5 Disney Costumes To Wear To Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Lady and the Tramp Family Costume

 

 

 

Known throughout the kingdom as the best Halloween bash ever, kids and grown-ups alike are eager to attend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  Held on select nights starting September 1st through October 31st, the tone of the party is pure Disney fun and magic with just enough fright to lend extra excitement.

What happens during the Not-So-Scary Part?

  1. Disney Villains Dance Mix and Mingle – Villains from Disney movies put on quite a show in front of Cinderella’s castle several times followed by character meet and greets. Little girls love meeting the Beast and boys are fascinated by Captain Hook’s hook.

 

  1. Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade – Led by the headless horseman, this parade down Main Street USA is a delightful take on all things scary or not-so-scary. The grave diggers from the Haunted Mansion are among crowd favorites but my family prefers the headless horseman and his horse.

 

  1. Happy HalloWishes – Don’t think for one minute that a special party pre-empts fireworks. Disney Villains once again take center stage to bring a loud and slightly ominous Halloween fireworks display sure to please all the kingdom’s spirits.

 

  1. Character Dance Parties – Make sure to wear your dancing shoes and meet characters at Tomorrowland’s Monstrous Scream-O-Ween or Woody’s Happy Harvest Round Up in Liberty Square. Both are great fun.

 

  1. Trick-or-Treating and Attraction Riding – As with any extra event in the Magic Kingdom, 9 or 10 of the top attractions will be open for riding. Scattered throughout the kingdom are generous candy stations for trick-or-treating.

 

What to wear and what not to wear

Part of the fun of this particular event is dressing up so don’t be a fuddy-duddy about it.

Couples or two kids - Costumes like Lady and the Tramp, Simba and Nala, Woody and Jesse or any princess and her prince make excellent costumes.

Lady and the Tramp Family Costume

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 Families – Family oriented costumes are almost endless in choice but my favorites are Mary Poppins or Monster’s Inc. characters.

Goldilocks and Three Bears Costume

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Groups of friends - Any Disney movie makes great costuming for groups but a favorite was seeing an entire dance team in Lion King show style costumes. I have to admit the birds were our personal favorites. They were adorable.  Alice in Wonderland lends itself to excellent group or large family costuming as well.

Alice in Wonderland Costumes

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Young children – 101 Dalmations costumes or the Alien toys from Toy Story’s Claw machine make great costumes for little ones.

Alien Costume

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Teenagers – Disney Villains are always fun to portray among the teen crowd. Among the easiest to imitate are Snow White’s evil stepmother or Cinderella’s equally evil stepmother and sisters or Scar from The Lion King.

Nemo Costume

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Note: Your costume doesn’t have to be Disney related.  I wore a Tweety Bird costume one year and took a lot of teasing from Cast Members but they also gave me extra candy.

Be aware:  No costume should be offensive or violent.  Keep in mind you’ll be riding attractions so costumes that are too large or drag the ground will not be appropriate or comfortable.  They should not contain sharp or pointed objects that may harm another guest.  Weapons, even toy weapons (with the exception of flashlight sabers) are not allowed.  Masks may be worn but must not obstruct your eyes.

It’s best to obtain tickets early for this event since it sells out quickly.  We thought we were too late one year after making a last minute trip to Orlando.  We called Disney and were told the event was sold out but the Concierge at our hotel, Hawthorn Lake Buena Vista, was able to arrange Disney tickets at a good price.  In fact, many Disney Good Neighbor Hotels will often have deals you won’t get anywhere else.

If you have a mix of ages from little to teen, consider taking the young ones back to the hotel and allowing the teenagers to enjoy Villain’s Sinister Soiree: A Wicked Takeover of Cinderella’s Castle.

It’s an extra special event where villains party in the castle until the wee hours of the morning.  Attendees must also be present at the Not-So-Scary event prior to joining the party but as a special treat to teens, it can’t be beat.  Call 407-939-5262 or check with your hotel’s concierge.  Have fun and Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

Michelle Rise is a homemaker and Mother of 5 and travel enthusiast. With many years of experience trekking through Disney parks with her Family, Michelle has become Michellean expert on navigating families through Disney. She also enjoys travel to most other destinations worldwide and when not writing about her experiences or teaching her children to drive, Michelle can be found chasing the family dog up rainbow mountain with her husband of over 25 years, Ben. You can follow Michelle on Twitter, @Rise7Up, for all of her latest writings.

 

 

Teaching Your Child Compassion and Other Important Values

Harvest Time Books

 

 

I’ve always felt that I’ve been an overly compassionate person. I’ll cry reading stories online about other people’s misfortunes or when I’m watching something on the news. I can’t pass a homeless person on the street without my heart breaking and I’m usually quick to help someone if I see they are in need. Sometimes it can drive my husband crazy, but I believe that to raise responsible and compassionate adults, you have to lead by example. For the past few years, we have adopted a family at our church during Christmas, donated to local food banks and schools in need and participated in Operation Christmas Child. Each time we do something, Hayden always gets excited about picking out items to help others.

But with kids, you constantly have to be working to instill these types of values in them. Leading by example is great, but it’s always great when you have extra resources to help. That’s why I love The Principles of Our World, a line of children’s books from Harvest Time Partners.

Harvest Time Books

From Teamwork to Compassion, these books are great for parents and teachers to have on hand. They are appropriate for kids ages 4 and up and they take readers through a series of real-life situations and with the help of illustrated characters such as the Principal of Compassion, encourage principal-based decision making as an effective way to resolve everyday challenges.

I enjoyed reading the books to my son and then asking him what he would do in certain situations. It sometimes seems like he has more compassion for people outside of our family, so the story in the Compassion book about an older brother helping out his younger brother was a great example of something I could read to Hayden and he could relate to in real life being a big brother himself. I’m someone that learns from real life situations and I believe that it helps children too. The Principals of Our World books are great for teaching children about some of the most important values in life.

In addition to the books, Harvest Time Partners also has created some board games that not only help kids think on the right thing to do in situations, but also adults!

Harvest Time Games

The Abundant Harvest Game is a fast-moving conversation game that helps families and educators open the door to more productive dialogue. It reinforces the importance of developing strong character traits and encourages good, principle-based decision making. Through this game, players quickly learn the law of the harvest—you reap what you sow. Abundant Harvest is available in two versions for two different age groups.

The Face to Face card game is a new game that is played with a deck of 96 question cards that ask players questions that stimulate lively discussions on real-life issues. It helps build the critically important life skill of “Face to Face” authentic communication that is rapidly being replaced by today’s online chatter. Harvest Time Partners designed the game to encourage a high level of engagement and to reinforce principle-based decision making with the intent of developing and strengthening a person’s character. It’s the perfect conversation starter for road trips, vacations, family time, and small-group get-togethers. Face to Face is available in four versions for four different age groups, including a special Bible Edition.

I love the idea of putting down the electronics and speaking to family and friends FACE TO FACE again. The questions are interesting and thought provoking, sure to let you get to know your family and friends a little bit better.

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Harvest Time Partners has been around for over 20 years and provides a 100% guarantee that you’ll be satisfied with your purchase. I think these books and products are a great resource in helping to raise great kids.

Connect with Harvest Time on their websiteFacebook, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest.

Win It!

Enter below to win your own set of Harvest Time Partners The Principles of Our World books!

Disclosure: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Harvest Time and I received compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions in this post are my own.

 

Trapped in the St. Louis City Hall Parking Lot

Photo Source: Google Street View

 

 

For the last few days, our family has been hit hard with the stomach flu. It got so bad for my son that we ended up at our children’s hospital for dehydration. So when my husband was offered tickets to the St. Louis Blues game for tonight {Center Ice, 13 rows back!}, I jumped at the chance to get out of my house and away from the sickness. After saying goodbye to Grandma and the kids, we left the house as soon as my husband arrived home from work and headed to the Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis. Since we were running a little behind, we pulled into the St. Louis City Hall parking lot instead of waiting to get into the garage. We paid our $20 cash to the person at the entrance and I noticed there was another person taking money for the next lane, plus two additional employees in the guard booth. We parked and then quickly hurried into the game, making it just in time.

Before the 1st period was over though, the stomach flu finally claimed the last person in my family – my husband. It hit him like a truck and after leaving the bathroom, we headed to our car. I’ve parked there before a few times but always during the day. The lighting isn’t the best and there’s actually a part of the parking lot that is complete darkness, so I felt a little uneasy as we got into our car. But we were quickly in our car and headed to one of the exits – there are 4 – but the barrier wouldn’t lift. Since this exit didn’t have a guard booth, I backed up and went to an exit that is directly across from the Scottrade Center. Again, the barrier didn’t lift and there was no one in the guard booth. I got out of the car to see if it would lift – nope. I looked around hoping to find an employee who could tell me how to get out. I then got back into my car to look at our parking ticket, hoping there was a phone number to call. Again, nothing.

I drove and tried the two other exits in the parking lot but again, none of the barriers would lift and the guard booths were completely dark. It baffled me that less than an hour earlier, there were 5 people at one guard booth and I assume the same amount at the other, yet now there was no one. On the outside of the main guard booth {pictured below}, there was a sticker that said “How are we doing? Call the boss at 314-622-4414″. I called the number and an answering machine picked up stating that it was Joe Ryan and I had reached the City of St. Louis Customer Service Parking line. I realize it was after hours, but I started leaving a message. Halfway through my message, I got cut off and was informed my message was canceled. Was this a joke?

Photo Source: Google Street View

Photo Source: Google Street View

Unaware that the St. Louis City Police Headquarters had moved a few months ago, I walked across the street to see if I could get an officer to help me when I discovered they were no longer in the building across the street. I decided to get back into my car and head over to the part of the parking lot closest to Scottrade Center so I could run back in there and find someone.

Before I could do that though, another car was trying to get out of the parking lot also. I decided to get behind them in hopes of MAYBE I was doing something wrong. But the barrier wouldn’t work for them and no one answered the customer service line. The next thing I knew, the passenger of the vehicle in front of us broke the barrier into pieces and jumped in the car. Sorry, I didn’t get the license plate, I just got in my car and finally left too – after 35 minutes of trying to get out. But you know what? I don’t blame him.

I live in St. Louis County so I’m the first to admit that I don’t pay attention to a lot of the happenings in St. Louis City. But What. The. Heck. I’m glad that I paid $20 to park my car in a secure lot. In fact, it’s SO secure that I couldn’t get out. I kept thinking, what if one of my kids were REALLY sick and I needed to get home? What if I was a doctor on call who had to get to a patient? But instead, I was trapped in a car with a sick husband and no way to get out.

Here’s a few things that I think need to happen. And maybe I’m crazy. But when I’m paying $20 for parking, I think someone needs to be guarding the parking lot – in the 2 guard booths that are there. The lighting isn’t the best and after all, armed robbery in downtown St. Louis is up 68 percent and that doesn’t include the fact that there are almost more murders in St. Louis City in 2014 than 2013 – and there’s still 2 months left of the year.

If no one is going to be guarding the parking lot, you need to have someone answer the customer service line. Or there has to be an emergency button to let cars out. You can’t just trap cars in the parking lot, especially at night. According to Parkopedia, this parking lot is manned. But it wasn’t for at least 35 minutes tonight. And for me, that’s 35 minutes too long. I’m just thankful for the guy that was way less patient than me.

Le me know if I’m overreacting. Is this the norm for parking lots during sporting events? As someone who attends several St. Louis Cardinals games a year and parks in different parking lots, I’ve never had this happen to me and not sure if it was because it was a city parking lot.

#TreatThePups with Halloween Goodie Bags + Free Printable

Halloween Treat Bags for Dogs

Post sponsored by Lunchbox but all opinions are my own.

In our household, it’s not just the kids that get into Halloween. It’s one of my favorite holidays and the whole family gets involved – even our dog! Zoey does plenty of tricks for us so she deserves a treat on Halloween night too. We have stocked up on some of her favorite treats like Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Grillers, Pup-Peroni Snacks and MilkBone Biscuits from Walmart. On Halloween night, Zoey loves to walk the neighborhood with us since she just loves people. We usually see a lot of other dogs walking with their owners too. If your neighborhood is like ours and full of pups, put together a treat bag for them too!

Halloween Treat Bags for Dogs

Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Grillers, Pup-Peroni Beef Flavor Snacks and Milk-Bone Dog Snacks are Howlin’ Good Gifts for the pawsome pets in your life! You can head to Walmart.com to see more gift ideas like an edible treat bowl and a Halloween dog treat holder – so creative! You can even print up a door hanger to let others know you treat dogs too.

#treathePups
My son and I had a great time making treat bags for the dogs in our neighborhood. Plus, I have this printable for you to attach to bags for your local pups. Just click on the photo below to enlarge and print!

Halloween Treats for Dogs #TreatThePups

 

Halloween Dog Treats

Halloween Night Safety Tip for Pets

Chocolate is dangerous for both dogs and cats so make sure to keep it all for yourself! I’m sure you won’t mind! :-)

To read more safety tips for pets on Halloween night, head over to Walmart.com to read them!

#TreatThePups Instagram Photo Contest

Treat The Pups Banner 6

Does your dog dress up for Halloween? Snap a photo and upload it to Instagram using the hashtag #TreatThePups! You’ll have the opportunity to win one of the three gift cards. The first prize winner will win one (1) $500 Gift Card, second place will win one (1) $100 Gift Card and third place will win (1) $50 Gift Card.

ZoeyHalloween

Enter the contest below!

 

Treat all the Pawesome pets this Halloween!

Using New Tech Trends for Your Business

Socialech

 

In today’s business world, the competition can often seem cutthroat. The perception may not be about the actual nature of business since these competing industries seem to be in vastly different sectors, but rather about the difficulty of maintaining a successful business in a changing world. Today’s new crop of technology has enabled businesses to flourish like never before, but it has also presented the challenge of adapting and growing in tandem with never-before-seen technology and interactions. The internet and the digital revolution have shaped the way that business operates and profits, and to succeed, you’ll need to take advantage of these sample principles. Here are some of the main things the digital revolution have done to business and how you can apply them with success in your own endeavors.

Socialech

Get the Word Out

Social media is a criminally underused tool in today’s market. It’s pervasive, it’s flourishing and it’s free in the majority of cases. Consumers have turned to websites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook as sources of guidance for their purchases and service options. Using a social media platform effectively can mean more than just interacting with customers. It can lead to the production of a true brand name, and exposure in amounts that were previously unseen in any other medium. By simply putting yourself and your business out into the social media hubs, you garner attention and potential clients without having to do anything beyond posting and chatting. The best social media usage is effortless and relies on the community to do its best in spreading your product. On LinkedIn, you can gather more professional clients, if your particular business is suited to fewer but larger deals. In addition, it obviously makes for a fantastic hiring platform, revealing your company to potential applicants and simultaneously displaying the skill set of applicants.

Take Inspiration

Branching off of the exposure benefits from social media, you can benefit greatly from the information that’s freely available on many of these sites. Using Google’s programs such as AdSense, you can find out exactly what your customers are searching for, where they’re located and how to best market yourself to clients. Many social media sites also shed a light on what trends are currently hot, including visuals and blogging entries for your site. Massive corporations like Google aren’t shy about using the web to make tremendous profit and you should be profiting from this data, too. Hiring companies to place your advertisements around various sites – particularly ones that are likely to be viewed by potential clients – can provide you the best sort of exposure, and is often informed by these market trends.

Follow the example of companies which are in your field by following their online activity and social media interaction and use these principles with your own flourish to create a better brand. Try to figure out where you can offer a better product or service and capitalize on this upgrade. In today’s industries, the difference between having your product sell or losing the sale to another company is in the way that you present your product and demonstrate its value to customers. Take notes!

Diversify Your Checkout

In the modern world, cash is quickly become obsolete. As hyperbolic as that sounds, the trend is definite and the market is moving toward an economy based on accounts and cards at top speed. What can you do to get around this? Buy into it, of course. By keeping your business on a cash-only level, you greatly limit your sales potential and income. In addition, you lose the potential benefits that accompany switching to a sever-based transaction system. Point-of-Sale programs (POS) are designed to allow for maximum control over a business and its pricing models, inventory, and employee management, and can often be integrated into an existing business with minimal hassle. The trick lies in the POS and its automatic recording of transactions and inventory, leaving you more time to focus your attention on worthwhile matters. POS is designed to use a variety of hardware components to make payment simple for customers.

Companies like Shopify have designed POS systems that can utilize card-readers for iPads and open up a new range of possibilities for payment. These card-readers are also more secure than the standard POS terminals, which were hit by a series of hacking strikes this year and in 2013. As the economy grows more dependent on POS systems and ditching some of the more intrusive aspects of a cash-based economy, the need for security and proper terminals will become paramount. The time to start building and optimizing your POS is now, so be sure that you choose the proper system and hardware components for your business.

Although the business world may seem less forgiving than ever, the emergence of new technological trends and Internet marvels provides a high leg-up in the market. Take advantage of these developing industries, particularly the free services, to maximize your operation’s potential and success.

Checklist for Using Bath & Body Product for Babies

Baby Products

 

With a new baby in the house, parents ought to come up with a list of needful items to keep around. Keeping a checklist prepares you for many troubles, enabling you to ensure that basic items are within reach in time of need. Do keep in mind that the delicate skin and overall body condition of babies require a careful consideration on the best products to use for them. Not every ‘baby’ product is fit for use simply because the tag carries the name ‘baby’ on the label. Before any purchase, make sure to check product labels for ingredients that may not be baby friendly.

Baby Products

Baby Clothes

You won’t need to keep a large number of baby clothes during the first year. Babies grow fast and your newborn will change sizes quickly. Keep only a handful of basic clothing, such as: one piece outfits, snap-crotch bodysuits (for easy dressing and diaper changing), stretchable pull-on pants, snap-crotch T-shirts, side snap shirts, sweater, sleepwear, footed sleepers, hat or bonnet, socks and booties, and a wearable blanket sleeper.

Choose fabrics that are dye-free or untreated and that are fragrance and chemical free. Organic clothing is now available for babies. This type of clothing makes use of natural materials like organic linen, cotton, and hemp. You may also opt for pure cotton materials instead of synthetic products like nylon or polyester.

Bath and Cleansing Products

Basic bath and body products to keep in stock are the following: baby bath soap, shampoo, and bottom wash. Bubble bath products may be used, however, be wary about over soaking the baby in bubble bath water. Be careful in patronizing products without a thorough check on ingredients used. One report released by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics revealed that among 48 products tested, according to USA Today, over half had traces of formaldehyde. This is a chemical which is considered by the Environmental Protection Agency as a probable carcinogen, which is released as preservatives break down over time inside of product containers.

Safe Mama lists ingredients parents should watch out for, advising parents to stay away from products that contain such ingredients as Phthalates, Parabens and Sodium Lauryl. Phthalates have been linked to impaired sperm quality and damage in men, genital defects, and reduced testosterone production in boys, testicular cancer, and obesity.  Parabens, preservatives used in cosmetics, have been linked to tumor growths. Sodium Laurel Sulfate, which is found in most shampoos and body washes, toothpaste, detergents and others, is a possible carcinogen and well-known skin irritant. Propylene is derived from glycerin, and though it was declared as “generally safe for use” by the FDA, it raises risks of cancer, and can be toxic to the immune system.

Invest in the products offered by such companies as The Honest Company which use natural or organic ingredients in the manufacturing process. Ideal baby products are non-toxic, pH-balanced, and hypoallergenic. The skin is indeed the body’s largest organ and what gets applied onto a baby’s skin can directly enter the blood stream. That is why ingredients are to be carefully considered when purchasing items for baby use.

Diaper and Skin Care Products

Diapers are a major expense and a very important one. Many babies have suffered greatly because of sub-standard or harmful diapers being used on them. Go for highly absorbent nappies that are eco-friendly, hypoallergenic, and fragrance free.  Plant-based diapers are now available on the market; these are chlorine free and free from various other chemicals. As for baby wipes, use non-irritating ones that are alcohol and scent free.

Diaper rash creams, ointments and baby powders are important supplies, according to Baby Center. Go for talc free products and natural ones that possess anti-bacterial properties. Organic creams act as a barrier and protective layer, helping prevent rashes and itching problems. Some baby friendly products also have probiotics that foster balanced and healthy skin conditions. Change diapers frequently and air the baby’s bottom in between nappy changes. You may wash the diaper area each time, but make sure the baby’s bottom is fully dried before snapping on the diaper.

Other Products

Additional products to keep on hand are sunscreen and rubs. Sunscreen keeps your child protected from the sun’s harmful rays. If you can avoid doing so, do not take the baby for an outside trip during the hottest hours of the day. Take a stroll when it’s cooler so you can spend more time in the shade. If it cannot be avoided, apply sunscreen at least fifteen minutes before leaving the home.

Stick to SPF 15 products; go for non-toxic products and stay away from whitening sunscreens.  As for medical rubs, focus more on organic aromatherapy oils that help soothe and clear the baby’s breathing. Eucalyptus and tea tree oils are baby friendly; these and several others on the market today contain no harsh chemicals and are menthol and petroleum free.

The Book of Life Activity Sheets, New Trailer and Giveaway! #BookOfLife

BookofLife-CharacterArt1

 

 

Last week, I shared with you a trailer for The Book of Life, a new animated movie that is in theaters on October 17th. To get you excited for the release of the movie, I’ve got lots of exciting things to share including activity sheets and a giveaway!

BookofLife-1Sht

THE BOOK OF LIFE, a vibrant fantasy-adventure, tells the legend of Manolo, a conflicted hero and dreamer who sets off on an epic quest through magical, mythical and wondrous worlds in order to rescue his one true love and defend his village.

The movie stars Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Diego Luna, Ron Perlman, Ice Cube, Danny Trejo, and more. Rated PG, it’s in theaters on October 17th.

BookofLife-CharacterArt1

Free Book of Life Activity Sheets!

Want to learn how to make your own Sugar Skulls, Paper flags and more? Download free Book of Life Activity Sheets!

Cost Plus World Market Book of Life Shop

Visit the Book of Life Shop in stores and online! In celebration of the release of the upcoming film, The Book of Life, Cost Plus World Market has developed exclusive Book of Life Toys inspired by the film. Products include a colorful Tin Keepsake Box, Guitar, Maracas, Manolo Rubber Duck Bath Toy, Kaleidoscopes, and more.

Watch the Trailer!

Connect with The #BookOfLife

– Visit the Official Website

– Like ‘The Book of Life’ on Facebook

– Follow on Twitter, Tumblr

Win It!

Enter to win a The Book of Life Prize Pack that includes a $25 Visa Gift Card,  Mini guitar & keepsake box from Cost Plus World Market.

BOL-WorldMarket

Enter the Rafflecopter form below. US only, prizes courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received compensation for this post but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Imagine Big With Let’s Imagine Elmo #ImagineWithElmo

Imagine Elmo

 

I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Playskool. I received product samples to facilitate my party and review, and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Whenever I think of a character using their imagination, one of the first to pop in my head is Elmo. My kids and I love watching Sesame Street and seeing Elmo come on the screen and using his imagination to discover new worlds and sing songs. I love to encourage my kids to use their imagination and recently we had a fun Playskool Party to encourage kids to use their imagination while discovering the new Let’s Imagine Elmo.

Imagine Elmo

Open up your imagination at home with Let’s Imagine Elmo, a 13-inch Elmo that comes with three different hats that unlock different imaginary themes and play modes. You can place the crown on Elmo’s head to play a game of “Prince Elmo Says,” pop on the cowboy hat to learn about numbers in the “Countin’ Cowboy” game, or put on the sea captain hat for a fun “Sounds of the Sea”game. Your kids can also tickle his belly, squeeze his nose, or bounce him for a fun reaction.

Imagine Evie Elmo

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How fun is the new Let’s Imagine Elmo?! My kids love him! #MC #ImagineWithElmo #Sponsored

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We had fun kicking off the party with Elmo snacks – Earth’s Best Crackers and Pouches – and trying on the different hats that Elmo has too. It was fun trying on the different hats and using our imagination to create stories with Elmo.

Imagine Snacks

 

Imagine Crowns

 

My little climber could definitely imagine being a gymnast when she is older. I was surprised when my son told me he imagines he will be a writer!

Imagine Olivia Sticker

We also had fun playing with the Stack N’ Spin Monkey Gears, {a favorite from when my son was older!} where  little ones can build up the fun by placing colorful gears all around their monkey friend’s belly, hands, and feet. The Stack N’ Spin Monkey Gears encourages Fine Motor Skills, Hand-Eye Coordination and Cause and Effect – perfect for little ones!

Imagine Evie

New this year, the the MR. POTATO HEAD brand combines mini spuds with Mix & Mash play in a two-inch scale featuring everyone’s favorite TRANSFORMERS characters! Optimus Prime spud partners up with Grimlock spud to battle the Decepticons! Squeeze the Grimlock figure’s eyes and watch as his jaw chomps and launches a projectile!

Imagine Hayden

If you’re looking to get one of the hottest toys for 2014, check out the Let’s Imagine Elmo from PlayskoolWhat do your kids imagine they will be when they grow up? 

Treat Your Dog this Halloween Season! #BegginHalloween

Zoey Minnie 2

 

This post is sponsored by Lunchbox. All opinions are my own.

With Halloween coming up next week, it’s not only my kids that I’m thinking about! I’m also thinking about our lab, Zoey! She absolutely loves people and is such a friendly dog, so on Halloween night my husband and I like to bring her along as we walk through our neighborhood. We are a Disney lovin’ family so naturally, we had to buy her a Minnie Mouse costume. She actually keeps them on too – it’s so cute!

Zoey Minnie

My kids love seeing that Zoey gets a costume too for Halloween! {We are actually considering changing her costume since my twins are dressing up as Anna and Elsa. We think Zoey will be a perfect Sven!}

You don’t have to give only kids treats this Halloween – dogs love them too! Celebrate Halloween this year with Beggin’ – The Official Dog Treat of Halloween™! It’s the perfect treat for your dog after they do their tricks and it’s the perfect treat to have on you Halloween night while you’re out walking in case you see any other dressed up dogs!

Beggin’, the Official Dog Treat of Halloween™

Head to the Purina Pet Park where you can play the Treat Seeker game for a chance to win one of 25,000 treat samples for your pet! It’s a fun game – my son is hooked! While you are there, get to know the full array of Beggin’ and Purina Pet Treats! They’re the perfect way to “treat” your dog or cat this Halloween season. They will be “beggin'” for them!

Plus, share the “scare with your friends on Facebook or Twitter!

What will you be dressing your dog up as for Halloween?

Enter to win a $50 Walmart Gift Card!

Enter the widget below to win a $50 Walmart Gift Card!

Purina Halloween 2014

Transform Your Lunches with Jimmy Dean® Frozen Lunch Entrees!

Jimmy Dean Pulled Pork Lunch

 

 

The last few months have been kind of crazy for our household. My son started 1st grade and is now going to school full-day and my husband started a new job. We are all getting into the swing of a new routine – even me since I’m now working from home with my 1 year old twins running around.

I try to stay as organized as possible since I work from home and that includes making everyone’s lunches the night before and trying to plan my menu for the week each Sunday. When it comes to meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – I always tend to make the same things over and over again. It gets boring fast and I’ve recently started hearing complaints from the men in my family about making something a little different for their lunches and our dinners. Usually, I’ll spend hours browsing Pinterest for ideas but now my mind is racing with ideas using the new Jimmy Dean® & Jimmy Dean Delights® frozen lunch or dinner entrees at Walmart! That’s right, Jimmy Dean isn’t just for breakfast anymore!

For my husband, I know that he has been wanting some variety in his lunches. I’ve never been the type of person to get overly creative or involved with lunches – it’s always been a sandwich, chips and a fruit. Sandwiches can get boring fast but not the sandwiches from Jimmy Dean! I’m talking Smoked Ham & Cheese Sandwiches on Pretzel Buns, Smoked Sausage on a Country Bun and Pulled Pork on a Pretzel Bun. YUM!

Last week, we did a week’s worth of Jimmy Dean lunches and they were a huge hit not only with my husband at work but for me at home. There’s so many times that I’m busy with my twins that I forget to eat because I just don’t have time to prepare something for myself. When I pop one of these in the microwave and sit down to enjoy it, it’s like I’m actually enjoying a sandwich packed full of flavor from a restaurant or a BBQ joint. For a busy Mom like me, I love having the option of enjoying a high-quality meal in just minutes.

Now, it looks like I’m getting fancy with lunches. Check out my Jimmy Dean lunches below!

Jimmy Dean Pulled Pork on a Pretzel Bun Lunch

Jimmy Dean Pulled Pork Lunch

Jimmy Dean Pulled Pork Sandwich

Jimmy Dean Ham and Cheese on Pretzel Bun Lunch

Jimmy Dean Ham and Cheese on Pretzel Bun Lunch

Jimmy Dean Ham and Cheese on Pretzel Bun

I picked up the new Jimmy Dean products at our local Walmart, where you’ll find the new frozen lunch and dinner offerings, . Pick some up today and transform your boring ol’ lunch!

Connect with Jimmy Dean

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Jimmy Dean…it’s not just for breakfast anymore! It’s for anytime of the day. Which lunch are you looking forward to trying?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Walmart: Jimmy Dean . The opinions and text are all mine.

Celebrate Feeling Beautiful with Target and Dove #TGTfeelbeautifulfor

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When my son was about 4 years old, he was in the bathroom with me while I was looking in the mirror. Not thinking, I said out loud that I hated the way I looked – my hair was limp, my complexion was a mess and I just felt blah. He looked up at me and said that he thought I was beautiful. It was at that moment that I realized I had to not only build up my child’s self-esteem but that I had to have good self-esteem myself to be a good role model for my kids. When I had my twin girls, I knew that I wanted them to grow up with self-confidence and to know that they are beautiful – both inside and outside. The same goes for my son, too!

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What’s your beauty legacy? Help the next generation of young girls and women celebrate feeling beautiful. All you have to do is tell the world who you feel beautiful for, by tweeting and posting with #TGTfeelbeautifulfor.

Target Dove Beautiful

Target and Dove want to help you feel beautiful inside and out. Through November 1st, you can save on the Dove products that help you feel your best. Head to Target.com to print a coupon for $0.75 off any one Dove women’s product at Target!

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I saved and shared my beauty legacy, now I want to see yours. Every time you choose Dove, you show your support for self-esteem building programs for girls. Dove has helped more than 13 million girls so far. Together, we can help even more.

Win It!

Enter to win a $50 Target Gift Card!

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All you have to do is tweet who you feel beautiful for and include the hashtag #TGTfeelbeautifulfor. Share a link to your tweet in the comments below, for your chance to win a $50 Target gift card.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored post by Lunchbox, all opinions are 100% my own. Giveaway ends on November 1st. US only. 

Mega Bloks SpongeBob Squarepants™ Invisible Boatmobile Rescue Giveaway

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A few weeks ago, my son and I were at the toy store and he was looking around, showing me all of the toys he wants. It sometimes doesn’t even matter if we don’t buy anything, he just loves to look at everything. As we walked down the Mega Bloks aisle, he suddenly tarted shouting at a new toy that was on the shelf. He loves all of the Mega Bloks play sets but when he saw there were now Mega Bloks Spongebob toys, he was so excited.

MEGA Brands Announces Expansion of Nickelodeon Licenced Products

I was so happy to make his day when Mega Bloks sent me their new Mega Bloks SpongeBob Squarepants™ Invisible Boatmobile Rescue toy as a way to share about their exciting new partnership with Spongebob!

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Plankton is at it again and it’s up to SpongeBob and Patrick to stop him with the Invisible Boatmobile Rescue by Mega Bloks SpongeBob SquarePants. Build the Invisible Boatmobile with cool translucent blocks and take off for a high-speed chase! Help, Plankton is launching jellyfish everywhere! It’s up to SpongeBob and Patrick – dressed as Mermaidman and Barnacleboy  – to save them with the Invisible Boatmobile’s not-so-invisible net!

Ideal for ages 5 and up.

Features:

  • Cool Invisible Boatmobile to build with translucent blocks
  • Buildable bobCAT vehicle and a Jellyfish catapult
  • SpongeBob, Patrick and Plankton micro action figures
  • Four jellyfish
  • Combine with other Mega Bloks SpongeBob SquarePants playsets to build your own wacky world of fun in Bikini Bottom.

Find out more about Mega Bloks and Spongebob!

– Visit the Mega Bloks SpongeBob Squarepants Official Site

– Check out the Invisible Boatmobile Product Page

– Follow Mega Bloks on Twitter and Facebook

– Follow @SpongeBob on Twitter

Hayden had such a fun time building the set and we look forward to seeing more Mega Bloks Spongebob SquarePants play sets! This is oing to be a hot gift this holiday season, so I’m excited to be giving away the Invisible Boatmobile Rescue by Mega Bloks SpongeBob SquarePants!

Win It!

Enter to win the Rafflecopter form below. US only.

Spongebob Front Packaging

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received the above product for review purposes only. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

DIY Daniel Tiger Costume

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My kids absolutely love Daniel Tiger and really, what kid doesn’t? I have such fond memories of watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood growing up and while no one can bring back Mister Rogers, you can introduce your child to the world of Daniel Tiger!

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When I connected with Brenda of Davis Specialty Sewing on Facebook and saw her Daniel Tiger Inspired Costume for her son, I knew I had to share here for everyone to see! She’s got a great tutorial below so you can make your very own Daniel Tiger Costume for Halloween!

daniel tiger costume

This costume is a size 4T and is an alteration to the brilliant SuperCool Hoodie pattern by A Sparkly Baby. Currently, there is a tutorial for the tiger hood put together by Jennifer Barasso, owner of Stitch Upon a Time but it is only being offered if you bought the hoodie pattern and are a member of the Facebook group A Sparkly Baby Patterns. I suggest joining the group. It’s fabulous!
 
So….onto the construction process. The red hoodie was made using sweatshirt fleece and lightweight knit for the lining of the hood. I used two different types of fur for the hood and stripes. The tiger hood is lined with fleece. Then you just need coordinating thread, a drawstring, and separating zipper. I would suggest using at least a 14in zipper for the 4T size, My zipper was only 12in and was too short so I had to make do by bring the collar down farther. 
 
All the materials I used for the costume  were purchased at JoAnns, Here are the links and amount needed (for a 4T):

 daniel tiger supplies

Red Hoodie – 1/2 yard of main body and ¾ yard of coordinating (sleeves, waistband, cuffs, hood)

 

Tiger Hoodie – 1/2 yard of beige fur, about  1/4 yard of brown fur, and about 1/2 yard of lining fabric for the hood

 

Pants – ½ yard of beige fur, about ¼ yard of brown fur, and about a fat quarter of red and white knit for the shoe covers.

To make the pants I just took a pair of my son’s pants, turned them inside out, and folded them in half. Then, I placed them on the fold of the fabric and traced around them leaving room for a seam allowance, hemming, and elastic casing. There is a great tutorial on how to make a quick pair of pants over at Simple Simon and Company. Basically, I followed that tutorial and added stripes, shoe coverings, and a tail into the back seam. Make sure to add your tail as you are sewing up the back seam of the pants.

The shoe coverings were came about by tracing a semi-circle onto red knit (I used upcycled T-shirts!) and sewing them onto the bottom of the pant legs. Then, cut another, smaller, semi-circle of white knit (again, t-shirts!) and sew it onto the top of the red. Then, sew a piece of elastic to the bottom of the shoe covering so it will stay in place when your little munchkin is running around.

daniel tiger pants

daniel tiger tail

The tail was done by following the tutorial from The Road to Crazy Blog and altered by using left over beige fur and brown fur stripes. I wanted wire in mt tail so it didn’t hang loose but the only thing I had was floral wire. Although, I used the entire pack of floral wire it was just not strong enough to hold the weight of the fur and stuffing. I should have used a wire coat hanger now that I think about it.

daniel tiger hoodie

And that’s it! Now, you have a really cute Daniel Tiger inspired costume. My son likes to wear the hoodie everywhere we go and leave the pants for Halloween.

Thanks Brenda for this awesome tutorial on a Daniel Tiger Costume! Check out her Facebook page at Davis Specialty Sewing

Disney Trip Countdown Ideas

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Even before my husband and I had kids, we loved visiting Walt Disney World. We also loved creating Countdown Calendars. Yes, even before smartphones and apps were introduced, we would have a calendar on our fridge or on our computer just counting down the days until we were back at the Happiest Place on Earth. Once we got our smartphones and before Hayden came along, we then had an app that counted down the days for us.

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When we had our son, I got to get creative with him as we counted down the days until our trip. I would love to someday surprise him with a trip to Disney World but I also love planning it and sharing in the excitement with him as it approaches.

With toddlers, it’s so hard to tell them how far away something is – they don’t really understand 2 months, 3 weeks, 8 wakeups. So when my son was three years old and we were headed to Disney World, we decided to make a paper chain to help him understand the concept of how far away our trip was. You won’t need much for this Countdown Calendar! All we used was construction paper, glue sticks and crayons. On each chain I wrote down how many days were left.

Disney Countdown Chain

He loved pulling off part of the chin each morning and it helped him with the concept that the smaller the chain got, the closer the trip was! If you’re looking to make a Disney Countdown Chain, you must check out the template that Grey Luster Girl has – the chain has Mickey ears!

The next year, I decided to get the fun paint samples at Home Depot and create a bright and colorful countdown calendar for our fridge. This was a lot of fun to make with Hayden and I liked seeing it in our kitchen.

WDW Countdown Fridge

This year, we bought this wooden Walt Disney World Countdown Sign from an Etsy shop. We have a lot of Disney stuff going on in our basement and we are always planning a trip, so we thought this would be a great addition.

WDW Countdown

When we got a little bit closer, I decided to try my hand at making some Mickey Ears with my new Cricut Explore. I made 20 Mickey Heads so Hayden could start pulling them off when we were 20 days out.

WDW Countdown with Cricut Mickey

With ribbon, glue dots and the Mickey Heads from the Cricut, this was a really simple and fun Walt Disney World Countdown to put together! Hayden has loved taking a Mickey Head off each day.

Hayden and Disney Countdown

There are so many fun and unique Disney countdowns out there! Check out some of my favorites!

Disney Countdown Ideas

- Fiddle Dee Me: Clothespin Countdown

- Mom and More: Disney Countdown Chain

- The Suburban Mom: Disney Cruise Countdown

- The Suburban Mom: Disneyland Countdown

- Just Is a Four Letter Word: Countdown to Disney Monorail Craft

- All for the Memories: Printable Disneyland Countdown

- Disney in the Desert: Picture Frame Countdown

- My Crazy Good Life: Countdown Poster

How do you count down the days until your next Disney trip?

The Best of Me Trailer and Sweepstakes + Giveaway

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Last week, I shared with you a trailer for The Best of Me, the latest Nicholas Sparks book to be turned into a movie. It’s in theaters on October 17th and I’m already preparing to bring my tissues with me.

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The Best of Me tells the story of Dawson and Amanda, two former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart, when they return to their small town for the funeral of a beloved friend. Their bittersweet reunion reignites the love they’ve never forgotten, but soon they discover the forces that drove them apart twenty years ago live on, posing even more serious threats today. Spanning decades, this epic love story captures the enduring power of our first true love, and the wrenching choices we face when confronted with elusive second chances.

The Best of Me stars James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato.

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Watch the New Trailer!

Want Nicholas Sparks to join your Book Club?

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Calling all book clubs! You and your club could win a visit from a professional moderator & special guest appearance from Nicholas Sparks via Skype.  All you have to do is tweet a question you’d like answered using #BestOfMeBookSweeps!

Connect with #TheBestOfMe

Like The Best of Me on Facebook

Follow / Subscribe Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Pinterest | YouTube

Win It!

Enter to win The Best of Me in paperback, a mug and $25 Visa Gift Card.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prizing is courtesy of Relativity Media. Open to US mailing addresses only. 

Disclosure: I received compensation for this post but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Take a #SuaveFamilySelfie to Win!

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The other weekend, my family met up with my in-laws and we headed to their community’s downtown area for a parade. We sat on the edge of the street, bundled up as it was the first chilly day of Fall and everyone was so happy and excited. I don’t usually like to be in pictures, but at that perfect moment, I knew I had to capture it.

Family Selfie

It’s one of my favorite photos because it captured me with my kids as we are having a fun day – the only person missing was my husband! I love taking family selfies in the fall because we are always outside enjoying the gorgeous weather and fun things to do like apple and pumpkin picking!

Want to win big just by taking a Fall Family Selfie? 

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Enter for a chance to win a Suave® Fall Family Selfie prize pack by snapping a photo of you and your family living beautifully outdoors and posting it to Instagram.

Step 1: Take a family selfie (or use a recent one!)

Step 2: Post it on Instagram using the 3 hashtags: #suavefamilyselfie #LB2LB #Walmart

Step 3: Fill out this form and submit your Instagram link.

*To get your Instagram link visit instagram.com, log in, and find the link to your photo. It will be in the format of http://instagram.com/p/YOURPHOTOID.

*To retrieve the link from your Instagram mobile app, go to your profile picture on the app, click the “…” in the bottom right hand corner, and then select “Copy Share URL”.

Enter the sweepstakes weekly to increase your chance of winning. Each week 6 new winners will be drawn to receive a $175 Walmart prize pack that includes a sponsor-selected camera lens, $100 Walmart gift card, and a Walmart.com photobook awarded in the form of a $50 Walmart gift card!

What are some of your favorite Fall activities? If you’ve snapped a family selfie, make sure to upload it to Instagram for a chance to win! 

 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Lunchbox. All thoughts and opinions are my own.