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6 Ways to Introduce Black History Month to Kids

It's officially Black History Month and today we share with you some ways to introduce Black History Month to Kids.

As an African-American mother, it is my job to educate my children. February, however, is the perfect time to talk to kids about the contributions of African-American historical figures and culture to our society. It’s also a great time to look back at lessons learned and all of the struggles that have been overcome. While it seems like there are racially charged issues in the news every day, it’s important to teach children how far we’ve come and to inspire them to continue striving for positive change. But where do you start with really young kids? How do you get the ball rolling? Here are 6 ways to introduce Black History Month to kids.

1. Eat soul food. This cuisine dates back to pre-colonial Africa, but the term didn’t come about until the 60’s. The traditional West African diet was predominantly vegetarian for centuries, consisting of rice, peas, okra, hot peppers, and yams. Meat was used sparingly, as a seasoning, but that has evolved over time. Soul food is thought of as food of the South, where the word soul in the 60’s was used to describe African-American culture in general. Cook up some black eyed peas, chicken and dumplings, collard greens, corn bread, and vegetable soup to give kids a taste.

2. Listen to the blues. The blues originated on Southern plantations by slaves in the 19th century. The music evolved over time, from African spirituals, to hymns, to country music, to something sounding more like jazz. Little kids learn a lot from music. Ever notice that children’s TV shows always include songs? Sing and dance along to the blues! You can even try to play a few songs on instruments (kiddie or legit) that you have at home. Not sure where to begin? Try B.B. King or Muddy Waters.

2. Eat soul food. This cuisine dates back to pre-colonial Africa, but the term didn’t come about until the 60’s. The traditional West African diet was predominantly vegetarian for centuries, consisting of rice, peas, okra, hot peppers, and yams. Meat was used sparingly, as a seasoning, but that has evolved over time. Soul food is thought of as food of the South, where the word soul in the 60’s was used to describe African-American culture in general. Cook up some black eyed peas, chicken and dumplings, collard greens, corn bread, and vegetable soup to give kids a taste.

3. Read together. While you may not be able to get into the heavy topics with very young children, it’s important to start introducing them to black history, culture and civil rights as early as possible. Start with Coming On Home Soon or How Many Stars in the Sky? for Kindergarteners. Henry’s Freedom Box and Two Friends begin to tackle more complex subjects.

4. Sing a song. While This Little Light of Mine may be a simple Sunday school song, it actually became an anthem of the civil rights movement. It’s an easy one to sing with kids and there are even hand motions to make it fun. You might explain that one little light may not seem like enough, but when many gather, they can light the world.

5. Introduce Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Use the book Martin’s Big Words to introduce Martin Luther King to your little ones.  You can use this great biography website for kids to talk about other important civil rights leaders, like Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks.

6. Bake cookies. In Africa, sesame seeds are believed to bring good luck. Why not whip up a batch of sesame seed cookies together? For some sesame seed inspirations you can check out Pinterest. There's a plethora of sesame seed recipes just waiting for you to explore.

Annmarie John
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Tips for a Better You with Better for You Snacks

A new year has begun and most of us have made resolutions, resolutions to live healthier and happier lives. While I haven't personally made any resolutions this year myself, one of my goals this year is to lose the weight that I have gained over the holidays and even before that. I have made it my business to eat better and also for my kids to eat better than they did last year. I'm big on snacking and I always have a snack or two for my kids, not just for school and after school, but also for when we're on the road. I always make sure to head to my local Sam's Club and pick up whatever I need. One of those better for us snacks just happens to be Annie’s® Popcorn Snack Packs and Honest® Kids Organic Juice Drink. Believe it or not, they're better for me and my little monsters, as I like to call my kids sometimes. I keep a package or two in my car and they're also in Madison's lunch box whenever she goes to school. I feel good knowing that I'm providing her with snacks that are better for her and best of all they taste great.

Madison goes to school on a daily basis and is at that age where there is still snack time. Last year I had problems trying to figure out what to put in her lunch box. Everyday it seemed like it was the same thing. This year I wanted a bit of variety but I also wanted snacks that were good for her. When it comes to my kids lunch boxes, having Annie® Popcorn Snacks and Honest® Kids Organic Juice Drink in there was a win-win. I felt good knowing that they were eating and drinking better snacks, and they were getting snacks that they also loved. They were the perfect lunch box solution! Not only are they better, but they're also convenient too. They're a great pick me up and are also perfect for our family movie and game nights.

With this however, being a brand new year, if you're looking for better snacks that aren't packed with sugar and you're looking for ways to be a better you, I have a few tips for you.

5 Tips for a Better You

1. Stop Putting It Off. Start Now!
Your first step to a better you is to start now! Stop putting it off by making every excuse that you can think of. However, start off slowly, don't just rush into it, and make little gradual changes. It's easier to make small changes gradually than big changes all at once. Hit the gym maybe twice a week and then work your way up to 5.

2. Get Moving
Make physical activity a part of your daily routine. If you have a pet, instead of telling your kids to take the dog out for a walk, you do it instead. Go for brisk walks early in the morning and again in the afternoon. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get off the bus a stop or two away and walk to your home. Once again do this gradually, but just do it!

3. Eat Regularly
Now this one is very important. Most people like to skip a meal or two thinking that it will help with weight-loss, but au contraire. Skipping meals usually ends up with you overeating because you're hungry. Eat smaller portions, but don't skip. Snacking between meals can also help but be sure to count your calories. That's why I just LOVE the Annie's® Organic White Cheddar Popcorn. It is Organic and made with 100% cheese, it's naturally gluten free and made with whole grains. There are no artificial flavors, synthetic colors or preservatives and I get less than 75 calories per cup.

4. Hydrate
We all need water to survive and it's recommended that you drink at least 8-8oz glass of water a day. Once you start getting active you also want to replace the water you lose when sweating. Carrying around a water bottle is a great way to remember to drink your daily requirement. However, a lot of people, including me don't really like drinking water. My kids don't either, so I make sure that I have the Honest® Kids Organic Juice Drink around. They are USDA Organic and sweetened only with fruit juice. They're also available in delicious flavors such as Berry Berry Good Lemonade, Goodness Grapeness, Super Fruit Punch and Appely Ever After. I get 100% daily value of vitamin C and only 30 calories per juice box.

5. Sleep
Make sure that you're getting your recommended sleep at night. It's recommended that you sleep at least 7-8hrs at night. Personally I can survive on 5 but getting enough sleep goes a long way at making sure your body is well. Did you know that you actually lose weight while you sleep? So go ahead, sleep more at nights.

So whether you're looking for a better lunch box solution this year for your kids, or looking for better alternative snacks for yourself, head to your local Sam's Club and pick up Annie’s® Popcorn Snack Packs and Honest® Kids Organic Juice Drink, they're definitely better for you and your kids will love them!

Let's discuss: Have you tried Annie’s® Popcorn Snack Packs and Honest® Kids Organic Juice Drink?

Annmarie John
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Celebrate Love this Valentine's Day with Teleflora

Share some love and bring a smile to your love one's faces this Valentine's Day with Teleflora's handmade with love bouquets.

Valentine's Day! It's the one day that most flowers are delivered to spouses, girlfriends and everyone that you love. This is my 2nd year celebrating Valentine's Day without my mother whom I lost 2 years ago. I would send her flowers on Valentine's Day because she was my love, and she also loved me unconditionally and she was also the only mother that I would ever have. My mother-in-law, who I considered my other mother, also receives flowers and she gets excited when she does. There's nothing quite like surprising a loved one with flowers from Teleflora. These floral bouquets are professionally arranged by a florist that is local to your area. They are freshly cut, carefully prepared and handmade with love. You know when you get a bouquet from Telefora that they are going to be fresh. I love receiving them to use as decor for my entry way table and their aromatic fragrances just delight your senses as soon as you walk in the door.

I have had to wait on occasion sometimes 3 days for my bouquet to fully bloom but when it does, it's amazing! I am no good at taking care of flowers, but it seems like Teleflora's bouquets just seem to take care of themselves. They just seem to last forever and they look great even after a week or two. If you're into flower pressing, then these are just the bouquets you need to do the job. I have quite a collection of pressed flowers from former bouquets that I have received from Teleflora that are just awesome. Can you tell how much I love them? Enough about me! If you're considering surprising someone you love this Valentine's day, by giving them that will make them smile and think of you, take a look at Teleflora's 2017 floral collection and their keepsake containers.

Teleflora’s Shining Heart Bouquet
This beautiful bouquet comes straight from the heart. It's ceramic keepsake vase is adorned with a sparkling rhinestone heart and combines a vibrant mix of  red roses, purple alstroemeria, red carnations, huckleberry and other lush floral stems. What better way to say "I Love You" than with this keepsake.

I had a choice of bouquets to choose from and I chose this one. I have never been disappointed ever in a Teleflora bouquet and this was no exception.

Teleflora's Love’s Passion Bouquet
The name speaks for itself, this is a bouquet filled with passion and romance. Just look at that elegant, luscious twisted red glass design. It's the perfect vase for your sophisticated lady. This bouquet will surely spice up your night by catching your Valentine's attention. With classic red roses, tulips and white Asiatic lilies, it's an unforgettable symbol of love.

Teleflora’s True Lovelies Bouquet
Looking to surprise you Valentine sweetheart and make their heart dance? This particular bouquet will not only delight, but it'll let them know that they are truly loved. This bouquet dazzles with red roses, delicate pink alstroemeria, seeded eucalyptus, and other fresh blooms, and is delivered in a pretty pink feminine keepsake vase, with gold metallic script message that reads "loved".

Teleflora’s Swirling Heart Bouquet

How about celebrating a friendship or that special family member that is closest to your heart? Then this charming floral bouquet will surely brighten their day and make them smile. Just check out the glazed stoneware container with it's intricate heart design. It's a keepsake that they'll cherish forever. This bouquet is filled with dark pink and red roses, dark pink and light pink miniature carnations and accented with fresh variegated pittosporum. I can think of so many ways to reuse this swirling heart cube container and I'm sure so will they, and whenever they see it, they'll be reminded forever of your love.

Teleflora has such a vast selection of bouquets and gift ideas and it may be difficult to choose your favorite, that's understandable. I always have a difficult time too. However, if you're still looking for flowers for your loved one, or flowers just to make that special someone in your life smile, then be sure to visit Teleflora. All of these bouquets are currently available on Teleflora and come in standard, deluxe or premium sizes.

Here are the ways to connect with Teleflora:

Annmarie John
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DIY Popsicle Soap

Looking for a way to get the kids to wash their hands EVEN MORE? Then these popsicle soap will do the trick!

While going through my computer of pictures I took last summer, I came up on these popsicle soap that Madison and I did while bored one day. It had been a hot couple of weeks and with weather like that, I tend to stay indoors. With there not being a beach near by and the waterpark over an hour away, I much prefer to stay inside with the A/C on and relax in what is considered my oasis. However, I have a 4yr old by the name of Madison who believes that if you're at home, you should be doing something. I don't blame her because I've instilled in her that it's not ok to be lazy, no matter how much I like just lazing about. With a craft center that just keeps getting bigger and bigger, thanks to Michaels and their amazing deals, there is always something for us to do. While at Michaels, I happened to pick up some soap making craft supplies. I had no idea what I was going to do with them since I'd never made soap before, however my first soap project just happened to be this one that I'm sharing with you today, our popsicle soap.

DIY Popsicle Soap 

Supplies Needed:

Popsicle Mold (I got mine at IKEA)
Glycerin Soap
Soap Coloring which is different from food coloring
Essential Oil Fragrance
Microwavable Bowl or Measuring Cup
Rubbing Alcohol in Spray Bottle


Step 1

Cut as much of the glycerin soap that you'll need into small chunks and place them in your microwavable bowl or measuring cup. Place in the microwave for about 30 seconds until they melt.

Step 2

Add in your color and your fragrance and pour into your popsicle mold to your desired height. Spray your alcohol to get rid of the bubbles before it sets. Let it cool before adding in your second color.

Step 3

Once your first color has cooled, place a popiscle stick in the middle holding it in place with either tape or a clothes pin. Repeat Step 2 until you get the desired number of colors that you want. We went with 4 colors.

Step 4

Place in your refrigerator and let it cool overnight

Step 5

This is the most difficult step. If you used a silicone mold it should come apart easily. If you didn't and used a plastic mold, you're going to have to continually squeeze it until you get your popsicle completely out of the mold.

If you have kids who hate washing their hands, they'll finally start making up reasons to start doing so. Who wouldn't want to wash their hands with a popsicle? Remember this isn't edible but it's a whole lot of fun. You can also use other molds and make 1 color molds in any desired shapes. Let your imagination go wild. Soaps are so easy to make once you have the supplies, that you'll wonder why you've never done them before. By the way, can you tell I'm ready for the summer and popsicles already? Who's with me?

Annmarie John
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Button Heart Frame

This simple Button Heart Frame will bring joy to your heart this Valentines Day!

I'm going to be honest, I'm not big on Valentine's Day. I don't celebrate the day and haven't in quite some time. That doesn't mean that I don't like receiving flowers and chocolate like the next girl, but I'd much rather receive cash. When it comes to gifts from my kids, however, I much prefer to get gifts that they have made. I still have a flower box that my son made for me almost 6 years ago and a card with handprints that Madison made when she was 2. A gift made with love means a lot more than a gift purchased at a store, unless it's Tiffany's of course. No girl can resist a Tiffany blue box. Madison just loves crafting and every free time she gets, she brings my craft supplies so we can get busy. Having just created my Button Spring Flowers Shadow Box, I still had a lot of buttons that I could turn into something crafty. With Valentine's Day just a few weeks away and needing something to make my home look a little more "valentiney", I decided to do a button heart frame that I could either place on my entry way table or hang on the wall. If you're not crafty, like I am, this is perfect for you. It takes approximately 20 minutes and when you're done, you'll wonder, what took you so long to use those extra buttons you had laying around.
Annmarie John
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How to Get Ready for the Big Game - #BigGameBabbleboxx

With the big game fast approaching, I want to share with you some tips on how to get ready!

Game Day is big in our home. We get our jerseys together and we root for our favorite team on the big screen. Sometimes arguments ensue between friends because the other team is winning, but in the end everyone remains friends. Football while a competitive sport brings family and friends together. Today I want to share with you how you can get together for a game day without breaking the bank while enjoying some delicious goodness. Game Day isn't complete without food and drinks. As a matter of fact in order to have a successful Game Day event, you need to have what people like to eat and drink. Most of the time we have food catered but you don't have to break the bank. I teamed up with BabbleBoxx in order to bring you these delicious treats that you can serve at your own Game Day that your family and friends would enjoy.
Annmarie John
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How to Explain Valentine’s Day to Kids

Valentine's Day is fast approaching and it's not just about candy and flowers. Learn how you can explain Valentines's Day to your kids.

Valentine’s Day is a fun and simple holiday for children to celebrate, but the origins of the day are actually pretty complicated. While the roots of Valentine’s Day are murky, born of both pagan and Christian traditions, the common thread is love, and that’s an easy theme for kids to get behind. Here’s how to explain Valentine’s Day to kids.

Annmarie John
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Button Spring Flowers Shadow Box

Are you already longing for Spring? Have lots of buttons laying around and need something to do with them? My Button Spring Flowers Shadow Box is easy to make and will add a dash of color to your home.

I can't be the only person tired of Old Man Winter, can I? I'm not a fan of the cold weather, I'm a Caribbean warm weather baby and love the sun on my face. I don't like excessive heat but a nice warm sun with a cool breeze is what I'm about. Unlike what most people think of the Caribbean, it's not hell fire hot in the Caribbean, after all, the islands are surrounded by the Caribbean sea, so there is always a cool breeze blowing. Yesterday, we had a fairly warm day here in Colorado so Madison and I went outdoors and decided to do what we do best when we're bored, we started on a craft. I like simple and easy things, I'm not a fan of spending hours working on a craft. Those hours can be spent doing other things. However, we had a ton of buttons just laying around and I needed something to do with them. I also had a few shadow boxes left over. Shadow boxes are so easy to create and you may remember my Jingle of Joys Holiday Shadow Box.  Whether you're a perfectionist or an amateur like I am, shadow boxes are a joy to make and always look beautiful, even with their imperfections. They are also fairly inexpensive to make, compared to buying them in store.

Annmarie John
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Time Saving Dinner Hacks

Save time with these Time Saving Dinner Hacks.

Picture this, your family seated around the dinner table having great conversations over a meal cooked special just for this moment that brings each of your days to an end. The almighty dinner time is a great time for families to reconnect as a unit and bond over a warm home cooked meal. The problem with dinner time is the cooking process involved, it can take away precious time from other responsibilities you may have. This is why today we are going to share some time saving dinner hacks as a means to free up some time so you can still enjoy that quality family time.

Annmarie John
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5 Tips for Surviving a Hurricane

Learn how to survive a hurricane with these tips.

Last week Colorado Springs, Colorado was hit with winds going as much as 110 miles per hour. Now I've lived in Colorado for the past 5 years and while we've had our share of crazy weather, nothing quite prepared me for this. We've had snow storms, rain storms, hail storms, but never a wind storm. Semi-trucks were left turned over on their sides on the highway, trees were uprooted, power lines were down and thousands were left without electricity. I took it upon myself to go outdoors and document it on a Facebook live video and almost got blown away. Note to self, DO NOT GO OUT IN 80 MPH WINDS.

Annmarie John
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Crock Pot Candy with Mixed Nuts & Pretzels

Are you ready for something sweet but still good for you? Our Crock Pot Candy with Mixed Nuts and Pretzels will be sure to hit the spot.

It's my first recipe for the year and I wanted to start it off with something sweet but not too sweet. My family are huge nut lovers and Madison is obsessed with pretzels. I buy the mini packets so that she can take them with her as snacks and I snack on them myself. While I can't eat peanuts, that doesn't mean that I don't have them in the house, after all the kids just seem to love them. I have a nut allergy but it only stems from ingestion so I can touch them, just not eat them. That's not the case with all allergy suffers, but that's the case with me. My body is weird, for example, I can't eat raw apples or most red fruits, but I can drink apple juice, not sure why, but that's just the way it is. However, with the holidays wrapped up, you may have some candy stash that you may not have eaten. I'm truly not big on purchasing candy for my kids, I'm all about them eating as healthy as they can but every once in a while they get a sweet treat, however, making my own candy is a treat in its own and our Crock Pot Candy with Mixed Nuts and Pretzels is a winner.
Annmarie John
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24th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

Get ready for the 24th Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival!

Celebrating 24 years when it kicks off March 1, 2017, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will jump-start spring with gardens of earthly delights plus new character topiaries, entertainers and food and drink offerings. The festival, which expanded to 90 days in 2016, will open with an irresistible array of fresh surprises and new treats:

Annmarie John
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Lunar New Year Celebration at Disneyland Resort

Are you ready to celebrate the Year of the Rooster? See what's in store this year's Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney California Adventure Park.

Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Mulan and Mushu will join guests for a bigger-than-ever Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney California Adventure Park, from Friday, Jan. 20, through Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017.  This joyous celebration for the Year of the Rooster expands to 17 days, with colorful live performances, fun-filled activities, beautiful decor, Disney characters in their Lunar New Year costumes, and special food and merchandise offerings.
Annmarie John
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Epcot International Festival of the Arts Launches Jan. 13 – Feb 20

Are you looking forward to the very first Epcot International Festival of the Arts at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida?

Combining visual, culinary and performing arts from around the world, the first-ever Epcot International Festival of the Arts will create a global masterpiece for six inspired weekends. Held Fridays through Mondays starting Jan. 13 – Feb. 20, 2017, the Festival will feature new art each week, making each weekend original.

Here’s a sample of what’s in store:
Annmarie John
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What to Pack for Your First Disney Vacation... and every Disney vacation after.

Walt Disney World - touted as the most magical place on earth, but what do you pack for your very first Disney vacation? 

Over 10 years ago we had our very first Walt Disney Vacation. I was in a stable job and my youngest son was about 3, but I didn't want to wait much longer since the other kids were getting older. I had no one to advise me on what I needed to pack, and all I had in my arsenal was what my Walt Disney World travel agent told me. My hotel, ride to and from the airport to our hotel, dining plan and park tickets were all taken care of, so all I had to do was pack for my trip. What do you pack for your first Disney vacation? Well, after visiting almost every year since then, sometimes twice a year, or like we did in 2016, 3 times a year, I think I have a fairly good grip on what you should pack and what you should leave at home.

Casual Clothing
Whether you're heading to Walt Disney World or Disneyland, you want to pack casual clothing. Shorts, tees or even skirts. Also pack comfortable shoes! This is NOT the time to break in new shoes, you're going to be on your feet and quite possibly walking for hours. While Florida and California don't necessarily get snow, it can sometimes get cool so pack a light sweater as well. Now be wary of the too torn, cut off shorts, etc. While Disney doesn't have a dress code per se, it's a family park and not everyone wants to see your goodies. 

No matter what time of the year you go to any of the Disney parks, and no matter which Disney park you go to, always walk with sunscreen. Disney, especially in the summer is no laughing matter. The sun can literally burn and peel your skin. You also want your sunglasses to protect your eyes and of course you're going to want to look cool too. 

Hand Sanitizer/Baby Wipes
You're going to need them. Finding somewhere to wash your hands after eating one of those yummy Mickey Bars isn't always easy or convenient. You're also going to be waiting in line, touching the seats, rails etc., of the rides that you are going on. Remember, hundreds of people did that before you, and you have no idea how many of them had a cough/cold/runny nose. Sanitizer and baby wipes are your friends!  

A Mini First Aid Kit
This could be as simple as a ziploc bag filled with essentials such as band-aid, antiseptic wipes and Tylenol, for those pesky headaches. After being in a park for hours, and Disney is no quiet place, sometimes you can end up with a headache and having Tylenol at hand could be your lifesaver.  

Mosquito Spray 
If you are going to Walt Disney World in Florida, then walk with your mosquito spray. If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, then one will be provided for you. With the threat of Zika still present in Central Florida, it's a good idea to be prepared. 

Rain Poncho
While you can certainly buy these at the parks, if you prefer to save some money, I would suggest walking with your own. They are super light weight so won't take up much room in your luggage. Our very first visit was met with lots of rain and we ended up buying Disney Parks themed ponchos while at the park. They also come in handy if you don't want to get wet on rides such as Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom, or Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom.   

Camera, Cell Phone & Portable Chargers
You're going to want a way to commemorate all those memories and the easiest and quickest way to do so, is to use your cell phone. It's a great way to keep in touch with the other members of your party as well, if you decide to go separate ways to experience the park on your own. A lightweight camera is also a good idea, and while you may want to walk with your DSLR, think about the weight. However, with your constant photo taking, posting on social media, keeping in touch with the other members of your party, checking to see the wait times for rides and your FastPasses, your battery can die pretty quickly. Finding somewhere to charge your cell phone is almost next to impossible, so I suggest walking with a portable charger. The one I carry is the Under One Sky Pom Pom Charger that I picked up at Nordstrom a few months back. It is super lightweight and doubles as a bag charm, but you can find portable cheap chargers almost anywhere. 

Reusable Water Bottles
Did you know that Disney allows you to bring food into the park? Snacks and items that don't need heating up can be brought into Disney parks. However, I've found having a reusable water bottle invaluable. The price for a bottle of water isn't what you see in your local supermarket, and there are quite a few places for you to refill when you need a drink.

Autograph Book and Pens
Since this is your very first trip, you're going to want to meet all the characters that you can meet. The fun part of meeting them is also getting their autographs. While you can buy specialized Disney themed autograph books at the theme parks, you can also buy them online so you're ready when you get there. Retractable pens or sharpies are best to use, because there's no chance of a cover to lose.

If you're staying at a Disney World Resort hotel then you would have received a MagicBand. Even if you're not staying at a Disney World Resort hotel I would suggest purchasing a MagicBand in advance along with your tickets. You then have the option of selecting your FastPass rides before getting to the park, as soon as 30 days in advance with just your ticket, or 60 days if you have a Disney World Resort hotel reservation. MagicBands are also convenient because you wear them as you would a watch and they are easily accessible, whereas paper tickets can sometimes get lost easily in your bag or fall out of your pocket. You also don't want to spend time waiting in line purchasing tickets when you could have been in the park having fun already.

Backpack/Crossbody Bag
Now where do you keep all those things that I mentioned, that you'll want to have with you in the park? A handy dandy backpack! If you're an adult I suggest a crossbody bag, but if you have children with you, a backpack is a lot easier to carry and a lot more convenient. Take the weight off your shoulders and put them on your back! 

I hope I was able to help you in your planning of your very first Disney vacation. You're going to the most magical place on earth and I want you to be happy in the knowledge that you haven't forgotten anything. Have a stress free vacation!

Annmarie John
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A Little Slice of Brooklyn - Almost Wordless Wednesday

We're just returning from Brooklyn, New York, a place that I still call home, even though I've been in Colorado for the past 5 years. While I now currently live in Colorado, Brooklyn will always be home to me. It's where I had 3 of my 4 children, where they went to school, where I met my husband and got married. Most of my family and some of my closest friends still live there, and I just love going back to visit them. They say home is where the heart is, and my heart is in Brooklyn. When tourists think of Brooklyn, they think of brownstones and projects, graffiti and gangs, but Brooklyn is so much more than that. As I shared before, they're also home to the best donuts in the US, according to Foursquare. I haven't done an Almost Wordless Wednesday post in quite some time, but today I want to share the beauty that is, Brooklyn. I've turned comments off for this post so you can enjoy the photos and a little slice of Brooklyn, New York.
Annmarie John
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15 Photos to Take of Your Kids During Winter - #CandidWinterMemories

Last week we had quite a lot of snow and Madison, the great lover of snow, couldn't wait to go out and play in it. Living my earlier years in the Caribbean, I'm still a spring/summer person at heart, but I tolerate the snow for my kids. Having lived in NYC for most of my life, you would however think that I'd love winter and the snow. That, unfortunately couldn't be further from the truth. I detest it! While fresh snow looks lovely for those who live in states and countries where there is none, the next day or two becomes a nightmare. Slush is by far the dirtiest thing, next to mud, you'll see in the winter, but kids love it all. So, with Madison out in the snow making her snow angels on the lawn, I grabbed my camera and started taking a few photos of her. I'm all about creating memories to last a lifetime and having photos of your kids during the stages of their life, photos that you can look back upon when they're older. It's also a good idea to also get in-front of the camera with your children as well. I have quite a few photos of my mom with my children, but very few with us together since I was always the one taking the photos. It's also the same with my own children. Besides the professional sessions we took together, very rarely, there aren't a lot of photos with me in the picture. I know a lot of other parents can relate.
Annmarie John
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5 Ways to Save Money - #BudgetEveryDollar

Today I share with you some money saving tips, and the EveryDollar budgeting app that has been helping me to make it all possible.

2016 was dedicated as my year of travel. I had gotten out of the army where travel was wherever the military decided they wanted me to go. Some countries were off-limits and there was rarely much time to travel for fun. So once I got out I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to places I've always longed to visit, and I knew I just had to make it happen. However, when it comes to budgeting I'm the worst at it. I very rarely save because I'm a big shopaholic. I'm big on designers and have a closet full of designer clothing and bags, but for 2017 I wanted to make a change. I want to cut back on my spending and save a bit more. My expenditure last year was just a little too much, even for me. Besides my travels which I did a lot of in 2016, I did some home renovations, which included my living-room, bathrooms and kitchen. Doing a home renovation is not cheap, so I'm now left with credit card bills that I need to pay off. That is where the EveryDollar app comes in.

Annmarie John
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Easy Ways to Stay Active in the Winter

Yesterday I woke up to an alert from my kids school, around 4:30am, letting me know that school was canceled for the day due to inclement weather. I live in Colorado where the weather can change as quickly as you can change your clothing. However, when I woke up I was met with at least six inches of snow on the ground. It is fair to say that winter has officially arrived. I'm all for hibernating during winter, just like a bear. Wrapping up in a nice warm blanket and never leaving my bed unless I absolutely have to, but I know I shouldn't. So how do I keep active in the winter? Well I have a few tips to share with you on how you, right along with me, can stay active this winter.

Annmarie John
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Disney Studio Motion Pictures Slate for 2017

What's in store for Disney Studio Motion Pictures for 2017? Keep reading to find out.

If you thought 2016 was amazing with hits like Moana, 2017 will be sure to please. For 2017 Disney Studios Motion Pictures has a full line up of hits that will make their way to the theaters. A few that we have all been waiting for. Classics such as Beauty and Beast and the latest addition to the Star Wars franchise. It's a year of action and adventure and don't forget nature. So what does Disney have in store for us all? Take a look below:

March 17, 2017 – BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Walt Disney Studios)

The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic “Beauty and the Beast,” a stunning, cinematic event celebrating one of the most beloved tales ever told. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a Beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart of the true Prince within. The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s father; Josh Gad as LeFou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Ewan McGregor as Lumière, the candelabra; Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe, the wardrobe; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster; Hattie Morahan as the enchantress; and Nathan Mack as Chip, the teacup; with Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.

Directed by Bill Condon based on the 1991 animated film, “Beauty and the Beast,” the screenplay is written by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos and produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman, p.g.a. and Todd Lieberman, p.g.a. with Jeffrey Silver, Thomas Schumacher and Don Hahn serving as executive producers. Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the animated film, provides the score, which includes new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as three new songs written by Menken and Tim Rice. “Beauty and the Beast” will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017.

April 21, 2017 – BORN IN CHINA (Disneynature)

Narrated by John Krasinski (“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” NBC’s “The Office,” “Amazon’s “Jack Ryan”), Disneynature's new True Life Adventure film “Born In China” takes an epic journey into the wilds of China where few people have ever ventured. Following the stories of three animal families, the film transports audiences to some of the most extreme environments on Earth to witness some of the most intimate moments ever captured in a nature film. A doting panda bear mother guides her growing baby as she begins to explore and seek independence. A two-year-old golden monkey who feels displaced by his new baby sister joins up with a group of free-spirited outcasts. And a mother snow leopard—an elusive animal rarely caught on camera—faces the very real drama of raising her two cubs in one of the harshest and most unforgiving environments on the planet. Featuring stunning, never-before-seen imagery, the film navigates China’s vast terrain—from the frigid mountains to the heart of the bamboo forest—on the wings of red-crowned cranes, seamlessly tying the extraordinary tales together. Opening in U.S. theaters on Earth Day 2017, “Born in China” is directed by accomplished Chinese filmmaker Lu Chuan, and produced by Disney’s Roy Conli and renowned nature filmmakers Brian Leith and Phil Chapman.

 May 5, 2017 – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (Marvel Studios)

Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.

Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock and Kurt Russell. Kevin Feige is producing, and Louis D’Esposito, Jonathan Schwartz, Victoria Alonso, Nik Korda and Stan Lee are the executive producers. The screenplay is by James Gunn. Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” blasts into theaters on May 5, 2017


Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as the iconic, swashbuckling anti-hero Jack Sparrow in the all-new “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” The rip-roaring adventure finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil's Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea—notably Jack. Jack's only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry (Brenton Thwaites), a headstrong young sailor in the Royal Navy. At the helm of the Dying Gull, his pitifully small and shabby ship, Captain Jack seeks not only to reverse his recent spate of ill fortune, but to save his very life from the most formidable and malicious foe he has ever faced.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” also stars Kevin R. McNally as Joshamee Gibbs,  Golshifteh Farahani as the sea-witch Shansa, David Wenham as Scarfield, Stephen Graham as Scrum, and Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa.

Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg are directing “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” with Jerry Bruckheimer producing. The executive producers are Mike Stenson, Chad Oman, Joe Caracciolo, Jr., Terry Rossio and Brigham Taylor. Jeff Nathanson wrote the screenplay. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” drops anchor in U.S. theaters on May 26, 2017.

June 16, 2017 – CARS 3 (Disney / Pixar)

Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!

Directed by Brian Fee (storyboard artist “Cars,” “Cars 2“) and produced by Kevin Reher (“A Bug’s Life,” “La Luna” short), “Cars 3” cruises into theaters on June 16, 2017.  

November 3, 2017 – THOR: RAGNAROK (Marvel Studios)

In Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok,” Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his
former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk!

“Thor: Ragnarok” is directed by Taika Waititi and returns Chris Hemsworth starring as Thor and Tom Hiddleston reprising his role as Loki. They are joined by Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson and Karl Urban, with Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins.

Kevin Feige is producing with Louis D’Esposito, Brad Winderbaum, Victoria Alonso, Thomas M. Hammel and Stan Lee serving as executive producers. The story is by Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost and Stephany Folsom, and the screenplay is by Eric Pearson. “Thor: Ragnarok” thunders into U.S. theaters on November 3, 2017.  

November 22, 2017 – COCO (Disney / Pixar)

Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history. Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017.

December 15, 2017 -  STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII (Lucasfilm)

Annmarie John
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