As we’re coming off a set of 10+ hour family roadtrips and another round just a month away, I’ve got travel on the brain.
Normally, I make tons of lists, overorganize, overprepare and drive myself batty until the moment we hit the interstate. For whatever reason, time just got away from me and I didn’t have any moments left to get all that done — and we still made it to our destination and back in one piece! Better than usual, even.
I think we’ve benefitted from getting this long car ride business down to a science. The keys are movies, music, toys and snacks. (Duh, right? But everyone’s got their own twists on this.)
Here’s our strategies:
MOVIES: Our oldest has a portable DVD player with headphones kinda like this one from Best Buy that she can operate herself from the back seat of the minivan. Money well spent, my friends. It has held up well through several years of abuse, and it plugs right into the car’s power jacks.
For the toddler twins, who clearly aren’t old enough yet to maneuver a movie screen on their own, we strap on seatback screens pretty similar to these at Best Buy. Again, this kind of setup is a bit of an investment. But over time, it’s one that pays off in sanity points. They can hook together to play the same movie, but most of the time, our girls go their separate ways and watch something different. This gives us an easy switcheroo when they’re done and extends the happiness.
We always keep a flip-book-style carrying case of movies handy since it’s way easier than hauling around a bag of movie cases, and it mostly lives in the car, so we never forget it. All we have to do is slide in the current hot tickets — Frozen and How to Train Your Dragon, naturally — and we’re on the move.
For a cheap mood booster once everyone’s hit their limit in the car, stop at a McDonald’s for lunch and hit up the Redbox. Nearly all of them have one, and you can return the movie at your destination or another McDonald’s along the road. This makes the kids rather happy, and it’s pretty cheap, too!
MUSIC: Everyone knows music sets the mood. After a long round of movie watching, switch them off for awhile and take a break for some music.
We still have Baby Einstein in the rotation for sleepytime, although it’s rare that we actually have kids sleeping in the car these days.
For the most part, I prefer a round of peppy car dancing to help nudge out everyone’s grumpies. It also helps everyone move a little bit, lessening complaints about being trapped in car seats.
Our rotation right now is generally “Happy,” “What Does the Fox Say” and the entire Frozen soundtrack. And Kids Bop 20-whatever. I’m amazed at how those CDs get even the 3-year-olds into a groove.
TOYS: Previously, I packed vast bags of small items to constantly interchange among the children in an attempt to keep everyone entertained. Over time, I’ve realized that all that does is lead to things getting thrown down on the floor, which adds to my own nuttiness because then the van’s a mess and no one can move around on it.
Instead, this time we stopped at Walgreens at let each child pick out one thing from the toy aisle. (They often have buy one, get one free deals there, too.) Kayla and Kendall each picked out a sticker/activity book, and Ava chose Gak, which somehow managed to stay contained. Somehow, this one small switch seemed to make a big difference — when you give children choices, it makes them feel special.
SNACKS: Again, this is an area where our kids’ ability to make choices has let to a happier trip. We start out from home with everyone getting a sippy cup or juice pouch and a breakfast item. At any post-lunch stopovers, I have stopped packing a big bag of things that end up getting crushed, instead letting the girls each pick an item for themselves at whatever gas station we land at.
For the most part, our kids don’t eat a lot of junk food at home, so it’s still a genuine treat to them when we’re on vacation. They also usually enjoy sharing their treats with each other, so everyone gets a little bit of each thing. Last time, this was chips, gummy bears and Twizzlers. (Note: This was kind of a treat for mom to snag a bite, too!)
If anyone out there wants to share their travel sanity tips, I’d love to hear them!
It’s almost Father’s Day, so it’s time to get shopping to show the guys in our lives how much we appreciate them. All that breakfast making, lawn mowing and car washing that he does should pay off with a nice reward.
The Promenade at Chenal has helped us generate a few ideas with a handy Father’s Day Gift Guide that provides plenty of cool gifts like this one:
And this one:
There’s also an added perk if you go the gift card route from June 2-13. You get a voucher for a free iced coffee or tea at the brand new Cafe Brunelle with every Promenade gift card purchase, so you can try it out while you’re there, or pass the treat onto dad.
But wait, there’s more.
Right before Father’s Day, the Promenade and St. Vincent West will be hosting a Men’s Health Month event Friday, June 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dads, grandpas, uncles, brothers and sons can take a little lunch break in the spirit of health while showing off their putting skills in exchange for a set of Wilson Staff 50 Elite golf balls, courtesy of Everett Buick GMC. And there’s more! The guys can also enter to win other prizes from Nike, lululemon athletica, Gearhead Outfitters, Big Orange Burgers, the Tavern Sports Grill & Bar and Chenal 9 Theatres.
Check out more details here.
This is a compensated post. However, all opinions expressed are my own, of course.
Had a GREAT time last night at The Promenade at Chenal‘s Ladies Night Out! Every mama needs a break now and then for a little kid-free relaxation with good friends.
The rain put a little damper on the fashion show, unfortunately. But it cleared up just in time for us to enjoy the very best part of the rain-free portion of the festivities, free cocktails and desserts. The mini strawberry shortcakes were totally my jam.
Then we had a delish dinner at A.W. Lin’s, where the server told us that they’re going to start doing Ladies Night specials every Thursday. Whoo hoo! Who doesn’t get excited about half-off appetizers and drink specials? The sangria was quite good, I must say.
Next up at The Promenade will be a men’s heath weekend in June. Stay tuned for more details, and have a great weekend!
Note: This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions are my own, of course.
Need a break for a night of fun? We do! So round up your besties for Ladies Night Out at the Promenade on Thursday, May 15.
This year, a runway show with a fundraising raffle will benefit Ronald McDonald House, which provides housing for families with hospitalized children, among other things. A $10 donation by cash, check or credit card will enter you to win great prizes from the Promenade, and every $5 donation after that will give you another chance to win.
The first 100 ladies to arrive at the 6 p.m. event will receive a swag bag with coupons, product samples and more. The Pointe Brodie Creek luxury apartments will host a cocktail hour, and there will be sweet treats from YaYa’s Euro Bistro, too.
And just as exciting, if you R.S.V.P. for the event before noon on May 15, you’ll be entered to win a drawing for Bruno Mars tickets for his June 10 show at Verizon Arena. Click here now!
There will also be a few sales and drink specials going on, which you can take a sneak peak at here. I’m so excited! I could really use a night of relaxation during this hectic rundown to the end of the school year. Hope to see you there!
Note: This is a compensated post. However, all opinions are my own, of course.
Verizon Arena turned into a princess-packed party house Wednesday night for the opening show of Disney on Ice: Rockin’ Ever After.
As expected, many many little girls dressed in Disney gowns showed up for the fun, and a few grown-ups did, too. In fact, there was a whole family with seats down at the floor dressed in Frozen wear. It was pretty impressive.
The show kicked off with Mickey and Minnie and the gang, featuring spunky songs. Kayla was extremely excited to see Mickey “for real.” I had no idea that Mickey was her jam before this! Then the first story up was our family’s favorite by far, The Little Mermaid.
The ice skaters tell the stories presented in extremely modified bits using the movies’ big show songs. Ariel’s segment heavily featured her mermaid sisters and some really cool glow in the dark costumes. My kids were mesmerized — especially 3-year-old Kendall, who wore her Ariel costume to the show. I also saw more than one mom rocking out to their version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” including KATV’s Alyson Courtney, who was sitting in front of us.
Next up was Rapunzel, her mom and Flynn Ryder, with a 2-skater Maximus that the little ones seemed to get a kick out of, followed by Merida and the Scottish clans of Brave. Her red-headed little brothers were pretty cute, and they skipped all the turning-into-a-bear-business, which Ava tends to find scary.
Speaking of scary, there are a few pyrotechnic bursts in the second half of the show that made the twins a bit nervous (including blasts when Merida hits something with her arrows). Fortunately, they’re small and sparse, so a little hand-holding got us through.
The beast from Beauty and the Beast was also just a teensy bit scary for the littlest ones, but Belle’s beautiful skating quickly won them over.
I must admit, my favorite part of all was seeing the pure joy on the faces of the kids there — mine included. And even though it put us home way way past bedtime, it was totally worth it.
Note: Our tickets for the show were provided in exchange for this review, but all opinions expressed are my own, of course.
Congrats to Amy, the randomly picked winner of our Disney on Ice: Rockin’ Ever After tickets. We hope you enjoy the show!
And many thanks to the Angela Rogers Group for providing the tickets for this giveaway, as well as all of you who entered.
Disney on Ice: Rockin’ Ever After is coming to Little Rock, and we’ve got tickets to give away!
Last year, Ava and I were fortunate to get a chance to see another Disney on Ice show, Dare to Dream. If you want a good idea of what to expect at this one, check out last year’s review.
This year, I got to speak with one of the cast members, Meagan Midkiff, to hear how it works behind the scenes. She’s 20 and has been skating on the tour for twp years after growing up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as a competitive skater.
Both of her coaches had worked with Disney on Ice, and she grew up loving the shows, so now she’s getting to live her dream and travel the country, exploring the cities they stop in along the way.
She said each of the high-energy shows involve about 40 skaters — 20 girls and 20 guys — and each of them play multiple parts. You’ll be able to check Megan out playing Aquatta, Ariel’s sister dressed in blue, during the Little Mermaid portion of the show.
Before the show hit the road, the cast members spent six weeks putting it together in Lakewood, Fla., and they rehearse now about every two weeks to keep things fresh. But after performing up to nine times a week over and over, they’ve pretty much got things down pat. At that point, “Your body knows what it’s doing more than you do,” Megan said.
Rockin’ Ever After is what she described as a “modern take” on the stories — the show will feature the Little Mermaid, Tangled, Brave and Beauty and the Beast. Based on how much my kiddo loved the Dare to Dream show last year, I have no doubt it’s going to be a great time.
Wanna go? Tickets for the performances at Verizon Area are on sale already here or through Ticketmaster. Or you can leave me a comment before Friday for a chance to win a family four-pack of passes to the 7 p.m. show on Wednesday, May 7 or the 7 p.m. show on Thursday, May 8. (And if you need to purchase an adjacent seat for an extra family member, it’s no problem at all.) Good luck!
Philip Mann and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will present a free concert at 3 p.m. Sunday at Central High’s Roosevelt Thompson Auditorium.
The Young Person’s Guide to Orchestra is presented as a gift to the city by Joel Pugh in honor of the birthday of his wife, Mrs. Caroline Pugh, to whom the composer dedicated Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, along with her siblings.
Here’s the lineup:
Britten – Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
Saint-Saens – Selections from Carnival of the Animals
Again, this concert is FREE and open to the public. What a wonderful way to introduce kids to classical music! Just click here to make your reservation at the ASO website.
The kids loved The Promenade at Chenal’s Family Health and Wellness Fest on Saturday and had an absolute blast on the climbing wall. We ended up starting and finishing the trip there. Even Daddy joined in the fun!
The twins gave it a shot, too, but didn’t get very far.
Right off, we caught up with Ronald McDonald, who was kind enough to hand out stickers with a smile.
Then we grabbed a super delicious and heathy mini-meal from the light menu at Bravo! Cucina Italiana. I must admit, it’s one of my favorite restaurants to take the kids because it’s so family friendly yet elegant enough that it feels like a little bit of an escape. Whole Foods had healthy eating handbooks nearby, and Arkansas Rice Depot offered grab-and-go snacks for a good cause.
Another cool feature of the festival was the Waste Management recycler robot. Kids were totally loving it!
There were a ton of booths with all kinds of health information — fitness, heart and prostate health , urgent care and even helmet safety. And on top of all that, there were a few fun ones too, including the Belle and Blush booth, one with weight-loss wraps and those trendy Plexus drinks. Most of the booths offered some kind of giveaway or contest to register for, which I greatly appreciate.
The Museum of Discovery brought out a few friends to examine, as well.
I tried to get the kids to check out this guy at the injury prevention booth, but they wanted no part of it. I heard later that one of Ava’s friends was pretty interested in him, though.
And for us, no visit to The Promenade is complete without one stop in a kids store like the Children’s Place, even if it’s just to browse around for a little fun. See ya there soon!
This is a compensated post. However, all opinions are my own, of course.
The passing of spring break has set off the alarm bells that summer will be here before we blink. There’s not that much time left in the school year. And that means a mad rush to figure out what to do with the kids all summer.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of summer camps and programs in the Little Rock area — more like a starting point. However, I was certainly overwhelmed as Ava was entering school and I desperately would have appreciated some help in figuring these kinds of things out. So if any of you out there know of other summer camps and activities, PLEASE post them below.
Wildwood is offering a summer Academy of Music and the Arts. Their website doesn’t have a lot of information besides the application and costs, but the latest edition of Life in Chenal has a good article on it.
I’m a big fan of River City Gymnastics, which offers full-time care during the summer. They’re also peanut free and take a field trip each week. http://www.river-city-gymnastics.com/
I’ve also heard really great things about Ferncliff day camp, which offers Bible study and worship along with outdoors activities. They have week-long camps and family camps, as well.
There’s no information up yet for this year, but Little Rock Parks and Recreation Department has previously held a Summer Playground Program at select schools with field trips to places like the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Clinton Library and the Museum of Discovery. They also offered a “teen camp” for 11- to 15-year-olds last year.
The North Little Rock Parks and Recreation Department is holding multiple sessions of summer camp for incoming first through eighth graders. That program also offers field trips and plenty of recreational activities.
The Arkansas Arts Center holds a Junior Arts Academy that’s apparently somewhat crowded and hard to get into. But they also hold kids and teen classes throughout the year in ceramics, portraits and other subjects that might be an option for those who don’t need all-day care.
For budding young chefs in fourth grade or higher, the Clinton Library has culinary camps that I’ve heard are quite fabulous. They even get to make their own lunches and snacks.
The Little Rock Athletic Club has week-long Lil’ Joey and Ironkids camps for (potty-trained) kids ages 3 to 12. The North Little Rock Athletic Club has offered summer camp before, as well, for ages 5-12 although its website still shows 2013 information.
Space is often limited in these programs, so check them out as soon as you get a chance if you’re interested. Summer is on its way!