OlgaDavis30: 2017

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The King of Too Many Things - Book Review

I received a free copy to facilitate this review
The book, The King of Too Many Things, is about a king, Jasper, who as king can ask for anything, and poof, there it is. My daughter, who is five, and I read the book together. Jasper asked for many, many, things, at times creating more of a mess than anything else. The story does a great job illustrating to children that they should be careful what they wish for. In the end it may not be what they wanted. I also liked that the king couldn’t just have the Wizard clean up his mess. I made sure to point out to Madeline that sometimes having too many things can be a lot of work, especially because one is responsible for their own messes. But I also like the underlying message that friends are there for you when you need them, and sometimes the best things we have we don’t have to wish for. Madeline enjoyed the illustrations and I really liked the diversity in the character illustrations. 
After reading the book we were able to do a couple of activities, like if you were king/queen, what would you wish for. And then I would come up with some messy scenarios, and we would see if it truly was a good wish, or not. We also decided to look at her room and think about all that she has, and how she should be cleaning up her room and toys. It being the holiday season we are also using this opportunity to show her that she may have many things, but there are some children who don’t. Madeline will be looking through her toys and picking out a few to donate. 
Madeline gives The King of Too Many Things a thumbs up.
The King of Too Many Things
Author: Laurel Snyder
Illustrator: Aurore Damant
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Rodale Kids (September 5, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 162336874X
ISBN-13: 978-1623368746

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Check out Oakbrook Center For Some Winter Fun

The holidays always make me think of Family, and with family coming over for Thanksgiving what could be more fun then heading to Oakbrook Center for some Winter fun. Oakbrook is located just outside of Chicago, so it's any easy trip for some great shopping and activities. My family was invited to visit Santa. I was happily surprised with the great photos the photographer was able to take, especially of Olivia, she's not really a camera person. Literally you say "Cheese" and you will have 2 seconds to snap that photo. Santa was very friendly and talked to the girls about how good they have been (or not) and what was on their wish list. The cool thing about this experience is that you can sign up online prior and enter some information on the children so Santa has all the info he needs like Magic! Yay to technology. I for one did not pick the highest level of niceness, I almost wanted to go lower on the scale, but I didn't want to scar my kids, LOL. They were one level below perfect so Santa was able to tell them to work on their manners and chores. Reservations and photo purchases are not required to visit Santa. Santa is located inside the Glass Pavilion (across from Starbucks).

For readers Pets: Pet Nights
Mondays from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM (November 13 - December 11)

Have you checked out the District? It's the mall's new updated food court, entertainment area. It looks awesome. Lots of food choices to pick from. My girls and I love Mexican food, so Cilantro did not disappoint. My husband opted for a burger and fries from DMK Burger, it was a pretty big sandwich, and the fries were full of flavor. Of course the highlight for my girls was a pit stop at Stan's Donuts. Obviously there aren't any pictures since the girls devoured them. 

Oakbrook has also updated their parking structures. Now your shopping can start sooner since it's easier to see where you can park. Again, thank you technology. Outside each lot you'll see the total number of spaces, and as you go up any green lights mean park here, and red means occupies, Pretty easy and such a time saver. No more waiting behind cars that slow down to look for spots. 

And of course it rained the day we were there. Madeline was super disappointed as she was looking forward to ice skating for the first time. But no worries, we'll be back. The ice skating rink is open  through February 28, 2018 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday ONLY until Thanksgiving). Mondays – Saturdays: 10am – 9pm and Sundays: 11am – 6pm. Admission is $7 for Children 12 and under and $9 for adults. If you need skates you can rent them for $5 (Presented by Samsung).

For those who like to shop local check out the Holiday Market where you can shop for unique and handcrafted goods. Open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. 

My little snowflake 

Naughy or Nice List?

Say Cheese Santa!

So apparently all the reindeer are on her Christmas List. Build a Bear will be a must stop for me.

What fun activities do you do around the holidays? Drop a note below and lets trade ideas. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

When A Not So Long Drive Feels Like Forever

Happy 125th Birthday to the Milwaukee County Zoo. 
We recently loaded up our girls and took a trip to my favorite neighboring city of Milwaukee. We were heading to the Milwaukee County Zoo. We’ve done this ride multiple times over the years. But this drive, oh my goodness, it was so different. I’m not sure what was going on with my 5-year-old. She is typically entertained with window watching, playing with her toys, and listening to music. But as soon as we got on the highway it was all yelling and crying and are we there yet. We’d ask her to be quiet so daddy could concentrate on driving and she’d do it for about a minute and start up again. My husband and I just went down a list of items. Did she sleep well? Yes, we are pretty sure she did. Did she eat breakfast? Yes of course we all did. Was she uncomfortable in her car seat? Nope, she actually responded to us.

So after about an hour into our trip she just kept going on about how bored she was and demanding we give her one of our phones. I’m sorry, but when you start demanding things from mommy and daddy, that is a surefire way of not getting what you want. But in all honesty, deep down I really did just want to give her my phone so we could have some quite, however, I knew I couldn’t do that because, one, we’d be giving in, and two, my 2-year-old would then be the next to start crying. No win-win here. 
I really love that many of the animals walk up to the glass so
the small children can have a really good look at them.
We are about 10 minutes away, and of course there is a vehicle accident. It must have just happened as there was a young lady in tears walking out of her car trying to get out of the traffic. Anyway, thankfully no one seemed hurt, just immobile cars in the shoulder and left lane. So my daughter is frantically crying that she wants to be where we are going now. Meanwhile my husband is trying to maneuver and he himself not get involved in another accident. She would just not listen about being quiet for a minute. I had to turn around and yell at her “SHUT UP”. I don’t normally yell at her, and I have never said shut up to her. I just don’t like how it sounds to me. Well that got her attention, and then waterworks because I yelled at her. I felt horrible having to yell at her like that. And after what seemed forever, we finally got to our destination. At the zoo, it was as if nothing had happened, just her usual cheery self. Luckily the ride home was the total opposite. Both girls were so tired out by the fun at the zoo that they were practically asleep before we left the parking lot. I've sprinkled in our happy zoo pictures so enjoy, and definitely check out the Milwaukee County Zoo. They have elephants! I'm worn out from our drive!

Have you ever had a bad road trip experience? How have you handled the situation? I know all families are unique, but sharing any advice for future trips could benefit us all. Next time should I invest in portable DVD players, tablets, etc? Please share in the comments. 

The Milwaukee Zoo is currently in Halloween mode.
Lots of fun decorations. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Zulily - Helping Women Entrepreneurs Reach Their Goals

Have you shopped zulily? Do you know what zulily is? If not, zulily works with thousands of brands from up-and-comers to household names, you order from them, then they place one large order for all their customers, saving you money by being able to offer lower prices. It’s always fun to see what is being offered, as they offer new sales every morning.

This month, October, is Women’s Small Business Month. zulily is celebrating with over 100 amazing brands owned by equally amazing women. For four weeks of sales events, zulily will be featuring female small business owners and the amazing products they’ve created. By working with zulily, many of these female entrepreneurs have been able to expand their businesses and quickly reach their goals.  I’m excited to support these women, and look forward to checking out the sale (especially home d├ęcor and children’s clothing). If you shop the event, please share what you got! I’m already eyeing a cute Apron from Handstand kids & Simply Whimsical. Visit zulily.com and do some shopping and don’t forget to check back daily as more items are added.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Max and Bird - A Friendship Book

Now that my daughter is learning to read I'm on the lookout for fun easy reading books that she can learn from. We received an advance copy of Max and Bird, by Ed Vere. Madeline, who is five, has been excited about reading. Now she gets to hold the book and try and sound out the words. The story is great for kids of all ages. It shows what friendship means and also what persistence to reach a common goal can lead to. Madeline has chosen to read this book for the past two weeks almost every day. She says she really likes that Max and Bird has some really nice illustrations. I think they are pretty cool too. Check out the book and tell us what you think. By the way my favorite part is when Max makes a pros and cons list. Now Madeline wants to make her own lists too.

Max and Bird
ISBN: 9781492635581; September 2017
$17.99 U.S.; Hardcover; Juvenile Fiction/Picture Book

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Olivia's Messy Alphabet Book - A Personalized Book From Put Me In The Story

Olivia's Messy Alphabet Book!
I received a free book product in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

I really love that my girls are really into books. And after receiving a personalized copy of Sesame Street: The Messy Alphabet Book for Olivia, I knew it was only a matter of time before Madeline would be asking for one of her own. We’ll see which book I surprise her with in the near future.

“You know, it seems like every alphabet book I read is full of nice, clean things like cute kittens, cuddly puppies, and shiny new toys. I think it’s time for a new alphabet book, a MESSY alphabet book.” — Oscar the Grouch

Oscar the Grouch is tired of the same old ABCs. They’re too predictable, too perfect, too clean. In his version, your child finds out that G stands for gooey, M stands for mud-coated, and S stands for slimy (yuck!). Your kiddo will have a blast learning their ABCs in this silly, scribbled take on alphabet books.  You know what Oscar? We couldn’t agree more! 

We love this new take on learning about the alphabet, and it really suits my messy little monster Olivia. She’s already finding it fun to learn her alphabet using the fun pictures in the book. What kid would pass up the chance to be silly, really silly? In Sesame Street: The Messy Alphabet Book, a new personalized book available at PutMeInTheStory.com, Oscar the Grouch and his Sesame Street friends teach your child their ABCs by splashing and crashing their way through the alphabet together!

You are able to personalize with your child’s name and photograph. Olivia was excited to find herself in the book. “That’s me”! I was even able to write my own dedication to her.

At the end of the book, your child can decorate their initials using all the tricks they learned from their Sesame Street pals! We're waiting for a day we have spaghetti for dinner. 

And if you enter below your child can get the opportunity to love their own personalized book.
Enter through the Rafflecopter link to win a Sesame Street Personalized Book Bundle & Elmo Plush from Put Me In The Story! http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/54ca7af7566/ (giveaway is sponsored by Put Me In The Story)

$34.99 personalized book

A is for applesauce dripped down the wall.
B is for birthday cake wrecked by a ball.
C is for cookies all covered in goo.
D is for doughnuts all frosted with glue.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Find Local Savings When You Open Your Valpak Envelope

This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

Do you get a big blue envelope every month, and not look at it? Maybe you should change that and start opening it up. There's lots of savings in the Valpak envelope for you to use each month. In addition to household service and restaurant coupons, Valpak envelopes now contain great grocery savings and coupons for everyday household items.  I know I like clipping my coupons to save money; saving money means I can use it on something fun for the family, like a vacation or a nice dinner. So this month be sure to open it up and find great savings like this great offer: Free $20 gift card with the purchase of $45 Sam’s Club membership.  What would you use your savings on?

Some of the coupons I picked out for myself in the photo below. I like using them to visit our local restaurants. This coming Sunday is Sunday Funday at our house. It's the beginning of the NFL season for our Chicago Bears and we'll be cheering them on with 1/2 off pizza from Salerno's. What kind of coupons or discounts do you look most forward to?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

AquaBall's Sugarless Back To School Sweepstakes

I received a free sample to facilitate this review

If you haven't heard of AquaBall its a great alternative to sugar filled drinks. They have fun flavors kids like but with zero calories and zero sugar. Plus it's even a good source of vitamins. My girls love the fun princess designs and the unique shape of the bottle. For my toddler it's a nice size for her to hold on her own.

So now to some exciting news! AquaBall is hosting a Sugarless Back to School Sweepstakes with awesome prizes just in time for back-to-school season. The naturally flavored water is available in four flavors – Berry Frost, Fruit Punch, Grape and Strawberry Lemonade – and features fan favorite characters from Disney's "Frozen", Disney Princesses, Marvel's "Avengers," and Disney Classic Characters. The drinks are sweetened using Stevia. 

AquaBall's Sugarless Back to School Sweepstakes will run from August to September 2017. Entering is super easy! Simply visit http://www.aquaballdrink.com/offers/ and complete the entry form including a photo of your child with their favorite AquaBall – don't forget to tag #Sugarlessbacktoschool and @aquaballdrink.

Six lucky participants will win a one month's supply of AquaBall (one 6-pack of each flavor), which will be drawn every Monday between August 14th and September 18th.
Ten winners will receive a one year supply (twelve 24-count packs), which will be drawn Monday September 18th.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Little Staycation in Chicago

I love being able to visit our wonderful city of Chicago. It’s definitely a big city to explore. I’m all about trying to take vacations near home and this summer was no exception. Our staycation this summer was a little different as we decided to leave the little ones at home. Yes, it was the first time leaving Olivia for more than one night. I’m not sure why it left me sad, because this summer I feel like I’ve needed a break from my kids. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to truly take a one-week vacation without my two girls. Any other parents suffer from separation anxiety like me? Usually it’s the child that’s upset, but not my girls. They were excited to be visiting Abuelito and Abuelita, because as we all know, grandparents let their grandchildren do whatever, and eat whatever they want. My parents are no exception.

The good thing about a staycation is the commute. We can easily drive or take public transportation into the city. We drove since we were already going to be dropping of the girls on our way. But once in the city we utilized the CTA and Uber to get around. We booked a room at the Hyatt Centric that was right off of the Mag Mile, close to shopping, restaurants and public transportation. The Hyatt had great service and a beautiful spacious room.  I loved that we had a Kuerig in our room, since I can never figure out those other hotel coffee makers, and how awesome is the hair dryer from Dry Bar? I had an awesome hair day! The floor was nice and quiet so we could have a good night’s sleep which I was desperately looking forward to since my two-year-old tends to wake me up at 5 am! 

You can’t visit the city without shopping. Nordstrom’s had their anniversary sale so I had to restrain myself (which by the way is through August 6th). Stopped by some usual spots like The Gap, Forever XXI, and the new Ulta store near the Chicago River. Definitely take a stroll along the River. They have the cutest TikiBar/Restaurant - Island Party Hut.

Getting around the city is easy on the CTA. We took the Red Line up to the Addison stop. We took in a baseball game at the friendly confines, Wrigley Field. My husband had not been there since the renovations so we went early to take everything in. Park at Wrigley is a nice size and on game days only open to ticketed guests. It was nice to sit out there and have a drink before the game. Take advantage of Wednesday’s Movies at the Park, August 9th features The Sandlot (one of my childhood favorites). For a new view of Wrigley, we also decided to take a look at the Budweiser Brickhouse Tavern. We went up to the terrace and could see the whole park and the outside of Wrigley (and the new hotel that is being built across the street). Inside Wrigley they also have lots of food options. I opted for Wicker Park's Pork & Mindy's and a had a pulled pork sandwich served on a bao bun with brown sugar-coated "Pig Candy" bacon bites. Yum! Sadly, the Cubs lost to the Sox. After the game we hit some local spots, and noticed that a whole chunk of Clark Street is getting redone. Can’t wait to see what’s coming. 

Dinner (in my opinion the most important meal of my day) was delicious. We went to Cantina Laredo in the Loop right on State Street. My carne asada was so good, but it was far too late to take a photo of a half empty plate. It was also National Tequila Day so they had a nice drink special. And they offered table side Guacamole so you know you’re getting a fresh batch. 

The next day we decided to keep it Chicago style and went to Uno Pizzeria for some deep dish. Makes your mouth water don’t it? There are so many other spots to eat at while visiting Chicago, like Eataly, Frontera Grill, RPM Italian, Ruth Chris Steakhouse, Bub City, and for a fun drink go to Three Dots and a Dash. 

Some great quick spots to visit are Millennium Park, The Art Institute, and Navy Pier. If you have a lot of time definitely take in the view at the Willis Tower (aka the Sears Tower) or Hancock building. Breathtaking to see the city from up high.   

What kinds of activities do you do on your Staycations? Any other spots we should hit while in the City of Chicago.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Book For a Little Girl Who Loves Tea Parties

Having a Tea Party with Ellie the Elephant
 This post may contain affiliate links for which I may be compensated

With two little girls we’ve had our share of tea parties. Tea parties are so much fun, especially for Madeline. She likes to get all dressed up for the occasion and invite all of her dolls and stuffed animals. On days when we know that Olivia isn’t going to be around I like to bring out the little ceramic tea set so it seems more grown up for her (yes poor Olivia, but no one likes broken dishes…and one has already been broken and glued back together).

So when I saw the book, The Queen is Coming to Tea by Linda Ravin Lodding,  I thought it would be a fun read for Madeline. It is an adorably illustrated book about a girl named Ellie who receives a note from the Queen “May I please come for tea? Sincerely yours, The Queen Herself”. Ellie travels the world as she makes sure to have everything she needs for the Queen’s arrival. I have been reading the book to Madeline, she’s 5 and it makes for a good bedtime book for us. It’s a fun way to follow Ellie on all of her adventures as she gets ready for the Queen’s visit. Plus I get to share about my own travel experiences with Madeline, and even make new future plans with her. (I hear Paris calling).

I think you'd love the book too! Sign up for the opportunity to win a copy and a cute ceramic tea set so you too can get ready for the Queen’s arrival. And don’t forget to try the Peach Mango White Iced Tea recipe below.

Peach Mango White Iced Tea Recipe

4 Cups Water
3 White Tea Bags
1 Peach
½ Cup Chopped Frozen Mango
1 tbsp sugar plus Sugar to Taste

Boil the 6 cups of water; remove from heat
Steep the tea bags about 5 minutes; remove bags and allow tea to cool to room temperature
Add chopped peaches and mango to a mixing bowl and mix with sugar; let fruit soften
Place fruit in pitcher and pour cooled tea on top; add sugar to taste and stir
Chill and serve

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Queen is Coming to Tea
Author: Linda Ravin Lodding
Illustrator: Constranze von Kitzing
February 7, 2017
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN: 9781492607571; $16.99; Hardcover

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summer in Chicago - Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co

With summer in full swing and the girls full of energy, I've been looking for new ways for them to see Chicago. My family was invited to take a scenic ride on a Double Decker bus from Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co. I had been on one many years ago, but never took full advantage of its full offerings. You can visit one of their many kiosks, purchase your ticket, and be on your way. When your on the Chicago City Tour you'll be able to hop on and off at any of the thirteen stops. If you download the app you'll even be able to track when the next bus is on its way. That's a great thing for those who want to spend a little extra time taking in the views and taking photos. Just be sure to keep your ticket handy as you'll need it to re-board.

Tours offered:
Downtown Tour - 13 Hop-onHop-offstops throughout downtown Chicago and River North
The Wrigley Field/Lincoln ParkZooRoute
The Museum of Science &Industry/ChinatownRoute
The Night Tour
For those wanting to experience Chicago by water, Chicago Trolley also offers the Land, Lake and River Package.

The family really enjoyed being able to see the city from up high. Seeing the tall buildings and how big Lake Michigan was kept the girls in awe. We were really excited to take some photos of the skyline on our stops near the Shedd Aquarium and Buckingham Fountain. I would recommend taking the tour towards sunset, it's just a breathtaking view of the city. I loved our tour guide. He had some great little facts about all things Chicago. And just FYI, kids 4 and under ride for free! To learn more about the stops, Double Decker bus, and Trolley visit their website at www.chicagotrolley.com. Let me know if you decide to go, I'd love to hear about which stops you enjoyed.

Olivia taking in the Lake Michigan view

Chicago Skyline

Madeline and Daddy

Madeline and Daddy at Buckingham Fountain 

Land, Lake
and River Package
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