It’s never too early…

As far as kids are concerned, the earlier the Christmas celebrations are allowed to start the better. If my kids had their way the tree would have been up weeks ago, but my rule is 2 weeks before the big day… and no matter how much pleading and badgering I’m subjected to I’m sticking to it. But of course, at school they are busy rehearsing for Christmas plays and carol concerts and the Christmas fair is done and dusted, so I can understand that in their little minds the festive season is well and truly upon us.

If your little ones think celebrating Christmas for a twelfth of the year is mandatory then they’ll be overjoyed to hear that the holiday excitement has started already on Disney Junior!

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Holiday Programming on Disney Junior

  • Every week night at 6pm ET from Dec 2nd to 24th tune in for special holiday episodes of your favourite shows.
  • On Saturday, December 7th at 10.30am ET don’t miss a special episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed In at the House of Mouse with extra-special guest appearances by favourite Disney characters including Snow White, Aladdin, Winnie the Pooh and many more!
  • And although you might be a little busy on Christmas Day, be sure to set the PVR for a marathon of holiday movies and specials from 6am until 11pm ET.

For full details of all the holiday programming check out the Disney Junior holiday schedule.

As well, parents and little ones can enjoy holiday-themed games, activities and more on the Disney Junior website. You can even design your own holiday e-Card to send to a loved one.

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Disclosure: I’m part of the Disney Junior Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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You can’t beat a good bedtime story

DSC00992I cherish our fabulous collection of kids’ books. We started reading bedtime stories to our babies when they were six months old and it is very rarely left out of our bedtime routine. Reading stories at bedtime is Daddy’s job pleasure. As he is at work all day and sees little of the kids it’s nice for him to spend this last 20 minutes of the day snuggled up on the sofa reading with them.

Pickle is now nine and we are trying to persuade her that it’s time to start being weaned off bedtime stories and that she should read to herself in bed instead. But when the books come out for five-year-old Bowser she’s still to be found on the other side of Dad on the sofa listening to the same old stories she’s been hearing for the last nine years.

Kids love repetition. If you’re going to read the same book over and over and over… you might as well pick something that is fun to read. Some toddler books are dire lovey dovey drivel. I prefer one with a pinch of humour aimed at the parents to lighten it up.

This week’s post is dedicated to my top five kids’ bedtime stories from our collection.

Knuffle Bunny1. Pickle’s favourite stuffed toy has always been Bedtime Bunny. She was more or less bald and was not much of a talker until she was 2 1/2. Consequently we warmed to the main character Trixie in Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, and felt Mo Willems could have written it about our family. I think most people would find the Knuffle Bunny books highly entertaining.

2. Julia Donaldson could easily take up all my top spots with all her rhyming gems. Which one of Julia’s books is my favourite? It’s just so hard to pick just one. Everyone knows the Gruffalo, but I don’t think that is my #1 pick. I’ll go with Room on the Broom, but it could just as easily be Tabby McTatt, Stick Man, Monkey Puzzle, Tiddler or The Snail and the Whale. All feature Julia’s masterful rhyming stories and Axel Scheffler’s ingenious detailed drawings.

511HXP01EHL._SY300_3. In Marjorie Newman’s Captain Pike Looks After the Baby new dad Captain Pike finds out that looking after the baby isn’t as easy as he thought which will make a lot of SAHMs smile. There’s a lovely moral of down with fighting, up with friendship and beautiful illustrations.

4. Julia Donaldson is on my list again but this time paired with illustrator Lydia Monks with a rhyming tale of friendship and cooperation in Sharing a Shell.

5. Adrian Reynolds bright, bold illustrations really steal the thunder in Someone Bigger. It’s a lovely, simple rhyming tale by Jonathan Emmet which appeals to the little ones who are always being told they are too small to do this or that.

All our picks are aimed at the 2-5ish age group, but as Pickle will attest there is no true upper age limit.

peter-pan-disney-poster-cartel-6This month on Disney Junior you can join Wendy and her brothers John and Michael as they are whisked away to the magical world of Neverland with the hero of their own bedtime stories, Peter Pan. Don’t miss the commercial free screening of this classic Disney feature film on Saturday November 23rd at 6pm ET.

And if you have a favourite bedtime tale in your house, please let us know – we’d love to try it!

Disclosure:  I’m part of the Disney Junior Mom program andI receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinionson this blog are my own.

Too Excited to Sleep!

downloadThey tell us we should live in the moment. The past is behind us, we can’t change it. What lies ahead we can’t predict. What will be will be. “Your brightest future hinges on your ability to pay attention to the present.” Yeah, yeah, yeah, all very well and very wise, but surely that doesn’t apply when you’re looking forward to something?

Isn’t the excitement of an outing or holiday a big part of the enjoyment? Something as exciting as a first trip to Disneyland is really hard to keep a lid on: the build up; the countdown of how many more sleeps; Eeeeep!

A big part of any adventure is the planning process: spending countless hours poring over the destination website; reading through guidebooks; dreaming of what’s to come. The holiday may only be booked for ten days, but if you add in the anticipation and it starts sooner and lasts longer. My kids love to download a theme park map and pour over it for days, weeks in advance, planning the day to the last detail: which part of the park they want to hit first; which rides are at the top of the list.

The thing is, when you factor in kids, the excitement can bubble over to disastrous levels. When kids get wound up emotionally, their bodies need to discharge all that energy – they become boisterous, hyperactive and might be more prone to bad behaviour or tantrums. They typically have trouble sleeping. We all remember that Disney World commercial where the mom tells the little boy to go to sleep, and he responds to her, with Disney fantasies in his head, “We’re too excited to sleep!!” In extreme cases getting over-excited can lead to illness. More than once my brother spent the first day of our annual summer holiday in bed with a temperature due to being over-excited. And for children who suffer with asthma, excitement as well as laughter can bring on their asthma symptoms.

That’s why some parents with over-excitable children would say the best way forward is to surprise their kids. My cousins took it to the wire by telling their kids they were going to the mall. Instead they drove to the airport and it was only when they met their grandparents sporting Mickey ears that the surprise Disney vacation was sprung!

Disney Junior’s Princesses & Heroes Contest

Disney Junior is giving you a chance to win an exciting trip for your little ones – and if you’re a lucky winner, whether you tell them all about it or keep it as a surprise is entirely up to you! In this latest Disney Junior contest you could win a trip to Toronto to experience the live Disney on Ice Princesses and Heroes show.

left_imageThe Grand Prize includes:

* Round-trip flights for a family of up to 4
* 2-night hotel stay for a family of up to 4
* 4 rink-side seats to Disney On Ice presents Princesses & Heroes
* A backstage character meet-and-greet
* A $1,000 Disney Store shopping spree experience

Enter now by following this link and for more chances to win:

* Enter every day until November 13th.
* Receive 25 bonus entries by watching Belle make a special appearance on Sofia the First! Look for the Bonus Code to appear during the special on Sunday November 10th between 11:30am and 12pm ET, and enter it on the entry form.

Disclosure: I’m part of the Disney Junior Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

What happened to my little mermaid?

My little Pickle headed off to grade 4 this week! Grade 4? Where did the time go? What happened to my little Pickle with no hair; who took forever to learn how to talk and could only be understood by me until she was 4; who used to spend all her waking (and some sleeping) hours in a variety of princess dresses? To be honest I’m glad she’s got hair now and that everyone can understand her when she speaks. I am however a bit sad that she now ‘hates’ princesses (a strong word I know and one we are working on removing from our family vocab, but that’s a another story for another day). From having a room completely bedecked in princess trimmings she has banished the pretty ladies and moved on to Hello Kitty…shortly before moving on to 1D no doubt, but I really don’t want to think about that.

Ariel at DisneylandAnyway, back to the good old bald, gibberish talking days… her favourite costume was the Little Mermaid dress. She wore it from when she was tiny and the tail dragged along behind her to when she could barely fit into it and the tail swung inches from the ground. She wore it to see Bobs & Lolo performing from their Under the Sea album at the Aquarium; she wore it to meet Ariel at Disneyland; she wore it at Halloween; she wore it to her ‘Under the Sea’ themed 4th birthday party. Ahhh, happy memories.

Well I still love the Little Mermaid even if Pickle doesn’t and if your little one is still a fan you’ll be pleased to know that the series is coming back exclusively to Disney Junior, weekdays at 8pm ET starting Monday, September 16th! Also on October 1st The Little Mermaid movie will be re-released on Blu-ray and HD Digital. And in celebration Disney Junior have unveiled a fantastic new Little Mermaid contest.

Disney Junior’s Little Mermaid Contest 

Disney Junior is giving you and your family the chance to win a trip to Toronto to experience Canada’s private red carpet screening of The Little Mermaid, complete with an Under the Sea Adventure experience before the show!

The-Little-Mermaid-Diamond-Edition-Blu-Ray-Cover-the-little-mermaid-34285754-425-500The grand prize includes:

  • Round-trip flights to Toronto for a family of up to 4
  • Two night hotel stay for a family of up to 4
  • Under the Sea Adventure experience at the TIFF Bell Lightbox cultural centre
  • Disney gift bag for each child guest
  • $1000 Spending money
  • Transportation to and from the event

Don’t delay, enter right now and increase your chances of winning by entering once per day until the contest closes on September 11th!

Oooh, I’d love to go…wonder if I could persuade Pickle to squeeze into that Little Mermaid dress just one more time 😉

Disclosure:  I’m part of the Disney Junior Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Set Sail With Disney Junior!

Disney Junior is about to make one family very, very happy with their Disney Junior Dream Cruise Contest. Yes, one incredibly lucky family will be setting sail on the Disney Cruise Line cruise of their dreams valued up to $12,000! For full details of the three amazing vacation prize package choices available check out the contest info on Disney Junior’s website.

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I was lucky enough to take my kids on a Disney Cruise last spring.  We had a fabulous time.  Both my husband and I had been on many different cruise lines but the Disney Cruise took the cake.  No where else could you have ketchup from your hot dogs be served to you in the shape of Mickey Mouse.  Nor, could you find anywhere else a talking fish who can apparently see you and hear you talk to you from behind the wall in the dining room.  My kids were over-the-moon excited to meet all of the characters on the ship and to ride the amazing water slide that takes you right off the boat over the ocean (I even had to try that one).  The island that the Disney Cruise exclusively docks at is amazing and you feel like you are at a Disney theme park…..only with sand and surf!  I have to say that this is the first time my kids ever begged me to actually send them to the kids camp 🙂  It was truly an amazing experience and one that the entire family will remember for years to come.

You can enter the contest right now by following this link to the Disney Junior Website and filling in the entry form. But why enter just once, when you can enter once every day?! Increase your chances of winning by popping back to enter every day until Aug 30th.

Bonus Entries!
What’s more you can also get up to 15 bonus entries by watching the Disney Junior channel Saturdays in August between 6 and 7 pm ET. Watch for the Magic Word to be revealed, enter it on disneyjunior.ca and you’ll get 5 bonus entries to the contest. One unique Magic Word will be revealed each Saturday: August 10*, August 17 and August 24, 2013.

*Be sure to tune in Aug 10th at 6pm ET, not only to spot the Magic Word, but also to catch the network premiere of Toy Story 2!

Disclosure:  I’m part of the Disney Junior Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Ways to Beat the Heat (and Avoid the Naughty Step)

As I walk away from our front hallway (which also serves as our ‘time out spot’) after giving my two year old a well deserved talking to, I realise that my children aren’t purposely trying to drive me insane by being pains-in-the-butt, in fact, they are trying their best to combat the heat. While summertime is filled with tons of fun with picnics, outings to the beach or waterpark, and as much outdoor activity as possible, we also experience hot, sticky nights when the kids often find it harder to sleep and as a result there can be a little extra crankiness all round.

So what can we do to help keep the little ones cool (and visits to the naughty step down to a minimum) during these dog days of summer?

Drink, drink, drink!
Make sure that they drink plenty to replace the moisture that is lost as they perspire. As you lose water to dehydration, your body temperature rises, so replacing fluids is essential to keeping cool. Opt for hydrating foods such as fruits and salads. Make some healthy freeze pops from fruit juice. Freeze some strawberries to use as ice cubes in drinks.

Spritz!
BLD066962Water play is good old fashioned, inexpensive fun. Water slides, paddling pools, running through the sprinkler, ahhh!  As the water evaporates from your skin it cools you down. Keep a spray bottle of water in the refrigerator, and when the going gets hot, give the kids a good squirt – begin with their wrists to quickly cool down the blood flowing through their veins.

Airy fairy!
The best way to dress for the heat is in thin, light coloured, loose fitting clothes. Natural fibres such as cotton and bamboo are breathable, so more comfortable on hot days than synthetic fibres. Loose, billowy clothes allow air movement next to the skin and help with sweat evaporation.

Lose the shoes
As the sweat on your feet evaporates, it cools the skin and the blood in your feet. Blood vessels then whisk that blood to other parts of the body, giving you  a greater sensation of coolness.

A cool bed buddy
Fill a cotton sock with rice, tie the neck of the sock with string or elastic bands and freeze it for two hours before popping it between the sheets at bedtime. Rice retains cold for a long period because it’s dense and starchy so makes a great ‘cold water bottle’ for your child’s bed. For small children who may ‘fiddle’ with the fastening of your cold bed buddy, it might be better to sew the sock neck closed.

Homemade air-conditioning
In desert areas where the air outside is dry and cooler than the air inside those in the know hang a damp sheet in an open window. Incoming breezes are cooled by the evaporating water. A shallow bowl of ice in front of a fan will give you a similar cool breeze.

Night coolers
A fan placed by an open window at night can help take the stuffiness out of a room. The trick is to face the blades outside. This sucks warm air out of the house and pulls cooler air in – it’s much more effective than a fan that’s blowing in to the room.

Cool moves
Setting off on a journey in a scorching car can be a bad start to an outing. Try this neat trick from Japan of opening one window then opening and closing the opposite door several times. It will cool down your overheated car by around 10 degrees before everyone gets in.

‘Chill’ with a movie
winnie-the-pooh-2011-movie-2If everyone’s had enough sun for one day why not move it indoors, draw the blinds and settle down for a quiet, low-key activity like a movie. This summer Disney Junior are treating us to a commercial free movie every Saturday night! So tune in at 6pm ET, or set your PVR so you can enjoy the movie whenever the sun, sun, sun stops being fun, fun, fun.

On July 13th it’s A Bug’s Life, on July 20th tune in for Tinkerbell and on July 27th don’t miss the brand new Winnie the Pooh movie. And for a little more ‘fun out of the sun’, to accompany this station premier DisneyJunior.ca have a whole host of Winnie the Pooh activities lined up for your little ones to enjoy.

Disclosure:  I’m part of the Disney Junior Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Thanks Dad, for everything you do!

Missing an arm from their bloody lightsaber duel, Luke reels as Vader delivers his powerful final blow: “No, I am your Father.” It’s one of the most memorable father/son movie moments. It’s up there alongside one of my personal favourites: Gil trying to comfort his son and deal with his own interfering, overbearing father in Parenthood when Kevin loses his retainer. And who can forget, sniff, the heart wrenching scene from Lion King where a worried, guilty Simba tries to rouse, sniff, Musafa who’s lying trampled at the bottom of the ravine. Sob. There’s Kramer Vs Kramer, The Pursuit of Happyness, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Back to the Future – all great family movies with a focus on a variety of father and son relationships.

download (2)And of course, although they spend most of the movie apart there’s no mistaking the strong father/son bond between the overprotective Marlin and his adventurous son in Finding Nemo. As worried Marlin stresses about the dropoff, Nemo almost inaudibly mutters ‘I hate you’ before darting off into big trouble. It’s a poignant father/son interaction all Dads can relate to.

Next weekend, it is of course the day we celebrate all those father/son and father/daughter relationships – it’s Father’s Day! To mark the occasion Disney Junior has a great line up of programming to say ‘Thanks Dad, for everything you do’ starting with the station premier of Finding Nemo. So settle down with the family on Saturday, June 15th at 6pm ET to enjoy this great family movie (commercial-free!) and then on Father’s Day the little ones will be thrilled to see specially themed episodes of all their favourite shows.

What Dad wouldn’t like to receive a big Father’s Day bonus of a brand new family car? That’s exactly what might happen if you enter Disney Junior’s latest competition to win a 2013 Toyota Prius v! You can enter now at DisneyJunior.ca but if you watch Disney Junior weekdays in June between 5-7pm ET and spot the Toyota Prius v and bonus code you can earn up to 100 bonus entries!

Disney-Junior-Prius-V

Disclosure:  I’m part of the Disney Junior Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Even Captain Hook is Someone’s Little Treasure

Is there lots of whispering going on in your house at the moment? ‘Do Not Enter’ signs on the bedroom door? Conversations ending abruptly when you enter the room? Don’t get paranoid…it’s Mother’s Day this weekend! Who can’t wait to see what will be offered up as breakfast-in-bed on Sunday morning…coffee made with cold water, cornflakes covered in chocolate milk? Yum. Remember, ‘It’s the thought that counts’. Same goes for that specially crafted ‘something’ that’s been lovingly created for you. Whatever you do, don’t ask ‘What is it?’ and yes, it does need to be on display on the dresser for at least a week.

If your kids are not behaving suspiciously this week maybe then you need to worry. Surely they haven’t forgotten?! Just to be safe point them in the direction of DisneyJunior.ca where they’ll find all kinds of Mother’s Day crafts to keep them occupied such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cards and a cuddle voucher to print and colour, and Mother’s Day flower bouquet and picture frame crafts from Doc McStuffins.

7042You know, even Captain Hook is someone’s little treasure. Your little ones can meet the long suffering Mama Hook in this special educational, interactive adventure ‘A Treasure for Mama Hook’. Doh! Captain Hook has forgotten to hide some treasure for ‘Mommy dear’ but Jake is kind enough to help out – he doesn’t want to see any mommy disappointed, even if she’s arch rival Captain Hook’s mommy. Complete the treasure map, mark the trail to the treasure chest and colour in your treasure map before filling the treasure chest with goodies for Mama Hook to discover.

Mama Hook is coming to visit  James in special back-to-back episodes of Jake and the Never Land Pirates starting at 10am ET on Mother’s Day on the Disney Junior channel. This double helping of Jake is just part of the line up of special programmes to celebrate Mother’s Day starting this Sunday at 9am ET:

  • 9am: Special Agent Oso. Eun-Kyung wants to make a handprint as a Mother’s Day gift for her Mom, but she doesn’t know how!
  • 9:30am: Handy Manny. Manny gets a call from Mr. Lopart’s Mother to build a mantle for her fireplace. Mr. Lopart is disappointed that his mother didn’t call him so he follows along.
  • 10:00am: Jake and the Never Land Pirates. Mama Hook Knows Best! When Captain Hook’s mother comes to visit, Captain Hook takes her on a treasure hunt. However, Mama Hook (the voice of Sharon Osbourne) isn’t proud of her son when she finds out that Hook didn’t find the treasure on his own!  In the end, Mama Hook presides over a pirate tea party with Captain Hook, his crew – and Jake and his crew!
  • 10:30am: Jake and the Never Land Pirates (PREMIERE)
    The Mystery Pirate! When a mysterious masked pirate swipes Jake’s Sword and Captain Hook’s hook, Jake, Hook & their crews are set off on a wild chase. All are astounded to finally find out who the mystery pirate is… it’s MAMA HOOK!  Turns out that she wanted to find a way to get her son James working together with the little sea pups in an effort to make him a better pirate!
  • 11am: Doc McStuffins. When Doc is dancing with Lambie, she accidentally gets Lambie caught on Sir Kirby’s sword, and Lambie rips! Doc brings Lambie to Mom, and Mom agrees to take on the ‘surgery.’ With Doc as her assistant, Mom sews Lambie up.

So, why not take delivery of that breakfast in bed (whatever it may be) and send your little treasures off for a morning of commercial-free programming with Disney Junior while you take a well-earned Mother’s Day break!

Disclosure:  I’m part of the Disney Junior Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Watching your dreams come to life

For the past year I’ve been trying my darnedest to get my children’s picture book published. I can only imagine how good it would feel to know that ‘Erica the Elephant’ was being enjoyed as part of storytime by little ones around the world. But never in my wildest dreams could I imagine what it must feel like to have your picture book turned into a children’s series on Disney Junior. Woah!

henryh21That’s just what happened to award winning Irish author and illustrator Niamh Sharkey. The characters from Niamh’s super-successful book ‘I’m a Happy Hugglewug’, published by Walker Books, are set to become Disney Junior’s viewers’ latest favourites when Henry the Hugglemonster premiers on Sunday April 21st.

Over the last four years Niamh has been collaborating with the Disney team and Brown Bag Films, who brought us the popular Doc McStuffins, to deliver 52 episodes of Henry the Hugglemonster. She has been involved in every step of the production and is pleased that the look of her original book characters has remained same after their transformation to screen stars.

“We had the family from the book, but we had to create their world and a whole new cast of monster friends like the Enormomonsters for Henry to interact with,” says Sharkey. “Brown Bag created a world that allows for fast-paced camera work. Rather than design separate sets, it’s a world where the camera can move anywhere. It can zoom down on the town, through hollows and even shoot underground where some of Henry’s friends live.”

family

The series is set in colourful Roarsville and follows the adventures of fun-loving, five year old Henry Hugglemonster, the middle child in a happy, wacky close-knit Hugglemonster family which includes Henry’s older brother and sister Cobby and Summer, baby brother Ivor, Mama, Daddo, Nanoh and Grandoh. Loveable Henry enjoys playing outside with his friends and says exactly what he thinks the moment it pops into his head. Whether it be learning to work as a team, helping others, persisting in tasks or understanding what it means to be part of a family, Henry showcases many of the emotions that young children feel as they learn to navigate their own lives.

So be sure your little ones are ready to meet Henry and his friends when they hit our screens Sunday April 21st, at 12:30pm ET, with new episodes Sundays at 12:30pm ET only on the Disney Junior Channel.

Disclosure: I’m part of the Disney Junior Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

February Fun!

OK Moms, it’s STILL cold out there. Not just cold, but wet, rainy and just plain miserable. HOWEVER, instead of wallowing in sorrow as to when your body will actually get to see the light of day again and not be covered up in layers of hot, stifling cotton…..you can focus on this wonderful indoor time with your little ones!

February

For the month of February DisneyJunior.ca is providing a ton of fun activities for you and your child to work on. For instance, you can celebrate Valentine’s Day early with Disney Junior on Sunday February 10th beginning at 9am. It’s a be a morning filled with Valentine – and friendship themed episodes from popular series including Brand New Episodes of our family favorite Doc McStuffins, Jake and the Never Land Pirates and Handy Manny. DisneyJunior.ca also offers a chance to sit down together to design your own Disney Junior Valentine’s Day Cards…..perfect gift for the Grandparents, Aunties and Uncles!!!

valentines

Starting on February 18th to February 22nd at 7pm Disney Junior is throwing a pajama party to welcome twin bananas B1 and B2 of its newest series Bananas in Pajamas. It might be a fun idea to have the kids and YOU put on your favorite comfy pajama’s and grab your favorite teddy bear (hubbies count as a teddy bear too) and nestle in for the PJ-wearing duo’s zany adventures. A big bowl of popcorn and your favorite sweet treat are a welcome addition to the party!

Disney on Ice
My favorite part of Disney Junior’s February extravaganza is having a chance to win four front row seats for the March 15th, 2013 Disney on Ice presents Rockin’ Ever After show in Toronto. Nope, it doesn’t matter if you live in Toronto or not because the contest includes round-trip flights, two nights at a hotel in Toronto, a character meet and greet experience, and a prize pack of Rockin’ Ever After merchandise.  To enter the contest visit http://www.disneyjunior.ca/en/contests/disney-on-ice-rockin-ever-after

Whew, with all that activity the month of February will fly by and we’ll be into March and into the spring weather before we now it. But, for now, bundle up and hunker in for some fun with Disney Junior!

Disclosure: I’m part of the disney Junior Mom program and I recieve special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.