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Mom to Iris. Wife to Todd. Our little family lives at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We love it here and I love sharing little bits of our life.

© 2014 sarahfortune.

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Category : Life

Disney World Scavenger Hunt – How to unveil your future trip!

I wasn’t quite sure how we should surprise Iris that we were going to Disney World. This was mostly because we were going over a month away from the big reveal. I searched high and low on the internet on how to make a child excited about a Disney trip in the future, instead of making them confused or disappointed that they weren’t going right away. I wanted to be the mom that woke up Iris and said, “Pack your bags – we’re going to Disney World TODAY!” But our plans just wouldn’t have it. A trip to Disney was her big birthday present this year (she’s six!), but we are waiting until Thanksgiving break when school is out to go.

Whenever I get home from a work trip, Iris asks me if we can do a scavenger hunt with the souvenirs I brought her. I happened to do this one time (after a particularly long trip where I felt guilty for being away) and she’s never forgotten. So while I’m traveling (or sometimes before I’ve left and happen to think of it at Walmart… shhh!), I gather a few trinkets and pieces of candy to surprise her with. I hide them throughout the house and come up with clever clues to lead her to them. I think she loves this more than the actual treats. So knowing how much she loves this game, I decided to take it to the next level because, well, it’s Disney World we’re talking about!

After a little help from the internet and a little brainstorming of my own, I sat down and got my clues in order. Since Iris wasn’t getting her main birthday present until later on, we thought she deserved to find some fun little prizes the morning of her birthday, all of which were hints about our trip. She opened the first present, which was just a simple poem that informed her about the treasure hunt she was about to partake in. From there, it led her to the first clue (with the first prize), and so on.

Inside the initial gift bag, was this “poem”
along with the very first clue.

Clue #2 came with the first hint: A Minnie Mouse cup full of sweet treats.
I accidentally mixed up the printed clues in this photo and the next one, but you get the idea. Thankfully I realized it before I hid everything!

Clue #3 came with a wooden airplane because we’re flying to Orlando.

Clue #4 came with a nightgown for the trip of her favorite Disney princess – Belle!

Clue #5 came with a calendar I found on Amazon,
with the date of our trip marked with question marks.

Clue #6 came with a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt I picked up from Zara when I was in NYC.

Clue #7 came with, what else, Minnie Mouse ears!
(And if you’re wondering, Iris had a very hard time picking up on all of these clues.
She still didn’t get it – even after getting this hint!)

Well, I couldn’t stop there – especially when I found a black light and invisible ink pen in my office. The treasure hunt continues!
(Iris thought this was WAY cool.)

In her playhouse she found a box with a ribbon around it, and when she opened it she found only a safety pin instead of a clue. Looking around, she noticed a ballon and decided (with a little encouraging) to give it a pop.

Inside the balloon was one of the last clues…

And in the mailbox Iris found a package…

Which she put together and read out loud,
“We’re going to Disney World!”


After a slight struggle with reading the Disney font, Iris FINALLY got that we were going to Disney World. She was happy, but not over the top excited because, honestly, she doesn’t fully understand how big of a deal it is yet. I think the true surprise will be how awesome it is when we get there. We travel so much with her, often taking her along on our grown-up adventures, it will be very special to have a trip that is solely focused around her kind of fun. We leave in just a few day, so check back in to see how it goes!

For now, here’s the moment where it finally clicked:

Iris Turns SIX!

Hip hip hooray! Iris had another birthday! This year we gave her the choice of having a smaller birthday party at a fun location or a big party at our house. She opted for the latter and I didn’t complain. Even though there’s a lot of prep no matter how “simple” I keep it, there’s a casual ease about having it at home. Plus there’s wine. Hah.

Anyway, this year Iris chose two themes so I tried my best to blend them together – a unicorn and candy party! The weather called for rain, but it ended up being the most beautiful, crisp October afternoon. That morning when she woke up, we led her on a scavenger hunt where we FINALLY unveiled her big birthday present – a trip to Disney World. I will share the scavenger hunt on a future blog post because, honestly, I put way more planning into that than her party.

For now though, here are a few pictures…

LIFE LATELY: September 2017

I wanted to pop in and give you a little life update. Nothing major to report, but we have been pretty busy over here. When I’m not busy at the office, I’ve been busy at home working on a lot of sponsorhips lately for the blog and Instagram. I basically consider it my part-time job at this point, but am having fun with it while I can. Like my eBay career, I know this will not last forever but it sure is fun to navigate and make some extra money (and experiences!) on the side. In fact, next weekend we’re headed to Oklahoma City to stay at the 21c Hotel there. Iris and I recently spent the night at the one in Bentonville and loved it, so I’m anxious to check out another one (and see OKC for the first time)!

Other than that, Todd has been riding his bike a lot (he even won first place in a state championship race last weekend). As for Iris, she is LOVING kindergarten. It’s hard to get many details about her day, but from what I gather, she loves her teacher and seems to be making new friends. One of the awesome things (for me) is that parents are welcome to eat lunch with them. I’ve only been once so far, but it’s the cutest thing to watch her go through the lunch line and talk to her friends. I really need to start planning her birthday party soon too – I can’t believe she’ll be SIX in one month! As of right now I think she has settled on a “unicorn and candy” themed birthday party. That should at least be fun (and easy) to plan.

If you’ll remember, we are surprising Iris with a trip to Disney World for her birthday. In one week I have to make our fast-pass selections, so I really need to dive back in and finish planning the trip. I also need to carefully figure out how to surprise her because we won’t be going right away. And as for this weekend, it’s one of our last calm ones before the fall season gets super hectic. In fact, it’s nearly 9 am and Iris is STILL SLEEPING. It’s a weekend miracle!

Before I go, here are a few quick more things we’ve been up to:

– Iris recently did a little shoot for Riffraff. How cute are these shots (and game day shirts)?!

– We took a quick trip to Tulsa to visit the zoo, eat at Prairie Brewpub, and spend the night at a hotel with pals from Fayetteville.

– Tailgated at the first home game with Baby Frankee.

– Ran into Mike Anderson, coach of the Razorback basketball team, when we were out to eat. His wife thought it was Iris’ birthday because of how she was dressed… Nope. Just a regular Tuesday.

– After like a year of research, I finally pulled the trigger and purchased new bedding. I went with Brooklinen. I’ll let ya know how I end up liking it.

The Preacher’s Son restaurant, who just recently started serving lunch, treated Todd and I to dinner, so we had our first real date night in forever.

– Last but not least, Todd and I are completely invested in Big Brother this season. Well, we are every season, but this has been a good one. Can’t wait for the finale next week – or the new celebrity version they just announced for winter!

At Home with CertaPro

With summer winding down, we often find ourselves outside soaking up the last bits of warm weather before we coast into autumn. Earlier this spring I partnered with CertaPro to take the plunge and paint the exterior brick of our home. Since then, it’s provided the backdrop for everything from first day of school photos, to sidewalk chalk creations, to lazy evenings on the porch after supper with the fam. It was such a huge decision to paint the brick, but now I can’t imagine our home any other way.

Thanks to Sherwin-Williams we chose a color combo that suited our home, and us, perfectly. If you missed the before and after photos, with all the details of the process, here. In the meantime, you can find us outside making more memories. Special thanks to my pals at CertaPro of Northwest Arkansas for making my home feel even more like home.

This post is in partnership with CertaPro.

#CoxSmartHome Tour!

I recently partnered with with Cox Communications to visit their touring smart home right here in Northwest Arkansas. I had no idea what to expect going in, but I must admit I was intrigued. Over 50 smart devices throughout one home? Yes, please! As a busy working mom, I’m interested in anything that makes the day go a little smoother… and a little more fun too. Of course one thing was for sure – you absolutely need high-speed internet to make sure everything works seamlessly, so the entire house was outfitted with Cox Cox Panoramic Wi-Fi .

Well, I was instantly impressed when I was welcomed virtually at the front door of the Buffington Homes house (also totally drool worthy).

My first stop on the tour was one of my favorites – the kitchen! I met fellow blogger, Whitney Bond of WhitneyBond.com, who personally showed me her favorite smart devices to use in the kitchen. The two devices that stood out for me were the Behmor Brewer coffee system and the Crock Pot that you control with an app. How am I not already taking advantage of starting my coffee from bed and cooking dinner while I’m at the office?!

From there, I got the full scoop on Cox Homelife, which is an easy to use security system that you can control from anywhere (and watch from anywhere thanks to the HD video). Todd and I have been seriously considering taking the plunge on Smart Door Locks, so I was happy to see how they worked with Cox’s full security system. I also got the rundown on Cox Contour, which is a television option I’m now seriously considering for our own home.

Making my way up to the second floor I found someone I never would have guessed – Madonna’s violinist, Jason Yang! He’s much more than just the Material Girl’s musician though. As a violinist, composer, and YouTuber, I found him at his station where he gives virtual lessons to students all over the world via Skype. I even got my own private mini-concert!

While upstairs, I explored the other bedrooms where I witnessed 3D printing for the first time by NWA 3D. In the children’s bedroom, I received a demonstration from Trifecta Communications, which uses augmented reality to make the pages of books come to life with publisher, Calm in Your Palm. There was also a piggy bank (excuse me, Porkfolio Bank) that not only counts the money as you deposit it, but also alerts you if someone tries to move it! Iris would be all about that. Crystal Bridges was even on hand showing how they’ve created online courses for kids, which give credits for things such as curating your own virtual art gallery. Last school year, more than 1,000 students participated in the online learning classes and this year the goal is 10,000.

Speaking of Iris, there were so many things that you typically wouldn’t think about as needing to be “smart.” For instance, from a mom perspective, I loved the toothbrush that reminds kids to spend a little more time brushing those back teeth and that you can track their progress on an app! I was also intrigued by the mirror that adjusts based on the lighting you’ll be in for most of your day. For example, if you know you’ll be in florescent lighting, you just let it know and it will adjust the glow for the best make-up application. How fancy is that?

Beyond the bathroom, I learned about other health advantages on the tour. Trapollo, partnering with Mercy Virtual, gave real-time demonstrations of video conferencing with their hospital for a virtual consult. This is instead of having to make a trip in to the doctor for every little thing. If you are dealing with health issues, I’m sure being monitored from the comfort of your own home is not only reassuring, but of course it can ultimately can safe time and money as well.

The tour included a well-rounded mix of fun as well. I watched a demonstration by Ozark Cycling Adventures about their Cycling Performance Lab on the back porch (Todd’s recent cycling obsession made me pay special attention to this one). And then even got to try augmented and virtual reality thanks to Tesseract – another exciting first for me!

Overall, I consider myself pretty connected when it comes to being “plugged-in.” But after this tour, I realized there are so many more possibilities out there – and of course those will just keep expanding. As the number of smart devices in my home grows, it’s clear that my internet will need to support them. From house plants that water themselves, to robot dogs, I was sincerely impressed with Cox Communications and Buffington Homes and left wanting everything (along with that panoramic wi-fi).

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Cox Communications, but all opinions are my own.