Becoming A Hockey Mom…

So my title is a little deceiving but many know I’ve fully struggled with this transition to hockey life. I didn’t have any plans of having a hockey breathing, eating, loving kid but he has had other plans and surely, we’re along for the ride.

This year I volunteered {with just a stitch of pressure from a neighbor friend} to be a team manager. I figured I’d fulfill our family requirement of volunteer hours and learn a few things at least.

I’ve done more hours than I thought possible and learned a whole bunch and it’s been fun. Mostly.

This past weekend we had our last of four hockey tournaments this season and it was our travel tourney in the Dells. Some of the other moms and I got together right after Christmas and made door signs:

hockeybag3

{Who knew how fun a Cricut could be?!}

And then I decided I’d put together some goody bags for the boys. I did 15 bags for under $75. Here’s what’s needed:

hockeybag

goody bags {around $1-$1.25/each at Target, I’m thinking I could have hit the dollar store or Hobby Lobby for a better deal}
Powerade {2 twelve packs from Target}
Gum {I ordered a 12 pack on Amazon and bought 2 two packs at Target}
Starburst {I bought one bag at Target}
Nutter Butters {18 pack from Target}
Rootbeer {I bought 3 six packs from Target}
Crunch bars {I bought one bag from Target}
Ring pops {I bought one bag of 15 from Target}

hockeybag2

I don’t even know myself anymore.

Have you found yourself diving head first into something you never thought you’d do? 

Disney on Ice is Coming to Minneapolis

It’s one colossal party on ice, with all your favorite Disney friends at Disney on Ice presents Let’s Celebrate Presented by YoKids Organic Yogurt. Join Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald and Goofy as they celebrate a Very Merry Unbirthday Party with Alice and the Mad Hatter; a Royal Valentine’s Day Ball with your favorite Disney Princesses, including Cinderella, Ariel, Belle and Tiana; a Hawaiian luau with Lilo & Stich; a whole new world with Jasmine and Aladdin; a winter wonderland with Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear; a Halloween haunt with the Disney villians and more in a magical medley of holidays, celebrations and festivities from around the globe. Come join the celebration you’ve been waiting for when Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate! skates into the Twin Cities!

doi

My kids have always loved going to Disney on Ice. It’s a special, fun night full of wonder.

My tips and tricks:

  1. Eat before you go! There are lots of yummy treats that are super tempting with an empty tummy. I try to eat before we go so that we can just get a treat to share versus many. {Bring cash!}
  2. Have a talk ahead of time and set the expectations on toys and trinkets. {I try to avoid that stuff but did splurge last year at Frozen on Ice.}
  3. Park in Ramp A, B or C and you don’t have to go outside.

SPECIAL SAVINGS
SAVE $5 on Tickets!
Use offer code: HAPPY
Expires: 2/28/16
Valid on Lower Level, non-premium seats; limit four tickets per transaction.

Good for the following performances:
Friday, February 26 – 7 PM
Saturday, February 27 – 7 PM
Sunday, February 28 – 5 PM

Want to win a family four pack of tickets? You can enter the rafflecopter giveaway right here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Radisson Blu Mall of America Staycation for Family

The end of January is the worst. The weather is dreary, the nights are dark and cold and if you’re like our family and have a kid in hockey, you’re just about hockey-ed out. I was excited that Miss E and I were invited to enjoy a stay cation at Radisson Blu Mall of America for a few days and the experience, accommodations and relaxation did not disappoint.

We loved it. It was so special to have one on one time with Miss E and do all the things she wanted to do and I’m pretty sure it’s the perfect place for a Minnesota stay cation.

rad4

READ MORE.

Radisson Blu Mall of America Staycation for Families

The end of January is the worst. The weather is dreary, the nights are dark and cold and if you’re like our family and have a kid in hockey, you’re just about hockey-ed out. I was excited that Miss E and I were invited to enjoy a stay cation at Radisson Blu Mall of America for a few days and the experience, accommodations and relaxation did not disappoint.

We loved it. It was so special to have one on one time with Miss E and do all the things she wanted to do and I’m pretty sure it’s the perfect place for a Minnesota stay cation.

rad4

Here’s why:

  1. The Radisson Blu Mall of America isn’t just NEAR the Mall of America, it’s connected. Like by a walkway. It truly gives you the sense that you’re at a resort by which you never have to leave. We didn’t go outside once or even need to drive anywhere the entire two days we were there. This makes it the perfect winter escape when the weather outside is blustery or too cold to compute. How nice to stay cozy inside.rad5
  2. Modern and FUN decor. I’m a huge, huge fan of interior design done right and Radisson Blu Mall of America is interior design done right. From the hanging chairs in the lobby: to the beautiful Fire Lake Restaurant. It’s appealing to the eye and feels just fancy enough. You know, not too fancy but not too blah.rad6 rad3 rad
  3. Super kid friendly. I loved that they had an age appropriate scavenger hunt for kids of all ages upon check in. And a real prize. A tent waiting in the room {that she got to take home!!} The restaurant was amazingly accommodating too. It doesn’t get much better than a kiddie cocktail with Pop Rocks.rad7
  4. Adults can enjoy too. From the Fire Lake bar to the spa. There are plenty of options for adults to unwind, kick up their feet and relax.

While we were there we got to enjoy so many things, more than we even had time to do. From rides at the Nickelodeon Universe…rad8…to trying out new restaurants Burger, Burger {you must get a malt!}…rad9..and Zio {pasta and gelato, need I say more?}…rad10…to a behind the scenes look at Sea Life. rad11We enjoyed all of the special touches to our weekend and I truly can’t wait to do it again.

Maybe next time we’ll bring her siblings and dad too.

Maybe.

Radisson Blu Mall of America family fun with Marty the Moose packages include $10 SkyDeck card, your choice of 4 passes to Sea Life or 2 unlimited ride wristbands and 1 kids tent to keep. You can check rates and book your stay cation here.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Radisson Blu invited us to an all expense paid press trip. All words, opinions and photos are mine.

Nicholas Sparks’ The Choice Opens Feb. 5 **Giveaway**

thechoice3

Nicholas Sparks’ The Choice opens nationwide Friday and it’s the perfect romantic Valentine’s movie. {Of course, because it’s Nicholas Sparks.}

thechoice

The Choice synopsis: When feisty medical student Gabby Holland moves in next door to perennial ladies’ man Travis Shaw, they embark on a surprising romantic journey neither imagined possible. Travis has always believed a serious relationship would cramp his easygoing lifestyle, while Gabby is preparing to settle down with her long-term boyfriend—until an irresistible attraction between the unlikely couple upends both of their well-planned lives. Spanning a decade and tracing the evolution of a love affair that is ultimately tested by life’s most defining events, this story features a memorable ensemble of friends and family in Sparks’s beloved North Carolina setting, culminating with the question that every couple must ask themselves: how far would you go to keep the hope of love alive?

 

I had the opportunity to go to the prescreening in Minneapolis last night and really enjoyed it, even though I hadn’t read the book.

thechoice2

Lionsgate is giving away The Choice prize packages containing: The Choice tie-in movie book, $25 Visa e-gift card, Sea Shell windchimes and bookmark.

You can enter the giveaway right here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Review Wire Media for Lionsgate. I received information to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Five Things You Need to Know before Visiting Ice Castles Minnesota! *Giveaway*

The Ice Castles of Eden Prairie are NOW open for their second season in Minnesota and they do not disappoint.

My little girls and I were invited to the grand opening last weekend and the night was nothing short of a magical, beautiful night.

ice

While I loved all the beautiful structures, the lighting and the details, I have to admit my favorite moment was seeing Miss F meet Anna and Kristof and Olaf, of course. She was thrilled.

ice4 ice2

Are you thinking of taking a trip to the Ice Castles this winter? Here’s a few things to know before you go:

  1. 1. Wear Boots. Even though we haven’t had a TON of snow this year it is still a wet and slippery area throughout the castles and you’ll want to keep your feet warm and not worry about slip sliding around.
  2. 2. Dress for winter. Again, even though it’s been a fairly mild winter, you’re walking around in a winter wonderland full of ice and snow. Don’t ruin your own experience by not dressing appropriately. And for sure, gloves! Especially on the little ones who will be touching and feeling and crawling throughout. There are some slides to try out too so snow pants recommended.
  3. 3. Leave the stroller at home. Bringing little ones? Then leave that stroller at home. If baby is little, little, I’d suggest wearing them in a baby carrier. My two and a half year old did fine walking throughout. It’s a slippery ice-filled place, there’s no space for strollers and if there was, it’d be a pain to push around.
  4. 4. Go to the bathroom and eat a snack beforehand. Restrooms aren’t conveniently located and while they do have homemade cocoa and other treats for sale, when we were there the line was so long we decided to skip the treats.
  5. 5. Buy tickets online. You’ll save money and you’re guaranteed admittance with online tickets. They can sell out and they are more expensive at the door so plan ahead.

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 3.45.08 PM

Have you visited Ice Castles before? Want to give it a shot?

ice3

You can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway right here.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Disclosure: Ice Castles MN invited us to the media preview and is providing the giveaway tickets.

Kung Fu Panda 3 Opens Nationwide Jan 29!

This past weekend a red carpet premiere took place right here in Minnesota for Dreamworks 3rd Kung Fu Panda movie. While I was unable to attend, I sent my friend Stacey and her daughter to enjoy both all the fun red carpet activities and photos and the movie itself.


katekungfu

Here’s her review:

Being a mother of four you might be surprised that I had never seen to any of the Kung Fu Panda movies before. I had heard of them, of course, just never seen them.

When I was offered the chance to attend the Kung Fu Panda 3 premiere last Saturday I was excited to see what the hype was all about.  

redcarpet

First, I was surprised to learn of the star studded cast. Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, and Dustin Hoffman are just a few of the voices who bring the animated characters to life.  Second, I was happily surprised by the overall message the movie was sending to it viewers; be the best YOU, you can be!

When Po’s birth father suddenly reappears they decide to return to Po’s birth place only to discover it will need to be saved from the supernatural villain, Kai.  Po needs to take fun loving, clumsy panda bears and turn them into kung fu masters in order to save their panda paradise.

The PG animated action adventure is fun for most ages, the villain Kai is a bit dark, and the battle scenes may scare younger children. However, the majority of the film is full of family friendly panda adventures. Overall, I really enjoyed it and think you will too!

kungfupanda

Kung Fu Panda 3 opens nationwide Jan. 29! Find a theater near you.

Homemade Breakfast Dippers {Favorite Recipe}

My kids love toaster sticks and mini pancakes and pretty much all things starch for breakfast. {We’re breakfast people over here, truly!} While visiting my aunt this past summer she made some homemade toaster sticks that my kids really liked and when she made them again in December I knew we’d have to incorporate them into our own recipe rotation.

I love that I can make a batch of these and keep them in the fridge and heat up a couple here and there when the kids want them for breakfast but even if we did decide to whip them up in the morning, you can’t really beat an 8 minute cook time.

Breakfast Dippers {Wilton}

toaster6

3/4 cup flour

3 tbsp firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

2 tbsp melted butter

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray the dipper pan with cooking spray {I use Pam}

toaster2

You can get this pan on Amazon:http://www.amazon.com/Wilton-W2389-18-Cavity-Dipper-11-25-Inch/dp/B00EPP1HEO

In one bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, sugar and salt. In another bowl, whisk together egg, butter and vanilla until well mixed. Put together with dry ingredients and whisk.

toaster

Spoon mixture into the pan which each being 2/3 full.

toaster3

Bake 8 minutes and serve with syrup.

toaster4

I’ve refrigerated them and reheated for a few days after I’ve baked them and they taste just as good.

toaster5

 

My Review of Evereve’s TrendSend.

After sharing months and months of Stitch Fix reviews, several people suggested I try out Evereve’s Trend Send program. I was intrigued especially because there are stores local to me and the idea that if I found something I liked I could go and get it in other colors, sizes etc whereas with Stitch Fix what you get is what you get, no exchanges, getting the same thing again etc. I also heard through the rumor weed that you could request sale/clearance items. Mama likes a deal!

Spoiler alert–>All in all I was pretty disappointed with TrendSend. I didn’t feel like the stylist “got” me or even took the time to “get” me at all. Similar to Stitch Fix, you fill out a style profile with sizes, color preferences and even include links to social media.

My box was shipped out in less than 24 hours after I signed up and while I was immediately excited, once I looked through the box that excitement waned.

Here’s what I got:

Michael Stars Madison Jersey Cozy Pullover: {$98} It’s a pretty simple {yet very comfy} top. Can’t spend $100 on a cozy sweatshirt.

trend9

Decision: RETURN

Good Hyouman The Saige Cardy: {49.99} I really didn’t need another black cardigan in my closet but one try on and I was in love. The length, the pockets, the hood. And the price was right.

trend7 trend8

Decision: KEEP

Sundry Long Sleeve Dot Raglan: {$74.99} No offense but if there is anyone in my life who would spend $75 on this shirt, we need to chat.

trend3

Decision: RETURN

BOBI Cross Front Tissue Jersey Tunic: {$44.99} I really wanted to like this but it was too short and too thin for me.

Decision: RETURN

Free People Frontier Henley: {$68} There’s no photo because this was ginormous. There was no way to adequately capture how terrible this looked on me.

Decision: RETURN

Red Haute Nantucket Striped Pullover: {$68} I love stripes so this would be an easy sell but the off the shoulder thing wasn’t for me.

trend6

Decision: RETURN

Bench Inject Pullover: {$78} I truly love this top and really oscillated on what to do. While I do love the texture, the front pocket, the color and the fit I decided to keep an eye on it online and maybe get it at a better price when it goes on sale at Evereve.

trend trend2

Decision: RETURN

Paige Jimmy Jimmy Skinny Boyfriend: {$189} I’m a sucker for a good pair of denim and I LOVE Paige denim and while I did like this the fit wasn’t perfect and if I’m going to spend that much on jeans they need to be perfect.

trend5 trend4

Decision: RETURN

The check out process wasn’t easy or intuitive, no reminder emails and nothing automatically bringing me to my TrendSend to check out. It also doesn’t charge me until the clothes are returned. I wasn’t sure if I needed to include the packing slip to return things or just send back with nothing. It felt a little insecure to me.

So all in all of the eight items, I ended up keeping one. I’m not sure if I’ll try it again. Like I said above I like the idea that there are local Evereve stores I could always buy the same thing in a different color or size or in my case on the inject pullover, wait for a sale but I also came close to not purchasing anything and would have hated to spend $20 {yes, they charge the same styling fee Stitch Fix does} and not even like it. I’m not sure if the stylist I was assigned was in a hurry or just chose not to try to style me but I didn’t really feel like she “got me”, my style OR my budget. I might wait it out and see if the TrendSend program improves and try it then but in the meantime I’ll stick with Stitch Fix.

 

What do you think? Have you tried Evereve’s TrendSend program? Did you like it?

You can check out all of my Stitch Fix reviews right here.

 

Cruising with Kids.

It was a month ago today our family set sail on the Independence of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship. We’ve had so many people ask us about our trip, cruising as a family in general, I thought I’d share our experience in hopes that if it’s something you’ve ever considered, you’d have some insight and be able to make a decision.

 

cruise18

 

Why a cruise? Last Christmas, after feeling like we were buying “stuff” to buy stuff we decided that this year we’d plan something big, something we could all enjoy together in lieu of a bunch of random different gifts. As our older kids get older, the idea that time to do these things together as a family is fleeting is more and more a reality so after a few months of researching, setting aside money and making plans to save so we could prepay everything, we booked a family cruise. We thought a cruise would be nice because there’s so much to do for all the different ages of our kids and we’d be able to see different things and hello, Caribbean.

Was it expensive? Any vacation for seven people is expensive so yes, it was expensive. That said it wasn’t astronomical and one has to factor in lodging, entertainment, food costs for 5 nights.

Is a cruise truly all-inclusive? Yes and no. Cruises include your lodging, most entertainment and all of your meals. You still have to pay gratuity {to your room attendant, wait staff in the formal dining room}, excursions you might decide to do off the ship at various ports, food from restaurants for purchase on the ship and beverages. Any onboard purchases are billed to your “SeaPass” and paid at the end of the cruise.

cruise21

How many places to eat are there? On the Independence of the Seas, the complimentary dining included: the Windjammer Cafe, which is a buffet style restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Three formal dining rooms that serve breakfast and dinner. A pizza place that seemingly serves pizza 24 hours a day. A coffee shop that serves breakfast, lunch and desserts. Frozen yogurt machines in the pool area and room service. As for food for purchase: There was a steak restaurant Chops, an Italian restaurant, Johnny Rockets, Ben & Jerry’s and a cupcake restaurant on board that were additional charges.

cruise2

How did you do the beverages? We purchased six beverage packages. For T, H and E {ages 16, 9 and 7} we got them the all inclusive soda package, this was $5.50/day.

cruise5

For J, myself and M {14} , we got the package that included soda, bottled water, nonalcoholic beverages, coffee drinks for $21/day. We didn’t get a package for F {2 1/2} and this worked out just fine. There are options to get packages that include alcoholic beverages but for us we figured we’d rather buy a drink here or there.

cruise11

Did you feel safe? YES. The first day at sea the entire ship does a safety check and they are not kidding when they say it is mandatory. Frannie had fallen asleep and J brought her to the room and once he got there someone came back and told them {kindly} to get upstairs for the drill. The ship was clean, safe, the staff were professional. I felt 100% comfortable.

What about the ports? We went to Belize and Cozumel and truly felt 100% comfortable and safe. {While T definitely had his concerns about his youngest siblings, all was truly fine.}

cruise12

The people were friendly and of course, looking to sell their products but they were kind and respectful.

What did the kids do? There were events and activities for all ages on our ship. From rock climbing to swimming, ice skating to the Flow Rider.

cruise15

There was Adventure Ocean, a free children’s program that H and E could go to as much or as little as they wanted. They both typically chose to go after dinner each night from 8 pm-10 pm which was a nice break for us to go to some of the nightly entertainment such as comedians, ice shows and Broadway musicals.

cruise10

There was also a teen hangout place with scheduled activities. Pool side contests, a HUGE arcade and pool side movies after dark. Our kids were never bored and either were we.

 

cruise

But what about Frannie? Frannie turned 31 months while we were at sea.

cruise17

She’s definitely on the younger side for cruising but did just fine. She loved swimming and playing in the splash pad, of course lounging in the hot tubs and sneaking sips of my {non alcoholic} pina coladas whenever she could. They do have a drop in childcare program for her age but we opted not to use it as there was an additional cost and it was unfamiliar to her. She’s at the in between stage of napping and not napping so that was probably the trickiest part for her. She often didn’t nap resulting in a very tired girl at dinner. She actually fell asleep sitting up at dinner one night in the dining room.

cruise16

Speaking of the dining room… Our kids LOVED the formal dinners in the dining room each night. Yes, they had to dress up but the experience of a formal dining room, trying new, unknown to them, foods and the fantastic wait staff made it one of our favorite parts each day.

cruise14

Was there wi-fi? This was so good for our family. SO good. It is so easy {myself very much included in this} to lose yourself in the world of phones and social media and texting with friends. While the ships do offer wi-fi {with a big price tag} we opted out and I’m so glad. I would do that again in a heart beat. It was actually really hard to reconnect once we got to land because I had so enjoyed not having the distraction that can be the iPhone.

cruise4

Did you have to get two rooms? How did the sleeping arrangements work? We did get two adjoining rooms. One room had two sets of bunk beds and the other room had a king bed. Originally we had reserved a crib for Frannie because when we booked the trip she was still in a crib, we didn’t end up using it and she slept with J and I. {Yes, parents of the year!} We could have had a murphy bed pulled down from the ceiling for her but we didn’t and considering we have a queen bed at home, a king with an extra 2 year old body wasn’t terrible.

cruise6 cruise9

Did anyone get seasick? Nope, not a one and no one took any meds or wore any motion sickness prevention bands or anything. I’ll admit I was a stitch nervous about having to take a tender from the ship to Belize but everyone did just fine.

cruise20

What about the weather? It’s always sunny in the Caribbean. Ok so that’s not necessarily true but aside from a rainy departure day and a rainy morning in Cozumel we had perfect weather. Sunny or partially sunny and most important for us Minnesotan’s- warmth!

cruise7

Do we have to get passports? You don’t HAVE to get a passport to take a cruise but it’s recommended. We did for a couple reasons. One, we figured we’d rather make the initial investment now so it opens up other travel opportunities for our family and two, when you’re traveling with kids anything can happen. I would have hated for something to have happened in Belize and to have trouble getting home because we were traveling with birth certificates rather than passports.

Would you do it again? In a heartbeat, our kids are already asking if we can and we’ve already got some ideas for next time.

cruise19

Any tips for families considering a cruise? Plan ahead and get an idea of things you and your kids might like to do but be willing and ready to be laid back and relax. It was so nice to have no plans or expectations the days we were at sea and we could truly decide what it was we wanted to do. We also stayed in Florida for several days after the cruise and this was a really fun perk too. While everyone else was leaving the ship and sad their vacation was over we still had several days ahead of us.

***

This was my third cruise and our kids first. We had a fantastic time and truly enjoyed everything we got to do together. The memories will surely last a lifetime and much longer than any physical gift we could have given any of them.