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Chuck E. Cheese. Not Just For Kids Anymore

Disclosure: I was invited to a blogger event at Chuck E Cheese and provided with a gift bag to thank me for attending. I wasn’t required to blog about the event, but I was really impressed with their offerings and wanted to share it with you. 

It is inevitable. If we ask the kids where they want to eat, what they want to do on the weekend or make them guess about an awesome surprise we have planned, nine out of ten times their answer will be Chuck E. Cheese. It is simply a family favorite.

Although if I must confess, not really for me. The crowds, the stimulation and the options of pizza or pizza aren’t really always on the top of my list. But I do love me some skee ball. And I love to treat the kids to something fun every once in a while so we find ourselves back with the mouse a several times a year.

So when I was asked to come check out their more adult menu last week I knew the kids would crown me mom of the year. Rarely do they get to partake in the fun opportunities this blog offers. So I picked them up from school and we headed to Chuck E. Cheese. Even better I invited my sister-in-law and their cousins along to join in the fun (half because she was also husbandless and we need to band together, half because I knew I would be able to sample very little of the menu since I don’t eat gluten).

Well about that gluten thing. Did you know that Chuck E. Cheese has a gluten-free pizza and cupcake on their menu. Not only that but, as they explained to me, they didn’t want to just jump on the gluten-free bandwagon without doing it right. They wanted to make sure kids with serious allergies/celiac could eat their pizza worry free. So it is sent to them sealed with its own pizza cutter to assure no cross contamination. While my gluten intolerance isn’t this severe I really applaud them for taking children’s allergies seriously.

But none of that has anything to do with the new menu that honestly had me drooling. Darn you gluten. Here is a recap:

Chuck E Cheese New Menue

  • New Thin Crust Pizzas: These were actually a big hit with the kids and adults. We mostly do thin crust pizzas as a family so it is what my kids are used to. They went for the boring old cheese. But Beth got to sample the Cali Alfredo and BBQ Chicken. BBQ Chicken was definitely her favorite and it seriously looked like a pizza right out of CPK.
  • Sandwiches and Wraps: We didn’t try all these (because pizza), but they offer a Caesar and club wrap as well as a BBQ chicken ciabatta sandwich. These would be a nice lighter alternative to heavy pizza and looked really tasty.
  • Wings: These were honestly the hit of the day with both the kids and adults. I could not believe my kids were popping the boneless sweet chili wings like they were nuggets despite a little bit of kick. They also offer BBQ boneless and bone-in wings.
  • Breadsticks: Breadsticks make my kids ridiculously happy. We rarely get them when we are out for pizza so they are some sort of bizarre treat. Chuck E Cheese also unveiled a new buffalo chicken cheesy bread which my sister-in-law thought was really good.
  • Dessert: This is the portion of the food sampling where I about threw all the gluten sensitivity stuff out the window. Because churros. With salted caramel sauce. So freaking good. Thankfully my kids ate enough for all of us. These were the hit of the day. They also had some delicious cinnamon sticks that they have improved with a cinnamon crunch topping. We were frankly too busy devouring churros.

I love that Chuck E Cheese’s new menu is a bit more diverse in its new offerings and really has kept the adults in mind. Since many also serve wine and beer it is almost like we don’t even need the kids anymore. Sure people might look at you a little strange as you shove the kids out of the way so you can get a turn at “Deal or No Deal”, but it might make for a rockin’ Saturday night.

Sunday Chat

Apparently I forgot to hit publish last night (such a blogging pro) so enjoy this Sunday chat….. on Monday…….

Well last week was a whirlwind. Ryan was traveling at the beginning of the week which always makes it a little bit Lord of the Flies around here. We have gotten pretty good at surviving but it isn’t always pretty.

Actually my favorite part was Tuesday night. Our only TV is in the basement and we don’t allow eating in front of the television. Except for rare occasions when we break out the TV and have a fun movie night. My girls begged to watch The King and I (Yul Brenner version) and I am not one to ever turn down a musical. We sang a long, I cried an ugly cry, the kids thought I was a weirdo. It was perfect.

Wednesday we had a super fun blogging event at our local Chuck E. Cheese (more on that tomorrow). My sister was husbandless with her two kids so I invited her along and the kids played games for several hours and amassed enough tickets to buy a few pieces of candy lol. They had so much fun and I love, love, LOVE that my kids are growing up near their cousins.

On Thursday night, Silas earned his blue belt in karate. He started karate back in October and has loved it so much. He is always kicking and punching his way around the house and talking about being a ninja. I love how much discipline they require of the kids during their lessons and feel like it is carrying over a bit into normal life. I must admit I kind of want to take some classes too. I feel like there might be an inner ninja in me waiting to come out.

This weekend I went to an IF: Local gathering at a friends church and left so inspired. Have any of you participated? I knew it would be awesome just by the speaker line up but had no idea how impactful it would be. I need to read back through my notes this week and figure out exactly what God wants me to do with everything I learned, but I am already seeing that he went before me and laid some groundwork in place. He is good like that.

I came home last night and we were all ready to head to church when we discovered our water heater was leaking everywhere in our basement. Thank goodness we even went down there to check on laundry or we wouldn’t have noticed it until much later and things would have been ruined. You know what isn’t fun? Calling an emergency plumber on the weekend and having to shell out a GIANT wad of cash on a new water heater. Sometimes being an adult sucks.

That seems like an incredibly downer way to wrap up a pretty good week so I will leave you with this. Because nothing makes everything better like baby giggles:

Simplifying Your Beauty Routine

So let’s be honest: Looking good has always been pretty important to me. But spending a lot of time fluffing and primping in the bathroom isn’t really a luxury you have when you have kids. Even now when my kids are older and I have a little more peace and quiet in the bathroom I still can’t spend hours in there unless I want to lose them to God knows what piece of technology. I am also pretty cheap when it comes to makeup so I am not one to spend $50 for eye shadow at the local department store. Simple and affordable is the name of my makeup game.

I think I have gotten to a point where my beauty routine is very streamlined and I am really happy with how it makes me look. I never look super made up, but I think I am making the most with what I’ve got and hopefully keeping a lot of the signs of aging at bay. ps. I have no intention of denying that I am getting older and firmly believe that aging is a beautiful and natural process. But I also hope to age as gracefully as possible along the way. Can I get an amen?

Meijer Beauty Box

Spring cleaning seems like a great time to ditch old makeup that doesn’t work for you anymore and try some new products that might suit you better. So I was super grateful when Meijer sent me a box of goodies to try. Because I buy almost all of my makeup from “drugstore” brands, I was excited to find some new products that have seamlessly made their way into my daily routine. I always find it super interesting what makeup works for people so hopefully you will enjoy learning a bit about my beauty routine.

Skin Care:

I confess, for most of my life I have taken HORRID care of my skin. Like go to bed with makeup on, never washing my face horrid care. Silly Jilly!! This past year as I am barreling down on 40 I have begun to take my skin care a bit more seriously. I wash my face twice a day and use an anti-aging serum and moisturizer. I also found that giving up gluten made a HUGE difference in my hormonal breakouts. Like I don’t even have them anymore. Hallelujah!!

I wash my face with Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser. It has been around forever, is super gentle and does its job. I follow with a serum. Right now I am digging L’Oreal Revitalift Daily Volumizing Concentrated Serum. It is supposed to add a bit of firmness and fullness to aging skin and I feel like it really works. I follow with L’Oreal Revitalift Daily Volumizing Moisturizer. Did you know that skin care products work better in conjunction with products from the same line? They are meant to work together. I don’t always follow this rule, sometimes I get distracted by other products, but I try to keep things in the same line as much as possible.

Face Base:

Now that my skin is prepped I like to do the base of my face. I consider this primer, foundation, concealer and contouring bronzer. This seems like a lot of steps, but it is really quick and I find my makeup stays on much better if I do them all. You can read about more about my primer cheat of using Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder-Gel in this old post. I still swear it works just as good as the expensive stuff. For foundation I tried out the L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Powder I was sent by Meijer, but honestly I have been using loose mineral powder foundation for a few years (various brands) and that is what I am most used to and I love the way I can easily control the coverage. Currently I am using the Sheer Cover line which I was sent a sample of about 6 months ago. I also use their contouring bronzer as well, just under my cheekbones. For concealer I have tried them ALL and haven’t found one I am head over heels about, but right now I am using L’Oreal Visible Lift CC Eye Concealer. I like how quick and easy it rolls on and it does a decent job with my dark under eye circles. I also use it to prep my eyelids for shadow.

Eyes:

I am quite a novice when it comes to making my eyes look good so I just stick to a very VERY simple look. I use Milani Shadow Eyez in Champagne Toast all over my eye lid. It is a chubby crayon so it is pretty idiot proof. Then I line my eyes with Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in black. I will say I invested in the Bobbi Brown eyeliner brush which is super expensive, but does an amazing job of getting the eye liner exactly where I want it. Recently I have added and extra step and I use an angled eye liner brush to sweep L’Oreal Infallible 24 HR Eye Shadow in Eternal Black over my liquid liner. It allows me to get really close to the lashline and really sets the eye liner so it doesn’t migrate as much during the day. I finish with a few coats of mascara. These days I am flipping between L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Mascara and Maybelline Lash Sensational.

Finishing Touches:

To finish off I apply Maybelline New York Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer under my eyes. Yes, two concealers. This one is more of a highlighter and brightener and takes the final edge off my dark circles. I don’t always use both but I always use this one. (quick tip, don’t just sweep it under your eyes but in a v shape down to your cheekbones). Then I add a quick swirl of NYX Blush in Pinched on the apples of my cheeks. I have piles and piles of lipstick but lately I have been grabbing Almay Smart Shade Butter Kiss in berry or nude. Not the most long-lasting, but I love the way it looks and feels. I also was sent some L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Spray and Makeup Extender and have been trying it out a bit and really do think it makes my makeup stay on longer.

Meijer Beauty

So typed out that kind of seems like a lot but it really is quick to apply and gives a very natural look. And as you can see, it is all stuff you can buy at your local Meijer.  As you can also see I apparently have had a thing for L’Oreal products long before Meijer sent me a few products to try. I think I should become their new blogger spokesperson along with Eva Longoria and Jennifer Lopez. I’d fit right in.

How do you simplify your beauty routine?

This post is sponsored by Meijer and I was given promotional products to facilitate this review. 

On Gratitude and Giving Back #SnacksForStudents

Yesterday my “assignment” for my Lenten minimalism challenge was to “practice gratitude”. I’d like to think I am an overall grateful person, but I know realistically that I take many many blessing for granted. And frankly I become rather grumbly in the winter. I have realized this week that to truly practice gratitude you really do need to take every negative thought captive. So throughout the day I would try to replace any inner monologue of complaint with a listing of a few blessings.

For me, one of the best ways to practice gratitude is by giving to others. It totally makes sense that the best way to appreciate our own blessing is to share them with others right? What a coincidence (or not) that my day of practicing gratitude coincided with a blog campaign about giving to others!

For the third year in a row I am partnering with Champions for Kids to benefit kids in my local community. In 2012 we made care packages for our foster care agency. In 2013 we donated granola bars to Kids’ Food Basket. And in 2014 we partnered with local school districts to serve healthy snacks to kids in need. This year we are back to helping out Kids’ Food Basket serve the more than 5500 kids who are from food insecure households in Grand Rapids.

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From now until March 4th, you can head to more than 3,600 participating Walmart stores and purchase snacks and breakfast items for children and place them inside designated donation bins. I was so blessed to be able to name Kids’ Food Basket as the local charity for our Grand Rapids Walmart on 28th St. In addition to our donations, Champions for Kids, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Emerald and Kettle Chips will provide 13 awards, totaling $45,000, to school districts and participating youth-based organizations based on the total number of donated items collected in each store. Y’all I REALLY want to win that award for Kid’s Food Basket so I need your help.

I picked up the kids from school on Tuesday and we headed to Walmart armed with a gift card for $100 to buy some healthy snacks. I used Kids’ Food Basket’s wish list as a guide and was amazed at how far $100 could go at Walmart. I actually loaded up my cart and checked out before realizing we had only spent half of what we had on the card. So back we went to grab another cartload. The kids were getting excited picking out snacks and bringing them to the mostly empty boxes in the front of the store. By the time we were done, we had those bins half filled.

ChampionsForKids

But we need your help. I know all of you aren’t local, but as you can see from the 3,600 participating Walmart stores there are stores all across the country benefiting many amazing organizations. But if you are local, would you consider heading to the 28th St. Grand Rapids Walmart and helping to fill that bin so more children in Grand Rapids can have full bellies at night? Like I mentioned above, your dollar goes a long way at Walmart so it doesn’t take much money to have a big impact. 

I am so grateful to Champions for Kids and their Simple Giving program. They are passionate about helping children around the country. Since 2004, Champions for Kids has served more than 5.4 million children across all 50 states through in-store donation campaigns, service projects and community events. This year their Snacks for Students program has a HUGE goal of providing resources for more than 10 million children. My favorite part about their Snack For Students program is that everything stays in your local community benefiting children in your backyard.

So before March 4th will you head to Walmart, fill a cart with snacks and drop it off at the marked bins in the front of your stores? It seriously couldn’t be easier. The best side effect of giving is that you remember to be grateful for all that you have as well. A very simple way to practice gratitude.

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This post is sponsored by Champions for Kids and The Motherhood. I am so passionate about childhood hunger and am grateful for the opportunity to share about this awesome program. I was provided with a gift card to buy snacks and compensation for my time. 

 

Mako Mermaids- An H2O Adventure #StreamTeam

I have spent the last year as a Netflix Stream Team blogger, letting you know all about our faves over on Netflix. And let me tell you, in my opinion Netflix keeps getting better and better. While it has always been a place for me to watch all my favorite network TV shows (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, Chuck, White Collar), my kids also never run out of programming to watch (My Little Pony, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Jake and The Neverland Pirates, Veggie Tales).

Honestly, what I get most excited about is the Netflix original programming, especially for kids. I have shared with you my thoughts about King Julien and Puss and Boots, but this month I am passing the reviewing off to my two esteemed colleagues Hannah and Lily. They have actually been fans of Mako Mermaids since season one, but with season two just starting, Netflix asked if they would be willing to share their opinion on this fun show.

Mako_S2_KeyArt-Vertical_Gold

Mako Mermaids is about three mermaids. One day an ordinary boy fell into a whirlpool where they live and the boy turned into a merman and got powers. Every full moon his powers get very strong. The mermaids have to turn him back into a human but it is hard. They go on all sorts of adventures. 

We really like this show because the acting is really good and the special effects are really cool. It interesting and makes you want to watch more and more and more. I’m glad it is on Netflix so we can watch lots of episodes at once. 

How’s that for a succinct review? In case you want to check it out a bit yourself, here is a little preview:

Parents should know there is some light romance in this show and that when the mermaids come to land they are naked, but they are never shown that way except occasionally from the back. I don’t really have a problem with either as I feel it is kept age appropriate for an 8 and 11 year old. They have both frankly outgrown most cartoons but I am picky about the “tween/teen” shows I let them watch. This one gets my approval.

What shows do your tweens love?

I am a proud member of the Netflix Stream Team. I received a Netflix subscription in return for posting Netflix updates and reviews. In addition this month Hannah and Lily got a gift pack for their contribution. All thoughts and opinions are my own.