SoCozy Hair Care for Kids is at CVS!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of SoCozy. All opinions are my own and not edited by the sponsor.

As a boy mom, I don’t have to think a whole lot about their hair care. We don’t struggle with tangled hair, and with their short haircuts, they don’t even need to comb their hair! Just in the past year, we’ve entered the world of hair gel with our oldest, but that is the extent of the work that needs to be done to get ready for the day!

Even though our hair care needs are minimal with boys, I want to make sure what we do use on their hair is safe and effective. I’ve recently been introduced to SoCozy and it checks all the boxes for our needs – and they will do the same for your family!

SoCozy at CVS

SoCozy products are non-toxic and made without parabens, formaldehyde, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic color, propylene glycol. Free of alcohol, gluten, wheat, peanuts and tree nuts. SoCozy is committed to providing easy-to-use, safe hair care for all kids’ hair types, as well as well-researched tips and advice for parents!

We recently visited CVS to pick up some SoCozy products for our own family! CVS just started carrying the SoCozy line, so it’s convenient for your family to grab at your local store – we found it in the baby aisle at our CVS!

We don’t have much need for these items, but I loved seeing that the SoCozy line includes a detangler and styling cream – I know a detangler was a necessity for my hair as a little girl, and even sometimes now!

SoCozy at the Pool

For our boys, I bought the 3-in-1 shampoo-conditioner-wash to take along on our trips to the gym or swimming pool. I love multi-use products because they cut down on the number items we have to remember when we pack up! The mango smell is super yummy, too! It feels like the perfect product to take with use everywhere this summer, including on vacation.

I also grabbed two of the “boo!” products, which are intended to help prevent lice – and every mom said, “Amen!” We don’t have need for these right now, but I wish I would have had it during those winter months at school when lice was going around! We avoided it this year, but I’m happy to be prepared the next time a note comes home that someone in their class has lice.

Make sure to visit your local CVS to pick up these wonderful, safe, fun hair care products for your kiddos!

Which SoCozy products sound like the best fit for your family?

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Three Must-Pack Items for a Sunny Getaway!

I received complimentary items from Avenutra Clothing to review.

I’m dreaming about hopping on a plane with The Hubby for a weekend getaway to somewhere tropical…

Beach. Water. Sun. Quiet. Sigh…

While I’m daydreaming and mentally packing my suitcase, I thought I’d tell you about three items I MUST have for such a vacation. These aren’t the only things I would pack, but they will cover lots of situations while relaxing under the sun.

Versatile, wrinkle-free sun dress

I love a basic, neutral dress that can paired with a variety of accessories to be day dress for window shopping, an evening dress for a night of dinner and dancing, or even a swimsuit cover-up! Black, grey, and white are my top choices for this piece.

Packable sun hat

Not only are wide sun hats totally in style right now, they are also great for your skin. I would go with a light-colored one to keep my head cool and it must be packable because I don’t usually have a lot of extra room in my suitcase (OVER-PACKER)!

Comfortable sandals

While I love to lay around and relax on a beach vacation, I can also get restless and want to explore. Also, I need those steps for my Fitbit! I have to have comfy sandals along to get me wherever we’re going without aching feet by the end of the day. Leather sandals (not flip-flops) are my favorite because of the look, the feel, and the durability.

These three items can be used in so many ways separately, but they also pair really well together!

Aventura 2

dress + hat from Aventura Clothing / necklace + earrings from Starfish Project / Merrell sandals from Orvis

This adorable dress and fabulous sun hat are from Aventura Clothing, a family-owned business operating with sustainable practices and using eco-friendly fabrics whenever possible!

Aventura 1

The Mallory dress is lightweight, comfortable, and oh-so-cute! I can roll it up to throw in the suitcase and pull it out when we get to our destination with no wrinkles – ready to wear! This color is great because it won’t show dirt like a lighter color and it won’t get hot like a darker color dress.

Aventura 3

And how about the fun Cruz sun hat? Just fold/crush/pack it in your suitcase and you’re ready for some shade in the sun! The hat has UPF 50+ and comes in four colors – something for everyone!

Check out more fun and functional clothing for an active lifestyle over at Aventura Clothing! And my friend Shannon is styling this very same dress over on her blog today, so check that out for more ideas!

I have my packing list all ready – now where should we go?! What do you HAVE to pack for a sunny getaway?

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Schlitterbahn: Something for Everyone!

If you’ve watched the news or been on social media at all in the past week, you’ve heard about Verruckt. It is the world’s tallest water slide and it is set to open to the public today at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City.

Verruckt is taller than the Statue of Liberty and that is just NOT my thing. I know plenty of thrill seekers who are dying to give it a try, but not me. And I’m happy to tell you, whether you’re a daredevil or a mama to littles, our visit to Schlitterbahn this month showed me there is something for everyone there!

Our whole family loves the water, so making a waterpark a part of our vacation was a no-brainer. A few other waterparks were considered, but ultimately eliminated because most of the rides and attractions had height requirements our little munchkins didn’t quite meet. That’s when Schlitterbahn caught The Hubby’s eye.

Entrance

Welcome

Although there are several “big kid” slides and rides that require riders to be 48″ or taller, Schlitterbahn is very family-friendly and we spent over six hours at the park and had more than enough thrills and fun suitable for all of us!

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For the littles, there is the Kinderhaven + Wyandotte Express train area…

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And the Pirate Ship at Henry’s Hideout {with heated water!}…

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You can step things up from there but still relax with the Kristal River lazy river…

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For a little more excitement, the King Kaw Rapids were a favorite for all of us. Just thrilling enough for the older boys, but safe enough for 2 1/2 year old Double J to enjoy with us riding in the child seat of a tube with a life jacket on. We all went back to the rapids several times!

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The Torrent River Wave Pool was tested out by Little j and The Hubby before we all decided to give it a whirl and this was another favorite! Much like the King Kaw Rapids, it was fun and safe for all of us!

Big J and The Hubby had a blast on the Storm Blaster ride, and there are much larger slides like the Twister, Cyclone, Black Knight Tube Slide, and of course, the brand new Verruckt.

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We attended the park on a Tuesday and it was busy, but not crowded. We were able to do everything we wanted with very little waiting. Schlitterbahn allows you to bring your own food + drink in, but also offers several food + drink options inside the park. We rented a locker to keep our stuff safe while we had fun and highly recommend this.

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I absolutely LOVE that life jackets and tubes are available free! On the website they say these are available in limited quantities, but there were always plenty when we needed them!

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I won’t lie: Schlitterbahn is not cheap. Thankfully, Double J was free and we got a discount for buying our tickets online. I was a little nervous about paying that much for a place we knew little about, but after a day there, I would do it again in a heartbeat for a special experience the whole family loved! I talked to a local mom who has a pass they use all summer long – if we lived in the Kansas City area, I would definitely get a pass as we would all want to go back often!

Lounging

Boys entrance

Couple park
Full park

Family entrance

If Verruckt has you excited about Schlitterbahn, then go for it! But if the opening of Verruckt made you think Schlitterbahn is for the older crowd, I’m here to assure you everyone from the littles to the bigs to the adults in your group will love this waterpark!

Does your family love waterparks? Have you visited Schlitterbahn?

This is NOT a sponsored post. Schlitterbahn has no idea who I am or that I’m writing this. We just loved our experience and I had to share!

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Most of the pictures in this post are from our new GoPro HERO 3+ camera {affiliate link}. There is no way I would have used my nice camera at the waterpark and we had a blast taking underwater pictures, videos on the rides, and not worrying about the camera getting ruined! SO MUCH FUN! If your family loves the water and loves to record their adventures, this is the camera to use! I love it so much, I’ll probably do a whole separate post on it!

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Great Times at Great Wolf Lodge: The Waterpark

Yesterday, I told you a little about our trip to the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City last weekend.

So. Much. Fun.

You can read about the hotel and fun activities in yesterday’s post, but in it, I didn’t even get to the best part…

Oh yes – the waterpark! Lots and lots of water! And this family of “fish” could not have been happier!

Above is a picture of a giant climbing structure in the middle of the indoor park. So many fun things to do in this section – slides and buckets and water guns and much more! And that is just one part!

See that giant bucket in the background, just beginning to pour water?

Well, it dumps one THOUSAND gallons of water every FIVE minutes! People stand underneath it to get drenched and this was totally fascinating to the boys! Of course, The Hubby had to show them that he could handle the deluge…

Double J and I decided to pass on that and stay dry…

There is also a zero-entry indoor pool…

With smaller slides that Big J loved…

And a lazy river! The Hubby and I love those lazy rivers and now the boys do as well!

There are slides of all sizes for thrill-seekers of different ages and temperaments. The Hubby took the boys down some of the bigger ones that require inflatables and they loved it!

 

They were just too fast for me to catch them on camera!

Little J’s favorite part was the outdoor pool and the weather was just right to enjoy it!

See that life jacket? The outdoor pool is zero-entry, but it also gets deeper and the boys are still learning to swim. Great Wolf Lodge has plenty of life jackets in all different sizes for your family to use for FREE! I was grateful for that extra bit of safety for my kiddos!

And while I’m on the topic of safety, we were extremely impressed with the lifeguard staff at the waterpark. They were the most alert and focused lifeguards I have ever seen, continually walking back and forth, scanning the water for any problems. We also saw several drills done with lifeguards while we were there that I assume were part of ongoing training. I applaud Great Wolf Lodge on such excellence in this area!

Now back to the fun…

I think he went down this frog slide twenty times or more!

Look at these water lovers! I can’t stand the cuteness.

Double J seemed to enjoy his time in an outdoor pool – no surprise in this family!

My feet enjoyed their time in the water as well 🙂

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this was an awesome family vacation and I can imagine going back many more times because there is something for kids and adults of all ages!

We made so many great memories while we there and didn’t have to leave the hotel for much of anything!

The minute we got home, Big J asked, “When can we go back?!”

Thank you, Great Wolf Lodge, for a wonderful vacation!

Want to learn more about Great Wolf Lodge? Follow them on Twitter or connect with them on Facebook!

*****

Disclosure: We received a reduced room rate for our stay at Great Wolf Lodge as a member of the media. I was not compensated in any way for this post and all opinions are 100% my own!

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Great Times at Great Wolf Lodge: The Hotel

When The Hubby started medical school, we made a plan to take a fun vacation to celebrate when he graduated. At the time, that plan included just the two of us and Hawaii.

Then we had another baby just two months before he graduated. It was time for a new plan!

This new plan involved a family-friendly location and we knew just where we wanted to visit…

The Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, Kansas!

Great Wolf Lodge has eleven locations across the United States and Kansas City was the closest to us, so we picked a weekend in June, packed up, and headed out for some family fun!

Talk about your ultimate family vacation! Actually, our three days and two nights there were so jam-packed with fun that I had to break it up into two posts to tell you about it all!

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the water park, but today it’s all about the hotel!

We arrived on a Friday and, despite the line, we didn’t have too wait long to get checked in! Our room was a family suite, with two queen beds for us to relax on…

A sofa sleeper separated from the beds by a half-wall…

And a balcony where we enjoyed some fresh air and games…

The family suite also has a microwave and fridge which was very helpful in keeping our crew fed and happy!

Of course we didn’t spend all of our time in the room, although the beds were SUPER comfy! The lodge has loads of fun for the whole family to enjoy!

Friday night, the big boys and I explored the lobby…

and watched the daily Clock Tower Show, a cute production of talking forest animals telling a story about the building of the clock tower.

I think the boys enjoyed it!

This was a great pre-bedtime activity and lots of other families were there to enjoy it with us!

The next morning, we visited the lobby again for a little animal education…

During the Wolf Walk, Great Wolf Lodge staff guided us around the lobby, teaching us fun facts about woodland creatures such as the wolf, caribou, and bear!

And to end the walk, we all made origami wolves to take home!

Since we were only there two nights and spent the majority of our time in the water, we didn’t have the chance to experience any more of the fun activities inside the hotel.

Should you visit a Great Wolf Lodge yourself, you’ll have to try your hand at crafts in the Cub Club and get some yummy food, like the coffee and sweets found at Bear Paw!

Doesn’t this look like a fun place to stay?!

The activities I touched on were perfect for our younger children, but there are activities throughout the hotel for older children as well, such as Bingo, hula hoop and limbo contests, arcade games, MagiQuest, and more! You can visit the Great Wolf Lodge site for more on the fun to be had at a lodge near you!

A few other highlights of the hotel from my adult perspective:

*Free wifi– And by free, I mean a totally free and easy connection! I’ve been at many hotels that claim free wifi, only to end up with hidden fees or lots of hoops to jump through to get connected. Not at Great Wolf Lodge! I really appreciated this!

*A fitness room – The Hubby and I make it a priority to work out every day {almost every day for me}, so we were very happy about this feature. The room was small, but the three treadmills and few weight machines were enough to get us through those few days!

*Lots of luggage carts – Hallelujah!

Oh yeah, and then there was the waterpark…

You better come back tomorrow to read all about the highlight of our trip – lots of time in the water!

{Or subscribe to have these posts sent right to your inbox for FREE!}

Want to learn more about Great Wolf Lodge? Follow them on Twitter or connect with them on Facebook!

*****

Disclosure: We received a reduced room rate for our stay at Great Wolf Lodge as a member of the media. I was not compensated in any way for this post and all opinions are 100% my own!

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Where We’ve Been Wednesday

It’s been a little silent around here this week because we’ve been on a little adventure!

The hubby had a couple of residency interviews in Iowa this week, so we headed out with him!

The trip was quick and packed full, but the boys were thrilled by the littlest things…

Obviously, there was swimming. These boys are a couple of fish.

We don’t do hotels much – can you tell?!

Bedtime story with Daddy…

and a little homeschool in the hotel. Apparently, everything seems new when you’re at a hotel!

While the hubby was interviewing one day, the boys and I were able to visit his grandparents!

Such fun for the boys to see them! {Little J had never met them and Big J wasn’t even two the last time he saw them!} They were fascinated with Great-Grandpa’s marble collection and wood carvings!

And there was one more thing that put big smiles on ALL of our faces…

Oh yes, we did.

We ate {chicken nuggets}, drank {lemonade & a peppermint chocolate chip shake} and were very merry…

Chick-fil-A is the key to happiness. Yes it is.

Interviews went well, we had lots of family time and the trip was a success!

We also had a fabulous Thanksgiving and day after, but those pics can wait for tomorrow!

For now, I’m going to get back into the swing of things at home – and help Little J get better from an eye infection, ear infection and strep throat! He is one tough guy!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

 

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HOW to Take an Annual Kid-Free Vacation

The hubby did an amazing job sharing WHY you should take a getaway with your spouse every year, so my two cents are HOW you can make it happen! If you haven’t read his post yet, do that first and then come back for some helpful tips!

This is what has worked for us…

1. Find a time and set it in stone!

Don’t let anything get in the way! Find a time period that works for both of you AND for someone to watch the kiddos and go with it! Block off time from work, volunteer commitments, everything, so you don’t let anything get in the way! If an overnight is all you can make happen, make it happen! Something is better than nothing!

2. Budget the money.

Make this yearly commitment and put it in your budget. This helps you avoid using “We don’t have enough money!” as an excuse to cancel. And budget what YOU can do, not what others can do. You can have a great getaway on any budget – just make it a priority!

3. Search for deals.

We have had great success finding vacation deals with travel sites such as Expedia and Travelocity. This last time we found a great deal through an airline. Plan far enough ahead of time that you have time to look and compare.

4. Get the kids settled and then DON’T WORRY about them!

Do what you can to make sure the kids are all set with grandma and grandpa or a babysitter and then ENJOY YOURSELF! Worrying about how the kids are doing does not make for a spouse-centered getaway! We called to check on them once a day or every other day and they were always just fine! If there is an emergency, someone will get a hold of you!

5. Follow the Three Rs.

Some of this was mentioned in the hubby’s post, but here is a rundown of the three Rs we follow on vacation…

*Reconnect – Do things you enjoy together! We played tennis, swam, floated on the lazy river and went shopping – things that are not quite as easy to do with children. Even eating dinner and watching movies alone counts.

Remember why you like spending time together!

*Relax – Don’t plan TOO much! You don’t want to come away from your vacation exhausted! The hubby mentioned that we like resorts because we don’t have to leave to do anything. THAT is relaxing to us.

Sleep late. Eat brunch.

Laugh, take naps, eat slowly – just RELAX!

*Revisit family goals – This getaway is your chance to talk – without interruption – about where your family is headed. Sit out on your porch or beautiful balcony and just talk!

Maybe you’ve never done that before, and in that case, I can’t recommend it highly enough! Figure out what you want to happen in the next year, write ideas down, brainstorm, plan, and so on.

Here is how we did it this year {GREAT idea from the hubby}:

-Individually, think of your three family goals for the next year.

-Take turns sharing your goals and WRITE THEM DOWN.

-Take turns commenting on each other’s goals and asking questions to understand better.

-Combine any goals that are similar and make a final list.

-Write down any ideas for making these goals a reality – an action plan, if you will.

-Pray over your list and commit it to the Lord.

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. ~Proverbs 16:3

I loved loved LOVED doing this with the hubs and we learned alot about each other through it! Very eye-opening and beautiful to connect in that way. And that’s what the whole vacation is all about!

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And that is our humble “How-To” on taking a annual getaway sans kids, but I have one final note:

You don’t have to go some place fancy to make this a reality. You don’t even have to leave your hometown or your home to make it work. BUT, you do need to make it a time free of other distractions. {Again, something the hubby stressed as well.}

If you’re sending the kids away and doing a staycation at home, finish up all household chores and such BEFORE they leave. You are not allowed to do laundry during your “getaway” time. Trust me, it ruins the mood.

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Let’s inspire and encourage one another to make this happen, in one way or another, every year!

So – let’s hear it! What has been YOUR favorite “getaway” with your spouse? What would be your dream vacation? How do you save money on trips so you don’t break the bank?

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Pictures used above are all from the Westin Kierland Resort, Scottsdale, AZ. Awesome place. {Not a sponsored post!}

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WHY You Should Take a Vacation {The Hubby’s Take}

The hubby and I were SO blessed to take a little getaway at the beginning of July and he is here today to share just WHY we do these vacations every year… {Love you honey!}

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Each year, the lovely wife and I take a vacation.

Yes, even though we have nearly no money and live pretty much entirely on student loans.

The location is not terribly important, but what is important is that it is a place without distractions, and preferably without kids.

In the past three years, we went to Las Vegas, Kansas City, and now Phoenix. Each time I scoured the internet for the best deal, and even though we only usually stay for 3 nights, it is well worth it.

I actually started this tradition several years ago based on advice that I got from two couples with children who are slightly older than ours. I said we were thinking of going on vacation, and this dear friend’s husband said GO WITHOUT THE KIDS. Emphatically. So we asked our parents if they would watch the kids, to which of course they said yes.

Now everyone has slightly different priorities on vacation – some people like camping in the great outdoors, some like to golf together, others prefer the beach, etc.

For us, we like to go to a resort so we don’t have to leave. And yes, I admit, I like to see my wife in a swimsuit. {Sorry, mother and father-in-law.}

And the lovely wife and I are big fans of resorts that have a lazy river.

There really is nothing like sipping on a fruit smoothie while floating along a lazy river.

If you haven’t taken your spouse on a vacation recently without the kids, let me be the first to say it. It is time.

In the crazy business of raising kids, there is little time to look back and reflect. Sure, there are those quiet moments after the children are finally asleep and you look at their beautiful faces and smile. But usually that is right before you fall asleep yourself and prepare for the next day’s challenge.

But when was the last time that you talked to your spouse about goals for your family?

I know, this sounds like it might not be fun. But it is, when you are away from distractions of work, kids, cleaning, cooking, etc. It is a chance to re-discover your spouse, and talk about what is important.

When we last did this, I was able to tell the lovely wife about what I see for our marriage, our family, and for her in the next year. And conversely, it was a chance for her to talk about the same for me. It’s a chance to talk about what we feel like God is doing in our family.

Further, it’s a chance to re-connect with your spouse. Have a romantic dinner…

go for a walk, go shopping, play tennis…

…just watch a movie or tv. All without interruption.

Sure, you’ll want to make the obligatory phone calls back home to check in on the kids.

But when was the last time you had 3 days with just you and your soulmate?

Even waiting in the airport for your delayed flight to depart – there is no one I’d rather wait with than you, sweetheart.

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Right back atcha, babe! These little getaways without kids strengthen our marriage AND help us be better parents!

So HOW do you make this happen? Join me on Thursday when I share a few tips on HOW to take a meaningful, restful vacation with your spouse!

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Pictures used above are all from the Westin Kierland Resort, Scottsdale, AZ. Awesome place. And no, this is not a sponsored post 🙂


 

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What I Wore Wednesday: Arizona!

pleated poppySome people thought we were crazy to take a vacation to Arizona in July, but we LOVE the dry heat so it was just perfect! And for the record, on Thursday, it felt hotter in Nebraska than it did in Arizona!

We had a fab time and I’ll be sharing more next week about WHY we do a getaway, just the two of us, every year!

So here is what I wore while on vacay as I link up with the lovely Lindsey today…

Magenta tank: GAP Outlet; black skirt: Banana Republic {$1 at Goodwill!}

Gold gladiator sandals: 50 cents at a garage sale a few years back! I love how they sparkle!

Tennis time! New pink workout top from Target!

Yellow tank dress: Target; bronze flip flops: Old Navy; sea blue earrings: Kohl’s

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AND while we were there, I went shopping at H&M for the very first time! I love it! I’ll share the dresses I bought on a WIWW post soon!

I adore wearing dresses on vacation – what is your favorite vacation wear?

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It’s Been Fun…

Thanks for playing with us for the past two weeks Daddy! We’ve loved every second of having you home! We knew school would have to start again sometime, but we know you’ll play with us every night, so it’s all good! You’re the best!

WE LOVE YOU DADDY!

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