Growing up in the 80’s, sitcoms were a big part of my childhood.

Television was so different back then. We didn’t have reality TV or “dramedies” or scripted shows made to LOOK like reality TV. We had laugh tracks and recycled storylines and happy endings.

There were a few predicaments that were prevalent in television shows during that time. There was the person who promised to be in two places at once, running between dates frantically and hoping not to be caught. There was the hypnotism gone wrong. There was the “subliminal messaging” plot where a girl or guy would try to control someone’s thoughts by whispering in their ear while they slept as the person sleepily repeated their words.

It was ridiculous, and I absorbed every bit of it. I still have a secret desire to be hypnotized one day. (my thoughts on Kirk Cameron, however, have drastically changed…but that’s a whole other issue)

Last night, sleepy and with my tongue loosened by the drink I’d been sipping on after dinner, I confessed to my husband that I whisper in Lucy’s ear every night as she sleeps.

“You’re so smart,” I whisper, tucking the comforter in around her shoulders.

“You’re the strongest girl I know,” as I nestle her stuffed unicorn, Strawberry, next to her on the pillow.

“Did you know that you’re my dream come true?”

“You’re brave and tough and I am SO proud of you.”

I giggled sheepishly as I climbed into our bed. “I don’t even know if it really works like it did on television,” I told him. “But it’s at least worth a shot, don’t you think?”

It’s a little sobering when I realize how afraid I am. And what I fear most often, when I gaze upon Lucy’s sleeping face, is that years of intentional parenting — with all of the blood, and sweat, and tears involved — could be completely unraveled by a leer, a catcall, a strategically placed hand, a condescending dismissal.

I’m afraid of raising a daughter in a world where the hashtag MeToo is necessary. Where we, as women, have to lay our deepest shame bare in order to facilitate the tiniest change. Where we have to relive our most difficult and vulnerable moments because men can’t get their crap together.

I’m afraid of raising a daughter in a world where the burden is placed upon her. To dress right, to act appropriately thankful, to look pleasing, to smile, to dress in a way that is flattering, to not “let herself go,” to not drink too much or find herself alone with the wrong man, or God forbid, give the impression that she was asking for it.

I’m afraid that I don’t have enough time.

I’m afraid that I don’t know how.

I’m afraid.

Over the past couple of days, I have shared some of my feelings and experiences, not just with rape, but with embarrassment. With harassment. With the zillions of ways that women are made to feel small nearly every single day. And as I shared, friends commented and shared their own stories.

But many more messaged me privately.

“I can’t say this publicly…” they start. “but…#MeToo.”

It was their boss, they tell me. It was a police officer. It was when they were 15 or 17 or 28. They were on a date and needed him placated enough to just drive them home. They needed their job. Everyone in town loved him and they wondered if maybe they HAD been asking for it. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal at the time. It could have been so much worse. And yet…they still think about it. It has changed them. It still hurts.

I am afraid.

Every one of these stories has a special place in my heart. I cherish them as I gently, carefully, place them in the part of me that grows weary. When I’m accused of “hating men” or asked to “just talk about recipes” or get an eye roll as I begin to impart some truth on someone who REALLY needs to hear it…

When I’m thought of as too loud or maybe even a bitch.

Your stories remind me that I am not loud enough.

A few weeks ago, I boarded a plane for a press trip. As I sat quietly in my seat, a man who had been very obviously staring at me in the airport, walked down the aisle, making eye contact with me. Loudly, he began to yell to his friend about how unlucky he was. He wanted to sit next to the “hot girl.”

“WHY CAN’T I EVER BE LUCKY??” he asked, loudly, staring at me.

Face burning, I buried my face in my magazine, embarrassed by the commotion. I thought of all the men seated around me and how nice it must feel to always belong. To never worry that unwelcome shame and discomfort could be dropped at your feet at a moments notice.

And I said…nothing.

I’m not always brave. Many times, I just want to get through that moment with as little commotion as possible. I look away. I read a book. I pretend not to hear. I stop being loud and bold and angry. I make myself invisible.

I am afraid.

I am afraid because I can’t sneak into your bedrooms at night and whisper into your ears. I can’t tell you that he doesn’t decide what you’re worth. That it wasn’t because of what you were wearing. That it’s not your fault for having that drink. That you deserve a promotion based on your hard work. That your daughters will be safe.

But I think that I’m tired of whispering. I think I’m tired of us taking turns hiding behind each other. I think I’m tired of us second-guessing, asking “is it just me? Am I crazy? Do I have something stamped on my forehead?”

I think instead of whispering, I’m going to shake you awake. I’m going to grab your hand. And together, we are going to unleash a primal scream.

It is not our fault. You need to do better.

NOT. OUR. DAUGHTERS.

My whole life, I dreamed of going to Disney World.

When you grow up never taking big family vacations and spend your young adult life being totally broke, something like Disney World can feel basically as far and unattainable as the moon. I finally came up with a plan that when I met the man who wanted to marry me, I’d tell him that I wouldn’t marry him until he took me to Disney World.

Would you believe that it actually worked?

At the age of 24, I finally went to Disney World with who was then my boyfriend (and now my husband of nearly 12 years). It was every bit as magical as I dreamed it would be, and I have to say that I’m thrilled that I got to experience it for the first time with the love of my life and no kids.

It’s kind of hard to believe that years later, I’ve had so many opportunities to return to Disney World, some of those times with my kiddos and sometimes for work with some of my dearest friends. There’s never a time that I see that castle and don’t take a minute to think about how unattainable it used to feel and how funny life is.

If you would have told my 20 year old self (or 10 year old self, for that matter) that one day Disney World would actually be HOSTING me at one of their resorts, I would not have believed it for a second. As silly as this might sound, Disney World will always remind me to keep hope in my heart.

Last month Disney World hosted me and seven of my friends at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Not gonna lie — when I found out where we’d be staying, I literally SHRIEKED. I’m never one to get super crazy about trips, but the Animal Kingdom Lodge was a major dream of mine. There are animals grazing outside your balcony! Zebras and giraffes and all kinds of cool animals I’ve never heard of. Can you imagine waking up, pulling the curtains, and seeing a giraffe?

IT HAPPENS THERE LIKE FOR REAL.

I was also pretty excited due to it’s proximity to Animal Kingdom…home of Pandora and the new Avatar rides.

I mean, Avatar was a good movie. Not my favorite, but whatever. It was fine. But for some reason, the thought of a real Pandora at Disney?! Whole different ballgame. All of a sudden I was like “I LOVE AVATAR MORE THAN ANYTHING. I AM SUCH A FAN OF THE BLUE PEOPLE.”

I don’t even know, you guys. Disney kind of turns us all into fools and I am definitely here for every bit of it.

A few things about what we ate:

Of course, our trip revolved around FOOD. Disney World has SO much of it, and I was lucky enough to be with girls who are willing to indulge each others desires to seek out every fun treat in the park. We also got to havebreakfast at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, which was one of my favorites of the trip. The breakfast buffet was SO good and the characters roamed the dining room for hugs and photos.

I had to stop and thank Mickey for his hard work in the Clubhouse. He’s one of my favorite babysitters! Thank goodness for that Mousekatoole, am I right?

Bonus — the Tusker House is pretty close to Pandora. Plan to grab an early breakfast, then go get in line for Flight of Passage before it gets too long.

(Flight of Passage is worth the wait. I feel confident in saying that it’s unlike anything you’ve ever ridden. MAGIC)

Did you know that you can get vanilla/Dole whip SWIRL? We tried it as a float and I LOVED it. The vanilla melted into the pineapple juice and tasted SO good, I probably could have had two. Definitely one of my favorites!

Pandora also had some really fun and colorful drinks and desserts. This frozen drink was super sweet, but so colorful and fun. I loved the boba on top! I definitely recommend sharing this one — the slushiness is perfect for a hot day, but it was too sweet to drink the whole thing. Definitely worth a try, though!

Holidays at Disney World:

Silly me didn’t even realize until a few years ago that the holidays at Disney are A WHOLE BIG THING. Last year we got to experience Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but this years trip was all about Fall and Winter holidays, particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas! I was surprisingly fascinated hearing about how quickly (and under the radar) Halloween decorations are swapped out for wreaths and Christmas trees. Holy cow — they take it SERIOUS! It takes a whole team and year-round planning to pull of decorations and themed trees for not only EVERY Disney World park, but also Disney Springs and every. single. resort.

The scale of that just blows my mind. Especially considering what an ordeal it is to find my ornaments and Christmas decorations for my little house every year.

We actually got to visit the warehouse where the trees are decorated and stored, and I TOTALLY geeked out. I don’t even know what came over me except for the fact that it was so overwhelming. The organization and planning that makes it all come together so seamlessly just absolutely blew my mind.  I must have asked a zillion questions about the process and how they keep track of everything…and how they make and design their ornaments!

And now I’ve added “Christmas at Disney World” to my bucket list. I have to make it happen one day!

Of course, holiday treats are a huge part of celebrating at Disney World. We got to take a peek at some of the treats they’ll be offering this year. The homemade gingerbread s’mores were probably my favorite — the fresh marshmallows get this amazing caramelized exterior when toasted, and the soft gingerbread graham crackers were just perfect. The peppermint macarons with chocolate ganache were a close second.

Funny story about macarons — Lucy recently informed me (with an air of depravity) that she’d never tried macarons or a sushi roll. I knew my Disney World trip was coming up, and they have some of my favorite macarons! I picked up a box while I was there and brought them home to her — she was in HEAVEN. She absolutely loved them. You really can’t ever go wrong bringing home sweet treats as a souvenir.

Of course, nights always bring their own brand of Disney magic. We were invited to the Happily Ever After Fireworks dessert party, which features an impressive dessert buffet, followed by VIP seating for the fireworks. The show was absolutely incredible — I’ve seen several different Magic Kingdom fireworks shows, but this was probably my favorite. The projections on the castle were just STUNNING.

The group and I just missed a guy proposing to his girlfriend at the finale of the fireworks. But afterwards, we watched her gazing at her hand in disbelief. She kept crying and hugging him before breaking away to look at her ring in shock. If you know this woman, please tell her I’m sorry for staring at them and crying. I’m totally weird and I really don’t know why.

Of course, we all made time to visit the Epcot Food and Wine Festival! It can get hot during the day, so I definitely recommend a leisurely stroll through the park around late afternoon/early evening. Epcot is so beautiful as the sun goes down!

There was tons of great food to be had and I love that the booths sell small portions, making it easy to try a lot of different things. Visiting Disney World with friends has given me a whole new appreciation for Epcot — I really think it’s my favorite of all four parks.

Thanks so much to Jenny for all the planning that went into the trip. She’s one of my all-time favorite traveling companions, oldest blogging friends, head Disney guru, and just a really great person. Everyone needs a Jenny in their crew! (as an aside, I’m often asked by non-bloggers if Jenny is the same in real life as she is online. The answer is a resounding YES. And I’m so glad)

Thanks to Shelly (my forever bestie), Kristen, Amanda, Deborah, Julie, and Stephanie. I’m pretty sure we almost burn every calorie off with just how much we laugh. I always leave you girls refreshed and ready to tackle the world.

And of course, a huge thank you to Disney for hosting us and giving us a peek behind the scenes of how the holiday magic happens. You will forever represent the fulfillment of dreams and how important it is to never stop wishing.

 

Readers — feel free to comment or email me with any questions you have about food, lodging, or rides at Disney! There’s SO much to cover, it’s hard to put it all in one post. But I’m always here to help if you’re planning a trip!!

 

Have a magical day and thanks so much for reading! xo

My weekly meal plan is full of family friendly dinner ideas that are perfect for busy weeknights!

How is October already halfway over? Like…it’s almost time to start talking THANKSGIVING.

Which means that it’s basically Christmas. Do you start preparing for Christmas in early November or do you insist on waiting until after Thanksgiving? Personally, I like having my tree up while we eat Thanksgiving dinner, but I don’t like to put it up much earlier than the week of. I just really love Christmas trees and want to squeeze all the enjoyment out of them that I can.

YOU’RE WELCOME FOR TALKING ABOUT CHRISTMAS WHEN HALLOWEEN HASN’T EVEN HAPPENED.

Here’s what we are having for dinner this week. As always, be sure to grab a grocery list for super simple shopping. Just print and go!

Monday: One Pot Creamy Pumpkin Pasta

I keep seeing this recipe video on Facebook and it looks SO good! I haven’t tried many savory pumpkin dishes, so I’m excited to try it.

**photo credit

Tuesday: Salsa Verde Porkloin 

We LOVE salsa verde. This is an easy dinner that will make excellent leftovers.

**photo credit

Wednesday: Low Carb Chicken Stir-Fry Sheet Pan Meal

I eat pretty clean during the week for the most part — protein, greens, and fruit with a very limited amount of grains and dairy. It just makes me feel a lot better and have a lot more energy. Meals like this are perfect because I can eat right and the kids enjoy it too!

**photo credit

Thursday: Creamy Chicken Tortellini Soup

We’ve been craving a cozy soup since the cool Fall weather has hit! We all love chicken noodle, but this has some extras that make it stand out.

**photo credit

Friday: Low Carb Pepperoni Pizza Recipe with Fathead Crust

Friday pizza night with a low carb crust. We all win!

**photo credit

And for dessert: Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

These are so creamy and cinnamoney! We love them.

Have a great week! Meal Plan {3/22 – 3/26}

Butterscotch Graham Cookies are like a warm, fuzzy blanket – so comforting. Plus these cookies make your house smell heavenly while they’re baking. The timeless flavor combination of butterscotch, cinnamon, and graham crackers is just right for a brisk autumn afternoon. Dunk them in a glass of milk or a hot cup of tea, either way you can’t go wrong.

Butterscotch Graham Cookies

I’m afraid that my timing may not be quite right on these cookies.

It’s October. OCTOBER! I’m supposed to be snuggling under a cozy blanket while I breathe in the crisp fall air and toast marshmallows over a crackling fire in the outdoor firepit. I’m supposed to be wearing cozy flannels and snuggling up with a book and a cup of hot tea. DO YOU HEAR ME OCTOBER BECAUSE I AM REQUESTING CRISP AIR AND HOT TEA.

Instead, I’m sweating right through my sports bra and the humidity is making my hair frizz out like a crazy person. Here I am trying to act like I have my crap together but I can’t because everywhere I go I have visible boob sweat and my hair is four sizes too large.

Really, Arkansas. It’s like we aren’t even meant to be friends at all.

Butterscotch Graham Cookies Picture On the off-chance that weather is cooperating in your neck of the woods and actually acting like FALL, I’ve got something you might need.

Cookies! But not just any cookies — cookies that feel like a hug under a warm, fuzzy blanket.

I mean, I do not want any hugs right now because I am sweating like a hog. But maybe you do! And if you do, you need these cookies! They are SO perfect — the butterscotch chips give them a rich, buttery flavor and the graham crumbs and cinnamon make them taste warm and cozy. They’re SO Fall, you might even call them Extra.

Ain’t nothing wrong with an Extra Basic Fall Cookie. You need them!

To get the recipe, pop right on over HERE to Imperial Sugar where I’m sharing it.

Enjoy and have a great day!