16 Unexpected Joys of Raising a Toddler

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This post has been sponsored by Signature Care diapers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
While you’re in the thick of baby rearing, it can be so hard to look ahead to the great joys of raising a toddler. We’ve all heard the stories about the “Terrible Twos”. We’ve all been witness to a full-blown toddler temper-tantrum, I’m sure. Yes, 2 year-olds get a “bad rap” as being challenging to parents. There’s the constant busyness, the mess of toys and yikes, the limited vocabulary! But it’s all in your perspective as a parent and I think that two is a fantastic age. There are definitely unexpected and often overlooked joys of raising a toddler.

Moving from Baby to Toddler

Let’s say you’re just coming out of the baby stage. Your baby has finally stopped the projectile spit-up. She’s sleeping longer than 13 minutes at a stretch. Or he’s finally entertained long enough trying to yank off his sock to allow you to use the bathroom!
And then just like that, your baby is a toddler! She’s cruising around the furniture and taking her first steps. He’s trying to use a fork and spoon. She’s chattering away, and you start to actually understand some of the words! He’s playing with a toy instead of just stuffing it in his mouth.
Raising toddlers isn’t only about diffusing temper tantrums and getting through the “Terrible Twos”! Positive parenting includes looking on the positive side and reveling in the unexpected joys in raising a toddler including newfound independence, silly giggles and increased vocabulary. AD
So much is still the same as when they were a baby; your toddler is still wearing diapers, can’t be left alone and still have lots of attachment to mom and dad (thank goodness!) But then, so much else changes quickly as your toddler learns how to play alone and follow simple directions. It’s all a move towards independence. Which can sometimes also include the frustrations of learning new skills. And yes, those dreaded temper tantrums!

Raising a Toddler

You might be in-between wanting to have a happy toddler to just needing to know how to make a toddler behave. Parenting toddlers is a daily roller coaster of emotions, for both parents and little ones!
But with the frustration comes incredible joy. Your baby will develop her own personality as she develops and toddlerhood is a wonderful time for learning, exploring and growing together as a parent and child. Here are some of the sweetest things to look forward to with raising a toddler!
Raising toddlers isn’t only about diffusing temper tantrums and getting through the “Terrible Twos”! Positive parenting includes looking on the positive side and reveling in the unexpected joys in raising a toddler including newfound independence, silly giggles and increased vocabulary. AD

1. Learning How to Play Independently

This is one of the best parts of your baby growing into a toddler; they can finally sit alone for a few minutes without needing you to provide the entertainment! When given their own quiet time away from television and other distractions, toddlers will play alone with their toys and books.

2. More Engagement

No longer does your little one sit and stare blankly at you when you talk. Now he’s able to understand many words, even if he’s not yet speaking them out loud. This also means he can follow simple directions that include one or two steps. Try making requests of your toddler, like asking him to bring you a book.

3. Distraction Can Diffuse

While it can be hard to calm a crying baby outside of feeding them and making sure their diaper is dry, getting a toddler to settle down quickly may be easier with this trick. Effectively using distraction can transition a toddler from tantrum to giggles. When my toddler is fussing about bedtime, I’ll ask, “Did you hear that?” and she’ll stop whining to listen to the dog barking outside. This segues into a story about how the dog is barking to tell her it’s bedtime and that she’s keeping him awake with her fussing! Come up with creative distraction techniques that you can implement quickly when a fit is imminent.
Raising toddlers isn’t only about diffusing temper tantrums and getting through the “Terrible Twos”! Positive parenting includes looking on the positive side and reveling in the unexpected joys in raising a toddler including newfound independence, silly giggles and increased vocabulary. AD

4. Improved Memory

This summer we went on several trips with my just-turned-two-year-old. Surprisingly in the months since, she has recalled small details of our vacations, including flying on the airplane, who she sat next to on certain theme park rides, the swimming pool at the hotel and even the ice cream cone she ate! I love that toddlers can remember and recall. Thinking back on favorite memories is one of the bedtime activities my toddler and I have when settling in for the night.

5. An Expanded Mealtime Palate

One day your toddler can’t get enough of broccoli and the next day, she throws it off the plate! While your toddler may still prove picky when it comes to certain foods, he’ll also be expanding his menu to include more diverse options. Consider adding something new to his plate every few days and see if he likes it. The tiniest little taste will do, no need to go overboard. At this age, toddlers enjoy feeding themselves although they aren’t very coordinated with their delivery. Toddlers will also go back and forth between utensils and using their fingers, which is totally okay. Continue to offer toddler-sized utensils and relax on the mess.
Raising toddlers isn’t only about diffusing temper tantrums and getting through the “Terrible Twos”! Positive parenting includes looking on the positive side and reveling in the unexpected joys in raising a toddler including newfound independence, silly giggles and increased vocabulary. AD

6. Playing Games

Don’t pull out the board games just yet. Game play is another fun thing that toddlers can start learning how to do but you’ll have to keep the rules very basic for now. A “memory match” game can be used but instead of following traditional rules, try having your toddler just pair up the matches. Simple “finger songs” like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Itsy-Bitsy Spider improve fine motor skills and memory. And the toddler favorite, Hide & Go Seek is an easy one to play safely inside the house.

7. The Silliest Sense of Humor

There is nothing like the giggles from a toddler! Seriously, toddlers have a great sense of humor and the sillier the better. This is why you can be a total goof-ball with your toddler and they’ll only love you the more for it! You’ll also start noticing that your toddler will try making you laugh as well. My daughter just learned how to roll her eyes back and fake sleep; naturally, she keeps doing it because she knows it cracks me up! And of course, running away from me when I’m trying to take her photograph!
Raising toddlers isn’t only about diffusing temper tantrums and getting through the “Terrible Twos”! Positive parenting includes looking on the positive side and reveling in the unexpected joys in raising a toddler including newfound independence, silly giggles and increased vocabulary. AD

8. Fine-Motor Skills Means New Play Ideas

Finger pinching and grasp improve as your child moves from baby to toddler. Encourage these fine motor skills by offering crayons and paper to color with and child’s play dough or non-toxic clay to squish and mold. You’ll still need to watch your toddler closely as many kids will still put items in their mouth; my daughter will tell me flatly, “No eating clay” and then pop it into her mouth!

9. Toddlers Have an Opinion…And That’s NOT a Bad Thing!

Toddlers start having very strong opinions on what they like and what they want. And they don’t have a problem telling you that you’re doing it ALL WRONG! Wailing, screaming, crying and all out tantrums are often the way that toddlers express themselves when they can’t find the right words. Giving your toddlers choices can help with these frustrations. They give your toddler some choice but still keep you in charge.
Offer your toddler an opinion on their choice of two things, pre-chosen by you. You don’t want to give them the entire closet of clothes to choose from, so just pull out two outfits and let them decide between them. Try letting your toddler choose whether they want a ham or turkey sandwich, which book they want to read or whether they want to go right or left down the street when you take a walk.
Raising toddlers isn’t only about diffusing temper tantrums and getting through the “Terrible Twos”! Positive parenting includes looking on the positive side and reveling in the unexpected joys in raising a toddler including newfound independence, silly giggles and increased vocabulary. AD

10. Celebrating New Skills

My just-turned 2-year-old toddler is rounding the corner towards potty training but for now, she’s still in diapers. My daughter is the fourth child I’m going to be potty training, so I know from experience with my other kids that she’s just not quite ready yet. The signs for complete toilet training aren’t there. But no pressure, I know that it’s not worth it to push and diapers are just fine until she’s ready for the potty.
Raising toddlers isn’t only about diffusing temper tantrums and getting through the “Terrible Twos”! Positive parenting includes looking on the positive side and reveling in the unexpected joys in raising a toddler including newfound independence, silly giggles and increased vocabulary. AD
I recently had the chance to try Signature Care diapers on my daughter. While Signature Care is all about value, they have not sacrificed quality. Signature Care diapers have a cotton enhanced dryness layer and are breathable to help keep my toddler dry and comfortable. And because we know how much toddlers love to have their diapers checked, there’s a quick way to see right away if it’s time for a change. A wetness indicator changes color to blue so you’ll know with a glance!
Raising toddlers isn’t only about diffusing temper tantrums and getting through the “Terrible Twos”! Positive parenting includes looking on the positive side and reveling in the unexpected joys in raising a toddler including newfound independence, silly giggles and increased vocabulary. AD
Signature Care diapers also offer excellent leakage protection (up to 12 hours), so they’re ideal for bedtime use with toddlers who are sleeping through the night. No more having to change sheets in the middle of the night after a diaper leak! Signature Care offers a 100% money-back guarantee and you can request a free sample and coupon to try them out yourself.
Raising toddlers isn’t only about diffusing temper tantrums and getting through the “Terrible Twos”! Positive parenting includes looking on the positive side and reveling in the unexpected joys in raising a toddler including newfound independence, silly giggles and increased vocabulary. AD

11. Craving Movement and Activity

No more baby “tummy time” with your little one just lying there on the floor. With a toddler running around the house, you’re guaranteed to be more active too! I’ve decided to encourage this with my daughter by taking her for walks in the neighborhood out of the stroller where she can stop and pick up sticks and leaves along the way. We also do small projects and activities at home like finger painting, to feed her creative side.

12. Toddlers Love to Help

After so many months as a baby, laying around helpless, toddlers can finally start pulling some weight around the house (just kidding!) But toddlers do love to help so include him in the chores you’re doing. My toddlers have all enjoyed shoving the wet laundry into the dryer. Sing the “Clean Up” song as you tidy their toys and soon enough, they’ll be picking up and singing alongside you.

13. Developing Imagination

Give a baby a doll and she’ll chew on it. Give a toddler a doll and you’ll likely get a different reaction. Some toddlers will talk to their dolls, wrap them up in blankets, pretend to feed them and truly put their imagination into their toys. Give your toddler open-ended toys like blocks to play with and see what they do with their imagination. Watching a toddler’s imagination blossom is one of the best things.
Raising toddlers isn’t only about diffusing temper tantrums and getting through the “Terrible Twos”! Positive parenting includes looking on the positive side and reveling in the unexpected joys in raising a toddler including newfound independence, silly giggles and increased vocabulary. AD

14. Extremely Curious

Oh, I know how annoying it is when your toddler keeps grabbing the same “off-limits” items in the house. My daughter has just learned how to open doorknobs so I’m on high alert to make sure she’s not getting into things that she shouldn’t. However, I know that she’s curious, so I do allow for certain explorations in a well-controlled way. I have drawers in her room with toys and pajamas and I let her dump out all the contents daily. She takes the time to sort through the items and then we clean things up together.

15. Better Coordination

Develop your toddler’s large motor skills with activities that show off their improved coordination. That’s not to say they don’t still trip and fall a lot! If you have a toddler who enjoys jumping, climbing and swinging, set aside time for playground skills that will strengthen their muscles and burn off excess energy. My daughter loves attending an open gym class with other toddlers and preschoolers that allows her to safely run and play.
Raising toddlers isn’t only about diffusing temper tantrums and getting through the “Terrible Twos”! Positive parenting includes looking on the positive side and reveling in the unexpected joys in raising a toddler including newfound independence, silly giggles and increased vocabulary. AD

16. So Much Love

For the first time in your child’s life, you’ll start to feel the love that they have for you. No longer the baby, that just takes and takes, your toddler is starting to recognize their emotions. The first time your toddler wraps his arms around your neck, kisses you on the cheek and says, “Wuv you!”, you’re guaranteed to melt. All those unlimited hugs and kisses alone make toddlerhood something to celebrate!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Signature Care diapers.
Raising toddlers isn’t only about diffusing temper tantrums and getting through the “Terrible Twos”! Positive parenting includes looking on the positive side and reveling in the unexpected joys in raising a toddler including newfound independence, silly giggles and increased vocabulary. AD

14 Protein-Packed Back to School Breakfast & Lunch Ideas for Kids

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With three school-aged kids and a toddler, I do not have time for fancy meal prep in the morning. I have just a few minutes to whip up breakfast, throw together lunches, and get everyone in the car (hoping they all remembered to brush their teeth!) When it comes to preparing breakfasts and lunches for my 4 kids during back-to-school season, I’m looking for quick, healthy, tasty and fairly priced options.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Eckrich Deli Meat. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Back to School Breakfast and Lunches for Kids

14 quick, kid-approved back to school breakfast and lunch ideas for busy mornings that are protein-packed and delicious.

Offering Eckrich Deli Meat gives my kids the lean protein they need. Eckrich Deli Meat is versatile for use in many breakfast and lunch recipes that kids love. Plus, it’s gluten-free and delicious! Eckrich helps me spend less time in the kitchen but still lets me offer a nutritious meal to my kids. And now I can find freshly sliced Eckrich Deli Meat at my local Walmart deli counter.

14 quick, kid-approved back to school breakfast and lunch ideas for busy mornings that are protein-packed and delicious.

Back to School Breakfasts Made Easy

A breakfast prepared with lean protein will keep tummies full longer so that kids can focus in class before snack or lunch. So many breakfasts geared for kids are high in carbs and sugar and don’t offer the lean protein they need for muscle building. Skip the sugary cereals and offer the kids one of these quick breakfast meals to give them staying power for the morning and into the afternoon. Round out the meal with complex carbs (like whole grain toast or tortillas), fresh fruit and a glass of milk.

AD These quick, protein-packed breakfast and lunch ideas are kid-approved and fast to make for hurried mornings.

Breakfast with Dinner’s Leftovers

I tend to overcook certain foods at dinner the night before so I’ll have the leftovers to use in breakfast the following day. Foods like spinach, broccoli, chopped onions, mushrooms, black beans and potatoes go well with eggs the next morning. Or consider preparing breakfast the night before. Items like quiche or burritos can easily be pre-made and then warmed in the microwave.

14 quick, kid-approved back to school breakfast and lunch ideas for busy mornings that are protein-packed and delicious.

Starting an Exercise Routine – 30 Things I Learned After Exercising for 30 Days

I exercised every day for 30 days. Yes, even when I had a headache. Even when I had “other things to do”. Even when the kids were clamoring in the other room. I worked out every single day for a solid month. Now that I know it’s possible, I’m ready to push myself a little farther. I have had the same goals for so long and I’m finally feeling like I’m going to reach them! Maybe you’re thinking about starting an exercise routine? Here’s what I learned after working out for 30 days in a row.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you! I am an Independent Team Beachbody Coach.

Starting an Exercise Routine

I know what you’re thinking. Because I thought the same things too. Every week it was, “Eh, I’ll start again on Monday”. And then Monday would roll around, I’d eat something I shouldn’t have or I made an excuse on why I couldn’t exercise. And pretty soon it was Friday again and I was making the promise to myself that I’d restart on Monday.

But that Monday never came. Months went by. I started backtracking. A few pounds crept back on. My clothes didn’t fit and everything was snug in all the wrong places. But even worse, I felt terrible. I had no energy. My body hurt. I felt yucky inside and out. My motivation was totally gone. And I just didn’t even know where to start.

Nobody Can Start Something Except YOU

One thing I’ve learned about starting back into a diet and exercise program is that nobody can force it on you. YOU have to be ready. YOU have to be committed to it. Otherwise you’re just going to drag your feet, make excuses and eventually quit. When I’ve felt pressured to work out, I won’t do it (just out of spite sometimes!)

Maybe you’re not ready today. Maybe you’re not ready this Monday. But one of these Mondays, you’ll be ready. And these are the things I learned in those first 30 days of exercising when I was starting my exercise routine. Maybe they’ll help you on your fitness journey!

Thinking about starting an exercise routine? These are the 30 things I learned after exercising for 30 days.

Post-workout and still smiling!

1. You CAN Be Healthier Now Than Before

Take each workout as they come. One day at a time, you know that old saying. It’s totally true. While it’s wonderful to have a goal in mind for yourself, it’s more important to just take each day and make it count. If you work out today, you’ll be healthier than you were yesterday.

2. Plan Your Start Date

If you just know that this Monday is finally going to be the day you’re starting an exercise routine, then make the plans in advance. Circle the date on the calendar, print up your workout sheets, have your workout clothes washed, set out your equipment, get your grocery shopping done based on your diet plan and have your food bought and prepped. You want to start Monday with a bang!

3. A Calendar is Motivating

For me, there is nothing like crossing off each day on my calendar as I complete the workout. I printed out the 21 Day Fix workout program and after each day, I’d draw a line through it and share on my Instagram stories (#21DayFix and #Beachbody!)

Thinking about starting an exercise routine? These are the 30 things I learned after exercising for 30 days.

4. You’re Going to Need a Lot of Workout Clothes!

If you’re seriously working out, you’re going to sweat! After doing my working out I’m POURING sweat. I peel off those sopping wet workout clothes and jump in an ice cold shower immediately. If you’re working out every day, make sure you have plenty of well-fitting workout clothes because you’re going to be doing a lot of laundry!

5. Workout Clothes Are Incentive

And on that note, workout clothes are an awesome incentive to keep up the exercise. After the first week of doing A Little Obsessed, I realized I was going to need better sports bras. Having cute and comfortable exercise clothes to put on each morning is definitely a workout incentive. Instead of treating yourself to food after hitting a goal, go out and buy yourself a new workout outfit as a reward!

READ MORE: Getting Motivated When You Don’t Feel Like Exercising

How do you stay motivated to workout when you just don't feel like exercising? I share 9 tips for staying on a routine when you feel lazy!

6. I Found My Best Time

While I’m usually a night owl, that time slot is taken with writing/blogging. I find it best to get my workouts done first thing in the morning so that nothing stands in the way. Right away, I put on my workout clothes when I get up. After doing the school drop off, I put the toddler in her high chair with Sesame Street (no judgement!) and do my 30 minutes of exercise. A quick shower, dressed and I’m done! Finding your best time of the day where interruptions are minimal is crucial to sticking with your program.

7. Invest in the Right Equipment

Certain workout programs require different equipment. For instance, A Little Obsessed (and 80 Day Obsession) use Resistance Loops and Strength Slides & Booties in the workouts. I did the routines but didn’t have the loops or the sliders, so I know this inhibited me from getting the full workout results. Make sure to look at the program before starting to give you time to order what you need to get the best results. Fortunately you don’t need a ton of stuff to be successful. The Core Comfort Mat, dumbbells in varying weights and of course, proper workout shoes are ideal.

How do you stay motivated to workout when you just don't feel like exercising? I share 9 tips for staying on a routine when you feel lazy!

8. Online Communities Offer Great Support

While it’s okay working out alone at home, I have to admit that having a cheerleader in your corner is important. I love to share after my workout, talk about my ups and downs, see what’s working for others and help support another person wherever I can. Even if you think you don’t need this, everyone can use some encouragement. Find an online group or even just follow the program hashtags to see success stories from others who are doing the workout.

9. Variety Kept Me Coming Back

When I was a teenager I had an exercise tape. One exercise tape. And my mom and I would do it together before bed. After a short while we were bored out of our mind with repeating that same tape day after day and we stopped the workouts. Thank goodness there are so many varieties of exercises to do on Beachbody on Demand. Feeling like pushing yourself? Needing a great yoga stretch? Wanting a weight lifting challenge? They have it all right there for you to stream on your laptop, computer, smart TV, tablet or phone, wherever you are. No more boring one-note workouts.

Thinking about starting an exercise routine? These are the 30 things I learned after exercising for 30 days.

Still fitting in walking in between the workouts, just for variety & for fresh air!

10. It’s Alright to Change If Something Didn’t Work for Me

After purchasing Beachbody on Demand, I started off trying A Little Obsessed. I did two rounds of this program. It was tough for me, having not done regular workouts in a loooong time. It wasn’t impossible but it was hard. And my back was feeling it a little too much so I decided to ease into things more. I scaled back my thoughts about jumping into 80 Day Obsession just yet and decided to do a few rounds of 21 Day Fix first. I want to get my body strong and make sure I don’t injure myself. If you’re not enjoying a particular workout or you’re just not feeling it, feel free to switch. That’s what I love about Beachbody on Demand; I can do a different program every single day if I want to!

11. Modifying Doesn’t Mean Failure

I’m almost 45 years old. I don’t feel like I have to prove anything to anyone anymore. So I’m not going to feel bad about myself when I have to step back from doing full program and do the modified exercises instead. There are certainly parts of the routines when I do the harder exercise and other times when I have to do the modified. No big deal, I’m still moving!

Thinking about starting an exercise routine? These are the 30 things I learned after exercising for 30 days.

12. I Leaked

The first day of A Little Obsessed when I did a jumping jack, I was reminded quickly why I don’t do jumping jacks. My bladder didn’t handle it well and now I always wear a pad before I start working out. Better safe than sorry! And now I don’t skip any workout moves and I even do the jumping jacks.

13. I Want to Be a Good Example

After a week of exercising, my toddler started noticing. She’d say, “Exercise, mama?” Some days I let her join me for the ending stretches and she loves following along with the video. I want to be a good example of healthy living for my children. Exercise is a daily thing, no excuses. Good eating is important, whether you’re young or old. I want my kids to know that. And I have to live it out for them because they are watching.

I coached my son’s soccer team last year because I want to be a good example for my kids.

14. My Body is Different Than It Was 20 Years Ago

When I was in college, I took every dance class that was offered. This was in addition to the 20 hours I was teaching at various dance studios and rec centers and the many hours dancing in productions. I’d even get to school at 6 am to jog the track before classes! My body was always in workout wear and I was moving a lot. But was I healthy? Nope.

I was leaving the house without ever packing a snack or a lunch. I was eating fast food three times a day. Sure I had great stamina but I was far from healthy. What I could “get away with” back then, I can’t do now. My metabolism isn’t the same. My joints aren’t the same. I’ve had wrist surgery, which makes push ups and planks very hard for me. I’m not going to pretend I’m 20 years old. But I’m also not 100 years old and I can do more than I have been. I will continue to do what is best for me and my body; Your mileage may vary.

15. My Body is Not the Same After Birthing 3 Children

Just like the leaky bladder issue, I’ve found that my body just isn’t the same as it was before having kids. I bounced back quickly after my second but after having my third, I’ve struggled. I had a rough pregnancy and delivery, which has affected my flexibility and given me back problems. But this shouldn’t mean I do nothing. I’ve been able to adjust the workouts to suit me and my post-baby body. Just keep moving…

16. Soreness Isn’t a Bad Thing

Wowwy, after the first few days of workout I was beginning to wonder if sore muscles were going to be my new norm. Fortunately my body is adjusting and I’m much less sore after 30 days than I was that first week.

17. Massage It Out

If you’re having a kinked muscle, I’m learning to work that out with massage. Daily stretching helps, as does a foam roller. Or make a professional massage on of your “treats” as incentive for hitting your goals and sticking to your routine.

18. Supplements Helped

I’d never considered adding supplements to my diet and exercise routine (“Doesn’t a daily vitamin do enough?”). But I ordered the Beachbody On Demand Performance Pack when I started working out and this included Energize and Recover. I take them regularly; Energize about 20 minutes before my workout and Recover within 30 minutes after my workout. I didn’t realize how much they were helping until I didn’t take them a few times! I didn’t have as much stamina when I didn’t take the Energize before exercising. And I was ridiculously sore for days after forgetting to drink the Recover. Now, instead of writing off supplements, I say give them a try and see if they work just as well for you (I know I don’t want to exercise without them!)

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19. I Want to Eat Better

If I’m putting in the time and energy to work out, I’m not going to RUIN my effort by eating junk. Working out regularly makes me want to eat better. I want to fuel my body with the best things. That’s not to say I don’t still love pizza and chocolate because I do. But I don’t have to eat it as often as I did (and I’m surprisingly not craving it either).

READ MORE: Personal Trainer Food Review- Resisting Temptations

20. I Need to Have the Right Foods on Hand

Having the right foods ready to go in the fridge has been the best thing for my diet. If you’re going to be eating the right foods, you need to stock up. Read your list of foods and figure out how much and what you should be eating each day.

I’m not too big on meal prepping (probably because I’m working from home and can fix a fresh meal anytime I want). But if you’re going to be away all day, follow the recipe ideas on Fixate about meal prepping.

Thinking about starting an exercise routine? These are the 30 things I learned after exercising for 30 days.

21 Day Fix containers are perfect for well-balanced meals & portion control

21. Breaking Bad Habits is Easier

Halloween is coming up and I already have trick or treat candy on my mind. But I’m not as worried as I have been in the past. Before I would have binged on chocolate and sweets until I felt sick. But now I’m not even tempted. Sure, I’ll probably indulge in a few of my favorite pieces. But I’m not going to eat candy just to eat it because it’s there. I’m in a different mind set now and I’m breaking my old habits to replace them with good ones.

Having a chocolate Shakeology (I mix with soy milk, 1/2 banana and crushed ice in the blender) is like my special treat. And it’s like dessert so I’m seriously not having the usual cravings.

22. Nothing Happens Overnight

I’m not hopping on the scale every day. I know that reaching my goals this time is a long distance race, not a sprint. And these changes don’t happen overnight. I weigh myself once a week and measure every two weeks. I judge my progress more in the fit of my clothes and how I’m looking in the mirror.

23. The Scale Number May Not Move

I know you’re probably hung up about the scale but don’t be. I worked out for 30 days in a row and lost two pounds. But I don’t even care, because more importantly I lost inches all over my body from hips, thighs, waist and arms. And for me, slimming and getting stronger is way better than any numbers on the scale.

21 days on Personal Trainer Food program. Find out the food, plan and how much I lost after week 3! #spon #PersonalTrainerFood

24. Outward Appearances

I’d be lying if I said that I’m only exercising for health reasons because it’s also important to me that I maintain a healthy weight. Along with a lower weight will come a trimmer figure. When I don’t have the extra weight, I look and feel more confident and comfortable. I’m probably never going to be rocking 6-pack abs, but that’s totally okay with me. So long as I feel good in my skin, that’s what matters. And hey, maybe those abs will come, I’m not giving up on that!

25. “Before” Pictures & Measurements are GOLD

Show a little skin and take those “before” pictures. Seriously, you’re going to cringe at them now but in a few months of solid clean eating and sweaty workouts, you’re going to notice the differences. I’m already seeing differences after my month with a flatter stomach, more definition in my shoulders and a slimmer back.

Also, don’t forget to take your measurements before starting and log it somewhere (I use a Google spreadsheet). I only measure every other week so I don’t get obsessed about the numbers.

Thinking about starting an exercise routine? These are the 30 things I learned after exercising for 30 days.

5 months postpartum I was ready to starting losing the baby weight & I took this “before” photo.

26. Getting Stronger

After a few weeks of working with weights I noticed that my arms weren’t as fatigued with holding my toddler. I was able to accomplish the jump squats in the workout without quitting. I did a 60-second plank without dropping! Even in just 30 days of workouts, I’m noticing that my strength is improving. Can’t wait to see how strong I am in 6 months!

27. It Does Require Sacrifice

Some mornings I’d rather skip the workout and just get on with my day. But putting in the exercise each day only takes me 30 minutes. It’s a sacrifice but in the long run, I’m making good choices for my life.

Read these 6 tips for walking with your baby including what to bring with you, where to go and choosing the perfect stroller. #Exercise #NewMom #Ergobaby #LoveCarriesOn

28. Making the Daily Commitment

Up till 30 days ago, I would go weeks without any exercise. I might take a stroll around the block and call that my exercise. But I wasn’t even making an effort. But that was before and now I’m in the zone and ready to make healthier eating and exercise a part of my daily life.

29. It’s NOT as Hard as You Make It Out to Be

Seriously, I had it worked out in my head that starting an exercise routine was just going to be the worst. I was dreading it. I was working it up in my head how hard it was going to be and starting on the excuses before I’d even begun.

And you know what?

It’s not that hard. Yeah, the exercise itself is a challenge and it should be. When things get too easy, it’s means you’re ready to be adding extra weight or speeding things up. But to be honest, doing the actual exercise hasn’t been hard. In fact, I look forward to it everyday (which just seems weird, but it’s true).

30. It’s NEVER Too Late to Start

You’ve seen that motivational quote. You know the one about how in a year from now you’re going to wish you’d started today. I spent years doing this about starting an exercise routine and maybe you have too. I’m turning 45 this week. I just started a new diet and exercise program. And this time I am going to meet my goals. It’s never too late for you either.

Thinking about starting an exercise routine? These are the 30 things I learned after exercising for 30 days. #Exercise #WorkingOut #Fitness #Health #40Plus #Beachbody #TeamBeachbody #21DayFix #LittleChanges

Choosing Halloween Costumes for Babies and Toddlers

Each year when the fall season rolls around, I look forward to three things. Cooler temperatures, fall festivities and planning my kid’s Halloween costumes! Figuring out Halloween costumes for babies or toddlers is my favorite. As a parent, you’re in charge of coming up with the baby costume for Halloween, head to toe. But there are definitely considerations before you buy or make your toddler or baby their costume. I’m sharing dozens of ideas on choosing the best Halloween costumes for toddlers and babies!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Halloween Costumes for Babies and Toddlers

These are all the baby costume tips, whether you choose to make your own Halloween costume, buy a costume online or at the store or simply put a costume together from the closet. First I’ll give you a ton of ideas on how to choose the best toddler or baby costume for your kiddo. Then keep reading for the practical tips on purchasing costumes, making your own and how to do Halloween on a budget with your baby!

Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget.


What Are the Best Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids?

While your preschooler and elementary aged kids are going to have strong opinions about their Halloween costumes, your baby and toddler have no choice in the matter. They’ll wear whatever you choose for them!

Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget.

My cousin’s daughter as Tinkerbell and her son as Peter Pan (Photo Credit: Marianne Pendleton)

What Costume Are YOU Going to Wear for Halloween?

If you have already planned your own Halloween costume, consider choosing a coordinating costume for your little one. There are so many wonderful family Halloween costume ideas out there. Just look to your favorite Disney movies or story books and purchase or make costumes in a theme for each person in the group.

Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget. #Halloween #Babies #Toddlers #Fall #Costumes #DressUp

Family Halloween Costume Ideas:

  • Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, Caterpillar, Queen of Hearts, Cheshire Cat, Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
  • Toy Story characters – Buzz, Woody, Jessie, Rex, Hamm, Barbie
  • Scooby Doo characters – Scooby Doo, Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, Velma
  • Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Daisy, Pluto
  • Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga & Roo, Owl, Christopher Robin
  • Monsters Inc – Sully, Mike & Boo
  • Super Hero family (everyone choose a different super hero character)
Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget.

Captain Hook and the rest of the crew! (Photo Credit: Becca Robins)

  • Peter Pan, Wendy, Tinkerbell, Captain Hook, Michael, John, Lost Boys
  • Inside Out characters – Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, Fear, Riley, Bing Bong
  • Star Wars characters – Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Stormtrooper, Yoda, Chewbacca, Ewok
  • Wizard of Oz characters – Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, Wicked Witch, Good Witch
  • My friend Tania at LolaLambchops has the cutest family costume for 101 Dalmatians you just have to see!

If the entire family isn’t on board, another option is to create a baby costume that goes with an older sibling’s Halloween ensemble. I created this 10-minute scarecrow costume for my toddler the year that his older sister dressed like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. A pair of overalls, plaid shirt, a floppy hat and a few random strands of raffia completed the look.

Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget.

Cute Halloween Costumes for Babies

Babies and toddlers are just so cute, so why not put your little sweetie in an adorable Halloween costume too? There are many gender neutral Halloween costumes for baby girls and boys. These choices in particular are perfect for hand-me-downs and may be easier to resell for next Halloween as well. Consider adding feminine details, like a bow for your daughter’s hair to distinguish her as a girl, if you wish.

Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget.

My cousin’s son, the lion.

  • Wild Animal (like a bear, skunk, tiger, leopard, elephant, etc)
  • Farm Animal (like a bunny, pig, lamb)
  • Family Pet (like a dog and cat)
  • Skeleton Bones
  • Pirate
  • Incredibles character
  • Bugs or Insects (butterfly, ladybug, spider)
  • Pumpkin


  • Career (Doctor, Firefighter, Police Officer, etc)
  • Ghost
  • Chef
  • Fruits/Veggies/Foods
  • Cat in the Hat/Thing One & Thing Two
  • Sports Athlete (think baseball, football, soccer player)
  • Dinosaur
Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget.

My cousin’s son, the Ladybug

DIY Halloween Costumes for Babies

If you have a creative streak, definitely consider sewing or putting together your own baby costume. Make your own Halloween costume for baby and you can customize the look, fabrics, style and most importantly, the cost.

If you need more tips on sewing your own Halloween costumes, I have 100+ tips and ideas for making budget Halloween costumes.

Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget.

Baby Halloween Costumes Straight from the Closet

Another great way to save money on your toddler’s Halloween costume is to choose items right from their closet. Put together and paired with some accessories, you can make your own adorable costume on a budget.

  • Clown – choose the most colorful and most bold patterns.
  • Little Rascals character – wear short pants, overalls, and newsboy cap.
  • Mickey Mouse – black tee and leggings with a pair of red shorts. Add on a mouse-ears hood, instructions here!
  • Cowboy/Cowgirl – pull out the denim, boots and a red banana.
  • Bath Baby – dress in baby bathrobe then add a shower cap & rubber ducky.
  • Puppy Dog – dressed in black, white or brown. Glue felt ears onto a beanie cap.
  • Princess – dress her up in her fanciest outfit and top with a tiny crown.
  • Scarecrow – just like my son in the photo here, I put him in overalls, plaid shirt and a floppy hat, then added strips of raffia.

Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget.

Funny Halloween Costumes for Babies

I’m not a fan of snarky or costumes for kids that are based on adult themes. Maybe it’s just me, but I just don’t think it’s cute to have your baby dressed in a costume that’s pushing the boundaries of taste (no matter if it makes people laugh). However funny costume ideas for babies and toddlers that give everyone the giggles is what makes Halloween great for all. Here are a few funny costumes for babies and toddlers this Halloween.

Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget.

  • Garden Gnome
  • Old Man or Old Lady
  • Oompa Loompa from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
  • Generational (like from the 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s)
  • Sumo wrestler
  • Alien (like Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc.)
  • Fitness instructor, complete with tiny legwarmers & water bottle
  • Muppets characters (like my cousin’s kids, dressed like Kermit the Frog and Fozzy Bear!)
Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget.

My cousin’s kids as Kermit and Fozzy from the Muppets! (Photo Credit: Marianne Pendleton)


Tips for Buying Halloween Costumes for a Baby

Before you run out and buy your baby Halloween costume, first check out these tips in regards to practicality, convenience and comfort.

Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget.

Adorable Halloween costumes, but are they appropriate for babies or toddlers?

Practicality & Age-Appropriateness

There are some considerations to be made for practicality and age-appropriateness before buying your baby or toddler costume. The costume you purchase for your infant or newborn is going to be different than what you’d get for your older toddler. The stores don’t always keep these things in mind and often carry a variety of sizes. It’s up to you to inspect and make sure they’re appropriate for your child. Following the age recommendation on the packaging is also important when it comes to small pieces that may be a choking hazard.

  • Costumes with over-sized wings or plastic pieces may not be practical for babies & small toddlers. Consider how you’ll be able to safely hold your child in your arms with these costume attachments.
  • A costume with feet (like footie pajamas) is only practical for babies who aren’t walking. Toddlers will need to wear their own shoes so make sure they’ll be able to wear a costume with their shoes.
  • Costumes with long pant legs that slip over the shoes or longer skirts may be tripping hazards for your toddler. Have your child try the costume on and hem it up to a better length.

Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget.

Fabric Choice

Breatheability is important when choosing a Halloween costume for baby or toddlers. Some fabrics, including polyesters and metallics trap in heat, causing excessive sweating. Cotton, stretch knit, lycra and fleece are generally safer choices and will be more comfortable for your little one.

Many Halloween costumes for children have been treated with fire resistant material. If you’re making your own Halloween costumes, the fabrics are probably NOT treated in such a way. Be sure that baby stays far away from the bonfire, candles or fireplace when wearing their homemade costume.

Babies and some toddlers are going to put the fabric in their mouth, particularly around the sleeves or neckline. Ensure that the fabric is safe for chewing on and won’t flake off in their mouth. Certain metallic fabrics are highly suspect for use on babies or toddlers who will put it in their mouth. Use care with tulle fabrics, like what is used on a tutu. This fabric tears easily so watch that your baby doesn’t rip off a piece with their teeth.

Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget.

Diaper Changes

This is one thing that is so important and we tend to forget! Make sure the costume is easy to remove and replace for diaper changes. A bodysuit like this Snow White version from ShopDisney has inseam snaps for diaper access.

Car Seats & Strollers

A very small baby is probably going to spend most of trick or treating riding in the stroller! For babies who need to be buckled into their car seat or stroller, does the costume allow for this? Long bunting style costumes may hinder you from being able to properly buckle the safety belt.

Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget.

Sweet baby elephant (Photo Credit: Marianne Pendleton)

Temperature

Yes, those adorable fuzzy animal costumes are sooo cute but if you live in a warm weather climate that’s still toasty in late October, these cozy costumes are probably best to skip. If you live in a cooler climate, consider layering to keep baby warm. Light layers like leggings or tights, or long sleeves tees under a thin costume can add a layer of warmth.

Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget.

What is your favorite baby costume idea? Share in the comments!

Choosing the right Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers is one of the most fun parts of childhood! Here are the tips on picking the best costume that's appropriate, cute and comfortable for your little one! Dozens of ideas, including family costumes, Disney and how to make your own on a budget. #Halloween #Babies #Toddlers #Fall #Costumes #DressUp


High Protein Low Carb Smoothie Recipes for Breakfast

I received compensation from Bayer Consumer Health, makers of MiraLAX® to write this post. MiraLAX® is a laxative used to treat occasional constipation. All opinions are entirely my own. #ReliefMadeEasy #CollectiveBias

Hearty smoothie recipes for breakfast that you can make at home, filled with high-protein and low-carbs. Find out how to create your own unique and delicious smoothies that are good tasting and good for you! #AD #ReliefMadeEasy

Smoothie Recipes for Breakfast That Are Quick and Filling

One thing that I love about making smoothies is that you don’t have to follow an exact recipe to make something tasty! A little of this, a little of that, whatever fruits, veggies and fillings you have on hand. Blend it up and voila! A delicious, filling breakfast served up quick. I’m going to give you a few smoothie “recipe” ideas with healthier ingredients like avocado and nut butter that can be blended together with frozen fruit and greens for a high-protein but low-carb smoothie.

Hearty smoothie recipes for breakfast that you can make at home, filled with high-protein and low-carbs. Find out how to create your own unique and delicious smoothies that are good tasting and good for you! #AD #ReliefMadeEasy

Liquid Base for Smoothies

Start off with a liquid base to create your smoothie. You’re aiming for low in calories, sugar and fat. High in protein is a plus. I pour the liquid into the blender first so I can measure the amount (between 3/4 to 1 cup of liquid). I usually use 2% cow’s milk because we have it on hand for the kids. Almond, cashew, coconut and soy can be good alternatives if regular milk doesn’t agree with you. Between these, soy milk has the highest protein (8 grams in one cup) while the others have next to nothing.

  • Cow’s Milk
  • Almond Milk
  • Cashew Milk
  • Coconut Milk
  • Soy Milk

If you’re looking for zero calorie liquids, consider water or black coffee. You won’t gain any protein this way however. Juice can be very high in sugar but if you’re making it fresh squeezed you can mix it with water to equal the portion size.

  • Water
  • Cold, leftover Coffee
  • Fresh Squeezed Juice

Hearty smoothie recipes for breakfast that you can make at home, filled with high-protein and low-carbs. Find out how to create your own unique and delicious smoothies that are good tasting and good for you! #AD #ReliefMadeEasy

Protein Powder

Adding a scoop of protein powder is a great way to boost the protein in your smoothie recipes for breakfast. The protein can come from pea, brown rice, hemp, chia seeds and more. I use one that is Vegan, vanilla flavored, low in sugar and has a whopping 21 grams of protein. Read the labels to make sure you aren’t taking in added sugar or calories at the sacrifice of extra protein.

Kale and Spinach Greens

I was never really sold on the green smoothies before because they always tasted leafy and bitter. But after lots of trial and error, I’ve found what works best with these iron-rich greens. The secret? Adding fruit that counteracts the bitterness. I’ve found that frozen pineapple chunks are perfectly paired with kale and spinach. We even freeze the greens! Just add a handful of frozen greens straight from the freezer to the blender before they defrost.

Hearty smoothie recipes for breakfast that you can make at home, filled with high-protein and low-carbs. Find out how to create your own unique and delicious smoothies that are good tasting and good for you!

Frozen Fruit

Yes, even fruit has carbohydrates and plenty of natural sugars too. Good for adding a bit of sweetness to your smoothie but you need to take it easy when adding fruit to your smoothies. Berries are your best low-carb bet for smoothie making but there are other lower carb fruits you can choose as well. I always use frozen fruit as they make my smoothie creamier and ice cold, which I love! Bananas are higher in carbs but consider using half of a ripe, frozen banana to add creaminess and natural sweetness.

  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Peaches
  • Blueberries
  • Pineapple chunks
  • Kiwis
  • Cherries

Hearty smoothie recipes for breakfast that you can make at home, filled with high-protein and low-carbs. Find out how to create your own unique and delicious smoothies that are good tasting and good for you! #AD #ReliefMadeEasy

Nut Butters or Nut Powders

Nut butters are another great way to add protein, creaminess and flavor to your smoothie recipes for breakfast. As before, check labels to make sure you aren’t taking in added sugar. Natural nut butters that only contain nuts, oil and salt will give you the “healthy” fat you need, when used in moderation (don’t go adding a cup of p.b. to your blender!) I personally prefer using a nut powder when making my smoothies. The powders are much lower in calories and fat, but still give the great nut flavor to your smoothie.

  • Peanut Butter
  • Almond Butter
  • Cashew Butter
  • Sunflower Butter
  • Nut Powder

My Must-Have Add-In to Smoothie Recipes for Breakfast

If you’ve been following a high-protein, low-carb diet  you may notice that it’s a good thing for weight loss. I know my tummy is flatter when I avoid simple carbs and get my carbs mostly from fruit and veggies. However if you’re like me, you may struggle a bit with occasional constipation from the extra protein intake.

Hearty smoothie recipes for breakfast that you can make at home, filled with high-protein and low-carbs. Find out how to create your own unique and delicious smoothies that are good tasting and good for you! #AD #ReliefMadeEasy

I started using MiraLAX®, which I picked up at my local Walgreens. When I suffer from occasional constipation I add MiraLAX® to my smoothies for breakfast. The MiraLAX® blends in perfectly without any added flavor.

Hearty smoothie recipes for breakfast that you can make at home, filled with high-protein and low-carbs. Find out how to create your own unique and delicious smoothies that are good tasting and good for you! #AD #ReliefMadeEasy

Unlike stimulant laxatives, MiraLAX® works with the water in your body to hydrate, soften, and unblock your system naturally. If you have occasional constipation, MiraLAX® works with your body’s natural process to provide effective relief. MiraLAX® is gentle and has no harsh side effects. Plus MiraLAX® is easy to take and equally easy on your body. Be sure to use as directed.

Save on any MiraLAX® product with this coupon!

Hearty smoothie recipes for breakfast that you can make at home, filled with high-protein and low-carbs. Find out how to create your own unique and delicious smoothies that are good tasting and good for you! #AD #ReliefMadeEasy

Additional Smoothie Add-Ins

One of the great ways to make a smoothie recipe for breakfast your own creation is to add a little bit here and there of what you like. But before you toss whatever-you-wish into the blender, be sure to check labels. You certainly don’t want to be adding in extra sugar or un-healthy fats. And you don’t want to be drinking a smoothie that’s 500 calories either! Stick to portion sizes or much less, adding a small amount at a time until you have the flavor and consistency you want.

  • Greek Yogurt will add a creamy texture and tangy taste to your smoothie.
  • Honey is a nice natural sweetener; a little drizzle should be enough.
  • Cooked Carrots can add a little sweetness and go nicely with ginger and/or cinnamon.
  • Avocado is the ultimate in “healthy fats” and can make for a rich and creamy smoothie.
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut pairs nicely with tropical fruits like mango or pineapple.
  • Coconut Oil (about 1/2 Tbsp melted) drizzled in while the blender is running, can add healthy fat. It is still however, fat, so use sparingly.
  • Dark chocolate. Melt a square of dark chocolate in the microwave then add to smoothies for a rich chocolate taste.
  • Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and turmeric can add a flavor punch to your smoothie!
  • Seeds & Grains like Chia seeds, Flax seeds and Oatmeal add bulk and fiber.

Hearty smoothie recipes for breakfast that you can make at home, filled with high-protein and low-carbs. Find out how to create your own unique and delicious smoothies that are good tasting and good for you! #AD #ReliefMadeEasy

Smoothie Recipes for Breakfast

Who has time for measuring cups and teaspoons on a busy morning?! Just add in a few of your favorites from this list to create healthier-for-you delicious smoothies. These are my tested “recipes” for making smoothies at home.

Tropical Citrus

Juice of one orange and milk of your choice to equal one cup measurement. Add in protein powder, frozen pineapple chunks, half of a frozen banana, unsweetened shredded coconut and about 1/2 cup of crushed ice.

Chocolate Nut Butter

Melt dark chocolate square and add milk of your choice to equal one cup measurement. Add in protein powder, half of a frozen banana and either one small spoonful of nut butter or powder and about 1/2 cup of crushed ice.

Almond Joy

Almond milk or your milk of choice, to equal one cup measurement. Add in vanilla-flavored protein powder, half of a frozen banana, 10 almonds, sprinkle of unsweetened shredded coconut and about 1/2 cup of crushed ice. Top with additional coconut (this one is my favorite!!)

Hearty smoothie recipes for breakfast that you can make at home, filled with high-protein and low-carbs. Find out how to create your own unique and delicious smoothies that are good tasting and good for you!

Blueberry & Oats

Milk of your choice to equal one cup measurement. Add in handful of frozen blueberries, protein powders, handful of dry oats and about 1/2 cup of crushed ice. Sprinkle with dry oats on the top.

Green Smoothie

Juice of one orange and water to equal one cup measurement. Add in handful of greens (either fresh or frozen), frozen pineapple chunks and about 1/2 cup of crushed ice.

Carrot Spice

Milk of your choice to equal one cup measurement. Add in protein powder, cooked carrots (about 1/2 cup), half of a frozen banana, about 10 walnut halves and a dash each of ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. If you’re feeling sassy, grate the ginger fresh instead of using powdered spice!

Which of these smoothies would YOU like to try first?

Hearty smoothie recipes for breakfast that you can make at home, filled with high-protein and low-carbs. Find out how to create your own unique and delicious smoothies that are good tasting and good for you! #AD #ReliefMadeEasy

Top Tips for Budgeting for Back to School

Budgeting for back to school? Yeah, aren’t we all! I have a first grader this year, which means he’ll now need a backpack. And I also have two new high schoolers this year! Both have had the same backpacks since third grade (wow!) and need upgrades. And of course the added expenses of new shoes, school supplies and replacing outgrown clothing. But do we really need to buy ALL of those new things? Check out my tips for assessing what you have and how I’m budgeting for back to school time!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

This post was originally published August 6th, 2014

Budgeting for Back to School

The stores have us in the mid-set that “back to school” means freshly sharpened pencils, crisp new clothes and brand new shoes. There must be a snazzy new backpack, bright new spiral bound notebooks and never-used crayons. All the kids in the ads look like there is no better place to be than at school, decked out head-in-toe in shiny new stuff!

Sure, new stuff might soften the landing a bit for kids who are reluctant and cranky about starting the new school year. But what if you don’t need anything new this year? What if the school stuff they were just using back in June is still fine and acceptable for September?

I think all kids love getting brand new stuff but it’s certainly not always necessary, especially if what they have is still in usable condition. Why waste money buying or replacing items that are truly good and usable just because it’s what you’ve “always done” or because the stores are having a sale!

Here are my top tips on how not to get sucked into the Back to School buying trap!

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

Assess What You Already Have

Put your credit card back in your wallet. Before you run out and buy a bunch of new stuff, you need to figure out what things are essentials and what things can be skipped this year. You’ll do this by assessing what you already have and determining what you truly need to replace.

BACKPACKS & LUNCH BAGS

  • Inspect the current backpack. Are straps, zippers and hooks all in good working order? Sometimes all the backpack needs is a good washing! During the year, I have my kids completely clean out their backpacks every two weeks and we toss them into the laundry. Upkeep is important during the entire year to keep items in good working condition. If the backpack is truly broken or has an un-repairable rip or tear, then it’s time to toss and buy new.
  • Consider purchasing a quality backpack that will get your student through multiple years and has a guarantee. I bought my son’s backpack from L.L. Bean before he started 3rd grade. That backpack got him all the way through to the 8th grade! (And you have to know how rough boys are with their stuff!) We’re only replacing it because he needs a larger version.
  • My daughter also has a backpack from L.L. Bean and the hanging strap frayed towards the end of the year. I was able to exchange for a brand new one! L.L. Bean has a great return policy and stands by their products, replacing even if it’s been used. Buy the best you can afford and don’t waste money buying something cheap that you’ll have to replace mid-year.
  • Lunch bags should be washed every week during the school year to keep them sanitary and in good condition. Treat stains right away to avoid them setting in. If the hook & loop closure, zipper or snaps are broken off and can’t be repaired or there is a funky smell that doesn’t dissipate with washing, it’s time to buy a new one.
Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

My son started third grade with this backpack and used it all the way to 8th grade!

SCHOOL SUPPLIES

  • Every page used up in the spiral notebook? Okay, time to buy a new one. Only half the pages used? Rip out the used pages and finish up with it before buying another.
  • Broken crayons or paper peeled off? Relegate them to the arts and crafts bin at home or toss them out. Gently used crayons that still work just fine? Keep ’em and there is no need to buy a new box. Same goes for pencils, pens, glue, glue sticks and erasers! If they are still in usable condition then just keep using them.
  • Folders with rips can be repaired and reinforced along the spine with a strip of colorful duct tape. Decorate the fronts with markers or Washi Tape.
  • Plastic pencil boxes often just need a cleaning (run it through the dishwasher after wiping it out). A good scrubbing with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will bring it back to like-new condition. Colorful stickers decorating the top will make it “new to you”.

Read More: Motivation for School to Keep Kids (and Moms!) On Track

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

CLOTHES

  • Pants with blown-out knees beyond repair or that are now high-water length should either be tossed into the rag bin or delegated to donation. Tees and sweaters with unfixable holes, unsightly stains or that are too short at the waist or sleeves face the same fate. Socks that are too small, have holes or that are heavily stained make good cleaning rags. Underpants that are too tight or have stretched out elastic should be thrown out.
  • Based on what is still in the closet and drawers, assess the need for additional items at that point. Kids probably don’t need more than 7 of each daily wear item (one for each day of the week), so 7 long sleeved tees, 7 short sleeved, 7 pairs of pants, etc. My kids do have more than this, just for the sake of variety. However kids don’t really need in excess (it also helps to streamline the morning dressing routine when they have less to choose from!) I rarely buy my kids brand new clothes at the store any more unless it’s something like a Christmas or birthday gift. When I buy new items, I shop either Gymboree because they have high quality clothes that resist stains (and great sales throughout the year). I buy gently used clothing at the local thrift store or online at ThredUp.

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

SHOES

  • Shoes with holes or completely worn out soles should be thrown out. Put decent but dirty shoes into the washing machine or the sink for a scrubbing. Finish by cleaning up the rubber with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to bring them back to life. Replace frayed or stained shoe laces with bright new ones.
  • It’s tempting to buy cheap shoes when your kid’s feet are growing! I recommend buying high quality shoes that will last until your child outgrows them. I have personally had great luck with Pediped shoes. My daughter wore her pair almost every school day for a year. I was able to toss them into the wash every other week and only when they were getting tight did they develop a small hole in the sole. I definitely recommend paying a little more for one or two fantastic pairs of shoes (rather than 5 or 10 pairs of cheap and poorly made shoes that will need constant replacing).

Read More: Kid’s Back to School Clothing Hacks and Budget Tips

Top Tips for Budgeting for Back to School

Discuss Budgeting for Back to School With Your Kids

If your kids are accustomed to getting brand new stuff every year but this year they don’t truly need anything, you’ll need to address this with them upfront. Kids are going to expect the regular back-to-school shopping extravaganza and if it’s not going to happen this could set them up for disappointment. You’re going to have some very disgruntled kids going back to school with “the same old stuff”.

  • Involve your kids in the assessing process. Discuss how the closet full of clothes still fit,  are in good shape & will be acceptable for them right now.
  • Allow kids to decorate last year’s pencil boxes or folders with fun washi tape, Duct Tape or stickers.
  • Attach a fun key chain or fob to the zipper pull to freshen up last year’s backpack or hoodie.
  • Compromise by purchasing one new (or “new to them”) outfit for the first day of school and to wear for school pictures.

Read More: 12 Secrets to Successful and Stress-free School Mornings

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

Divert The Focus Off of “Getting New Stuff”

Get back to the heart of what going back to school is all about and take the focus off the need for new stuff by starting new family traditions that don’t include buying new stuff.

  • Take pictures of your new student.
  • Cook a special first day breakfast or dinner.
  • Greet them with balloons on the front door when they get home.
  • Create a first day interview that you can save in your memory box.
  • Serve a special dessert.

Read More: 5 Ways to Make the First Day of School Extra Special

Just make the day special for them! Here’s to new adventures…even while wearing last school year’s shoes!


In what ways are you budgeting for back to school? 

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have. #BacktoSchool #budget #Kids #School #Fall #Budget #SavingMoney

 

 

 

1 Change That Now Lets Me Do 4 Things

I made a decision three months ago that completely changed my life. Seriously. I’d wanted to have LASIK eye surgery so I could ditch my glasses and I finally did it. And you know what? It truly has changed my life. That one thing has changed so many things in my life, I can’t even believe it.

I received a discounted rate from Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center in San Diego to facilitate this post series about laser eye surgery. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Medical procedures vary between patients so please seek a personal consultation with Clearview to see if you are a candidate for LASIK.

When I went for my three month post op appointment, Dr. Sandy T. Feldman commented on my beaming smile. She knew! She knew how happy this one thing is. Being able to see clearly without glasses or contacts? It’s truly a life changing event. I’m seeing clearly. I’m feeling more adventurous. And I definitely have more time and less hassle.

My successful LASIK surgery results are allowing me to do things I’ve never been able to do before! Here are a few things that I’m able to do now that I’ve had my LASIK surgery.

I Can Swim and Play in the Water

This was one of the things I’d mentioned in my post-surgery article. I wanted to be able to enjoy the Disney World water parks with my family on our trip. And I totally did!

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

In the past, you wouldn’t have found me anywhere at a water park except for in a lounge chair or maybe the lazy river. Wearing my contacts, I would have been too worried about getting spray in my eyes to ever brave a water slide. And if I’d been wearing my glasses, I would have hated having them splashed with water every three seconds!

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

But as you can see from the photos, I did everything at the water parks and had a fantastic time. Since returning from my vacation I’ve been spending nearly every day in the pool, swimming alongside my kids. I’m finally enjoying my life and not wasting it, sitting on the sidelines.

I Can Pack Lighter

Another post-op wish was that I’d never again have to worry about packing all my eye care essentials when traveling. It was a blessing to pack my vacation luggage and not have to bring the giant jug of contact lens solution, the contact case, the cleaner, my glasses, my glasses case and my glass cleaning spray and cloth.

I Can Go Straight to Bed

It’s still the strangest feeling to put on my pajamas, brush my teeth, wash my face and get into bed without having to remove and clean contacts. My vision had been so bad, I always had to keep my glasses on the night stand “just in case” I needed to get up in the night.

I Can Skip the “Morning Contacts” Routine

And what do I see when I wake up  in the morning? An alarm clock that I can actually read! I jump out of bed and go about my day. No need to ever think about putting on my glasses or inserting my contacts again. It’s a very special feeling to know that these are MY EYES and my clear vision is ALL ME!

Want to follow my LASIK story? Here are the two posts prior:

Happy 4th Blogoversary to Mom Rewritten! – GIVEAWAY

Four years ago I started my blog (called Saving Up for Disney, at the time). My father had just passed away after a long illness and I was looking for something that would fill my time positively. I was already writing a blog (more like a family journal) but this was a new site. I knew nothing at the time about Google search engines, proper keywords, or affiliate links.

I just WROTE. I wrote what I knew, which was Disneyland travel and saving money. Since that time I’ve learned so much about what makes for a successful blog. And while I still have a long way to go, I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading my informative and entertaining stories over the past four years!

I wanted to share my blog-anniversary with my readers this year with a few giveaways! I’m having two separate giveaways so be sure to scroll through to the end of the post and enter BOTH! Here’s the fine print and find out what you can win:

In the first giveaway I’m giving away three prizes. The first winner pulled will have their choice of one of the three prizes. The second winner will have their choice of one of the two remaining prizes. The third winner will receive the last available prize.

Giveaway Prizes – 

  • Alien Glowing Necklace, straight from Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (to be shipped to the winner)
  • $25 Disney gift card (winners choice of e-card or physical gift card to be mailed)
  • $10 Amazon e-gift card (email code to the winner)

Must be a newsletter subscriber to win (this information will be verified)

I will pull three winners. The first winner will have their choice of one of the three prizes. The second winner will have their choice of one of the two remaining prizes. The third winner will receive the last available prize.

US residents only, must be 18+.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway from Polka Dot Pixie Shop!

I want to thank Polka Dot Pixie Shop for sponsoring another giveaway for my blogoversary! My family and I wore four shirts from their Etsy shop on our recent Disney World trip.

In addition to the giveaway Polka Dot Pixie Shop is generously offering 15% off any order (placed on their website or Etsy shop). Use code PIXIE to receive the discount!

Prize is for a Polka Dot Pixie Shop gift code, good for your choice of one $24 shirt and standard shipping (a $27.25 value)

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

This tee from Polka Dot Pixie Shop is perfect for Disney’s Animal Kingdom (see the Hidden Mickey?)

US residents only, must be 18+.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What You Need to Know About Visiting Disney Water Parks with Kids

Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are the two water parks located at the Walt Disney World Resort. Detail is Disney’s middle name and they don’t disappoint at either of these amazing water parks! The theming at both water parks is creative and unique while the water slides and attractions are thrilling. I was delighted with the water temperature; it was always “just right”. Keep reading to find out more about visiting Disney water parks with kids!

I received complimentary tickets to visit the Disney water parks as a part of the TravelingMom.com annual retreat. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Please note that I include affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

(Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

Disney Water Parks Admission

If you have a Disney World Park Hopper with Water Park Fun and More option on your ticket, this allows entrance to Disney water parks. Think of the “More” option as a punch card. For as many days you have of park tickets, you have an equal number of punches allowed for either water parks or miniature golf. This means you could golf at Winter Summerland and visit Blizzard Beach on the same day and two “punches” would be allotted. Have a four-day Park Hopper and More ticket? This allows you four days of “park hopping” and four additional of the “more” options (visiting Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Winter Summerland Mini Golf or Fantasia Gardens Golf for a total of four times).

What if you only want to spend a day at the water parks? Disney water park tickets are also available separately. Purchase your Disney vacation packages through my affiliate at Get Away Today.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

Are Disney World Water Parks Always Open?

Orlando weather is almost always warm enough for swimming! So you might assume that both water parks in Florida are always open. However each of the water parks are not open year-round. Each park closes several months at a time for refurbishment. The good news is that they don’t both close at the same time! So there’s always going to be at least one of the water parks open during your visit.

If there is a thunder and/or a lightning storm or if the weather is very cold, expect the water parks to close for the day. Disney water park hours vary so check the times online. Summertime events, like Disney H20 Glow Nights at Typhoon Lagoon may affect times, as well.

Transportation to the Disney Waterparks

Getting to the Disney waterparks can be a bit of a lengthy process. Guests staying at Disney property can use the bus system however it does require a transfer. If you’re visiting Blizzard Beach you’ll take the bus to Animal Kingdom park then transfer to that water park’s bus. Going to Typhoon Lagoon? Take the bus to Disney Springs, then transfer.

If your time is limited or you just don’t want to mess with the longer bus system, consider an Uber, Lyft or “Minnie” van if you’re traveling with kids who require a car seat (the Minnie vans have two car seats on board).

My family required vehicle transportation after our morning visit to Typhoon Lagoon. We had reservations for an early dinner for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue located at Fort Wilderness. While we could have taken the bus back to Disney Springs and then boarded at bus to Fort Wilderness we didn’t want to chance it with the time restriction. It was quicker and less hassle to call for a van.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

(Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

What to Bring with You to Disney Water Parks

  • Guests may bring their own towels from home. If you are staying at a Disney resort, bring towels from the hotel. You can also “rent” a towel for $2 at the water parks. We actually did just fine without any towels at all.
  • A Waterproof Tote Bag is handy. I had two; one to hold water shoes and the other to hold clothing (holding our dry change of clothing on the way in and to hold our wet suits on the way out!)
  • Sunscreen is a MUST. We lathered up on the bus ride. I’d recommend reapplying several times throughout the day. A sunscreen that can be applied to damp skin is ideal, like Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray.
  • I highly recommend having Water Shoes for every family member. While the Disney water parks do a good job of keeping the concrete wet in most areas, there are some sections that are directly in the sun. The ground gets extremely hot. Water shoes are a safe way to keep your feet protected. You can also wear the water shoes on most of the slides and in the pools. My younger two wore their favorite pedipeds!
  • Drinking water is another must-have, to stay hydrated under the hot sun. You can bring in your own full bottles (or request ice water at the restaurants).
  • Protective gear for cells phones like the Submariner Waterproof Phone Pouch.
Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

Crush ‘n’ Gusher (Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

What NOT to Bring with You

  • Swim clothing that has metal zippers or rivets. No alcohol or glass.
  • If you’re going to be purchasing souvenirs or snacks/meals at the water parks, rely on using a credit card that’s linked to your Magic Band. This will eliminate the need for you to bring your credit cards or cash into the water parks.
  • I brought sun hats with us but didn’t end up using them. If you plan on staying with toddlers in the splash pad area, a hat does come in handy because shade is minimal. But if you’re only doing the slides and wave pool, skip the hats.
  • Take off your valuable jewelry and leave them in the hotel safe.
  • Remove your kid’s Magic Bands once you enter the Parks and put them in a locker. My eldest son lost his Magic Band in the wave pool. Fortunately it was on the final day of our trip and he didn’t need it again, but it would have been a process to have to get him a new one.
Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

(Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

Babies and Toddlers at Disney Water Parks

You might wonder what there is to do at the Disney water parks with babies or toddlers. Both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach have splash pad areas with short slides, bubbling water and small sprays for young children. These areas have a height limit of 48″. Of the two parks, my 2-year old daughter preferred Tikes Peak at Blizzard Beach. There was a shallow wading pool, small waterfall, “Ice Gator” statues and short slides. Typhoon Lagoon has a water play area as well (Ketchakiddee Creek) but my toddler was too nervous around the very loud waterfall feature to go down the slides.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

There are life jackets located all around the waterparks, for complimentary use while visiting. You can also bring in your own “floaties” if you prefer (though it’s nice not to have one more thing to carry). Swim diapers are a must-have. Bring plenty and change your child only inside the restrooms (and not on a beach chair!). If you forget the diapers, they are available for purchase at the parks.

Some of the rides are “family style” but not for lap-held infants. Depending upon your toddler or youngster, you might want to skip. Even the family rides can be intense with overhead waterfalls and strong splashes of water. My toddler was not pleased with the downpours but she toughed it out!

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

(Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

The lazy rivers at both parks are perfect for little ones too. Float along next to your baby on Cross Country Creek at Blizzard Beach and Castway Creek at Typhoon Lagoon. The tubes vary, including some that offer a seat rather than a hole in the middle (perfect for the youngest kids). Be aware that there are overhead waterfalls that can be avoided (my toddler hated when her older brother pushed her float under the falls!) Bring a hat for baby as shade is limited.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

Can’t Miss at Typhoon Lagoon Water Park

Typhoon Lagoon resembles a tropical paradise, albeit one that has just been through a typhoon! There’s lots of tropical landscaping, sandy beaches and several ship wrecks. We only spent a few afternoon hours here so we didn’t get to experience everything but these are our highlights.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

My older kids were absolutely blown away by the wave pool at Typhoon Lagoon. Even my teenagers, who are strong swimmers, had a challenge with the rough waves. If you have kids with you who may have issues with the waves, consider wearing a life jacket.

Miss Adventure Falls was a great family-style ride. Some rides (like Crush ‘n’ Gusher) require you to carry your tube to the top, while others have conveyor belts that bring the tubes back up. There are some attractions with VERY long flights of stairs. If you have a youngster that has trouble with handling both the stairs and their tube, be aware you may be carrying both your tube and theirs!

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

Making a splash on Miss Adventure Falls (Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

Can’t Miss at Blizzard Beach Waterpark

My family spent over 6 hours exploring Blizzard Beach and were able to see and do almost attraction. Blizzard Beach is styled to look like a snow storm with the water features reflective of the melted snow on a hot day in Florida! It seemed that there were more available lounge chairs in this water park and we had no issues finding seating together.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

(Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

Summit Plummet is the dramatic highlight of Blizzard Beach. It’s designed to look like a ski jump but instead the riders glide down a 120-foot water plume! My big kids tried this one several times while their 6-year old brother stuck to the shorter Slush Gusher with a 90-foot drop. You’ll ride a ski-like chair lift to access these rides, as well as a few others.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

Teamboat Springs is touted as one of the longest waterpark coasters. It also had one of the longest waits for us as well, at just over an hour. We found out later that one of the conveyer belts that brings the tubes back to the top of the ride had broken down so they were running at 50%. It’s a great family raft ride though, that holds up to 6.

We also had a blast on the Tobaggan Racers and Snow Stormers. Melt-Away Bay, the wave pool at Blizzard Beach is less rough than at Typhoon Lagoon. However life jackets are still recommended for less than strong swimmers.

Skip It: My son and waited a loooong time to ride the Downhill Double Dipper. While fun, the ride lasted less than 7 seconds (I know, because there’s a timer keeping track of who “wins” the dual race!) Not worth the nearly hour long queue.

What to Eat at Disney Water Parks

Disney water parks only offer quick service dining and snack carts (no full service restaurants). Fare includes the usual burgers and hot dogs along with other items like bbq brisket sandwiches, a loaded baked potato and wrap sandwiches. We chose not to eat any meals at the water parks, but did enjoy dessert!

We ordered the Sand Pail, a combination of soft serve ice cream, whipped cream, sauces and sprinkles. It was cheaper than purchasing individual cones for each person and we had a souvenir bucket afterwards for the toddler to play with in the splash area.

Other dining highlights include mini donuts at Blizzard Beach that are served with raspberry, chocolate or white chocolate sauce for dipping. Like the Disney World parks, alcoholic drinks are also available.

Taking Pictures at the Disney Water Parks

Since most guests will keep their phones and cameras safely out of the water, you may lament not capturing the memories. Fortunately there are many locations that offer PhotoPass services inside the Disney water parks.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

(Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

Goofy was greeting guests at Blizzard Beach and we saw Lilo at Typhoon Lagoon. There were also PhotoPass photographers stationed around the parks to snap photos. I found a photographer at the Ski Patrol Training Camp and requested that she take a shot of my son on the Fahrenheit Drop. She obliged and then scanned my Magic Band, just like inside the parks.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

Fahrenheit Drop at Blizzard Beach (Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

Some of the Disney park water slides even have on-ride cameras. You’ll be given a small card with a rubber band attached. Wear the band around your wrist until you can scan the card into the My Disney Experience app to access the images. If you have purchased Memory Maker all photo downloads are included with the cost, even water park photos. I’ve noted in the caption of each photo in this post on whether it was taken by a PhotoPass photographer.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

At the bottom of Summit Plummet (Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

Changing Rooms vs. Restrooms

To save time, I recommend that families wear their bathing suits and a swim cover-up directly to the water parks. There are lockers where you can store bags with dry clothing until you need them.

Once you’re ready to change at the end of the day, note that there are some restrooms that only have bathroom facilities and others that have changing room spaces. Having the bench inside the changing room with additional hooks on the walls is easier than changing inside of the toilet stall. There are also blow dryers inside the changing rooms if you want to dry hair.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

It felt like there were more available beach chairs at Blizzard Beach than at Typhoon Lagoon.

Other Things to Know About Disney Water Parks

  • Arrive early in the day or alternately, later in the evening if you want to secure a lounge chair. These water parks definitely get crowded, especially in the warmer months.
  • Didn’t bring a swimsuit, towel or sunscreen? You can purchase everything you need for the day at the water parks. Shops are located at the front entrance of each water park.
  • If you’re planning on spending all day at the Disney water parks, consider renting a cabana. This is an additional cost that may be worth it to your family if you want guaranteed seating for the day. It’s also particularly helpful if you have a baby or toddler who needs to nap in the shade. You can rent the cabana for a full or half day and includes a service attendant to help bring purchased food.
  • If the cabana price tag is too steep you can also purchase a designated lounge area under the shade. This rental spot includes an umbrella, chairs, loungers, table and towels.
  • Want more water fun? Consider splurging at Disney on surf lessons or a private surf session at Typhoon Lagoon.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers) #Disney #DisneyWorld #WDW #WaterParks #BlizzardBeach #TyphoonLagoon #FamilyTravel #Florida #TravelwithKids

Must-Have Vacation Travel Products for Toddlers, Kids and Parents

Have the right travel products can truly make your vacation that much smoother! Some of these travel products are always going to be inside your luggage, like t-shirts and shoes. Other items you might not have ever considered – but once you use these unique travel accessories, you’ll wonder how you vacationed without them! I’ve also included airplane travel packing ideas for toddlers. So grab your travel bag and let’s see what travel products for toddlers, kids and grown-ups you could use on your next trip.

I have received complimentary product of some of these items to facilitate this post. No other compensation has been made and all thoughts and opinions are my own. Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Comfortable Vacation Tees

A cozy cotton t-shirt is a vacation must-have for everyone in the family. And if you’re headed on a “magical” vacation, like my family just did, these tees from the Polka Dot Pixie Shop are perfect for packing! Soft and comfortable, they were perfect for summertime in Orlando. I absolutely loved the creative designs and so did everyone else who saw them. I was stopped so many times in the Disney parks, asking where I got my shirts!

Many of the styles and designs are unisex (so that means I can snag my teenage son’s Jungle Cruise shirt whenever I want!) And each design is sold in a wide variety of sizes so it’s ideal if you like to do matching shirts on vacation.

DISCOUNT CODE: Use coupon code PIXIE at Polka Dot Pixie Shop for 15% off any order.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Hello Vacation! T-shirt by Polka Dot Pixie Shop

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

This tee from Polka Dot Pixie Shop is perfect for Disney’s Animal Kingdom (see the Hidden Mickey?)

See this post for more ideas on what to wear to Disney parks!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves (including Disney-inspired tees!) for your next trip. #Disney #Travel #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel #Vacation #Tshirts

Sleep Mask for Sweet Nights

We decided to keep our family on West coast time when we traveled to Florida. This meant staying up till midnight and sleeping in until 9 am most days in an effort to maintain their usual sleeping and waking times. My body instinctively wakes up as soon the sun shines into the room, so a well-fitting sleep mask is a vacation must-have.

This Brave Era Sleep Mask is 100% silk and hypoallergenic. It’s very comfortable and blocks out all ambient light in the room. I always sleep so much better when I slip on my sleep mask before falling asleep. Brave Era also offers silk travel sheets for the ultimate in vacation luxury!

Comfortable Camera Strap (With a Surprise!)

I’ve had the same Canon DSLR for years and it’s had the most uncomfortable strap ever. It would dig into the back of my neck so much I never wanted to take my camera anywhere. Wow, am I glad to have found Wrapped Creations comfy camera strap! She carries a variety of designs, including more Disney-themed straps like my Toy Story Land-inspired version!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

The Wrapped Creations camera strap was so comfortable to wear all day

Simply attach the strap to your camera and it’s sooo much easier to carry a heavy DSLR. No more painful neck as the strap is made of soft fabric. And my favorite part? The hidden zippered compartment where you could store your cell phone, cash, cards or passport! I received so many comments on this unique travel accessory. In fact, while I was waiting with my daughter in line to see Goofy, someone asked me about the strap and they ordered themselves one immediately from their phone!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

The hidden pouch on the camera strap from Wrapped Creations

Cross-Body Bag That Holds it All

When I’m traveling I want to be hands-free. With 4 kids I usually have my hands full enough, I don’t need to be holding onto my purse too! That’s why I prefer a cross-body purse and Baggallini are my favorite. I’ve had several versions over the years because they are so great even for everyday use. Right now I’m loving the Baggallini Everything Bag because it has a designated flap pocket for my cell phone. Roomy enough to hold your boarding pass and travel itinerary but with many individual zippered compartments to hold things like sunscreen and lipstick.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip. #Travel #TravelTips #TravelPacking #Packing #TravelAccessories

Comfortable Shoes for All Types of Weather

Pediped shoes are the go-to for my little ones on a daily basis. Since we were planning on lots of water play during our trip I was delighted to see that pediped has water shoes as well. Turns out visiting Orlando during Hurricane Season meant that we got a LOT more rain than we’d ever expected! Fortunately all of the pediped shoes that my kids wore during our trip were comfortable and dried quickly.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Pediped shoes have no “breaking-in period” so my kids were able to wear their brand-new shoes into the parks without any complaints about sore feet. Plus they are SO cute! Check out the pediped Outlet for discounts, then use code THANKYOU18 for an additional $10 off!

Here are more tips on choosing the best shoes for Disney!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Pediped shoes went easily from water to sidewalk

Travel Products for Toddlers Offers Safe Freedom

We have a “runner” in the family. When we took our family trip to Palm Springs, each time opened up the hotel room door, our toddler would shoot down the hall and run out of sight. I knew that when we traveled to Disney World I needed something that would keep her close but still allow some necessary freedom. Skip Hop backpack with harness for the win!!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

When traveling at the airport, I filled it with travel entertainment (more details on that in the next section). When we were in the parks, I put in a diaper, pack of wipes and disposable bibs for dining. My toddler liked having the choice of sitting in her stroller or wearing the Skip Hop backpack (she’d hand us the harness strap and say, “Hold my tail”!)

It was the perfect compromise for letting our toddler walk but still keeping her within arms reach. Skip Hop has an entire line of Zoo collection with whimsical travel accessories, including luggage and meal sets.

Entertaining Travel Products for Toddlers

The last time I’d traveled with my daughter on a plane she’d just turned one year old. Her “in-air” entertainment consisted of a teething toy before nursing to sleep. Now that she’s two I knew I’d need a bag of tricks to keep her occupied on the 5 hour flight. It appears that I packed all the right things because there was no boredom and zero tantrums on the flight! I was aiming for inexpensive and lightweight. Here’s what travel products for toddlers I packed inside her backpack.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Plastic Zoo Animal Figures – I brought a bag of these and divvied them up between my two littlest kids. Since there were so many of them and they were so inexpensive, I wasn’t worried if a camel fell on the plane floor. The kids loved lining them up on the tray table and “feeding” their animals Southwest Airlines pretzels!

Lacing Cards – My just-turned two year old might have been a little young for these but I was surprised by how long she played with them.

Disney Moana’s Necklace – This was a last-minute addition to my daughter’s travel accessories and I’m so glad I brought it. The necklace glowed when opened. She played with it frequently on the plane, showed it off to fellow travelers and used it on the trip as well.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Imagine Ink Magic Ink Coloring Book – These travel-sized “coloring books” include just one marker that does it all! No-mess, my toddler was able to scribble to her heart’s content onto the pages of the Magic Ink book with miraculously colorful results.

Stickers – My toddler happily peeled and stuck stickers for a long time. Don’t forget to bring paper or a coloring book to put the stickers in.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves (including these items that are toddler must-haves!) for your next trip. #Travel #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel #Vacation #Toddler #ToddlerTravel