Upgrade Your Beauty Products for Fall With the Meijer Beauty Sale

*This post is sponsored by Meijer. All opinions are my onw!

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I am uber-vain and I LOVE my beauty products!! Mascara, blush, lipstick, eyeshadow, BRING IT ON. I want it all! Now, I love to coupon and get my beauty products for cents on the dollar, but I know a lot of you just AIN’T GOT TIME FOR THAT. And, you want the convenience of a one-stop shop, too. If that’s you, I’ve got great news for you: there’s a heck of a beauty sale at Meijer this week. You can get buy two get one free cosmetics and BOGO 50% on almost everything else! And if you DO  happen to clip a coupon or two, there are some great ones in the paper this week and online at coupons.com to help you get even better deals.

A photo posted by Jenny Rapson (@jennyitup) on

Above are some of my favorite cosmetic products that Meijer sent me to review. I have to tell you that that L’Oreal Paris LUMI powder glow illuminator is a real superstar. Not only do I use it to highlight my cheekbones, I also use the darker part of it as bronzer and contour between my jaw and cheekbone AND, in the photo below, I am also using the lighter shade of it as eyeshadow on my brow bone and to highlight the inner corner of each eye. This is such a fantastic multi-tasking product! There are a couple other colors available and I am dying to try them as well.


Another favorite beauty product, which I’ve never tried before, is this NYX lib butter in Merengue. Here, I used it alone over a neutral lip liner, and it stayed on REALLY well – more like a lipstick than a gloss. I love the fresh, natural, light look of wearing this lip butter with just liner, but you can also wear it over lipstick too, to add some flair and long-lasting shine to your favorite lip shade.

A photo posted by Jenny Rapson (@jennyitup) on

In all of these photos I am also wearing a FANTASTIC pressed powder from Maybelline over my foundation. It’s called Maybelline Better Skin and I love it! It’s really long-wearing, and it’s not heavy but it goes on great – a little goes a long way. Just one pat of the applicator will do it, you don’t have to apply multiple coats. It definitely makes me want to try the res of the Better Skin line.

A photo posted by Jenny Rapson (@jennyitup) on

This next photo gives me the opportunity to showcase another new lip product I’d never tried before: Maybelline Color Jolt intense lip paint. I LOVE IT. It goes on really easily with a soft applicator and it stays on for a looong time. I just applied a small amount over lip liner — a little goes a long way!


My super-smooth hair in the photo above should also be commented on. It’s thanks to these three amazing products: L’Oréal Paris Extraordinary Oil Shampoo and Conditioner and the Conair wet brush. This shampoo and conditioner is so amazing, it totally smooths by dry, wavy-frizzy hair. It works SO well that I no longer have to use the smoothing styling products I used to put into my hair before I blow it dry. So by using this shampoo and conditioner I’ve been able to cut a product out of my routine, saving me time and money. PLUS, it makes my hair WAY easier to straighten once it’s dry and helps the straight last longer, too. After two weeks of use, I am a BELIEVER.

A photo posted by Jenny Rapson (@jennyitup) on

The Conair wet brush cuts tangles out of my wet hair like nobody’s business. I have really thick hair and I can’t believe how easy it is to brush out when it’s wet with this brush. In addition, it works great on my daughter’s long hair and has GREATLY improved our relationship when I brush her hair out after she showers! I am not even kidding! How did I not KNOW about the Conair wet brush!! I want to cry for all the years I’ve lived without it.

There are some other notable products that I’m going to cover in a Facebook live video that I’m going to do on our Mommin’ It Up Facebook post tonight. I will embed that video here when I’m done. The video will include Maybelline Color Tattoo eye shadow and Neutrogena MositureSmooth color stick.

I hope to see you on Facebook Live tonight, but until then…get to Meijer for some amazing beauty deals this week, September 11-17th!

Updated with Facebook live video below! Check out how I use the L’Oréal Paris LUMI True Match powder!

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An Honest Review of Goldfish Swim School

goldfish 1

Look at my cutie! I can’t believe Sophie is 9 and a half…seriously. This child is headed toward ten without looking back and it kinda FREAKS ME OUT! And of course as she gets older she’s going to want to do more and more fun activities with family and friends. She loves sailing on the small sail boats her dad sails on the weekend during the summer, so she REALLY needs to be a strong swimmer. We’ve had her in lessons at our local university off and on for awhile, but the only run in short sessions and are off for the summer, so when I had the opportunity to try out Goldfish Swim School for a couple of months in exchange for a review, I went for it. And our experience has been GREAT. Here’s what I like about Goldfish:

  • Easy to register and check in. You just scan a card when you arrive much like your favorite store shopper card.
  • Consistent instructors. Sophie’s always had the same teacher every single time, unlike at other places we’ve tried where there seemed to be a lot of inconsistency.
  • Easy, plentiful changing facilities. No waiting for an open room or changing in group settings!

goldfish 2

  • HAIR DRYING STATION!! Love it. This is so perfect for Sophie’s LONG, THICK hair!

goldfish 4

  • Small class sizes. Sophie’s never had more than four in her class!
  • Easy re-scheduling and make-up sessions if you have to miss for vacations or illness (we had to re-schedule two make-ups for those reasons.)

goldfish 5

  • SUPER timely lessons. Sessions, without exception, started and ended perfectly on time every single time. I was amazed.
  • LOTS of comfortable seating in the viewing area! I could see Sophie from just about anywhere I sat, and there was plenty of room for siblings too.

goldfish 3


We have loved lessons at Goldfish. I am not lying when I say they have been the highlight of Sophie’s week. We are taking July off because we are so busy as a family, but plan to dive back in (see what I did there?) in August, and have her go two times a week instead of just once. It’s not that much more expensive to do twice a week, and it’s a great value in my eyes because it also means she will progress and graduate sooner.

If you’re in Dayton, you can find our local Goldfish Swim School south of town on Lyons Rd. just off 675. I highly recommend it and hope we see you there!

If you’re not local, lucky you, there are lots of Goldfish Swim Schools all over! Find the location nearest you at their website!

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It’s not you, it’s us.

Dear People Who Used to Read Mommin’ It Up,

So… remember when we had a blog? And people read it? That was fun, wasn’t it? Somewhere along the way, though, we lost our mojo. Or Jenny became gainfully employed and stopped reminding me to post. Something like that.

In any case, as it turns out, blogging is one of those things like exercise – the longer you don’t do it, the harder it is to get back on the wagon.

But as I’ve discovered in the past 45 seconds, it is also like exercise in that once you do do it again, it feels really, really good.

So, all this to say — sorry we have been MIA. It hasn’t been intentional. It’s not you, it’s us.

But we’re alive, we’re doing well, and, while we may not ever be in post-five-days-a-week mode again, every once in a while we will blow the dust off this thing and get back to business.


P.S. This has nothing to do with the fact that Kate was giving me a hard time the other day about not having a baby book, and me telling her that she absolutely does have one and she can find it on MomminItUp.com, and then me realizing that if I don’t get on the stick, neither of us will remember her tween years. Although that may or may not be a good thing.

P.P.S. This also has nothing to do with the fact that I need ADVICE on a very important subject but didn’t feel right about asking for something straight out of the gate without a vague and unsatisfying explanation of where we’ve been for the past six months. And by very important subject, I mean cupcakes.

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A #FanAunt Walks Into a Rubik’s Cube Competition…

This past weekend I had two wild and crazy dreams come true: 1) to attend the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop (even though, once AGAIN, I failed to win their essay contest) and 2) to see my nephew Drew, the speedcubing champion, in a competition in real life.

Jenny Cube

(This is not creepy by the way, it’s TOTALLY NORMAL)

I was dismayed when I found out Drew’s only local tournament of the year was going to be at the same time as Erma, because last year the local tournament was the same weekend as my 15-year college reunion and I missed it. (I am starting to think that Drew plans these specifically so that I cannot attend, and I gotta say it’s a pretty plausible theory.) But HAPPILY, there was a 3-hour break in the Erma action Saturday afternoon, so even though I was TOTES EXHAUST from conferencing all weekend, I got in my sweet minivan and drove across town in time to see Drew in some finals, including Pyraminx (at which he is World Record Holder – watch him break the record here –  and some other fancy title like Lord of the Trigon)

Oh, by the way, this is a Pyraminx

Oh, by the way, this is a Pyraminx

and the regular Rubik’s cube, known to cubers and their overly-interested aunts as the “3×3”. Drew is national champion at the 3×3 but his pal Lucas is the World Record Holder aka LORD OF THE CUBE on that one (you can watch him blow the world’s mind in just 4.9 seconds here).

3 x 3 to those of us "in the know"

3 x 3 to those of us “in the know”

SO ANYWAY.  I walk in to this church gym where the competition is, and STRANGELY, there are not hundreds of people there, so I was able to walk right up front and get a seat. I didn’t see Drew’s mom (my sister-in-law Sarah) anywhere so I moseyed up to the front row where Drew was solving one cube or another. And his eyes met mine and they were filled with the glowing excitement all 16-year-olds when they see their embarrassing aunt walk into a room filled with their peers. You can imagine, I’m sure. Well, after Drew locked eyes with his fave #FanAunt, his eyes immmmmedately shifted away and then BACK to me and I saw that he had sent a secret message to his pal Lucas (see Lord of the Cube, above) and that the secret message said “MAYDAY MAYDAY! Embarrassing Adult Female Relative on the Premises!”

So naturally I got up and sauntered over to Lucas and stuck my hand out and introduced myself because OBVIOUSLY he wanted to meet me. DUH. (You’re welcome Lucas!)

I mean, look at me, you guys, I’m KIND OF a teenage dream.

Jenny is Crazy

So, I found my sister-in-law, acquired a pack of Skittles and a coke (very necessary to sugar up for cubing comps) and watched the action—which, honestly, was SO fast I could barely keep up. They had this thing really well-organized and it was all I could do to follow Drew from table to table as he completed the different rounds. I was trying really hard to be not embarrassing but in one round, he solved the Pyraminx in just 1.7 seconds and before I could stop myself, I WHOOPED aloud. Even though it was an accident, the look on Drew’s face was pretty priceless so I’m not even sorry. I DID do my best to keep it under control the rest of the time though. I SWA-EAR. And mostly, I did a great job, except for one time when he solved the 3×3 cube in just 6.36 seconds and I turned to the complete stranger next to me and declared proudly, “I saw him be born!” which is important because my being present at his birth DEFINITELY has a lot to do with how good he is at cubing.

Let's face it. I am the WIND BENEATH HIS WINGS

Let’s face it. I am the WIND BENEATH HIS WINGS

Long story long, Drew won Pyraminx, and he placed 3rd in 3×3 after his pals Lucas and Andy – which leads me to a HUGE revelation— Andy is also local to the Dayton area and ALSO HAS A FAN AUNT. When I walked in I saw another mom from my kids’ school working concessions and I was all “What are you doing here?” and she was all “my nephew helps organize this” and I was all “SO DOES MINE”! Crazy right? Turns out she’s Andy’s aunt. What are the odds? Her daughter in in Joshua’s class and her son is in Sophie’s class, so they have cubing cousins in common! Soooo I guess I’ve got some #FanAunt competition now….good thing I like you, Robin!

Here’s the fab 3, preparing to take over the world at an earlier competition:

Lucas Drew Andy

So, I really enjoyed my first cubing competition! My only regret was that I had the conference all weekend so I wasn’t able to prepare with any super embarrassing posters or life-size cutouts of Drew’s head to wave in the air.

I guess this blog post will just have to suffice!

Congrats, nephew! Can’t wait til the next one!



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Behind Enema Lines: The Day I Knew the Honeymoon Was Over

Author’s note: This was my entry for the 2016 Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop Essay Contest. Once again, I LOST. But bonus, you get to hear the most embarrassing story of my LIFE, which I have actually told to very few people. I was hoping it would garner me a win! Talk about your all-time backfires. Pun intended. ENJOY!

Behind Enema Lines: The Day I Knew the Honeymoon Was Over


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“Marry the person who will help you to the bathroom”.


So commands the title of a recent Washington Post feature in which the author describes her spouse’s tender care after her emergency C-section.


But I can do her one better.


My own emergency C-section added some marital challenges that my husband and I hadn’t foreseen. We’d always been private about “bathroom stuff”; we never dreamed we’d go from “I do” to “Can you help me pull up my mesh hospital panties?” in just under four years.


Courtesy of a surgery side effect called an ileus, I couldn’t poop or pass gas after birth. So, my belly, (you know, the one that just had a giant hole cut in it because my hoo-hah wouldn’t perform?) swelled back up to full-term pregnant size—and it hurt like a MOTHER. To remedy this, I got an emergency enema.


Fortunately for me, the enema worked. Unfortunately, it started working at the precise moment my mother-in-law chose to visit her new grandson.


Trust me, there’s nothing like hoping the moans of your intense pain will cover the seismic sounds of your backed up bowel contents exploding into the toilet so that your mother-in-law won’t hear. (She totally heard).


But the spastic colon party was really just getting started. Back in my bed, my bowels decided to prove their reactivation once again. And my poor husband? He alone had a ringside seat for this one.


Without warning, loud enema-fueled chemical farts started spewing forth from my nether regions. We looked at each other in shock. Farts? We don’t fart in front of each other! Before panic could even set in, volley after volley of the longest, loudest, stinkiest farts that have ever been farted came jumping out of my body. It was like an eleven-year-old boy ate a 48-ounce can of baked beans plus a tube of your grandma’s stinky antibiotic ointment and just went to TOWN.


Horrified, we could do nothing except laugh uncontrollably…but the laughing caused me excruciating pain. After about 15 minutes, this cycle of fart-laugh-moan had us in such hysterics that I had to banish my husband from the room so that my flatulence would be less hilarious and I wouldn’t DIE FROM THE LAUGHING PAINS.


Somehow, I survived—and after those odiferous fifteen minutes in that hospital room, I knew that man was in it to win it with me for LIFE. Twelve years later, we still roll with laughter when one of us brings up the “Chemical Fart Incident”.


So girls, please: Do marry the person who will help you to the bathroom. Or maybe? Be like me and marry the dude who can withstand your chemical farts.

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Dear Children, I Want You to Fail. Love, Mom

Note: This post was originally published on For Every Mom. I wanted to post it here first, but apparently after you neglect your blog for 3 months, it breaks! So we had to have it fixed yesterday. Oops.

Recently Sophie and Joshua have become enamored with cooking shows, so thanks to Netflix and Hulu we’ve been watching Chopped, Cupcake Wars, and Master Chef Junior. I’ve never watched these before, but we’re enjoying them, PLUS I’m learning a lot about weird food I’ll never cook.  But, as I’ve watched and bonded with my kids over these shows, I’ve noticed a phrase that the cooking competitors say over and over again. I’ve heard it many times before in all sorts of contexts, but since we’ve been binge-watching these cooking shows, my kids and I have heard these 5 words over and over again a lot recently:

“Failure is not an option.”

And I get it. These competitors came to win, not to mess around. Winning would mean a lot for them both financially and clout-wise for their businesses.

But. I don’t like my kids hearing “Failure is not an option” over and over again. Because the truth is, failure is always an option. It is an option that all of us will have to accept at some point in our lives, willingly or unwillingly. It is a fact of life that we all need to know how to handle so that we don’t fall apart when it becomes our reality (like many of the chefs on Chopped, mere moments after we’ve confidently declared that it is not an option). I’ve been thinking about that phrase often over the past few weeks, and finally, I have to say something about it. So, pardon me while I clear my throat and take a minute to speak to my children about failure.

Dear Joshua, Sophie, and Jonah,

Hey kiddos. I want to tell you a story about your mother. When I was a junior in high school, sweet 17, I was having a pretty great year. I know it’s hard to  imagine, but I was kind of fabulous! I was the lead in the school play and the school musical. I had a solo in the honors choir. My talents were lauded and I loved what I was doing. Soon I would be a senior. The best was yet to come. (Can you imagine me being young and cool? I was, I swear.)

Jenny Annie
Your mother in her glory days. Don’t act like you’re not impressed!

At the beginning of my senior year, I approached the fall play auditions with full confidence in my abilities. I knew what part I wanted and I knew I would get it. My audition and my callback were great. There was no doubt in my mind I would succeed.

Except…I didn’t. As all of us hopefuls gathered after school around the poster in the hallway where the cast list had been posted, I eagerly looked for my name. And I looked. And I looked, and I looked. Eagerness turned to disbelief. Then the tears came. People all around me were as shocked as I was. Looks of pity abounded. I ran away humiliated.

I had failed. And not even at anything hard, kiddos. At something that came easily to me. At something I was good at. I failed big time.

I cried all the way home and all night long. I remember my mom trying to comfort me but I don’t remember what she said. I just remember the humiliation and the hurt. It was my senior year! It was supposed to be my victory lap, and I was out before the race even started. Not only did I not get the part I wanted, and I didn’t get ANY part.

Somehow I moved on—I don’t really remember how. My 18-year-old ego was bruised but I managed to show my face at school despite my failure. My friends avoided the topic, and I tried to pretend it hadn’t happened. But it was there with me, every day.

Soon, however, I had something to distract me from my failure: an accident. In one of those “urban legend” type stories, one of my best friends—a boy—had a pretty bad accident at school in shop class. And after surgeries and a solid 3 weeks of missed school, not to mention trying to study on painkillers, he needed a tutor. I was in all 3 of the required graduation classes with him, and because of my failure to win my coveted spot in the school play, I had lots of free time. Soon I was spending most days after school helping him catch up on his senior year schoolwork.

Also, since he couldn’t drive due to his injury and medications, I started picking him up for school events and soccer games. We were spending a ton of time together, and eventually, about three months after my epic failure, we started dating.

You’re smart kids, so you’ve probably already figured out that that boy was your father. But what you didn’t know about me and your dad is that our getting together was in large part due to what at the time I considered a huge embarrassing failure. If I had gotten that part in the school play that I wanted SO badly, I would not have been available to help your dad catch up on all his school work and pass those classes he needed to graduate. I wouldn’t have become his driver, his companion, his girlfriend. Maybe God would’ve brought us together some other way, but…maybe not. After all, though I am so glad your dad and I chose each other, I don’t believe that there’s only ONE person in the world out there that you’re destined to marry. Maybe if I’d succeeded instead of failed at that school play audition, we would have remained “just friends.” Maybe I would have gone to college without a boyfriend and met some nice Christian guy there and married him instead. Maybe you kids wouldn’t be here. Maybe I would have missed a life that is so, so, so, much better than a lead role in a high school play.

Since then, I’ve failed many times over, my babies. I’ve failed at jobs, at friendships, and as you know, at countless mom moments. And that’s because, kiddos, failure is ALWAYS an option. But it’s not always a bad thing. It’s only bad if you don’t LEARN from it. In a failure you may feel pain, but you may also learn to empathize. You may be broken, but because you’re broken and desperate, you can experience the glory of being fully dependent on Christ. And you may fail at opportunities you reallyreallyreallyreallyreally want only to be available for ones you’d never dreamed of getting.

Kids, I don’t want you to be afraid of failure because I don’t want you to be afraid to TRY. I’m not looking for perfection from you, my dears, I am looking for effort. Try and care! Succeed and fail! Do it all for the Glory of God and let Him do what He wills with the results. I’m here for you no matter what. You’re loved and cherished and valued no matter what. And if you continue to give your lives to Christ, you really cannot go wrong in your failures or in your wins.

So, darlings, that’s about where I run out of wise words, but I’ll leave you with this:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” —Thomas Edison

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand”.—Proverbs 19:21

I love you guys. Now go out and try some stuff!




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Deck the Halls With Pasta and Gift Cards!

This post is sponsored by Piada. Naturally, all opinions, bad jokes, puns, and overly-used exclamation points (!!!) are my own.

It’s the moooost wonderful time, of the yeeeeeaaaar! (I really hope you SANG that with me as you read it. If not, please go back and DO IT AGAIN! I’ll wait…good job. Much better.)

Anyhoo. As I was saying, unless you live under a rock, you know that the Christmas season is upon us. More like ALL UP IN OUR FACES. Whew! I am feeling the holiday hustle & bustle already. Tonight is Sophie’s elementary Christmas program and although it’s usually lovely, it’s one of the most difficult nights of our year, getting everyone there and ready on time. Whew. I wish I could pay someone to do it for me and just show up and enjoy the program. (Mom of the year!!) But anyway, I am digressing AGAIN.

One of the most important parts of the holiday season for our family is giving back. We always try to involve our kiddos in the giving to show them how much better it is to give than receive, and that it is important that those who have help care for those who don’t. This year we’ve already participated in two big service events, and now we’re doing something a little different, too—participating in a gift card drive to benefit Dayton Children’s Hospital with Piada Italian Street Food.


Have you ever tried Piada? When I saw one open I was a little afraid I would not be able to eat there because of my food allergies, BUT happily I CAN eat their chopped salads and THEY ARE TO DIE FOR. My husband looooooves the Piadas. So let me explain a little about what this restaurant is like if you’ve never been there.

It’s a fast casual, authentic Italian eatery with choices of fresh grill items, sauces, dressings and toppings, which can be added to three main entrees: a Piada, Pasta Bowl or Chopped Salad. Menu items are made-to-order and guests can choose from more than 30 healthy ingredients. Soooo you can really, really, really customize your food!! “Piadas” are like wraps, reimagined—they have a thin crust, made from handmade dough that is freshly baked on a stone grill. Then, the Piada is filled with Italian-inspired ingredients and hand-rolled to perfection.

Related: I AM SO HUNGRY RIGHT NOW! We have a Piada conveniently located on the way home from church in Kettering, soooo it’s a favorite place to stop for lunch! But there are actually three Piadas in our area. In addition to the one we frequent, there are locations in Beavercreek and Centerville, too.

Besides the DELICIOUS food, here’s another reason to go to Piada this holiday season. Piada is holding a gift card drive in December benefiting Dayton Children’s Hospital, and it’s a total win-win! Here’s how it works:  Gift cards, of any denomination, will be accepted at all three Piada locations in the Dayton area (Kettering, Centerville and Beavercreek). In exchange, each guest who donates a gift card will receive a free meal at Piada, including Piadas, Pasta Bowls and Chopped Salads.

DID YOU HEAR THAT? You give, you get! Personally, we have had great experiences with Dayton Children’s Hospital in both the ER and with tests our kids have had. I know many other families who have greatly benefited from the great therapies available through Dayton Children’s as well. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know I have beautiful little friend named Joy, and she is literally the poster child for the wonderful care that Dayton Children’s gives!

My girl Joy Marie is a star therapy recipient at Dayton Children's!

My girl Joy Marie is a star therapy recipient at Dayton Children’s!

Additionally, there are many kiddos who have long-term illnesses there, and they and their families will really benefit from this gift card drive! Providing gift cards to in-need patients and their families is the best way to get them exactly what they need this holiday season. In fact, gift cards are at the top of Dayton Children’s Hospital’s wish list and allow kids and families to pick out their own toys and gifts, as well as purchase necessities such as food, clothing, medicine and gasoline. Having a child in the hospital long term is extremely taxing on the emotional, physical, and financial needs of a family, and the gift cards collected at Piada will go a LONG way in soothing some of these difficulties for these precious families this holiday season.

Allright, soooo…what are you waiting for! Get ye to Piada between NOW and December 27th to give give give and eat, eat, eat!

If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments! And stay tuned…we will have a Piada GIVEAWAY coming up later in the month!

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Playing around with Wonder Forge

One of the benefits (to me) of Jenny having a job is that she has no time. (Having a job is tough, yo.) Therefore when Wonder Forge reached out to see if she would do her annual game review, she passed the honors on to me, which is awesome since they have several new Star Wars games out and I have several Star Wars fans at my house!

The first one we checked out was Galaxy Hunt. Sam was pretty pumped.


This game requires each player to remove a certain piece from the board without causing the spring-loaded bar to move. It’s very easy to play, and requires problem-solving as well as some basic math skills, as each piece is worth positive or negative points.

We also played Star Wars Star Destroyer Strike.

star wars destroyer strike

Here’s the description:
Strategy and suspense collide in the exciting Star Wars Star Destroyer Strike Game. The Star Destroyer Finalizer is out to eliminate the Resistance. Advance your heroes to safety before the starship of the First Order has you in its line of fire. Evade surprise blasts that can happen when you least expect it, and outwit your opponents by bouncing the “laser” blasts off the deflector shield towards them. It’s fast-moving galactic fun for the whole family.

This was also a lot of fun, and Sam loved the lights and sounds. It requires some strategy, which makes it fun for the adults as well as kids. One thing that is a little different is that it’s set up on a track rather than a board. Pretty cool!

Confession time – the thing I liked MOST about these two games is that while they were Star Wars themed, those of us who are a little less, un, well-versed in the Rebel Alliance could play along without any trouble. That’s great for me, because if Star Wars trivia is involved, I can’t hold a candle to Sam or Andy.

Which brings me to…

Star Wars Pictopia

star wars pictopia

Pictopia has been on my “to buy” list for a while now. I have heard nothing but good things about it. The Star Wars version didn’t disappoint! It contains more than 1,000 questions about the planets, ships, villains and heroes, and you can wager different amounts depending on your confidence in your knowledge. (Needless to say, I took the conservative route.) This game is unique in that it combines teamwork with individual play, which puts an interesting twist on it. We liked the game so much that we ordered the Disney version for Kate for Christmas!

Wonder Forge has everything you need to make Christmas break fun! In addition to the Star Wars games, they’ve got a Peanuts Snoopy Flying Ace game, The Good Dinosaur Roarin’ River game, and more. Stay up-to-date on all of their offerings by liking their Facebook page!

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A Little Help

I often say that childcare has been the numero uno most stressful part of my parenting experience. (Which, when I think about it, makes me very, very lucky.) We are closing in on the end of that portion of our lives, as Kate can stay home by herself for short periods of time, but there are still occasions on which we need a little help.

Last week I had the opportunity to check out an app designed to make childcare arrangements a little easier, and I wanted to tell you about it. The app is called Little Helper, and it enables you to create a community of people you know and trust, and to ask (and give!) help when you need it. So, if you’re in a bind, you can send a message to your network that says “Can anyone keep my kids on Friday while I go to the dentist?” Those in your network will see it and can decide (without pressure) whether or not they can help. It takes a little of the stress off of both sides of that equation.

It’s easy. You create an event (which takes less than 30 seconds)…

little helper app

Notify your helpers…

little helper app2

And find and give help.

little helper app3

A key element to Little Helper is trust. It’s a closed environment where you know exactly who can see your request, whereas you might be a little hesitant to say “Hey, can anyone watch my kids while I leave my house empty and available for break ins next weekend?” That’s a bit dramatic, but I think you know what I mean! Even though I have privacy settings on my Facebook page, I don’t have a close relationship with each person I am friends with to say the least, and I don’t necessarily know that every single one of them is super trustworthy. Little Helper is safer in that capacity.

Some other ways Little Helper can be used:
— Co-parenting situations
— Pet care, lawn care, etc.
— Barter/credit system to trade time – people who have time rather than money and are willing to give it as payment, and vice versa.
— GPS-connected car pooling
— See more ideas on their blog

Little Helper is in the testing phase right now, which means there is currently not a fee for using it. If you check it out, leave a comment here and let me know what you think about it – I am interested to hear if it could be a solution for you!

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I recently had the opportunity to drive a Kia Sorento SXL 2.0T with all-wheel drive, and I loved it! It was super fun to have a brand new (incredibly clean) car delivered to my driveway… even though it was only for a week, I felt very fancy! It’s a contender for 2016 North American Car & Truck of the Year for a week, and I can see why.

The Sorento has a very technologically-advanced feel to me. Andy and I kept talking about just how much information is available on the dashboard.


As you can see, it’s got a great display for a GPS (why yes, I do drive to the Ritz Carlton in Lake Tahoe frequently. I told you I was fancy. Okay fine, I stole that photo) and it’s set up for Pandora, among other things. It was really easy for me to pair my phone with the bluetooth system. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but considering I haven’t gotten around to digging out the manual to figure out how to do it in my own van, I was excited about that. I could even use Siri through the voice recognition in the car.

And get this – it shows the speed limit of wherever you happen to be. We are living in the future, I’m telling you.

However. I haven’t told you the best part yet.

The camera.

Check this out.


There are 360 cameras that show the entire area surrounding the car when you’re trying to park. So not only can you see what’s behind you, you can see what’s all around. Which means you don’t have to cross your fingers and hope you’re not going to sideswipe the car next to you. (What? It can’t be just me.) You can see the lines of the parking space. It is amazing.

To be quite honest, that camera/display system could be set up in a tin can and I would still love it, but the rest of the car was great too! My kids loved riding in it – they really, really wanted to keep it, actually. Andy and I enjoyed driving it as well. It drives kind of in between a car and a minivan. It is low enough that it was easy for my 90 year old grandma to get in and out of, but it is high enough to not break your back putting babies in a car seat. I’m a little past that stage of life, but I remember it well!


Learn more about the Kia Sorento here, and follow Kia on Twitter!

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