November 22, 2014

Busy, Busy!

It's been a CRAZY last few days - our women's holiday event at church was Friday evening, and it was wonderful! Seriously, my heart is so full and I have so much to share. However, it was nuts the few days before and then today I have crashed HARD. I love the feeling right after the event each year, because it kind of ushers in the holidays. It's my big "thing" to plan, and then I get to totally focus on our family celebrations and other ways we can minister during the season. Deep sigh of happiness. :)

I can't wait to share all about our event - the content was wonderful this year and I can't WAIT to introduce you to our speaker. You will love her!

I can't believe we're starting Thanksgiving week - let the festivities begin!

November 18, 2014

Our FastPass Picks for 2015!

When you're in the process of planning a Disney trip and staying on Disney property, there are two BIG DAYS. The first is when you're 180 days out from your trip and you book your dining reservations.The second is when you're 60 days out and you book your FastPass+ reservations! 

Our "FastPass Day" was November 17, and it actually snuck up on me! I thought it was November 18, and my sister-in-law actually reminded me I was a day off. We were visiting my in-laws and I was scrambling to make my "cheat sheet" (I had left my laptop at home with all of my notes and research!). Thankfully, our dining reservations had been made, so I just referred to those to see which park we'd be in on certain days. Then I just wrote down my three "goals" for each day (according to which rides and attractions are the most popular and which ones we are prioritizing). 

At 11:00pm Central Time on November 16 (which was midnight Eastern time, therefore November 17), I logged on to My Disney Experience and got going! I did NOT book in chronological order. I selected our LAST day in the parks to try and get the coveted Elsa and Anna meet-and-greet. Did I get it? Keep reading!

Here are our family's Fastpasses for our January 2015 trip! 

The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Spaceship Earth

Animal Kingdom:
Expedition Everest
Festival of the Lion King
Meet Mickey and Minnie

Hollywood Studios:
Toy Story Mania
Frozen Sing Along
Disney Jr. Live on Stage

Magic Kingdom (over several days):
Enchanted Tales with Belle
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (twice!)
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Meet Ariel at Her Grotto
Tomorrowland Speedway
Under the Sea 
Peter Pan
MEET ANNA AND ELSA!!!! (Yes, I got it!)

Choosing your FastPass choices can be overwhelming at first, but it's WORTH it! It guarantees you at least 3 times during the day when you will have little to not wait in line. With the exception of a few, I always schedule our FastPasses in the afternoon, when the crowds are higher. We tour like crazy at park opening and then enjoy a more leisurely pace with our FastPasses in the afternoon. 

I'm excited to see how our trip goes with these FastPass choices!

November 14, 2014

Ashley Talks About: YouTube

I am SO late to this party, but I LOVE YOUTUBE! I could never understand what the hype was for the longest time, because it started out as a place to just upload your random home videos and such (am I the only person who still calls them "videos?"). Then all of a sudden it has become this place for people to have channels and episodes and subscribers. I've become a huge fan and I thought I would share some of my favorites!

I absolutely love Sam and Nia!! They are my favorite. Their Frozen lip synch went viral, but I didn't start watching until later. Now I look forward to every video! They are a Christian family with young children, just trying to live for Christ and teach their children to love Jesus. Kurt and I relate to them a lot and I laugh so much seeing all of the normal, every day things that happen when you have little kiddos. :) Evy and Liam LOVE watching Sam and Nia with me! It's so cute - they even have the theme song memorized. I sent this to Sam and Nia and they wrote back saying they had watched it over and over. :) Made our day!

My other favorite channel (yes, I have two!) is See Ya Reel Soon! I ADORE Joe and Ashley - they are so funny, genuine and sweet. I also love to watch fellow Disney fanatics. :) They share all about their Disney trips and also give great tips, too. Love them!

I've recently come to love Organized Like Jen! She is so sweet. I first started watching when I was searching for calendar/planner comparisons. She has a few different channels and I've enjoyed catching up on them all. She inspires me to get ORGANIZED!

I discovered Shannon Sullivan when I was browsing through Disney YouTube videos (she worked as Alice at Disney World!). She has a beauty channel and she and her husband also have a channel, Sullivlogs. They are both fun channels to watch and I think Shannon is so sweet!

I discovered Ellie and Jared about 3 nights ago and I'm HOOKED! They are so fun to watch! This sounds weird, but I really like their interaction with each other and the camera. Some channels I've stumbled upon have been hard for me to get into because they felt unnatural, but I really like Ellie and Jared so much!

Like Shannon Sullivan, I discovered Jennifer Oakes when I was browsing Disney YouTube videos. She and her friend Rachel posted a series of videos called "Confessions of a Retired Disney Princess" and they are SO popular! I love hearing about what it was like to work in Disney entertainment (that was my plan and then I met Kurt!) so these videos were fascinating to me. They aren't doing any more of those videos, but I've fallen in love with Jennifer. You really do feel like you're listening to a really good friend. She's honest and so, so sweet. I keep saying that about everyone on this list but it's true!

I browse around on other channels but these are my absolute favorites - I am always checking for new updates. What are your favorite channels on YouTube?

November 13, 2014

Recap: Beach Party!

Back at the beginning of the summer, Evy started talking about having a "beach party." I'm not even sure where the idea originated in her little head, but she kept talking about ideas. It's very important to me to encourage my kids' creativity and to let them have the experience of planning something and serving others. I also love themes, so I knew it would be such a fun project for us. I'm so glad I "went with it," because I know it will be one of my most precious memories!

Evy sat with me and I drew her ideas on paper. We also designed a cake (we combined several ideas from Pinterest), which Evy was VERY excited about. We planned the party for when my grandparents would be visiting, along with my cousin Hayden.

Evy and I took her drawing to Party City and got what we needed! This was MUCH more than just picking out things for a party. It was about letting Evy know that her ideas are important and I care about her opinions and what interests her. It was a precious time!

We filled out the invitations in the car and took them to my parents' house to deliver them to my parents and sisters (my brother was working at a church in Florida for the summer). Evy instructed my mom to give Nana, Poppy and Hayden their invitations the minute they arrived at the house. :) Then we headed home to get started on decorating and baking!

We kind of went with a Polynesian/beach theme.

This is our cake! We crushed up graham crackers for the sand and Evy thought that was just the coolest thing. Liam helped stick the umbrellas in!

Liam also put the beach balls in just the right places. :)

Another fun element is that we created a playlist on YouTube to play in the background. We included songs from the Tiki Room attraction at Disney World, and theme music from the Polynesian Resort at Disney. It added so much! For dessert, we made the famous Disney Dole Whip! IT WAS DELICIOUS and so easy! This is the recipe we used. It was a HUGE hit!

We decided to surprise my sister Alyssa with some new things for her classroom! So it was a beach/back to school party. :)

Evy got a new grass skirt and flower accessories!

She was SO proud of the decorations!

After going through these, I realized we took a TON of family pictures, but they are all so special to me! I always want to remember how much we enjoyed our time together.

Everyone took pictures with the "Hostess." Liam was literally running around in his underwear (as usual) so it was hard to track him down for "appropriate" photos - ha! Hey, he was keeping with the casual beach theme!

I will always remember planning this special evening with Evy!

After dinner, we spent some time on the back porch just sitting and being together while the kids played and showed cousin Hayden their swing set. The sun went down and it was one of those moments where I stopped and said to myself, "remember this." I always will! After dark we came inside and showed Nana and Poppy how we do family Bible time. We sang hymns, recited our Scripture and talked about a Bible story. I loved having my grandparents there!

The beach party was such a hit and such a fun time, we're having another theme party soon! Stay tuned for the details - I do believe we have a new Lancaster family tradition. :)

November 10, 2014

Harvest Festival

We recently went to a local Harvest Festival and had such a sweet time as a family! It was the perfect way to bring in the fall season!


After the festival, we brought home our pumpkins and put out our new concrete planters (that can withstand our wind!)! I was fun to spruce up our front door and welcome the season!

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