she wants. Our talker, walker, climber, and helper (who loves to clean-up) enjoyed herself in the Park and luckily didn’t want to pick up every leaf she saw.

In the end, it was a great afternoon that we had just walking around the park and spending quality family time together. We occasionally looked at the camera, but mostly we embraced that whether we are at home or out and about, our two year old kinda runs the show. Like I said, let’s be honest.

So she was rewarded with plenty of high fives and treats for doing such a good job.

She made it through an hour or more of photos while only having 10 min attention spans.

Now there is no point in investing in great family photos, if you don’t select a great card that will help your photos look their best!

Thanks to TinyPrints, we were able to gather plenty moments for this years Christmas Cards.

They have plenty of new Holiday cards including glitter cards, metallic foil, even a Christmas Ornament card that you can send to family and friends.

TinyPrints has so many selections that truthfully, it was very hard to decide which card I wanted to go with this year.

I selected a card that I felt would be able to tell our story.

We only send out cards once a year and I want them to make a last impression on my friends and family so that it will be worth posting or sitting on the mantles just like we do with the cards we receive from friends.

This year, because my personal desire was to show more of an experience, I went with a Tri-Fold Card that I would be able to include 6+ pictures on the card as well be able to show both looks for that day on one card.

If you want to select something similar, I chose to go with the Tri-Fold version of the Antique Glow in Linen.

This is what the back looks like when you select the Linen color.

As you can imagine, Gracia was just about through with taking pictures at this point.

As we waited for Gracie to join us, we decided to just take some couples shots, which we hadn’t done in over two years. Our last was my pregnancy photos.

Gracia had taken a break and decided she would simply prefer running and chasing leaves close by. I on the other hand decided that I would not chase her. That is why most of our second look, she is no where to be found or captured in poses that have us “talking to her” or preventing her from running away.

I say, thats fine. If she wants that black mail photo of year 3 of our pictures with her on a toddler leash, so be it. (I’m kidding) but just because we aren’t looking at the camera doesn’t mean its not a great photo. It’s the experience of our family. It’s our current season. It’s our story.

Eventually all cooperation ceased. This was her, “Are you ready to go Mommy and Daddy?” look.

Yes Diva, it is time to go.

If you are looking to send out Cards this year and perhaps even considering sending New Years Cards, take it from me TinyPrints is the way to go.

They make it super easy to do.

You upload your favorite pictures into your account and then drag and drop them into their beautiful card templates. You can preview your design and they even have a Designer who will review it for Free before it goes to print.

It doesn’t get any easier or better than that.

And so, I hope you have a Merry and Bright Holiday Season.

Special thanks to Iris Mannings Photography and TinyPrints

*Full Disclosure: TinyPrints provided my Christmas Cards in exchange for telling my story in making my Christmas Cards this year. No other compensation was provided. Review of product is 100% true and my own experience and opinion and in no way influenced by TinyPrints. 

We took our ONE year old to Disney World


We broke down and took our one year old to Disney World. I was sure that I would never take her until she was at least three which is when I thought she would best appreciate it, but when an impromptu trip to Orlando came up, we figured why not?! The problem is, I had never been to Disney World myself – not since I was about 7 years old (maybe?) I truly do not remember how old I was – and then I went once again in high school when we used to Dance for Disney Music Days. Either who, I had no references on how to prepare to take my child to Disney World and ensure that we wouldn’t be just pushing her around LOOKING at rides. I didn’t even know if SHE liked rides.

This was going to be an adventure for sure!

I of course took to google to see if anyone had at least written something that I could garner some tips but what I did find helpful is Disney’s Mom Panel. There were some really great tips on there as well.

However, let me give you a bit of my own advice.

Tip #1: DON’T WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE TO PAY TO SEE IF YOUR CHILD LIKE DISNEY… take them as early as you can. Let them get used to the idea of Disney World while it’s not costing you and then take them back again when you have to pay for them and pay for the memories. Disney World doesn’t charge for anyone under 3 years old.

Tip #3: PLAN AS MUCH OF YOUR TRIP AHEAD AS POSSIBLE. I will elaborate on how to further do this, but it is crucial! If you want to beat lines and have on-going fun get familiar with the websites and what they offer and make sure you plan an itinerary EVEN IF you are a go with the flow kind of person. Trust me on this one.

Tip #3: DRESS THEM IN THE CUTEST DISNEY THEMED GEAR YOU CAN FIND! It’s all a part of the experience.

(Yes, I have on a Frozen T-Shirt and yup Gracie got more than a few things from Disney even though I told myself she was only allowed to have ONE souvenir).



My husband and I consider ourselves to be “Travel with Children” masters. We have been traveling with Gracie on airplanes since she was 3 months old and not once was she a bad traveler. We pick times for flights that coordinate with nap times and skip the rush of the frequent travelers. After all, when you are traveling for fun – there is NO RUSH!



We get so excited especially when we Master the Art of wearing our Toddler out before we get too tired to enjoy ourselves on our trips! We used to burn ourselves out with lugging all of her strollers (yup the big boy britax and the umbrella stroller) and the car seat, etc… and decided let’s just see what its like to rent a car seat with our car rental and found that it was so much easier on my anxiety to worry about one less thing. Especially since on this trip I was hand patted down because I was carrying baby food and eczema lotion by an aggressive TSA woman who was blamed for letting something pass. Either who… usually, we are all smiles. And we were the MOST excited for this new experience.

Now, to the planning ahead piece. Get a Fast Pass+ from Disney!!! Do IT~

Here is why.

You can select up to three rides for free that you know you want to beat the line for and they automatically draw up an itinerary for you to make sure that you are able to get to your ride. During that time slot that you select, you are able to ride the ride as many times as you want within that hour. My advice to you, pick the rides that have the longest wait times then wait for the others.

We went to the Magic Kingdom on a Sunday. I am not sure what the crowds are like on any other day, but that day worked best for us. We were able to get in the park with little wait time. We went to Magic Kingdom first and then went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios second. The later you enter the park, the closer your parking space will be.

I linked our park tickets and our ride itinerary to our Fast Pass+ bracelets so that when we arrived, all we had to do was go directly to the gate and wave our wrist in front of the reader. There was no need to go to will call or anything.

We brought our stroller with no issues because there were stroller parking at each ride and had no issues fearing leaving our baby bag or anything as there were attendants who would come from time to time to rearrange the parking situation.

Gracia’s first ride ever was the Buzz Lightyear’s Space Rangers Spin. It had great reviews by the Mom’s Panel. It was a bit of a risk because there was no description of the ride but now that I know what it is, I am not sure if I would’ve taken her based on the description: Its a ride where you get in a moving cart, in the dark and shoot glow in the dark aliens with a ray gun for points. For a one year old? YUP!

She loved it! She loved moving the cart from one side to the other, she loved shooting the aliens in the dark. She loved it so much we went on more than once. Thanks to the Fast Pass it was doable without taking up too much of our time.. and did you know that you can link your credit card to it as well so that all you had to do was wave your arm at concessions versus bringing in your card with the chance of losing it. You can also link all of your photo ops as well and download it for later! (no this isn’t a sponsored post – I was just so hype! that they made it so easy)



WHICH BRINGS ME TO WHY I LOVE DISNEY: My husband and I were both able to fit in all the rides …together. We are not short people (he is 6’3) nor are we slim people (I have hips and thighs). Gracia was able to sit between us or on our lap. Disney is made for Families! When we went to Universal Studios, it was not the case at all.


When the lines were long at Winnie the Pooh, they had things for the kids to keep busy with so they don’t just fall out screaming and crying because the wait was too long.


Bring extra clothes for the kiddies. It rained on us and so she was in hot, wet clothes… so after a quick change she was ready to go enjoy more of the park.


The ONLY thing I wanted to do was to take her to the live Frozen show, which was AMAZING!

Imagine every little girl who knows all the words, singing Karaoke to the most popular songs in the movie along with seeing the characters live on stage. It felt like church in there during “Let it Go!”

Gracie had such a great time she was singing GOOOOO GOOOOO for a while after we left Disney. She later ended up getting a Frozen themed table for our house and immediately she screamed with joy because she knew that it was the characters from Disney World. She always wants to sit with Anna.

We were also there during the launch of the Star Wars Weekend. There were so many Star Wars specific things and items for purchase… this may be blasphemous to some, but I am just not a huge Star Wars fan, so the light show and the party at the end of the night at Hollywood Studios allowed extra time for us to get into the studio shows with no lines.


Of course when we took Gracie to the Disney Junior section she did not want to leave. Her favorite is Sophia the First. It’s why she had a Sophia the First birthday theme party for her 1st Birthday. I let her play in all the scenes. I think a little too long because she didn’t want to leave.

All in all, my one year old had a GREAT time at Disney and so did we. We made great memories and although she may not remember. She will know that we took her through stories and pictures and of course we will do it again.

She picked out this Minnie Back Pack as her one souvenir and we chose the matching hat for her to keep the sun off of her face at the park. She would not let anyone touch it or take it from her for WEEKS!


So never fear, Disney Magic is real.. even for younger kids.

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One Dress Changed My Life

You would think that I would be talking about this dress that I wore August 7, 2010.. but NOPE.

Ironically,  I am talking about another white dress.

A White Dress that I purchased to celebrate my 5th year Wedding Anniversary on August 7, 2015.

I was out shopping with my mom and we went through the dress section. After getting married and gaining love weight and then baby weight, I reminisced on a time in which it wasn’t so hard to find something off the rack that I wanted to wear and wasn’t bound to perhaps two stores.

When I got married, I got down through bridal bootcamps to a size 10. I ordered my wedding dress in a 12 and was determined NOT to pay extra for plus sizes.

I saw this dress …

and tried it on and saw my fluffy gut and how the dress rose above my thighs because it just was not fitting right. I thought it was too pretty and used it as motivation to get myself back together! I had been on supplements and felt better than ever, but beyond getting out of my bed to go to work and walking to get lunch, I was not doing a single fitness anything.

 SO… What did I do? I purchased the dress anyway and made it my mission (and the mission of my household) to go on a diet!I decided I needed someone to tell me what to eat and when to eat it in order to meet my goal. I am not too disciplined in the area of making up a meal plan. The one that I found to be the best was Dr. Ian Smith’s Shred Diet Plan. It was super simple and I liked the promise of losing 2 sizes in 6 weeks because thats exactly what I needed to do in order to look decent in that dress. I felt like I had done a decent job of getting baby weight off but I wasn’t consistently getting anything off or keeping it off… lets face it – I love food. I am a self proclaimed foodie. I took a picture of where I started and went from there. 

I was off to a good start  – then about day 3 or 4 where I had to get creative with the two vegetables that I was allowed to have with my protein, I got bored.

 I started making stuff like Jalapeño Sweet Potatoes and sautéed Kale.

Amos was about threw with me and this diet probably after week one, but he stuck it out with me.

I had to start looking for things on the menu that I could eat that would fit within my diet.

I fell in love with this Ahi Tuna salad at Matchbox Restaurant.

I had to pick a cardio that I was supposed to do at least 5 times a week.

I decided that my cardio would be 250 reps on a weighted jumprope and a youtube fitness instructor led class. I wanted to eliminate the excuse of not being able to go to a gym.

What didn’t help is that I had to host two Ice Cream Socials for Probation and Parole Week —

I HAD to cheat… I admit I have zero will power, but I made it up for it with an equally bland and super low calorie dinner.

I leaned to my friends for encouragement and motivation and would send them pictures of my food to hold me accountable… except they would send me pics like this back.

I signed up for every exercise opportunity that they offered at work.

Even tried some kind of cardio square kickboxing thing…


But after 6 weeks – I GOT IN MY DRESS!!!!

Have you ever tried a diet program or set a fitness goal that kicked your butt?!

Needless to say, I will try this again…. much later on.

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Easing Hair Maintenance with Nuby Tear-Free Rinse Pail

 My child is one of those that has had a lot of hair since birth. The length is relative however, she has always had a full head of hair. It can grow and shrink based on the humidity. It also sheds and changes texture as well. It cooperates when it wants to and as you can imagine, my child does not LOVE to get her hair done. She tolerates mommy running my fingers through her hair but the sitting down to do something with it requires time, patience and the occasional snack, toys and bottle.

Gracia has had hair that grew in length at the same time changed from straight to extremely coily.

One thing that I have learned in trying to figure out what texture my daughter’s hair will be is that in order to best care for her hair, it has to be consistently moisturized. The best moisture for her hair which is coarse and absorbent is water or water based products.

The only downside to that means that Gracia would need to have her hair washed fairly frequently and for a child who has chronic double ear infections, water is not our friend.

I had to find a way to wash the hair of a toddler who constantly moves and flinches without getting a drop of water into her ears – and of course keeping the soap out of her eyes.

Then I was given the chance to review Nuby’s Tear Free Rinse Pail. It seemed like the best thing to try in order to solve the issue of washing hair, especially since Gracia had surgery on her ears earlier this year.

Nuby sent me this Pink and Purple one to try with Gracia to see if it would suit my needs.


One thing for certain, if you know an almost two year old, you know that they are entering the phase of “I want to do it myself!” Gracia thought it was a bucket for her. I let her believe that for the moment because I didn’t even want her to think that she is about to get her hair washed to avoid tears.


We have had the chance to use it for months and it is a staple at bath time.

Whether I am cowashing her hair or using shampoo, it actually solved the issue of avoiding the water from running down her face and into her ears.

For best use, I simply tilt her head back into my hands. I don’t fill the bucket to the top but to a level in which I can easily control the pour and place the silcone base along her forehead and let the water drip down.

She loves it and so do I.


If you have a child that is not loving the head over the sink experience and gets flustered with the soap and water running into the eyes, mouth, nose and ears… I really would recommend this product for wash day AND it appears to be Gracia’s favorite toy to capture her foam letters in – so I consider that a WIN WIN for bath time!

Wanna get one?

Here’s the deets:

The Nuby Tear-Free Rinse Pail

The Tear-Free Rinse Pail is another great Nûby™ product designed to make bath time easier and more enjoyable for you and your little one. It features a comfortable grip for mom, a deep, slender base for easy filling in shallow water and a unique tear-free edge. The tear-free edge is soft and contoured so it can be gently placed against your baby’s skin to help prevent water from running into your baby’s eyes while rinsing their hair.

  *Just so you know, I was only given the product to review, and no further compensation – full disclosure   

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Easter and Egg Rolls

Easter has come and gone and I am just about to tell you all about how it was… (I would insert an apology for being away so long right about here, but then I realized – hey you’re one person who works, is a wife a mommy to a toddler and then some and its just a blog and its yours so carry on). This was my baby girl’s first Easter where she would be walking. Her first Toddler sized Easter and boy was I excited. I knew that I wanted to go all out as far as Traditional. I searched high and low and purchased options even. In the end I settled on this outfit which she loved! Complete with hat, pearls, ruffle socks and white patent leather shoes. 

I absolutely am loving the toddler years! She has a few words but can totally communicate and express what she wants and its so much fun to see her little personality blossoming. She is one who is absolutely happy all the time but grumpy when she is sick.
She kept her hat on for most of the day but took it off towards the end of church. I had cornrowed her hair straight back just so her hats would sit on her head just right. One thing about Gracie, she is truly her daddy’s child. She knows what a microphone is for and loves to sing.
No surprise here – With her bottle in one hand and microphone in the other at age one – trust me I am saving this picture for when she gets older so that she can see how she was as a child.

 Its so crazy how much she has grown from last year when we took our annual picture in front of the HUGE tomb feature that my husbands church has on Easter. 
In regards to weight loss which was one of the things that I was working on- I was even scared to try this dress on in the store and kept milling about it because it was a size smaller than I am used to wearing on a good day and my husband just shouted for me to try it on already. I was SO happy when it fit and with ease. Its so good to know that gradually I am coming back down to my goal weight – I want to be curvy fit just to make that very clear. LOL. 
 We had reservations for Easter Brunch at the Golf Clubhouse and they had a small Easter Egg hunt for the kids in attendance. This was Gracie’s first Easter Egg Hunt and she did so good.  She doesn’t really get the concept of gather as many as you can but she got enough to look at and would say “Ooo” when she spotted another one.

She didnt want to come back to where we were to take a family picture because she was afraid that we were going to take her Easter Eggs from her. 

Daddy was trying to show her how to Hula Hoop…. that was clearly short lived.
He enjoyed it though. LOL

The next morning the whole family was off to the White House for this years Easter Egg Roll.
We were so fortunate to be able to go again this year and this time we were able to go with our Parents which made it all the more memorable.
Here is mom dukes and Gracie..
Mind you this day started off rather cool and turned into a rather hot day, so some of these layers definitely came off baby girl.
From here on out its pretty self explanatory – We did have such a great time on the lawn of the White House. She really isn’t of age to participate in the crafts and games but she enjoyed the stage performances and seeing all of her favorite characters.

She was way past her nap time out there and the only thing that kept her calm was holding these two eggs that she got from this booth that shows where eggs come from and how you get them at the store. There was no way that you could take those from her if you tried.
Exhibit A: We were on the way home and she fell asleep and see where those eggs are – still in her hands..

In the month of April, Gracie turned 16 months old.  It trips me out the amount of non-children having people, particularly the men that I work with,  tell me about counting the months after one years old, however as a parent or person who works closely with Toddler you will know that there is a huge difference in understanding and the milestones therefore expectations when you are dealing with a 12 month old and a 16 month old. 
So, Happy 16 Months Boo Boo.

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