Anders Ruff Workshop

Pineville and Davidson, NC

Disney Hacks

Stroller Edition

Adventure Air

Rock Hill, SC

Thursday, August 28, 2014

An Evening of Believing℠ Prom 2014: Locking Arms to Support Children with Cancer

The Sandbox's 4th annual  An Evening of Believing℠ Prom will take place on Friday, September 19th 2014 at Founder's Hall in Uptown Charlotte. The attendees at the An Evening of Believing℠ Prom are young adults who are battling cancer and other life threatening illnesses. It's a night for them to celebrate the exciting adolescent milestone of prom, and make memories together that no sickness can take away.

To create an amazing night for these deserving kids, it takes a community of support. Volunteers from across Charlotte and beyond come together to create a one of a kind red-carpet style experience. Our honorees and their guests are transformed by our "Glam Squad" at the Paul Mitchell school, complete with hair updos, make-up by Mary Kay and nail painting. Prom dresses are donated by the community, tuxedo rentals are discounted by Men's Warehouse. A local Charlotte business, Tie-My-Knot has made and donated 200 handsome bow ties to the honorees for the prom, in addition to selling bow ties to the community through their website and donating a portion of the proceeds to the Sandbox.

The Sandbox needs your help. They are looking for volunteers for the following things:

1. Prom Setup/Breakdown:  Help create the magical backdrop for the kid's celebration. Arrival at 2:00pm at Founder's Hall. Click here and select PRODUCTION.

2. Glam Squad Hairstylists: We need wonderful hairstylists to donate their talents at the Paul Mitchell School. Arrival at 3:30pm. Click here and select GLAM SQUAD - HAIR.

3. Gas Card Donations: The families and our honorees travel from up to 6 hours away, and gas cards help to ease any financial burden. Click here to donate a gas card.

This is a cause that is close to my heart, and I've participated for the past four years. Join us and get your #BELIEVE on! Volunteering with An Evening of Believing℠ Prom will be a night you won't soon forget. Check out the video below to get an overview of what it is to #BELIEVE.

Monday, August 25, 2014

NoseFrida Snotsucker {Giveaway}: For When the Snot Hits The Fan

Snot. Boogers. Phlegm. Congestion. Stuffiness. Yuck. Whatever you call it - if you're a mom you've dealt with absurd quantities of it. Removing the seemingly endless flow from your kid's nose is always a less than desirable experience. With my daughter I had been struggling with the conventional methods of snot removal, the bulb and even the electronic aspirator - until I found the NoseFrida Snotsucker. I kid you not - it changed my life. The first time I used it the sheer volume of unhappiness that it relieved my daughter's nose of was astounding - she could nurse and breathe again! Since then. it made sick days a little less awful in my house - and I've become a believer. In fact I've bought no less than 15 of them as baby gifts for girlfriends. Each of these ladies have shot me text messages amazed at this 'odd' little contraption, and the relief it afforded their little ones during an awfully phlegmy night.

Now, the NoseFrida works a little unconventionally but stay with me I promise you'll love it. It works like a mouth pipette. The red end goes in your mouth and the blue end goes in the baby's nose - there is a disposable filter in between. Every mom that I have gifted the NoseFrida to gives me the same look and response - won't I get IT in my mouth?? My answer is this: I can't guarantee as a mom you won't end up with boogers in your mouth at some point, but I CAN guarantee it won't be while you're using the NoseFrida. 

Now I'm gifting one of the NoseFrida Snotsuckers to a and reader. Just follow the Rafflecopter app below to enter! If you aren't our winner, but would love a NoseFrida I've seen them for sale at Target, Amazon and other baby stores for around $16.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclaimer: BabyFrida provided me with 2 NoseFrida snot suckers. One for the giveaway and the second I'm keeping so I can have one for each floor of my house. As always all opinions are my own - I only share what I love with my readers. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Controlling Playroom Chaos with the Rule of Five

My kids are spoiled well loved when it comes to the quantity of material things they have. We have a large family who are very involved in their lives and also tend to pick them up a little something here and a little something there when they stop by, plus birthday parties, plus Christmas = Total Freakin Playroom Chaos. I needed to control the ever amassing beast the seemed to multiply like bunnies - and I decided to do it with the rule of five. 

It's a super simple concept, but I needed a guideline - somewhere to start. I decided my kids wouldn't ever be able to play with, or need more than five of any item. This meant no more than five matchbox cars, five barbies, five doctor accessories, five types of fake food, five stuffed animals etc. I started sorting through their playroom and filled 3 large Rubbermaid bins full of anything that exceeded five. I kept their favorite items as to not arouse suspicion from the oldest one, and I also rearranged the playroom so it looked different. I made some exceptions to the rule of five, including books, board games, Legos and dress up clothes.

We're three weeks into the change and I am pleased with the results. The mess at the end of the day is manageable enough now that the kids are able to help me pick up. The playroom doesn't get so messy that they are too overwhelmed to go into the playroom, they seem like they play more intentionally with items because there aren't so many things distracting them. I've noticed they are playing more in the playroom and their toys aren't spilling out into the rest of the house as much. They haven't seemed to notice that they are missing toys either. I'm happy that the playroom looks more organized overall.

I plan to rotate out the toys from the 3 bins that we packed away to help keep the toys fresh and exciting for the kids. If it wasn't obvious - all this changing, removing and switching needs to be done under the cloak of the darkness at night to avoid melt downs.
Do you have any tips or tricks to keep the playroom chaos under control? Do you think the rule of five would work for your house?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Jurassic Camp (STEM) with Club Scientific South Charlotte

Update 1/23/15 - the new name of this business is Terrific Scientific and can be found here.

Volcanos and Pteranodons and Fossils - Oh My! Our 5 year old got prehistoric this past week at Jurassic Camp with Club Scientific of South Charlotte. I was nervous about her being gone at an all day camp but to my relief, she BEAMED at the end of each day.  She came home bubbling with excitement about the fun she had, and things she learned at this STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) camp. 

On her first day they constructed volcanos and discovered all things lava. She came home quipping that earthquakes sometimes meant that volcanos were going to erupt, and that the earth had plates in them (but didn't want to confuse me and clarified that she didn't mean dinner plates). The counselors helped the kids make the volcanos erupt the next day with vinegar and baking soda. Her class went on an archeological dig and she proudly touted home fossils and shark teeth. She learned that the Pteranodon was a warm blooded dinosaur (I had no idea!) and they put together a model Pteranodon.

The classes were dynamic and included plenty of fun along with instruction. She was tickled to explain the rules of freeze tag and talked about all the new friends she made. Her counselors were warm and did an amazing job of fielding the many questions on the minds of the 5 year olds in the class.

As a parent I enjoyed that they sent home a schedule of the lessons they would be exploring, with questions to help us continue the conversation and learning at home.  When they discussed the stegosaurus our parent question was to ask them to describe a herbivore, and she was all too excited to tell me about the giant dinosaur that only ate plants. We agreed this type of dinosaur would be the best to cross paths with, unlike this carnivorous friend T-Rex. She also told me about the different shapes of dinosaur teeth, flat for plant eaters and sharp for meat eaters.

They made plaster shells, and discussed all the things that paleontologists studied. They delicately unearthed dino bones from a cookie and discovered crystals by growing a crystal tree.

Next week, August 11th is the last week of the camp for the summer and spots are still available. They are offering the following classes.

Ages 4-5 "Little Scientist"

Ages 6-8 "Grossology" "Space Engineer" and "Young Physician"

Ages 9-14 "CSI" and "Robot Adventures"

You can sign your kids up online here. Lucky you! readers can get a $25 discount with the code: Mommies14

I was thoroughly impressed with the camp and S looks forward to attending again next year. In addition to top notch summer camps Club Scientific Charlotte also offers science filled birthday parties, scout badges, in-school field trips and pre-school visits. Their after school Elementary science and robotics enrichment classes are the perfect way for school administrators to encourage kids to engage in the STEM's. 
You can keep up with Club Scientific Charlotte on facebook here. Disclosure: My daughter was allowed to attend Club Scientific Charlotte free of charge to help facilitate my blog review, however as always my opinions are my own. I promise my readers I only share what I love.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Stress-free, Mess-free Birthday Fun at Gymboree Play and Music

{FREE class offer at the end of the blog} I've always had birthday parties at home for my kids. Now that I'm five years deep into that experience I decided that I was due a break from another year of stressful "ice cream and frosting covered chaos." We are blessed to have many wonderful friends, so our guest list was for 16 cake-loving kids and their parents. Kids at parties want to run, and play and scatter every toy you own on the floor. That's just how they roll. This year I decided I'd party smarter, stress-free and mess-free by celebrating my little guy's 2nd birthday at Gymboree Play & Music in Ballantyne.

Gymboree had all the elements that I was looking for in a 2 year old birthday party. It was air-conditioned, a must for summer parties in Charlotte. We had the whole place to ourselves so we knew random big kids wouldn't be knocking the little ones over. The entire pre-cleaned play floor with age-appropriate climbing and exploration activities plus the large party room were at our disposal for the hour and a half of festivities. The party hosts engaged the children in several shriek and laugh worthy activities, and even included the parents for parachute time. They handled the set up, created the fun, broke it down and cleaned it up. WIN for Mom & Dad. They were reasonably priced at $195 for up to 12 kids for the hour and 1/2 of play and fun time. This was the perfect amount of time for little kid's attentions spans. 

I can't lie - I felt giddy as I prepared for this party. Gymboree was handling all the set up (plates, napkins, utensils, cups, party hats), all the entertainment and all the break down - all I had to do was make cupcakes, pick up ice cream, ice and drinks and sit back and enjoy the day. So that's just what I did. The party leaders met me at the door, full of energy and ready to show the kids a great time. They set up the room and helped me unload my things.

Once the guests started to arrive the music began and the kids got to head to the floor to try out some of the equipment. Our guests ranged in age from 11 months to 6 years. The 6 year olds weren't able to play on the equipment, however the party leaders did a great job of including them as helpers for the younger kids. The leaders began the party with a happy birthday welcome song for E, accompanied by moroccas. The kids were really dialed in, dancing and wiggling to the music with big smiles on their faces. In between host-led activities the kids were able to check out the equipment and roam around at their own pace.

The party hosts did a wonderful job of making E feel so special on his 2nd birthday. They included his names in their songs and his ear-to-ear smile showed how much he was enjoying the music, play and fun at Gymboree. He got to experience the birthday candle jump, the sprinkle popping ball, the kid conga line and the much adored parachute time. Oh the giggles we heard were infectious!

Gymboree Play & Music offers a variety of weekly classes for kids ages 0-5 in addition to hosting birthday parties. Dana the manager recommended that we bring E in for a complimentary class before his party so he could familiarize himself with the space and would be even more excited when it was his birthday party, what a great idea. He felt so comfortable and was able to enjoy the experience even more.

This was the most fun, stress-free, mess-free party I've experienced to date. The kids, the parents and my husband and I all commented about what a fun experience it was and how happy all the kids were. Gymboree is definitely going to be my go-to birthday party place for next year.

You know I'm always trying to hook my readers up with fun FREE experiences. Now you can bring your kiddo to check out a complimentary class at Gymboree Play & Music. Signing up for your free class is super simple just follow the links here. You can also check out everything that Gymboree Play & Music offers, including class schedules by visiting Ballantyne Gymboree Play & Music here. They are located at 3419 Toringdon Way Suite 112 Charlotte, North Carolina 28277 (near Earthfare and Red Robin). You can keep up with all the excitement by liking them on facebook here. Disclaimer: I was given a discount (after I had already decided on having our party at Gymboree) for writing up a blog about our experience, but as always my opinions are my own - I only share what I love with my readers.