Day 1:  De-Stress, Just Enjoy Being Home


Up until a week ago, I was supposed to be traveling tonight to Walt Disney World, but once again I found my sucked into the Twilight Zone with the floor dropping out from under me.  Instead of ending up with another anxiety attack over it, I gave myself one more Disney day and really treat myself because it is well deserved and VERY earned!


Today is about de-stressing and being home, but still within the  perimeters of new experiences…

Plans for today include:

  1. Breakfast at Be Our Guest (I hear they now mimosa’s)
  2. Massage at Senses in the Grand Floridian

-I might end up at All Star Pool, hotel room for a nap. or Food & Wine in the afternoon.  All of these options are on the table.

  1. Dessert Party and VIP Seating for Fantasmic!

-Afterwards, the night is still relatively young in terms of Disney time so I might go to Disney Springs or enjoy All Stars at night.   

Remember that I am doing a full out social media blitz this week to make you part of my “working vacation.” Content will be different on each site to make it fresh, so you will want to follow me on…

ta social page

I am also going to be giving everyone* following along and interacting, a chance to win up to $200 in a Disney Vacation Credit* as well as a few daily giveaways as a thank you for being a part of my “working vacation.”  The more you interact, the better chance you have to win.

“Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho It’s Off to Work I GO” Contest Rules & Details

There is so much magic waiting for me that I need to get going, I will C U real soon and remember that life is always better when you are wearing ears.

I’m Done Adulting…I’m Going to Disney

If you were to ask me what my favorite ride in Disney Hollywood Studios is, hands down I would say Tower of Terror.  But…

4 ME9

The last few months I have felt like I have been living in the Twilight Zone.  My life and emotions have been very similar to that of the Tower of Terror thanks to the constant changes in my job.  Just when it seems to get close to normal, the floor drops out from below me…

My Favorite Things - Page 012

I am DONE ADULTING!  To quote my favorite Disney bear, Koda, I want to “tell everybody” that I am on my way home to the most magical place on Earth for my annual Heigh-Ho trip.  What you don’t speak Disney? (We will have to fix that.)

Translation:  Tonight, as soon as I finish my day job, I will be traveling to Walt Disney World for my annual working vacation as an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.  


I just love telling people that I “HAVE TO GO” to Walt Disney World, it’s a tough job. My working vacation is all about you, my Disney Travel clients. It is during this trip, that I  try to pack in as many NEW EXPERIENCES as I can to make your trip more magical. No matter how many times I go to Walt Disney World, I always seem to have a long list of NEW experiences.  Walt Disney World is constantly changing, growing, expanding, updating, and refurbishing so it is very easy to create a list of things that I have not experienced. In fact, a whole new land opened in June that I have yet to explore .    

I want to invite you to come along on this working vacation through the power of social media.  We will be “whistling while we work” as I am planning a full out social media blitz this week, with different content across all of these 4 sites…  

ta social page

I am also going to be giving everyone* following along and interacting, a chance to win up to a $200 in a Disney Vacation Credit* as well as a few daily giveaways as a thank you for being a part of my “working vacation.”  

For complete rules and details…

Heigh-Ho Contest: Details & Rules

Get ready by following me on each of my social media platforms and then be on the lookout starting about 6 pm CST as we officially punch the time card…

I will C U real soon and remember that life is always better when you are wearing ears!

Friday Fives: 5 Things Disney that I loved in 2017

Yep, this is going to be another one of those ends of the year reflection posts that are so prevalent as we look forward to flipping that calendar to a fresh New Year.

I did not expect 2017 to be a year full of Disney, put some how it just happened that way (not that I am complaining or anything). So, humor me while I look back at 5 Things Disney that I loved in 2017…

1.  Neon Lighting at Carsland

Nothing was more special in 2017 then  then getting to see my boys faces as they explored Carsland, and that includes Mr. Grumpy.  The movie CARS has been a part of our lives for over 10 years when #monsterchild fell in love with Lightning McQueen, after all he is Lightnings #1 Fan still to this day as a near teenager.  Grumpy however, has been a fan of cars all his life and the whole pit crew of CARS has allowed him to really bond with our boys.  Watching the neon light up was amazing for all of us and one of those special moments that will last forever.


2. Going Solo to Walt Disney World


Don’t get me wrong, I do love my family and girl’s trips to Walt Disney World, but there was something totally freeing about going solo. I had so much fun bouncing around and doing whatever caught my attention. For the introvert in me, that time alone was precious, although secretly there was times when I wish I was sharing the magic with someone else.

3. Lunch at Satu’li Canteen

Are you tired of hearing about this place and this meal? Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think my high expectations for this meal adventure would be met let alone be exceeded. I am already dreaming of my next bites, now only if I could be there when they serve that adult oatmeal!

4. Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters


I don’t know what is it is about this attraction, but honestly if there was not a crazy long wait it would become just like the People Mover for me at Walt Disney World, one that I would ride over and over again. The music and the spinning makes me happy, and oh at night under the lights, takes me back in a weird sort of way to the dance scene in Roman Holiday and the time we spent as a family in Italy…yep, in the happiest place on earth when I am dancing with Lugi and his cousins from Carsoli.

5. Sharing the Magic


This same time last year, I was earning my “ears” to become an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner as an affiliate with Academy Travel. Since then I have gone on to share the Disney magic with 10 families in my first year and have many more counting down the magic in 2018.  I have loved every stressful moment trying to make sure they have the most magical vacation ever and enjoyed being a part of their trips. 

It was certainly a great Disney 2017!  Just like 2017, 2018 is starting off with no definite Disney trip plans for myself but you never know where I might end up.  I do know that I will be sharing my love with more families as they go one their own magical trips and with you.  Thanks for following along, and I hope to see in you 2018.

Saturday Saving 4 Disney:  Let the Penny Making Begin Again

mickey dollar

There is no way around it, a Disney trip is expensive. At this moment, I am not certain when my next Disney trip will be, but that is not holding me back from earning few pennies through what I like to call my “Disney Penny” apps that I use to earn my Disney money while I am shopping, and yes even sleeping.  

Here is what you need to know about Disney Penny Apps

I call them penny apps, because basically you are earning pennies but over the course of time pennies add up to dollars.  In reality, you are really “points” which you turn into gift cards to popular stores. I earn Walmart/Sam’s Cards which I then turn around and use to purchase Disney Gift Cards at a discounted rate at Sam’s, saving even more money for Disney.  Making Disney Pennies does take time and effort, but can be seamlessly worked into your daily schedule or shopping routine without much disruption.  Like anything in life, you only get out what you put into things.  I refuse to spend money to make money, so unless it’s product that I am going to use, then I do not buy it just for the sake of earning “points”.  Dealing with cancelling memberships and paying attention to rules is too much work for me, so you will not see me purchasing monthly membership trials either. Identity theft is real and very rarely will I ever link a credit card to my app accounts.  

Those are my ground rules for Disney Penny apps, so which ones do I use…

While I use quite a few different app/websites the ones that make the most for me are

  • ShopKick
  • SwagBucks
  • Ibotta
  • Walmart Savings Catcher

These apps/websites, in addition to my Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Card and picking up a few side jobs I have been able to pay almost the entire cost of my Disney trips without ever having to dip into my household budget, since the majority of my trips are selfish ones where I am going with my runDisney girlfriends.  

Let me show you an example with my 2016 Wine & Dine Trip:

The total cost of the trip was $2765 and I paid $0 out of my household budget, in fact I came home with almost $400 to roll over to my next Disney trip.

Beach Club DVC Rental $616

  • Actual Cost Out of Pocket $0

I had already saved this from a side tutoring job that I had done in the fall of 2015 so that I could book the Beach Club at the 11 month mark.

Southwest Plane Ticket $397

  • Actual Cost Out of Pocket $0

Purchased with my SW Rapid Rewards Visa card, thanks to putting my DD college tution each month and then paying it off from savings.

Wine & Dine 2016 2-Course Challenge Registration, plus 5K $352

  • Actual Cost Out of Pocket $0

Purchased by writing a couple extra professional development sessions for my school district during the spring of 2016 and then presenting them in the summer.

But here is where my Disney Penny Apps came into play…

Expenses   $1400

  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party $91
  • 6 Day Park Ticket $378
  • Food & Spending for 7 Days ($125 a day) $900
  • Actual Cost Out of Pocket $0

Earned through Disney Penny Apps

  • Swagbucks $700
  • Walmart Savings Catcher $82
  • ShopKicks $100
  • PerkTV $175
  • Ibotta $275
  • Check Out51 $15
  • PACT $70

I was totally stunned that I was able to make over $1400 simply by putting my insomnia (thanks to a condition called Restless Leg Syndrome) to work and learning a to use a few apps while doing what I am already doing, shopping in the span of 11 months.

Over the next several weeks/months I am going to show you how you too can earn a few Disney pennies by putting your computer and smartphone to work for you.


Tammie’s Take Thursday: Why I Keep Going “Home”


When I was planning my family’s first vacation to Walt Disney World, I planned like it was a “Once in a Lifetime Trip,” never expecting to return.  Now with my 7th trip about to take place I am met with “that look”…


You know the one that often includes eye rolls and a moment of sure disgust or maybe confusion and is often followed by a heavy sigh and some opinion or comment that I fail to acknowledge, because after all I am going “Home” to that happy/magical place. 

Sometimes, however, I do feel the need to reply…


Disney is the happiest/most magical place on Earth because when on vacation everyday life and troubles often melt away and disappear for the time being.  I love being in the “Disney Bubble,” that mysterious invisible barrier that surrounds Disney and prevents the not so fun parts of real life to pass through (cooking, paying bills, running from here to there, you know just being an adult/parent in general).  Inside of that “bubble” Disney magic takes ahold of me and I escape.

Being able to spend time with family at Disney was Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disneyland.  A Disney vacation is time for us to make happy memories from all the smiles and laughter that is taking place.  While we might not all agree that a Dole Whip is the best treat ever, we can agree to just have fun and enjoy ourselves.  Girl’s trips to Disney are amazing, especially with a few of closest friends who just happen to love Disney as much as I do come along.  We get to be girl’s instead of mom’s…being silly, pampering ourselves, doing what we want so that when we return home we are recharged and ready to tackle being a mom again.  It’s also a place that I look forward to taking a couples only trip to with my non-Disney loving Mr. Grumpy, a chance for us to reconnect via Disney magic.  

There is absolutely no one way to experience Disney.  It’s not all about the character and rides, don’t get me wrong I love them, but for me it is about the TOTAL experience that Disney has to offer in a vacation.  For me I love the runDisney events, Mickey’s parties, the ever changing dining that allows me bring out my foodie side, and the immersive atmosphere that draws me into the story that is being told.  For others it’s the shopping or great live stage shows.  With the sheer size of Disney along with seasonal events, continuous updating of beloved attractions and new additions I never feel like I’ve done or see everything.  There is always something more I want do experience that justifies another trip.   

So when people make the comment, “Oh, you’re going to Disney…again?” I say “Yep, I sure am and I can’t wait.”


Tammie’s Take Thursday:  When is the Best Time to take a Disney Vacation?

When is the best time to go to Walt Disney World?  ANYTIMEPhoto1077FourBySix

Of course, this is just my opinion because a lot of blogs and websites will direct you to crowd calendars and will tell you that your number one factor should be crowd levels.  For me, I don’t worry so much about crowd levels because I am a firm believer that all crowds at WDW can be tamed by arriving at the parks prior to “rope drop,” going in with a plan of attack and knowing your limits.  Instead, I base my vacations on three factors…my personal schedule, what experiences are available throughout the year at Walt Disney World and what I want to get out of this trip.

I first look at my own personal schedule to see what works for me personally.  Being in education, I am not an advocate of taking children older than 3rd grade out of school for extended periods of time but I also know that every situation is unique and different.  Someday I will tackle the “Should I Take my Child out of School to go to Disney” debate on this blog.

Next, I look at what experiences are available throughout the year and what I want to get from the trip. Let’s look at special events throughout the year that make each trip special and unique…

  • January-New Year’s Celebrations, Christmas decorations still up throughout the first week of January, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, Epcot International Festival of the Arts
  • February-Princess Half Marathon Weekend
  • March-Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival
  • April- Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival, Easter Celebrations. Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend
  • July-4th of July Celebrations
  • September-Fall Decorations, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, Night of Joy Concert Series
  • October- Fall Decorations, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival
  • November-Fall & Christmas Decorations, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend
  • December- Christmas Decorations, Candlelight Processional in Epcot, Christmas Around the World in Epcot and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

2013-10-03 23.46.25 (3)So, when is my favorite time to go to Walt Disney World? I absolutely love traveling the end of October/beginning of November for several reasons. First, the weather is a pleasant mid 80s cool enough to enjoy the parks and the resort pool. It is absolutely beautiful during this time of the year.  You get to experience the best of both the Fall and Christmas Seasons.  If you time it just right you can attend the last of the Mickey’s No So Scary Halloween parties and the Fall decorations, then watch the magical transformation to the Christmas season and see the snow fall on Main Street during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  In addition, that means runDIsney’s Wine & Dine Photo1026FourBySixHalf Marathon Weekend will be taking place along with Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival.  So many fun things to see and do! Also, crowd levels are generally moderate in size this time of the year, which makes dining and FastPass+ reservations easier to make, plus easier to handle during the day in the parks.

In the end, you must decide what works best for you and your travel party, because there is no wrong time to take a trip to the most “Magical Place on Earth.”

What are you waiting for? I can help you pick the perfect time for your travel party and then assist you in your planning needs.

Tammie’s Take Thursday: When Should I Begin Planning My Disney Vacation?

What a crazy couple of weeks it has been since Walt Disney World opened reservations for most of the 2018 calendar year.  It has been a whirlwind of creating inquiry quotes, formal quotes and booking many Disney Vacation reservations for 2018.  I am truly blessed with lots of support into my new venture as an Authorized Disney Vacation planner and Affiliate of Academy Travel and

One question that continuous has been asked over and over the last month is, “When do I start planning a Walt Disney World Vacation?”


Ummmm, RIGHT NOW!!!! (Okay, probably not the best person to ask, since I love to plan…but you asked). With Disney, just as soon as you have made the decision to go there for vacation is when you should begin planning. Who cares if it is a year away or 2 months away…there are things that need to be done and planned.

My personal opinion is to begin planning somewhere between the 12 to 7 month mark prior to your vacation, with booking around 7 months out for Walt Disney World.  (As far as a Disney Cruise, just as soon as itineraries are announced for the cheapest prices and for Disneyland 3 months is enough time, although resort/hotel reservations can sometimes be hard to get the closer to travel date you are).  As much I as I love planning things, there are reasons why I begin planning so early, the most important being that I want to ensure that we experience all the magic possible during our trip…

  1. I can secure my reservation with a simple $200 deposit which locks in prices for my travel dates at that time.  If Disney decides to raise the price on tickets or rooms prior to my stay, I still get to take advantage of the prices at the time of booking. And if a discount offer/promotion becomes available I am still able to apply that offer to my vacation to save money.  I am also able to put my vacation on “lay away,” meaning I can make as many little payments on my trip up until when my balance is due in full 30 days prior to travel.  This allows me to work my vacation into my monthly household budget seamlessly.
  2. Most activities, tours, and dining reservations begin being made 180-60 days in advance of your preferred travel date.  By planning my vacation early, I can do all the research needed to be prepared when the booking windows open for Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) and FastPass+ (FP+) reservations.  Being able to book on booking day helps me to insure we get to eat where we want and ride the attractions we want to.  I have personally witnessed park guests get very upset and not act very kind & friendly when they are not able to so simply walk up to a dining location and be seated (most cases turned away).  Popular dining locations like eating in Cinderella’s Castle or Be Our Guest (aka Beast’s Castle) reservations at 180 days are an ABSOLUTE MUST and even then, there are no guarantees then that you will secure a reservation.  With the opening of Pandora, the World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom this summer wait times have soared into the 3+ hours for some attractions, being able to book ride reservations or FastPasses at 60 days helps to ensure that we are able to ride without waiting in line for hours as well as get the times that we want to visit the attraction.
  3. Walt Disney World is a huge place (46 square miles) and being able to know what there is to see, do and experience takes time to research, sort through and work into a doable plan.  Every trip I plan I find a new magical experience and has me wanting more.  By beginning my planning early, I have the time needed to find the magic, sometimes more than is possible to fit into the time I have (but that is what another trip is for).

You want to go sooner than 7 months?  No problem, I have helped clients put together a truly magical experience at 70 days.  It will be a fast learning curve and quick decisions, but totally doable and just as magical in the end.  The key with planning under 3 months is to be flexible.

But what if you are the more of the spontaneous type…can’t you just wing it? You’re not a bird, so don’t wing it! I wouldn’t suggest going into any sort of Disney vacation without some sort of plan of time.  It does not have to be


detailed down to the last second of every day of your vacation, but to truly have a magical experience without the frustration of crowds, lines and not knowing what to expect you must go in with a plan.

I understand, not everyone has the need to be as obsessive, I mean thorough, about planning their Disney vacation as I do. The great thing is that you don’t have to be either, let me walk you through the planning experience.  I have already done the time consuming hard work of researching for you. I will provide you with the information based on what you tell me that you want to get out of your vacation, you make the decisions and I work to make the magic happen (thank goodness for my Fairy Godmother Wand) as much as I can. Best of all my services come free when you book any Disney or Universal Vacation with me.  Here are just a few of the things I can/will do for you…




  • Welcome Packet full of information to get you started down the planning road
  • Set Up of My Disney Experience (MDE) Account
  • Suggest Flight Schedules & booking option through Disney
  • Arrange Airport Transportation with Disney Magical Express
  • Customized Resort & “On Property” Transportation Information
  • Information to help you decide “What Park, What Day”
  • Information to help you decide on Advanced Dining Reservations as well as advice & suggestions on including a Disney Dining Plan to your reservation
  • Option for booking of Dining Reservations at 180 days for you
  • Monitoring of Requested Dining Reservations not available at time of booking (Wish list)
  • Periodically emails on fun things to try/do and special events to keep you excited about your trip
  • Information to help you decide on FastPass+ Reservations as well as advice & suggestions
  • Option for booking of FastPass+ Reservations for your travel party at 60 days prior to travel
  • Option for custom itinerary and touring plans, or just generic touring plans for each park
  • Tips, Tricks & Suggestions to make the most of your vacation
  • Answers to all your questions, honest opinions and advice
  • Final Packet with Trip Documents
  • During trip support via email, phone or text as needed

What are you waiting for, let’s get planning.  I promise to give your Disney vacation the same attention to care and detail as I would my own no matter how soon (or late) we begin planning the magic!

(almost) Wordless Wednesday: Disney Dads

It’s (almost) Wordless Wednesday!  Each week I join Focused on the Magic and other fellow Disney bloggers to share our Disney vacation photos and memories by blog hopping. This week’s topic is…Disney Dads

9 dad and minnie

I admit that when I planned our first Disney vacation as a family, I went in it thinking that it would be a “Once in a Lifetime” trip as I could never imagine that I would ever get Mr. Grumpy to agree to go back…

Let alone be his idea that we check out Carsland this past March.

I am so blessed (and thankful) that he goes along with my commando park plans, although it has nearly cost us our marriage a few times (which is probably the #1 reason he supports my venture as a Disney Travel Planner…so I focus on other people’s plans and not ours). I can’t wait to share with him Epcot’s Food & Wine this fall and our first Disney Cruise…as we escape to Florida without kids for a long weekend.

Friday Five: 5 Ways to Countdown to Your Disney Vacation

keep-calm-countdown-to-disney-is-onThe waiting for a fun vacation can be nearly unbearable! Make it a Disney trip and it’s even harder to wait. Help the kids (and yourself) tick off the days with a fun ways to pass the time.

1. Have Weekly Family Movie Nights

Set aside a weekend night, pop some popcorn and enjoy a Disney movie night with the family.  This is a great way to introduce or reacquaint everyone to characters and attractions that they may encounter on your Disney vacation. Don’t limit yourself to current animated titles, branch out to the classics. Here is a great link that will help you out!

Make it even more fun by creating a themed dinner that involves everyone in the preparation.  Watch the blog for Making Magic at Home, plus follow my Pinterest Board for ideas.

2. Disney inspired crafts

DIY the days away by making autograph books, customized t-shirts, hair bows, Mickey ears and anything that will put a smile in your heart during the days leading up to your vacation! Check out

for lots of ideas for all ages!

3. Watch Attraction Videos

There is nothing like experiencing the real thing, but watching ride-through videos on YouTube can help get you and your family get excited for your next Disney Parks vacation. If you can only visit a Disney park every few years, then refreshing your memory and re-familiarizing yourself with as many attractions as you can will be very helpful once you’re on vacation. There is never enough time on a Disney vacation to do everything, so if you can eliminate some attractions from your plans by watching them on YouTube then you might save some time to do the things you know you love. It also is a good way to give less popular attractions a second chance. For example, if your family enjoys watching the Journey Into Imagination ride-through video on YouTube then ignore the naysayers, and go have fun! Watching ride through videos are especially helpful to prepare children who might finally be tall enough to ride some of the bigger thrill attractions. Letting them see the ride on YouTube before they see the real thing might help them feel more confident.

When you book your Disney Vacation through me, I will send you a PDF file with every attraction linked to a video! No need to search it out yourself, just click the link and watch!

4. Create a Countdown

We have all counted down to Christmas with an Advent Calendar, why not countdown your Disney vacation?  Search my Pinterest Board for some fun ideas.


Also, there are lots of countdown apps available, most of them for free!  Just search in the app store for Disney Countdown Apps.  I personally use Countdown for Disney.

5. Listen to Music


Nothing gets me in the Disney spirit more than listening to music from the movies, Broadway shows, and attractions. Use Spotify or the new Apple Music to create Disney themed playlists. Listen while you cook, while you drive, while you walk the dog. Music really can put you in a better mood and make the non-Disney days a whole lot brighter!

How about a Bonus Idea?

Bonus Idea…Follow Me

Check out my daily posts and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and of course right here on My Life in Ears for pictures, inspirations, and ideas to make your trip as magical as possible. (Link Up Using Social Media Icons found on left side menu).

I can’t guarantee the wait till go any faster, but it certainly will make it more fun an bearable.  Please share your ideas and how your family is counting down till their next trip in the comments.