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.

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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?

Packing for the runDisney Dopey Challenge

A few years ago, I wrote a post about packing for runDisney’s marathon weekend. I even included a fun video to help be your guide, and I thought packing for TWO races (Goofy) would be the most I would ever pack for. Check out that link if you want a super extensive packing list! But today we are talking about the runDisney Dopey Challenge.

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Fast forward to 2014 when I ran the inaugural Dopey Challenge. I felt pretty prepared going in but learned a few tricks that may help you pack and be prepared for 48.6 miles. When running the runDisney Dopey Challenge, remember you will need FOUR of most things. This can get quite confusing when you may also need park clothes, nice clothes for dinners, etc. Here are my best tips for packing for the runDisney Dopey Challenge itself.

1.) Ziploc Bags:  You will need four sports bras, four pairs of socks, four outfits, etc., and it can get confusing as to which you want to wear for what race. To minimize confusion (and a messy suitcase) pack the items you need for each race in a ziplock bag or two, and label the bag with a sharpie. Be flexible. The year I ran one race ended up being way hotter than another, so I ended up switching up what days I wore what costume because one was cooler than the other.

2.) Carry on your shoes: If you are flying, be sure to carry on or wear your running shoes. Most other items are replaceable, but you don’t want to run (especially four races!) in new shoes if your bags get lost! I also carried on my costumes, but feel I would have been ok had I not had them now that I have done the challenge.

3.) Extra running shoes: I brought three pairs and rotated them out for the races. This helped me not get blisters badly on the early days, which would have made the full miserable on day 4. Also, in case one pair gets soaking wet, muddy, etc. you will want to have a backup pair for the other races, or for going to the parks.

4.) Lots of fuel: I take fuel/GU every 4ish miles, so between my husband and I we consumed a lot! (They also sell GU etc. at the expo but don’t try anything new for the race!) Also, keep in mind your hydration. I think runDisney does a great job of providing liquids on course so I have never brought my own water bottles, but you do you if that’s what you are used to doing!

5.) Recovery aids: In between each race there are certain things you can do to minimize stiffness and aches for the next race. I brought my traveling stick/foam roller, ibuprofen (do not take ibuprofen before a race, take Tylenol if you must!) compression socks and pants, and Biofreeze. You can also bring extra Ziploc bags for ice at your hotel or just take an ice bath.

6.) Gear for multiple weather scenarios: It’s Florida in January. You literally never know what it will be. I have run in 17 degrees and snow flurries, and ran an 85-degree marathon, all the same weekend in January a few years apart! Bring throw away gear just in case, as well as rain gear (related: tips for running in the rain.) and make sure you have layers especially if you have certain costumes you are wearing. Don’t plan a costume that only looks good with long pants in case it’s hot, and vise versa, don’t only plan one with tank tops or you may freeze! have options just in case.

I hope everyone has a wonderful race experience in January at the runDisney Dopey Challenge!

For information on runDisney events, registration, and dates be sure to check out runDisney.com

Running on the Treadmill Without Losing Your Mind

I have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill. I tend to go through phases, and luckily for me I am currently in a “love” phase. Maybe it’s because it’s warmer outside, or maybe because I am finally seeing some speed and progress because of my indoor adventures, but whatever the reason, it has been working for me lately.

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I really don’t run well in hot humid weather (but really, who does?), and Bobby doesn’t like me running out on the highway alone, so I have been logging a lot more gym miles this year. Here you will find my best tips for treadmill running without losing your mind. Trust me, it can be done without you wanting to throw a kettlebell through the gym window, and the results will be well worth it.

1.) Watch TV: I know this is not possible in all cases, but if you have a treadmill at home and can position it in front of a TV, or watch one at the gym, it can really help pass the time. I am lucky in that each treadmill at my gym has their own TV, so I can plug my headphones in and watch whatever I want. I tend to long-run best when a good movie is on, so I try to schedule my time when I know something worth watching is going to be on. Also, streaming movies on Hulu or Netflix can help pass the time, and you may not WANT to stop running! No TV? Just use your phone or tablet and binge watch something really exciting!

2.) Intervals: The great thing about a treadmill is controlled speed. I sometimes spend my time playing games with intervals. For example, warm up, run five minutes at a 6.0, the 2 minutes at a 7.0, etc. etc. It makes the time go by a lot faster constantly changing up your speed and keeping your mind off of the drudgery. Set mini goals for yourself or try to run the next interval faster than the last.

3.) Race the person next to you: Come on, you know you do it too. If there is someone next to me going just a little faster or farther than me, I pretend like we are racing. I tell no lies. My gym stays pretty busy so there is always someone new to “race!” It pushes me and makes things interesting, even though they have no idea we are competing!

4.) Distract yourself: This could mean a lot of things. I sometimes start thinking about all the things I have coming up that I need to do, things to get at the store, planning a vacation etc. I have heard of people planning meals for the week, coming up with business proposals, or drafting e-mails in their head while they run to pass the time. I also like to pray when I run. Multitasking for the win!

5.) Work on your form: When I get tired, I tend to lose my running form. My shoulders slump, my feet drag, my breathing is erratic, and I expend more energy than necessary. Treadmill running is a great time to focus hard and work on your form and tweak those minor issues that can make a big difference in time and injury prevention.

6.) Hills, hills, hills: This is especially good if you live in a flat area. Being able to raise and lower your incline on command is a great way to train for a hilly race or to work on your endurance and leg strength. It will make flat running seem like a piece of cake!

QOTD: What do you do to pass the time on the treadmill? What is the longest you have ever run on a treadmill, I have run 16 miles!

Related: 8 Tips for running in the rain

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.)

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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?

8 Tips for Running in the Rain

Update: This post originally appeared in August of 2011 and has been updated for October 2018.

I have run several races in the rain, including the inaugural Rock ‘n Roll Providence half marathon, where there were torrential downpours the entire race. I definitely did some things wrong in that race in regards to running in the rain, but I learned some lessons and tricks to help you survive a rainy run.

8 tips for running in the rain

Remember, it’s just rain. It won’t kill you, so go running anyway! (Unless there is lightning or a tornado…then you are on your own!)

8 Tips for running in the rain:

1.) Wear a hat. This will help keep your head drier and help to keep water drops from pelting you in the face. Not getting water all in your face will make it not so bad.

2.) Waterproof your phone/iPod. No, you don’t have to have some expensive special case, a ziplock bag will do! I kept my phone in my Ziploc the whole race and it was fine afterward! Also, I could still type on the touch screen through the bag.

3.) Body Glide.  Even if you don’t normally chafe or blister, use Body Glide anyway. I don’t normally chafe badly but I did under ONE arm and on the outside of the leg  where the pocket was I kept my phone in. I heard people saying they usually don’t get blisters but because of squishy shoes, they did during this race.

4.) Wear moisture wicking fabric/clothing. Honestly, you should be doing this ANYWAY, but it will help keep you from chafing more than cotton will, and it will keep you more dry.

5.) Dress warmly. The rain will most likely make it a few degrees cooler than you anticipated, so take that into consideration when planning your race day outfit.

6.) Get out of your wet clothes ASAP! Prior to the race, use the gear check if there is one available, or run back to your hotel to shower and change, but don’t stay in your wet clothes! You need to dry off and get the chill out of your body.

7.) A garbage bag makes a great poncho. Seriously. Been there done that. Even if you don’t run in it, it can at least keep you dry while you wait for the race to start.

8.) Evaluate and possibly change your expectation. If you were thinking you were going to PR in said rainy day weather you still can, but don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t. There are other things to consider besides the actual rain that can slow you down. For instance, in Providence, at times it was raining so hard the drains in the streets couldn’t keep up with it, so there was standing water RUSHING over the street knocking your feet out from under you. Also, there were puddles everywhere and I couldn’t tell how deep they were, which could have caused me to twist an ankle. I treaded a lot more lightly than usual because of this. There were also several steep downhills I was afraid of slipping on in my wet slippery shoes. Take precautions and watch your footing. There will be other races! Think of it as an experience, and as a “mental PR!”

tips for running in the rain

QOTD: Do you have any other rainy day running tips?

Related: 5 Tips for running when you travel

*This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I make a small commission if you purcahse through my link.

4 Easy Tips for Choosing a Running Route

Update: This post originally appeared in the summer of 2012, and has been updated for October 2018.

Whether you subconsciously do it or not, a lot of thought goes into planning a running route. People have preferences depending on training run, time of day, traffic, amount of people, and so on. I wanted to go into a little bit of detail about some of these options to help you (and myself!) plan the best running routes for your enjoyment and safety. Here are my tips for choosing a running route:

no matter where you are running, you can always take selfies while you workout!

 

1.) Type of run:

 

This will weigh heavily on some of the other things I mention so I thought I would bring it up first. A long run or an easy run may take you anywhere on any terrain at any time, but for a hill workout, for instance, you need well…a route with hills! So point being, take these suggestions with a grain of salt and adjust them according to the needs of your run for that day. Also, I get bored pretty quickly and would rather run a loop somewhere as opposed to up and down the same streets over and over. Example: My parents live in a big neighborhood with a clubhouse in the middle. When I visit, I park at the clubhouse and put water and fuel there, then run in one direction and back to my car, then the other direction and back to my car. This way I don’t get bored on the same streets!

2.) Safety:

This is way important, especially in light of things happening to people on running trails in the news over the past couple of years. Please don’t be one of those people who say “it will never happen to me”, because that thought alone makes you vulnerable. If you are running alone, you need to REALLY consider running:

-in an area with a lot of people.

-out in the open (not on a trail in the woods).

-carrying a taser, pepper spray,* your cell phone.

-when the sun is up and the area is well lit.

-with reflective gear on to make yourself visible.

-ALWAYS tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.

Bobby refuses to let me run out on the highway or on the trails by myself, and I totally understand why. Even if you live in a “safe area” bad things can happen. Being observant and not playing your music too loud so it drowns out approaching people or animals can be a hindrance. Wearing headphones that still allow ambient noise is something I would highly suggest if you must listen to music.

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I run along the beach during the day when there is a lot of traffic and other people out on the path. I always carry my cell phone and wear my road ID.

3.) Weather:

The biggest weather concern where I live is the heat and humidity. A lot of thought goes into my weekend long runs due to the glaring sun and high temps. Running early in the morning or late in the evening is something I try to do (when Bobby is with me of course). We also try our best to find well-shaded areas, areas without a lot of traffic, and areas with water fountains, or a turn around point where we can pass by the car for extra fuel and water. Trails are a great option for the heat if they are shaded but you may need to bring along your own water bottle depending on the location.

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these trees don’t provide much shade.

Running in the rain is ok (as long as it’s not lightning) but be careful running on roads, as they can be slippery and cars may not be able to brake as well. We don’t get a lot of cold weather, but when we do we bundle up and hit a sunny route to keep us warm and try to stay out of the wind as much as possible.

4.) Distance/scenery:

I will be the first to admit I get pretty bored on long runs. Having somewhere new to run can be a great change and make things more interesting. Depending on the distance you need to go, you can plan to run a loop (not as boring) or an out and back (way boring!). I prefer to run on a beach or Boardwalk, or where there are a lot of people so I have different things to look at. Also, to keep boredom away, try running your usual route backward. I have different places I run depending on how far I have to go. (3 mile loop, 6 mile loop, etc). Also, don’t count out the treadmill to mix things up! I have done 10 mile long runs, half outside and half on a treadmill when it gets too hot outside.

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The lakefront in Louisiana is a beautiful place to run.

It may be a slight inconvenience to drive somewhere to run, but if it will help me run faster and be less bored, I am willing to drive a bit to get the job done.

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beach running is fun (but so tough!)

The same goes for picking races. I try to choose ones in fun cities, or somewhere scenic. I ran an out and back race that went through this boring road with no houses one time and it was 13.1 miles of torture!

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races along the beach are a lot of fun

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So are races in Disney World!

Bottom line, with a little bit of planning and effort on your part, you can make running more fun and not as “boring”. If you are stuck in a training rut, try to make sure you are having the best experience based on the weather, times of day, your safety, scenery, and the type of run.

QOTD: Do you have any other tips for choosing a running route?

Related: 5 Tips for running when you travel

*Some links may be affiliate links, meaning if you purchase from it, I get a small commission.

5 Tips for Running When you Travel

Update: This post on 5 Tips for Running When you Travel first appeared in 2015, and I have now updated it, in October of 2018. 

If you are anything like me, you might make excuses when you are traveling for why you can’t go for a run. I have used every logic possible to talk myself out of a run, but in the end, I always regret not running when I travel. When I’m traveling, no matter if it’s by car or air, I always tend to eat more unhealthy than I do at home, and I’m sitting more than I do at home, so if there was ever a time I needed to run, traveling is when it is! So below I have compiled 5 Tips for running when you travel. Enjoy!

5 Tips for Running When you Travel

1.) Research the area: It’s not wise to just take off running from your hotel without knowing a bit about the area. Maybe you could even try to connect with local runners on social media and ask them their favorite routes. Traveling is a great time for exploring a new place! Maybe find a route that has a convenience store you can stop at along the way for a bottle of water, or a park with a scenic trail. Remember, knowledge is power!

2.) Pack well: I know there are a million thoughts going in and out of your head when trying to pack for a trip, and thinking about running gear may be the last thing on your mind. However, if you have everything you need all together in one bag you may be more likely to actually go for a run when you reach your destination. I bring a drawstring bag with my GPS watch, headbands, GU, body glide, sunglasses*, etc. whenever I travel so there is no excuse and no rummaging around in my suitcase. Then it’s just a matter of throwing in a couple running outfits and my shoes!

3.) Be safe: Always tell someone where you plan to run and what time you will be back, even if it’s a text to a friend or a front desk worker at the hotel. Be mindful of your surroundings! If you listen to music, make sure you can still hear your surroundings. You need to be on the lookout, especially in a bigger city where you may be crossing streets or around a lot more cars.

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Stopped at a crosswalk on a group run in Boston at the Healthy Living Summit.

4.) Make time: This is a big one for me! Travel wears me out y’all. The last thing I want to do after a long day of driving or flying is lace up my running shoes! It is important to look at your schedule and pencil in a time to hit the hotel gym or run the roads, or it may not actually happen. Sometimes the only available time is late at night, but it’s a good excuse to get out of your boring hotel room.

5.) Call the hotel: Hotel workers are your friend! Usually, they are super knowledgeable of the area, and can hopefully tell you areas you should probably avoid, or a place where runners go on the weekend to log some longer miles. They may even be able to give you the number of a local running store you can call for help as well. It never hurts to ask!

Thanks for checking out my 5 Tips for Running When you Travel.

QOTD: What is your best tip for running in a new place? To you venture outside or stick to the hotel gym?

*This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase through my link I receive a small commission.

Everything You Need to Know About Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay 5K

Update: This post about the Disney Cruise Line Castaway Cay 5k was originally published in 2013, but I have since updated it and am republishing it now, in October of 2018.

Disney Cruise Line has a private island in the Bahamas called Castaway Cay. They also have a FREE 5k race you can run with a real medal given to you at the finish line. I have written other Castaway Cay 5k posts, you can search for them after reading this one, which is Everything You Need to Know About Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay 5K including a walkthrough of how the morning goes. (If you want the short, bullet point tips version scroll down to the bolded wording)

Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island that most of their cruises sail to at the end of the voyage. The Castaway Cay 5k is considered a runDisney run. It is a free fun run and is a 5k distance that has a race clock so you can see your time at the end.

The process of the 5k has changed over the years, but as of January 2018 when I last ran, below is the process:

-You sign up at the shore excursion desk and are given “tickets” telling you where to be and when.

-There will also be information in your navigator on where/how to sign up and where to be the morning of the race.

-We met in the main nightclub area which will be different depending on the ship you are on.

-They won’t let you in to “sign in” until a certain time, and the line outside gets quite long.

-BRING YOUR ID AND SHIP CARD. They will sign you in, and give you a race bib and safety pins

-Take a seat and hang out and meet new people until they come on stage explaining the debarking process and race map to you.

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Typically, you walk off the ship together and to the starting point by the bike rentals. Please note it’s a pretty long walk, so be prepared.

At 9:30 when we were cleared to go ashore onto Castaway Cay (time changes depending on sailing). We walked together off the gangway as a large group and onto the island. A cast member led the way.

PRO TIP: Grab some towels to put into your backpack. Backpack? What backpack? That leads to my most important pro tip. Bring all your stuff for the day with you! They have a large box to store belongings in at the start/finish line. Trust me, you don’t want to walk aallll the way back to the ship after to shower and change then come aallll the way back. That will waste an hour of your day on this beautiful island. Instead, we pack a bag with our swimsuits, shower wipes, deodorant, sunscreen, and anything else we will need for the day post-race. Then after we run, we shower off outside the bathrooms, then go in to change, wipe off, and get ready for the day.

Ok so where was I. The starting line is also the finish line, and there are directional arrows on the course. The biggest problem people have is that they don’t listen. You have to make TWO TOTAL LOOPS at one point in the race and for some reason, this is confusing for people.

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There will be cast members there to help get everyone lined up and ready.

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Just like any race, it’s harder to move at first then it thins out pretty quickly.

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Soon after you start you will see your first directional sign in red (below). As long as you aren’t in first place just follow the people in front of you ha!

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You will then see a cast member standing by a water stop directing you into the bike loop.

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The loop is my least favorite because you have to run it twice and it’s just tree after tree.

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After you exit the loop, you head down the airstrip to Serenity Bay.

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Once you get to the end you are supposed to loop it like a cul de sac and come back the other way then head into the loop again. Some people cut this turn short and cheat but I feel that only cheats yourself so just run the whole thing. 🙂

You then head back down the airstrip and this would be a great time to grab water before heading back into the loop if you need it.  After you make it out of the bike loop you head back towards the finish line which was the way you first came/also the start line. The finish feels great, and be sure to watch the clock as you cross so you can see what your time is.

Castaway Cay 5k

There are water coolers at the finish line, plus your medal! There was a photographer as well who was taking pictures. If you buy a photo package they have adorable little race decals at the bottom!

There are bathrooms near the finish (which is where we change) and there is also a shop that sells 5k merchandise. Be mindful that they have been known to run out, so don’t wait until the end of the day if you want a cute shirt.

We then grab our bags out of the box and change, then head to the tram stop which happens to be right by the finish line. We then head out to Serenity Bay, and hit the beach for an amazing and relaxing day on Castaway Cay!

Here are my best tips summed up that I have learned after doing the Castaway Cay 5k 10 times that may be useful.

1.) Bring your beach clothes and things with you in a bag or backpack so you don’t have to go back to the ship. You will waste a good 45 minutes to an hour walking back, showering, and coming back out when you can change and shower at the beach. They have a large bin you can keep your things in at the start line.

2.) Get towels when you get off the ship. I am so glad we did because they did NOT have towels at Serenity Bay and we would have had to go back and get some.

3.) Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat. It’s HOT and there isn’t a lot of shade on the course, especially on the airstrip.

4.) Hydrate! They set up a water stop at the bike loop, but you can also take advantage of the water stops in the bike loop and at the Serenity Bay tram stop.

5.) SOMETIMES they have a Disney character waiting at the finish line (didn’t this time but did last time) so bring a camera or phone to capture the moment!

6.) If you want to see the island but don’t want to run, there is an “island power walk” that leaves just a few minutes after the 5k that you can join in with, or you can always rent bikes.

7.) Be sure to look at your finishing time as you cross, it’s on your left up high in a brown box

8.) At the souvenir shop right by the finish, they sell 5k finishers shirts. I wouldn’t wait until late in the day to get one in case they run out of your size. I snagged mine right after I finished the race and they had plenty.

9.) Bring your ID and ship card or you can’t check in for the race or get off the ship!

10.) Have fun! Just remember, you burned extra calories so now you can enjoy an extra Konk Cooler on the island!

DSC_0933

(This photo is taken from the start. When you are coming into the finish, the clock is facing the other way so you can see your time.)

Special note: Apaprently this happens VERY RARELY but it does happen and unfortunately it happened to us. We were unable to dock on Castaway Cay on one of our cruises, but we still had the 5k on the ship! We had to run around a certain number of times (9 maybe?) and they had a water stop set up and we got our medals. Not ideal, but it was nice to still get to run the race anyway! Read more about that Castaway Cay 5k experience here.

I have loved running the Castaway Cay 5k on the beautiful island, it’s a great way to start your day and you get a fun souvenir, too. Slow or fast, it doesn’t matter, be sure to give this a try on your next cruise!

Visit Travelwiththemagic.com for Disney Cruise Line information.

7 Amazon Finds to Organize Your Kid’s Room

Emma Kate just had a birthday, and she obtained a lot more, well…stuff. We also got rid of some things, but it just seems to keep growing, yall! I was on the hunt for some great ways to organize her things, and I thought since I was having this issue, some other people may be having it as well, so I thought I would turn it into a post and share.

7 amazon finds to organize your kids room

Here are 7 Amazon finds to organize your kid’s room:

1.) Delta Children Deluxe Multi-Bin Toy Organizer with Storage Bins

Little things. Little people. Little Pieces. Little parts. They are everywhere and drive me bonkers. The idea of having bins we can take out and put back in is super appealing, and we can organize them in each bin. Plus it’s pretty compact and Emma Kate can help clean up with this one.
7 Amazon Finds to Organize Your Kid's Room


2.) ClosetMaid 1499 KidSpace Open Storage Locker, 49-Inch Height

I wish I had known about this in our first house that didn’t have a mud room! This would be perfect for a hallway, or even inside the closet for your kids to hang up their coats and bookbags when they come home. Plus, it’s super cute!


3.) Goldenvalueable Hanging Mesh Space Saver Bags Organizer 3 Compartments Toy Storage Basket for Kids Room organization mesh hanging bag 2 Pcs
Set , Pink and Purple

How fun are these? I like that you can see through them so you don’t have to try and remember what you put in each one! Would be fun for stuffed animals or dolls.

4.) Naomi Home Kids Toy Sling Book Rack, Primary Colors/Natural
I don’t know about you, but we are drowning in books. Emma Kate has a ton, and then I saved a bunch of mine from my childhood and we add them into the mix. I feel like when they are in stacks we end up reading the same ones over and over, but this would help us to see more of them at once.

5.) Bath Toy Organizer -The Original Tub Cubby – Large 14×20” Quick Dry Bathtub Mesh Net

EK is at this stage where she wants to put all her toys in the bathtub and have a “pool party” with them. Which is fine until it’s time to get out and then they are just all over the tub, some with sitting water in them, and that’s just not super sanitary. I love the idea of this net so they toys can drain, and also it’s a place to store soap and shampoo bottles.



6.) Weekly Dry Erase Board Calendar Stain Resistant Technology Magnetic Whiteboard Planner for Refrigerator

My child thrives on a schedule, so knowing what is going on the next day is important to her. She can’t read yet, but I think creating picture magnets and putting them on the days of the week would be a great way for us to all stay organized.


7.) Bean Bag Stuffed Animal Storage

Yall. I wish these were around when I was a kid. I had a million stuffed animals and it would have been great! Instead, we had real bean bag chairs, and they would get a hole in them and little white balls would spill all over the room, and then we had to patch them up repeatedly with duct tape. Ah, the good ole days. This is a great way to have a cute place to sit and keep all the furry friends out of sight. Love!

7 Amazon Finds to Organize Your Kid's Room

As a part of the Amazon affiliate program, if you purchase a product through one of my links, I receive a small commission. Thanks for checking out these 7 Amazon Finds to Organize Your Kid’s Room!

Related: How to tame your kid clutter while teaching them valuable lessons.

 

How To Start a Blog: FREE E-Course

UPDATE: This post was originally published in 2016 and I updated it in October of 2018.

Blogging has changed my life. Literally. Before blogging, I was working a “regular” job, not feeling like I had a creative outlet, and I just felt lost. After I started my blog, not only did I start making money, but I met so many people who are now my best friends. I have had opportunities to travel, run awesome races, try new products, and really spread my wings. I think anyone can blog, and love helping people realize that they too can “do it.”

How to start a blog

However, I have found that one really long blog posts with instructions on how to do something can just be too big and overwhelming.

I have truly enjoyed the few e-courses I have participated in, and thought to myself “hey, I can do that!” Basically, if you choose to sign up for my free e-course, you will be getting a series of five days worth of emails on a topic near and dear to my heart, which is how to start a blog.

 

I wrote a blog post about three years ago with tips on starting your own blog, and to this day it is one of my number one most read posts of all time. The post was decent, but I feel like I barely scratched the surface and left a lot of readers hanging on exactly how to go about doing the things I talked about in my blog post. Enter my e-course!

how to start a blog free e-course

I am SO excited to be offering this to you, my awesome readers. I know there are a bunch of you out there who would love to start a blog (and would be great at it!) but have no idea where to begin. It can be scary and overwhelming, but it is totally doable. Back when I began blogging, I had no help and just learned as I went.  I want to help you to not make the same mistakes I did, and I want to simplify the process for you. Also, if you already have a blog, you may still enjoy the course because, in the last couple of days of it, I give some tips and tricks that could be helpful to you.

Take a step out of your comfort zone and give it a try. Everyone has a unique perspective on the world to share, something that makes you special. Your words matter, so don’t keep it to yourself!

Please don’t waste months trying to figure things out on your own when I have already done the hard work for you. Sign up for my five day free e-course and get to blogging. I can’t wait to see what you come up with! You can sign up by clicking the photo above or by clicking this link.

Related: 5 Reasons to get over your fear of starting a blog

PS: You can still sign up to get the free fitness and goal tracking printables.