Author Archives: Becky
This post is a collaboration with Kennywood Amusement Park for their Holiday Lights 2018. In exchange for sharing these deals with you, we’ll be taking the kids to their Holiday Lights. Thank you, Kennywood, for this opportunity!
It is the most wonderful time to check out Christmas lights, right? What makes it even better is when those lights are at one of the best family-friendly places in Pittsburgh! There are still three weekends to enjoy Kennywood’s Holiday Lights event!
Disclaimer: I was provided services/products from Hen in a Hurry as a partnership through US Family Guide. All opinions are 100% my own.
Yinz guys. I have been holding out on you. Two days before I ran my 10-Miler, the most amazing smelling box was delivered to my front door. It was a complete game changer for my dinner game – Hen in a Hurry. This meal subscription service was my first ever experience and it has opened my eyes to the possibilities when it comes to putting good, clean food on the dinner table in a hurry. I am so sorry I haven’t been around to share this with you sooner!!!
Hen in a Hurry: Dinner Game-Changer!
This box of amazingness arrived with dry ice surrounding four frozen meals and matching sides (that I got to pick out). I drooled over all of them and neglected to read the fine print – I could have kept some of them frozen until we were ready to enjoy! Into the fridge went all the packages to thaw to have for our dinners.
Why did this matter? The meals should be consumed between 3-5 days once thawed. That meant we actually had to cook two meals a night and then have leftovers. They were still good, but to get the true experience I shouldn’t have been in such a hurry to enjoy!
Truth, I love to cook and experiment and make delicious, healthy foods for my family. But truth? I hate spending all evening in the kitchen making dinner. With Hen in a Hurry, I just had to put the thawed meals into a glass casserole dish and cook for 45 minutes. During that time, I was able to spend time with the kids (catching up on Caliou is a big deal around here, you know) and check on that ever-growing pile of school papers. Joking aside, this was truly a blessing for this mom of four.
But even better? I did not spend time cooking 5 different meals. Nope. I cooked one. And we all enjoyed the meals together. No one asked for a PB&J sandwich. No one cried. The only issue was that everyone wanted seconds and the Hen in a Hurry meals were made for a family of four. (So when I said we had to cook two meals at once, it actually turned into a blessing.)
Hen in a Hurry: What We Tasted
Our meal choices were spot on to things we liked. I’m noting which ones were gluten-free (gf) because they are the ones we’d repeat. I’ve been bad and have been eating gluten, meaning my tongue has been itchy for weeks and my stomach is a mess. Here’s what a tried and what we thought:
Fresh Garlic and Turkey Meatloaf with Loaded Cauliflower Mash (gf): This was our least favorite entree of the four but it was still amazing. Day two re-heated and with a tiny bit of ketchup (is that just a ‘Burgh thing?) and it was the perfect meatloaf. The Loaded Cauliflower Mash was the most filling side of the four we selected and tricked everyone into thinking they were eating mashed potatoes. Score.
Cheddar and Chicken Enchiladas and Fire Roasted Vegetables (
It is always fun to find something new in a place that is familiar. Greg and I got to take in a date and do just that at the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center while we were vacationing in his hometown of Myrtle Beach. Since Myrtle is a popular travel destination for Burghers, we teamed up with the museum and US Family Guide to tell you more about the experience. (We were provided tickets to this venue in exchange for our honest thoughts. All opinions are 100% our own.)
When you walk into the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center, there is no doubt in your mind that you are about to have an amazing time. If the gigantic King Kong doesn’t scream that, I don’t know what fun is! You can get your photo taken inside King Kong’s arms, we didn’t end up buying our photo and now I have remorse!
First Up: Hollywood Wax Museum
There are three experiences to choose from (but your best deal is to enjoy all three). We started with the Wax Museum because it was right there on the entry level. (Note, all floors are handicapped accessible, but the downstairs experiences are not exactly accessible, more on that later.)
Between two floors you will find many popular stars from movies, music, and pop culture. I encourage you to take photos with the figures and enjoy the prop stations that make selfies and photo shoots super fun. Greg and I had a blast and had the luck to go in the middle of a weekday so had much of the experience to ourselves. (It took us so long to get through that one of the employees joked that they thought they’d lost us!) Take your time, read the stories about the icons, and most of all, have fun!
Once you have gone through all of the figures, take your add on tickets and have some fun downstairs!
Outbreak – Dread the Undead
I have no pictures of this experience (they ask you to turn off your phone) but some funny memories. You see, I am a jumpy person and walking through this zombie outbreak experience definitely was a good level of thrills that made me jump. I mostly laughed, nothing was scary but it was fairly realistic and fun. Would I have done this as an experience by itself, no, but it was definitely worth the laughs.
Parent Tip: Do this one on your own or with your teens. My kids would have been frightened!
Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors
Mirror mazes are super tough! Greg and I were on a mission to save a princess trapped in the mirror maze and if it had been our own kid I think we might have failed. Eek. This was a good level of fun and trickery – we got lost more than once. I wish it was timed so we could have seen how we stacked up against others (because I’m competitive).
Parent Tip: The teens might not enjoy this but your toddlers might be too little and bump into the mirrors. Do this with your elementary/middle school kiddos!
Experience the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center
Located at 21st Avenue North and Highway 17 Bypass, Myrtle Beach’s Hollywood Wax Museum is a can’t miss building – there’s a giant ape climbing on it. My Readers receive $2 OFF ALL ACCESS PASS at the Myrtle Beach Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center when purchased here.
Disclaimer: I was provided with information about Myrtle Beach’s Hollywood Wax Museum through US Family Guide in order to write this post. All opinions are 100% my own.
Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center – Myrtle Beach
If you love to travel with family, I’m willing to bet that Myrtle Beach is on your list. My husband grew up there, we met there, Arianna was born there…so while it holds a special place in our hearts, we truly love vacationing there too.
One of the things that have changed since we left (and last visited) is the introduction of the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center. US Family Guide sent me some information on this complex and I’m thinking a visit is in order while we’re there:
The Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center is the best value in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. When was the last time you walked the red carpet with an A-List star or stepped into the spotlight with Hollywood royalty? At the Hollywood Wax Museum, you’ll get the chance to pose with your favorites while learning about their pets, pet peeves and accomplishments. Bring your adoring fans (friends & family) for fun photo ops! Are You the Chosen One? Find your way through the hidden corridors and save Princess Hannah in Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors. You’ll need to make your way through 288 potential turns among hundreds of mirrored walls and archways while enjoying other surprises along the way. It’s a modern-day fairy tale, where you’ll get lost and come out smiling! And finally, in Outbreak, you must stop a worldwide viral attack. Chemacorp might mean well with Alpha Strain, but the gene-altering substance turns humans into zombies. Shriek your way through the ransacked lab and rotting basement where zombie infection is rampant and aerosol attacks are unpredictable. Contain your fear? No way!
The following post is a collaboration between ‘lil Burghers and Idlewild’s HALLOWBOO. In exchange for sharing this information with you, my family received four tickets to visit Idlewild during the event. All opinions are 100% my own.
It has been a lovely start to fall in Pittsburgh, hasn’t it? With temperatures more like summer, I’m holding on to a hope that winter won’t be awful – will you go there with me? Yesterday was a perfect reminder of summer and we took advantage with a trip to Ligonier for Idlewild’s HALLOWBOO. The kids got a chance to do some “treating” and take on some of their favorite rides before the park closes.
Idlewild’s HALLOWBOO: A Pittsburgh Fall MUST!
Can I admit that in ten years of being a parent (and several invites from my cousins), I have never taken the kids to Idlewild for HALLOWBOO? Two truths here – tickets for a family of six don’t always make our budget and we aren’t big Halloween celebrators due to our faith. But the kids do like the friendly fall atmosphere of “treating” and dressing up as long as it isn’t scary. That’s where Idlewild Park comes in – adults can’t wear masks, “trick or treat” is through Story Book Forest, and the rides are separate from the treating area. We decided it was worth checking out and making our opinion!
Well, the verdict is in and Idlewild’s HALLOWBOO is a must for Pittsburghers, especially the ‘lil Burghers. The day was full of low key fun, lines were non-existent, and the treating was super memorable.
Idlewild’s HALLOWBOO: Our Experience
So what makes it a Pittsburgh must? Here’s what we experienced with the descriptions from Idlewild sprinkled in.
Trick or Treat through Story Book Forest
I’ve got fond childhood memories of enjoying Story Book Forest and watching my kids experience it has been a real joy. Adding the “treating” aspect to it is icing on the cake!
As Greg and I prepare to run the next big race (just about four weeks to go until the Myrtle Beach Mini), we are shaking out what nutrition, clothes, and gear will look like. Particularly the gear – we really need a good way to hold the phone to keep our pace in check. Off we went to find a good sports armband to fit the bill.
Sports Armband for the On-the-Go Parent
Greg has been trying out a sports armband that we found on Amazon. It fits his Samsung Galaxy S9 and has a cool way to hook his headphones into it (eliminating the loose cord). The only downside of it is that is has a bit of a cloudy look in the screen area which we couldn’t tell from the description online. The image below was taken in the dark to try to show the cloudy look, even with the brightness on his phone all the way up.
This armband will also work for activities that make Greg an on-the-go dad…biking, trips to the pond, mowing the lawn, or pacing during soccer games. It has a space to hold a key and cash/credit cards if needed, too.
Yinz. Last week was a complete whirlwind for this working mom. I was away at a work training and came back to realize all the things need to be done to get into the back-to-school hustle. Ava and Isla will be starting next week and the Bigs go back after Labor Day. Time has flown this summer!
Luckily, after reading these tips for working moms to survive the back-to-school hustle, I feel like I am ahead of my mom game. For instance, we already ordered all the clothes online, they just need to make it to the dressers (or the laundry pile in our guest room). And I’m learning to stop saying sorry (at work, too) and know that I won’t be able to be everything to everyone (which yes does sometimes include my kids).
One thing I’m working on in the last few days of summer break is preparing for some moments now by writing my kids notes ahead of time. My hope is that I can just drop them in their backpacks when appropriate.
Check out a few more tips for more on how you can survive then comment which is your favorite OR share your tips!
5 Tips for Working Moms to Survive the Back-to-School Hustle
from Holly Caplan, author
From the moment my daughter got out of school in May to the end of July, was a complete blur. It was a blur of summer camp, work, travel, deadlines, proposals and pool parties. The fact that she was going back to school in three weeks had not occurred to me. When it did, I panicked. Where did the time go? I frantically realized I had no idea what day school started and had to ask another mom. I got a brisk answer of “August 20th,” which I like to call the “working mom fail” response. The guilt of not knowing when my child starts 2nd grade and feeling completely overwhelmed set in. Where do I begin? I’ve got to sign her up for fall activities, get a new backpack, lunchbox, some new clothes and also manage my job, meetings, travel and various work expectations. As working moms I think we feel there is no easy way to do all of this and keep a clear head and stay on task, but I have found five great tips for surviving back to school as a working mom:
1. Order Online:
Spare yourself the hustle of shopping. No need to throw everyone in the car in 100-degree heat to head to your favorite retail super store, fend off the kiddos requests for toys and candy while back-to-school shopping. It is not worth it. Modern technology allows us the ability to order online for backpacks, clothing and supplies. Think of the time and energy you will save by sitting on your couch and checking some boxes and swiping “check out”. This also applies to grocery shopping too, which is becoming more and more common. Download the app for Shipt or Amazon Prime and let them do the grocery shopping for you. Do it a day or two before school starts. The kids can make their requests so they get to put some creativity into their lunchbox choices. Other positives are that it isn’t expensive to shop online and it saves money because you avoid over-buying in a store.
2. Let the Laundry Lie:
Where does your laundry lie? Mine sits on a bed in the guest room.
Clean, yet unfolded. But clean. The point here is, let your laundry lie. It is okay to let some things slip during back -to -school time. You will have so much on your plate as it is, don’t let the mundane domestic stuff get to you. Not having every thing completed or accomplished around the house is okay. You will not get a ticket or a fine for letting some things in the household fall behind. Give yourself permission to know that it is okay if you don’t get everything done. It is completely normal, and you will eventually catch up.
3. Get Your Routine Back:
In the summer our routines are typically off. As I mentioned, it can feel like a complete blur when so much is going on. Activities, camp and work will run you, instead of you running them. No shock there. Bringing structure and school back into your life can be a struggle, but welcome it because it brings the return of normalcy. Give yourself a cushion returning to the routine by practicing earlier bedtimes and waking times week before school starts. This will get us parents and kids back on schedule. Also, create a family calendar with upcoming school activities and your work schedule to make sure that all planets are aligned, and if not, this gives you time to create a family management strategy.
4. Be Guilt Free:
Back to school is right around the corner. With four kids headed back, this mama is looking for some healthy school lunches on a budget. The tips below were shared with me and I couldn’t help but share. Enjoy!
Tips for Packing Healthy School Lunches on a Budget
via Cher Murphy PR
Back to school means back to lunch preparation for parents around the country. It’s a challenge that many parents take on, but often struggle to keep healthy. While it’s easy to toss in convenient snacks, it’s not going to do much in the way of keeping their little bodies healthy and developing well. One pediatrician wants parents to know that sending kids to school with healthy lunches each day doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. In fact, she’s on a mission to help teach parents how to pack healthy school lunches on a budget.
## Our kids have always been snackers. Back-to-school will probably just bring on the snack gene even more fierce! Admittedly, we’ve not been the best at providing whole, nutritious after-school snacks because we have four different appetites and preferences. But honestly, how hard is it to insert a few healthy snacks into the routine?
I was provided with these ideas by Jo Bartell, a registered dietitian nutritionist and think they are totally doable as part of the fall routine. Which is your favorite?
Five RDN Approved After-School Snacks from Jo Bartell
RDN Jo Bartell says that the key to any snack combo is a blend of protein & fiber. As a general rule, she suggests you shoot for snacks that contribute more than 3 grams of fiber and more than 5 grams of protein. Instead of dreading after-school snacks, see it as an opportunity to incorporate valuable nutrients that are often missed in other meals. Jo has come up with 5 easy snack ideas that fit the bill and will keep your child fueled and focused until dinnertime!
- What: 1/2 cup cottage cheese + 1/2 cup blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and/or raspberries. Why: Cottage cheese is a super underrated food that is both versatile and jam-packed with protein. For a sweet and ultra-satisfying snack, pair cottage cheese with fiber-filled and antioxidant-rich mixed berries.
- What: 3 tablespoons hummus + veggie sticks (carrots, radish, jicama, celery, bell pepper, broccoli or endive leaves). Why: Hummus packs in the plant-based protein with chickpeas, and the other ingredients, which are typically tahini and olive oil, are wonderful sources of heart-healthy fat to slow down digestion and keep you feeling satiated throughout the afternoon. Think outside of the box with colorful and crunchy veggie dippers–more color and variety in the veggies you choose means more beneficial vitamins and minerals!
- What: A brown rice cake or two topped with a tablespoon natural nut butter, sliced strawberries and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Why: Getting in whole grains throughout the day is super important, especially if those whole grains are replacing their white (refined) counterparts. The fiber-filled rice cakes will go perfectly with vitamin-C packed strawberries and healthy fat + protein filled nut butter to keep the energy up until dinner.
- What: Pistachios and fruit. Why: Pistachios always help crush hunger with their crunch and combo of protein, fiber, and healthy fat. As a bonus, pistachios are a fantastic source of both potassium and vitamin B6. Pair them with antioxidant-packed plums and you have a delicious solution for your child’s afternoon sweet craving. Try Setton Farms’ new Pistachio + Plum Chewy Bites as your one-stop-shop for a powerful and delicious combination of pistachios and plums that will provide you with powerful energy to get through the afternoon. Setton Farms is my favorite brand of pistachios- they even have naturally flavored pistachios!
- What: 2 corn tortillas rolled up with 2 tablespoons mashed avocado, sliced tomato and cucumber. Why: Corn tortillas contribute whole grains and fiber, so choose those over flour tortillas whenever you can. Avocado adds flavor, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat that works to lower bad cholesterol (a.k.a LDL) and raise good cholesterol (a.k.a HDL). And, even though we usually don’t think of avocados as a source of fiber and protein, they are actually super rich in both! Again, sneaking in tomatoes and cucumbers will add crunch and an extra vegetable serving or two for the day.
About Jo Bartell
Jo Bartell is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a master’s degree and has extensive training and experience guiding individuals with various health conditions in achieving nutrition-related goals. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Psychology and Sociology from Skidmore College, and earned an MS in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics from New York University (NYU). At NYU, she also completed her dietetic internship. She currently lives in San Francisco with her own private practice nutrition counseling and consulting business. She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Bay Area Dietetics Association, along with several Dietetics Practice Groups of AND including Women’s Health, Weight Management, Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition, and Nutrition Entrepreneurs. When she’s not working, she loves food shopping, cooking, traveling, riding horses, and long walks around the city with her dogs, Winston and Nikki.
This post is brought to you through our partnership with US Family Guide who made it possible for Evan to attend British Soccer Camp in exchange for our review and honest opinions. All opinions are 100% our own.
Summer is almost in the books, can you believe it? Evan spent a week at British Soccer Camp honing in on his soccer skills as he prepares for the YMCA’s Fall Soccer program. While we’re still not clear which position he loves to play (because he seems to like them all), we are clear that he really loves soccer thanks to this program.
2018 British Soccer Camp in Pittsburgh
This year was a ‘lil special for the Bigs in a few ways. First, Evan was old enough to be at camp for the full day program, meaning Pappy took him at 9 and picked him back up at 4. He was also responsible for putting on his own sunscreen and eating his lunch – both of which he took seriously!
Next, you’ll notice I said the Bigs! Arianna went with Evan on day one for the “Bring a Buddy” day. While she still loves her softball, she’s fallen back in love with soccer thanks to camp and will also be playing this fall!
While Mama & Daddy didn’t do the pick-up or drop-off, Pappy gave us the details. This year, the camp was at Denny Field in Shaler and it was five days of playing outside. There was a picnic shelter and the Soccer Club opened the concession stand, too. The coaches (from around the globe) were friendly and young, definitely committed to teaching the kids soccer skills!
I stopped in to see the last day’s World Cup game, but I missed it. They played a few World Cup games each day and on the last day represented their countries. Evan loved this. And just like we shared in our intro post about the camp, he got his jersey, t-shirt, and ball in addition to the skills and character building. We’re so proud of him (and Arianna)!
About British Soccer Camp
British Soccer Camps are the most popular soccer camp in the US. With an innovative curriculum that develops skills, speed and confidence in players ages 3-18, The British Soccer Camp provide boys and girls with the rare opportunity to receive high-level soccer coaching from a team of international expert’s right in the heart of their own community.
In addition to teaching new skills and improving game performance, each British Soccer Camp provides lessons in character development, cultural education and is the most fun your child can have learning the sport they love!
-Source: US Family Guide