Packing for five

As a mom the job of prepping and packing for a trip is something I take quite seriously. We have known about this family cruise for a long time so I have had time to think and plan what needs to be packed where. Thankfully this is something that runs in my veins, as a 7 year I packed 6 weeks in advance for our family trip to Disney World.

You may be wondering why or what I packed, and how to know how much you need to bring. I tend to over pack in case of emergencies. Right now, in this stage of life, I have 1 still in diapers, and 1 that still wets the bed frequently and should wear pull ups at night but doesn’t like to. So these things require extra space in our luggage.

For our family of 5 I packed 4 roller suitcases, 1 garment bag, a carry-on bag, a backpack diaper bag, 3 back packs for the kids, and our stroller. Teddy still takes naps daily and I wanted to be able to let him nap while we were on the deck if possible. On the air flight down, my carry on bag and backpack contained snacks and games for the kids and myself and my husband. But because we had to stay overnight in Florida one night before boarding the ship, the next day I also added our swimsuits and sunscreen, glasses, and anything else we would need immediately upon the ship. Often times when you check your luggage with the ship it can take awhile for it to be dropped off at your room. And I knew the kids would want to swim right away.

I made a packing list for each member of our family with the clothes, shoes, other items they would need so I could check them off as soon as they were packed. This allowed me to begin packing early and not forget anything. If you are unfamiliar with cruising, you often need more formal clothes for your evening meal. Being aware of the dress code requirements allowed me to be more prepared.

I do think that Joy over packed. She wanted to bring all her favorite dresses instead of just picking 5. But she was so excited I couldn’t say no.

Don’t be like me. Don’t over pack. Especially when the room you will be staying in is quite small. We had too much luggage. I brought along several cute summer outfits for day time. While 90% of the trip during the day I was wearing a swimsuit and cover up. I also should have only brought enough dresses for 1 a day, but I wanted choices. My husband did better. He didn’t over pack. He brought just enough to not wear the same shirt twice. But thats it. I definitely learned alot about packing this week.

One of my favorite traditions of travel was started by mom when we were young and that was car surprise bags. Little bags full of treats and snacks and maybe some toys.

Those are the ones I made. I included:

  • Melissa and Doug Water Wow books
  • Fruit Snacks
  • Playing Cards
  • Cookies
  • A few Dum-Dum suckers
  • Fruit strips
  • Applesauce squeeze pouches

Having young kids traveling they are always hungry and wanting snacks. And airport food is 4x more expensive. So I packed extra snacks in my bag. If you are not familiar with the Water Wow books, and you have young kids, you need to be. They are mess free and completely reusable. Check them out HERE. My 3 year old loves them.

Here is my biggest piece of advice for packing for a cruise. Put together outfits and keep them together (use ziplocks for easier packing) for each day you are gone. For example, for Deano, he insisted on wearing tennis shoes every day even though we were on a boat, he doesn’t like sandals. So for him each day I had a pair of shorts, top, undies, and socks. And for the evening he had to wear a collared shirt for the dining room. So we also had either nice shorts or dress pants.

Here are Joy and Deano ready to hit the pool.

I also packed 2-3 swim suits for each person because nothing is worse than trying to put on a wet swimsuit after you’ve gotten dry.

This is my list of the top 10 things to pack for your cruise:

  1. Swimsuits/cover up
  2. Casual clothes
  3. Dress clothes (for dinner)
  4. Sunscreen & Aloe (I recommend THESE)
  5. Sandals
  6. Cash for tips
  7. Sunglasses & hats
  8. A good book
  9. A sweater or sweatshirt (evening breezes can get chilly)
  10. Passport/ID

My mother in law had advised us to bring cash, particularly in small bills. This was great advice because you don’t realize how many porters or shuttle drivers you need to tip. For us we tipped shuttle drivers $5 and the porter who helped us get our bags through customs $10. Once on board you can pay tips with your seapass card. Also alot of ports of call do not accept credit cards, so you need cash to purchase souvenirs or drinks off the ship.


For those who have never cruised before a sea pass card acts as your room key, dining pass, also your access on and off the boat at the Ports of Call. Your sea pass card can also be connected to your credit card and you can use it to purchase drinks, or souvenirs.

If you have any questions about packing for a cruise. Please message me. I’d love to help you!


Letter N 

My daughter is in preschool. Each week they focus on a new letter. This week they are on letter N. Joy also got to be the helper today. Which means she gets to bring Show and Tell and snack. As well as be the line leader. 

As a mom I always try to coordinate snack with the letter of the day. Well the only N snacks I could think of was nuts. And Joy didn’t want to take nuts. 

My husband reminded me about nest cookies. So I went to my favorite spot, Pinterest, for inspiration. Here is how it turned out. 

I think they turned out great! What do you think?

Here is my recipe.

Bird Nest Cookies:

(Makes 16 nests) 

  • 3 cups Chinese chow mein noodles
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips 
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • White sixlets
  • Cooking spray
  1. Using a double boiler, combine chips and heat until melted. Stir frequently to avoid scorching. 
  2. In a large bowl slowly combine noodles and melted chocolate. Stir carefully to combine until the noodles are fully coated. 
  3. Spray a muffin pan to avoid sticking. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of mixture to each muffin tins. Use your fingers or spoon to mold the mixture into a nest-like shape. (Bowl shape) 
  4. Add your eggs. I used white sixlets, but you could use Cadbury eggs or jelly beans. Whatever you prefer. 
  5. Chill. 
  6. Enjoy!In nature, nests are imperfect. So don’t fret if yours all look different. 

Christmas is over. 362 days until next year. 

Christmas 2017 has come and gone. Another great year with family. We were so blessed to be able to spend time with my parents, sisters and their families as well my husband’s side. 

Something I have loved at Christmas is the joy the kids get on Christmas morning. There is something so special about seeing them be so excited about gifts. Because we don’t wany Christmas to be all about the  gifts they get, we try to follow the 4 gift rule. Have you heard of that one? Each child gets 4 presents to open. 

  1. One thing they want
  2. One thing they need
  3. One thing they want
  4. One thing they read

It helps to limit the amount of useless toys they get. This year I didnt do a great job following that rule. We are headed on a family vacation cruise in a few weeks so we got the kids Kindles for Christmas. I bought them on Amazon Prime day so they were much cheaper. But I really wanted them to have something they could take on the plane. I also didn’t need to buy them clothes this year since their auntie bought them all Christmas PJs and their grandparents got them a few new outfits for the boat trip (as it is lovingly referred to by Joy.) 

I was very blessed by my husband this year and got 2 new pairs of boots (1 dress, 1 snow), a new charm for my Chamilia bracelet (Teddy’s birthstone) and I got a curling wand.. have you ever used one? I have not quite figured out how to use it just yet, but it is fun to try! 

How many presents do you give for Christmas? How do you know if it is too many?

Our kids are very blessed with generous relatives so this year they received between us and others:


  • Our Generation doll Anya
  • Kindle
  • Clothes
  • Hatchimal
  • Doll Cradle
  • Moana costume 
  • Bath stuff


  • Kindle
  • Lego dinosaur kit
  • 2 boxes duplo legos
  • Robin Hood movie
  • Dinosaur and Jurassic Jeep & helicopter
  • Batman sweatshirt
  • Clothes


  • Play/learning phone
  • Mega blocks truck set
  • Books
  • Paw patrol ball pit & extra balls
  • Clothes
  • Alvin & the Chipmunks movie

What were the most sought after toys you or your kids wanted this Christmas? Most of the things Joy got she had requested. But the Kindle was a surprise. 

    Every year we watch White Christmas while decorating our (live) Christmas tree. In the 6 years Justin and I have been together we have always purchased a live tree. I love the smell and funof them. I love White Christmas.. It is definitely one of my favorite movies. This year we introduced them to a few new favorite movies including The Grinch, Elf, Home Alone, The Santa Claus, and Charlie Brown Christmas. 

    This year Joy and Deano helped me roll out and cut out sugar cookies. That was lots of fun. We haven’t had enough snow for sledding yet. But hopefully soon. I had also wanted to have a chance to make gingerbread houses. But we didn’t get to it this year.

    What are your Christmas traditions? Please share them in the comments, if they are good I might borrow a few. 

    We Are Called

    This week I was reading in Romans chapter 7 and 8. There is so much goodness in these verses. Time and again we are reminded that if we believe and accept Christ, we are adopted into God’s family. This is something that can bring great comfort.

    “All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by who we cry out, Abba, Father!” Romans 8:14-15

    “and if children, also heirs — heirs of God and coheirs with Christ…” Romans 8:17

    Wow! Heirs of Christ. What an image that gives. I think about a child that is adopted into a family. They received that gift through no work of their own. It was not based on merit. As is the case with us and God. We do nothing to deserve this inheritance, it is entirely dependent on God’s grace. The Spirit gives believers the assurance of membership in God’s family by bearing witness to their inmost being that they indeed are children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

    “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” 1 John 3:1

    Having three children of my own, that I love more than I love myself, these verses mean so much more to me now.

    I was incredibly blessed to have a very warm, loving mother and father growing up and still do. My parents love God and taught me to as well. But for those who were not as blessed to grow up in such a way, the idea of God as a Father may or may bring comfort. I pray that for all those who do not know God may come to. Especially as we approach the holidays and are reminded everywhere about Jesus’ birth.

    Daily Prompt – Calling

    My Worst Day

    To me, writing is therapeutic. You may wonder why I would want to share this experience. I debated not writing about it, but for me, I can process better through written word. And I never want anyone else to experience what I did.

    December 11, 2017  started like any normal day. We played, had lunch, did some grocery shopping. A normal day as a Stay at Home Mom. In the afternoon I put Deano and Teddy in the bathtub for a little water play/quick bath. I stepped out of the bathroom for a few minutes to open the front door. My mom was dropping something off. I heard Deano yelling something so I went to check on the boys after only being gone a few minutes, that was when my worst day began. Continue reading “My Worst Day”

    Clean Eating

    This week I decided to get serious about my health. After having three kids in 3.5 years I was weighing much more than I cared to be. I had gotten into a bad routine of eating whatever the kids ate. Example – if they didn’t finish all their nuggets or fries, I would eat them, even if I wasn’t hungry, simply because I didn’t want to throw them away.

    Being an Argonne consultant and always promoting our Clean Eating Challenge, I thought I should get serious and give it a real try. I am currently on Day 3. It has been hard so far. Cutting out sugar, and gluten, and dairy. Our Arbonne group provides us with delicious recipes, meal plans, shake recipes, etc.

    This morning I made a chocolate shake that tastes remarkably similar to a thin mint cookie. So if you think of me, send me good thoughts so I don’t cheat on my diet.

    Here’s my thin mint shake recipe:

    • 2 scoops Arbonne chocolate powder
    • 1/2 scoop Arbonne fiber powder
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
    • 1/2 fresh avocado
    • splash of peppermint extract
    • fill cup rest of way with water
    • blend and enjoy!

    If you would like to participate in a clean eating challenge we have a new group starting on the first Monday of every month. You can also shop directly. Check out the Arbonne nutrition ASVP which is an incredible deal for Preferred Clients! Shop small, shop local at



    When you feel like a failure….

    Have you had a day as mama when you feel like you have completely failed as a parent? I do. A lot. More than I care to admit truly. Well, today was one of those days. I attended a moms group this morning, which was uplifting. But then I had one of my worst days of parenting ever. I was short tempered, and everything they did seemed to bother me. To make matters worse, I was babysitting two kids of a friend. The combined chaos of 5 little kids under the age of 5 was almost to much to handle.

    So mamas. What do you do? How do you make it through a difficult day? What are your tricks for dealing with difficult kids? Or maybe just mama pms.




    Yesterday when I woke up my phone screen looked a bit different. It had 2 giant green streaks down the screen. Those streaks eventually turned black and took over most of the screen, thus rendering my phone completely out of action. But I have to say, it has been kind of nice to be off the grid, unplugged. I have had more time to notice how my 4 year old Joy has developed a huge love for rocks. Any kind of rock. We cannot go outside without her finding 1 or 5 little rocks she has to bring home.

    I even baked a pie today. Peach. My absolute favorite. Normally when making dinner or cleaning up the kitchen I would have my phone on playing music or a podcast, or maybe catching up on the next episode of Blue Bloods on Netflix. But today it was quiet. Well, as quiet as it could be with 3 little minions running around, all clamoring for my attention.

    I have really enjoyed not feeling like I need to check out my Facebook feed or text messages. To not have any additional distractions when with my kids. I am sad about losing all my photos and not having my calendar at my finger tips. That has been a bit of a challenge. Thankfully I did not have anything too pressing this week/weekend.

    I do plan to get another phone soon. But for now I will revel in the solitude of being unplugged.

    via Daily Prompt: Solitary

    Earn Money as a SAHM

    Are you a Stay at Home Mom who misses being able to make a little money herself? Or maybe you are a college student who could use a little extra spending money. Well I put together a little list of my 5 favorite ways to earn an extra buck.

    1. Donate Plasma

    This is a new one for me, but I think it will be my new favorite. I recently became a plasma donor at BioLife Plasma Services. It was a great, clean, facility that even provides free childcare while you donate. I signed up during a special promotion so I will earn $300 with completion of my first 5 donations. After that it is $20 first donation $50 second donation within each week. So you can earn $70 each week or $280 each month. This is a great option for moms. As you can earn money, have a safe place on site for your children, and have an hour to yourself to read or watch a video on your phone. Just tell them LAURA WRIGHT sent you and I receive a $20 bonus. Then recruit your own friends and family and get your own bonus! You can get more information on Biolife HERE or to find a location near you. All your funds are loaded onto a reusable prepaid debit card.

    Not only will you earn a little extra money, but you will help save lives in the process.


    2. Taste Test Ice Cream

    Yup. You read that correctly. This one is only for local Siouxland residents. Wells Enterprises, the makers of Blue Bunny Ice Cream, Bomb Pop, and more are in need of individuals to come in and taste their ice cream. No joke. I actually use to work for Wells before I became a SAHM and run these panels. But now I get to sit on the other side of the window. For each session it takes about 45 minutes and you earn a $30 prepaid gift card.  You can sign up HERE. If you can eat ice cream and work a computer than you can be a taster. You must be able to get to Le Mars, IA for the tasting. I love getting to participate and try out the new flavors they are working on. And come on, is there a better way to earn $30 than eating ice cream?

    Be a Taste Tester

    3. Ibotta 

    If you aren’t familiar with Ibotta rebate app, you should be. This has been a great way for our family to earn cash back on grocery items we already buy. And now that they include online retailers like and Amazon you can earn even more. I have been using Ibotta for a little over a year, and so far I have earned over $173 cash back on items I was going to buy anyways. Things like milk, eggs, bananas, pancake syrup, etc.  Use referral code gergdwu when you sign up to earn a bonus after you complete your first rebate. I also get a small referral bonus. See my actual earnings report below. It works!

    All you do is select which retailer you are going to be shopping at; choose which items you plan to buy. Purchase your items, scan your receipt and items and DONE! Cash back can be redeemed as a gift card to all major retailers or as a payout to your venmo or paypal account. Sign up Here. Don’t forget to use code gergdwu.


    4. Join my Arbonne team

    I am an Independent Consultant for Arbonne International. Arbonne sells high quality products for every member of your family. Skincare, nutrition, baby products, even things for your beloved 4-legged family members. Your success with Arbonne is limited only to your own determination and willingness to try. Earn 4 ways, Commission, Overrides, Mercedes Benz cash program, Cash bonuses at every level of management.

    I would love to have you join my team. You could totally rock this business. Unlike some MLM companies, you do not have monthly quotas to meet. If you have a slow month, that’s ok. Just start fresh next month! Join my team. You could earn enough to cover groceries, or your mortgage, or your kids sporting fees. Its up to you! Why not try it. You have nothing to lose!


    5. Swagbacks

    This is an app for your phone that will pay you to watch movie trailers, take surveys, and watch ads for major companies. I just signed up and have already earned a lot of Swagbacks. Each point earned essentially equals 1 penny. So 100 SB = $1. While this app won’t pay back a ton. It is something easy to do while killing time waiting in line or waiting for the doctor. Do on your own time. Earn as much as you want, it’s all based on you. Join my team.


    Do you have a favorite way to earn money while staying home? Post your thoughts in the comments.

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