Cinderella Movie Review: Have courage and be kind

DISCLOSURE: My kids and I were given the opportunity to attend the Cinderella screening. All thoughts are 100% mine!


“Have courage and be kind” were the last words of wisdom spoken by Ella’s mother before she died.  When I asked my ten year old daughter what her favorite part of the movie was, I expected to hear about the ball and the beautiful dresses.  Surprisingly, it was those last few moments between mother and daughter because “it was the theme that was replayed throughout the entire movie.”


Several years after Ella’s mother passes away, her father decides to marry again and with his new wife, Lady Tremaine comes two new step-sisters, Anastasia and Drisella.  Ella calmly reminds herself of her mother’s advice as she meets them all for the first time and many other times throughout the movie, especially when her stepmother and step sisters treat her cruelly after her father dies, and even give her the nickname “Cinderella” after she falls asleep near the ashes of the fireplace one night.  As a parent, the idea that our children learn from us and follow our example wasn’t lost on me, either. The “wicked step-sisters” were petty and selfish like their mother while Ella was kind like her parents had been.


Growing up, I loved to watch the animated version, and as an adult, it was fun to watch it come to life so to speak, and I fell in love with the story all over again!  After watching Maleficent, I was expecting some sort of plot twist, but if you’ve seen the animated version or read the story at some point, it’s the same basic storyline except we get to experience her childhood and “meet” both of her parents.  I felt like a kid again as I watched her fairy godmother transform her for the ball and as she snuck away for a few private moments with Kit, her Prince Charming, before the clock struck midnight.  It was a sweet reminder that the magic of fairytales is not just for children (and according to my son, “not just for girls, either”).  It’s still nice to have a fairytale “happily ever after” ending!  I’m a huge Downton Abbey fan, too, and it was fun to see Lady Rose as Cinderella and Daisy as an evil stepsister!


Make sure you arrive early enough to catch Frozen Fever, which plays before the movie!  My kids and I couldn’t stop laughing as we watched the latest antics of our favorites – Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven.  We can’t WAIT for Frozen 2 to come out!

If you’ve seen the movie, what did YOU think?

Nerf Zombie Sidestrike Blaster Review


Hasbro recently provided me with an opportunity to review the new Nerf Zombie Sidestrike Blaster.  I have a seven year old son who was more than willing to take on the challenge!  When the box arrived, my son was so excited that within seconds, he had it out of the packaging and was ready to go!  Suddenly, darts were flying everywhere and my son was excitedly saying “Mom, this is the best day ever!”  I wish I had captured it on video because it was so cute!

Nerf Zombie Sidestrike Blaster Review


Whether your child is a “zombie hunter” in the making or just loves a good Nerf gun fight, the Nerf Zombie Sidestrike Blaster is sure to be a hit!  It includes the gun itself, a holster, and 6 darts.  Although the suggested age range starts at 8, my son just turned 7 and had no problem figuring out how to use this with no help at all!  My son is a lefty, and was able to easily use this, which was a plus for us!

My husband and kids had a Nerf war using the the Nerf Zombie Sidestrike Blaster, Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster, and Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker bow.  They had a blast!  My husband commented about how far the Nerf Zombie Sidestride Blaster shoots (their website says that it shoots up to 75 feet – we didn’t test that distance out, but wow!) and about how accurate it is.  I caught him online searching for a Nerf gun for himself and I couldn’t help but smile!  My dad came over last night and joined in on the fun, too!  The kids thought it was fun to see Grandpa playing!  I even tried it out, and it’s fun to shoot and packs a punch!  Zombies beware!

Here are some of the things that we love about the Nerf Zombie Sidestrike Blaster:

  • It includes a dart storage compartment, so you don’t have to worry about losing your darts!
  • The price is reasonable!  It retails for $14.99, but it’s even less on Amazon!
  • It’s easy for kids to grip and use!
  • It shoots far and the accuracy is great!

The only “con” we could think of is that it is a single shot product, so it does take time to reload in between shots.

This would be GREAT for Easter baskets or an upcoming birthday!  You can purchase one here–> Nerf Zomebie Sidestrike Blaster

There are some other great products in the Nerf Zombie line that you should check out, too:

DISCLOSURE:  I was provided with a free Nerf Zombie Sidestroke Blaster for review.  All opinions shared in this post are 100% mine!


Disney Planes Movie Review!

My kids have been watching the previews for the Disney Planes Movie for weeks now and anxiously awaiting the release! They have apparently watched the previews so many times that by the time we actually went to see the movie this week, they knew all of the main characters by name before the movie even started! One of the “perks” of blogging is that I get to attend some movie screenings before the release date, and we were all excited to go see Planes earlier this week.

Disney Planes Movie Review


If you’ve seen the movie Cars, then you will be somewhat familiar with the storyline in this movie.  Dusty Crophopper is a small town crop duster with big dreams!  He wants to win a world-wide flight competition.  Off course, the odds are stacked against him.  Not only is he a crop duster and not built for speed, but he is also afraid of heights!

During the competition, Dusty finds a trusty sidekick, El Chupacabra, who is set on winning the heart of a fellow competitor, Rochelle  Like Mater in Cars, El Chupacabra isn’t exactly socially savvy and his antics kept everyone entertained throughout the movie.  He was probably my favorite character just because you never knew what he was going to do next!  Dusty also has a nemesis, Ripslinger, who is determined to win the competition and who vows to do whatever it takes to come out on top.  Dusty has his own love interest, Ishani, who is also faced with the inner struggle of choosing between winning at all costs and being true to herself.

Like Lightning McQueen and Doc Hudson, Dusty also finds a mentor along the way.   Skipper is a World War II veteran with plenty of stories!  He helps Dusty learn some tricks of the trade and he learns a few things from Dusty along the way, too!

One of the criticisms of the movie has been that the plot line is predictable.  When you go to a Disney movie (or any children’s movie), you expect for it to be somewhat predictable.  You expect the main character to have an enemy, be faced with some sort of trial, and to come out ahead in the end.  Most children’s movies are “feel good” movies that carry a theme of a little guy coming out ahead.  If you were expecting something different, you will probably be disappointed,.  Although the storyline was comparable to Cars, the characters also had their own unique quirks.  Unlike Lightning McQueen, Dusty was a crop duster from a small town.  He had humble beginnings, and didn’t have Lightning’s arrogance which made him “likeable” from the start.  When I go to a children’s movie, I just “success” by what my kids think.  They loved it, and I laughed several times myself.  If your kids loved Cars, they’ll probably love this one, too!

If your kids loved Planes, they can keep enjoying the fun with these two interactive games:

  • Propwash Pursuit :Take control of Dusty and fly around Propwash Junction (available for desktop)
  • Jetstream Racers : Help Dusty navigate courses, earn points, and unlock more characters (available for desktop, tablet, and mobile devices)

You can also check out Disney’s Flew Tube for more video clips, Planes inspired recipes, craft ideas, and more!

Check out the trailer here:

You can follow Disney Planes on Twitter and Disney Planes on Facebook, too!

DISCLOSURE: My family was able to attend the movie screening for Planes for free. I was not compensated for this review in any way. All opinions are 100% mine!

Sea World San Antonio: Tips for Parents!


Our family first visited Sea World San Antonio when my daughter was fairly young.  It has since become one of our favorite family getaways and we usually get season passes each year!

If you’re visiting Sea World San Antonio for the first time, here are some survival tips:

1.  Plan Your Day – Shows do not run continuously, and there are typically only a few show times for each one daily.  They fill up quickly, so it’s a good idea to come up with a game plan for your day before you go.  Also, check out the feeding schedules for the dolphins and sea lions.  There is limited availability and it’s an experience your kids won’t forget!  NOTE:  You do need to pay for a tray of food (usually $5)  When you’re planning your day, it’s also a good idea to look at the park map!  The park is big and going back and forth across the park with your kids is one way to ensure meltdowns that will ruin your day.

If you are traveling with smaller children, you may want to factor in nap time or a break.  The Sesame Street Bay of Play is a great place for younger kids to get some down time!  If you’re planning to visit Aquatica, the water park, capacity is limited, so get there when they open.

You can access the park schedule online here to help you plan–> Sea World San Antonio Park Hours and Show Schedule


Here are some “must see” shows:

  • Azul® – This show combines beluga whales, acrobatics, pacific northwest dolphins, and birds and the results are spectacular! This is definitely my favorite show and I never miss it!
  • Cannery Row Caper – This is the “sea lion show” and I think the story line on this show has been the same since I was a kid, but I still love it every time, and the kids will enjoy it, too!
  • Shamu Rocks! This is the night show with great rock and roll favorites and a lot of energy.  As an added bonus, by that point in the day, many families have already headed home, so it doesn’t usually fill up as quickly as the regular Shamu show

2.  Parking – General parking is $13.86 if you purchase online or free if you have a season pass.  They also offer Shamu’s Preferred parking, which will give you reserved parking at the entrance of the park.  This is $5 more, but has been worth it every time for us, especially during the summer months.  With kids who are melting down, and especially if you’re loaded down with strollers, diaper bags and other gear, it really does make a difference at the end of the day.

3.  Stay hydrated – During the summer months especially, it will be HOT and it’s important to stay hydrated!  You can bring a small cooler with up to 6 water bottles with you into the park.  We usually invest in the souvenir bottles because refills are just $.99 and you can re-use them on future visits!  NOTE:  If you bring juice boxes, you will not be able to take the straws into the park!  You can also get free ice water at the different dining areas throughout the park.


4.  Food and snacks – If you’ve got little ones, then you probably know the importance of making sure they’re fed!  A stroller, sippy cup, and a few snacks go a long way and you’re actually allowed to bring single serving snacks with you into the park!  There are lots of dining locations available throughout the park as well.  If you’re planning on eating lunch or dinner at the park, you may want to plan to eat earlier or later than “typical” to avoid the crowds.

5.  Bring a change of clothes  – If you sit in the splash zone, you will get SOAKED.  This can be a nice way to cool off during the summer months, but it might also be an unexpected surprise for younger children.  You will also get wet if you ride the water rides like Journey to Atlantis or Rio Loco.  If you visit the Sesame Street Bay of Play, there is a splash pad area, and trust me, your kids will want to play!

6.  Check height requirements for rides – There are two big roller coasters:  The Great White and The Steel Eel along with the Rio Loco and the Journey to Atlantis, which are water rides.  There are a number of “kiddie” rides in the Sesame Street area.  Make sure you check the height requirements for rides before you go so your kids will not be disappointed.  You can view this information online.  It is also on the park maps that you can pick up just inside the entrance to the park and there is a spot to measure your kids just inside the entrance, too!

7.  Deals on Sea World San Antonio tickets – You can find the best prices on tickets online.  You’ll save $10 off a one day adult or child admission.  If you’re planning to visit the park for more than one day, consider a Sea World Fun card, which gives you access to the park for the remainder of the calendar year or a Sea World Season pass, which gives you access to the park for an entire year plus additional benefits like free parking and discounts on food and merchandise in the park.  I usually get a season pass for myself for the parking and discounts and then the fun cards for my husband and the kids.

If you’re a certified teacher in Texas, you can get a Sea World fun card for FREE!  Click here to find out how–> Sea World Texas Fun card FREE for Texas teachers

DISCLOSURE:  I was not compensated in any way for writing this article. My family loves Sea World San Antonio and I wanted to share our experiences and tips with others!  All opinions are 100% mine!

Moody Gardens Hotel Review: fun for the whole family!

If you’re looking for a family friendly hotel on your next trip to Galveston, check out Moody Gardens Hotel!  We’ve stayed here a few times now and have had a blast every time we go!  If you’re a Moody Gardens Season pass holder, make sure you call and ask about discounted room rates!  You can also find Best Available Rates by using the reservation system and saying that your travel dates are flexible.  Check out Priceline, too!

If you haven’t visited Moody Gardens before, make sure you check out this post–> Moody Gardens:  10 Tips for Making the Most of your Staycation

Get tips for saving the most on a hotel room here-> How to Save Money on Hotel Rooms

Moody Gardens Hotel Review

Here are five things we love about the Moody Gardens Hotel:


The rooms – You can get rooms with a King bed or 2 Queen beds.  The rooms include a mini refrigerator (which is always a plus for us) along with a Keurig brewer and an in-room safe.  The best part of the accommodations is the views!  You have beautiful views of the island or of the Moody Gardens Pyramids.  During the holidays, we loved the view of the pyramids because we could see all of the Festival of Lights displays.  During the summer months, we like the island view, and it makes it easy to access the pool, too!


The pool – My kids LOVE to swim, and they loved this pool!  It’s huge and there is a waterfall, which was an added bonus for them!  There is plenty of seating around the pool including cabanas and poolside beds.  There is also a poolside cafe, and they will bring your food right to you (plus you can charge it to your room).  Adults will love the swim-up bar.  We found that the pool got a little bit less kid and family friendly later in the evening.  If you’re trying to stay in shape, there is also a heated lap pool.

Kids Crew – If you’ve got time, let your kids unwind and check out the Kids Crew.  They have different activities each day and you can pick up a schedule of the day’s events at the front desk or you can view it online.  On our last visit, the S’mores were a huge hit.  They have a bounce house and other activities like face painting, Wii challenges, and scavenger hunts.  Your kids will never be bored!


Special Events – Moody Gardens knows how to celebrate the holidays!  I surprised my kids this year with a getaway right before Christmas that included a dinner show and a trip to the Festival of Lights.  At check-in, they got special holiday-themed bags and when we returned from the evening festivities, they also had stockings filled with goodies on their pillows! There were several large, beautifully decorated trees, and a huge electric train set, too.  They have special events throughout the year, and they are definitely worth checking out.  The Christmas getaway will be a new family tradition for us!

Other Amenities – You can take a shuttle to and from Moody Gardens.  If your kids aren’t run down after a day at Moody Gardens, there is a park located between the hotel and Moody Gardens.  Have a picnic or just let them burn off some extra energy!

DISCLOSURE:  I was not compensated for this review in any way.  My family just really loves this hotel and I wanted to share our experiences with others!