the peanuts gang

Kellogg’s Cereal Cinema and a #GoodNightSnack Bar #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

With the chaotic summer on-the-go schedule, our family is always hungry and always looking for ways to reconnect and come back together as a family. The opportunity to sit and relax without attaching ourselves to a to-do list is always a nice change of pace. Outdoor movies always seem to allow for that time to rest, relax and enjoy without much effort making it the perfect summer escape.  In conjunction with a local Walmart, Kellogg’s hosted a Nighttime Cereal Cinema in the parking lot complete with a cereal and milk bar. #CollectiveBias #goodnightsnack

Kellogg's Nighttime Cereal Cinema #goodnightsnack #cbias #shop

With a variety cereal choices, toppings such as marshmallows and raisins, and the option of milk and water, the Cereal and Milk Bar was well thought-out and provided the cute option of cereal bowls or the popcorn-esque square containers. I loved the change of pace from butter-drenched popcorn and giving the boys a plethora of options to choose from. Cereal is a great way to change up movie time at home also. Set up your own cereal bar and let the family build their perfect bowl!

Build your own Cereal & Milk Bar #goodnightsnack #cbias #shop

Cereal dispensers lined the two tables and made up two separate stations to ensure that there was not a high level of crowding by the bar. I was also very impressed that staff there came behind quickly and cleaned up the area when extra cereal spilled out of the containers. The area remained neat, tidy and provided a great space to fill our bowls.

Variety of Kellogg's Cereals #goodnightsnack #cbias #shop

Jack picked his own and talked quite a bit about the “rainbow” kind (Froot Loops). His Good Night Snack usually ends up being an all day snack because he seems to always be hungry!

Little Mister Picks His Favorite Kellogg's Cereal #goodnightsnack #cbias #shop

Since they were playing The Amazing Spider-Man 2, one of our absolute favorite parts of the night were when they brought out a Spider-Man to visit with families and kids. Jack had a blast learning the ropes from the webbed man himself! (Don’t mind Jack’s belly showing, he was in his pjs and ready for the movie to begin!)

The Mini Spider-Man #goodnightsnack #cbias #shop

One of my favorite elements was on the table. The staff used cereal as a centerpiece and I thought this would make a great idea for a slumber party. Set up a cereal bar for nighttime snacking. Use a variety of toppings and make cereal the hero, such as in a large glass vase as a centerpiece. Encourage mixing!

Use Cereal as a Party Centerpiece! #goodnightsnack #cbias #shop

Jack’s favorite ended up being the Kellogg’s Mini Wheats Strawberry Version. He has a thing for all things pink and this was no exception.

Kellogg's Mini Wheats Strawberry #goodnightsnack #cbias #shop

I made a beeline for the Kellogg’s Krave cereal. Surprise! There’s chocolate inside!

Kellogg's Krave Chocolate Cereal #goodnightsnack #cbias #shop

Serve cereal as a lighter movie alternative. Guests will love the variety and Kellogg’s offers the perfect complement to any great movie celebration or slumber party. The outdoor movie aspect was perfect. The big screen under the stars and a night with one of our favorite superheroes. Even the weather cooperated! We absolutely loved this as an alternative to our usual night out.

Cereal as a Movie Snack #goodnightsnack #cbias #shop

If you have the opportunity to attend an outdoor movie, I have a few quick tips:

1. Arrive early so you can stake out great seats.

2. Bring a snack! Cereal mixed as a trail mix in a small bag.

3. Find a movie that all the kids in your family will love. This will make the night so much easier to enjoy if you find a movie that your whole family would love to see!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy Kellogg’s cereal? Have you used it as a good night snack or while watching a movie?

Samantha

Bugs, bugs, bugs {Treadmill Tuesdays – Week 30}

With Marathon training in full swing, I found myself at Waterfall Glen this past weekend SUPER early in the morning to beat the heat. What I got instead was rain and a WHOLE LOTTA bugs! We’re talking swarms of mosquitos. I may or may not have stomped on a spider just out of my sheer frustration at being a human pincushion.

Treadmill Tuesdays - Week 30

Cross-training including swimming and brisk walking. The boys and I had a blast exploring the Chicago Botanic Gardens (full post coming later this week). Fitting runs in is an important part of my day and I’m finding some late-night work means I’m running in the afternoons. That’s a-okay by me.

I know my pace is slow, but I’m doing it and that’s the focus. JUST KEEP MOVING!

Workout Jam of the Week

Samantha

Manly Mondays: Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon!

Welcome to Manly Mondays! A feature where Mr. Husband visits every once in a while to talk about all things MANLY! This week, he’s talking about running the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon along with #TeamCHOCOLATE MILK! #BuiltIt

By running the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon last week, I now have two half marathons under my belt to match my two marathons.  The funny thing is that I had not run a single half marathon until this year.  I used the first earlier in the year to motivate my lazy self to get back into running condition after taking off the entire year.  I told myself that I retired.  

Pre-race: Nice and refreshed!

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About 2 miles in – looking good!

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Over the yearsI had heard a lot about the Rock ‘n Roll half from all kinds of runners, spanning the casual runner all they way to the runners so much faster than that they probably should not be talking to me about running.  The latter group was all about the Rock ‘n Roll half because it happens at about the same time that a 13 mile run would be paced for most Chicago marathon training plans.  Apparently, the timing is perfect to get yourself in race mode and as a measuring stick for your progress.  I was skeptical about needing another race to get me into “race mode”, and honestly, I thought that the race being smack in the middle of marathon training could be discouraging because it pretty much guarantees a slower race time because there would be no taper.
This cityscape is the perfect backdrop for the race.
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Jim snagged his FAVORITE way to fuel up after a big workout – CHOCOLATE MILK!
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After running it, I agree that there is something special about getting together with a few thousand of your closest fellow running pals and running together.  And downtown, starting and finishing at about the same location where I will be finishing the marathon.  I foolishly let my pride get the better of me and did not take the day of the race as another training run.  I went a bit too fast, and boy did I feel it during my next week of training.  I couldn’t help myself though.  The atmosphere makes the perfect conditions for a race.  And when I started slowing at about the 9 mile marker I heard the DJ playing “Sad But True” so I had no choice but to kick it up a notch.  The music during the race livened the atmosphere, and the organizers make sure the race has all the amenities you would expect of a world-class race.  I stuck around a while and enjoyed the music, my free beer, and a massage.  All told, the Rock ‘n Roll half marathon was a stellar experience.  Perhaps I might join the number of other runners I saw who run the Rock ‘n Roll series across the country.
Finished.
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Samantha

Clip, Clip! Saving for a Disney Trip!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

Last August, we ventured down to Florida with our two little guys in tow on a family vacation. Our adventures brought us to the gates of Walt Disney World for one day. After experiencing one of the most magical days EVER, we knew two things to be true: 1. We would DEFINITELY be visiting again VERY soon and for a longer span of time AND 2. We would need quite a bit more money to get us there the next go around. Knowing that 2014 would be busy for us, we set our eyes on the spring of 2015 and have begun to save money here and there for our big return trip. One of the easiest ways I have found to save is by learning how to use coupons and especially taking advantage of paperless coupons through the Walgreens Mobile app. #WalgreensPaperless #CollectiveBias

Saving for a Disney Trip! #WalgreensPaperless #cbias #shop

Learning to save money everywhere you can is essential, especially when you are planning a bigger family trip away. Every penny counts! I downloaded the Walgreens Mobile app this summer and started matching the app coupons with in-store sales to save as much as I possibly could. The amount I save usually gets put aside for our Disney trip and over time definitely adds up (think extra Character Breakfast, special trading pin or postcards to send to friends!)

Walgreens App #WalgreensPaperless #cbias #shop

Once you create a Balance Rewards account and download the App, let the savings begin! The eCoupons can be clipped to your own Balance Rewards account and redeemed in-store. Scan your card either by showing the App on your phone, your card or by inputting your phone number. Once the card shows upon the register, the savings is automatically applied!

On a recent visit, I purchased two Head and Shoulders Shampoo priced at 2/$10. I had an eCoupon I “clipped” for $5 off two bottles, making each bottle just $2.50. I also purchased two bottles of Herbal Essence hair products (2/$8.00) and had a eCoupon for $3.00 off two products making each one just $2.50. I also received additional savings on deodorant, dish soap, paper towels, toilet paper and skin care products all by doing a quick clipping in the App.  Once I brought everything up to the register, I also found out that I had accumulated 3,000 points in Balance Rewards so I was able to apply a $3.00 credit to my overall total bringing my savings even higher. Every bit of those savings can then be applied to our future trip.

Head & Shoulders Deal #WalgreensPaperless #cbias #shop

Here are some great ways I’ve learned to maximize your savings when using the Walgreens Mobile App and Balance Rewards:

1. Be Brave.

Be Brave with Savings #WalgreensPaperless #cbias #shop

Come armed with everything you need to save big – even bring a calculator if that helps you remember your total savings amount. Use your eCoupons, Balance Rewards points and additional savings you have in outside coupons. Don’t be afraid to make sure that the savings ring up properly on your receipt.

2. Make sure the shoe fits (or in this case, the product).

Make sure the shoe (and product) fit! #WalgreensPaperless #cbias #shop

Many times when it comes to savings, we see a deal on canned meats for being almost free and decide WE MUST HAVE ALL THE THINGS. However, instead of spending money (even a small amount) on products you do not need, find the products that suit your family’s needs, find savings for those items and buy when on sale and you have a coupon. You’ll end up saving money in the long run and also won’t have to find storage for the products you don’t actually use.

3. Go to Infinity and Beyond!

Go Infinity and Beyond! #WalgreensPaperless #cbias #shop

Found what you need and clipped your eCoupons, but your local Walgreens doesn’t seem to have the item in stock? Map out other Walgreens locations in your area. When you run errands or drop the kids off at playdates or activities, hop into one of those to purchase what you need. The Walgreens Mobile App makes these in and out trips a breeze since you don’t need to keep a coupon binder handy, just bring in your phone and scan!

4. Reach for the stars (and skies and clouds!)

Reach for the Stars! #WalgreensPaperless #cbias #shop

Dream big dreams! Imagine all the places you could visit or the upgrades you could make to your home or the ways you could give back if you started saving even a little bit each month or each time you bought things you already need for your home or family.

We still have time before our big trip and I can’t wait to see our savings along the way! In what ways can saving money make your life a little more magical?

Saving for Disney World #WalgreensPaperless #cbias #shop

Samantha

Summer So Far

With just over a month left in our summer vacation and before the hubbub of preschool and kindergarten catch up with us, we’ve been trying to enjoy this milder summer to the fullest. Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve been up to this summer, knowing full well there are more adventures to be had!

Celebrating milestone birthdays of those we love

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Meeting friends for much-needed zoo time

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Finding fun creatures all around!

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A little Chuck E. Cheese mania

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Baby LOVE!

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Hitting the Jackpot

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Mild Summer Snuggles

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Much needed swim time

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Samantha

Every Breath You Take {Guest Post}

Our guest post today comes from Peter Friis, CEO and Founder of the Essio Shower Kit.

Health and wellness are not rigid states. Instead, they are a process: fluid, always moving. Although competitive athletes thrive on setting goals and achieving finite numbers, this is a short-term way of thinking. Fine if you’re training for the gold. But this is also why most weight-loss programs fail, and why most people drift away from their gym memberships. In order to sustain health and fitness, we need to look at our habits and practice long term. And integrating aromatherapy into each day can help keep this “big picture” in focus, just by breathing.

Breathing and breath control are important aspects of exercise and stress management. Endurance sports build our cardio-vascular strength. Yoga traditions call upon thousands of years of Vedic practice to balance energies through highly refined inhaling and exhaling techniques.

On a more subtle level, how we breathe both reflects and affects our stress level, and this impacts our wellness. When we experience anxiety, we tend to take short, shallow, rapid breaths. This deprives the body of oxygen, and triggers the release of stress-hormones including adrenalin and cortisol. And, current studies show that breathing through the mouth further accelerates spikes in these brain chemicals, which are linked to the “fight or flight” responses in the parasympathetic central nervous system.

Deeper, slower breaths are a simple practice which enhance just about every aspect of wellness—and adding a few essential oils, enjoyed via an aromatherapy diffuser, make the experience even more beneficial.

Our sense of smell keys into deep areas of the brain which are linked to memory. This aspect of the olfactory function has been called “primitive”, referencing the colorfully termed “reptile brain”, but in fact our sense of smell is highly nuanced and important in how we form perception. Aroma is also closely associated with mood, although neurologists are still studying to determine the precise mechanics of how this works.

Based on what we know today, we can use aromas derived from essential oils to reinforce good experiences, and expand the benefits of positive associations. For instance, the combination of release, fatigue and contentment we may feel at the end of a rigorous workout is a “happy place” for your body. Try inhaling a favorite essential oil as you cool down from exertion (we recommend essential oil of Peppermint, which eases pain including achey muscles, and any Citrus essential oil, to inspire optimism).  In fact, you can make your own sporty aromatherapy diffuser by capturing a few drops of precious essential oil onto a clean white handkerchief and tucking it into your headband or into the shoulder-area of a snugly fitted workout garment. The essential oils will warm to your body heat as you exercise.

And, after you’ve created this neural pathway with a few repetitions, make yourself another aromatherapy diffuser using these oils to use in non-workout settings. Keep a cloth, scented with these “trigger” oils, in your handbag, tablet case, backpack, glove compartment, and desk drawer at the office. When you’re feeling a lag of stamina, or a flash of stress, take a few deep breaths—your brain has been trained to respond favorably to the essential oils, and you will experience a physiological as well as emotional balancing.

Samantha

Tips for Getting #Ready4Preschool! {Thanks, Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!}

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

This year, my baby will be fleeing the nest. My oldest will be heading off to kindergarten (after two years of preschool) and my youngest will be heading to his very first year of preschool. He’s excited, I’m wistful. Nothing quite prepares you for when they leave the nest, but regardless of my heart, I still have to make sure they are ready to go! I’ve put together some of my favorite tips thanks to Disney Junior for preparing little ones to head off to preschool. #Ready4Preschool #CollectiveBias

Before you get started, head to the store and collect all the school supplies you will need for a home “school.” I headed out to Walmart and picked up some great interactive tools from Disney Junior including mini-lessons from some of our favorite characters like Sofia the First and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. I brought the boys along to let them pick out their favorites.

In-Store Shopping #Ready4Preschool #cbias #shop

You can see Jack (my preschooler) is partial to Mickey Mouse.

Curiosity #Ready4Preschool #cbias #TBD #shop

Once we found everything we needed from the school supplies and coloring area, we headed home to spend the afternoon learning out in the sunshine!

Tips for Getting #Ready4Preschool! #cbias #shop #TBD

Welcome to Disney Preschool!

In preparation for school, I like to take a few afternoons or mornings throughout the summer and recreate what school might be like. The school the boys go to actually occurs on a Farm so they get plenty of outdoor time in addition to learning. Simulating that based off what I learned from Charlie’s first two years is where some of these tips come from. The most important thing to remember is FLEXIBILITY! They are not in school yet and no need for a rigid schedule if the day happens to call for a little pool time.

Welcome to Disney Preschool #Ready4Preschool #cbias #TBD #shop

Tip 1. Allow them to choose your learning materials and school supplies characters and colors. My three-year-old (as most are) is stubborn and opinionated. Giving them the ability to have some control over the situation helps them to feel in charge and also makes school exciting because they recognize and identify something they love. In this case, Jack chose Disney Junior Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and was much more excited to learn about time, matching, and tracing letters than if I would have chosen it for him.

Tip 1 - #Ready4Preschool #cbias #shop

Tip 2. Let the older siblings be the teachers. With as much as they fight, they also adore one another and Jack wants nothing more than to be like big brother. He also doesn’t always view him as a traditional authority figure, so he’s ready to jump in and follow along with Charlie as he leads the way. They also learn the value of working together. Jack has learned so much just from watching Charlie – definitely helping him get ready for the fall!

Tip 2 - #Ready4Preschool #cbias #shop #TBD

Tip 3. Get them moving! My three-year-old sometimes has ants in his pants and likes to wiggle all over the place. By getting movement involved in learning, it helps to get out some of that energy, they have fun running all over and they come back ready to take on the next task. In this case, we matched the picture of a frog with the word frog. Once he did that, I encouraged him to hop around the yard showing me how a frog jumps. He then makes the connection about the animal as well!

Tip 3 - Get Moving #Ready4Preschool #cbias #shop

Tip 4. Allow for silly time. In addition to movement, my crazy critters love to act silly. Knowing that our “school” time might be interrupted, I let them feel they have the freedom to be who they are. Sometimes, an afternoon of learning might include silly faces, scary monsters or even surprise characters. As much as they are heading off to school, they are still kids and kids love to have FUN! 

Tip 4 - Allow for Silly Time #Ready4Preschool #cbias #shop #TBD

Tip 5. Encourage Creativity! By the end of our time, Jack wanted to turn the dry erase markers into a sword and a wand. He used his imagination (kids are great at that!) and connected the markers to create something longer. He flitted around the yard pretending to be a magician and fighting bad guys with his new creation. Stretching those imaginations at home will help them to do so at school as well. 

Tip 5 - Encourage Creativity #Ready4Preschool #cbias #shop #TBD

What are your favorite tips and tricks for preparing little ones for school? How do you make education fun?

For even more great ideas and resources from Disney Junior, find them online:

Twitter || Facebook

Samantha

Adventures at Brookfield Zoo

We received a complimentary day out at Brookfield Zoo. All opinions expressed are our own.

It’s no secret that we LOVE Brookfield Zoo. With two January birthdays, we almost always ask for a membership for the boys’ birthdays. We’ve attended Brunch with Santa in the past, visited on super warm March days, and found time to escape there in the winter when the grounds are bare and the exhibits have virtually no lines. This past visit was no different.Some of our favorites include Stingray Bay, the Hamill Family Play Zoo, the Living Coast (YAY PENGUINS!), Seven Seas and the Butterflies. #BZBloggers

I love that he will still hold hands with me. 

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A little time at the Hamill Family Play Zoo where kids can create, be kids, and learn more about the animals they love

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Go to the fountain. Go to the sign. Take a picture. All the cool kids do it.

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Let the kids run around at one of the many parks located within the zoo. Our boys love making a pitstop there every time we go.

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Up close animal experiences, like Stingray Bay. The boys loved the opportunity to feed these critters and try to reach them. It’s fascinating to see all of them swimming around – in all the years we’ve visited the Zoo, this was our first visit to the Bay and the boys LOVED it!

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Meeting & Petting animal friends

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Bring an extra set of clothes. Just do it. You’ll thank me. 

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A successful visit to the Zoo means napping kiddos. You’re welcome. 

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Visiting Brookfield Zoo is one of our favorite yearly activities. We go several times throughout the year, visit with friends, take classes, go as a family, and meet friends on playdates. If you’re considering a membership, buy one like yesterday. Within the first visit or two, you make back your money and more. They have membership plans for all budgets and each level includes basic zoo admission and parking. We absolutely LOVE spending time there.

What’s your favorite exhibit at Brookfield Zoo?

Samantha

#GetGrilling with LongHorn Steakhouse and its Grill Us Hotline

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Did you know that July is National Grilling Month? We LOVE to grill steak and have even whipped up some Cornish Hens on the grill. This collection of grilling recipes on Pinterest will also have you drooling! This gorgeous summer weather has us outdoors enjoying all things lovely and warm and hot! Grilling is our favorite way to enjoy summer foods and now you can have all of your inquiries answered from LongHorn Steakhouse!

In honor of National Grill Month, LongHorn Steakhouse is providing grilling tips, recipes and inspiration throughout July on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and ExpertGriller.com. And every Saturday (including this one, July 26!), Grill Masters will be answering questions in real time from 2 to 7 p.m. EDT on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. All you have to do is post to Facebook.com/LongHornSteakhouse or @LongHornSteaks on Twitter and Instagram. You can follow the conversation with #GetGrilling.

Samantha

Life’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Ten years ago, I watched my one of the most selfless women I know battle cancer courageously. About twenty-two years ago, I was a young sister watching my brother go through surgeries and hospital visits as he battled cancer. We watched a young cousin grow up as she grew her hair back. And now uncles on both sides, Jim’s dad, and dear friends have been battling cancer.

No one tells you in the beginning that it takes a village.  

So when Jim decided to run the Chicago Marathon earlier this year, he changed courses for what charity he would run for. He decided to run for the American Cancer Society. So that in the midst of things feeling out of control, we could somehow feel driven.

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And then we did something even crazier.

I joined his team. 

To finish the Chicago Marathon.

With my legs.

And the sudden realization that compared to the family members we know who have and are battling cancer, this is nothing.

So Jim will finish this race well. I’ll finish and hope that the street sweepers at the end can push me over the finish line.

I’ll share Jim’s medal if I have to.

But we can do hard things. And we owe it to them. And ourselves.

Would you consider supporting our year of DOING? 

If you donate in honor of someone, share their name via message or email with me. We’ll be having shirts made up with everyone we run for and would love to include them!

Samantha