Celebrate National Reading Month + Sweepstakes

This post was sponsored by Amazon as part of an Ambassador Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Did you know that March is National Reading Month? I didn’t until the other day! Emma Kate can’t read quite yet, but we are still participating by using our Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet and the plethora of Audible books she can listen to! (Read on to enter to win one (1) of 10 Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablets!)

The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet can help aid your children in cultivating their love for reading with so many fun titles to explore! You can also access educational games that will help teach your kids how to read.

Here are some of Emma Kate’s favorite books available in Amazon FreeTime Unlimited:

  • A Day with Caillou – FreeTime Unlimited Edition
  • Daniel Tiger’s Stop & Go Potty – Freetime Unlimited Version
  • Disney Buddies: ABCs
  • Elmo Loves 123s – FreeTime Unlimited Edition
  • PINKFONG Dino World – FreeTime Unlimited Edition
  • Teach Your Monster to Read – FreeTime Unlimited Edition
  • Toca Lab – FreeTime Unlimited Edition
  • Wonster Words ABC Phonics – FreeTime Unlimited Edition

The Fire Kids Edition Tablets are the #1 kids’ tablets in the U.S. and come with a kid-proof case and a 2-year guarantee. You can get a replacement no questions asked. Each one comes with a one year subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which gives you and your child access to over 30,000 books, videos, audible books, apps, and games. There are also Spanish language books, plus thousands of kid-friendly websites and web videos.

You can have peace of mind using the Parental Control settings in FreeTime Unlimited, where parents can set time limits, change age filters, enable/disable web browser access, and you can even choose whether to allow in-app purchasing. Parents can also use Parent Dashboard to review the digital content their kids are using in FreeTime, determine how to manage time limits and educational goals, and remotely adjust their child’s FreeTime settings. I love helping Emma Kate set educational goals on her tablet. You can also see how much time your child is spending reading each day and see what books they are reading and listening to!

Discussion Cards offer parents a “family book club” approach with summaries and sample questions based on the books, videos, Audible books, educational apps and websites that are viewed within Amazon FreeTime. This could be a fun time to have a “game” where your child answers questions about the books they are reading.

You can also set up “Learn First” settings to encourage learning before play. These can be set up in the FreeTime settings on your child’s tablet, or remotely via Parent Dashboard. This way your kids can still have fun playing games, but after they have done their educational time with books or audible stories.

Also, please note parents don’t have to have a Fire Kids Edition tablet in order to access Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. The FreeTime Unlimited app is also available for download on iOS and Android! Also, once parents sign-up for Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, that very same subscription can be used on any compatible device including Fire tablets, Fire Kids Edition tablets, compatible Android and iOS phones and tablets, and compatible Echo devices, including Echo Dot for Kids. There are so many options!

Now, I would like to challenge you to participate in National Reading Month by completing a social activation below, and those readers who pledge their participation will be entered in to win one (1) of 10 Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablets! There will be ten winners in total! Just check out the link below.

I-C will randomly select winners from all program entries and Amazon will facilitate fulfillment of the winning prizes of 10 Winners.

Amazon Fire Kids Edition Sweepstakes

Get to reading!

Disney Wonder Cruise 2018: Part 5

Check out part 4 if you missed that one then come back here!

The next day we woke up in Nassau. We had no plans to get off the ship, and wanted to take advantage of having less people on board to hang out and relax.

Unfortunately it was gloomy and chilly, so we didn’t make it to the pool. I was starting to think the bad weather was just following us around everywhere we went at this point.

However, we were parked next to the Disney Dream which was kind of cool. We did lots of waving at other people on the Dream and I secretly told EK we would take her on that ship next.

We decided to take Emma Kate to her first ever “big girl movie” in the movie theater that day. The new Wreck it Ralph movie was out, and she was so excited to eat her popcorn and watch the movie. I love that the price of the movies is included in the cruise price! See as many as you want!

She loved it, and did really well! I was afraid she would talk and ask questions nonstop (like sh does at home, omg) but she sat so still and did awesome.

We had lunch then brought her to the kids club. Once again I don’t remember exactly what we did, but Bobby probably went to the gym and I probably read a book. We are SUCH exciting cruisers.

We got dressed for dinner which was in Animator’s Palate again. It was the night of the drawings and the show which is always fun!

I mean, how cute is this kid?

After dinner, we had a delicious surprise from the pastry chef in our room! Emma Kate went crazy over them!

We then took Emma Kate to the kids club and explored the ship again.

It’s so nice and quiet during second dinner when the early diners are at the show. We felt like we had the ship to ourselves! Then it was Elf, one more time (starting to dislike the movie at this point!) and then bed. We still had two sea days of fun and adventure left!

Disney Wonder Cruise 2018: Part 2

In case you missed part 1, catch up here before reading below!

We woke up the next morning ready for an awesome day at sea. First up, we had the Disney Jr. character breakfast.

Pro tip: Spots for this free but ticketed event fill up fast. However, they hold back some spots, so go to guest services as soon as you get on board to try to snag tickets.

Breakfast was in Animator’s, and we were seated right away and promptly given napkin hats.

I will say the breakfast portions were on the smaller side, so if you like a big breakfast I suggest ordering multiple items like Bobby did. However, the characters were fun! This was the first time we let Emma Kate use an autograph book, and she had a blast with it.

She was so excited to see Vamparina!

After breakfast, we saw Minnie Mouse was taking photos so we did that. The line was really short!

We also took a few pictures in the lobby and Emma Kate and I danced on “stage”.

Emma Kate was asking to go to the kids club, so off she went and Bobby and I walked around the ship taking some photos. The sun is deceptive, it was windy and pretty chilly!

The rest of the afternoon was pretty lazy. We got EK out of the club for lunch (we knew she wouldn’t eat enough or at all if we didn’t make her) and then brought her back. Bobby and I went to the gym and i’m pretty sure we all took a nap that day (the ONLY day she napped!) and then it was off to dinner for formal night. Emma Kate wore her Rapunzel dress, and we stopped for a quick dance party at Preludes before heading to Tiana’s Place.

I LOVED Tiana’s place. I know I am biased being a New Orleans native and all, but it was so fun with the music and dancing and had such an adorable atmosphere. Kudos on this one Disney!

We got to get up and dance, watch awesome musicians, and eat delicious food!

After dinner, Emma Kate was begging to go play in the club again (ok ok if you twist my arm, kid) so we dropped her off and Bobby and I walked around on the pool deck and started what would be our nightly tradition of hanging out in Cove Cafe and getting a snack.

Pro tip: In the evenings they had delicious cheese and crackers (like the kind from Palo) for free. So we would get a snack and sit in the quiet and relax.

They also had some seasonal coffee drinks for an extra charge.

We picked Emma Kate up around 9:00, watched Elf on TV for the 14th time so far, and went to sleep. More coming up soon!

If you would like help booking your next Disney cruise, let me know! heather@travelwiththemagic.com

12 Years

Back when I was a newlywed, I remember hearing about people who had been married for over ten years, and I thought “man, that’s a long time!” Here we are, 12 years in, and it’s been the blink of an eye. As I went through my wedding photos again to decide what to put in this post, I was reminded that 1.) I am definitely aging (ha) and 2.) I would do it all over again.

Adulting is hard, and 2018 was definitely the most tough year we have had together as a married couple, but here we are still standing. It hasn’t always been easy by any means, but as we strive to set a good and healthy example of a marriage for our daughter, we hope to encourage others who may feel like it’s too overwhelming. We took our vows very seriously on January 6, 2007, and they still hold true today.

I will admit, when you are 21 years old and saying “for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, till death do us part,” you aren’t THINKING about the bad times that may actually come and how you will respond. I haven’t always responded in the right way, but thankfully I have a husband who gives me grace every day and helps me learn and grow. We may be in a crazy season of life right now, but we are in it together.

While I definitely hope this next year brings about some hopeful and happy things for us, I know that even if it doesn’t, we can get through it because at least we have each other.

Christmas 2018 Recap

Christmas is officially over, and like every year, I am officially sad. It seems to go by faster and faster every year, no matter how much I vow to “soak it all in this time” or “slow down and enjoy.” That being said, we had a wonderful 4 day weekend with family, and I have nothing to complain about (except for how quickly it went by!) I thought I would share a little recap with you all today as we prepare to close out 2018.

We kicked off the holiday weekend on Saturday with some wine and cheese outside with my parents. Christmas music played non stop every day, and we had great weather.

On Sunday, we had lunch with Bobby’s family. All of his siblings were in town which never happens (there are 5 of them total) so lots of photos were taken.

That night we went to dinner for my moms birthday and I didn’t think to take photos. The Saints almost gave us a heart attack, but managed to clinch a #1 seed for the playoffs!
Christmas eve was laid back, we went to the store (again) and hung out at the house doing some cooking and watching Christmas movies. Emma Kate and I also made and decorated sugar cookies for santa. She LOVED it and it kept her busy for almost two hours, which if you know my child, is a long time for her to stay focused on one thing.

That afternoon, we all got dressed and went to the 4:00 candlelight Christmas Eve church service.

The service was great, I love closing it out singing Silent Night with all the beautiful candles. (It wa slightly terrifying seeing my clild with fire, but she insisted on having ehr own.)

We went back home and ate Bobby’s delicious chicken and dumplings, watched more movies, and read the Christmas story from the Bible and Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Then it was time to set out the cookies and milk and head to bed.

The next morning, Emma Kate was up at 6:00 on the dot, so it was most definitely still dark when we opened gifts.

We had a very happy little girl, and took our time enjoying opening gifts, drinking coffee, and listening to Christmas music.


I made a special tequila sunrise mimosa for breakfast to go along with the sausage casserole I make every year.

We spent the rest of the morning playing and cooking preparing for lunch.

Emma Kate was super pumped about her new bike. After a new death experience (I forgot to explain the brakes to her), she got the hang of it and had a blast.

We had a delicious lunch, and sang happy birthday to my mom (she is a Christmas baby!)

That evening we hung out with more family and ate…again. (so. much. food.)

After we left, we drove around and looked at Christmas lights. There were two houses that had music and lights flashing together via a radio station! We got home and I realized we had not taken any family photos that day in front of the tree, so we did that before Emma Kate’s bedtime.

We were all pretty exhausted and went to bed early. The next three days we ate nothing but leftovers, and I enjoyed every bite! I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and made wonderful memories with those you love.

Holiday Traditions Revisited

This post was sponsored by Amazon as part of an Ambassador Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

I am really big on traditions, especially around the holidays. So big, that one year at Christmas I cried hysterically because my family decided to “change things up” and go somewhere else for Christmas instead of my grandparent’s house per usual. I was devastated. Now that I have a child of my own, we have started some of our own traditions, as well as continuing a few from when I was a girl.

One thing that is different from…well I won’t say what year, let’s just say “way back when”, is the technology. Technology has made connecting, learning, and entertaining that much easier (and more fun!) and I love that there are options for Emma Kate. One of our favorites is the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet. This tablet is the #1 kids’ tablets in the U.S. and comes with a kid-proof case. (My child is quite the dropper!) It also includes a two-year worry-free guarantee—meaning if it breaks, just send it back and Amazon will send you a new one without asking you a bunch of questions.

How do we incorporate this device into our holiday traditions? Easy! For example, we love to read to Emma Kate, especially Christmas books. It’s been fun to read titles right from her Fire HD 8 Kids Edition like Winter, Cold and Snow, and also listen to books audibly like The First Christmas Tree and the Great Sled Race.

For a lot of people (and usually for us, except for this year,) Christmas means traveling, which also equals bored kids in the car. Emma Kate loves it when we pre-download books, games and videos for her ahead of time to enjoy in the car.

There are even kid-friendly cookbooks available in Amazon FreeTime on the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition. What is Amazon FreeTime? Each tablet comes with a one-year subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, giving you access to over 20,000 books, videos, Audible books, educational apps, and games. There are also over 1,000 Spanish language books, videos, educational apps, Audible books, and more.

Another thing I love about this device is the Parent Dashboard. By using the Parental Control settings in FreeTime, parents can set time limits, adjust age filters, change web browser access, and turn on or off in-app purchasing. (That one is huge. Emma Kate is always trying to buy stuff!) You can also review the things your kiddos are using and seeing in FreeTime, and even remotely adjust your child’s FreeTime settings.

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We are all about education and learning games, so I love how the technology of the device allows Emma Kate to have fun and learn at the same time. (ssshhh don’t tell her she is learning!) It’s also something we can do together as I guide her, read with her, and watch alongside her. It has been such a great and fun addition to our holiday traditions this year, and I can’t wait to see how they evolve next year!

5 Ways to Tame Your Kid Clutter, While Teaching Them Valuable Lessons

Update: this post was updated November 2018.

I don’t know about you, but one of the hardest areas of clutter to tame in my house has to do with the tiny dictator that runs our house. Our four year old somehow has more stuff than my husband and I combined! She just had a birthday, which brought even more stuff. I decided to do a major overhaul of her things recently, and here are some tips that not only helped me, but I’m hoping are teaching her some valuable life lessons as well.

kid clutter

1.) Get rid of a toy before bringing a new one in: We have a rule where if we buy our daughter a bigger toy (not talking about Happy Meal toys here), that she has to get rid of something before the new toy comes in the house. She is finally getting to the age where she grasps this, and I can usually get her to get rid of a toy by saying it’s a “baby toy” because, hello, she is a BIG KID and doesn’t want baby toys. Ha. Luckily since she is changing so quickly right now, she “outgrows” a lot of her toys so it’s easy to choose something that needs to go.

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Back when things were much more simple…and she was in a crib. ha.

2.) Don’t buy toys every time you go in the store: I know a lot of parents use toys as a reward for good behavior while shopping, or to keep a kid quiet in the cart for a few minutes. However, in my opinion, this is a bad habit that leads to an expectation every time you go into a store. Sure, there are times Emma Kate gets a special toy or treat, but certainly not every time. We avoid the toy aisle, and I make sure she has things that she already owns to keep her occupied while I shop. Not only does this teach a good lesson, but it keeps random toys you weren’t expecting on having from popping up all over your house from impulse buys. Try to give incentives for good behavior that don’t revolve around toys…Like ice cream or a movie date or extra time at the playground.

3.) Find a cause and donate: There are some great organizations out there that will take gently used toys, furniture, books, etc. There may be a family in need in your community that would love to have your child’s toys. Check with a local church or daycare, they may be able to point you in the right direction. Again, this is a great way to teach your kids about families less fortunate than yours, and also get rid of some of the toys they no longer play with. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! I have definitely learned we don’t need “new” toys to have fun!

4.) Have a home for everything: This applies for everything in my house and I discuss it in my book, but I have found when I don’t have a specific “home” for something, I end up just throwing it wherever and that leads to clutter. We use lots of bins and baskets as well as shelves for Emma Kate’s toys. If something doesn’t fit or have a home, we either get rid of things to make room or create another bin/basket so the toy doesn’t just get lumped in with random things.

Related: 7 Amazon Finds to Organize Your Kid’s Room. 

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5.) Teach you kids to enjoy experiences and not things: Emma Kate is still a little young to understand this concept, but we would much rather do something fun with her than buy her things. She loves simple things like the splash pad, zoo, and the playground at Chick-fil-A. These things are entertaining for hours and don’t clutter up your house. Our kids really just want our time and attention anyway, so save yourself some money as well as space in your home, and expose your kids to new experiences. Those memories will last forever!

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QOTD: What is your best tip for taming kid clutter?

Weekend Happenings November 2018

Good morning! I haven’t really done a weekend wrap up in a while, so I thought it would be fun to do for a post. I don’t have a ton of photos, but will still tell you all about it!

Friday afternoon, Emma Kate was watching TV and I was in the other room working. I hear a BOOM and then crying. She had walked into the corner of a wall watching TV and walking at the same time. Bless it. It turned into a bruise and of course, I had to document it.

But seriously, how does my just turned 4-year-old look about 7 here? I got her this adorable unicorn football outfit from Snotty Tots (facebook group) they have the cutest cheap kids clothes, be sure to check them out! She was obsessed with the scarf.

Saturday morning was a gorgeous cool day, so we watched College Gameday since they were in Baton Rouge for the LSU/Bama game, then we headed to lunch at McAlister’s. It was national sandwich day so they have $4 clubs plus a free 32 oz drink. Score! (anyone who knows me well knows that the way to my heart is through McAlister’s.)

How cute is my little cheerleader?

Bella, on the other hand, did not appreciate the cold weather. I also managed to pull the right side of my back picking up my 42 pound four-year-old. So no workout for me. We came back home and watched football all day. (Sadly, LSU decided not to show up for the game and got spanked.)

The next day I could hardly move my back hurt so bad, and I slept horribly, thanks so much daylight savings time! Emma Kate was with Bobby’s mom for the day, so Bobby and I hung out and made chili for lunch. It was cold and rainy so perfect chili weather!

The Saints played the late afternoon game and beat the undefeated Rams in a nail-biter. At least one of my teams showed up to play this weekend. We had more chili for dinner and watched more football (anyone seeing a weekend trend here?)

It was great to have a weekend with nothing we HAD to do, I just wish I hadn’t hurt my back! Two days of no exercise made me stir crazy, and I was only able to walk Monday. Hopefully today I can run again.

Now to get used to it looking like midnight at 5:20 in the afternoon. Who else is ready to get rid of this stupid time change? (EK was up at 4:40 Sunday morning). Happy Tuesday all! Drink lots of coffee!

Halloween 2018 Recap

Happy November my friends!

I can’t believe there are only 2 months left in 2018. Weren’t we just taking down the tree and setting goals? Not that I’m complaining, because these next two months are my favorite time of year. But before we start singing Jingle Bells and trimming the tree (do people actually trim trees? IDK. Ours is fake) let’s look back at our Halloween with Emma Kate:

We attended a trunk or treat at a local park on Monday night. Some people were really creative with their setup which made it fun! EK decided to go as Rapunzel for this one.

She was just a tad excited.

The line moved pretty fast, but a few people did start running out of candy!

This was my favorite one of the night. She had to “walk the plank” to get her candy.

The poor fireman ran out of candy, I think Emma Kate got the last piece!

We are visiting family in Mississippi, so my parents sent Emma Kate a card and stickers.

We let her watch Hocus Pocus this year, and she literally watched it every day, multiple times a day, for 3 weeks. So, of course, she was pumped to wear her Hocus Pocus dress all month. She also painted a pumpkin (see below) and she chose this “pose” all on her own haha.

Halloween night was a bit confusing. It was supposed to rain, so some neighborhoods decided to trick-or-treat the night before. We didn’t know this, so on Halloween night we kept an eye on the street as it got dark…there were no trick-or-treaters. It was 6:45, so I panicked and we threw EK in the car and started driving. We went to two neighborhoods…no kids. FINALLY, we made it to a 3rd one that had tons of lights on and tons of trick or treaters and ended up meeting some of the sweetest people. I’m so glad it worked out this way, it was a great, low key night and we only got rained on a little bit for a few minutes.

At every house, Emma Kate asked to pet the owner’s dog…and we were even invited in a couple times. I love the south! She was more excited about the dogs than the candy!

That night well really the next morning at 3:00, the rain DID come, int he form of tornado warnings. Sirens going off, etc. We got up and watched the weather for over an hour until we felt it was safe to go to bed (after it was downgraded to a watch). Not my favorite way to wake up at 3:00 am, but we are safe and still had a wonderful holiday!

7 Ways to Celebrate Your Birthday in Walt Disney World

When my mom was about to turn 60, her one wish was to have a fun girls trip in Walt Disney World. Since her birthday falls on Christmas day, she has NEVER gotten a lot of ”hoopla” for her birthday. Sure we know better than to wrap her birthday gifts in Christmas paper, and not get her a red and green cake, but let’s face it, everyone is so busy with the holidays it’s hard to focus on a birthday other than that of baby Jesus!

Celebrate Your Birthday in Walt Disney World

When she told me she really wanted a quick girls trip to Disney to celebrate her birthday, I sprang into action to plan for the most FUN birthday bash ever. After all, she totally deserves it as the most selfless giving person ever. When I started making our October plans and doing some research, I got frustrated trying to think of things and having to hop all over the internet to find different things, so I thought I would come up with a list of fun birthday things to do in Walt Disney World for adults (kids at heart, right?) Hopefully this list will be helpful to some people looking for fun ways to celebrate!

 

7 Ways to Celebrate Your Birthday in Walt Disney World:

1.) Mark your reservations: Be sure when you book your vacation that you mention there is a celebration going on. That way, it can be marked on your resort reservation and your dining reservations. There is no guarantee, but resorts and restaurants have been known to sprinkle a little pixie dust for birthday guests. When I check in I also make sure it was noted properly on the reservation. We have gotten balloons and cards in our room, chocolate, cupcakes at lunch, free dessert at dinner, and more. (Please please remember this is NOT something Disney has to do, it’s just “extra” so try not to expect it so you won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.)

grand floridian birthday

2.) Birthday button (and hat, shirt, etc): Grab a birthday button at your resort or at the theme parks. Wear it with pride and watch the magic happen! Cast members and guests alike will tell you happy birthday and make you feel extra special. The button is a freebie, but if you want to pay for a little something extra, you can purchase a birthday ear hat or have a shirt made at Downtown Disney letting everyone know it is your birthday.

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3.) Cake: Let me tell you, Disney makes some AMAZING cakes. You can call the cake hotline and have a customized cake made and delivered to your resort or at certain restaurants around the property. I have been lucky enough to be the recipient of several cakes throughout the years. Thanks to my fellow cake fiend Jen, and they are so worth it, and such a fun surprise!

 

4.) Spa treatment: There is a spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort, and also at Saratoga Springs resort. Jen and I actually had pedicures done on my birthday one year, and it was so fun! They have a full spa menu if you are looking for some extra pampering with friends or family.

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5.) Fireworks dessert party: Disney knows how to light up the night sky, and they have been wise enough to pair their amazing fireworks with dessert parties, fireworks cruises, and the most recent addition, the Ferrytale Fireworks dessert cruise during the nightly fireworks. So many fun things to choose from (book well in advance for these events!)

6.) Guided Tour: There are a plethora of tours around Disney property, ranging from a behind the scenes Magic Kingdom tour, to a wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I think most people would be plenty excited to get to take part in a special tour on their special day.

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7.) Recreation: A lot of people don’t realize there is so much more to do at Walt Disney World than go to the parks. A birthday is a perfect occasion to do something special. Some examples are: play a round of golf, rent a boat at one of the many marinas, parasail, rent a surrey bike, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Thanks for reading my tips on how to celebrate your birthday in Walt Disney World

QOTD: Have you ever celebrated your birthday in Walt Disney World? What did you do?