Showing posts with label kids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kids. Show all posts

Morning Bird Home: Jurassic World Bedding - A Walk on the Wild Side!

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My kiddos are big fans of Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous on Netflix so when the opportunity came to try a set of Jurassic World bedding from Morning Bird Home, we jumped at the chance.  I surprised Caleb with a bedroom makeover while he was out of the house at his grandparents one day and he was so excited when he came home.  Check out his reaction below:




Thanks to Morning Bird Home and Collaboration Nation for gifting us a Jurassic World Bedding set to share with our readers!

Caleb's reaction was just the beginning!  After using the bedding for a few weeks now, we're happy to share a full review on the product and why this may be my favorite room makeover I've done yet!


Morning Bird Home: Jurassic World Bedding Set Review


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There are several things that jump right out as big wins for me from the get go with this set.  First, is the coloring.  Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love to theme a room.  From Star Wars, to Mickey Mouse, to the Lion King, to Jake and the Neverland Pirates - we've had a lot of themes over the years.  One thing kids character themed bedding always seems to have in common though is bold colors and a "loudness" to it.  That has never bothered me, but I have to say that I was instantly in love with the fact that his bedding set is Jurassic World themed, but uses all muted colors - blues and off white to bring the dinosaurs to life - not what you would expect.  It makes the room looks more "grown up" which is exactly the look I was hoping for as he wraps up kindergarten and moves into first grade.


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Beyond the look, let's talk quality.  The bedding set included a full/queen duvet cover, knit throw, 2 shams, and a full sheet set including fitted sheet, flat sheet, and pillowcases.  All of the Morning Bird Home products are made with 100% organic cotton.  When I first unboxed, I was worried that the duvet cover and sheets may feel a little stiff, but after a quick wash they became so super soft, I wished I was crawling into that bed!  I'm so used to buying character bedding sets that quite frankly look nice, but feel cheap that having a quality made kids bedding set was a really nice change of pace.


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I have to say, this new room is simply amazing.  If Jurassic World isn't a popular choice for your kids, check out the full selection of character bedding over on Morning Bird Home's website for great options from PAW Patrol, Frozen, DC Comics, and more!  These bedding sets will delight kids and parents alike.  Drop your favorite character set in the comments below - or one that you'd like to see them do in the future! 

The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot - Recipes To Enjoy with the Book!

Hazelnut Pancakes Recipe from The Healthy Mouse


The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot is now available and trust me when I say this book is one that you'll enjoy with your kids!  

Missed my review of The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot?  Find it here!


But we all know reading is only part of the adventure.  I really enjoy doing activities with my kids that make the book come to life and create memories for both of us.  That's why I was really excited to see my friend Jessica from over at The Healthy Mouse created some Rockford T. Honeypot recipes.  Check them out!











Looking for more family fun? Click here to head to my preview of the book and download FREE coloring pages.


Which ones are you excited to try?  I think I see some Hazelnut Pancakes and Lemon Sorbet in our future!  If you give any of this recipes a try, be sure to tag me on Instagram and Twitter @dsnyrunrgrl so I can see your creations.




The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot: Three Important Themes for Children



I just finished reading The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot by Josh Gottsegen with my 8-year-old son and there is so much that hit home with us.  The book is told by an aged Rockford T. Honeypot who is recounting his adventures in a busy market.  It is obvious that he is clearly famous, but readers will have to dive into the pages of this book to find out why he is so well known in his old age.  While the book is a children's adventure story at it's core, there is so much more that young readers will relate with along the way.  

Learn more about the book and the author here! 




Teasing


Too many young people today know what it's like to be teased and jeered by peers simply for the sake of being mean.  In Chapter 2, we hear a pretty gut-wrenching tale of how mean the neighborhood bully and Rockford's own brothers were to him growing up.  Rockford found solace in his mother's arms, but these experiences being bullied stayed with him throughout his life.  He even shared a strategy he used as a child with his mother when he was upset.  They had their minute limit.  

"After sixty seconds, we would take a deep breath, and just like the sun burns the clouds away, let it all go without giving it one more thought." ~ Rockford T. Honeypot


The pain didn't stop with peers his own age.  Rockford also had to grow up with a father that saw him as a failure.  My heart broke as Rockford shared his story about his family leaving him.  The poor little chipmunk was all alone in the world and had to find a way to make it on his own. 

Overcoming Fears


Rockford has a lot of fears and insecurities for a little chipmunk. While he craves adventure and dreams of doing daring new things, his own worries about the world around him can be a lot for him to overcome.  My son has dealt with his own struggles battling some mild anxieties and he really related to Rockford in this respect.  It's natural for kids to worry about things they haven't seen or tried before.  Rockford T. Honeypot puts this into action for kids to see that they are not alone in being scared and, perhaps even more importantly, when they face their fears, some amazing things can happen!

"Curiosity is an extraordinary ingredient in our lives.  It can lead to new ideas, new friends, and to the orchids hidden deep in the swamp." ~ Rockford T. Honeypot



The Power of Friendship


Having true friends - friends who believe in you and help you along the way - is a rare and beautiful gift.  Along the way in his adventures, Rockford meets a number of friends who help him along the way and allow him to learn more about himself.  While Rockford had difficulties in his youth with relationships with his peers and his father, he quickly finds that all animals aren't the same.  Some people are there to offer you an opportunity to come work in their restaurant while others rescue you on a mountainside and the care for you as one of their own.  Along the way of life you meet people who will pass quickly in and out of your life and others who are with you for the long haul, but each lives footprints on your soul and become a part of your story.

Looking for some fun coloring pages of Rockford and his friends to enjoy along with the book?  Find them here!


My Final Thoughts 


We really enjoyed following along with Rockford T. Honeypot on his adventures!  At 8, my son was probably a little too young to read the book independently as it is a bit long for his age, but he looked forward to our nightly read aloud sessions and the book had many valuable lessons that we were able to talk about as we read together.  If you're considering this as an independent read, I would say upper elementary school should be able to handle it without a problem.  While it's a children's book, parents will become engrossed in the stories of Rockford T. Honeypot as well and maybe be reminded of a few lessons we've learned along the way too.

Check out these recipes and crafts to go along with the book too!


"Beauty is everywhere. Sometimes you just need to look from a different angle." ~ Rockford T. Honeypot


The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot by Josh Gottsegen is now available wherever you buy books - Paperback, iBooks, and Kindle.  Be sure to share your adventures in reading this story with your family using #RockfordTHoneypot!  

I received a copy of this book to enjoy with my family so I could share my review! As always, thoughts and opinions are my own!

Coming Soon: The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot


It's always a good time for adventure, right?  

My boys and I love good adventure stories and I'm excited to have the opportunity to receive an advanced copy of The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot by Josh Gottsegen to review.  Let's take a look at what adventures await!

About The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot


As a young chipmunk, shy, bookish Rockford T. Honeypot had dreams of thrilling adventures across the forest.  However, timid of danger and germs, his only adventures were found in books and his imagination.  Until one day, he sets off on a legendary journey beyond his wildest dreams! From exploring cuisines with a famous
 chef, training with ancient warrior monks, flying on giant hawks, finding true love, and much more, Rockford recounts his epic origin story of hardship, perseverance, and fortune.


I'm excited to hear how Rockford overcomes his fears as a young chipmunk.  My son struggles with some mild anxiety that sometimes keeps him from trying new things.  It sounds like this book may help him learn a bit about facing his own fears to seek the adventure that undoubtedly awaits him.  

We are just beginning the book and look forward to sharing a review soon!  In the meantime, you can pre-order this book before it's release on June 23rd at the links below.


You can also check out these FREE downloadable coloring sheets to introduce your kids to the characters of the story.  




Stay tuned for all of the excitement and adventure that awaits Rockford T. Honeypot as well as our family as we enjoy the book!

About the Author


Los Angeles native Josh Gottsegen has a background in filmmaking and digital media and is the author of "Joosh's Juice Bar," an early elementary school children's book series that encourages healthy eating habits through vivid illustrations and Dr. Seussian-style rhymes.  Earning his BA in Film Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara, Gottsegen has won numerous awards for his short films and video productions.  Starting professionally at NBCUniversal Interactive, later Josh Gottsegen moved into editing as well as other creative projects for the Walt Disney Company, Fox Corporation, IMG, and the NFL.

Follow The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot on Social Media


#RockfordTHoneypot


I received a copy of The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot in order to provide a review to my readers.

Port Discovery Children's Museum At Home Activities


Regular readers will know that my family and I have been longtime fans of Port Discovery Children's Museum in Baltimore.  With everything being shut down and families at home trying to make their own fun, I was delighted to see that Port Discovery was posting fun and educational activities for young kids.  And the best part?  Usually the amazingness that is Port Discovery is something only my Mid-Atlantic readers get to experience, but these resources and activities can bring the learning and fun to all of you, regardless of where you live!

Want to check out fun to be found at Port Discovery? Check out some of the newest attractions!


Below is a list of the themes for the next several weeks.  If you want to receive more details about specific activities, sign up for their e-newsletter and give them a follow on Facebook!

  • Week of April 19 - Poetry
  • Week of April 26 - Theater
  • Week of May 3 - Health & Wellness
  • Week of May 10 - Early Education
  • Week of May 17 - STEM
  • Week of May 24 - Health & Wellness
  • Week of May 31 - Theater
They are also sharing activities and projects you can do with your children on their website and I have a few printables they shared with me that you can download here!

Did you know we had a birthday party at Port Discovery a few years ago?  Find out more about the party here!


I can't wait for things to get back to normal and have my kids playing again soon at Port Discovery Children's Museum!  You'll find activities for your little ones to enjoy all year long and special seasonal programs too.  But for now, enjoy these at-home resources and have fun learning with your little ones during this unprecedented time.  



Pool Deck Guide for the Disney Dream

Disney Cruise Line Pools and Slides

Can we just take a minute and pay tribute to the amazingness that is the pool deck on the Disney Dream??

OK.  Thanks.  

Seriously though, if you have never been on a Disney Cruise Line vacation, you may be wondering what all the hype is about. . .and if the price is worth it.  There are several areas where I feel like Disney has other cruise lines beat, but one of the most obvious for me is when it comes to the pool deck.  We recently sailed again on the Disney Dream and here's a quick recap of what you can expect to see on the pool deck with your family.

Free in DC - Family Fun That Won't Cost You a Penny

Our family is on year two of what I hope will be a new tradition - the Christmas break staycation.  We are blessed to live in the Mid-Atlantic where there is a large number of destinations for families to enjoy.  So rather than spending a small fortune to fly somewhere and travel during the school break we have in December, our family has opted to keep it local but get away from it all and become tourists in our backyard.  Last year we spent one night in a hotel in Baltimore and took the boys on a tour of WBAL television station and then visited the National Aquarium and the Maryland Science Center in the Inner Harbor.  This year, we headed to our big city neighbor just to the south - Washington D.C.  It's the first time our boys visited the nation's capital and we spent three nights thanks to the Hilton points we have acquired downtown at the Embassy Suites.

My goal was to put together a three day itinerary of things to do in D.C. that required no admission charge.  That's right. . .zero, zip, zilch! If you have never traveled to D.C. before, you may be surprised to find that there is SOOOOO much to do for free that you can easily fill several days.  We had so much more that we could have done, but here's a quick summary of what we accomplished!  Keep in mind that my boys are 4 and 7 so that played into what we did and how much time we spent in each location.

U.S. Government Buildings


We began our trip with taking a peek into several locations that would show our kids where the work of our national government takes place.  Tours of the U.S. Capitol, White House, Supreme Court, and Library of Congress are all available free of charge.  The White House is the most coveted tour and does require reservations through your Congressman so you will need to plan several weeks ahead and may need some flexibility on your day and time.  You can also reserve a U.S. Capitol tour through your Congressman (which we did), but we learned this wasn't really necessary as they have an amazing number of tours offered each day which you can secure a ticket for simply by walking into the U.S. Capitol Visitor's Center.  The tour does not take you to see the inside of the Senate and the House so if you want to see that you need to request gallery passes from your Congressman in addition to reserving a tour.  As far as the Supreme Court and Library of Congress, there are free self-guided tours throughout the day and also free guided tours at select times.  You are unable to reserve these ahead of time, but might be able to luck into one when you stop by.  We simply walked around the stunning Library of Congress building without a formal tour, but at the Supreme Court we did join a lecture inside the courtroom so we could see where the Court does their work.  Be sure to visit the children's area of the Library of Congress.  There are several activities just for kids as well as some quiet, cozy reading spaces and, of course, lots of books to snuggle up and share with your little ones.

Know Before You Go - Security at the U.S. Capitol is VERY tight.  No food or liquids (even bottles of water).  I always pack snacks and bottled water when going out for the day. . .and then promptly had to throw them away at our first stop.  Hoping to save you from the same mistake!

The National Mall


Lining the National Mall, you will find a host of Smithsonian Museums perfect for family visitors.  Lines can be long to go through security and enter so pack your patience for these free attractions.  One of my favorite museums, and the one we happened to visit on this particular trip, is the Air and Space Museum.  Take an in depth look at NASA, space, flight, and exploration in this hands on museum.  You can see some amazing things here - including having the ability to touch a legitimate moon rock and see the spacesuit worn by Neil Armstrong when he walked on the moon.  There is so much for kids to see, do, and touch here including an entire kids play area where they learn the physics of flight and becoming a flight director in Houston during a mission to outer space.  If you're looking to upgrade your experience, there are several add-ons that come with a price tag including IMAX movies and audio tours.  Air and Space is not the only Smithsonian Museum available - there is really something for everyone ranging from art to Native American History to Natural History and everything in between.

As you work your way down the National Mall from the U.S. Capitol and past the Smithsonian Museums, you find the other great free attractions along the National Mall - a series of national monuments.  While there is nothing to really "do" at these, they are truly breathtaking to see in person.  Even my little guys LOVED spending hours walking D.C. and looking around at them.  Three not to miss (actually they're really hard to miss anyway. . .) are the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the World War II Memorial.  The size, scale, and grandeur of these will captivate your children.  While there are many other memorials of great importance along the way, for example the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, it's a bit harder for little kids to understand what they are looking at and the significance of that conflict.

Know Before You Go - D.C. is a very walkable city, but it's much bigger than you may realize if you plan on walking EVERYWHERE with your kids.  We decided to Uber from our hotel to our starting point in the morning, then walked away from museums to memorials throughout the day as we leisurely made our way back to our hotel.

The National Zoo


Another Smithsonian "museum" featured on the outskirts of D.C. is the National Zoo.  If you're staying downtown, you will definitely need to Uber or take the Metro up to the zoo as it's quite a walk from other D.C. area attractions - but well worth it!  Like everything else in the article, this zoo if FREE.  Lions, tigers, and panda bears - oh my!  The zoo is good sized and easily takes 2-3 hours to visit but can take much longer if you have animal lovers or want to extend your stay.  There are many great presentations by animal experts throughout the day that are worthwhile to check out.  Probably one of the highlights of your zoo visit will be seeing the Giant Pandas.  You can also find specific feeding times so you can be sure to see them up close in the Panda House.  My personal favorite though are the gorillas!

Don't forget to check out any special events that you might be able to catch while visiting.  We were there over the holiday break which meant that Zoolights was going on in the evenings.  This is again FREE - where else can you catch a day at the zoo and a holiday light exhibit without paying admission?

Know Before You Go - The zoo is surprisingly hilly!  Be prepared and consider bringing a stroller for older toddlers and preschoolers who may not typically need one anymore.  We were sure glad to have ours!

Has your family visited DC?  What have been the best finds for kids that you've seen along the way?

Yippee TV - Streaming You Can Trust for Kids

If your kids are anything like mine, they love independence on their tablets - feeling like big kids even though they're several years away from their tween and teen years.  And if you're a parent like me, you feel stressed sometimes finding content you can trust for your kids to enjoy while giving them a taste of that independence.  Yippee may be the answer that everyone in your family has been looking for! As they say in their mission statement, Yippee strives "to build character in kids by transforming them with world class media that is safe, values based, and FUN."

As a partner with Yippee, my family and I received a free trial of this service to share our experiences with you!

We have only been checking out content for a little over a week now and it's been perfect for my 4 and 7 year old boys.  Yippee provides content that is both fun and builds a character foundation for the little ones.  Currently, you'll find familiar favorites like Veggie Tales (45 episodes!) and original content like The Yippee Show where hosts Cameron and Noel compete in challenges - just like what kids love to see on YouTube.  It feels good as a parent to know they are getting quality content that is safe and promotes our values while also seeing them enjoy what they are exploring.

I'm excited to see what lies ahead for this service too as they have plans to unveil even more original content in the near future and will become the only place to find exclusive new Veggie Tales episodes beginning in February 2020.  With so many options out there for families to choose from, it's easy to get overwhelmed.  If you're looking for values-based family-friendly content for the littlest members of your family, look no further than Yippee!

Interested in learning more?  Find Yippee online:

Website - www.yippee.tv
Facebook - www.facebook.com/yippeetv
Instagram - www.instagram.com/yippeetv

Want to Explore Yippee Yourself?


I'm excited to have partnered with Yippee to offer my readers the chance to win a prize pack from Yippee including 3 FREE months of streaming!  So how do you enter?  It's easy and can all be done from the comfort of Facebook!  Head to Running on Pixie Dust on Facebook and do the following:
  • Like this post on Facebook - Get one entry!
  • Comment on the post - Get one entry!
  • Tag your friends - Get one entry PER TAG!
  • Are you following me on Facebook? - That gets you one extra entry!
  • Share this post on Facebook - Get another bonus entry!


Each household is only eligible to win Yippee Prize Pack via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.  Entry period will open at noon EST on Monday, 12/30 close Friday, 1/3 at noon EST and the winner will be notified by Facebook!

Easy peasy!  I can't wait to share my excitement about this service with the winner and hope all of you - winner or not - give Yippee a try with your kids!  

Hersheypark with Kids - Make the Most of Your Day

Imagine a world where rides, characters, and everyone's favorite - chocolate! - come together in an amazing park. Lucky for us, this gem is just up the road in Hershey, PA.  Hersheypark is home to a wide array of rides for both kids and adults to enjoy as well as restaurants, Zoo America, Chocolate World, and much, much more.  With so much to see and do, you want to have a game plan that's just right for your family.  We all know that traveling with young kids can sometimes be challenging, but here are all the tips you need to make the most of your day at Hersheypark!

One of the things to keep in mind when preparing for your day at Hersheypark is the presence of The Boardwalk area.  Hersheypark is home to an amazing water area featuring kiddie pools, wave pools, a lazy river, water slides, and even a water roller coaster.  I recommend heading up in the morning wearing your bathing suits underneath of shorts and a t-shirt and packing a dry clothes gallon-sized baggie for each family member.  When you are done in the water area, you can put the shorts and shirts back on and your dry undergarments from the baggie then use the baggie to place your wet bathing suits in so the rest of you contents don't get soaked.  You'll want to be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen to in order to reapply throughout the day - there's not much shade around the park.

We are lucky enough to head up to Hershey several times throughout the year, but if you are only in town for the day, you'll want to plan accordingly to see as much as possible.  I recommend starting at The Boardwalk.  While the family is heading that way and getting situated, this park opening time is a great opportunity for a grown-up or two to catch a roller coaster before the lines get long.  The Boardwalk becomes incredibly popular in the heat of the afternoon and can boast long lines for the slides so hitting it earlier in the day, may be your best bet.  Grab a locker by Tidal Force - a water ride just outside of The Boardwalk.  You can drop off your dry clothes there and walk around in your bathing suit as you enter the water area.  Afterwards, there are locker rooms out by those lockers that are often less crowded than the ones inside of the The Boardwalk area.

Once you are in your dry clothes, head to the back of the park and check out Midway America.  Family friendly attractions here include a number of kiddie rides as well as a large Ferris Wheel that give awesome views of the park.  You can also find several coasters for adults to enjoy including, my favorite wooden coaster Lightning Racer.  From here, head back to Pioneer Frontier where there is another group of kiddie rides and you won't want to miss the Dry Gulch Railroad as a fun trip around the park the whole family will certainly enjoy.  Continue further towards the back of the park and grab lunch at The Overlook where you can pick from a variety of food choices all under one roof before heading up for a ride on the Kissing Tower and taking a spin around the Twin Turnpike.

Now is a great time to take a break from the park and visit ZooAmerica - free with your ticket to Hersheypark! This can be done in as little as 45 minutes or take as long as you want to see all types of animals.  There are some indoor buildings here and the zoo offers a little more shade than the park for the mid-afternoon heat of summer.  When you re-enter the park, head down to the Hollow where two kid-friendly rollercoasters can be found - The Comet and SooperDooperLooper.  Fun fact - SooperDooperLooper was the first roller coaster I ever went upside down on when I was a kid!  Don't let the name scare you - it's really only one loop and is a perfect starter coaster!  Lastly, you'll want to head to Founder's Way where kiddie rides abound!  This is a great place to end your day with so many rides for kids to choose from.  And since most people stop here on the way into the park, lines are often shorter in the evening.



We always like to end our day by having dinner and dessert at Chocolate World.  Chocolate World is free for anyone to visit and features a food court with actual meals as well as chocolate decadence that will make your dreams come true!  There is also a free ride that shows how Hershey's chocolate is made.  If you have some extra time, there are additional experiences at Chocolate Word that carry an extra fee - make your own chocolate bar, a 4D movie, and a chocolate tasting experience.  What a sweet end to the day!

Hershey, PA is home to so much family fun that you can easily spend several days enjoying all there is to offer - and we haven't even talked about Hershey Gardens, The Hershey Story Museum, and the downtown area.  What's your favorite way to spend a day in Hershey?

A Parent's Guide to Wonder Park

My boys and I decided to have a movie date night over the weekend.  It was their treat using the movie gift cards they received from recent birthdays and since they were treating they got to pick the movie.  We actually were torn between the new How to Train Your Dragon and Wonder Park, so we left it up to friends who were going to be joining us and went with Wonder Park.  I'll be honest - this movie caught me off guard.  I went into the movie expecting to see a story about a little girl who has the imaginative amusement park she had created come magically to life, but instead found myself fielding questions like "Why is her mom going to the hospital?", "When is she coming back?", and "Can you tell me when the darkness is going to be over?"  Now don't get me wrong, I'm really glad that I took my boys to go see this movie and there were many humorous and lighthearted moments in it, but as a parent with young kids, there are a few things you may want to be prepared for before you arrive.

Most of what I'm going to discuss here went right over the head of my 4 year old, but it landed square in the mind of my 7 year old and I'm going to attempt to keep this as spoiler free as possible.  The movie begins with June and her parents living a simple, happy life.  June and her mom love building and creating their imagined amusement park, Wonderland.  But life soon deals them a cold blow.  Without ever speaking specifically to the details, you clearly see June's mom get bad news and grow more tired in a time lapse sequence.  Finally, June's parents tell her that mom is too sick to stay at home any more and needs to go to a hospital.  Despite attempts from friends and family to cheer her up, June becomes angrier and more sad with each passing day.  She takes out those strong feelings on the one thing that triggers those happy memories of mom and destroys the Wonderland they had created in the house.  In an effort to keep a sense of normalcy in her life, June's dad insists that she goes to Math Camp for the summer, but June has other plans.  She sneaks off the bus and escapes into the woods to head back home to be with and care for her father.  But she's drawn deeper into the woods and discovers that Wonderland may not be make believe after all.  Finding the darkness consuming and destroying Wonderland, June must work with her familiar friends to find the light within her and use her light to overpower dark.

Wow.  Does that say a lot?  So in the movie that I was expecting to be a carefree film, we have serious illness, hospitalization, and depression all rolled into one.  Brody asked A LOT of questions during the movie, especially about the mom and her illness.  Since he hasn't experienced a serious illness and extended hospitalization of a close family member, he didn't know what exactly was happening - but he could tell it was bad and it was making June very sad.  I can imagine this would be a very sensitive movie for a family that has been through something similar.  The message in the end is positive, uplifting, and hopeful, but not without showing us that you must sometimes battle a great deal of darkness to shine your light brighter than ever.




I would not steer away from this movie based on what I know now.  Definitely take your kids to see it as it does give an opportunity to talk about some serious issues in a safe context, but know that those questions most likely will come.  Those of you who know my reviews, know I often like kid-friendly movies that tackle bigger issues, I was just surprised to see it happen in this one.  I curious to hear and read even more feedback in the days and weeks to come as more people experience the world of Wonder Park.  Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

To Infinity, Beyond, and Toy Story Land!

Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort has been a magical addition to this fabulous park! Ever since Andy welcomed us into his home and shared his favorite toys with us back in the 90s, Toy Story has been a fan favorite.  We've watched Andy grow from a little boy to a college freshman and his toys have grown up along the way too learning the true meaning of friendship.  And with Buzz, Woody, and the gang making a return to the big screen in June 2019, a whole new generation of Toy Story fans are ready to join the adventures.  The timing was perfect to unveil this land and I'm excited to share with you an overview of everything you need to know about visiting Toy Story Land with your family on your next Disney vacation!

Which characters can you expect to meet in Toy Story Land? How do I think the rides compare to others across the Walt Disney World Resort?  And of course, what is there to eat?  Check it out and let me know what you love most about Toy Story Land!


A Day of Happy Hauntings at Dutch Wonderland

Halloween decor around the park!
When that crisp chill hits the air and pumpkin spice is suddenly everywhere, you know it's officially time to start the Halloween season!  If you're looking for a place to take the whole family for some festive fun, add a visit to Dutch Wonderland's Happy Hauntings to your to-do list.  Dutch Wonderland is known as "A Kingdom for Kids" and it has plenty to entertain preschool and elementary aged children.  I was excited to visit for the first time since my own childhood - now with kids of my own!

Welcome to Dutch Wonderland!
My youngest and I set out to explore Dutch Wonderland on the first day of the Happy Hauntings weekends.  Happy Hauntings is held select weekends in October on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Caleb was immediately impressed with the decor on the castle as we entered the park and continued to be thrilled throughout the day and evening by all of the entertaining decorations around the park.  We arrived around 1:45 for the 2:00 opening, which I would highly recommend.  Crowds seemed heaviest between 3:00 and 6:00.  By the time we were leaving close to 8:00, crowds were again minimal and Caleb could just about walk on to any ride he wanted.  Around the park, guests could enjoy rides, games, shows, character greetings, food, and trick-or-treating!

Riding his very first roller coaster!
There are so many rides that are perfectly designed with little riders in mind.  From airplanes to trucks, bulldozers to panda bears - Caleb wanted to ride some of his favorites over and over again!  There was also a chance for mom to join in on the ride fun too!  Caleb drove me around the speedway and we enjoyed riding together on boats, the monorail, and the train throughout the park.  If you're traveling with slightly older children that might be up for more of a thrill, there are 3 different roller coasters from the smallest for those just learning to ride up to Merlin's Mayhem which will certainly keep coaster enthusiasts happy! We never waited more than 10 minutes for a ride all day long - a great perk!

Selfie time with Duke the Dragon!
When you wanted to take a break from the rides, there were several shows and character greeting opportunities.  We saw a magic show by Merlin himself which was full of fun songs and cool tricks for kids.  The show was short as I'm sure it's designed with little attention spans in mind.  There were also several characters you could meet, and I couldn't pass up the chance to take a selfie with Duke the Dragon!  There were also several food locations open throughout the park including some familiar favorites like Dippin' Dots and Auntie Anne's pretzels.  We visited the Mill Stream Eatery for dinner as it's home to several food locations where guests can enjoy sandwiches, pizza, chicken tenders, hot dogs, fries, and much more!  I highly recommend the Pesto Change-o Chicken Sandwich which was a nice change of pace from the regular theme park food.

Trick-or-Treat Time!
And of course, what would a visit to a Halloween event be without trick-or-treating?  Here at Dutch Wonderland, Exploration Island is transformed into a trick-or-treat paradise where over 20 dinosaurs are dressed in their Halloween best to greet guests.  I recommend heading here early as the line got long pretty fast.  Kids were allowed a piece of candy at each station along the trail and adults received one ticket that they could trade in for one piece of candy.  It was actually very refreshing to leave a trick-or-treat without being overwhelmed by candy!  And the candy was some of the best - Hershey's!

Happy Halloween!!
We loved our mommy/son date day to Happy Hauntings at Dutch Wonderland and hope you have a chance to check it out soon!  If you're planning on visiting, be sure to visit this link to get a special discount on your tickets - just $22.95 each for everyone 3 and older!  The promo code is "halloweenblog18".  I can't wait to hear about the Halloween adventures you enjoy with your family this year!

Our family received complimentary admission to Happy Hauntings at Dutch Wonderland so that we could share our thoughts with you! As always, my opinions are my own.  


Dr. Seuss is on the Loose!

Last Summer, our family embarked on our first Carnival Cruise Line vacation.  We sailed on the Carnival Paradise out of Tampa, FL and enjoyed the ports of Key West and Havana, Cuba while on our 5-night adventure.  Cruising is one of my favorite family friendly vacations as there is something on the ships for everyone!  Carnival has teamed up with Dr. Seuss to create family fun that highlights some familiar favorites.  On board, we participated in just about every Dr. Seuss event possible with our two boys who were 2 and 5 at the time.

Dr. Seuss Parade and Story Time - Families met in one of the lounges and were greeted by the enthusiastic kids club staff.  Our boys were regulars in the kids clubs and they found some of their favorite counselors.  The staff entertained families with singing and dancing until our Cruise Director, Jamie, came out to introduce the guests of honor.  As each of the four Dr. Seuss characters arrived (Sam I Am, Thing 1, Thing 2, and the Cat in the Hat), kids were handed musical instruments.  A few lucky families were asked to carry parade banners.  They then lined up the characters and families to march across Deck 5 to the large Noramandie theater on the other side of the ship.  Along the way, we all chanted "Dr. Seuss is on the loose!" while the kids were happy to comply with the request to make as much noise as possible.  Once we arrived at the theatre, kids were invited to sit on stage and parents were asked to take a seat in the theatre.  Caleb was a little timid to get too close to the characters, so he and I grabbed a seat up in the balcony.  Jamie told everyone that they were about to read the story of The Cat in the Hat, but first she solicited helpers.  Picking both kids and adults, Jamie assembled a cast to help tell the story.  My husband was selected to be the Cat in the Hat.  I think the fame went to his head as he was greeted by many kids and parents the rest of the cruise!

Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast - For a small fee, guests can register to attend the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast that is held on one of the "at sea" days.  The cost was just $5.00 per person and we were able to register at a small table the day we boarded the ship.  Our breakfast was the final at sea day and it didn't disappoint!  The menu was beautifully themed to highlight some Dr. Seuss inspired creations and the breakfast choices were delightful to children.  One of them included french toast that as coated in Fruit Loops - talk about a sugar rush!  Kids and adults can choose from such dishes as the ever popular Green Eggs and Ham or a whimsical Truffula Pancakes to name just a few.  Throughout the meal, characters came to each table and then they also positioned themselves at the front of the restaurant for additional pictures.  The dining room was also decorated with really cute Dr. Seuss accessories.

Other Dr. Seuss Fun - Carnival Cruise Line has also partnered with Build-A-Bear Workshop to create a Build-A-Bear At Sea Experience.  This opportunity featured a chance for kids to make a Cat in the Hat in addition to some more traditional bears or animals.  My boys of course wanted to each make the Cat in the Hat to remember their fun time on the ship.  One of the evenings also featured photo ops with Dr. Seuss characters prior to dinner.

The Dr. Seuss experiences on our Carnival Cruise lead to some pretty amazing moments for our family.  The boys enjoyed the opportunity to interact with some of their favorite stories and each activity provided family fun on the ship!

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique - Is the Magic Worth the Money?


Special thanks to my friend Jon Hill for the guest post below!  He and his wife have traveled to Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line both by themselves and with their two beautiful children.  His wife, Christine, is traveling with me in just a few weeks for the Princess Half Marathon weekend and their family is planning another magical trip for this coming summer!


From our earliest trips together to Disney nearly 15 years ago, my wife and I always enjoyed stopping to watch the reactions of the young girls undergoing the magical transformations that take place at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (BBB) with the help of Fairy God-Mothers-in-Training. I’m certain that the very first time we witnessed it, we agreed that if we ever had a girl, she would experience this enchanted, fairy-tale makeover. While planning our Disney trip for the summer of 2016, we decided that our daughter Lily, was old enough that she could appreciate and understand the experience. Additionally, on the first night of our trip we were to have dinner with Cinderella and her friends at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian resort. Since we were not going to a park on our first day, we made reservations to go to the BBB at Disney Springs. While searching the web for information and tips on BBB, we were pleasantly surprised to find that they also have Knight makeover offerings for the boys. These are very inexpensive, so we signed our 4 year-old son Luke up for a Knight makeover to match his sister and be properly prepared for the Royal Ball as well.

Upon arrival, we were surprised to find out that the BBB had recently undergone renovation and that it now had its own dedicated building instead of sharing space with the World of Disney. The bluish building, with large windows blends into the surrounding spaces, with the exception of the large BBB sign over the entrance. Once inside, the bright boutique reflects the royal setting of a fairy-tale salon with dark wood paneling and trim and fairy-tale murals all around. Having its own space lends to the experience, removing the noise, bustle, and distraction that the hundreds of shoppers in World of Disney brought. The waiting area was appointed with displays of available Disney princess dresses and accessories and the staff was cheerful and delightful as we have come to expect with the Disney experience. We checked in at the desk and after a brief wait, our children were whisked through the large wooden doors to meet their fairy godmother-in-training. 

Our first stop was in a large, private changing room. In an effort to save money, we bought our own costumes at home before the trip and brought them with us (which Disney graciously allows). While the ones Disney has available at the boutique are very nice, they come with a steep price tag. We scored a Cinderella dress and accessories for our daughter at JC Penny for just over $30. For our son, we had ordered a Prince Charming outfit from Amazon for under $20. These both doubled as Halloween costumes later in the fall. By bringing our own outfits, we were able to opt for the lowest priced “Crown Package” for our daughter ($59.95). The “Castle Package”, which includes a dress, is a paltry $199.95. The “Knight Package” for our son was only $19.95. Once the cast member gave us some brief instructions to the princess-to-be and prince-to-be, she stepped out of the changing room so we could get them changed. In a wisp of magic, the large mirror on the wall came to life with Cinderella’s own animated fairy god mother who interacted with the kids and gave them some additional instructions. As soon as they were changed, we exited the changing room and proceeded into the styling boutique    

The boutique is set up in the round with a several styling stations similar to those found at a typical salon. The large room is beautifully appointed with gold accents, chandeliers, royal draperies, and murals reminiscent of your favorite Disney princess stories. Each of the styling stations is staffed by a fairy god mother-in-training who is responsible for your child’s royal transformation. In the middle of the room is a large, oval, cushioned bench so that parents may sit and watch the enchanted work of the fairy god mothers-in-training.  After a brief introduction, the two fairy god mothers-in-training (Kayla and Mary) assigned to our children went to work.  Both quickly developed a great rapport with the kids and demonstrated a love for their work. But then again, who wouldn’t love to delight children all day long by magically transforming them into royalty? As part of Lily’s package she received hair, makeup, and nail treatments, as well as a sash. She even received a pink BBB nylon bag with extra styling products to take home with her. Lily’s hair (Fairytale Princess Style) was done so well, that we were able to leave it in overnight and it lasted through the whole next day as we enjoyed rides and had fun at the Magic Kingdom. Having it up and off of her neck was also an added advantage as it helped her stay cool in the late June heat.  Luke received a hair treatment and was presented with a mighty sword and shield in a knighting ceremony complete with official certificate. All throughout the makeovers, Disney Photopass photographers assigned to the BBB were snapping a ton of photographs of the kids. These pictures can be purchased after the experience, but if you already have the Memory Maker package, it is awesome. All together we received another 40-50 photos just from this experience alone. As part of the transformation, the children are not permitted to see themselves in the mirror until the makeover is complete. The photographer captured an awesome picture of Lily’s reaction as her chair spun around and she saw herself in the mirror for the first time as a beautiful princess.        

Following some pictures, we bid farewell to our fairy godmothers-in-training and wished them luck in their quests to become full-fledged fairy godmothers. We then were escorted into a room adjacent to the styling boutique for a photo session. This royal-looking room was outfitted with a kid-sized replica of Cinderella’s magic coach. Photographers took several more posed photos of the kids with the coach. Again, having Photopass is a great option if you are considering BBB. We were permitted to take our own photos with our iPhone, but having the Photopass photographers capturing shots with their digital SLRs produced professional photos to preserve the memories. 

We bid adieux to the BBB and its friendly staff, but not before being directed to go to the nearby Disney Photopass Station to view our photos. Once there, we were again surprised to receive yet another photo session with both of the kids with a Photopass Photographer. As I said before, if you are going on a multi-day Disney trip and considering BBB, purchasing the Photopass package ahead of time will pay for itself. We got another 20 posed photos here. We had only been at Disney for 6 hours, hadn’t even gone to a park, and already had about 60 Photopass photos in our gallery.    


After departing Disney Springs we made our way to the Grand Floridian for an early dinner reservation at Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner. We then walked around the resort and took advantage of the Victorian décor and beautiful landscapes to grab some more pictures of the kids. Overall, the BBB was a great experience. The staff was friendly and the individual attention and service the kids received was what we have come to expect from the Disney experience. We did not feel rushed or pushed through the process. As far as the cost, yes it is a little pricey- a hair styling, some makeup, glitter, nail polish, and a sash for $60. But compare that to what you might spend at a local salon for the same treatment, and it doesn’t seem so out of line… And can you really put a price on the moment when your little girl first sees herself as a real Disney princess? Or the moment when she, in her finest, meets a real, live Disney Princess? The “Knight Package” would definitely fall into the bargain category as the hard foam sword and shield alone (which are pretty nice and durable) are around $15 in the World of Disney Store.

Was the magic worth the money? Absolutely! Would we do it again? Probably not. While it was a great experience and, in our minds well worth the money, I think it is something you will do once for your kids and (provided they are old enough) they will remember the experience for a lifetime. There are numerous sites out there with tips and FAQ’s about BBB so I’m not going to list too many, but here are the most important:
1.)   Make reservations early- this is a popular experience, so the earlier the better. The reservation number can be found on the BBB website under “Know Before You Go”
2.)   Consider the weather and you activities for that day- If it is the middle of July/August and the humidity will be 90%+, is your child going to enjoy their visit to one of the parks in a full princess dress, with hair and makeup? If it is the summer, opt for an afternoon appointment so you can relax and enjoy the A/C in the BBB during the heat of the day, and make early dinner reservations for character dining at one of the Disney Dining options where you can meet the Princesses. Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner is at the Grand Floridian, so you don’t even have to go to one of the parks if you have a free day.
3.)   Leave ample time- I would say to budget 3-4 hours for the whole experience door-to-door. From catching the bus or driving to Disney Springs, visiting BBB, getting pictures, and then making your way to a park, a restaurant, or your hotel.
4.)   Save some money- If you want to do the princess dress, bring your own. While the ones offered at BBB are nice, I’m not sure they are worth the extra $140 you will pay.

5.)   Check out the BBB website’s “Know Before You Go” information for additional details and more.