My Disney Experience and Magic Bands FREE E-Course

In the past few years, Walt Disney World has grown leaps and bounds as far as technology goes. What once was a card used to swipe into your room, turned into what we now know as “Magic Bands.” Some called it big brother-ish, some called it amazing, but what we do know about these bands and it’s other component called My Disney Experience, is that they are here to stay.

 

As someone who dislikes change, I understand not wanting to try something different or take the time to learn the new technology, but trust me when I say it will be WORTH IT when it comes to time (and sanity) saved on your Disney vacation if you know how to efficiently use My Disney experience and understand how the Magic bands work!T1CjCNKhhvIS8VNw0MpiMB6ClWHNTiRO07xTUBRFIJYpX92IB

This is exactly why I created a FREE E-course for you. I want you to have a stress free vacation. There is no need to be overwhelmed by the technology and the process if you just have someone to explain it to you, piece by piece…and that is precisely what I do in my free course.

 

In this course, you will learn all about Magic Bands, making Fastpass+ reservations, dining reservations, and how to use Memory maker. I also show you how to set up an account, manage your family and friends list, and research different resort and dining options. This is in a video format, so you don’t have to sit and read for endless hours to get it done. The course is broken down into sections, so you can go through as much or as little as you want to at a time. All in all it should take you no more than two hours to get through this free course. I’m so excited for you to feel confident about your knowledge in this area, and have a great vacation because of it!

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So what are you waiting for? Stop wondering what Magic Bands and My Disney Experience are all about, and get to dreaming up the perfect vacation for you and your family. (PS: When you click the link to go to the course page, it mentions a coming soon course not yet available, but if you click the button, you will be taken to sign up for my FREE e-course, so don’t let it confuse you!)

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QOTD: Thoughts on Disney’s new technologies? Love it or loathe it?

Tech Toys Then and Now

Disclosure: The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

I will admit that I am kind of a tech nerd, and I really hope to have passed on some of my nerdi-ness to my child. My mom tells me that when I was growing up, I always wanted the toys for Christmas/birthdays that involved batteries, moving parts, and “life like” characteristics. I had a dog that really walked next to you on a leash, (go go my walkin’ pup anyone?) as well as a baby that cried and you could feed her a bottle. I also have a PJ Sparkles, and when I was a pre teen the very first Game boy came out. Let’s just stay we had a healthy supply of batteries in our house for all of my toys. I still remember when the JC Penny Christmas catalog would come out every year and I would spend hours circling the toys I wanted. All tech toys of course. Much to my parents dismay, these toys were also the most expensive since the “real life” tech toys were so new.

Of course, “tech toys” have changed a lot since the early 1990’s, but I am still intrigued by them and was excited to introduce Emma Kate to the Code-a-pillar.

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This toy was created by Fisher Price, and is available at Best Buy. The premise behind this little guy is that you can hook all of his pieces together in any order you choose, and make him crawl in different directions all around your house. He also lights up and really cute music plays as he is “working”, and Emma Kate loved chasing him around seeing which direction he would go next.

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My favorite feature is the fact that the Code-a-pillar has endless possibilities. It really makes the kids (and adults!) think about which way they want him to go, and what arrangement of pieces you would need to make him end up in a certain spot. For example, you can set up an “obstacle course” and see what configuration you would need to make him go under a chair, around a table, and to the other side of the room without running into anything. It’s a lot of fun!

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I would definitely recommend this product for anyone who loves gadgets, and for those wanting to help teach their kids about problem solving, coming up with solutions, sequencing, and using their imagination (which should be EVERY parent!) Even though Emma Kate is still young, she was so curious and engaged and even helped me take apart the pieces and put them together in a different order (they are really easy to plug into each other).

This toy encourages experimentation as well as problem solving. Each section lights up as the action is happening (when he turns right, the “turn right segment lights up and blinks”.) It is designed for children ages 3-6, but Emma Kate still enjoyed this toy even though she isn’t three yet. I can’t wait to see how she changes the way she plays with is as she grows.

QOTD: Do you think this is a cool toy? Did you like tech toys when you were growing up? What was your favorite?

How To Start a Blog: FREE E-Course

Good morning! How is everyone today? Before I get going on how super excited I am to launch my very first email course (and it’s completely free!), I want to thank those of you that signed up for my free fitness and goal tracking printables. I am new to this e-mail list thing, and I wanted to do something simple yet fun and helpful to YOU to see what kind of traction I would get, and I was very pleased with my results! Also, a huge thank you to those of you that responded to the initial newsletter question. I am still reading them and decided to respond to each of you, but it may take me a few days so hang tight. There is a common theme among the responses I have gotten so far, so I can’t wait to share with each one of you.

Anyway, the free printables were really just an introduction to something I have been wanting to offer for awhile, and that is a free e-course. Blog posts packed with information are great, but some topics are just too big to put into a single post, and could get really overwhelming.

I have truly enjoyed the few e-courses I have participated in, and thought to myself “hey, I can do that!” Basically if you choose to sign up you will be getting a series of five days worth of emails on a topic near and dear to my heart, which is starting a blog.

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I wrote a blog post about three years ago with tips on starting your own blog, and to this day it is one of my number one most read posts of all time. (All time being 6.5 years, but that’s still a long time!) The post was decent, but I feel like I barely scratched the surface and left a lot of readers hanging on exactly how to go about doing the things I talked about in my blog post. Enter my e-course!

I am SO excited to be offering this to my awesome readers. I know there are a bunch of you out there who would love to start a blog (and would be great at it!) but have no idea where to begin. It can be scary and overwhelming, but it is totally doable. Back when I started blogging, I had no help and just learned as I went.  I want to help you to not make the same mistakes I did, and I want to simplify the process for you. Also, if you already have a blog, you may still enjoy the course because in the last couple days of it, I give some tips and tricks that could be helpful to you.

Please don’t waste months trying to figure things out on your own when I have already done the hard work for you. Sign up for my five day free e-course and get to blogging. I can’t wait to see what you come up with! You can sign up by clicking the photo above or by clicking this link.

QOTD: Have you ever taken an e-course? What was the topic?

PS: You can still sign up to get the free fitness and goal tracking printables, you didn’t miss out!

5 Things Friday XIII

Happy Friday! This week has thrown me for a loop. All day yesterday I thought it was Wednesday. Thankfully, I was wrong on that one. This week we have had a lot of rain/severe weather, high winds, and crazy humidity. I’m ready for some sunshine. I need to start remembering to reapply sunscreen because my freckles are coming out like woah. Anyway, here’s what is going on in my brain this Friday (scary thought, I know).

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1.) Instagram Craziness: Ever since Instagram announced they were going to put “more important to you” posts first, everyone started losing their minds. For some reason it got around that this was to happen this past week, so my feed was filled with people begging followers to turn on their notifications to make sure they saw all their posts. For those that don’t know, all this does is send you a push notification every. single. time,. that person posts. Aint nobody got time for that! Just don’t post those things. Seriously. This article was spot on/hilarious.

2.) Racin’ For the Seed: Tomorrow I will be running my first 5k since December! It’s also a duathlon that Bobby participated in last year that benefits our local Christian community center for adults with developmental disabilities. The center is called the Mustard Seed, hence “Racin’ for the Seed”. We had a great time last year, and this time Bobby is sitting out so I can race. I hope Frank the camel is back!

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3.) Did I do that? Wednesday was a weird day for me. I actually walked around for several hours wearing two different shoes. You may have spotted my post on social media that evening, I cannot believe I did that. I have always laughed at other people doing it, but never thought it would be me. Mom brain is real, folks.

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4.) Crock Pot fun: In an effort to make my life easier and not have to cook every night, I started using my crock pot again (or slow cooker as some of you may call it). This way I can make twice as much food with little prep. Wednesday night I threw in four chicken breasts, some taco seasoning mix, a cup of salsa and a can of beans. Cooked on low for four hours, shred chicken, and walah, we have food for two days. Happy wife, happy life.

5.) Pigtail baby: What is it about pigtails that make little girls look so darn mischievous? My little bug looks adorable in them but I think she gets into more trouble on days when I put her hair like that. It is quite the wrestling match to do her hair though. I try to do it in the morning when I am changing her diaper otherwise she will not be still for me. Any tips?

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QOTD: Are you racing this weekend? Tips for doing crazy hyper girl toddler hair? Best crock pot recipe?

Motivation with Moto 360 Sport

Motivation can be such a tricky thing. Not everyone is motivated by the same things, and sometimes it can be hard to figure out what gets you going personally. I have had t try many different tactics to keep me motivated to stay fit and healthy, and honestly I have realized that it’s not just one thing for me.

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Wanting to set a good example for my daughter, having group accountability, and keeping track of progress are all good motivators for me. My toddler is a little to young to go run with me (haha) but I still try to get a good example by being active with her, going on walks, and playing outside. I joined a boot camp class for motivation in a group setting (it’s expensive so I go simply to not waste money, if nothing else), and I keep track of data like my steps walked, heart rate, calories burned, and run stats because seeing progress is definitely motivating.

I have used many different things in the past few years to help keep track of my stats, and the new Moto 360 Sport watch is by far the coolest thing!

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Right out of the box, I knew I was going to like this watch because it is a good size. I have other touch screen watches but the faces have been really big, so this guy is ahead of his time by having all the same technology but in a sleeker design. The flame orange is pretty awesome to me, but if it’s not your favorite, the Moto 360 Sport also comes in white and black.

So let’s start with the obvious for me, all about the numbers for this data and running geek. This watch gives it all to you without having to carry your phone. The top left number on the above photo is how many minutes I have moved that day, the bottom lest is my calorie burn, top right is steps walked, and bottom right is the second hand for the clock. The clock face I had my watch on is the “sport” one, and as you can see I can easily hit ONE BUTTON….START from the main screen and start my run. It will track all the stats of a regular GPS watch as well as heart rate and time spent in different heart rate zones, but that is just the beginning!

Music on the run? Sure! There are 4 GB of space and it is compatible with Spotify which is awesome (love the integration!) Oh, speaking of integration, it is also compatible with programs you may already use like FitBit, Map My Run, and Strava.

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Check out the cool charging dock, just set it inside the cradle. I have to charge it nightly because it has so many cool features always running, but that’s ok, it’s totally worth it!

I downloaded Android Wear™ which allowed me to sync up my watch so that I can check traffic, weather, get social media or email notifications, and even text messages!

The watch itself is very durable, make of silicone that doesn’t absorb sweat while ventilation channels keep you cool. The Motorola AnyLight display is really brilliant. It’s the world’s first hybrid screen and you can read the display even in bright sunlight because it adapts to the light level around it. So cool.

Another really cool aesthetic is the ability to change the watch face. There are tons to choose from, like this gorgeous blossom option.

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Now, I don’t know about you but I think that is MOTOvating! If you are a numbers + technology geek like me, then you should give this watch a shot. Maybe it could be a good motivator for you like is has been for me.

Whatever it may be, I hope you can find something that MOTOvates you to get and stay healthy. We all need a reason to keep on keeping on, it’s so important! Reading blogs and having people encourage me has also been a big help, so if any of you ever need a little motivational boost, I will be happy to help you out, so feel free to email me anytime. But for now, check out this awesome video that will tell you a little more about the Moto 360 Sport watch.

You can purchase your own watch at Motorola.com, Best Buy, Nordstrom, Amazon, Google Play, Verizon.com, and at the Moto Shop in downtown Chicago.

To help get you MOTOvated, Motorola is giving away FOUR watches! Simply follow the rafflecoptor instructions below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Motorola. The opinions and text are all mine.

My “Big Girl” Camera

Several years ago, I bought a “big girl camera”, so that I could take better vacation photos and blog photos. Sadly, with the new technology of camera phones and the use of filters, it hasn’t been as important to use an amazing camera as it used to be (or so I thought.) That and well, I was just being lazy. It’s so much easier to just upload photos form my phone straight to my blog than to shoot, edit, and work with “real” pictures.

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Exhibit A: iPhone panoramic photo plus filter = good enough, right?

I recently realized I really needed to “up my game” in the photo department, and wanted to find time (haha) to learn to use my camera in manual mode. I had tried many times before but got bogged down in lingo and details that seemed to skip over the VERY basic steps that I needed.

I still need a LOT of work, but I am beginning to see good results on better quality photos that I will be using in m blog posts (not all of them, sorry. A lot of my daily life is snapped quickly on my phone, especially with the baby!) I found a great website that really helped it click for me in my head, and I thought I would pass it along to you and maybe you will find it as helpful as I did.

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What? You have to have SKILLS to take a picture of your feet with an iPhone. I am a master at this one.

Does anyone have any great beginner photography tips or websites for me? I would love to learn more and keep on practicing my skills (or lack of skills. I’m under no illusions that I actually know what I am doing.)  I currently have a Nikon D5000 to work with. I have the lens that came with it as well as a huge “stalker” lens where I can super-zoom in on people, but that’s it. What else do I need?

QOTD: Photographers HELP! What lens to I need? Any helpful tools/website/blogs I need to follow? I have zero artistic eye!

The Instabreaker

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OtterBox has saved my phone many times and has asked me to share my experiences while telling you about their awesome cases. All opinions are my own.

I will admit it. I am obsessed with my mobile phone. It’s constantly in my hand due to work commitments, and I am on social media a lot. Due to the sheer amount of time I spend holding my phone, it should be no surprise that it has also been in a few….accidents. Most of my accidents have to do with two things: running, and my baby. First running:

For safety purposes alone, I always run with my phone. I also like to listen to podcasts, and occasionally music. I am not a fan of armbands, so I usually just hold my phone (this annoys my husband to no end, he cannot fathom holding something for an entire run.) Anyway, my hands get sweaty, and my phone has been known to let’s say…jump right out onto the pavement. Luckily, my OtterBox has saved me on MULTIPLE occasions.

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Secondly, I have an eleven month old baby who thinks my phone is the coolest thing ever. She also thinks putting things in her mouth is the coolest thing ever. So, a lot of times my phone ends up covered in drool, or getting thrown at the dog. As you can imagine, this is not good for the life expectancy of a phone.

OtterBox has not only saved my phone several times, but they have also come up with a fun quiz to let you know what your phone wrecker style is. Also, if you share your results, you can will get 10% off a case of your own. Me? According to the results, I am the Instabreaker which seems fitting!

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Here is a little bit more info about OtterBox:

Most of the OtterBox cases are easy to carry around (the defender being the exception). This is huge because the last thing I need is something big taking up space in my purse or in my hand. They also have some really adorable designs and are quite fashionable, and allow for some self expression!

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The MySymmetry series is a clear case with inserts that you can customize. They are really slim, too and have great pocketability. Again, this is a huge plus to me!

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I encourage you to go take the Phone Wrecker quiz for yourself, I would love to see your results in the comments below! Also, OtterBox is hosting a Twitter chat on September 16th at 9 AM PST. Be sure to join in, you could win great PRIZES!

QOTD: What type of phone wrecker are you? Share your Phone Breaker quiz result via social media or email and receive a 10% discount code to use on your next order at OtterBox.com! The coupon cannot be combined with any other special offer.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OtterBox.

New Hair and a Texting Question

Good morning my friends and happy hump day. (Said the camel way, of course). Yesterday I did something some would consider drastic….I chopped off my hair. COLLECTIVE GASP! I know, right? It was seriously time. My hair told me it was time. (What, your hair doesn’t talk to you?) Anyway, I had a ponytail holder break on me, and since I haven’t had a haircut in oh…8 months…back when I was pregnant….I knew it was time. I know, I know. I hang my head in shame.

Something you may or may not know about me…I am THE most low maintenance hair person. It’s in a ponytail nine times out of ten because well…I’m lazy, and can think of 100 other things to do with my time besides straighten my long thick hair. I don’t even own a blow dryer. I’m not even kidding. My last one broke a year or two ago and I just never replaced it. Anyway, I was hoping by chopping my hair off, the summer heat would be more bearable for running and, maybe I would take the time to actually straighten it if it wasn’t halfway down my back. We will see. Don’t hold your breathe.

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Do you chop off your hair as the seasons change? Just curious. I stood my ground though and said no to bangs. EVERY TIME I cut my bangs I immediately, like as in ten minutes later, regret it. You should have to sign a mental health waiver to get bangs cut. It’s that traumatizing. Let’s move on shall we?

I was chatting with a friend the other day about texting, and realized something pretty funny. I am the type of person that texts back IMMEDIATELY. I always have my phone next to me or in my hand, so I will reply as long as I’m not on the phone or changing a diaper or something fun like that. Seriously, if you text me and I don’t respond within ten minutes, call the cops, because I may be dead. I have friends that I text with daily, and some are like me and respond instantly (and I in turn get worried if I don’t hear back within a few minutes), and then I have some that may go hours or even days without texting me back. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!? Someone please help me. Is this a blogger/social media thing? Because I am always on social media due to the nature of my work, am I just more prone to responding quickly to texts?

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It’s honestly something I never really thought about until now. Someone please enlighten me? Am I a freak? (Bobby, you are not allowed to answer, k thanks.) I’m not saying there is anything wrong with any particular way or timeframe, I just find it fascinating.

Oh, on that note, my husband will be sitting on the couch and get a text and just ignore it. I’m all like AREN’T YOU GOING TO READ THAT? It seriously makes me twitch. Ok, so maybe I do have a problem. Also, don’t leave me a voicemail. There is a good chance you will never hear from me. If you call and I don’t answer, text me and tell me what you want me to do (call you back, etc.) I’m not sure why but I really dislike listening to voicemail. Oh, also if I don’t have your number in my phone and you call me, I probably won’t answer. I refuse to talk to solicitors and that’s usually who the no-name calls are from. So now that you know ALL of my “phone quirks,” I think it’s time for me to be quiet before you never come back to my blog again. if you need me, text, don’t call. Smile

QOTD: What is your texting style? Do you like voicemail? How often do you cut your hair?

What I’m Loving Lately: February 2015

It’s time again to see what some I have been loving as of late. As the weather changes and as my workouts/training cycles change, my favorites most definitely change as well. Here we go!

1.) Opedix Knee-Tec 2.0 full length compression tights:

Marathon training is painful yall. My joints hurt, I ache a lot, and need serious help recovering. I was given these tights and so far I am really liking them.

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They help improve alignment and joint function, as well as reduce muscle fatigue. They have compression plus torque reform technology. These tights are moisture wicking, anti-odor, and breathable. They have a high waistband with a drawstring, and they have a great fit. My favorite thing though is that they are made in the USA! I have been wearing them after some long runs and my muscles feel more relaxed and I feel more fresh the next day and ready to run again. They have a lot of seams which I wasn’t sure about at first, but soon realized it helps and gives more compression and a better fit. (Follow them on Instagram here).

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2.) Emma Kate’s Easter basket:

I never click on the sponsored content that comes up on Facebook, but this time I did. There was a great sale price plus free personalization on baskets from Viv and Lou, so I had to get one!

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3.) Starbucks baby gift idea:

I saw this on Instagram. How adorbs is this? Baby blankets made to look like Starbucks drinks. I die. Now I just need a fellow Starbucks lover to have a baby so I can make this!

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4.) This. Need I say more?

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5.) External charger from Jane.com

I bought this a month or so ago and it has been a lifesaver. I just stick it in my purse and can recharge my phone when I am using it a lot and don’t have an outlet nearby. It was only about $7, and I have seen them pop up on the site several times. Oh, and if you aren’t familiar with Jane.com, enter at your own risk. Ssssoooo addicting!

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QOTD: What is something you are loving lately? Do you have or like any of the things I mentioned?

Disclosure: I was sent the Opedix tights to try free of charge, but everything else in this post I purchased. All opinions are my own.

 

My Favorite Social Media Apps

Social media is a big part of my life, and since I am on the go a lot, so are social media apps for my phone and iPad. I wanted to share some of my favorites with you, aside from the obvious Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. The following apps are all things that HELP already existing accounts you may have on those platforms.

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Buffer: The Buffer app is a great tool for scheduling things like Tweets and Facebook posts. You can add in 10 updates with the free version and they will be posted during the day at times you set, so you don’t have to worry about posting too many things at once. You can also add a buffer button at the top of your toolbar, so anytime you are on a blog or website and see an article you want to tweet or post about but don’t want to do it this minute, you just click the button and the post gets composed and added to your buffer que to be posted at a later time, it’s so easy. My favorite feature is that I can see the likes, comments, shares, and reach for each post.

Facebook Pages Manager: This one should be a given if you have a Facebook fan page. It is especially helpful if you have multiple pages like I do. I can easily toggle between them and see notifications and messages, write new posts, post photos, etc. Without having to go into my actual Facebook app.

Flipboard: This is a great app where you can get up to date content and news that would be relevant to your blog or topics of interest to your followers. (You pick the topics that come up). Once you find an article or story you like, you can share straight to Facebook or Twitter among others. This is a great tool to increase engagement and is a good conversation starter among your followers.

Snapseed: This is a photo editing tool I use a lot before I post photos to Instagram. It has a lot of basic options like frames, straighten, and copping, but also has some great ways to fine tune the coloring, sharpness, and focus of an image. There are a ton of editing choices and it’s fun to play around with.

 

QOTD: What is your favorite app that helps with social media?