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Challenger Sports International Soccer Camp 2019

source: US Family Guide

Review Disclaimer: We have a partnership with US Family Guide – they provide opportunities such as Challenger International Soccer Camp in exchange for reviews on this blog and our social media. All opinions are 100% our own.

It might be hard to believe when we’re still in that time of year when it is 50-degrees one day and 30-degrees the next, but it is time to start planning what your kiddos are going to do when they’re off school this summer. For the last two summers, Evan has taken part in a Challenger Sports soccer camp and he’s excited to do the same this year. keep reading

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Hen in a Hurry: Dinner Game-Changer!

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 ( keep reading

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Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center

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.

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Myrtle Beach’s Hollywood Wax Museum

Source: US Family Guide

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! keep reading

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Challenge Accepted: 2018 British Soccer Camp

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 keep reading

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Pittsburgh Summer Camps: British Soccer with Challenger Sports

This post about British Soccer with Challenger Sports is one such post.

Do you remember how much fun Evan had at summer camp last year? He participated in British Soccer with Challenger Sports for a week-long soccer camp and the time has come to start thinking about registration again!

Pittsburgh Summer Camps: British Soccer with Challenger Sports

We’re lucky here in Pittsburgh to have several options for the soccer camp in the area this summer. There are locations around the city that are sure to be convenient for all of us ‘Burghers. If your soccer player isn’t ready to take on a full day program, there are also half-day options available.

Our friends over at US Family Guide filled me in on why this camp is the place to be this summer:

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! keep reading

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TurnGram: A Great Way to Remember

TurnGram

This post is a partnership between our blog and US Family Guide. They provided me with information on TurnGram as well as a free trial of the service in exchange for my opinions here in this post.

Raise your hand if you are one of the few people who still print photos. Ok, now are those photos from your phone? And how often do you find yourself doing it? Let me clue you in – I might have been a scrapbooker in the past, but the days of me printing off photos have long passed. That doesn’t mean that I’m not wishing I still did, though!

TurnGram to the Rescue!

Enter TurnGram. It is a hassle-free service to have your photos delivered directly to the door of your friends and loved ones. I simply signed up for their service (linked to my Instagram account) then monthly they mail me select printed photos based on instructions I provided. Mine were to be of photos of my kids! How do you think they did?

How to Set up TurnGram

For a few bucks a month, TurnGram will select photos from your Instagram feed based on instructions you provide and deliver them directly to the door of your friends and loved ones. You simply go to their site and link your Instagram account, tell them who you’d like photos sent to, and voila!

Here are some examples US Family Guide suggested as I set up my TurnGram account (if you don’t enter something like this, your Instagram bio will auto-upload to your TurnGram, so make sure that’s nice and detailed!):

“I would like to get photos of my family, my latest vacations, adventures, and trips. I’m planning to display them around the home (fridge, home office, living room). Please focus on sending me photos of family (Include their names/IG handles if you have them) so that the pictures in our home don’t get too out of date (kids grow up so fast!).”

“I would like to send my mother (Maria Eastman) photos of my family on a monthly basis. She loves to display photos around her home and show her guests recent pictures of the grandkids. So please make sure to include the kids in your photo selections as much as possible.”

“My wife and I have a newborn baby girl. I’d like to receive a monthly TurnGram to my office so that the photos in the frames on my desk stay up to date. Please send me mostly photos of my wife and daughter.”

“I just got a new puppy! He’s only 6 weeks old and I know he’s going to grow up super fast. I want to TurnGram my parents monthly pictures of their furry new grandchild! If you include some photos of me, I think they’ll enjoy those as well :)” keep reading

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Darien Lake: Our Visit

I worked with Darien Lake through a blogger partnership with US Family Guide. They sent us tickets for a visit in exchange for this post.

Summer is all about family fun and memories, right? Well, our fall has started and I’m really confused by the weather – it’s still been a bit steamy in Pittsburgh! We took advantage of this nice weather one weekend in September and took the kids and my bestie for a getaway to New York. One part of our visit was to Darien Lake amusement park, a highly suggested quick road trip from the Pittsburgh area!

(Note – if you’d like to visit Darien Lake, you’ll need to wait until 2018. Their Harvest Festival ran September 16 – October 1, extending the summer fun just a ‘lil bit!)

With plenty to do for kids and adults, I really felt this was the best park for our kids’ age range (2 to almost 9). Just like any good park, you enter through a midway of games, shops, and food, but once you get past that the entire park is walkable and not too spread out. The smaller kiddo area (Beaver Brothers Bay) is sort of in the middle of all the excitement, so if parents need to split up the older kids, it is nice and easy.

There really wasn’t anything ride-wise that we didn’t get to do in about 5 hours on a relatively quiet Sunday “fall” afternoon at the amusement park. Like I noted, we visited during the Harvest Festival; however, we never did get a chance to head over to the area with the food trucks and beer. (The kids were having too good of a time!)

Greg and Tom got to experience The Viper which celebrated its 35th “birthday” this summer. Greg says, “It was fun, it was pretty intense and I didn’t stop yelling until we came to a stop!” With several loops and a tunnel, it definitely belongs in Darien Lake’s “Thrill Ride” category!

Missy and I kept things pretty low key, enjoying watching the kids but also laughing lots on Grizzly Run, a wet ride on “rapids”. (I’d really been wanting to ride a rapid ride with Greg, this was our first chance to do this because our local park closes our rapids down for the fall!)

We ended the day with a classic fish pond game, too! Our trip to Darien Lake was definitely full of fun and memories that will last a lifetime.

If you’d like to visit Darien Lake, check out their website for details on the 2018 season!

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Review of The Freeloader Child Carrier

freeloader child carrier

This post is a review of the Freeloader Child Carrier. I received product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

A few weeks back, I hinted that I’d be getting a child carrier that would be useful not just for the twins but for The Bigs, too. Do you remember me telling you about the Freeloader? Well, it arrived and we’ve been using it to test our backs out for when the twins are big enough to use it by taking Evan up to the Rails to Trails right off our backyard.

Note – The Freeloader Child Carrier should only be used with children ages 2 and a half and up (the twins are just a few weeks shy of that) and when they weigh between 25 and 80 pounds. They should also be between 33-50 inches tall. (That means Ava is going to be carriable again soon! Isla has some height to gain, but the way she’s been eating lately, that’s going to be soon, too!)

Like anything new, The Freeloader takes some getting used to. “You’re not going to run with him on here, that’s for sure,” said Greg when he tried it out with Evan.

It’s true. I got pretty sweaty while wearing it and even though I know I’m strong, it still was a core workout. We’re not going to be signing up for any 10-mile hikes while wearing it anytime soon.

While I was carrying Evan on the trail, I wondered what people thought. The three girls were walking around and I was carrying Evan, the sportiest of them all. But then I didn’t care. It’s pretty cool to have a carrier that supports a bigger child – and my mind went to friends who have kids with special needs, how it would allow them to go on adventures, too! Great news, Freeloader has a community for parents of kids with special needs! They’re steps ahead of me.

The girls can’t wait to be worn again, and we’ll work up to bigger adventures than just our trail. The Freeloader Child Carrier is slim enough we could take it to amusement parks or festivals (it only weighs 5.8 pounds).

What We Liked: The Freeloader Child Carrier

  • It is lightweight but sturdy.
  • The straps around the hips and around the shoulders distribute the weight evenly.
  • I ordered a medium Freeloader, and it is just the right size for me and for Greg, even with our height difference.
  • The foot straps for the kiddo!
  • As our kids grow, they’ll still be able to use it, up to 80 pounds. Arianna’s even taken a ride!
  • keep reading

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    British Soccer Camp: Success!

    soccer camp

    This post about British Soccer Camp is one such post.

    Do you remember what Evan really wanted to do this summer? He was super excited about spending a week at British Soccer Camp at Pittsburgh Indoor Sports Arena – and he did it! 

    Last week, he (and Arianna) stayed with Pappy and Grammie so he was nice and close to the camp. (We live about 35 minutes away and six year olds go to half day camp from 9 to noon – huge kudos and thanks to my parents for helping make this easy on my commute!) While he didn’t tell us much about camp specifics, his excitement to get up each morning without Pappy having to encourage him speaks volumes. (This is a boy who sleeps like a rock and does not like to wake up.)

    The week started by me and my dad dropping Evan off – we wanted to meet the coaches and get all the logistics covered. (Which can I just say that British Soccer Camp makes this so easy – they sent some reminder emails before the week started and included a release form that allowed my dad, mom, and uncle to get Evan throughout the week. We printed that off and had no issues all week – super easy.)

    Evan was the third kid to check in, but would have been first if he didn’t have a I HAVE TO PUT MY BRITISH SOCCER JERSEY ON NOW moment in the van once he saw the coaches walking into PISA wearing their jerseys. He was younger than the other two kids and said to me, “good thing I’m small, I’m going to outrun them cause I am so fast from not running in a while”. Hmmph! This was seconds before he pushed me out of the bench area and said to go to work ’cause he was good and settled. Well then, looks like we have a Beckham on our hands?!?!

    My dad handled camp the rest of the week and he was impressed with the ease, the facility (and staff), and coaches. Evan was exhausted after each day but definitely loved it.

    On the last day of camp, we took the whole family plus Pappy and Grammie to watch the campers play a game and get their awards. Coaches James and Diego also gave the kids an evaluation – lines right up with what we’ve been trying to work with Evan on.

    After a week of camp, Evan definitely shows that he loves playing defense over anything (sorry, Coach X, but we think he will try to do some more goalie work soon, too!) and is still all about fairness on the field. He’s looking forward to his fall season at our local Y, but keeps asking if he can do camp again next year!

    While summer might be coming to an end, there are still some several options for the soccer camp around the country. And keep watching – they’ll be back in Pittsburgh next summer!

    Before we signed up, our friends over at US Family Guide filled me in on why this camp is so special:

    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! keep reading

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