5 Trends that’ll make your Kiddos Summer Party Sizzle!!!!

1.  BIG SUMMER BASH in lieu of birthday parties: There seems to be a big trend forming, parents are opting to spend more on one HUGE summer bash for their kiddos as opposed to hosting big birthday parties for each child. I must admit, I am 100% onboard!! Don’t get me wrong we will still do something small for each child on their birthday but we won’t be doing the ridiculously complicated Pinterest worthy celebrations like we did in the past. We just hosted our BIG Schools out for SUMMER Bash yesterday & it was an absolute blast!! We will totally do it again next summer! In fact some of the kiddos were begging us to have another one next week! Yep, it was that much fun! LOL!

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2. Bounce House: When I think back to my own childhood, and the parties my kiddos have attended all the really awesome ones always had a bounce house/ inflatables.  Those were the parties we would talk about for weeks, months, even years to come! The Bounce House/ Inflatable is still ALL the rage! The kids love the bounce houses! And it is nice on the parents, it gives us a break, we can literally just sit and watch instead of having to occupy their attention with a ½ dozen other activities. And I will be the first to tell you there is no competing with the bounce house; it is in a class of its own! Yes, I speak from experience. During our Summer bash I made an attempt at getting the kiddos off the giant inflatable waterslide to participate in water balloon & water gun activities and they could care less…the only way they were getting off that waterslide was if GOD told them to, via lightning. LOL! IT WAS A BLAST!! The kiddos loved it! Huge thank you to FUN FACTORY for bringing the FUN!!

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3. Decorate Your Own (DYO): No need to purchase that already decorated cake or cookies, the latest trend is having the kiddos decorate their own!! WHAT!?! You heard right. Bake your cupcakes, cakes, and/ or cookies and then set up a frosting and decoration station/table. Or better yet, do what I did and outsource, have someone do it for you. Sweet Cheeks Treats made/baked all the cookies and supplied the frosting in these awesome easy to use frosting bottles.

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It was the coolest! The kiddos had fun coming up with their own designs for their fish, ball, and dolphin cookies! Not only did Sweet Cheeks Treats supply the cookies she also saved me time, energy, and patience, huge thank you!!! Tip of the day: Whenever possible, outsource, save your sanity!

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4. Photo-booth:  How often do you get to wear a sombrero and fake mustache? And then be a beautiful princess two minutes later? Not often enough, right!?! The photo-booth is the perfect opportunity for the kiddos to use their imaginations and mix & match various props in order to produce the silliest photo. Most party stores (Wal-Mart, Target, Hobby Lobby) often stock a small photo-booth kit. Simply set up the backdrop (a shower curtain and/or tablecloth works well), layout the props, and have an adult designated as the photo-booth photographer…to add to the fun you could upload photos  to the computer and have everyone vote on their favorite and then give the winners a prize!


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5. Piñata- I know what you’re thinking, really, that is so old-school, right!?! Well, old school is cool now days. We picked out this beauty at Wal-Mart but practically all stores seem to have them these days. But I will advise that you take into consideration how many kiddos you have and purchase one that will hold enough goodies for everyone. This guy offered slim pickings for our guests so we will have to go for a larger size next time. Also, get creative with what you stuff your piñata with, it doesn’t need to be candy…Chuck-e-cheese tokens, coupons, tattoos, stickers, etc.


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Summer Parties are the BEST! Whether you have yours in the beginning, mid, or late summer, there is nothing better than getting together with family and friends. Remember, it is the people in your life that matter most! So, in the midst of all the chaos and fun be sure to pull up a towel, chair, cooler, etc.. just grab a seat and make time for those that matter most. Cheers!! BRING ON SUMMER!!

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So, what are your thoughts on having a big party in lieu of a birthday party for each child?


Pig Down a Slide! LOL!

It has been such a stressful morning!! I am sure most moms can relate since today is the day the kiddos energy and excitement levels skyrocket with the anticipation of trick-or-treating this evening! But first the pre-trick-or-treating festivities, school parties and parades. And of course mom is the one who is responsible for making certain costumes and candy/treats are ready.  Now, I wish I could say everything went smoothly this morning but since I have 8 additional hands helping me move things that were supposed to be in specific locations it did not! One child couldn’t find their pants, another left their shoes outside, and the youngest lost her costume all together!! You know what got me through my little mini mommy melt down this morning? I would love to say some inspirational quote or scripture reading but I have to be honest, it was the image of a pig going down a slide that kept me from escalating into the official ‘crazy mom’ mode. Nuts, right!? But for some reason reliving that image over and over in my head has kept a smile on my face all morning…even when my son brought in a laundry basket with dog poop on it (long story…not going to get into it now! Rrrrr!).  You might ask where on earth I would see a pig going down a slide. And the answer is, at The Greatest Show on Earth, Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey show! They are in town this weekend with their latest show Legends, which we attended last night, and it was Legen….wait for it….dary!!

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We started off our evening with a pre-show where the kiddos could try on some of the costumes, sit on one of the bikes, watch an elephant paint (one of the many highlights of the evening!!), etc. then we made our way to our seats to watch the show.

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I have to honest; before the show even started I kind of had it in mind that we would leave at the intermission. The kids had school in the morning and so what if we missed some silly act with clowns…there is always another circus, right!? Wrong!

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I don’t even feel comfortable calling it ‘the circus’, it was seriously a caliber way above a typical circus, and it was more like a show. There was a narrative, themes, such smooth transitions from one performance to another….the excitement and anticipation kept us on the edge of our seats. At one moment the Tiger got a little ornery and you could hear a gasp from the audience. Another time one the acrobat performers went for a world record…you could hear a pin drop followed by cheers from the audience when he accomplished his goal!! The entire show was so amazing, for a moment I thought I was back at Disney World. It seriously reminded me of a quality performance from the Greatest Place on Earth, Disney World, which I suppose makes sense since Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey is known as the Greatest Show on Earth! So the question that begs to be asked, who leaves the Greatest Show on Earth at intermission? Not this family!

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I am fairly certain my husband and I were equally as excited as the kiddos for the second portion of the show! Haha! I loved being able to get caught up in the narrative, in the experience, in the imagination (at one point one horse came out with wings and another looking like a unicorn…it was so lifelike it took me a second to grasp the reality of the situation), and I didn’t want it to end. As adults we have so many responsibilities and obligations.

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It is important that from time-to-time we turn off our phones and screens, just sit back and watch the show, don’t worry about tomorrow, concentrate on the elephants that are literally in the room! Haha! And the best part, you can take it with you….souvenirs and memories to cherish for always. So the next time your are stuck in construction traffic you will be smiling because you will be recalling that awesome evening you had with the family at the circus and the pig going down the slide. LOL!

Disclosure: I was given tickets to the show Legends, and kiddos received elephant souvenir and other goodies. No other compensation was received, and all opinions expressed are my own.

Navy Week: Navy’s Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812

Ships of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and Royal Canadian Navy are scheduled to visit Toledo as part of the Navy’s Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and Navy Week, August 20-27. The week will be packed with family-friendly special events recognizing the Navy for keeping the sea free for more than 200 years.


Area residents will have the opportunity to learn about the War of 1812 and about the Navy’s capabilities and relevance to national security, as well as see the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Navy firsthand through a wide array of community events and outreach. During the festivities, the public can attend Navy Band Great Lakes concerts, view Navy Color Guard performances, interact with the Navy F-18A Flight simulator, and visit U.S. and Canadian Navy ships.


“Toledo was carefully chosen as one of 15 cities this year where America’s Navy will ‘come home’ to demonstrate the mission of the U.S. Navy and the proud Navy and Marine Corps heritage,” saidCarla E. Lucchino, assistant for administration, Department of the Navy. “We’re honored to have the City of Toledo host us as we engage with local corporate and community leaders, interact with the public and perform various community service projects.”

Arriving  at the Maumee River front in downtown Toledo on Aug. 23, will be the coastal patrol ship USS Hurricane (PC 3) and the frigate USS De Wert (FFG 45), accompanied by the historic US Brig Niagara – a War of 1812 replica tall ship first constructed using the original wreckage salvaged from a Lake Erie bay in 1913. Tours aboard the ships will be open for public visitation.

Additionally, sailors from the Toledo area, the visiting ships, as well as local U.S. Marines and Coast Guardsmen will participate in many community service projects, including volunteering with the Maumee Valley Habitat for Humanity, interacting with students at the Imagination Station, and participating in a softball game with athletes from the Special Olympics.


“The Great Lakes Region is as important to our Navy today as it was 200 years ago. Toledo is one of the many Navy cities in the region that continue to inspire and support our maritime forces,” saidRear Admiral Gregory M. Nosal, Commander, Carrier Strike Group Two.  “I look forward to our Navy and Marine Corps team visiting this region to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812, and showcase our ships as well as our men and women who stand the watch 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, protecting our way of life.”


The War of 1812, also known as America’s second war for independence, is regarded by many as the conflict that started our country’s rise to global influence. From 1812 to 1815, the United States fought to expand to the north and west, and to assert rights to trade freely with other countries without interference from Britain’s Royal Navy ships on the high seas. America’s modern Navy and its role as a global maritime force are deeply rooted in the events of 1812 to 1815. Earlier this year,the United States Navy and its sea-service partners began a three-year commemoration to the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of our National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner.


A full event schedule will be available online in mid August:http://www.navyweek.org/toledo2012/index.html and http://www.ourflagwasstillthere.org/

Imagination Station is a Spring Break Destination: Opening Day of Smash Your Food!!

Since our son is on Spring break from preschool this week we asked him to list a few fun spots to visit and on the top of that list was Imagination Station.  I have to admit I was pretty excited he chose Imagination Station. Not only do I enjoy reading and participating in the various science exhibits but our preschooler and very active toddler enjoy Imagination Station’s littleKIDSPACE, making it the perfect destination for the entire family.

Little KIDSPACE is a learning world designed for children kindergarten age and younger. The littlest adventurers can hop aboard a fire truck, shop in the grocery store or climb their favorite tree house while learning about forces, motion, math and life science. Little KIDSPACE Studio features a daily interactive story and activity.

Every day in Little KIDSPACE Science Studio, a special hands-on activity area within Little KIDSPACE, one of their qualified team members sits down with the kids and reads them a story, then facilitates a complimentary activity with kids. http://www.imaginationstationtoledo.org/content/exhibits/learning-worlds/

Once our little adventure seeker is tired out we like to venture away from Little KIDSPACE and enjoy the other exhibits Imagination Station has to offer like ENGINEER IT!

Think It. Build It. Test It … Do It Again!

ENGINEER IT! is a highly interactive learning world that presents science as an open-ended discovery process. Visitors of all ages can design and build boats, windmills, airplanes, buildings and bridges using the Think it, Build It, Test It and Do It Again engineering philosophy.

Presented by: SSOE

Another favorite is MIND ZONE.

Mind Zone helps you discover how the mind processes, interprets and creates illusions and perceptions. Home to the Distorted Gravity Room, built using thoughtful construction and optical illusions to create a visual distortion that you’ll never forget. Mnid Znoe payls tikrcs wtih yuor mnid. You wno’t bveleie waht you see. (Yes misspelling is deliberate but I bet you could still read it).

Our Preschoolers favorite spot in MINDZONE is the Distorted Gravity Room, he goes through at least three times each time we visit.


But what we are really looking forward to and what unveils this week is the Eat it Up! permanent exhibit.

This newest experience at Imagination Station, Eat It Up! Is presented by ProMedica.

Get your heart pumping as you take on the Wheel of Fire and the Heart Rate Rally, Smash Your Food to smithereens, and literally Get in the Action. Eat It Up!, a highly interactive exhibition focused on nutrition and exercise tells the story of how the choices you make today affect your body. Eat Smart. Play Hard. Have Fun. The choice is yours!

Eat It Up!, a permanent 2,000+ square foot exhibition area, containing 7 major exhibits, a demonstration area and larger than life graphics will include: The Wheel of Fire, Lifestyle Camera, Food Feud, Social Table, Get in the Action, Heart Rate Rally… Ready. Set. Go!, The Kitchen, and Smash Your Food.

I personally can’t wait to checkout Smash Your Food which was recently launched as an iPad app.

Have you ever wanted to take a burger, an ice cream sundae or French fries and smash it to into an unrecognizable mess? Winner in First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Apps for Healthy Kids’ Competition, this fun and exciting mobile game encourages families to smash real foods—burgers, cola, French Fries and entire meals and to learn about nutrition, inspiring healthier food choices while providing parents with personalized emails filled with nutrition advice.


The exhibit will feature a life-sized Smash Your Food machine, which smashes common foods to illustrate how much fat, sugar, and salt, is in each, subtly encouraging kids and parents to make healthier choices. In addition, Smash Your Food will be bringing in “Master Smash”, a 10-foot tall, real-life robot that smashes the food in the game, to smash real food in-person on opening day.


So, whether you have never been to Imagination Station or you are a regular visitor, when planning your spring break make certain you include this station as one of your destinations!