Aug 022015
 

*Disclosure: This conversation is sponsored by T-Mobile, but all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

Today is a special day here in our house.  It’s my oldest son’s birthday.  It’s mind-blowing to me that he is ELEVEN years old today – how the heck did that happen?

JD

I asked him last week what he wanted for his birthday this year and before I could even finish my sentence, he blurted out “a phone”. I had always told him that he could get a phone when he went into middle school & that happens to be this September, but somehow 11 still seems a little young to me to have his own phone.  That’s why I love T-Mobile’s Simple Prepaid Plans.

Simple is good, right? The Simple Choice North America Plan starts out at just $40 for unlimited talk, text, and 1GB of 4G LTE data!

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The plan includes: Continue reading »

Jul 312015
 

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DipYourWay #CollectiveBias

Minecraft Creeper Veggie Tray

Are you one of those parents that faces a major challenge in getting their kids to eat their veggies?  I am.  My oldest son is the exception when it comes to veggies – he can’t get enough.  On the other hand, my little guy will almost never put a vegetable in to his mouth willingly. Talk about complete opposites.  So with my youngest, sometimes I have to get a little fun and creative when it comes to getting him to eat his veggies.  I have tried lots of different things ranging from sneaking them into other foods (my pasta sauce for example) to buying delicious Kraft Dips to help encourage my son to eat his veggies!

Here are some of the things I’ve tried over the years to get him to eat his veggies. These ideas are so convincing that you might even start eating your veggies, too.

Bake Amazing Meals

Okay, so looking at veggies, it’s pretty clear as to why kids don’t want to eat them – they look boring. So why not take those veggies to the next level?  Try making dishes like stuffed peppers or bright and colorful salads to help convince your children to eat their veggies.

Sneak Them Into Other Foods

I have been known to mix some cauliflower into my mashed potatoes or chop up some veggies really finely to put into my pasta sauce. I love that the kids don’t even realize they’re eating veggies and as long as you tell them at some point when they’re are older, like when they’re 50, it’s not considered lying!

Make Sure They’re Hungry

One of my favorite ways to get my kids to eat their veggies is to make sure they’re hungry. It’s one of the first things I feed my kids when it’s time for a snack. They are more likely to eat their veggies if they are hungry and trust me on this one, I know from experience. Continue reading »

Jul 292015
 

Small Disclosure

This is my dining room:

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I love this room.  In fact it’s one of my favorite rooms in the house.  Partly because it’s where we eat (and I do love to eat) and the other part is because our family spends a lot of time in this room bonding over dinner. I love sitting down to eat with the family and just talking about our days.

The thing is, the main door to our house is in our kitchen and the kitchen and dining room are attached.  That means they are the first rooms you see when you enter my house.  Since we entertain quite a bit, it makes me feel better when my house looks good.

Despite the fact that I love the food my family eats and the memories we make in the dining room, something has always bothered me about the room.  I’ve always felt like something was missing and recently a light bulb went off.  I finally figured out exactly what the room needed.

Here, have a closer look. Can you guess what I was thinking? Continue reading »

Jul 272015
 

If there is one thing that can be said about my boys, it’s that they love to be in the water.  Last year, our family went to Water Country in Portsmouth, NH for the very first time and we all loved it so much that we couldn’t wait to get back again this year.

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**Disclosure:  My family received complimentary admission to Water Country in exchange for this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

Last week we packed up and headed up to Water Country, which is New England’s largest waterpark, for the day.  I am a huge list maker, so I sat down the night before to make a list of everything we needed in order to spend an entire day at a waterpark.  I would seriously hate to forget something, so making lists helps me make sure I have everything I need.  I always say that I would rather bring too much than need something and not have it.

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Here is my list of items to bring with you to the waterpark in order to have a great time with the family: Continue reading »

Jul 232015
 

Recently my husband, Chris, and I had an oh-so-special night. You know what I’m talking about – the kind that doesn’t involve kids. That’s right, we got to go out on a date.  Alone. Without children.  Since he and I both love a good mystery, we decided to go to a murder mystery dinner show.   As far as I’m concerned, you can never go wrong with a little mystery, intrigue, and murder.

**Disclosure:  I was provided complimentary tickets to the show thanks to Vimbly in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

MurderMystery sign

We ended up choosing to go see the Crime and Pun-ishment Interactive Dinner, which is put on by The Murder Mystery Company at the Sons of Italy in Quincy, MA.

Here is the description of the show:

Things take a turn for the gutter at Mafia Don Lou Zar’s juice joint when someone is put on ice! The crowd is chock full of potential suspects. Jealous, jilted lovers, a rival Mafioso, and a pair of undercover feds make an appearance at this speakeasy and not a single person is muttering a word! Help find out who’s on the level and who’s on the lam by trading clues with your guests, gathering information, and solving the crime before the murderer hotfoots it out of there! Continue reading »

Jul 232015
 

You guys all know my friend, Jeanine from Six Time Mommy, right? She’s been contributing here for a few months now, so that’s why her name sounds familiar. What you may not know about Jeanine is that she lives up in Canada.  Trust me, you will understand why that little tidbit is important in a minute.

Over the past few months, Jeanine and I have become friends and she emailed me last month with what she called a “crazy idea” that I just could not say no to.  Literally, “Crazy Idea!” was the subject line of the email she sent.

What she had in mind was for her and I to exchange a goodie box of candy & snacks that were not available in each other’s countries and write about what we got.

Ummmm, can you say Kinder Surprise Eggs?  In case you didn’t know, they are not sold here in the US and I have been dying to get my hands on one for years.

Other than the Kinder Surprise Eggs, I hadn’t given much thought to what else might not be available in US  that they have up in Canada until she brought it up (and vice versa of course). After talking with her I found out that there is a ton of stuff we each have that the other doesn’t.

My box of goodies arrived a few weeks ago and although everything has long since been devoured, I managed to get a few photos before we all pigged out on Canadian treats.

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Obviously, the Kinder Surprise Eggs were the only thing that I really wanted and I am happy to say that they were not confiscated by customs. Continue reading »

Jul 212015
 

Summer time is full of fun and adventures for our family.  We only have a few short months of summer here in Boston and I like to keep the boys busy, busy, busy.  Whether we are at the beach, the playground, the pool, on a day trip somewhere, on vacation or even just hanging out with friends – we are almost always up to something.

Chris and I love to make memories with the boys and want them to be able to look back at their childhood and think back to all the happy times we had as a family.

Messed up selfie

Despite our silly selfie stick mishaps on our travels, staying home can definitely be fun, too.  We all love to cook together as a family and we especially love family movie nights.  We love to snuggle up on the sofa with a huge bowl of popcorn and watch our favorite movies. Continue reading »

Jul 202015
 

My boys are only three years apart in age, but at the particular ages they’re at right now, they seem to have a lot of trouble agreeing on things they like to do. My oldest is a few weeks shy of his 11th birthday and he’s got a major case of the tweens going on.  No matter what I suggest, it’s not cool.  Even things that are very cool, he always finds something to complain about.  My little guy on the other hand, who is just shy of his 8th birthday, is still a little kid and much more agreeable to pretty much anything I suggest doing. Thankfully there is one thing that they both still agree on – the zoo.

Stone Zoo

**Disclosure: My family and I received complimentary admission to the zoo in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

My family and I recently had a chance to visit the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA for the very first time recently and I have to say that I was really impressed.  I’ve been to my share of zoos over the years and unlike its larger sister zoo, the Franklin Park Zoo, the Stone Zoo is much more low-key and smaller in size, making it a great place to visit with little ones. The day we were there it was not very crowded and it’s not too far from where we live, so I’m over here scratching my head about why we’ve never gone there before. Continue reading »

Jul 192015
 

“Cocktails, brews, wine and appetizers with a view”

For great food and atmosphere, the Skiff Bar in Newport, RI is the place to be.  Located inside the Newport Marriott, the Skiff Bar is quickly becoming one of Newport’s most popular hangouts.

Skiff Bar Bar

Many of you know that my husband and I are frequent visitors to Newport.  We’re there several times a month (or more) and really enjoy spending time in the seaside community. We love everything about Newport. The beaches, the history, the shopping, and especially the food.

From what I gather (and I am only speaking from my own personal experience here), Newport seems to have a reputation as a pricey and sometimes even an exclusive place to eat out.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of casual restaurants throughout the city, but they seem to be a little harder to come by.

Enter the Skiff Bar.

**Disclosure: My husband and I were invited to a complimentary evening of food & drinks at the Skiff Bar.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way. Continue reading »

Jul 162015
 

The Killington Grand Resort Hotel

When a lot of people think about the state of Vermont, they think of winter and probably more specifically – winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. But did you know that the Green Mountain State has a ton to offer in the summer as well?  Not only are the mountains breath-taking to look at, there are so many family friendly attractions and activities in this charming state.  My family had a chance to experience one of those family-friendly attractions last week.  The brand spankin’ new Adventure Center up at Killington Mountain that I told you about yesterday was a huge hit with my kids, but today I wanted to tell you about where we stayed while we were there: The Killington Grand Resort Hotel.

At the Killington Grand Resort Hotel you will find that they offer a 75-foot outdoor heated pool with two hot tubs (open year-round), a state of the art health club that includes a sauna & steam room, the Killington Grand Spa – a full service spa, a game room, coin operated laundry services, multiple conference rooms, complimentary WiFi throughout the hotel, complimentary DVD library plus XBOX games and components, the Grand Essentials Coffee and Sundry Shop (open daily) and Ovations Restaurant & Rendezvous Lounge, which is their onsite restaurant. Continue reading »

Jul 152015
 

The Adventure Center at Killington Mountain

Bored.

It’s been the word of the summer around here.  My oldest, who is a few weeks away from his 11th birthday has come down with a severe case of the tweens and my little man, who is a few weeks away from his 8th birthday, goes along with everything (and I do mean everything) his big brother says.

Since the boys got out of school, I have spent so much time planning activities to keep them busy, but apparently my idea of fun is not the same as my kids.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I took them to places like the beach, the town pool and the local splash pad.  All of those places are “boring” according to my children and believe me when I tell you how frustrating it is to hear that word come out of their mouths repeatedly for days on end.

Just imagine my delight when I found something that not only both of my boys loved, but they were actually really sad when we had to leave.

Mom for the win!

**Disclosure: My family received two complimentary day passes to the Adventure Center at Killington in order to experience it four ourselves and to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way. Continue reading »

Jul 142015
 

Surviving Spousal Deployment

This review was made possible by iConnect and Duracell. I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions are 100% mine.

If you’re facing a spousal deployment in the near future, it will no doubt be some of the hardest days and months of your life. However, thousands of people make it through this difficult time period, but how? Here are some tips to make it through any period of deployment.

Journal When You Can

Some of the best medicine on the planet for going through a hard time is journaling. Writing down how you feel and getting it all out is one way to combat those feelings. Whether you start a journal or blog, writing can help you document pictures and events during the deployment.

Make Sure You’re Financially Secure

Before your spouse leaves for deployment, make sure all the finances are in order. There’s nothing worse than dealing with debt and late bills than when you’re doing it by yourself. If you can, also make sure you have an emergency plan in place, just in case you come across an emergency situation and need the extra funds. Continue reading »

Jul 142015
 

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EffortlessMeals #CollectiveBias

Easy Barbecue Chicken Pizza #EffortlessMeals #CollectiveBias #ad

If your family is anything like mine, you are always on the go in the summer time.  Here in the Boston area, we only get about three months of really nice weather, so we are always outside enjoying it as much as possible.  Whether we’re at the beach, the town pool, having a picnic with friends or going on a day trip, our days are always filled with fun and adventure. Since we’re out out doing something pretty much every single day in the summer, it leaves me very little time to plan meals let alone actually cook them.  But I have the perfect solution for that!  An easy homemade barbecue chicken pizza – on the grill! And hey, I am all for an effortless summer meal that the whole family enjoys.

I headed over to Walmart to get what I needed to make our pizza:

Quick Meals at Walmart

I grabbed a fully cooked Marketside rotisserie chicken and a Marketside ready to cook pizza along with the rest of my ingredients while I was at Walmart.  The rotisserie chicken and ready to cook pizza make it easy to create a meal quickly.  It’s a bonus is you don’t have to heat up your house in the summertime by not having to turn on the oven to cook the chicken.

All you need to make your pizza in addition to the fully cooked Marketside rotisserie chicken and Marketside ready to cook pizza is some of your favorite BBQ sauce, an onion and some fresh cilantro. Continue reading »

Jul 132015
 

**This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HouseofBBQ #CollectiveBias This content is intended for readers who are 21 and over.

Easy Peasy Beer Cheese Dip

My husband Chris and I love to entertain at our house all year round, but we especially like having friends and/or family over in the summer time.  There is just something about sitting outside by the fire with some good company and some even better food to munch on that makes summer nights absolute perfection.

I think by now that many of you know that our living situation is a little different. In case you didn’t already know this, Chris is my boy’s step-dad.  My boys have an amazing relationship with their real dad (yay) and they spend several nights every week over their dad’s house – giving Chris & I some much needed “adult” time every single week.

Since we entertain fairly often when the kids aren’t around, I like to make this amazing beer cheese dip for my guests.  It’s the perfect dip to serve when there are no kids around and trust me, it’s always a hit. Always.

This past Saturday just so happened to be one of those kid free days, and since the weather was gorgeous, we decided to have a few friends over.  The first thing I said to Chris was “I need to make my beer cheese dip for everyone”.  I stopped by my local Price Chopper to pick up some of our favorite beers: Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy & Grapefruit Shandy. My dip only calls for one beer, but hey – I wanted to make sure I had lots of beer for my guests.

Price Chopper Beer

Ingredients: Continue reading »

Jul 112015
 

This post is sponsored by Lunchbox. All opinions are my own.

Surely you remember our dog, Milo?

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A while back I told you all about his adoption story, but what I didn’t tell you was that he’s a super picky eater.  I had a human picky eater long before I had a canine one, so knew exactly how to handle him after he came to live with us….give him whatever he wanted.

Besides, who can resist this face?

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Seriously.  He’s so darn cute that I could never say no to him. Continue reading »

Jul 102015
 

Hatching Butterflies - What You Should Know

Watching a butterfly go through the stages of metamorphosis is an amazing experience. At least, that’s how I remember it from Kindergarten. I can remember the level of excitement in our classroom as we ran to peer into the converted milk carton every morning. “What’s it look like TODAY?!” we’d wonder.

A friend of mine gave my girls each a painted lady caterpillar in a small cup to watch it transform into a butterfly. “Oh good! Something educational and fun to watch in our very own home,” I thought. We set the cups on top of the counter and waited while the caterpillars ate through all the sugary substance inside the cup. The girls and I were so excited to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to our new family members every night. My darling cutie pies even named their little creatures after each other. It all seemed incredibly sweet until I realized something… caterpillars poop.

I started to notice all these little pellets piling up inside the little cup. “Ewwwwwww….. she pooped mom!” So, that was educational. I also started having nightmares of little spiky caterpillars crawling up my arms and I couldn’t stop them. They were a little tiny army I couldn’t out run! Suddenly, I realize there isn’t anything magical about this early stage of hatching caterpillars!

It took several days for the little wiggly things to crawl to the lid of the cup, attach themselves and hang in a letter “J” just as the instructions stated they would. It was time to transfer the little creatures to their habitat (a new, poop free cup). When I opened the lids on the cups there was a horrible smell and the cocoons seemed stuck inside of a fuzzy web. Not at all a glorious site (or smell). Continue reading »

Jul 082015
 

Summer is finally upon us here and when the weather is nice & sunny, the possibilities are endless.  Most of us spend time at the pool, beach, hiking, at the playground – see there are tons of fun things to do outside.  But then the unthinkable happens – it rains.  How dare Mother Nature ruin our already way too short summer by raining on us.  It’s days like that when you scramble to find fun indoor places to take your kids.

Here’s your solution to that problem.

launch trampoline park

Launch Trampoline Park!  It is an indoor sports and family entertainment facility in Norwood, MA.  They have over 15,000 sq. feet of connected trampolines forming one GIANT jumping surface and angled trampoline walls to bounce off of.  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

**Disclosure:  My family was invited to a complimentary blogger event at Launch Norwood.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

At Launch, there are five courts for your family to jump on. There is the main court, a basketball court, a fun foam pit for the kids to jump in, a dodge ball and kids court (for kids ages 5 and under).  The best part about this indoor park, it’s suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Continue reading »

Jul 062015
 

Pretzel Crusted Chicken Strips

This recipe is a tasty dinner that both the kids and grown-ups will love! Not only is it delicious, it’s not fried making it a healthier meal option for your family. The kids love helping with this meal, too – crushing pretzels and dipping chicken is just plain fun and it teaches them some basic kitchen skills (make sure they wash their hands well before and after, of course). Add these Pretzel crusted chicken strips to your dinner rotation this week for a quick, yummy meal!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 ½ cups pretzels
  • ½ cup white flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • salt and pepper to taste

Continue reading »

Jul 012015
 

I want to start out by saying that this is a very personal post.  I have never shared this entire story publicly, but somehow it just seemed like the right time to get it all out there so to speak.  So here goes…

I always said that I never wanted kids.  Luckily for me, my then-husband agreed with me.  At the time we were happily married and life was good.  We had all the freedom in the world!

Then one day it hit me – I was 29 years old and I certainly wasn’t getting any younger.  Baby fever had finally stuck me and it struck hard.  I wanted to get pregnant as soon as possible.  So one day during my lunch hour at work, I sat down and made a list of pros and cons that I would present to my husband in an effort to convince him that I had a change of heart and was ready to have a baby.

The conversation went surprisingly well.  He was very supportive and we both agreed that we would start trying immediately.  Three weeks later I was pregnant. I had an amazing pregnancy – It was the best I had ever felt and on August 3, 2004, the baby boy that I had anxiously waited 9 months to meet was finally here.  Looking at his perfect face, I couldn’t even imagine that time in my life when I didn’t want kids. Continue reading »

Jul 012015
 

For anyone that knows me, it’s no secret that I am obsessed with shoes.  I have more pairs of shoes than I can count and my collection just keeps growing & growing. I lover that when I shop at Famous Footwear, I don’t have to drop a ton of money on new shoes.  They have a huge variety of all the latest styles for the entire family and more importantly, they are affordable.

**Disclosure:  This post was sponsored by Famous Footwear, but my love of shoes is all my own.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Have you noticed how jeweled sandals have been trending this summer? I mean, everywhere you look, girls are wearing them and who am I to be left out – so of course I had to get over to Famous Footwear to get a pair for myself.

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They had so many cute pairs to choose from and I was in the store a good while deciding what to buy – because, of course, I wanted them all. Continue reading »