Saturday, December 30, 2017

Best Videos of the Year - 10 Top Viewed Videos

It's time for another end of the year round up! 2017 was an interesting year for our family, and we went through a lot of changes! One thing that didn't change, was some of our most popular videos! Which ones carried over from last year? Check out our 10 Top Viewed Videos of 2016 to find out!

Here were our best videos - view wise - for 2017! And I'll try to follow up in a future blog post with my favorite videos of 2017, which may not always be the same as the highest viewed! Check out my favorites of 2016 here!

In reverse order working down to number 1... here are our top viewed videos of 2017!!

10. Magic Kingdom on Halloween (2015)

This video would probably make it into my top 25 video favorites that I've made too. From our second year going to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World. This is one of those neat videos that didn't make the Top 10 Viewed videos last year, and is actually an older video from a 2015 trip... but it "took off" in the middle of this year, as I call it when an older video picks up speed after being more dormant for a while and started garnering more views in the middle of the year. Especially right before Halloween. We had a great time that night! I love seeing how little the girls are too!

9. Kid's Road Trip Boredom Busters!

I love when I can make videos that people find helpful and I think this one hit that mark - Kid's Road Trip Boredom Busters - where I shared some of (many) activities that we use while traveling to entertain and this one made it into our top ten videos this year!

8. MagicBand 2.0 Review and Comparison

Ok, so this is a cool one. We did a MagicBand review on the new style MagicBand 2.0 bands that came out in 2017, with a comparison to the old style and showing both styles side by side on the girls wrists. I figured it would be a helpful video to many, and I think it was.... but, to toot my own horn for a minute - I found out from a friend that DISNEY actually was using my video internally and the developers of the MagicBands themselves were using a clip from my video at conferences... uhm, HOW COOL?!? Not just that they were using a clip from it - but that they had seen it at all!! The imagineers of the bands themselves!! Definitely a Disney geeking out moment for me!!

7. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in the Castle Experience

This is such a fun one!! Our 2016 Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience, where the girls both had their hair and makeup done together for the first time! This is probably one of my favorite Disney memories too, and I'm looking forward to them doing this hopefully at least one more time together! (Before they are too cool for school and all that good stuff!)

6. American Girl Shopping Surprise! 

We took a quick trip to the American Girl store in Michigan where I surprised Natalie with the trip there, and shared it in a Shop with Us video. We used up some gift certificates and rewards certificates we had for American Girl. It become our sixth highest viewed video of the year!

5. Christmas morning 2016! 

Our Christmas videos have started becoming some of our higher viewed videos, and Christmas morning was our 5th highest viewed video for the year!

4. Walt Disney World & Disney Cruise Surprise!

Everyone loves a good surprise! Last year we surprised the girls with the news of going to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2017 with a big surprise box! It was a lot of fun, and also one of our higher viewed videos for the year! Since I started squealing in the car when I got the email invitation back to 2018 and they were in the car (while we were AT Walt Disney World on our October trip, none the less!) - they already knew about our upcoming trip... so no surprise box at Christmas this year. Sorry guys! I was really excited when I got that email!!

3.  Disney Dream Embarkation Day

Our very first cruise aboard the Disney Dream continues to garner views and new viewers find our videos from that trip every day!! We are especially excited to be going BACK on the Disney Dream in February 2018, for Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2018! It is a beautiful ship, and I'm excited to have the opportunity to do and see some things that we missed on our previous trip - mainly a trip down the AquaDuck waterslide and dinner in the Enchanted Garden restaurant!

2. Natalie's 5th Birthday

The second highest viewed video of the year was Natalie's 5th birthday video! I think especially our younger viewers love seeing what the girls get for special occasions and seeing them open gifts. Our birthday videos have become quick favorites!

1. American Girl Surprise!

WOW!! Coming in again at #1 this year - American Girl Surprise! was our top viewed video for the year! Accumulating 563,683 additional views in 2017, it did slow down a bit from its previous year's view count... but for a video that I couldn't have guessed would take off THAT much, it has been a huge boost to my channel these past three years. I'm so glad that so many people enjoyed it! Will it still be #1 for 2018? Can't wait to find out!

Thanks for watching this year! And I hope you have a happy and safe new year!

** This was not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dealing with the Loss of a Pet - Kids & Grief

We recently shared on Instagram, the loss of our older male cat - Yoda. Yoda had been with my husband and I since he was a kitten, and he was technically my husband's cat. He was a spunky cat that loved to hide and pounce on people's feet when he was younger. He especially seemed to not care for me taking some of my husband's attention. Although in the later years, he took to me more and somewhat "adopted" me after my cat, Luna, was gone.

Luna passed away a few years ago, and after that time Yoda started coming around me more, sitting on my lap while I edited videos and having more interest in what the kids were up to. As he aged, he mellowed out and spent less time trying to hide to attack people's feet. He was definitely a member of the family and the kids took to him too.

Cats and Aging

Just one of those natural parts of life, Yoda had started getting older and we'd noticed a slight decline in his ability to jump onto furniture and get up and down the stairs. We went on vacation in October of this past year, and when we got back it was visibly noticeable that something was amiss with Yoda. He was acting off and had started drooling, a thick, clear drool. After giving it a day or two to subside it wasn't getting any better, so we headed to the vet.

The vet gave him a thorough check-up, and while under anesthesia checked out his mouth area. They couldn't find any tooth decay or issues, so they decided that it was some kind of infection in his throat and gave him antibiotics to help clear it up. We expected that would be the resolution of the issue, but it wasn't.

He was better for a week or so, but the started to rapidly decline. The drool turned to thicker drool, the drool eventually became blood tinged - and towards the end the drool even had a dark red blood color. (And horrible smell, which apparently is from the iron in the blood.) There was nothing visibly wrong with him, other than it had started to affect his interest and ability in eating, and he was starting to lay around more. The vet didn't find any additional cause for his condition.

Loss of a Pet

Yoda eventually succumbed to his illness when he became too weak to even hold up his head. I knew that it would be the end when I woke up that morning he made low whimpering sounds and had no interest in moving. I gave him gentle pets, told him to close his eyes and find Luna.

This is the last picture I took of him, just a few days prior. When I took the picture, I felt like it would be the last one I would take of him - and it was.

Telling the Kids about Pet Loss

One of the big questions I was asked after the fact on Instagram, was "how did the kids take it"? The girls are ages 6 years old and 8 years old right now, so old enough to be aware of what's happened and older than when Luna passed. I decided that taking them each aside separately and talking to them directly was the best route.

I used clear language that I hoped they would understand and told them that Yoda was gone. They knew he had gotten really sick and had noticed how badly it had gotten recently, so they understood he was too sick to go on.

They did really well with the news, all things considered. They did know that he had been sick, so I think knowing he wasn't continuing to worsen or suffer was some comfort. Their reactions were actually the reverse of what I thought they would be... Isabella is my natural animal lover and tended to be around Yoda more, so I thought she would take it harder - but after some consideration, she said, "That is good and bad at the same time. At least he isn't still suffering being sick." And after a long pause.... "Can we get a dog?" HA! Almost 8 year olds! So she'll be fine.

Natalie just turned 6 years old, and she never really did much with Yoda so I wasn't sure how much effect it would be on her. However Natalie does love being dramatic, so it was about 30 minutes of wailing after I told her, but we eventually got her calmed down by showing her old pictures of Yoda when he was a kitten and "oh so cute", and by then she had absorbed the news.

We will miss our little buddy! Here are some of my favorite pictures of Luna & Yoda together!

** This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Friday, December 8, 2017

HUGE Star Wars: The Last Jedi Prize Pack Giveaway!!

Our family is super excited about the new Star Wars movie and finding out the next sequence in this Star Wars saga! Isabella has gotten into "Forces of Destiny" lately, so I'm looking forward to her seeing the new movies at some point, and I know my husband and I will be at the theater on December 15th for a Star Wars date night!

Check out this awesome giveaway opportunity below that I'm a part of with The Hopping Bloggers!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi FINALLY hits theaters December 15th. Episode VIII is highly anticipated as fans want to know answers to many questions. Who are Rey's parents, what has Luke been up to, and so much more. Will we find the answers? We hope so! To help celebrate this release, The Hopping Bloggers have come together to bring our readers a fantastic Star Wars giveaway worth over $300!  

The Star Wars: The Last Jedi Prize Pack Includes:

Not all prizes are pictured. Products subject to change based upon availability.

About Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.

See Star Wars: The Last Jedi in Theaters 12/15!

Connect with Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Social

Like STAR WARS on Facebook: Follow STAR WARS on Twitter: Follow STAR WARS on Instagram: Follow STAR WARS on YouTube: Visit the official STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI website: #TheLastJedi | #StarWars

Enter to win this Star Wars: The Last Jedi Prize Pack using the form below. GOOD LUCK!

The Star Wars: The Last Jedi Prize Pack Includes:

** This is a group giveaway through The Hopping Bloggers. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Disney DIY Craft: MagicBand Wreath

You went, you had a magical time, you have all of the pictures and memories... now what do you do with all of the MagicBands when you get home?!?

MagicBands from Walt Disney World

MagicBands are the magical "keys" to the world when you're at Walt Disney World. They open your room for you, you can charge to them, and you swipe them to get in the parks and use FastPasses. If you're anything like us, you enjoy getting a different color MagicBand on each trip - but with a family of four, the total number of bands starts to add up fairly quickly if each person choses a different color band for each Walt Disney World trip!

I took part in a collab with Jen, from Happily Organized Chaos, and we each did our own DIY. Check out her Disney DIY Craft for a Mickey lighted topiary!

How to Make the Wreath

This may be the easiest wreath you'll ever make!

All you need to get started is:
- Wreath base, I use the wire ones from Hobby Lobby
- Twine
- Pretty ribbon, mine is again from Hobby Lobby
- Safety Pins
- MagicBands

To start, I'm just wrapping the ribbon around the wire frame to cover the wires. You do not need to use the loop wreath technique that I use for my burlap wreathes, although you could definitely make a  MagicBand wreath that way - this way is truly great for any beginner or someone who has never made a wreath before. Just wrap the ribbon around!

From there, you're going to position the MagicBands on the wreath, I suggest using safety pins through one of the holes to hold it in place! Then make a pretty wreath bow - and viola! You're done!

Check out how easy it was to make in my video:

And be sure to stop by and tell Jen from Happily Organized Chaos "hello" as well!

If you want to know more about MagicBands, here's my review comparing the "new" style bands, to the "old" style bands! 

** This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Building Creativity with Mayka World Toy Building Block Tape

We recently had an opportunity to try Mayka World Toy Building Block Tape, and the girls went crazy finding new places to build up their building blocks! This is a sponsored campaign, all opinions are my own.

Mayka World Toy Building Block Tape

Mayka World Toy Building Block Tape is available at Toys'R'Us, Target, and Wal-Mart, and is a flexible that has a sticky back so that you can make building block creations almost anywhere! You can even stick it upside down! We purchased a number of rolls of Mayka World Toy Building Tape, and set to work figuring out how we would use it.

Isabella's Bedroom Makeover

The first project we took on with the tape was redoing Isabella's footboard on her bed. Her bed frame came from a convertible crib, so it was a crib that Natalie used when she was a baby. My kids loved chewing on furniture when they were teething for some reason, so the ends of the footboard had some teeth marks from when the frame was used as a crib.

We set out to not only cover these up, but also make the flat ledge on the floorboard some usable (and fun!) space for Isabella in her room! We used two different colors of green along the footboard to resemble a garden, and she made a pet garden for her favorite Legos! I love that the tape is easy to remove when she decides she wants a different color, and in moving and re-positioning the tape, we didn't have any issues with it leaving behind residue or taking off the furniture finish.

Building Outside of the Box

Other plans we have the building block tape, are making travel containers with Mayka tape on one surface and a place to hold their building blocks in the enclosed area.

I also added a small piece of the building block tape to Natalie's lightswitch, so that she could decorated her switch!

We also thought it would be neat to cover a doll sized table, and make the dolls a Lego table! The possibilities are endless!

This building block tape would be a great stocking stuffer or great addition to a birthday gift, if you're giving a building set you could include a roll of tape. My girls are ages 6 and 7, and I think this product would appeal to a wide age range, basically if you're into building blocks - you're going to love this product because it opens up so many options!

Thanks to Mom Select and Mayka World for the opportunity to check this awesome gift idea out!

** This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Disney Cruise Planning: Countdown to our next cruise aboard the Disney Dream

83 days... but who's counting? Well, we are actually! We were excited to learn while we were at Walt Disney World in October 2017, that we were invited back to Disney Social Media Mom Celebration 2017. (You can check out a recap of our 2017 Disney SMMC experience HERE.) And after the initial squealing died down... the planning began!

2018 Disney Social Media Mom Celebration

The 2018 Disney Social Media Mom Celebration will again be a land and sea adventure, with three days at Walt Disney World and three days at sea, aboard the Disney Dream! Our family was especially excited to find out we would be cruising again, as we have had such a great time on our past cruises! They are a wonderful relaxing vacation for the whole family - and the kids love it because they get to feel very independent by getting to chose how much time they want to spend in the Kid's Clubs onboard and at Castaway Cay.

Cruise Prep and Planning

This will be our third Disney cruise, and our second cruise aboard the Disney Dream! The exciting thing is, they've added a number of wonderful new things, like the Beauty and the Beast stage show (our YouTube friend Allison just got a chance to get a sneak peak of the show, you can check out her review HERE), and we will also get another chance to catch things we missed on our first voyage - like the AquaDuck, believe it or not! And eating in the Enchanted Garden restaurant. (We had reservations at Palo on the night that our rotation went to that dining room.)

I'm planning on sharing a detailed Cruise Packing List, coming up soon... with some suggested items that we always like to bring along, and also what I've seen suggested that I found we could leave at home. What does planning look like at 83 days out?

Here are the things I'm focusing on right now!

Fish Extender

This will be our first time participating in a "Fish Extender" aboard a Disney Cruise. These started out as a fun  exchange between a few people aboard an early sailing, and turned into a mass organized thing that has become somewhat tradition with veteran cruisers. On our previous cruises, I didn't sign up for a Fish Extender Group (yes, I said "sign up" - there are typically Facebook groups for each sailing on a Disney Cruise which we join and within in those, they generally host or have a link to a "Fish Extender Group" that divides and then pairs people up with whom to exchange gifts) - I felt like I wanted to just focus on the cruise itself. Which was more than enough, I promise!

Now that we've been on a few cruises, I thought it would be a fun extra thing for the girls to take part in, to bring along small gifts for fellow shipmates, and in return potentially receive surprises back in our Fish Extender. The actual Fish Extender, is the hanging bag that is left outside a hook by your stateroom and can hold mail or other fun things left for you. These are completely optional of course, but a fun thing to participate in just like decorating your stateroom door.

Fish Extender Planning

At 83 days out, my plans for the next few weeks are to get our actual fabric bag, "Fish Extender", ordered from an Etsy vendor - so that it will arrive in plenty of time before our cruise. I've also already spent time researching fish extender gifts and have started narrowing down our choices with those. So I will as begin ordering those items, so that I know those things will be here in plenty of time before we leave as well.

My goal is to leave half of a suitcase available for fish extender items, although most things that we will be bringing along won't be too big or bulky. It never hurts to have extra room for souvenirs too though!

Disney Vacation Planning - What Else Will I Buy?

Since we've been on other cruises before, I don't have too many other items that I need to purchase pre-cruise. I will stock up on Bonine and Kid's Dramamine, preventative sea sickness medicine to bring along "just in case". I'll check our suntan lotion to make sure it is all well within the expiration date, and make a little travel wellness kit, with items such as bandaids, ibuprofen, sinus medicine, and other frequently used medicinal items. I'll also start taking note of what kind of travel items we may be running low on or need to replace, like special lotions or body washes that we like to have in travel size

Clothing wise, since we live in a warmer climate now - we are pretty covered for warm weather clothing. I may pick up one or two special outfits for the conference portion, and an extra Disney shirt or two for the girls. One thing we do tend to do right before a Walt Disney World trip is buy newer tennis shoes and spend a few weeks breaking those in at home before we go, so we have newer shoes with good support - but not brand new, along with a few other specific planning items to going to Walt Disney World. I'll save the rest of those tips for a Walt Disney World planning post though.

Seeing Good Friends

Planning aside... One of the best parts about getting to go to conferences like Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, is seeing the friends we know in the social media community! Our friends from Jones Family Travels will also be at Disney SMMC again this year, and we're looking forward to meet up with our fellow YouTube buddies! They are also avid cruisers and own a travel agency, so they KNOW travel! They also are easy going and love to have a fun time, so we always have fun when we get together!

Check out some of their cruising videos here:

All in all, it will be an awesome vacation, with lots of awesome people. I'm looking forward to sharing our preparation process and experience that we have while we are there! Disney Social Media Moms Celebration is truly a unique event with lots of surprises along the way, and I can't wait to see what they have in store for us this year!

** This post was sponsored. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Best Black Friday Shopping Deals

It's one of my favorite times of year, I love the hustle and bustle of the holidays in the air! Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season with time spent with family and friends, and the ability t reflect on all that we are thankful for in our lives. Another one of the fun things about Thanksgiving weekend is all of the great shopping deals that are usually out for Black Friday through Cyber Monday! 2017 is no exception, there are already some AWESOME deals on some of my favorite sites! Here are some that I'm planning on ordering from - or have placed an order already!

Best Black Friday Accessory Deals

Ok, let's level. I've already purchased from some of these deals - they're so good! At through the weekend, you can get 30% off of $250 or more with the code 'THANKS'. There are some exclusions, but it's such a great deal!! I purchased two pairs of the Minnie flats that I had been planning on getting for work anyways, and got 30% off - win, win!

Another site I had been looking at to purchase things at soon, is having an awesome deal as well! Pandora Jewelry is having a "Buy Two, Get One Free" sale, which includes most items. (Except for the Disney items sadly! I definitely could have used it on those!) I've been looking at a few rose gold pieces that I thought would be lovely to wear for the holidays and now I can save a bundle on them!

Best Black Friday Clothing Deals

This is another great one for work, because I had recently picked up a few pairs of dress pants from the GAP - and really loved them! I had intended on purchasing a few more pairs, and this morning a 50% off deal started on their website! No exclusions, and use code 'BLKFRIDAY'

Best Black Friday Deals for Moms

One of my favorite sites, particularly for Cyber Monday, is Amazon! They have Lightening Deals that I keep an eye on throughout the weekend. I love the feature that tells you how much time before you can buy as an Amazon Prime member and that I can find everything from socks to suitcases on one site. I also love that this year they have a new feature that as an influencer I can share a list of all of my favorite items to purchase from Amazon. Check out my Amazon Shopping list HERE (affiliate link) and see what we are loving right now!

Disney of course is always on my shopping list, and the new site is great because it seems to have a wider variety of items than the Disney Store site had in previous years. I love the Disney Parks merchandise and that I can order my favorite Disney Parks shampoo and conditioner right from the site. This year, they have items on sale - but I will be watching the site throughout the weekend in case any short term codes pop up!

American Girl is offering free shipping off of $100 with code 'NOVSHIP' and they usually have a Cyber Monday sale that you should log in around 6am Central time to see what deals are available!

Sephora usually always has some awesome deals in store, and I always check their site early on Cyber Monday, to see what deals may be online.

I'll be sure to update the list if I come across other awesome deals that I decide to take part in! Happy shopping!

** This is not a sponsored post. Some links may be affiliate links as marked. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sequencing back to work... Stay at Home Mom to Working Mom

The beginning of a great new journey? I took a new job in October 2017 and plan to work full-time, continue with my YouTube channel and blog, travel commitments, as well as attempt to fulfill my "mom duties".

Sequencing back to full-time work

Sequencing Back into Full-Time Work

Sequencing... that's what they call this apparently. After 7 years of being a stay at home mom and being home with my two girls (currently ages 5 and 7, both off to "big school"), I decided to jump back into the full-time work force and "sequence" my way back into working. It makes sense, I suppose, where the name sequencing comes from... we have been on a different schedule and different wavelength for quite a bit of time, and now we need to realign our "sequence" with something more "mainstream".

It's a mixed bag of emotions. Nervousness about whether or not I quite remember what it's like working full-time. Anxiousness about a whole new set of issues to contend with, kiddo pickups, drop-offs, school times that they need to be there by, after school activities they need extra snacks to bring. A bit of sadness because those snuggly baby days are over... there's happiness too though. A happiness of doing something again that is my own, something of my own making.

It is a bit odd, after being in the stay at home mom community for seven years, some of my best friends are career stay at home moms or housewives - which I completely respect by the way, it's a bit job - you kind of get in this mind set that it is just "what you do" and you kind of completely forget that there are women out there working full-time that have been all along. At least I did anyways. And then it hits you, that they have a seven year head start on you jumping back into working - and that makes you break a sweat just a little.

Biggest Challenges of Sequencing 

Happily, I can say that the adjustment on my side has gone fairly well. Not without it's hiccups, but the type of job I took is fun (social media marketing, i.e. I pretty much do at work, what I am sitting here doing right now while writing this article - just for a different company!) and it keeps me busy. The days go fast and I think that really helps, when you're doing something you enjoy and you have full days that are dynamic.

It hasn't been without challenges though, the girls are ages 5 and 7 right now - Natalie is soon to turn 6. Bella has been off at "big school" for 3 years now and has adjusted fairly well to having two working parents. They both go to an after school care and either my husband or myself picks them up when we get off of work. Bella will bound up to us and is excited to see us. It's cute to see her maturity in the situation and she has been doing well.

Playing dress up
Adjusting with style!

Natalie, has had a lot of big adjustments this year. We moved across the country into a different culture. She started "big school" going 5 days a week, all day long for the first time for kindergarten this year. And she has been put in a lot of situations where she is meeting new people and making new friends, which luckily is her forte. It's not without it's challenges though, she's young. It's a long day, waking up to go to school at 7:00am and then being at after school care until 5:30pm or beyond. Some days she's cranky, other days she's excited to tell us about her day. As time goes on, I think it will get easier and easier though.

Changes Ahead

All in all, it has gone about as smoothly as I think it could and the transition going from being a stay at home mom to a working mom has been "fine". Only a few weeks into our transition, the few pieces of advice that I would give to anyone considering making the change would be to:

  - Research childcare options and costs that will work with your potential new schedule so that you can factor those into your future salary.

  - The week before you start working, run through the time schedule you will have to be on and "practice" dropping the kids off at school, driving to work, and making sure the timing you anticipate actually works with the commutes.

  - The first week, just focus on getting into the time routine and don't stress about household duties.

I also plan to do some things for myself, like hiring an in-home cleaning service at least once a month to keep the house going, and also allow ourselves to have takeout a bit more than we usually have. I think cutting yourself some slack during the transition helps to not feel stressed out. Since I'm a member of the 2017-2018 Chick-fil-A Moms Panel and it's one of our favorite places to eat, with a kid's play place too as an added bonus for the kids - it will definitely be a favorite that we stop by at least a few times a month!

Chick-fil-A Chicken Tortilla Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup with Hot Sauce! Yum!

All in all, it's gone well and I'm interested to see what the future holds! I'm glad I took the leap and it's also working out okay so far for me to keep up with my YouTube Channel and also working during the day. I'll do some videos coming up in the future as to how I am juggling it all!

Check out my announcement on YouTube here:

** This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide to Unique Gifts for Family

I partnered with The Hopping Bloggers for this sponsored Holiday Gift Guide. 

It's time to plan for the holidays! And today's gift guide is all about the family! For everyone from newlyweds to empty nesters, there something here for everyone! Our family is made up  of myself, my husband of 12 years, and two girls, Isabella, age 7, and Natalie, age (almost) 6. The girls have recently really gotten into playing family boardgames and love when everyone gets together to play a game - so games will be a big hit on our Christmas list this year!

Gifts for everyone

Shop Disney Tee

Our family loves Star Wars (see: Halloween costumes) - so I thought this "The Force is Strong in my Famiy" tee from was great and something we would definitely consider getting for a trip shirt for our upcoming trips! I love the simplicity and there is also a Star Wars logo on the back shoulder. Get it on:

Christmas Jammies

Matching family pajamas are a fun and festive tradition that your whole family can get into! I thought the Santa print on this set was perfect for Christmas morning! Get it on:

American Tourister Suitcases

American Tourister is our family's favorite suitcase brand and we have a variety of styles that we use for our trips. Our favorite style that we use is the Ilite Max style, we have a few of the 25 size and I'm panning on getting the 21 size as a part of Christmas gifting this year! I think that suitcases make a great practical family gift, especially if you know you have some fun trips coming up! They are also a great way to do a trip reveal - or to fill up with goodies for the trip too! Get it on:

Family Game Night

RoosterFin Games - Wizard Roll

We received the Wizard Roll game from RoosterFin games to test out and it was perfect timing, because the girls - especially Bella - have been super into magical games and wizards lately. After playing Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom interactive game at Magic Kingdom, I started looking for some interesting game alternatives we could play at home.  Wizard Roll was at a great level for it to be understandable and fun for the girls to play! Get it on: 

Disney Monopoly

It's no secret that we love Disney at our house! And now that the girls are getting a little bit older, I believe Monopoly will be in our future. (I always loved buying properties up as a child!) This Disney version is great for Disney dans, and I love that it has characters they will recognize on the board! Get it on:

Personalogy Family Game

We enjoyed testing out the Personalogy game earlier this year! It was a blast asking each other questions and learning more about each other. It also worked great for a travel game to pass the time while traveling!

Personalogy is a discovery card game that gets the whole family talking, laughing and having fun! Kids love to play, it creates hilarious and memorable moments for family dinners, parties or road trips! Personalogy brings families together through more meaningful and amusing conversation. Personalogy promotes families to share stories. The interactive component of describing “why” is what generates surprises and laugh out-loud moments. Get it on:

Gifts for Newlyweds

Family Decor Sign

This was a great decor find on Amazon. Amazon actually has some unique and really cute decor pieces that won't break the bank. I loved this "Family" sign as a great gift for an established family - or a newlywed couple that was just starting out and getting settled into their new home! Get it on:

Forever Yours Gift Box

Shopping for a newlywed or need the ideal winter wedding gift? This holiday special includes a FREE GIFT with purchase. YourCreative Memories Photo Album Gift Box makes the perfect personal gift to save memories beautifully, with a bit of fun! Each gift box includes a 12x12 scrapbook album with predesigned pages, so it’s quick and easy to add engagement and wedding photos, invites and more. It also includes a pen, adhesive, page protectors and 50 die-cut embellishments (a free bonus!) for added dazzle! All of it comes in an impressive gift box, guaranteed to make an impression and become a cherished keepsake. Get it on:

EatSmart Precision Digital Kitchen Scale

This item is a great idea of newlyweds and families alike! The EatSmart Precision Digital Kitchen scale is light weight and accurate, so that you can weigh items in your kitchen without taking up a lot of space. 

The EatSmart Precision Digital Kitchen Scale is a versatile multi-function home appliance. Designed to be highly accurate and aesthetically pleasing, the Precision Digital is manufactured to the highest quality specifications. Weigh items up to 11 lbs quickly and accurately, with results displayed in four different measurement modes: grams / ounces / pounds / kilograms. The recessed platform allows you to effortlessly weigh items on the scale itself and the plastic design is easy to clean. This is a great gift idea for anyone who spends time in the kitchen - great chef or not. A must have for any family! Get it on:

There's truly something for everyone in this Family Gift Guide, full of unique gift ideas for those in your family! We are loving family game night this year! I hope your holidays are merry and bright!

** This is a sponsored gift guide in collaboration with The Hopping Bloggers. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Holiday Gift Giving Guide for Kids

I partnered with The Hopping Bloggers for this sponsored Holiday Gift Guide.

It's holiday season once again and time to start thinking of fun gift giving items for family and friends! I love coming up with gifts for kids that are fun, unique, and some that even have a learning twist on them! This year, there are tons of great options to chose from and I've divided the gift giving ideas into three categories - learning items, kid's tech items, and just for fun items!

This Christmas, Isabella will be 7 years old and Natalie will be 6 years old, and I anticipate that it will be one of the closest years in interests that we've had yet! When they were younger, it was easier to divide gifts based on age category - Natalie got more baby type items, while Isabella received more toddler appropriate gifts, and so on. Now, with them both being squarely in the "young kid" category, they have a number of interests that overlap between the two of them. Both girls are into Disney Princesses, dolls, collecting small items, and show an enthusiasm for science!

Give the Gift of Learning

Teach My Kindergartener

We received the Teach My Kindergartener pack to try out at home and I really loved the different variety of activities to work with Natalie on. They were neatly packaged in reusable cases and the outer case it arrived in is also very portable. All of the concepts included we right on Natalie's level and worked great for learning practice at home.

What better way to end the year, than some learning fun that will bring lots of cheer? Teach My are makers of award winning learning tools that help your child get a head start! Their products teach babies, toddlers and preschoolers the basic skills, things like; the alphabet, colors, shapes, numbers, reading and even math! Their aim is to encourage early learning, parent child interaction, self-esteem and help children to develop fine motor skills and excellent hand eye coordination. Bond. Teach. Play... 20 minutes a day! Start shopping now:

Scientific Explorer Magic Science for Wizards Only Kit

This jumped out at me on Amazon, since Bella has been very into wizard games and magic, as well as being into science. She loves doing different STEM activities at home and this kit seemed to have a neat twist on a traditional kit. It includes everything you need for your experiments, test tubes, tube wand, measuring scoops, star stickers, and activity book. Get it on:

4M Crystal Growing Experiment

Another fun item that is going on Bella's Christmas wishlist, the 4M Crystal Growing Experience kit looks super cool and right up her STEM loving alley! She also loves rocks and geology, so I think this one will be doubly cool for her! You can grow your own crystal growth experiments and they come in a variety of colors! Get it on:

Give Kid's Tech Gifts

VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2

So this one is ON Bella's Christmas wishlist this year! We have seen this at Costco and also on After she met a girl at Walt Disney World in October that had one of these watches and they hit it off. (Bonded over the watch, if you will!) She put this on her Christmas wishlist. It has two cameras to take pictures and selfies, a number of watch interfaces to help with telling time, and built in games. This seems like a great option for younger kids that are wanting portable tech, but aren't old enough for having their own phone. Get it on:


Only the coolest robot ever invented. Say Hello to cozmo, a gifted little guy who's got a mind of his own and a few tricks up his sleeve. He's the sweet spot where supercomputer meets loyal sidekick. He's curiously smart, a little mischievous, and unlike anything ever created. You see, cozmo is a real-life robot like you've only seen in movies, with a one-of-a-kind personality that evolves the more you hang out. He'll nudge you to play and keep you constantly surprised. More than a companion, cozmo's a collaborator. He's your accomplice in a crazy amount of fun. Some robots just have it all. Get it on:

Amazon Fire Kid's Edition

This was a purchase that we made this year for both girls, Isabella picked a blue Fire and Natalie picked a pink Fire. We got them mid-year to use for traveling and on the road trip down to our new house. They worked great for the trip and the girls enjoy using them. We like the parental controls and being able to set certain time limits for certain types of activities, while allowing others! The kid's version comes in a few different colors and has a durable bumper case to keep up with active little ones! Get it on:

Power Wheels Cars 3 Lightening McQueen

Ka-chow! With this Power Wheels race car featuring Lightning McQueen, kids can bring the high-octane fun and excitement of the Disney/Pixar hit film Cars 3 to life! This sweet ride can drive over pavement or grass and features cool race car sounds and real phrases from the film! Your little driver will love creating all new adventures behind the wheel of this rad ride-on. Get it on:

Give a gift - just for fun!

Blankie Tail

Isabella got one of these mermaid blankie tails at the beginning of the school year and she has gotten SO much use out of it! It is adorable and keeps her warm, she loves pretending she's a mermaid with her tail on! These make great gifts for girls who love mermaids or have mermaid themed rooms! Mermaids have more fun! Get it on:

Tsum Tsum Disney Advent Calendar

Enjoy counting down the 24 days until Christmas with the Disney Tsum Tsum Countdown to Christmas Advent Calendar. Open a new window each day to reveal a surprise Tsum Tsum figure or accessory and create a fun winter ski slopes themed scene. Collect, stack and display your favorite holiday themed Disney Tsum Tsum characters! Get it on:  

Hatchimals Surprise

Hatchimals Surprise are finally here and they have an unEGG-spected treat in store for you! For the first time ever, you can hatch TWO adorable Hatchimals! These loveable twins are hidden inside a magical speckled egg. Use your love and care to help them hatch! Hold and play with your egg and the Hatchimals inside will make delightful sounds that tell you how they feel! When its time to hatch, you’ll see rainbow eyes! Once your first Hatchimal has pushed its way out of the egg, lift your second Hatchimal out and let the fun begin! Each twin has a unique personality! One twin loves to move, while the other twin can repeat whatever you say! Raise them from baby to toddler to kid and they’ll learn new things at each stage! Your twins will talk, dance, sing, tell jokes, play games and more! These Hatchimals love to interact with each other! They’ll say “I love you” and, like any siblings, they’ll even bicker! Inside each Hatchimals Surprise you’ll find magical, adorable creatures! Who will you hatch? Get it on:

I hope you've enjoyed checking out my ideas for some unique holiday gift giving ideas for kids! Whether it's a learning oriented gift, tech gift, or just for fun - these items are all things that I know my girls would love!

** This was a sponsored gift guide. All opinions are my own.