Posts Tagged ‘family fun’

“What do you want to do today?”

A simple question that leads to so many answer depending which member of our family you’re addressing.

“Go to the pool!” My daughter will tell you.

“Ride our bikes!” My son would say.

“Hang out at home,” my husband would reply.

“Is anything off the table?” I’d want to know before leaping into a slew of suggestions.

My idea of a good time before kids was taking Snoop to go kayaking on the lake, or dragging my husband to a dance club. After kids I’ve slowed down a little bit. My ideas of what was fun took a backseat while everything my kids wanted/needed came to the forefront.

I enjoy watching my daughter practice cheer. But that’s her thing. I enjoy watching my son build his extravagant train track bridges. But that’s his thing.

Now, I’m not in a hurry to run back to the dance club, but I do want to find fun beyond a game of Candyland for the umpteenth time. I deserve that much, right?

On our summer bucket list one item I wrote down was going kayaking. All of us. Together.

To be honest I wasn’t sure this would happen. It would involve careful planning around my husband’s days off, my work-from-home schedule, rush hour, making sure we have enough cash, finding parking, etc etc.

It’s not a long drive to the lake to go kayaking by any means, but it can feel like a whole trip by the end of it. Not because it’s a hassle, but because we never push ourselves to do these things. Teaming up with Shell has helped give me the extra motivation to follow through. It started as a fun idea to plan some summer adventures and blog about them, but it’s really allowed me to open up about the things I enjoy, and encourage my family to try new things together.

I told you a little about the *Fuel Rewards® program before. It’s a free rewards card to save on gas. On our last trip we saved $.15/gallon. If you scroll through the #FuelRewards hashtag on Instagram you’ll see the incredible savings people are finding at the pump (seriously, stop what you’re doing and go look, some people even got gas almost free).

If you’re on the road often you should look into signing up for the Fuel Rewards® program. When you become a Fuel Rewards® member, you will earn 5 cents off per gallon (up to 20 gallons/visit) for as long as you maintain Gold Status! We weren’t driving as far this time, but because I procrastinate my tank was on E and we made a quick stop at Shell to fill up and double check that we had everything we needed.

Plus, once you’re signed up, you can send your referral link to friends and family so they can join the Fuel Rewards program. The first time a friend uses the program by using the link you send them and earns a reward or uses their card at a participating Shell station, you will instantly earn 25¢/gal. And there’s no limit to how many friends you invite or how many times you earn.

When we got to the lake I quickly realized we were overdressed. Everyone else had on sandals and bathing suits and we were all dressed up in socks and sneakers which were sure to get wet in these boats. But there was no turning back. We were doing this dangit.

As expected, my daughter was pretty terrified to get in. My son wanted confirmation that there were no sharks, but he was easy to appease. I did make the mistake of giving him a paddle of his own (he insisted). So the entire time I was paranoid he’d let it go to be forever lost in the lake.

Once we got going my daughter calmed down, my son laughed, squealed, and flirted with every girl we paddled past.

They were having fun.

My husband and I took photos of each other across the way, and we smiled. A lot.

We were having fun.

I was having fun.

Becoming a parent doesn’t mean we need to give up on our goals, our hobbies or other things we enjoy doing. We are going to cherish the memories we have with our kids. Even thinking back to that day you played Candyland 12 times in a row. You’ll laugh about that some day. But you deserve to enjoy the time while you’re going through it too. It’s for you and for them, because guess what I learned?

When mom is having fun, there’s a good chance everyone else it too.

So what’s something you’ve been dying to do that you can bring your kids along for?

*Restrictions apply. To qualify for the Gold/Silver Status offers, you must be a Fuel Rewards® member and swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID when you fuel at a participating Shell station. With Gold Status, you will receive 5¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings on every fill-up. The 5¢/gal reward for Gold Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. If you are an existing Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status from 6/5/2017 through 12/31/17, the “Existing Member Introductory Period”. If you are a new Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status for the initial month you join through the last day of the month, 6 full calendar months later, the “New Member Introductory Period”. The last 3 months of the Existing Member Introductory Period or the New Member Introductory Period (collectively the “Introductory Period”) is the “Qualification Period”. You will retain your Gold Status during the Qualification Period, but you must make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to qualify for Gold Status for the next 3 months, the “Benefit Period”. During the Benefit Period, you must continue to make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to maintain your Gold Status for the next 3-month Benefit Period. A qualifying fuel purchase is any fuel purchase at a participating Shell station in which you swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID and fill up with at least 5-gallons of any grade of fuel. For example, if you are a new Fuel Rewards® member and register on 6/15/2017, you will receive Gold Status through the New Member Introductory Period (i.e., 12/31/2017). You will need to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the Qualification Period (i.e., 10/1/2017 and 12/31/2017) to maintain Gold Status during the Benefit Period (i.e., from 1/1/2018 to 3/31/2018). Thereafter, if you continue to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the successive 3 consecutive month Benefit Periods, you will retain your Gold Status. If you do not maintain your Gold Status, you will receive Silver Status. With Silver Status, you will receive 3¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings. The 3¢/gal reward for Silver Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. Redeem Fuel Rewards® savings with your Fuel Rewards® card or Alt ID at participating Shell stations. Fuel Rewards® savings are limited to 20 gallons of fuel per purchase, per vehicle, or fraud limits placed by Shell and/or limits placed on your financial card by your financial institution, each of which may be lower. Fuel Rewards® savings must be redeemed in a single transaction. Once you begin to dispense fuel using your Fuel Rewards® savings, you must dispense to the 20-gallon limit or you forfeit any remaining discounted gallons of fuel. For example, if you only pump fifteen (15) gallons of fuel, you would abandon the remaining five (5) gallons of discounted fuel. If you have a rewards balance greater than the current per-gallon price of fuel, the price will roll down to the maximum capability of the fuel equipment, and your remaining rewards will be saved for a future fuel purchase. Dispenser may require a price of up to 10.9¢/gal. It may not be possible to combine multiple discounts and/or rewards in a single transaction. For purchases of $75 or more, please go inside to pay. Unbranded diesel and alternative fuels may not be eligible. The Fuel Rewards® program is owned and operated by Excentus Corporation. Offer may be modified or discontinued at any time without notice. Not valid where prohibited by law. Please see fuelrewards.com for complete Fuel Rewards® program details and Terms and Conditions. Other restrictions may apply. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. To learn more, visit fuelrewards.com/gold or call (888) 603-0473.

Everyone talks about books being SO good for us… Great for the minds and what not. We should read to our kids, and get them to love reading! I don’t deny all of this. However, there is a dark side to books that people rarely talk about that I’m going to lay all out there today.

Books are addicting.

You know how the experts talk about addictions being bad when they begin to interfere with your everyday life? Hello new science fiction novel! What have you done to me?

my reading addiction

I barely broke away to write this post. I just wanted to pop in and tell you I’m still alive, all is well, the kids are ok thanks to their father, and hopefully I’ll finish the series quick enough so I won’t be gone too long. Over the weekend I finished books 1 and 2, and I’m about a third through book 3.

Oh forgive my rudeness, I didn’t tell you what book. I’m reading The Lunar Chronicles series. It was one I put on my list to start once I finished Harry Potter and it just took me awhile to pick up and get going. Even a few chapters in I wasn’t hooked but somewhere around chapter 10 it was all over. Bye kids, bye husband, bye work, food, and other inessentials.

lunar chronicle series

Sometimes I think it’s just me who has this problem. But after sending a few snaps about my book a friend asked me what I was reading, and is also now sucked into the vortex of this series. Well, she may already be out on the other side. A few hours after telling her the name of the book she was already reading passed me and onto book two.

I guess I could tell you a little of what it’s about. Though my description may not peak your interest.

It’s a science fiction twist on the fairytale stories we’re familiar with. The first one being Cinderella, but in this story she’s a cyborg.

I know I know, you’re probably thinking I’m not into that stuff. But really, did we think we were into stories about wizards or vampires before we ready Harry Potter or Twilight? No! So don’t knock it til you try it.

I’ve been re-telling the story to Lil’ J and she’s quite intrigued. Of course I’d rather be reading further instead of just telling her about it, but I want her to know that books are awesome and reading is fun. Though that may or may not be the message I send when I say “Shhhhhhhh! Go make yourself a snack, this book is getting really good!”

Anyway, I’ve been away from my friends in this tale long enough and I want to see how they’re doing. Don’t worry I’ve got something great planned here on the blog tomorrow. Thankfully I scheduled it before I found a new series.

Oh, and at the risk of falling to my addiction again… Do you by chance have any other books you could recommend, for when I’m done? I may need another fix.

Also, can you ask me that Mother’s Day question again? All I want is my a week like this:

Girl with books

I looked at my kids bundled up in new coats bigger than any they’d ever worn before. Wearing boots thicker than ever before, and gloves, for the first time in their lives.

Their faces showed a mix of excitement, confusion and hesitation. They were standing in a pile of cold white stuff with more of it floating down from the sky. My kids were experiencing snow for the first time.

Tips for Playing in Snow: Photographing kids in snow.

Growing up in Atlanta I saw snow from time to time. Oh we loved snow days. We’d wake up, look out the window and see our yard covered in white. School was canceled and we had a day or two if we were lucky, to attempt to make a snowman.

My sister and I bundled up from head to toe. I distinctly remember my mom putting plastic bags over our hands before the mittens went over top. Looking back, I’m not sure how wise that was but it worked! Kept our hands dry.

Winters in Georgia were pretty nice: Moderate with occasional snow. It lasted just long enough to enjoy, but not long enough to make my winters miserable.

Fast forward to college. For years, I dreamed of attending BYU and planned on studying broadcast journalism. What I didn’t plan for was the brutal winters. Snow, snow and more snow. It seemed never-ending.

Tips for Playing in Snow: Photographing kids in snow.

My husband and I met in Utah, but decided we’d try to move away to someplace warm as soon as we could.

After graduation, before we knew it we were packing our bags and heading back south to Austin, and there we’ve been ever since.

We’ve lived in Austin for seven years, and the handful of times we’d visited Utah with the kids, it was always in the summer. Every year our daughter would get excited, but then let down because there was no snow. We had to explain that the snow comes in the winter.

This year we decided we’d take a trip to Utah for Thanksgiving. And maybe we’d even see snow! When we arrived we saw snow on the mountains, but not the ground near my in-law’s place. I didn’t want to give up. My one big hope was to take my kids sledding, or at least to a place where they could finally experience snow.

Tips for Playing in Snow: Photographing kids in snow.

Luckily we discovered a park in the hills of Park City with snow machines. They’d been building tubing lanes for weeks and opening the day after we arrived. This was our chance!

One mini shopping spree later, we were geared up with enough clothes to stay warm. We didn’t go all out with the snow pants (I figured that would be a waste for a one-time wear), but we got some secondhand coats and boots. I had to persuade Lil’ J out of layers of dresses into layers of pants. She didn’t want to wear jeans because then “everyone won’t think I’m beautiful.” Goodness.

We stood at the base of the hill, both of my kids giving me anxious looks. I asked if they wanted to go down the hill.

My son was all for it. My daughter, hesitated, but joined us at the top.

Tips for Playing in Snow: Photographing kids in snow.

“Choo choo!” My train-loving toddler cheered as we rode up the moving ramp. Snow filled his fro because he refused to wear a hat.

We tied our tubes together and got a push down the hill. My daughter’s eyes widened with fear, then transformed to delight.

They both filled the air with laughter.

“AGAIN!” They yelled when we reached the bottom.

My son’s shivering didn’t stop him from wanting to stay in the snow, slide around and go down the hill again and again.

When it was time to go my son left with tears in his eyes; not from the cold, but from sadness for leaving all of the fun.

“It’s so COLD!” My daughter confessed as we were leaving.

“But worth it right?” I asked her.

“What’s ‘worth it’ mean?” She asked.

“So fun that it’s ok that it’s cold.”

She looked up at me with a big grin and nodded. “It’s worth it.”

#HeresToFirsts

Allstate is here to help protect your firsts and the moments in between. Share your first with #HeresToFirsts.

***

I learned a few things from this experience about getting ready for heading out in the snow:

1. Bundle up in layers, but don’t overdo it. You want to make sure they can still freely move.
2. Remember the heads fingers and toes. Scarves, mittens, boots and beanies will do the
trick.
3. Keep an eye on the temperature. Kids get cold faster than adults but sometimes are having too much fun to want to stop. Take breaks and change out their wet clothes for warm ones when necessary.

This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.

2015-Holiday-Blogger-Collab-Image

More family holiday traditions from other bloggers:

Holiday Family Activities & Traditions

Toya of Mrs. Toya Carter

Cynthia of Mrs. Wright Writes

Holiday DIY and/or Home Decor

Sheena of Sophistishe

Bee of Bee So Simple

Erin of Live Pretty on a Penny

Britney Britney Dearest

memory maker 2

1. You never really know how your child will react to the surprise.
I’m not sure what I had expected. Maybe for her to run around screaming with excitement. I thought there would be a little bit of disbelief but she really didn’t believe us for a few minutes. Then once she did she asked us every 10 seconds when we were leaving. Good think we waited until the day of to tell her.

2. There are TONS of things for little ones to do.
A lot of people have been asking me my thoughts on bringing young ones to Disney World. Or question why I’d want to bring my son who is just a toddler. Sure, he won’t remember anything but you know what? He had a BLAST. He loved the rides, meeting the characters. Every day we were there he woke up excited to get the day going and get back to the parks. And the best part? He was FREE. Yea, kids under 3 are free at Disney World (and under 2 fly for free), so it’s not a big deal to me if he doesn’t remember it later.

disney

Most of the rides are for people of all heights, and there are so many other shows and activities for the little ones to enjoy. My 1-year-old son loved the rides even more than my 4-year-old daughter. Overall it totally depends on your kid, but I knew my little guy would enjoy it.

3. “Squished Pennies” are just as good of souvenirs as any.
penny squisher 3

Before we left for Florida I got a couple rolls of quarters and a roll of pennies to make pressed pennies in the machines around the park. My husband was really annoyed at first but he started to get into it once he realized how easy it was to sidetrack our daughter from wanting a Tinkerbell doll and being satisfied with a Tinkerbell pressed penny. We made about a dozen while there and came home with a ton of change, I wish we had done more!

penny squisher 2

4. The Bippity Boppity Boutique is actually a sweet deal.
I followed advice from others and booked a reservation several months in advance. I was able to move my reservation from Downtown Disney to the Magic Kingdom location the night before our appointment. We brought our own dress to save oh, about $100. She loved getting her hair, nails and makeup done. I was a little worried they wouldn’t be able to handle her curly hair. There were a few snags, but after letting her fairy godmother in training know it was totally fine if her hair wasn’t slicked bone straight back into her bun, they did up her curls beautifully.

bbb

bbb2

Yea, that pixie dust was fun to wash out! What made the deal even sweeter was the photoshoot they did after across the way in a studio at Castle Couture. They easily took 50 pictures and I got them all added to my memory maker package at no additional cost. Which brings me to…

5. Memory Maker is priceless

family mickey pic

For $170 you can stop any Disney cast member with a camera and ask them to snap photos of you and your family. You’ll have them all automatically saved to your PhotoPass account and be able to download and print them after your trip. I don’t know how else I would have made it into so many photos. One thing to remember though is their photo style may not be like yours. I had to brighten quite a few of their photos after (the ones I didn’t came out super dark in prints). Overall though, it was nice to not have to worry about taking pictures at every encounter, and seeing fun ones I didn’t know they had taken of us on rides.

6. It is possible to meet every Disney Princess in just a few days.

cinderella lunch

A good way to get a head start is by booking a reservation at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. You’ll meet five princesses there, can get photos and autographs. It’s not a cheap meal but it pays off in memories. My daughter was so excited as each princess came to our table.

Maginc-Kingdom-and-Epcot_0028-copy

The rest we met at the parks. The popular ones we got fastpasses for (Anna, Elsa, Cinderella and Rapunzel). While we waited in line my daughter and I thought of questions to ask them. Like “How’s Abu” to Jasmine. Or “Do you prefer legs or fins?” to Ariel. It was so cute seeing the extra bit of interaction she got with them. I’ll probably post more about this later because I’m excited to share all those pictures.

7. First haircuts should be at Disney.

hair cut 1

First haircuts can be such a doozy. So emotional. I was dreading cutting my son’s hair, and the waterworks poured even still, but if it’s going to happen what better place than Disney World?

hair cut 2

We scheduled an appointment at the Harmony Barber Shop and walked in right after the parade. I was worried my son’s curls would be a challenge for his barber but she knew what she was doing. Unfortunately she cut it WAY shorter than we had asked, but he still looks freaking adorable. My husband loves our son’s “new style” and I keep telling myself it’ll grow back in a matter of months. Once I give him a proper photo shoot I’ll post more about that too, but here are these for now:

haircut 3

hair cut

8. Tea Cups, Carousels and Choo Choos never get old.

more tea cups

tea cups

The ride I was most looking forward to riding with my family at Disney World was the Mad Hatter Tea Cups. We all piled in a cup and spun and spun. The wait was never more than a few minutes so we rode it quite a few times.

My son has always loved trains so that was another favorite of his. I thought we’d all love Dumbo too but my daughter was a little freaked out by the heights.

9. Taking breaks isn’t so bad.

sleepy kids

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about taking a break to leave the park to head allllll the way back to our resort, but I also worried we’d be exhausted and ready for naps halfway through the day. What I didn’t realize was how quickly the day went by. Only our hunger was an indication to how much time had passed. We were good about stopping for breaks… We took a 40 minute ride around the park twice on the train. One day we brought our sack lunch over to Tom Sawyer Island and let the kids play on the playground while we relaxed in the shade. There are also lots of other quiet and dark places to take a snooze (Country Bear Jamboree anyone?).

lunch break

We rented a nice double stroller while there (we used Orlando Stroller Rental) which was a huge help when it came to nap time. We’d just recline the kids and let them snooze for an hour or two, then enjoyed ourselves. When we had other family with us, that’s when we took the time to ride the bigger rides, or just catch up on uninterrupted conversation.

10. It’s so hard to say goodbye.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about our Disney World trip since we’ve been back. I already printed all our photos and put them in photobooks. I still need to edit all of our videos, which I’m sure will bring a whole other wave of nostalgia. Every day I think about how much I want to go back and think of ways I could swing another trip sometime before 2025. There’s SO much more I could say about this trip but a complete recap would take forever and I’m not sure how entertaining it would be. I’ll try to pick bits and pieces to share for the next couple months in posts that are hopefully insightful. I have a slew of cute photos I want to dump here too but I think I’ve done enough for one day.

disney book

 

Let me know if you have any specific questions! Have you been to Disney World? What was your favorite part?

Oh… And to the sweet lady who said hi at the Whispering Canyon Cafe… Thanks for making my night! I was dying to ask you what you thought of my son’s hair cut. I was still in shock at that moment.

10 Lessons learned after a visit to Disney World. Great tips for families visiting the park for the first time. Ideas for fun things to do, and suggestions to make the trip easier!

“Are those real people on stage?” My daughter asked me as she watched Belle sing her opening song at Bass Concert Hall. She had no idea what she was in for when I told her we were going to watch one of her favorite princesses perform in a musical.

Taking my 4-year-old to her first musical. What to expect and how to prepare.

A couple of weeks ago my daughter and I were invited to go see a Boadway performance of Beauty and the Beast here in Austin. I, of course, a huge Disney fan was thrilled, and immediately started quizzing my daughter on Belle trivia.

But then there’s the whole idea of bringing my 4-year-old to broadway to sit through a musical. I knew my daughter may or may not be interested throughout the two and a half hour performance. I was a little nervous about bringing her to a theater show when she’s barely able to sit through movies, but I thought the mother-daughter experience was too exciting to pass up. And seriously, anything is easier than her brother right now.

We popped some popcorn and watched Beauty and the Beast the day of the show to have the story fresh in our minds, and then we got dressed up for the event.

Taking my 4-year-old to her first musical. What to expect and how to prepare.

Taking my 4-year-old to her first musical. What to expect and how to prepare.

A couple of Christmases ago Santa brought her a Belle costume and she puts it on every few days when we play dress up.

My 9-year-old little sister, (Lil’ J’s Aunt Kimmie) joined us for the show. She wore a rose-patterned dress, and I wore a yellow dress as per my daughter’s demands.

Taking my 4-year-old to her first musical. What to expect and how to prepare.

Since we arrived early we heard the orchestra warming up. I was a little bummed we couldn’t see them because I would have loved to point out which instrument was what. I get chills just thinking about the live band playing during the entire performance (it’s something so easy to forget).

My sister kept telling me how cool it was to be sitting near a stage, and thanking me for the experience (such a sweetie).

When the lights went down my daughter started bobbing up and down in her seat in excitement. Belle came opened with the same song from the movie, and Lil’ J swayed along then after a few moments leaned to my ear and asked, “are those real people on that stage?”

“Yes, baby, they are actors,” I told her.

There were several moments of humor that seemed to go over her head. I’d laugh with the audience and she’d ask me why everyone was laughing. But some of the slapstick-type humor she caught onto. Gaston was way hunkier and funnier on stage than in the movie.

Closing in on intermission my daughter was ready for another pickme-up (we went to a late performance, so it was already past her bedtime). One of our favorite songs from the movie—Be Our Guest—was even better on stage, and had her clapping and excited with the surprises literally shooting into our seats.

At halftime I got the kiddos some Doritos and M&Ms which gave them a little recharge so they could enjoy the ending.

Tips on taking your youngsters to see their first broadway musical.

In the middle of “Kill The Beast” Lil’ J’s eyes got all big and concerned and she asked “is it raining up there?” I told her it was, but she was so fascinated and confused because it wasn’t flowing off the stage so she asked “but if I went up there, would I get wet?”

“No,” I said, and shushed her.
“Why not?” She wouldn’t let it go.
“Cause it’s magic rain.” I told her, and she seemed to accept that.

A million questions a day I tell ya. And they don’t stop for Broadway.

Taking my 4-year-old to her first musical. What to expect and how to prepare.

She also wanted to know why Gaston didn’t take his shoes off when he was proposing to Belle, and why he was singing and twirling her around(when it didn’t happen in the movie). Luckily she’s a soft whisperer but next time we may not watch the movie directly before watching a play considering all the differences.

My sister adored the play, and really seemed to appreciate the experience and talent of the actors. Afterwards the girls and I ran back to our car toting some of the show memorabilia that we caught.

Watching Broadway with a 4-year-old

We’ve all seen a Lion King Broadway show together and that was incredible. Lil’ J was a baby though and slept through 80% of it.

Here in Austin there’s a nonprofit called Pollyana Theater Company as well that often puts on shows for little kids that are only about 30 minutes long and they have messages specifically for kids. We’ll definitely have to hit that up now that I know she enjoys theater. I loved seeing it myself but it’s always so amazing to see things through a child’s eyes, and open them up to new experiences. Here’s hoping there will be many more like this in our future.

Have you ever been to a musical with your little one? Did they or do you think they’d enjoy it?

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget



I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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