Annabel’s American Girl Birthday Sleepover

Annabel had her very first sleepover party last weekend and we all survived to tell about it! But seriously, all the girls were super adorable and well-mannered and you know I LOVE a good THEME PARTY! (See here, here, here, and here!)

Our sleepover theme was American Girl. All our guests were told to bring their sleeping bag, PJs, and favorite doll. Annabel helped me come up with all the fun activities, games, and decoration plans. We went with pink and hot pink streamers, balloons, paper products, and American Girl doll accessories. I had matching party hats and tiaras for the girls and their dolls. Each guest received a sleeping bag and eye mask for their doll and a personalized eye mask for themselves. Annabel also sewed each girl a pillow for their doll. (She learned to sew last summer during camp.) We organized our playroom as the sleeping area for the night and Annabel also made each girl a cute bed sign to welcome them to the party!

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We had five main American Girl themed activities for the party: A “Lea” Scavenger Hunt, a “Saige” Painting Craft, “Grace” Cupcake Decorating, a “Julie” Basketball Toss, and an “Isabelle” Dance Party! The girls loved it and it kept them busy between dinner and movie time.

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I also planned a couple cute filler games. One was a “Love it” or “Don’t Love it” quiz where they each had a sign with a pink heart on one side or a heart with a big “X” drawn through it on the other side. Then they flipped their sign to answer questions like “Do you like roller coasters?” “Do you like cats?” or “Do you like scary movies?” We had each girl ask a question too which made the game turn super silly. They loved it!

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We picked An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success as our movie of the night. It was adorable and I knew there would be zero issues with language or content which is something to always consider. We had popcorn, pretzels, and fruit trays as snacks. One of Annabel’s girlfriends gave her an adorable nightgown which all the girls could autograph as a first sleepover memory. Love! Once the movie was over, it was time for some sleepover-themed Mad Libs and then lights out!

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The girls slept for about 6 hours which was a great success in my book. Yay! In the morning we had a pancake breakfast, present opening, bead necklace and scrapbooking crafts, but mostly they just wanted to play and girl talk. Oh, and try out big brother’s four-wheeler in the backyard.

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The girls went home with a pink tote bag for their goodies and we attached a special star necklace and poem for each friend. Thank you Pinafores & Pinwheels for the awesome idea. Find it HERE.

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The sleepover was so much fun. Annabel gave it a “100” on a scale of 1-10. She was so sad when it was over. As a gift, I gave Annabel a mini photo album that would hold all the instant photos we took throughout the night. The only challenge was I had to remember to snap those photos with my Fujifilm INSTAX camera while also taking separate iPhone photos. But it worked out great and now she has a sweet photo album from her very first sleepover party. It was such a special celebration of my girl’s 8th birthday and I’ll never forget it. I hope she won’t either.

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And at least I have a year until I plan the next one, right?  :)

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American Girl Sleeping Bags: Etsy shop, JMaga Clothing

American Girl Eye Masks: Etsy shop, Little Buttercup Dolly

Girls Personalized Eye Masks: Etsy shop, The Sleepy Cottage

Initial Paint Craft Items, Paper Products, Doll Crowns: Target

Pink Jelly Goody Bags: Oriental Trading

Instant Camera and Mini Photo Album: Amazon

Annabel’s Party Outfit: J. Crew

My Kids’ First Concert: Taylor Swift (Of Course)

It’s no secret I’m a HUGE fan of T-Swift. Love her! She’s my spirit animal. I know I’m a forty-something mother of two but she inspires me. Her style, her love of home decorating, her kindness, her loyalty, her business-saavy, I could go on and on. She’s a great role model in a world of questionable teenage role models, so I was thrilled when it worked out that Taylor’s “1989” world tour would be my kids’ very first concert experience.

We had to fly from Jacksonville to Atlanta to make it work. She wasn’t coming here and her Tampa show was on Halloween night. Personally I would have loved to see Tay on Halloween, but my two kiddos were not going to give up their trick-or-treating for anyone. Not even Taylor.

To prepare, Annabel and I bought T-shirts from the Taylor Swift website. She got the adorable “I heart Taylor” shirt and mine was the “1989” muscle tee.  We packed our bags and off we went to the ATL. I love to travel with my family and discover new cities. We had already been to Atlanta once before for Annabel’s 6th birthday and her first visit to the American Girl store. This time we stayed downtown and had the chance to check out the World of Coca-Cola and the College Football Hall of Fame. Both were a blast and I’ll post more about that later.

But on to the big event! The Atlanta “1989” Tour Stop was at the giant Georgia Dome. My son was thrilled to be hanging where the Atlanta Falcons football team plays. Annabel and I were ready to party!

We had the chance to meet up with some school friends who also made the trip from Jacksonville. Then it was off to the merch booth. We bought some T-shirts, glow sticks, and a pair of cute “1989” pink sunglasses. At our seats we also had a light-up bracelet. Everyone received one. We couldn’t wait to see them light up during the concert.

And that was definitely a highlight. Every song had a different color light show from our bracelets. They played along to the beat. The bracelet will also be a fun item for Annabel’s memory box. My son Daniel had a great time, but Annabel was the one who was up and singing along to every song with me. Taylor sang all the hits from her “1989” album plus some cool remixes for older songs. She looked amazing in all her sparkling dresses and jumpsuits. The cool part was this giant stage “arm” that was able to swing her all around the stadium. We could get a good look at her. The giant video screens helped too. It was most definitely the best Taylor concert I’ve ever seen.

The concert was over around 10:40 PM and we all left with huge smiles and ringing ears. Both kiddos said it was awesome. I totally agree.

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A Day at the Museum: MOCA Jacksonville

On Saturday we spent the morning at Jacksonville’s Museum of Contemporary Art or MOCA. I’m trying to fit in fun moments with my family every chance I get as our summer slowly winds to a halt. We were blessed to have the place practically to ourselves. The kids loved the hands-on area and we all picked out our favorite art pieces. There is something magical about an almost empty museum on an early summer morning. We highly recommend it.

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Things to do in Tampa Bay with Kids

I love to explore new places with my family and we have the advantage of living in Florida where weekend adventures are easy and fun. We were excited to finally check out Tampa Bay in March and we had the best time. My daughter even declared that she now wants to live in Tampa when she grows up! (I’m cool with that because it’s only four hours away from Jacksonville. You go, girl!)

We woke up early and drove to Tampa to start our weekend at MOSI, a hands-on family science museum. It happened to be Albert Einstein’s birthday and MOSI was having a special celebration of “Pi” which included a “Pi(e)” eating contest and a “Recite Pi” contest. Annabel rocked that whipped cream and Daniel won second place for reciting 17 numbers past 3.14 and was crowned “Prince of Pi!”

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We spent two hours exploring the museum’s exhibits. We walked on the moon, felt a tornado’s wind speed, and discovered the power of magnets. There’s a giant free play area and an on-site cafe so you can take that much needed food break.

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We left around 3pm to check into our hotel, the Embassy Suites Convention Center in downtown Tampa. I love the Embassy Suites because the rooms are always large enough for a family of four and there is a complimentary breakfast buffet each morning. And this Tampa location was right next to a street car stop so, after we unpacked and took a break, we left to discover the historic neighborhood Ybor City.

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Ybor City is filled with funky and eclectic buildings and some really beautiful Spanish architecture. It has a cool, old-school vibe. We had dinner at the charming italian restaurant Carmine’s and stuffed ourselves with pasta while we watched the start of YBor City’s annual St. Parick’s Day parade. The kids loved the table by the window: People watching to an extreme.

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We then walked one block to La Creperia Cafe to experience their famous sweet crepes. We shared a Nutella, banana and fresh strawberry crepe and the apple pie a la mode special. They tasted even better than they looked!

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We began our next day at Pinky’s Diner. Annabel has a stuffed dog named “Pinky” and she was obsessed with finally going to Pinky’s namesake diner. One of the coolest parts about having breakfast at Pinky’s is you get to pick out your own unique mug for coffee. Or orange juice.

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After we fueled up with eggs and pancakes and bacon (Oh, my!), we were ready to spend a fun day at Busch Gardens! It was a quick 20-minute drive from downtown Tampa and we were blessed with gorgeous weather. I booked the Serengeti Safari experience ahead of time so we checked in and were ready to see some animals up close and personal.

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This was definitely one of my favorite animal encounters ever. It was the highlight of my whole Tampa trip and it rivals Animal Kingdom’s Kilimanjaro Safari Tour in Disney World. We had a small group in a jeep and the tour guide was very knowledgable about all the animals and their habitats. My favorite moment was feeding the giraffes. It almost took my breath away to be that close to my favorite animal. Hi there, gorgeous!

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The safari tour is definitely worth the extra money so be sure to book it ahead of time. We loved all the rides and the Iceploration show too. Daniel and Annabel give two thumbs up to the Cheetah Hunt coaster and my favorite ride was the Congo River Rapids. I also appreciated the healthy lunch choices at the food courts and the park is easy to navigate. There is so much to do and Busch Gardens Tampa is really the perfect combination of rides, entertainment, and animal encounters. We had a blast and can’t wait to go back.

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When everyone was officially exhausted, we drove back to the hotel for a quick break before heading out to dinner. We picked Jackson’s Bistro because it was a short walk from our hotel and had waterfront dining. The menu has everything under the sun and Hubby and I enjoyed some sushi while the kids had burgers and pasta. But the best part was my glass of wine while enjoying the Harbor view. We then discovered an adorable gelato stand right next door and walked back to our hotel with our sweet treats. It was the perfect ending to a fun family weekend. We can’t wait to come back and see you again soon, Tampa Bay! Thanks for the memories!



Also check out:

Things to do in Washington, DC with Kids

Things to do in Charleston with Kids


Walt Disney World ’14: Be Our Guest!

One of the Disney experiences we were most excited about this year was Beast’s castle in the Magic Kingdom and eating at the popular Be Our Guest Restaurant. It would be our first time there since it opened last year. I tried to make dinner reservations, but they were already booked. Boo. The new plan was to wait in line for an early lunch.

But before lunch, we FastPassed “Enchanted Tales with Belle” and had our very first sneak peek inside the castle. I highly recommend this storytime, even if you have to wait in line. We started in Maurice’s cottage and then an enchanted mirror on the wall transforms into a walkway to the castle. It was some seriously awesome Disney magic. We walked into a waiting room where we were greeted by a talking wardrobe. “She” explained that the children would be acting out how Belle and the Beast fell in love. The children all received a part in the play and there were fun props too. Annabel was picked to be a dancing dish and Daniel got a lead role as Belle’s father, Maurice. He did a great job shivering behind an old window.

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After the kids were done practicing in the first room, we entered the gorgeous ball room to finally meet Belle. We were greeted by Lumiere who was perched on the fireplace mantle. The lights were lowered as he introduced Belle and she entered the room in her golden ball gown. The kids performed their play and it was too cute for words. Then everyone had the opportunity for one-on-one photos. I think Daniel now has a little crush on the princess. Before we left, all the kids were handed a Beauty and the Beast bookmark.

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I rushed over to stand in the long line for the Be Our Guest Restaurant. I sent Hubby and the kids to the Dumbo ride, but after just 30 minutes I texted them to say I had reached the front entrance. It wasn’t a bad wait at all! They joined me and we headed inside to order. Lunch is quick-service and you order your meals from touch-screen kiosks. We used our Magic Bands to sign in and select our food items from a pop-up screen. It was really neat.

(Tip: Look at the menu at home, or while you are waiting in line, so you won’t have to take a long time at the kiosk. The food is all French-inspired and there are a bunch of yummy choices like turkey baguette, vegetable quiche, and braised pork. There is separate kids menu featuring Mickey meatloaf, whole-grain macaroni, and grilled cheese and tomato soup.)

After we placed our orders, we headed into the grand two-story ballroom where we were told to sit anywhere we liked. We grabbed a table near the back so we could see the entire room. There are gorgeous crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and frosted windows that made it look like it’s snowing outside. They keep the lights dimmed for that romantic vibe. It was crowded as the servers weaved between the tables delivering the food. We wondered how they would find us. Then…voila! Ten minutes later a waiter rolled a cart to our table and delivered our meals. We asked them how they found us and we received the perfect Disney answer: “It’s magic!” (Magic Bands, we figured out.)

The food was elegant and delicious. The best part was sharing the amazing chocolate cream puff and strawberry cream cupcake for dessert.  As we left, we passed the colorful stained glass window with the picture of Beauty and the Beast. Definitely check out “Enchanted Tales with Belle” and the Be Our Guest Restaurant the next time you head to Disney’s Magic Kingdom! We had the “beast” time! (Hee. Sorry.)

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For Disney World ’14: MagicBands! click HERE.

For Disney World ’14: Frozen Meet-and-Greet click HERE.

For Disney World ’14: Chip ‘N Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long click HERE.

Things to do in Washington, DC with Kids

I grew up in Gaithersburg, MD, which is a suburb of our Nation’s Capital. I always tell my kids how lucky I was to take school field trips to the Lincoln Memorial and the National Gallery of Art. At the time, I definitely took it all for granted.

Now that I live in Florida, we only get to visit our Maryland family and friends about once a year. When the kiddos were little, we’d just hang at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, but over this past April break, it was the perfect time to finally make that trek downtown to see some cool Washington, DC sights!

We had half a day on Saturday to introduce Daniel (age 7) and Annabel (age 6) to the city. Since the time was limited, as well as their predicted attention span, I chose one museum, a couple landmark photo ops, and a ride on the Metro as our inaugural experience.

We started off at 9:00 AM at the Shady Grove Metro Stop in Gaithersburg. The DC Metro system is surprisingly very clean and organized. I know some local folks will grump about all the construction and delays, but for a Saturday ride into the city, it was pefect. Plus, the DC Metro is a perfect combination of convenience and a fun experience for the kids!

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We took the Red line to the Metro Station where we transferred to the Blue/Orange line. We got off at the Smithsonian stop and walked the short distance to the Air and Space Museum. Along the way we took some fun photos on the National Mall which is that large green space between the United States Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. The Washington Monument splits up the middle. But, wait. What happened to all the lush green grass I remember as a kid? Hmm.

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It was crazy crowded because it was Easter Saturday, but the line to enter Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum moved fast. You have to bring your patience and a bottle of water. No other food or drinks are allowed.

We explored the hands-on elements of the “How Things Fly” exhibit and even got photos of the kids in a glider aircraft. They loved walking around and looking at the different planes and shuttles hanging from the giant rafters. There is a 3D movie, but we opted out of that so we’d have more time to check out the different collections and exhibits. Before we left, we visited the museum store to purchase some Astronaut Ice Cream. That was my big memory from when I was a kid. I thought it was the neatest thing to eat what the astronauts did and it rates pretty good in taste for being a block of dried out, crunchy neapolitan ice cream!

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It was lunch time, so rather than visit the museum’s food court McDonald’s (or finish off the rest of the Astronaut ice cream), we headed back to the National Mall to find the yummy food trucks. We were blessed with amazing weather, so we plopped under a shady tree and had a picnic. Hubby and I had chicken and veggie gyros. Annabel had a classic hot dog. And Daniel had a small salad. (My picky dude.) Both kids finished it off with froyo in front of the Capitol.

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We decided to walk to the White House. The best part was the people watching along the mall. We saw families of bikers and kite flyers and lots of camera phone selfies being taken. By the time we reached the Washington Monument, the kids were tired of walking. Hubby had the brilliant idea to grab a taxi cab for the rest of the journey. The kids were so excited! They had never been in a taxi cab before so they loved watching the meter tick away. (More than Daddy did. Ha.) They were fascinated.

It was a short ride to the sidewalk where we could hop out and head over to see the President’s home. There are always people hanging out there. There was extra noise and activity because workers were setting up for Monday’s White House Easter Egg Roll. The beautiful flowers were also in full bloom. DC is such a pretty city.

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I wanted to try and make it to the Lincoln Memorial, but the kids were starting to get tired and grumpy. We decided to walk to the Metro Station and take the Red line back home. Daniel had the special treat of seeing a freight train race past us on the way back. He could not wait to tell his friends. You just never know what memories the kids are going to take home with them.

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Mine might be that glass of wine I had after a full day downtown. All in all, a great first adventure with the family. Until next time, DC!

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Note: We found these cherry blossoms along the mall route. Next time we’ll hit the beautiful Tidal Basin!

Also check out:

Things to do in Tampa Bay with Kids

Things to do in Charleston with Kids

Disney World ’14: Chip ‘N Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long

My sister told me about the Chip ‘N Dale Campfire Sing-A-Long when I was planning our first family trip to Walt Disney World. It’s now a “MUST-DO” destination every time we go back. You see, my kids have a special bond with Dale.

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(To clear up any confusion, Dale has the big red nose and Chip has one tooth. They are both very cute.)

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The nightly fun starts around 7:00 pm (in the spring and summer) at the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground next to the Wilderness Lodge, where we always stay. We take a quick boat ride to Fort Wilderness. You can also take a boat over from Magic Kingdom. If you’re driving, you’ll park at the Outpost. A Fort Wilderness internal bus will take you to the Meadowlands Trading Post stop. From there, it’s a short walk to the campfire spot. You can walk all the way from the front entrance if you like. It will take about 20 minutes. Our favorite part of the evening is the casual hang out time with Chip and Dale while you wait for the campfire to start. Last year, Annabel and Daniel played “Red Light, Green Light” with the pair and this year there was a bucket ball game. We all took turns getting hugs and “selfies” with the cute guys.

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(Tip: You should definitely arrive no later than 7:00 pm in order to have the interaction with Chip and Dale. The “official” start time is 8:00 PM, and that’s when it really starts to get crowded. Don’t get turned off by all the transportation it takes to get there. It’s worth it! Just plan accordingly and give yourself plenty of time. It’s a treat just to walk around the beautiful campgrounds.)

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After some Chip ‘N Dale playtime, it’s S’MORE time! You can bring your own marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers, and sticks or buy a s’mores kit on-site at the Chuckwagon Snack Bar. The folks at Fort Wilderness set up two large open fire pits so you can roast the marshmallows and enjoy your yummy dessert before the sing-a-long begins. Note: They sell hotdogs, nachos, popcorn, and BEER at the snack bar too. Yee-Haw!

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A guitar-playing cowboy comes out for the sing-a-long which includes lots of family favorites. We were also all invited to come on down and dance around with Chip and Dale to lots of fun classics like The Hokey Pokey and The Chicken Dance. Chip and Dale will also walk around to shake hands and take photos. They make sure to visit the entire theater in order to meet everyone. And Dale found my kids again. There’s just something about Dale.

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After the sing-a-long, it’s time to get cozy for the nightly classic Disney movie. You can find a list of movie titles at the front desk at the Fort Wilderness Resort.  The movies start at dark, or around 9:00 pm, so younger children may not make it. The outdoor theater has benches and bleachers, but families are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. We always head out before the movie starts to beat the rush back to our resort. But, once my kids are older, we’ll definitely stay for the cinema under the stars.

(Tip: Dress your kids in sneakers because there is a lot of walking and large stone gravel. I would also suggest comfy blankies, flashlights, and bug spray if you’re staying for the movie.)

The campfire, games, and entertainment are all FREE and happen nightly. It really is a hidden gem that you should be sure to check it out during your next visit to Disney!

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For Disney World ’14: MagicBands! click HERE.

For Disney World ’14: Frozen Meet-and-Greet click HERE.

Disney World Trip ’14: MagicBands!

When we booked our March Disney trip back in November, we were excited to find out we’d be receiving the new Disney MagicBands! These are the all-in-one bracelets that allow you to enter the parks, manage your FastPasses, organize your dining plan, buy Disney merch, and so much more. Since we booked the resort package, we were able to pick out our band colors in advance and receive them in the mail weeks before our trip. It was such a tease to look at those bands every single day while we waited to go to the happiest place on earth!

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Annabel wanted pink, Daniel green, Daddy picked blue, so I grabbed the yellow.  They even had our names written on the inside. You can reuse your bands for different visits, so try not to lose them! (More on that later…)

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The first thing you need to do is register your MagicBands online at You can manage your entire visit on this website. It’s awesome. You should also download the My Disney Experience app to your mobile phone. Hubby and I had it on both our phones so we could see our dining and FastPass times the entire vacation. We navigated the parks using the app’s GPS-enabled map which also showed character greeting locations and event showtimes. It helps you stay organized and on time while you’re hanging out at the Disney parks.

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(Tip: Make sure to sit down before your trip to download and organize all your FastPasses from the FastPass+ feature on the DisneyExperience menu. You can book up to three FastPasses a day. Once you pick your three rides, the website will assign you the times. But you can go back and change the times by clicking on each ride. It took us awhile to figure out the plan for our five days, but once it was done, we were all set. And we never had an issue with any of our FastPasses at the parks.)

When we checked in at the Wilderness Lodge on Thursday, we started using our MagicBands exclusively. You have to present a credit card for all the extras. The kids had a blast opening our resort hotel room door with just a touch of the band. No key needed. Hubby and I used our bands for the dining payment. All you need to do is present your band and enter the four digit pin number that you selected at check-in. It’s the same deal for any of the Disney shops. It can be dangerous, because they make it SO EASY!

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When we had lunch at the Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom, we ordered our food from a standing kiosk. Then we sat down at a random table in Belle’s giant main ballroom. I wondered how they were going to find us to deliver our food and then, all of sudden, a waitress arrived at our table with our exact order. She said it was “magic.” Yep, these bands are pretty cool.

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The bands are also great for managing all your Disney Park photos. You can present your band to the photographers and all your special park entrance snapshots and character meet-and-greet pics will show up on your Disney Experience account. You can place your orders from there.

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We had a wonderful experience using the MagicBands to enter the gates, eat at the restaurants, and purchase treats at the stores. The best part was definitely the FastPass+ program which was easily managed on our Disney Experience phone app.

Note: Right now, everyone who books their trip at a Disney resort, or is an annual pass holder, will receive the band. A full rollout is expected by this summer. But there are no more Fastpass paper tickets. You have to go to a FastPass Kiosk in the park to register for a Fastpass on your entry card or your MagicBand.

(Tip: There were a couple of times when one of the kids opted out of one our selected FastPass rides. But we just switched bands and two of us could ride twice!  Daddy and Annabel did back-to-back rides on Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom and all the folks waiting in the long regular line were super jealous.)

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The bands are adjustable for little wrists and we never had an issue with them falling off in the parks. BUT, my husband did lose his in the resort pool. The bands are waterproof, but we’d recommend taking them off for swim time. After searching the water and the entire pool deck, Hubby had to give in and get a new band at the resort guest service desk. It was not a problem to cancel out his old band and get a new one. But he was given the standard gray model instead of the fun personalized blue one. A small bummer.

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I still have our four bands to reuse the next time we visit Disney. Right now they’re sitting on my desk as a reminder of the fun time we had. We definitely give the new MagicBands eight thumbs up! And Hubby is warming up to his new gray color.

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Have you used the new Disney MagicBands yet? Comment below!

Update 3/25/14: There are now fashionable cover bands for your MagicBands. You can pick from Star Wars, Mickey classics, wedding/ celebration options, and more! Click HERE for more info on the cool covers!

And for Disney World Trip ’14: Frozen Meet-and-Greet click HERE.

Disney World Trip ’14: Frozen Meet-and-Greet

Hi! We’re back from the “happiest place on earth” and it’s only understandable that we’re all a bit sad. Not only is Disney World so much fun, but it brings my family close together. We are LITERALLY close together in a small hotel room every night, but then we spend the day creating all these special family memories. My daughter woke up for school on Tuesday morning in tears. She missed Disney World so much. It made me sad, but it also warmed my heart to know that she enjoyed her time with her family.

Speaking of tears, I’m sure there were some flowing from the PARENTS’ eyes when they saw the line in Epcot to meet Frozen‘s Elsa and Anna. It was almost four hours long! You can meet them in Epcot’s Norway pavilion. It’s right across from Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. They are set up in the back of the gift shop and you can see a side view from an opening. There was a mini-line for that side view too!  I waited patiently for our turn to sneak a peek of the girls from Arendelle. I think the wait helped me convince Annabel that this was “Soooo coooool! Look! It’s Anna and Elsa!!  I’ll take a picture for you!!”  I was desperately trying to avoid the “But can we meet them?”conversation, because now that  line was “five hours long” according to the lovely Grandpa standing next to us.

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(Tip: The Frozen girls are in the meet-and-greet area everyday from 9 AM to 6 PM. I would suggest you head straight there when Epcot opens and hopefully your wait will be under an hour. Another option is to book an early 8 AM breakfast at Norway’s Akershus Royal Banquet Hall so someone from your group can stand in line at 8:45 AM before the gates open.)

Annabel was fine with the side look because I quickly distracted her with the Frozen stuff. “Look! They have Elsa dresses!” Well,  they DID have Elsa dresses, but there were all the same size: Extra Small. Boo. There were no more Elsa T-shirts or barbie dolls either. There were no Olaf plushes. We moved through the rest of the toy section where I saw Moms grabbing some plush Anna and Elsa topsy-turvy dolls. I remember having one of those as a kid!  Mine was Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf when you flipped it upside down. The Anna/Elsa ones were starting to go like hot cakes, so I told Annabel that could be her one Frozen treat. Daniel found a Norwegian viking helmet, so he was all good. We waited in another line to pay for the treats and then off we went. I gave knowing looks to the poor parents still standing in the heat with their little girls. I said a little “thank you” to the Frozen Gods that I avoided that..for today.

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(Tip: I also noticed they did not have any Elsa or Anna dresses left in Magic Kingdom’s Bibbidy Bobbidi Boutique. I was told that some days they have them, but they sell out so quickly. If you can find a dress in a store in your hometown, BUY IT. You can always bring it with you to the boutique and your little one can put it on there before the princess hair and makeup session.)

The Norway Pavilion also has a display of Norwegian items and photos that inspired Frozen and you can see them in the Stave Church. It was neat to walk through and see the real-life church and mountainside village that gave the Disney animators the idea to create the Arendelle setting. I think we are all a little more Frozen–obsessed now, if that’s even possible.

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italy pic

 Update on 3/21: It’s been announced that Anna and Elsa will soon move from Epcot to Disney’s Magic Kingdom!  Starting Sunday, April 20th, they’ll join some of their fellow Disney Royals at Princess Fairytale Hall, where the Disney FastPass+ service will be available! Yay!

The Evolution of Mom Worry

A couple of my friends had babies recently and that always takes me back to when I had a baby. To that newborn stage. That glorious, overwhelming, heart-outside-of-your-chest time when everything was about sleep and poop and boobies. Did I mention sleep?


It also made me realize how far I’ve come as a Mom. I feel so removed from breast pumps and Boppy pillows. And I don’t miss all that worry about sleeping patterns, high fevers, constipation, weird rashes, and every other medical question I would look up in my giant American Academy of Pediatrics manual. How am I supposed to go to bed if he might accidently role on his stomach and DIE?  The newborn worry is big and magnified because everything is just so,well, NEW, including this human being someone just took out of my belly.

Then there’s the general baby worry. He’s going to totally choke on this rice cereal. She has a clogged tear duct and the surgery is “no big deal” except that it’s a REALLY BIG DEAL. And forget about baby proofing. There are entire websites dedicated to babyproofing your home, but even if I buy those socket covers, plastic door knobs, and toilet closure thingies, my baby will still manage to face plant into their Playskool Ball Popper. Yep, that happened.

Next, the worry turns into all those annoying milestones. Why isn’t she walking? Why isn’t he talking? I had a piece of paper on my refrigerator with every word my son said because one book proclaimed “25 words by age two.” This is also the era of comparisons. You’re told not to compare your darling child to anyone else’s darling child, but YOU DO. Why is Cooper walking when my kid is still crawling? Why does Maddie have FOUR TEETH already? That kid over there is climbing the stairs ONE FOOT AT A TIME. What?! This worry is more intellectual and researched, so it’s less about keeping your kid alive and more about keeping them upright on life’s fast moving conveyor belt.

Then, it happens. Your kid enters SCHOOL. Now the worry is bout their safety and their classmates, which is sometimes one in the same. In preschool, there’s biting and separation anxiety.  In elementary school, there’s reading levels and navigating the social stuff. Are they making friends and being kind to people? Are they HAPPY? There are weird viruses, new allergies, sports injuries, and academic competition. This worry is more intense, but has settled into me like a new layer of skin. I’ve accepted it as part of being a Mom. I’ve also loaded up on the wine.

And when I think about the future? With teenagers? Well, that worry is loaded with cyber bullies, peer pressure, SAT scores, and two driver’s licenses. Yikes. I hope my layer of skin will have turned into protective armor by then and I’ll be poised and ready for anything. But you know what? I think I’ll stay here, with today’s worry and a nice glass of red, for a little while longer. Cheers, Moms.