Tea Parties and Disney Junior

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

I’ll admit it – I am obsessed with Disney princesses. When I found out I was having a daughter, I couldn’t wait until she was old enough to enjoy all things girly and princess with me. Now that she is almost three, we are having a blast watching princess shows like Elena of Avalor and Sofia the First. I love sharing these experiences with my daughter, and love that she loves the same things I did as a little girl.

One thing we enjoy doing together is watching her favorite Disney Junior shows. One day recently when we were watching, a lightbulb went off and I thought of something really fun that we could do together. I decided she was now old enough for us to have a proper princess tea party, so we did just that the other day, and had a blast! She loved dressing up in her princess dress and serving me tea.

We talked about her favorite princesses, sang songs, and discussed her favorite shows. She is a big Sofia fan, so no surprise that one made the top five list! Her daddy even showed up and asked for a cup of tea as well.

Did you know that Disney Junior has all new episodes of shows like Elena of Avalor every FriYaY morning on the Disney channel? In the morning (usually 6-10am), Disney Junior shows will air on the Disney Channel first. Check out the schedule for the rest of the summer:

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

 

I think on Friday we will have to watch her favorite shows together, while enjoying a nice hot cup of “tea”. I’ll even do the dishes afterwards.

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

 

Back to School with Kohl’s


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Kohl’s. I received the included Carter’s clothes as compensation.

Believe it or not, back to school time is upon us. This means new school supplies, new teachers, new memories, and new clothes. Emma Kate is currently growing like a weed, so the clothes she wore last year are getting too small (and are also getting very worn out, she plays hard!) so it was time for some back to school shopping.

Kohl’s has an amazing Carter’s collection at great prices. I couldn’t believe the amount of things I was able to get for Emma Kate for under $200,  two pair of shoes included! Not to mention, between 8/4-8/20, there is a 40-50% off sale on Carter’s playwear.

As Emma Kate has gotten older, she has also gotten more opinionated. Gone are the days of me dressing her in whatever I want, she wants some say in her outfits! With my help, we chose some fun things for back to school. I think you will see a trend here of graphic tees, tunics, and pink. I love the current styles and that I have a trendy kid. I asked her to pick out her three favorite outfits for a photoshoot to showcase the line of back to school clothes at Kohl’s, and this is what we got.

Since it’s warm most of the year in Florida, I did a lot of short sleeve tops, with just a few pants. I love how light and airy this palm tree top is, and the stretchy pink shorts are perfect for mobility in play.

Next we went with something a little more dressed up which would be an adorable first day of school outfit. I love these long tunics in more neutral colors. You can pair any color or pattern of pants or leggings with them to make even more outfits.

When it gets cool we can even put a long sleeve shirt underneath and still wear the tunic. I love versatile clothes!

This little girl loves a fun skirt or dress, so I was excited to find these pants with an attached skirt and an adorable “Daddy’s Girl” shirt that went with it. I chose these grey shoes because again, she can pair them with any color outfit!

In addition to these three outfits, I was able to get so much more. I couldn’t believe I was able to get an entire wardrobe and shoes for so little!

Don’t forget, you can shop Carter’s at Kohl’s August 4th-20th and get 40-50% off their playwear selection. Also, you can get $10 off $50 spent  – Sales Dates are: 8/4 – 8/20 (Promo code: BTS10) Happy shopping!

QOTD: Do you love or loathe back to school shopping?

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Affiliate links are not associated with Kohl’s.

5 Things Friday XXVIII

Happy Friday! It’s very happy for me indeed because I am in Orlando at Hilton Bonnet Creek at BlogHer! (well I guess that is actually #1 on my 5 things Friday list!) I am having a blast here with SO MANY BLOGGERS. It’s a little overwhelming but also fun. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @HeathersLG for updates and Instagram stories.

2.) This Thursday I will be at the Port of Tampa for a press event with Carnival Cruise Lines as they have a special bon voyage celebration to mark a special occasion: the Carnival Paradise will be sailing to Havana, Cuba! They will also be creating the largest Cuban sandwich at sea. Here is a flashback to when I was on the Carnival Liberty with the largest cheeseburger at sea!

3.) The following day, the 30th, I will be a part of the blogger caravan for social media day Tampa! I’m so excited! We will be driving around town in VW beetles before the main event that night. More on this in a post next week so stay tuned!

4.) My mom and dad finally moved down here and are in their rental house while their new home is being built. It’s so weird having them “local” (well, 45 minutes away), but it’s great having their help so I am able to do some of these events/more often. We have never had my parents local (I haven’t lived near them since high school!) so this has been nice so far!

5.) We are in the middle of potty training with Emma Kate, and she is doing great! We aren’t “there” yet as we have to remind her a lot, but it’s nice to make progress. We want to be able to take her on a Disney cruise but you can’t go in the pool with swim diapers so it has spurred me on to get things moving. If you have any great tips (especially for getting her to do #2) let me hear em!

That’s it for this week! be sure to tune in to all the BlogHer17 fun buy following along with the #BlogHer17 hashtag.

QOTD: Have you sailed with Carnival before? What is your favorite ship? Any potty training tips? 

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.

runDisney Kids races: Star Wars

When I realized our family Disney World trip lined up with the runDisney Star Wars half marathon weekend, I couldn’t believe all the stars were aligning for not only Bobby and I to run the half marathon, but for Emma Kate (2 years old) to participate in her very first kids races. I was pleasantly surprised that the registration price was very reasonable ($20!) and that each child got a medal (rubber) and a t-shirt. As a lover of the “I Did it” shirts, I couldn’t wait for my little mini me to have her very own.

The kids races were held on Friday and Saturday, but since Bobby wasn’t arriving until Friday night, we opted for the Saturday morning race. It actually all worked out nicely, as we were able to get to the expo right when it opened at 10:00, get all three of our bibs, and then walk over to the track at the Wide World of Sports and attend the kids races. Keep in mind strollers are NOT allowed in the expo, but are allowed on the grounds of WWOS, so we simply parked ours in a stroller parking area to get our bibs, then brought it down to the track with us for the races.

Of course Emma Kate had to get her picture with the kids race sign, and I wore her “future runDisney runner” shirt.

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After getting our bibs (you have to sign a race waiver for the kiddos, too) and getting our t-shirts, we headed out to the track around 10:45. I will be honest and say it seemed REALLY chaotic. Having never been to one before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured out that I was supposed to match the color of Emma Kate’s race bib with the flags at the starting line area, so we all walked over that way, to be told only one adult could actually “run” the race with the child. So Bobby and my parents headed to the side of the track behind a fence so they could see her run and hopefully squeeze in to the fence once it was time for her wave.

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It was hot outside and I wanted to get done quickly, but in hindsight I should have just chilled and waited for the last wave. We were basically put in a holding area all close together which made it even more hot. I can see how it could be overwhelming for some kids that don’t like a lot of people. There were plenty of volunteers and they all did a great job don’t get me wrong, but it was still chaotic, but I guess organized chaos would be a better word?

They would line up a handful of kids on the start line then put another group behind them, then after the first group went, the one behind would step forward, and the volunteers filled in the back with another line of kids. This part seemed very organized, but there wasn’t really a line so it was more of a free for all as to which parent pushed through the area first to get their kid to the start. We ended up somewhere towards the middle. Usually EK doesn’t let me hold her but I think all the people made her nervous so she was happy to be on my hip while we waited. She made some funny faces for me, and soon we were in the holding area for the next wave.

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I texted my family to let them know we were coming, and thankfully I was wearing pink and Emma Kate had on a huge pink bow so we were hard to miss. When we were standing behind the wave about to go, I told her to watch the boys and girls run and that was what we were going to do when the man said to go. She didn’t look too sure about it and I had NO idea how she would react.

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It was our turn, and our wave began. Emma Kate started running (sort of) and looking around all at the same time. 100 meters seems a long way when you are running with a two year old! Midway through we got a shout out from announcer Carisa who spotted EK’s big bow.

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About 75 meters in, Emma Kate realized she was tired and wanted me to hold her. About that time I saw Mickey, so I grabbed her and went over to him for a quick hug. Then because I just can’t help it, I put her down and made her walk across the finish line herself. #RunnerMom.

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We all cheered, and she got her medal, but was way more concerned about her banana oddly enough. We found my family and took some photos before grabbing the stroller and heading out. Did I mention it was really warm? (heh.)

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I had a lot of fun and loved sharing something that I do with my little girl. I feel like now that I know what to expect, the next time will be way less overwhelming for all of us.

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I love how runDisney kept everyone moving and then moved on to the next race. We got some free gogo squeeze pouches too which was nice since EK loves those things (they are a sponsor). Emma Kate wore her medal to the park, and looked adorable in her I did it shirt.

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When do we sign up again?

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Here are a couple of videos from the race:


Then of course the video I shot while she was running. Please excuse my shrieking voice in the background. I was a little excited.

 

QOTD: Has your child ever done a kids race?

Emma Kate: 2.5 Years Old

Has it already been six months since I have written one of these? Since Emma Kate’s Frozen themed birthday party? So much has happened since then, like moving to Florida, taking on new and different work, and of course, so many changes in our now two and a half year old girl.

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Before we get into personality and that type of milestone, let’s go over her stats. Emma Kate weighs just shy of 33 pounds, and is in the 83% for weight. She is 38 inches tall, which is 95%. She basically hasn’t gained much weight but has thinned out and is growing upwards, which is good!

She is in size 5 diapers in the daytime and 6 for nighttime ones. We just moved her into a size 8 sneaker, but she can still wear a 7 in some sandals. She is in 4T footie PJ’s, and in 3T-4T clothing except for dresses where she can still fit into some 2T.

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As far as speech goes…girlfriend talks non stop. She says the funniest things and we are constantly laughing at what comes out of her mouth. I love how she mispronounces words, too. Our dog, Bella, she calls “Bell-do”. It’s adorable, and I will be so upset when she starts saying her name the right way! She also says “hold you!” instead of hold me. The other day she said it correctly, and it made me so sad! She hasn’t gotten into asking “why” yet, but a phrase I hear at least 1000000 times a day is “what happened?”

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She is super independent and says “I do it myself” to almost everything. She wants to walk everywhere, and I rarely carry her. She is NOT into hand holding, so that has been a challenge, but she will at least hold our hand to cross the street. She can put her sneakers on herself, and tries to put on socks and sandals. Some days she wants to pick out her clothes, and some days I pick for her and she doesn’t fuss (relief!) She wants to get in the car seat by herself, walk the dog herself, and the list goes on and on.

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We are smack dab in the middle of potty training, and I think it’s going really well for the minimal effort I have put into it so far (not wanting to push her or stress about it). About half the time she tells us she needs to go, but the other half we have to remind/ask her. From the get go she wanted to go on the big potty as opposed to the training potty. We are about to move her into pull-ups for school because she is doing so well there. We make a HUGE deal when she goes, jumping up and down and screaming, and she loves it and cheers along with us.

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She is a tricky little thing, and now will say things like “I need candy to make my tummy feel better” good try, kid. She also is all about stalling bedtime now, saying things like “’nother kiss!” or “I so cold!”

Speaking of sleep, she has been doing really well and survived the recent time change relatively unscathed. We put her to bed at 7:45, and she sleeps until about 6:30. The only time she wakes up at night is if she wants more water, and the other night was our first experience with her waking up due to a bad dream. As far as naps go, she still doesn’t nap long, right around an hour to an hour and ten minutes usually, and about once a week at school she doesn’t nap at all. She is still in her crib, I am hanging on to that one as long as I can! She can climb out of it, but hasn’t attempted to during nap or at night yet so we are thankful for that. I always tell her “have good/sweet dreams” at night before bed, and in the morning when I go get her, the first thing she says is “I had good dreams!”

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Emma Kate has gotten really cuddly as of late, which is interesting because she never was a cuddly baby. She wants to sit in my lap, hug and hold Bella (who by the way has gotten better with her, too), and gives hugs and kisses to everyone (zero stranger danger!) When we watch movies she wants me to sit down next to her on the sofa, and she covers us up with blankets.

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As far as playtime goes, she is in to lots of different things. She likes to cook in her kitchen, and play mama to her babies. She will feed them, rock them in her rocking chair, and put them to bed. She likes loading up her shopping cart full of figurines and things and brings it into the living room, dumps it out and then lines up everything on the coffee table. She loves to be outside, so we have been going on family walks, going to the playground, and going to the pool (which she loves!)

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She is still very much into YouTube kids on the iPad, and her newest thing is watching movies. Thankfully it’s not the same one over and over, well…maybe for a a week then she moves on. The most popular ones lately have been Frozen, Tangled, the 3 Toy Story movies, Monsters Inc., and Beauty and the Beast. I never thought we would get to the point where she would sit for a solid hour and watch a movie but she does and it’s fun to experience my favorite Disney classics with her.

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Emma Kate still loves to eat, and now is always asking for a snack. For breakfast she eats anything from eggs to waffles to cereal to yogurt. For snacks she likes pouches, fruit snacks, goldfish crackers, apples, strawberries, and popcorn. She is her mothers child and loves cheese and candy, but we definitely limit both. She still drinks SO much water, which I guess is a good thing except at night when you are trying to potty train!

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We have taken her on a few day trips to Disney World and she loves the “big castle” as well as the parade. She really has warmed up to the characters, and gives them big hugs and kisses. She now asks us when she is going back to Disney World, and that she wants to go see her friends like Ana and Elsa and Olaf.

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She is generally a super happy very funny girl (aside from a few two year old/strong willed tantrums), and listens for the most part with just a few times here and there of having to go to time out. We are in a good groove with her right now, and I hope it continues! Either way, we can’t believe we are on the down side to having a three year old! I will update again in 6 months when I’m sure she will have changed even more. We love our bug and can’t wait to see what’s next!

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Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 5

Today is my last installment of our trip, check it out:

This was our last full day at Walt Disney World (see what we did in part 4 here), and we were headed to EPCOT. Emma Kate had been saying she wanted to meet Ana and Elsa for WEEKS, so our plan was to arrive early, do the standby line for the meet and greet, and then do our fastpass for the Frozen Ever After ride later that afternoon.

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Emma Kate just so happened to wake up REALLY early, so we played on the playground at Saratoga Springs for a bit and then just decided to go ahead and drive over to EPCOT. We had NO idea they were letting people in early, so we got lucky with a short standby line for Ana and Elsa.

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We got closer and closer in line, and I started to hype Emma Kate up and get her ready to meet her favorite princesses. She said she was going to give them big hugs and smile pretty. Aaaannnddd this is what we got:

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She was TERRIFIED of Elsa and would not hug her. EK’s face just cracks me up! We moved on to Ana, and she warmed up enough to hug her, but she made it clear she was NOT happy about it.

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Bless it. Look at the side eye poor Ana is getting.

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I die. Of course when we left she said she wanted to go hug Elsa…too late kid. We will try again when we go back in April and see if it’s any different. I think Emma Kate was just a bit overwhelmed.

After the princess photos, we headed over to ride the Nemo ride, and then check out the aquarium.

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EK was going through a hardcore Nemo phase so she loved this ride.

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After this, we rode Living with the Land. This is always a favorite of mine. I’m a total nerd and love seeing how they grow their fruit and veggies.

We walked around the world showcase and got some food and wine offerings. My dad tried sushi in Japan, and we all got food in Italy, and I had a glass of alcohol. Emma Kate was starting to get tired from her early wakeup, but it was time for our Frozen Ever After fastpasses. Our plan was to ride the ride, then let her nap in the stroller while we ate some more food and walked around.

We got in the fastpass line, and right as we got up to the front to get on a boat (we were literally the next ones to get on)…the ride broke down. I kid you not. We were in the loading area, so we just stood there for awhile, me holding Emma Kate. They turned all the lights on, evacuated people off the ride, and people began leaving. About this time, poor EK started to fall asleep in my arms. I decided to sit down against the wall with my dad and just let her sleep. We had nothing else to do, so may as well hold our front of the line spot and wait.

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Because we were right where you board and no longer in the actual que, we had plenty of space and started talking to a cast member from Norway who had been here for a few months. He was a super nice guy with zero accent, and he said he had worked very hard on his English. We talked about the differences in our countries, etc. all while waiting for the ride to come back up. Finally, about 45 minutes later, they started letting people board. Emma Kate woke up and was very confused, but she got to see the ride.

We were all pretty tired by this point, but we had to make one more stop for my favorite drink.

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I couldn’t hold my huge toddler and drink my drink, so I put her in the stroller and she was NOT happy about it. She cried the whole way to the parking lot, which was super fun for everyone. Poor thing needed a longer nap.

We watched some football, took Emma Kate to the playground, and got ready to have friends over. A few years ago when we were staying club level at the Grand Floridian, my parents struck up a conversation with a nice couple and they have kept in touch. When we stayed at Saratoga four years ago, they come over one night and we BBQ’ed out by the playground and had a great time, so we did it again this trip!

Saratoga has a really nice covered pavilion with fans and picnic tables right next to the playground, we we all hung out while my dad cooked and Emma Kate could play. After dinner, they went home and Emma Kate went to bed. my mom watched her while my dad and I walked to Disney Springs (have I mentioned I LOVE the proximity of this resort to Disney Springs?)

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We walked through some of the shops and watched a show up on the stage. Then we decided to get ice cream from Ghirardelli and not tell my mom. However, my dad made a huge mistake and paid with his credit card, and my mom saw the bill when it came in so we were busted! Anyway, it was delicious, and a nice relaxing way to end out trip.

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The next morning, I got up early and went for a quick run before we left.  I had not had the chance to run the whole trip since I was with Emma Kate 95% of the time, but I didn’t want to pass up a chance to run somewhere different. I went out while it was still dark, and it was so nice and peaceful.

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After I got back and showered, we loaded up the car and started our long (long long) drive home. With it being my first time to take a toddler to Disney, I learned a lot.

It was Halloween, and we decided to stop and spend the night in Destin to break up the trip. We went to the beach that afternoon and Emma Kate was not a fan of the sand.

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I found out that there was trick or treating at the outlet mall, so that’s exactly what we did!

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The next morning we went back to the beach and Emma Kate hated it even more than the day before and wouldn’t step foot on it and wanted to go “bye bye”.

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We stayed out all of 15 minutes and then I took her to the pool while my mom and dad stayed at the beach. Confession: I will admit I was a little frustrated. I had so been looking forward to spending the morning on the beautiful Destin beach, and here I was, finally there, and I got to see it for ten minutes. Then I was stuck at the freezing pool (the hotel building cast a shadow on the pool) by myself just me and Emma Kate, cold and pretty miserable for over an hour, just being frustrated I wasn’t in the sun on the sand and had no idea when I would be back. I had my little pity party then got over it and we played until my parents came. We stayed for a bit longer, then headed up to the room to pack up and drive home.

We made a bunch of mistakes, and will know better for next time. While Bobby and I have only taken her on day trips to Disney since we’ve moved to Tampa, we have made adjustments and Emma Kate has done a lot better overall than she did in October. We will be taking her back in April for a few nights and I know we will have a great time!

QOTD: Have you been to Destin? Have you ever trick or treated at a mall?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 4

We left off part 3 with the family heading to the Contemporary to eat brunch at Chef Mickeys. Since we had a little bit of a typical two year old behavioral issue at Crystal Palace, I was really hoping Chef Mickeys would be better, and not as new or overwhelming as her first character meal.

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Donald was the first to come around and she was pretty shy. She didn’t want to sit in a high chair or regular chair, so she was in our laps for most of the meal. She let Donald take a picture with her, but she wouldn’t hug him or stand by him.

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She did however get to watch the characters get closer and closer so I think that helped her to “warm up” a little bit. She LOVED Minnie mouse and got down on the floor to hug her. Minnie did a great job getting down to Emma Kate’s level which was appreciated.

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She really loved Pluto and his nose and “big tongue” the best though. She got antsy towards the end of the meal and wanted to run around, but overall she did way better than the Crystal Palace meal.

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After the meal, we walked around the back of the Contemporary out by the pool. I love that there is a little selfie station so everyone could get in the picture.

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When we got back to the resort, Emma Kate wanted to go to the pool (shocker), so my dad and I took her while my mom went shopping, since my mom had her the whole day before while I was house hunting with my dad. We may or may not have brought wine to the pool in Styrofoam cups. Hey, it’s 5:00 somewhere, right?

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I couldn’t believe the amazing weather we were having. It wasn’t hot at all for October in central Florida.

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We eventually moved over to the big pool.

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I honestly can’t remember what we did for dinner that night it’s been so long now, but I know we didn’t go anywhere. Brunch was so late we were probably too full! It was early to bed again, because we were going to Epcot the next day to finally meet Ana and Elsa, the one thing Emma Kate had been talking about for weeks. Stay tuned to see how that went!

QOTD: Have you ever been to Chef Mickey’s? Do you usually do character meals in Disney?

Tampa Tuesdays: SeaWorld with a Toddler

*As I mentioned before, my Tampa Tuesday blog posts won’t include just Tampa, but others places nearby/in Florida, so please don’t be confused and think SeaWorld is now in Tampa, it’s definitely still in Orlando.

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1.) Bring your own stroller: While SeaWorld Orlando does have stroller rentals, they are of the plastic variety. While this works just find for a little bit older kids, if you have a toddler that will nap in a stroller, plan to bring your own for more comfort. We tied a bright ribbon around the handle of our stroller so it was easy to find when exiting shows.

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2.) Save the Shamu Happy Harbor playground for the afternoon: There is a huge, fun play area just for kids at the back of the park called Shamu Happy Harbour. I knew I wanted Emma Kate to experience this, but I also knew if we did it first thing, I would NEVER get her out of there! This is a large area that was never very crowded when we were there, so I suggest doing some things first that may have long lines early in the day, then head over to the kids area right before or right after nap (we went after). Keep in mind they DO have a splash pad area which is great for hot summer days, but bring extra clothes if you want your child to be able to play in the water.

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3.) There are “sleeping baby” areas at the shows, use them!: I LOVED this idea and we ended up using it ourselves! When you walk to the top of the stadium up the path at most of the shows, you then get to a walkway that goes across the whole top row that overlooks all the seating. If you have a sleeping baby/toddler you don’t want to take out of your stroller, you can wheel them right up to the stadium and park them behind the back row and stand to watch the show while your child sleeps. Emma Kate fell asleep in her stroller at one point and we didn’t want to miss the last sea lion show of the day, so we used the sleeping baby area and it worked beautifully. It also made it easy for us to be the first ones out after the show was over and avoid the crowds of people exiting the theater.

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4.) Make a plan around show times, but space them out: Each show only happens a certain number of times a day, so pick the ones you want to see, and rank them in order of most important to least important. Keeping in mind as the day goes on your toddler will get more cranky and restless, you may end of having to skip one of two shows, and you don’t want it to be your favorite one! Also, try not to go straight from one show to another without giving your toddler a chance to run around and get out the wiggles. We tried to avoid the stroller when we knew she needed to get some energy out and it worked well for us.

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5.) Split up if necessary: Remember that sometimes it’s ok for the whole family to not stick together. Some space can even be good on a hot day. Bobby wanted to ride one of the roller coasters, so Emma Kate and I went for a walk to find some food while Bobby went on the ride. He later went on it again when Emma Kate was napping and I took the opportunity to sit down, check my phone, and do some people watching. Be sure to pick a spot to meet up afterwards though so no one gets lost!

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Disclosure: I was given two free one day tickets to visit SeaWorld, however all opinions are mine.

Imaginative Play with LEGO® DUPLO ®

I am really loving the age that Emma Kate is at right now. Just in the past month, her language has exploded, her motor skills have gotten a lot better, and she has gotten way more imaginative with playtime, which is also really fun for me! One of her new favorite things to do is to play with LEGO® DUPLO® bricks.

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These preschool building toys are specially designed for little hands (ages 1½ – 5 years old). They are much larger than regular LEGO® bricks (twice the size!) Making them safer for toddlers and preschoolers and easier for them to handle.

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I have to admit, playing with these toys brought back so many childhood memories for me, I love how LEGO® bricks have stood the test of time, and more than 25 years after I played with them in my living room, now my daughter is playing with them in our living room!

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As soon as Emma Kate opened the box, I was down on the floor next to her, helping her set up the “choo choo train” and building tall towers that are “so high” (her favorite). I think it’s so important to not only let a child’s imagination grow, but as parents, we should be partnering with our kids in playtime, showing them the ropes and encouraging them to learn new things. Kids learn by playing, touching, and experiencing new things. It is my job to guide Emma Kate on this learning journey, and LEGO® DUPLO® just makes it a lot of FUN! The nice of the legos is that you can build anything you want, there are few toys like that, for example a spinning toy that you can learn how to build your own.

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LEGO® DUPLO® offers so much flexibility and open-ended play for each stage of your young one’s development. You can do things from build towers, to trains, to buildings and more. There are even figurines like cute dogs and little people to put in the structures.

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Ready to be inspired for playtime with your little ones? Head over to LEGO.com/Family and see what you can do to help nurture your child’s imagination.

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QOTD: What is your family way to play with your kids and help their imaginations grow?

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