Keeping Kids Active as Summer Winds Down. {LeapFrog LeapBand Giveaway!}

It’s the end of the summer and while we all start out with the best of intentions we’re reaching the time of summer where some of that goes out the window. Especially if you’re the work from home type.

This year we were pretty proactive in securing childcare two full days a week so I could work those two days. This felt like a really good balance. I was able to get most of my work done those days and then really enjoy the time with my kids the other days.
Biking, swimming, playing. We’re had a full and fun summer.
Inevitably there gets to be a point where things don’t go as planned. A sick kid, or appointments or more work than hours in the day. A week or so ago we kind of got to that point.
A little more screen time than usual and less activity.
But now we’re back in the saddle. This week at least.
P&G and LeapFrog LeapBand have partnered together and asked me, how am I keeping my kids active as summer winds down?
Here are my tips:
  1. 1. Chores. Seriously, I give each of our kids {ok, not necessarily Miss F} a chore or two every single day. Things above and beyond picking up their rooms and making their beds. Vacuuming and wiping off things is physical activity. Cleaning up the entry way and putting shoes away is physical activity.
  2. 2. If the sun is shining, get outside. Living in Minnesota, you only get so many nice days. On nice days we play outside. It PAINS me to be inside on a beautiful day. We try to make the most of it by taking bike rides, walks and just running around.
  3. 3. Family activities like bike rides or walks to the park. We always do the Lung Cancer 5K each August and that’s another way we try to keep active.
How do you keep your kids active as summer winds down?
Right now if you shop at Kowalskis or Rainbow and spend $30 or more on P&G products you can receive a free LeapFrog LeapBand activity tracker by mail. {Find a participating retailer here.}
The LeapFrog LeapBand is similar to adult activity trackers that track your steps and activity throughout the day and rewards kids with animals and game options on the device that can be worn on their wrist. Think virtual pet that’s powered by their activity.
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P&G would like to give one of my readers their very own LeapFrog LeapBand and P&G gift box.

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You can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. P&G sent our family LeapBands and other samples.

My 7th Stitch Fix

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For over a year now, I’ve been getting Stitch Fix. It really does feel like Christmas every time one of the boxes arrives at my doorstep. I am always excited to see what goodies and have high hopes for what’s inside.

Once again, I was NOT disappointed by the choices and this was the first time that I really struggled with what to keep and what to return. So much so that I was a few days late checking out and sending my box back.

Here’s what I got this time:

Gillian Sleeveless Dress: $68

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I almost didn’t try this on because I already have a black sleeveless dress but honestly, so glad I did. I love the way it fit and felt and love that it’s just a little bit more dressy than my other black sleeveless dress.

Decision: KEEP

Rose De Paris Johnston Cross Back Knit Tee: $44

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I LOVE stripes and initially loved this one, especially with the back. But the fabric wasn’t quite me and I felt like it would stretch out too much when I would wear it.

Decision: RETURN

Pixley Brilla Mixed Material Knit Top $44

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Truly loved this one and am totally kicking myself for sending it back. My Stitch Fix complaint? That you can’t change your mind once you check out.

Decision: RETURN

Brixon Ivy James Laser Cut Dress $78

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Love this one but have a similar dress in the same color. It also was a little snug in the chest area.

Decision: RETURN

Papermoon Garland Geo Print Maxi Skirt $58

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Again, I loved this one. Really loved this one. Was so close to ripping off the tags and wearing it one day buuuut $58 for a cotton maxi skirt is, even with Stitch Fix credits, more than I’d like to spend.

Decision: RETURN

All in all, this fix was a good one. I’m still thinking about that skirt and that top I sent back regrettably. I’ve scheduled my next fix for November so I can update my holiday wardrobe a little bit.

My First Stitch Fix
My Second Stitch Fix
My Third Stitch Fix
My Fourth Stitch Fix

My 5th Stitch Fix
My 6th Stitch Fix

Have you tried Stitch Fix out yet? What have you liked or not liked? If you haven’t signed up yet what are you waiting for?

For a $20 styling fee, you fill out a questionnaire and all of your likes/dislikes when it comes to clothing, style, price points etc and a stylist puts together five pieces they think you might like. Hate it all? The only cost is the style fee. Love it?  Your $20 style fee goes towards your purchase and if you buy all five items you receive a 25% discount.

If you sign up and use my link I receive referral credit {it costs you nothing more or less by using my link, I’m just disclosing that I will receive credit}.

{Where Dreams Come True.} Princess Wednesdays at Hard Rock Cafe

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My little girls love Frozen. Miss F is seriously obsessed with all things Anna and Elsa and Olaf and the songs, oh the songs, she knows every one by heart.

Her new favorite thing is to have her hair in braids and lay on the floor with her feet up, clicking her tongue and then singing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”
Not kidding.
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So when the opportunity came up for the girls to go have lunch with Anna and Elsa at Hard Rock Cafe, I just couldn’t pass it up. I was working that day but thankfully our sitter, Michelle, took them {and I think she loved it too. As a mom of boys, it’s fun to do girl stuff once in awhile!}

They LOVED it.

Hard Rock Cafe does such a nice job of making kids feel special when dining at their restaurant already. Add to that the fun Frozen singalong and a character meet and greet and they’re golden.

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If this is something you think your little ones might be interested in, you’re in luck, there’s still time.

Princess Wednesdays at Hard Rock Cafe Mall of America August 12 & August 26

There are two more opportunities to enjoy lunch with the princesses this Summer. You can find details on Twin Cities Kids Club’s Facebook Page. Reservations are totally free and there is NO cost to you for the princess meet and greet or entertainment. Just your lunch. You and your kids have to eat anyway so why not make it a fun special adventure before school starts?

Twin Cities Kids Club 

For $12 a month your membership grants you discounts at many family friendly places within the Twin Cities. Current discounts include: Eagles Nest, Airmaxx, Play and Learn Cafe, Papa Murphy’s Pizza, Children’s Theatre and MORE. {Complete list here.} The best part is there is no limit to the discounts. You can use your card every single day.

 

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at Children’s Theatre Company

I’m traveling this week but sent my friend Kim and her daughter to a media show for the newest production at Children’s Theatre Company: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Here’s her review and pictures are provided by CTC.

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If you’re looking for a heart-pounding thriller to enjoy with your child(ren), get tickets to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea! Children’s Theatre has again come up with a unique production of a classic tale. From running down ship corridors to crouching in the shadows gathering intel, be prepared to constantly move during the 45 minute show (definitely follow their suggestion to wear comfortable clothing and running shoes & leave your bags/purses at home if you can). It is recommended for children grades 3-8 and I would agree, my nine year old was fine but younger children may struggle to keep up with the fast pace and might even get a little scared during some parts.

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Starting out in a holding room that is filled with scuba gear & a radio broadcast, you are soon assigned ensign status for the mission you are about to embark on with ORKA, an elite international naval force. Within minutes you find yourself aboard the ship Titan in search of the evil Captain Nemo. This mission has twists and turns that take you throughout the underwater world of the CTC building, keeping your thoughts racing as you close in. Will YOUR team be the one to finally find Nemo? Can ORKA bring down this elusive enemy? Or maybe…is Nemo not at all what she seems and will you have to be prepared to go against everything you have been told by ORKA?

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea runs through August 23rd and tickets are available at childrenstheatre.org or 612-874-0400. Children’s Theatre Company, 2400 Third Ave. S, Minneapolis.

 

My Top Five Favorite Apps Right Now

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I don’t really consider myself much of a “tech” person but I do enjoy finding apps that work for me, whether that’s for photos or convenience. These are my top five favorite apps right now:

1. Starbucks.
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I know, I know. But you guys, it’s amazing. My Starbucks account is loaded so I can pay with my phone, it keeps track of my purchases and also…
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…helps me find the nearest Starbucks and tells me which one has a drive through. This is pretty helpful information on a road trip, don’t you think? GAME CHANGER.

2. Instagram.
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Instagram is one of my favorite ways to take, share and keep special memories. {I’m @samarapostuma over there! Come follow me!}
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3. Chatbooks.
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If you take a lot of photos and share a lot on Instagram, you must try Chatbooks. This isn’t the first or the last time I’ve talked about Chatbooks. I LOVE that it’s automatic. 60 photos are put together in a book for $6/each. Your first book is FREE with my code: AWKWQH3L
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You can tweak your books too and take out pics you don’t want, add new captions.
4. RedCurrentApp.
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Ok, I’m a stitch biased on this one because I work for Red Current BUT if you live in the Twin Cities, this is an app you want to get. It’s totally free and is the one place for every schedule, every event, every happening in the Twin Cities. From big shows at the Target Center to small, local theaters to sports games and breweries. It’s a great app to find things to do in the Twin Cities.
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Everything is broken down by category from fitness to family to music to art. You name it, there’s something you will want to do and know about.
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5. TimeHop.
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I’ve been a big TimeHop fan for awhile now. Mostly because of gems like these.

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What are your favorite apps?

Papa Murphy’s Flavors of Summer #Loveat425

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Read why we love Papa Murphy’s take and bake pizza and how to enter their summer backyard giveaway over here.

Papa Murphy’s Flavors of Summer #Loveat425

I was compensated for this review of Papa Murphy’s and their Flavors of Summer Sweepstakes. All opinions and statements remain 100% mine. #FlavorsofSummer #ad

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During the school year, it’s pretty much tradition in our house that on Fridays we do pizza. And not just any pizza, but Papa Murphy’s Pizza.

I love Hawaiian, my kids will eat Mini-Murphs or cheese and let’s be honest, the S’mores dessert pizza can NOT be beat.

{On that note, I’ve been known to go pick up just a S’mores dessert pizza on a random Tuesday. Or a Sunday. Or any day for that matter. It’s really my favorite treat.}

One of the things we love about Papa Murphy’s pizza is the fact that all of the ingredients are fresh. Truly fresh.

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From the cheese that is shred in store to the sauce that is made on site, each and every piece of your pizza is freshly made, often times locally grown and truly the best ingredients possible.

Last spring, I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at a local Papa Murphy’s and I loved seeing all of the steps that go into ensuring that all of the ingredients on every pizza are fresh and often times, local, too.

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Did you know that Papa Murphy’s is the largest Take and Bake pizza chain in the world? It’s true. They are the number one place to go pick up a freshly, custom made pizza and take it home and bake it at 425 degrees and they’ve been doing it since 1981. I had NO idea that they’d been around since then.

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In addition to good pizza, I also love that Papa Murphy’s, the company, has a mission statement I can believe in- Dedicated to bringing families together through food people love.

Food connects us, it brings us to the table. We gather, we eat and we connect. All over a meal. Our Friday pizza nights in the school year are a good time for us to really connect with one another about the week and what may have happened and talk about plans for the weekend. Some think of pizza as the “I don’t feel like cooking” sort of meal, but for me, while yes, pizza gives me a bit of a kitchen break, it also brings us together.

Right now Papa Murphy’s has a great giveaway up on their Facebook page. One lucky winner will win a totally new backyard. You can check it out right here. {In addition to a new backyard there are lots of other prizes being given away so you don’t want to miss it.} If we won the backyard makeover {retail value $25,000} the first thing I’d do would be to add stairs to our deck. This would be a small drop in the bucket of the backyard remodel but would literally change my life when hanging out on the deck in the backyard. In addition to stairs because come on, I’d have $25K to spend I’d likely add a nice patio and some more plantings.

Are you a take and bake pizza fan? What’s your favorite Papa Murphy’s pizza?

 

Summer Freedom with AT&T’s My Filip

When I was growing up some of my favorite summer memories include hopping on my bike and meeting friends at the park or the Dairy Queen, maybe the library or the tennis courts. I remember having the freedom to take my bike just about anywhere my legs could get me and when boredom struck, I’d often beg and plead with my mom to let me bike to the store to pick up something she might need.

Now that I’m a parent I wonder how it is my parents could have given me those freedoms. We like to say the world is so different than it was when we grew up and how times have changed but has it really? Or do we just have more fears and worries now?

The idea of letting my 9 year old bike to the park with friends, quite frankly, terrified me. I’ve struggled just letting him leave our not so quiet culdesac.

This spring we had more than a few struggles when it came to him wanting more freedoms. He’d go outside to play with friends within the neighborhood and I’d give him a time to return home. For some reason, I seem to remember this working when I was a kid but every time I gave him a time to be home, he’d come home either super early or super late, because he had no way of telling time. {As far as I can remember I didn’t as a kid either yet somehow this method worked? I think?}

I had the opportunity to try out the My Filip, a product that is connected with AT&T, and it seems that some of these problems resolved themselves.

My Filip is a kid and parent friendly device and app that helps parents give kids just a stitch more freedom within the comforts of the device and app.

“The first wearable locator and “phone” for kids.”

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My 9 year old was ecstatic to try it out. {And was the talk of the neighborhood. All the kids wanted to know what it was, where it was from and how they could get their hands on one.}

The first thing I loved about it is that it is completely managed from an app on mom or dad’s phone.

Setting up the profile on the app didn’t take long and before long we were in business. I could contact him and ask him to come in via both call and text and in the case of emergency he could hit a button to call me.

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I could send him a quick text to tell him to come home or even call him.

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While the device doesn’t allow outgoing calls it does have an emergency button that calls mom or dad when pressed. I was initially nervous this might be pressed by accident but it wasn’t an issue.

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I loved that I could immediately see where he was. So the one morning him and a friend biked to the park, I was able to check the app and see where exactly he was en route to the park. {One can even set up parameters on the app for a “safe zone” and be notified when your child leaves that area or it can have set check in times.}

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Bonus: It doubles as a watch so he actually made it home on time.

The My Filip device is available for $99-149 and is currently only available for AT&T service plans. There is no monthly fee or service fees associated with it, it simply connects with mom or dad’s phone. You can find out more right here.

 

Disclosure: I’m currently working with AT&T to learn and share more about the various devices they have available. All photos, opinions and words are mine.

From the Archives: Time. {August 2007}

An old friend of my mom’s sent a little note on Facebook tonight that had me reminiscing and digging through old things I’d written and shared several years ago when my mom was terminally ill. I decided I’d repost the one she mentioned in her posting here tonight. Thank you C! 

Time is a gift that we rarely appreciate properly.

In the wake of the 35W bridge collapse I am guessing that there were many moments, many instances where loved ones wished for just a little more time.

Time to say I love you. Time to give a hug. Time to get over angry feelings. Time to forgive. Time to just be.

Time.

Today the national news reports that there are only five dead and eight missing, and to say there are only that many and somehow think that feels good, makes me feel bad.

Each and every human being is valuable and there are several families who never again will be able to hold their loved one tight, call them up on the phone or even say goodnight.

Last Wednesday morning not one of those people knew how dramatically and drastically their lives were going to change by sunset.

They were not given time.

My mom pointed out recently that we were given a gift of time. My mother wasn’t taken from me instantly. We were given a warning that our time may be drawing near a close.

Though I can barely stand to think of her cancer as a blessing, I know it could be much much worse. She could have been gone in an instant. With lots of things unsaid, places un-visited, things undone.

But in the spirit of living with the truth, the grave and real truth, I know that this gift of time, is one that I will never quite understand completely.

Yesterday my mom called me at almost noon. I was surprised when I saw her number flash on the caller id. She was supposed to be in her fifth round of chemo.

She was happy. Excited!

She spoke quickly telling me that there was no more chemo.

No more chemo?

Her body didn’t respond well to the last round of chemo and the more weight she loses and the more ill she gets, the harder it is for her body to fight.

So her doctor told her that he believes that quality of life is better than quantity of life.

So she’s going to live her life. Without the restrictions of chemo weeks and recovery weeks.

And again we’re given this gift of time. Of knowledge and time.

Selfishly I’d rather not ever lose a loved one, but if I have to choose, I’ll take the time and knowledge rather than losing them in an instant.

You may or may not have noticed the new quote on the right, I got it from my dad and believe wholeheartedly in it’s words.

“His wisdom is sublime, His heart profoundly kind; God never is before his time, And never is behind.” -Spurgeon

To that all I can say is, thank you Jesus for this time.

Related: The Wind Blew Some Sand Into My Eyes.

On Fancy Dresses and Living Life Well

We were in a morning hustle to get out the door. We needed to get to the tire place to get a new tire on the van and I was rushing.

“Come on,” I called. “Get dressed.”

I’d laid out outfits that matched and grabbed sandals and crocs and pretty much ran about getting myself ready and Miss F came to me with a silver dress on a hanger from her closet. A dress I’d purchased awhile back at an end of season sale with hopes it’d fit just right to work this Christmas.

“This,” she said looking at me for approval.

I’ve really no reason to say no, I muttered to J and he agreed so I ripped the tags off, took it off the hanger and stuck it on my 2 year old.

She thought she was so pretty and was so excited to twirl and dance and show off.

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We stopped at the store for donuts and a man asked if she was headed to a wedding.

“No, I answered for her, “just wanted to wear a fancy dress today.”

“Good,” he said, “Life is short.”

Indeed.

Today, pull out your fancy dress, whatever that may be in your life. Whatever it is you’re saving for a special day or needing to feel special. Live life well because life is short.

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