Teaching Your Kids About the Dangers of Texting and Driving

Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

 

Teaching Your Kids About the Dangers of Texting and Driving

We all know how much our kids love their screen time. Whether they enjoy waking up on Saturday mornings and watching hours of cartoons, or they play digital games together on a tablet with their friends, it can be challenging to encourage them to unplug and turn off their devices. But it is extremely important for parents to talk about the dangers of digital distraction – especially when our kids are old enough to drive.

Texting while driving is a growing problem for young people, as many young drivers are distracted by a variety of mobile phone functions while operating a car, such as incoming text messages, GPS directions, and song selection. This top road safety concern has sadly contributed to over 3,000 deaths per year. If you want your new driver to stay safe on the road, you must encourage them to abstain from using their phone as much as possible.

For more information, see this infographic on safe driving tips in order to learn how to be most effective when teaching your kids about the serious risks of texting while driving.

Legoland Discovery Center – Dallas Fort Worth

Have you heard of the Legoland Discovery Centers? Many friends I have spoken to recently didn’t know they even existed.. Say What?! We have friends in the Dallas Forth Worth area that visit Legoland Discovery Center Dallas / Forth Worth often. My kids love to see what new adventures they are up to social media while at Legoland Discovery Center. When we surprised the kids with a trip to Dallas I knew we had to take them to Legoland Discovery Center for the first time!

We love Legos in our house. We love to build with them as a family. Last year they set up a huge Lego exhibit in the local mall so we went down to spend hours looking at the beautiful creations and reading all the facts about how many hours, Legos, etc it took to make each one. If you are like us and like Legos then Legoland Discovery Center is right up your alley!

You start off your time at the discovery center with a little factory tour. Once the doors open after the tour you are fully immersed in all things Lego! Our first stop was taking a ride on Kingdom Quest where you are on a boat shooting your laser gun to earn points! This was fun for the whole family! Once off the ride my kids fully enjoyed earning their ninja belts at the Lego Ningajo City Adventure!
  
Our day at Legoland Discovery Center included everything from 4D movies, driving large Lego police cars, to making small cars to race down the track, and so much more! Every where we turned there was something else to do or another ride to ride. Many of the Lego exhibits are interactive. My whole family got in on the fun of pressing the buttons to have our StarWars characters battle it out.

We ended our day there by cooling off in the Pirate Beach splash area. They had these awesome foam Legos near the ship that you could use to build forts, towers, or just about anything you wanted. We made some awesome memories on our trip to Legoland Discovery Center. We can’t wait to go back again and the best part is I recently read that San Antonio is getting there very own Legoland Discovery Center in the Rivercenter Mall down town, set to open in 2018! How fun is that?! While we wait for it to be built we will continue to visit the Legoland Discovery Center Dallas / Fort Worth. I recommend planning your trip today, if you haven’t been yet!!

*All views shared here are completely and 100% my own. We were given free admission for 3 people to try Legoland Discovery Center Dallas / Fort Worth out and share out experiences here and on my social media. We paid for the additional 3 family members out of pocket. Everything stated here is our own experience and opinions!

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in Dallas

While on a spur of the moment vacation in Dallas we decided to go to dinner and a tournament at Medieval Times Dallas. Our friends over at Real and Quirky had enjoyed all the times they had been there and recommended we check it out while we were in Dallas. On our way to the castle we tried to explain what to expect to our kids but they were a little apprehensive. The moment we drove up and they saw the castle they knew they were in for a treat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we walked into the castle we were set into a medieval time. The costumes were magnificent. The king was knighting some special patrons in the foyer after we got checked in. There were two bars for adult drinks and some gift shop areas to buy swords, crowns, armor, hats, and so much more. We were in the yellow and red knight section which meant we got to cheer him on as we ate dinner.  Having never experienced anything like this before our entire family was on the edge of their seats the entire night. Watching the beautiful horses enter the coliseum is just breathtaking. Each knight took their turn in each tournament until the final tournament at the end of the night. It was so fun to cheer on our knight as the night went on!

 

 

We came for the tournament but the dinner did not disappoint. We were served course after course of delicious food! We were so full by the time dessert came but we knew we couldn’t pass it up. It was our servers second night working there, he did a fabulous job of making sure we were all taken care of and the food and drinks never stopped coming until the very end.

 

 

 

 

 

I could go on and on about every wonderful detail of our night there. My children will cherish this memory forever. I am so glad we got to experience this with them. We’ve already decided we will most defiantly be going back to Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament every chance we get! If you’ve never gone before you need to take the time to experience it for yourself. If you have gone already, go again! I highly recommend this for every family, every age from toddler up to 100+! Don’t take my word for it, go see for yourself! They have a number of show times available daily, as well as royalty upgrades to choose from and promotions year round. Visit Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament Dallas for more information and book your reservation today!

                               

*All views shared here are completely and 100% my own. We were given free admission for 2 people to visit Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament out and share out experiences here and on my social media. We paid for the additional 4 family members out of pocket. Everything stated here is our own experience and opinions! 

Lost Child Prevention & Plan

Lost Child Prevention PlanAs I prepared for our trip to Disney World I was telling some friends about the measures I put in place in the instance one of my children should get separated from us. One friend said “Have you lost one of your children somewhere before?”… No, no I haven’t but I like to prepare for anything. They were impressed with the plan I have in place with my kids.

If you’re like me you start to panic a little the moment you look around and can’t count enough little heads to add up to number of children you brought. It only takes a second for a child to get lost, but it feels like an eternity before you locate them, whether for a minute or an hour. Keeping my kids by my side is ideal, however at a busy zoo or amusement park that doesn’t always happen. My kids know exactly what to do if they can’t find us.

Here is our family plan of action:

  • Take a picture of them in the morning with your cell phone. This gives you a quick reference for an accurate description of their clothing. It also gives park workers an updated photo to share and use to locate your child.
  • Try to dress your children and/or entire family in a similar color. I like to put them in bright colors and have them all matching so I can easily spot them. 
  • Give your children a plan of action as soon as you enter the park. Every single time we enter an amusement park, museum, zoo, etc we point out several workers. We then remind them that if they get separated from us to find a worker right away. If they can’t find a worker they should find a mom with kids to ask for help finding a worker. (Some parents have a meeting spot or show their children the ‘lost parents’ area but we choose not to because our kids are young enough I don’t want them wondering the park trying to find this spot.)
Park Safety Tips

Here I dressed three of us in bright green and the other two in bright blue.

What my kids know!

  • Never ever leave the park without us, not even with a worker. This is important because I had a friend’s child go to their car to wait for them when she got separated from her parents. They looked for her for 3 hours before parking security spotted her and notified the park workers!
  • Know their parents phone number and names! My older children have our phone numbers memorized and all of our children know our names. If they are too young to memorize this then have temporary tattoos with your number made to wear! (Search Etsy to find lots of options.)
  • Don’t try searching for us alone. Kids will often try to find their parents on their own which will just make things worse. Our children know they should not try to find us or wonder around the park. Staying in one area will help us find them quicker.
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    My children each wore one of these every day at Disney World. It has my cell phone number that I carry in the parks with us.

    I know how stressful it can be at a busy place with little ones so hopefully you can use some of these tips on your next adventure!

Have a great summer!!
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6 Tips for making the most out of a Disney World Trip!

Disney World TipsThere are so many useful tips and tricks I read before we took our first Disney World vacation. I could go on and on about each one and how helpful they were to us but instead I thought I would just share my top 5 tips to making the most out of a Disney World trip!

6 Tips to Making the Most out of a Disney World Trip:

  1. Rider Swap Tip/Info: If your using rider swap you only need a FastPass+ for the first parent (and older children) to ride the ride the first time. Both parents and all children walk up to the first Cast Member at the ride entrance, tell them you need a parent swap they’ll give the second parent (waiting with younger children) a FP card while the first parent scans their magic band or park pass with their FP. Then when the first parent gets off the ride the second parent (and up to two kids) go in the FP line with just the parent swap FP, not scanning anything. The second FP C.M. will take the card from you inside the ride. So no you don’t need a FP for both parents if your using rider swap because one parent will not scan their magic band/park pass. My recommendation at Epcot is get you a FP for Soarin’ and hubby a FP for Test Track. Then you can both ride both rides with either the regular FP or the rider swap FP. So I suggest splitting up the adult FP for rides the kids aren’t tall enough for so you can ride more of the “tier 1” rides at Epcot and HS. Does that make sense?!
  2. Character Meals are a must if your kids will want autographs and pictures. With so many characters you could plan a week long trip to WDW just to meet characters! My children had little patience to stand in line to meet a character and would much rather spend their time waiting for a ride. Most character dining meals are buffet or family style giving you plenty of time to eat between meeting characters and dancing around with them.

    Lunch at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom with Mickey, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy!

    Lunch at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom with Mickey, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy!

  3. Crowd Calendars: Many Disney themed blogs have a crowd calendar. These calendars predict the times of the year the park will be the busiest and least busy based upon previous years attendance and special events Disney has planned for that time. They also have crowd calendars for specific days at each park. So if you know you are going the first week of June you can look at a crowd calendar to decide which park will be the least busy for each day of the week. Then make your dining reservations and fastpasses based upon which park is the least busy. (Just google “Disney World crowd calendars” to find them.)
  4. Rope Drop & Naps! Okay this is two tips but I feel it falls into the same category. By attending rope drop or park opening each day you will find the park to be pretty empty for the first hour or two (depending on the time of year you go). Along with rope drop/park opening you should either head to A) the most popular big rides first OR B) the back of the park. Most people start at the front of the park so make your way to the back quickly and you’ll find no ride wait times! Then plan for Naps!! If you leave the park around 2pm for naps, returning around 5pm, you’ll find many people to be leaving the park for their dinner reservations or to get out of the heat/off their feet. Your family will be well rested and ready to enjoy the night time celebrations! 

    Rope drop at the Magic Kingdom with a welcome show!

    Rope drop at the Magic Kingdom with a welcome show!Naps in our Cars suite at Art of Animation!Naps in our Cars suite at Art of Animation!

  5. Have a plan but be ready to go with the flow! We had dining reservations, fastpasses, and a plan A & B for each day of our trip. For the most part things went as planned. However there were things completely out of our control that happened…for instance; we had two rides we had fastpasses to break down on the same day during our ride times, a car accident at our resort meant longer bus ride times putting us in a rush to get to dining reservations, and my kids spent almost every minute of every day wanting to go back to the resort to swim all day. We quickly learned to move our plans aside and go with the flow when things like this happened. Leaving one park after only half the day to let the kids spend the whole evening and night swimming. 

    Night swim at the Nemo Pool!

    Night swim at the Nemo Pool!

  6. Lastly bring Blister Block, Mole Skin and Pair of Scissors! Blister block and moleskin are your best friend at Disney World!! Buy them and use them daily! Coat everyone’s feet in blister block before socks every morning and again after naps/before going back to the park. Mole skin can be cut (that’s why you need scissors) to cover areas of your feet that are sensitive or prone to getting blisters. I put a strip on the pad of my feet near my toes.

Like I said there are many more helpful tips I got and read but these were the most useful to getting the most out of our stay at Disney World. We had an amazing week at Disney and can’t wait to go back. For more info on my trip read The 10 Things I learned on my Disney World Trip! Also we drove 16+ hours to and from Disney World so read some of the ways I make traveling easier for my family with my top traveling tips here, packing efficiently here, saving money on food here, and money saving ideas here!

10 Things I learned on my first trip to Disney World!

10 Things I learned at Disney

As we headed home I was reflecting on our week in Disney World. I thought I’d share some of what I learned on our very first trip to Disney World!

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1) For every rude guest there are two or three nice ones. Standing in endless lines always goes quicker when you have friendly people to talk to. We met people from New Jersey to Arkansas to California and everywhere in between. All nice, helpful, good people. Thank you awesome people! Also plan to spread the ‘magic’…we helped people this week numerous times in many ways (i.e. folding pesky strollers is no match for this mom of four…you’ve got a stroller I can figure out how to fold it in under one minute! Need 50 napkins to clean up a spill…I’ve got those in my purse.)
2) The dining plan was well worth it for our family of 6! (We had the 1 snack, 1 quick service and 1 sit down meal per person per night at our resort.) I kept track all week of what we would have paid at meals and compared it to the amount we paid for the dining plan, we saved almost $500!! Yes we would have eaten that much food without the dining plan. No food was wasted with my growing bunch. Yes we used every last dining credit up until we left this evening.

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Dining in ‘China’ at Epcot! We had reservations for a sit down meal every day!

3) All those tips/tricks you read on blogs (or from friends on FB) are worth your time to read before you go because they’ll save you precious time at the parks. We never stood in an attraction line more than 20 minutes, we knew several short cuts around the parks, and we didn’t zig zag through the park wasting our energy because I had a plan thanks to all those tips.
4) Being at rope drop/park opening every day then leaving for naps and pool time around 2pm then back to the park around 5-6pm was the best advice I received! Kids lasted until 10pm each night with very minimal meltdowns. And only two of our children fell asleep on a bus ride to our resort.

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Here they are on the last day waiting for rope drop. The park was very calm and quiet on this morning!

5) Rider swap fastpass for parents is great! However it doesn’t dry the tears of your 2 year old who is sure he is 6ft tall and can ride anything he wants.

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Yep you guessed it…the 2 year old is mad because the older kids just got to ride space mountain while he had to wait for them outside!

6) Despite some negative feedback the new Fastpass system is awesome and I highly suggest using it. We rode most of our rides all week long with fastpasses…little waiting for antsy kids is perfect!!

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We fastpassed this Buzz Lightyear ride 2 times over the three days we visited the Magic Kingdom!

7) You can never have too many bottles of water. Yes you can get a cup of water for free at quick service restaurants but dragging a family of six to get cups of water just doesn’t happen. Bring lots of water!
8) If you live more than a days drive away and can afford to fly, do it! You’ll feel like you ran two full marathons after a week at WDW and won’t want to drive 17 hours home! (I recently read that the average person walks 10 miles a day in Disney World parks….we were there for 6 days, that’s 60 miles in a week!)

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This is day 5 of visiting the parks (day 7 of our trip). Someone of us are getting grumpy and tired.

9) Most people have no idea that many bike trailers double as a stroller. You will be the only one with one at WDW. People will think you invented a new stroller. More people should consider using theirs at WDW so their kids and ride comfortably with lots of cargo room!

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Funny thing is Hubby forgot to check the stroller before we left so we left the front wheel at home and the tires were flat. The resort aired up the tires and the stroller worked just find without a front tire!

10) My older two boys (ages 8 & 7) are capable of walking many many many miles a day with no complaints. I will be using this fact in my favor this summer!! They got many pats on their back for not complaining about the long walks, running to catch our bus so we didn’t miss it, and keeping up with my very fast walking pace.

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The last day…the older two boys have walked around 50 miles so far!

 I share my top 6 tips for making the most out of your Disney World Trip here! Also other related posts I’ve done are Traveling Tips, Saving Money on Food while traveling, and Packing efficiently here!

 

Funnies Said On The Road

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During our road trip we jotted down all the funny stuff said by the kids. They will make great memories for our kids later in life.

Now these may not seem all that funny to you without the full story but believe me when I tell you these were all HILARIOUS when you’ve been on the road for hours. I’ve also included some fun little awards for each of the five kids on our road trip!

Best Paci Passenger

“I swallowed it! I swallowed it WHOLE! The whole candy!”

“Don’t forget to buy the BUTT stuff for Ryan!”

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“Where’s my mom’s shoes?!?!”

“Mom I can smell the cough drop and it smells soooo gooood!”

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“There is an airport RIGHT THERE! Why didn’t we just fly here?!?”

You had my flip flop? What were you doing with my flip flop? Were you hiding it? Huh? Huh?”

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The next time your on a road trip take a little notebook to jot down all the funny stores and stuff said!

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My Top 8 Traveling Tips

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As you all know I returned this week from a 3300 mile road trip. Well in actuality with the coming and going to different activities at our destinations we traveled almost exactly 3800 miles over 2 weeks! That is more than 55 hours of driving. I want to share the TOP 8 things I found most helpful while traveling.

1. Road Hunt app – Looking for something to keep adults occupied on long road trips? Look no further than this fun app! We spent hours playing this game to keep us busy on our long drives through 13 different states!

2. On The Way App (powered by Yelp) – This app was really helpful in finding places to stop for gas and food along our routes. You can also easily view the Yelp reviews to help decide if it’s a place you want to stop at.

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3. “Are we there yet?” Banner – During our drives my kids really enjoyed trying to spot the next place on our “Are we there yet?” banner so we could celebrate and take that paper down. They knew exactly how many more cities or state lines we had to cross before we got to our destination, keeping them from asking how much longer we had.

4. Homemade Lunchables – One great way to keep everyone happy on the road is by keeping their bellies full. My homemade lunchables were perfect for all the kids and adults while traveling AND while visiting places like the beach, zoo, and parks!

5. Fresh Fruit – We booked hotels that all offered continental breakfasts however many of them only offered cereal and toast. It wasn’t enough to keep little bellies full so having lots of apples, oranges, and bananas on hand was key in fueling up in the mornings.

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6. Clothes Pins and Ziplock Bags! – I threw in a bag of clothes pins and extra baggies which both came in very handy during our trip. The clothes pins were great for hanging up wet swim suits in our hotel room. The baggies were used to package snacks, put wet clothes in at amusement parks, put dirty diapers in to throw out, and tackling the mess of little toys along the way.

7. Kids Comfort Items- Blankies, pacifiers, and stuffed animals. Need I say more?!

8. Travel Tickets – We gave all the kids tickets for their good behavior in and out of the car. Then they could cash in their tickets for .50 cents each to buy souvenirs at the parks during our trip. This was EXTREMELY handy because it encouraged good behavior while giving the kids a chance to buy trinkets and things during the trip!

What are some of your favorite apps while driving? Do you have any road trip tips to share? I’d love to hear them!

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Road Trips: Packing Efficient for Big Family (Final Part in my Road Trip Series)

road tripI have changed the way I pack significantly over the years. I like to be able to pull each person’s clothes out for the day in a jiffy so each child can get dressed and ready for the day. I also have found that I like the kids bathroom essentials with my bathroom essentials so I can easily get to them all at one time for morning or night routines.1-IMG_4620

For this trip we will be making overnight stops on our drives so I have one medium duffel bag that is an overnight bag while the other bags are for our longer stays in Georgia and Ohio. The other medium duffel is for my younger two kids and the suit case is for hubby and I (in this case it is just mine so I added the kids sweaters and all of the bathroom essentials to my bag).

For each child I set out 7 outfits, 7 socks, 7 underwear, 4 pajamas, and 2 swim suits. Each outfit along with a pair of socks and undies goes into a ziplock bag. This saves me time when we get to our destinations and it saves room. I put all pajamas in one ziplock and both swim suits in a ziplock for each child. My four children share two different bags but it includes everything they need for an entire week, including diapers, wipes, and night time pull-ups.1-clothes-002

On the bottom of my older boys duffel bag I pack all our beach essentials; towels, swim shoes, sunscreen, hats, swim diapers, and a flattened bag. Then in the top portion is my boys clothes.1-IMG_4613

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The only other bags we have are these…

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Just the kids Busy Binders, gaming device bag, a couple bins with new road trip games/toys, and then our food for the road (which will be in a small cooler but is not pictured here).

Now we are off on our Road Trip Adventure! First stop is Baton Rouge, LA followed by Georgia to see family! Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to keep track of our road trip journey!

I will try to post as often as possible over the next two weeks about our trip plus I have some GREAT scheduled posts coming up too!

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Road Trips: Cutting Food Costs (Part 2 of my Road Trip Series)

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I am all about saving money while on the road. I also like the ease of having our own foods on hands and since those to things go so well together I thought I’d share some ideas we use to save money on food for road trips!

How I save money while on a road trip…

Muffins

Breakfast on the Road: Bake muffins ahead of time and package in baggies to eat on the road. Make little throw away fruit cups with fresh fruit ahead of time. Individual small bags of cereal are great for toddlers served in a snack trap.

Lunchables

Lunch on the Road: Things we eat on the road for lunch are; *PB&J’s, **homemade lunchables, fruit, veggies, chips, and drinks. 

*Make PB&J’s with an entire loaf of bread, cut into shapes or squares, put each sandwich in a baggie, then place them all back in the loaf bag and freeze over night. Put in the cooler and pass out as needed for lunch or snacks on the road!

**Slice up a block of cheese into squares, cut up lunch meat & pepperoni into shapes, put 6-10 cheese and meat in each baggie, then in a separate baggie put 6-10 crackers. AT lunch pass each person a bag of meat, cheese and crackers.

I PREPACKAGE ALL OF OUR VEGGIES AND FRUITS INTO SMALL BAGGIES FOR QUICK EATING ON THE ROAD WHICH PAIR GREAT WITH LUNCH.

Drinks on the Road: We avoid sugary drinks and instead try to stick to a lot of water but I do let my children have a couple Gatorades or flavored water with their meals. I freeze most of our drinks over night then place in the cooler the morning of the trip to help keep the other items colder longer. I always travel with sippy cups of milk for each child, especially for my toddler who is lactose intolerant.  

Snacks

Snacks on the Road: I like to take an entire box of gold fish, crackers, toddler puffs, fruit snacks, raisins, etc and sort them into individual snack size bags ahead of time. I usually make every child two bags of each snack per day we will be on the road. It’s also a good idea to put little special treats like gummy bears, lollipops, and licorice in snack sized bags ahead of time too! (This helps prevent my kids from thinking we need to buy something when we stop for potty breaks and it also prevents fights about sharing.)

Avoid buying food at convenient stores…they are the most expensive there. Instead make a quick stop at a grocery store if you run low on food or drinks.

Dinner… We typically will stop for dinner at a diner, restaurant, or fast food place if we have been on the road all day (see my tips below to save money buying food). If we start driving late in the day I treat dinner just as I would lunch on the road…sandwiches, lunchables, fruit, veggies, and a drink.

If we stop at any restaurants I try to have coupons on hand to save money. Or stop at places that kids eat free. I also try to buy individual food items rather than meals at fast food places then I use our own drinks and snacks to supplement the rest of the meal (so long as we will be in the car eating).

My next post will be up later this week which will highlight how I organize our clothes in our luggage to streamline our daily routine while vacationing!


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