When our littlest turned two we celebrated with a day at Zoo Miami.
We invited family friends to spend the day with us visiting all the animals & attractions at Zoo Miami & here are our Top 5 favorite memories of the day.
Top 5 Zoo Miami Birthday Party Memories
Zoo Miami is pretty spread out, but you can rent Safari Cycles to get around with.
They were a HUGE HIT with both the kids & the adults.
Walking through the zoo with all the kids & all our stuff would definitely wear us all out, but having these cycles made the day even more fun.
The kids happily got into the cycles & loved sitting next to each other while we rode through the zoo.
The cycles come in 2 different sizes: small accommodates up to 3 adults and 2 small children & large holds up to 6 adults and 2 small children.
Just make sure you grab your cycle early before they sell out for the day!
The animal are the star of the show at Zoo Miami.
They all look comfortable & well cared for.
The kids were VERY excited to see what was around each & every corner.
We had no idea we could actually FEED the animals at Zoo Miami until we spotted the giraffes.
You’ll get lots of great shots of your little ones up close encounter with the zoo animals!
They have lots of antibacterial hand wash at the exhibit too!
And just when we thought feeding the giraffes was the highlight of our day, we spied the rhino!
I won’t lie – it was pretty awesome to be so close to such a big rhino.
We capped off the day with a few rides around the carousel.
The kids couldn’t be happier with this day out & despite the heat (in October!), it was an awesome birthday.
We’ve been to Disney World with toddlers four times now, and these are our 10 best Disney World tips 2018 for parents.
We wish we knew these Disney World tips the first time around.
Honestly, we’re still figuring out how everything works.
But these are the Disney World tips you need to know to have the perfect day with your kids.
Click here to save this post now, so you can find it easily later!
10 Disney World Tips For The Perfect Day With Kids
If you’re bringing older kids to Disney World, you have much more flexibility.
These Disney World tips are meant for parents bringing toddlers and little ones.
Disney World really is the happiest place on Earth if you know these simple, insider tips!
1. Arrive Early
I don’t mean 9:00am or 10:00am early – I mean a few minutes BEFORE the park opens.
We only just figured out how important this is.
Not that our kids are a little older (ages 3 & 7) it’s finally easier to get up & out the door early.
In the past, we arrived around 10:00am or 11:00am, and here is what you can expect if you arrive at that time.
This makes a massive difference in your entire day – especially when going to Disney’s Magic Kingdom which takes extra effort to from the parking lot.
We breezed through security and straight onto the monorail – zero lines!
We arrived at Magic Kingdom & the park was nearly empty – zero lines!
While everyone else is stuck queueing up for the monorail, you have 1-2 hours of prime Disney World time.
2. Pre-Book Early Fast Passes
As soon as you buy your tickets, you’ll want to create & link your tickets on the Disney World website.
Then select 3 FastPasses, meaning you can skip the long line & get in the fast lane.
BUT, the real tip here is to select 3 MORNING FastPass tickets.
You want to use up your FastPasses as early in the day as possible.
Once you finish your 3 pre-booked FastPasses, you can keep rebooking FastPasses one at a time.
All. Day. Long.
You first have to finish your 3 initial FastPasses before you can start rebooking.
Make sure you don’t have a FastPass scheduled for later in the day or that’s it – you’ll be waiting in line all day for everything else.
Worst of all, don’t wait until the last minute to make your FastPass reservations.
Otherwise, there will be nothing left.
3. Keep Booking FastPass Tickets
This is the SECRET SAUCE to your magical day & a trick so many Disney World visitors don’t seem to know about yet.
Once you use up your 3 pre-booked FastPasses you can keep rebooking your FastPass one at a time.
Until recently, you had to walk around the park & then queue up for a FastPass Kiosk to rebook.
While these kiosks are still around, you can now book fast passes directly from your smart phone!
Literally, as soon as we enter a FastPass line, one of us is on the phone booking the next FastPass ride.
If the next ride is farther away or we have time to spare in between rides, we will line up to do something with a shorter wait time in between.
So, how do you book these FastPasses & check the most up-to-date wait times?
See #4 below – download the app!
4. Download the App
It’s 100% worth taking a minute to download the Disney app on your phone before going to Disney World.
Not only can you keep track of the FastPass tickets that you pre-booked (#2 above), you can book your next FastPass tickets directly from your phone too (#3 above).
You’ll get interactive park maps, and up-t0-date wait times on all the rides & attractions.
We still love using the Disney World paper maps, but the app is the perfect way to plan your day.
5. What To Do When You Need Break
You can & should be having breaks throughout the day – it will save your sanity.
There are plenty of easy ways to work this into your schedule… go to the shows!
Orlando is hot – shows offer air conditioning.
You’ll be on your feet most of the day – shows offer comfy seats.
If you time it right, you can eat & watch the parades go by.
There are SO MANY SHOWS.
6. Rider Swap
With a toddler and an older child, there will be rides your toddler won’t be tall enough to ride.
The first few times we went to Disney World, we thought one adult would have to sit out on every ride so the other adult could take the older child.
Yes & no.
Disney World makes it easy for adults to take turns riding while someone stays to watch the younger kid.
Here’s how you do it.
When the first adult goes to ride with the older child, have them tell the ride worker that you would like a Rider Swap.
This frees up the second adult to take the younger kid on a smaller ride.
Once the adult & older kid return, just take the Rider Swap pass back to the entrance.
The other adult can go right in again… and the older kid can ride again!
The Rider Swap option is a fantastic option for parents.
You can learn more about Rider Swap here.
7. Take Your Own Photos
If you’re on a “no expenses spared” trip to Disney World, I totally get that.
But you don’t have to spend $199 on the Disney Photo Pass if you don’t want to.
Whenever your kids are taking pictures with characters in the park, Disney World very kindly allows you to take your own photos too.
They will step aside give you a chance to quickly take a few of your own pictures.
It’s a great way to capture the moment without spending a fortune.
And they’re really nice about it, so you don’t feel like a cheapskate.
8. Dining In the Park – Pros & Cons
Here are my best Disney World tips about dining inside the park so far.
Believe it or not, there is definitely a learning curve when it comes to dining in Disney World.
Some restaurants are first-come, first-serve while others require reservations and get fully booked in advance.
We’ve eaten in Liberty Tree Tavern & Mama Melrose’s with a reservation and Harbour House without reservations.
This past visit we booked a table at the Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace to have the character dining experience.
There was plenty of choice in the Crystal Palace buffet, and the kids loved having Winnie The Pooh and friends visit our table during the meal.
We’ve found only two possible problems with dining in Disney World:
- The price – make sure you review the menu before you book, so you realize what you will be spending.
- The commitment – you can cancel up until 24 hours ahead of time without a penalty, but if you cancel on the day they will charge you per person.
We ended up leaving the park one day & returning a few hours later for our dinner reservations because the weather was bad & the kids were tired.
Upside: you won’t need to pay for parking again & the park at night is a totally different place!
9. Bringing Your Stroller – Pros & Cons
If you have kids under 7 years old, a stroller in Disney World is a must-have.
You have a few options here.
1. Bring your current stroller. This is ONLY an option if you have a stroller that is BOTH very compact and easy to quickly collapse! There are a few times during the day that you will have to quickly break that stroller down in order to keep moving.
2. Rent a stroller in Disney World. This is a nice option if you want to rent a double stroller or avoid the hassle of dragging a stroller on & off the tram just to get into the park. The downside of course is the price – you will have to rent for each day you are in the park.
3. Bring an umbrella stroller. These are designed to break down fast & have a low profile.
For the price of just one day stroller rental in Disney World you can buy an umbrella stroller to use for your entire visit & then bring home!
10. Bring Your Own Water & Snacks
After a long day at Disney World we returned to our hotel & another dad asked me in the elevator how our day was because he was bringing his kids the next day for their first visit.
I told him to bring lots of water & he was shocked that we could bring our own into the park!
YES, Disney World allows you to bring your own water & snacks with you.
We always bring 2 bags – one packed with water & snacks that we can leave tied to the stroller using this clip (it doesn’t lock, but the clip just adds a little security – although the park always feels VERY safe).
The second bag is small like this one & contains just a few valuables for the day – cash, phone, camera, etc.
We didn’t worry about the price of eating nice dinners in Disney World, because we bought a grand total of ZERO water bottles during the day.
We splurged on a few Mickey Mouse ice cream treats, but how can you not!
More Disney World Tips
Get more Disney World tips from Traveling Dads here:
- Best time to visit Disney World (including when NOT to visit)
- Should you stay at a Disney World resort?
- Getting the most from character meet & greets
- When does Disney World have the lowest crowds?
- Best places for dad to have a break at Disney World
- Nighttime shows at Disney World ranked in order
- Best Disney World POOLS
This post is sponsored by The Libman Company but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
Our kids went back to school this week & with it comes the routine.
Just because summer’s over doesn’t mean the kids are completely off the hook with chores.
Here are a few chores for kids that our kids actually love to help with.
3 Back To School Chores For Kids
Between homework & extracurriculars, there isn’t much time for chores for kids in our house during the week.
The trick is to get them to enjoy the chore, so they don’t realize they’re doing chores.
Then you get the chores done without having to listen to complaining or excuses.
If your kids don’t love to mop as much as ours, you don’t have this mop.
They have to take turns because they argue over who gets to mop spills from the floor.
Sometimes I swear they spill on purpose just so they can use the mop again.
Assigning lunchbox prep as one of the chores for kids is a HUGE win in our house for a few reasons.
Of course it’s a great chore for kids.
And yes, then I just have to supervise.
But, they’re much more likely to EAT what’s in their lunchbox (without complaints later) if they put it together on their own.
Have the kids pick from a list of options you approve of & let them have at it.
As long as you have that Libman mop nearby, they’ll be able to cleanup the floor afterwards too!
Getting organized is one thing but STAYING organized is the real problem.
My wife & 3 year-old came up with this solution to the girls’ hair accessories by hanging a shoe organizer inside a closet door.
Once a week the kids play a tidying up game where they run around the house collecting rogue hair bands & put everything away again.
This is the only way we’re able to get the kids out the door on time during the week – because they know exactly where to find what they’re looking for.
What are the chores for kids in your house?
Leave a comment below & let us know.
This post is sponsored by Michelob Ultra but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
This year Father’s Day 2018 is extra special for me because it’s the beginning of the 2018 World Cup!
There will be 11 matches on Father’s Day weekend, including Brazil vs. Switzerland on Father’s Day itself.
And best of all, I’ll be with my dad this Father’s Day, so we will watch the matches together.
After decades of celebrating Father’s Day & exhausting every possible option, here are 3 suggested gifts for dad who wants nothing.
Gifts For A Dad Who Wants Nothing
Here are a couple of gifts for the dad who wants nothing – whether you’re together or far apart on Father’s Day.
And these gifts make it easy to remember to honor your dad – whether it’s Father’s Day or not.
1. Call During Events
When you’re thinking about him, call him.
When you’re watching a big game or race that you know he’s watching too, call him.
In our house this weekend we watched Formula One and the French Open – both of these I started watching with my dad as a kid.
Whatever sports you watch now you probably started watching with your dad as a kid.
When the sports you watched with your dad are on TV, use that time as a quick check-in to talk to your dad.
2. Send Him Something Different
If your dad has gone through decades of Father’s Days like mine, there is very little left that he really needs, so Father’s Day is a fun time to give him something fun that he wouldn’t buy himself.
Michelob ULTRA has a great online shop now where you can find some different & fun gift ideas for dad.
You can shop beer gear all day long with Michelob ULTRA, which is a fun twist on the classic Father’s Day tie, BBQ apron or cup.
3. Do Something He Enjoys
The World Cup starts this week & lasts for a month.
Even better, I’ll have some time off work & will be able to watch the matches with my dad.
There will be dozens of matches & I already have World Cup FEVER.
I dug out my Brazil shirt this weekend to get ready for the biggest matches – Brazil’s matches!
I can not wait to spend the next month watching as much football as possible.
Whether or not you are into the World Cup doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you spend time with your dad, doing what he loves or something you grew up enjoying together.
Father’s Day is a reminder to give your dad a gift.
But, make it easy on yourself to give gifts for dad who wants nothing by building it into your regular routine.
What do you enjoy doing with your dad?
What will you do for your dad this Father’s Day?
Spring Break is just around the corner & we have a steady stream of friends & family coming to visit us.
That’s what happens when you live in South Florida – the Spring Break capital!
We spend Spring Break outside enjoying the warm Spring weather.
Here are a few activities to keep your kids busy in the backyard during Spring Break.
And always stock up on Kleenex Wet Wipes from Target to wipe up messes & sticky hands.
Because Kleenex Wet Wipes are free from dyes, alcohol, parabens, sulfates, and phthalates we feel comfortable in using them for the kids.
To make things easier they have made the packing in 3 different colors to remember their specialty.
Blue is for gentle cleaning.
Orange is for germ removal.
Green is for sensitive cleansing.
They came in handy even BEFORE we left the Target parking lot.
Hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go!
Now we’re ready for Spring Break fun.
Show Me Your Imagination
Nothing is more fun than seeing a child using their imagination.
Have them grab some sidewalk chalk and draw in some props, a background, whatever they can think of and join in!
Cleanup is simple with Kleenex Wet Wipes for Germ Removal to clean up those little dirty hands & faces after a wonderful afternoon of creating adventures on the sidewalk.
Spring Break is the perfect time to plan a picnic.
To make the picnic that more fun have them help you with the prep work and have your kids help pick what they want to eat.
They could even help making sandwiches and packing some snacks.
We kept it simple after an afternoon of swimming – pasta!
Those Kleenex Wet Wipes are perfect both before & after eating.
They are gentle enough to clean up kids hands and faces.
Feed The Wildlife
We love feeding our local ducks & birds.
The fun actually starts by making the ducks a special treat that’s super easy to make with the kids.
All you need is:
2 cups Old Fashioned Quaker Oats
1 cup brown rice
1 bag frozen assorted vegetables (peas, corn, carrots and green beans)
Mix it together, grab your Kleenex Wet Wipes & you’re ready to go!
What are your plans for Spring Break?
Leave a comment below & share.
Game day will be here before we know it, and if we’re all honest, isn’t game day FOOD one of the best things about the day?
Yes it’s an excuse to indulge in snacks & treats that we never normally eat, but isn’t that what the big day is for, really?
This isn’t something you want to leave to chance, or you’ll be stuck with only celery sticks & popcorn – nice & all but not the main attraction.
Game day food should be exciting & rewarding, so the food will be satisfying no matter whether the game is or not.
I’ve already started dreaming about the game day food we HAVE to have this year, so I’ve started a list of favorite game day food ideas & snacks.
Here are the top 12 EPIC yet EASY game day food ideas & snacks.
Let me know if you agree or if there’s something I’ve missed, so I can add it to the collection!
Crispy Chicken Strips
If you’re wondering how crispy chicken strips can be called “easy”, don’t worry – Tyson has us covered!
With a quick trip to my local Walmart, I load up on fantastic tasting Tyson® Crispy Chicken Strips that can be cooked in the oven & ready piping hot for game day.
Cripy chicken could NOT be any easier.
Your family will love this game day snack as much as mine does.
To make it even EASIER on you, here’s what you should look for.
This Slow Cooker Queso Dip from The Girl Who Ate Everything looks amazing & perfectly simple to make.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, it can be done on the stove instead.
It’s literally just combining all the ingredients & cooking on low for a few hours – winner!
These delicious potato skins from Brown Eyed Baker are mandatory game day food.
Don’t be scared of making these – with just 15 minutes of prep time, these are a crowd favorite.
Sloppy joe’s are my wife’s nostalgic favorite, and these sloppy joe sliders from Jenn’s Bliss don’t disappoint.
Prepare dozens of sliders all at once in a baking dish – genius!
These sheet pan nachos from Damn Delicious take loaded nachos to a whole new level.
This is perfect game day food if you plan to feed more than 4 people.
To make things even easier on yourself, cook the meat the day before – it will taste even better!
With just 10 minutes of prep time, these 4-ingredient jalepeno poppers from Inspired Taste are a quick win for spice lovers.
These can also be completely prepared a day ahead & then cooked in the oven a few minutes before you’re ready to eat.
If your cravings aren’t in overdrive yet, we’re only halfway through the list.
Next we have another winner that takes only 15 minutes of prep – this hot Italian sub sandwich from Lemons for Lulu.
Don’t let the long list of ingredients worry you – if you don’t have one of two of the ingredient, you can always substitute or omit items to your own taste.
Hardcore Texas chili lovers will argue that chili can not be prepped in just 20 minutes, but just don’t tell them this easy Texas chili recipe from Genius Kitchen only took you 20 minutes!
I think chili tastes even better when it’s reheated a day or two later, so this can & should be prepared ahead of game day.
Once you have your chili ready, make sure you have fixings to make chili dogs as well.
This chili dog recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef shows you everything needed for the perfect chili dog.
With only 5 minutes of prep time needed, chili dogs couldn’t be easier – or tastier.
Ordering pizza during game day is risky since it’s such a popular idea, but this pepperoni pizza dip from Belle of the Kitchen will satisfy those pizza cravings.
If you want people to think you’re a genius in the kitchen, this insanely good artichoke dip from Live Craft Eat takes an entire 5 minutes to prepare – yes, I said 5 minutes!!!
With just 15 minutes of prep time, these chicken taquitos from Two Peas & Their Pod are as delicious as they are colorful.
Anything that can be topped with guacamole, sour cream, or salsa is a winner in our house.
What do you think? Are these recipes easier to prepare than you first though? Which will you make on your next game day?
If I’ve missed any of your easy favorites, let me know in your comment below.
If you’re new to international travel with baby in tow, it’s easier than you probably think.
Our daughter’s first overseas trip was from our home in Paris, France to my visit my wife’s family in Dallas, Texas.
She was just 4 months old.
I know it’s annoying when people tell you how easy it is to have international travel with baby, but once your baby turns in to a toddler, you will realize it’s true.
Follow these 5 simple tips to make your international travel with baby a more comfortable experience for you, your baby & everyone else traveling around you.
5 Travel Hacks For International Travel With Baby
Here are the best 5 hacks I have found that have made international travel with baby a piece of cake.
As a corporate traveler, I know exactly when I need to leave to get to the airport at just the right time.
As a dad, I’ve learned it’s important to head to the airport much earlier because if something can go wrong – it will go wrong.
More than once, we’ve had major diaper blowouts while waiting in line to go through security.
Give yourself that extra time, so your stress level stays low & your baby can feel relaxed.
Carry On Comfort
Speaking of major diaper blowouts, plan to bring at least 2 changes of clothes in your carry on & more diapers than you think you will need.
Pack them in a ziplock back that you can re-use to seal up the dirty clothes.
Forget fancy baby clothes, make your baby as comfortable as possible – even bring along pajamas.
Baby clothes are tiny, and you could really regret it if you don’t have a clean change of clothes handy.
Prevention Is Key
International travel with baby means less time available to change & clean baby exactly when you would like to.
It’s much harder to change diapers during travel, but there’s an easy way to avoid irritating baby’s skin & mood!
To baby comfortable & clean throughout your trip, just pack Desitin Maximum Strength cream in your carry on.
Desitin helps keep a barrier between the diaper and your baby.
This will ensure they wouldn’t get a heat rash or irritated – especially during long trips.
It’s one of those products you will keep on hand for years because older children too can get relief from this protection.
Pack Their Favorites
Once your baby is old enough, bring along their favorite snacks & toys.
You are allowed to bring whatever milk, water & baby food your child needs for the flight.
If you’re bringing jarred food, just pack it in an easy-to-access place in your carry on & present it with the milk you are bringing.
Snacks & toys are a great way to keep baby entertained & satisfied with full bellies.
I know this one might sound silly, but plan to feel overwhelmed at some point during the trip.
A fellow traveler might be rude or your flight may get delayed.
It’s going to happen.
Remember to enjoy the experience…
Hey, even if it’s terrible – those make the best stories later!
Have your own tips for international travel with baby?
Leave your questions & comments below.
Expecting a new baby was always an exciting time for our family.
But preparing for a new baby can also feel overwhelming – especially if finances are tight.
I just found out that 1-in-3 families struggle to provide diapers for their baby & there is something we can do to help with Huggies.
How To Help Families In Need
From today until April 29 2018, any purchases of Huggies Diapers or Wipes at any Walgreens, both in-store and online at Walgreens.com, Huggies will give an entire day’s worth of diapers to the National Diaper Bank Network for families in need.
The goal of this program is to donate 1.5 million diapers and 250,000 wipes nationwide to the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN).
The surprising stats about the lack of diaper and wipes access make this an decision if your family is wondering how to help families in need.
We all want to make sure our little ones have everything they need at home, and simply purchasing Huggies from Walgreens can have a huge impact on a family.
In our house we buy Huggies wipes in bulk, so ordering them at Walgreens.com was an easy decision.
In addition, we bought extra diapers and wipes to donate to a nearby hospital, as I know they also are happy to receive donations.
Will you join us in supporting families in need?
Will you place your next order of diapers or wipes from Walgreens.com?
Be sure to share this program with others, so they can learn how to help families in need too.