Friday, July 24, 2015

If I Could Be Anywhere, I Would Be...

Ever since I was a little girl who wanted to grow up to be Holly Hobbie or Laura Ingalls, I wanted to travel to some of the most mysterious and alluring places. Here I am at 41 and I haven't left the continent yet! I dreamed of Austria, Hungary, (my ancestors came to the United States from there!), Poland, Russia, Australia, Iceland, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and The Netherlands, 

I devoured every book, rushed to the library to borrow any VHS tapes I could find about any of these faraway places, I anxiously awaited assignments in school where we could choose a country to learn and write about. I even started listening to shortwave radio stations from as many countries as I could pick up on my little transistor like radios. Even today, I will sit and watch other people's vacations on Youtube and if you check my viewing history, you'll find every documentary known to man, (or the world wide web)

I started to collect pen pals from these places, but the only friends who would write back were from Russia and Indiana. (Yes, I know Indiana is part of the United States!) but, one of the pen pal organizations I signed up with, paired me up with a girl named, Anna Laybarger, from Indiana. (By the way, if Anna is reading this or somebody who knows her is, please let her know I think about her a lot and would love to reconnect!) 

As I got older and had children of my own, I still long to visit these enchanting places. Maybe even more so now, since I can search for anything I want to know and find images, facts, people, video, the whole world is at my fingertips. As much as the internet fascinates me, I long for the days when we had to use encyclopedias, imagine, write letters and mail postcards.. So, I try to keep doing things this way so that my children have those same experiences. 

Since I am older and my budget for travel is limited, (for now.), I have found that there are just as many extraordinary places right here in my own country, (The United States). There are so many places I would like to see across this country. I do hope that someday, I can travel through each state and eat the local food, shop at the mom and pop shops, check out the local attractions and ride any roller coasters they may have there!

I was recently asked to write a post about where I would like to go for vacation and after thinking about this for a few days, I decided that I would be thrilled to drive cross country. Williamsburg, VA was at the top of my list until I decided that maybe, if I zig zag and plan accordingly, I can hit all of the spots I have on my list and find all of the treasures I can. Maybe a scavenger hunt kind of vacation? I do love scavenger hunts so, that just might end up being what my change jars get cashed in for.

Now I can't get Depeche Mode's, "Get your kicks on Route 66" out of my head! I will probably stay away from Route 66 if I can, just because that will be all I hear!

I don't know how much time I would need to get across the country and back and visit every state I wish to visit. I plan on camping whenever possible and eating all of the local food and shopping at all of the unique shops. (Lewes, Delaware is one of my favorites for things like this!) But, since Wow Summit takes place in San Diego this year, I just may have to drive from Pennsylvania to Chicago (after a few zig zags of course!) and hop onto Route 66.

Well it winds from Chicago to L. A.
More than two thousand miles all the way
Get your kicks on Route 66
Well it goes to St. Louis, down to Missouri
Oklahoma City looks oh, so pretty
You'll see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona, don't forget Wynonna
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino

ProFlowers created this totally fun campaign, #MySummerStaycation. All you have to do is share your dream getaway on social media and don't forget to add the hashtag: #MySummerStaycation!

My Little One's New BFF

** We received compensation in return for our review. All opinions are my own. **

One morning, we received a package in the mail and although I knew what would be inside of there, we had no idea which Necknapperz friend it would be. We already decided who would be able to call the new toy/pillow their friend and that was, Deegan. He's 5 and loves stuffed animals, Legos, dinosaurs, Minecraft, Tom and Jerry, all that typical little kid and little boy stuff. But, he loves to snuggle with his animals and his mommy, especially at night. He also needs something soft and cuddly when he builds his fort, fights Enderman, and tries to collect as many diamonds as his little heart desires!

All of the kids watched the Necknapperz video, over and over and over again and they each picked out their favorite ones. (Yes, I do need to order a few since we all fell in love with these adorable, soft, comfy, pillowy pals.) Deegan shrieked with delight when he saw his first pick inside, the tiger!

Not only is the tiger a cuddly friend who enjoys hanging out with teddy bears, all of the kids and even the Lego minifigures. But he is also a helpful friend when it comes to rest and relaxation.

Genevive is always super happy to borrow Deegan's Necknapper while she watches her favorite shows, reads a book, plays Minecraft or takes long rides in the truck. I think everybody's favorite part is the sweet little tiger picture on the pillow after you turn the tiger into a Necknapper.

You can choose from over 20 different Necknapperz friends. They have cool names like, Grizzly the Bear, Hopper the Frog, Oinky the Pig, and Diver the Dolphin. Just like my little ones say, "They only cost $19.99 so we can each pick a couple of Necknapperz!"

Our review of Necknapperz, is a 5 star review. They are well made, very comfortable, even my youngest can easily transform between his new best friend or an ergonomic neck pillow and you can tell each one is made with love. The tiger has the sweetest features and the extra special touch, adding the outline of the tiger onto the pillow, is much appreciated by little ones! Necknapperz would be perfect for families who travel by car, plane, boat, bus, or train. They are huggably soft and provide lots of relaxation and support. (and yes, the price is quite reasonable too!)

You can also find Necknapperz on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Must Have For Sleepovers, Camping, And All Summer Long

These are the perfect addition for any slumber party! I am so happy I found an actual canister of 100 rather then having to grab a bunch of smaller packs and possibly running out. (Yes, the price is very nice to!)

We have been using these so often and you would think we would have run out by now but, we sometimes freeze some and reuse them. (This doesn't always work BUT it works sometimes.) It seems that the green and yellow work well for refreezing and I have no idea why. (If anybody knows why, please, fill me in!) I have 4 kids so, everything I buy or make, has to be a bit bigger or in excess of, so that everybody has their fair share. Plus, we always like to be sure we have enough for friends, guests, play dates and spontaneous princess parties!


This 100 pack of glow bracelets (or glow sticks if you don't want to use the included attachments), come in a nifty canister and are very reasonably priced! So far, we only had a couple of duds and that is expected. I actually expected more, since if I buy a 10 pack, I usually have a couple that don't work, at least.

The color selection inside the can also made the girls shriek with delight! Yes, there are pinks and purples and the boys were happy with orange and green. (The typical glow stick colors.) They sometimes end up making necklaces or glow stick circles to throw around the backyard and much to my surprise, these actually worked and stayed together quite well!

This is a product I would purchase again. Especially since we host several parties, sleepovers and have neighborhood kids over a lot. These make great party favors, they are perfect and inexpensive enough to hand out to friend's and neighbor kids and they make fun special treats for movie nights or sleep in the living room night.

I would also recommend these to anybody who needs extra prizes, treats for classrooms, your kid's sports teams, your community center, teachers, day cares, anything where kids are involved, these will certainly bring smiles to their faces!

I also use these for chore rewards, in our, "Behavior Bucks Store" (This is where the kids can buy items with their "behavior bucks" that they earned each  month.). We make our own "Healthy Happy Meals" and the kids love these because they have their favorite snacks, healthy foods and  a small prize inside. These work well for those too!

I think another fun use for these would be for games after dark, in the warmer months. Hide and seek maybe? I know you can come up with something! I would also love suggestions! Please comment with your ideas for family fun with glow sticks!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Learning Baseball The Ripken Way (AND A Giveaway!)

 Today’s post is sponsored by Ripken Baseball through the Bloggy Moms Network.

If you're a baseball fan, chances are, you have heard at least something, about the Ripkens. Usually, when I think of baseball, one of the first names that pops in my head, IS Cal Ripken. I'm sure you have heard of the Baltimore Orioles and if you know them, you definitely know who Cal Ripken, Sr and his 2 sons, Major League Baseball Hall Of Famer, Cal Ripken, Jr and his brother, Bill Ripken.

Cal Ripken, Sr always said, "If we take care of all the little things, we'll never have a big thing to worry about." That wisdom carried as much weight at home as it did on the baseball diamond. The fundamentals matter. That's just one of the core philosophies of Ripken Baseball, the youth baseball company started by Major League Baseball Hall of Famer, Cal Ripken, Jr and his brother, Bill Ripken.

Cal Ripken, Sr spent 37 years with the Baltimore Orioles organization. First as a catcher then as a manager and a company man. His sons played a combined 33 years in the Majors, with Cal Jr. setting the Major League record with 2,632 consecutive games played and Bill owning a .985 career fielding average. I can't think of a more experienced, more dedicated, more passionate or more committed family, to teach our children the sport.

Learning Baseball, The Ripken Way.

One of my favorite Ripken Way tips: Celebrate The Individual.
No two players are identical. I think this is very important to remember not just for baseball, but for any sport and life in general. In baseball, players differ in size, strength, speed, quickness, and level of understanding.

Young people are more apt to learn if they have flexibility and freedom. I find this to be true, every single day, for all of my kids and they are always so anxious to experiment and learn and try new things. If we incorporate this with things such as, baseball, which is built on core fundamentals, our kids will be able to find their own style, their own way, becoming their own individual. As with everything we try to teach our children, parents, coaches and teachers should research and understand as much as we can about it, so we can better adapt the fundamental teachings to each young player's existing talents and comfort zone.

Ripken baseball camps deliver an immersive baseball experience. Campers live and breathe baseball, while trained coaches provide an innovative instructional experience, The Ripken Way. The mission of Ripken Baseball camps is to inspire athletes through remarkable experiences, teach the game's fundamentals while preparing them for life beyond the diamond. This is something I find quite fascinating. Using baseball as a way to help teach our children the importance of integrity, respect, perseverance and watching them become passionate about something they love and not quitting while refining their skills.

Besides being decked out in the latest, Under Armour gear, campers will learn detailed and technical aspects of baseball while enhancing their overall knowledge. Campers will select 2 different defensive positions to focus on and will spend time each day developing their skills in those positions. (Positions include: catching, pitching, infield, and outfield.) All players will also focus on hitting, base running, and other team fundamentals, In addition, Ripken Baseball also offers a rookie camp program for 7 and 8 year old campers!

Ripken Baseball certified instructors, (including former Major League players, current and former collegiate baseball players, high school/college coaches, and Ripken Full Time Operations Staff) are trained in the 'Ripken Way' philosophy of teaching. The camper to instructor ratio will be approximately 8:1.

You can check here for a listing of locations and dates for Ripken Baseball Camp!
Can't make it to Ripken Baseball Camp? Ripken Baseball offers a "Virtual Academy" complete with instructional videos!

I grew up around baseball and a few other sports, so, it's always been a huge part of my life and my childhood. I still have shoe boxes and binders, filled with complete sets of Topps, Donruss, and Fleer baseball cards. (I invested a fortune in my Darryl Strawberry collection. I wish I would have invested some in a couple of other players!!) Naturally, baseball, soccer, ice hockey, boxing, and street hockey are a big part of my children's lives and we spend a lot of time going to games.

Our oldest daughter played basketball and soccer as a kid and now, our oldest son plays baseball, soccer and street hockey. I hope to have our younger 2 involved with baseball as well as other sports, as they get a bit older.

Street hockey season started this week, so, we are getting back into the strict schedules, practice, practice, practice! Hockey days are extra hectic, since we have to fit in an extra 2 to 2 and a half hours into our already super busy day, Since I shared a tip from, Ripken Baseball, I thought I'd share my own sports tips too!

Sports Night Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas

I'm one of those "cook from scratch as much as I can" kinda moms and depending on the meal, this takes a huge chunk out of my evening. Street hockey just happens to be close to the same time that I would be cooking and cleaning up. I feel guilty just saying, "Grab some cereal" or "Make a sandwich!" (even though, this happens from time to time.), so, I started coming up with quick and simple and still healthy, quick meals.

I asked the kids for input since they are the ones eating it and we came up with quite a few ideas. My kids favorite is "diner night". "Diner night" is pretty much just that, however, we don't visit a diner. We do it right from home. They love this because I'll even rush around and take their orders after the review our short menu and I prepare it, deliver their diner specials in baskets and even go as far as to give them fake receipts with those infamous mints that those lucky waitresses get to keep in their pockets! The menu is simple, usually a variety of sandwiches and their choice of bread, toasted or untoasted, a couple of sides and a piece of fruit. (I realized after having 4 kids that the more fun you make meals and the more your kids are involved, they will willingly eat healthy foods. Even the picky ones! The top choice is a ham salad sandwich on toast, a side of pasta salad, some sort of chips or pretzels and a banana, yogurt, apple slices or an orange. This fills them up and gives the fuel needed for the rest of the evening.

Another trick I learned is to make the meal to go! We cal them, "Homemade Happy Meals". I'm not a  big fast food fan but my little ones love those small toys that come with their chicken nuggets and fries, I do give in from time to time, but I seem to be paying for just the toy while some of the food ends up uneaten, I have a stockpile of small toys, stickers, little prizes, Matchbox cars, and Lego Minifigures for times like this. These are similar to our "Diner Night" meals, but they include the toy, a juice box and are put in a brown paper bag or an insulated lunch bag and can be eaten on the go. (This is another fun way to incorporate healthy foods and make it fun!)

Some other quick and easy sports night dinner ideas that we rely on:
Throw some chicken and cheddar cheese in a tortilla and place in a George Foreman grill and voila! Quesadillas! Serve with a piece of fruit and some salsa or any other veggies your kids like and you're set! Quesadillas only take a couple of minutes to warm up and you can add or hide, any kind of veggies inside all of that gooey cheese.

English Muffin pizzas are another sports night favorite and the kids can help with these too. You can set up a little pizza topping bar and place dishes of cheese, veggies, pepperoni, pizza sauce, the choice is yours! Have the kids make their pizzas and just heat them up.

Of course, always be supportive and cheer for your child(ren) and their teammates.
Volunteer to bring healthy snacks and drinks for the team and coaches or even to be a team parent!
Coaches and assistant coaches are volunteering their time to help teach our children how to play the sport and a simple, "Thank you!" goes a long way.

Ok and onto the GIVEAWAY!!
You can enter to win this awesome Baseball The Ripken Way bundle. This bundle includes 3 DVD's and a CD rom. Perfect for parents and coaches!

a Rafflecopter giveaway