Friday, August 26, 2016

Grace's First Day of Kindergarten

My lack of posts lately makes me sad. I had good intentions all summer to post frequently, but instead we filled our time with zoo trips, pool time, and trips. I started many posts and didn't have time to finish them and before I knew it, the summer was over and Grace's first day of kindergarten, a day I had been dreading, arrived. Grace was beyond ready for this huge milestone, I on the other hand, was not. Kindergarten here is full day and I couldn't even imagine being away from her for that long every weekday! She also really wanted to ride the bus with her friends and I finally agreed after realizing how much time I would save not having to sit in the drop off/pick up line every day.

Like I said, this summer flew by. We got her school supplies and school clothes, got her haircut, and purchased a brand new Elsa lunchbox for the occasion. She happily posed for photos on the first day.

I saw this idea on Pinterest and just had to do it. So I hit up my local custom T-shirt shop to get a shirt made just for her. I can't believe she'll be in the class of 2029! I'm going to make her take this same photo every year until she is a senior, I know she'll be annoyed the last few years of it, but too bad! It'll be amazing to see how much she changes.

While Grace was thrilled about heading off to school, Connor wasn't so sure about the idea. He is starting preschool this year but has a few more weeks until it starts and it's only a couple days a week for 4 hours. He's still not used to his constant playmate being gone and he's had a rough time with it. I'm not getting nearly as much done because all day long I hear "Mommy, play with me!" It doesn't matter how long we've played, he doesn't know how to play by himself! So he's definitely missing her a lot.

Despite my hesitations about her riding the bus, she and Mike convinced me that she would love it and of course, she's had no problems at all. We wanted her to start riding from the first morning so that she could get used to the routine. After putting her on the bus with some tears (from me, not her!) we drove up to meet her and make sure she got to her classroom.

I took these next two photos at Meet the Teacher night because she wasn't really too interested in taking photos the first morning of school. She was way more interested in drawing and meeting her new friends! She was so ready and didn't seem to care when we left.

Her school district recently started giving every child in the district their own Chromebook starting in Kindergarten. She had been waiting for this moment since I mentioned to her several months ago. She ran straight to that Chromebook and didn't let it out of her grasp for quite a while. She is so proud to have her own laptop and wants to use it constantly. We've had to set some pretty strict rules about it, that will probably be another post here soon because I am still not convinced that my 5 year old needs their own computer that they have to bring home every night! But obviously she loves it.

She loves her teacher and the "my teacher does it this way" comments have already started at home. I'm so glad she has such a wonderful teacher for her first year of real school!

She started preschool two years ago and now she's officially a kindergartner. I can't believe how much she's grown!  Making this comparison shot led to lots of tears from me but I'm finally starting to get used to her being gone during the day.

She came home the first day exhausted but excited for the next day. She actually complained the first weekend that she wanted to go to school instead of staying home. I hope she loves school this much for the next 13 years!! 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

5 Books About Starting Kindergarten

This summer is flying by and I have officially enrolled my little girl for kindergarten. I honestly can't believe it and I KNOW that I will cry when I drop her off. She, however, is super excited for it and asks everyday if she gets to go soon. We have started a countdown and have checked out tons of library books about kindergarten so I thought I'd share some of our favorites. If you have a little one getting ready for this big milestone, they will love these books!

The Night Before Kindergarten
by Natasha Wing

'Twas the night before kindergarten,
and as they prepared,

kids were excited,
and a little bit scared.

This fun book reads like the familiar Night Before Christmas tale and doesn't shy away from the fact that starting kindergarten can make kids nervous. But as the kids start their day, they realize that school isn't scary at all and in a twist, it's the parents who are sad while the kids have fun. Grace thinks the ending of this book is hilarious and tells me that I will be the one crying while she goes to school. She is probably right!

The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School
by Deborah Diesen

The Pout-Pout Fish is currently one of our favorite literary characters and we have almost all of the series. Pout-Pout Fish gets lost on his first day of school and doubts his abilities quickly when he realizes he can't do everything the older kids do. His pout turns upside down when he finds his teacher and his class and he learns that if he listens and tries, he can do it!

Fact one: You are smart.
Fact two: You can get it.
Fact three: You belong. 
So Four: Don't forget it!

Dad's First Day
by Mike Wohnoutka

While most books about kindergarten focus on the child's fears, this book turns it around as Oliver's dad realizes he ISN'T READY for kindergarten! Oliver and his dad have a great summer together and his dad is hesitant about the start of the school year. He finds every way to avoid taking Oliver to school, complaining that his stomach hurts, hiding, and then driving extra slow but in end Oliver gets him to go take him to kindergarten. Throughout the day, Oliver's dad struggles with the transition and rushes back to get him early. But he sees that kindergarten isn't nearly as bad as he thought and discovers that Oliver is happy in school! This is a fun twist on the normal kindergarten story and the pictures are amazing!

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes
by James Dean and Eric Litwin

Pete the Cat is rocking again in this catchy addition to the always popular Pete the Cat series. If you are not familiar with this cat already, you should be. Pete's groovin' tunes are easy for kids to remember and he is always a hit in our house. In this book, Pete gives us a tour of the school, including the lunch room and cafeteria, helping familiarize kindergartens with where they will spend their time on school days.

Make sure to visit the Pete the Cat website for tons of fun Pete the Cat videos that feature the songs from the books!

Books about homeschool kindergarten

Charlie Goes to School
by Ree Drummond

I have loved the Pioneer Woman's blog for a long time but hadn't picked up any of her children's books based on their dog Charlie until recently and now I'm addicted to these fun tales! This book is unusual in that it features homeschooling so for all of you starting kindergarten at home this year, make sure to get this book. After watching the children start their school, Charlie plans a school for the other ranch animals but things don't quite go like he wants. Will his friends learn anything? This book is a delight for all animal lovers!

Curious George Back to School DVD

I know this isn't a book but I had to include it because Grace is obsessed with it. Curious George has always been a favorite in our house and Grace randomly grabbed this DVD at the library one day. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it contained not only some of our favorite Curious George episodes about school, it included scenes of preschoolers visiting a kindergarten classroom and showing what they learned. It's helped give Grace a visual of what kindergarten will be like. We have watched it way too many times!

I hope these books help your kindergartner feel ready for this huge milestone!  If time could just slow down, I'd be thrilled but the days are quickly passing and the first day of school will be here before we know it......

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Secret Life of Pets Review: A New Family Favorite

Disclaimer: We received press passes to attend an early screening of this film. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% honest and my own.

We have been looking forward to seeing The Secret Life of Pets for weeks. The kids begged to watch the previews over and over and we couldn't wait to see the screening this past Tuesday. We have two dogs, Doc and Buddy and I'm pretty sure they get into all sorts of trouble during the day when we're gone. This movie definitely made me even more curious about their daytime antics because the animals in this movie have some exceptional lives and hilarious escapades.

I was honestly worried that the previews would give away all of the funny parts of this movie, but wow was I wrong. All four of us were laughing constantly and any animal lover is absolutely going to love it. The main character, Max is instantly likable and his friends, including Gidget, a poofy white Pomeranian that Grace fell in love with, Mel, a hyperactive pug, Chloe, a tell it like it is cat, Buddy, the adorable dachshund with some pretty useful skills, and Sweet Pea, a bird with attitude, make the perfect supporting cast. It's amazing how quickly you can see the personalities of each of the animals and I loved the quick montages they showed a preview into each animal's home life.

Max's world is turned upside down when his owner Katie adopts a giant brown mutt, Duke, from the pound. The two clearly do not get along and things get rough when they are forced to find their way home from across New York City.  Gidget and her friends go on a rescue mission to bring Max home and they meet all sorts of crazy characters along the way. Max and Duke get involved with a crazed group of "flushed pets" led by Snowball, played by Kevin Hart, who is not a bunny to mess with! Hart's vengeful bunny makes a cute villain without being too scary for the kids. The movie is very family friendly and would be great for kids of all ages.

It is obvious that the animators of this film spent lots of time observing their subjects because their movements were extremely realistic. Also, the animation of New York City is beautiful and the city truly feels like a character all by itself. This film is sure to make you smile and we will definitely be adding it to our DVD collection. It is in theaters today, July 8th so see it with your family this weekend!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Secret Life of Pets Kansas City Free Screening Ticket Giveaway

If you are an animal lover, this post is for you! The Secret Life of Pets will be in theaters and Real D 3D on July 8 and it looks AMAZING. I grew up with dogs and cats and we now have two dogs that are important parts of our family. Our 10 year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi Buddy is king of the house and Doc, our 7 year old lab/terrier mix is always full of energy and ready to play.

Grace recently asked me what they do when we're gone and I told her I wish I knew. The Secret Life of Pets might just answer that question for us!

For their fifth fully-animated feature-film collaboration, Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures present THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS, a comedy about the lives our pets lead after we leave for work or school each day. 

Comedy superstars Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet and Kevin Hart make their animated feature-film debuts in The Secret Life of Pets, which co-stars Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Steve Coogan and Albert Brooks. Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri and his longtime collaborator Janet Healy produce the film directed by Chris Renaud (Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2), co-directed by Yarrow Cheney and written by Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch.

THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS has been rated PG (Parental Guidance Suggested – Some Material May Not Be Suitable for Children) for action and some rude humor. Visit the official site:

I'm excited that my family gets the chance to see an early screening of this film and two of you will get the chance to bring your families to see it with us!

Secret Life of Pets Kansas City Screening

Two winners will each receive a family 4 pack of tickets to attend the Kansas City screening of The Secret Life of Pets Tuesday, July 5th at 7 PM at the B&B Overland Park

This giveaway has a quick turnaround, it will end at 9 PM CST June 30th. Winners will have 24 hours to respond to the notification email, if they do not respond, another winner will be chosen. 

How to Enter: 

Leave a comment on this blog post letting me know what you think your pet does during the day when you're gone! If you don't have a pet, let me know about a pet you had or want. Please include your email address so I can notify you if you win.

1. You must be in the Kansas City area the day of the screening. Please do not enter if you cannot attend.
2. A pass does not guarantee a seat at a screening. Seating is on a first-come, first served basis. The theater is overbooked to assure a full house. The theater is not responsible for overbooking.
3. No purchase necessary.
4. Only one entry per person and you must be 18 years old to enter.

Tell your friends to enter now and check out this preview to get your family ready for the fun!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Finding Dory Free Printable Activities for Kids!

Are you heading to the theater to see Dory and Nemo this weekend? Don't miss this fun family movie out today, June 17th! Check out my review here and then print out some (or all) of these FREE printables activities to get your kids excited about the film. Click on the following images to download each PDF.

Finding Dory Review: A Family Fun Sequel

Disclosure: I received press passes to attend this movie. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% my own and honest.

"Finding Nemo" is a favorite of both of our kids and they were excited when we heard about the plans for a sequel. We had the chance to see a screening of "Finding Dory" a few nights ago and while I left with mixed feelings, I can assure you that the kids absolutely loved this film. 
"Finding Dory" is a fun return under the sea with the majority of the familiar characters from "Finding Nemo". The movie begins with a sequence showing the events leading up to the meeting between Dory and Marlin and giving us a peek into Dory's early life. Mr. Ray and Crusher make quick and delightful appearances in these beginning scenes and I was disappointed not to see more of them.

As Dory begins to remember pieces of her past, including her parents Charlie and Jenny, she starts on the long journey to go home. Of course, with her short term memory loss, it won't be easy. I must admit that Dory annoyed me in "Finding Nemo" and I found her much more likable in this film.

When she loses Marlin and Nemo along the way, Dory is forced to turn to other creatures for help and meets some great new characters that truly steal the show. Hank, voiced by Ed O'Neill was the highlight of the film for me. I've always thought the octopus is an amazing creature and Pixar worked hard to get all of the details of this guy perfect. His camouflage skills were hilarious and be sure to stick around through the credits to watch him show off a bit. I wish we could have seen more of his back story as it felt incomplete but I'm guessing we will be seeing more of Hank soon.

Ty Burrell and Kaitlin Olson delight as Bailey, the beluga whale, and Destiny, the whale shark. Working together to overcome disabilities, they are the perfect helpers for Dory.

And these guys, seriously, cuteness. Do I have to say any more???
The animation in "Finding Dory" is what we've come to expect from Pixar, beautiful and enchanting. Every ocean frame is so full of color and I can't wait to watch it again to see all of the small details that Pixar is famous for. The majority of the film takes place at the Morro Bay Marine Life Institute in California allowing for many different kinds of sea life to be featured. The sea lions were a funny addition to the film giving Marlin and Nemo some unexpected and a bit crazy help in their mission to find Dory.

"Finding Dory" is full of hilarious moments and I have always loved that Pixar creates movies that adults will enjoy seeing with their kids. Unlike "Finding Nemo", there weren't any scary moments that would be a problem for little one, however there is a generally sad undertone to the film as Dory fights her disability to find her way home. While Dory makes great strides in this film, I found the other character development to be lacking. Like I mentioned earlier, Hank's story seems incomplete and Marlin and Nemo's sections seemed a bit forced to me. As a sequel, I feel like it lacked the strong character development that made "Toy Story 2" such a success.

I don't believe that "Finding Dory" has the heart that has made "Finding Nemo" a classic Pixar film but it is worth seeing as a family fun comedy and for it's beautiful animation. We will definitely be adding it to our DVD collection. It's a perfect summer movie to see with your family this weekend! 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Father's Day Star Wars Free Printable Questionnaire

June is flying by and I looked at my calendar yesterday to realize that Father's Day is Sunday. I'm feeling very behind this year. I was planning on doing something crafty, but this week is super busy and I can't find anything that's quite perfect for Mike. Grace brought home a Father's Day questionnaire from preschool and I thought it was a cute idea so I decided to create one for Connor to complete with a Star Wars theme (his new obsession). 

This questionnaire is a really quick way to create a personalized fun gift for dad! Connor's answers were pretty hilarious and mostly focused on daddy getting him cookies. Grace decided she wanted to do one too and decided that Mike has reached the ripe old age of 631.  

Click on this image to download the free printable. This design is for personal use only. All designs are copyright of Moments That Take My Breath Away. Any use for commercial purposes is a copyright infringement. 

Father's Day Free Printable Questionnaire

What are you doing for the dads in your life this year?


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