Category Archives: Family Life

Tips for Planning a Baby Shower on a Budget

Here are some great money-saving ideas for throwing a fabulous baby shower on a budget from Guest Author: Kimberly McLeod, Creator of Life is a Lullaby

A few weeks ago I threw my best friend a baby shower. If you haven’t checked out the details, you can view it here: This Little Piggy Baby Shower.

Throwing a party is never a cheap undertaking, but you don’t have to break the ‘piggy’ bank doing it.

Here are a few tips to save money when planning a baby shower.

5 Tips for Planning a Baby Shower on a Budget

1. Make your own invitations. You can easily invite all the guests via email these days (unless it’s your grandma who doesn’t have a computer – in that case, you may need to do one hand written). I like paperless post. They have a lot of free options to choose from and you can easily see who has RSVP’d. Another option is to create the invitation on the computer and email it out. Finally, if you want to mail out invitations – there’s still a way to save. There are a lot of free baby shower invitations online that you can customize or print off.

Here’s a really unique and fun idea from Oh Happy Day:

Invitation in a Box // Oh Happy DayInvitation in a Box // Oh Happy Day

2. Cook your own food. Getting catering can almost double or triple your costs. Yes it takes more work to make the food yourself, but you’ll save a TON and people will appreciate it more because you made it from scratch. Guests may also offer to bring something. Take them up on this offer if you don’t feel like you can handle it all yourself! Ask another friend to help you on the day of also. Getting a few other friends to bring some appetizers or punch can really help with the cost. I like to serve buffet style that way you can arrange all the appetizers on a table. Cold cuts or egg and tuna sandwiches are always a favourite and usually cost friendly & easy to make.

3. Create your own games. Don’t waste money purchasing special cards or papers for games. There are thousands of ideas for games that don’t cost a thing to do but are still fun!

Here are a few low cost game ideas:

  • Guess the weight of the mom & dad to be when they were born
  • The person with the closest birthday to the due date wins a prize
  • Guess the size of the belly using ribbon
  • Guess that baby song/celebrity baby etc
  • Wishes for baby – guests write out 2-3 wishes for the baby and the mom to be gets to take this home with her

4. Craft the decorations yourself. You can create your own DIY diaper bouquets, tassels, garlands, and pom poms and they can look fantastic!

Here are some tutorials on how to make some DIY decorations:

How to make your own…

Diaper bouquet // Life is a Lullaby

Tassels // Little Mommy Nest
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Easy Streamer Garland // Oh Happy Day

Fringey Streamers // Oh Happy Day
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Pom Poms // Two Twenty One

5. Get Free Printables for the Finishing Touch. You can find a lot of free printables online that you can create to make cupcake toppers, the invitation etc. Just google your theme and “free printables” and you’ll be surprised what you might find. I threw a ‘This Little Piggy” shower-theme and snagged these free printables from Lil Luna.

Here are a few baby shower free sets from Pottery Barn Kids:

Bundle of Bots // Pottery Barn Kids
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Pink or Blue // Pottery Barn Kids
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Guest Author: Kimberly McLeod

Life is a Lullaby

Kimberly is a new mom, a wife, a marketer, and a curator of ideas. Let Life is a Lullaby inspire your everyday dreams! You can follow Kimberly on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

10 Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Better at Night

sweet, sleeping angel...

sweet, sleeping angel…

If you are the parent of a newborn, or even a toddler, you are probably a bit sleep deprived. While there may not be a magical wand to wave and make your little one sleep twelve hours in a row, there are some things that you can do to help your baby—and you—get a more restful night of sleep.

 

Bedtime routine

Newborn babies learn from their experiences what is going on in the world around them. Of course, it takes a while, but if you are diligent to put a routine in place that leads up to bedtime, such as bath time, then they will grow to expect that bedtime is coming after bath.

 

Milk

It may be an old wives tale that warm milk before bed helps you sleep better, but it certainly does seem to have some benefits, if for no other reason than making sure your little one’s tummy is full. It is hard to go to sleep—and stay asleep—when you’re hungry. Even as kids get a little older, they may still like to drink a cup of milk (or have a serving of yogurt or cottage cheese) before bed.

 

Quiet activities

Babies or toddlers can remain engaged for quite a while when something is going on around them that they find interesting. Just before bedtime is probably not the best time for a loud toy with lots of moving parts. So put the loud toys with lots of moving parts away and do quieter activities, such as coloring or reading.  Even a baby can sit on your lap and enjoy listening to a bedtime story.

 

Turn down the lights

Yes, your baby probably can fall asleep any time of day no matter what is going on around them when they are really tired, but turning the lights down low is another indicator that bedtime is near.

 

Sing or play soft lullaby music

Hearing a certain song can also indicate that it is bedtime. Not to mention the soft, soothing sounds of lullabies actually encourage relaxation and sleep.  Check out these wonderful lullaby CDs, or just softy sing your child to sleep, such as: Baby Mine, Classics Songs for Bedtime, Bedtime Prayers: Lullabies and Peaceful Worship, Bedtime Mozart: Classical Lullabies for babies, or Piano Lullabies: Babies’ Bedtime Favorites.

 

Ambient noise is a good thing

Have you ever tried to fall asleep in a quiet room that you are able to hear every crack and creak of your house? It’s not easy to do. Running a humidifier or a small fan can give enough background noise to drown out those bumps in the night and enable a better night of sleep.  Or you can try something like the Sleep Easy Sound Conditioner, white noise machine to see if that will help soothe your little one.

 

Keep the daytime sounds going at naptime

Make naptime drastically different than bedtime. Encourage naps during the day in a light-filled room that has typical daytime sounds. Don’t bother pulling the drapes or turning down the television; this extreme difference can help your baby differentiate between daytime and nighttime.

 

Don’t nap in the bedroom

Put your baby down for a nap in a bassinet or pack-n-play in a location other than your child’s bedroom. This is just another cue for your little one that indicates the difference between when they are expected to sleep a short time at naptime or for a longer period of time at night.

 

Don’t hold your baby while they nap

If you get in the habit of holding your baby the entire time that they nap during the day, they may get used to being held while they sleep—and that may carry over to nighttime as well. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t hold your baby while they snooze at all. Snuggle your little one as much as you want, but putting them down to sleep, without being in your arms, should be a part of each naptime too.

 

When your baby cries, go to him

This topic is somewhat controversial. Some people tell you not to run to your child when they cry at night; however, as a parent, I cannot leave my baby in a dark room by themselves, crying in the middle of the night. Your baby needs to know that when they cry, for whatever reason, that you are there for them. If they don’t need a bottle or a diaper change, they may just need a little comfort in order to go back to sleep.  But keep in mind, going to see what is wrong or changing a diaper does not mean that you should have to stay up all night…

 

While those first months are a bit disrupting to your regular night of sleep, it does get better.  Know that you are going to be tired—and make an effort to just be tired, not grouchy with it!  Yes, this can be a struggle, but my husband and I decided that it would be better to simply be tired, not tired and grumpy with each other or the baby.

Honestly, looking back, some of those middle-of-the-night snuggles in the rocking chair, in which I had to struggle to stay awake, were pretty wonderful times.

Priceless memories.

 

*Links provided within this post do generate income for my blog.  The overall price is not any different to you as the consumer, but if you choose to purchase, I earn a commission and I appreciate your support! 

Making S’More Memories

smores

It never ceases to amaze me that some of the things that my kids get the most excited about in life are so simple. I mean, if my husband and I say that we are going to get a little fire going in the fire pit, the kids jump up and down likes it’s Christmas… well almost just like that. None the less, they excitedly jump around and start yelling for s’mores. Now why is this so exciting? We make s’mores all the time using the microwave to slightly melt the chocolate and puff up the marshmallows.

But that just doesn’t compare to the experience of making s’mores over the open fire.

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Besides the fact that they get to have extremely sharp roasting sticks, which is a novelty in and of itself for them, they get to “play with fire.” As you can imagine, having three boys, I try to avoid sharp objects… and fire… and sugar, the other major component of this. Maybe that is why it is so exciting. This combines sugar, sharp objects, and fire– all of the forbidden elements of my little boys’ lives.

Of course, it wouldn’t be as exciting if someone didn’t catch a marshmallow on fire either. In fact, I think that we may lose as many marshmallows to being consumed by fire as what actually end up edible. My middle son always says that he didn’t mean for the marshmallow catch on fire, but really, when he holds the marshmallow a bit too close to the flame, and it actually does catch on fire, I think he is secretly satisfied with himself.

smore braylon

Even though we did this several times this summer, and now into fall, there is something special about the family gathering together around the fire pit, talking, laughing, and just enjoying a little family time. It’s not a big event, but it’s fun. It’s not expensive, bit it’s memorable.

I hope that when my boys grow up and have families of their own, and when they roast marshmallows over a fire to make s’mores, they can’t help but be drawn back in time to the memories made this year.

smore chase derek2

Even though this ends up to be a sticky, face-and-clothes-covered-in-chocolate-kind-of-mess for my trio, I can’t help but be a bit amused by it all.

Spending time together as a family is what it is all about– making memories together by just being together and actually enjoying being around each other.  There are so many ways to spend quality family time together, and it doesn’t cost anything:

  • Movie night– my kids love to pick a movie that we watch together as a family– of course, enjoyed with some popcorn and M&M’s!
  • Game night– I don’t know why, but it is something special for the kids when my husband and I play the Wii or xbox with them.  They play all the time by themselves or even with each other, but they get so excited for us to play with them.
  • Picnic in the park– go to a local park.  Let the kids play, then take lunch, a snack, or just popsicles to enjoy.
  • Ice cream sundae bar– letting the kids have ice cream is one thing, but let them top it with hot fudge, caramel, sprinkles, whipped cream, etc… it is all of a sudden an exciting event.
  • Camp out at home– yes, this one is going to probably have your back hurting for a couple of days (at least it did for me!).  We set up a tent in the basement in the winter and put sleeping bags in it and the kids loved it!  I loved that they had fun, but I also loved sleeping in my bed the next night.  It makes it worth it though that a year later, they are still talking about the camp out in the basement and wondering when we can do another.
  • Outdoor fun– take a hike, go bike riding, play basketball, soccer… you get the idea.

I see for myself, and any parent will tell you, that the time that you have with your children flies by all too quickly.  Make the most of each day.  Take the time to make s’more memories.

5 Ways to Invest In Your Children’s Future

Family Time ~ Have fun together!

Family Time ~ Have fun together!

Investing. Typically, when we talk about investing, we are thinking about putting money into stocks, bonds, or mutual funds in a retirement account or a savings account. There is usually a tangible goal in mind: being able to retire comfortably or paying for a child’s college education. That type of investing is definitely something that should be a part of every person’s financial plan. But that is not the only type of investing that is important.

We need to be investing in the lives of our children in a way that is far more critical: emotionally and relationally. Being a parent is so much more than just providing food, clothes, and shelter for a child. Raising a child involves teaching them values, morals, and ethics. Whether you are actually an involved participant in teaching your children this or not, they will acquire a set of values, morals, and ethics, or a lack thereof, depending on the upbringing they receive. So how do you actually invest in your children? How do you know you are achieving your goal when there are no quantitative measures? Here are 5 ways that you can concretely participate in your children lives:

1.  Eye contact—from the time a baby is born, they start to gain an understanding of the world around them and how much they are loved based on the eye contact they receive. Even as an infant, a worldview is starting to form. Take the time every day to look your child in the eye and tell him you love him—it doesn’t matter if your child is 6 months old or 16 years old.

Investment: Self-Worth—by looking in his eyes, you are telling your child, “You have value.”

2.  Say “I love you.”—this one may seem self-evident, but, trust me, you need to actually say it. Clearly communicating this simple message with your child often is critical. Through the trials that they will surely face in life—a mean kid at school, breaking up with a boyfriend, peer pressure—if your daughter knows that you, her parent, loves her, getting through these situations will be easier for her.

 Investment: Security—by actually uttering the words “I love you,” you are letting your child know, unequivocally, that no matter what the world brings their way, you are there for them.

3.  Give compliments—as parents, we are so used to telling our kids what they can’t do and what they did wrong, that is it essential to make a concerted effort to tell them when they’ve done something right. Just to get through the day without someone getting hurt, I feel like I am telling my kids every couple of minutes what not to do—a negative directive: “don’t throw the ball in the house,” “no wrestling by the fireplace,” “pick up your toys before someone trips over something and gets hurt…” Yes, this is a parent’s job, however, it makes it just that much more important to catch them doing something good. It can be anything, even something little: “you did a great job cleaning your room,” “thank you for mowing the lawn,” “I’m proud of you…”

Investment: Self-Esteem—each time you tell your child they did something good, you are building up their confidence.

4.  Spend quality time together—in order to invest in the lives of your children, you need to actually be there. Yes, face-time matters. Maybe you are busy traveling with your job, maybe you are putting in hours around the clock trying to get your new business off-the-ground, but you can figure out a way to carve out quality time for your family. In the grand scheme of life, will your children be able to remember that you went to their baseball games, cheerleading competitions, or awards ceremony at school? Will they remember sitting down and eating dinner together as a family? Will they remember you teaching them to drive? Will they remember being able to talk to you about major life decisions, such as college, a career path, or renting their first apartment? Perhaps, you time is limited due to circumstances in life that you can’t control, but that is not an excuse for not making the time you do have with your kids count. After all, it is entirely possible for a parent to see their children every day, but not really be there.

Investment: Yourself—investing time into your children creates memories for them. Someday when you are gone, the memories will still live on. Don’t live a life that will cause you to look back with the regret of “I wish I had spent more time with my kids.”

5.  Eternity—for me, this is the most important. You may have heard the saying, “the family that prays together, stays together.” I think there is a lot of truth to this. Honoring God as a family helps to keep other priorities in order as well.

Investment: Purpose—understanding that God has a plan for each of us, gives life meaning. Teaching my children about God is investing in their eternity.

Investing isn’t always dollars and cents, sometimes it’s just common sense.

Keepsake Journal

Keepsake Journal | Money Savvy Living

 

The best gift a Mother can receive is something made by her children. Of course, I like jewelry and flowers too! But this year, my husband bought a journal in which each child wrote a Mother’s Day message for me. He let them write whatever they wanted… totally unprompted.

 

I have to say, these sweet, heartfelt messages from my kids just make me smile:

 

Keepsake: Mother's Day Journal | Money Savvy Living

 

The idea is that for Mother’s Day, or my birthday, or any other holiday throughout the year, the boys can write a message, draw a picture or whatever they want, and I will have a journal of their messages to me over the years as they grow up. Not only is it nice to have it all compiled in one book, but no need to buy expensive cards that get misplaced or thrown away.  Saves money AND I have something homemade from my kids…. win, win.

 

It will be interesting to see how the boys’ handwriting and pictures change over the years.  I’m pretty sure one day, they will look back through this book and smile at some of the cute things they wrote when younger.

 

This keepsake journal idea would also be a great gift for Father’s Day (yes, we definitely started one for my husband too!), or for a parent or grandparent’s birthday. A gift from the heart, for any occasion, that is money savvy too, doesn’t get much better than that.

 

Big Savings at Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park

bigsplashlogoMy Readers receive $4 off day pass admission OR $20 off overnight stay at Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park and Resort with this exclusive coupon from US Family Guide!

big splash2

Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park & Resort offers an exciting water park adventure for the entire family! Experience tropical luxury in a family friendly environment! 154, smoke free and pet free, Family Friendly Rooms & Suites are waiting – many feature bunk beds!

big splash 3

Enjoy 40,000 Square Feet of Water Park Fun!

No weather worries! Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park is enclosed in a beautiful glass structure – one of the few retractable roof water parks in the world!

As a parent, I know that visiting an indoor waterpark is a mini-vacation for my kids. They absolutely love it! And as a money savvy Mom, I can appreciate saving some money.

big splash

Discount for Hurricane Golf Tour and Online Shop

I am posting about the Hurricane Golf Tour now because I want to be able to come back to this information in a few years when my kids are old enough to participate in this.

For a Limited Time, my followers will SAVE 15% on your next Hurricane Event Registration and look good when you save 15% on your next online purchase at the Hurricane Tour Shop. Use PROMO CODE blog14 – Click here for details.

The Hurricane Tour is comprised of four components: the Junior Tour, the Collegiate Tour, the Amateur Tour, and the Tour Shop (online). Based out of Jacksonville, FL, the Hurricane Tour administers over 150 events all across the country. With three different tours, golfers of any age and skill level are provided an opportunity to play the game.

The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour (#HJGT) was founded in 2008 with the intention of providing junior golfers between the ages of 11-18 an opportunity to play exceptional courses in a competitive environment. The tour’s vision is to provide superb hospitality and make every event a memorable one. With play open to both males and females, nearly every junior golfer is eligible to participate on the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour. Membership for the HJGT is $89.00 and players receive discounted member pricing at each event. Every Hurricane Junior Golf Tour event is ranked by the National Junior Golf Scoreboard (NJGS) and features a chance for players to earn AJGA stars. The top 3 finishers at each event will earn prizes. For a complete list of Junior Tour tournaments, visit: http://hjgt.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/hjgt14/schedule/index.htm.

The Hurricane Collegiate Golf Tour (#HCGT) was founded in 2011 and is perfect for college-aged golfers looking to perfect their game this summer in competitive tournaments at great venues. Whether you are a collegiate golfer looking to practice during the off-season, a future college golfer looking to prepare for the upcoming season, or a non-college golfer that wants to compete in first-class events, the HCGT is the tour for you! Membership to the tour is absolutely FREE and provides access to all 28 tournaments this summer in 11 different states. Top 3 finishers at each event will earn prizes. For a complete list of Collegiate Tour tournaments, visit: http://collegiate.hurricanetour.com/Event/EventList.aspx.

The Hurricane Amateur Golf Tour (#HAGT) was founded in 2014 with the intention of providing golfers of any age and skill level an opportunity to play exceptional courses in a competitive environment, while raising money to benefit the Hurricane Foundation and other charitable organizations alike. In order to play on the Hurricane Amateur Golf Tour, players must become a member for the low rate of $25. Amateurs (men, women and seniors) will compete in one of 10 flights based on their handicap, gender, and age. Senior Flights are for players that have turned 50 years old by May 17, 2014. Every tournament on the 2014 schedule will have a unique “Major Championship” feel to it. A special feature of the Amateur Tour is the “19th Hole Dinner,” where players will have the opportunity to win raffles, giveaways, and silent auctions. The top 3 finishers in every flight will compete for the $2,000 total prize purse regardless of field size at the tournament. The payouts will be in form of gift cards to the Hurricane Tour Shop. For a complete list of Amateur Tour tournaments, visit: http://amateur.hurricanetour.com/Event/EventList.aspx.

Lastly, the online Hurricane Tour Shop was created in 2013 for the purpose of offering golfers of all ages the newest trends in golf apparel, equipment and accessories at PREFERRED PRICING.

SEE OUR MOST RECENT DEALS
Hurricane Tour
Hurricane Tour Shop

WEBSITES:
Junior Tour: www.hjgt.org
Collegiate Tour: www.hurricanetour.com
Amateur Tour: www.hurricanetour.com
Tour Shop: www.hurricanetourshop.com

Natural Dye for Easter Eggs

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

I have been trying to remove processed foods, preservatives, and artificial flavors from the foods that I buy and from the meals that I make for my family. That is why I was so excited to see the article posted on eMeals that uses natural products, that you probably already have in your kitchen pantry, to dye Easter eggs! Usually, I just let the kids color the eggs and then we throw them out because the chemicals and dye soak through the egg shell and into the egg white. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to eat that and I certainly don’t want my kids eating that! This year, we won’t have to waste those beautifully colored eggs because we will be using fruits, vegetables, and juices to color our eggs.

Red:
Use pomegranate juice or canned cherries with syrup.

Blue:
Boil 4 cups of water. Cut 1/4 of a head of red cabbage into chunks and add to water. Stir in 2 Tablespoons vinegar. Let cool to room temperature and remove cabbage with a slotted spoon.

Pink:
Boil 4 cups of water. Chop 1 medium beet and add to water. Stir in 2 Tablespoons vinegar and let cool to room temperature; remove beets. OR if you have cranberry juice on hand, you can use it.

Yellow:
Boil 1 cup of water. Stir 2 Tablespoons turmeric and add 2 teaspoons white vinegar.

Lavender:
Mix 1 cup grape juice and 1 tablespoon vinegar.

Orange:
Take the skin of 6 yellow onions and simmer in 2 cups water for 15 minutes; strain. Add 3 teaspoons white vinegar.

Green:
Peel the skin from 6 red onions and simmer in 2 cups water for 15 minutes; strain. Add 3 teaspoons white vinegar. OR if you have spinach on hand you could use spinach in boiled water.

*You should note that using all natural dyes tends to yield lighter colored eggs. If you would like darker colors, you may want to let them set overnight in the refrigerator.

Use the discount code: MEALS15 for 15% off. Also, if you purchase a subscription to eMeals right now, you will get a FREE EASTER MENU.

5 money saving tips for planning your next vacation

beach2

Going on vacation can be a nice escape from reality. Visiting somewhere new and exciting with your loved ones is also a great opportunity to create lasting memories. However, all of the costs associated with taking a vacation can really add up. Because things can get a little pricey, here are some tips to help you get the best deals, no matter what your destination is:

1) Take your vacation during the off-season.

  • Taking a beach vacation in May or late August can save a lot of money. Typically, June, July, and early August are the peak season for tourists headed to the beach because those are the hottest times, also when most schools are out for summer vacation. Going just before or slightly after the busy season, can save you hundreds of dollars and, many times, the beaches are less crowded.
  • Save at Disney in September and October. Taking a vacation to Disney during Autumn will save you hundreds (maybe thousands!) of dollars, depending on how long you stay. While you won’t really save on tickets to the part itself, you can save BIG on accommodations. During this time, you can save 50% or more on hotel rooms that are $400-500/night during peak season. The parks are less crowded during this time as well. Undercover Tourist is an app that also gives you an idea of events going on at each park, and based on historical data, it estimates how crowded the park will be on the days that you are looking to visit.

2) Know the cancellation policies.

Whether it be your airline or hotel, make sure you know the cancellation policies. If someone were to get sick or some other reason arise that your family cannot go on vacation, you certainly don’t want to be stuck paying for it. Many times, hotels allow guests to cancel within 24-48hours without any penalty. For airline tickets, it is well worth the small fee per ticket to be able to get a refund. It can literally save you thousands of dollars if your entire family is planning on flying.

3) Avoid holiday travel.

Vacationing during almost any holiday, whether it’s Labor Day or Christmas, can cost you extra. More people are off work during these times and kids are off school, so more people are travelling, which means paying a premium.

4) Visit the Chamber of Commerce or other visitors website of your chosen destination.

Many times, you can find out about free festivals, children’s activities, or local tourist attractions that are inexpensive. Here is one example of such a website for Myrtle Beach, SC. You can also do a search for local restaurants on Restaurants.com to find money-saving coupons on dining. Doing a little research ahead of time can save you a lot of money once on vacation.

5) Don’t buy “necessities” on vacation. Most of us remember to pack toiletries when going on a trip, like toothpaste and deodorant, however, it is also important to remember to take the less essential necessities:

  • Beach/warm weather destination—take sand and water toys for the kids with you. Yes, this is just more stuff to pack, but once you get to the water, your kids will love playing in the sand with their buckets and shovels. Don’t forget arm floaties, sunscreen, sunglasses, water shoes, or goggles for the pool either. These items may not seem significant, but if you end up having to buy them once you get to your destination, it will cost a lot more than getting them at Walmart or the dollar store.
  • Skiing/cold weather destination—don’t forget gloves, hand-warmers, long underwear, wool socks, and even sunglasses for the slopes. If you have to buy these items at a specialty shop, you will end up paying a huge premium.

This article was originally published on my Personal Finance Examiner page.

Monster Jam: A Monster Hit

monster jam 2

Never having been to Monster Jam, I really didn’t know what to expect. But my husband and I figured we really couldn’t go wrong taking our three boys to see monster trucks! And we were right. The boys loved it! From the wheely competition to truck races, the boys were hooked. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the favorite in our house, Superman Man of Steel, won the race!

If you are looking for some fun, family entertainment, (bring your ear plugs!)… and enjoy the show!

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