The Allstate Foundation and WE Day Remind Us That Good Starts Young

This post was sponsored by The Allstate Foundation. All opinions are mine.

When it seems as though every day news headlines are more and more depressing, it can be easy to become frustrated with the status of this world in which we live and many of us are raising children. But I am finding that there is a lot of good out there that many of us just don’t know about.

Last week Maddie and I had the opportunity to attend WE Day Minnesota on behalf of The Allstate Foundation with a few other local moms and some of our youth. I’d never been to WE Day and while I’d heard of it in the past, I had a very vague understanding of what it was and what it entailed and who actually attended the event.

WE Day was started by two brothers, Craig and Marc Kielburger and is an international series of stadium-sized, life changing events that bring together world renowned sparkers and performers all in the name of empowering youth. WE Day Minnesota had an amazing lineup that included Ann Curry, Lizzie Greene, Allstate Foundation Good Starts Young Ambassador Alyson Stoner, Margaret Trudeau, Grace VanderWaal and more.

The premise of WE Day is to celebrate and also inspire this generation’s shift from me thinking to we acting by building a better world where everyone has the power to speak out and make choices that have a positive impact, whether they are 12, 22 or 50.

From promoting school recycling to fundraising to build a school, the stories that we heard were awe inspiring and when you see such young kids devoted to so much good, you wonder why we as a world aren’t spending more time talking about this.

The energy and emotion throughout the Xcel Energy Center was palpable. These youth are excited and inspired to do good. And why wouldn’t they be, they all know what we adults need to do a better job at remembering — – Good Starts Young.

The Allstate Foundation Good Starts Young initiative began back in 2005 when the CDC reported that teen deaths in car crashes had reached epidemic levels. For 10 years, Allstate worked to reduce deaths through advocacy, education, federal and state legislation and even some campaigns making it “uncool” for teens to text and drive. By 2015, teen deaths had dropped by 50 percent.

Today  The Allstate Foundation Good Starts Young initiative is about increasing the likelihood that young people will have success in life- whatever their dreams may be and is now based on the research that says the strength of a child’s social emotional and learning skills is a better predictor of success in life than academic achievement.

Chew on that for a minute.

We all like to talk about giving our kids the academic skills to succeed but rarely am I hearing enough conversation about emotional and social development, especially in an ever-changing world of social media.

Because of this initiative, the next generation of leaders and history makers are inspired to reach their full potential by serving causes greater than themselves and making the world around them a better place.

In 2017, more than 5.2 million youth have participated in programming sponsored by The Allstate Foundation Good Starts Young initiative, including WE programs like WE Day and WE Schools.

Thanks in large part to The Allstate Foundation as Title sponsor of WE Day MN, thousands of local youth are able to participate in WE Day. Students aren’t able to just sign up and buy a ticket to attend, simply because there are no tickets to buy. All of the students who attend, attend for free because of their service and volunteering efforts.

It was eye opening to me to see so many youth gathered in one place all devoted to various areas of service and leadership and it made me excited for our future. I’m grateful for the time I was able to spend with Maddie learning, listening and just being inspired by all of the good that is happening by young people.

For more information:

Learn how to impact change and get involved with sponsored programs by The Allstate Foundation Good Starts Young.

You can also find opportunities to rally together and take action within your community by checking out the We Volunteer Now program.

From Left: Tracy Morrison, Meghan Yancy, Craig Kielburger, myself and Missy Voronyak

This post was sponsored by The Allstate Foundation. All opinions are mine.

 

How The Grinch Stole Christmas Now Open at Children’s Theatre Company

This past weekend, Miss F and I went on a date to the Children’s Theatre Company to see this year’s holiday productions- How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Photo by Kaitlyn Randolph

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is one of Children’s Theatre Company’s [CTC] trademark shows. It premiered at CTC in 1994 and is the only Minnesota theatre that can perform the show.

In that time, Reed Sigmund, one of CTC’s company actors [this is his 18th season] has played a couple different roles in the show. He played Max the dog several years back but this year is his third time playing the Grinch.

Photo by Kaitlin Randolph

If you’ve seen Sigmund in action in the past, you won’t be surprised by the way he captures the true essence and complete character of the Grinch. His loud, boisterous voice and his ever-physical acting takes the stage by storm. He is a force in any role but especially THIS role.

Photo by Kaitlin Randolph

A few weeks before opening night we were invited to see the transformation from man to Grinch and the fact that he’ll do that transformation close to 100 times before the show closes January 7 makes me tired thinking about it.

You’ll recognize some other CTC regulars in the show- including Natalie Tran as young Max. She played Cindy Lou Who in both the 2012 and 2014 Grinch productions.

Photo by Kaitlin Randolph

How the Grinch Stole Christmas runs through January 7 and tickets are still available but plan ahead and buy now before the show sells out. [Holiday productions are known to sell out.]

You can save 20% by using THIS link to purchase your tickets.

The production runs an hour and 50 minutes and that includes a 15 minute intermission. Don’t spend your entire intermission in line, pre-order your intermission snack [cookies by Patrick’s anyone?] and they will have it waiting for you when you come out.

Make a new tradition this year and bring the whole family. This is a show that is good for all ages. If you’re worried about content, check out this guide CTC put together to determine if this show is a good fit for your family. [Spoiler alert: it’s good for your whole family.]

Stay tuned to my Instagram as I’ll be giving one follower a set of tickets to see How the Grinch Stole Christmas later this week!

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I am so thankful to work with CTC as one of their influencer partners. All opinions expressed above are mine and mine alone. 

 

Cars.com Helps Choose the Right Vehicle for your Carseat

This is a sponsored post.

Car seats have always been very important to me because we drive a lot. We live in an area that to get most anywhere we have to get in the car so from the time my kids were infants to now, rarely a day goes by that they don’t get in the car.

But when you have your first baby choosing a car seat, knowing how to install it properly and making sure your child is safe in it can be really overwhelming.

Nevermind the fact that going to your local baby store has more options that most of our brains can compute.

Photo from Cars.Com

Cars.com is trying to help families by scoring cars and giving them car seat ratings and ultimately creating an honor roll of vehicles. This means that they install a rear facing convertible seat, a forward facing convertible seat, an infant seat and a booster into vehicles and then rate them for space, the LATCH system and how well it works and the ease of installation.

It’s super helpful to know where your car stands as far as carseat installation because every car is different and what might fit perfectly in a minivan might not fit so perfectly in a compact car.

You can watch a quick video over on cars.com for Cars.Com’s Car Seat Honor Roll for 2017.

Have you ever car shopped with a car seat in mind? What kind of car works best for your family? 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of cars.com. All opinions expressed are mine. 

My 14th Stitch Fix

A few weeks back I got a mailer in the mail from Stitch Fix offering me a FREE fix. Meaning no $20 styling fee. It had been several months since my last fix and I wasn’t really sure I wanted to do another.

As I’ve been cleaning out my closet, I’ve noticed sometimes I impulsively choose to keep Stitch Fix items, wear them once or twice and then leave them hanging for months on end until they make it to the donate pile so as I looked at this fix I wanted to be intentional with anything that I would keep. Meaning I wanted to keep items that make sense long term in my closet and not just for an occasional wear.

Truth be told it’s been a long time since I’ve been this disappointed with a fix.

Here’s what I got:

Q&A Marsala Split Neck Blouse $64

I thought this top was adorable and could absolutely see myself wearing it for a night out or even Thanksgiving. That said- $64!! Too much to justify keeping it.

Decision: RETURN

41Hawthorn Zoe Ankle Zip Skinny Pant $88

I actually really like the 41Hawthorn brand and maybe even would have been interested in these pants if my Stitch Fix profile didn’t say “No pants, please.”

Decision: RETURN

Le Lis Covington One Pocket Top $58

This was a cute, fun, flannel that’s very much in style but I couldn’t find any reason it would be different than a flannel I could buy at Old Navy or Target for much less.

Decision: RETURN

Evolution by Cyrus Leesa Hooded Cardigan $88

I actually LOVE this sweater. It is totally my style, so much so that I already have one very similar. If I didn’t, I’d be tempted to keep it, though again, the price point is much higher than I’d want to spend.

Decision: RETURN

Olive and Oak Marsella Star Print Pullover Sweater $58

It’s just not me.

Decision: RETURN

All in all, I was disappointed. Not because they didn’t send me nice items but because none of the items were things I either preferred or requested and also, I felt like the price points were high. I felt like the stylist quickly did a once over on my profile and threw things together without really taking the time to look at my profile, what I’ve bought in the past and also what I’ve pinned on pinterest.

I may give Evereve’s Trendsend program another whirl but I think this might be it for me and Stitch Fix for awhile.

Related Posts:

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

My 5th Stitch Fix
My 6th Stitch Fix
My 7th Stitch Fix
My 8th Stitch Fix
My 9th Stitch Fix
My 10th Stitch Fix
My 11th Stitch Fix
My 12th Stitch Fix
My 13th 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}.

Save Money with Groupon Coupons

By now we’ve all used our share of Groupon’s for various events and activities and attractions but have you ever used Groupon Coupons?

Many of the retailers you shop from everyday include exclusive discounts or deals right from Groupon. For me there’s nothing worse than shopping and finding out later that you could have saved money on the purchase so this is a no brainer to check first.

A few weeks back a bad storm took out our two year old trampoline so we’ve begun the hunt for a
replacement. Our original trampoline was from Toys R’ Us so I immediately thought we should start looking there so I was excited to see that Groupon Coupons has Toys R’ Us coupons and discounts available right on their site that can be used both online and IN STORE.


A quick scroll through Groupon Coupons and there are tons of other options to check out, including Amazon, Target, Walmart and more.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Groupon. 

Field to Fork 2017 at Wolfcreek Dairy

A few weeks back, J and I were thrilled to go to a Field to Fork dinner with Common Ground Minnesota at Wolfcreek Dairy Farm in Dundas, Minnesota.

When I say we were thrilled, I mean that J saw the invite and literally CLEARED his schedule to make it happen. He so enjoyed the event last year that he knew we had to go again this year.

Common Ground Minnesota is an organization of farm women who volunteer their time to share information about farming and food. Together, this group of women raises a variety of conventional and organic crops, livestock and produce.

They host various events to help share their experiences as well as science and research to help us as consumers sort through myths and misinformation surrounding food and farming.

This is the second Common Ground Field to Fork dinner that we’ve attended and both have been so interesting and inspiring to learn about ways farmers right here in Minnesota are growing our food.

The event at Dundas Dairy Farm included a tour throughout their farm and learning about the way the family farms. Jeff and I were able to ask all sorts of questions about the milking process, how many babies are born each year and even lay eyes on a set of calf twins born earlier that day.

In addition to learning more about dairy farming we were able to talk to other farm women who were hosting the event who farm cattle, wheat, grain, etc.

All in all it was a really fun night. The atmosphere is so beautiful and the dinner is always amazing. We love learning more about where are food comes from and in the end it makes us much more intentional shoppers.

Special thanks to Common Ground for inviting us. Thankful for the work you do.

A Twin Cities Staycation: TownePlace Suites Mall of America

Over the long 4th of July weekend, we had the opportunity to enjoy a little stay cation at TownePlace Suites Mall of America.

I’m not sure we’ve ever stayed at a TownePlace Suites but they are owned by Marriott and I know we’ve stayed at Marriott’s before.

We loved our overnight. First of all my kids are hotel junkies. Staying overnight at a hotel is literally one of their all time favorite things to do. Miss F was practically beside herself when we pulled up and told the kids, “surprise, we’re staying here overnight!”

They hadn’t even seen the room yet and were pumped but once we arrived at our room, their excitement skyrocketed because it wasn’t just any old hotel room, it was a two bedroom suite, complete with a kitchen and living room.

Sometimes staying at hotels can be tricky for our family, especially when it’s all 7 of us, so the idea of having a two bedroom suite so everyone has their own space is perfect.

I love having a kitchen at hotels to keep snacks and some simple foods in. As the kids are getting older they are getting more self sufficient so can get their own breakfast started while we sleep in. That’s always a win.

TownePlace Suites is located directly across the street from the Mall of America which is perfect for a little stay cation with the family.

After spending the day shopping and riding rides, you can walk across the street and enjoy a swim in the indoor pool or relax outside by the fire and watch the planes take off.

We so enjoyed our overnight at TownePlace Suites! Convenient location, amazing accommodations [including a free breakfast!] and the friendliest hotel staff. Thanks for a great overnight!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. TownePlace Suites invited our family to spend the night at their property in exchange for our honest review shared here. All opinions and photos are mine.

My 13th Stitch Fix

My 13th Stitch Fix came over the weekend and it was a good one! I was excited to see some things right away in the box that I knew I would love. Now comes the hard part- making decisions!!

Here’s what I got:

41Hawthorn Carla Crochet Detail Blouse $58

I have a few other tops by this brand and love them. I initially was skeptical about the red as I don’t wear a lot of red but once I tried it on, I was convinced it had a place in my closet.

Decision: Keep

Market and Spruce Jannice Knit Dress $58

I really, really liked this. It fits well, it’s flowy. It’d be perfect for summer…but I’m waffling. I don’t love the back- halter straps aren’t my thing.

Decision: Undecided

Market and Spruce Girona Eyelet Detail Top $64

This was one that as soon as I laid eyes on it I knew it had to be mine- it’s SO me. I am fairly certain you will see me in this all summer long.

Decision: Keep

Hailey23 Kodi Jersey Maxi Dress $78

I do love this but I also just bought a maxi dress right before Easter and don’t feel the need to add another floral maxi to my closet right now.

Decision: Return

Renee C Arlette Skirt $54

Another item I was skeptical about but I did like it. That said I wouldn’t get enough wear out of it.

Decision: Return

All in all, this fix was a win! When I have to struggle making decisions of what to keep and what to send back, it’s a good one! What do you think of my items this month? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Am I making the right choices?
My past fixes:

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

My 5th Stitch Fix
My 6th Stitch Fix
My 7th Stitch Fix
My 8th Stitch Fix
My 9th Stitch Fix
My 10th Stitch Fix
My 11th Stitch Fix
My 12th 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}.

Three Things To Know Before You Go: A Year with Frog and Toad at Children’s Theatre Company

This past weekend my little girls and I had the opportunity to attend opening night of A Year with Frog and Toad at Children’s Theatre Company. We are huge fans of both CTC and Arnold Lopel’s Frog and Toad books so we were pretty excited.

In true form, Children’s Theatre Company did NOT disappoint. It was a fantastic show- complete with plenty of bouts of laughter. I’d recommend the show to all families with children of all ages- both my three year old and my eight year old enjoyed it immensely.

Here’s a few things to know before you go:

  1. There’s no frog or toad costumes. The two main characters are played by two adult men who do an incredible job, physical humor an all, as Frog and Toad. But beware, they aren’t walking around in a frog or toad costume. It’s a ‘use your imagination’ sort of play. [You’ll recognize company actor Reed Sigmund as Toad and as always, he plays his role in a completely believable way. He makes a great toad!]

  1. The Snail who delivers the mail absolutely steals the show. Every scene he was in, he owned the stage and the audience was fully engaged with his part of the story.

  1. There are just FIVE people in the cast which is really fun to see them transform from birds to turtles to snails and more.

As always, plan on arriving early. There are plenty of Frog and Toad mementos to choose from in the gift shop if that’s your thing. We always pre-order our admission treats so that we don’t have to wait in line. Cookies are $3.

The show is about an hour and 45 minutes with a 15 minute intermission.

A Year with Frog and Toad runs until June 18th and tickets are available right here.

 

[Disclosure: Thanks to Children’s Theatre Company for inviting us to opening night. All opinions expressed are mine. Photos used with permission from CTC.]

My 12th Stitch Fix

My 12th Stitch Fix came several weeks ago now and I was so excited. It’s that time of year that I’m just a little bit tired of my wardrobe and was so excited to add a few new things to get me through to spring and also get me excited for spring.

I’ll be honest, I was disappointed. Not because I didn’t like the items, I did and I think that in some ways they were “me” but they just weren’t what I was hoping for this go around.

For the second time since I started, I returned everything. Again, not because the items weren’t necessarily me but because they weren’t what I was wanting and needing right now. Also, I’m finding that the sizing is really inconsistent. Specifically, Market and Spruce and Pixley.

Here’s what I got:

Pixley Marabella Textured Knit 2fer Dress $68

NO PHOTO because for lack of better description, I looked like a stuffed sausage.

Market and Spruce Garrity Tie Back Knit Tank Top $44

fix12a

I actually do love the stripes and also really loved the tie in the back. But I also have a lot of tank tops- black, white, stripes and realistically would want to wear this in warm weather so as to show off the back and it’s going to be awhile.

Just Black Adorra Skinny Jeans $88

fix12b

Great fit and I really like them. That said I’ve got several pairs of skinny jeans so I’m set in that department.

Pixley Meryl Split Neck Blouse $54

fix12d

Love this sweet springy sleeveless top and it fits well too [also same size as dress that doesn’t fit above] but $50 plus for a sleeveless top that I won’t wear a ton simply because it’s so bright and unique is too much.

Market and Spruce Adelina Lace Detail Knit Top $54

fix12c

Again, I liked this one but this one was too short. It felt more like a cropped top and either that means it’s too small or just not my style.

So I’ve returned all of it this go and at first I was bummed about the style fee [that I’m paying with credits I have] but after reading The Life changing Magic of Tidying Up last year I’ve really decided that if I don’t LOVE something as far as my clothes go, I shouldn’t keep it because I just won’t wear it enough to make it worth it.

I scheduled another fix for later in April and am going to work on pinning things on Pinterest that I really like.

My past fixes:

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

My 5th Stitch Fix
My 6th Stitch Fix
My 7th Stitch Fix
My 8th Stitch Fix
My 9th Stitch Fix
My 10th Stitch Fix
My 11th 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}.