How to Have a Fabulous Girls Weekend: 2016 Edition

Oh, the utter joy and funity of Girls Weekend!!! I think the last time I used the word “funity” was my post about hosting Girls Weekend last year…

I put a lot of thought, planning, and long Pinterest-sessions into this Girls Weekend, but I still followed the principles I outlined last year. Except a little different. Because I’m a million years pregnant.

So, using those same guidelines from last year’s post, here’s how they played out this year:

1. decide on a theme based on something general or an overall feeling

This year, I didn’t have as themey of a theme as last year (aka “Pretty Comfy Coffee Togetherness” which I maintain is super articulate). And actually, the theme stemmed from the decor, which was really pretty simple. Simple but impactful. But I’ll get to that in a second.

Looking at the happy, bright colors of my decorations, I decided to paint a little illustration and then print it off as little cards for everyone, just as a fun way to make it special!

Decor 5

“Colorful. Breathable. Fun.” Just a simple little watercolor piece on a half sheet of paper. Then I printed it on a half of a half sheet size… um, there’s probably an easier way to say that.

Decor 62. decorate with inexpensive yet WOW factor ideas

Ok, so just to remind you, these “guidelines” are borrowed directly from The Nester’s post about a girls weekend from several years ago… And my version of WOW factor = colorful poms.

Decor 1

I actually had these left over from a baby shower I’d thrown with a friend back in February!

Decor 3

Remember, last time I hung giant pink poms with those same white lanterns  and some tulle in the “entryway” of our apartment?

Pink Pom Entryway!

That was super fun, but that area is generally pretty dark, and I wanted these to hang somewhere they’d truly be seen and enjoyed. So, I tried taping them over the island, which I liked!

The rest of the decor came from the Target $1 Spot. Because obviously.

Decor 8 2

Decor 4

The bunting, the colorful feather banner, and the polkadot straws came from the $1 Spot, and the mason jars and burlap runners were also left over from that baby shower. I love that feather banner! It’s definitely made of like, plastic, but you don’t know that unless you feel the feathers.

3. cook something I’ve made before and only cook for the first meal and also make a few things ahead of time

So, this was kind of true, insomuch as I really only made one or maybe two meals? And most of the time, it seemed like this year we were all sort of collaborating on each meal- again special thanks to Kara and Heather, who really ended up doing 80% (99%?) of all food preparations.

Waffles and Quiche

Mmmm, waffles. I mean, those waffles were epic, you guys. They made me think of this:

Breakfast Food Meme

Also, I made that Pioneer Woman cowboy quiche (except I basically included the good stuff from both the cowgirl and cowboy quiche recipes, like bacon + sausage + mushroom + onions + cheese, and left out artichokes. Oh, and I definitely used frozen pie crusts versus making my own).

Scones

Mmmm, scones.

4. say yes when someone offers help

When I listed this tip before, I claimed that I’d taken it and helped it become the greatest version of itself. Little did I know how much greater it could become… If you’re not following my metaphor, I’m saying that I asked for help. Like a LOT of help. Before, during, and kind of after… Because again, I’m a million years pregnant.

Kara's Journal

May I add that as a result of being a million years pregnant, this year I felt more like the beneficiary of gracious guests than a gracious hostess. (Thank you, gracious guests!!!)

5. enjoy the people when they are here and don’t worry about cleaning every part of the kitchen to perfection

Because being together is such a gift, who cares if the sink is full? And yet, we did have to clean up sometimes, because there was a lot of stuff occupying our island… Like amaaaazing bread, made by Kara.

Kara's Homemade Bread

 

6. Keep a loose hold on your agenda. Plans are good, but not when they hijack the fun(ity).

This group of girls includes some of the most kindred spirits I know! We don’t really need or want lots of activities to fill the time. We basically spend 75% of the time talking in our jammies, coffee and tea in hand.

However, we do love a good coffee place… So, we found one in a super quaint town close by! It was so rustic and beautiful, with Joanna-Gaines worthy chandeliers and an upstairs full of welcoming nooks and lovely light.

Kara captured some beautiful shots of our time, and I begged her to let me share them with you! (She graciously consented. Thank you, dahling!)

DSC_0453

(I make it a point to have only super-mega-beautiful friends.)

DSC_0451

(See? And back in college, people used to mistake me for this gorgeous girl. I’ve never been so pleased to be mistaken for someone. Although, it was pretty funny when I got engaged and people kept congratulating her…)

DSC_0470

Kara wanted to snap a maternity shot, and I love this one! I don’t really have many- or any- nice maternity photos, so I love that she thought of it. She’s so good!

DSC_0448

DSC_0447

“And on the eighth day, God made coffee.” Amen.

thumb_IMG_2574_1024

This mug is so photogenic.

Group pic

Aaand obligatory group couch picture. There seems to be a history of group couch pictures…

This is what's actually normal for us.

This is last year.

couch picture

…We’re missing one dear girl in this one, but it IS a group couch picture. (And documentation that I got Kara to wear red lipstick one time.)

This weekend is one of the most sleepless times of the year. And it’s 100% worth it!

thumb_IMG_2602_1024

We feel so blessed to be able to get together like this every year. I think we figured out that this was our 9th year of our “road trip” slash Girls Weekend!

The guidelines have worked well for us, and I hope they might work for you, too!

 

Are you interested in a pretty, custom designed card or print for your own Girls Weekend or gathering of kindred spirits? Send me a message! Go to my etsy shop and let’s chat. Fyi, I’ll be taking custom orders through September 15th, then I’ll be taking a break- errr, having a baby.

10 Days in Anaheim: Conventions, Libraries, + How to Disney with a Toddler

This has been possibly the most eventful summer of our marriage so far. I mean, from June-September, we will have had 6 weekends at home where absolutely nothing was going on..

It’s been a mix of big trips, small trips, and commitments that will lead right up to Evangeline’s due date. But the biggest trip of our summer was to Anaheim a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s the super-mega-abridged version:

  1. NACC for a week
  2. Disney for a day afterwards
  3. Ronald Reagan Library

Feel free to just scroll through the post if you just want to see cute pictures of Lucy at Disney… There are a lot of pictures, friends.

Here’s the super-mega-unabridged version (settle in, I hold nothing back. I’m like Tolkien in the second half of The Two Towers where he describes every gray pebble and boulder in Mordor):

It started on Friday, July 8th when we drove two hours to my parents’ house. The next morning, Ryan flew out early to Anaheim, while Lucy and I stayed with them until Monday, when we all followed. From the 12th-18th the NACC took place, which my husband works for, and which required him to basically work 6 or 7 AM until 11 PM (or later) for the whole week. Aka any time I saw him he was power-walking somewhere.

Jungle 1What an awesome week! Great speakers from pastors like Dave Stone and Gene Appel to speakers like Christine Caine, Bob Goff, and even Tim Tebow! Plus, Lucy did wonderfully, especially considering she’s 2 and requires constant attention (and entertainment). So, obviously, having my parents there was immensely helpful!

Jungle 2

And apparently, California is beautiful. Did you when there’s no humidity in the air, summer is actually pleasant?! Oh. You did? Because everyone knows that? Well, this was my first experience with it, and I finally understand why everyone loves when the whether is a “dry heat.”

Outside 2Every time we passed landscaped areas with palm trees, Lucy would cry out, “Jungle, Mommy! Jungle!” which was the cutest thing ever.

Outside

Thankfully for my mom and the childcare at the children’s convention, I was able to do some If Then Move work at the Women’s Gathering Place booth with Wendy, where we guided women through making Story necklaces (to go along with the NACC’s theme this year of “A Better Story”). 

Women's Gathering Place
It was so awesome seeing how God used the time they spent making the necklaces as a time of surrender and hope! Seeing people come a little more alive is part of why I love my work for Wendy.

WendyITM

A minute later, it seemed like the convention was over! It felt like a long and a short week at the same time… and thoroughly exhausting. (I’ve never been this pregnant at the NACC before. Yeesh.) And of course, my husband walked over 100 miles in the course of the week, so you know, he felt dead by the week’s end.

Friday evening featured a lovely dinner in the Packing District (which if you don’t know is basically a hipster-foodie’s dream), though unfortunately a not-so-lovely night followed for me…

Packing Disctrict Popsicles

Apparently my prego-self did not like whatever I ate there. But I prayed so hard that it would just be limited to the night, because the next day was our day at DISNEYLAND!!!

Though by morning I still felt weak, I just felt better and better throughout the day! And WHAT a day.

Disney 2

(Look at that baby girl. Also, that prego belly. Man, I feel like it’s a lot bigger even now.)

To say the whole experience was truly magical might feel like a cliche or something off a brochure about your visit to Disney, let me say it is also 100% TRUE.

Let me also say, I’d been dreaming of and planning for this trip in general, but especially our day at Disney, for months. (Don’t get me wrong- I was SUPER excited for the NACC too, but I’ve done that with a little one before. Disney is a whole different animal.) I had pinned a bunch of articles on Pinterest by moms detailing how to maximize your time at the parks with toddlers. Prized information indeed. Actually, I created a whole board just for the purpose, which you can see here if you find yourself planning a similar trip!

Knowing we only had one day at Disney meant that I had a very specific but also a very loose agenda. Because not to be Captain Obvious or anything, but toddlers don’t love waiting in lines for hours… So I only had 3 items that I’d listed as my top Wouldn’t-It-Be-Great-If-This-Happened things:

  1. Lucy meeting Mickey OR one of the others on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
  2. Taking her to the Disney Junior Live show
  3. Meeting Elsa + Anna.

Maybe this sounds silly to you, but I just felt like God was part of the whole day. I could just feel his delight in letting these things happen- things that weren’t necessary for survival or super important exactly- but just abundantly blessing us with beautiful, good moments.

Disney Jr. LiveAll three of those things happened within our first two hours in the park! Right after we got to California Adventure, they did a last call for anyone who wanted to see Disney Jr. Live- which was AWESOME. (If you have a toddler, I mean.) It’s set up like an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (Lucy’s all time favorite which she would watch absolutely all the time if I let her), in which they go to the worlds of Sofia the 1st, Doc McStuffins, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. (Lucy likes Jake, but mainly she adores Sofia and Doc.)

Wonder

Her face. I can’t even. She was so filled with wonder and delight. Each portion had some cool effect which all the kids loved; “snow” falling from the ceiling, then bubbles in the Doc portion, then “gold doubloons” (aka circular cutouts of yellow and gold tissue paper). I know people always talk about the whole fun of Disney being witnessing your kids’ reaction to things, but I happily join their ranks and say how completely wonderful it really is!

Afterwards, we were fairly close to Elsa and Anna’s Royal Welcome (aka the meet and greet), so we headed over to that. One of the clerks at the entrance mentioned that Elsa had to run back to Arendelle on urgent business (keeping’ it real- gotta love that about Disney) and that she would probably be back around noon. Well, when the wait time is an hour and it’s 11:00 and your husband thinks logical thoughts, you get in line and hope Elsa is back in time.

Side note: we were only willing to wait for this because it was inside in air-conditioning. Plus, the waiting area had all these giant screens playing songs/scenes from all kinds of Disney movies, which helped us entertain Lucy, although she was definitely reaching her limits by the end of that hour.

Finally, we got into “the castle” and there they were! Elsa and Anna. You never know how your little one is going to react to seeing characters, and Lucy was just in total awe and amazement… and a little intimidated by Elsa, we think. Maybe it’s because we’d talked about seeing Anna the whole time, but not Elsa (in case she wasn’t back), or maybe it’s that Elsa has really big hair… Who knows? But I had to go sit with her on the floor- and they sat as well. They were fabulous and super friendly, but Lucy still kept her distance. Finally, she gave Anna a hug, but apparently just could not handle giving one to Elsa.

Of course, as soon as we left, she started crying, “Elsa Anna again!” So, clearly she loved meeting them. 😀

Possibly the best part of the day happened next. As we were deciding what to do next, Daisy Duck walked by with a staff member. I immediately asked if we could get a picture, but the guy said they were on their way to a photo op spot, and did Lucy want to walk there with Daisy? Um, YES.

By this point, she was also wearing her Sofia the 1st dress which of course looks PRECIOUS on her, and made this whole thing even more adorable… (Aaaand cue the onslaught of photos…)

A Walk with Daisy

She took Daisy’s hand, and they just walked along the sidewalk together like besties! Of course, my parents, Ryan and I walked behind- all with our phones out, incredulously taking as many pictures and videos possible, because that’s what you do when you’re at Disney with your child.

Window Shopping

BFFs

Daisy was so perfect- bending down and pointing in shop windows, engaging with Lucy, and when they got to the spot for people to line up for photos, she picked an ACTUAL daisy from the landscape and put it in Lucy’s hair.

Taking a Walk

Flower

I can’t even.

Lucy and Daisy

And just because it wasn’t perfect enough already, Daisy knelt down, opened her arms, and Lucy promptly threw her arms around Daisy, which I caught on video. #winning

After that, I pretty much felt I’d Disney-ed like a boss, so we just got to enjoy walking around and seeing all the wonderfulness around us. (Do you know how PRETTY it is in Disney? The whole thing is just beautiful.) We made our way over to the Star Wars area in Tomorrowland (because obviously!) and got lunch, where we were able to watch the Jedi Academy thing happening from our table!

Lucy probably loved this just as much as Disney Junior live. Almost. When Darth Vader left the stage, she was like, “Eh my Darf Vader go?”

After lunch, it was hot enough that we ducked into a close by shop, where naturally Papa caved and bought Lucy a noise-making R2D2 that lights up and has things that spin around the top of it.

What was left but to find Dory (ha. I didn’t do that on purpose) in the emporium and immediately attach herself to it? It was truly a perfect day. And by then, it was so busy and all the lines were SUPER long for things, and Lucy as well as the rest of us were basically worn out.

I know I’m documenting like Every Little Thing about that day, but I just have to, because we felt so over-abundantly blessed! To be there together, to see Lucy’s joy- it was magical.

Disneyland Mug

(So obviously I had to purchase the Disneyland Starbucks You are Here mug. Because it’s also magical. And SO PRETTY.)

The next morning, we ate at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and gave Dad birthday cards, which he of course was a choked up mess over (which made Mom and I choke up too, as per usual- though Ryan knows we are always sappy about things).

Lucy at Coffee Bean Then we visited Discovery Church in Simi Valley, followed by an afternoon at the Ronald Reagan National Library!

It’s amazing how much is there to look at, inside and out! It’s surrounded by beautiful views.

Reagan Library View

Beautiful ViewLucy found it fascinating as well…

Sleepy and Reagan

Clearly, it was a full 10 days. But full of goodness, beauty, and gratitude.

Selfie of Us

Also, it’s probably unsurprising that we were left a bit catatonic when we got home. I mean, coffee seemingly had no effect on my fatigue whatsoever for like, a week. Of course, I’m also in my third trimester now- yay for the most cumbersome and arguably uncomfortable part of pregnancy!!

If you’re still reading, you deserve an award, because I know this was a wordy post. So many words. And so many pictures. I don’t often write such lengthy posts detailing trips like this. Admittedly, it’s mostly for family members and/or my own memory later when I’m like- what happened on that trip again??

Anyway, if nothing else, I hope some of these photos of our sunshine-filled week brought some sunshine into your day.