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July 2015 Netflix Streaming Releases, Kids Edition
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Reflections on Race, Charleston and Ultimately Love
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Chicago: Part 2 (Attractions)
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Storyteller Missions
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Chicago: Part 1 (Lodging, Transportation, Food)
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June 2015 Netflix Streaming Releases, Kids Edition
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Father’s Day Gift Guide: 2015
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Shark Teeth
9
Camp Recipe Reviews
10
So this is Summer

July 2015 Netflix Streaming Releases, Kids Edition

Here’s this month’s list. Also don’t forget that Regal Summer Movie Express started this week (see below for full list). Netflix Streaming (for Kids) 7/1: Octonauts (Season 3) Piglet’s Big Movie (2003) Bionicle: The Legend of Reborn (2009) 7/15: Penguins of Madagascar (2014) H20 Mermaid Adventures Bionicle: The Legend of Reborn (2009) 7/28: Marvel’s Hulk and the Agents of SMASH (Season 2) 7/30: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (Season 5) 7/31: Turbo Fast (Season 2) Regal Summer Movie Express: Admission to the Summer Movie Express is only $1. Tickets available for purchase at the box office and all movies[…]

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Reflections on Race, Charleston and Ultimately Love

Disclaimer: sensitive and truthful information will be presented in this blog post. This is a direct account of my experiences with race, racism and everything in between. When I was four my best friend was Melvin. Melvin lived across the street and I looooved him. Melvin was my very first black friend. We lived in North Dakota, which is not known for its diverse population. Poor Melvin was the recipient of my unrelenting love, I used to rub his arm and tell him how beautiful his skin was. I would hope that maybe being around him more would turn my[…]

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Chicago: Part 2 (Attractions)

Oh Chicago… it seems everyone loves you! I’ve had countless conversations since our visit and everyone shares how much they enjoy their trips to the Windy City. I’m sure that has something to do with the vast amount of entertainment choices the city has to offer. We weren’t able to do it all but here are a few attractions/activities that we enjoyed on our visit:

Blue Man Group: Dare to Live in Full Color –  I was somewhat skeptical about Blue Man Group. Silly fun isn’t my favorite. I don’t enjoy comedians or gimmicky things. I also had this idea that they just played drums and splattered paint on things. Well folks, there is a reason this show has been going strong for nearly 25 years. It has strong theatrical influence, it’s interesting, it’s hilarious, it’s heart warming, it’s FUN… it’s very different from anything I’ve ever seen. Three blue men take you on a quirky little journey through music, discovery and connection. Audience participation is huge as the show takes over the entire theater… not just the stage. I’ll never forget moving it to some bizarre song about shaking my “can” while playing toss up with ginormous glowing beach balls in a black-lit, neon glowing auditorium with hundreds of other adults-turned-children. If that’s sounds ridiculous to you, you probably just need to get over it and secure some tickets to see the show. You won’t be sorry.

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Current Deals: Upon purchasing a ticket for Blue Man Group, guests can receive a free ticket to visit Chicago’s Willis Tower Skydeck (where they can step out onto one of the building’s “Ledge” glass boxes) or 360 Chicago (for unparalleled views of Michigan Avenue and Lake Michigan.) College students who are studying in Chicago or home for the summer can enjoy the thrills of Blue Man Group for a discounted price. Upon presenting a valid college ID, they can get a discounted ticket for $35. Student tickets are available two hours prior to show time, based on availability.

Special Needs Accomodation: In 2015, Blue Man Group is supporting Austism Speaks. They will donate a minimum of $25,000 and are doing specific autism-friendly shows this year. Even if you can’t make one of their specific shows, individuals with autism are still encouraged to attend the show at any time. Noise cancelling headphones available. Parents of children with autism need to know if the children crave the heavy sensory input or prefer to avoid it.

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iFLY: Ever Dream of Flying?
Let’s just say I spent a lot of time being skeptical on this trip. But isn’t that why we travel? To challenge ourselves, discover new things… iFly was one of these new things. There were people of all ages packed into the Chicago iFLY building. Some watching others fly, some suiting up to prepare for their skydiving experience. We watched a short video with our group, listened to the instructor and learned some hand signals we would need during the flight. Then it was time to put on our goggles and earplugs and head into the chamber. The instructor remains in the chamber with new flyers, like us, and gives instructions and tips with hand signals.

It really was an amazing sensation, totally weightless and flying. And you can’t help but smile like a crazy person because if you don’t you’ll just drool all over yourself. Flying with a group is also a lot of fun, even as strangers we were excited to watch our new friends figure out how to fly and stay balanced in the chamber. There were also some locals who obviously visited on a consistent basis to work on new maneuvers. In the end, our trainer did a demonstration for everyone to enjoy.

The location in Chicago was a little far out for us but there’s outdoor shopping and an outlet mall nearby so anyone could maximize their trip that way. Also, there are plans for an iFLY location in Lincoln Park which would be very convenient. I’m sure this would be even more entertaining with a group of people you actually know. We are looking forward to visiting iFLY with our kids in tow next time!

Special Needs Accommodation: We are always asking questions and watching for companies that go the extra mile to accommodate children and adults with special needs or disabilities. We were happy to hear, from the iFLY representative, that they have a program for children who are autistic. Alex, with emotion in her voice, told me some amazing stories about what flying does for these awesome kids on a sensory level. She also explained how they accommodate for other guests who have additional needs. Very exciting to hear, great job iFLY!

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Brookefield Zoo –  There are two zoos in Chicago. Lincoln Park and Brookefield. Lincoln is free and Brookfield is not. However, Brookefield does offer a wider range of attractions. Dolphins, polar bears and the butterfly garden are just a few of the additional attractions at Brookefield. We made time to watch the Dolphin show at Brookefield and we felt it was really well done and educational. There was a baby dolphin being adorable and playing with his trainer… so of course we couldn’t help but love the whole experience.

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Brookefield is simply bigger and more like a theme-park experience zoo. BUT… it is very far away from everything else you might want to do in Chicago.

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So plan ahead, if you want to take your family there, and make time to spend the whole day there enjoying what the zoo has to offer. It’s also a better deal to book your tickets online. You are allowed to choose 3 extra attractions while saving about $5 per person.

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Chicago Cubs Calvin loves baseball, so of course we headed to Wrigley field (bricks and ivy!) to root for the home team. There’s not much to report here, Wrigley is just one of those parks that you must check off your list. Unfortunately we got caught in a rain delay and ended up leaving before the game is over (even worse, they had a walk-off run in the 9th inning). Calvin purchased our tickets on StubHub so here’s your money saving tip of the day: Our Kroger gives 2-4x gas points on all gift card purchases. We purchased a Stubhub giftcard from Kroger and racked up some points! Saving on gas purchases in the Summer is always a good thing with all the extra driving we do. Also, unless you’re going to a popular game, you can usually get tickets at the cheapest price about a day or day and a half before the game. Here’s your funny story from the game: I was waiting in line for a pretzel and a friendly, grandfatherly PURE Chicago kinda guy struck up a conversation. He asked where I was from… Tennessee…. with the biggest smile he exclaimed “well you’re the only 10- I- see. Here’s a drink on me, welcome to Chicago!” and offered to buy me a beer from the cart. He was completely adorable, just happy to be watching the Cubs on a Saturday night.

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Sight Seeing – We made sure to hit all the major tourist areas. Navy Pier, Magnificent Mile and of course Millennium Park (the Bean). Navy Pier is currently under construction and is always very jam-packed with people. This combination made the whole experience mildly annoying. However we still enjoyed the lake views and a Chicago style hot-dog. I would hate going there with kids, it’s a glorified version of a tourist trap with pricey junk food and souvenir stores. Sorry Navy Pier. Now… Magnificent Mile? I loved it. Great shopping, great restaurants and fun street performers all in one area. That pretty much sums it up! Millennium Park was also a favorite. A beautiful park with great art, surrounded by the gorgeous Chicago architecture… definitely a hit. And we did the fun touristy thing and took a picture in the the reflection of the giant silver bean. Hint: Watching people taking their picture in the bean is way more entertaining than actually doing it yourself.

So yes, dear Chicago, we love you. Thank you for treating us to a great weekend. If you missed part 1 (lodging, transportation, food), you can catch up here.

Disclaimer: Blue Man Group, iFLY Chicago, and Brookefield Zoo kindly provided us admission for this feature. As always, the opinions are my own.

Storyteller Missions

As most of you know my employment history is largely steeped in international missions and orphan care. After a year and a half of focusing on being mommy I am excited to share that I have re-entered the world I love. A few weeks ago I was invited to join the Storyteller Missions team as their community coordinator. This position, averaging 9-10 hours per week has fit seamlessly into our hectic family pace. So what, exactly, is Storyteller Missions? Storyteller is the missions department of America World Adoption, the agency we used to bring Lola into our family. Storyteller sends[…]

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Chicago: Part 1 (Lodging, Transportation, Food)

Our nine-year wedding anniversary rolled around last week. Calvin had casually mentioned just doing a joint thing, nice restaurant, no gifts etc. I should have known he had something in the works. And that something was a four day adventure to Chicagoland. Calvin and I love a bargain, so it’s fitting that this Chicago review is full of budget friendly tips and deals. Leaving room for things like a quick trip to ZARA for some Summer essentials. Here is a run down of all the deals and all the fun. Lodging: Hotels in Chicago, especially in Spring and early Summer,[…]

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June 2015 Netflix Streaming Releases, Kids Edition

Not many this month. At the end of the month, Regal is having $1 movies on Tuesdays and Thursdays (schedule below). Netflix Streaming (for Kids) 6/16: Curious George (2006) 6/26: Dragons: Race to the Edge (Season 1) Regal Summer Movie Express: Admission to the Summer Movie Express is only $1. Tickets available for purchase at the box office and all movies start at 10:00 am. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute. Week 1 Nut Job (Tuesday, June 30) Annie (Thursday, July 1) Week 2 Earth to Echo The Boxtrolls Week 3 Paddington Turbo Week 4[…]

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Father’s Day Gift Guide: 2015

06-16-2015: Find @goodbye_normal on Instagram for a giveaway! It’s that time of the year again. Here are some favorites of mine: 1. Just Porter: A pack that gives back – High-quality backpacks that have great design and functional qualities. For each backpack purchased, Just Porter manufactures a “give bag” filled with school supplies for a child in need. These give bags are manufactured locally and the supplies are purchased from local markets, promoting a sustainable solution in the areas they give. We love the Piko for daily commuting. Look for our full review in the coming weeks. Get it on[…]

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Shark Teeth

The story I’m sharing today is steeped in trauma. In fact, it’s so fresh I’m not sure I’ve completely processed it and healed properly. This is the story of Charlotte losing her first two teeth. And seriously, I’m not exaggerating about the trauma. It began about two weeks ago. The mildly loose two bottom teeth were starting to move just a little more. An excited Charlotte wiggled them a little and then demonstrated the wiggliness close enough for me to see the inside of her mouth. Just like her older brother, Charlotte had a nice set of shark teeth coming[…]

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Camp Recipe Reviews

We tried a few of the recent camp food trends on our recent adventure. As you know everything looks good on pinterest. Here are a few of the recipes and my thoughts on how they actually turned out. (click link to view recipe) Crescent Dogs: I’m not a hotdog fan to begin with but I picked up some all beef nitrate-free Applegate Farms hotdogs and decided the kids would love this treat. This was just one of those failures all around. The crescent roll burns before the hotdog is cooked, even when kept at a safe distance from the fire.[…]

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So this is Summer

On Thursday I attended the last of a series of ceremonies marking the end of school. I ended up with one best smiler, one super reader and one fun friend. Say what you will about unnecessary pomp and circumstance but my kids’ teachers nailed it with their awards. We had a great year of school with tons of progress, growth and achievement. IEP meetings for Lola were smoother this year and there were less hurdles all around. We are better at advocating and anticipating her needs. The year went by so quickly compared to the year before. In fact, it[…]

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