Saturday, June 29, 2013

Walking the Trails

When warm weather hits we spend a good deal of time outside, though we don't usually go out until afternoon when the sun's losing or is about to lose it's intense heat. That leaves us with several hours of outdoor time almost every single day.

Notice the phone attached to her ear. That's how the walk always starts out. ;)

One of the things me and the kids love to do is ride the bike trails (or walk them, depending on our mood). We're fortunate enough to have a trail close to home, and every year it grows in popularity (though it is not overcrowded).

I like strolling along because the scenery is nice. The people are also nice. Everyone nods hello or has a little something to say.

There are people of all ages, from toddlers running/biking, to teens fishing, to parents with children canoeing or kayaking, and everything in between.

My daughter took a picture of this lone fisherman, and she and I both thought it was as nice scene to come across.

Every trip offers a surprise, such as the suddenly blooming-everywhere berries that weren't noticeable a couple of days before,

A bird flew out while he was closely inspecting the birdhouse.
 It startled him and amused me. ;)

or the bird that flies out of the birdhouse while your child is closely inspecting it (boy did my son pick up speed here, and I could not quit laughing).

Though my daughter is sometimes oftentimes on the phone when we start the journey (she's 14), I don't mind. It always starts off the same with her telling her friends she's at the 'boring trail again,' and then it always ends up with her voluntarily getting off the phone (I love that part) and inevitably laughing and having a great time.  She loves water and cannot resist skipping rocks.  Sometimes we take our swimsuits and jump in at the docks too, and there's no way she's missing out on that, ever. ;)

My husband works all day, a good part of it outside, so the last thing he wants to do is meander the trails with us, but I think he'll like it. We'll get him to come along someday. Until then, it's one of the things I do for me-time with the kids, and I love it.

How about you? Are you enjoying the outside weather (if it's not winter where you live)?

Hello Summer Coach Handbag Giveaway

Disclosure: Mail4Rosey did not receive compensation to help promote this giveaway and is not responsible for prize delivery.

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Welcome to the Hello Summer Coach Handbag Giveaway

So many of you love Coach that it's hard for me to resist signing up to help promote a giveaway for one. This giveaway is extra special because the winner gets to choose the style they like best. One lucky reader will win one of the two bags pictured above. Yipee! Mail4Rosey has teamed up with some fabulous blogger friends to bring you the chance to win of these gorgeous bags - Coach Peyton Tote ($298 ARV) or the Signature Stripe Hobo ($298 ARV).
Organized by
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Giveaway is open worldwide and ends July 30th at 11:59 PM EST. 
Diva Fabulosa is responsible for prize fulfillment. Comment entry is the only mandatory entry, all other entries are optional. Good luck everyone!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Free Blogger Opportunity

GiftHulk Summer Event

Organized by: Mom to Bed by 8
Prizes: Four $50 Amazon Gift Cards
Event dates: 7/15 - 7/29
Bloggers Wanted ~ SIGN-UP HERE!

Winner Announcement

Big congrats to Melissa S. whose name was randomly selected by Rafflecopter as the winner of the Real Kids Shades giveaway.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Happy Anniversary (to my blog!)

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a giveaway Lanaya had for her one-year blog anniversary. What a great turnout she had (congrats, Lanaya!).  Most of you know her blog, but if you don't... run, don't walk over to her place. She's hilarious (but can be serious when she needs to be), down-to-Earth, very supportive, and fun. And she's got Reagan's Toy Chest, a great kid's shop (always a link on my side bar).  Her blog is Raising Reagan, and you can visit her here: 

Today, it's my turn, woot (though I am a day late). ;)  Yesterday marked one year of blogging for me.  My very first post ran here. It had six replies. ;) My second post had none, lol, but I kept chugging along, and now I have some really, really wonderful readers (thank you!).

The blog keeps growing, and learning opportunities keep expanding (code anyone?), and there's so many things I would like to learn and do. 

Blogging has become more than a sometime-hobby for me, it has become something I enjoy and participate in/with almost every day. The biggest reason for that is you, the readers. So today, in celebration of my one-year, I want to thank every single person who swings by here and reads what I'm writing, enters the contests that are up and running, and/or has offered friendship to me both on and off of the Internet.  I appreciate every single one of you.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

We see this house quite a bit when we're out and about.
Notice the size difference between the house and the barn. ;)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Art Institute of Chicago

The last thing we did on our mini-vacation last week was visit The Art Institute of Chicago. It was one of two things we went to see for our final day there, and we seriously we could have done just the visit there alone for the entire day. It was truly that fabulous (and that spacious)!

The weekend we were there, the Chicago Blackhawks were also in the hockey playoffs. The city was hopping with fans, and The Art Institute was no exception. See the hockey helmets on their lions?  Fun!!

It was absolutely gorgeous inside, and the tickets you get are good for all day, so if you leave, keep them, you might find yourself with a (good) nagging sensation to go back.

There were many things on display, and we did not get to them all (there is no doubt in my mind that one day soon we will paying the museum a return visit). Where we did spend a good amount of time was with the art.

They had the work of Claude Monet,

Pierre-Auguste Renoir,

Vincent van Gogh,

Peter Paul Rubens,

Piero di Cosimo

Georges-Pierre Seraut

And Grant Wood, which reminded me of Chuck and his wife over at Secondary Roads because that's the painting he uses for his Wordless Wednesday avatar. What a funny association to make for a world-famous painting. See, blogging really does get knit into the everyday fabric of our life doesn't it (Hi Chuck & Sylvia!)?  :)

There were so many other things to, tapestry, sculpture, and so on and so forth...and there were several places to eat inside the museum including Terzo Piano a gourmet restaurant that won the Best of Chicago award back in 2010. I would have liked to have sampled lunch there, but we spent so much time in the art section that we didn't get around to much else (which I regret and don't regret, if that makes an ounce of sense).  Walking around The Art Institute of Chicago was in a word, 'amazing.' There is no other way I would have wanted to spend our last day in Chicago.

If you want to learn more about the museum, you can visit their website here:

You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and/or YouTube.

Admission is $23 for adults, $17 for students and/or seniors, and it's FREE for children 13 and under.

Golden Records American Patriotic Songs (Review & Giveaway)

Disclosure: I received a copy of the album download to help facilitate the review. No other form of compensation took place. All opinions stated are genuine and my own.

If you were born in the USA, chances are high you grew up hearing songs like, "Yankee Doodle," "The Caissons Go Rolling Along," and "You're a Grand Old Flag."  I gave this download a listen and it took me right back to being a child. I remember the songs from school, and from my grandparents singing some of them for no particular reason. "God Bless America" is one of the tracks, and I remember my grandma crying once when that was on the TV. I don't remember why it affected her so powerfully, but I do remember it being one of the very few times I ever saw her cry. 

The iconic, timeless music of Golden Records presents to you an album download of American Patriotic Songs, that include those songs and more. Performed by the Golden Orchestra, this music download has 20 beautifully orchestrated, traditional patriotic songs and flag-waving anthems for everyone in the family to enjoy.

With the 4th of July coming up, it's the perfect time to refresh your memory of these timeless classics, or introduce them to your children. These songs would also be a fun way to introduce an American history lesson to little ones (and I'm thinking a nice addition to the history curriculum for home schooling moms).

Golden Records also has a Stars and Stripes Photo Contest going on until July 1. You can read more about that on their Facebook or Pinterest pages.

The Golden Records website is also a fun place to visit! With classic stories read by superstars, such as Neil Patrick Harris, Alicia Silverstone, and Ed Asner; music presented (in animated form, of course) on an old-fashioned record player; and games and activities such as coloring, matching, and dress-up, there really is something for everyone.

You can learn more about Golden Records by visiting their website:

You can also follow them on Facebook and/or Pinterest, and don't forget to enter their Stars & Stripes photo contest while you're there.

They also have Twitter and YouTube accounts if you'd like to follow along.

You can purchase American Patriotic Songs on iTunes or Amazon for just under ten dollars.

If you'd like to win a download of the American Patriotic Songs, you can enter on the Rafflecopter form below. Remember it's a download of the music, not a hard copy of the CD. Open Worldwide.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Our Visit to Willis Tower

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. It was a part of a press trip we took to the Windy City, and easily one of my most favorite stops.

WillisTower is an amazing building right in the heart of Chicago. I've been before with my second oldest, but no one else in the family has seen it up close and personal.

The feature we most wanted to see in the building was The Sky Deck. I posted before that my husband was scared to go, but he surprised us and came along. He didn't step out into the glass boxes, but he came along. :)

The building itself is pretty amazing, being 110-stories high. When you get on the (very fast moving) elevator to go to the Sky Deck (on floor #103), they flash informational screens that let you know just how high you are, and what famous landmarks you have surpassed in height at that particular time.

The views go all around the building, and are outstanding. There are notes to let you know exactly what it is you are looking at through each window. On a clear day you can see (4) states from the Sky Deck: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Everyone liked the views, but you can see hubby never did get too close to any one window. ;)

The tall building in the middle was our outside view of Willis Tower
when we were walking up to it.
Willis Tower stands 1,450 feet (443 meters) high, 1,730 feet (520 meters) if you include the twin antenna towers on the top. There are 16,100 tinted windows designed onto the building. 6 robotic window cleaners come down from the roof to clean them.

The whole box that extends from the building is made of glass,
so you can see directly below you too, which is awesome!!

All of that is impressive in itself, but when you get to the side with the ledge's glass boxes, you really start to ooh and ahh. Extended 4.3 ft. from the building are glass boxes that allow you an unrestricted view of the city in all directions, including below.  That was easily our favorite part.  Here, hubby didn't even want us to step in the boxes, hahaa, and when we did (we had to :) ), he was ready to go. ;)

My daughter hammed up some photos in one box, while I went in a box directly next to hers and snapped a couple of pics. I think it was fantastic to visit in the day, but I bet it would be quite the sight when it is nightfall as well.

If you are in Chicago any time soon, this is an awesome building to visit. It is my second favorite attraction in the whole city that we've seen (and we've seen quite a few), second only to The Bean, which I really can just never resist. :)

There are some fun facts about the building that you can read here:

Or you can learn more about the SkyDeck by visiting the website:

You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and/or Pinterest.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

HomeRight SteamMachine (Review & Giveaway)

Disclosure: I received a product to help facilitate the review. No other form of compensation took place. All opinions stated are my own.

HomeRight has a product called the SteamMachine that makes light work of some pretty grimy jobs. We took our machine out this week and it made housecleaning safer because it uses only water (no chemicals), more thorough (those attachments let you get anywhere), and more fun (who doesn't like running around the house playing with a new toy?).

The SteamMachine is very lightweight and has a big, sturdy fold-down handle (love the handle!) that allows you to easily move it from room to room. It also has smooth-rolling wheels, so if you're using the attachment for cleaning the floor, it will move right along with you.

It comes with a good number of attachments including a brass brush (for things like the oven), and a squeegee (for things like the shower, counter tops, or windows), and a jet nozzle. It also has a nice, flat attachment that allows you to easily loosen up the wallpaper and peel it off (no more fighting to get old wallpaper off of your walls!).

The SteamMachine is easy to use, simply fill the cup up with distilled water (the cup and a funnel are provided), screw on the cap (do not unscrew it until the  machine is completely cooled off), and turn on the switch. It takes about 8  minutes to get the steam built up. A ready indicator light will let you know when it's good to go. If the steam starts to diminish while you're working, you simply turn the switch on the nozzle to 'off' for about 40 seconds and it rebuilds the pressure just that fast.

We used it on several areas. Once with the nylon brush attachment to remove crayon from the ceiling of my son's room (don't ask).

My son's ceiling (before).

The long attachment made it easy to reach the crayon on the ceiling.

You can see it's coming off with no problem at all.

On the ceiling in the Master Bath to remove those ugly spots that form if you don't run the fan all of the time after a shower.

I guess the color variation is from turning on the light.
IThe one on the left is before. The one on the right is after.

Another time to make the chrome around the shower doors look shiny and clean.

This picture was pretty impossible to get, but the chrome
around the shower doors was impressively shiny.

And my favorite way, to remove a Spiderman sticker that Prince Charming put on his rocking chair over a year ago that we could not previously remove.

That's the steam cleaner in the back so you can see how portable it is...super easy to carry around.
You can also see the indicator lights.

Ugly sticker we could not remove.

Ugly sticker is gooooooooooone. Woo hoo!

There is a safety switch on the trigger so your children aren't going to get burnt if they happen by while you've stepped away for a second or two. I love that feature because you know kids are going to be intrigued with any new item that is being used by mom.

Another feature I love is that the small attachments are stored inside the machine so you know you're not going to lose them. Woooot! I wish everything with attachments did the same.

You can learn more about the SteamMachine here:

HomeRight also has a lot of other useful, high quality products. You can learn more about their company and/or products here:

You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and/or YouTube.

The SteamMachine retails for $99.99, and you can enter to win one here.
US/Canada residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 21, 2013

Legoland Discovery Center - Chicago

Just outside of Chicago (in Schaumburg) is the Legoland Discovery Center.  We have lightly discussed going there for the last couple of years, and this time actually made the trip.  Our youngest had no clue where we were going and was pretty excited when we pulled up and it dawned on him that the big giraffe meant tons of Lego fun was in his immediate future.

Batman welcomes visitors at the front door. The whole time we were there I couldn't help but wonder just how long it took to create the items on display. Definitely a lot of time and effort went into everything they had out to see.

The tickets are reasonably priced at $21 a person (2 and under free), or $15 a person if you pre-purchase online. If you go after 3pm and have pre-paid online it's $12 per person (over age 2). Once you're in, you can stay as long as your little heart desires. Our son would have stayed forever, but we nixed that because we had other things to do. ;) We did spend a good few hours in there though, and it was a lot of fun.

The jungle tour, complete with Indiana Jones was a big hit with both of the kids.

I thought everything was great, but some of the Lego creations really struck me as being amazing, like Mr. Friendly above (the little Legoman coming up for the sneak attack behind him is being a little too brave, m'thinks).

The first floor also had a drive-through ride (Kingdom Quest) that let you competitively shoot a laser gun at things from beginning to end. Not to brag here, but I smoked everyone in the family on this ride...twice. hehehe

Upstairs there were tons of hands-on activities for the kiddos to do. There was a ride that went up and down if you pedaled it, while swinging around in a big circle. You can see the first time my two went on, the oldest was scared her brother was too small. She held his hand the whole time. Towards the end of the visit, he was riding with his hands in the air. ;)

There were stations everywhere for Lego building.  All four of us spent a good amount of time building, though my teen wasn't overly thrilled w/photos at that point, and kept turning her head. She made a great Jamaican colored castle (an idea spawned by seeing a cab driver on the freeway with a Jamaican hat). I wish she'd have acquiesced to a picture, but she didn't, so you only have my word that it was the ultimate in cool. :)

There were opportunities aplenty to burn energy too, most notably in the padded pit.

The 4-D cinema was a hit, and I think my daughter liked it more than anyone (though my son loved it). We went twice (two different movies). The movies were interactive with wind blowing on you, water sprinkling you, and things like that happening while you watched. Dad got tired waaaaaaay before any of the rest of us did and actually fell asleep during the second movie. These things happen when you get up there in the years (hehe). ;)

What a couple of scaredy cats. ;)

There are other things to do, like the learning workshop that teaches you tips and tricks to building (taught by the team who made the creations you've just seen). We didn't have time to attend, but it sounded interesting. There's a big gift shop on the way out if you're interested in taking Legos home.

We went to the Legoland Discovery Center in Chicago, but there are others: Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Kansas City, and Westchester. There is also one in Canada (Toronto), two in Germany (Berlin and Oberhausen), one in the United Kingdom (Manchester), and one in Japan (Tokyo).

The website and social media links are below if you want to check them out for yourself.