Tampa Tuesdays: New Menu Items at Hard Rock’s Council Oak

We were provided with a free meal to sample Council Oak’s new menu items as well as gift bags. However, all opinions are my own. 

On Bobby’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, we were invited to taste test some of the new menu items at Hard Rock Tampa’s Council Oak restaurant.

I had never had food from Council Oak, but heard so many good things that I couldn’t wait to try it out!

They had a huge buffet of items to sample set out for us, as well as five new cocktails that were being added to their menu. I don’t have photos of every menu item, but wanted to share some of our favorites from the night with you. Bobby loves seafood, so he was all over the calamari and lobster.

 

He also said the jumbo soft shell crab was excellent.

My favorite? By far, the ribeye. It was so tender and super juicy. I may or may not have had around six pieces of it! Normally I like my meat a little more cooked than this, but it tasted just right and had wonderful flavor. Highly recommended!

I think Bobby’s favorite dish of the night was the yellowtail snapper. He went back for more several times, and said it was one of the best he has ever had.

For appetizers, I really enjoyed the cobb salad, which is saying a lot considering I don’t eat a lot of salad. It had the perfect amount of crunch and great flavor without being too overwhelming.

The highlight of the night were the cocktails. We tried four out of the five. They are listed on the menu board in the second picture below, in order from left to right. The rose mojito on the left was very cool because it had a big “ball” ice cube in it with a small rose frozen in the middle. So unique! It had a light refreshing flavor I really enjoyed. My favorite drink was the pillow talk (third from the left). If you like sweeter drinks, this one is for you. Bobby liked the margarita best. It isn’t like your typical margarita, as it had a little bit of a spicy flavor to it instead of sweet. The raspberry drink was also good, but not as good to me as the pillow talk.

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We finished off the night with a delicious baked Alaska dessert which was phenomenal. You can check out all the offerings and more photos on the Hard Rock blog.

Overall we had a great night listening to music, eating, and hanging out with friends, and it just happened to be on Bobby’s birthday, so huge plus there. The Hard Rock did an excellent job coming up with this menu for Council Oak, and I think anyone who tries it out will be very pleased. Be sure to make your dinner reservations soon so you don’t miss out on these menu items!

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QOTD: What is your favorite summer alcoholic drink? Have you been to Council Oak? 

5 Reasons to Stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Disclosure: I attended an expenses paid media trip with Walt Disney World. All opinions are my own.

When you stay on Disney property, you have so many choices on where to rest your head at night. That’s one thing I love about Disney—there is something for everyone. There is also something for every price range, which makes my heart happy because as if having a child wasn’t expensive enough, now I have to take her to Disney? HA! I’m getting off track. I had the privilege of touring Disney’s Art of Animation resort a few weeks ago on a press trip, and I kept saying to myself over and over “Emma Kate (my two year old) would LOVE this!” That being said, I wanted to give you five reasons to stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort with your family on your next vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.) Price: Art of Animation is considered a value resort by Disney categories, but it is what is called a “value plus” resort as it seems a bit of a step up from the other values in several ways (some which are bullet points in this post!) The grounds are spacious and beautiful with great Disney detail I have come to know and love, there are interior hallways, a great gift shop, food court, and more.

You can stay in a “family suite” (I know, the word suite makes me think of thousands of dollars a night!) for a decent price for a larger family. You still get all the perks of staying onsite like access to the Disney bus system, free magic bands, and access to daily extra magic hours, but for a fraction of the cost of some of the deluxe resorts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.) Space options: Family suites were designed with larger families in mind that can’t fit in a regular value resort room (which sleeps 4). These babies sleep six, and there are three themes: Cars, Finding Nemo, and the Lion King. I’m fairly certain my two year old would flip out over any of these themes! There is a bedroom/bath combo with a queen bed, as well as a living room with fold out sofa bed, a table that turns into a bed, a kitchenette, and a second bathroom (HUGE plus!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.) Great food court: If I’m being honest, the food courts at the other value resorts don’t thrill me. However the food court at Art of Animation (called Landscape of Flavors), has taken things up a notch with delicious options like gelato, create your own pasta bowl, and many others. Not to mention it’s really beautiful inside!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.) Great pools: At value resorts, pools are pretty basic, but not here! Not only are there multiple ones to choose from, but the Finding Nemo pool has a splash pad area, and you can even hear music underwater! Be sure to stop by the bar, adorably named the drop off, for your favorite adult beverage to sip poolside, or grab a first come first serve cabana at the Cozy Cone Cars themed pool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.) Life Size characters: Every little kid (ok and big kid, too) loves life sized Disney characters. Thankfully, there is no shortage of them at Art of Animation! Each themed area is scattered with your favorites like Mufasa, Tow Mater, and Prince Eric. (PS: there are standard sized resort rooms in the Little Mermaid section if you don’t want to stay in a family suite).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No matter your reason for staying, there is a lot to do and see at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Be sure to take a look at the options there on your next Disney vacation!

QOTD: Have you stayed at Art of Animation? What is your favorite Disney resort?

FRiYay Lessons with Disney Junior

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Disney Junior, however all opinions are my own.

In case you are new to my blog, I think it’s important for you to know that Disney is a HUGE part of our household. We live in Tampa, so fortunately we get to visit Disney World a lot. However, during times we can’t visit, we do the next best thing, which is watch Disney Junior show on TV! More specifically, we are loving the FRiYAY all NEW episodes that come on every Friday morning on Disney Channel!

Right now Emma Kate is really into Mickey and the Roadster Racers. She has always been a fan of the mouse, and I think her competitive nature is starting to come out (just like mom and dad!) so she really likes the racing aspect of the show. Me? I’m more of a princess girl but I know we have plenty of time for that!

Since my husband and I are both competitive and (admittedly) like to win, we connect with Mickey and the gang and their racing ways. It’s a fun show for both boys and girls who love Disney! We decided it would be fun to have some racing and games of our own at home, and thought up some fun outdoor activities for Emma Kate. However, daily rain in the forecast changed our plans so we had to get creative with indoor games. Fortunately it didn’t matter to Emma Kate, and she had a blast!

First we played a game to see who could throw the most balls into the basket.

 

Then we decided to see who could build the tallest tower out of blocks.

Lastly, we played a racing game, which was Emma Kate’s favorite. I gave her and her daddy a school bus and told them they had to push their bus down the hall and see who could get theirs to go the furthest.

 

She kept wanting to play again and again, and kept saying “I win” or “I lost”, so we explained to her that winning isn’t everything, that it’s about having fun, too and being with people you care about, just like in Mickey and the Roadster Racers when Goofy got to compete against his movie hero but ended up losing the competition. However, Goofy ends up gaining respect form the other racers and even the sponsor who has a special surprise for Goofy.

Want to know how you can watch these new episodes with your family? There are two places to look! First of all, The Disney Channel:  During the morning block (usually 6-10am), Disney Junior shows will air first on Disney Channel.  Usually new episodes will air here FIRST so tune in to catch the premiere! Check out the schedule below:

FRiYAY, 6/16 – Mickey and the Roadster Racers @ 8:30am followed by an all-new Puppy Dog Pals
FRiYAY, 6/23 – Puppy Dog Pals @ 9a
FRiYAY, 6/30 – Sofia the First @ 9am followed by an all-new Elena of Avalor
FRiYAY, 7/7 – Back to back Lion Guard starting @ 8am followed by an all-new Puppy Dog Pals
FRiYAY, 7/14– Lion Guard starting @ 8am followed by all-new Mickey & The Roadster Racers and Puppy Dog Pals
FRiYAY, 7/21 – Lion Guard @ 8am followed by all-new Sofia The First and Elena of Avalor

FRiYAY, 7/28- Mickey & The Roadster Racers @8:30am followed by an all-new Puppy Dog Pals
FRiYAY,  8/4 – Sofia the First @ 9am
FRiYAY, 8/11 – Lion Guard @ 8am followed by all-new Mickey and the Roadster Racers  and Puppy Dog Pals
FRiYAY, 8/18 – Sofia The First @ 9am followed by an all-new Elena of Avalor

I hope you tune in on FRiYAY mornings on Disney Channel this summer and can catch the premiers of some of these great shows!

QOTD: In what ways do you teach your kids that winning isn’t everything? What is your favorite Disney Junior show?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Disney Junior.

Creating a Social Media Content Calendar + New E-Course News

I spend a lot of time on social media, talking about social media, and researching social media. A lot of people spend mindless hours each day copying and pasting, retweeting in real time, etc. Instead of doing this, I spend a larger chunk of time once a month (or week in some client cases) planning out a content calendar for my own blog and for my clients. That way I only have to do a little maintenance here and there throughout the month. Let’s take a look at my process:

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The first thing you need to do is get a calendar template. You can use a Google calendar, a free template in Microsoft word, whatever you like the most (heck, pen and paper is fine, too…well, I would use pencil because you will probably end up erasing things).

Once you have your template, it’s time to fill it out…But with what? This is where the researching comes in handy, but don’t worry, once you have done it a few times you will get a lot faster and will be able to skip most of this part. When I first started managing social for my clients, I had to learn about their niche or brand. So let’s say you are doing social media for a clothing boutique. You will need to research…

1.) The best hashtags to use (which periodically changes)

2.) Their competitors (see what is working for them and what’s not)

3.) The clothes they sell (who is the demographic? Are there certain brands or types that are selling better? What words and phrases would appeal to this demographic?)

4.) Which platforms you are using and what times of day perform better on each? (it may take a little trial and error for this one).

This front end research will make your scheduling and posting go much quicker later on down the road.

Ok, so you have your calendar and you have done your research, now you need to decide what types of posts you will be posting on your/your clients pages. These categories will help mix things up so your page isn’t just images or just text or just product information. For instance, some categories for a clothing store could be:

-product photos

-sale information

-videos

-question and answer

-FAQ

-news from the industry

-other people’s content you share/repost/retweet

-repurpose old content <—yes this is ok to do!

Be sure to mix things up! These categories will help you greatly when it comes to plugging in information into your scheduling tool. Like I said, you will get faster and faster each time!

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The next piece is to actually come up with the content, which should be easy since you already have your categories and have done your research. This piece may involve creating graphics, finding relevant content to link to, coming up with news or product info, taking pictures or videos, etc. Once you have your content figured out (I personally like to create one long word document with all of my social posts for a client), it’s time to plug it into your scheduling tool.

I personally use Sprout Social. It’s not cheap, but it makes my life easier and my work more efficient so I don’t mind the price. Then it’s just a matter of copying and pasting my posts into the scheduler and picking the times. I then transfer everything into the calendar so I can send it to my client (**Some clients require the exact links and words I am using, others are fine with just knowing what topic I am posting about on what channel/what day.)

GUESS WHAT? I am working on an e-course for those looking into becoming a social media manager as a full time gig or side hustle. I’m SUPER excited to share all I have learned with you, and help you get your first clients and start making money from home! My course isn’t quite ready yet, but you can sign up here to be notified when it is, and also get a FREE printable, a social media manger checklist printable. Just go here to sign up and download!

QOTD: have you ever thought about making money from home with a side hustle?

5 Things Friday XXVI

Hola! Happy Friday my friends. It’s literally been raining here for a week, so I think I may need an ark before long to get outside of my neighborhood! I hope you are having better weather than us, and I hope you had a good week! The past couple of weeks here have been super busy with events and such, so I thought I would do a 5 Things Friday event recap of all the fun I have been having.

1.) Biggest Cheeseburger at sea with Carnival: Recently I had the opportunity to board the Carnival Liberty for a fun press event where we witnessed the largest cheeseburger at sea, and even got to flip our own burgers at Guy’s Burger Joint. It was a blast!

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This burger had fifty pounds of toppings and 50 pounds of flour to make the bun. So crazy! 2017-05-25_10-54-12_513

2.) Food and Wine Conference Fun: At the end of May I spoke on a panel at the Food and Wine Conference in Orlando. I love having so many conferences “close to home!” Anyway, it was great getting to meet some more local bloggers and make new friends, as well as learn new things. I also love speaking so that was fun, too! I did lots of stories and social media posts so hopefully you followed along.

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3.) Tampa Margarita Festival: I was invited to the Tampa Margarita Festival, and Bobby and I (who both love margaritas) used it as a fun date night. It was hot outside but everyone seemed to be having a great time. We didn’t stick around for the concert (Barenaked Ladies) because we had to go pick up Emma Kate, but we really love having fun local things to do on the weekends!

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4.) Tijuana Flats new summer menu: I had never even heard of this place until we moved here, but it is becoming one of my favorites. They have a great menu, and Bobby and I were invited to try out some of their new summer offerings last week, and everything was delicious! My favorites were the Bangin chicken tostadas and the the lime steak street tacos. Be sure to stop by your local restaurant and check out the new items!

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5.) BlogHer is quickly approaching: I have always wanted to go to BlogHer, and thanks to it being close by and to their generosity, I was able to make it happen this year. I am rooming with two friends from Tampa, and it just so happens to be at one of my favorite resorts, Hilton Bonnet Creek! The conference is June 22-24, so be sure to follow along then because of course I will be updating you all as I go!

QOTD: How is the weather where you are? Have you tried any new restaurants lately?

Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive

Disclosure: I was hosted by Wyndham for my stay in their resort. However, all opinions are my own.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Bobby and I decided we wanted to take Emma Kate to her very first water park in Orlando. When Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive invited us to stay as their guests, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity.

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The best thing about this resort is that you can stay where you play. It is the official resort of I-Drive 360, and there is so much to see and do, many things within walking distance (Like the Orlando eye). It’s also only twelve miles from the airport, so you are literally close to everything. The resort also offers a complimentary shuttle to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and SeaWorld.

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I loved all the greenery and tropical plants surrounding the walkways and the pool areas. There are also plenty of dining options including a bar in the lobby and at the pool. The resort is also home to Gatorville, he poolside grill and bar.

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The rooms all have pillowtop mattresses, 40” flat screen tv’s and mini refrigerators. We were in a king room/family suite that included a separate area with bunk beds and another TV for the kids.

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I really love the idea of the bunk beds, I just wish there was a door or partition to close off this area from the rest of the room. Emma Kate LOVED the bunks though and hung out on the top one all evening.

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Another thing I liked is there is complimentary wifi at the resort. I was given a password upon check in and logging on was super easy.

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Also, there are TWO outdoor pools as well as a heated spa, and a renovated fitness center. The lounge chairs at the pool looked so nice and relaxing!

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This resort also boasts over 60,000 square feet of meeting space. There are two grand ballrooms, and a catering team ready to meet your wedding, party, or business needs.

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I wish we had more time to explore the area, as there were so many things within walking distance we could have done! There is the Sea Life Orlando Aquarium, the 7D Dark ride adventure, and great restaurants and shopping like Tervis, Buffalo Wild Wings, and the Sugar Factory.

Probably the best thing about this resort is the price. Rates start at just $79 per night, so it’s perfect for a quick getaway, girls weekend, or business trip.

QOTD: Have you ever stayed here? What do you look for in a resort?

New Mizuno Wave Sky


Disclosure: This post about the new Wave Sky is sponsored by Mizuno through Fitfluential. All opinions are my own.

If you have been reading my blog lately, you know I have been struggling with a quad/knee injury that sidelined me for around 8-9 weeks. Not running was no fun, but I knew I needed to be extra careful when I did come back to the sport. When I was asked to try out the new Mizuno Wave Sky, I was pumped as the timing was when I was coming back from my injury, and I couldn’t help but think maybe some new shoes would help my knee to not hurt.

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Well, I was absolutely right. Not only has my knee not hurt running in these new shoes, but I feel like I am running on a springboard. There is just something about running in new shoes that makes me run taller and faster. However, after five runs in the Wave Sky, that feeling has not gone away with the cloudwave technology in these shoes.

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This is a neutral shoe, but it has plenty of cushioning, and as someone who prefers a wider toe box, I am happy to same my toes have not gone numb like that have in other shoes. I also really like the new thicker premium sock liner for a better, more comfortable fit.

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This shoe comes in three great combos for the women, and you can check them out here. I have a feeling I will wear these out really quickly and will need a new pair, I’m digging the pink and want to get those next time!

QOTD: What do you look for in a new shoe? Have you tried Mizuno running shoes before? What is your favorite color combo on the new wave sky?

June 2017 Goals

Happy Summer! Even though I have been doing it for weeks already, you are officially cleared to wear white jeans, mmkk? Smile How did you do with your May goals? Let’s take a peek at mine before looking at my goals for June (How is it June? Next month will be the SECOND HALF of 2017!)

1.) Eat Salad 3x’s a week: C+ I did great on this the first 2.5 weeks of the month, but then I went out of town, and then came home and was playing catch up before going out of town again, and my diet just wasn’t the best in those in between times. However, even though it’s a new month I am still trying to eat salad 1-2 times a week.

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2.) Organize my guest room: Done about as much as I can do. We just need to figure out a good storage solution. I give an A-. It’s all organized but still looks cluttered to me. I found some Disney socks when I was cleaning, which prompted me to search for more on Amazon. How cute are these?

3.) Lose 4 pounds: This one is interesting. After the 10 day cleanse with Advocare, I lost 3 pounds. Then I went to the food and wine conference, had my least favorite “time of the month” and gained two pounds (says the scale). Now It’s saying I lost two, but I look thinner than I did before so maybe I gained muscle? We will see when I do my final 24 day challenge results next week. So I will say B- for now.

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Now let’s take a look at June:

1.) Get my pre sale for my new course up and running: That’s right folks! I have had a new digital product in the works for a couple of months, but content creation has been slow going with my busy schedule. I figure if I put it here as a goal for all of you to see, then I have to do it, right? I have my outline done, I just need to fill in the gaps and get my sales page going, then record all my content. Nothing, right? (haha)

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Emma Kate is excited about my course presale

2.) Read a book: I find that in the evenings I either mindlessly watch TV or mindlessly scroll through social media, and I prefer to be more intentional with my time. I love to read, but it seems to be the first thing that gets crowded out, so I’m making it a goal to read a book this month!

3.) Make at least two new brand connections at BlogHer17: That’s right! I am attending BlogHer in Orlando this month! I have always wanted to go but could never swing the cost of ticket, flight, and room. However, thanks to it being in Orlando and the generosity of BlogHer, I am able to make it happen. I can’t wait to meet new blogger friends and also make some business/brand connections.
I'm going to #BlogHer17 in Orlando!

Looking for a way to keep track of your monthly goals or fitness progress? Download my FREE fitness and goal tracking printables here.

KidsPark: Easy, Fun Childcare

When we moved to Tampa at the end of last year, I knew one of the things we were going to miss most was being close to family. Not only did we enjoy hanging out with them on a regular basis, but we really loved the option for babysitters, and never had to have a stranger watch our two year old!

Not only does Tampa offer a wide range of fun activities I wanted to attend, but as a blogger I get invited to special events and dinner etc., too. Not knowing anyone made it difficult to find a baby sitter, so when I saw an ad in a local paper for KidsPark, I knew I needed to investigate.

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The website is very informative, and I found out that KidsPark is actually a pay by the hour daycare franchise with many locations throughout the country. I was super excited as my babysitting problem was solved! Not only that, but Emma Kate would get to play in a new environment and have fun interacting with other kids all at a very low hourly rate, while mom and dad go to have fun of our own. Lucky for us, the nearest location is less than ten minutes from our house. The best part is there are NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED! You simply show up, check your child in, and leave. Some people drop their kids off for an hour or two so they can go get groceries or go to the doctor, and some leave them for a full day of fun. It’s up to you!

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When you arrive, you register and pay a small registration fee, and then are charged by the hour for your child’s time at KidsPark. At the end of the day the price per hour is WAY less than I would have to pay an in home sitter, plus my child is getting to be in a new fun place with new friends, which I prefer.

There are cubbies at the front for your child’s belongings and shoes. Children are required to take their shoes off, but must wear socks, so don’t forget them!

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Another thing that I love is there are meals and snacks at KidsPark. Meals at our location are $4.00, or you can bring your own meal from home (we have done both, it just depends on the menu and home much time I have as to what we do). Snacks are at no additional charge. Wondering about ages and activities? Kids can start going to KidsPark at age two through age eleven at our location. The “big kids” also have a special play area so they aren’t constantly on top of the little kids, so no worries there!

They even help assist with potty training. Emma Kate wears a special color sticker on her name tag so they know to remind her about the potty. Awesome! Sometimes Emma Kate comes home with a craft or picture that she drew, so it’s nice to know they are doing different activities with the kids. They also have different themed days and weeks depending on time of year, holidays, etc.

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As you can see from this happy face, Emma Kate has never been upset when we leave her! There is so much to do, and so many new friends to make! Another favorite thing about KidsPark is that it is open on a lot of holidays when regular schools are closed. There have been times when EK’s daycare was closed that we brought her to KidsPark because I needed to get work done. They are also open late into the night for those date nights for mom and dad (midnight on Friday and Saturday!)

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Another option we have not taken advantage of is that KidsPark operates as a preschool during the day. It’s a traditional preschool with a modern twist, so think music, drama, art, math and science for your little ones. You can even start a young child at one day a week and move up to five days.

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Emma Kate LOVES the little house and kitchen area!

KidsPark is even open for private parties on Sunday mornings and evenings when the center is closed to the public. You get a hostess to help with your party so you can enjoy instead of clean up, lead games, etc.

Don’t forget KidsPark is licensed and all the teachers have early childhood backgrounds and pass background checks. They are great at making your child feel comfortable and they always remember Emma Kate’s name, even after she had only attended a couple of times (they know her as the girl with the big bows, of course!) KidsPark’s mission is simple: Happy kids, happy parents, and in our family, they have succeeded!

Click here to see if there is a KidsPark location near you!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

5 Things Friday XXV

Hey guys! I haven’t done one of these in awhile so I thought it would be fun for this Memorial Day weekend Friday.

1.) Me, Bobby, and Emma Kate are headed to Orlando on Sunday and will be hitting the Disney Waterparks (her first time at a water park!) We will be going to Blizzard Beach because I hear that is the most kid friendly of the two. I can’t wait! I haven’t been to a Disney Waterpark in YEARS.

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2.) While we are in Orlando we will be staying at the Wyndham I-Drive, which is the official hotel for International drive. I will be posting pictures and Insta stories on Sunday and Monday, so stay tuned!

3.) I attended a Carnival Cruise Lines event yesterday at Port Canaveral, and will be posting a blog post about it soon. We were on the Carnival Liberty for a couple of hours, eating hamburgers!

4.) You may have noticed I am finally back to running! I haven’t done anything over three miles, but my leg is feeling better and better. I still have to foam roll and stretch really well, and don’t have 100% range of motion when I squat or lunge, but I have no knee pain!

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5.) Recently we tried out FitLife foods, which has locations here in Tampa, and delivers meals right to your door. You get to pick what meals you want and when you want them delivered, and they just show up! Some of them tasted pretty good, and some were honestly pretty bland and needed some serious salt and pepper. I enjoyed not having to think/worry about what I was going to eat for dinner as a busy working mom, which was the main/huge draw for me. I just knew we had meals in the refrigerator, and so that stress hanging over my head was gone, plus I didn’t have to go to the store as much. But, the one downside for us/Bobby is that the portion sizes were too small for him. He eats a lot and works out a lot and would need 2-3 “meals” for one meal, and that gets expensive quickly.  I may give them another go the next time he is out of town and it’s just me and Emma Kate, because I truly enjoyed the convenience! If you haven’t tried it out I say give it a go one time!

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