Emma Kate: 3.5 Years

Well we now have a child halfway to four years old, which blows my mind! on March 24th, Emma Kate turned three and a half and we baked a cake to celebrate and she LOVED it. I just wanted to take a moment to catch you up on our little girl.

Eating: Girlfriend LOVES to eat. She can still be pretty picky, but she loves large quantities of food, and I have grown to hate the word “snack”. She loves fruit like peaches and blueberries and strawberries, and also is a big yogurt fan. She even likes broccoli which is shocking to me. She eats a lot of turkey and chicken, and tries to get us to let her have candy whenever she can (all these holidays are killing me.) She still drinks a lot of water, and isn’t a huge fan of ice cream/cold stuff, but LOVES cupcakes!

Sleeping: We moved her to her “big girl bed” a couple weeks ago and she has been doing great and she loves it. She sleeps great and hasn’t fallen out (yet) and stays in her bed until we come get her in the mornings. Nap is hit or miss, if I let her sleep too long in the morning she won’t nap at school, but I would venture to say she sleeps for an hour 3-4 days a week at school and 85% of the time on the weekends. She goes to bed at 7:45 and usually lays there until about 8:00, and is up anywhere between 6-7 in the morning, but on school days I make sure she’s up at 6:30 so she will nap!

Clothing: She wears 4T and 5T now exclusively, and is quickly outgrowing several 4T things, which makes me so sad. She’s in a size 9 shoe but I feel that will be changing very soon as well.

Potty: She hasn’t had an accident in FOREVER, and has been dry for a week straight at night, and is always dry after nap. I think we are super close to not needing a pull up at night. She is doing awesome in this category!

Emma Kate says the funniest things and cracks us up on a daily basis. She loves to sing and dance, and has been watching movies like Aladdin, Trolls, Moana, The Incredibles, and Monsters Inc. She still loves big bows and lets me pick out her clothes most of the time (thankfully!)

She has been doing this thing where she doesn’t like when Bobby and I talk to each other so she will interrupt us and then she has nothing to say. it’s pretty annoying, any tips for breaking this habit?

She loves to have us sing with her at night int he rocking chair and she says her own little prayers which is so cute.

I don’t have an official height and weight but I’m thinking close to 40 pounds and 39 inches tall? I will have to measure her later!

We had our first trip to the ER on Easter Sunday, she jumped off the bed at Grammy and Papa’s house and hit her head on the rocking chair corner and there was blood everywhere and she had a deep gash, so she ended up with three staples. I nearly had a heart attack. She is fearless and independent and brave.

We switched schools at the end of 2017 and she is doing SO well at the new school because they have a pretty strict curriculum and I feel like she is learning so much. She recognizes most letters, counts to 20 something, and is writing with her little left hand.

She loves her “sister” Bella, wrestling with daddy, and putting together puzzles (shes REALLY good at puzzles!) We love you sweet bug and this has been such a fun half year!

LEGOLAND Florida’s Newest Attraction: The Great LEGO Race

Disclosure: I attended a press event for the ride opening and was given four tickets to LEGOLAND Florida, however all opinions are my own.

I love theme parks and I love technology, so when the two are combined, you know I’m going to be excited about the possibilities! LEGOLAND Florida has come up with an amazing new ride concept called The Great LEGO Race, which is now open. “This ride combines roller coaster thrills with virtual reality (VR) technology to put guests in the center of an action-packed road rally where the laws of physics and aerodynamics only loosely apply” How fun is that?

 

Legoland Florida has a new ride, the great LEGO race, with virtual reality technology@

 

“Wearing optional VR headsets, riders will experience the action from every direction while riding the roller coaster – up, down, forward, backward and all points in between  in a dazzling environment where everything is made of LEGO bricks. Check out two of the screenshots from inside the race below.”

Check this out:

“The wild and wacky race pits guests against a LEGO pirate, wizard, surfer, trendsetter and pharaoh driving brick-built vehicles like a rocket-powered windsurfing rig, a stylish scooter fueled by espresso and an ornately canopied bed (called a “litter”) carried by mummy servants.”

On opening day, we got to see an adorable show followed by the ride being officially opened to the public. 

We even go to take photos with some of the heroes of the ride itself. Emma Kate was partial to the pirate, of course. She’s not quite tall enough to ride, but I know one day she will love it. 

Here are some “stats” on the ride itself:

-You must be 6 years old and at least 48 inches tall to wear the optional virtual reality headset.

-You must be 42 inches tall to ride, and must ride with someone at least 14 years old NOT wearing a VR headset for supervision purposes.

-headsets are cleaned in between each guest who rides

-It took 2 and a half years to develop this ride

-The ride is just shy of 400 meters in length

-You drop at speeds of 35 mph during your ride

Who are the LEGO minifigure competitors?

  • Pirate Captain; Team Pirate — He steers a dinghy with a turbine-powered sail.
  • Pharaoh; Team Pharaoh — He rides an ornate canopied bed (called a “litter”) carried by mummified servants.
  • Surfer Girl; Team Surfer — She rides a rocket-powered windsurfing rig.
  • Trendsetter; Team Trendy — She rides an espresso-fueled scooter with a sidecar for her tiny dog.
  • Wizard; Team Wizard — He drives a dragon-themed hot-rod.

 

Be sure to check out the LEGOLAND Florida website for more details.

 

 

4 Tips to get you through stomach flu season

Norovirus. The word that sends chills up the spine of any parent. That dreaded note that comes home from school saying a child, or maybe two or three, in your kids’ class has been sent home with the dreaded stomach flu. The problem is, by the time you get the note, your poor child (as well as your entire family) has most likely already been exposed.

My child unfortunately came down with the stomach flu in early spring of last year, and it is not something I want to repeat again this year. Thankfully, I have a new way to help protect my house and my family this year.

While these announcements and notes are panic inducing, there is something you can do at your house to help make sure any germs that are brought in by your kids are swiftly eliminated, and without harsh chemicals.

Check out my top 4 tips for keeping your home and kids a stomach flu free zone during this season.

1.) Lots of hand washing: Your first line of defense, hand washing can help stop the spread of germs to all the surfaces in your house. Make sure you teach your kids proper hand washing techniques, and be sure to get in between those fingers! The CDC recommends that alcohol hand sanitizers be used in addition to hand washing. I like to carry hand sanitizer  in my purse for when hand washing isn’t possible, and we keep a bottle in the car and in the stroller as well.

2.) Change clothes after school: I feel like schools are giant germ factories, despite teachers’ and staff’s best efforts. Last year, we had an entire school here shut down because so many of the students caught Norovirus (my poor child being one of them). One of the ways to cut down on transferring those germs into your house is to have your kids change clothes immediately after they get home from school (as well as having them wash their hands!) Clean hands and clean clothes only in my house!

3.) Keep hands away from face and mouth: My daughter is three so this one is still a struggle for us. I am constantly telling her to keep her hands out of her mouth and away from her face so that she won’t get sick. She is getting much better at it, but it’s still tough some days. I am working on a reward system right now. She really wants me to paint her fingernails but I told her I would only do it if she keeps her hands out of her mouth for a week. Fingers crossed!

4.) Use PURELL® Multi Surface Disinfectant : My lifesaver, my new favorite disinfecting and cleaning product! I use this on a daily basis in my house. It kills 99.9% of viruses  and bacteria in 30 seconds including cold, flu, strep, salmonella, and yes, norovirus! It’s worry-free around kids, pets and food, and kills germs like bleach but without the harsh chemicals. There is no water rinse required since there are no harmful chemicals, and it’s great to use on surfaces you can’t wash easily like gym bags, car seats, and high chairs. We use it daily to wipe down counters, clean up spills, and wipe off things touched frequently like doorknobs, remote controls, and handles.

Unfortunately, sometimes our kids still get sick despite our best efforts, but it’s good to know that I have done everything in my power at home to help prevent the spread of those icky germs. I love knowing that I am using safe products for myself and my kids—even the furry one!

Mary Poppins Returns and Christopher Robin Teasers

There is some exciting stuff coming out this year my friends! I have two things to tell you about. First of all, there is a new teaser trailer and poster our for Christopher Robin! I grew up on Winnie the Pooh so I am loving this:

“In the heartwarming live action adventure, the young boy who embarked on countless adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with his band of spirited and lovable stuffed animals, has grown up and lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin remember the loving and playful boy who is still inside.”

Be sure to follow Christopher Robin on Facebook.

This movie in theatres everywhere on August 3, 2018!

Also…

I am so pumped for this one guys. Mary Poppins Returns is in theaters on Christmas Day, 2018, and there is a new teaser trailer available (at the end of this post if you are in a hurry.)

 

 

mary poppins

be sure to follow Mary Poppins Returns on Facebook!

Tips for Disney’s Pandora With A Preschooler

Disclosure: I was provided with free tickets and fastpasses for Walt Disney World, however all opinions are my own.

When people think of Disney’s Pandora, World of Avatar, they probably think it’s geared more towards adults, since the movie itself was more of a “grown up” film. However, don’t count out this unique land when visiting Walt Disney World with your preschooler. They may enjoy it more than you think! Here arr my top five tips for visiting Pandora with a preschooler:

5 Tips for visiting Disney's Pandora, World of Avatar with your preschooler

1.) Let them Explore: We decided when we arrived to not really have a plan (aside from wanting to ride the rides) and just kind of explored and walked around at Emma Kate’s pace. It was so much fun to see her running around playing with different interactive things like the drums, the spitting water fountains, and more. There is so much to stimulate a young mind, and I loved following her around!

2.) Ride the Navi River Journey: This ride is super tame, my bright color loving daughter loved every minute of it. She pointed out different animals and colors, and it held her attention the entire time. It’s also a great place to sit down and cool off on a hot day.

3.) Check out the adoptable banshees: Really, just check out the gift shop in its entirety. We spent about 20 minutes just walking around looking at all the cool merchandise, including the banshees. She picked up toys, talked to other kids, and generally just had a blast. All of the cast members were so friendly in the store and took time to talk to her as well.

pandora

 

4.) Point out the beauty: Because she was so excited and moving so quickly, it was easy for Emma Kate to miss things. Sometimes we had to back up and point out hidden details or fun plants and colors. Once she knew to look closely, it was fun to watch her look deeply into the plant life and point out unique things herself.

5.) Experience the fun food: Not only is the land itself fun and colorful, but so is the food! Be sure to grab a quick service meal or a snack while visiting Pandora. It brings having fun with your food to a whole new level! Plus, the frozen beverages taste really, really good.

My three year old had a blast visiting Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and I am so glad we decided to take her and just let her roam around. It was so fun to see what caught her attention versus having a strict schedule, and it allowed us to see the beauty and fun through her eyes.

Top 5 Things to Do After You Board the Carnival Vista

Disclosure: I was provided free cruise fare for myself and my husband from Carnival, however all opinions are my own, and these are my unbiased best embarkation day tips for boarding the Carnival Vista!

I have cruised several times, and have learned a few tricks about how to make the most out of the day we get on board (Embarkation day). However, my tips vary depending on which cruise and cruise line I am on, so check out my best tips for Embarkation day on the Carnival Vista below:

1.) Eat: It’s typically lunchtime when you get on board the ship, and since rooms aren’t ready yet, we may as well eat! It’s a great way to get in the vacation and relaxation mindset. There are a few places to choose from to eat on the Vista, which is great in helping to spread people out.

Pro tip: We opted for Pig and Anchor BBQ, because the majority of people will head to the buffet, AND, this place is only open on certain days! 

2.) Sky Ride: The sky ride is so, so popular, and as you can see from the photo below, only two people can ride at a time. It is the least crowded on embarkation day and on port days when people get off the ship. My tip is to try and go as soon as you get on board, as the line will get longer as the day goes on. How cool is this?!?

Pro tip: Either wear closed toed shoes or pack some in your carry on, as they are required for the Sky Ride.

3.) Dining Reservations: Sometimes you may not have the opportunity to get dining reservations at one of the three specialty locations on the Vista, but you can make them in person at the restaurants when you get on board the ship. We did this and were easily able to get reservations at the two spots we wanted to dine in. Perfect!

Pro Tip: Do this as soon as you get onboard (ok maybe after you grab some grub) for the best selection of times and dates!

4.) Swim: Eat a little lunch, then go for a swim or sunbathe right? That screams VACATION to me! As you can see from the pictures below, the pools were virtually empty on embarkation day (and no it wasn’t cold outside! It was Miami in November!) This is a wonderful time to grab a chair and a towel and soak it all in, or hop in the hot tub and enjoy the afternoon.

 

 

Pro Tip: pack your swimsuit in your carry on, you won’t have access to your luggage until later in the afternoon. 

5.) Relax: You have eaten, done the sky ride, gotten your dining reservations and gone for a swim, now its time to think about nothing else because you are on vacation on this gorgeous ship! Enjoy the ship and all the entertainment, dining, and fun she has to offer. There truly is something for everyone when you board the Carnival Vista.

board the carnival vista

Christmas Recap 2017

Happy January guys! I can’t believe it’s now 2018. How many of you are still forgetting and writing 2017 on everything? Hand raise! We had a great Christmas, but just like every year it flew by so fast and I want it back! Here are a few of my favorites photos and things we did.

The Friday before, Emma Kate had PJ day at school and obviously had to show them off.

Saturday we made reindeer food and fudge.

Christmas eve we went to church along with my mom and dad. 

Love singing Silent Night with just out voices and the candles. So beautiful. 

After church, we hit up PDQ. I know it’s not very traditional, but we knew we were going to be cooking all the things that night and the next day so I was not up for cooking again for lunch.

Bobby cooked pork chops for dinner and mom was in charge of bread, which is terrifying because she always burns it. So she sat in front of my oven to make sure she didn’t. Bless it. 

We made cookies for Santa and left them by the tree with some milk. 

We read the Christmas story from the Bible and the Night Before Christmas. My sister’s plane arrived just in time for her to get to join in and tell Emma Kate good night.

My mom, dad, and sister left to go to their house, then Santa came!

On Christmas morning, I made EK sit at the top of the stairs and wait just like I used to do. She was a trooper even though she didn’t really understand ha.

She ran downstairs to see that Santa came, and was so excited! She even had gifts in her stocking.

This is my FAVORITE Christmas photo from the day. Sums it all up perfectly. 

Happy girl loved her “doctor things”

Self timer for the win!

We got ready then drove down to my parents new house for the day. It was my first time seeing it with furniture and I love it!

Emma Kate even has her own room.

Also, Santa made a visit to Grammy and Papa’s house, too.

Bobby also got in on the gift action. (and he got me a laptop!)

Maybe a future career?

The weather was in the low 70’s and perfect.

We had our big meal at lunch, and it was delicious.

Santa even left Emma Kate a cupcake.

Self timer again! 

Lunch goodness.

Christmas day is also my moms birthday so we had a cake, of course!

Emma Kate learned how to “drive” papa’s golf cart.

The sign of a good day, asleep int he car by 7:30. We drove home and were so sad it was all over, but thankful for the great memories!

I hope you had a great Christmas with your loved ones. I’m already looking forward to next year.

My 7 Favorite Things About the Carnival Vista

Disclosure: I sailed for free on the Carnival Vista, however all opinions are my own.

I have been on several cruises, and really enjoy being out on the water, and having the ability to visit several destinations in one trip. Another things I really enjoy about cruises is exploring what basically amounts to a floating city.

As soon as I heard about Carnival’s newest ship, the Vista, I couldn’t wait to get on her and explore. After spending six nights on this beauty, I came up with seven of my favorite (there were many more though!) things about the ship to share with you.

1.) Anytime Dining: There are some days when you are out in a port, having a blast, and you just aren’t ready to go back to the ship to make your early dining time. Never fear, anytime dining is here! Just show up at the podium on the ship when you are ready to eat, and you are given a ticket and sent down to the dining room when your table is ready. We always ate between 6:00-7:00, and never had to wait. We could take our time getting dressed, no rushing around, and no stress. It was a great way to enjoy dinner and we loved the option! You could even request a certain server or section if you wanted to do so.

2.) Fahrenheit 55 Steakhouse: I have heard people rave about this restaurant, so I was pumped to try it out on our first night. (Bonus: if you dine there the first night you get a FREE bottle of house wine, or 50% off any bottle of wine!) It’s beautifully decorated, the staff was amazing, the food is plentiful, and it’s a very peaceful relaxed place. It was a top notch experience I recommend to everyone who sails. If you are looking for a fun “date night” or a little extra pampering with delicious food, don’t miss this one.

3.) Friendly Staff: With anything in life, dealing with staff anywhere you go can be hit or miss. It can be especially frustrating when you are going to be dealing with the same people over and over again, like on a cruise. I was SO pleasantly surprised with the staff, and in particular our stateroom hostess. She showed up the day we got on the ship and introduced herself to us, asked if we needed anything (I asked for an extra blanket which was delivered immediately) and she also noticed that we had a cord running across the floor for my husbands fan. She didn’t want us to trip so she brought an extension cord and taped it down to the floor for us. Seriously above and beyond, she could have just not done anything. We always had ice in our room, and I loved coming back at night to the turn down service and a fun towel animal. She always spoke to us when we saw her int he hallway, and was just generally a sweet pleasant person (as were all the staff we encountered!)

 4.) Cloud 9 Spa: We were fortunate to be in a spa stateroom on the ship, so our room was literally a hope skip and a jump from the Cloud 9 spa. We really enjoyed using the thermal suite, the heated tile lounge chairs, and we also visited the gym numerous times and found it to be spacious with lots of equipment. While we did not get any spa services while on board, there was a huge menu to choose from and always something going on.

Carnival Vista

5.) Serenity Adults Only Area: Aaahhh. Now you are speaking my language. Our room happened to also be super close to the adults only area which has two hot tubs, a bar, salad bar, and lots of comfy lounge chairs and what amounts to some private clam shell bed complete with throw pillows. This was a great, quiet escape form the hustle and bustle of the main parts of the ship, and we spent part of a port day and literally all day of our last sea day on this deck. If you want to nap or read a good book, this is definitely the place to do it. A couple of things to note though: The salad bar is only open on sea days, and the “clam shell beds” I mentioned (pictured below) get scooped up VERY quickly on sea days. I went out at 7:45 am to snag one and it was the last one, but totally worth it!

Carnival Vista

6.) Ship Water: I know this sounds bizarre, but I CAN’T be the only person who has thought about this, so I had to add it in to my favorites. Confession, I’m really weird about water. Like, really weird. I do not like lukewarm water or water the has a taste. I have been on other cruise lines and at restaurants where the tap water tastes awful, and so I was super nervous about being dehydrated during the cruise. So much in fact, that we ordered THREE cases of water to be delivered to our room so we wouldn’t die of thirst (dramatic, I know.) It ended up being a totally unfounded fear because the water on the ship tasted delicious and we only ended up using one case of water (for port days).

7.) Hand Washing: My husband and I are a bit of germaphobes (hey, we have a very germ-y three year old so it’s a necessity). I have heard awful stories of sickness sweeping through cruise ships and I for one did not want to be sick on my vacation. We boarded armed with hand sanitizer and Lysol spray. I found one of my favorite ship things in buffet. Not only do they have hand sanitizing stations everywhere, but they had hand washing stations. You just put your hands in the holes, not touching anything, and water and soap sprays out and washes your hands for you. It takes about 15 seconds, but it’s pretty cool and made me feel super clean. Kudos to Carnival for having different options and for keeping everyone safe from the spread of germs!

Carnival Vista

The Carnival Vista has so many great things about it that it was hard to narrow down to just seven, so be sure to check it out for yourself and find your favorites!

Merry Christmas 2017

From my family to yours, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas with those you love.

Luke 2 New International Version (NIV)

The Birth of Jesus

 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

 

Holiday Like This at Universal Orlando Resort

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Universal Orlando Resort, however all opinions are my own.

It’s always fun to Visit Universal Orlando Resort, but if you want a little “extra” something, be sure visit for the holidays. There are so many fun decorative touches throughout the parks as well as special shows and events you won’t want to miss. It’s just the perfect thing to get you in the holiday spirit!

1.) Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s: If you have any Mischievous Minion fans in your house, this parade is not to be missed. There are adorable floats with your favorite Despicable Me characters as well as those from Shrek and Madagascar. Don’t forget about the Macy’s balloons flying high in the sky! There’s singing, their’s dancing, and a lot of smiling (trust me on this one!) Be sure to catch the action
Dec. 18 – Jan. 6 at 8 pm.

2.) The parks all decked out for the holidays: Going from attraction to attraction at a Universal Orlando Resort theme park is a blast, but it’s even better when there is Christmas music in the background, beautiful lights, and garland everywhere you look. That little bit of extra magic was really fun to see and kept us smiling all day long.

3.) Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular at Islands of Adventure:

Seuss landing was adorably decorated and full of whimsy. I could have just walked around looking at the decorations all day! But, there is even more to see with a live retelling of the classic tale “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” featuring music recorded by Mannheim Steamroller.

You can even meet the green guy himself after the show. There is also a character breakfast with the Grinch, but it’s a separate ticketed event.

4.) Christmas at Hogwarts: This was definitely a highlight of our trip, and I’m so glad we went back into Islands of Adventure to see it. Walking through Hogsmeade all decorated for the holidays was cute, but the projection show took the cake.

Shows are done every few minutes, and the projection on the castle is breathtaking. Seriously, the pictures don’t do it justice. Trust me, you do NOT want to miss this!

Universal Orlando Resort

5.) On Site Hotel Decorations: 

We had the privilege of staying at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, which was also very much in the holiday spirit. There was a huge tree in the lobby as well as an adorable village make of candy and desserts. They will also be having Christmas character meals, so be sure to call for more information if you will be there over Christmas. The other in site hotels have their own decorations as well. It would make for a fun evening to go visit them all!

These special holiday events and happenings are going on now through January 6th at Universal Orlando Resort. Which one are you most excited about?