Disney SMMC - Austin

#DisneySMMC stands for Disney Social Media Mom Celebration - it is an invite only conference for blogger moms and dads who are seen as influencers. There have been a few years of conferences before now, but this was the first year that I applied to attend. I had the great disappointment of not being invited the first round of emails that went out, but after I had my moment, I was fine. I have learned through the process of Moms Panel applications and trying to get my social media numbers up that it doesn't always happen for everyone. There were many new invitees to the conference and a few others who had attended them before.  I knew that if it was supposed to be, than it would be. It wouldn't help anything to get upset and over dramatic about not getting an invite. I was happy for others who I knew were going and I appreciated that they aren't the kind to rub it in when they know you weren't invited...

Much to my surprise I was invited the week before the conference and immediately RSVP'd. I knew that if I didn't jump at the chance to go, this could be my only shot!

Why do moms and dads want to be invited? 
 - We know that anytime Disney does an event, it's gonna have bells and whistles and lots of pixie dust!
What does it do for you?
 - Networking - meeting other people in your niche and those who are in the same area and interest groups
 - Putting a face with a name
 You aren't just a twitter or instagram handle. You are now someone they have met and hopefully had a good impression of! It's your opportunity to say hello and make connections.
 - Encouragement
 The speakers from the Disney team and those who were asked to come speak were all very uplifting and had lots of encouraging words for us. I found that taking a break from blogging to really focus on my first year of homeschooling was what I needed. Now that I'm on year #2 and kinda know more of what I am doing and what all it takes, I hope to be able to blog more frequently. Not only Disney, but homeschooling and life in general. I know that putting my family first is always the right answer.
 - Learning
 They taught us about Snapchat, Videolicious and Magisto that are new and upcoming apps that can be beneficial to us in our social media world. Reaching an audience and different ways that social media is changing. In other "On the Road" sessions they spoke about some of the same topics and some topics were different.

Since I had around a 3 hour drive to Austin, I decided to come in the night before. My roomie was Kuleen, from The Disney Kids and Red Poppy Kids we had a great evening getting to know each other along with Lori from Adventurer Mom and Casey from Mommy to all Girls. We walked around the capitol for a bit, got a bite to eat and then went to the infamous "bat bridge" in Austin. If you have no idea what that is - here is a cool website that explains it all! Kuleen and I stayed up talking Disney til 12:30! I was one tired momma when 5:15 rolled around the next morning!

After registration which included a cute bag with treats inside, a breakfast spread that was quite tasty and a pin trading moment between everyone, we started our morning!
There were 8 speakers for our session. Most were from the Disney Parks family and a few that were brought in special for the event. I have to say that being invited was an honor in itself, but to be in the same room with some of these speakers and bloggers was overwhelming. I felt like the new kid on the first day of school. I am a very outgoing person who usually doesn't have a problem being chatty and making new friends, but I was feeling shy and insignificant this day. Some of these ladies have a crazy amount of followers and they do blogging as a livelihood, not just a hobby. They were professional and came across as confident and ready to document the entire event. I was just taking it all in, since this was my first conference of any type like this. I learned a ton and took 9 pages of notes! They were small pages mind you, but that's a lot!

I won't go into every little thing they talked about, but here is what I learned from each speaker -

Leanne O'Regan - Talked to us about how important we are as social media influencers and that the Disney Moms Panel search is starting soon! September will be the start of a new search for a few lucky moms who have a big #disneyside!

Jamie Langdon - Caught us up on all the fun things going on in the Disney Parks this fall and year. From the 60th anniversary of Disneyland and all the unique events they've added, to the new theme of Hocus Pocus for the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Jen Baker - Storytelling and Creativity is important, don't be ordinary, stand out with your content.

Kathy Cano-Murillo @CraftyChica - Follow through, dream big, and make it (whatever it is)  a goal, not a dream.

Maya Murillo @MayaintheMoment - Bring your own personality to your content, have variety and have fun!

Victoria Lynn - Think about what you are taking pictures and video of. Keep a steady shot, with minimal background noise and shoot purposefully!

Alex Ruiz- It's not about followers, it's about partnerships, storytelling and having fun!

Linda Erspamer - Put good out into the world, with the right intentions and have honest content.

My overall experience was a magical one! The session was topped off by a visit from my favorite mouse - Mickey!! I'm 30 something... and he still is my favorite mouse! I had a great time getting to know some of my fellow Disney Mom Panel hopefuls and moms who live in Texas. I would definitely go again and would highly recommend you attending if you get the chance!

M - Magisto is the new and upcoming app to have!
I- Include your grandparents - #disneygrand - nominate them for World's Best Grandparent and win a trip to Walt Disney World!
C- Change your dream into a goal! You are more likely to go for it!
K- Keep your readers interested! Make sure you are storytelling!
E- Engage with your audience! Make them laugh, cry and gasp!
Y - You must believe in yourself and your ideas!

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DisneySide @Home Celebration - Valentine's Party

"I received free products in order to host a Disney Side @ Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own."

Last year and this year as well I decided to host my DisneySide party with a Valentine's theme. I love to have parties at my house and having friends over and planning fun things for the kids to do. This year I had received my Disney @Home Celebrations kit and of course, shared the many exciting treats that were in my box!
 Food - 
 It was a mid morning party so I did more snack type foods and then the moms ordered pizza for lunch. I told the moms they were welcome to bring a lunch with them if they preferred. I received a sample of Duff cake mix tie dye. We made cute little heart cupcakes and regular sized as well and had fun experimenting with the colors and creating our designs! For lunch time, I used the Sofia the First tablecloth as a floor cover for our picnic lunch. Since we had so many kids, it was easier if they sat on the floor and then we just wrapped up the tablecloth and threw away the trash! Easy Peasy! The kids thought that eating on the floor was fun, so I was glad!

Activities - 
I had a few stories set out that the moms could read, the kids played in our playroom and outside. We also had craft stations where the kids could make different Valentine crafts.
We loved cooking with our Duff cake mix!

Chore Charts - I laminated the charts and then wrote in Sharpie for the chores or character trait I wanted them to improve upon. Then each week you just wipe off the dry expo eraser part and the Sharpie is still there!

Our group!

My DisneySide doesn't just show one day of the year. I'm an everyday wearing Disney shirt kinda girl. My husband is not as Disney lovin as I am, so I have Disney touches throughout my home, it is not covered in Mickey Mouse. I enjoy my alarm waking me up in the morning to my favorite Disney song - ZipADeeDooDah! Let's just say that ever since I was little it's been that way.
Being chosen to host a Disney @Home Celebration is truly an honor. I enjoyed sharing my love for Disney and throwing a party for friends. I got a ton of free stuff to share with party guests and friends. I love that they think of everything and truly are so generous! Thank you to everyone including MomSelect and DisneyParks who put together such wonderful kits for everyone!


Cinderella Movie Review

As a mom to three little girls who love princesses, I wanted to see the new Disney Cinderella live action film before my children saw it for a couple of reasons. Mainly because the movie has a PG rating and being live action, I wanted to see if it would hold their attention. I am a Disney kid at heart and I grew up watching these films. As a Disneynerd, I absolutely loved the new Disney Cinderella. Disney did a great job with the music, scenes, costumes and the characters. I love Downton Abbey, so seeing two of the characters in different roles was fun and "Rose" and "Daisy" did a great job being their characters in this film! I also loved catching the Disney touches throughout the film. A hidden Mickey, that maybe only I spotted in my group (Ella's front door), the musical touches of the songs from the original cartoon, such a Sing Sweet Nightingale, the mice having interactions with her, although minimal compared to the original film. Even good ole Lucifer made an appearance. I felt that the movie was done for not just the generation who grew up watching these movies, but also for our children and the new way that movies are created with computer animation.

Is this movie appropriate for children - Yes. I wouldn't say all that it would necessarily hold the attention of all ages though. My 2 yr old is definitely not going to see this movie in the theaters and my 4 yr might, if I tell her she must remain in her seat during the movie...she is at the age of jumping off couches and hopping throughout the house constantly. There are no cute cartoon mice in the film, but there are animated mice that do make an appearance and have cute little personalities to them. I would say this movie makes for a great Mom's Night Out! We went to a 9:00 show and a few of our moms got the kids into bed before heading out and getting a bit of time to see a movie with no interruptions from potty breaks, unless they were from themselves!

Is the movie Scary? No. Now the previews was another factor though. There was a preview for Mall Cop 2 that had some suggestive language in it and a new Peter Pan coming out that showed a scary clown guy grabbing a boy from his bed (kidnapping him possibly for Blackbeard pirate) that looked scary for little ones, but not all movie theaters show the same previews possibly.

Are there questionable scenes in the movie - YES. With anything, parents must decide if what they are letting their children put in front of them, matches their morals and values. Do I feel that this movie will corrupt my child, no. I do think that there is going to be some conversation after watching the film for sure.
Here are some questionable things that I noted in my mommy mind -
Body Image- The costumes were truly the clothing back in the day, I get that. But if I had boys especially, I might not want them to see low cut dresses and boobs pushed high up by their necks, just saying. We can talk about modesty on this note! There is also a scene of the sisters in their undergarments from back in the day. I don't think I would make mention of Ella's waist size with a 6 yr old, but maybe just seeing what she gathered of Cinderella as a person.
Gambling and Drinking - There is one short scene of Lady Tremaine holding a party and there are people gambling at the table and at one point there is an amber colored drink that is partaken of.
Language - No cursing that I caught. I did remember a wench, and hussy mentioning though. There was a bit of name calling and putting down of Ella by her stepsisters and stepmother, not only to her but to each other as well. They put Ella down quite a bit and made her feel pretty low, which I think shows you the power of words. Our motto around our house is - "If you don't have nothin nice to say, don't say nothin at all" - Thumper
Death - (This isn't questionable as in a bad sense, but more in a exposure kinda way) There are 3 scenes of dying in the movie. Coming from a personal background of losing our grandmother just 6 months ago, this can be a fresh topic of a hurting place. We have had talks of where people go when they die, but actually seeing the fresh pain of Ella and other characters in the movie dealing with death and grief, can stir up new feelings. If my husband decides to take my daughters to the movies, these scenes might be hard for him, just because he's dealt with this grief first hand recently. There was a tear or two shed in a couple scenes.

Some great questions to ask-
1. Why do think Ella was treated so unkindly by her step mother and sisters?
2. Do you think the story would have been different if her stepmother and sisters had treated her more kindly?
3. Dying is sad, how did it make you feel when Ella's mother died?
4. Why do you think the prince fell in love with Ella so quickly?
5. Have you ever had someone treat you as bad as Ella? How did that make you feel?
6. Why is kindness to others so important? Tell me a time you were kind.
7. What if the Grand Duke had caught Ella as she ran from the ball, how would the story have changed?

Was there magic in the film?  YES. As with an Disney movie, there was a bit of magic. The fairy godmother is the magical aspect of the film. I guess you could say that Ella pretends to be friends and talk with the mice, rather than say that's a magical thing. Watching the Fairy Godmother turn the pumpkin and animal friends into her coach and footmen and such was really cool to see. It was just as spellbinding when they turned back at the stroke of midnight as well!

Was there romance in the film? YES. It was minimal honestly. There were a couple of kisses, and some close dancing that was in the ballroom scene.

Is there an underlying character concept - YES, Many times over the theme of having courage and being kind was a strong lesson throughout the film. Even when others are rude and treating you with hatred you can still be kind and have courage. She falters at one point and says she has no courage, but that scene quickly turns around when the fairy godmother turns up. I think Ella, who calls herself Cinderella at the end of the movie asks the prince an important question at the end of the movie before they go off to their happy ending. Would you still love me just for who I am?

For a Christian movie review that has many spoilers, which I tried not to do check out - http://www.pluggedin.com/movies/intheaters/cinderella-2015.aspx

Enter the Disney Sweepstakes to win a nights stay in Cinderella's castle in Walt Disney World! You can enter once a day until 3/27 http://movies.disney.com/cinderella-perfect-fit-sweepstakes

These opinions are mine alone. I am not affiliated with Disney in an way, but I am an opinionated mom who likes to help other moms and if reading my review of this movie helps you, then I am glad. Feel free to let me know what you thought of the movie and if my review was accurate!


Baby books and ways to keep up...

I can't tell you how many years I was behind on my children's baby books. I was waaayyy behind! I really wanted to make it a priority to catch up before I took on our next journey - homeschooling! I know that I'll have even less time to do "side projects". I kept a family blog for a couple of years with my first two and I documented everything my first two did their first year. When it came time to jot down the info into the books it was so easy! I'm so glad I kept that up. I do keep my baby books in view. I keep them where I can see them. It reminds me to keep up with them and when I have mementos or pictures developed I slip it in their tub and it's easier than searching around for them when I decide to do the books. Every month I work on them, even it's just to remind me to trace their hand or put in their little tickets stubs from visiting someplace new!

Strategies I use to stay organized ~
~Put each child's baby book in a clear storage tub, and keep the tub in a visual place! Ever heard out of sight, out of mind? It's completely true! When you don't see the books, you forget that you want to keep up with it!
~Place mementos, love notes, cards, kids artwork, pictures, Dr. visit summary pages, other pieces of  memorabilia in the tub as the month goes along. I also love when they are little to stamp or trace their foot and hand every couple of months for those pages. You can layer them at the end of the end to show growth!
~Every month - clean out the tub and place collected memories in the baby book where they go.
~Photo collages are so easy from Walgreens. I made a collage for each month up to a year, and then for birthday parties too. I uploaded my pics from Facebook and Instagram and I was done within minutes! It's really that easy! I did my journaling on the page, so I didn't need a title or words with the pics.
~Cut up the Christmas cards and birthday invites for pictures for the friends page! All the Christmas cards and 1st birthday invites that had photos I used for the friends page and it it filled up quickly!
~Put pictures on Facebook each month or on Shutterfly! Keeping up with it monthly is easier than at the end of the year trying to catch up! Here is a Shutterfly code for 101 free prints!
~Organize pictures by month on your laptop/computer. Every month I download my phone to my laptop as well as any pics taken that month and label them Sept 2014 for example. In that folder I have another folder that might say dads phone, mom's phone. Just so I remember when they were taken.
I hope my strategies help you stay on top of those baby books or help you catch up! It truly feels like an accomplishment! LOL!

Feel free to leave a comment on strategies you use to stay organized and on top of baby books. The first year really is where all the work starts and the birth story and such. After the 1st 12 months, it gets easier I promise if you can stay on top of it!

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Disney Junior #powerofdoinggood

 I have many seen commercials on Disney Junior for #powerofdoinggood - Being a Good Citizen. They are helping kids realize that even though they are young, you can still make a difference to our planet, in someones life or to the life of an animal. I found about the event in my area by following Genevieve Goings on Twitter, if you don't know who that is... she is the singer from Choo Choo Soul! She announced that she would be at the event, which I got super excited about because we love her songs on Disney Junior. (unfortunately we got there after she left) I invited friends from Facebook after I was able to get tickets, there was another window earlier in the year for an event and I couldn't get tickets. I don't think my friends really knew what it was... in fact neither did I, but it looked like something my girls would like!
   We choose a 2 pm time slot for arrival and there were shows every 30 minutes continuously. It was over an hour away from where we live at a park called Oyster Creek in Sugarland. They had officers working the street and in the parking lot, so it felt very safe! I saw a few moms with umbrellas, so I loaded up all the umbrellas I could find to create shade on this hot day. I'm glad I had them! No strollers were allowed in the event, which I hadn't planned on, but I understand why (it would be a traffic jam and I'm glad all my kiddos can walk!). After presenting your tickets we were given yellow DisneyJunior bags, which I saw we were getting, so because I left my diaper bag in the car I used the yellow bag! Thank you! They also gave us a water bottle, which was very considerate. They had hydration stations where you could fill them up while there. Truly - they thought of everything, Disney usually does though!
The kids could choose a Jake headband or a Sofia tiara to earn stickers at the event stations. Each station was a point of being a good citizen - Helping family, others, animals, the environment. Once they earned their 4 stickers, they were ready to watch the show with Jake and Sofia. So however long it took your kids to go through each station they chose, was up to each family. After we earned our 4 stickers we stood in line for the next show, which we had caught bits and pieces while doing stations. It was very organized and well planned for traffic flow. The Radio Disney DJ's came on stage and did a couple of activities and then Jake and Sofia came out and sang one song together. That was it, but it was short and sweet and to the point. It truly was so hot, that doing all the stations and the song was about an hour.
If you have this event coming to your area, I would highly recommend! Bring sunscreen, a fan or umbrella and have snacks for the ride home!

Links for upcoming events and printable -
The flyer for upcoming events
Genevieve from ChooChooSoul on Twitter

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Places to buy Frozen!

My girls LOVE Frozen! I've said that before! There are places we are still finding Frozen merchandise - shirts, lunch boxes, socks, and lots of books! My girls on constantly on the lookout! No, we don't buy everything we see, but I do text my Frozen momma friends who are also looking for stuff for their children and I am more than willing to buy for them. I will even stand in the line for an Elsa dress on a Saturday for a childhood friend who doesn't live close to a Disney Store. So here is where I am finding Frozen items -
Barnes and Noble - Books, dolls, and even the figurines! Check endcaps near the escalators and not necessarily in the kids section.
Hallmark -

Olaf ornament is coming soon and they had some stationary Frozen items too- notepads, diary, pens, and a few other little things.
Target - Cute shirts and panties, when you can find them!
Marshalls/Home Goods - Frozen lunch tins with a puzzle inside, also we've found books and busy notepads
Toys R Us - Hit or Miss! I was recently in Baton Rouge and hit Frozen jackpot! Olaf summer tea set, a doll set with toddler dolls - and Sven and Olaf. They had crowns, dolls and more. Our local store never has anything really.
Walmart - $1 Stickers! Hidden near the cards.party aisle or near office supplies/posters area.

Bed Bath and Beyond - Tervis tumblers! Olaf and Elsa/Anna

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great family pics at Disney - Color Coordinate or matchy matchy...

I admit it, I'm one of "those moms". Every day is picture day here at our house. I love documenting my girls and the little things we do daily and especially the big things we do - like going to Disney! My husband hates when I ask what's the "color scheme" when we head to church. Or sometimes I'll wait to see what he chooses to wear and then choose coordinating colors for the girls. Not always do I do this, but a lot of times! Planning what my two girls wore (#3 wasn't born yet) was the hardest part. I planned around our character dinners and at what park we were doing! We did 7 character dinners and I knew that what we wore to those would probably be my favorite pics from the trip. After I planned for the girls, I laid out each day for my husband on the floor so he could visually see what they were wearing. Then he laid out his matching outfit for that day too. Some of the days we had two outfits - park time, dinner time. If you get hot and sweaty it's nice to have a change. We packed our clothes together for that day in our suitcase too, so it was easy to just grab that set of clothes out for the next day. I wrote on my calendar, along the reservation number and the outfit for the day so I would remember what we were wearing. This was nice for those late nights at the park, to just look at the calendar and it told me what to wear! I think planning outfits ahead of time makes for a less stressful trip for sure!

Here are a few other pics from our trip where you can see the color coordination:

Are you a matchy matchy type family? Or Color Coordinated family? We are both! We love Disney and spending time with our family and not having to stress about what to wear while on vacation is a plus in my book! I think pictures look better when coordinated or matching too!

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