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Explore! Rescue! Protect! How YOU Can Meet Captain Barnacles!

IOWA -- WISCONSIN -- MICHIGAN!! You're up! (Followed by the rest of the nation!!) Captain Barnacles and his band of heroic Octonauts are coming to a town near you -- LIVE!!



The Octonauts are coming in the U.S!!  Fire up the Gup-E, practice your Octopod driving skills, and prepare for live-action adventure!! Keep reading to learn about VIP Explorer Party tickets -- a special way to experience Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure, Live heading across the midwest RIGHT NOW and likely landing in a town near you!!

The popular Disney Jr. television show characters have made their USA debut and we're STOKED! See your favorite Octonauts characters in a live-action adventure, complete with songs from the show and brand new music for everyone to enjoy. 

Confession: Mom might have been even MORE excited by this than the boys! We've gone to our fair share of kids performances -- the array of quality and actual fun is a big range. We were able to see a preview of the show and it looked FANTASTIC! The video showed vivid color and great costuming! We weren't disappointed when we arrived at the LIVE show!

Tickets are available NOW online, and you can even purchase a special VIP package, which includes a meet and greet party with your favorite characters, photo opportunities, and more! We were among the mainly pint-sized party-goers recently and it was a blast! Balloons and sea-themed activities galore and yes, up close and personal with the Captain himself! If you have kids that are around the 2-5 mark, they will LOVE the performance. The costumes are spot-on -- if they're expecting to see their favorite characters, they will!! We were sad that the whole cast wasn't at the Explorers Party, but it was still really fun! We only had a five minute wait for all the photos we wanted, since we weren't in a huge crowd after the performance at the VIP pass party--for us, that was worth a ton!


Disclosure: We were guests at this performance. All opinions are our own. We legitimately love the Octonauts and had a great time!

Brick Loot! What's not to love?

I'm pretty addicted to subscription boxes. It's no secret! I just love getting a surprise in the mail each month. I've managed to pass that love along to my oldest son, as he's discovered how fun it is too with Brick Loot!

We've gone through the block/brick chronology in our family. It all started with the giant mega/big blocks for building as a small child. Then came the Duplos. Those were a hit for a while, but there was a short gap of time when Legos were still too frustrating and Duplos were "for babies." That was a rough month! Ha!

Now, we're solidly interested in Lego building in this house. However, as you well know, Lego kits can get expensive! A great way to keep your Lego collection fresh without costing an arm and a leg is by signing up for a subscription club like Brick Loot!

Kids will get some new bricks and some other fun swag as well as activities to keep them busy! This means you don't have to run out to the store, they won't grow tired of what they have as quickly, and you don't have to deal with the "I'm bored" droning. They have fun and are occupied and it's economical!

There are various levels of subscriptions all around $25/month. That won't even buy one set unless you find super clearance sales, don't care what the subject matter is, or get a teeny tiny kit. Plus, you end up in Target and goodness knows that costs much more than $25 --- at least for me it does!

My readers get to save! Save 10% of Brickloot using code "usfamily"

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by my affiliation with US Family Guides.

NOVICA in association with National Geographic ~ Fair Trade Gifts

Novica is a great way to shop for gifts or for a little something to give yourself a NEW LOOK and feel good about where your items come from.



Cool Features:

- Curating
- "Meeting" Artists
- wide variety at an expansive range of prices
- affiliated with National Geographic, so you KNOW it's good!

It's a really BIG mission of mine to get folks to only rely on the big box stores for those items that they MUST get there -- I know you need toilet paper and printer ink, but for your clothing, food, gifts and anything else that can be purchased from a local shop, farmer or even, like with Novica, from an artisan across the ocean, CONSIDER IT! Be mindful of the source of your goods!



Tire Tips for Winter Road Trips

Now that the kids are back in school and fall is upon us, though it's no fun to consider wintry weather around the corner, it will come to pass sooner than later. So, as you're planning your ski trips and your island escapes, make sure to plan a little time for your tires, too. Here are some of my best tips for winter travel and good tires to keep you rolling through snow and ice.

Examine Your Treads

Did you know if you have a penny and a quick lesson you can make sure the tread life on your tires is good to go? It's true! Get out your penny -- put Abraham Lincoln headfirst into a tread bed -- if you can see any of the top of his head, time for new tires. If you happen to have a set of Cooper Tires, they have a tread indicator on the outside of the tire to make it that much easier, especially if you're fresh out of change!

Tire Pressure

One Christmas, my husband put a tire pressure gauge in my stocking. Not jewelry, nor candy. This TOOL! I wasn't impressed, but as he explained that he wanted me to be safe, that he'd put it there to ensure the safety of our little family on a day-to-day basis, it made me melt! (And then he DID give me some pretty adorable Mukluks that holiday, too!) But it's a simple skill to have -- everyone has a phone these days that can quickly look up appropriate seasonal pressure if you forget.

Tire Rotating and Alignment 

I've nearly had to switch mechanics because every winter I bring my car into the shop. "It's clunking and shaking and I cannot go faster than 45 mph without feeling like I'm in a rocket, about to blast off!" It took three times of this happening before I realized it was always the same problem! I went in thinking I desperately needed my tires rotated and left blushing, my tires and wheels freshly pressure-washed by the garage. You could say I was a tire hypochondriac, but the mechanic assured me it was better to be a little embarrassed than to go without regular rotation. (If you live on a dirt road, or one that gets a little sloppy, you might get ice knocking around in your wheels.) You should still be vigilant in rotating tires, even if you aren't rushing in constantly, like I was! Tire rotation is important because each tire carries a different amount of weight, so they wear differently. Consult your Owner's Manual for all specifics, BUT, usually a good rule is 5,000 - 8,000 miles. 

Invest in Winter Tires

Look for M+S on the tire if you're unsure -- generally for All Season tires, this means "mud and snow."


Winter tires offer extra grip and turning capabilities that for ices, snow, and freezing conditions. Even if you have 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, you still need winter tires!
Winter tires are made to perform better on wet roads, snow and ice--where I live, that's about 85% of the time. 
Tires that are made for warmer weather aren't going to perform well in colder temperatures -- they could limit your safe maneuvering! You might be thinking -- okay -- get All Season tires and you're always covered. Not so. All season tires are good for average conditions, overall. If you live where there are extremes weather conditions -- opt for more extreme tires. Deep snow and ice-covered roads will be better met with appropriate tires--take it from a gal that grew up with heaps of snow and skating on ice!

In fact, as I was preparing our vehicle for the winter, I picked it up at the shop with my Cooper Tires freshly installed. I forgot there would be a CRAZY amount of traction to be expected and in my haste to get to the school pick up, I was THAT MOM that pealed out of the parking lot in her mini van! Those tires REALLY grab! 

Other Helpful Hints


Check tire pressure at each fuel up -- maybe ask for one of those sparkly tools for Christmas?!

Stock Your Vehicle with Essentials

Add Roadside Assistance (or check to see if your insurance carries this already -- some policies do and you aren't even aware!)

Remember your tires can change your trip -- for better or worse -- depending on how YOU prepare before you hit the road! Make it a happy and safe holiday season by taking a little extra time and care and by following my easy steps to a safer winter road trip.


*Disclosure: Consideration was provided by brands mentioned in this post. All opinions are my own.* 

When Personal Hygiene is Natural - with Tom's of Maine


Getting the kids to eat well is easy -- I buy the food, so I provide their choices (or lack thereof!) Putting Stonyfield Squeezers in their lunches each day? Easy. Some of the routines that are healthy for them though, I need a little more reminding and help from them!

One day, my beloved son came home REEKING like grandma. Like total old lady perfume. It gagged me and we had to strip off his clothes and shuffle him into the shower. It was seriously SO bad. The worst part wasn't that he wanted to smell nice or that it was AWFUL potent, nose-burning potion -- it was that I didn't want to hurt his feelings OR deter him from wanting to smell good. I simply switched the focus from perfume to being CLEAN!

Toms of Maine also saved my bacon, entering the scene in our toiletries routine just in time! They make Wicked Cool now and it's absolutely kid friendly (and smells fantastic, in a more subtle way than grandma) with all the natural goodness you expect and trust from Toms.

Another crazy thing happened -- he started using REAL toothpaste! I was so happy to kick the sparkle blue "toothpaste" to the curb! Who KNOWS what those sparkles are? Ish! Plus, anything that tastes like that can't possibly clean your mouth. Maybe it does. BUT...I'm much more at ease each night (especially with our track record at the dentist) when I know we've brushed with ingredients like baking soda and naturally occurring elements!



Disclosure: This post is brought to you by a partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions are my own. Some type of compensation was received.

New Kids Subscription - Brick Loot

I'm pretty addicted to subscription boxes. It's no secret! I just love getting a surprise in the mail each month. I've managed to pass that love along to my oldest son, as he's discovered how fun it is too with Brick Loot!

We've gone through the block/brick chronology in our family. It all started with the giant mega/big blocks for building as a small child. Then came the Duplos. Those were a hit for a while, but there was a short gap of time when Legos were still too frustrating and Duplos were "for babies." That was a rough month! Ha!

Now, we're solidly interested in Lego building in this house. However, as you well know, Lego kits can get expensive! A great way to keep your Lego collection fresh without costing an arm and a leg is by signing up for a subscription club like Brick Loot!

Kids will get some new bricks and some other fun swag as well as activities to keep them busy! This means you don't have to run out to the store, they won't grow tired of what they have as quickly, and you don't have to deal with the "I'm bored" droning. They have fun and are occupied and it's economical!

There are various levels of subscriptions all around $25/month. That won't even buy one set unless you find super clearance sales, don't care what the subject matter is, or get a teeny tiny kit. Plus, you end up in Target and goodness knows that costs much more than $25 --- at least for me it does!

My readers get to save! Save 10% of Brickloot using code "usfamily"

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by my affiliation with US Family Guides.