Auto Awesome is... awesome!

Oh LJ... I don't forget about you, I just forget when I have time.

I found an amazing new Google feature this weekend called Auto Awesome.  It takes photos I've taken and mashes them appropriately, all automatically and all awesome (fitting name, see?).

Example of Auto Awesome (and how I found the feature):

The guys at classic cup cafe

If you have a Google account and have photos associated with this account, click here to see if you have any Auto Awesome images!  I browsed through mine and found a few panoramic images from when we went to the Chinese Lantern Festival in January as well as a few other great motion mixes.

The above image was taken at the Classic Cup Cafe in Lancaster, TX on October 18, 2013.  Here, B and two friends are getting ready to drum (Caravan was the first song) with another friend during the break of a jazz session.  They were a bit of a switch but were certainly well received!  We had a great time.

awesome // Jr Sr Oh Yeah

Disney Dreaming... Tips and Tricks

We recently took a trip to Walt Disney World with my entire family. Planning was nearly as much fun as going, and now that the trip is over, I want to share what we learned. Most of these tips were gleaned from the many links I have pinned to my Disney Dreaming board, but some are tips we figured out on our own. This is what worked for us, and things we think we might do differently when we go back. Everyone is different! Pick and choose what you think would work for you, but also be willing to adjust on the fly.

We did not stay at a resort, though I've heard it's a great experience. Some of these tips might change if we did stay at a resort. We rented a house with a pool and six bedrooms instead. It saved us a ton of money but we missed out on a few perks such as the Dining Plan and Extra Magic Hours.


  • Photograph your tickets. Lost tickets can be replaced, but only with the ticket number.

  • Photograph your PhotoPass cards if you elect to use PhotoPass. Lost cards can be replaced, but only with the card number. This goes for any event photo card you might receive as well (such as a card from Enchanted Tales with Belle, etc.)

  • Photograph your child every day or multiple times a day if clothing is changed. In the event the child is lost or wanders off, the photo can be shown to security to help them locate the child.


Planning -

  • Scour the Disney site (note - it's usually pretty slow and not very user friendly at the time this entry was written) and decide on the attractions you want to hit.

  • Watch average line times for rides throughout the day to see how long of a wait you might have.

  • Install Disney apps on a mobile device and test them to see which is preferred.

  • Don't uninstall any app until at the park. What you think you like might not be the one that works best!

  • Squeeze in the viewing of some older Disney movies. Everyone knows the new movies, but it's frustrating to see characters you don't recognize...

  • Research the PhotoPass and decide if it's something you want to do.

Packing -

  • Plenty of sunscreen. Use it throughout the day.

  • Umbrella or parasol of some sort to block sun

  • Gum - Disney doesn't sell gum.

  • Autograph "book" - doesn't have to be a book with blank pages - the characters will sign nearly anything (ideas: pillow cases, t-shirts, story books, encyclopedia of characters, homemade autograph book, unfinished scrapbook or scrapbook pages, toys, etc. - bring your own permanent marker or fabric marker!)

  • Extra batteries or charge packs for phones or cameras

  • Backpack for water, snacks, souvenirs, sunscreen, etc.

  • Hats to protect little ones' parts from getting burned.

Parking and Park Entrances -

  • Parking is currently $14/day. The stub is good for all parks.

  • Parking lots have trams to take you from your car and back to your car. Use them.

  • Magic Kingdom must be entered by monorail or ferry from Tickets and Transportation.

  • It is possible to park at Ticket and Transportation and get into Epcot by monorail as well. Do it, even if it's just to see Epcot from the monorail.

  • Take the ferry to MK at least one way.

  • Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom have their own lots (as does Epcot).

  • Parking at Downtown Disney is free.

Playing -

  • Get Park Hopper passes. These allow you to come and go when you want.

  • Get to the park before it opens. Yes, before.

  • ALWAYS note where you parked.

  • High volume attractions should be planned for early in the day.

  • Get Fast Passes for any ride/attraction with a long wait time. Use the wait time to hit other attractions in that general area.

  • Depending on several factors, the main one being heat, take naps! Go for a quick swim, eat some lunch, take a nap, and recharge for the rest of the day. This is especially helpful in avoiding the hottest part of the day as well as serious grumpiness issues.

  • Take advantage of air conditioned shows when it's hot. Do not let yourself get overheated!

  • Hydrate!

  • Magic Kingdom has a train that will go to Frontierland and Fantasyland from Main Street (the park entrance). Use it.

  • Character dining is a great way to meet characters. They will come right to the table!

  • Character dining is also a great way to get into the park early.

  • Character dining generally requires advance reservations, as in MONTHS. Plan accordingly.

  • Other table service restaurants inside the parks will take reservations as well. Make them in advance if there's a place you really want to eat.

  • Epcot is a great park for finding characters - the lines tend to be shorter.

  • Look for Disney PhotoPass photographers, regardless if you're using PhotoPass or not. They will take photos with personal cameras as well!

  • When having characters sign autographs, be prepared! Have the "book" open to where it should be signed and the pen at the ready.

  • Ask for "magic shot" photos if using the PhotoPass.

  • Watch for Extra Magic Hours - these are for resort guests and can be before the park opens or after it closes. If you're not staying at a resort, avoid the EMH park that night and go the next morning. It should be less crowded.

  • If staying at a resort, research the Dining Plan.

  • It is possible for adults to order from the children's menu.

  • Interact with the characters. Talk to them, they'll talk back or play in character.

  • There are secret places to find characters. If you're looking for a wide variety, hit the web. There are lots of tips on how to find them.

  • It's possible to eat while waiting in line if you're trying to conserve time.

  • It's also possible to pack food to take into the park.

  • It is NOT possible to bring a cooler unless it is required for medication and even then it must be left at Guest Relations.

  • Stop at Guest Relations if you're celebrating anything and they'll give you a button to wear (birthday, anniversary, honeymoon, first visit, etc.).

  • The night shows all take quite a bit of time, but the night show at MK might be the longest since it's a parade, a show, and fireworks. While everyone is watching the parade/fireworks, the rest of the park is pretty quiet. Note close times of all the parks. It's possible to go back to MK after other parks close, but not always practical.

A bit about our trip:

  • We drove. It took us two days each way, basically. I loved that extra time in the car, too. It made for a fun adventure.

  • We rented a house with my parents and sisters and their families. 6 bedrooms. 4 bathrooms. 1 pool. 13 people. Absolute awesome.

  • We had four-day Park Hoppers. We hopped a lot.

  • We closed the parks twice, once on a day with a nap (perfect day) and once on a day without a nap (not as perfect, but not bad, either).

  • We took three vehicles each day instead of the four that were all driven to Florida. No need to pay for extra parking when it wasn't necessary.

  • We stopped in Clearwater on the way home to visit the Marine Aquarium and see Winter.

  • We tried to find local restaurants.

  • We asked for local or in season fish while near the Gulf.

  • We found Publix to be the most satisfying grocery store.

  • We loved MK, EPCOT, and HS. The Lion King show at AK was great, but otherwise was the park we spent the least amount of time in.

MK favorites:

  • Enchanted Tales with Belle (interactive story telling and pictures with Belle!)

  • Meeting Merida

  • Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor

  • Breakfast at Cinderella's Table

  • Electric Light Parade

AK favorites:

  • The Lion King show

HS favorites:

  • Disney Jr. (this was surprisingly cute and fun)

  • Beauty and the Beast (best show in all the parks)

  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids playground (we almost skipped this and I'm SO glad we didn't)

  • Lights, Motors, Action! (the whole family loved this!)

  • Dinner at 50's Prime Time Cafe

  • Meeting Phineas and Ferb

EPCOT favorites:

  • Turtle Talk with Crush (AWESOME!)

  • Kidcot (get a Passport at the gift shop and get a stamp in every country)

  • Shopping and foods, of course

  • Duffy/Perry stick puppets - These can also be stamped at the Kidcot stations - also, they will add the flag for each country on the back

  • Agent P's World Showcase Adventure - DO THIS in at least one country. We wanted to do it in every country but didn't have time to squeeze it all in.

  • Fireworks

jodi // window

so easy to forget...

When life gets busy, it's so easy for me to forget LJ is here. Facebook is so much easier to access and follow and post, but doesn't really give much substance. Eh... It is what it is, though.

Sophie has graduated kindergarten. She was quite proud of herself, as she should be. B and I both were very proud of her as well. We received her Bracken scores within the last week or two and it's basically set her at two years ahead of her age, which isn't surprising knowing how she thinks. She's started reading bigger books, including the American Girl books and Freckle Juice.

We've moved her into a new school since her previous school only went up through kindergarten. I would have kept her at Primrose for the summer so she could enjoy summer camp (part of me still wishes we had, too) but we're moving her to a Montessori style school and we wanted to get her a little used to the school prior to academics starting in August. I don't think she would have had any issues adjusting looking back, but hindsight and all that...

She's starting to develop a bit of an attitude, which scares me. I mean, she's only six years old! I think some of that is just age, some of that is other kids, some of that is us, and some of that is lack of nap. We're still trying to figure out consequences that work the best. Hopefully it doesn't take too long to get there. She really is such an amazing kid.

Work is work. I still love my job, even through random drama and such. It keeps me busy, is challenging, and pays well, and I enjoy the people I work with. I've been given more projects that keep my busy and I couldn't be happier, really. It feels good to want to go to work every day.

And with that... I'm spent. My life is consumed by family and work. Scentsy has taken a back seat, but that's ok. I still love it but just have realized it's ok to not devote every waking minute to it. I think family is so much more important than that. This is one of the main reasons I'm not online much. Family is always the most important thing.

Oh, and Pinterest. It is a total time sapper, but so useful! I actually use many of my pins, too. We've tried lots of recipes, have made a few crafts, and tried a few household hints. There's so much I want to try...

misc // little miss chatterbox

Kritter Humor

We were all at my in-laws the other night. After dinner, there was a dessert of some sort of cake and ice cream. B's father set out forks for everyone.

While everyone else was getting their dessert, the few of us at the table had a little conversation about appropriate utensils for such a combination. My brother-in-law wondered about the fork and stated he would have selected a spoon instead. I agreed, as did my mother-in-law. I said B would most likely prefer a fork and my brother-in-law said the same of his girlfriend.

When I went into the kitchen to get my dessert and reached into the drawer for a spoon, B announced there were forks on the counter, confirming my earlier statement.

Once we were all around the table, we started talking about the forks and spoons again. Finally, B says, "I'll cut your heart out with a spoon!" and then Sophie pipes up with, "Use the forks, Luke!"

I nearly died laughing at her timing and response.

Random bits

This weekend we took a little trip to Austin for the belly dance convention. The music ensemble B is in played for the opening acts, which was pretty cool.

He took a drum class the next day and we watched some of the other dancers perform. After that, we walked around South Congress Ave in the little shopping area south of the bridge. We got brats at Wurst Tex and cupcakes at Hey Cupcake and then chilled by the bridge and waited for the bats to fly. After that, we had drinks at Icenhauer's. Good times.

We're on the road headed home now. I did a little Scentsy work while we were down there, but not much. I posted about party baskets at complete with pictures and info.

Things have been going well with Scentsy. It's difficult for me to really put myself out there, but I'm learning. I love it so much!

Sophie just graduated pre-k. To celebrate, I took her for a mani/pedi. She told B that because her nails are painted, she can't pick her nose. This is good to know.

Outside of all of this, there's not much going on. The next big thing coming up is our trip up north. I need to get that mapped and get rooms booked and meals planned. I just hope it's not hotter in Michigan than it is down here. I'm looking forward to the trip.

Posted via LjBeetle
misc // fizzgig

Mmm Brains!

B sent me this message after having a conversation with Sophie about brains... 

Benjamin: she just told me her brain has a beard.  LOL
Benjamin: crazy kid
Benjamin: she's trying to convince me our brains are swapped.
sm00bs: lol what the heck does that mean?
sm00bs: she's nuts
Benjamin: our brains are going to sneak out of our heads, meet in the hall and then pass by each other and get into the right heads
Benjamin: yah
Benjamin: cya
sm00bs: ROFL
sm00bs: INSANE

Yeah... I'm not sure what to think.  o.O
crafty // crafty girl

A day in the life...

Today was one gigantic pendulum swing. Actually, that's not entirely true. All in all, it was an excellent day.

We started off early with a visit to the dentist for Sophie. She saw one of her classmates there, which excited her to no end. She was a super trooper during the cleaning and did everything the hygienist requested. I was pretty impressed. However, the dentist found a tiny abscess. Apparently when they put in the crowns, they hit a nerve with the front one. I feel awful for not noticing it. He gave us two options: remove it today (nitrous and numbing only) or give her antibiotics and remove it later (with general anesthesia). We opted for removal today and Sophie surprised me again with how well she handled it all.

After the dentist, I went to Michaels and bought a bunch of things to make flower magnets and pens (I'll have to post the pictures of the magnets I've already done - they're so cute!). I can spend hours in there, but I had an appointment to keep, so I think I limited it to just one.

The appointment today was with my hair stylist to get my hair colored. I have to say, I absolutely LOVE it!! I just had her add some highlights and some copper lowlights. It is so freaking cute I can't even stand it! I'll take a picture eventually, I think... ;)

After the hair appointment, I hit the grocery store, mostly so I could buy the necessary items for strawberry ice cream. I should have made it when I got home but really felt the need to get a pedicure again since it had been two weeks anyhow. I'm so glad I did. The massage chair is one of my favorite things, but I love the massage on the legs. It was absolutely fabulous. It even included a paraffin dip, a hot wrap, and hot rock massage.

The girls at the nail salon also placed orders for Flutter Room Spray. I had to take my sample basket in so it wouldn't melt in my car. Yay for Texas heat! I gave catalogs away there as well as at the dentist this morning.

After dinner tonight we made the ice cream. I don't think I'm ever buying ice cream again. Ever.

Now I need to go deliver money to the child for the tooth she has under her pillow. The tooth fairy had to scrounge for change, but I don't think the child will mind. ;)
well wishes // hello

So I don't clutter up the place around here...

Not that this journal sees much action these days. There are a million and one things I'd like to talk about, but finding the time to write is the issue I'm up against lately (when isn't it?). Sophie's starting kindergarten next year, we've taken on this whole Scentsy thing, B is on the board for the HOA now, and he's still as busy as ever with drums and that's only the tiniest portion of all that's floating around in my head.

In any case, I know I've had a few Scentsy posts here lately and it seems to be all I'm doing (mostly because it really IS all I'm doing... I'm trying to get this going for real). If you'd like to follow more, please see me over at my blogspot page or on Facebook. I will still post a random special here from time to time, but I don't need to drive away the few readers I still have.

Thanks for being so awesome for sticking around. :)