Sunday, September 24, 2017

Raising Readers: Up Close and Personal With Favorite Children's Authors & Illustrators #WordsAndPictures

Raising Readers: Up Close and Personal with Favorite Children's Author's & Illustrators presented by #Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures {AD} #WordsAndPictures #Reading #Books #kidlit #captainunderpants

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures but all opinions are my own.

As a parent, I work hard to instill good reading habits in my kids. I have always been a bookworm, so I made sure that reading became part of our daily routine as soon as my first child came home from the hospital after his birth. I lead by example, and I encourage all four of my kids to read as much as possible! 


Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Words & Pictures Dav Pilkey Captain Underpants

Although reading each day is the most important way to foster a love of books, there are other ways to establish this healthy, lifelong habit. Attending story time at our local library, going to events at book stores and shopping for favorite books at book fairs are all ways in which we celebrate our love of reading!

Last weekend, my kids had a very unique experience at the beautiful Carnegie Library Lecture Hall in Pittsburgh. They had the chance to get up close and personal with one of their favorite authors: Dav Pilkey, who is the author of the bestselling Captain Underpants and Dog Man series! The event kicked off the Words & Pictures series presented by Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures.


Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Words & Pictures Dav Pilkey Captain Underpants

The Words & Pictures series showcases acclaimed children’s authors and illustrators to readers of all ages. When I told my kids where we were going last Sunday, my girls were thrilled, and even my way too cool (almost) teenager seemed excited to hear one of his favorite authors speak!

Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Words & Pictures Dav Pilkey Captain Underpants

As soon as we walked into the lecture hall, it was immediately evident that Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures is very passionate about encouraging kids to read! Each of my kids was given a Captain Underpants cape and a Dog Man comic creator book before we even took our seats. They were even more excited about their signed copies of Dav Pilkey's book, Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties! (On a personal note, my 10 year old was so excited that she immediately started reading the book, and finished it before dinner that night!)

Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Words & Pictures Dav Pilkey Captain Underpants

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, because I didn't know much about Dav Pilkey other than which books he wrote and illustrated, but the excitement in the room was contagious! Within seconds of taking the stage, Dav Pilkey made sure everybody in the room was laughing. Not only were the kids highly entertained, but the adults were laughing, too. I was most impressed with how quickly he was able to draw his beloved characters!

Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Words & Pictures Dav Pilkey Captain Underpants

Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Words & Pictures Dav Pilkey Captain Underpants

After the lecture ended, there was a chance to meet Dav Pilkey and have him sign a book from our home library as well, but the wait was too long for my busy homie with an extra chromie! Liam sat so quietly and patiently during the entire lecture, but we could tell he wasn't going to be able to wait in line. Although Lexie and Lily, who are bookworms like me, were a bit disappointed, they were grateful to have their own signed copies of the book!

Reading

The Dav Pilkey lecture was an experience unlike any other. Watching my own kids react to the things he said was a special experience for me, too. I was thrilled that they had the chance to be positively influenced and inspired by a beloved author, and I know it's definitely something they won't ever forget! As a mom to four kids who live in an electronics-addicted world, I can proudly stand behind an organization that promotes reading!


Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Words & Pictures Dav Pilkey Captain Underpants


Attending the Dav Pilkey lecture was such an incredible experience for my family. Although that lecture is over, there are still plenty of chances to enjoy the Words & Pictures series. If you live in or around Pittsburgh, I strongly encourage you to attend one of the lectures with your own family!

Words & Pictures presented by Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures


October 1, 2017 - Katherine Applegate

October 15, 2017 - Sherman Alexie

December 03, 2017 - Katherine Paterson      

January 21, 2018 - Nicola Yoon      

February 04, 2018 - Bryan Collier

March 11, 2018 - Melissa Sweet

Purchase your tickets using the unique promo code LexieLooDylan2  HERE!

*Code is valid to use until morning of each performance. When you click this link, it will show you all the performances tied to the code and change the price to $8 (over 20% off), and apply the code to your entire cart. 

*You can also make your own subscription package of three or more lectures and save 20% off the ticket price!


We hope to see you there! 


Raising Readers: Up Close and Personal with Favorite Children's Author's & Illustrators presented by #Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures {AD} #WordsAndPictures #Reading #Books #kidlit #captainunderpants



CONNECT WITH PITTSBURGH ARTS & LECTURES


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Kids Don't NEED Complicated Birthday Party Themes To Have Fun

Kids Don't NEED complicated birthday party themes to have fun!

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Netflix, but all opinions are my own.


Over the course of 12 years, I've hosted 28 birthday parties. I'm going to let that number sink in for a few moments.  It doesn't seem possible, but with four kids, birthday parties happen often!


We've tackled birthday parties of every kind! I've hosted parties so big that there was barely enough room for all the guests, and parties that were small and intimate.  We've had destination parties, outdoor parties and parties in our home. I've hosted big parties and small parties, and parties with complex themes and parties with no theme.

And with all that experience, I learned one big lesson: kids don't really care as much as you think they do about the party theme! Actually, it's the parents who obsess over coming up with the perfect theme.

Moms are wasting hours of precious time and hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of dollars to throw their child a dream party. When they share all the details on social media, the focus tends to be more on what they did instead of the fun their child had. Think about all the awe-inspiring birthday party posts you have read. You probably scroll through dozens of beautiful photos sharing every incredible detail, and only see one or two pictures of the birthday boy or girl.

I've been guilty of it, but I finally reached the point where I realized that I lost my focus. My focus should be on showering my child with love and attention, instead of always worrying about every single detail of hosting a brag-worthy birthday party.

I put that theory to the test last month. Between weddings, picnics, family reunions, soccer games, and vacation, there literally wasn't a single available weekend to host a big birthday party for Lily and Liam OR any time to plan it. I stressed over it for a few weeks, then finally gave up and blocked out a few hours of time on a busy Saturday. I invited our closest family members and friends for an impromptu, THEME-LESS birthday party!


Birthday Party Themes

That's right. We didn't have a theme. We had a few gender neutral party supplies, candles, and a plain store-bought cake. We didn't even bother with favors. And guess what? I wasn't the least bit stressed out, I was able to sit with my guests for once, and the smiles on Lily and Liam's faces were so big as they spent time with their favorite people. Despite not having all the usual bells and whistles, Lily still declared it the "best party ever."

The lesson I learned is that sometimes it's okay to just host an ordinary birthday party with just the basics. Sometimes it's good to simplify things, stop competing with other moms, stop worrying about sharing on social media, and just focus on the moments instead of the things.

When it comes to birthday parties, there are only three things that really matter to kids:
  1. The Guests
  2. The Birthday Cake
  3. And PRESENTS!!!
That's literally all they need in order to have a special day! Once those three things are covered, they are destined to have an awesome birthday party!

Simplifying a birthday party and getting back to the basics was both freeing and refreshing at the same time! For the first time in 12 years, I was able to enjoy a party instead of wasting hours of time and hundreds of dollars on a theme they quickly forget. I can't say I won't EVER host a theme party again, but I'm less likely to become overwhelmed by something that doesn't matter as much as I once thought it did!


Netflix Birthdays On-Demand

I'm not alone in wanting to simplify birthday parties. 71% of parents wish there was an easier way to make birthday feel special for their kids. Based on the numbers from a recent survey, who can blame them? The average birthday party prep is 10 hours, and the average cost is $200. (Although that seems to be the absolute minimum cost in my experience!)

90% of parents want their child to feel special on their birthday, but 60% say birthday parties just aren't what they used to be. And that's 100% true these days. It's more of a competition among parents over who can throw the most unique, over the top, awe-inspiring birthday party. That's not really the point, is it? The point is to give our child a special party without adding an unbelievable amount of stress to our lives in the process!

Thankfully, Netflix is there to help make YOUR child's birthday special! Last week, Netflix introduced Birthdays On-Demand. They now offer 15 Birthdays On-Demand featurettes, which include many of your child's favorites!

Netflix Stream Team

The special birthday titles include Beat Bugs, LEGO Friends, LEGO Ninjago, Barbie, My Little Pony and Pokemon. Visit netflix.com/birthdays to see all the featurettes, and surprise your child with a special birthday song that makes them feel like their favorite characters are singing just to them! Liam happily rocked out to Beat Bugs and Dinotrux, and Lily loved Barbie and My Little Pony. It makes me so happy when my kids get so excited over the simplest things!

Netflix Birthdays On-Demand

Netflix Birthdays On Demand


A simple party, a simple cake, entertainment at my fingertips and happy kids! Adding Netflix Birthdays On-Demand is a birthday party hack I can stand behind!!!


Netflix Birthdays On Demand


Netflix Stream Team


Kids Don't NEED complicated birthday party themes to be happy! #parenting #birthdayparties

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The Lucky Few

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Bittersweet Ode To Summer: Thoughts on Motherhood & Seasons of Life

A Bittersweet Ode To Summer

We are currently enjoying the last week of hot weather in Pennsylvania. Summer flew by far too quickly, and I still can't believe we are already several weeks into a new school year. The next time we feel temperatures like these ones, two of my kids will be one year older and the school year will be almost over. That seems too far away yet too soon at the same time!


The passing of a season sometimes serves as a cruel reminder of just how fast time goes by. And the older I get, the more sentimental I become. I wish I could just hold onto these moments with my kids, just as they are now! But seasons will continue to pass by rapidly, my kids will continue to grow far too quickly, and all I will have left are memories of what once was.

The point of having kids is to raise them, help them develop into GOOD human beings, and send them off into the world on their own.  As their mom, I'm selfish. I want them to be my babies forever!

I think the reason I take so many pictures is so I can remember all these simple, everyday moments with my kids that make life so special and worth living! Some may argue that it's better to LIVE in the moment instead of document it, but I disagree. I fully believe it's possible to have the best of both worlds.


When you live in the moment, you experience it and make memories. But one day those memories will fade, and all the little details will disappear. THAT'S why I document those everyday moments through pictures.

I want to remember how the sunlight hits Liam's pale eyelashes and turns them to gold. I want to remember how Lily's thumb goes into her mouth the moment she gets sleepy. I want to remember Lexie's beautiful profile as she reads a book. I want to remember the way Dylan twirls his hair - or mine - when he gets worried or sleepy...just like he did when he was a baby. Those moments are worth living AND documenting!

Although this Summer went far too quickly for my liking, it was full of so many moments that I want to remember! I will hold onto those moments forever, and these pictures will serve as a reminder of just how wonderful life really is!


We celebrated and fell in love with a new family member who seemed impossibly tiny and oh so perfect!

Family

Family

Baby

We connected with cousins.

Candid Childhood

Family

We showed people how to be brave (and how to give mom a heart attack)!

Down Syndrome Blogs

We spent hours splashing in the tub.

Nuby Bath Links

{Nuby Bath Links - Available on Amazon}

Instead of wishing the rain away, we enjoyed it!

Childhood

We flipped through hundreds of books and flashed the cutest smiles ever!

Down Syndrome

We celebrated the fact that baby wearing is still possible!


We jumped for joy!

Childhood

We viewed the world from different angles. (Stop, Drop and #DownwardDude!)

Down Syndrome Blogs

We enjoyed simple Summer pleasures.

Trendy Bubs

{Shirt from Trendy Bubs}

We made creative fashion choices.

Down Syndrome

We spent the Summer learning and exploring...and lost one fingertip in the process!

The Lucky Few

We spread joy one smile at a time.

Down Syndrome

We healed and proved that fingertips really DO grow back!

Childhood

We jumped in pools fully clothed!

The Lucky Few

We spent hours in the backyard.

Down syndrome Awareness

We did our own stunts!

The Lucky Few

The Lucky Few

We danced like nobody was watching.

Childhood

Childhood

We celebrated the first big Summer birthday!

Father and Son

Father and Daughter

Father and Daughter

The Lucky Few

Husband and Wife

We enjoyed spending time together.

Siblings

We laughed a lot!

Down Syndrome Blogs

We took family walks.

Motherhood

My kids got candid!

Summer

An unusual visitor crawled across Lexie's foot, which scarred her for life.

Cicada

We cooled off at the spray park with friends.

Best Friends

Brotherly Love

Down syndrome

Spray Park

We logged in many hours on Papa and Nina's deck.

Down syndrome awareness

And we played at home.

Down syndrome awareness

We went swimming as often as possible.

Siblings

Summer

We eagerly celebrated a 6th Birthday! (Birthday Interview and Recap to come!)

6th Birthday

We bonded with extended family, had fun and got messy at our annual family reunion.

Family Reunion

Down syndrome

Childhood

The Lucky Few

Family Reunion

Family Reunion

Family Reunion

Down syndrome blogger

Family Reunion

We explored our town.

Brothers

Siblings

We spent a week at our favorite place: Virginia Beach! (Yep...stillllll recapping.)

Virginia Beach

We celebrated the most special little boy's 4 trips around the sun!

Down syndrome

We ended our Summer Break with a pool party to watch the eclipse!

eclipse

And just like that, Summer Break came to an abrupt end when my kids headed back to school. It was a great Summer, and I sure am missing my days spent with my little tribe!


Summer


A Bittersweet Ode to Summer: Thoughts on Motherhood & Seasons of Life