Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Rare quiet moments

I took this picture in January of 2013 when Connor was only 3 months old:

This is how I found them this morning:

Thomas the Tank Engine Toddler Bed Giveaway!

Are you ready for another amazing giveaway? I wish I could win this toddler bed for my kids. I think they would fight over who would get to sleep in it every night!

Welcome to the Step2 Thomas the Tank Engine™ Toddler Bed™ Giveaway, hosted by Thrifty Nifty Mommy and Viva Veltoro and sponsored by Step2!

Is your little one ready to transition to a toddler bed? Have another baby coming and need to free up your crib? Let Thomas the Tank help your child drift off into dreamland! Details of the Step2 Thomas the Tank Engine™ Toddler Bed™ (obtained from the Step2 website):
All aboard to dreamland in the Thomas the Tank Engine™ Toddler Bed™ by Step2. Little train conductors will love that this bed resembles their favorite tank engine. This train bed promotes imaginative play as kids pretend to go on an adventure with Thomas along the island of Sodor. The Thomas the Tank Engine™ Toddler Bed is the cutest train bed you’ve ever seen! Made in USA with imported parts.
  • Three dimensional friendly face
  • Realistic train decals
  • Storage compartment behind the smoke stack
  • Fits standard toddler/crib mattress making the transition from crib to bed easy and fun!
  • Adult assembly required
  • Recommended for ages 2 and up
  • Available exclusively at Toys "R" Us for $199.99
Check out this fun bed in action!

One lucky reader will WIN the Step2 Thomas the Tank Engine™ Toddler Bed™!
Open to the Continental US only. Ends 9/10/14 at 11:59 PM EST. Enter using the Giveaway Tools form below. Good Luck!

Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by the Step2 Company. Viva Veltoro, Thrifty Nifty Mommy, and the participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment. This giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, or Instagram. Please contact vivaveltoro{at} with any questions about this giveaway.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Toddler Fun Tuesday: How to make DIY shaped homemade crayons!

How to make crayons shapes

If you have toddlers in your house, I'm sure you have plenty of broken crayons. I know that I have a huge Ziploc bag full! Today, I'm sharing a fun project for kids young and old to give new life to those broken crayons.

For her Christmas presents to her siblings and cousins, my niece Emma (with some help from my mom) made heart shaped crayons and personalized coloring books. My mom took pictures to document the process so I could share it with all of my readers.

First, they removed the paper from the crayon pieces. Lesson learned: Crayola's are by far the easiest to remove the paper from. They filled the silicone molds with the pieces. They made hearts, but there are so many shape choices available at Amazon or your local craft store.
Use as many or as few colors as you would like. I personally love the combination of lots of different colors.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.

 Place the mold on a baking sheet and place it in the oven for 15-20 minutes (until they are melted)

Let the crayons completely cool and then pop them out of the molds. If they stick at all, place the mold in the freezer for an hour and then they should pop right out.

Emma with the completed project:

Yes, she's a goofball! :) Grace and the other kids loved their personalized gifts and Emma loved making them. Homemade crayons would also make great party favors. This is a project I will be doing with Grace in the near future!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to School with Oliver's Labels Giveaway!

Disclosure: I received a school package of labels from Oliver's Labels in exchange for this review. All opinions are honest and 100% my own. 

Grace starts preschool in the next couple of weeks and she is ready! Every day she gets dressed, puts on her backpack, and tells me "go to preschool now mom!" She might be ready but I'm not sure I am. Before she starts school, I want to make sure that all of her items are labeled so that we don't lose anything. Oliver's Labels recently contacted me about reviewing their School Package and I was excited because I've heard amazing things about their labels from some of my mom friends. They allowed me to customize a school package for Grace and I'm beyond thrilled with the result!

Oliver's Labels offers several different packages to choose from including starter, school, and camp packages. You can also order each product individually. There are many great designs to choose from including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bubble Guppies, Eric Carle, and Dora. There are honestly so many adorable designs that Grace was overwhelmed when I let her choose her labels. Lucky for us, the best part about ordering a package is that you can choose as many designs and fonts as you want. It is all totally custom! 

Grace finally settled upon Eric Carle, Bubble Guppies, and Princess labels. I was able to fully customize the text and decided to keep the labels simple with just her name. With the school package, we received:

20 original labels- These are perfect for lunchboxes, school supplies, and books!

35 Stick-eez™ Clothing Labels- I love that these labels are easy to apply and last through washing. 

30 Mini Labels- These would be great for pens and pencils and other small school supplies. I actually am using most of these to label Grace's bows and headbands. She loves wearing them but she rarely keeps them on more than a few hours and I don't want to lose our entire collection at preschool! 

6 Shoe Labels- I actually ordered another set of these because Grace has way too many shoes! 

3 Mini Bag Tags and 1 Large Bag Tag- These tags are good quality plastic and easily attach to the bags. 

Oliver's Labels offers an additional "Found It" feature on most of their labels that I really appreciate. It is totally free and is an exclusive lost and found system. If someone finds your item, they can enter the code into the website and Oliver's Labels will email you right away.

All of the labels we received are extremely high quality. The colors are bright and the labels are easy to apply. Grace has worn the shoes multiples times and the labels are still sticking with no peeling. If you're looking for labels for your kids for back to school, check out all of the great designs at Oliver's Labels!


Oliver's Labels is giving one of my readers a School Package, valued at $41.99. This package contains:
  • 20 x Original Labels
  • 35 x Stick-eez™ Clothing Labels
  • 30 x Mini Labels
  • 6 x Shoe Labels
  • 1 x Large Bag Tag
  • 3 x Mini Bag Tags

How to Enter:
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway.  Follow the instructions on the widget to enter. All current likes/follows count! Please contact me if you run into any technical difficulties with Rafflecopter.  The giveaway runs through Monday, September 8th at 11:59 PM CST! The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email or a new winner will be chosen. Giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada. Winners may only win one School Package from Oliver's Labels during this campaign. If you have one this prize from another blog, please do not enter. 

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you Oliver's Labels for the labels. Now hopefully Grace doesn't lose anything at preschool! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Grace's Haircut and Donation!

Just over two years ago, I posted pictures of Grace's very first haircut. She was a year and a half old and her hair only reached just past her ears.

For two years, I never did more than trim it. And this was what it looked like yesterday:

Long and beautiful. She constantly told me that she loved her long hair until a few months ago when I decided to cut mine shoulder length. I cut nearly 8 inches off and she was shocked when I came back home. Immediately, she asked to get her hair cut short like mine. I have to be honest, I didn't do it for several months because:
1. I love her long hair.
2. I was afraid she'd change her mind right afterwards
3. She normally fights and cries during quick trims, so I thought a full cut might be a disaster.

But after weeks of begging me to get her haircut, we finally went yesterday.

I planned on getting her hair cut to her shoulders, similar to mine. When the stylist started measuring how much she was going to cut, she mentioned that if we cut it just a bit shorter, she could donate it to Locks of Love. When I explained to Grace that she would be able to give her hair to another little girl that needed it, she immediately smiled and said "yes, I do that!" We've been talking a lot lately about giving things to other kids who need them and I was so proud of her when she was excited about donating her hair. The stylist put her hair in ponytails and when she made the first cut, I almost cried. Much to my surprise, Grace was excited with a smile on her face the entire time. She let us take pictures and did everything the stylist asked her to do.

When the cut was done, she even let her blow dry it and put a braid in. I was completely shocked and pleasantly surprised by how well she did.

She even got a certificate for donating her hair and she is so proud of it. It is currently hanging on the fridge.

As soon as Mike came in the door from work, she ran to him shouting "look at my haircut, short like mommy's!" I miss her long hair, but I know it went towards a good cause. Plus it's much easier to wash and brush now. It makes her look so much older ::tear::. I know she's excited to start preschool soon with her new big girl haircut.

Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 Giveaway!

I recently bought a Baby Jogger Double City Mini stroller and I honestly cannot say enough amazing things about this brand. I am excited to join with a group of great bloggers to give you a chance to win a Baby Jogger stroller!

Welcome to the Baby Jogger Summit X3 Giveaway! hosted by Viva Veltoro & Thrifty Nifty Mommy, and generously sponsored by PishPoshBaby!

PishPoshBaby is the #1 online baby shop for all of your needs as a parent or caregiver. They offer top of the line baby brands with top notch customer service to go along with it. Their goal is to give you clarity, confidence, and comfort when making important and significant purchases for your precious little one. Speaking of important purchasing decisions, strollers can be a big investment. With so many to choose from, it's wonderful that PishPoshBaby has their team of "Mom Reps" available to guide you through the choices and give you feedback on which strollers might suit your needs best. Ruth from Viva Veltoro recently had the opportunity to review the Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 from PishPoshBaby and she couldn't be more pleased with this fabulous jogging stroller. Make sure you check out the full review to see all of the great features of this high-quality stroller!

Here is a little bit of info about the Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 from the PishPoshBaby website:

Go anywhere with this highly maneuverable hybrid jogger/stroller. With its all-wheel suspension, the Summit X3 provides exceptional performance on any terrain. A remote wheel lock on the handlebar allows you to easily shift between jogging and strolling.

  • Patented Quick-Fold Technology--allows you to fold your stroller in one step
  • Universal Accessory Mounting Bracket: accessorize your stroller with ease
  • Remote action swivel lock to lock the front wheel for jogging exercise
  • All-wheel independent suspension
  • Hand-operated rear drum brakes for increased control on hilly terrain
  • 16" rear and 12" front quick-release pneumatic wheels with sealed ball bearings
  • Padded seat with additional support reclines to a near flat position
  • Vented seat recline with retractable weather cover
  • Ergonomic handlebar with wipe-clean grip
  • Multi-position sun canopy with peek-a-boo windows and side ventilation panels
  • Seat back storage compartment and large under seat storage basket
  • Adjustable 5-point safety harness with shoulder pads
  • Rear parking brake
  • Removable auto-lock to keep stroller folded for transportation or storage
PishPoshbaby is going to give one lucky reader a Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 in their choice of color (valued at $429)!

Open to residents of the United States, ages 18 and up. Ends on 9/7/14 at 11:59 PM EDT. Enter using the Giveaway Tools entry form below. Good luck!

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for hosting this giveaway. Viva Veltoro, Thrifty Nifty Mommy, and the participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Please contact vivaveltoro(at) with questions about this giveaway.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Robot Turtles Review: The Game for Little Programmers

Disclosure: I received Robot Turtles for free from ThinkFun in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own and honest.

Board games are a big deal in our house. Mike is what you would call a gamer (mostly PC) but he also loves strategy based board games. I have to admit that strategy games are not my strong suit, but I play with him occasionally. He is a computer programmer/software engineer by trade and when I heard about a game called Robot Turtles designed to help teach preschoolers the basics of programming, I knew that he would love it.

Robot Turtles was invented by Dan Shapiro, a Seattle software entrepreneur, for his 4-year old twins. Dan wanted to give his kids the superpower anyone could wish for - an understanding of computer programming. The most-backed board game in Kickstarter history, (it) raised over $630,000 from parents who believe in coding literacy. 

I believe it is extremely important for our kids to learn how to code to prepare themselves for our increasingly technology based workforce. Preschoolers are so eager to learn so it's a great time to start teaching them the basics. ThinkFun sent us a game to try with Grace. The game is aimed at preschoolers over 4 and with Grace's love of board games, I figured we'd try it since she's only a few months away from turning 4.

During Connor's nap time, Grace was excited to try a new game. She helped me get the board set up and was a huge fan of the "sparkly turtles" as she called them. She enjoyed picking out her colored turtle and played with him while I read the rules.

She was ready to play! Honestly, I didn't expect the game to last very long. We have never worked on right/left directions with her and that is what the game is based on. But obviously the creator of this game, Dan Shiparo, has kids, as the instructions actually say that this is a great way to teach those directions and to start with just the basic game play to allow kids to get the hang of the rules. As your kids master the basic concepts, there are many options to make the game more challenging.

The goal of the game is to get your turtle to the jewel in the middle of the board. You take turns laying out your directional cards to move your turtle through the spaces. I showed her what the different cards meant and overall she did great!

She's still not so sure about moving her turtle only one space at a time, but we're working on it! She loved laying her cards out and it was fun to show her how her line of cards had gotten her turtle to it's jewel.

The game can be short or long depending on how many obstacles you add to the board. The basic game is perfect for a preschooler's attention span. They don't realize that they're learning the fundamentals of programming. By laying down each card, they are learning how to use commands and create a line of code. The rules allow children to fix their cards if they made a mistake, which teaches them the basic concepts of debugging. As you add more challenges, kids learn to visualize solutions and break the problem down into smaller steps. For more information about how Robot Turtles teaches programming skills, check out their website.

This is a game that we will play for years to come and I know Mike is planning to use it with both kids to teach them strategy. To learn more about this game or to purchase one for your family, check out ThinkFun's website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thank you to ThinkFun for sending us a copy of Robot Turtle. Grace begs to play it every day! 
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Like Father Like Son & Grace's New Baby

Going to be a gamer like his daddy I think!
Her new Baby Alive doll I got free from BzzAgent. She loves it and takes it everywhere. The baby's voice drives me crazy!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Calling All Octonauts! The Octonauts at SEA LIFE Kansas City

Disclosure: I received complimentary passes for my family to visit SEA LIFE to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own. 

Sound the OctoAlert! 

Octonauts is by far Grace's favorite TV show. We don't even have cable and she has managed to find it on the iPad and grandma's TV. She watches it every chance she gets and I must admit it is one of my favorite kids shows. I have learned so much from watching it. Seriously! Did you know that duck billed platypus' have stingers and there are jellyfish called immortal jellyfish that can turn themselves from an adult to a baby and start their growth all over again? I didn't before watching the Octonauts! Because it is so educational, I encourage Grace to watch it and at the moment, she is requesting an Octonauts themed birthday party.

So when I got an email about several of the Octonauts characters visiting SEA LIFE Kansas City, I knew that we needed to visit. Mike ducked out of work for a bit so that he could join us on our visit. The kids are familiar with SEA LIFE from our previous visits and were just as excited by all of the great exhibits as they have been in the past. The touch pond is always a hit and Connor was thrilled when he spotted the tank filled with "NEMO" and "DORIES!!!"

As a special touch to the Octonauts visit, SEA LIFE has added signs throughout the aquarium sharing fun facts about the creatures you might find. Grace loved it when I explained that these tips were like creature reports and we had to read each one.

When we arrived at the cinema area where the character meet and greet was taking place, it was obvious that it wasn't going to go as well as we'd hoped. Grace loves the Octonauts, but gets very intimated by costumed characters. She shut down as soon as she saw Kwazii and refused to even look at him. Luckily, Connor had no fear and went right up to him. He enjoyed giving him a high five and then had a great time playing with the multiple Octonauts toys they had available in the room. Of course, on the way home from our visit, Grace talked about much she loved seeing Kwazii. I guess when you're three you can get away with that!

If you have an Octonauts fan in your house, a visit to SEA LIFE KC to meet the characters is a must! Visit now through August 31st to meet Captain Barnacles and Kwazii daily beginning at 11 AM for 30 minutes on the hour:

11:00 - 11:30 am
12:00 - 12:30 pm
1:00 - 1:30 pm
2:00 - 2:30 pm
4:00 - 4:30 pm
5:00 - 5:30 pm
6:00 - 6:30 pm

Due to the popularity of this event, it is recommended that you purchase your tickets online beforehand. Visit SEA LIFE's website for more information and to purchase your tickets!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Just Between Friends Kansas City: I'm ready to shop til I drop!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Just Between Friends and Real Mom Media. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

It's my favorite time of year again, consignment sale season!! 

My kids outgrow their clothes and shoes so fast. Grace starts preschool in just 2 weeks and I need to get her almost an entirely new fall/winter wardrobe. Connor decided to skip 2 shoes sizes recently and now I need several new pairs of shoes for him. If I shopped retail, I could spend hundreds of dollars on this stuff in no time. And have you seen new toy prices lately? They're so expensive! I need Christmas and birthday presents for both of my kids. Plus, I need Christmas gifts for 8 nieces and nephews.  Why pay for new clothes and toys when you can choose from thousands of items for your children at a fraction of the cost at the local Just Between Friends consignment sales! 

At the spring JBF Lee's Summit sale, I got $177.42 worth of toys for only $35.50! 

At the fall sales, I'm going to do some major Christmas shopping. I can get so much more for my money and my goal is to get my kids' Christmas gifts all for $50. Come back after the sales to read about what I got!

Are you ready to shop? Join me at one of the Just Between Friends Consignment Sales in Kansas City to get a head start on your Christmas shopping or to finish your child's back to school wardrobe.

The Pavilion at John Knox Village
Open to the public August 22-24

Overland Park International Trade Center
Open to the public September 11-14

For more information about the sales, please visit their websites. Be sure to sign up for one of their special presales for First-Time Parents, First-Time Grandparents, Teachers, Foster Parents, Mothers of Multiples, and Military spouses if you qualify by visiting their websites. 

Did you know that on the last day of each sale all items not marked with a star are 50% off? For more great tips like this, join me at one of these two Twitter parties:

Lee's Summit Twitter Party
Wednesday, August 20 from 12 pm-1 pm CT

Overland Park Twitter Party
Tuesday, September 9 from 8 pm-9 pm CT

Use the hashtag #JBFKC to follow along. Tweet along with us and be eligible to win lots of front of the line passes and JBF bucks! If you have any questions about how to participate in a Twitter party, please leave a comment or email me. I'm happy to help.

I hope to see you at the Twitter parties and the sales!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Just Between Friends of Lee’s Summit and Overland Park. This program is in partnership with Real Mom Media.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How to Start Couponing: 5 Tips from a Not So Extreme Couponer

As a stay at home mom, I'm always looking for ways to save us money. When Grace was a baby, I tried to learn to use coupons, but I quickly got overwhelmed. It took me months to really get the hang of it and I learned some valuable lessons along the way. With my difficult pregnancy with Connor, I pretty much stopped using coupons and didn't get back into it until recently. I've been easing myself back into the couponing game and thought it would be fun to share some of the things I've learned today! 

1. When you start, be realistic. You are probably not going to get a massive huge stockpile like you might have seen on Extreme Couponing. Most stores do not allow this kind of stuff anymore and honestly, who needs 100 bottles of soda anyway? I have a small stockpile of toiletries and don't ever plan to buy more than we can use in a years time. This is a hot topic in the couponing world, but I make it my policy never to clear the shelf. If I want lots of an item, I will visit several different stores. But I rarely do this since I don't tend to buy more than a couple of each item. I rarely run out of toiletries because the good deals come up so frequently. I personally hate getting all of my coupons ready and organized only to arrive at the store to find the items I'm looking for completely gone.  If you aren't going to use it or donate it, don't buy it! When you start couponing, you will get a couponing high and will want to snap up all of the great deals you can. But if you don't use that type of medicine or like that food item, why spend money on it at all? Resist so someone else who actually uses the product can get the deal. Remind yourself that this is about saving money, not spending it! 

2. Ask friends and family for coupons. I currently don't have a newspaper subscription but a family friend keeps her inserts for me. You don't need to buy 10 copies of the paper to start couponing. There are plenty of printable coupons available ( and are my favorite websites for printable coupons) that will get you great deals. If you do decide to get a subscription, check around for deals. My local paper actually includes coupons with the Wednesday edition and then includes a free Sunday paper from another large local paper so you get two sets of insert for a very low subscription price. 

3. Make a relationship with your local store employees. I read this tip when I started and was honestly intimidated by it. I'm a shy person but I discovered that it was easier than I expected. My most frequent coupon trips are to CVS and I have two locations within 10 minutes of my house. The first month I tried to start doing the serious coupon deals, I made multiple trips and left empty handed and frustrated each time because the shelves were cleared. During one of these trips, an employee asked if she could help me find anything. I took the opportunity to ask her about several items that were already gone and we got into a conversation about their stocking days and times. I found out that she was the manager. She told me about several shelf clearers and when they normally came into the store to give me some tips on when to shop. She was happy to help me and I had much better luck after that conversation. The shelf clearers shop on Sundays and the store gets their delivery on Monday mornings. They restock throughout the day and now I do my shopping on Monday afternoons and rarely have a problem getting what's on my list. 

4. Find a way that works for you to organize your coupons. I have tried the binder method and it didn't work for me. I use a small coupon holder now and love that I am able to keep it in my purse. I take about 30 minutes each Monday morning to cut and organize everything. 

5. Use store loyalty cards, savings apps, and price matching. CVS' ExtraCare card is amazing and Target's Cartwheel app saves me a ton! Our local grocery store offers a gas card that gives us money off of gas for things we would normally buy anyway. Walmart just started a price matching app that will scan all local competitors ads for you when you scan your receipt and give you credit for any lower prices it finds. I frequently use Walmart to price match local grocery ads. If you make a large purchase, be sure to watch the ads because most stores will give you the difference back if they put the item on sale within the return period. We recently purchased a laptop at Best Buy and the day after our purchase, it went on sale. A quick trip to customer service with our receipt got us nearly $40 back. Don't miss out on these kinds of easy savings!

Please let me know if you have any questions that I can answer about couponing. There are some amazing blogs that post tutorials and weekly deals. My two favorites are Penny Pinchin' Mom and Krazy Coupon Lady.

If you'd like some examples of couponing trips I've done in the past, check out these links:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

When Real Life Trumps Blogging

I didn't plan to take a blogging break this past week, actually I figured I would have a ton of time to get ahead. But when real life gets hard, my laptop gets left in the corner untouched.

Thursday, Mike had a procedure similar to LASIK called PRK to fix his eyesight. Both he and I have worn glasses or contacts since 3rd grade (our kids have no chance of good eyesight) and we've both been looking forward to getting corrective surgery. PRK works best for his specific type of astigmatism but it involves a longer recovery time. So we planned ahead to have my parents come watch the kids while I took care of him. They arrived Wednesday night and the procedure went perfectly the next morning. But we could tell throughout the day on Thursday that something wasn't quite right with Connor. His eyes were full of gunk and he was being extremely clingy. By Friday night, he was throwing up from coughing so hard and he had what looked like two black eyes because the discharge and constant rubbing were irritating the skin.
My poor guy
Saturday morning, his breathing was raspy and he sounded like he was wheezing so off to urgent care we went. My suspicions were confirmed. He had an ear and eye infection and needed a breathing treatment. Have you ever tried to get a 1 year old to sit still for a breathing treatment? It's torture. I had to hold a mask up to his face with one hand while trying to hold his arms down with the other. I was able to distract him for short periods of time with Super Why (so glad to have Netflix on my phone!) but the majority of the time he fought me and did everything he could to get the mask away from his face. The nurse practically ran from the room after she started the machine, she obviously knew it wasn't going to go well. Luckily the doctor said he sounded much better after it was over and sent us home with several prescriptions including one for an inhaler to give four times a day.

They gave us this special device, called a spacer, to help with the inhaler and oh my word you would think we were torturing him each time we had to give him this treatment.

I can't really blame him though. Would you want this stuck on your face four times a day?

By Monday the wheezing was gone and his fever was down but that morning Grace woke up with red eyes. Sure enough, she has pink eye and now has a nasty cough and fever. We've been spending most of our time cuddled up on the couch watching Finding Nemo (Connor's favorite) and Curious George (Grace's favorite). Of course there are constant arguments over who gets to watch their show ("no, mama, I watch George!" "Nemo, FISHIES") but I think everyone is finally on the mend.

I didn't exactly get to spend the weekend helping Mike with his recovery like I'd planned but luckily my parents were here to help. I honestly don't know how I would have handled all of them sick for that long by myself! I'm hoping to write up a post about Mike's experience with PRK soon. It went really well and it's amazing to me that he can see so well now. Now it's time to start saving up so I can get LASIK next year!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Powell Gardens: Festival of Butterflies Review

Disclosure: We received press tickets to attend this event from Powell Gardens. No other compensation was received an all opinions are 100% my own and honest. 

I recently wrote a post about our summer bucket list and one of the items on it was to visit Powell Gardens. I've lived in Kansas City for 10 years and have never been there so I was excited to go! 

Powell Gardens is Kansas City's botanical gardens located in Kingsville, MO (a short drive from Lee's Summit.) The Gardens are not for profit and have a mission to: be an experience that embraces the Midwest's spirit of place and inspires an appreciation for the importance of plants in our lives. 

If the beautiful gardens aren't enough to entice you, Powell Gardens also has events and classes for the entire family throughout the year. After reading my Bucket List post, Powell Gardens offered me the chance to bring my family to the annual Festival of Butterflies

Powell Gardens' signature festival returns for its 18th year! See hundreds of colorful, free-flying butterflies in the indoor conservatory. Learn more about monarchs and what you can do to protect them and other native species in our two outdoor butterfly breezeways. 

I promised Grace that she'd get to see lots of butterflies and she wasn't disappointed. At the very front, we got the opportunity to go through a breezeway full of Monarchs and she got very excited. As we made our way through the two breezeways and the indoor conservatory, both kids loved pointing out and watching the various colorful butterflies.

To add to the fun, Powell Gardens offers activities to help keep the kids engaged in the experience. There were volunteers and employees in the breezeways and conservatory talking about the various species that were in the gardens. In one of the breezeways, a volunteer showed us a Monarch egg on a flower and in the conservatory, an employee showed us the beautiful Atlas moth in the picture below. He told us about how the moth has snake like markings and Grace was very interested in checking him out!

Before entering the conservatory, a volunteer gave us a sheet with the picture and name of each type of butterfly that we could find. Grace loved trying to match up the butterflies she saw with the pictures on the sheet. This is the perfect activity for a preschooler and we made several trips around the conservatory looking for each type of butterfly. Just a note for parents, strollers are not allowed in the conservatory. They offer a convenient checked stroller parking area. You also will need to check any bags that don't have zippers as the butterflies can stow away in the bag.

As we left the conservatory, another volunteer gave Grace a caterpillar scavenger hunt to complete as we walked through the gardens. My girl was on a mission and she took it very seriously! Each location was marked on a very easy to ready map on the back of the sheet (thank you to whoever did the map!) and each caterpillar stop was marked with a bright flag. She loved running to each location and finding the caterpillar in the bush. We read about each one while I wrote down the name of the species. At the end, she turned in her completed paper and she got to pick out a prize. It made the walk through the gardens so much fun for her.

Connor didn't care much about the hunt, but he loved the plinko game in one of the Monarch breezeways!

I think the kids would have been content to play in the gardens for hours. We passed a fun kids play area that included a sandbox that I hope to take them back to soon. They loved the various animal sculptures throughout the gardens that are part of the Gardens Gone Wild: An Animal Art Adventure special exhibit going on through October 5th. There are several water features throughout the gardens that allow kids to beat the heat. We had to drag Connor away from this small fountain.

It was getting pretty hot and Connor needed a nap so we had to cut our visit shorter than I would have liked. I plan to take the kids back in the fall so that we can spend more time checking out all of the garden areas. Everything was so beautiful!

If you are planning to visit the Butterfly Festival at Powell Gardens this weekend, you can visit between 9 AM- 6 PM today (8/8) through Sunday (8/10). The festival will feature these events:
  • Storytelling featuring "Fancy Nancy," 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily 
  • Caterpillar Float & Costume Parade, 11 a.m. daily
  • The Purpose of a Butterfly: Interactive Art Installation, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
  • Trolley Service, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
  • Children's Activities, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Free activities include a caterpillar hunt, catch-and-release, costume parade and antennae headbands. Fee-based activities include butterfly wings ($3), paint-a-pot ($3) and face painting ($2).
  • Fresh Bites with Barb the Gardener, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday
  • Garden Chef Series cooking demonstrations- Charles d'Ablaing, Executive Chef at Chaz on the Plaza, Sunday, Aug. 10 
The butterfly conservatory will be open to the public until August 14th. To learn more about the Butterfly Festival, check out the event page here.

To plan your trip, visit Powell Garden's website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thank you to Powell Gardens for having us!


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