The Splash Shack | Indoor Summer Fun

Summer is flying by!! I personally can’t believe it’s about to be August which means…my birthday is right around the corner + my youngest birthday right after. Now those are all fun and very exciting but that means we are entering into the dog days of summer.

Which means it’s time to think of places indoor to take your family. I wrote about my top 5 favorite indoor places to take my family last week where I talked about all the ways to beat the heat. After doing so I had to visit my number one on my list because guys, it’s just too hot these days!! The heat index has been at its all time high in Tx, a whopping 13!!! I didn’t even know it could get higher than 10. Obviously this momma is staying in as much as possible so we went back to the Splash Shack for some awesome family fun.

I got so many people asking me questions about this place so I wanted to share with you all the newest additions that the Splash Shack has made that have made this family friendly trip that much more worth it!! Keep in mind though that they are closing soon for one day just to do some more improvements!!! This place is seriously non- stop growing and improving.

First off right off the back I noticed my favorite change was the wrist bands. I have never been anywhere where they use RFID paper bands just to keep track of your family. I’ve seen stamps that rub off, wrist bands that fall off my youngest, and those invisible number stamps that they check on exit that I loved before because I thought that was the best they could have come up with. These however are great because my son hates stamps and they enter your kids names and ages to make sure it’s your Littles you’re leaving with. As a mommy who is seriously worried about someone taking her kids this made my heart so happy. Although, this place is seriously the last place that needs them because it’s so easy to keep track of your kids here. I’ve never lost sight of my kids and that says a lot for a mom keeping track of three kids who sometimes go their own way.

The next thing I noticed is all the added slides for the 42″ and below. They revamped the “lil splashers” area with two new slides and have added 4 new slides for the 42″ below in the main area so the Littles can join in on the main area and enjoy the big bucket water. That’s is if they enjoy that kind of thing. My youngest is still getting used to the water in her face but the way they changed their main area with mini slides to enjoy over and over again without having to go down the big slides has allowed her to overcome her fear. So this was a huge thing for us!!

I loved how they opened up the splashers area to go right into the big play area as well. Before I had to walk all the way around to go from my youngest to my big kids but now I can just walk straight into the area so super convenient.

I’m loving the new updates but guys, they just did another day of additions on Monday so I can’t wait to get back there and see what’s new!!

Address: 1801 Clover Lane Cedar Park Texas.

Thank you Splash Shack for the free collab!!!

Ashly Williams

5 Ways to Beat the Heat this Summer | Austin Tx

It’s that time of the year again, the time when it’s just too hot to be outside for hours and hours. Kids need that active play, and parents need that AC…Can there be a compromise?

Here in the A4F4 home if the LOs aren’t getting a chance to blow off steam, they start getting into what I like to call the crazy zone. Oh parents, you know what crazy zone I’m talking about. The one where you find them playing on the ceiling and you’re thinking What?! How?! Why?! You better…!!!

So to avoid WW3 from happening, go out as a family to some fun indoor places that everyone will enjoy. I put together a list of some of my favorite indoor places to go with small children. These family friendly places to visit will bring you all together and keep you out of the heat. I hope you enjoy my Top 5 Indoor Places to visit with your family for some awesome summer fun.

1. Splash Shack

The Splash Shack is so awesome it had to be my number one!! They just built this place in Cedar Park last year and it’s the first indoor splash pad in our area like this!! They have three levels of play for the smallest of splashers, small slides for the younger kiddos and two big slides for the adventurous and brave kids. Parents don’t have to get wet if they don’t want to. They have awesome lounge chairs to sit and watch your kiddos right in front of the main area. They have drinks + snacks (a little pricey) to eat for a quick grab. If you so happen to get wet, which you will, they have a rinsing off station + dressing rooms to change for each individual family instead of having to share a whole locker room area. I really liked this feature as the kids don’t understand getting undressed in front of other people yet. It’s quite confusing for their minds when we are always telling them to protect their bodies lol.

2.Exotic Zoo Resort

The Exotic Zoo Resort is outdoors, however it is a covered ride and the shade was a significant difference than the uncovered temp so I had to include it. I would sweat walking around but during the tour I never got hot until the last 10 mins or so just because we were hanging off the sides feeding the animals more often to get rid of our food. The pic above is at the end and there are no red faces!! However, there is one sad face bc we had no more food to feed the animals, as it was the last stop. {Cutie Pie}

The tour guide was awesome with interesting facts, they have all kinds of animals that are used to getting fed from Zebras, Giselle’s, Caribou, Camels, and seriously the list can go on! My fav were the tiny baby animals, they are seriously the cutest things I’ve ever seen!!

After the tour there’s tables and a small goat feeding area in the shade where you can eat and feed the animals one last time before you leave. Here they also had porcupines to visit, and I never realized just how big those things can get!! Crazy!!

Tip: Go ahead and splurge and get the big bucket, you have plenty of animals to feed.

3. Library Events

I’ve mentioned before how awesome library events are, but they just keep getting better. It’s a great way to stay inside for 2-3 hours of fun! Round Rock Library has been on a roll all summer and have had some pretty fantastic events. they also just added a splash pad in the downtown center across from the library so it’s a great way to wrap up the library trip. The kiddos and I went to their LEGO event and spent 2.5 hours there!! With all the Lego learning modules they had we stayed pretty busy!!

The only reason we left was because we were hungry. With the square being right there we had fun listening to the live music, and enjoyed all the fun booths they had set up around the square. They had tons of kid activities so if you can plan a trip on a Th -Sat and make another evening out of it.

In hopes you find something fun to do: Here’s the surrounding library links to their schedules:

Cedar Park Library

Pflugerville Library

Round Rock Library

4. LEGOLand

Speaking of Legos, why not go to the best place for them! LEGOLand Discovery Center was well worth the drive, the money, and the experience. There were 3 rides, building stations everywhere, amazing Lego museums, 4D Movies that we’re awesome as well {we had animal slime thrown all over us}, Ninjago training areas {the coolest jungle gym}, scavenger hunts, electronic LEGO cop cars to race and catch the bad guys, and a place to eat inside. Do I need to say more?

Another awesome thing about LEGOland is they share their location with SEALife so you can make a whole day out of it and go to both for a discounted price because of the bundled package but keep in mind you would have to rush through LEGOLand then. Because we signed up for 10 clock entrance time and we stayed there until 5. We were fully invested in enjoying every station and everything they had to offer. After all we drove 3.5 hours to go to the Dallas location, but shortly after we learned they have one in San Antonio so we might have to make that short drive there just to enjoy some river walk action with the kiddies.

Tip: Book online; tickets are cheaper than at the door.

5. Urban Air

We are a sucker for some awesome indoor jungle gyms. They’re are amazing!! Jungle gyms have come such a long ways from when I was a kid so I totally kid out when I take my LOs and we can play for hours. I’m not a mom that can just sit and watch, I gotta swing, slide, and jump. There is something for everyone at Urban Air. Trampolines, rock climbing, zip lines, American gladiator fighting, different levels of jungle gym madness.

I really don’t recommend one over the other because getting your kids active is the most important factor but there are some that run their place better than others. So you’re the judge on which ones you want to go to. Let’s just say though, we don’t go to a few after they’ve been open for two years just because they don’t clean their equipment- that’s one perk of getting all up in the jungle gym with your kiddos, you see how the company treats their foam pits, ball pits, etc. So how do you decide on which one to go to? The ones who have some awesome Summer Specials!!

Urban Air happens to have the best summer specials around. They have the endless play options that make it super affordable to go there more often with your kiddos.

Tip: Do all the Rock Climbing wall stuff as soon as you get there, if you wait there’s a long line.

If you have enjoyed some of these fun family places please comment below something to benefit other families. I hope these indoor family-friendly destinations become favorites of yours. Now go! Try some new things with your Littles that keep you out of the heat. Oh and these 5 family friendly summer trips can be enjoyed year round!! Don’t forget to take your Summer Essentials listed here so you can enjoy your summer activities with your family.

360 Overlook | Austin Tx Travels

The girlies and I had a fun trip exploring all the spots that you can overlook Austin’s skyline. So much fun and quite easy that I wanted to share with you how easy these little trips were with a four yr old and 2 yr old.

I love living in Austin, and if I could I would go exploring all the beautiful attractions and hideaway spots more often than I do now. There’s so many cool lil outdoorsy spots that make our kids feel like they just climbed Mount Everest. These outdoor fun and easy trips give kids confidence and shows them to overcome their own doubts. I love exploring in this way because there are so many benefits for our bodies, mind and soul. There’s nothing like watching your young LOs walk away from a trip yelling, “We are the strongest girls ever!! Nothing can stop us!!!” I’m so happy my girls asked to have a day of outdoor exploring with some rock climbing because now we have a new found confidence in the air.

I know as a mom we try to find active and busy trips that make it worth our time. This trip is fast, free, but depending on where you live it can be a long drive. Let’s not forget the obvious either, traffic is not fun so make sure you’re driving anytime before 4:30 pm. However, this trip was well worth it because not only was it fast and free but it gave us girls quality time. That is what girls crave the most right, is your time and attention? My girls thrive on quality time and closeness. Especially my oldest and if she’s in a good mood then the youngest girlie is following along with the ride.

On the drive there the girls were screaming “Mommy, there’s a rock we can climb!” It was making me die laughing. All the way down 360 it’s the beautiful rocky mountain sides with the occasional open views of Westlake. Now, I know girls are a little more extra than boys so these reactions are only for girls but every time we saw the Austin Skyline my oldest would put her hands over her mouth and scream, “It’s so beautiful!!!”

So I couldn’t wait to see what she did once we got to the top. She had no idea what was in store for her! Below are the directions to 360 Overlook, but once you get there you will see signs that say No parking on Row, just park anyways. My advice though, if you can turn around and park car ready to leave outwards it will benefit you on the exit with all the traffic going by. Find the little path by the No Parking sign and head up. It’s a minute walk up and for adults and teens pretty easy to step up the rock steps and be up in no time. There are two paths, one on the right is a little easy not that much climbing but the rocks are slipperier at times because they’re just flat rocks.

We preferred the rockier side because like I said we were looking for adventure! The girls love rock climbing and to them, big step rocks that they have to work at it to get over, IS rock climbing!! {perspective} I don’t tell them any different either because I watch them have to pick themselves up on the rocks and make it up everyone so in my eyes they are literally climbing rocks over and over again.

Of course it wouldn’t be austin without the fun art and motivational stickers along the way up. Again girls are so different than boys, but there was a cute spot with nothing but hearts that just melted the girls !

Once you get to the top there’s two vantage points to view and a little path on the right that will take you to find more smaller vantage points to view all the beauty. We just stayed on the main part because we had it all to ourselves and we weren’t going to lose that opportunity.

The infamous tree is now painted this fun blue color that I do love but it’s a little crazy now to look back at old pictures around town and see the tree normal now.

Directions: 5100 N Capital of Tx Hwy, Austin Tx.

Check out Austin to the left!!!!

I also stopped along the way at some observation points along the way to get the girls even more excited and to split up the drive a little bit.

Her looking at Austin with awestruck.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you go check out this easy and fun trip to do with your family. I hope it builds all the confidence + bravery + strength in your family like it did for my girls. Get outdoors and get moving!!

Start, Commit, Succeed

Ashly Williams

5 Things Every Mom Needs to Survive Summer

5 Favs to Survive Summer

                           

Spring has come and gone, and summer is flying on by. Here we are in the middle of June. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching everyone’s pictures of what they are doing for their family vacations and how they are enjoying their everyday beat the heat needs. I can’t help but think about all the things that has helped me get through this summer and prior summers before. Especially since it’s been the summer of non- stop off and on rain, making it the summer of huge mosquitoes, and we are entering into the blazing hot days as July approaches.  I wanted to share with you fellow teammates, some easy things that we have utilized no matter what or where we’ve gone to help out with our summer needs.

1. Trackr necklacesIf you plan on going anywhere during the summer this is a dire need!! I”m telling you, if you’re a parent, it’s a lifesaver, literally!!! I’m a mom who is constantly worrying about someone stealing my children when we are out in big crowds. I’ve watched all the shows on TV about what happened to …. little kids who have been abducted from their homes at night so I have that detective mode, mommy beat instincts engrained in me and they are very strong. It’s sad to say, but so many kids are missing, it’s usually from them being picked up on their way home from school as they are walking or riding their bikes but yes, there is still a percentage of kids that get taken from their parents at the park, from their own backyard while they were playing outside, and or from huge events, or amusement areas. As parents we have to stay on guard, no matter how much we trust our children, we have to remember it’s other people we don’t. We can’t assume people’s intentions, but we must most definitely always be on edge, and ready for anything. For me, I’m constantly worried because our kids are always so friendly. We teach them to be kind + all our kids are so freaking cute and catch attention from strangers no matter what. Even when they aren’t even trying to talk to other people. Everywhere we go people come up to the kids and some even touch the girls faces because they are so stinking cute. As moms, well I can’t say just moms because my husband freaks out way more than I do, so I’ll stick to as parents, we always are standing on the line of friendliness, and outright crazy. Like Okay, awe they are being sweet to the kids, then it quickly goes to OH HELL NO…. DID THEY JUST!!!! People are crazy how comfortable they are with touching on other people’s kids. Momma bear instincts are crazy, and in moments like this it make it hard to just be kind and not worry. That’s why, we bought Trackr Necklaces for the kids. We have used them when we go flying, when we play at the park, when we go to events, and especially when we have gone to places with inflatables and they all are playing on different parts, making it a challenge to see them all.

They have so many cool features that resemble the same features as the Tile, an apple product that allows you to track your keys, kids teddies, etc. The only thing that is different is the Device Separation Alerts. Unlike tile, you don’t have to go to the app to ring the tile, with these, you set the distance range and anytime the device gets further than that, it automatically rings. So when our children are wearing them and get past that distance it makes the alert noise alerting us, as well as them that they need to get closer. At the same time, it sends us an instant notification on our phones which child has ventured out past the intended zone. We were so happy in the airport because we set it to like 5 feet, as you can imagine with three kids, three suitcases, and three kids backpacks, it’s a little chaotic. While we were in the boarding line, and at one point Our youngest, at the time was 2, and wanted to keep running around like we were doing before we had to board. As soon as she tried to walk away from us, it rang, she instantly came back because she knew what that meant. Not only does it save us in the worst and scariest moments, but it helps us keep our kids all rangled up. With the Phone Separation Alerts-you can also use it to ring your phone from the necklace, just like Tile, which is cool incase you leave your phone somewhere or worst case scenario someone takes it. Unlike Tile though, it gives clear directions where it is. It also has the crowd locate user that’s similar to the Tile Community,  it makes it very easy to piggyback and find your Trackr from other people who are in range.

2. BUG Bands. 

These are a dire need in Texas. We have faced monster mosquitoes this summer, I mean no joke some of the mosquitos we have seen could have picked up my youngest and carried her away. I have used so many sprays, which always leave a nasty taste in your mouth because no matter what, I touch something or go to eat, and it’s left on my hands. My kids are standing there in the residual spray breathing it in, closing their eyes and yelling hurry mom. We did find one this year that we liked and has helped way more than any I’ve tried, it’s called Natural Repel but I have to admit once I’ve used it, I feel like I smell the scent in so many things I use. It’s so weird lol. I only spray it outside wherever we are. Anyhow, when we go shooting out at our friends prop which is right by a mini lake, its a haven for mosquitos. My oldest and youngest suffer from being overly active to their stings, they get the big red swollen whelps that just break your heart when you see them. Lets not forget that these little nuances are the most deadliest animal in the world!!!!!. They Kill over 1 M I L L I O N people a year!!!! THESE ARE ALL TRUE FACTS!!! With children and pregnant woman being prime targets. So keep your babies safe with these easy to use bracelets that are deet free! We put them on the kids ankles though just to make sure that they stayed on them, and that they didn’t touch them and mess with them.

3. MistyMateWe’ve used so many different sprayers. During soccer season we grabbed the water drinks from Walgreens that had the sprayer on top. I was so excited to have them, but there’s literally no way to clean the lids. It was so nasty after two practices. I’ve tried the stroller fans, and misters and even got the bigger battery operated sprayer from Target. it was great for awhile. I use to put ice in it so we always stayed cool but it goes way faster than you can imagine. With the MistyMate, you  hand pump to create the pressure that makes the water spray continuously. I never had to put ice in it, and the water always cooled us down. I’ve never ran out of water, and it the overspray has a width span that covers all of us, and doesn’t bring tears. Addie, our youngest, doesn’t like her face sprayed with any water, but this soft mist spray she enjoys and even laughs.

4. A Good Water Jug.  Double Walled Insulated Stainless Jug will be great to get you through the days. We all know how great yetis are so any jugs that do the same will suffice. I have a 40 OZ and I can take it on any of my 5 free summer adventures and in the blazing heat and my ice never melts. If I know I’m going to be somewhere long, so anything longer than an hour and a half I also take my mini water jug and feel that up with ice water, and transfer it from there to either my glassed Sand Cloud Water Bottle  or to a DWISJ and seriously it’s the best way to do it, because my water stays nice and chilly. Our hands are always cold after we drink from the glass bottle, it’s great on our lake days. The jug has worked when we are out at our friends property spending all day there doing one or all of the following: shooting, picking fruit, petting donkeys, fishing, or even climbing sand mountains.

5. Educational Events/ Trips. I know most of the time people plan one awesome trip for the whole family, and try and take mini trips during the weekends or go on little adventures during the weekend after everyone gets off. The last thing that most parent’s want to deal with during the summer is added work, but we are our children’s providers so lets keep their little minds stay active with great curriculum and activities that always keep them learning and growing.

If you’re trying to beat the heat Austin Aquarium was a fun trip for our kids. It worked out great because I coordinated the trip  during our two weeks of ocean curriculum so it added hands on learning experience. Even if you’re not using the trip as an addition to curriculum going to the aquarium is fun no matter what. We went with my Dad and Sister who is twelve and we all enjoyed it with many laughs and big smiles. We had to do everything, feed the birds, feed the fish, feed the octopus, touch the iguanas, the stingrays, and even fed some baby sharks. Check out the site, for more info and look into how they host awesome events for homeschooled children, and offer summer camps as well.

Kiwi Co is another great way to stay indoors but keep their brains stimulated. We recently joined with them and have enjoyed every project and activity that we complete. its conveniently mailed to you, ready with all the supplies needed, for 3+ activities (depending on which crate you order). Read my blog about Kiwi Co to learn more if you’re interested but let me tell you, I have not been upset with anything I’ve gotten, the activities have all been age appropriate, fun, and have made the kids so excited, proud, and engaged.

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Trust and Will

Cheers to #adulting hard today!! Guys…I finally took the time to make my will and although I have all kinds of overwhelming thoughts about it bc I hate to think about something happening to me, or to us, and leaving these kiddos behind but making a Will is something that has to be done as a parent. After my husband lost his wife in a car accident + having my son pass away we know all too well how fast anything can happen. So unfortunately as a parent we have to put our big panties on and think of the worst outcome possible and be prepared for it!

Good thing with Trust and Will They made it:

– Simple and fast. — The simplest way to set up a Will.

– Way easier than I thought it would be.

– The customer support was amazing and were super helpful. – It only took 10 min and I finally have a Will!

– My kids finally have guardians set up!

– I’ve been putting it off for a while and Trust & Will made this so easy for us! It is amazing and has straight forward questions that make u go through them all super fast.

If you’re a parent please go make your will now and set up something for those sweet babies, just in case!

Did I mention that as my followers you will receive $10 off your will with the code: ADULTING!! It starts at $69 and for a couple will it’s $129. Which is not bad at all to have a signed + notarized official will that you can download and print from home. Click on link to go start yours now!!!

#trustandwill #leaveyourlegacy #ambcollab #ambtaw #HERtrustandwill2 #familyfirst #family #dadlife #momlife #estateplanning #newhome #newmom #firsttimemom #newparents #newborn #adulting #familyplanning #thinkingahead #beingsmart #knowledgeispower

Crosssing Bridges

We have all heard the saying, “Becareful for the bridges you burn.” or like repeated in the song, Then What,  “Whatcha gonna do when you can’t turn back to the bridges you burn, then what, oooooo, then what!?” It really is a good saying, to teach people to be careful for what they say and do to people and the way we leave jobs etc. We always want to keep as many doors and friendships open as we can. But I think this has a way of limiting as well.

Isn’t it funny though, how often we use them as a metaphor? I think a bridge is a great one to use for the beginning of the year, for aren’t we all starting a new journey to get to the other side of who we aspire to be. My favorite metaphor is the bridge illustration they use to explain how Jesus is our way to have everlasting life with God.

I love the latter of course as my oldest has recently accepted Jesus Christ into his heart and is going to make an outward profession of his faith through baptism this month!!! Guys I have been waiting for this moment for so long for the little dude. Im excited to be able to be a part of his spiritual walk. To help them all kind of understand the meaning of the bridge illustration the children and I act out a skit of our lives as we are walking through cross walks and discuss the dangers (the cars) of not accepting Jesus, and then we finally accept Jesus and make it across to the other side safely, to live an everlasting life with God.

We love to look at pictures of bridges and think about what the other side looks like, what the end destination will be. I think that we don’t always have to look to the other side of the bridge as the destination we need to be at. Instead we need to look at the bridge itself and all the parts to truly understand how to make a strong and steady bridge. A bridge that is functional and can serve it’s purpose; one that we can actually cross. So what’s the metaphor? We are the bridge, with all it’s different parts that we need to correctly build so we can live that overall well balanced life.

The bridge has the support, the span, and the foundation. It takes all three in order to build a bridge, and they must be properly built to have a strong one. We obv need strong support, this is the part that props up the bridge, these are our friends, our family, our community. These are the people we run to when we need help, and people you al know we can’t go very far when we try to do things alone. We enlisted a group of people to be our friends for a reason, so utilize them, they are our support. The foundation as discussed before is Jesus our Lord. He’s our structure that transfers the weight of the structure (bridge) into the ground.

Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, no one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

The foundation plays a crucial part as well. What about that span? Do you think it is important? You have your support and foundation the span is just the walk across it’s the easy part. Right? I feel like this tends to get overlooked. The span is indeed the distance between the two structures, however the span is a significant factor in finding out the strength and size needed of the appropriate beam as it determines the maximum bending moment and deflection. Do you see what I’m getting at? We have to know who we are and who we want to be but while we are “walking the span” in our journey we need to evaluate ourselves; do we have the support we need when times are hard, do we have the mental capacity and emotional wellness to overcome heavy ‘loads’ in our life? Do we know what our breaking point is? How much of something can you handle and not handle in order to keep you in your zone or happy state? Is your body, a machine, getting all the nutrition it needs to be able to function properly and do its job? Let’s take it back a little bit, the it’s a significant factor in finding out the strength needed….isn’t it funny how they say “It is within yourself that you will find the strength you need.”

People, I want you to search within each of your very own spans, test your foundation, try, fail, put on a whole bunch of weight, and see what your true strength is. I hope that you push yourself in a way that you can’t help but run into your inner strength. See your true potential and believe in yourself. for those who have experienced the hardships and walk around carrying your heavy loads, look at how strong your bridge is! Look at how strong you are!!!

God is faithful and will not let you be tested beyond your strength – 1 Corinthians 10:13

God knew you can carry it bc he believes in you, so believe in yourself too! Now let’s go and build bridges with purpose for our lives, and where it’s possible, direct your efforts into strengthening all ‘parts’ of your bridge and most importantly-> crossing the bridges in our life that we fear the most. I hope to see you on the other side✌🏻 if you’re brave, comment below what may be a bridge in your life, are you at the beginning, are you focusing on the structure right now, or the foundation? Or are you rocking out already enjoying the walk across? 👍🏻

Happy New Year

Can you believe it’s a new year?! It’s so crazy!! I’m so lucky to have been able to end my year with my family I love so, with awesome friends, and to surrounded by nothing but happiness.

Saying Goodbye to my 20s

I know it’s a new year and most people will be talking of all the things they hope for in the new year. Believe me I have plenty hopes and goals for the year, but for me I feel like I’m saying goodbye to my 20s for the first time. Finally… I have been 30 for 4 mo now!! To me that’s just crazy!!! Lol time flies by sooooo fast!!! Speaking of time it means we have a whole new year, with endless possibilities, new goals, powerful mindsets and plans of actions are being set in motion.

With all these awesome things happening I decided to take a look back first. Upon doing so I realized once the new year starts I will permanently be stepping out of my 20s. Although I’ve been 30 for 4 mo I’ve spent most of my year in my 29s. This makes me a little sad, I guess the reality of the situation has finally set in. Womp womp womp. Lol

If you know me I don’t like to look at things negatively so, I’m going to say goodbye to my 20s the best way I can, and that’s leaving the negative and bringing all the awesomeness to the new year with me. So that means some goodbyes have to be made.

My final Goodbyes:

I’m saying goodbye to the girl who knew it all.

* I’m taking the dreamer

Saying goodbye to the girl who tried too hard to impress

* Keeping the girl who believes in who she is.

Saying goodbye to the girl who was ready to leave her home, find her place by forcing herself to stay away.

* Taking the girl who loves making a home.

Saying goodbye to the girl who said my ways are the right ways. No one will tell me anything diff {oh how fun 20 was}

* Keeping the girl who sincerely cares, listens and understands

Saying goodbye to the girl who ran from her problems

* Keeping the girl who knows how to fight and overcome

Lessons learned

Oh 20s you have been fun!! You have treated me beyond well and have taken me through some hardships, roller coasters, and whirlwinds. Many of lessons were learned from you. Boy did we go through a lot; 5 preganancies 4 kids, buried two babies, went through 3 different career paths, changed school twice, and finally graduated with 1 degree and 1 cert. Whoosh baby go Nados!!! all that schooling taught me knowledge is very important, growth, and dedication is crucial to have any success. I see so many people winging it bc they landed something good out of high school, but degrees seriously are the bees nees if you want to elevate yourself.

Tried to force love just to be cheated on, thought I found love just to be left, and gave up on life just to find out that real genuine love was and will always be the answer.

All of this in one decade just seems hard to believe.

I’ve learned so much in the past ten years alone I can’t be anything but grateful. I wouldn’t change a thing bc it has made me who I am today. I would like to say I would change wasted tears and carrying around other people’s guilt, concerns, and labels on my shoulders but then I wouldnt be who I am today. I’m left then with appreciation, For all the people who helped me be where I am. To the people who poured time and energy into me to help me be successful all because you believed in me even when I didn’t.To all the people who saw something in me and gave me a glimpse of hope, who gave me a soft push,

I even say, ‘Hats off’ to the people who discouraged me, turned their backs on me, judged me, and told me I was handling situations wrong. and even ones who pulled and dragged me down. I have learned all so much from u.

This is how I feel about all u..🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️ I’ll just keep smiling, brushing off those small words, I’m making 2019 my B!

Boy do I owe a lot to the people who listened to me dream. To the people who told me I could do anything I set my mind to! To the people who taught me the power of pen, putting things down, writing my goals and to see myself grabbing them.

20s you’ve taught me a lot, farewell and hello to being 30 in a whole new year 🥂 to new beginnings! Happy new year everyone- oh heck why not- Say goodbye to all the negative and may all you have the most beautiful blessings come your way this year!!!! Most importantly grow peeps, learn more, strive for greatness and know anything is yours if you will it!!!

-Ashly Williams, walking into 2019 like a queen!!! 👸👸

How to Plan a Disney Vacation

Booking a Disney trip was so exciting for our family!! With every move I made I got that much more excited about going. Before I planned the Disney trip I read so much info. Anything and everything on the Disney tips + FAQs + Everything you need to know on Disney.com. I read several Disney blogs and mom blogs on what worked best for them. I was ready!! I complied my list of things I needed and was ready to start planning. I got everything I needed that would make my trip easier like the apps and notifications from Disney said to do and for more what you need to have for Disney read about it here.

I wanted to be well prepared and make sure I didn’t forget anything. But once I started scheduling and planning there wasn’t much out there to help with that. There wasn’t best rides for AM, or things to do before noon. Of course it’s not that easy bc there’s so much to do to keep you busy throughout the day. So ultimately it’s your choice.

However there were things that helped make our trip a breeze and quite simple. So I wanted to share them with you all to help when you plan a Disney trip. Hopefully it can make your scheduling hurdles a little easier. The five things below will help you when you book your trip, schedule your fast passes and help create you’re plan of action, and make your flying travels a little easier.

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1. Do everything through the app.My Disney Experience has everything you need + more. Yes you can go to Disneyworld.disney.go.com and make an account, register, and buy tickets there. Be set to go. But with the app you can do everything!! Book hotel, book reservations, link your hotel so you can see bus schedules, food menus, and even unlock and lock your hotel door. You know for those times you head out for ice and you forget to wear your magic band. All the parks schedules, character showings, times for shows, and maps are available through app. It even has map access to follow step by step to get you to attractions or restaurants you want to find. My favorite is it stores all your photos you take during your trip as well!! Plus you can link your flight times on there so you can get picked up with the Disney Magic Express! {Which I discuss later}

Hear it from me, it’s kind of a pain to do everything on Disneyworld.Disney.go and then have to link everything afterwards on the app. So just do it all there and make it easy for yourself so you don’t have to try and keep up with all the confirmation codes. {Trust me.}These are the times when you need to take advantage of technology. I promise the app came in handy sooo much for us. Plus once you get to the hotel they ask you to book a few reservations for food and spa times through the app anyways so you have to have it.

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2. Book your hotel early and it should be the first thing you book before everything else!!! I booked our Disney tickets first because i wanted to make sure I got those out of the way, then signed up on the app, and then was ready to make reservations and realized I couldnt. I made the mistake of doing it out of order. You may be asking does it matter and yes it does!!!! When you book your hotel first it allows you to make reservations and access to schedule fast passes and food reservations as early as 60 days before your trip! Which I promise you, is very important, taking us to the next point.

3. Get fast passes— these are crucial for maintaining sanity throughout Disney. I seriously cant stress this enough. They make it seem like it’s no big deal everywhere when you read about them, but guys, it’s a fast pass to the rides!! Let me say it again, it’s a fast pass. Meaning you quickly pass all the other people and the line to go ahead and get on the ride of your choice without a wait! You can schedule up to three a day but once you use the three you can schedule two more to use during that day. These made our Disney day a breeze. I can’t imagine waiting in the lines for over an hour for a 2-5 minute ride. The longest time we had to wait for a ride was 12 minutes. That was because there was a hiccup in the ride and they had to fix it putting wait times on both lines.below I discuss two reasons why fast passes are awesome and how to best utilize them:

-Spread out your fast passes – I mean this point in two different ways. Let’s dig in. When using your fast passes to select your adventures don’t cram them back to back. I did at first thinking; well we will use these up and then have access to book more and we can keep having a magical day. On Disney it says after you use the three you can keep booking for more. It sounds great! We were hooked. Then I started looking the following week after I scheduled ours and so many of the fast pass options were gone for several rides, character meetings, and light shows. I was bummed because I thought well we are going to miss out on so many adventures. Especially like the ones on Pandora and animal kingdom. Then something magical happened the next day. There was availability on two of the rides I wanted so I went ahead and canceled previous reservations and made those and decided well everyday I want to use a fast pass in am, then afternoon, and one at night. So I rescheduled everything. I wanted to make sure I utilized the fast pass access throughout the day since the access to reserve was dwindling away. Like I said I didnt book my hotel first so I had to wait until the 30 days before to start reserving with fast pass and a lot was not available. Food reservations had tight windows left, and on the busier parks like Magical Kingsom there was no ability to book fast pass for anything after the 25 day mark. Not to forget to mention we booked our trip during the busiest week at Disney out of the whole year. So we were fighting for access with a lot of people.

-Now my second grand idea that worked out beyond great!! If you have multiple members of your family like we do. Then use it to your advantage. Schedule a ride with the whole family in am. Because you do want to use up your three to get the access to book more. Keep in mind though every other fast pass holder is trying to do the same and a lot of things won’t be available past 12 but most of magical kingdom didn’t have anything available two weeks out so this is why I’m saying do it this way. After you scheduled a ride that is suitable for everyone then use momma and son for one fast pass access and if the ride allows other kids to ride then say “we will swap” or if y’all all can go then say “we are trying to add the other family members on all but it’s not letting us.” If your bands aren’t working but two family members are, they always let you in!!! Everytime! It was awesome!! So I was so happy that I took a chance and scheduled it that way because I was able to reserve up to 6 things prior that way. I booked greetings without waiting, rides for all of us, and while the girls went and napped I had rides reserved just for our big guy. Then when we all gathered back, he shows for us all to enjoy together without any waits. Guys I’m telling you it worked! Then, come to find out, you only get the chance to use fast passes two more times after you use your three so it’s not unlimited like I thought. So I was so glad I did it this way vs the original plan bc we would have had some uncomfortable wait times that no one was ready to have.

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4. Buy the early bird tickets to Toy Story Land. Just do it. We had access to the Hollywood Studios an hour and half early!!!! We got there with an hour to spend but it was still worth it. When you buy the early bird tickets it comes with a complimentary breakfast that is only given to the early birders and it was probably one of the best breakfasts that we had the entire time. You have a choice between several hot meals choices and there is a smorgish board of fruits, pastries, and cereal options. They allow you to eat there all the way until 10 AM. If you really want to you can get there right at 7:30, eat, ride, then eat again. That was our original plan but like I said we didn’t get there until 8. After we ate, we had 30 mins to enjoy Toy Story Land, and it was worth every penny. Not only was it the park we all were really looking forward to because we have watched it on TV every commercial break, but it is an oversized Toy Story Land! Are you kidding me who wouldn’t love it! In all seriousness it was the only park we saw that had workers waiting with a 65 minute wait sign before the park even opened up. They knew that park would have the most visitors, and they were right, within 10 mins of opening the park the Slinky Dog Ride had a 75 minute wait. After we utilized the 30 mins of no waits, we were able to wait a short 10 mins for character experiences and boom we were done with that park just as soon as they opened. It still is one of our favorite experiences because while the bigs rode the Slinky Dog, we rode the Alien Ride. My youngest was able to ride it twice without waits and she had a blast on it. We rode all these and still had our reserved fast passes to use. It was an amazing day!

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5. Take advantage of the Disney Magic Express + all its perks. The express not only takes you to and from the airport which makes everything so much easier, but it also will take your checked luggage for you! I saw so many people trying to haul their kids, plus their suitcases through the airport, through the express line, and through the hotel and check in. Now if you want to be champs and keep it all with you go right ahead. But our children wonder around and want to see all the cool and magical things before their eyes if they aren’t in the stroller. With three kids theee suitcases, stroller, like 5 carry on bags it just wouldn’t have been easy for us. Plus all that in one small line, no thanks. It was such a breeze going through the line without all the luggage and check in was ice bc we didn’t have to manage all the extra items. Once we got to our hotel we went to eat, look at all the animals and when we got back tinkerbell made the delivery. It was only a 1.5 wait to get out things once we got there so it wasn’t that bad.

I hope these five tips help you in planning your magical trip. There is so much to think about, and things that no one tells you about, so I do hope these help a little. and know the hassle of traveling takes a toll on anyone especially a family with littles. So anything that makes your trip easier and more efficient I want to try and help. That way all you have to worry about, is the magic that awaits for you. If this helped you in your magical adventures then please comment below, thanks for your stopping by and have a magical day.

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Parenting Styles | Raising Healthy Kids

I read this article off of the bulletin at my church and I just thought it was such a good read I wanted to share. It discusses parenting techniques and brings up the question of what kind of parent you are. It seems straight to the point, but sometimes things just need to be so clear and straightforward for us to fully understand and just take it in. When I read this, it reminded me of some of the information we got when we went through our Parent/Child Dedication in May. It is great to keep feeding our minds and souls with knowledge that helps push us to be the parents we desire.

The following was written by Walt Mueller in an article called Prioritizing Faith:

Research identified three approaches to parenting.

Parenting by Default

This is the path of least resistance. In this approach, parents do whatever comes naturally as influenced by cultural norms and traditions. The objective is to keep everyone happy without allowing parenting to dominate other aspects of their parents life.

Trial and Error Parenting

Parents see themselves as amateurs, believe that there are no guidelines to follow, and you just set out to do your best. Atleast you gave it your best right? 😏

Revolutionary Parenting

This is the least common approach, and these parents take God’s word on life and family at face value, and apply those words faithfully and consistently. This results in deep and real faith-based transformation in the lives of children.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” Matthew 7:24

Parents how are you parenting?

Did that make you think of your parenting style? I have to admit I have caught myself living in trial and error parenting throughout my journey. Especially the first 4 months with every child I feel like it’s completely trial and error. With learning the babies schedule, moods, sleep patterns all for it to change every 3 months the first year.

My first year of parenting was with a special needs child with everything being strategically done. Heavily scheduled and hard core to do list. The list of medications and alarms for “services” to be done went on and on. So, with me each child that I’ve had I’ve had to tone it down a bit. Each child has taught me to be relaxed, take it easy, get loose with parenting. It took me three years to let go of the “schedule” concept. I lived strictly off of schedules then literally one day I woke up and realized who cares if they are late for their naps by 10 minutes. My husband and I got in so many little tidbits because the first two years I fought over following the schedule to a T, then I switched on him out of no where and he was like ughhhhh arent we supposed to be doing this, or this. Then he was like all these years I’ve been attacked almost instantly for this and now you’re completely flipping the script on me. Quite confusing right? {

I just realized though that I put my focus on all the wrong things. Yes I want structure, I want my kid to feel secured based off of routine, love, trust, stability, etc. but most importantly I do want my children to know and love God.

In a book I read over the summer, “A Mom after a God’s Own Heart: 10 ways to love your child by Elizabeth George, she speaks on this topic with such devotion and motovation that it inspires you to want to be better. To set up to be a parent that leads your child towards a life filled with love and devotion to God. If. you want to read further on ways I have been moved to motivate mothers to raise up her parenting skills. 

She asks almost the same thought provoking question:

What do you consider to be the target of all that you do for your kids? What is the purpose and aim of your parenting? Take a look at your life and your priorities. What are you intent on teaching your children? How to tie their shoelaces? Tehchniques in brishing and flossing? Good manners? How to catch, kick, or hit a ball? How to make an A? How to play an instrument? Respect for others and for property? The most could go on and on. But as good and as necessary as these issues and activities are in your kids’ lives, what you must be asking your heart is, Am I making sure I tell them about Jesus?

The good news is, if this isn’t our thinking, we can change it!!! We always have time to influence our child, the sooner the better. More good news—> it’s never too late!! Start now, commit and succeed at it!! That’s what I’m always saying. I loved reading this book over the summer because Elizabeth explains it in a way that even if you haven’t done this and your kids are grown, we always have time and a chance to start. There’s always time to find ways to lead your children.

I have begun to be that mom that doesn’t take success in all the things I’ve checked off of my list. Okay wait I said that wrong, of course I do!! I wrote achieved by the things I do, what I’m trying to say is that I don’t get bummed out and beat myself up anymore over the things that I didn’t get done that day. If my house is dirty, I’m not losing sleep over it anymore. If the dishes didn’t get done and I fell asleep upstairs with the kids when I was putting them to bed, I’m not jumping out of bed anymore to rush and get them done. I’m starting to beat my anxieties of mommy guilt and I know you can too!! With one simple thought concept that just brings everything into perspective:

“Today, if I don’t get anything else done, I must teach my children about my Lord Jesus.” – Elizabeth George.

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I wrote this down to remind me of it every day. So I don’t fret over all those other parent worries and concerns. Don’t get me wrong I’ll alway worrry about my kids; Are they handling situations correctly, being kind, putting others above themselves, making good choices, thinking first, do they feel loved enough, am I setting them up for success etc etc etc etc. You know that list that tends to go on and on.

Lately, I have been reading statements from moms who recently had a child pass due to the teen suicide epidemic. Moms that believed they were doing everything right. They are 100% relatable woman, with every word being something I understand and completely agree with. It sends me into the “over-thinker Mommy abyss”. Thinking of ways to teach them coping strategies, working through obstacles, and raising resilient kids.

Truth is, it doesn’t matter how much I pour into them if they don’t know God, they are going to have all kinds of vices, people and other places to try and find their acceptance, and love from. I can’t control their choices they want to make, but I can pray that God stays present and help them learn how to listen for His voice, and to trust the Holy Spirits guidance.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

I hope this brings motivation and some peace in knowing that it’s okay if you have a long list of to dos. If you have said one thing today about God/ Jesus to your child today that helps them grow in their relationship, well done good and faithful servant! WELL DONE!

Now, let’s ignore all those negative voices, distractions, and unimportant objectives. Take a new AIM that points your children towards God and give yourself a pat on the back. Everything else will fall in place at the right time.

Faithful parenting is challenging work, but it is truly a “labor of love” and certainly a choice that reaps the greatest blessings of all to a parents heart.

How to Make Fig Preserve | Organic Eats

Being from the south I can’t believe this is the first time I have ever made my own preserves, but I have to admit I feel so clean, healthy, amazing, and excited for making this I just had to share with y’all. It’s so easy and takes about five minutes of work from you.

Before I go into details of how to make some awesome Fig Jam, I wanted to share the fun we all had!!!

The kids enjoyed being with their new friend and riding around on the gator! Farm life is the life!! I can’t wait until we get our own land! This is such an amazing experience, I never had this opportunity as a kid so I just feel beyond blessed to experience this with my children. It was the first time as a family we were able use our pickings that we got off the “farm” into something else to eat. We have picked peaches off our neighbors tree before and have ate them but never created something out of our pickings. Well we picked pomegranates and figs at our friends family “vineyard” and learned all about how to pull figs and pomegranates off the vines.

The girls were running back and forth looking through the fig trees to find the best ones to eat! The taste of the fig when they come off are seriously the sweetest!! Soooooo sweet!! Honestly everything straight off the tree taste amazing but I have never even seen a fig straight off the tree before so I felt like a kid trick or treating putting my treats in my basket. Do you know what a fig looks like? Because I didn’t until this week!

Enjoying the organic breakfast has been the most amazing experience of it all because we can’t wait to eat what we worked so hard gathering and creating. This experience just tugged at my heart because I hope my littles remember this experience with us. The picking, the outdoor adventure side of it. Then the coming home and cleaning of the fruit, and pulling the seeds out of the pomegranates was so fun!! The texture of the seeds not only gives he kiddos a great tactile experience but the joys of sneaking a few seeds feels like you’re licking a spoon clean after making the cake mixing. The smiles, laughter, and happiness I will remember forever.

Health Benefits of Figs

Sugar, fiber, and rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. On top of all those minerals they have antioxidants Vitamin A, E, and K. All of these contribute to overall health and wellness and is a great substitute if your children are missing out on these vitamins and minerals from not eating certain foods.

Figs also have prebiotics which nourish and tone the intestines by supporting the good bacteria in your gut which improves digestion. Again they are high in fiber so they are a great snack that gives you that fullness feeling and reduces hunger and cravings.

Ingredients:

1lb of figs

1.5 cups granulated sugar

1.5 water

5 thinly sliced lemons

How to make it:

1. Rinse figs, pull stems off and then put figs in a bowl of cool water.

2. Put water and sugar in a pot and boil. Wait ten minutes.

3. Cut figs in half while waiting.

3.At about the ten minute mark the water becomes clear and thicker. This is when you add the rinsed off and cut up figs + lemon slices.

4. Bring to a high boil.

5. Hard boil for one minute

6. Simmer for 30 minutes.

7. Remove from heat

8. Blend and put in mason jars.

These ingredients created two small jars so we didn’t have to hard boil the jars and lids because we weren’t preserving them for an extended period of time. However if you’re tripling the amount due to the amount of figs you have then after you put them in jar make sure you boil jars and hope you enjoy it later!!! 🍁🍐🍁