Saturday, December 27, 2014

Henry Turns SIX!

Today, our super sweet boy, Henry, turns six. He is kind, clueless, and oh, so loveable.

Oh, he's also a ham.
Henry's 6th Birthday - December 27, 2014

Favorite Color: Orange, Green, and Light Purple
Favorite Show: Ninja Turtles
Favorite Thing To Do Inside: Play with my Leap Frog video game and play superheroes with Daniel
Favorite Thing To Do Outside: Play games with my friend, Nicholas. Swing and ride my bike.
Favorite Snack: Pirate's Booty and cookies
Favorite Meal: Pasta
Favorite Song: Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer and Go Ninja Go (Ninja Turtles)
Favorite Thing To Do With Dadda: Go to the movies like when we saw Ninja Turtles
Favorite Thing To Do With Mamma: Play Monopoly
What I Want To Be When I Grow Up: An electrician, a scientist, and a fireman
If I Had Lots Of Money I Would Buy: More Ninja Turtles and another video game

Happy Birthday, Ninja Turtle Obsessed Buddy! We love you!

Want more Henry? Check out his birth story HERE and the answers to his 5 year old questions HERE.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Henry's Allergic Reaction

On Monday, I received the dreaded call from the school nurse. It's actually the first time I've ever heard from her. My kids always go off happily to school and return the same way so I knew something must have happened. She assured me that everyone was fine but that Henry was down in her office. She let me know that he had been out at recess and when he came in he had two spots on his cheeks that got progressively worse. I didn't think too much of it since I'm pretty laid back about most things involving the children. Then she emailed me a picture of him...

OMG, right?
What started as two small spots turned into enormous, swollen, warm to the touch welts. My poor little guy! Luckily, consistent with his personality, Henry had no clue that anything was even wrong with him. He felt fine and wasn't bothered by any of it.

So after lots of discussion with the nurse and his doctor the thought is that he has "cold induced hives" which is technically called Cold Urticaria. Who knew you could basically be allergic to the cold? In hindsight, there have been a couple of times that he had come in last winter where his ears were itchy and swollen but I didn't think too much of it. With sensitive skin and the change from cold to warm I feel like stuff like that happens. On Monday, he had a hat and gloves on so it was just his cheeks that were exposed and that's where the reaction occurred. It was also a cold day (maybe 30?) with a windchill.

So the treatment is for him to stay up in his room all winter and never leave the house. Kidding! The doctor recommended giving him Claritin or Zyrtec on really cold days to help prevent a reaction. He also needs to be bundled up with the least amount of skin showing as possible. So we headed to Target that night and I let him pick out some new winter gear. Of course, he picked out the most ridiculous hat which he LOVES, LOVES, LOVES so we went with it.

Why not, right?
So some meds, a crazy new hat, and keeping an eye on it are what we are doing for now. Hopefully, this was the worst of it but in severe cases it can lead to difficulty breathing and even require an epi pen prescription. Crazy, right? Never a dull moment with kids!

On the plus side, this situation only further proved what a great public elementary school my big kids go to. Henry's assistant teacher stayed with him the whole time, the nurse consulted with other medical personnel in town, and the principal checked in on him (Henry loved that he knew his name!). I also had follow up calls/emails with the nurse and Henry's teacher called me the next day to touch base. They handled an unknown and potentially scary situation so well and made Henry feel special. At the end of the day I had a healthy kid and a great school system - what more could I ask for?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Let Stop and Shop Make Holiday Entertaining Easier (Giveaway!!)


T'is the Season for lots of gatherings with family and friends and lots and lots of food. It's a glorious time of year that often makes me want to live in stretchy pants. Along with the awesomeness though can come stress. It's hard to prep meals and bring dishes to parties when we're all busy doing a million different things. This year Stop and Shop is looking to help ease some of that stress!

Stop & Shop has expanded their exclusive Simply Enjoy brand, a collection of gourmet products made with the finest ingredients just in time for the holidays. Simply Enjoy products for this year include new frozen appetizers and desserts, deli pastas, seafood sauces, and chocolates, as well as dipping oils, sorbetto/gelato, hummus, crackers and sparkling sodas to name just a few. They can add something special to your festive occasion or make a great gift for the foodie or hostess on your list!



New to an already broad assortment of roasts, Stop & Shop is also introducing Boneless NY Strip Roasts as a new centerpiece roast for your holiday meal. They've compiled numerous recipes that share plenty of preparation ideas and also put together a video tutorial on the best techniques to carve a roast.


Stop and Shop also has a recently launched Recipe Center with more than 2,500 every day and special occassion recipes. They feature weekly recipes that include ingredients that are currently on sale, how-to videos, and nutrition information. I just browsed through some of the desserts - umm, yum!

Want to try out an item from the Simply Enjoy brand or even just pick up a bag of chips last minute on the way to a party? Well then enter to win a $25 gift certificate to help you on your way! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 *Disclosure: I was provided with a Stop and Shop gift card. As always, all opinions are my own.*

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical Review!

Waiting for the show to start!
Last night, Isabelle and I went with our friends The Vintage Mom and her daughter, Caroline, to see opening night of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical. As anyone from the Boston area knows, the weather was less than stellar yesterday so we were hoping that the show would be worth a long ride in the rain. Luckily, it was! The musical was the perfect show to bring your whole family to. Not fully knowing that ahead of time, we decided to make it a girls' night which is always a guaranteed fun night either way!

This is our intermission high on Sour Patch Kids, Popcorn, and Junior Mints!
Now that I've been to the show though I would definitely recommend it for all aged kids. The show ran about an hour and a half total (including intermission) so even wiggly kids could probably last through it. The show had all the beloved characters from the televsion show and as always, Hermey was my favorite. There was singing, dancing, and action that kept the girls' attention for the whole show. They even ended the night with a cast/audience sing along. Now does that scream family fun or what? 

The show is only running for a short time at the Shubert Theatre so make your plans now if you want to catch it!  

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical plays at the Citi Performing Arts Center Shubert  Theatre, 265 Tremont St., Boston, Tuesday, December 9 – Sunday, December 14, 2014, for 12 performances: Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 7:00 pm; morning matinees on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 am;  and afternoon matinees at 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.  Tickets are priced at $28.00 - $68.00; all prices include a $3.75 facility fee per ticket and are on-sale  at www.citicenter.org  or by calling (866) 348-9738. Groups of 10 or may reserve tickets now by contacting Citi Performing Arts Center Group Sales at (617) 532-1116 or groups@citicenter.org   For more information, visit www.citicenter.org.

*Disclosures: I was provided with complimentary tickets to the performance. No other compensation was received. I brought The Vintage Mom with me in hopes that she'll make a personalized wooden peg of me.  As always, all opinions are my own.*

Friday, December 5, 2014

I Can't Stop Thinking About The Yogurt Man

I was recently at the grocery store and came across a middle aged man staring at the yogurt section. When I approached the display, he said, "Excuse me. Do you know anything about yogurt? What kind should I get?" Come to find out he knew absolutely nothing at all about yogurt. He didn't even know if he wanted regular or Greek. He said he thought he heard that Greek was better. I let him know the nutritional benefits of Greek (because apparently I'm a yogurt expert in this story) but said the taste is off putting for some. After some discussion, he piled up his cart with an assortment of greek yogurts and we parted ways.

However, now I can't stop thinking of this yogurt novice. Like this man is his forties, did he wake up that day and think - Today is the day I will start eating yogurt! Did his wife send him to the store requesting yogurt and he has no idea what kind she likes? Does he have his kids for the weekend and they're going to be pissed when he offers them some Strawberry Chobani instead of their beloved Sponge Bob squeezable tubes? I have so many unanswered questions for this man...


 Spoiler Alert: I buy whatever Greek Yogurt is on sale that week

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Enchanted Village and Ice Skating at Jordan's Furniture

On Tuesday, Daniel and I headed to the Enchanted Village at Jordan's Furniture in Avon, MA for some holiday fun. Daniel enjoyed checking out the vintage store displays and particularly loved when they made it snow (aka bubble). Since the displays are free, I figured we could do one fun thing that costs money there after we were done. Of course, Daniel made a beeline for the indoor ice skating rink.

Now please note that Daniel has never been ice skating before and I've only been once as an adult. We decided to throw caution to the wind though and go for it.

Watch out!
He was a MANIAC on the ice - a complete maniac. He had no fear and just bombed around on the ice. He would completely wipe out (sometimes I think on purpose) and then hop back up and go for it again. He had a BLAST. It was so great to see him having so much fun.

Loving life
After ice skating and grabbing a snack from the concession stand, we headed out to find Good Old St. Nick with no lines, no waiting so Daniel snagged a quick picture with him.

He wouldn't sit on his lap but he would stand next to him!
So all in all it was a super great day for Daniel. It totally pays to be the youngest who isn't in full day school yet!

If you're looking for something fun to do this holiday season you might want to check Jordan's out. I would imagine that it's packed on a weekend so just be prepared for lines/waits if you go then. We waited in a short, fast moving line for the Village but no other lines. The Enchanted Village itself is rather small so you might want to consider doing one of the cost activities as well. Ice skating was $5/person which included skate rentals so not too bad. It said it was a half hour of ice time but we were on it longer. I imagine if it was busy they might ask people to stick to the time schedule. We were the only ones on the ice at some points though so I don't think it mattered. They also have a 4D Polar Express Movie Ride ($6/person - 40 inch height requirement) as well as a holiday laser light show ($5/person, all ages) that cost additional money. You can also purchase professional pictures with Santa for additional costs as well (or just snap a pic with your phone like I did!).

*No compensation/discounts were provided for this post. It was simply a fun outing that I wanted to share with you. As always, all opinions are my own.*

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bethany Church Foxboro: Christmas Fair (12/6)

Looking for something fun to do on Saturday? Look no further! Head on over to Bethany Congregational Church in Foxboro, MA for their annual Christmas Fair! They'll be lots of fun for the whole family.


My kids love the children's games and activities. Oh, and Santa, of course! I'm always a sucker for a raffle basket and they also have some great silent auction items. This year there is also a super amazing section of used toys and children's items for sale. Now I might be a bit biased since I'm the Chair of that department but you'll never know unless you come check it out! Here's a little sneak peak for you...

You know you want to give these toys a new home!
So many people are working so hard to make this a great event for the church and community. I'll be there all day Saturday in the "Toy Room" so stop on by and say hello!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer The Musical: Giveaway!


RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER™: THE MUSICAL TO PERFORM AT BOSTON’S CITI SHUBERT THEATRE!
 One Week Only, Dec. 9 – 14, 2014

Rudolph Soars from Screen to Stage in a Family-Friendly Adaptation of the Highest Rated Christmas Special of All Time

In 1964, the beloved stop-motion animated television classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, made its network television debut delighting audiences across the country. Fifty years later, the longest running and highest rated television special comes to life, live on stage with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical, featuring the world’s most famous reindeer and a holly jolly cast of iconic characters. Rudolph and friends, including Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snow Monster, help Santa save Christmas this holiday season.


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical is so faithful to the original show that it practically transports audience members into the television special. The songs drive the plot while familiar and nostalgic set designs, costumes and characters are brought to stage. The cast brings new energy to the classic songs and dialogue, while puppets help showcase the charming “roughness” from the television show’s stop-motion effects.

The story tells the tale of a young Rudolph who, because of the appearance of his bright, shining nose, is ousted from the reindeer games in Christmas-town. He flees town, meets up with new friends Hermey and Yukon, and a series of funny and endearing adventures ensue including a visit to The Island of Misfit Toys. Rudolph journeys home, where a snowstorm of epic proportions is threatening Christmas. Can Rudolph save his family and friends and help Santa save the holiday?


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical plays at the Citi Performing Arts Center Shubert  Theatre, 265 Tremont St., Boston, Tuesday, December 9 – Sunday, December 14, 2014, for 12 performances: Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 7:00 pm; morning matinees on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 am;  and afternoon matinees at 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.  Tickets are priced at $28.00 - $68.00; all prices include a $3.75 facility fee per ticket and are on-sale  at www.citicenter.org  or by calling (866) 348-9738. Groups of 10 or may reserve tickets now by contacting Citi Performing Arts Center Group Sales at (617) 532-1116 or groups@citicenter.org   For more information, visit www.citicenter.org.

Want to win a 4 pack of tickets to opening night on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 7pm? Enter via the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway  
 *Disclosure: I am being provided with complimentary tickets to opening night in addition to hosting this giveaway. As always, all opinions are my own.*

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Cree "Great American Bulb Swap" Comes to Boston!


Whenever possible, we try to switch out our old light bulbs for LED ones. They are more efficient and last so much longer. It's a win/win. 

This weekend in Downtown Crossing, Cree is unveiling the New Cree LED bulb, which costs only $7.97 at The Home Depot, is shatter-proof and lasts up to 22 years. Yup, 22 years! 

Stop by Downtown Crossing to trade in your lightbulbs for new, free energy efficient ones. Full details below!!

THE CREE “GREAT AMERICAN BULB SWAP” VISITS BOSTON;
TRADE UP AND SAVE MONEY & ENERGY WITH THE NEW CREE LED BULB

WHAT:  Haven’t switched to LED bulbs? Now’s the perfect time as days are shorter and getting darker earlier. Bostonians can participate in the Cree Great American Bulb Swap this weekend. Just bring in any CFL or incandescent bulb and trade it for a New Cree® LED Bulb for free. 

The New Cree LED Bulb is up to 85 percent more energy efficient compared to energy-hogging incandescent bulbs – and it pays for itself in a year or less! Forget the frustration and inconvenience of constantly changing burnt out bulbs– Cree LED Bulbs last up to 22 years. Just imagine all the money you'll save on energy bills and fewer replacement bulbs. Cree LED Bulbs are also mercury-free and provide superior light quality, unlike those squiggly compact fluorescent (CFL) 

Games, prizes, and the Cree LED Bulb Mascot will be there to add fun to your day!  
 
WHERE: Readers Park in Downtown CrossingBoston, MA

WHEN: Saturday and Sunday (11/22 and 11/23) from 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM

You can also follow Cree on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all happenings!

*Disclaimer: I received product/compensation as part of a sponsored campaign with Cree. As always, all opinions are my own.*

Spartan Race Recap

On Saturday, I joined a group of friends and fellow boot campers to take part in a Spartan 5K at Fenway Park. Let me tell you - it was pretty gosh darn awesome! It was a bit chilly but once we got going we were fine. There were a bunch of obstacles and events including stair climbing, weight lifting, monkey bars, burpees, weight pulls, spear throws, jump roping (and climbing), and wall climbing. We got views of Fenway Park that were to die for. We did pushups in the visiting team's locker room. We ran through dug outs and Green Monster seats. We climbed a cargo net from the field to the bleachers. It was Fenway like I'd never seen it before.

Crawling up the ramps under ropes

Weighted Ball Slams

50# sandbag pulls

Wall climbing
Those wall climbs totally did me in. I assume that if you are tall and have great upper body strength they are easier for you. I am 0-0 for both of those and the picture above is one of the smaller walls (crazy, right?). Now my legs may never return to their normal color but I made it up and over every one of those suckers. The bruises just make me feel more bad ass :)

So all in all the day was awesome. There were laughs, there were grunts, there was teamwork, and there was a GREAT sense of accomplishment. We all left that day feeling like we could do just about anything!
Loving life (and the race wasn't even over yet!)
Oh and as always, giving credit where credit is due, my boot camp instructor Carrie is one of the reasons that I was able to accomplish this. She keeps me (relatively!) in shape and honest. If you are local to the Foxboro, MA area join us for some bright and early work outs. Find out more about The Extreme Challenge Boot Camp HERE!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my 35th birthday. Although some people don't enjoy getting another year older, it honestly doesn't bother me - at least not yet. I am happy, healthy, have a wonderful family, and have fabulous friends. What's not to love about that?

I have already been extra blessed this year with friends throwing me not one but TWO surprise parties. Now in all honesty, I had my suspicions about both events. I am an anal planner and overly observant so I pick up on things. Either way, surprised or not, the events were amazing.

Party #1

Party #2
In addition to having two parties, I also received some thoughtful, yummy, practical, and buzz inducing presents. I really feel so lucky to have such truly incredible people in my life. The big 3-5 is already off to a great start. I can't wait to see what else it has in store!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Annie The Musical Review


On Wednesday night, we had the pleasure of attending opening night of Annie. Head on over to Family Friendly Boston HERE to check out my review!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Girl Scouts: Past and Present!

Today, I'm helping out at Isabelle's very first Girl Scout meeting. I started Girl Scouts myself when I was in first grade so it looks like the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Isabelle had been asking questions about what Girl Scouts was all about so I decided to dig out my old stuff. Like a lot of things, I had kind of forgotten all the fun I had in Girl Scouts until I started talking about it with Isabelle and looking over my badges.


Yup, that's right - I was hard core! I actually was a Girl Scout for 12 years right up until I graduated high school. When I was young, I was so very lucky to have great women leaders in my troop and one special mom (Hi, Stephanie!) that I still think of so fondly. With my mom's declining health through the years there were many things that I was able to do through the Girl Scouts that I wouldn't have been able to do on my own. Oh, the fun of camping, Museum of Science sleepovers, Ice Capades, and cookies!

After looking through all my stuff and traveling down Memory Lane, I'm not sure who is more excited for Isabelle to start. So if you need me today, I'll be wearing my sashes around the house and practicing the Girl Scout law ;)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Nit Nanny Natural Lice Treatment and Target Giveaway!

There's one four letter word that I hate most of all - LICE. We have been lucky enough here (knock on every wooden surface around) to not get it. However, it has been making it's way around our elementary school. I've been pretty much over the top obsessing about it. Isabelle's hair has been up each day, coats and backpacks go directly to our unfinished basement upon arrival home, and I've been spraying the kids with lice deterrent. Oh, and I've scared the be-jesus out of the kids to not share anything or put their heads basically on any surface. They might actually end up in therapy over it one day. Sometimes it just happens though...

Per the CDC, between 6-12 million children and adults get head lice each year in the US alone, as well as up to twice that many unreported cases. Anyone who comes in head-to-head contact with someone who already has head lice is at the greatest risk. With close contact at schools, camps, and day cares, you can see why lice spreads so easily.  Girls between the ages of 3-15 have the greatest chance of getting lice (eek!), then they can easily spread throughout their family.

One adult female can lay 10 eggs (nits) a day (shudder!!) and she lives for 30 days. They feed on your scalp blood. Many people are allergic to the bites, thus causing the itching.
Over-the-counter products available today like Rid, Nix and head lice shampoos for purchase in pharmacies have become somewhat ineffective, lice have adapted and have become resistant to the treatment. The plastic combs provided in the OTC kits are also not always effective at combing out all nits and bugs.   
Many over the counter products are questionably dangerous since they contain neurotoxins and worse. Compare the ingredients of the top products to a can of Raid and killing agents in lawn chemicals to lice killing products. Is that what we want on our children's heads? That is some crazy stuff to think about.
Some home remedies are also ineffective. Smothering lice with mayonnaise and olive oil for example may not always work. Those ingredients can melt, breakdown and liquefy due to your core body temperature which then allows the lice to breathe, not killing them. Those bad boys can be so hard to kill! 
As parents we do our best to protect our kids, so reliable and good information is key.  
Lice Lifters, headquartered in Lafayette Hill Pennsylvania has come up with an all-natural and effective in-store lice treatment process as well as the Nit Nanny Line of all-natural products to take lice out of your life.
The Nit Nanny Products will end your lice problems with no harmful chemicals. From the first application, adult lice will be killed, after that you follow the treatment plan. Nit Nanny products are all natural and do not liquefy therefore smothering and killing all live activity in 10 minutes.
The Nit Nanny Lice Solution Treatment is a soothing blend of oils that quickly eliminates all stages of head lice. The 10-minute treatment is conditioning to your hair and scalp. It is safe and effective and leaves you non-contagious to others you are in contact with.
The Nit Nanny Lice and Nit Removal Comb is made of tempered steel. It has unique spiral micro-grooving that helps get underneath every egg. The long teeth can be boiled for sterilization. This comb is the best way to get rid of lice and nits as well as prevent future infestation.
The Nit Nanny Mint Spay deters lice. It is a one-step product that detangles hair and deters lice. This product can be used on wet or dry hair and as often as you would like to help repel lice. This product is made with all natural ingredients that are offensive to lice but not to humans. The Mint Detangler Spray is non-toxic, smells great and is safe for the whole family. 
Each of these products are available via Amazon, you can purchase them individually or as a kit. This is a great solution if getting into a Lice Lifters Salon is not an option.
Visit the The Nit Nanny site for all the information you need to get lice out of your head, out of your life, and out of your home.  Check out “The Great Clean Up Page” for what else you need to do around your home when lice strikes.
For more information about the Nit Nanny products, Lice Lifters Treatment Centers, franchise information or lice facts in general, visit www.licelifters.com or www.thenitnanny.com.
Want to try out a bottle of The Nit Nanny Mint Spray to help deter lice? How about a Target gift card, too? Who doesn't love Target? Enter for your chance below via the Rafflecopter form!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This is a sponsored post between myself and The Nit Nanny. I received free product and compensation to be part of this campaign. As always, all opinions are my own.* 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Most Thoughtful Present Ever

On Saturday night, some of my amazing blogger friends had a surprise, early birthday dinner for me. As if co-planning the big night wasn't enough my friend, Kim, gave me THE MOST special and thoughtful gift. For those of you who attended Listen To Your Mother this year or read my piece, you know how important a specific spool of string and toothpicks are to me. If you missed the piece be sure to click HERE to read it before continuing on this post. Also, if you missed last week's piece about giving Isabelle my old doll house check that post  out HERE. You're going to want to be up to speed on those posts before I show you the present. Go ahead, I'll give you a minute..

Okay, everyone ready? I present to you my birthday present...

That's right - it's exact replicas of the string and toothpicks in miniature form. Here they are with their real life counterparts...



Can you even stand it?! Kim found an amazing woman named Roxanne of Baking in Miniature who created these pieces for me. I mean the snowman bag? Incredible. This is so, so special to me. Also, Roxanne saw my post about Isabelle's upcoming birthday and sent along several dollhouse pieces/accessories as a present for her. I don't even know Roxanne but I love her a whole ton.

My birthday isn't for two weeks but I'm already declaring this the best present. I mean, how could anyone top this? A HUGE thank you to Kim and Roxanne for thinking of and creating such a special keepsake. So amazing.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Celebrating 25 years of Peapod with a Giveaway!


I recently had the opportunity to try out Peapod's pick up service at my local Stop and Shop. Not familiar with Peapod? Well here you go...

Peapod – an Ahold USA company – is the country’s leading Internet grocer, serving 24 U.S. markets throughout Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Wisconsin. Founded in 1989 by two brothers as a smart shopping option for busy households, today Peapod has delivered more than 29 million grocery orders. With over 15,000 products on its shelves for customers to choose from, Peapod strives to deliver convenience and value. Customers can order online or on Peapod’s free mobile app for grocery home delivery or car-side service at one of many Pick-up locations.

Now when Daniel was first born I had used the Peapod delivery service a few times but I was excited to try out the pick up service. I'm out and about every day anyway so for me it's easier to pick up. I love that I can pick a time frame and head there myself and get the groceries. For me, having to wait at home during a chosen time window for a driver to arrive is more annoying than helpful. However, I think the delivery service is magical for lots of other people in other situations. You know, people who are less anal and controlling over every detail of their day :)

So last Wednesday morning I went online and ordered my groceries. I ordered from my computer but you can also use an app to order the groceries directly from your phone as well. I like that you can sort grocery items by department, by what's on sale, and even find recipes. I always pick and secure my grocery pick up or delivery time first before I start shopping. That way in case a flood of people also start shopping I won't lose the time that I want. When I ordered on Wednesday morning the earliest time that I could pick up groceries was Friday morning. So timing is something you need to keep in mind. If you're going to be out of essentials before the end of the week, make sure to place your order a couple of days ahead of time. You can continue to add items to your cart until around the afternoon before (they tell you the specific end date/time when you order).

So on Friday, Daniel and I headed to our local Stop and Shop to pick up our groceries during our designated one hour pick up window. I parked in one of the "Peapod Pick Up" parking spots and Carson (an always helpful and friendly S&S employee in Foxboro!) waived me over to the front of the store. On the sign there was also a phone number to call for an attendant if for some reason someone wasn't there right away to help you. So either way, you never need to go in the store. The sign also said that they do not accept tips which I had wondered about so I loved that the sign made it clear. So I pulled up, Carson loaded the groceries in my trunk, he brought over an invoice for me to sign, and I pulled off on my merry way. It was seriously, so easy. The fee for pick up is $2.95 (min order $60) which I think is reasonable. It's definitely something I would recommend - I mean you don't even have to get out of your car!

Want to try out Peapod for yourself? Peapod and I are teaming up to offer a lucky reader a $25 gift card to use towards your purchase. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I received a gift card from Peapod in order to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are my own.*

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween from our family to yours!

Isabelle the Witch

Henry the Ninja Turtle

Daniel the "Super Spy Army Guy"

You can also check out their costumes from last year HERE and find out why Halloween always makes me think of my mom HERE.

Hope everyone has a great day/night!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Parched Painter: Review and Giveaway!

When I went to a paint night over the summer at The Parched Painter in Walpole, MA I knew right away that it would be the perfect spot to have Isabelle's 7th birthday party. Although she can jump the day away with the best of them at a bouncy house party, it's not really who she is. She is a crafter. She is a drawer. She is a painter.

So I knew (well, anticipated) the party would be a slam dunk - and it was! The party was easy peasy to plan with the studio. They suggested several paintings based on the age of the guests and Isabelle got to pick the final painting. She picked a snowman which I think will be great for years to come. I then sent in a deposit and showed up day of with cupcakes/water and they did the rest. They provide invitations (although I did Evite instead), tablecloths, plates/napkins, balloons, and all the painting supplies.

Rich, one of the co-owners, led the girls (and one specially invited boy) step by step through the painting process. The kids were great and totally into it. They also had fun, party/age appropriate music playing for me (oh, I mean the kids) to sing along to.



So the kids painted for about an hour and a half and then we headed over to a separate table for some party fun. At the end of the party, everyone got to bring home their masterpiece. No need for cheap goody bag prizes when you get to bring these treasures home!


I honestly think it was the PERFECT place to have her party. Everyone had such a great time and it was something different to do. You can check out more about their kids parties HERE but standard pricing is $250 for 10 kids (or less) and $25 per additional child.

The Parched Painter isn't just for kids though. As I mentioned, I had gone there originally for a girls' night out around when they first opened. Here is me working on my masterpiece (wine in hand, of course)...

One of my favorite parts about the studio is that it is BYOB! You can bring in whatever food or drink that you like to enjoy while painting. They even have tables set up on the side so you can bring in chips and dip or larger items. You could also bring in a veggie platter, I suppose, if that's your thing (gag).

You can check out their calendar ahead of time (HERE!) and it shows what they are painting each night. You find a painting you like, sign up online, grab your friends, and you are set to go. It's low key, it's casual, it's fun! Oh, and yes, YOU can paint the picture. I have no painting history and no real artistic ability but my painting came out totally fine. This type of night is perfect for beginners up through experienced painters. The instructor walks you through step by step but everyone can put their own spin on their painting if they choose! Oh, and if you really mess it up, they'll totally help you fix it.

Okay, so in case it's not clear, I really dig The Parched Painter. My guess is if you go, you'll love it, too. Need an extra nudge to get there? How about 2 complimentary tickets to an adult class (value: $35 per ticket). Free tickets exclude fundraisers, private parties, and Paint your Pet nights. Enter for your chance via the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 **We personally paid for both the birthday party and my night out. I simply loved my experience and am sharing it with you. The owners were gracious enough to offer free tickets to a Dollops reader. As always, all opinions are my own.**

Monday, October 27, 2014

Isabelle turns SEVEN!

 

Somehow in the blink of an eye, my first baby turns seven today. SEVEN! That's total, official big kid territory. It's pretty crazy!

We had an awesome, paint party (more to come on that later!) for Isabelle yesterday with her friends. She loved every minute of it. Tonight we'll celebrate with some family, pizza, and ice cream cake. Who could ask for anything more?

Continuing with tradition, here are the keepsake questions for this year.

Isabelle's 7th Birthday: October 27, 2014

Favorite Color: Pink
Favorite Show: Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse
Favorite Thing To Do Inside: Crafts and Art
Favorite Thing To Do Outside: Tricks on the rings and swim in a pool
Favorite Snack: Cookies, Cheez-Its, and Baby Goldfish
Favorite Meal: Tacos and Pizza
Favorite Song: Let It Go
Favroite Thing To Do With Dadda: Play Monopoly
Favorite Thing To Do With Mamma: Go to Great Wolf Lodge
When I Grow Up I Want To Be: A baker, a teacher, or a waitress
If I Had Lots Of Money I Would Buy: An American Girl Doll

We had fun checking out her answers from last year (which you can check out HERE!). I can't wait to keep seeing how the answers change as she gets older.

Happy Birthday, Isabelle. We love you so much!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Passing Along My Dollhouse

Isabelle will turn 7 (yes, SEVEN!) on Monday and for a while now I've been thinking of passing along my old dollhouse to her. When I had outgrown it, my mother had lovingly packed it up and put it in her garage for me. When she passed away, I grabbed the boxes and threw them in my basement. I actually never even opened them. She was so much more sentimental than I was! But, I've known that they've been down there and I've been waiting for the right moment to open up the boxes.

I have no doubt that Isabelle will take fabulous care of my precious childhood keepsakes. Her brothers on the other hand? Not so much. So I went back and forth on if I should bring them up or not. Really I don't want to miss my window with Isabelle. She's never been super into dolls except for her one favorite doll, Kendra. What if I waited until the boys were older and presented her with my dollhouses and she was all, "Umm...Mom. These are lame!"? So I decided that with her birthday coming up that today I would take a look at them while all the kids were at school.

 OMG - the memories!!!
It was like time had frozen still in those houses. Little trinkets were still in drawers right where I had left them.

Film, anyone?
I had forgotten just how into all things dollhouses that I was. I can remember going to this little dollhouse store with my mom and ooohhing and aaahhhing over everything in the store. 

The tile in the bottom bathroom of the dollhouse? That was the tile from my own bathroom in the house I grew up in. I nearly died when I saw it. Sooooo many memories. Once those memories escaped from those boxes there was no way that I could put the lid back on. So I decided to put away a lot of the small pieces that I knew for sure would get lost or broken. I figured I'd start with the basics and then I could slowly take more pieces out as I learned to trust the kids with it (or maybe never?!).

These pieces for example?

I'll never let them get their grubby hands on them!
Oh, and does anyone need to brush up on any Girl Scout laws?

Can you even handle the teeny tininess?!
Seriously, I can't even stand it. I'm so glad I took them out. Isabelle has been playing with them all afternoon. I conveniently put a movie on for the boys when I secretly presented her with the new addition to her room. Mamma didn't raise no fool!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Red Jacket Mountain View Resort Giveaway!

My friend, Sharon, of Viola Cay recently took her adorable family to the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort in North Conway, NH. The resort is also home to Kahuna Laguna, a 40,000 square foot water park. Sharon is now hosting a giveaway for a two night stay for a family of four (including water park passes) and I'm lucky enough to be a part of the action!
Photo Credit: Viola Cay
Don't know much about the resort? Well let me tell you...

The resort is located on 25 acres overlooking the Moat Mountain Range and Saco River Valley, this favorite New Hampshire resort is perfect for enjoying breathtaking scenery, deluxe accommodations, outstanding cuisine and fantastic service. 

For the ultimate vacation, choose from spacious family accommodations, townhouses, Jacuzzi rooms or pet-friendly rooms and enjoy spectacular mountain views from your own private balcony or patio.
The Red Jacket is well-known for its festive events, live entertainment and outstanding dining. Champney's Restaurant serves signature New England cuisine with a continental flair. For more casual dining, Palmer's Red Ridge Grille offers a mix of lighter fare and award-winning specialties.  

Minutes away from the resort are more than 100 tax-free outlets and specialty shops, as well as hiking, biking, horseback riding and whitewater rafting for the outdoor adventurer. And the Mountain View is home to Kahuna Laguna, a 40,000 square-foot indoor water park. Dive into a tropical adventure with the entire family for splash-tacular fun!

Sounds amazing, right? Well enter for your chance to win via the Rafflecopter form below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Giveaway includes a two night stay for a family of four at Red Jacket Mountain View Resort in North Conway, NH and passes to Kahuna Laguna indoor water park. Restrictions: Not available on holidays, holiday weekends or school vacation weeks. Valid through October 2015. Other terms may apply. 
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