HELLO
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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4th of July – 2017

For the first time in years, our annual Fourth of July plans changed. And by changed, I mean we had none. Typically we spend it by the pool with Bev and her family while they’re in town visiting her in-laws. With their plans different, ours were too. While I missed our little tradition, it ended up being a lovely, relaxing holiday. It rained off and on, so I didn’t really miss the pool. We grilled hot dogs, shot fireworks, and spent time with a few friends in the neighborhood. Here are a few photos from our day.

My New Hobby: Disney World Planning

Holy moly. I had NO idea what I was getting into when I suggested we go to Disney World this fall. We aren’t telling Iris until her birthday in October (so, shhhhh!) and then we aren’t going until Thanksgiving, so I thought I was doing good planning nearly six months in advance… Uh, no. I am so late to the game. I missed the precious 180 mark ahead of our arrival date, which is when you apparently are supposed to book all of your meals and experiences. Thankfully I still have time to figure out the system before the Fast Pass option opens up. I hear that I’m supposed to book those literally the minute they are available, even though it’s in the middle of the night.

I did get a little lucky though. I had some amazing tips and input from folks on Instagram, but also bookmarked a few things I wanted to try to reserve. The most obvious one? Dinner at Cinderella’s castle (did you know they serve champagne now?!). Of course when I went to reserve, every last slot was already taken for our entire trip. But then I read that you should check everyday just in case some one cancels… And guess what? It worked! We might be dining close to 10 pm our first full day there, but our plan was to close down the parks each night any way.

After several recommendations, I booked us a Royal room at the Port Orleans Riverside, got tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and reservations at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. So let me know what else should we definitely do or what really isn’t worth it. I fee like this is like learning another language, so I welcome any tips (and prayers)!

TRAVEL LOVE: My Favorite Travel Tips

It’s no secret, I love to travel. I travel for work, I travel for fun – basically whenever and however I can. So in my adventures I’ve gotten my travel routine down to a science. From the prep, to the journey, to the destination, I’ve definitely learned some tips along the way. Nothing on this list is sponsored, just my favorite travel tips that I wanted to share!

Apps & Websites
Obviously most travel is planned electronically these days. While I am old enough to remember buying plane tickets in person, I am forever grateful those days are long gone. So what are my go-to apps and sites for travel assistance? Well, first on my list is the driving app, Waze. Most people in larger cities are already familiar with it, but we live in a smaller city where it’s not needed day-to-day. However, I’m constantly surprised folks don’t use it on road trips. Owned by Google, it redirects you around any major traffic incidents. It has saved our booties multiple times on long road trips, directing us around interstates that are at a stand-still.

I have booked a lot of flights in my life. Not just for me, but at my job for other people, so I have used all the sites and Google Flights is currently my fave for one reason: you can view a fare calendar. So if you want to plan a trip to San Fransisco, but you don’t have certain dates, you can use the calendar to see when the most affordable time to go is. And if you’re feeling adventurous, but not sure where to go, you can enter your dates of travel, price range, and see your destinations options! Just keep in mind that not all of the discount airlines are listed on Google Flights, so it’s always good to check those as well.

As far as hotels websites, I do check out Trip Advisor but my favorite is Oyster.com. Their team inspects the hotel and gives pros and cons, as well as un-staged photos of EVERYTHING.

Driving as your connection
If you live in a bigger city with a large airport, then this tip isn’t for you. We have a regional airport, which is about a 35 minute drive away. Our flights are usually pretty expensive and it’s extremely rare to ever fly anywhere direct. However, we are about 2 hours from Tulsa, 3 hours from Little Rock, and 3.5 hours from Kansas City. If I’m able to score a cheap, direct flight from one of those airports it’s often worth the drive. Especially if the drive replaces the connecting flight you would typically have out of your regional airport (in terms of travel time). For example, when we recently went to Los Angeles, it saved us over $1,000 to drive to Kansas City for direct flights. And if you add up the time of the drive to the airport, the connecting flight, and the layover, it ends up being about the same travel time (if not less).

Packing Tips
I love my charging iPhone case so much, I have two. There’s nothing like travel to drain your phone battery, so I not only keep one on my phone, I keep a back-up in my purse when traveling. This ensures that I can go all day and all night, taking photos and ordering Ubers without stressing about my battery.

I have specific face soaps and creams that you can’t just find in the travel section of Target. The bottles are too large to take in my carry-on, so I found some travel salad dressing containers (kind of like these) at TJ Maxx and labeled them with a marker. Contact lens cases work well too!

I also pack my make-up/cosmetic bags a day or two before. That way I’m forced to get ready using everything I have packed. If I forgot to include something, I figure it out before I’ve left!

Checking a bag? Then don’t forget to pack your favorite box of wine. It’s less likely to break than a bottle, you don’t need a bottle opener, and the whole box is guaranteed to be cheaper than just one glass at the hotel you are staying at. Speaking of alcohol, Todd is a craft beer lover, so if I ever travel to a city that has beer he can’t get back home, I bring a few trash bags along. I tie up the cans in the bags, just in case they get punctured, and then pack them in-between my clothes for extra padding.

Credit Card Points
We opened a Disney credit card back when we started our kitchen renovations and have been using it for everything ever since. By this fall, we will have earned nearly $2,000 in cash to be used for a Disney vacation… so guess what surprise Iris is getting for her sixth birthday? That’s right, I’m deep into the planning stages of going to Disney World (that’s a whole separate post). We aren’t actually going until Thanksgiving, but about a month before we go, we’ll switch over to our other points card, which is for airline miles and start the process over again with new benefits. I have been extremely diligent about making sure the card is paid off monthly so that we haven’t paid a penny of interest, so it really is free money. I wouldn’t have been in the position to be so responsible just a few years ago, so I only recommend this if you are truly able to pay it off every month. Side note, I use my airline card to check my luggage for free on American Airlines, since that is the main airline I fly out of my local airport.

Make a List and Keep It
I very rarely forget to pack something on a trip. That’s mostly in part to my dorky, but necessary, packing list. I have Google Docs (so I can access/edit them from anywhere) of packing/to-do lists for my most common travel: family trips, work trips, and girl trips. They all vary slightly and I do update them based on the season/outfit selection, but it’s extremely helpful in staying organized. I also create a hand-written list for every trip called my “Do Not Forget” list. This is for things that I can’t pack until the last minute (like my hair straightener, favorite pillow for road trips, etc.). I place this list on my suitcase so that I’m sure not to miss it before it’s go-time.

Traveling with Kids
Here’s a list of items I like to pack/do for Iris:

– Slip-on shoes that are easy to get on and off. I love her Saltwater and Freshly Picked sandals dearly, but the first thing she does in the car is kick her shoes off and it always takes her an extra five minutes to get those back on at a restroom stop.

– Download Netflix movies/shows before we leave (I swear they take up a lot less storage than rented movies).

– Download kid podcasts so that she is entertained, but still looking out the window at the scenery (and hopefully not getting carsick). Thanks to NPR, we recently discovered this free one.

– Backpack full of toys, books, and coloring books. Iris uses this not only in the car, but takes it into restaurants, as well as our destination to play with.

– Sleep mask & blanket to make those much needed car ride naps a little easier.

– We take a lot of Ubers and Lyfts when we travel, but I of course want to make sure Iris is still safe. We purchased the mifold travel booster, which fits in my tote.

And there you have it! Hopefully something will help ya out and hopefully you’ll be having your next adventure soon! Speaking of, we’re leaving for a road trip in about five minutes, so I gotta run.

Chihuly at Crystal Bridges

We were recently invited to explore the Chihuly exhibit at Crystal Bridges right before it opened to the public. The pieces inside were beautifully and thoughtfully arranged (the light was perfection) and the walk through the outdoor exhibit was an event all in itself. The grounds of Crystal Bridges have always been my most favorite part to explore, but now with blown glass sprinkled in, it’s even more magical.

Thanks to our little partnership with Crystal Bridges, we were treated to ah-mazing bites from the Eleven tasting menu and tasty drinks from the bar. Yes, this museum has the loveliest restaurant, with a full drink menu. After that we got a guided tour, then we were left to wander at our own pace. We went on a Friday night and had the sweetest little dinner (with wine!) from a food-truck situated in the back of the forrest. Did I mention it was magical?

If you’ve never been to the museum, it’s worth the trip no matter where you live and what better time than when Chihuly is in the house (and forest)? “Chihuly: In the Gallery” is open until August 14, while “Chihuly: In the Forest” is open a bit later until November 13. I wasn’t sure about taking Iris to this event. Five-year-olds and delicate glass typically aren’t the best combo, but I realized after I arrived how perfect it would be for her to explore, so we will absolutely be going back verrrry soon.

Share a Box of Cheerios!

Every morning starts the same way in our house – coffee first and then CEREAL FOR ALL! On weekdays Iris’ alarm clock wakes her up at 6:45 am. On weekends, her internal child alarm clock wakes her (and me) up even earlier. Why it always works that way, I’ll never know. “I’m hungry. Can I have some cereal?” is usually heard within the first few minutes. Todd and I are still fumbling around making a mess of coffee grounds as we also pour her a bowl.

On any given day you can usually open our pantry door and find at least one box of Cheerios (I think the all-time record is four different varieties). They were a staple when I was little and, naturally, are a staple for Iris too. Now, thanks to Cheerios, Iris can continue the tradition herself with their “Buy a box, Give a box” offer. At Walmart, if you buy a specially marked box, you can share a box with someone you love. With Father’s Day coming up, the choice for Iris was easy… Now if she could just learn to make coffee. 😉

Find your code inside specially marked packages in stores and enter it on Walmart.com to send a coupon for a free box of Cheerios to someone that matters.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions (and coffee) are my own. #Cheerios #GetOneGiveOne #WithLove