Disneyland – The Happiest Place on Earth

Last year’s Spring Break involved an epic road trip across the southwest with stops in Albuquerque, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Disneyland, Tombstone, and more. That previous fall, when brainstorming ideas for our spring adventure, we realized that we had reached the point in our parenting journey when taking the obligatory family Disney vacation no longer seemed like an overwhelming feat of strength. While my childhood was peppered with the occasional visit to Disneyland and Disney World, Clay had never been to a Disney park prior to this trip and we had never been together, so the only experience we had to pull from was almost 20-years old! Because we’re suckers for California and appreciate the idea of working our way up the Mickey-scale, we decided to make our first family Disney experience at Disneyland – the happiest place on earth.


What I knew as Disneyland as a child has actually morphed into Disneyland Resort, which consists of Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, and the Downtown Disney District. There are three hotels that are considered part of the resort (complete with the $$$ mark-up!). And honestly, the only perk of staying at one of these hotels (that we could gather), is that registered hotel guests are given an Extra Magic Hour at one park on select days (see Extra Magic Hour), which wasn’t worth the extra $$$ to us. There are a lot of hotels within walking distance of Disneyland Resort, so while staying on property is super convenient at Disney World, it’s not really necessary at happiest place on earth. We’re Marriott junkies so we stayed three nights at the SpringHill Suites, which was only a short 10 minute walk to the park. And it had a CVS on the first level – doesn’t get much more convenient than that, folks.

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Five Freitag Favorites

Thank you for the thoughtful words in response to my stream of consciousness post yesterday. Like I said over on my Facebook page – perhaps I am glossing over the not-so-fun aspects of PCSing so much and as a result, I’m leaving pieces of confidence behind with each move. But it’s Friday and I’m at the beach so I can’t really complain. This post has actually been sitting in my draft folder for a few weeks because I’ve been going back and forth on whether to post it. But in the spirit of releasing my self-doubt into the wild, I’m hitting the publish button on this post about products I’m currently digging.

Disclosure – this post does contain affiliate links via Amazon but I’m not sure if I’ll keep them that way because I have a weird pit in my stomach about it. Also in full disclosure – I’m not really sure why. Probably because while there are a handful of bloggers out there whose opinions I trust when it comes to recommending products, there are a lot more whose recommendations I side-eye. I’m interested to discover what camp you guys place me. So without further ado – I’m currently digging the following five items…


C9 Champion Women’s Freedom High Waisted Leggings

There is an old saying that drunk people, children, and leggings always tell the truth. Well these leggings sing Little Lies by Fleetwood Mac and I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth) by Meat Loaf on karaoke night because they lift and tighten all while being extremely comfortable. And best of all? They’re less than $30 at Target. Take that Lululemon!

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Floral Sweatshirt

When I visited my sister up in Philadelphia last month, I swooned over a sweatshirt she was wearing when she returned from an Orange Theory workout. So she got it for me for my birthday. And I’ve been pretty much living in it ever since. It’s super soft, lightweight, and can roll up small enough to be thrown into my everyday bag (see below).


Fjallraven Totepack No. 1

I love this bag. It had been sitting in my Amazon wishlist for quite some time and Clay ended up surprising me with it for my birthday. I’m a sucker for multipurpose bags and the older I get, the more I really dislike traditional handbags. This bag is perfect for travel due to it’s durability, multiple pockets, and versatility. You can carry it by the handles, by the straps, or wear as a backpack. It can fit my 13-inch MacBook, a notebook, water bottle, and all of the traditional purse accoutrements. It is available in a variety of colors but I am partial to the red. I can’t wait to see where I take this bag!


The sweatshirt and convertible tote in the wild here in Florida.

This picture is also proof that I actually use and love these products.


xtava Twist Hair Curling Wand 1 -1.5 Inch


I’m sure there are better (and more expensive) hair curling wands out there but I’ve been tickled pink by this one. It gives me the beach waves my hair craves and is pretty easy to use. There was a bit of a learning curve when I transitioned from a traditional curling iron to a curling wand but it was nothing that a few YouTube video tutorials couldn’t resolve.


Spigen Tough Armor iPhone 7 Plus Case

I am tough on my phones and I’ve had a bunch of phone cases over the years. The Spigen Tough Armor case has been my favorite. I’ve dropped my phone on a variety of surfaces and this case has provided me with some of the biggest waves of relief I’ve ever experienced. I’ve never done drugs but I imagine doing feels similar to the high experienced when you realize that your phone screen isn’t cracked. Also the kickstand is perfect for when I watch Unsolved Mysteries on Amazon Prime while preparing dinner.


Someday I will fulfill my destiny of being able to help solve a mystery. Okay – so there you have it – my inaugural post about some some things I’m currently loving on this particularly breezy Friday. I’m picking up Clay at the airport tomorrow morning (hip hip hooray) so he’ll be able to spend Easter weekend with us before we head back home to northern Virginia and back to the real world. Hopefully a little bit more tan.

What is Going On Inside My Head?

The past couple of nights, I’ve been able to keep the balcony door open to my room and fall asleep to crashing waves and the sea breeze. It’s a far cry the neighbor’s drum set, squirrels, and ambulance sirens I hear when the windows are open at home. Hanging out with my parents and kids away from our everyday life has provided me ample opportunity to reflect and dream. So much so that I decided to write this post in a stream of consciousness narrative. I can’t promise that it will be well-written but it will be honest.


When here in Florida – my dad walks along the beach and on trails around the island almost every morning;  I’ve joined him the previous two. It’s been nice to chat with him – growing up the oldest of four kids in close proximity meant that one-on-one time with a parent was a luxury I rarely experienced. But as nice as our conversations have been, I’ve also enjoyed the moments when we’re just walking – being  ‘the quiet one’ of four children, I continue to crave silence to this day. My mind wandered during those lulls in conversation and before long, I started to hear You’re not good enough. What are you doing with yourself? You need to be better. You’re letting everybody down! rattle around up there.

I am not what one would consider an anxious person. I tend not to worry about things that are beyond my control, especially when it comes to anything military-related. Soon after we were married I quickly learned that everything happening ‘over there’ was beyond my control and anxiety on my part would not bring him home any sooner or safer. And in regards to my children, I am not overly cautious. I encourage them to explore and to be brave. I want them to jump off the dock, swing from that tree, and see how fast they can run through freshly cut grass. For myself, I don’t really worry about getting hurt or kicking the bucket, unless I am driving over a suspension bridge in the exterior lane (why anyone would choose anything other than the most interior lane is simply beyond my comprehension). Simply put – I am just not an anxious person.

For the past 18 months, despite the appearance of calm and togetherness, I’ve been feeling like pieces of me are breaking off and floating away into oblivion. I initially blamed my loss in confidence on Texas and my failure to bloom. And then I blamed my lack of direction on the fact that I am in the midst of transitioning from a stay-at-home mom of babies and preschoolers to a mom of grade-school children excited to jump back into the workforce. I struggled to make sense of the little slivers that remain from my pre-kids career. I desperately wanted to find my path but I always seemed to be missing the trail markers. I was lost. In myself. I wasn’t anxious about the outside world. But I was becoming consumed by my own disappointment in myself. And you know what? I just realized that I typed this paragraph in past tense, as if these feelings have dissipated. And you know what? A lot of them haven’t. And I don’t really know why.

That’s not to say that things haven’t improved since our move to Virginia. They have – I am definitely in a much better place. But I’m still struggling. I’ve always been pretty confident in most areas of my life until one day I wasn’t. And on the mornings when the self-doubt grabs on to my leg and caused me to limp throughout my day, my internal voice is the most vicious – chastising me for feeling this way because I have an incredibly supportive husband who encourages me daily to conquer the world, healthy children who adore me, and a quite lovely life in a fantastic part of the country.

I do think it’s natural to have peaks and valleys when it comes to self-esteem and that confidence has a lot to do with faking it until you make it. I know that I offer value to society and that I am capable of making a difference. But then again – you’d think that isn’t the case by the way my inner-voice speaks to me. You’re lazy. No wonder you can’t seem to put one foot in front of another. What is WRONG with you?

What is wrong with me?

Perhaps nothing. I’m sure I’m not the only thirty-something out there with an inner-voice who is determined to undermine goals and tasks at hand. I mean, my outlook on life is overwhelmingly positive – no wonder why I sometimes feel like a fraud for beating myself up for not being the best or feeling like I’m not living up to my potential. It’s the fear of not being enough because I’m not able to do everything. Way to blow that opportunity, Karen. You’re just scared that you won’t be good enough and you know what? You won’t be.

There are two dreams I have every couple of months. One reoccurring dream (nightmare?) is when all of my teeth shatter and fall out my mouth like sand being poured from a bucket. The other involves me unknowingly registering for a class and not discovering so until the end of the semester a few hours before the final. I dream about frantically cramming material on a subject I know little about – most recently it was Hydraulics. I always wake up just as the TA passes out the blue exam books (are those even used in college still?). Do these dreams mean anything? Unsure. But when I have then, I wake up unsettled and my inner-voice seems to be louder that day.

I don’t like those days.

I know that my life isn’t perfect – that doesn’t exist. But it is pretty damn good. I consider myself to be happy. Most days I am able to push the self-doubt down deeper to where I can’t hear her voice. And I’m beginning to think that there lies at least part of my problem – perhaps by pushing her voice deeper inside, I’m giving my self-doubt more power than it deserves. What if I just release the self-doubt into the wild as soon as I recognize her presence or hear her voice? Whenever I encounter a problem, it always seems bigger and unwieldy until I discuss it with someone else – then it becomes manageable and solvable. Maybe my self-doubt and fear of failure should be treated the same way.


Lucy and I sat on the beach this morning and watched the sunrise. My inner-voice wasn’t too critical this morning but I decided to write this post anyway. I’m getting quite tired of hearing her. And I am really getting tired of her trying to sabotage my goals. After these few days on the ocean, I’m feeling better – I truly feel like over the past six months, the pendulum is swinging in the other direction and I’m gluing pieces of me back together a’la kintsugi. I’m hopeful that my gold shines bright as I’m repaired. I know that I will always experience self-doubt (who doesn’t?) – the struggle will be not giving her so much power. I deserve that power. Not her.