Category: Family Fun

Connecting with My Kids Is Worth Every Minute I am Disconnected from My Phone

Hey, hey, hey! Last week I was on vacation with the fam. It was the first family vacation we’ve taken that no one had a public meltdown! We didn’t even argue. We had a few kid attitudes and grumpiness, but I was totally impressed by my kids use of manners in all the public places.

We spent time at museums, aquariums and shopping in crowded candle shops (with lots of breakable things), we hiked and played outside and discovered we all love the hot tub. My kids not only handled it all, but they seemed to actually enjoy it. There were no complaints of being bored, or begging to go home? Color me shocked!

I never go into a family vacation with the illusion I will get time to relax. After all, parents are never off the clock. If your kids are picky eaters at home, they will be picky eaters on vacation. If your kids have melt downs at home, they will meltdown on vacation. When you are a parent, there is no real vacation, just a change of location. However, this time, I actually felt relaxed. Another shock!

This wasn’t our first family vacation together. We’ve had many colossal vacation fails over the years. So, what was so different about this trip? Was it the extra sleep? Was it less whining? Did my kids suddenly mature since our last vacation? Was it less time on my cell phone? BINGO!

It turns out, it is totally possible to unplug when you are on vacation. Before kids and cell phones my husband and I never made a single phone call, or checked an email while on vacation. We didn’t have the technology attached directly to our hip and it was cumbersome to locate the business center tucked away in a remote area of the hotel or resort, we never bothered to find it. Who has time for that?

This vacation, I decided to live like it was 1990 something. Well, sort of. I limited my social media check-ins and text message replies to early morning before the kids were up and again after the kids went to bed. I locked my cell phone away in the safe, or my purse during the day while we traveled. And surprise, surprise I didn’t miss a thing! Just like in the 90s, if there were any kind of emergency, my friends or family would have left messages for me and awaited my return call.

Besides my limited screen attachment, this was the first family vacation where my husband wasn’t bombarded by several text messages every hour asking him to put out a fire hundreds of miles away. Before cell phones people knew you were on vacation and had no way to reach you. Today, those boundaries are nonexistent with a 24 hour connection.

I noticed our family was feeling more cozy and connected. My husband and I weren’t agitated by other people’s demands and taking it out on each other. I never realized before how having a stressful interaction online or via text message made us less patient with our kids and each other. Toward the end of the week I witnessed how our connection to technology affects family life.

When we woke up to a rainy day we cancelled all our travel plans and planned to hang around the pool instead. The pool was empty except for ourselves and we took full advantage by cranking up our volume and jumping into the pool. After an hour, another family entered. Both parents remained on deck, while they sent their preteen son into the water alone. No judgement here, I don’t know their full story. Maybe it was their first day off in a while and they needed some down time for themselves too. But what I saw next really broke my heart.

One parent opened up their lap top and pulled out the cell phone and had one eye on each, splitting their attention between two screens. That left little time for their kid bobbing around the pool. The other parent laid back on a chaise lounge and pulled their screen to their face and never looked up. Here’s where my heart break came in.

As my heart warmed watching my husband willingly embarrass himself playing Marco Polo with my kids excitedly running and splashing through the pool, my heart broke watching this kid all by himself looking at us and back at his parents and back at us again. I know we don’t have to be our kids only source of entertainment, but the look on this kids face made it clear he felt like he was alone in the pool. He lasted all of 20 minutes in the water before asking his parents to leave. They willingly obliged and packed up.

In that moment I realized just how much our own addiction to being attached and busy affects our kids. I am not comparing my story to theirs, or my family to their family, but watching their child’s experience definitely made me reassess my own digital dependence. Not being connected to a virtual world made it easier to connect to the world right in front of me. And the benefits of my family feeling more balanced and connected was worth every minute I didn’t have a screen in my hand.

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You Need Monster Jam this Weekend

I received complimentary tickets in exchange for this post. All opinions are mine.

It’s that time of year again! I am taking my family back to Monster Jam to enjoy some indoor arena fun and to get us out of the cold.

After our meet and greet with the drivers and getting some pics and autographs we will settle into our seats for a couple hours of adrenaline pumping, family friendly entertainment. These drivers take their jobs as role models seriously so there’s never any aggression, smack talk, or unfriendly words spoken between them. Just fun, friendly competition with lots of support for the game.

The audience gets to vote on who wins, which my kids love! They get to participate in judging each stunt. Of course we each have our favorite drivers to cheer for, but we are really here for the crazy truck flips and tricks.

If you are in the Albany area this weekend, get yourself to a show! Plan to have a day in with the family and enjoy falling in love with Monster Jam. You won’t regret it

Find your tickets at the Times Union Center.

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Queen Girls Has 5 NEW Inspiring Stories!

I’ve partnered with Queen Girls to promote diversity and positive content in children’s books.  They have created a collection of fairy tales, inspired by the lives of real women – Marie  Curie, Isadora Duncan, Savitri Phule, Bessie Coleman and Frida Kahlo. I have not been compensated for this post. All opinions shared are my own. Read to the end for your free copy of a Queen Girls story and activity book.

Today I am excited to tell you that Queen Girls is launching a whole new series of books written to empower young girls! I only share with you the things I love most and this is one of them! I love the illustrations, the language and the stories. Most of all I love sharing these age appropriate true life stories with my own girls. I hope it plants the seed that they can be and do anything they want to in life.

Meet The Queens


This new book series includes 5 new stories about Frida Kahlo, Savitri Phule, Junko Tabei, Isadora Duncan, Bessie Coleman ​&​ Marie Curie. These are the souls behind this collection.

Each book combines reality with elements of fantasy, captivating the attention of our youngsters while at the same time showing them the power of determination. These fairy  tales are geared at girls aged 4 to 8, definitive years where perspectives are sharply  defined. They show our girls that anything is possible if we set our minds to it!     Queen Girls wants to stir the conversation around stereotypes in children’s literature. More  often than not, women are portrayed simply as exotic beauties, love seekers and  homemakers.

‘We believe that as parents, we need to be more conscientious about the content we read to our children. Story telling is an intimate, powerful and often underestimated privilege. It is not just about acquiring new vocabulary, but also instilling ideas and perspectives that will support our girls’ dreams. Telling them new stories will hopefully change theirs.’

 

Queen Girls is a collection of books for CONSCIOUS families, for parents who are  aware of the importance of the content we consume and read to our children.    

The Collection 
Diversity is at the core of this collection. Every woman portrayed comes from a different  walk of life and diverse background. The writers and illustrators are also unconventional.  Jimena Durán, Founder and Creative Director, intentionally invited different women to be  part of this adventure, hoping to create alliances beyond stereotypes.

‘We want to teach girls that our diversity makes each one of us unique beings, equally capable of doing anything we set ourselves out to do!’

How Queen Girls was born 
As a new mom, Jimena started paying closer attention to children’s literature. She found  herself changing the lyrics of songs and books because their messages didn’t always  resonate with her. She did not feel comfortable delivering much of the content to her son  and wanted to do something about it. Her sister in law, Andrea Doshi, Co Creator, speech  pathologist and passionate traveler, didn’t hesitate to jump into the adventure. Together  they brought this concept to life with their first, co authored book, ‘Bessie, Queen of the Sky’  (image above).

How to get involved? 
The first book was printed thanks to a supportive community and successful Kickstarter  campaign. They are now running a second Kickstarter campaign with 5 new titles! They need all the love you can give them to make their dream to publish this collection a reality!

Learn more here: Queen Girls Publications

SHARE to receive free e-book + coloring book + activity book of ‘Bessie, Queen of the  Sky’ – fairy tale inspired by the story of Bessie Coleman, the first black woman to receive  her pilot’s license ​https://goo.gl/DSt4vBi​ #queengirls  Share this and tag Queen Girls on social media to receive your free download of Bessie, Queen of the Sky!

 

 

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

 

 

 

 

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Marvel Universe Live – A Must See Show!

Marvel Universe Live is back!!! My family and I cannot wait!

We caught this show live at the Albany Times Union Center over a year ago and we are ready to go back for more! This super energetic show is entertaining for kids of any age (and kids at heart). There isn’t a moment to sit still with this action packed super hero adventure.

 

Shows start in just 2 weeks!  

Thursday, October 4                     7:00 PM

Friday, October 5                           7:00 PM

Saturday, October 6                  11:00 AM, 3:00 PM, 7:00 PM

Sunday, October 7                    12:00PM, 4:00PM

Don’t miss out – order tickets now:

Online at Ticketmaster.com

By phone at 1-800-745-3000

At the Times Union Center Box Office

We absolutely loved this show and can’t see what new additions they have this time around. It’s a family friendly event my kids look forward to.

Have you been to a Marvel Universe Live show before? What did you love?

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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What to Pack for Your Next Family Road Trip

Car with map

Summer is here and for us that means a lot of time on the road. The kids get so bored in the car, even after their fill of movies and electronics. Having a few extra activities on hand can help maintain sanity and squash boredom levels.

There are times I travel solo with the kids to see my family which makes me the ship director and the activities coordinator all in one trip. I discovered filling up a basket of new-to-you activities for the kids makes a really great co-pilot. I can pull out a new distraction with a free hand and pass it back to the kiddos before they begin their first argument. The trick is to not use all the stuff up before you get to the end of your road trip. Then you drive back home empty handed and that is no bueno.

Here is what I keep in my basket of tricks:

Books – especially ones with stickers my kids can peel off and stick again. Those keep them entertained and won’t stick to the inside of my car. Trust me, a lesson you learn only once.

Snacks – and lots of them! I’m talking the rare treats they never get like gummy things, barrels of Goldfish crackers and sticky, sweet granola bars. Kids can’t argue if their mouths are full. Rare treats also work well for bribery, “Simmer down back there or the gummies get it!”

Wet wipes – to take care of the sticky granola bars.

Bubbles – this is great for younger kids. I use them at the rest stop when we get out to stretch our legs, or to give the other kid something to do while we are in the bathroom (besides complaining sister got to go first).

Art supplies – my kids love the adult coloring books. I keep a few on hand with a mega set of colored pencils. Not only does this give them color options, but it means I won’t have to go digging for the only blue pencil they just dropped under the seat for the 10th time in the last five minutes.

White board – to use the dry erase markers to play games like Pictionary or hang man. This of course only works if they are in a amicable mood. Otherwise you’ll have to endure listening to high pitched whaling, “she drew a picture of me with 3 eyeballs!” Also get the washable, dry erase markers. (Another lesson you only need to learn once).

Patience – it is typically somewhere near the bottom of the basket. I have to rummage around under all the other stuff to search for it and eventually I find it. Traveling with kids is stressful at some point. You have to manage emotions, attitudes and temperaments along with hunger cues and bathroom breaks. Not to mention defend everyone’s personal space. Being prepared with favorite comforts can really help. But what works best is dropping any expectations for a tranquil journey. And if you pull out the electronics to find a little peace – go for it! Driving with screaming kids can contribute to road rage, so really handing your kids an iPad is a simple safety measure.

Happy travels!

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

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Wholesome Family Fun @MonsterJam

I received complimentary tickets in exchange for a blog post, but this review and opinions are solely my own.

Do you have a little kid who loves trucks? Maybe they love Monster Trucks? Ill bet seeing these giant trucks up close would make all their dreams come true. My kids both LOVE to watch YouTube video clips of Monster truck rallies. They love the tricks and the super slow-mo replay with pyrotechnics. All of it. Today we were treated like VIPs at the Pit Party at the Times Union Center. We arrived a few hours early so we could meet the drivers and get photos and auto graphs. It was really special. Since we were among the first 10 guests to arrive, we nearly had the arena to ourselves for the first half hour. Then suddenly the crowd was immense.

I have to say I had no idea what to expect at a rally, in fact I didn’t even know the rallies are competitions! All the stunts and tricks these drivers perform are voted on by the audience. Spectators log onto a voting website. After each driver takes their turn at impressing the crowd voting lines open for about 20 seconds. There are several rounds of competition, speed, two-wheel stunts, donuts and freestyle. In between the trucks competing their companion ATV drivers compete on an obstacle course. That was really fun to watch! I was on the edge of my seat watching a truck called Stinger Unleashed completely flip over and land upside down. And there was an ATV driver that flipped over his vehicle, but got right back up an finished his run. It was such an adrenaline rush watching, I can’t imagine what it must feel like performing!

I was most impressed by the female drivers. They said over and over again during interviews that they felt like they could compete on level ground with the male drivers, and that they were inspired by the female drivers they watched growing up. The driver of Scooby-Doo is a new mom and she returned after a year off to prove just how relevant she still is by kicking a little but on the dirt. She won the two-wheeled stunt and donut competition before landing among the top 3 winners (even beat out the most popular Grave Digger). I was also excited to see several women equally qualified in the pit crew. I was so nervous someone was going to make a comment about me bringing both my girls to a “boys” event, but there were just as many little girls there as there were little boys. I thought the female drivers were perfect role models and really demonstrated that women can be whatever they want to be.

This entire event was a really wholesome family experience. The competitors were good sports, playful with each other, but took their own roles seriously. Every driver was gracious and expressed gratitude for each other, the pit crew and their fans. Even during our autograph session they were really generous with their time and their energy. Everyone was eager to put a smile on a kids face and go the extra mile to take a photo, or sign extra t-shirts and copies of programs.

Overall, this was a really great day out with the family! If you are in the Albany area and looking for an exciting break from the cold winter weather check the listing for their next show on Sunday January 14th! Get tickets here.

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia

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Free Subtraction Worksheet from Education.com

Over the summer I began using lesson plans and worksheets to beat the summer slide. This week we are home from school for our winter/holiday break and it is the perfect time to do some math practice. That’s why I am so excited to share with you this free printable math worksheet directly from the creators of Education.com!

Float through two-digit subtraction with this kayaking themed worksheet from Education.com. Your child will gain valuable practice with this cute themed worksheet. Get more fun subtraction resources here.

My first graders have mastered single-digit and double-digit addition, and single-digit subtraction, which they are really good at (obvious mom brag). Now, they are ready to move on to double-digit subtraction, which will be a challenge. But I’ll be ready to help with this kayak themed worksheet that we can use for practice at any time. Thankfully, there is also an answer sheet available. I’m pretty confident I have a handle on subtraction, but this is a great way for my kids to check their own work.

Download your free Kayak subtraction page and answer key.

 

 

My kids enjoy the  math games, worksheets, puzzles and everything else offered on this comprehensive site. It’s easy to choose activities and lessons by grade level and I trust this site to provide age appropriate content. I am confident your child will enjoy interacting with these playful learning tools as well. If you are homeschooling you can create your own custom worksheet with their worksheet generator to accommodate to your child’s needs. The best part is every family can count on this trustworthy site created by a crew of experienced educators to support their child’s learning.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday Favorites – Disney on Ice Presents Frozen

Contributing writer: Kelly Fears

I was lucky enough to be given tickets to see Disney’s Frozen on Ice at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY.  I can’t think of a better story to watch performed on ice than Frozen.  It’s an obvious choice.  If you’re one of the few parents left who doesn’t know the story it’s about two sisters, one with the power to freeze things, who experience some growing pains in their sibling relationship. But they find that true love is what can solve all their problems.  It’s a snowy, icy adventure filled with an ice castle, a snowman and most importantly an ice queen.  However, if you’re like me and your little prince or princess has watched the movie on repeat for the last 4 years you’ll still find plenty of fun in this ice skating rendition to pique your interest.

The production starts with some of Disney’s favorite characters over the years discussing the different types of love: friendships, marriage, siblings etc.  It’s hosted by the iconic Disney classic characters Mickey, Minnie & a generous mix of friends from throughout Disney’s past and present.  They quickly move into the story of Elsa & Ana and the characters voices are the same as the movie which makes it feel more real. The songs ring true just as you’ll remember them.  It’s really special to see how the ice rink can transform so beautifully to the many different scenes and landscapes.  You’re transported from the rink to inside a bedroom, to a ballroom, a snowy mountaintop, to a castle made of ice complete with real falling snow!

The details are amazing! The costumes are perfect replicas of their animated versions but throw in a little Disney magic of extra sparkle, lights and glitter to really make it all come alive.  The opening half whimsically takes you through the story song by song and ends with Elsa’s iconic solo, “Let it go.”  The show keeps a great pace to keep the young one’s entranced,  but doesn’t lose any of the important plot points or iconic songs.  At intermission we grabbed some snacks, some Frozen memorabilia, of which there is plenty and read through our program.  We couldn’t wait for the show to begin again!

The show resumes after intermission with the lovable Olaf and his “In Summer” Solo number does not disappoint.  This song was met with the loudest screaming cheers and giggles of all the songs in the show. Even finished with an on point kick line! The show keeps a swift pace throughout the second half and isn’t short on the magic that keeps you wondering how they make it all come to life so perfectly.  It truly is magical from start to finish.  The characters get close and stand on small stages to wave and greet the crowd throughout the show.  If you’re looking for a little Disney magic and some pretty impressive ice skating complete with flips, lifts and jumps, this is the show for you!

Catch the Disney on Ice Frozen at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY December 14-17th!

 

Kelly lives with her husband and a prince and princess who love all things Disney and Frozen. She is a stay at home mom who contributes her time and talents to her community and her friend, The Whatever Mom. Thanks Kelly! 

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Wishing You a Less Than Perfect Thanksgiving

 

Our Thanksgiving tradition every year is to share the stories of all the crazy things that happened to us on Thanksgivings past. It makes us laugh and realize how much we have to be thankful for, even if it is for the little things. I’ve compiled some of our most memorable to share with you today.

When I was a kid we never had the same Thanksgiving twice. The menu would change a little or sometimes we’d be in a new home. The faces gathered around our table were different every year. When my parents divorced my mom would open our home to her friends who did not have family to feast with. They were like aunts and uncles to us.

We were very poor but somehow at Thanksgiving we had abundance. Except the one year my mom had nothing and our uncle took us out for pizza the day after. I remember feeling grateful for the generosity and that we got to eat in a restaurant which was rare.

When we were older my family of six crammed into our small car to travel to another state to stay with family for Thanksgiving. They lived on the side of a mountain and it felt like an adventure just driving toward their house. Hunters we’re in their front yards firing off riffles for target practice. We may have gathered to eat turkey, but it was bear season on the mountain. An entirely different world compared to my “city” living. That wasn’t even the least perfect part of our holiday. At some point during the feast prep the water supply stopped running. My memory of why escapes me, but I’ll never forget my uncle having to walk to the creek to fill buckets of water to leave in the bathroom so we could flush the toilet. It was funny twenty six years ago and it is funny now.

When I hosted my first adult Thanksgiving and cooked for my in-laws the very first time nothing worked right. The timing was completely off and it took nearly 7 hours to cook our turkey. By the time we sat down to eat all the side dishes were cold. I was stressed because my attempts to impress my extended family failed miserably. It turned out the house we just moved into had an oven that cooked 200 degrees less than its setting. Thankfully, we had plenty of wine to ride out the wait time. My husband and I still laugh about that day.

Years later we bought our first home and we closed the week before Thanksgiving. We were running between our apartment and new house on Thanksgiving day so there was no way I was going to cook. My husband thought we could easily stop into any dinner or restaurant to get a turkey dinner. Turns out every business in our new hometown closed down. We had to settle for Swanson’s turkey TV dinner we picked up at a gas station. I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face when I presented him with that tray of a tiny serving of turkey with no second helping in sight.

Then there was the year I went into labor the night before Thanksgiving. I was so excited to finally meet my two little turkeys, but it turned out to be false labor. After a sleepless night in the hospital we returned home and hubby had to make dinner on his own. That was the year I learned to let go of the perfect Thanksgiving. Nothing is more perfect than being served a meal I didn’t have to cook and the ability to laugh at the crazy things life brings.

I remember all the years my mom stressed to get a good meal on the table and I remember all the crazy things that happened to change our perfect plans. I don’t remember all the things that went perfectly right. Those imperfections make me so grateful to wake up with my kids now, in our warm home (with flushing toilets) and making breakfast together. Having a hot meal and plenty of food, our health and a comfy couch to watch our TV are all things we consider perfect ways to celebrate any holiday. We have limited years with our children at our table and having them to ourselves. I want to spend it laughing and enjoying whatever comes our way. I’ve learned to embrace the tradition of chaos for our holiday and really cherish the years it all goes according to plan.

May you all have a day filled with laughter and just enough imperfections to make the day memorable. Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

Feel free to share your favorite Thanksgiving memory in comments below! The less  perfect the better!!

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

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Review: Disney Live Presents Mickey and Minnie’s Doorway to Magic

I received complimentary tickets to attend this event. All opinions and enthusiasm for magic are my own.

Last night my little family and I enjoyed a rare night out to see Disney Live presents Mickey and Minnie’s Doorway to Magic at the Times Union Center in Albany. This spectacular traveling show is filled with fast paced magic, confetti cannons and special effects. My kids described the show as, “awesome!” and “so cool mom!” Normally, we are not out on a school night, but with a total run time of one hour and fifteen minutes we still had time to grab a bite to eat before heading home.

From the very beginning audience participation is encouraged through character interaction. The kids get to recite the magic words that helps create the magic on stage, and at one point the audience gets to toss around giant blow up space meteors.  One audience member even lent their shoes to create Cinderella’s glass slippers. The special effects and the quick changes between scenes kept the show moving right along and blended one cast of characters seamlessly into the next. The upbeat tempo of this engaging show kept our toes tapping and my kids on the end of their seats. The real time magic tricks sprinkled through the show kept the wonder alive for all ages attending. It was heartwarming to listen to my kids oooh and aaah at each trick.

As a long time Disney fan I was excited to see some fresh interpretations of the Disney movies I loved growing up. Aladdin has to be one of my all-time favorites and the re-mix of some of their songs set to choreography was exciting to see and allowed me to reminisce. I’ve watched that movie enough times to recall every scene recreated in the show. The Buzz Lightyear laser show had my kids completely mesmerized and they were talking about it the rest of the night. I love that the voices are the exact voices used in the movies. My kids felt like they were watching real life versions of their favorite movie characters.

Watching your favorite Disney characters come to life on the big stage is truly magical, but nothing beats the magic of watching your children’s faces light up with wonder. This show is amazing from start to finish, and it’s a great night out for families. I highly recommend taking the kids if you get the chance!

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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