Do you feel Beautiful?

“You look beautiful!” my daughter exclaimed when she saw me standing in the kitchen this morning.  I was dressed in sweat pants, a baggy old sweater that had seen better days, and my hair had been hastily pulled back into a messy bun.  My body was slumped tiredly against the counter; a strong cup of coffee in one hand, cold, weak toast in the other.
“Thank you,” I said, setting my breakfast down.  I knelt down, and my soon to be 4 year old launched herself into my arms.  Her little body was still warm from sleep, and her hair held the soft, sweet smell of apples.  I pressed my lips to her forehead.  “You are beautiful too, sweetheart,” I said.
She pushed back, abruptly.  “Not yet!” she exclaimed.  “I’m not dressed in my beautiful clothes!  And my hair doesn’t have anything beautiful in it!”
“Huh,” I said, thoughtfully tilting my head to the side.  I studied her for a moment.  Golden hair cascading gently down her back, blue eyes filled with laughter and wonder, rosy cheeks flushed with the excitement of a new day.  My daughter is, in fact, quite beautiful.  Yet I didn’t rush her over to a mirror in order to point that out.  Instead, I shared a secret.
“I guess I haven’t told you about the secret to true beauty yet, have I?” I mused.
“What is it?” she gasped.
“Well,” I began.  “True beauty isn’t something you see at first.  It’s something you feel.”  My daughter looked confused, but snuggled in closer and listened intently.
“The most beautiful people in the world are kind, helpful, loving and good.  Their beauty is inside of them.  So when you meet these people, they have the kind of beauty that shines through from the inside out.  You feel good when you’re around them.  Sometimes you feel their beauty before you see it.”
“What if we put jewelry on?” my daughter asked.  “Does that make us beautiful?”
“Jewelry can be very pretty,” I said, nodding, “and it’s fun to wear, but it doesn’t make us beautiful.  It doesn’t matter what clothes we have on, or what our hair looks like.  If we are not beautiful on the inside, we can never truly be beautiful on the outside.”
My daughter thought about this for a moment while she played with a thread that was slowly unraveling from the cuff of my sweater.  “Mom?” she said, looking up at me.  “You feel beautiful to me.”
“You feel beautiful to me, too,” I said, hugging her closer.
And she is.
Posted on September 29, 2017 by Holdin' Holden 1 Comment

Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream 2017. Prepare for FROSTBITE!

Some Haunts have the best scares. Some haunts have the most creative ideas. Some have the best costumes, and others might have the best attractions for kids, and I’ve been to a lot of haunts over the years, and there’s just nowhere that hits all the marks better than Busch Gardens Howl o Scream– and this year, it’s back and better than ever! I know I say that every year, but this year they have expanded in a way that includes everyone– from the littles who don’t want to be spooked but still want to have a great time, to the adults who love things that go “AHH!” in the night.

It is my absolute favorite time of the year (sorry, not sorry Christmas) and there’s no place I’d rather be enjoying it than at Busch Gardens!

On top of the already great event Busch Gardens has been throwing for years- the scare zones, the houses, the shows (seriously, if you haven’t gone to see Monster Stomp in the Globe Theater… or even if you have… this is something you NEED to do) there’s more to add to your list this season!

(I apologize in advance for the lack of photos. My camera was on the fritz and my phone wasn’t much better).



Weekends in October, before the sun goes down and the ghouls come out, bring the kids (9 & under) decked out in their Halloween costumes to Count Von Count’s Spooktacular! They can dance and play with their favorite Sesame Street characters in the Sesame Street Forest of Fun, ride rides, go Trick or Treating, and participate in kid-friendly activities!

This event runs from 10am – 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays from October 7th through the 29th.


FOR THOSE WHO LIKE SCARES (hey, this can include kids, too!)

Once 6pm hits, Busch Gardens turns into a dark, scary, and fun place. The lights turn down, the music turns up, and you can choose from SEVEN haunted houses, FIVE thrilling Scare Zones, and TWO spooky escape rooms (I’d list the 3 shows, but they run all day long!)

Now I know what you’re REALLY wondering…What’s new this year?



a frozen castle nestled in Germany, prepare to be chilled to the bone in this brand new haunted house.
I honestly think it’s my favorite. The Curse of Dark Kastle was the perfect setting to install a new maze to get lost in, which special kinds of jump scares I’ve never seen before (and definitely didn’t see coming).



The brand new Scare Zone, goes perfectly with Busch Garden’s new ride InvadR. Blood thirsty Vikings have taken over New France after a raiding party gone wrong. Can you make it through the smoldering ash and angry Norseman who guard the walkways?


If you really want to test your fate- try one of Busch Gardens escape rooms! The Case of Mr. Karver (and his CREEPY doll collection) is back this year with new mysteries, and BRAND NEW this year- The Case of the Haunted Hotel. Follow clues and solve riddles to escape, or you’ll never check out! (These cost extra on top of park admission).


Of course, these aren’t the only things to do. You also have the coasters to ride and, all kinds of yummy food to snack on while you watch a show or run from chainsaw wielding demons on Demon Street. You just never know what’s lurking around the corner, so head over to Busch Gardens and check it out!

Howl O Scream is running on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, now through October 29th- with even MORE chances to get spooked this year, as the park will be open until midnight on Saturdays in October, AND added two Thursdays, Oct. 19 and 26, to its schedule!

Hope to see you there!


Find out more about tickets, specific dates & times on the Busch Gardens Williamsburg website!

Posted on September 26, 2017 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

The BMF- Best Mom Friend

THE BMF- it sounds like the title of a new Disney movie about a magical, mystical giant. Or a knife-wielding super ninja Bad-ass Motherf—- well, you know… and it’s kind of both. As rare as a unicorn. It’s the BEST MOM FRIEND.

                                         image credit:

In order to become the best mom friend, you must be born into the role, or somehow get past that mysterious, awkward stage of being “so and so’s mom” in another woman’s phone. You have to jump through flaming hurdles, and limbo under the lowest bars imaginable to reach that level with another mom. It’s the only time in life being “friend-zoned” is the ULTIMATE BE-ALL, END-ALL GOAL.

This isn’t just a friend of convenience, it’s someone you actually look forward to setting up play-dates with. It’s not just someone you have awkward conversations with while your kids run around screaming, but someone you can chat with about anything. She has to be a lady you are close enough with, who knows you and your kids well enough, to have your backs–but who also isn’t scared to call your kid on their shit, or tell you when you’re being nuts. Someone who you won’t instantly snap back at because you know she isn’t judging you or your parenting, she can just tell you’re about to lose your damn mind.

The BMF is a Best Friend PLUS, because it isn’t just you she has to be besties with. It’s your kids. And your kids have to be besties. Well, I guess they don’t have to be, but it sure makes things better. You basically become second moms to each other’s kids. You’re gonna trade them like cards when one of you needs a break, or wants to go out. Hell, you’re gonna go out together without the kids.

She has to be your ride-or-die chick. She has to be the kind of person who, even if she disagrees with how you choose to raise your children, respects you enough to let you do you.

It’s basically like finding the holy grail, because more often than not, if we aren’t gifted a BMF by our pre-kids selves, we find ourselves searching for one and coming across so many sanctimonious, judgy, “I would never do that” types. The “how dare you discipline my child?”, condescending, stick-up-the-butt types, that we just stop looking.

Finding your BMF isn’t as easy just wandering through the forest and bumping into her. The title may be bad-ass, but this isn’t Disney. It takes time, years, even. Dedication. Sifting through a lot of judgy bullshit and pointless drama. So if you have a BMF, go to her right now and tell her the following words:

“Thank you so much for being my BMF, and not a sanctimonious twat.”

Not all of us are so lucky.

Posted on September 20, 2017 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

Forget Party Planning- Make Birthdays EASY this year with Netflix!

A few years back, we stopped throwing birthday parties.

They used to be my thing. I looked forward to, and also absolutely dreaded it every single year, because as proud of the result as I was, and as much as I loved watching the boys enjoy it (we did a two-for-one party with both of their birthdays being in September)–It was just so much work, and so incredibly stressful. I’d spend weeks planning, go totally all-out with themed decorations, foods, drinks, and activities, which meant days shopping– days and late nights trying to make it perfect for the kids–the ones who would actually show up. All that time, the effort, the money spent, all to create chaos in the house for a few hours of panicking you missed something, and worrying people would call the day off to say they couldn’t attend. It sounds like I’m being dramatic, but if you’ve ever thrown a party for a kid, you know this to at least be partially true.

And you’re not alone.

Did you know 71% of parents wish there was a better/easier way to celebrate their child’s birthday without all the added stress?


Instead, we started taking family trips-creating memories of DOING things in place of throwing parties.

NO ONE in this house misses parties.


Still, when the boys’ birthdays roll around, I always want to make at least a little bit of a stink about it, just on a far smaller (read: non-existent) budget. Netflix is making that SUPER easy for all of us with kids that love Netflix as much as we do!




It’s so easy. It’s called Netflix Birthdays on Demand- all ya gotta do is go to and choose from one of FIFTEEN Netflix originals with your kid’s fav characters (including DreamWorks All Hail King JulienBarbieBeat Bugs, DreamWorks Dinotrux, Las LeyendasLEGO Friends, LEGO NinjagoLuna PetuniaMiraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat NoirMy Little PonyPokemonProject Mc2Skylanders Academy, DreamWorks Trollhunters and Word Party.)
And that’s IT.

It will feel like a tailor made birthday celebration just for your little one, without the stress, streamers, and hair torn out.


And maybe have a little bit of cake, too..

Just remember- if no one’s around to see it, the only thing that matters is that it tastes good!

Posted on September 18, 2017 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

Disney Stroller Rentals- Are Your Kids “Too Old”?

“Aren’t the boys too old for strollers?”

This was the first question my husband asked while I was tossing around the idea of renting a stroller, like we always do, for our Disney World vacation this year.

In any normal circumstance, the answer is ABSOLUTELY DEFINITELY. They are both 100% able bodied, and at almost 10 and 8 years old, hearing them whine about how their legs hurt after fifteen minutes of walking or less grates on my nerves more than anything else because I know that, well… I know that they’re full of crap. Crocodile tears. They can handle fifteen minutes of walking. They can handle a couple of HOURS of walking, but Disney World isn’t a couple of minutes of walking, or a couple of hours of walking. It’s walking all day long every day. It’s hours and hours of wading through crowds in the heat.

So while during the day to day they are way too old to be plopping in strollers, at Disney World, I thought it was an absolute necessity.

And I was right.

Like every other year we’ve traveled to Disney World, we secured a stroller with the amazing Orlando Stroller

our chariot awaits!

Rentals. Usually we grab a double, but we thought, the kids ARE older, and more importantly heavier, so they can take turns in a higher capacity rental stroller. They have a really great selection of different styles of stroller to choose from depending on your needs/children’s weights. No pickup necessary, the stroller of our choice gets delivered directly to our resort and picked up when we’re done. And we’ve learned- ALWAYS GO WITH THE RAIN COVER. Just like there’s no guaranteeing how long your kids will last walking in the FL sun, there’s no guaranteeing that FL sun will even show up.

I don’t often like to pat myself on the back, but I’m patting myself on the back for ignoring the “kids are too old” judgment and reserving a rental stroller anyway.

Not only was it a great place for EITHER kid to rest when their legs decided “not to work” (insert eye roll here), but it was an awesome place for our youngest to hide from the rain while only three of us trudged through puddles and the few crazy downpours. Even when neither of them were riding in it (which actually happened more often than I thought it would, they’re growing up!) we used the seat as a place to rest our bookbag so no one had to carry it, and the undercarriage was an amazing place to store purchases to protect them from rain, and so we didn’t have to lug them around on us, or add weight to our bookbag.

look who’s NOT complaining about tired legs


Even better- they handle so much better than the strollers you rent from the parks. So easy that your older child (if you have one) can push it around FOR you. WINNING.

I really am going to be sad when both of my kids become too heavy for us to rent a stroller from Orlando Stroller Rentals, for ALL of the reasons listed above. It’s just so convenient and helpful! I honestly can’t recommend enough, if you are planning a trip to Disney World (or a theme park in Orlando) checking out what Orlando Stroller Rentals has to offer. See what works for you, they have a bunch to choose from! And then relax. The tired legs and rainy days and heavy souvenirs won’t be anything to worry about!

Posted on September 14, 2017 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment