Walt Disney World Vacation Plan 2019

It’s almost here! Our vacation that is 8 months in the making starts this weekend! This will be our 3rd April in a row going with my parents using their DVC points. In 2017, we stayed 5 nights at Bay Lake Tower in a 2 bedroom and Bobby and I ran the Star Wars half. Last year, we stayed at the Polynesian in a studio (yes all 5 of us!) for 3 nights and it was tight but worth it to stay at the Poly. This year, we are doing a 5 night split stay. Two nights at the Grand Floridian villas in a 2 bedroom, and 3 nights at Wilderness Lodge in a 2 bedroom. I have never stayed on the villa side at either of these resorts so i am excited for new experiences! I thought I would share a bit of our plan below so you can follow along.

I will of course be posting on Instagram, Insta stories, and Facebook, so be sure you follow along, and I will do a trip report here when we get back.

We are leaving Friday after lunch and driving halfway, so somewhere just shy of Tallahassee, FL. Saturday we will get up and drive the rest of the way and meet my parents at the Grand that afternoon. The plan is to hit up the pool and just enjoy the resort.

Sunday, we also plan to enjoy the resort. (No I am not running Star Wars this time!) We will do the pool possibly mini golf, not sure yet! Just going to take it easy. Then we are going to the parks Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and also switching to Wilderness Lodge on Monday.

Thursday morning we plan to hang at the pool before going to my parents house in the afternoon for two days. Then we are driving halfway back Saturday, then home Sunday. WHEW! Going to be a lot of driving but a lot of fun!

We are eating together at Trail’s End and in Disney Springs. Then Bobby and I have a date night at Narcoossees! I can’t wait to take Emma Kate back for a trip, not just a day or two here or there. Don’t forget to follow along on social, there will be lots of sharing going on!

I would love to help you plan your trip! email heather@travelwiththemagic.com for details.

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

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Get to reading!

Disney Wonder Kid’s Clubs

Disney cruises truly do have something for everyone, and my daughter Emma Kat loved the kid’s clubs! This post is an in-depth look at the Disney Wonder Kid’s clubs and what we liked (and would change) about them.

The Oceaneer Lab and Oceaneer Club are connected with a “secret passageway” and kids can go back and forth between the two unless there is an “open house” on one side. Then any kids checked in without adults present for open house are secured on one side. Emma Kate seemed to enjoy two area the most: The Frozen themed area and the Toy Story themed “Andy’s room” area. She legit went down the slinky dog slide about 1,000 times.

Disney wonder kid's clubs

Yes, they have tablets for the kids to play on, which I get, but I was like… ok kid, you can do that anytime, go play with the cool toys you don’t normally have!

As I mentioned, Andy’s room was a huge hit, Bobby and I even got roped into going down the slide!

Throughout the day, there will be scheduled programing like making slime, cooking, becoming a deputy with Woody and Jessie, or hanging out with Anna and Elsa. When your kids are in the club during one of these scheduled activities they do NOT have to participate. The only thing I hate is that parents can’t be in there unless it’s open house, so we didn’t get to see Emma Kate meet Anna and Elsa or get any photos. We did get to see Timon during open house though!

The bathrooms are super cute and kid sized, a pro tip is to show your kids where they are during open house so they aren’t running around at the last minute when they need to go trying to find it.

Check in procedures:

When your child wants to be dropped off at the kids club, they will scan their magic band and go in to either the club or the lab, at any time during operating hours. If there is anything you would like to tell the cast member checking them in, you can do so at that time.

Your child will then be asked to wash their hands at a hand washing station at check in before they go play.

You must keep your wave phone with you at all times, as this is how the clubs will communicate with you if there is an issue or if your child would like to be picked up. (It also works on the DCL app but I found there was a delay in it).

Pick up procedures

When you go to pick your child up, you go to the club or lab and show your key card. You must also say a special password that you have set up ahead of time, and I always had my ID with me as well.

They will then tell you which section your child is in, will give you a hand wipe and let you in to go get your child. You acnnot bring food or drinks in but they allow you to leave them at the counter until you come back.

Once you get your child they have to scan their magic band to get out and the doors will open so you can leave with them. We felt very safe leaving EK there since you have to have your card, ID and know the password. Plus the magic band acts as a tracker so their whereabouts are known at all times.

Meals were also provided at the clubs, however we only did this a couple of times because I know my child, and if given the choice to eat or play, she’s going to eat, and the cast members won’t force them to eat. (I DO force her, so it worked out better for her to eat with us most days.)

However at dinner (we are main seating) I would bring her up once she finished her meal because she was bored and then we could enjoy the rest of our meal without her whining. At the late seating, they have a cast member come to the dining room and will pick up any children that want to go to the club so you don’t have to leave the table.

What would I change

There are a couple of things I would change about the clubs, first being a note in their file after meals letting the parents know if they ate or not and how much. It’s hard to ask a barely 4 year old what they ate and how much.

The next thing is probably the biggest one, and that is any time the kid says “I want my mom” they will call you to come pick them up. For our family, this wasn’t good because Emma Kate goes to school all day and doesn’t have the OPTION of me being at her beck and call. Once she realized all she had to do was say the word and we would come running, she did it all. the. time. To tell us the slide was closed. To tell us she fell down. To tell us she wanted to see Mickey. I mean, ridiculous things. I feel like the cast members should be able to gauge a little better whether or not it was time to call.

After this happening a few times, we asked them to make a note in her file to only call us if she was bleeding or sick. We wanted to be clear that she was fine and was just playing games with us. We also had a talk with Emma Kate and told her she wouldn’t get to come back if she kept doing this. She finally took the hint and we got very few calls/texts the rest of the trip.

One thing they will do is if you tell them you are going to be at PALO, they will make a note so that they won’t call unless necessary. So we were like…why can’t we do this all the time not just when we are at PALO? Heh. So if you are like us and don’t want your kid to be able to call you every 5 seconds, you will have to let the CM know and ask them to make a note in the file.

Other than those minor things, we absolutely loved the club. It was great for everyone because she got to do fun things, make friends, see characters, and get energy out and Bobby and I were able to have some time alone on our vacation. How often did she go? Probably for a couple of hours during the day then an hour or so at night. Maybe a little more on days the weather was bad. If we had experienced sunnier/better weather, we would have been at the pool more and at the club less, but when it’s cold and windy there isn’t as much to do on the ship for a super high energy kid like mine after you have seen all the characters, done the dance parties, eaten ice cream, etc.

Overall we had an amazing experience and were so thankful she loved them and begged us to go back every day. If you have any questions about the clubs or need trip planning help, I would love to help you! Heather@travelwiththemagic.com

*These clubs are for kids ages 3 and up that are potty trained. They are included in the price of your cruise, and you child is given a magic band upon check in that they wear the whole cruise. You can return it at the end or keep it for a fee.

5 Tips for Working out on Vacation

Ah, vacation. A great time to connect with family and friends, eat amazing food, and go somewhere new. Luckily, you can do all of these things and also not forget about your health and your workouts. Here are 5 tips for working out on vacation that have worked for me over the years. I leave for a trip in less than two months, so I’m gearing up for my workouts while I’m away!tips for working out on vacation

1.) Don’t Stress out about it. You are on vacation! If you don’t work out as hard or as much, it’s ok! Just do what you can, when you can.

2.) Take advantage of your new surroundings. One of the reasons I love working out on vacation is that it’s somewhere new to run, with new scenery and places to visit. It makes the workout go by faster!

                                          

3.) Mix it up: If you have access to a pool, swim or tread water while your family catches some rays. Or, you could go for a walk and explore a new city, your resort, or the beach. Surf or snorkel in a tropical paradise. Play golf on a new to you course, or make new friends and play beach volleyball.

asics shoes


4.) Check out the hotel gym. Sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised at the nice equipment or a great view out the windows. It makes a difference!

5.) Workout early: Get your workout done before your day starts so then you have extra energy and don’t have the thought of exercise weighing on you all day. Then you can just focus on your family, friends, and creating memories.

QOTD: What is your favorite vacation workout?

Disney Wonder Cruise 2018: Part 4

In case you missed part 3, jump back and read that first!

We left off last time at the end of our Key West Day. The next day was to be Castaway Cay, and let me tell you I was PUMPED.

Castaway Cay is my favorite place on earth, and I couldn’t wait to share it with Emma Kate. I had been talking it up big time. We woke up and I thought it odd that we weren’t pulling into the island. They said something over the speakers about a late arrival, and I couldn’t really hear the rest. Come to find out, we had somehow lost a generator in the night. Never fear, we were still getting to the island just a little later. However, I had a huge pit in my stomach and a bad feeling. The water was a little choppy (I’ve seen much worse) and it was gloomy and windy. The captain tried twice to get us docked, to no avail. It was one of the saddest things to be standing on the edge of the ship, with all the workers standing on the island waiting to greet us, and we inched closer and closer and closer, only to get aallmmosssttt there and then have the captain pull away. I will admit, I cried.

See, I have kind of a sour history as of late with Castaway Cay. In 2016, my husband and I sailed for the first time since 2013. We were SO excited to be going back to the island….only to have bad weather that made us not able to dock. I was so so so upset. Them last January I went on a girls trip, and while we were able to dock, it was FREEZING and super windy. The sand was pelting people in the face and they closed down Serenity bay it was such terrible weather conditions. So this year was going to be my redemption year. Having not been to the island since 2013, I was sssooo ready to be in my happy place…and then to have it happen again was just crushing. Maybe one day we will get to take Emma Kate to Castaway. (silently cries in the corner.) ANYWAY, moving on. The staff did their best to keep us happy and upbeat, adding in character meet and greets and activities. Emma Kate had fun, and I guess she just didn’t realize what she was missing which was probably a good thing at this point.

I honestly don’t remember what we did the rest of the day. I’m guessing we ate lunch at the buffet, and put EK in the kids club. Bobby probably went to the gym, and I probably took a nap (heh.) We did go to a Disney Jr. dance party but EK wasn’t really into it so we walked around the ship instead.

That night was also pirate night…and PALO night for Bobby and me. We took some cute pre dinner photos before dropping Emma Kate off and heading up to the adults only restaurant.

PALO was lovely as usual, a highlight of the trip. It’s just a great time to slow down, relax, and eat a nice meal in peace. Our waiter was amazing and we ate #AllTheFood

We went to bed quite full, watching Elf yet again, ready for a day in Nassau that was coming up next.

Email heather@travelwiththemagic.com for questions about Disney Cruise Line!

Healthy Choices for A Fast Paced Life

This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of Healthy Choice

My days are pretty hectic, with multiple jobs, a house to keep up and clean, a four year old to take care of, errands to run, and the list goes on and on. One thing I do NOT have time for is recipes that take forever. I am pretty health conscious when it comes to my eating choices, so I want something with lots of nutrients that will help keep me full and energized through my day.

Lucky for me, Healthy Choice launched four morning Power Bowls to help with my exact meal time predicaments. I love the bowl format, and they are quick and easy, and taste delicious to boot. Each of the bowls contain purposeful ingredients for a good for you meal of leafy greens, proteins, ancient grains and steel cut oats. (yum yum!)

I tried the Unwrapped Burrito Scramble, which is made up of turkey sausage with egg whites, black beans and vegetables served on top of steel cut oats, farro, buckwheat and red quinoa with a spicy tomatillo sauce. I normally wouldn’t have thought to combine all of these ingredients, but it had a great flavor that kept me full until lunch. It had a bit of a kick to it, but I liked it a lot. I was running late one morning (what’s new) and knew I didn’t have time to cook a big meal before an appointment, so this was a great way to fill up with a quick protien breakfast and it fit perfectly in my on the go lifestyle. These would also be perfect for someone who works at an office to take along with them and heat up for a nutricious lunch!

Healthy Choice also launched vegan and vegetarian Power Bowls with bold and exotic flavor combinations, including 10-16 grams of protein and 7-16 grams of fiber in each bowl. Personally, I struggle to get enough protein in my body during the day, so this was a great way to add some in!

I tried the White Bean & Feta Salad – white kidney beans with kale, chard & spinach served on top of brown & red rice, red quinoa and black barley with a red wine vinaigrette topped with feta cheese, dried cranberries & roasted pepitas. Each flavor features a combination of vegetables, legumes and whole grains. A great option for my vegan and vegetarian friends looking for on the go meals packed with nutrients and flavor! I really liked the feta cheese and red wine vinaigrette. Yum yum!

I love that each ingredient matters in Healthy Choice Power Bowls, and all of the bowls have a base mixture of whole grains like red quinoa and whole grain barley, leafy greens like kale, chard and spinach, and proteins.


A Word for 2019

You may have noticed over the past few days people have been talking nonstop about their “word” for 2019. Several years I have “tried’ to have a word and would just come up with one on my own I thought was a good idea, but then I would forget about it and honestly, I can’t even remember what any of those words were.

This past year has been a very trying time for my family, more so than any other year of my adult life. Therefore, I have found it necessary to find things I can cling to, to give me hope that things are going to be ok.

This year, instead of coming up with a word on my own, I decided to pray about it and see if I felt led to a word. A word did come to mind pretty immediately, but I dismissed it and kept praying and “searching” for another word…but that first word kept coming back. Finally after a few days, a few scripture passages that talked ALL ABOUT THIS WORD, I got the message. (I admit I can be a little hard headed sometimes…ok all the time.)

This word is actually one that has been in my face over and over during the hardships of 2018, and some days I was really great with it and some days I wasn’t. (More often than not it was a wasn’t, but hey I’m trying here.) That word? Trust.

Trust in myself. Trust in others. Most importantly, trust in God. I’m a bit of a control freak, and like to be in charge. In a lot of ways this is helpful, but not when it comes to my relationship with God. I have such. a. hard. time. letting go and trusting that what is happening to me is for my good.

Do I believe God is ultimately good? Yes. Do I believe God can do anything? Yes. My issue comes with believing that God will do good for ME in my personal situation. Sure I have seen him work miracles in others and of course in the Bible, but my “realism” struggles with my faith time and time again and I have a very difficult time being positive when going through a hard season. Can anyone else relate?

Or, I will believe good things are coming, but then push God to do the things I have on my agenda and in my time table. Yup. I make the plan then ask God to bless it. Friends, that isn’t the way God works. True trust and true surrender are about giving up OUR wants and desires and trading them for what God wants for our lives. So it ultimately boils down to…do we trust Him or not? Do we believe all things will work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to his plans? If we can really honestly say that we DO trust him, then opening our hands and giving up the time table and the “way” in which He chooses to work things out shouldn’t be a struggle. We shouldn’t have anxiety over the future or fear any outcome.

Keep in mind I type all this as I repeat it back to myself because it is a daily, sometimes hourly, and sometimes minute by minute struggle in my mind and heart. I often pray “I believe, help my unbelief!” as I inch closer to trusting in His faithfulness.

Does trusting God in a situation mean we are to sit around and do nothing? Absolutely not! There are things we can do in the trusting and waiting to prepare us for what is to come. Prayer, Bible reading, actively seeking Godly counsel, and listening for direction all come to mind. If you aren’t sure what God is telling you to do, then do the last thing He told you to do. Not sure what God’s will is? Do this instruction from the Bible until you are told further by Him:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

This verse often gets misquoted. Note that it does NOT say “give thanks FOR all circumstances.” Of course it would be silly to thank God for a car accident, a lost job, or a sick loved one. The point here is DESPITE whatever we are going through, we can trust God has good planned through it, and we can give thanks to Him anyway. It’s a hard choice, but a choice non the less we have to make every morning when our feet hit the floor.

So again, boiled down in it’s most simple, basic form, I ask my question again. Do you trust God? Out of habit you may say yes, but do your actions prove otherwise? If you are anxious, fearful, or stressed out, those are all tell tale signs that you are not trusting God in that moment. Don’t be hard on yourself if you worry or have anxiety about something. Just stop right when you start to feel those feelings, surrender them to God, and remember the verse from above: Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances.

Keep persevering my friends. Don’t give up if you are in a hard season. In the words of Charles Stanley, the dark moments of our lives will last only so long as is necessary for God to accomplish His purpose in us. 

So this year, I am working on trust. His will, His timing, His way. And while I wait, I will be rejoicing, praying, and thanking Him as I go. Have a great 2019 my friends. I love you all.

Disney Wonder Cruise 2018: Part 1

Back in December, we took Emma Kate on her very first Disney cruise. I found a good last minute deal, and we decided instead of spending a ton of money on Christmas, we would take a family vacation. We sailed on the Disney Wonder, and were to make stops at Key West, Castaway Cay, and Nassau.

We arrived the night before and stayed in a hotel so we would be near the port first thing the next morning. Emma Kate was so amped up that night and it took forever for her to go to sleep (ok, so I was excited too.)

That morning we walked around to burn off some of Emm Kate’s perpetual energy before driving the 10 minutes to the port.

We got the bags dropped off and the car parked, and we checked in. We got in line for a photo with this guy, and before you know it there were calling our group to board.

We immediately went to guest services and were able to snag princess meet and greet tickets as well as character breakfast tickets. Then we went to stand in line to see about changing our dining time (we had late which is WAY late for us) and to get PALO brunch reservations that were sold out online. We were able to get brunch, but they said they didn’t know about the dining which made me nervous. A downfall of booking late I guess, but I know there was no way Emma Kate was going to eat dinner at 8:15 when her normal bedtime is 7:45! We went up to the buffet to eat lunch, and then explored the ship. I loved seeing the Wonder all ready for Christmas!

At this point, Emma Kate still didn’t quite understand that the boat was going to start moving and we would be on it for a week. Oh well. She figured it out soon enough after we pulled out of port ha!

It was time to check out our room, and we went to drop off our carry on bags. We had an oceanview room on deck 2. At first I was a little bummed to not have a verandah, but honestly it ended up being great because 1.) The weather wasn’t great so I doubt I would have spent a ton of time out there, 2.) I didn’t have to worry about EK jumping off the balcony and 3.) We were midship, and the lobby is deck 3, so we were one quick flight of stairs to the lobby, restaurants, guest services, character meet and greets, and more.

We met our stateroom host, dropped off our things, and headed up to show Emma Kate the kids club. I was SO pumped about this because I knew she would love it. Heck I love it!

She was obsessed with the slide and went down about 100 times.

Don’t worry, I plan to do a whole post about the kid’s club, there is so much to say! After we left, we went back to the room for a minute before the muster drill and noticed DCL had left us a beautiful cheese tray. (Anyone who knows me knows that cheese is the way to my heart.)

We had a quick and delicious snack before the muster drill, and then it was time for the sail away party. It was at this moment that I teared up. Being up on the deck, about to sail away for a week, my daughter on my husbands shoulders singing and dancing and squealing at her favorite characters. I had waited so long to take her on her first Disney cruise and here we were. It was surreal and perfect.

We went to the front of the ship to watch us sail away, and then Emma Kate finally realized we were moving!

We went inside as it was getting close to early dinner time, and we still didn’t know what seating we had. Bobby decided to call the dining line, and just see where we were on the list and what we should do. He explained we had a small child that went to bed early, and they gave us THE LAST TABLE at main dining. Yall, I was so so thankful. They said there were 27 other families that had a request in as well, so I don’t know if it was because we called to follow up or what, but whatever it was, we were seriously breathing a huge sigh of relief. The only thing was…it was 5:25, and dinner was at 5:45! We hurried around getting dressed for dinner and made it to Animator’s Palate just in time.

I love this menu, and was excited to have it the first night. We met our super sweet server, Dee, who has been with DCL for 12 or 13 years! She was so great with Emma Kate and was from Thailand. Emma Kate did ok at dinner…she got a little antsy so we had mickey bars and other dessert and then brought her to the kids club for the first time alone.

This gave Bobby and I a chance to walk around and see more of the ship, grab a snack, and relax. We got a text that Emma Kate wanted us and we were so confused because we had just dropped her off! We ran up there and discovered that she just “wanted to tell us the slide was closed.” Seriously. That was it. Emma Kate has been going to daycare since she was a baby and has never before had to power to “summon” us while at school, so I think she liekd the idea, but I did not. I kind of wish she didn’t know that she could haha.

Pro Tip: After this happening a couple of times (and nothing was wrong), we asked the workers to put a note in her file to not text us unless something was really wrong (hurt, crying, sick, etc.) and to not text us just because she wants to tell us something.

We went back to the room and had another sweet surprise from DCL! Cheers to a great first day!

More coming up soon!

If you would like help booking your next Disney Cruise please email me, I would love to help you! heather@travelwiththemagic.com

Merry Christmas 2018

Merry Christmas from the Montgomery Family! I pray your holiday is merry and bright, and 2019 is everything you want it to be. Never forget the reason for the season. Happy Birthday Jesus!

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

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.

fire hd 8

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!