Wednesday, December 7, 2016

SEA LIFE Kansas City Promo Code

Disclosure: My family will receive free attraction passes in exchange for this post. No other compensation was received and all opinions are honest and 100% my own. 

The holidays are in full swing at our house and there are only a few short weeks before the kids will be out of school for several weeks. Holiday break will be the perfect time to make a trip to one of our favorite Kansas City destinations, SEA LIFE Kansas City. This 28,000 square foot aquarium is fun for all ages! Our kids love the sharks, stingrays, and seahorses. 
There are plenty of chances to explore "under the sea" and the Doodle Reef interactive exhibit is tons of fun! Don't miss the touch pool which is always a highlight, where else can you touch a real starfish??

Order your tickets at SEA LIFE's website before your visit to skip the lines. The lines can get long, especially during the holidays when the kids are out of school. Use code 1410 to get one free child ticket for each adult ticket you purchase. This promotional offer is valid until January 31st, 2017. This code must be redeemed by this date, however your visit can be scheduled for a later date after January 31st. This offer cannot be applied to LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Kansas City.



Monday, November 28, 2016

Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments Review & Giveaway!

Disclosure: I received these ornaments for my family from Hallmark to review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% my own and honest. 

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is my favorite holiday and I love everything about the season, especially the music and the decorations. I am one of those people that would put up the Christmas tree right after Halloween, but my husband is a Thanksgiving purist so I grudgingly wait until the day after Thanksgiving to put up all of our decorations. Grace and Connor love decorating just as much as I do and they are always excited to add an ornament to our collection every year. Taking them to Hallmark to pick out their favorite ornament has turned into one of our favorite traditions. They always have a tough time picking just one because there are so many amazing choices but this year they were thrilled when Hallmark sent us a selection of Keepsake ornaments that includes some of our favorite characters!

Connor is pretty much obsessed with all things Star Wars and he was excited to find the Hans Solo The Force Awakens ornament.  This ornament is a must have for Star Wars fans! Unlike many character ornaments, this Keepsake Ornament is sturdy, Connor has used it many times as a toy. It's still looking great after many "fights" with his Darth Vader and Stormtrooper Itty Bittys.

Both kids were excited to see Dory swim onto our tree. From one of our favorite movies this year, Finding Dory, this Dory Keepsake Ornament is bright and cheery! With the push of a button, you can hear some of the famous lines from the film. The kids love pushing the button over and over to hear some of their favorite Finding Dory quotes. I love that Hallmark includes the batteries for this ornament in the box, just make sure to keep these batteries away from small children.

Grace squealed when I pulled this ornament out of the box and I honestly can't blame her. This Disney Frozen Anna and Elsa Build a Snowman Musical Ornament is precious. With beautifully crafted figures and gorgeous sparkles, this ornament is sure to be a hit with every girl (like Grace) who has been singing "Let It Go" non stop. Again, the batteries are included for this ornament and as soon as I pushed the button, Grace started singing and dancing along with the song "Do You Want To Build a Snowman?" The sound quality is great and I can't count the number of times the kids have pushed the button to dance along. Fair warning to parents, if you get this ornament, you will hear this song over and over. Grace adores it and it is a cute addition to our tree.

Hallmark offers so many beautiful and fun Keepsake Ornaments that everyone in your family is sure to find one that they love. Connor wants to get more to add to his Star Wars collection, Grace thinks she needs all of the Disney Princesses, and I obviously have to have the Harry Potter collection! There are over 400 new Keepsakes available this year at your local Hallmark Gold Crown store or Hallmark.com.

Giveaway
Hallmark has generously offered to give one lucky Moments That Take My Breath Away Reader a set of these Keepsake Ornaments (Hans Solo, Finding Dory, and Frozen). 

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 Friday, December 9th at 11:59 PM CST! Open to US residents only. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email or a new winner will be chosen. The first entry is mandatory, leave a comment on this post letting me know which keepsake ornament is your favorite. Once you complete this entry, the widget will give you the option of completing the rest. Complete more steps for more chances to win! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Connor's 4 Year Interview

Connor turned 4 last week and I can't believe it! He's transformed from rowdy toddler to hilarious, rambunctious little boy. He is always moving and keeping us on our toes. He loves to joke and make people laugh. He is about the pickiest eater ever but loves anything that includes bacon. Mike got him to eat a hamburger for the first time last month by having him help put tons of bacon pieces into it. He devoured the entire thing. He loves superheroes, Star Wars, LEGOs and sports. Soccer is a huge hit and he really wants to take "Ninja Lessons" as he calls them so we will be starting martial arts soon. He adores preschool and easily makes friends. He and Grace and amazing friends and love to play with each other. But he is speaking his mind more now so there are more fights than ever.  He went from barely talking at all this year to speaking in full sentences easily. His parents as teachers educator was amazed by his transformation, he has changed so much this year!
I love reading the answers to previous years birthday interviews and I'm excited to report that he answered every one of these questions with no assistance. I added a few notes in the parenthesis but otherwise this is all him. He's obviously obsessed with LEGOs, his cousin Kaden, and bacon. 
How old are you? Four


What makes you happy? I don't know, my cousins, toys


What is your favorite toy? LEGOs


What is your favorite stuffed animal? Max from Secret Life of Pets


What is your favorite real animal? Dogs


What is your favorite thing to sleep with? Max


What is your favorite color? Lots of them. Blue


What is your favorite fruit? Babycakes (word for pancakes, he doesn't like fruit) I don't like carrots or apples, I only like different food


What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Babycakes and bacon


What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Bacon


What do you want to eat for your birthday dinner? Chick-fil-a and Teds and Ginger Sues


What is your favorite drink? Milk and Apple Juice


What is your favorite dessert? Chocolate Cake


What is a food that makes you want to puke? Vegetables yuck


What is your favorite thing to do? Build LEGOs and play soccer


What is your favorite TV show? Ninjago and Superheroes and LEGO Star Wars 


What is your favorite movie? Mulan and Toy Story


What are you really good at? Soccer


What is your favorite song? Ninja Turtles Song


Who is the Coolest Person on Earth? Jesus (love that answer)


What do you and your mom do together? Snuggle and build LEGOs 


What do you and your dad do together? Build LEGOs and fight and joust (they got new foam swords at the Renaissance festival)

When you were little, what did you do? Cry


If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? Kaden's house


What do you think your parents are too strict about? Going to Kaden's house by myself (can you tell he loves Kaden?)


Who is your best friend? Kaden


What are some of your favorite words to say? Pwnd and Boom Shakalaka (I don't know, I blame Mike)


What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play ball


What is your favorite book? LEGOs and Superheroes

What do you want to be when you grow up? Falcon (most of the time he tells me a fireman)


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What I've Made: American Girl Doll Clothes and Accessories

What do you give as a gift for one of your daughter's best friend's American Girl themed birthday party? Doll clothes of course! While buying them might have been easier, I got motivated to sew some clothes for her doll and while it was not as easy as I expected, I'm thrilled with the results.

Her friend recently joined the Girl Scouts as a Daisy so I decided her doll needed a matching Daisy uniform. The skirt is reversible and is made from the easiest pattern ever. It only takes a couple of minutes to make one of these skirts, so fun and easy! The vest was a bit more difficult- I used this pattern from Bear, Dolly, and Moi but quickly gave up on using binding after fighting with it for way too long on the shoulder openings. Finally, the t shirt was made with white jersey from the free pattern at Liberty Jane Patterns. The pattern was awesome but I did have trouble working with the jersey fabric on such a small shirt. Next time I would probably choose to use cotton instead of jersey.
18 inch doll Girl Scout Daisy Uniform pattern
18 inch doll Girl Scout Daisy Uniform pattern

Grace loves pajamas for her doll so I decided to make a PJ set as a gift and found this cute pajama pattern in a collection I got from my grandma. Simplicity Pattern 5276 gave me lots of options on what pieces to make and I chose a robe with PJ pants and top. I had a difficult time with this pattern and found it very confusing. The pants and robe turned out adorable but the top was a total disaster and I ended up throwing it out in favor of a simple tank top made of white jersey. It ended up looking super cute and Grace had to model it on her Samantha doll that obviously needs a new hairdo. I guess it looks like she just woke up!
18 inch doll pajamas and robe pattern
Finally, since they just started kindergarten, Grace decided their dolls needed backpacks. I thought this purple flower fabric was adorable and when I found the glitter flower buttons, I knew they would be perfect for this bag. This tutorial from Many Small Friends was amazing and super easy to follow. It was by far my favorite piece that I made and I need to make one for Grace.
18 inch doll backpack pattern

I need to get sewing to make some clothes for Grace's dolls for Christmas! There are so many fun patterns to choose from. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Halloween Costumes from Oriental Trading: Star Wars Coordinating Costumes Review!

Disclosure: I received product samples from Oriental Trading in exchange for an honest review. This post may contain affiliate links.

Choosing Halloween costumes is a very time consuming but fun event in our house. The kids debate for months on what they will be and I can't count the number of times they change their mind. When they were younger, I coordinated their costumes but I gave up on that last year. I expected them to pick totally different things again this year, but much to my surprise, when Oriental Trading offered to send us costumes, they chose coordinating Star Wars themed characters! 
Coordinating sibling costumes
Connor's Star Wars obsession started several months ago and the force is still going strong in our house. He loves the bad guys and specifically requested to be a Storm Trooper. His dedication to this has not wavered in months, so I was thrilled to find a Storm Trooper costume for him on Oriental Trading's site.
When it arrived, he put it on immediately and didn't want to take it off. He begs to wear it every morning. I can already tell you it's very well made and easy to get on and off. I ordered the small size as he is a large almost 4 year old and it fits him very well. He loves using his past Halloween costumes for dress up so I'm glad there's a little room for him to grow. The mask seems to fit him well. He absolutely loves this costume.

Connor knew what he wanted to be fairly early this year but Grace couldn't make up her mind. So I chose lots of different girly, princess costumes from Oriental Trading for her to pick from and to my surprise, she chose Princess Leia. She has watched Star Wars but hasn't shown as much interest in it as Connor has. But she told me she wanted to be a strong princess and Princess Leia certainly fits the bill! I love that this costume will allow me to put layers under the dress as it's normally pretty cold here on Halloween. I do need to straighten the wig some but I'm impressed by the quality of it for the price.
We are ready for Trick or Treating and they can't wait to show off their Star Wars costumes. Oriental Trading has such a huge collection of costumes that you are sure to find the perfect one for your kids! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Super Hero Mask Craft Kit from Oriental Trading: Halloween Non-Candy Treat for School + Free Printable!

Disclosure: I received product samples from Oriental Trading in exchange for an honest review. This post may contain affiliate links.

October is here! That means costumes, apple picking, pumpkin patches, and of course, candy. So much candy. Our kids get so much that there's no way we can eat it all ourselves (at least we shouldn't)! We like to send treats with the kids for their classmates for their Halloween parties but I don't love sending candy. We are especially limited at Connor's preschool due to allergy restrictions so I have spent a lot of time searching for non candy alternatives that the young kids will love. One of my very favorite things to give are easy craft kits. Oriental Trading offers tons of Halloween related craft kits for all age levels. Connor is obsessed with all things super hero so I thought the Super Hero Masks Craft Kit would make perfect treats for his friends. Who doesn't love a fun mask to add to their Halloween costume?
School Halloween Ideas

Of course, Connor wanted to make his as soon as the box arrived. There are 3 different styles of masks included and each is individually packaged with all the necessary stickers, elastic, and instructions.
There are only a few stickers needed to create the mask and they are extremely easy to peel and stick on, making it a perfect craft for little hands! He did all of these stickers all by himself.
The elastic has a metal stick at the end to poke through the holes on the side to attach the elastic. It is super easy, sturdy, and quick!

Since each mask is individually packaged in a plastic bag, simply add a tag to the top for an easy Halloween favor for classmates. I created this "Have a Super Halloween" tag, folded it over the plastic and stapled both sides for Connor's class.
Click on the image below to download a FREE "Have a Super Halloween" printable tag for the Mask Craft Kit!


Be sure to check out all of Oriental Trading's great Halloween items and check back this week for a sneak peak of the kids' Halloween costumes! 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Teaser Trailer!

Captain Jack Sparrow is back!

Check out this brand new teaser trailer from the newest addition to the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man Tell No Tales. I will be counting down the days until it comes out in May of 2017! 


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Warbirds in Flight Airshow Ticket Giveaway!

Kansas City readers, I am excited to share this cool event with you! This weekend, September 24th and 25th, head out to New Century AirCenter for the Warbirds in Flight Airshow. From 9-5 on Saturday and 9-4 on Sunday, the CAF Hangar will be full of family friendly activities and educational events perfect for the entire family. There will be an awesome air show each day beginning at 2 PM.

Guests have the chance to meet and thank WWII Veterans, learn about the Olathe Naval Air Station (Now New Century Airport), take fun photos, meet airshow pilots, and see WWII aircraft up close.  Children will even have the chance to earn free dog tags by completing several aviation-themed, history-focused activities.  

The event is hosted by the Commemorative Air Force Heart of America Wing.  We are a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization.  Our mission is simply: Remember. Honor. Inspire! as we seek to honor veterans, educate our community, and inspire future generations. 

Visit the Commemorative Air Force Heart of America Wing site for more info! 

Giveaway
I have a family pass for up to 6 people to use on either day of the show (September 24th or 25th) to giveaway! Since this giveaway has a quick turnaround, the winner will have 24 hours to respond to the notification email or another winner will be chosen. The giveaway ends September 22nd at 9 PM CST. 

To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me what you are most excited to see at the Warbirds in Flight Airshow.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Bridget Jones's Baby Review: Team Mark vs Team Jack

Disclosure: I received free passes to attend an advanced screening of this film. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% honest and my own. 

The Bridget Jones movies have always been some of my go to's on nights when I want a good chick flick and I was hesitant when I heard about the newest addition to the series, Bridget Jone's Baby. The first movie was released in 2001 so it's been 15 years since we first saw Bridget (Renee Zellweger) navigating her life as a singleton and struggling between her two leading men, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant). I was worried that Hugh Grant's absence from this film would leave it feeling incomplete and honestly, I had a hard time believing that the baby story line would work very well for Bridget.
I am happy to report that honestly, Bridget Jones's Baby is my favorite of the entire series. For those of you concerned about Daniel's exit, I will tell you it is explained very early in the film but I'm not giving away the reason! Patrick Dempsey was cast as Jack Qwant and McDreamy does his job as the handsome, suave, dating expert that sweeps Bridget off of her feet.

This movie is at it's heart Bridget's battle between her old love Mark and her new fling Jack. Add in a positive pregnancy test after "relations" with both men and a hilarious OB played by Emma Thompson (LOVE HER) and Bridget is left in a truly awkward mess. Jack and Mark's bromance quickly turns in to a full on "best daddy" competition and Bridget is as confused as ever.

Team Mark (Mr. Darcy) vs Team Jack (McDreamy). Who do you choose? I am a huge McDreamy fan but Mr. Darcy has had my heart since Pride & Prejudice. The casting of these two men was genius and their scenes together were the highlight of the film. In one scene, I was laughing so hard I was crying. I feel like I missed some of the movie because we were all laughing for so long. I've always loved Renee's portrayal of Bridget. She is easily relatable for most women and never takes herself too seriously. Like I mentioned before, Emma Thompson's addition into the film as the honest OB was amazing. This film is definitely the funniest of the series.

Major warning, this movie is rated R for a reason. Do not take kids. True to Bridget's style, she is often vulgar and your kids would learn a lot of new vocabulary. This is the perfect film for a girl's night or date night. Check out this preview for Bridget Jones's Baby and go see it in theaters today, September 16th!




Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Saying Goodbye to Glasses: My Personal Experience with LASIK

If you looked through my Google search history, you would find a ton of questions about LASIK. "Does LASIK hurt? What happens during LASIK? etc" Being a person who likes to be prepared, I probably over researched every piece of the procedure and finally decided to make the consultation appointment. Mike had PRK last year, a different eye correction procedure and no longer needs any glasses or contacts.It was finally my turn to get my eyes fixed and I am now 2 weeks post op so I thought I'd share the process with you. It's nerve wracking to think of someone shooting a laser in your eye so I figure the more you know the better!

We are lucky to have an eye doctor we love close to home so I started the whole LASIK process with him. I called the office to let them know I was interested in the procedure and I was scheduled for a consultation with their LASIK specialist.

LASIK Consultation

At this first appointment, I went through lots of tests to see if I was a good candidate for the procedure. They took photos of my eyes and made me look into lots of machines. None of these tests hurt at all. The most uncomfortable part was the tear test to check the moisture level of my eyes. They put a small test strip into one of my eyes and had me hold it shut for what felt like forever, I'm sure it was only for a minute or two. It felt scratchy and annoying, but not painful. Then they dilated my eyes, I was told dilation would be extreme and let me warn you, it is. It's not painful at all but I couldn't see anything out of my glasses while my eyes were dilated. Everything was fuzzy, I couldn't even read anything on my phone. They didn't warn me how fuzzy everything would be and I was freaked out! My sight cleared up pretty quickly and I was able to drive after the appointment. This appointment was about an hour. At the end after determining I was a good LASIK candidate, the specialist scheduled my pre-op and surgery date appointments so that I could plan ahead.

Pre-Op Appointment

My eye doctor's office had already determined that I was a good candidate for the procedure so my visit to the actual LASIK procedure office was to take my final cornea measurements to figure out which type of LASIK would be best for me. I just so happened to be right on the edge of qualifying for both standard and custom LASIK. Now I wish I understood what the real difference between the two of these is, but as it was explained to me, my final results would be the same either way I went and custom would cost about $600 more than standard. Saving $600 was a no brainer for me so I decided on the standard procedure. They gave me my prescriptions for the eye drops I would need for my surgery day and all I had to do was wait for the day of my procedure.

LASIK Day!

My mom came to stay with the kids while Mike drove me to the clinic and I quickly regretted the decision to schedule my procedure at 12:30 PM. I wish I would have done it in the morning because the waiting around all morning definitely didn't help my anxiety level. Despite knowing many people with successful outcomes, the very unlikely risks kept popping into my head. But the time finally arrived, I was quickly led into a room and offered a Valium. I originally intended not to take it as Mike had mentioned it didn't do much for him, but with my nerves I decided it couldn't hurt to take it. Well it certainly worked for me because within minutes I felt myself relax. So my recommendation, TAKE THE VALIUM! The tech gave me my first round of numbing drops while the Valium took it's time to kick in. After about 20 minutes, they gave me another round of numbing drops and explained every step of the procedure so that I would know what to expect. By this point I was having trouble staying awake I was so relaxed.

After explaining everything, I was led into the procedure room and they helped me get comfy on the table. The doctor put tape on my top and lower eyelid to help keep my eyes open and quickly got to work. They covered one eye to protect it while working on the other. He placed a metal holder between my eyelid to prop it open. My eyes were completely numb by this point so I didn't feel anything. Despite feeling like I was blinking, the holders kept my eye wide open. He then cleaned the surface of my eye and created the flap. I felt pressure at this point but no pain and it only lasted about 2 seconds. I was then instructed to focus on the lights. I figured that it would be a single dot of light, but instead it looked like lots of circles and half circles. I've never done drugs but it felt very trippy to me. Especially since I could smell something funky, the tech warned me before that it wasn't my eye burning, instead it was the smell emitted by the lasers. My procedure included four 10 second laser treatments on each eye. After the laser was finished, he closed the flap and removed the eyelid holder. He then did the exact same thing to the other eye. The entire thing only lasted about 5 minutes, super quick and totally painless.

The doctor did a quick check that the flaps were looking good and I was given my first round of antibiotic drops. I was instructed to go home and take a 4 hour nap and let me eyes rest for the rest of the day. They did say I could watch a little TV that night if I felt up to it. They gave me a dark pair of sunglasses to help with the light sensitivity on the way home.

My vision was fuzzy but I was amazed how quickly it started to clear up. On the way home I could read some of the license plates and signs on the roads. The Valium I had taken was working it's magic and by the time we got home, I was ready for my nap! I put on the eye shields they gave me to wear to prevent me from rubbing my eyes while sleeping and easily slept for 4 and a half hours. When I woke up, I started my first round of drops. If you aren't comfortable putting drops in your eyes, you will be after having LASIK. For the first week, I used a steroid and antibiotic drop multiple times a day and a preservative free re-wetting drop every hour.

Recovery
After napping, my vision was pretty much clear. It was amazing to me how well I could see so quickly after the procedure. I was never in pain at all but I will say my eyes got very tired quickly. If I waited too long between drops, my eyes got scratchy and it felt like I had something in my eye. That was easily remedied by putting in the lubricating drops. For the first week, I needed to rest my eyes pretty frequently. I took small breaks throughout the day to close my eyes for a while because if I didn't my eyes were very sore and tired by bedtime. I was very light sensitive and couldn't sit at my computer or watch TV for long. I needed my sunglasses every time I was outside even when it was cloudy. Honestly the worst part of the recovery for me was having to wear eye shields for the first week while I slept. It was hard to get comfortable with them on and taking them off in the morning was painful due to the medical tape I had to use to attach them. I was happy to be done with those after a week! I am still using the lubricating drops every 2-4 hours just for comfort and will be doing so for several more months.

Results
The day after my procedure I had my follow up with my eye doctor and he was impressed with my results as my vision was very close to 20/20. My prescription had been extremely high before so LASIK made a huge difference for me. I couldn't see the clock at night without my glasses before and now if I hear one of our kids in the middle of the night I don't need to fumble around for my glasses or contacts before going to their room. And despite the high price tag, after a couple of years of not having to pay for contacts and supplies, we will be actually saving money because of it. It was totally worth every penny and I am so happy with the results. I only wish I had done it earlier! 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Kids Eat Free at Chipotle Every Sunday in September!

Every Sunday in September, kids eat free at Chipotle!! Yes, FREE! Chipotle is one of our favorite restaurants to go to as a family. Grace has fallen in love with their cilantro white rice and Connor likes getting his own small bag of chips. 

With the purchase of an adult entree, get a free kid's meal plus a limited edition Dragons Love Tacos activity sheet. 

“For more than two decades we have been serving families better food made with ingredients parents can trust — ingredients raised with respect for the land, the animals, and the farmers who produce them,” said Chris Arnold, communications director at Chipotle. “We think good food is at its best enjoyed with good company, and we hope families will join us on Sundays to share a meal together.”

I know where we'll be eating on Sunday afternoon!

For more information, please visit Chipotle.com/freekidsmeal.

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: www.thesecretlifeofpets.com

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!

Giveaway
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.

Rules:
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.









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