Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast


I’ll be honest, Beauty and the Beast wasn’t a movie I thought I would be interested in seeing. And then as I learned about the full cast and started to see the trailers my interest grew. When I was growing up I was a little too old to fully enjoy the Beauty and the Beast animated movie but I remember watching it several times while babysitting and the most recently with my children.

What got me excited about screening Beauty and the Beast was really the cast, what a great collection of amazing actors. Of course Emma Watson as Belle is a great fit but the rest of the cast plays such an important roll. I particularly love Dan Stevens as the Beast, even with all of the computer animation that transformed him into the beast his mannerisms and facial expression are portrayed wonderfully and help capture the humanity of the Beast. Instead of seeing Beast as a creature you see him as a man trapped inside the beastly body.


What makes this movie different from the original animated Disney classical is that it takes us further into the store of Belle and her family. We also learn more about the Beast and how they develop throughout the story. There are several scenes and songs that are not in the original but fit seamlessly into the classic scenes you love.

Often when animated movies are made into life-action movies I’ve found that they are overly dramatic and intense but there was a fine balance in this movie that still makes it appropriate for children.

I love Ewan McGregor as Lumiere singing “Be Our Guest” and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts. But I think my favorite character was Luke Evans as Gaston, he does a wonderful job making you kind of like Gaston but also really hate the true monster he really is.


Overall, this is a very fun movie, great for kids and adults alike.
Opens in theaters today, March 17, 2017.


I received passes to the featured event in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions are my own.

Preparing for Spring {Giveaway}

This post has been sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. All thoughts and reviews are my own.

It snowed on Sunday but last week it was in the mid 70’s and the flowers had started to bloom. The snow washed away the pollen that was collecting on my back deck. North Carolina weather is crazy so you always have to be prepared .

I started to pull out the boys shorts and tee shirts last week but I kept the snow pants within reach. We bought new outdoor toys and summer shoes last week but alas this week we are bundled up in our winter wear by the fire.





I try to be a prepared mom by being prepared for whatever hits, be it a heat wave or cold front. It seems like we are just getting over our winter colds and then our allergies start to flare up. I keep Children’s Dimetapp® Cold & Allergy in my medicine cabinet when spring arrives just in case. In a great tasting grape flavor, Children’s Dimetapp® Cold & Allergy has congestion-fighting power to relieve stuffy and runny noses, while providing relief for itchy and watery eyes, for children ages 6 and up.


*It is important to remember to always read and keep the cartons for complete warnings and dosing information on Pfizer Pediatric products and to use as directed.

I’m ready for all of the lovely spring weather but I’m ready for the sneezing and runny noses that accompany the pollen explosion that happens each spring in my yard. But we’re prepared this year… so bring on spring.

One lucky reader will win and Children’s Dimetapp® Cold & Allergy. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Giveaway Ends 3/26/2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends on March 26, 2017. The winner to be chosen at random. Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. See giveaway rules for more information.

This post has been sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. All thoughts and reviews are my own.

I stood around for 3 hours to get my book signed… and I liked it.

I’m a picky reader. I often start books but don’t finish them because…. well honestly I think they suck. So when I find a book series or author that I really enjoy reading it’s kind of a miracle. After Simon was born I bought Jenny Lawson’s (The Bloggess) first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir and read it almost entirely on my phone, in the middle of the night while nursing my young baby. It was such a fun read I would occasionally wake up Joe just to read him excerpts from the book.

So of course I also read Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things.  I bought the hardback book and read this one while nursing Abel. Different book, different format, different baby but still an extremely fun book to read. Then I saw that Jenny was coming to do a book signing in Raleigh for her newest book, You Are Here: An Owner’s Manual for Dangerous Minds. I’d never been to a book signing event but I knew I really wanted to go to this event. Then stuff happened (like sick kids) and I didn’t get my book pre-ordered in time so I didn’t get into the reading but I did score a ticket to the signing line so I took it. 

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It was cold and I had to wait at the end of the line for about an hour outside but then as luck would have it I was in group #1 from the signing line so I got to go inside the store after the reading was over… to stand around for another hour or so… but at least I was warmer and could look at more books. I bought a book for the kids, Goodnight, Numbers by Danica McKeller (a signed copy). I also ran into my blog friends Marty and Cyndi. They got tickets to the event and somehow happened to get better signing line tickets so they gave be their letter R. Then someone asked if they could trade their I for my R and of course I said yes. Lucky me.

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Of course I had no idea what I was going to say when it was my turn to meet her and get my books signed. I mean we don’t know each other, I know way more about her life after reading her books but she knows nothing about me so I just decided to tell her that I read her books in the middle of the night while I nursed my babies… it seemed appropriate, but it was still weird. However, Jenny was the sweetest and most loveliest person. She took times to smile and greet each person and thank them for coming.

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It was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon even if I did just stand around waiting for someone to write in my book. (I didn’t have any of my kids with me which made it even better.)

Meal Planning & Chalk Markers {Giveaway}

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Every week I write out a meal plan for our family of 6. Joe bought me this cute chalkboard menu from Target a while back but the chalk that came with it kind of sucks. But I didn’t even realize there was another other until I heard about Chalkola. Chalkola Chalk Markers are make writing our my weekly meal plan so much easier. There are 2 different size markers for writing on chalkboards, whiteboards, glass, or plastic.

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The smaller makers are great for teachers, moms, artists. I have started using them on my white board for our homeschool work. I love that they come in a variety of fun, vibrant colors (including metallic) and are easy to wash away.

The kids use the Jumbo markers for creating art pieces. (Note: These marker work best on non-porous surfaces. The reason being that Porus surfaces have small holes which can absorb the liquid chalk ink and sometimes it gets difficult to completely erase them.)

I can’t wait to share what fun creations we make with our colorful selection of Chalk Pens from Chalkola.

Give them a try!
Discount Code: Save 15% off all Chalkola Products – Use Code: 15OFFSTR

One lucky reader will win a set of Chalkola Markers. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Giveaway Ends 3/24/17.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway ends on March 24, 2017. The winner to be chosen at random. Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. See giveaway rules for more information.

This post has been sponsored by Chalkola. All thoughts and reviews are my own.

Brothers Fight and Brothers Love

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I hate when my boys fight. It drives me insane to hear them bicker with each other and boss each other around and whine about each other. But sibling rivalry and bickering is very common, in fact I think it’s sort of healthy. My children fighting can actually be a really good thing, surprising right? I want my children to know that they have a safe place where they can work out their emotions and learn how best to communicate with others when they have conflict. I’m there to mediate and guide them toward restoration. And what’s even more surprising is how much I learn about myself and my failures to communicate effectively. I often catch myself saying passive aggressive or belittling things to my own children when their constant bickering has gotten on my last nerve. In those moments it’s glaring transparent that the same behaviors I see in my children they learned from me and boy does that hurt.

I’m working on becoming better at conflict resolution not only for my own self but for the sake of my children. I want them to be compassionate and forgiving people therefore as a family we are working toward becoming more compassionate and forgiving. It’s a hard thing for me to work on especially because I am frequently overwhelmed by my daily life and I let my emotions get the best of me. I snap at my children because I’m distracted or just plain exhausted and it’s not an excuse but those are the times that I see what’s really buried down deep in my heart. I pray and ask for forgiveness but I’m really working on choosing to invest more in myself and my children when it comes to working on our relationships.

However, as much of the yucky habits my kids pick up from me there are moments when I see so much good. Habits they are picking up from following mine and Joe’s example. I love to see them help each other out. They are very giving boys, always wanting to make sure each of their brothers gets the same things they do. They hug each other and say “I love you” to each other. They pray with each other at night and pray for each other when one isn’t present. They as for forgiveness when they know they’ve wronged another.

So maybe these brother fight fiercely with each other but they also love fiercely and I guess I’m OK with that.

Saturday Adventures: Joyner Park – Wake Forest, NC

This week’s Saturday Adventure took us to Wake Forest which is a town just north of Raleigh.

Joyner Park has a variety of different features that you can enjoy. When we visited it was a lovely 75 degrees and a bit windy. We saw many people flying kites in the open fields, walking their dogs, riding bikes or just enjoying a picnic. There are several historic building on the property and a beautiful pecan grove. A small pond and many different trails to walk. The boys like riding their scooters along all of the different paths around the outdoor amphitheater. I’m sure when spring arrives the gardens will be in bloom.

The park was very well maintained and had clean restrooms that were very accessible.

We will be returning to Joyner Park again soon.

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Saturday Adventures: Historic Yates Mill

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On Saturdays, our family likes to explore all of the fun places within a short drive of Raleigh. We frequent many of the Raleigh and Wake County parks so I thought I’d share some of our Saturday Adventures with ya’ll.

This past Saturday we ventured to Historic Yates Mill located in south Raleigh. Yates Mill is a part of the Wake County Parks system and offers a variety of rich historical activities and exploration as well has beautiful nature.

We started by visiting the Finley educational center which had a good deal of hands on learning and information about the history of the mill, local agriculture and local history. The boys enjoyed playing with the dress-up clothes, puzzles, and learning about how mills work.

Then we venture down the short path to explore the historic mill. The boys were fascinated with the water powered mill. We briefly walked the Millpond trail crossing over the mill bridge and up the stone steps that overlook the mill. We didn’t walk around the entire pond as it was getting close to lunch and the smaller boys were ready to go eat.

On a previous visit the boys and I walked down to the pond boardwalk were we encountered several people finishing and bird watching. We saw a beautiful crane at the shore of the pond.

I can’t believe I’ve lived in the Raleigh area most of my live and until this year had never visited Yates Mill. It’s a beautiful historic site and wildlife refuge. We will certainly be back to explore more the park.


Will we homeschool next year?

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Everyday has become a challenge. Homeschool is not what I hoped or expected it to be this year. I feel like I’m constantly wrangling cats when it’s time to get the boys to sit down and do their school work. I also feel a bit like a hostage negotiator, as I’m always trying to get the boys to participate in any activity we have lined up. It’s exhausting. There are days where we have a lot of fun and I really enjoy the opportunity I have to homeschool the boys but those are becoming fewer and fewer.

When we started on this homeschool journey I told Joe that we would take it one year at a time and one kid and a time. We are in a position where we have the luxury of choosing to homeschool or not and I want to do want is best for out whole family, that includes myself. I’ve found that this school year I have been greatly neglecting myself. From the time I get out of bed (7am) until the kids are in bed (9pm) I’m non-stop go. I’m not in a healthy place physically, emotionally or physically because I can barely catch my breath on a daily basis. (It’s also why I haven blogged much lately. Blogging is an outlet for me and something I typically make time for because it helps me organize my thoughts but I haven’t been able to make time for it lately.) I realize I can’t sustain a lifestyle like this and I also realize that some of my stress is only temporary, like having a busy toddler around the house. But instead of killing myself to do it all I’m looking into what changes I can make. We will most likely be adjusting what we do with the boys for school next year, although I’m not 100% sure what those changes are yet. But until then I’m trying to get through the end of this school year without loosing my mind. I’m extremely thankful that Joe works from home, although we probably see him less because he’s always on conference calls in his office, it still frees me up to get stuff done during Abel’s nap time. I’m also focusing on the parts of school that really work for us like field trips and outdoor learning.

I know that whatever we decide to do for school next year the boys will be fine. Kid are great at adapting and as their mom I planned to be heavily involved in whatever form of education we utilize.