Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, Friends!  Today we're linking up with some of our favorite bloggers for Friday Favorites!  I have a lot of random favorites to share with you this week and lots of fun things for the kiddos.

So, my little guy turned five last weekend and now he is wanting to learn to tie shoes so he can get some with laces for school.  I pulled out our trusty Melissa & Doug Learn to Lace and Tie shoe from the playroom closet so I could start working with him.  He might need velcro forever because after just a few minutes he was ready to move on and do something else, but I love this tool and I know when he is ready to work on it some more this will soon become one of his favorites, too!  

Are anyone else's kids obsessed with Rubik's Cubes?  My girls kept talking about then during the school year because a lot of friends in their classes and on the bus had them. Little Mama got one with some birthday money and we went back the next day because as you can see the other two wanted one also.  Here's the thing, my brain just does not work this way.  I have watched YouTube videos and tutorials for how to solve these impossible puzzles and they make it look so easy, but I've accepted that you either get it or you don't.  I thought the 2x2 cube might be easier to solve, but it seems just as hard to me.  While this is not one of my favorites, it has been fun to play with this summer and my kids would definitely say it is their favorite (even if they can't solve it either!).

It's been so brutally hot here and when my kids want to cool off they have loved this giant Discovery Kids beach ball sprinkler.  You just hook it up to a garden hose and it squirts water.  It's so fun for them and they have made up all kids of games using it.  It's a favorite of mine because it buys be a few minutes to get something done knowing they are all happy and entertained.

We have one more week of summer left.  It just seems wrong to start back to school so early, but I can't change it so instead I'm embracing it. One thing I do every year before school starts is order my new Erin Condren planner.  

Now, I'm not paid by them and I don't receive free products. I just love their stuff that much and was SO very excited when I went out late one night to let my dog out and saw this on my doorstep!  Even the box is pretty!  

I tried having my calendar digital, but I kept missing things and learned that I'm a person that loves to see everything written down.  So call me old school, but I love a paper planner.  This is my 4th Erin Condren planner and to me they are SO worth the cost.  I love personalizing the cover with pictures of my loved ones.  

I also love the vertical layout. It helps me to see how my days will go and keeps me organized. Basically this planner is my life.  I always pay the extra $5 to get an 18 month calendar instead of a 12 month calendar so that I can use it for one whole school year. I love being organized and this planner is definitely my favorite! 

A few months ago I lost one of my gold hoop earrings and I've been eyeing these Stella & Dot Isadora hoops as a replacement ever since.  I kept putting off ordering them, but finally bit the bullet and I could not be more happy with them!  

I love that they are not just plain hoops and the added details give them a little something extra! They are definitely my favorite earrings now and I've worn them pretty much everyday this week! 

Speaking of favorite things to wear, this monogrammed tank from Preppy & Personalized has quickly become one of my favorites.  I wore it to little Boo-Boo's birthday party last week and got tons of compliments on it.  Then I posed this picture on my personal Facebook page and had so many friends email or text me to see where I got it.  

I had Blondie take another quick pic of me that evening so you could see the front better because I knew I needed to share it with all of you!  

A few notes about this tank...
1. It comes in several different colors. 
2. This is the navy one, but it is more of a grayish navy color.  
3. It's only $31 and so worth it! 
4.  It is very generous, size wise. I am wearing the medium.
5. They have girls sizes too and they run pretty big. My girls love theirs and I don't mind that they are larger because they will be able to wear them longer.  For now they just wear a tank under it. 
6. I've washed and dried them a few times and they still look great. I was a little worried about the monogram peeling off, but it still looks great! 

These aren't the best pics because I took them really late at night, but this Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear nail polish is my new favorite.  

Little Mama got it for her birthday last year and I've painted her nails a few times with it.  On a whim I used it on Sunday because I wanted a fun pink color and have had a few people comment on the color since then.  I love the bright pink, but what I love even more is that it has stayed on! My nail polish always starts to chip after a day or so, but this one has lasted much longer.   It's a super cheap bottle of nail polish, but it has stayed on way better than any of my more expensive ones.  Crazy, but I'm planning to buy more of this brand.  I'm wearing it in All Bright and love the color.  Online it looks super neon, but it is more of a bright pink.

One of my favorite moments from this week was taking my kids to the World of Coca-Cola!  We went last summer and had a blast so we decided to go back this summer.  I'll share all about it on Monday if anyone is interested in going, but we had the best time! 

Last, but not least, is my favorite pup.  Our sweet golden retriever is 2 years old today!  He's such an important part of our family and we are excited to spoil him with lots of treats, toys, and Frosty Paws today. :-)  

Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend!  See you back here on Monday! 

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Kitchen Confessions: Breakfast Casserole

So here is my Kitchen Confession for the week...I don't really cook in the summer.  I'll get the Mr. to grill on the weekends and a lot of time we'll have leftovers from that or I'll just make dinners out of whatever is in the fridge or we graze on appetizer type foods like hummus, cheese and crackers, fruits and veggies, etc.  It's just so hot and the last thing I want to be doing is hanging out over a hot stove.

However, with school starting right around the corner I feel the need to get back on my dinner game.  Plus, this week has been kind of crazy with tumbling classes, soccer camp in the evening and all of the sports and activities getting ready to gear back up.  I decided to throw together one of my family's favorite easy dinners last night.  It's actually a breakfast casserole that has somehow morphed into a dinner meal for us.  I love it because I can put it together in the afternoon and then cook it right before we are ready to eat.  

It's light, but filling and perfect with a side of fruit for an easy, crowd-pleaser kind of weekday meal.  

Breakfast Casserole

1 lb. sausage
1 can crescent rolls
7-8 eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Brown sausage and set aside.
2. Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray and unroll crescent rolls to line the bottom of the dish.

3. Spread sausage over the crescent rolls.

4. Beat eggs and stir in salt/pepper and 1/2 cup cheese.
5. Pour egg mixture over the sausage.

6. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

It's a super easy meal and the best part is if you have left overs you have a yummy breakfast, too!
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Monday, July 18, 2016

Staying Hydrated with PACt®

Happy Monday friends!  We had not planned to take a small break from the blog last week, but sometimes life just happens.  I've been making spending time with my kids this summer a priority so the blog just had to wait.  Today I have something so yummy to share with you though!

A few weeks we got asked if we would like to try the all new Ocean Spray® PACt® Water and Fruit Infusions and we jumped at the chance.  It's been so hot here lately and we're doing all we can to try to keep cool and stay hydrated.

The kids want to play outside a lot and of course I want them to. However, I do worry about them overheating or becoming dehydrated so I'm always trying to remind them to drink up.

Usually they have plain water, but it's fun to mix in some other drinks now and then and after I learned about the goodness of PACt® Water and Fruit Infusions I was happily serving it to them.  Plus, they will also usually drink a lot more if they have something other than water!  The PACt® Fruit Infusions was so yummy and they had no idea that it was good for them.  They just knew it tasted great!

These new drinks are actually a refreshing new take on juice and it is actually really good for you, too!  No artificial ingredients, color straight from the source, no added sugar and PACs from the juice of 50 cranberries.  You might be wondering what PACs are because I had never heard of them myself. PACs, or proanthocyanidins, are natural elements found in cranberries.  They naturally cleanse and purify the body by preventing certain bacteria from sticking, allowing them to be naturally flushed from the body.

Basically, by adding these PACs to real fruit juice and purified water Ocean Spray® has created drinks that have a lot less sugar and ones that actually help cleanse and purify your body better than water alone.  Plus, they taste really great so my kids were excited to drink up!

Not only have my kids been enjoying the delicious flavor (and healthy benefits) of PACt®, I have been, too!  I try to walk every day with our dog, Walker.  I like to go in the morning before it gets too hot, but sometimes that just doesn't happen. When we get back we are both worn out and drinking PACt® Cranberry Extract Purified Water really is a nice way to cool off and rehydrate.  It's has just enough flavor to make it more interesting than regular water, but not so sweet that it isn't refreshing.

The kids usually want Walker to stay out and play with them some more and I don't mind it when sharing PACt® with them!

A huge thanks to Ocean Spray® PACt® for sponsoring this post!  If you want to check out PACt® for yourself I found it in the health food section of our local grocery store.  It is also available at Target and you can check for locations on their site HERE.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Atlanta Attractions: Six Flags & Hurricane Harbor

Summer is coming to an end for us and I'm staring to freak out  a little.  My girls start back to school in just 2 1/2 weeks. August 1st seems so early to go back to school and while I'm excited to learn about their new teachers and super pumped for their sports to start back for fall, I'm sad that summer will be coming to an end.  I love having my kids home with me for summer and I feel like the last week of summer doesn't even count because we are busy with back to school shopping, meet the teacher, PTA meetings, sports practices starting back, etc.  It just flew by and we didn't get to squeeze in near enough of the fun things I had hoped to do.  Some of you might remember that I shared my summer bucket list at the beginning of the summer and while we have done a lot of the things on the list, a lot of the outings just haven't made it onto our calendar yet.

With all of this in mind I decided this week we would visit Six Flags!  The girls both earned free tickets for reading a certain amount of minutes during the school year and I wasn't about to let those go to waste.  Since they expire soon after school starts I knew we had to jump at our chance and take advantage of a free day with nothing on our calendar.

We haven't been to Six Flags in a few years and certainly not since their new Hurricane Harbor water park had been opened. I was a little unsure how it would all work with the regular amusement park and the water park combined, but I'm pleased to say we had such an amazing day!

This is totally unrelated and probably should be a post on it's own, but there are times that I really miss the baby/toddler phase.  I loved when my kids were little and I often long for those days back again.  However, just when I'm wishing I could turn back time we go and have an amazing day like this where we all can enjoy "big kid" activities.  My girls had asked to bring friends with us, but I'm glad I made today just for us.  Me and my kids.  We made memories, rode rides, laughed, screamed with delight, and had an absolute ball.  Days like today are great for me and serve as a wonderful reminder that even though my kids are growing up, each phase with them will be just as wonderful in it's own way as the one before.

We had planned to leave and get to the park as they opened at 10 AM, but the awesome Atlanta traffic (insert sarcasm here) had other plans.  We still made it there before 11 AM though and jumped right into riding the rides.

I was honestly really surprised that there were little to no lines for the first part of the day.  We rode a lot of rides twice just because we were able to hop back in line with no wait!

The Log Jamboree was our first ride and the kids loved getting a little splashed from the water.  Little did they know that would be nothing compared to what we would experience later in the day.

We loved the all new DC Super Friends area.  This used to be the Bugs Bunny kid area and it has been totally transformed. It's a good bridge between the kiddie rides and the big rides and it was perfect for my kids. They are all thrill seekers and love to go fast, so this was like our warm up for the day.

By this time we were getting really hot and we were close to a few of the water rides so we decided to cool off.  Now, I'm usually one to steer clear of the rides that make me soaked, but it was so hot today that it was a welcomed treat to get splashed (or soaked in our case).

Splash Water Falls used to be one of my favorites as a kid and today did not disappoint.  We all got wet and since there was no one in line behind us as we were getting off the kids opted to go for a second ride.  I decided to go stand on the bridge above the ride so I could snap some pics and they got equally as wet this time.

We figured since we were already a little damp we should go ahead and give Thunder River a whirl.  The girls looked for what they said were "the wettest seats" so they would know the perfect spot to sit.  Well, it must have worked for them because they went right into the rapids and then straight through the waterfall.  They were totally drenched and loving it.  Boo-Boo was right beside them and he got pretty wet then it was me beside him. I was wet a little wet and my shoes were soaked, but it felt good.  Here's my warning: Do not go on this ride unless you are prepared to be totally soaked.

They do have a drying station outside of this ride, but it cost $5 so we were just stayed wet and let it help cool us off.

Next up was one of my old favorites, the Mind Bender.  It was the only ride we could do in this Gotham City area, but seeing the Batmobile was also pretty cool for Boo-Boo.

One tip I would have is to know your child's height ahead of time. That way you can plan your rides based on their height and not get up to a ride that they won't be allowed to get on because they aren't tall enough. Most of the larger roller coasters have a 48 inch or 54 inch minimum, but for some reason this one lets you go with an adult if you are 42 inches so we were so excited because it goes upside down!  That is a big deal if you are a thrill seeker kid and I couldn't believe all three of my kiddos were old enough to ride (and love!!!) a roller coaster that goes upside down.  We took a picture right after we got off with one of the "loop-di-loops" in the background to document the occasion!

By this time we were starving so it was lunch time. There are plenty of places to eat, but we opted for an indoor spot instead of a walk-up window so that we could cool off a bit. We shared two meals and I opted for the refillable sports cup.  It was about $20, but we all shared it and refilled it all day long.  We probably got 8 refills throughout the day so it definitely was worth it. No outside food or drink are allowed so this was our best bet for staying hydrated on such a hot day.

We decided to ride a few more rides and then make our way to Hurricane Harbor.  It's a water park inside Six Flags that is totally free with your admission to the park.  This was the part of the day that made me a little unsure since it was new to us, but it worked out great.

I carried a backpack with us all day that had our swimsuits, two towels, and flip flops.  It also had my wallet, keys, phone, etc. in the bag. On the rides I was either able to hold it or put it in one of the cubbies they have at each of the rides and it was no big deal to have it with me.  Upon arriving at the water park area we changed in the bathrooms and I put all of our things in a locker.  I squeezed everything in the smallest locker (a $13 charge), but it almost didn't fit so next time I'd opt for the size up.  We didn't end up needing our flip-flops so I would leave those at home next time, too.  I put my phone in the locker so I don't have many pictures of the water park, but it was so much fun.

We rode the Bonzi Pipelines first.  For these you have to have a single or double tube to ride down in.    Then we made our way over to Paradise Island, a treehouse type area filled with water slides, fountains, sprayers, buckets of water that drop on you when you least expect it, climbing structures and more.  It was awesome.  Some adults were sitting along the edge of this area in chairs (there are plenty there) with bags and towels so you wouldn't absolutely have to rent a locker if you didn't want to.  However, children under 36 inches must be accompanied by an adult and there were a few slides that you must be 42 inches to slide down.  I would not have felt comfortable to just sit and send my kids off to run around because it was such a big area and I wouldn't have been able to keep up with them.  If you had older kids though, that might be an option if you didn't want to get wet.

However, I had the time of my life. My kids thought it was so awesome that I was climbing up the nets (and steps) and sliding down with them and even though I got blasted with water from the giant buckets up above, we were all laughing and having the best time.  I felt like a kid going down the waterslides and just kept thinking that I couldn't imagine the fun my kids were having if I, as an adult, was having that much fun.  (I grabbed our things from the locker at the end of our fun and took a few pics!)

There was also a huge wave pool area called the Tsunami Surge, but we didn't get a chance to try out because it was getting late and we really needed to get home to our dog and I didn't want to be stuck in traffic on the way home, but next time we will for sure.  We changed back into our clothes (which were still damp from the water rides earlier) and I had promised the kids Dippin' Dots so we grabbed that (and a drink refill) on our way out.  Getting back to our car from the water park area took almost 45 minutes with our stops so I'm glad we left when we did.

On the way home they just kept talking about how much fun they had and what a great day it was. I felt the exact same way and am so happy that I made yesterday happen. It was great for all of us!

If you are going here are a few tips and tricks I would share from our experience:

*Get there when they open. Generally at 10 AM, but check the park website for details.  The lines are so short and you an squeeze in so much more fun earlier in the day.  When we left around 5 the park was a lot more crowded.
*Go during the week. I think that is also why we had such great luck with lines. I'm sure a weekend would have been a lot more crowded.
*Know your child's height ahead of time.  This really helped us plan what rides we would do and helped us to avoid any disappointment if someone couldn't ride a ride.  The maps giving out at the front of the park have the minimum height information for each ride.
*If you are going with little ones discuss the plan ahead of time. I made sure my girls knew that we would only be doing the rides that all of us could ride together.  This way they weren't begging to ride one of the bigger ones knowing that their little brother couldn't go on it.
*No outside food or drink is allowed. Food and drink inside the park is expensive!  We shared two lunch meals and it was more than enough.  I also discussed our snacking ahead of time and let them know they could each pick one "snack/treat" type of food.  Popcorn, pretzel, ice cream, Dippin Dots, etc. This helped cut down on them asking for every treat we passed.
*Buy the refillable cup.  It seems steep at $20, but we more than got our money's worth out of it today.  Plus, we all shared on cup so it was defiantly worth it!
*Wear comfortable shoes. It is a lot of walking. My girls wore their Chacos because they knew they would be getting wet and Boo-Boo and I just went with tennis shoes, which got wet, but they dried out quickly in the sun.
*Wear comfortable clothes.  We all wore athletic clothes and I probably shouldn't have worried too much about hair and makeup after seeing how drenched we got on the rides and how hot and sweaty we were.
*Don't forget sunscreen!
*I carried everything in a backpack.  I had our bathing suits, two thin towels, sun screen, sun glasses, phone, wallet, keys, etc.  It was no problem leaving it in designated spots while riding the rides I couldn't take it with me.
*Hurricane Harbor is not open the same hours as Six Flags.  It is a shorter time based on the day of the week.  We rode all the rides we wanted to at Six Flags and then went to Hurricane Harbor as our last part of the day at the park.
*There were plenty of changing spots in the bathrooms at Hurricane Harbor.
*I noticed a lot of people that had their swimsuits on under their clothes at the park so if you didn't want to haul them around all day that would be an option.
*There were also plenty of lockers at Hurricane Harbor that used an electronic code. This way you didn't have to keep up with a locker key.
*I brought a plastic grocery bag in my backpack and am so glad I did!  It was perfect for putting our wet swimsuits in after we changed back into our clothes.
*A lot of people had water shoes on in Hurricane Harbor, but a lot of people were also barefoot.  We went barefoot and it was fine.
*We spent about 3 1/2 hours riding rides and about 1 1/2 hours at the water park. There was still a lot we didn't get to, but felt like we had done a lot and their little legs were getting tired from all of the walking.  It was just the right amount of time for us!

If anyone has any other questions about the logistics of the day or anything about the park, let me know and if you have tips for me I would love them. My kids are already talking about the next time we can go back!
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