Inside Out Movie Review

I attended a media sneak peek of Inside Out. All opinions expressed below belong to me.

Inside Out

Do you ever look at someone and wonder what is going on inside their head?

Disney•Pixar’s latest movie, Inside Out, explores that question with the help of some adorable characters – Joy {Amy Poehler}, Fear {Bill Hader}, Anger {Lewis Black}, Disgust {Mindy Kaling} and Sadness {Phyllis Smith}.

When lead character 11-year-old Riley is uprooted from Minnesota to San Francisco, her emotions are running high. These ’emotions’ live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life, trouble ensues. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate the new city, house and school.

Inside Out 2

TAKEAWAYS

The core lesson in this movie, from a kid’s perspective: It’s OK to feel more than one emotion.

The core lesson from an adult’s perspective: Joy cannot exist without sadness, and our emotions make us who we are.

Simply put, this movie goes deep. From short-term and long-term memory to Imagination Land, Abstract Thinking, and even a “Dream Productions Studio,” the concepts in the movie are beyond what a young kid can comprehend, but offer wonderful visuals of the inner workings of our brain. I could see the science highlighted throughout, and really appreciated it. [Read more…]

Snap a Selfie for Huggies, Help An Organization in Need #UltraHug

As a social cause and social media enthusiast, there is nothing I love more than giving back in a simple {and social} way! I’m honored to help spread the word about a fabulous campaign Huggies is currently running to provide local community projects with $2,000 grants.

Through, June 25, Huggies is looking for selfies of you and your baby with the hashtag #UltraHug. Then, on July 6th, voting will begin to narrow down the 20 finalists to 10 winners who will win a $2,000 grant from Huggies for their nominated community initiative.

All this to celebrate Huggies Snug & Dry Ultra Diapers, which offer long-lasting leakage protection and are available at Walmart stores.

[Read more…]

My Summer Essentials {+ How to Save with Meijer mPerks}

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I have an ongoing partnership with Meijer and am compensated for posts. All opinions and content belong to me.

Summer is the best time of year, amiright? As a parent, I feel a wave of relief come over me each day that is beautiful outside. I love sending my kids out to play and knowing they are making memories, which sometimes *feels* like mischief to me {don’t get me started with all the dirt currently on my deck…}.

Despite the dirt, I’ve been getting a little emotional lately watching my kids grow-up before my eyes. On the tough days, I remind myself that these early years are fleeting and to enjoy every moment. I mean, look at these smiles. Oh the simple joys of being a kid!

Kid Collage

I’m trying to do everything in my power to ensure my kids have the magical summers I had growing up. To do so, I’ve started thinking about what was essential

Summer is….

  • Freshly painted toes
  • Sunscreen scented skin {especially baby heads! Mmmm…best.smell.ever!}
  • Watermelon mustaches
  • Sparklers on a cool evening
  • S’mores over a bonfire {With a peanut butter cup! So good!}
  • Fresh squeezed lemonade
  • Popsicles with neighbor friends
  • Dipping your toes into the hot sand
  • Seeking out joy in unexpected places

    Meijer Lawn Gnome

    Love my little lawn gnome found in the Meijer garden department!

  • A cold sip from the hose
  • Impromptu picnics
  • Tank tops and sun-kissed, freckled shoulders
  • The feel of soil while digging for worms
  • Collecting bugs
  • Dirty feet after a long day of outdoor play
  • Swinging in sunshine

The sights, sounds and feelings of summer bring me back to childhood and make me SO happy. It’s my hope I can replicate those feelings for my kiddos in the years ahead. [Read more…]

SEA LIFE Michigan Welcomes Rescued Sea Turtle, Benson

Something random about me? I LOVE sea turtles. Seriously. Back in college, I was active with Alternative Breaks, a sweet volunteer program. I traveled to Romania with Habitat for Humanity, to New Orleans to help with clean-up post Hurricane Katrina, and even rescued sea turtles with the Sea Turtle Conservation League of Singer Island, Florida.

Awesome, right? You see, sea turtles are endangered, and often don’t make it to the ocean alive thanks to us humans, pollution {especially from lights along the beach}, commercial fishing, and of course their natural predators. My job while volunteering was to travel the beach at 4 a.m. looking for eggs hatching and help the little ones make their way into the ocean.

Sea Turtles

Holding a baby! How cute, right?!

I fell in love with these amazing creatures, so I got a tad bit excited when I learned Benson, a rescued green sea turtle was coming to live at SEA LIFE Michigan, the aquarium at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills.

We had fun re-visiting SEA LIFE to see him and I enjoyed telling my girls all about my passion for sea turtles!

ABOUT BENSON

Benson was stranded in 2014 at Anastasia State Park in St. Johns County, Fla., after being hit by a boat, which caused a shell fracture and induced a hypothermic reaction called cold-stunning. Benson was rescued by the doctors at the Georgia Sea Turtle Hospital in Jekyll Island, Ga., who have spent the last year nursing him back to health. While Benson is much healthier and stronger now, due to his injuries he will never be able to survive in the wild.

Benson the Sea Turtle from SEA LIFE Michigan

Benson will continue to receive monitoring as he adjusts to his new environment, and his food, consisting of cucumbers, green peppers and brussels sprouts, will be donated by The Kroger Co. of Michigan.

To learn more, visit this link. [Read more…]

10 Things My Husband And I Did To Lose 60 Pounds In Less Than 6 Months

This is a blog topic I haven’t covered much yet, but OMG, my husband is looking fly these days! I love that I can tell he feels great, too. Together, since January 1, we have lost a combined total of more than 60 pounds; He is around 40 pounds lost; I am at 23 pounds.

I’ve already been through the roller coaster that is gaining and losing weight thanks to pregnancy, but this was new for him. He decided at the end of last year that he was ready for change in 2015. I was so taken with his enthusiasm, I decided to jump on board with him to shed my baby weight once and for all and commit to making our entire house healthier.

Weight Loss Before

Back in 2009, at the peak of our weight gain. I was a size 14 here, and am now a size 6/8.

Everyone has been asking us what we’ve been doing, and honestly, it’s nothing crazy. We haven’t deprived our bodies of carbs or sugar or taken on some insane workout program. All we’ve done? Tracked what we consume, get our portions under control, and move more. [Read more…]

Coupon for Michigan Science Center! {Expires 8/31/15}

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Planning some summertime adventures to amuse the kids? If so, I’m excited to share a special offer from the Michigan Science Center in Detroit just for my readers – $3 off admission.

If you haven’t been, it’s a MUST!

To print this coupon for Michigan Science Center, simply click on it and send it to the printer, or show this image on your phone upon arrival.

Coupon for Michigan Science Center

Read about my past experience there at this post or see some visuals at this album of photos on my Facebook page.

Follow Michigan Science Center on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy summer planning! Stay tuned for more ideas and discounts for summer coming soon.

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Stamp Out Hunger on May 9, 2015 and Help Families in Need {Nationwide}

Stamp Out Hunger

This Saturday, May 9 brings one of my favorite days of the year: Stamp Out Hunger! I love this program for an easy way to make a difference — without even leaving the house.

All you have to do is collect and bag non-perishables you’d like to donate and place them in a bag in/near your mailbox before your mail time for your letter carrier to pick-up. All of these items will be delivered to your local food bank.

Items to consider donating include canned meats/fish, soup, juice, canned veggies, pasta, cereal, peanut butter and rice. Do not include items that are expired or in glass containers.

From my experience volunteering at food banks, cans of tuna or chicken and peanut butter specifically are great to donate since this often may be the only source of protein someone receives.

Other reasons I love this program:

  • It’s an excuse to clean out my pantry.
  • It’s such an EASY way to help people in need.
  • It helps families in MY neighborhood — literally.
  • It serves as a reminder that I am very blessed to be food secure.
  • It provides me with a great lesson to teach my children about giving back and helping others.

Pantry Organizing

A clean pantry is a happy pantry, right?

Did you know one in four Michigan children live in poverty, with household incomes under $24,000 for a family of four? For these individuals, a simple food donation can make all the difference.

Last year’s drive resulted in nearly 73 million pounds of non-perishable food left by customers’
mailboxes nationwide. Fingers crossed we can beat that number this year. Do your part and put together a bag of items and help a family in need!

Read more about the Stamp Out Hunger initiative here.

Donations

Getting my bag of donations ready!

If you forget to put out items, you can always call one of these Southeast Michigan food banks to see how you can help:

What items will you be donating to help Stamp Out Hunger?

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Ways I Cheat As A Mom to 3 #GerberWinWinMoment

Gerber Graduates Win Win Moment

This is a sponsored post with Gerber and MomSelect. All opinions expressed are my own. 

I hear it daily: “You are a superwoman!”

While the sentiment is obviously flattering and appreciated, believe me ya’ll — I’m just trying to get through the trenches like everyone else. In my eyes, anyone who is raising a human is a super hero.

Super cape aside, can I tell you a secret? Having 3 kids honestly as hard as having one at times.

After all, they all entertain each other, and my girls love taking care of my little guy.

Seriously, they are my biggest helpers! They love pushing him around and helping me with tasks like getting diapers, finding toys for him to chew on, and keep him occupied while I get things done. He just lights up whenever they are around him. Talk about a win-win!

#GerberWinWinMoment

When it comes to meal time, they LOVE making sure he gets fed. They will even fight over who gets to help him. We started with purees at 6 months, but this kid quickly lost interest and wanted what his sisters were eating, so we just let him feed himself with a combo of infant snacks and whatever we’re eating, and his sisters are always near by to feed him more. [Read more…]

Spring Kid Fashion with Carter’s {+ Coupon!} #SpringIntoCarters

#SpringIntoCartersI participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Carter’s. I received a complimentary gift card to facilitate my review and thank me for my participation.

Ah, spring! The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and we are so.stinkin.close. to my favorite reason for the season change: New clothes!

I don’t know about you all, but I have about 10 pairs of my girls’ leggings that just need to go…Holes in the knees, paint in the creases, etc. I just can’t let go until we shake these frigid temps for good.

We recently went over to our local Carter’s store for a little shopping. I usually don’t love taking all 3 kids on adventures like this, but I made the exception because Carter’s has LEGOs, which means my girls actually love visiting. They can sit and play while I shop…and I can let them pick out items they would like, because if you have girls — you know how opinionated they can be, even at 2 and 4.

Thankfully, my 2-year-old does the “This looks good – I’ll take it!” approach, so she is fairly easy to shop with. I loved this outfit she picked out. Cute and comfy — totally her style!

Carter's Spring 2015 Toddler Girls

My 4-year-old is especially picky, so I generally have to work with her a bit. If she doesn’t pick it out or approve of it, she simply won’t wear it. {My mom will tell you it’s all my years of being a picky kid/unique dresser coming back to haunt me!} I was delighted we could meet in the middle and find things we both loved. I mean, how cute is this tunic and jegging set? I want it in my size 😉

Carter's Spring 2015 - Girls

For being a shy kid, she LOVES the camera! Or, she’s just used to her crazy blogger mama 😉

[Read more…]

25 Easter Basket Ideas for Kids

25 Easter Basket Ideas for Kids

The post below is sponsored by Meijer. All opinions expressed belong to me.

We’re days away from Easter, and like you all, I’m scrambling to make sure everything is coming together. I’m hosting my family this year, so 20 people are coming over on Saturday for an Easter feast. I love having people fill my home — it brings me so much joy!

Best of all though, I love surprising my kiddos on Easter morning with treats from the bunny. It’s such a fun excuse to shop and welcome spring!

I went a little overboard on the baskets for my 4 and 2-year olds this year. I couldn’t help myself! Meijer had so many great things on sale, and many of the items we were in need of {we go through crayons, markers and stickers like water here}. I love that the toy department always has buy one get one half off — especially with Melissa & Doug items. Perfect for stocking up for future presents too!

Easter with Meijer

Can we just talk about the gummy bear Duck Tape? I’m in love! My 4-year-old is obsessed with our regular roll, so I know she is going to love the fun ones! 

They also had these cute bunnies for FREE when buying three cards from American Greetings. Every basket needs at least one token bunny, right?! They are so soft too.

Easter Basket for girls

[Read more…]

5 Easy Steps To Spring Clean Your Bathroom

The post below is sponsored by Meijer Beauty. All opinions expressed are my own.

I admit it: I’m a bit of an organization nut. I mean, I function in chaos 99% of the time corralling three little ones, so when things are actually in my control? I kind of love it. I recently read an article showing how clutter can be linked to depression, especially among women. It went as far as to say:

Women associate a tidy home with a happy and successful family. The more dishes that pile up in the sink, the more anxious women feel.

I can absolutely vouch. My entire life just runs smoother when my house is clean and organized. My house isn’t remotely perfect, but I strive to have a picked up house {after the kids go to bed} – it truly helps me to relax and be able to focus as a work-from-home mom. I always joke that I wish we had visitors between the hours of 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. because that’s the only time our house doesn’t have toys everywhere!

So, I basically love spring cleaning, and having an excuse to purge. To make it manageable, I break it up between each room and do a little each day once a quarter.

5 Easy Steps To Spring Clean Your Bathroom

One area I need to keep up with for my sanity is our bathroom, which always seems to accumulate things. I finally broke down and created a system that has worked very well for us during the past few years. So here’s my quick 5 easy steps to spring clean your bathroom:

1. Sort small items that seem to collect quickly in clear, plastic bins. Sure, wicker looks nice, but being spill proof and clear so items are easy to spot is crucial.

Spring Cleaning Bathroom Tips - Clear Bins
The bins I have: All things dental, surplus lotions/mini shampoos for traveling, adult medicines, kid medicines and first aid. I always make sure to look at expiration dates and toss what has gone bad. And the kid medicine one is crucial when you’re stumbling around in the middle of the night looking for a way to heal a crying baby. [Read more…]

Books and Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers To Make Mealtime FUN

Books and Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers To Make Mealtime FUN

Winter can be dreadful as a parent. My kids love playing outside, and it’s just not always possible with three kiddos, especially when it’s close to mealtime and layers of clothing are needed to go out.

Like most parents, our worst time of day is the hours between 4-6 p.m. when I am preparing dinner and the kids want to “help.” So, this winter I’ve made it my goal to do more meal-time theme nights to keep everyone happy. I have found when I give each of my kids a job, meal time runs MUCH smoother, even if it is messier.

After renting TONS of food-related books from our library, here’s what has been on our menu of books and coordinating meals and activities:

Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle

This book is fabulous for starting the discussion of where food comes from.

Meal: Pancakes, of course. My kids also love when I add a few drops of food coloring to make their ‘cakes blue or green.

Activity: Have your child help you stir in the ingredients, or add special additions such a blueberries {perfect for counting} or they can mush bananas to toss in the batter. My kids love using chocolate chips to make faces, too.

Peanut Butter and Jelly by Nadine Bernard Westcott

This book is based on the play rhyme and has illustrations kids love.

Meal: PB&J of course!

Activity: Spread a blanket out on the floor and have a picnic! My kids absolutely love doing this. We usually just coordinate with easy-to-pick-up foods.

Living room picnic

Enjoying a picnic for dinner a few years ago. Yes, that’s MY beer. Sometimes that is needed after a long day!

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

This book is perfect for stirring imagination.

Meal: Spaghetti and meatballs

Activity: Use Play-Doh to make pasta! Kids love rolling out the dough and making snake-like pastas. Make a few balls for meatballs too. For older kids, discuss what foods you would like to see fall from the sky. [Read more…]

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