Enchanted Mommy

Review: Alba Botanica Body Wash

showergel

Husband and I went on our honeymoon to Hawaii.  It was pure bliss.  Three kids and almost eight years later, I feel like I can only dream about going back to the Grand Wailea in Maui.  Well, let’s just say this body wash takes me back every single day because it smells just like the shampoo, conditioner, and body wash that I used there.  It smells so good, unbelievably good.

I buy this Alba Botanica Honey Mango shower gel on Amazon.  It is a little pricey, but it is the perfect Mother’s Day gift or the special “I deserve a treat for myself”.  Try it, you won’t be disappointed.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, three kids under five make me feel like I’m playing catch up like all the time.

Columbia Utilities Partners with Habitat for Humanity

I’m a huge fan of helping out those in need. One of the organizations that does an excellent job of this is Habitat for Humanity. They bring communities together to help create homes and environments that families in need can use as a starting point to rebuild their lives. I’m always impressed with their efforts and the work that they do.

I was glad to see that this type of effort is also receiving corporate support. A recent press release highlighted that Columbia Utilities, a New York energy company, was partnering with Habitat for Humanity to help make a difference.

Columbia Utilities

Columbia Utilities role in this effort is to donate funds to 12 months of electricity and natural gas to two homes being build by Habitat for Humanity in Brooklyn and Queens. This donation to the families can help them get back on their feet and started in the right direction. We all know how expensive energy and heating can be and it can really make a difference to a family getting their lives back together.

Columbia Utilities

Columbia Utilities – Helping Families

The article highlighted how Columbia Utilities is a family owned organization since 1938. I’m glad that they’re still thinking about families and providing opportunities to help others in need. Imagine the benefits and strength that would come if more organizations donated their resources to families in need.

Helping the Community

There are so many organizations out there that help the community. I’m happy to donate my time and money to any of them that are trying to make a difference in individuals lives. I’m hopeful that I can instruct my family to continue to provide this level of generosity and care to others when they’re in need, and if it ever happens, that we’ll receive help from others should we need it.

Thanks Habitat for Humanity and Columbia Utilities for making a difference in people’s lives. We need more organizations that are willing to do so.

Review: Build-A-Bear

We decided to take the girls to build-a-bear.  We chose the Fair Oaks location in Fairfax, VA.  Husband went online and got a $5 off $30 coupon and we had part of a gift card leftover, so we left out of there pretty cheap.  However, this was mainly because we didn’t allow them to get all the extras.  This was a great experience and all the staff were so friendly!

First, they chose their unstuffed bears.  Anna’s pink bear was $16 and Ella’s black bear with stars was $20.  It was pretty easy to steer them away from the expensive bears (you can get one for $40 for the bear alone).

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Hanging out with their unstuffed bears.

Next, they went to a computer, scanned their bear and put their bear’s hobbies in.  After this, they got to stuff their bear and kiss their bears heart and place it in the bear.

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Placing the heart in her bear after she kissed it.

It was cool because they got to step on the machine so it let out the bears stuffing.

Then it was bath time!

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Giving their bears a bath and drying their fur.

A little more bath time fun!

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Lastly, they named their bear and got a certificate as well.  We could have chosen clothes, shoes and even roller skates for them, but all of that was so expensive and we could have ended up spending way more than double our original cost.  They were happy with what they had.  The clerk boxed up their bears into a little house.  They loved them!

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Even the baby loved them too!

She liked them too!

She liked them too!

It was a great and fun activity!  I think it would be a great idea for a reward.  A little advice is to spend a good amount of time at each station.  Let your kids make believe and pretend.  It makes great memories!

 

 

Book Review: The Boleyn Inheritance

book

So I just moved into the new house (FINALLY!!!!) last week… literally.  I am not settled enough to cook or craft up anything just yet, but I can never go without a good book!  I love reading, especially when life gets crazy!

I just finished this Philippa Gregory book.  I love all her books!  I find her writing interesting, well researched, and addicting.  Once I start her books I hardly put them down until I finish.  I particularly loved The Boylen Inheritance because it really gives you a feel for King Henry VIII’s lesser known 4th and 5th wives.

It seems like King Henry’s first two wives are the ones we hear most about.  Queen Catherine of Aragon, the first Queen to be divorced by the King so he could marry Anne Boleyn ,whom he later publicly beheaded.  It was so interesting to read this next book about King Henry VIII’s wives following the famously beheaded Queen Anne.

This book tells the story of Queen Mary of Cleves and the very young Queen Katherine Howard.  It continues with the character of Jane Rochford (sister-in-law and Lady in Waiting to Queen Anne Boleyn) as started in The Other Boleyn Girl.  It tells of their lives at court while  married to the notorious “wife killer” King Henry VIII, who married six times and survived the death of four wives.

Loved the story and the research that went into this book!

I would recommend reading The Other Boleyn Girl first if you haven’t already.  It really gives you a lot of background on the characters.

For all those Philippa Gregory fans out there, her next book is available for pre-order on Amazon.  It is comes out July 23rd!  I can’t wait!  This next book is called The White Princess and is the next in the Cousins War series.  It is all about Princess Elizabeth and her fate after her father, King Edward, dies and her mother is cast out of the Royal Court.

Coming out July 23rd!

Coming out July 23rd! So excited!!!!

Here are few other Philippa Gregory books I recommend:

The White Queen_ A Novel (The Cousins_ War)_ Philippa Gregory_ 9781451602050_ Amazon.com_ Books

The Red Queen (Cousins_ War #2)_ Philippa Gregory_ 9781451656848_ Amazon.com_ Books

The Kingmaker_s Daughter (The Cousins_ War)_ Philippa Gregory_ 9781451626087_ Amazon.com_ Books

The Other Boleyn Girl_ Philippa Gregory_ 9780743269834_ Amazon.com_ Books

10 Ways to Get Active with Your Kids!

Trying to be active as a family can be daunting!  I have not been great at it in the past, but have set my goals much higher this year!  Previously, we would all work on being active on our own;  I would take kickboxing and zumba classes at the gym, Danny would run, and the kids would play sports during different seasons.  It isn’t that we dont still do these things on our own, because we absolutely do, it’s just that now we would like to also incorporate having active lifestyles into our family activities as well.

It takes more effort and planning, but is way more fun and rewarding!  We have made a lot of changes to how we spend our free time and you can to!  It doesn’t matter how old or young your kids are.  These ideas will work for all families with old and young kids alike!

1.  Sign up for a race.  Start off easy, like the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving or another 5k or shorter.  Have your kids train with you!  My kids loved wearing a kids pedometer as they ran/walked.  It was still a bit hard on my five year old so he road his scooter beside us as we trained.  Fun and non competitive races are great for younger kids and for getting started.

We just ran the Color Me Rad Run this past weekend.  They have these all over the country.  They basically spray or throw paint at you as you run by so at the end of the race you are tie-dyed!  The kids loved it!  It was very laid back as far as the run goes.  It wasn’t timed, it was just a good time out getting exercise with the family.  There were lots of kids and even parents pushing strollers.

My niece, me, and my 7 year old getting ready to start the Color Me Rad race.

My niece, me, and my 7 year old getting ready to start the Color Me Rad race.

 

Here we all are at the finish line covered in paint!

Here we all are at the finish line covered in paint!  I didn’t bring my younger boys to this one as this was the first time running this one and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I will for sure bring them next time!

 

2.  Plan active things to do on the weekends.  Instead of the usual dinner and/or movie, we try to plan more active outings.  We go to the beach, the pool, hiking, fishing, roller skating, ice skating, the park, the zoo, camping, bowling, … it doesn’t matter as long as it is an activity that keeps your family having fun and on their feet.  It was hard to detour from our typical weekends of eating out and sitting at movies.  We still do these things from time to time, but as a general rule we try to make more ACTIVE plans.

3.  Invite friends over to play games rather than just to eat and sit around.  Meet at a park or plan to be in the backyard playing wiffle ball.  Set up a slip’n slide for the kiddos to play on while you BBQ.  We recently went to our church with some friends in the evening when there were no other activities going on and played freeze tag using the entire building where  adults and kids together would run, hide, and take turns being it.  It was a blast!  Even my three year loved it… he thought he was pretty cool going and unfreezing all the big kids!

4.  Get a basketball hoop!  This is a great way to have something active to do each night!  It doesn’t count if you just send your kids out there to shoot hoops (not that there is anything wrong with this).  The goal is to be active as a family, so go out there and play some HORSE and elimination with the kiddos.  We even set up a mini Little Tikes hoop for our three year right next to the big hoop so he can be part of the game too!

5.  Support your kids in their own sports!  We try to have each of our three boys pick a sport to sign up for each season (as much as funds permit).  We bring the entire family to each game to watch and cheer as much as possible.  Sometimes their games overlap and we have to split up, but more often than not we spend our Saturday mornings going from one game to the next.  It is really important that the kids know we feel what they are doing is important and that we are all there to watch and support their hard work!

6.  Take walks or go on a bike ride after dinner.  This is hit or miss for us because we often have practices on weeknights, but we love to just walk around the neighborhood and talk while the boys ride their bikes beside us.  Taking family walks are never overrated!

7.  Bring back the old school games!  We recently taught our kids how to play Kick the Can.  It was a huge hit!  They are obsessed with it and have all the neighborhood kids coming over after school to play it!  Not a fan of Kick the Can… try dodgeball in the backyard, capture the flag, SPUD, wiffle ball, or even a good old fashioned water fight!  Bring back all those games you use to play around the neighborhood before iPads, wiis, and xboxes ruled the world!  You might feel silly playing these along side the kids at first, but after the first round you will be in it to win it!  Our kids will spend their lives trying to beat us!

8.  Start a garden!  The kids love this!  They are all about weeding, planting, and of course watering!  Gardening helps them take pride in eating healthy home grown produce as well as taking care of the yard.  Each weekend we bring the kids out to help clean up, water, and take care of the garden and yard.  My littlest guy loves pushing around his toy lawnmower while my husband mows the lawn.

9.  Sign up for some adult co-ed sport leagues.  They have everything these days!  You can do softball, volleyball, kickball, flag football, etc…  Bring the whole family to the games to watch and cheer!  It is fun for them to see their parents participating in the same type of organized sports they do!  Last year I did softball.  It was a blast.  We brought Grandma along with us to the games to keep an eye on the kiddos while we played.    The kids loved going to the games and running around with their cousins (whose parents played on the team).  I think we will sign up for kickball next!

10.  Take up tennis!  Tennis is easy because most communities have courts you can play on for free.  These days, you can also get a decent racket for $20.  We like to take the whole family to the courts and play around.  The younger kids mostly just run around the courts throwing tennis balls around while the rest of us practice.  Either way, it is a fun and a free way to be active with your family.

These are just a few ideas and I would LOVE to hear what you do with your family to stay active and healthy! Change takes time, effort, and planning, but this change is so rewarding that it is really worth the fuss!

An active family is a happy family!

Casey and his Daddy after the race!

Casey and his Daddy after the race!

 

I couldn't resist posting this one was well!  It is not often that we get a cute picture like this!  Thanks to my seven year old for taking it. :)

I couldn’t resist posting this one was well! It is not often that we get a cute picture like this! Thanks to my seven year old for taking it.  Maybe he will be a famous photographer one day or maybe he is just particularly skilled with the iPhone!  🙂

 

 

Book Review: Stephen King’s 11/23/63

StephenKing.com - 11_22_63

I know I dont often do book reviews on this site… it is because I like to save them for books I especially enjoyed!  This one is definitely in this category! I loved it!!!

Historical fiction novels have always been my thing, but this book is especially great because it is historical fiction with a bit a of science fiction.  LOVE!  Stephen King did a ton of research in this book giving it a plausible feel to the history during 1958 to 1963, a time period I think most of us have all been interested in.

The hero , Jake Epping, is a 35yr old English teacher from Libson Falls, Maine in 2011.  He also teaches evening courses for adults working toward their GEDs.  The book sucks you in immediately when you meet Harry Dunning, a man working on his GED.  Harry’s entire family was brutally attacked when he was 10 years old by his drunk father.  He is now a janitor with a lopsided head and a horrible limp.  His story is the first part of the book.

In part II of the book Jake’s friend Al tells him of a secret staircase he has been using to time travel back to 1958 to buy beef at the 50’s prices and bring back to his restaurant each week.  He urges Jake to go down and take a look and to finish the job he wasn’t able to do…  stop JFK from being assassinated.

This is not a “what if” book… as in what if JFK was never assassinated and the world that would create.  It is more of the journey it would take to change history and the possible butterfly effects that could occur as a result.

It has everything a great book needs to keep you hooked from start to finish:  great characters, entertainment, wit, a little brutality, research, and love.

Give it a go a let me know what you think!  I would love to discuss!

By the way this book is on sale for kindle right now for $3.99 on Amazon.  Read it on your kindle, tablet, phone or computer using the free kindle app.

 

Review: ICE Shrek the Halls

I guess before I even really start this post, I want to tell you: if you have an unlimited flow of money and want to freeze your butt off then go, if not, stay home (definitely call me negative Nancy on this one).  Yes, it was something cool to see, but totally not worth $100 for our evening event.  Feel free to leave comments if you disagree!  This post is for ICE Shrek the Halls at the National Harbor in Maryland, just outside of D.C.

Pricing

This is what I mean about throwing money away.  Luckily, we didn’t have to pay for my 1 and 3 year old (pricing starts at age 4).  From this screenshot, you can get an idea of how much two adults are.  This doesn’t include the at least $10 you’ll spend on parking at the Gaylord.  Call me bitter if you wish about pricing, but for 4 SMALL rooms of ice, it isn’t worth it.  Save your money!

Notice the “internet fee”. There is also an extra charge there.

So here we go, with parking and our tickets, we are at $75.

After ICE, we ate dinner in the Gaylord Hotel.  We went to National Pastime Sports Bar and Grill.  If you want mediocre food and to pay $8.96 per kids meal, then eat there!  The one cool part about this was that “it snows” at 6:30 every evening and we were able to see it from our table.

What You Get to See

Here are some pics of inside ICE:

Some of the exhibits are cool.

Note that my 1 year old was pretty much miserable because it was FREEZING (obviously to keep exhibits looking good), but when I say freezing, they told us it was 9 degrees in there.  They give you coats on top of us having our own, but they don’t fit well with other heavy coats on.  HINT:  IF YOU GO, BRING GLOVES, HATS, SCARFS, EXTRA SOCKS, BOOTS, AND ANYTHING WARM.

The one cool part of the 4 rooms you get to see:

The slides.

Slide inside ICE.

 

Slide inside ICE.

We did go during the week so it was less crowded, however they didn’t have all the slides open because of it, so there were still lines for the slides.

Final Thoughts

Sorry for being so negative.  I know there is still some more days for you to experience the exhibit, but I for sure will never do it again.  Maybe if it was $12 per person, I would think it would be worth it, but not for $31.50.  If you want to experience the Inner Harbor, definitely go to the Gaylord, watch the snow fall, ride the train or even build your own Gingerbread House (I saw a Certifikid for that), but save your money on ICE.  Here is a link for everything the Gaylord offers (it is a BEAUTIFUL HOTEL).

And after all this and my poopy feelings… I do hope you had a Merry Christmas and will have a Happy New Year!

Cake Decorating Basics: A Review of Michaels Level 1 Decorating Class

I have been trying to take this decorating class at Michaels for years now and have never come up with time to do it.  I finally decided that I would do the class whether I had time or not!  It is a 2 hr class that is once a week for four weeks.  I had to arrange rides for my son to basketball practice, get babysitters when the hubby was out of town… but all the hassle was worth it.  I loved it.

I am planning on taking the level 2 course next month.  I feel like I really learned a lot of good techniques and tricks that will help me in making my own cakes.  I don’t plan on becoming a professional, but I do love making my kids birthday cakes myself.  I find it really makes the birthday feel more special!  Here are some of the things we did in class…

This is called a “Shaggy Mum.” It is made using tip 233.

 

These are called “Rosette” flowers. They are made using tip 18.

 

Filling your cupcakes with pudding or anything else is simple using tip 230.

 

The yellow flower on the top is called a “drop” flower. It is made using tip 2D. The big flower on the bottom was made using tip 12.

 

This the start of a “pompom” flower. Use tip 12 to make a round circular base. Then tip 16 to put pipe the cluster in the center (the dark blue).

 

This is the completed “pompom” flower. Use tip 18 to pipe rows of pulled out starrs around the circle base. Start at the bottom and work your way around the circle base and repeat for each layer until you can no longer see the base.

First we practiced on a given practice sheet. These are drop flowers and rosette flowers.

 

These are shells and leaves. The shells are made with tip 21 and the leaves are made with tip 352.

My final cake. We practiced handwriting.

We also learned the best way to frost a cake, how to cut the cake to make it flat, and how to fill a cake with pudding or fruit.  Sorry I didn’t take pictures of this.  We also learned how to make a gorgeous “Ribbon Rose.”  Sadly I have no pictures of those either, but take my word for it they are beautiful!

I can’t wait to take the level 2 class.  I will post on that when I complete it.  For now, It is official… I am a certified level 1 decorator.

 

Here are some of the cakes I did before taking this course.  Can’t wait to see the improvement on my future birthday cakes!

Superman Cake
Lion King Cake
Monster Cupcakes
Number 3 Birthday Cake
Rainbow Cupcakes
Giant Cupcake 

Color Me Mine… so much fun!

We had so much fun at Color Me Mine.  I had always thought it looked fun, but am cheap frugal.  While we were out visiting grandparents they wanted to take the boys to make their own cups to have at their house.

What fun we had!  The boys loved it!  It was even fun for my two year old.  Was it Pricey?  A bit.  We paid $12 for each cup.  They also have a sitting fee, but luckily we went when they were having a buy one get one free special.

So basically you show up, no appointment necessary and pick an item to paint.  They have all kinds of stuff from cups and mugs to cute little animals and cars.  Then you get a paint tray and put the colors you want on them (there are hundreds to choose from).

You finish painting and just leave it right on the table.  No clean up necessary (my favorite part!).  It takes about a week for them to put in their ovens and finish it up, but they really turned out great.  Very good quality.

I really want to go back and paint a cute lizard to put on my back patio.  So fun!

Anyway, if you have been thinking of doing this you should give it a try.  We had a great time.  I would definitely call ahead and try to go when they are having specials.

 

 

 

Random and Funny Mommy Products!

So I am sitting here waiting for a couple students to show up for their tutoring session… wasting time on the internet as usual!  I came across some really funny products you can actually buy!

1.  Mom Spit in a bottle!  This is a no wipe cleaning spray to take with you on the go to clean off those leftover chocolate smears (and anything else) on  your little ones face or hands!  The best part is that it comes in Fig and Green Tea scents… a much better smell than your actual spit clean!  Who wouldn’t want that!  Haha!  This would make a fun baby shower gift for a good friend!  Buy it here.

2.  So I heard once that some people actually save all their kids baby teeth!  Not kidding!  I though for sure I was being teased when someone first tried to convince me of this… but no, it is actually true!  Tonight I came across these baby tooth cases to prove it!  Enough slots to keep each tooth!  Hahahahaha… sorry for laughing for all those people who actually do save baby teeth.  Eeeewwww!  Haha!  Check them out here.

3.  Wiener dog lamps!  So funny!  If you have one of these dogs, you have got to get this lamp!  You can find them in a bunch of different colors and it would make the perfect soft glow night light for your child!  Find them here.

This one might actually only be funny to me… or anyone else who has or loves Dachshunds (also knows as wiener dogs!).  I actually have a miniature Dachsund that I bought as a puppy without realizing I was buying a wiener dog!  You can imagine how bad my husband made fun of me when he realized I didn’t know!

She was just so tiny and so cute staring at me with those big eyes of hers and I just couldn’t leave her.  I actually only went in to the store to buy turtle food for a pet turtle my  little brother gave to my boys and walked out with this adorable 3lb dog that could sit in my hand.  Oh she was really so cute and didn’t look like a wiener dog at all… they just aren’t that long when they are puppies.  Anyway, I love her to pieces despite the fact that my father-in-law calls her rat dog and warns me that the eagles might eat her.

Anyway, for those who don’t have a dachshund or know of anyone who does, you should know that there is a huge dachshund community.  They have Dachshund fairs where everyone brings their wiener dog and dresses it up for the costume contest and they have wiener dog races and games.  It is seriously so fun!  I have never seen such an obsession from other dog breeds, but Dachshund owners… they love their wiener dogs!

Seriously, try to find this lamp in any other dog breed!  Only wiener dog owners are obsessed enough with their dog to buy this!  I love it!!!! Seriously, my boys would love this too and it if wasn’t $79 I would totally buy it for them!!!  I’ll just admit now… I loved the wiener dog fair!!!!

My adorable little wiener dog snuggling up with my baby! How could you not love her! She's no rat!!!!