Disney with Four Kids. During a pandemic.

Been there, done that. The trip to Walt Disney World is a one and done kind of experience for us, its expensive and a lot of work. But, Disney did not disappoint. The hype, the feeling of it being a ‘must-do’ is true. It felt more like a trip than a vacation, but maybe that’s just my life with #4boys. Here are some tips from a novice and first timer- who enjoys traveling with kids and nice things. (Oxymoron?) Even during a pandemic.

There are some things – I recommend to my friends who are considering making the trip. 

A little background information to set the stage. My boys are ages 7-11. My 8 year old was the perfect age. He loved it all.  If you have an 8 year old, now is the the time.

We visited Disney during the pandemic. Occupancy was somewhere between 25% and 35% and many of the ‘normal’ things Disney does were not on offer. Social Distancing and mask wearing, temp checks- all the things are there in place to do Disney safely.

Find a Disney Magic Maker (travel agent). This person knows all the details about all the changing rules, regulations, park occupancy as well as the best things and times to do them all. They’ve been, lots, they love Disney they can be a huge help in figuring out what will be best for your family. This is free service. They make a commission off your purchases- but nothing more- and there is a lot of leg work involved. This is the way to go. They make your reservations; for dinning and tickets to the park- I have no more information on any of that- just hire a person. They will hook you up.

Stay ‘off campus.’ Many people will say otherwise- but for our family of 6 this was a must. During the pandemic especially good- because the normal perks of staying ‘inside the Disney bubble’ don’t exist. This saves a ton of money and allows some freedoms a hotel cannot give. Like space.

We had a three bedroom condo with three bathrooms. The perfect apartment, complete with a kitchen and washer and dryer. Key. So key.  It was also a water park resort with restaurants and lots of other activities. The Grove. If I had a smaller family – The Four Seasons would be my choice.

Uber. We used ride share everywhere. So easy. So great. Following all protocols and plenty of availability. This is the way to go. As a large family, we did have to split into 2 Ubers often, but this wasn’t an issue. From the airport to the resort, to a different Disney Park each day- this is awesome! Dropped right at the front, less walking, no parking fees and a time saver.

Use a grocery delivery service like Walmart+ or Instacart. We had groceries and snacks and alcoholic beverages delivered to our resort. Plan ahead and have a delivery coming the day you arrive. I also brought some snacks in our luggage- like granola bars etc.- just in case- also pack swimsuits in your carry on for immediate swimming once you arrive to the hotel/resort.

You can bring in food to Disney and we had a soft cooler that worked perfectly inside my husbands backpack.  Things like bars, frozen uncrustables, trail mix, bottles of waters…all the things to keep us going in between meals. Totally made our lives easier without hangry kids. 

You will want to bring a battery pack for your phones- they will die. Don’t forget the cord to attach it to your phone….we did that one day. opps.

Plan a day of rest. I so wish we had done this. A full day to chill, sleep in, enjoy the resort.  Most of the parks open early and you’ll spend all day there- the kids really do enjoy the pools and fun at the hotels, so make some time to enjoy that- and you will need the rest. A break from the lines, gift shops, from the walking, from the food- from it all. We walked an average of 9 miles each day with kids in tow- all day long out and about- we were so tired at the end. 

Skip Animal Kingdom. We had fun here, but it really wasn’t all that great in comparison to the other parks. Kind of like a big zoo with a few cool rides. Once area completely shut down- most of the exhibits are what you see back home. Not worth it in my opinion.

A Fanny pack/ Back Pack is needed. I used a fanny pack and my husband carried the back pack. We visited Disney in December so light weight (easily squished) jackets were needed in the morning and evening, but during the day we stuffed them in the backpack. It also held our snacks.

My boys loved the frozen lemonades for sale around the park, churros and Mickey pretzels. We ate a couple of restaurants but had to split up into 2 tables. The food there, in my opinion, isn’t that great. My own packed sandwiches and snacks were better choices for us.

Masks- you have to wear them. Bring extras, change throughout the day. No buffs or single ply face coverings allowed- only real masks.

Pre-purchase Disney Gift Cards from Sam’s Club. We purchased each child a $50 gift card and they could use that to purchase their own souvenirs. This was handy because it kept things fair and gave them a sense of ownership to what they really wanted. Tacky hats and all.

Motion sickness peeps- you know who you are. Wear the bands, take the meds. Pack Gallon Size Ziplocks. They come in handy for lots of things.

To My Valentine: 10 Gift Ideas That Will Go Straight To My Heart


To My Valentine,

Just in case you are at a loss for great gifts for me this V-Day,  I have some ideas for you. Any one of these, to me, is better than a box of chocolates and a dozen roses. Those gifts mentioned are always appreciated, of course, but let me steer you in the direction that goes straight to my heart.

  1. Plan a future date night.  The place, the sitter, the meal- you handle all the details. This is better than actually going out on V-day, IMO.
  2. A gift card to my favorite store/shop/restuarant/coffee house. I can spend and enjoy at my leasure and it will be mine all mine.
  3.  A nice note. Tell me how you appreciate me.
  4. clean sink in the morning. This little gift of love requires you to do the dishes the night before,  load the dishwasher, unload it and leave no dishes in the sink, or on the counter near the sink. This will give me such joy in the morning, you would not even believe it.  
  5. Send me to a hotel by myself.  No children, no you. Sorry, not sorry. Mama needs a break.   It doesn’t need to be a fancy spot,  just give me four walls in a room of darkness all to myself for 24 hours. I will come back a new woman, I promise. 
  6. Want to do flowers? Choose an orchid. It doesn’t have to come from the florist, they have them at the grocery. To me, this blooming baby is much better than cut roses. It will last. Like our love. 
  7. Match all the socks in the house and toss any that don’t match. I highly doubt you’ll choose this one, but I would be eternally grateful.  
  8. Bring home sushi and wine and lets eat together, at the table, no phones, no kids, just us.
  9. Lunch date. Lets meet for lunch on V-day and really take the time to chat. No talking about schedules or work or any of that. Just Lunch. 
  10. Let me sleep in. Whatever it takes, just let me sleep in. 

This is the go-to-list for you this year, save it for birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas. This is the way to this tired Mama’s heart.  Hugs and kisses.

Small Change Brings Big Change With McDonald’s Round-Up

Isn’t it great when technology and innovation come together for the greater good?

McDonald’s recently developed a new way to make a big impact on our local community and customers are taking to it.


The new technology is called Round-Up.

When placing a self-order at the touchscreen kiosks, customers  have an opportunity to Round-Up their purchase to the nearest whole dollar. A little change goes a long way.

You may be familiar with dropping spare change in the container at the McDonald’s drive through or at the counter for the Ronald McDonald House Charity® (RMHC®).


Customers can still can donate that way, but in a world where debit cards rule, and not many of us carry cash…(I never have cash…who does?!) this new technology makes giving change easy as (hot apple) pie.

Innovation and technology come together beautifully in this new way to give back.

It is great news for our local community because all the local rounded up change goes to support the local RMHC®.

For decades, RMHC® has ensured families with sick children are able to be together and close to the care they need. This is made possible in part through the change collected from generous customer donations at McDonald’s restaurants. 


It is simple to Round-Up:

  • Choose your menu items from the touchscreen kiosk
  • At check out, you will have a chance to Round-Up your total to the nearest whole dollar
  • Tap Round-Up if you would like to donate to RMHC®
  • Proceeds from Round-Up help RMHC® and its network of local Chapters serve more families every day


Thanks to McDonald’s continued commitment to innovation and technology customers can now easily lend a helping hand to families in our community. 


When you Round-Up your total, you’re helping to provide a comfortable place for families with sick children to stay, near the hospital, complete with home-cooked meals, private bedrooms and playrooms for kids. There are over 181 Ronald McDonald House programs in the U.S. By the end of 2020, Northwest Arkansas will have 25 rooms for local families. Round-Up for Northwest Arkansas. 


#Sponsored #McDonalds #RoundUp #RMCH

20 Things I Will Teach My Sons In 2020

20 Things I Will Teach My Sons In 2020

1. Never shake a man’s hand sitting down. Have a firm handshake for both men and women and look them in the eyes.

2. Don’t enter a pool by the stairs. Never dive head first into a body of water.

3. Learn how to grill. The man at the grill is helpful and hailed as hero of the BBQ.

4. In a negotiation, never make the first offer. Don’t throw out the first number.

5. Request the late check-out at hotels and leave a tip for the cleaners.

6. When entrusted with a secret, keep it and don’t hold it over anyone.

7. Return a borrowed car or boat with a full tank of gas. Return borrowed clothes dry cleaned.

8. Play sports with passion and sportsmanship or don’t play at all.

9. Don’t be the person with loud music on the beach. The beach is the vacation, don’t be distracted by all the other activities. Wear sunscreen and reapply.

10. Carry a handkerchief.

11. Write thank you notes.

12. Never be afraid to ask out the best looking person the room.

13. Never turn down a breath mint. If you’ve been offered one, take it. But please don’t chew gum.

14. Thank a veteran when you see one.

15. Keep making new friends. Seek out those needing a friend. Stand up for your friends.

16. Don’t send an email when you’re angry. Don’t grocery shop when you’re hungry.

17. Manners make the man. Mind yours.

18. Give credit. Take the blame. Own your mistakes. Ask for help.

19. Love and protect your siblings. They are the greatest gift I gave you.

20. Be confident but stay humble.

*Adapted from Rules To Teach Your Son

*Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

Take A Walk Down Memory Lane At McDonald’s


Nostalgia is a funny thing.  My sentimental longing of childhood toys, activities and places I’ve loved, came out in full force when I had children of my own.

I wanted to collect things for them that I had loved, because, I knew they would love them too.

Sharing sentiments with my children has been a pleasant surprise for me along the parenthood journey. When my kids cherish my favorite book, movie, meal or toy, I am delighted. The common affection connects us.


Most recently, my children and I  bonded over McDonald’s  #HappyMeal toys. I felt super nostalgic when I saw the iconic throwback toys. So many memories! 


Do you remember your favorite Happy Meal toy? I do. Those TY Teenie Beanie Babies-I was crazy for them.  Somewhere my mom still has my collection. I made her hang on to them, I thought it would make me rich.


Not so much, but I do have rich memories of collecting and trading those Beanie Babies and when McDonald’s released Patti the Platypus in 1997, I was on a mission to collect her.

Well, guess what, she is back and you can collect her too! From Nov. 7 through Nov. 11 at participating McDonald’s, while supplies last, McDonald’s is throwing it way back.  


In celebration of  the 40th anniversary of the Happy Meal, McDonald’s is bringing back 15 limited-edition toys in their Surprise Happy Meal. The toys span the past 40 years and the nostalgia will hit you hard. Grimace and Hamburglar, My Little Pony, Furby, even the Fireman McNugget is back.  Take a walk down memory lane with even more fun toy surprises, there is one in each Surprise Happy Meal. 


It has been the most fun collecting and sharing the new Happy Meal toys with my kids. I had to laugh when they thought the Tamagotchi, a digital pet, was a phone.  They were perplexed. But, it did open up a fun conversation of what life was like when I was their age. No internet – you know – because I am as old as the Happy Meal itself. Ahhh the olden days….Head to participating McDonald’s for your dose of nostalgia and bring on the memories.


Exclusively in the U.S. at participating restaurants from Nov. 7 – Nov. 11, while supplies last, there will be two Disney toys: 101 Dalmatians (1997) and Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2002). Only one toy is included with the purchase of a Surprise Happy Meal.  

#Sponsored #McDonalds #HappyMeal

No More Basic Pumpkins

I bought 14 three dollar pumpkins from Walmart and turned them extra.

I had to sift around to get ones with stems, but they’re a good size and nice and round.

Average, basic orange pumpkins.

Last year I spent a lot of money on ugly pumpkins, white ones and peanut shell looking pumpkins with crazy shapes with weird bumps.

I also needed some flat tops so I could stack them in their multiple fall colors. (Eye-Roll)

Not this year, this year I decided to take a different approach, DIY approach.

Lime. I’m all about it. I want my house lime washed and I want my pumpkins lime washed.

This is a great project to get the kids involved. Super easy and fun.

Here is how I did it.*

-Mix Garden Lime in a bucket with water. Get to a paste like consistency. You’ll need a little extra water for dipping.

-With a paint brush, paint the lime into the pumpkin.

-You can add chunks for more texture but it will take longer to dry.

-Wait for it it dry. The muddy color will change to a chalky white when fully dry.

*It’s important to note that water will take lime right off If it rains, the pumpkins will be washed clean and be back to basic. Just like Cinderella at the strike of midnight.

I Have Four Kids Too

Yesterday at the market, I saw a mom with her four children. I did a double take and held my stare a little too long. It wasn’t chaos, noone was fighting, just a normal outing in the middle of the summer. A mom doing a daily task with all the kids in tow.

It was still a sight to behold. Four kids is a lot. Then I remebered, thats what I look like, or at least, I hope thats what I look like.

(In all honesty my kids would be fighting with eachother over who gets to push the cart while simitantiously begging me for sugary cereal.)

I grinned a little and continued my shop all alone. My four boys were in camp for the day.  In that moment, I was gratful I could get in and out of the store without my little helpers. At the same time I felt a little less like me.

Noone knew that I was the mom of four kids too. I was just a lady in the store shopping alone.  So much of who I am is wrapped up in the boys, even though I certainly have my own life, hobbies, friends etc– it is what it is. I am a mom to four boys, it is a badge I wear proudly.

I wanted to tell that mom, with my smile, with my voice that I have four kids too. I wanted to share that bond, share a smile, but instead I went on with my shop.

I was kicking myself for not saying, “Hey Mama, youre doing great. It is uneblivable really. You make it look easy.”

As fate would have it, we parked next to each other.  I loaded my grocerieswith ease and then put my cart away. She buckled seat belts and started the air-conditioning. As I returned from putting my cart away, I spoke up. “I’ll put your cart up for you. I have four kids too.”

We smiled.


Plant Stand Transformation

I have a beautiful vintage white and rusty plant stand. It’s a favorite. Handed down to me by an aunt, it’s sentimental and I love it. But in the Fall, I love it even more.

The Fall is when I began adding pumpkins, gourds, color, texture and whimsical features.

It lasts only until the first freeze, but it makes the transition from Summer to Fall to Winter so much fun.

Rex stands on duty near the gathered plants As I plan how to pot and place.

Sometimes I’ll even use cut flowers from my yard on vases tucked in between pots and pumpkins.

These Limelight Hydrangeas have been so good to me all summer. They deserve a spot on the stand too.

I Expect More From My Kids

Lately on social media I see loads of back-to-school organization tips and picture tutorials for packing the perfect lunch. I’m over here shaking my head.

It is just too much.

Parents proudly showing off the chore charts they made or the homework centers; snacks in shoe hangers labeled what is appropriate to eat when; tooth brush stations with timers and towers of plastic drawers with outfits labeled for the entire week.

No thanks.

Instead of making it hard on myself to make it easy on my kids-I’m going to simply expect more from my kids.

Instead of taking it upon myself I’m putting it upon my kids.

My preparation for back-to-school involves holding my kids accountable and responsible for their self and that includes school organization.

Sure, I’m happy to help, encourage and provide things. But I am only giving tools to them. I’m not doing it for them.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. #truth

My 4th grader and 1st grader can lay out their own clothes the night before school. I don’t want to or need to label drawers with the days of the week and all their outfits neatly placed inside. They will do their homework at the kitchen table while I make dinner.

Life with kids in school doesn’t have to be fancy or systematically organized at every turn to work.

Organization is great-but what’s wrong with expecting our kids to get on with it and do their chores because we said so, not because of a reward chart.

Teaching my kids to be independent and self sufficient is my goal and I’m prepping for a great school year.

Packing For Summer Camp

Packing for camp had me a little crazy this year. All the theme nights….and so many pairs of socks and underware- I had to purchase as I packed. But- I got it all done with a little help from Mabels Labels. img_5701-1

Mabels Labels has the easy stick on type, the iron on type {see my tip for easy application below} The labling- while it took a little forward thinking and planning and ordering {hello free shipping} was well worth the ease and security knowing when my son looses something it has a chance of making it back to us.

Top Tip: 

I like to use my  hair straightener for the collars and small spaces when ironing on clothing labels.


You can even shop back to school at Mabels Labels. But long live summer until then!

Back To School _DSeries 125x125

With your purchase I make a commisson.

I promise you’ll love these and need them in your life.

Fourth of July Favorites

We had a neighborhood party complete with a bouncy castle water slide, fireworks and loads of amazing food. {and drinks}

In addition to chips and dips, cheese platters and BBQ we supplemented with a few favorites.

Pasta Salad

Super easy + goes a long way + crowd pleaser, yes please.

Simply boil pasta, drain, cool and add all the things. I went for spinach leaves, hearts of palm, marinated artichoke quarters, black olive slices, cherry tomatoes, red onion and a few bits of steamed broccoli.

Toss it all in Italian dressing and voilà.

Another favorite of ours is affectionately called, Flag Salad. Another one that goes a long way and is super easy to throw together.

Mini Marshmallows + Blue Berries + Strawberries

Add the marshmallows to individual servings to keep from getting soggy.

Our beer of choice? A local bock. Love Honey. ❤️ By Lost Forty Brewing.

We hope you had a great 4th of July!

-The Benefields

Beautifully Dressed To Ragamuffin

 For years I dressed my first son in beautiful clothing. As a baby, he wore pima cotton layettes and smocked bubbles. As he began to toddle, he was smartly buttoned up in a  Jon Jon,  sandals or knee-high socks and bucks, depending on the weather, he had a piped peter-pan collared shirt underneath.  At play time, I dressed him down in  appliquéd t-shirts, gingham shorts and monogramed fleeces.   He was a perfect southern boy with the haircut to match. IMG_2076

I spent a lot of money on clothing for my child. I ironded his outfits.

 I even began designing clothing. I was all in. My tag line was dress children like children. I believed it was the only way. I planned for my second son to be dressed the same sweet, baby, southern way. 



But then….Then something happened that took me from having beautifully dressed children to complete ragamuffins. Hair and all.

My bar dropped. Real low.  My give a care went out the window. Why? Oh, because,  I delivered identical twin boys just 18 months after having my 2nd boy. I had 4 boys 4 and under. ‘Aint no body got time for ironing smocked clothing with 4 boys under 4. And not much time for anything else either. Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 9.00.48 AM

I could not even attempt to  keep outfits clean or button a million tiny buttons up the back of a screaming toddler-all while trying to keep the crotch snapped and toes from popping out of sandals. Not on a regular day, no way. Maybe on a very special occasion, I could get it together, but it was a rare sight.

My grip loosened as my oldest son  entered a uniform-less kindergarten in the Midwest. It was full of Nike and Under Armor clad kids. He began asking for the clothes his friends were wearing  and I gave in.

That was the moment I turned on my southern roots for the sake of sanity.

My sweetly dressed child was gone forever; now decked out in brightly colored sports clothes.  We skipped collared shirts and khaki shorts and dove straight into ragamuffin territory. Hard.


First Day Of Kindergarten for my 2nd born.

That was the slippery slope that lead my then 2 year old down a nice cleared path full of hand-me-down sports clothes.  All accessible on the bottom shelf of my oldest son’s closet.

I had a 2 year old begging to dress like his brother, made worse as the clothes were 3 sizes too big. Also they  were worn and torn. I allowed it. I didn’t have time to argue or even dress them myself.

Plus, I was still hanging on to the hope that my twins would not fall so deeply for the ‘Dude Perfect’ look. But alas, it happened even faster with them. SMH.

I clung to church and parties and holidays to pull out the stacks of clothes I had neatly put away to make room for the leisure wear.  Bribes of candy and promises of taking it off as soon as we got home do work from time to time. But, most of the time, my kids are dressed in shiny, pilled, mismatched Nike shorts and a bright green t-shirt that says “Dunk You Very Much” or something of the like.


Not even 3 years old.  Gone. I lost my grip on the clothes a long time ago.

I am sure there is a way to allow sports clothes and still look clean cut and put together. But I can’t pull it off. Everyone is in everyones clothes all the time. It is a mixed-matched ragamuffin shop in my boy’s closest.  

It is true. Call me out. I’m a total southern mom fraud. My boys dress in the opposite of what I think is appropriate, cute, or stylish for that matter. 

But, all I can do is shrug my shoulders and just be glad they are dressed.

Typical mismatch of seasonal raggamuffin clothing, in public.

There Is Always One

As a mom of four rowdy little boys, I am well aware of the behavior threshold they possess. Our boys are a lot wherever we go. Our family knows our limits and we try to plan accordingly. But, without a doubt, before long, one of them is going to start a fight,  complain or misbehave.  

There is always one.  

There is always one child who is unhappy. There’s always one child who feels left out, one that hates me and one who is pouting. There is always one who can’t sleep, who doesn’t want to eat and there is  always one child who can’t seem to find his shoes. 

There is always one child throwing a temper tantrum in public,  one child tormenting the dog or his brother or me. There is always one child who needs help in the bathroom or with homework. There is always one who had a bad day at school.

There is always one who wants more than I have to give and one that won’t give me the time of day. There is always one doing something dangerous, crazy or silly. There is always one out of the four boys acting a little too difficult before my morning coffee.

But, there is also always one who reaches for my hand and says please and thank you.  

There is always one child who tells me I look beautiful with my hair in a messy bun and pjs on. There’s always one child who smiles at just the right moment and he melts my heart then and there.

There is always one child being nice and polite or the peacemaker of the family. There is always one child helping his brother,  making good grades and leading others in a positive way. There is  always one child making me feel proud, and there is always one child who wraps his arms around me and tells me he loves me. 

There’s always one child fast asleep next to me and always one begging to watch him play. There is always one to throw the ball with and there’s always one child who wants to  sit in my lap. 

There’s always one up to play;  ride bikes, play cards, or  hide and seek with. There is always one who is dying to a build fort together. 

Having four children does stretch me, but it also fulfills me. It is frustrating and wonderful all at the same time. 

Yes, there is always one who is pushing someone’s buttons; but there is always one pulling at my heart strings too.  There is more than one to love and there is more than enough love to go around for one and for all. 


This piece was shared with 4 Boys Mother and I am thankful to Melissa Fenton for having me as her guest blogger!