the peanuts gang

Just Keep Swimming!

We received a complimentary session at Goldfish Swim School in Burr Ridge. All opinions expressed are our own.

As the boys grow, each summer we spend more and more time in the swimming pool. Each jump in prepped with their puddle jumpers and they swim about getting more and more comfortable in the water. This year, towards the end of the summer, Charlie even went so far as to slide over and over into an in-ground pool going completely underwater every time. I was so proud that he was willing to try new things! A lover of water myself, I was stoked to hear about the new Goldfish Swim School coming to Burr Ridge!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be giving you a “fish eye’s” view into the life and times of the Goldfish Swim School. We hope you learn about and love it as much as we do!

The pool space is bright, colorful AND WARM! I love that I didn’t have to include swim shirts for the boys and I knew they wouldn’t freeze going into the water. It’s a comfortable temperature for swimmers and spectators alike. 

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Attention to detail is impeccable. The mural paintings are meticulous and beautiful!

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Meeting their instructors. I love that the classes are small which means more individualized attention and focus. It’s the perfect way to get comfortable in the water and build trust with their instructors!

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Serenity.

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The shower area is just as beautiful and spacious AND conveniently located right next to the pool in the warm space which means you can clean off without the littles freezing!

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We had a great first day and can’t wait to go back in the coming weeks! Stay tuned for even more recaps and coverage. 

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With swimming pools an active part of our life, knowing how to swim is extremely important to me when it comes to our boys.  Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. In 2009, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, more than 30% died from drowning.  Among children ages 1 to 4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools. {Information from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention} Making sure that they are prepared is a great step and Goldfish gives you the opportunity to train them at a young age how to be around water. I was so impressed that on the very first day, they were already showing Jack how to find the nearest wall and climb out of the pool safely and quickly. 

Why is swimming important to your family? What steps do you take to ensure that your kids feel safe around the water?

Goldfish Swim School on the Interwebs:

Website || Facebook

Samantha

It’s Sarah Cupcakes Day!

It’s no secret that for the past almost nine months I have been ridiculously excited about the birth of a certain Babysauraus. And the fact that the baby is coming from my cousin-who’s-my-sister friend means I’m all the more excited. My hospital bag is packed and we’re I’m sure they are almost ready to go. No words can possibly express just how much this sweet gal makes me a better person every day.

Back when we were so dang hawt. Who am I kidding? We’re so flipping hot now.

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See what I mean? Literally. We are hot. Hot dogs. {And kudos to the woman who convinces me to actually WEAR this and now I know that she means it when she says if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em}

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Gosh, she’s just the best. Isn’t she a stunner?

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And to this pretty gal who loves my kids like her own, she means the world to me.

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To one of the most beautiful people I know, both inside and out, may your light always shine as brightly as it does right now. My this coming year be your best yet as you become a MOM – so thrilled to have watched you on this journey as you stride with grace and so much love. I am so blessed to have you, we are so blessed to do life with our Sarah Cupcakes. WE LOVE YOUR FACE!

xoxo

Samantha

What Is The Best Car For Your Family?

If you’re having trouble deciding on which vehicle model to get for your family’s use, don’t worry; we know how you feel. There are so many things to think about: safety, seating, space, and size are just some of the details that can make your head spin. Determining which car to get from New Jersey Toyota dealers takes a lot of time and involves some serious research, but we’re here to help you narrow down your selection so you can find the best car for your family.

Here are the things to consider when looking for a family car.

What are your needs?

How many people do you need to transport? How much space will you need for child seats? Will you need a large trunk or storage area for hauling your camping essentials? Will your family pet be traveling with you? For all-around versatility, you can consider getting a minivan, especially if you have more than two children and a large pet dog. Minivans are the best when it comes to overall practicality, as it’s perfect for carpooling, carrying bags of groceries, and transporting luggage and toys from your house to grandma’s.

How much are you willing to spend?

What’s your budget, including insurance, maintenance costs, and the weekly or monthly cost of fuel? It’s important to set a budget and stick to it, or you’ll end up overspending. You should also consider how you plan on paying for your car, so that you can determine how much you can spend on a monthly payment.

What are your top choices?

Based on your budget and your needs, you can begin browsing for cars online to get an idea of the current market prices. Compare cars and the features they offer, along with their safety ratings. As you will be driving with your family most of the time, it is important to consider vehicles that have garnered top safety ratings. Search websites like Kelley Blue Book and Consumer Reports to get information about the different vehicle models and their market prices. Select a car that has all the standard safety features but is reasonably priced.

Will your children be comfortable?

Next to safety, comfort is a priority especially for young children. Will their car seats fit in the car properly? Will they be able to see out the window or stretch out their legs? Anything that can cause your child discomfort can trigger a tantrum, especially if experienced on a daily basis or during a long ride.

What added features are you looking for?

Most of the new cars and some older vehicle models come with extra features and equipment such as Bluetooth connectivity, built-in DVD players, seat monitors, sat-nav systems, and docks for mobile phones and gaming consoles. The in-car entertainment system is particularly useful when traveling with children over a long distance, as you can simply pop in a favorite movie to prevent kids from being bored and unruly in the car. Of course, you can choose to add these features later on.

So, what is the best car for your family? Based on these points, the best car is one that meets your needs and fits your budget, keeps your family safe and your children comfortable, and can provide you with hours of entertainment on the road. With the hundreds of car models available, you’ll be sure to find the best one for your family.

Samantha

Stonyfield + Applegate + Annie’s = HALF TIME™

This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions are my own.

As a busy mom of two boys with different school schedules, I sometimes feel like we are on the go. Our routine of packing the lunch, getting up, moving seems to have us in a constant state of movement! Trying to keep up with it all can be exhausting! A recent survey found that 88% of parents thought pre-packed lunch kits were convenient, but 79% of those parents were concerned about the nitrates, preservatives and artificial ingredients in those kits. Now you don’t have to compromise between convenience and quality. Your kids get the “cool” appeal and you can lose the guilt. With this new line of lunch kits, be prepared to offer a healthier alternative to something that also makes your life just a little bit easier when it comes to heading out the door!

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 I love that I get to spend more time doing this and less time standing in front of my kitchen counter.

Applegate teamed up with us and Annies to create the first pre-packed lunch kit with natural and organic ingredients. HALF TIME™ includes Applegate natural meats and cheeses (which have no artificial ingredients or preservatives, and are antibiotic- and hormone-free), Annie’s Homegrown crackers and snacks, and Stonyfield Organic YoKids Squeezers.

The boys favorite part was creating cracker stackers. I can feel better about what I’m offering them for lunch and they can “play with their food” without making a giant mess. They both insisted that I take a picture of their great creations, so I did just that! 

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For ultimate kid happiness, food must be fun. We know you care about quality, too. Now can feel good about sending off your little one with a convenient, kid-approved, tasty, and wholesome ready-to-go lunch. What’s inside? Unquestionably good stuff: Applegate Natural Turkey (juicy, antibiotic-free), classic Applegate American cheese, Annie’s Buttery Rich Crackers™, Annie’s Organic Berry Patch Fruit Snacks™ and Stonyfield® YoKids® Squeezers® Strawberry Organic Lowfat Yogurt. That’s a big-time lunch win.

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The best part about this lunch pack is that they loved every part of it! They didn’t complain that they wanted to throw out one element of it – instead, they gobbled it up and we ready for their next “HALF TIME” in no time. What are our go-to ways for getting your family snacks on the go?

Samantha

My Husband’s Other Love {Plus, a Giveaway!}

I received a gift card in exchange for my opinion. All fashion choices and general awesomeness is courtesy of moi.

A while back, my  husband had a confession for me. He had found a new love in his life named Ross. I thankfully realized quickly that this love affair had more to do with saving money and looking good rather than sneaking around after hours. Soon, I found him coming home with those signature Ross Dress for Less bags and wondered what this was all about. After heading there myself, I stumbled upon a dress for an upcoming wedding and paid only $20 for something that fit PERFECTLY! I too became obsessed with this new Ross Dress for Less.

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So when I had the opportunity to sneak peek at the new store opening in downtown Chicago (#RossonRandolph), my husband moved heaven and earth to make sure I could attend. The main mission was simple. Snag socks for our growing boys (the VERY first purchase in my cart, mind you) and find a few things to add to his wardrobe. Being the amazing wife I am (and really just wanting to be nice), I spent most of my time in the men’s department.

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(My friend saw the glorious pictures on Instagram of our pit stop at the ROOF on the Wit and she immediately texted me demanding if I was on a hot date. I then sent her this picture stating that Ross and I were having a lovely time shopping).

This section was generally left alone since I was the only cuckoo awesome wife thinking to spend those precious dollars on her hubby. We came up with a few great selections and messages between us always made the final decisions. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they carried his rare waist size with a decent selection as well as dress shirts with a slim fit – his preferred attire.

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For $100, I was able to purchase one pair of shoes, 14 pairs of socks, 1 men’s lightweight warm jacket, 1 slim fit dress shirt, 1 casual button up shirt, 1 casual lounge t-shirt,  and a decorative Thanksgiving sign. Little did I know, my hubby had also gone EARLIER in the week and snatched up a pair of dress pants, tie and delicious scented spice cake candle. Looking forward to sharing even more of our great finds in the coming weeks (they have EVERYTHING you could think of!) With stock surprises that are continuously changing, this store is a great stop for finding what you need at a great price.

Be sure to check out the new store in Chicago located at 26 E. Randolph Street.

{Giveaway Alert}

I have a $25 gift card to Ross Dress for Less for one of you lucky ducks! Simply tell me in the comments below WHO you would spend the gift card on and what you would be hoping to buy. Giveaway ends on October 22, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. CST. Best of luck!

Ross on Social Media
Facebook

Samantha

Hello, Netflix #StreamTeam and Other Milestones

I was recently asked to be part of the Netflix #StreamTeam and share posts each month based on my experience. We are longtime Netflix users and cannot wait to share our experiences with you! All opinions are of course are own!

Happy {early} Birthday to me! October is turning out to be a STELLAR birthday month. I’ve recently been asked to hop on the Netflix #StreamTeam and share opinions about something we all love – streaming movies, televisions and more! Having already been longtime Netflix streamers, I knew we were a perfect fit and thought this was a pretty momentous milestone in our family’s blogging life! Whether it’s staying up too late watching Criminal Minds or jumping up and down over the recent Friends to Netflix news, there is plenty of viewing options for the whole family.

Celebrating Life's Milestones with Netflix #StreamTeam

This year, we celebrated some pretty big milestones such as Kindergarten for our crew and celebrating those mini-milestones in life can sometimes create some much needed surprise happiness throughout your week. I’ve collected some of my favorite shows to share that celebrate the little things in life. I hope you love them just as much!

New Job, Office Life & Love: The Office (U.S.)

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Pam, Jim, Dwight, Michael and the whole crew will have you laughing uproariously. So much so, that you’ll need Kleenex to help with the laughing so hard that you’re crying. This show epitomizes office life so much from the mundane to the outright outlandish. With the whole show now available on Netflix, I oftentimes find myself watching each season over and over again.

Small-Town Life, Running for Office & New Relationships: Parks & Recreation

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Leslie Knope captures hearts with her sickeningly sweet attitude and continuous positivity. My husband also has a man crush on Ron Swanson. Because mustaches. Following the life of a small town Pawnee and their parks department, Parks & Recreation will help you celebrate a small-time political move and ensure that you feel way more important than you actually are. (No lie, Leslie as played by Amy Poehler is actually pretty inspirational on the show along with a cast that’s hilarious). This is my husband’s go-to show for laughs and not sweating the small stuff.

Life as a Parent - HELLO, EVERY DAY – Parenthood

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Stop what you’re doing and watch this show from the beginning to end and then catch up on the current season. From new babies, life changes, jobs, health problems, conflict, marital struggles, raising kids and all that’s in between, this show covers it all! I became hooked a few years ago when a friend recommended it and now I wait with eager anticipation every Thursday. I finished the first five seasons in one week (that’s not a lie). ONE WEEK. Addicting, great family dynamics and a storyline that I can relate to each and every episode. You will LOVE the Bravermans.

Escaping your first Zombie Insurrection: The Walking Dead aka my husbands’s choice

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My husband and I have vastly different tastes on Netflix (apart from the Office and Parks & Rec), so when he started watching The Walking Dead, I kindly saved myself from the terror of a zombie attack. If you’re looking for ways to beat the literal walking dead or just want to have the begeezus scared out of you, flip to Netflix to celebrate your survival of the zombie insurrection. You just might be frightfully delighted.

Think you want to keep your memories and keepsakes in a sweet milestone box? Check out this DIY Modern Milestone Memory Box Craft to have a special place for all these great little keepsakes (and it looks way better than a shoebox!)

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What Netflix favorites do you use to celebrate milestones?

Samantha

2015 City Moms Farm Touring with Illinois Farm Families – Apply Now!

I am an Illinois Farm Families blogger and receive compensation in exchange for my posts. All opinions and discussion starters are my own!

Last year (2013), I had the opportunity to hop along the Field Moms program through Illinois Farm Families. We had a great time exploring farms throughout Illinois and sharing what we learned, what we asked and how the families addressed the tough questions about our food and how its produced. You can see a bit more about one of my farm tour recaps here. One of my favorite elements of these tours is that no question is a dumb one and they are completely open to asking you and provide transparency that is refreshing, especially in this industry. Several times, moms really had asked tough questions causing everyone to thoughtfully consider what we were talking about.

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Now, you have an opportunity to do the same! The program which has recently had a name change to City Moms gives moms the opportunity to tour farms throughout Illinois such as touring a soybean and corn farm, hog farm, dairy farm, and beef cattle farm. City Moms will blog and share experience through Watch Us Grow and other social media channels. The deadline to apply is November 15th.

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I love following along on these adventures because I find that as much as I have a series of questions, I learn so much more from those around me and just listening to the talks and questions. I really think this is a great way to connect with something that most of us know little about.

What are some farming questions that you would LOVE to have answered?

Samantha

I’m not SuperMom {and other common misconceptions debunked}

I’ve struggled in the past few years to identify the “WHO” about me. My 20s were laden with their own share of heartache, but I also found myself in a place where I wasn’t really sure where I belonged. I stayed home with my boys, but the legal field that I had gone to school for suddenly seemed to be slipping away and something I didn’t think was really my style after all.

Then I discovered blogging and quickly, I found my niche  - a connection in public relations, marketing & social media. I LOVE people. I love to LOVE people. And a friend’s advice helped me to start the road to pursue these areas of my life that I somehow thought laid forever dormant.

Since then, I started working more, found areas of freelance that I loved and continued to teach. I stay home with the boys when I’m not doing those things and this flexibility gives me the opportunity to participate actively in their lives, like organizing a school party.  I LOVE that. But I also love creating and building relationships outside of the walls of my home and throughout the past two years have found completeness in doing that.

But this utopia does not come without it’s challenges. Knowing the craziness of an all-hours schedule and the life and times of raising two little men, I knew that I had to be in a constant state to make myself better. But I’ve often heard, “I don’t know how you do it” or you’re SuperMom or I’ve known the anxiety that this type of go-go-go lifestyle can cause others behind closed doors. And frankly, that type of commentary is exhausting. And just not factual. So I thought I’d take some time to show you just how “real” life can be for me and that while I love being on the move, life isn’t always candy and roses.

Remember that time I was going to run a Marathon? Well, in case you didn’t know, I didn’t. It was yesterday. And I sat in church. My hubby also didn’t run thanks to a foot injury and lost weeks of training. September was BRUTAL on our schedule as a family. I’m talking 40+ hour work weeks for both of us and a house that looked like a tornado blew through. We are finally coming out of that fog and thankfully, we survived. So is it a massive disappointment, yes. But I won’t dwell because life is too short to spend time on our failures.

I don’t do it all. Ask my husband. I am only wearing clean clothes the past few weeks because he knows how to operate a washing machine. Do you know who knows where the mop, rags & cleaning supplies are? Not me!

I missed my boys first days of school because I was on a work trip.

I stay up way too late “working,” but mostly that’s been me watching episodes of Criminal Minds and catching up on Thursday night television.

Coffee is my BFF. Like for real. #PSLforLife

Do you know what organization is? Good, because I don’t. In fact, I was so desperate to get my house in order that I asked my SIL to organize my house as my birthday gift, SO my house should be organized within the next few weeks. No thanks to me.

I’m living a life of JOY. And of Happy. And sometimes that’s me and Netflix.

Did you know the last time I was on a date with my husband? Our anniversary. In August.

If I could find a way to shower, drink coffee and simultaneously get everything ready for my day, I would be a millionaire. And I’d also have more time.

I’ve discovered a world outside of what I thought was my bubble and I’m feeling a call to step outside that on a daily basis. It also means I’m trying to do big things for my family and myself, like go to Africa and follow a heart that hurts daily for the people of this world.

I don’t have time for you. And I’m sorry. But literally, I do not have THE time. It’s not personal. It’s a season. And more than anything, I need those true and closest to me to understand that. And I’m thankful that those I call best, do.

I don’t say all this for sympathy. I don’t say it to impress anyone. But I share it as an explanation for those that just don’t get it. That just can’t seem to see me for  who I am. A human being, not a robot. And I’m trying to be the best one I can be. Even if I fail at it daily.

Just ask my kids. Who occasionally wear pajamas all day just because daddy hasn’t finished the laundry.

I know I said 2014 would be the year to Inspire and that started out well. The track got derailed a bit {see above}, but the year’s not over yet and I’m not done trying to connect and help people.

So in the words of T. Swift, “So the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate hate.”

Samantha

Catching Life with GoPro Cameras & Accessories #GoProatBestBuy #spon

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

With the holidays just around the corner, capturing memories is more important than ever. The boys are growing up at a speed of light rate and I love trying to capture them in their element and what we do around the house along with the major holidays! Finding a camera that can catch those memories is always ideal and the GoPro HERO series offers the latest in cameras and camcorders that can set you up for memories that seem as if you’re always reliving the moment!

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Also, a trip to Africa next month means that I’ll want to be sharing even more photos of what my time is like there! Being able to do that on a grander scale would be amazing and it’s the perfect way to capture those memories and emotions. Beautiful bright colors, high pixellation and extensive images caught in a matter of seconds means better images every time.

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Best Buy is the home of the latest cameras and camcorders, including the full line of new GoPro cameras, plus a broad assortment of accessories. GoPro cameras make perfect holiday gifts for everyone, from kids and teens, to gadget gurus. GoPro’s new line of cameras allow you to beautifully and authentically capture and share the experiences that bring purpose, adventure, and joy to your life.

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GoPro HERO4 Black: the most advanced GoPro ever, featuring improved image quality and a 2x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates1, HERO4 Black takes award‐winning GoPro performance to a whole new level.

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GoPro HERO4 Silver: the first-ever GoPro to feature a built-in touch display. Controlling The camera, playing back footage and adjusting settings is ultra-convenient—just view, tap and swipe the screen. With 1080p60 and 720p120 video, and 12MP photos at a staggering 30 frames per second, HERO4 Silver combines powerful, pro-quality capture with the convenience of a touch display.

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GoPro HERO: Featuring high‐quality 1080p30 and 720p60 video, and 5MP photos up to 5 fps, HERO captures the same immersive footage that’s made GoPro one of the best-selling cameras in the world.

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Learn more at www.bestbuy.com/GoPro or visit your local Best Buy to check out the latest cameras in person. You can test them out for yourself and see all the great features that they offer so that when it comes to living in the moment, you can do that AND preserve those memories for years to come since this camera really does all the work for you! Happy Shopping!

Samantha

5 Reasons Your Kids Will Love A Day At The Farm

Weekends are best spent relaxing and having fun with the family. Families with children can visit the park or head to the beach for a swim and a picnic. For something new and unique especially for city dwellers, you can also visit a working farm where your children can experience taking care of farm animals among other activities. Farm sheds may not look like much from outside, but they hold lots of fun surprises for the whole family.

If you’re wondering where to spend your next sunny weekend with your family, go to a farm! Here are the top five reasons your kids will surely love a day at the farm.

They will learn about animals.

Going to the farm is also a treat for kids who live in the city, because they will be able to see and observe animals such as pigs, peacocks, donkeys, deer, sheep, and cows in the flesh, and not just in books and the television. Farm staff can teach and show children all about how animals are born, live, and grow on the farm. Who knows, you might get lucky and see chicks pecking their way out of their shells in the chicken hatchery! By spending a day at the farm, children will also know where their food comes from and learn to appreciate all the hard work that brings the food to the table.

They can be a farmer for a day.

Many working farms are open to the public and encourage families to experience farm life. Children can get up close and personal with farm animals and also learn how to milk a cow, feed and pet friendly farm animals such as goats, sheep, and rabbits, and collect eggs from chickens. Some farms also let visitors help in bottle-feeding baby animals, including piglets, lambs, calves, and kids.

They can go horseback riding.

Many farms have horse riding activities for both children and adults. These farms have accredited instructors and horses that are especially trained for leisurely riding, so that even first timers can enjoy riding on horseback. Riding trails can be in an indoor riding arena, around the farm facilities and open pasture, or through a scenic forest trail. Some farms also offer basic riding lessons.

They can experience a home away from home.

Many farms offer homestead facilities where guests can stay for the weekend. Having a home away from home can be a new experience for children, and a homestead is a good option for families who want to teach children about living simply. Homesteads offer basic amenities such as bedrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms, and many also have barbecuing facilities.

They can go camping.

Many farms also have camping grounds where you can pitch a tent. Sleeping in a tent brings a greater sense of adventure, and you have to admit that there’s nothing like telling stories around a campfire. Because the camping grounds are situated within the farm, you can be sure that the area is safe from wild animals.

Visiting a farm is a fun and educational experience for the whole family. There’s so much you and your kids can do that will make your stay truly memorable.

 

Samantha