5 Fun (and Rewarding) Summer Reading Challenges for Kids

5 Fun and Rewarding Summer Reading Programs for Kids #summerreading

Are you looking for fun ways to encourage your kids to read more this summer?  Great news, there are several programs available locally and online to reward your kids for reading. The Rays have paired up with the local libraries for Reading with the Rays; if your child reads for 24 hours they get a free Rays ticket!  Plus most local libraries also have an end of summer party scheduled to celebrate your child's summer reading accomplishments.  I know the Palm Harbor Library has a party scheduled for August 2nd.     Read any 8 books and Barnes & Noble Summer Reading program will reward your child with a free book.  You can download a reading journal on their website to track your child's goals.     Once your child reads 5 books they can be entered to win prizes from the Pizza Hut Summer Book It Challenge.  Pizza Hut also has a fun Instagram contest and scavenger hunt to support their program; follow #bookitsummer online for more information.    Kids who read 8 books from a ... [ Read More ]

Carvel + Nutella = Heaven in a Cup (or Cone)


  From now until Sept 30th you can indulge on the delicious Nutella inspired recipes at Carvel ice cream shops.  The popular hazelnut spread has been added to their soft-serve, hand-scooped and sundae dashers for your summer enjoyment. “We could not be more excited to offer our handcrafted Carvel ice cream with Nutella® hazelnut spread as an exciting treat this summer,” said Carvel President Scott Colwell.  “Nutella® has such a loyal following and we know our guests will be thrilled that it’s being paired with our fresh ice cream.” What are some reasons you might be stopping by Carvel this summer?  With the kids out of school for another 2 months I'm sure I can think of a few reasons. To reward your kids for reading over summer! To salvage a crappy day from complete disaster! For a family night out on the town! For a mom's night out without the kids! For a date night (again, without the kids)! For a cool treat after a long day at the beach! For those lazy ... [ Read More ]

Sea Shell Picture Frame Tutorial For Kids

Sea Shell Picture Frame

We just got back from a week long beach vacation and we may have collected a huge bag full of sea shells, sea glass, and other sea rocks.  When we got home we made a quick trip to Michael's to pick up some craft supplies.  Picture frames, glue, jewelry cord, ribbon, candles, and jars are all sitting next to our dining room table ready for us to get our craft on! We weren't home for 5 minutes and my daughter (she's my crafty minion) was begging me to make the shell heart frame!  The begging continued for almost 24 hours before we actually had time to sit down and work on it.  I probably won't be opening an Etsy store anytime soon but we had a lot of fun and will have sweet memories when we look at it. Supplies Needed: Wooden picture frame Miscellaneous paint brushes Acrylic paint (assorted colors) Elmer's Glue Sea Shells Picture from the Beach Directions: Paint the wooden picture frame.  You can tell that we had different techniques.  I prefer one solid ... [ Read More ]

Come Trekaroo with Me!


Trekaroo? Superoo?  What does that even mean? Trekaroo is a family travel tips and review website that my friend Marissa introduced me too about a year ago.  The site offers user submitted reviews of hotels and attractions in different cities around the US.  Anyone can join and it's totally free! A Superoo is a parent who joins the Trekaroo team to provide travel advice and help share the love of Trekaroo.  Moms and Dads around the US who like to travel (alone or with their kids) are invited to access new hotels, attractions and special events so they can share these places with you. Guess who is on the Superoo team for 2014-2015??  Me and about 100+ other moms and dads around the US.  I am so excited to join the team and start sharing some of our adventures with you.  If you've follow me for a while you know that we love to travel.  Just this year we've been on a cruise to Cozumel and Grand Caymen.  Last week we were in Palm Beach and next week the hubs and I are sneaking ... [ Read More ]

Passport to Imagination with Michael’s Stores

michaels craft classes

We're going into week 3 of summer vacation and I have to say, I'm surviving this summer like a boss!  Our first week out of school was a family vacation so that was pretty easy.  Last week was our first real week at home while I attempt to work AND juggle kids.  We spent most of the week at karate since my son was testing for his 1st degree Black Belt this past weekend (he passed - yeah!!). Friday, I scheduled a Passport to Imagination craft class at Michael's for the kids.  This summer your kids can spend 2 craft-filled hours at Michael's (without mom nagging them) for only $2.  That's just long enough to run to Starbucks, grab a latte, and get a little bit of work done in peace and quiet! As long as your kids are over 5 you can drop them off and don't have to stick around.  The kids are safe in a back room with a few Michael's employees and aren't allowed to leave until you get back.  It was a pretty full class at our local Michael's and the kids ranged from about 5-13 yrs; ... [ Read More ]

Things To Do With Kids in Tampa

Tampa With Kids

As we start to check off things from our Summer Bucket List, my kids keep adding things to their list!  While I know we can't possibly do everything they bring up, that doesn't mean that you won't.  If you like in the Tampa Bay area or if you're traveling here this summer, there are a lot of fun things to do with kids of all ages. You can review our Summer Bucket List and see that we already have listed: Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks Busch Gardens Old McMickey's Farm Florida Aquarium Clearwater Marine Aquarium Weeki Wachee Springs Park play dates My kids have added to their wishlist Airheads Trampoline Arena and Passport to Imagination at Michael's craft stores.  We also have our annual trip to Ichetucknee Springs in July. I was sharing my ideas with a group of local bloggers and found out they have some pretty amazing ideas also.  Below is a round-up of fun things to do in Tampa with kids this summer. Tampa Bay Moms Blog: Keep it Cool at Tampa Bay's Best ... [ Read More ]

20 Things Only Beach Lovers Understand


I grew up visiting the beach with my family.  My grandmother lived 2 blocks off St. Pete Beach when I was a kid and I have fond memories of those times.  The beach continues to be a big part of our family and the primary reason we moved to Florida.  While at the beach this week for vacation (yes, we still vacation at the beach even though we live near one) I thought I would share some of my random thoughts about visiting the beach that only a true beach lover would understand. That the ugly shells are the prettiest shells on the beach. Early morning and late afternoon are the best time to visit. Finding sea glass is like winning the lottery! You look 10X tanner in the shower after a day at the beach even if you're not! You'll pay anything for a drink and food while sitting on the beach. Beach towels are completely optional.  You'll probably only use them to sit on for the car ride home. Backpack chairs are a must; especially with kids!  Ours have a big pocket in ... [ Read More ]

Our Summer Bucket List

My Kids

Today was officially the last day of the 2013-2014 school year!  I am now a mom to a Kindergartner and a Middle School kid.  Can someone please pinch me?  I have no idea how that happened; I mean my baby is still in cloth diapers right?  Nope, she turned 5 earlier this year and is entering Kindergarten in the Fall. I'm determined to make this summer fun.  Since I work full-time from home, they get to stay home with me most days.   However, that usually turns into very long hours in front of the TV while I work.  We do have a few vacations planned and a few summer camps scheduled but there are several weeks when they will be just laying around the house being kids.  I decided I was going to ask both of my kids to help me list a few things they want to do this summer.  Here is what they said.... 11 yr old son: Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks - maybe I'll take them on a boat ride to see them dive for sponges. Read, Read, and Read some more!  Did I mention that he received a ... [ Read More ]

EcoCentric Mom “Mom & Baby” Box Review May/June

ecocentric mom box review

  Do you subscribe to any monthly (or bimonthly) subscription boxes?  As part of their blog ambassadors, ecocentric mom sends me a box every-other-month so that I can tempt you all into subscribing.  I don't think there has ever been a box I wasn't happy with.  This month I received the "Mom & Baby" box again and I am pleased with the goodies hidden inside.For only $24 you will get a very similar box if you subscribe today!  If you're going on vacation this summer with your baby, this box if full of goodies to keep them entertained. AllieLou Baby Organic Teething Ring:  Made from natural maple wood with no chemicals added and hand polished to seal and prevent splintering.  The fabric ears are 100% GOTS certified organic flannel.  ($8.50 per ring)  Plus a coupon code for 10% off your next order from AllieLou. ~Just for Mom~ Licious Organics Raw Honey Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie:  Um, I just opened this cookie while writing this post and I am ready for another.  It's ... [ Read More ]

Smart Sun Safety Tips

Sun Safety Tips

I have come to terms with the fact that I will never have a gorgeous sun kissed tan like you see in the swimsuit magazines.  I have a natural peaches and cream complexion which isn't super pale but not super tan either.  As a child I tanned pretty nicely and as I entered my teen years I remember always wanting to be darker than my skin would naturally tan.  I was never a tanning bed person (although I did try it a few times in my younger days) but I hated applying sunscreen as a teenager.  With both of my parents having skin cancer spots removed from their face, shoulders, back, and legs I decided that it was time for me to lay off the tanning and play it smart in the sun.  Once I had children of my own I decided it was time to start doing a little more research into proper sun safety.  It's amazing how quickly your priorities change after having children. We've always lived in the south where the summer heat is scorching, now that we live in Florida, sun safety is part of our ... [ Read More ]