Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Eleven Months.

mabry mae hutchins

Our Mabry Mae Hutchins is eleven months old. There's a sting in my heart to know that she's growing up and becoming less of a baby, my last baby, everyday. Yet, I love to watch her grow and learn and become a little person.

Mabry has such a bright personality and she's sweet, yet fierce. When one of her siblings takes her toy from her hands she screams out at them. Since she isn't talking yet this is her way of saying, "give that back to me NOW!" When she's sleepy she will lay her head on your shoulder. She's a lover.

She's walking now. There's no holding her back. She sees where she wants to go and her little legs take her. My favorite is when she grips the carpet with her tiny toes. I pray I never forget these details.

At eleven months old, she already has 6 teeth. I don't remember my other kids having so many teeth at this age. Maybe they did? Having Mabry nearly 5 years after McKinley is like being a first-time parent all over again. I'm having to re-learn all of the things that babies do. Like, teething. Oh, the drool. And the endless crying because it hurts her so badly. And the fevers and late nights. Teething is for the birds!

We don't watch much TV in our house. We haven't had cable in 3 or 4 years. I thought, at first, that I'd miss it. I don't. We do have Netflix. But, even with that the TV doesn't get turned on too often. Here's why I'm even telling you this...I've noticed when we do turn the TV on and it's an animated show, Mabry LOVES it! She gets really excited and dances with the songs. She "talks" to whichever character is on at the moment. It's so fun to watch her!

Mabry Mae Hutchins, you are so much fun! I love being your mommy. I'm excited to watch you grow and see who you will become. What will you accomplish? Who do you want to be? Will your sister be your best friend? I pray I see all of these questions answered. I love you.




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

5 Back-to-School Shopping Tips

5 Back to School Shopping Tips

Last week a postcard showed up in my mailbox informing me that Middle School Orientation is in 3 weeks. THREE weeks, people! Didn't Summer just begin??

While I'm sad for the Summer to be coming to a close, I'm equally excited {if not more so} for the kids to go back to school. When I was a kid growing up, back-to-school season was my most favorite! Freshly sharpened pencils, crisp notebook paper, and a Trapper Keeper {!!}. Kids these days have NO idea what a Trapper Keeper is...only the greatest notebook of all time! Children of the 80's, am I right??

I'll have four kids in school full-time this year. While I'm no expert in what's right and wrong in back-to-school shopping, I have learned a few things along the way. After all, Jake will be starting 7th grade this school year. Including preschool and VPK, that's like 8 years of solid experience.

Today I'm sharing 5 Back-to-School Shopping Tips that I've learned along the way.

/1/ Start Shopping NOW! - Back-to-School supplies sales begin to pop up the weekend after the 4th of July. For real. It seems early but, it's great for a multitude of reasons. Keep reading. Each week, pick up a Sunday paper and scour the ads for the best deals.

/2/ Shop Often - Every week each store will have different school supplies on sale. This week you can buy pencils for next to nothing and next week might be 1-inch binders. The more often you go, the less money you'll spend and the less crowds you'll have to fight when it gets closer to the first day of school.

/3/ Shop Tax Free - Check and see if your state offers a tax-free weekend for back-to-school shopping. If it isn't offered in your state, drive to a neighboring state {if gas cost is significantly lower than the tax savings} or contact your local state representative to see if he/she can get the wheels in motion on bringing that savings to you for following years!

On top of the store's sale prices, saving your state's tax percentage is an added bonus! Since I like to shop for supplies each week as the sale ads come out, I usually take advantage of tax-free weekend for the kid's clothes. After all, the clothing is the most expensive part of the shopping list. Also, tax-free weekend is a great time to buy the supplies that are "wants". You know the ones, the FROZEN folders or the more expensive mechanical pencils that they insist are far better than the ones you bought for $0.48 or the fancy-schmancy pens. Basically, anything not on the "official" supply list is generally bought during this time for an added savings.

/4/ Know Before You Go - I noticed this past school year that my kids' school puts a supply list in their end-of-year report card. Genius! This way I'm armed with a supply list weeks before the sales begin and I can make a plan. I can buy more than I need, if the price is right. If I didn't have my list I might wind up buying 3 folders at that amazing sale price when the kids actually need 4...and then I might end up paying full price for the 4th. It's nice to have a list!

/5/ Price Match - This is my most recent back-to-school shopping, "ah-ha moment" tip. In years past I would check out Sunday's paper, make a plan to go to each store that had what I needed at the best price, and go to each store. {let's not even think about the amount of gas was used in this school shopping adventure...} This year is different. I check my Sunday paper each week, gather the sale ads with the items circled that I plan to purchase, and then head to my local WalMart and utilize their Price Match Policy. It's a one-stop shop. Best of all, if the item is Buy One, Get One Free then it's 9 times out of 10 going to be cheaper on the Buy One. For instance, XYZ store had Crayola markers on sale BOGO for $2.98. WalMart's price was $1.27. This means, I was able to get the BOGO offer at $1.27 instead of $2.98. Make sense? {I was able to get each item for 64 cents, instead of $1.49.} It's truly easy and saves SO MUCH MONEY!

Are you ready for Back-to-School? What shopping tip would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments.







Monday, July 21, 2014

Aladdin Mason Tumblers {a Summer Essential}

Aladdin Summer

I live in the South. I wear flip-flops, eat fried chicken, and drink sweet tea...from a mason jar. This summer I discovered Aladdin Mason Tumblers. They are everything I've grown to love from the traditional canning jars, only in a non-breakable version.

Sold at Walmart and on Amazon, these tumblers are perfect for everyday.

Hosting an outdoor BBQ? Serve your guests with Aladdin Mason's.

Aladdin Summer
Need to increase your water intake? Add fresh sliced lemon to a pitcher of ice cold H2O and serve it in an Aladdin Mason Pitcher. Or, make a refreshing batch of lemonade. {Available in multiple colors, at WalMart}

Aladdin Summer
My most favorite, well, one of my most favorite features of these tumblers is that they have lids and straws {sold separately}. Never again will I go to take a sip of my drink and there be a pesky fly floating on top. 

Aladdin Summer

This pitcher comes in a multitude of fun colors. Clear is good for everyday but, I think I need a pink one for Mabry's 1st birthday shindig! {which is coming way sooner than I'd like. Where'd my baby go?}

Aladdin Summer

Now, when I'm outside with the kids on a hot summer's day, I fill up the Aladdin Pitcher with a fruit-infused water, get everyone an Aladdin Tumbler of their own and set up a beverage table. Everyone stays hydrated and looks cute while doing so. 

What's your favorite beverage to drink from a mason jar??

Disclosure: The Aladdin products shown in this post were sent to me from Aladdin but, as always, the opinions are my own. Also, affiliate links are used within this post.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Disney's PLANES: Fire & Rescue

planes-fire-and-rescue-logo-636-220

Planes: Fire & Rescue is flying into theaters everywhere this weekend!

A small town crop duster turned racing champion, Dusty Crophopper {Dane Cook}, makes a small mistake that has him step up and make a huge sacrifice. After learning that his gearbox is damaged and no longer in production, Dusty thinks that racing is soon to be a thing of the past. Little does he know that while he may not be racing for trophies and accolades any longer, he'll be racing into the fire when everyone else is racing out.

Follow Dusty from Propwash Junction Airport to Piston Peak National Park as he meets Blade Ranger {Ed Harris}, Dipper {Julie Bowen}, Windlifter {Wes Studi}, Cabbie {Captain Dale Dye}, and the Smoke Jumpers to train to become a certified firefighting plane to help his friend, Mayday {Hal Holbrook}.

The humor in this movie is spot on. A one-liner directed at a pretty gal at a honky tonk from a "pickup truck" to a joke about a Hybrid that "he didn't hear coming", kids and adults alike will enjoy this animated film.

You'll experience moments of sadness for the Dusty. You'll see him fail {and overcome}. You'll fall in love with Dipper's quirky personality. You'll listen to the wisdom {?} from Windlifter. Oh, and you'll long for a love as deep as Harvey and Winnie's.

I totally give this film a thumbs up! Disney has done it once again with this must-see movie for the entire family.

What's Your Name? #ShareACoke

The search is over.

Since the day I noticed that Coca Cola started the new #ShareACoke campaign I've been on the hunt for my name, Melissa. Yesterday I was told that there's a website that you can go to and check and see if your name is available in stores. Well, mine isn't. On the upside, Coca Cola says my name is unique. Really, Coke? There are at least 319,988 Melissa's in the world {according to Wikipedia *snicker*}. My name is far from unique. :o)

The only name in my family that I can {or will} find is Jake. Oh well. One out of seven aren't bad odds...or are they?

Good news, if your name isn't available in stores you can make a virtual bottle.

melissa-dc-sq

Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. I just think the campaign is fun. I do enjoy looking at all of the names Coke chose...that they think aren't unique. Like, Ibrahim is a popular name??


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy {Coming Soon to Theaters}

proxy

Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” finds space adventurer Peter Quill the object of a bounty hunt after stealing an orb coveted by a treacherous villain, but when Quill discovers the power it holds, he must find a way to rally the quartet of ragtag rivals hot on his trail to save the universe.

Have you seen the trailer for the upcoming movie Guardians of the Galaxy? If you're a fan of super heroes, you're going to love it! Even if super heroes aren't your thing, I think you're going to enjoy it. {I'll tell you for sure after July 24 when I go see it at a media screening.}

Here's the official trailer.


From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team—the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel's “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand—with the galaxy's fate in the balance.

Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which first appeared in comic books in Marvel Super-Heroes, Issue #18 (Jan. 1969), stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime Rael and Benicio Del Toro as The Collector.

James Gunn is the director of the film with Kevin Feige, p.g.a., producing. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jeremy Latcham, Alan Fine and Stan Lee serve as executive producers. Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” is written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman and releases in U.S. theaters on August 1, 2014.

Here's a fun extended look video.


Do you plan on going to the theater on August 1? I can't wait to hear what you think of Guardians of the Galaxy!

Disclosure: The information and videos in this post were provided to me from Disney. I was not given any compensation to share it with you. I do so because I think you will enjoy the movie. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

5 Must See Attractions at Disney's Animal Kingdom

5 MUST SEE ATTRACTIONS AT DISNEYS ANIMAL KINGDOM

Disney has four major theme parks in Florida. The Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. Ask me which is my favorite and I'd probably say, "I love them all." Ask my youngest son, Jett, and he'd say, "Animal Kingdom!"

I've heard differing opinions on how much time is needed to see everything "worth seeing" inside Disney's Animal Kingdom. Some say it only takes half of a day, while others like to visit every nook and cranny. If you ask me, Animal Kingdom is an all-day theme park. Even then, you might not get to see it all, it becomes a two-dayer.

I'm going to tell you my family's TOP 5 Must See Attractions in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Ready? Let's go!


finding-nemo-the-musical

1. Finding Nemo {The Musical} - Located in DinoLand U.S.A., this is number ONE on our agenda each and every time we visit the Animal Kingdom. The show is entertaining, bright, lively, everything you love about a musical. The puppeteers are cleverly camouflaged to match their character, yet I find myself watching them over the puppet each time. They all are truly talented at what they do and it shows in their facial expressions that they love their roles. I suggest using the NEW My Disney Experience app to get a Fast Pass for this one! You're going to LOVE it! {Fun for ALL ages}

Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom

2. Expedition Everest - Located in Asia, this thrilling expedition through the Himalayan Mountains on a weather-beaten train is number two on our list. Climb a steep incline and navigate through a ceremonial stone tunnel before reaching the summit. Once at the "top of the world," hold on tight as you pick up speed and race inside the dreaded mountain. Did I mention a face-to-face encounter with the Yeti? Once at the top of the mountain, you'll come to a screeching halt when you reach a broken track. Where to now? You'll have to ride this thrilling coaster to find out!


3. Primeval Whirl - Like Finding Nemo, this ride is located in DinoLand U.S.A. This spinning rollercoaster is SO.MUCH.FUN! Sudden dips and hairpin turns take you back in time to a cartoon-esque dinosaur era. The overall appearance of Primeval Whirl is like a ride right from the town carnival. But, as with 99% of Disney's rides, it's everything you look for in a thrilling ride.

Kilimanjaro Safaris in Animal Kingdom

4. Kilimanjaro Safaris - Unmistakably, Jett's FAVORITE ride within all of Animal Kingdom. Climb aboard your open-aired safari truck and travel through the 110-acre Harambe Wildlife Preserve. See wild animals in their natural habitats and maybe even have to wait for some giraffe to cross your path. Each and every time you step foot on this safari your experience will be different because, the more than 34 exotic African species have minds of their own. Last time we rode Kilimanjaro Safaris we saw a hippopotamus out of the water. In all of my years I've never seen a hippo out of water. If you have an aspiring zoologist, this is an absolute must-see.

DINOSAUR at Disney's Animal Kingdom

5. DINOSAUR - There's something about not knowing what lurks around every corner that will keep you coming back to this attraction year after year. Travel back in time on a mission to rescue an Iguanadon. Once there though, you'll discover that you landed just in time for a giant meteor to hit the earth and cause the extinction of dinosaurs. Will you make it back to 2014 before it all takes place? 

There you have it, my family's TOP 5 Must See Attractions at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Are there more just as fun and super amazing attractions to see? Of course! 

My family would be disappointed if I didn't give you a bonus selection {of sorts} and tell you about It's Tough to be a Bug! A 3D interactive show featuring the characters from Bug's Life takes you underground into the tunnels where the bugs live. Don't be surprised if you encounter some 4D effects! {I just checked Disney's website. Check before you travel to see if this attraction has been re-opened. Unfortunately, it's currently, July 2014, closed for enhancements.}

What are a few of your favorites when you visit Animal Kingdom??