Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Netflix "Dragons: Race to the Edge" Viking Shield Craft & Dragons Adventures #StreamTeam

Disclosure: As part of the Netflix Stream Team, I received a welcome gift and a free monthly subscription. However, all opinions are 100% honest and my own.

It's no secret that we love the How To Train Your Dragon series around our house. A few months ago I made Connor a Toothless hooded towel and he loves wearing it around the house pretending to be a dragon. I appreciate how the entire series captures the spirit of adventure and discovery and Dreamworks has captured that spirit again in the new Netflix original series Dragons: Race to the Edge. Hiccup and all of his friends explore strange new worlds, discover never-before-seen dragons, and try to end the war between Vikings and dragons once and for all in this 13 episode series.

Both of my kids were extremely excited for a new Dragon series and we happily watched several episodes. I can't wait to watch the rest! To keep them in the adventurous spirit, I decided to take them on a How to Train Your Dragon worthy adventure in our backyard. First we had to equip both kids with their shields (obviously the most important dragon training tool!)

To create our own Viking shields, we used cardboard cake boards that can be found at stores like Walmart, Hobby Lobby or Michaels. I gave them markers and let them create their own designs. Grace had me draw Stormfly on hers and Connor went crazy with his drawing.

I used duct tape to create a handle on the back of the board to create the shield.

It's such a simple craft but the kids' faces lit up when I showed them their finished shields.
How to Train Your Dragon Shield Craft

Connor grabbed his inflatable sword we received in a Netflix Dragons: Race to the Edge package and immediately wanted to go outside. He was not interested in taking a picture!

Grace grabbed our plush Toothless and we headed outside for our dragon egg hunt (blue and green Easter eggs)

Connor put all of their "Dragon Eggs" in his Dragons lunchbox while Grace instructed Toothless to help us find other dragons just like he did for Hiccup.

 Connor protected us from the "bad dragons" with his sword:

And no day of dragon fun could be complete without a dragon race!

Our day of finding dragons was complete. It was amazing to watch their imaginations bring their dragon fun to life.

Check out Dragons: Race to the Edge on Netflix now and let me know what you think. We are watching another episode tonight!

Ready for another adventure?

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Brag Post: My 4 Year Old Can Swim!

I always think I'm going to have more time during the summer to write but instead I feel like I've barely sat down much less opened my laptop. It started with my trip to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, then a trip to Branson with my entire family and finally the fun of 4th of July. Now I have some of my nieces and nephews staying with us for the next few weeks so hopefully they'll entertain the kids long enough for me to actually share some of our fun with you.

\I'm super excited about this post. As someone who learned to swim as an adult, I think it's super important for kids to learn at a young age. They don't have the fear that comes from years of avoiding the water and they pick it up so fast! Grace has been in swim lessons for several months now. We started in a local community center pool where she was one of twelve to fourteen 4 year olds. It was absolute chaos and she spent the majority of the classes sitting on the steps waiting her turn to do one lap down the pool. The teachers were good but there was only so much they could do with that many kids to teach. So after a month we decided to try a smaller pool where she is one of two to four kids in the class. The teachers have been amazing and she has gained so much confidence in such a short time.

The first few weeks she was hesitant to do much. She loves playing ring around the rosy and finding the rings at the bottom of the very shallow end but she didn't put much effort into the actual swimming.

Two weeks ago one of the other little girls started showing off how long she could her breath and it turned into a slight competition. Grace had never been interested in going under water until the other kids were doing it and suddenly she was all about it. She started dunking her head under the water and willingly went under when they were jumping from the side of the pool.

A few days later we were at grandma's pool when she found a mask she could use over her eyes and nose. She put it on and within minutes was swimming long distances with her life jacket on. Just to see what would happen we asked her to take her life jacket off. She can touch in the shallow end and within minutes she was swimming short distances by herself! She showed her teachers at her next swim lesson and they were amazed at how fast she picked it up. She didn't want to show off for me to get a video but I was able to get a short one.


It's amazing to watch her learn so quickly. She loves it and begs to go to the pool every day. Now that her teachers know she can do it they're really trying to get her to work on proper technique but I'm just thrilled that she's enjoying it so much. 

Now it's time to brag on your kids. What have they achieved lately? Brag away, I'd love to read it! 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Chipotle Cultivate Festival in Kansas City, MO

Disclosure: I received a small thank you package from Chipotle in exchange for promotion of the Cultivate festival. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% honest and my own.

Chipotle is bringing their Cultivate Festival to Kansas City, MO next Saturday, July 18th from 11 AM- 7 PM in Penn Valley Park. This family friendly event will be the place to be with food, music, chef demos and tons of fun! Entrance into the festival is completely free! You will get the chance to eat some delicious recipes created by the Chipotle chefs, try the pizza from Pizzeria Locale which will be opening in Waldo soon, and sample some of the best beer and wine in the city. Five bands and a DJ will be performing all day long and some of the most famous chefs in the country will be doing cooking demos including Graham Elliot (I'm so excited to see him), Amanda Freitag, and Tim Love.

While you're enjoying the music and cooking demos, make sure to stop by the five Cultivate Exhibits to learn more about Chipotle and the story behind their ingredients. When you’ve completed at least four of the experiences, take your program to the Info Tent and you’ll receive a coupon for a FREE burrito, bowl, salad or order of tacos and IZZE at any Chipotle. You’ll also receive a coupon for a FREE pizza at Pizzeria Locale. Coupons for free food, how amazing is that?

Don't forget to bring the kids with you because there will be a fun Kids Zone just for them! The Kids Zone will feature activities to help teach your kids where their food comes from.

o Plant-a-Seed Garden Demo with Slow Food USA: At the top of every hour from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Slow Food will host a short, family-oriented gardening workshop. Kids will decorate their own biodegradable pot and plant an heirloom seed, especially suited for Kansas City’s climate, to transplant later in their home garden.
o The Loomstate Cotton Pit: A big pit filled with raw organic cotton fluff for kids to play around in.
o Paint-a-Tee: Kids provide the artistic ability, Chipotle provides the rest. Painters will take home a fun t-shirt complete with animal and plant stencil artwork.

o Interactive Chalkboard: Giant chalk boards and colored chalk will inspire kids to share their thoughts and drawings about their favorite fresh foods.
o Kids' Snack Station: Kids can enjoy free Organic Valley milks, Tree Top Apple juices, and Plum Organics pouches.

There will be something fun for all ages so be sure to join me next Saturday at Penn Valley Park for the Chipotle Cultivate Festival! Check out the Chipotle Cultivate website for more details and the schedule.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Family Fun at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede

Disclosure: I was provided press tickets at a discounted rate in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% honest and my own. 

A year ago my parents decided that they wanted to take our entire family to Branson. So a few weeks ago, 16 people spanning 3 generations made the drive down to Branson, MO for a week of fun. When we started researching our trip I knew that the one thing Grace would really love to see was Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede.
Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Review

Grace absolutely adores horses.So we reserved our tickets and told her we would get to go see a horse show. We then proceeded to watch every single video I could find online related to it because she wanted to watch them over and over. To say she was excited would be an understatement. She told everyone for weeks before that we were going to see the horsie show and see the "horsies jump through FIRE!!!!" If you're not familiar with Dixie Stampede, check out this video and you'll see why she was so excited:


My dad and I went to get our tickets early on the day of our show and I was glad we did. We had the chance to look at all of the horses and pick up our tickets in just a few minutes. When we arrived just before show time, the lobby was packed and the line was long. So my advice, go get your tickets early in the day!

The kids in our group ranged from age 2 to 11 and they were all excited for the show. We took our time looking at the horses on our way into the theater. Connor fell asleep in the car right before we arrived and stayed asleep on my shoulder when I moved him, I couldn't believe he slept through all of the noise while we stopped to look at each beautiful horse.

We were ushered in to take a family photo before making our way to the pre-show in the carriage room. We watched two absolutely amazing jugglers (seriously the best I've ever seen) while Connor continued his nap on me, making it hard for me to get any good pictures. Everyone enjoyed this show. You are able to buy snacks and drinks during the pre-show but we chose to wait for dinner as we had heard you get a lot of food!

We were ushered to our seats on the Southern side of the arena. The arena is large but it doesn't seem like there are any bad seats. We were on the second to last row and had a great view of everything.

As you can see, Grace was very excited for the show to start.

Connor woke up just as we were entering the arena. Children ages 3 and under are free if they are on your lap so he happily went from lap to lap enjoying everyone's food. Our waiter was fast, efficient, and generous as he gave us an extra biscuit for Connor and happily filled up his sippy cup with water. Our drinks were always filled and the kids loved eating with their hands.

The show was amazing! The show started with the lives of the Native Americans and all of the kids loved watching the bison run around the arena. This part of the show featured a beautiful dance with a flying bird. This was one of my favorite parts of the entire show.

Next they moved on to the settlement of west with the wagon trains. Grace loved seeing all of the horses and wagons and these numbers were amazing. There is so much to watch and they do a great job making sure to interact with all parts of the arena. Like I said, there is no bad seat!

The hands down favorite section of the show for the girls was the Southern Belles' song and dance. Grace keeps talking about the princesses with the light up dresses and saying she wants their dresses. It was a beautiful scene!

The boys loved the competition part of the show towards the end. The North and the South faced off with events filled with audience participation including chicken racing and water races. We were entertained by horse relays and a lumberjack competition that was amazing! The kids laughed hysterically during the adorable pig races. It was fun to cheer on our side (the South) despite losing by one event.

I didn't get a chance to take a picture of most of my food because Connor started devouring it as soon as it got to my plate but there was a ton of it! Each person gets a cup of soup, a biscuit, a small rotisserie chicken, a pork loin, a potato, a corn on the cob, a dessert and unlimited drinks (Pepsi, lemonade, tea, coffee, or water). Trust me, you shouldn't leave this show hungry! Luckily Connor moved to Grandma's lap before dessert came so I got to enjoy this delicious apple turnover all by myself.

Every single member our family had an amazing time at Dixie Stampede. The food was yummy (we came home with lots of leftovers!), the staff was extremely friendly and accommodating, and the show was entertaining. Connor does not do well in sit down type shows, generally Mike or I end up having to take him outside. Dixie Stampede was the only show he lasted through during our entire week in Branson. That is a huge thing for him and he was all smiles during the show. He loved looking at the horses on the way back to our car and talked about horses on the ride home. Dixie Stampede is a show that all generations will love! My kids are already begging to go back so I know it will be on our must see list during every trip down to Branson.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

My First Quilt: Circle Baby Statistics Birth Announcement Quilt

My best friend recently had her second baby boy! Cue happy tears and uterus aching. I was so excited for her but had a hard time figuring out what to get for the new little guy. They had everything they needed for him so I decided to do something personalized for him. I remember Grace getting tons of cute blankets and personalized items at my baby shower but Connor got almost none of that being the second baby.

I started to search Pinterest for embroidered baby blankets and happened upon this Circle Quilt Tutorial from Jay Bird Quilts. I had never quilted before in my life but I knew my sewing machine had quilting features and so in a moment of insanity I decided to make a quilt in a very short amount of time. Start to finish, I made this in just under a month. I followed the tutorial exactly with the ruler she recommends. Overall the process was simple, just very time consuming.

Baby Statistics Birth Announcement Quilt

Unlike the tutorial, I didn't have any quilting scraps available so I purchased all of my fabric at Joanns. It wasn't cheap but I had a ton of fun choosing it all. I created the back of the quilt by blocking minky and a penguin fabric (my best friend adores penguins!)

I decided early on that I wanted to embroider the baby's birth statistics on the center piece, so I had to wait for him to be born to finish it. Baby August was born just over a week before we were headed down to visit so he didn't give me much time! I ordered this embroidery file for my embroidery machine from AppliqueCandy on Etsy.

I did most of the hand sewing on the binding during the 3 hour drive down and got it done the night before our first visit with adorable baby August. I think he likes it!



After the craziness of trying to get my first quilt done so fast I'm still not 100% certain I'm cut out to be a quilter. It requires a lot of very precise sewing and a ton of attention to detail. I will probably try to make another one but I will give myself a lot more time!

Have you created anything lately? I'd love to hear about it! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cartoon Nostalgia on Netflix #StreamTeam

Disclosure: As part of the Netflix Stream Team, I received a welcome gift and a free monthly subscription. However, all opinions are 100% honest and my own. 

My kids' idea of watching Saturday morning cartoons is a bit different than my experience was twenty something years ago. Instead of flipping channels to find whatever cartoons happened to be on that morning and sitting through commercials advertising the new must have cereal or toy, my kids simply browse Netflix for their favorite shows and enjoy them commercial free. Their experience certainly trumps mine but I personally think my cartoon favorites are much better quality than the cartoons shown today. That's why I've been excited to see Netflix add many of the shows that I loved as a kid to their streaming collection.



Do you remember watching Ms. Frizzle navigate the human body with her class in Magic School Bus? Or following along with Inspector Gadget as he went on his adventures to nab the bad guy? Now you can share these family friendly classics with your kids! Grace adores horses so I have had fun introducing her to my love of My Little Pony. Mike is excited to introduce Connor to his video game obsession by watching The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. What show are you excited to share with your family?

Check out all of the fun throwback shows available on Netflix now:

Must-Watch Throwbacks

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▪ Gallina Pintadita (Now streaming in Spanish!)
▪ Bindi's Boot Camp (6/15)
▪ Some Assembly Required (6/19)
▪ Dragons: Race to the Edge: Season 1 (6/26)

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