Magic or Tragic? Part Two: We’re on a Giant Boat on the Ocean

Goofy painting the exterior of the Disney MagicOnce we arrived on the boat, we checked the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app I had downloaded ahead of time to find where food was. We were starving.

When we arrived on the ship, they asked our family name and henceforth announced our entry into the ship. It was adorable. Gabby clapped for each family announced the entire afternoon. Where was the food?

Let me take an aside to remind people like my sweet hubby TO DOWNLOAD THE APP BEFORE YOU GO ON A DISNEY CRUISE. If you do not, you have to rely on 2002-era style cell phones to carry around in your no-pockets in order to find each other on the tremendous ship. Let’s call this Fail #1. There’s no free WiFi except to run the onboard communication app. Just download it now and save yourself a headache later.

Anyway, we found lunch. There were plenty of tables. The food was buffet style. The kids had chicken fingers and Mac and cheese, I had some grilled chicken and roasted veggies. Delish. Hangry people were made into docile people.

The kids were itching to get into the pool, so we found a bathroom and changed them into the swimsuits we were super prepared to pack in the backpacks ahead of time. We were winning this vacation!

After pooltime, we decided to find our room and change into clothes for dinner. I will tell you right now, our cruise revolves around meals. We were tired and starving the whole time and my narrative is going to reflect that. When we boarded the ship, we received a card saying our room would be ready around 1:30 pm. We were super patient. We didn’t head down until at least 2pm.

We took the first elevator we found to the first floor to find our room. We took a half step out of the elevator and crew members directed us to go back up to 3, head to midship, and go back down to 1. Okay. The elevator doors open on 3. We take a step. No! We are working. Go down to 2, head to midship and go back down to 1. Okay. No! Go up to 4, head to midship and then back down to 1. Needless to say, just go ahead and wait until a little before dinner time and your room will be ready to rock.

To kill time, we headed to the kids club where the Avengers were holding some skill-building workshop for kids. They got to shoot arrows, identify villains, and crawl through lasers. I was a little annoyed I couldn’t go through the course. I would’ve killed it.

Before dinner, we finally headed back to the room. Remember when I said I had like zero time to pack? I opened the girls’ suitcase to change Lilly for dinner and found I had completely forgotten to put her clothes into the suitcase. All of Gabby’s clothes were there. Nothing for Lil. I was literally dry heaving. The ship was in motion. How does one screw up this colossally? The plan was to buy some undies and a nightgown in the ship’s store and make do.

Pile of forgotten clothing

Oh, hey sack of clothes sitting on the bench in the girls’ room! See ya when we get home!

We had dinner in the Animator’s Palate which was super cool. The screens around the outside had sketches of Disney characters that got colored in as the meal progressed. Spoiler alert: Mickey came in during dessert and danced his ass off!

We returned to the room to crash after spending surprisingly not that much money on some clothing for Lil. I did remember to pack some princess dresses and she and Gabby are close in sizes now so THANK GOD I am an extreme overpacker because I saved myself this time.

The next day was Castaway Cay day. We chose on this day to stay aboard the ship and enjoy the pool while everyone else enjoyed the crowded island. We had a great day, but when crew members asked about what we did that day, they all responded with some form of “Aw, you missed out!” comment. Uh, excuse me, but we had a wonderful day where I didn’t feel like stabbing anyone until now!

The show that night was Tangled. Basically, it was the entire movie Tangled onstage. We loved it, the kids loved it. Great show.

Day 3 we docked at the Nassau, Bahamas. We had an excursion planned to visit the aquarium at Atlantis and a day on the beach at the resort. The Dig, the aquarium, is a pretty short walkthrough, but I will warn you in advance, Atlantis is enormous. It seems like the only fun the staff there have is pointing in a vague direction when someone asks where something is. We literally had to ask a dozen people to find the beach.

Once we got to the beach, we were swarmed with locals peddling anything from hair braiding, to sarongs, to coconut drinks every 30 seconds. We met a very nice family from Nova Scotia on the beach who had a little girl a bit younger than Lilly, so they all buried each other in the sand.

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The sand on this beach was weird. You can see in the above picture how large the grains of sand are. It was also super sticky. It was at least a week before I stopped seeing sand stuck to my kids’ scalps.

This night, back on the ship, was pirate night. I may do a whole post on pirate night. I thought I was going to think it was cheesy, but it was my favorite thing.

The final day of the cruise was a day at sea. This was my least favorite day because people are just assholes. The ship was so crowded. People just claim a chair on the pool deck, throw their stuff on it and disappear for the rest of the day until you try to sit there. I got into a fight with a family who took 4 chairs in addition to a table and claimed their kids were using the chairs. What kids? Where are they? When they show up, I’ll move. Guess who never magically appeared? Jerks.

We ended up just doing some shopping and we watched the movie Coco. Gabby ugly-cried in the theater, triggering a rash of other people crying. It was cute.

The final morning, they gave us breakfast at an ungodly hour and kicked us off the ship. I missed the cutoff to have our bags picked up the night before, so we had to drag our bags with us to breakfast. I don’t recoimmend doing that.

Overall, it was mostly a good time. We even got to enjoy an adult dinner. The kids went to the kids club a couple of times and we had some kid-free moments. I would definitely do another Disney cruise.

Verdict so far: disneycruiseblogmeter2

Stay tuned for Part 3: Cleanliness and Ship Diseases

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Gabby and Lillian walking through the port holding hands

Magic or Tragic? Part One: Getting to our first Disney Cruise

Gabby and Lillian walking through the port holding hands

Since we’ve already been to the Happiest Place on Earth and Buffalo winters can make a person need to flee the cold, we planned ourselves a short 4-night Disney cruise that left out of the Port of Miami this past February. We also connected this trip with a visit to family in the West Palm Beach, FL area, which I will write about in another post.

This trip just so happened to follow one of my busiest weeks at work and came two days after Lillian’s 4th birthday (a post about which is also still in the works). I ended up having to pack for this trip during my lunch breaks the two days prior to the trip. It was hectic packing for me and the two girls in basically 40 minute segments for an 8-day extravaganza.

Our flight left out of Buffalo at 6 in the morning, so we had to get up bright and early at 3 am to make our flight on time. It seems like most of the time, even Buffalo is an international airport, we have to take multiple flights to get to any destination. We flew Delta this time around. We had a short layover in Detroit and then we got a fancy plane with free in-flight movies for the rest of the journey to Miami. I, however, forgot to bring wired headphones, so I just stared at the flight pattern screen for 2 hours and change.

Gabby watching a movie on the airplane.

Lillian fell asleep as we were landing on 3 out of the 4 flights. When we got to Miami, it was as we were taxiing to the gate. When I had to wake her up to get off the plane and find our luggage, she obviously was a cranky mess and I had to carry her most of the way. Finally, we found our luggage and the Disney Cruise Line ground transportation staff member who led us to where we would wait for the bus. They were super helpful and tried to cheer her up and eventually told us to find a seat and they would tell us when to get on the bus.

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Once on the bus, we met our Driver, Mr. Atwell. He was a Miami native and told us all about the sports stadiums and people movers we passed as we headed to the port. The trip was only about 20 minutes from Miami International Airport to the Port of Miami. We de-boarded the bus, collected our day bags, and headed into the port. The porters collected our luggage and we hoped it would arrive to our room at a later time that day.

The line to get our Key to the World cards seemed crazy long, but we got through after about 15 minutes. The building was air conditioned, so it was not a big deal at all. They also had to take pictures of us to match up in the comuter with our cards. This was uncoordinated and people were stepping all over us and getting in each other’s pictures. Seems like something they could do at a later time where there is more space.

Once we passed through this area, we just followed signs through the port to the ship. There were a few photo stops, but the photographer refused to take a picture with my phone, so we said screw it and made for the ship.

Verdict so far: disneycruiseblogmeter1

Want more? Click over to Part 2: We’re on a Giant Boat on the Ocean!

A Black Friday Bookroo Deal & Review

With Christmas just around the corner, I am brainstorming gifts I can give my kids that arent toys. I love giving them the gift of experiences, art supplies, and most of all: books!

Enter Bookroo once again. Bookroo is a book subscription box for kids. You can choose how many boxes youd like to get and whether you want board books or picture books. Bookroos customer service is spectacular and you can freeze your subscription if you need to.

Little girl holding Bookroo box

Since the girls were 2 and 4, we have always chosen the picture book box. The books included in the boxes are always unique, the pictures interesting and vibrant, and the stories are fun and easy for kids to follow.

In this box, we got two picture books: A Dog Is A Dog by Stephen Shaskan and Mother Gooses Pajama Party by Danna Smith. The books come wrapped in beautiful wrapping paper, which makes the surprise element even more exciting for my kids. A Dog Is A Dog is perfect for a three year old. The pattern is very simple and the story is short and silly. Lillian loved this book. Mother Gooses Pajama Party is a sort of roll-call of Mother Goose nursery rhyme characters. It was fun seeing them incorporated into one bedtime story. As a bonus, at the end of the book several traditional Mother Goose nursery rhymes are included.

As a special gift to my readers, you can use the code BFMCDERMOTT for 25% off any multi-month subscription (3,6, or 12 months). One redemption per family. Valid for new customers only. Existing customers may use for the purchase of one gift subscription. Valid 11/24 – midnight PST 11/27. These subscription boxes are great for family members to buy for kids, I also like to buy them for birthday and baby shower gifts.

Gather with your family and order some Bookroo subscriptions while you recover from your giant meal today! Happy Thanksgiving!

Disclosure: Bookroo sent me this box for free to review on the blog, but I have subscribed to this service off and on for two years and all thoughts and opinions are mine, all mine.

The Sweet Spot

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With the girls now 5 and almost 4, we are starting to see a huge change in what we have so lovingly referred to in the past as the Nut House. There’s less that Lillian can’t do. They’re both taking dance lessons, gymnastics lessons, and can follow basic instructions. They are even starting to play together. HALLELUJAH!

That’s not to say that one of my children — ahem, the older one — is not incredibly bossy and that the other of my children — ahem, the stubborn one — doesn’t completely ignore her sister when she is being bossy. Their play is not without fighting, but they play together! We’ve been waiting 4 years for this.

We can go places as a family now without much thought. The girls went ice skating for the first time recently. I mean, it was a disaster, but they were finally old enough and strong enough on their feet (which hardly touched the ice) to try it. We went to a corn maze with bounce houses and they mostly were able to go in and have fun without a parent needing to tag along. It’s amazing!

Once I realized we had hit the sweet spot, I realized that this time is fleeting. Quickly, we will all be too busy and the kids will have their own interests and their own friends and we won’t have all of this family time to spend together. While I want to enjoy it fully now, I also want to slow down and enjoy the last seconds of baby time. While they still want extra hugs and snuggles, we need to be here for that. The time just goes way too quickly.

Has your family hit the sweet spot? What ages were your kids when you got there? How did you make it last?

Let me know in the comments!

Well, I’m 5 months late for Lilly’s 3rd birthday post and Gabby’s been 5 for a week, so…

I guess I’ve been slacking on this for a little bit 😳. 

Lillian is 3 and a half. She is so fun, smart, and hilarious when she is happy. She is brave. She flies high on the swings with no fear and recovers quickly if she gets hurt. 

When she is angry, she has a habit of screaming a shrill and piercing scream that we are working on breaking with a sticker chart. Overall, she’s a great kid – even if she sometimes acts like the spawn of Satan himself. 


Gabby just turned 5 last week. She had a party with good friends from summer camp and they had a very fun water party in the backyard. Gabby is a fearless swimmer. She will stay in the pool from the time she wakes up until bedtime if we let her. She is excited for kindergarten, but is loving her summer of day camp and being part of the Fey family during off-weeks. 

Gabby is very sassy and smart. She sounds like an adult when she talks. She has a high level of comprehension with both books and movies. We just started reading A Wrinkle in Time together for her summer reading challenge, and so far she actually really gets it. 


As sisters, the finally see each other as best friends. They are each other’s favorite companion and it is really awesome to see. They do fight and annoy each other a lot, but that’s to be expected since they love all of the same things. 


Well, that’s my way overdue update. Hopefully it won’t be half a year before my next post!

An Almost 3-Year Old Can Really Make You Feel Like Garbage

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Meet Lillian. She’s a master of manipulation and guilt tripper extraordinairre.

Friends, I want to give you a little glimpse into my world right now. Look at that sweet little face. Look into those beautiful, bright blue eyes.

Then tell that face something a three-year old doesn’t like to hear. Something like:

  • No
  • It’s time for bed.
  • You can’t have a lollipop if you don’t eat any of your dinner.

Or maybe, like me, you are already 20 minutes late for work and you have to utter the formidable sentence, “Mommy has to go to work now.”

Prepare to meet this face:

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This morning, this face was accompanied by desperate sobs of “Mommy! Don’t go! I want you to stay with me! I’m scared!” I kept telling her, “It’s not like I want to go to work! I’d so much rather just hang out with you here all day.” I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes but I didn’t want to get emotional and make it worse. You see, this is her first full week in a new classroom. The whole drop-off routine is different all of a sudden and I can see why she may not be thrilled about it.

Preschool is mayhem. There are children between the ages of 2-5 eating breakfast (if the food hasn’t all been eaten by the time we arrive), playing, yelling, and fighting. I haven’t yet figured out how to know where breakfast is going to be – it could be in any one of three different rooms. There’s not much structure at this time and children of this age are all over the place and loud. Not the most welcoming environment for an anxious preschooler who rages out when things don’t follow her expectations.

So this morning, after her teacher saved me with distractionary techniques, and I rolled into work 20 minutes late, I was explaining to my boss why I was so late to work, and the tears just started coming. People were coming to me in the halls as I was cry-laughing telling my story and I was really moved to hear other people’s stories of children making them feel like garbage, too.

The next time you feel like you’re failing or you make a mistake that your tiny people won’t let you come back from, just know that they all do it. Solidarity!

My One Resolution for the New Year + Giveaway

I know by now most people have resolved to make big changes and fallen off the wagon. I like to ease into the new year, seeing where I can make small changes that will make my life easier and less stressful. So, when e-cloth contacted me with an offer to review their product for free, it was really a no-brainer.

E-cloth products are manufactured to be used with water only, saving you money on harsh chemicals. They are also machine-washable, so you can maximize the length of time they last – also saving money.

I received a Washing Up Pad, and Bathroom Cleaning Cloths 2-piece set. I’ve had the products for about a month and have used and washed them multiple times.

We have used the Washing Up Pad multiple times a day for a month. I feel a little weird not using dish soap with it, so we haven’t used it with water only, but the packaging says this is okay. To minimize the amount of soap that will enter the washing machine when we wash it, I try to use only a tiny amount of soap, and when I am done washing dishes, I squeeze as much water and soap out as possible. The sponge side is great for wiping down countertops, too. The scrubbing side will get burnt chili off the bottom of a stockpot. We haven’t washed this yet in the washing machine (but definitely should get on that), but so far, this sponge is holding up as well as – if not better than any other sponge we would normally use.

The 2-piece bathroom cleaning set comes with a soft cloth to clean dirt, grime, scum and mildew without chemicals, as well as a glass cleaning cloth to do the windows and mirror.

I have to admit that having only one bathroom in my home makes me despise cleaning it. It is always dirty, and though it is small so it doesn’t take long to clean, after one day, it is back to being scummy and gross. I was really excited to get these cloths because since we also do laundry almost daily, there are a lot of opportunities to use these products and see just how clean my bathroom can be.

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So easy, a 4-year old can clean the bathroom!

The soft bathroom cloth is freaking AMAZING, you guys. It cleaned the caulk with water only. It scrubbed off rust, dried-on conditioner, dust, and hair. I actually have used this while in the shower to just scrub off all of the yucky spots while I was convenitently already using water and scrubbing the crust off of myself. We’ve washed it a dozen times already and it is holding up just great.

The glass cloth is much thinner and has a finer texture. I 100% believed this wasn’t going to get anything off my bathroom mirror and I was 100% wrong. I used water only and was left with a clean mirror with no streaks or spots. Fantastic!

I highly recommend these products. They claim to remove 99% of bacteria from surfaces, are eco-friendly, and will help my family save money. This is a resolution I can stand by.

If you are interested in trying out e-cloth, you can enter the giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to US residents only. Raffle is open until February 15, 2017 at midnight.
Winners will be announced soon after.

This little angel loves the f-word

If you are a regular reader, you know I make no bones about not being perfect. I have my meltdowns – sometimes in front of or because of my kids – but I’m doing my best. Well, here’s the next chapter in the confessional of how I’m screwing up…


A few weeks ago, the hubster started picking Gabby up from school. One day after I got home, he pulled me aside in the kitchen and we had this conversation:

H: I think Gabby is in a phase of testing out some new words…

Me: Oh? What’d she say?

H: I buckled her into her car seat and she said, ‘Fuckin’ poop.’

Me: Oh my God! What did you say to that?!

H: I told her that was a word she can’t say.

Dudes. This is totally my fault because lately my filter has been off and I’ve definitely dropped the f-bomb in front of them on occasion. This brings us to yesterday.

I came downstairs and immediately stepped on a beaded necklace and dropped the f-bomb.

Cue Gabby an hour later, slipping on the hardwood floor and falling to the floor: Fffffffff-uck. *Looking me right, square in the eyes*

Me (trying desperately not to laugh): Did I hear that right?

G: I fell and it hurt!

Me: You still cannot say that word. Next time try saying ‘Ouch’ instead.

Then, NOT EVEN A FEW HOURS LATER, she is helping me in the playroom. She is standing on her beanbag chair and slips and falls: (whispering) F U C K.

Me: Gabby! You cannot say that word! I know you’ve heard me say it and it is not a nice word! I will also try not to say it, but you definitely cannot ever say it!

You guys, I am in crisis. How do I explain to a four year old why she cannot be saying that word? I am so embarrassed and grossed out to hear her say it. Also, it is hilarious and I can’t keep my composure AT ALL when she says it.

All I Want For Christmas Is Crazy Cash Back

*Post contains referral links, so if you join through my referral link, I get bonus cash back and so do you!*

I am not a savvy economist, don’t make a lot of money, and have two children in full-time childcare, so I have to ask you guys, “Why is every toy $50 or more this Christmas season?” Did everyone but me get a Christmas bonus? Was there some across-the-board cost-of-living increase that passed me by? I literally could not find any $10-$20 baby dolls for my kids this year for Christmas.

So, my shopping strategy this year is twofold:

One, they are getting less stuff. They already have infinity toys and our house isn’t getting any bigger, so… less stuff.

Two, I’m shopping exclusively through Ebates.com, so I can at least earn a portion of that money back. I know it’s the end of Cyber Week, but hopefully some of you guys can cash in on some of these great cash back offers:

  • JCPenney 15% Cash Back Sitewide – This goes for household items, clothing, toys. I found very few exceptions and lots of Disney-licensed characters. I’ve never seen anyone offer so much cash back. Definitely take advantage of this!
  • Groupon 9% Cash Back – Do you need a massage to get through the holiday season, want to get your nails done for New Year’s Eve? Shop through Ebates and you can earn enough cash back to buy one for your friend!
  • Kohl’s 8% Cash Back – I can’t even with these generous offers. I really like Kohl’s for things like towels, kids clothing, and other houseware items.
  • Walgreens 7% Cash Back – You can use this for stocking stuffers, candy – even your photo needs. Buy your Christmas cards through Walgreens and get 7% cash back.

If you don’t already have an Ebates account, make sure to click this link or the button below so we can both get a bonus bump in cash back!

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Did you guys think that toy prices were way out of line this year? Let me know in the comments.

5 WTF Thoughts I Have While Folding My Family’s Laundry

We are in the midst of potty-training Lillian right now. We’ve been working on it for a year. Our laundry situation is worse now than it was when I had two kids in cloth diapers. Here are just some thoughts I’ve had while folding the family’s laundry:

  1. One of the perks of sending Gabby to private school was the uniforms. No fighting about clothes everyday. I had high hopes that uniforms would make the laundry so much easier. I was desperately wrong. White uniform shirts for pre-schoolers? Are you freaking kidding me?!?!
  2. How is the pajama pile so much bigger than the daywear pile? Judging by their laundry, a stranger would believe they never leave the house.

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  3. Lillian is perpetually out of pants because she is constantly peeing in them. I refuse to go back to diapers. Thus, I get to forever be washing, folding, and putting away pants and underwear.
  4. Lillian’s underwear pile is so much bigger than Gabby’s, I think I need to have a conversation with Gabby about changing her underwear on a daily basis.
  5. Onto the hubster, what is happening in his pants that causes him to blow out the crotch of every pair of underwear so violently?

Do you have any WTF moments while putting away your family’s laundry?
Let me know in the comments!