Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Maryland Heights Aquaport...

...Last Thursday, we checked out another stop on our Splash Pass: Maryland Heights Aquaport! This place alone is worth the Splash Pass because it would have been $25 for H, AR, and me to go ($15/adult and $10/child for non-residents; 2 and under free). It is worth the money though, we spent the entire afternoon there!

They have a child area that is zero entry and spray features to the far left. There's also a slide which was a little too fast for AR's liking so she skipped that.

My little fish didn't spend much time here though, she was ready for the big pool!

I apologize these aren't great pics but right below is a zero-entry that goes out to about four feet. We spent most of our time there. The giant yellow slide in the background was a good in-between for not little kids but not quite ready for the bigger slides either. There's also a lazy river that circles this and we enjoyed that too. My only complaint about ALL lazy rivers is that when I'm in it, I want to be LAZY. This means I don't want the buckets of water or colossal sprays of water pelting me. I just want to lay back and relax but I know, most kids would think that was boring so yeah, I get it but still!

To the left of the kid area is some water slides and that yellow/blue thing is a giant toilet bowl. No, literally, you go down the blue slide then circle around the bowl and it drops you out in a catch pool. I've rode one of those YEARS ago but the drop was much further. None of us did it this visit.

The bathrooms were nice, lots of space and privacy. They also had trash cans nearby which was awesome (I hate walking around trying to find a trash can for a wet swim diaper or worse, having to take it home). We went on a Thursday and it was slightly chilly out so it wasn't too crowded. Overall, the three of us give it five stars!!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Dog Days of Summer...

...Fellow blogger, now turned real-life friend, Sara has recently welcomed her second child! She's a mom that's really on top of it as she's scheduled an entire The Dog Days of Summer Series to be featured on her blog while she's soaking in all the new baby cuddles! Today I'm the guest blogger talking about AR and her furbrother and sister. You can see my post and all others at Sara's blog, Running from the Law.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

While Daddy's Away...

...While Daddy's been away, us girls have played...HARD! I'm exhausted. I've worked all week, we've had something every night in the evening, and I've been staying up WAY past my bedtime. This week has been nice and cool too so I'm loving all the outdoor activities. Since I'm so tired I can barely function, here's a quick recap of our week...

Tuesday-Gymnastics (easiest night by far!)

Wednesday-Employee picnic where I teach at. It was pretty cool...dinner, bounce houses, pony rides, ice cream, peddle boats which I thought were paddle boats??? Someone please leave a comment letting me know the difference. I think this picture is hilarious! Got my snocone in one hand, my arm around my girl, pony pulling is good.

Thursday-OMG! I can't even believe how much we crammed into one day. I worked for a few hours in the morning while AR went to swim lessons. We met up with my sis and H spent the day with us. First stop for the three of us, we dropped off my book to my creative editor, Jimmy! He's so supportive and I'm so glad we were able to work together.

Then we went to the Magic House! H hadn't been since she was in kindergarten...five years ago! I don't think she got the full experience since she was helping AR out but we all had fun and I may have yelled at a few camp kids who tried to cut line in front of us.

This is the third time I've taken AR and I feel like every time there's more stuff that we didn't discover this bubble thing!

A quick lunch at McDonald's where AR ate the majority of BOTH H and my's lunch and then we headed to Aquaport (review coming...sometime!). It was a beautiful day but the water was a little chilly for this old lady.

The two girls didn't think it was too cold though! Thank goodness H was there and the two of them had a great time.

H brought AR some goggles to wear and the child absolutely LOVED them!

After Aquaport, we headed out to the fair to see Daddy. This year she was old enough to ride on rides by herself! She giggled and waved every time she'd pass me. We both loved it!

And oh hey hot firefighters who happen to be holding my book! You know I'm always a fan of hanging out with firemen.

Friday-I worked, AR went to the sitter's, and then we went back to see Daddy at the fair. I finally went to bed know, eleven!
Saturday & Sunday-This morning I'm headed to an adjunct conference while AR plays with Nanny. Then we'll go BACK to the fair this afternoon and tomorrow we have a wedding shower to go to.
See what I mean? I'm exhausted!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mates & Mermaids!!!

...This past Saturday, we attended a program called Mates & Mermaids at our local pool. We had our choice of dressing up as a girl pirate or a mermaid. Girl pirate was too easy so we opted for AR the Mermaid! Now, of course, if Nanny wasn't here this summer, we would've gone the other route. Ta-da!!! $13 later and here's my girl in true mermaid fashion!

A lot of my co-workers were there with their kids. Here's AR telling this friend, "Thanks for all the hand-me down clothes!" Oh and hey J, I know you're reading this!

Each kid got a treasure map and they went from station to station to complete each task and get a sticker. Here they had to walk the plank!

Luckily the lifeguards saved us from the scary alligators!

Then they had to pin the tail on the mermaid.

Here's AR with Miss Liz helping her put her sticker on her map.

Then they split into teams and had to swab the deck aka squeeze the water into the bucket.

AR with Luke who wanted nothing to do with hugs!

They went "fishing" at this station and AR is inspecting her "catch."

Ring/Hook Toss

All the kiddos whose moms work together!

After the activities, they had to find the treasure chest. Inside was a smaller treasure chest with each kids name on it-how cute is that! Inside was jewels with stickers...

So we went back and decorated our chest.

Then we ate pizza and blueberries for lunch...

AND finally she got to go swimming!

She had a blast and surprised me by "diving" in from the edge of the pool! I banged up my knee pretty bad but over all it was a great day wrapped up by naps by both of us!

Now here's hoping the mermaid outfit still fits come October...

Ozeri Body Tape Measure and Body Fat Test Caliper Combo Pack...

...Ugh...I got off track and I've gained back most of the weight I lost last fall. Want to know how I know? Because I used the Ozeri Body Tape Measure and Body Fat Test Caliper to confirm my suspicions.

The Ozeri Body Tape Measure and Body Fat Test Caliper empower you with the critical tools needed to measure and track your weight management program. These tools provide a simple and accurate method of determining your waist and other critical measurements, along with your actual body fat. Measuring in both inches and centimeters the Body Tape measures up to 78 inches (200 cm), features push-button locking and retraction for easy and accurate measuring, and is constructed with a durable ABS Cover and Vinyl Measuring Tape for long lasting use. The Body Fat Test Caliper employs a simple and time-tested mechanical means of determining body fat, without relying on electrical and battery powered devices. It includes a body fat chart for men and women that categorizes and helps you understand your body fat levels. Best of all, the Ozeri Body Tape Measure and Body Fat Test Caliper take seconds to use, and everything can be done from the convenience and privacy of your home. Simply EVERYTHING you need, backed by Ozeri's 100% Hassle-Free Satisfaction Guarantee.


Review: It was simple to use, it got it's point across (much more than I wanted) but the best part was that no one knew except me. I'm ready to get back into the swing of things again, eating right, working out...I've got weddings to go to and pictures to look good in! Now I can track my progress with this at home...Wish me luck!


*I received this for free in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Save the Date Book Review by K.S. Thomas...

I recently finished reading Save the Date by K.S. Thomas. I met K.S. in our Romance in a Month class and she's quickly become my late night brainstorming, bounce-ideas-off-each-other, venting about anything and everything friend! I love her almost as much as I loved this book and her soon to released book Saving Avalon. 

Calista Luvalle has mixed feelings when it comes to love. On the one hand, working in the bridal business means she’s basically dedicating her life to love and the dream of happy ever after. On the other, she’s a jaded, love hating cynic who isn’t about to fall for any of that crap herself.

Except of course, she already did. When she was six.

Emerson Barrett isn’t worried about finding the right woman. After a tumultuous past, he’s happy just dedicating his life to his work. Content in knowing what to expect day in and day out, he’s thrown for a loop when he’s suddenly standing face to face with little Lissy Luvalle again.

Only now she’s not so little anymore… 
This is a real story of soulmates! Despite planning weddings for a living, Lissy Luvalle is skeptical of love. When a family wedding emergency evolves, Lissy joins her family in Kentucky where her path crosses again with the hot, hunky cowboy Emerson Barrett. When she was only six, Emerson who was 16 at the time, spent the summer looking out and taking care of her. Almost twenty years later, he picks up right where their relationship left off. It's obvious to everyone except Lissy and Emerson that the two were meant to be together. It's a modern day Romeo & Juliet when you toss in the "other side of the tracks" drama. Their budding relationship and emotions kept me turning the page wanting to know when they'd finally get it together. As a sentimental person, I loved all the ties back to their childhood and adult life. This is a sweet story that will make you want to find the one to save the date with!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Shop and Learn Cash Register Review...

...Friday AR was pretty stoked when she came home and saw this Shop and Learn Cash Register waiting for her. She's done such a good job potty training and been getting good reports from the sitter that I figured we could indulge a little.

Kids love to role play and the Shop and Learn Cash Register gives them the opportunity to play grown up shoppers! Three play modes encourage kids to shop, count, identify food and determine values. This electronic talking register guides children through learning with encouraging words, amusing sounds and fun games. Kids will have a great time scanning food, entering coins, sliding the credit card and opening the cash drawer. Shop and Learn Cash Register will quickly become a favorite! Requires two AA batteries (included). Recommended for ages 2+ years.

She was so excited about this and couldn't even wait for me to take the cardboard off before she played. That sucker was tied in tight to it's box!

Finally, Mommy got it all out and she figured out how to turn it on herself, where the coins went, etc...It took her a second to figure out where to slide the food but she did great picking it out. It works on counting, numbers, colors...the possibilities are endless!

We didn't get to play too long with it on Friday night but first thing Saturday morning, she saw it and immediately wanted to play. I went in the kitchen to make breakfast and I heard the machine saying over and over, "Find the yellow cheese." Finally, I asked her to bring me the yellow cheese which she did. I went back in to see what the deal was and like I said, she just needed a little guidance as to where to slide it then we were all good. Later, I was on the phone with Jenni and she kept saying into the phone, "I have broccoli, Jenni!"

This is the perfect toy for her age so I think I know what we might be getting her friends for their birthdays. 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Photo Dump...

...Sometimes your kid just does silly, crazy things and you grab your camera. So that's what this post is...silly, crazy AR! For instance, running around the basement with a fishing net on her head!

Or jumping on her trampoline with her Pooh bear!

Or Mommy going to dinner with friends expecting her baby to be in bed when she gets home but instead finds this...

Or driving 45 minutes to meet Cat in the Hat and having a horrible experience but at least you got a picture, right?


Friday, July 18, 2014

Cakeway to the West: Part 12.4...

...Cakes 183-193, we covered a lot of ground in this trip!

Cake #183 Emma Kunz House

Cake #184 Skyview Drive-In
We stayed for the movie here!

Cake #185 Kathryn Dunham Museum
We had planned on picking up a few more cakes Saturday morning. For those of you not from this area, East STL is the place that you do not want to accidentally wind up in. I was really worried about getting these cakes and we'd planned on going sometime when we didn't have the girls. However, it was eight Saturday morning so I said let's do it! We knocked out 4/5 East STL cakes although rumor has it that one of the ones that haven't been placed might be there too.

Cake #186 East St. Louis Municipal Building

Cake #187 Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center
Of course, this place wasn't open and the cake was behind a fence. I pulled out my DSLR and snapped the best shot I could get which wasn't easy. It was so hot and humid that my lens was fogging up but I think it turned out alright.

Cake #188 Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park
This was the last Eastside cake we got for the trip. It's an overlook onto the Mississippi. O...M...G! It was so high and a LOT of walking. I did this one myself and as I was huffing and puffing, I heard, "HI MOMMY!" and looked down to see this.

Totally worth it though! Awesome view!

Cake #189 Basilica of St. Louis, King of France (Old Cathedral)
Back on the MO side of the bridge...This church is gorgeous. Of course, the cake wasn't facing it and the church was under construction anyway.

Cake #190 Missouri Athletic Club

Cake #191 Campbell House Museum

Cake #192 Le Grange de Terre (Big Mound) Memorial
No clue what a "mound" is because it didn't look that big.

Cake #193 Ashley Street Power House/Riverfront Trail
This ended up being the scariest cake so far. The directions took us in front of an abandoned warehouse with the windows broken out yet we could see people in it. Then it told us to turn down this road that wasn't really there. We were done for the day after this one.

So less than 60 cakes to find and we still haven't even hit up Forest Park yet! We have one more Illinois trip but the area is currently under water so we'll have to wait for the river to crest before we hit up that part!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cakeway to the West: Part 12.3...

...Cakes 172-182, lots and lots of miles between these cakes!

Cake #172 Church of the Holy Family
I loved this building!

Cake #173 National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows

Cake #174 Cahokia Mounds Historic Site

Cake #175 World's Largest Catsup Bottle
Totally bummed that it was directly under the bottle so no way to get both the cake and the bottle in the same pic!

Cake #176 Madison County Courthouse
This is the only pic AR made it into on this trip!

Cake #177 SIUE

Cake #178 Greenville Public Library
All models were sleeping by this point.

Cake #179 Clinton County Courthouse
Models still sleeping so up to us moms to do the pics! Also here my sister commented, "I feel like we should take our time and do something at each cake." I looked around and said, "Well, we can go get a tan and our nails done" since the only thing around us besides the courthouse was a tanning and nail salon.

Cake #180 Scott Air Force Base
I love this picture!

Cake #181 Eckert's Belleville Country Store

Cake #182 Victorian Home Museum

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Swaggy Bear Kool Seat...

...As some of you may know, we're in the thick of potty training. A few weeks ago, I was pulling into a parking lot when a guy I work with called me. He happens to be a former Olympic athlete and has played for one of our local professional sports teams. I park the car and get in back to get AR out of her carseat. When I lean over her, she tells me, "Mommy, I wear big girl panties!" and she says this directly into the phone for him to hear. Luckily, he's an awesome guy and a dad too so he just laughed with me.

When I got home, I tweeted about it and a few hours later, Swaggy Bear had favorited my tweet. Curiosity got me and I had to see who Swaggy Bear was. I'm glad I did because I found a solution to our steamy summer hot carseat!

Swaggy Bear is a company that makes carseat coolers called Kool Seat. In my own words, it's kind of like a stadium chair with an ice pack in the seat and back part. You put it in your freezer before you head out for the day then when you park your car, take out child and put in the Kool Seat. Seriously, does it get any easier than that?

I loved this but more importantly my child loved this! We put it in the carseat on a 90+ degree day and when I put her in the seat later in the day, it wasn't all hot and steamy! We loved our Kool Seat, it's definitely a must-have for any mommy that lives in hot weather.
*I received a Kool Seat at no charge in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cakeway to the West: Part 12.2

...Cakes 161-171 and we crossed the bridge!

Cake #161 Lyon Park/US Arsenal
This one was across from some top secret government place with lots of black Suburbans. If you don't see me blogging any more, it's probably because I let the secret out!

Cake #162 Lemp Mansion

Cake #163 Lucy Duvy's/Benton Park

Cake #164 Chatillion-DeMenil Manison
This was right next door to the Lemp Mansion and we totally missed it so we had to backtrack.

Cake #165 Off Broadway

Cake #166 Cherokee Business District

Cake #167 STL Style

Cake #168 Jay International
H and I were running/racing to this one against each other. Some lady asked if we were in a contest so we told her about the cakes then for the next five minutes, she told us about every single cake she'd seen, directions to them, and how she was in a play at one of the locations and all about the play...

Cake #169 Monroe County Welcome Center
Our first official Illinois cake!

Cake #170 Monroe County Courthouse

Cake #171 Old Cahokia Court House
This was like a welcome center so the ranger came out to say hello and asked us to sign the guestbook.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Skyview Drive-In...

...We based our Illinois #cakehunting trip off going to the Skyview Drive-In in Belleville. It's $10/adult and a double feature. They have two screens, one is the "adult" screen and the other is the "kid" screen. We watched the kid screen. It was showing Earth to Echo and How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Apparently, it's their 65th anniversary and they advertised carnival, yeah, a train ride (which AR LOVED!) and one thing for the older kids. There's also an old playground there. I didn't inspect it too closely because I didn't want AR to insist we go on it but I'd imagine it's pretty similar to how it was 65 years ago.

We got all set up and went to the concession stand which had your basics: nachos, hot dog, pop corn, fries, etc...Our girls were happy! Unlike the place, the concession stand prices are definitely current day prices. You can also bring in your own food and drink which we had some snacks and our own drinks.

Here's AR and me on the train ride...

The girls are ready for the movie to start. You tune your car or radio to a certain station to hear the movie. Luckily, the car next to us had their doors and car on so we didn't even use our radio.

AR brought her Pacman pillow and told us all about it. It was miserably hot that night so I let her take her shirt off. Then she looked at H, "H shirt off, too?", baby, just you.

She really wanted Froze to be on the big screen.

AR and I ended up being in the truck. She could have carried less about Earth to Echo and I was trying to get her to lay down. Yeah, fat chance!

She was kind of all over me in the truck. I finally put her in her carseat with a fan on her and let her watch Froze. We skipped out on the second movie because we were all worn out.

We got a hotel and stayed the night. AR thought jumping on the bed was pretty fun. I don't blame her!

It was a fun, sisterly/cousinly bonding trip! It would've been better if a different movie was playing but hey, it's an experience and we had a good time!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I'm an what?

...I'm an author. I published a book. And to be totally honest, I feel like a fraud. Don't get me wrong, I wrote and published a book but I'm just me (that sounds kinda Anna-ish, doesn't it?). I don't have formal training, I don't know what misplaced modifiers are, and I don't have a single clue what key words to use on Amazon to move my book up in searches. I'm now going to go into a brutally honest, possibly self-pity post about being an author.

Other authors critique my work, which I'm so very grateful for, but half the time, I'm like say what? They're all "real" or "professionals" while I still consider myself a newbie. It's great to know and work with these people because it's definitely improving my writing but it's still a tough road. Seriously, I thought I was pretty good at grammar but apparently not so much.

I'm slowly selling books but I'm still far away from breaking even. Every sale is exciting but realizing how much I've spent and not being close to making it up is disappointing. I have at least two more books that I'll publish but if I don't lower my expenses and increase my sales then I'll just be writing for myself.

Critics...they're out all that you do. As I've stated before, I'm not a professional but I still take it really personal when I get negative feedback. Seriously, one bad review and I'll try to talk myself out of writing even though I've gotten LOTS of positive response. I just don't have the thick skin that I used to. I also feel like this is something I'm doing for fun and I enjoy but the bad feedback isn't enjoyable so that makes it less fun. :-(

With that being said, I have gotten some really great reviews and not just from friends and family, strangers too! They're all asking for a sequel which has been written. However, I'm really scared that it won't stand up to or be as good as the first one. Oh and the book is romance, it's no 50 Shades, but geez, some of my family that reads it make me feel like I'm really dirty! So hey, there's your warning if you decide to try it out yourself.

Now, ending on a positive note...July 14-20 I'm hosting a blog tour with about 14 other bloggers that will be doing book promos, author and character interviews, as well as reviews. Some of my readers here are participating (thank you Jenni, Julie, and Hilary!) but you can check out my writing blog for a complete list not to mention lots of awesome prizes. Also, the book will be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for only 99 cents next week. So whether you love it or hate it, you're only out a buck!

OH and it's also available on Amazon in paperback. If you're in STL, I can get you a paperback book for less than Amazon and I'm working with two bookstores to hopefully get them in their stores as well.

Thanks for listening to me whine, vent, and try to promote my book! You guys are the best!

Cakeway to the West: Part 12.1

...#cakehunting all day Friday and Saturday morning and we got 43 cakes bringing our total to 193-woot, woot! The end is in sight...a distance away but in sight!

Slurpees to get the day started off right!

Cake #151 Mercantile Library

Cake #152 UMSL

Cake #153 Laclede's Landing
This one wasn't originally on our list but we'd missed it the day we did downtown cakes. I saw the road to the Landing and yelled at Sha to detour! Going through that area of town on a Friday morning was much easier than a holiday Saturday but geez, the cobblestone-yikes!

Cake #154 Soulard's Farmer's Market

Cake #155 Historic Trinity Lutheran Church

Cake #156 Sweet Divine

Of course we had to go in for a cupcake even though it was 9am! Check out the pig nose reflection in the back of the showcase.

Cake #157 Clementine's

Cake #158 Anheuser Busch
Of course, Sha and I had to be in this pic since we're the only ones of age to enjoy AB beverages.

Cake #159 Soulard Restoration
This one was really pretty! Maybe my favorite.

Cake #160 Venice Café
Not sure what the brain has to do with the café but still a very different and unique cake!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cakeway to the West: Part 11...

...Okay, friends, here's a small Cakeway post but wait for it...We're headed to Illinois today, spending the night and going to the drive-in then getting the rest on Saturday so there will be LOTS of cake posts in the near future!!!

My sis and H found the first two on their Girl Scout Trip.

Cake #147-Black Madonna Shrine & Grottos

Cake #148-Heads General Store

Cake #149-Endangered Wolf Center

Cake #150-Rockwood Reservation

Thank goodness we're at a nice even number and we have exactly 100 left to find!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Wapelhorst Aquatic Center...

...Fourth of July, we visited another pool on our Splash Pass: Wapelhorst Aquatic Center. We went last summer and it's honestly not a great pool for young kids. This is their kid area: all those gadgets that constantly spray water (freezing water!), a giant bucket that dumps into the pool, and this small slide. AR went down the slide twice and enjoyed it. Some days she loves slides, other days not so much. We honestly didn't spend much time here because the water was SO cold and those spray features are just shooting freezing water at you. The kids can't turn them off or on so there's not much to do.

They do have two water slides, one regular one you can go down on an inner tube and then this monster that's pretty much a straight drop. We've gone two times and Matt's been too scared to go either time!

Then there's this pool that's zero entry and goes to five feet deep. We spent most of our time here. AR loved jumping off the ledge, bobbing up and down in the water, and then slithering around in the zero entry area.

Here's a quick video of her coming down the slide (wait about 4-5 seconds to see her).

Oh and one thing I forget about St. Charles County pools that freaks me out is that their lifeguard staff has to run from station to station when rotating. I always think something is wrong and get nervous until I remember.

It's $7/adult for non-passholders. Kids two and under cost $2 and you get a swim diaper so essentially you're paying for the diaper which is smart thinking on their part. However, be sure to ask for your diaper because not all people realize that's what you're paying for. Overall, good for older kids but not so much the younger ones.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day 2014...

...I hope everyone is having a good Independence Day! We started the day off with breakfast at our usual place with Jenni and Emma. Then we went to the parade in St. Charles.

"Mommy, take my picture!"

I am loving this picture! Besties!

Jenni, Emma, and her parents were there. I love hanging out with them!

Mommy and AR

Daddy and AR

She did such a good job sitting in her chair and she held my hand anytime she went to pick up candy (I was kind of worried about that). I told her she could have one piece at the end of the parade and she was really good about just handing it all to me and waiting-go AR!

We are also in the thick of potty training. Of course, right before the parade started, she said she had to go so we went behind a bush and pee-peed! Dry Pull-Up for us-woohoo! Then Matt, AR, and I went swimming (review coming soon!). We came home and AR ate a HUGE lunch. Of course, she fell asleep from the parade to the pool so a nap was out of the question so we just chilled and watched Frozen. Tonight, our parents are coming over for pork steaks to end the day. It was a nice, relaxing day but tomorrow I go back to work. Happy Independence Day everyone!