Monroeville Mall: New Play Area

Disclaimer: Posts on this blog may include affiliate links or reviews in which I was asked to review an item or service in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.


On Friday, December 4, 2015, the Monroeville Mall will be celebrating the grand opening of a new play center. Santa will even be making a special appearance after the ribbon cutting.

What’s in the new play center? Get ready for your ‘lil Burghers to play inside a real life toy box as well as other Fisher-Price toys and characters that are larger-than-life.

According to the recent press release and details from the Monroeville Mall website:

CBL & Associates Properties, Inc., owner of Monroeville Mall, partnered with Fisher-Price and PLAYTIME, LLC to design and install a series of Toy Box themed play area attractions at select CBL centers nationwide. Monroeville Mall is one of the first malls in the country to debut the new design, which features iconic children’s brands like Thomas & Friends™, Little People®, and more!

monroeville mall play area


You can find the brand new play area on the lower level of the Monroeville Mall near Macy’s. 

As a parent who has taken my ‘lil Burghers to the Monroeville Mall, I’ll miss the Mister Rogers’ Play Area (which has been closed since September); however, hearing about the Toy Box making its way to the mall is pretty exciting. We won’t be able to be at the 11:00 AM unveiling; however, we’ll sure to be visiting sometime soon. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for photos!

giveawayprize image002


Wait! There’s more! I’ve been asked to share some love this holiday season with some toys for the ‘lil ones in your life. This giveaway for a Fisher Price Chatter Telephone and three Thomas & Friends Mini Trains runs through the weekend of the Grand Opening. Good luck!

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Share the Slide

The Big Kids have a plastic slide. This slide is honestly way too small for them, but they’ve yet to realize that they’ve outgrown it. It never fails, when we have a crisp fall Sunday afternoon, I find myself reminding them that they need to share the slide and not push each other down the foot and a half of fun it provides because they are too anxious to enjoy the short thrill themselves.

I was traveling for work a few weeks back and a thought hit me. I have to learn to share the slide, too. It’s not a pretty thought.

My thoughts about sharing the slide starting when I was anxiously awaiting wheels up to get home to my babies (all of them). The flight attendant rattles off the list of oh so familiar reminders about in-flight safety. One of them is one I hadn’t really listened to.

In the event of a water evacuation, the door slides can be used as a raft.

The door slides can be used as a raft. Huh.

I thank God that I don’t have the schema for how big an inflated door slide would be, but if I am doing my math right, there’d be eight slides (provided we have access to them all) and about 130 passengers to share these slides with. So, like 16 people per slide (again, if we have them all).

That means 16 of us have to exit the plane in an orderly fashion. We have to leave behind the belongings that we have decided are oh so very necessary to shove against others’ belongings in an effort to save $25 or $50 in luggage fees. We have to navigate the lighted path to the exit doors and trust those seated in exit rows hold fast to their duty to assist others. And then, we have to share the slide.

We have to share the slide with 15 other people we may have never met. Or maybe we bumped into them in our rush to line up in group four when they haven’t even called group one. Or maybe we chose not to laugh at the anxious passenger’s joke about the way the crew is tossing the luggage on the plane and instead stared at them like they had the plague. Or maybe they’re someone who has a bit of a sneeze but had to get on the plane to go defend our country. We have to share the slide with people that we need to be in it all together.

Stop and think about that.

We have to share the slide with people that are just like us in that moment, people that are looking to be safe and sound.

We have to share the slide not only in an emergency, but also when it’s time to have fun. We have to share it when it’s time to go through the paces of life. We have to share it every single day of our lives.

Friends, I encourage you to be kind to those around you always. You never know when you might need to share the slide. When you might need to be gentle to the person who is taking their time getting their butt on the slide and pushing off. When your kindness might be the one moment in their day that has gone right.

Be patient. Be kind. And share the slide.

Arianna, 2013

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Wild Republic

This summer, I got to meet some of the team from Wild Republic, makers of nature-related toys and gifts. They’ve asked me to share the information below as a way you can give back during your holiday shopping. 


Wild Republic is teaming up with Project Night Night, a charitable organization that provides blankets, books and toys to children in homeless shelters across the United States. From November 16 – December 16, all purchases of $35 or more on their site will get:

  1. Free shipping
  2. A free stuffed animal, and
  3. WildRepublic will also donate a stuffed animal to Project Night Night. These stuffed animals will go in special care packages that are provided to children in homeless shelters across the United States.

You can shop for your ‘lil ones’ newest nature friend and help out this cause by checking out the stuffed animals and gifts Wild Republic has to offer.

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Countdown to Christmas

Disclaimer: Posts on this blog may include affiliate links or reviews in which I was asked to review an item or service in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.


It’s hard to imagine that we are already over halfway through November. This Friday, the town we live in will hold its annual light-up night celebration. A few days later, it will be Thanksgiving, then shopping day on Friday. After that? The season of Advent will begin, our tree will be out, our house will smell of spruce and apples and cookies, then then it will be Christmas. Yes, the countdown to Christmas is officially on.

Our family has a lot of traditions, including attending advent calendars. Similarly, Theresa Seidlitz, a young girl (and now author), and her family had traditions. Her family had a Jesse Tree at Christmastime and her dad asked her and her siblings to find kids’ Bible stories to go along with the ornaments they were using for their tree. She decided that the stories should become a book, and thus “Countdown to Christmas : 24 Days of the Jesse Tree Tradition” came to being.

countdown to christmas

I’ll admit – I didn’t know before this book what a Jesse Tree was, but we’ll be doing one this year along with reading Theresa’s book (which comes with 24 paper ornaments matching the Bible Stories she shares). What do you need for a Jesse Tree?

  • A small 2-3′ tree
  • 24 Bible stories to read each night (we’ll be using Countdown to Christmas)
  • 24 ornaments
  • Simple lights
  • Tree skirt

Your Jesse Tree should be simple and be focused on reflecting on the bible stories read each night before bed. You hang the ornament associated with the story on the tree each night leading up to Christmas as a way to get to know Biblical characters.

Are you intrigued? If so, I’ve been given a copy of Countdown to Christmas to share with one of you (enter below!). If you don’t win, you can pick up a copy of the book through the publisher (Canter Press) or on Amazon. Watch us on social media for more about our Jesse Tree!



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Funky Giraffe

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Family Game Night

Disclaimer: Posts on this blog may include affiliate links or reviews in which I was asked to review an item or service in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

We’ve got a closet full of games for family game nights. The options include board games, interactive team games, games to be played outside and cards. As we discover games that we love, we’ll be adding them here to our list of Family Game Night Options. The big kids will give their opinions on them and we’ll also recommend if they can be played without parental guidance.

Have one you’d like us to try? Comment or send an email to


Fool the Frog

This interactive game takes the “shell game” to a new level. Instead of hiding a bead under a seashell, mixing up the shells, and guessing which one the bead is under, this game uses cups and a fly. The person guessing which player is hiding the fly wears frog eye googles that serve as the timer for the others to hide the fly under their cups. The eyes blink randomly during the hiding cycle and then open fully when it’s time to guess who has the fly. The players not wearing the googles have the objective to “fool the frog” through hiding the fly under their cups and passing it around.

  • Arianna and Evan say: “We liked it because we get to be a frog!”
  • Parental Interaction: Not necessary. Our big kids often play this game without us. They modify the number of players needed by mixing up the cups and having the “frog” guess which cup it’s under instead of who has the fly.
  • Number of players: 3 or more
  • Recommended ages: 6+
  • MSRP: $19.99
  • More information: (Amazon)

  fool the frog


Who Tooted

Whether you are raising a house full of princes or princesses or some combination, tooting is sure to be a silly subject. The creators of who tooted have taken the fun of a whoopee cushion and turned it into a game. In “Who Tooted”, players hold “buzzers” out of eye-sight of the others. When a button is pressed to start the round, one of the buzzers lights up. The person holding that buzzer presses their buzzer, making the man in the middle of the game “toot”. The other players have to put their vote (a token) in front of the player they think tooted. Hilarity ensues, and sometimes even real toots trump the buzzer fun. (Everyone does it, right?)

  • Arianna and Evan say: “We like this game because the guy on it farts and goes like “bbbbbp!”, that’s so funny!”
  • Parental Interaction: Not necessary. Our big kids often play this game without us. They modify the number of players needed by each holding two buzzers and the player who didn’t toot guesses if it was the buzzer on the right or the left hand that tooted. It’s definitely harder (especially for Evan who is ~5 years old), but not impossible.
  • Number of players: 3 or more
  • Recommended ages: 5+
  • MSRP: $24.95
  • More information:

who tooted


Pop the Pig

Have you ever ate so much you feel like your pants could pop? This is exactly what happens in “Pop the Pig”. Players feed the pig hamburgers and then press on the pig’s head the number of times on the selected hamburger. This fills the pig up with air and makes the pig’s belt pop.

  • Arianna and Evan say: “We like Pop the Pig because you can win or lose but still have fun. It’s funny when the pig’s belly pops.”
  • Parental Interaction: Not necessary. Our big kids often play this game without us. Play it a first time and then the kids will be able to take this off the shelf and entertain themselves. You may need to assist with opening the pig’s back and getting the burgers out once the belt pops.
  • Number of players: 1 or more
  • Recommended ages: 4+
  • MSRP: $29.99
  • More information:

pop the pig


Rooster Race

Greg and I got a kick out of Rooster Race because it was pretty much like some of our favorite adult card games. Bonus, we got to watch Arianna amaze us with her number knowledge. The players each guess if the next card will be higher or lower than the card that is face up…and winning a token (corn, in this case) for correct guesses. Vegas, anyone?

  • Arianna and Evan say: “We like Rooster Race because of the corn and guessing if the number is higher or lower.”
  • Parental Interaction: If your child doesn’t get “higher or lower”, a parent should be their partner. Bubby struggled with this, but he is not quite five.
  • Number of players: 1-5
  • Recommended ages: 5+
  • MSRP: $19.99
  • More information: (Amazon)

rooster race

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I Didn’t Marry You

Any married couple will tell you, it’s not easy. When Greg and I got married, my dad included something along those lines in his sermon. He also talked about finding the love you have for each other to get you through those uneasy times. Watching he and my mom throughout 33 years of marriage, I know he knows what he’s talking about.

After six years together, Greg and I have come to the conclusion that we didn’t marry the person we are today. That’s not easy. It’s even less easy to actually type out and admit. But what it is? Reality. Marriage isn’t always bouquets and bubbles like your wedding day. It’s about work and loving the person your partner (and you) become as you grow old together.

Back when Greg and I got married, we were still young. Neither of us was ready to be a parent financially or emotionally, but we did it. Greg even more than me. We were in our mid-20’s, still trying to figure out what it was we wanted to do with our careers (frankly, we still don’t really know). I got pregnant at 24 and Greg quickly fell in love with our daughter. Instantly, we went from two single people to a family. Honestly. We only dated for two months before he asked me to marry him and changed his whole life to move to Pennsylvania with us. I was working as a contractor (and got hired at my current employer the same day we got engaged). He was a part-time security guard. Neither of us had savings or credit to our name.

Today, at 32 and 31, we are both very different people than we were at 26 and 25. I’m crazy driven (always have been), and Greg takes the slower pace of life (often stopping to “play in the grass” as Thirty-One’s CEO Cindy Monroe says of her husband, Scott). I work long hours while he raises the babies. He didn’t know about my German/Scotch/Irish temper, and I seemed to block out his inability to get out the door in a timely matter. We have two car payments, a mortgage that would make ramen-noodle eating pregnant me of 2008 throw up, four kids, and two crazy dogs. We are not the same “Greg and Becky” that we were on July 11, 2009, but we still have one important thing – each other.

No, I didn’t marry the Greg that Greg is today and he didn’t marry the Becky that I am today. We both married an idea of what our futures could become. Some of our hopes and dreams about life and marriage have come true over and over while other things make us question what were we thinking. In the end, it’s all about leaning on each other, learning about each other, and getting to know how to love someone over and over again.

Greg, I’m glad that I didn’t marry you because it’s been an amazing journey learning to love you in new (joyous and challenging) ways every single day for the last 6 years and four months. I love you.

I found me a good mister...even when we are snippy lol

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Bundle Organics

Disclaimer: Posts on this blog may include affiliate links or reviews in which I was asked to review an item or service in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.


I was recently traveling for work and like many other moms before me, the line “put on your own mask before you help others” struck a chord with me. We moms all too often give and give and give and then find ourselves forgetting to care for ourselves. While a juice can’t completely solve that for us, Bundle Organics has a tasty option to making sure pregnant and nursing moms get the nutrients we need.

bundle organics

This line of juices contains vitamins like omega-3 and iron to help keep our bodies caring for us so we can then care for our babies. And there’s more:

  • USDA Organic. Our juices contain only the best and brightest organic fruits and veggies. Flavorless produce need not apply.

  • Safe to Sip. You have enough to think about. That’s why our juices are 100% worry-free. “Raw” and “fresh-pressed” juices might contain harmful bacteria. So we pasteurize our juices for maximum nutrition, flavor, and pow!

  • An Extra Bump. Our juices supplement prenatal vitamins with an extra bump of key vitamins and minerals for healthy development. Folic acid (200mcg). Check! Calcium (100mg). Check! Vitamin D (60IU). Check! Omega-3 (500mg). Check!

  • Hydration, Please. Expecting moms should drink 8 to 10 glasses of fluid a day (that can seem like enough to fill a baby pool!). Luckily, our juices are a delicious alternative to plain ole water, leaving you feeling hydrated and oh-so-healthy.

  • OB-GYN Approved. The first batch of Bundle Organics was made right in our kitchen, but we didn’t trust our taste buds alone. So we consulted with experts from OB-GYNs to leading nutritionists to make sure our juices were packed with all the right stuff – the nutrients and supplements that both mom and baby need. Check out our “About Us” page to find out more about the super smart all-stars behind our brand!

(Information from Bundle Organics)

Now, it’s not as simple as drinking a juice to solve all your “mask moments”, but it’s a start. For me, I haven’t been eating the healthiest, but knowing I have options like this to get in my daily fruits and veggies is a win. Weirdly, I wasn’t loving fruits and veggies as much when I was pregnant with the twins – my post “getting healthy” pregnancy! I wish I’d found out about these juices earlier, but I do like them for supporting my nursing nutritional needs.

Bonus for expecting moms? The green and orange blends include ginger – great for those morning sick days when nothing else seems to sit well. (I even go to this juice now because I don’t always feel great in the mornings after not eating all night then nursing for up to 45 minutes before showering and heading to work – where I eat my breakfast.) Sounds pretty impressive for a prenatal juice, right?


Although I recommend these juices for their convenience and taste, I am not a certified medical professional.  If you are pregnant or nursing, consider working with your doctor and/or dietitian if you have questions or concerns about drinking juices (such as Bundle Organics) during this life stage.

More information on Bundle Organics can be found at their website:

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Saved By a Seven Year Old

She’s gone and done it again. She’s saved me. It won’t be the first or last time my oldest child has pulled the sunshine out of the dark sky and made my life thousands of times better.

It’s hard to believe that just ten minutes ago I was swirling. Drowning. And she saved me.

We had done so well as a team of the four kids and me at that store. The one I had to go to because at 7:00 it was my only option to get pepperoni and size 12 shoes for a certain growing boy who has worn holes in the toes of his light up shoes.

We had survived the cashier putting all the things we bought in the silliest of bagging methods, leaving me with a cart full of babies and three bags to carry because it all couldn’t go back the way I had it before.

We had survived the fact that McDonald’s trick or treat coupons weren’t for nuggets but hamburgers instead and don’t I get it that chicken has more protein, mama. I get it. Size 12 shoes, remember, son?

We had survived getting groceries inside and babies a snack while we ate.

But I wasn’t surviving the twins needing all the things right at the moment I sat them in their cribs. Never once have the two of them been so needy, so cranky, so ready to let the neighbors know Mama wasn’t enough at that moment. (Thank you teething and growth spurts.) My head was spinning, my world was swirling. I am not cut out for this. I am not ready.

But Arianna was ready.  She saw my tears and suggested I let her hold Isla so I could finish getting Ava ready for bed. She was willing to hold a screaming baby for the sake of saving her Mama. And I agreed.

And we survived again.


And she saved me. Again. Like she does. Like she always will. My first baby girl.

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Stack Attack

Disclaimer: Posts on this blog may include affiliate links or reviews in which I was asked to review an item or service in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.


Back when I was a kid, we used to camp often. It didn’t matter what the weather was like, we’d camp. (In fact, the Memorial Day after I was born, my parents and I camped in a freak snow storm.)

When it would rain, we found ourselves under the dining canopy playing board games. In those moments, I probably did a lot of whining and fussing that I was BORED. Looking back, I am glad for the things that playing games taught me, though.

Like strategy.

And sequential order.

And stacking.

These skills came in handy when Greg and I were recently playing Stack Attack, a dice game. Each player takes turns rolling dice and stacking each die in sequential order…on top of a teetering disk…until there are no more dice to stack.

stack attack

We had a enjoyed playing this game just the two of us; however, we’re not sure how lasting the fun would be with more than two players. The recommendation is one to four players, but with only a handful of dice, we think they’d fall rather quickly. Essentially, we can’t see ourselves playing the game for hours on end, but I would use it for quick ice breakers or when you aren’t looking to spend hours playing games but need something to pass the time.


Stack Attack is available through Patch Products for $11.99. It is recommended for ages 8 and up, 2-4 players.

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