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family fun

Literary Road Trip Series: Fall in Love with Woodloch Resort

Disclaimer: Thank you to Woodloch for providing me and my family with complimentary access to the resort. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Two weeks ago, our family went to Woodloch Resort for our latest literary road trip.  Woodloch is a beautiful four-season Poconos resort nestled in a pristine mountain lake vacation setting. It’s also a family owned and operated all-inclusive resort located just ninety miles from New York City.  Nominated as the number one all-inclusive family resort in America by USA Today, Woodloch has been owned and operated with pride by the Kiesendahl family since 1958.

The last time we visited Woodloch it was summer. This year we had the opportunity to experience the resort during the fall which made for a new fall-themed adventure. The resort was decorated inside and out with fall and Halloween decorations which helped get us in the mood for the holidays.

Since Woodloch is all-inclusive, you are served three meals per day.  They have meal options, drinks and dessert for both adults and children.  We appreciate the fact that each family is assigned the same table during mealtimes throughout their stay. We never had to worry about others sitting at our table (for safety reasons) when it was time to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner.

If you don’t feel comfortable eating in the dining hall, you have the option have your food or drinks packaged as take-out to enjoy in your room or at one of the many outdoor picnic areas on the property. There are also quick bite ala carte options on-site at North Lodge Bar, Gigi’s Coffee Shop, the Poolside Bar, and Lake Grill.

We stayed in a one-bedroom lake view suite in the Mount Laurel building. Our suite was large with enough space for our family of four.  The suite had a full kitchen with a stove, microwave, and refrigerator.  The kids had plenty of space to run around and not feel like they were on top of each other.  There are so many family activities at Woodloch, it truly feels like a cruise on land. The daily activity sheet provides information on times and locations for all activities. You can also use the Woodloch app to see the daily activities and sign up for the ones you want to participate in.

We did archery, bumper cars, race car driving, pumpkin painting, swimming, and more. We also enjoyed some of the nighttime entertainment including going to a ventriloquist.  The highlight of this trip for our family was the haunted walk. An open tractor truck took us out to a trail in the woods during the evening. It was a quick walk, about 10-15 minutes long, with lots of spooky fun to navigate through. At the end, we all enjoyed hot chocolate by the fire pit before heading back to the resort.

Safety protocols are still in place at Woodloch, but the mask mandate in the state of Pennsylvania has been lifted. We still wore masks inside the resort while walking in the communal areas except the dining hall while eating. As a family, we felt confident that Woodloch covered safety precautions to make sure we were all protected.

Lastly, I was so thankful for Woodloch having shuttle buses that run every 10-15 minutes.  We didn’t use them much last time we were on the property, but this year we took full advantage of the shuttle bus service due to my knee injury.  The shuttle runs from 8am until late-night daily and makes stops at all building entrances.

Overall, we had a wonderful time making memories. The best thing about Woodloch is that it brings the family together while still allowing for some alone time.  There is something for EVERYONE at Woodloch.  Take a look at some of the activities available at Woodloch and let me know in the comments which ones appeal to you and your family.

Here are just some of the resort amenities:

  • Indoor Spash Zone (water slide and splash pads)
  • Indoor and outdoor heated pools + hot tubs
  • Miniature golf
  • Archery
  • Bumper cars
  • Climbing wall
  • Bumper Boats
  • Lakeside activities
  • Indoor and outdoor playgrounds
  • Water Skiing
  • Tennis courts
  • Snow tubing (during the winter)
  • Ice skating (during the winter)
  • Exercise rooms and so much more!

Have you been to Woodloch before?  Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

family fun

Find Black Santa + An Interview with the Mobile App Creator Jihan Woods

Find Black Santa Mobile App

Tell us a little about yourself and your mobile app.  When was the app created?   

Hi! My name is Jihan Woods and I’m a mom, psychiatrist and the founder of Find Black Santa mobile app. I graduated from Hampton University in 2004 with a Bachelors in Finance. Upon graduating from Hampton University, I worked as a Financial Analyst before applying to medical school.  I completed medical school at Drexel University College of Medicine in 2013 followed by residency in General Psychiatry and fellowship in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at University of Texas Southwestern. 

I spent a great deal of my training exploring the impact of race and cultural pride on the mental and physical health outcomes of youth. I also have a passion for bringing awareness to the lack of positive Black representation in media.  This idea was the premise of my developing Find Black Santa.  Find Black Santa is the only mobile-app of its kind designed to connect families with real Black Santa entertainment. I created the app in 2018 and is available in the App store and Google Play

What was the inspiration behind creating the app Find Black Santa?  

After having my own children (twin boys!), I realized the lack of Black representation in media especially during the holiday season. That’s when my entrepreneurship journey began.  I utilized my expertise in child psychiatry and business savvy to create a mobile app affectionately titled Find Black Santa.  My inspiration were my twin boys and frustration with finding a Santa that represented our family. Studies show that children with a positive attitude about their own racial identity are more likely to thrive academically and socially. Experiencing a Black Santa is an important aspect of that. My goal is to connect families with Black Santas. My mission is to provide families with access to positive cultural imagery, diversify the meaning of Christmas and spread joy each holiday season.   

Is Black Santa married to Black Mrs. Claus? (LOL!):   

I don’t’ know you’d have to ask Santa! (lol) Santa is beautiful and magical and can be a representation of the uniqueness in all families.

Did you create the app on your own or did you have help?  What was the creative process like for you?

Yes, I created the app on my own. I’m definitely not a techie, nor do I have a tech background. It was fun! This process allowed me to utilize my creative skills. It involved a lot of research and time to figure out all of the ins and outs of developing a user friendly app. Aesthetically, I wanted festive colors with a modern twist; hence the pink!  Practically, I wanted users to be able to quickly get the information they needed so it was important to me that Santa profiles and events were strategically organized by state. 

How do you keep your brand and app top of mind with your audience throughout the rest of the year?  

Since we are in the midst of COVID-19 it’s increasingly important to meet people where they are; therefore, we are transitioning to the virtual world of Christmas which has been a unique and fun experience.  This year I created an Advisory Board which has been a think tank to expand the brand. With their help, we launched “Hot Cocoa with Dr. Woods,” a webinar series on all things, tech, culture, Santa and children’s mental health.  

What messages do you hope to send to children and parents with your app?
It’s important to me that people experience diversity in all aspects of their lives. Santa is one avenue in which families who celebrate Christmas can do this. 

What’s next for you and Find Black Santa?
Find Black Santa has grown exponentially over the past 3 years. With 19,000+ downloads and thousands of subscribers and supporters, I hope to expand my reach beyond the mobile app within my educational webinar series “Hot Cocoa with Dr. Woods”.  I also hope to grow my brand and eventually evolve into the go-to network and resource for Black-owned businesses. 

Anything else you’d like to share with us?  
In addition to the Find Black Santa App, supporters can visit our Holiday Shop and find festive apparel and accessories (including face masks!).

Where can people find you online?   

Instagram: @findblksanta  




Find Black Santa
family fun

The Witches on HBO Max + A Giveaway!

Disclaimer: We’re partnering with Warner Bros. Pictures to bring you this amazing gift box giveaway! Thank you to Warner Bros. Pictures for gifting us a gift box and another one to share with our audience. #ad #WBSsponsored

From Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”) comes the fantasy adventure “Roald Dahl’s The Witches.”  The film stars Oscar winners Anne Hathaway (“Les Misérable,” “Ocean’s 8”) and Octavia Spencer (“The Help,” “The Shape of Water”), Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci (“The Hunger Games” films, “The Lovely Bones”), with Kristin Chenoweth (TV’s “Glee” and “BoJack Horseman”) and award-winning comedy legend Chris Rock.  Newcomer Jahzir Kadeem Bruno (TV’s “Atlanta”) also stars, alongside Codie-Lei Eastick (“Holmes & Watson”).

Reimagining Dahl’s beloved story for a modern audience, Zemeckis’s visually innovative film tells the darkly humorous and heartwarming tale of a young orphaned boy (Bruno) who, in late 1967, goes to live with his loving Grandma (Spencer) in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis.  As the boy and his grandmother encounter some deceptively glamorous but thoroughly diabolical witches, she wisely whisks our young hero away to an opulent seaside resort.  Regrettably, they arrive at precisely the same time that the world’s Grand High Witch (Hathaway) has gathered her fellow cronies from around the globe—undercover—to carry out her nefarious plans.

Based on the book by Roald Dahl, the screenplay is by Robert Zemeckis & Kenya Barris (TV’s “black-ish,” “Shaft”) and Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”).  Zemeckis is also producing, alongside Jack Rapke, del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón and Luke Kelly.  Serving as executive producers are Jacqueline Levine, Marianne Jenkins, Michael Siegel, Gideon Simeloff and Cate Adams.

Zemeckis’s behind-the-scenes team includes a roster of his frequent collaborators, including Oscar-nominated director of photography Don Burgess (“Forrest Gump”), production designer Gary Freeman, editors Jeremiah O’Driscoll and Ryan Chan, Oscar-nominated costume designer Joanna Johnston (“Allied,” “Lincoln”), and Oscar-nominated composer Alan Silvestri (“Polar Express,” “Forrest Gump”).

Warner Bros. Pictures Presents, an Image Movers/Necropia/Experanto Filmoj Production, a Robert Zemeckis Film, “Roald Dahl’s The Witches.”

Download The Witches Halloween Activity Pack here!

Watch The Witches Trailer!

The Giveaway!

One (1) winner will receive THE WITCHES gift box containing:

  • Projector to watch THE WITCHES on HBO Max
  • Google ChromeCast
  • HBO Max complimentary code for 7 day free trial
  • WITCHES bookmark and novel
  • Flavored popcorns, snack packs, and Coffee Beanery coffee sample
  • Wood decorating craft kit
  • White gloves
  • Mouse ears headband
  • Splat hair dye and hair chalk
  • Wind-up mouse
  • Crayons and activity booklet

Good Luck!

Open to US mailing addresses ONLY.

The Witches on HBO Max

family fun

I Wish We Could Stay Here Forever: My Woodloch Story

Disclaimer: Thank you to Woodloch for providing me and my family with complimentary access to the resort. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Nominated as the number one all-inclusive family resort in America by USA Today, Woodloch has been owned and operated with pride by the Kiesendahl family since 1958. Woodloch is a beautiful four-season Poconos family resort nestled in a pristine mountain lake vacation setting. As their website states:

Their traditional warm hospitality has been nurturing and embracing the spirit of spending quality time with friends and family for nearly sixty years.

If you’ve followed the blog for a while, you may know our family takes literary road trips each year. This is a tradition we started in 2016 and it continues to be something we look forward to each year.

During our road trips we visit various family resorts or museums and then find the nearest local library or bookstore to visit as well. Our literary road trip series is always a hit and well received by our audience.  Many people are eager to know the best libraries or bookstores in surrounding areas when visiting family-friendly locations.

Vacationing During a Pandemic?
Deciding to take a summer vacation in the middle of a pandemic was not an easy decision to make. With two small kids, safety and cleanliness were our two biggest concerns. Thankfully, Woodloch helped ease our minds with their Resort Responsibly initiative.

Upon arrival all guests have their temperature checked in the wellness check area. In addition, all guests (ages 2 and older) and staff are required to wear masks in all public places except when eating, drinking or swimming. There are plenty of hand sanitizing stations throughout the property and an array of socially distant activities. During our stay we felt very safe and welcomed by the staff and other guests.

You can read Woodloch’s COVID-19 special statement here to see how they’re handling their guests’ safety during the pandemic.

Activities Galore at Woodloch
There is literally something to do at Woodloch for people of all ages. The best part? Since they are a four-season resort open year round, their activities change and adapt with each season.

Here are just some of the resort amenities:

  • Indoor Spash Zone (water slide and splash pads)
  • Indoor and outdoor heated pools + hot tubs
  • Miniature golf (one of our family favorite activities)
  • Archery
  • Bumper cars
  • Climbing wall
  • Bumper Boats
  • Lakeside activities
  • Indoor and outdoor playgrounds
  • Water Skiing
  • Tennis courts
  • Snow tubing (during winter)
  • Ice skating (during winter)
  • Exercise rooms and so much more!

All classes and activities must be booked in advance using the Woodloch App. This allows Woodloch to monitor and cap class sizes for social distancing. It also allows for proper sanitizing between guests. Also, by having a scheduled time we didn’t have to worry about waiting in a long line causing the kids to get antsy. It was easy to just show up at our scheduled time and participate in the activity. Overall, our family thoroughly enjoyed all of various daytime activities and nighttime entertainment Woodloch has to offer.

The Food
Let’s talk about how GOOD the food was…yummmmm! Each meal we had was so delicious and tasty. They have meal choices, drinks and dessert for both adults and children.

We enjoyed the fact that each family is assigned the same table during mealtimes throughout their stay. We never had to worry about others sitting at our table (for safety reasons) when it was time to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner.

If you don’t feel comfortable eating in the dining hall, you have the option have your food or drinks packaged as take-out to enjoy in your room or at one of the many outdoor picnic areas on the property. There are also quick bite ala carte options on-site at North Lodge Bar, Gigi’s Coffee Shop, the Poolside Bar, and Lake Grill.

The Hawley, PA Public Library
We opted to explore and visit the Hawley, PA public library. The library is just a short 15-minute drive away from Woodloch. There you’ll also find a local park, playground and walking trail right next to the library.

The children’s librarian was kind enough to share their outdoor art storytime trail with us which was so much fun! She read the book The Little Engine that Could and at each character on the art trail we had to try and figure out the riddle before moving on to the next one. If you’re ever in the area, be sure to visit and support this quaint library. I was pleased to see so many diverse children’s books prominently displayed on their bookshelves.

Hawley, PA Public Library

I cannot recommend Woodloch more!  Visit at least once to experience all the resort has to offer for a fun family adventure. Yes, even during a global pandemic. You won’t regret it!

Ready to head to Woodloch for your next family trip? Head to their website to book your adventure! Also, be sure to help Woodloch win the title of Best All-Inclusive Family resort for the second year in a row – cast your vote for them HERE.

family fun

Go Girls! Virtual Summer Camp for Girls Ages 6 – 14

Disclaimer: Our family was provided with a complimentary 5-week session of Go Girls! camp in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions shared are my own.

For the past four weeks, my daughter has been participating in a virtual summer camp called Go Girls! at Home. I’m so glad this camp provides so much enrichment to help keep kids busy, learning, and having fun — while practicing safe social distancing.

Go Girls! at Home has been teaching my daughter how to be a confident leader, the importance of building community and teamwork, the art of music, song and dance and so much more! It’s a social and emotional camp specifically designed for girls and I have loved watching my growing girl blossom over the past few weeks. Bonus points for it being a Black woman owned business.

Go Girls! at Home is a virtual summer camp for girls and gender non-conforming kids ages 6-14 (rising 1st through 8th graders) to make art and media together – all while practicing the Go Girls! Culture Code, their highly effective social-emotional skills framework designed to help girls become their boldest, bravest selves.

As stated on the Go Girls! website, here’s how the virtual camp works:

Go Girls! at Home virtual summer camp takes place inside of a Google Classroom.  The primary learning will happen in 3 different formats:

  1. Live large group meetings via Google Meet – at the beginning and end of the week, Go Girls! will come together for connection and celebration
  2. Zoom and/or Video-enriched lessons led by talented Go Girls! teaching artists – Go Girls! will watch instructional videos whenever they want and complete the artistic projects at their own pace
  3. Live small group meetings – Go Girls! are assigned to a small “family group” with other girls their age.  Each week, the groups, led by a Go Girls! “Camp Mama,” meet to build deeper connections and practice the lessons of the Go Girls! Culture Code.

My favorite part has been reinforcing how my daughter (and myself) have been able to apply to the Go Girls! Culture Code to her life (Say Yes, Give & Take, Make Mistakes, Feel My Feelings, Take Center Stage).

Each week has a new theme that follows the culture code. This week the girls are learning about feeling their feelings and emotions.

Have questions about this amazing virtual girls camp? Ask away in the comments.

family fun

Starting a Family Newsletter: A Fun Quarantine Activity

It took a virus to slow us down.  The coronavirus pandemic has brought our frantic pace of living to a screeching halt. Practicing social distancing at home with my family has allowed me time to evaluate the things in my life that matter the most. In short, COVID-19 has changed my perspective of living in the most unexpected and meaningful ways, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.

As a result of being safe at home, I decided to start a family newsletter to journal our quarantine experience.  We are currently making history right now and I want to remember how we spent these precious days together.

Each day my kids take turns being the “journalist” of the day.  They write down things like: what we did each day, the meals we ate, who we prayed for, quotes, the best moment of the day and anything new each person in the family learned.  We also include any pictures taken each day. At the end of the month I type up the newsletter and print it out as a keepsake.

I think it will be fun for us to look back years from now and remember how we bonded during a time when our usual activities were put on hold. Plus, this family activity helps to improve my children’s writing, communication and typing skills. A win-win for the whole family.

If you’re looking for a fun family activity that will keep each member of your family engaged, start your own family newsletter. Give it a catchy title, come up with a design and then start creating content.

What kind of content should you put in family newsletter?

Here are a few ideas to help get you started:

Family recipes
Your family tree
Recent achievements
Memorable moments
Birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, birth announcements, celebrations
Historical facts
Trivia questions
Funny jokes
Family quotes

Every member of the household can make contributions to the newsletter. Even a preschooler can dictate what he or she remembers most about the past month, year or quarter. Or you can ask little ones to draw their favorite memories.

How often your newsletter comes out depends how much news – and time – you have to put in. A once-a-month newsletter was our choice. You could also choose to have a quarterly or once-a-year newsletter you publish around the holidays.

If you’re looking for a simple and cost effective activity, starting a newsletter can be an effective way of strengthening connections between family members. Why not give it a try?

Your turn: Does your family have a newsletter? How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your perspective about life and living? Feel free to share in the comments.

children's books

20 Black Parents to Follow on Instagram Who Instill a Love of Reading in Their Children

As a parent, I’m obsessed with cultivating a love of reading in my children. It’s one of my favorite things about my parenthood journey thus far. Before becoming a parent, I read countless books and studies that have proven the many benefits of reading. I knew before having children that I wanted to instill a love of reading in them starting at birth. I take pride in seeing how well both of my children read (and write) and how they often choose to pick up a book and read on their own without being told to.

When it comes to children, the ideal time to begin sharing books with them is during infancy, even as young as six weeks old (or sooner). From early on, children should own books, be read to often and see others reading and writing.  Children are rapidly learning language.  They often quadruple the number of words they know between the ages of 1-2.  Therefore, as parents and caregivers it’s crucial to read aloud with them often to increase their vocabulary.

Below I’ve rounded up 20 Black parents I follow on Instagram who value reading and work to instill a love of reading in their children. These parents get it and understand the importance of establishing a reading habit with their children early on. I thought some of you may be interested in following some of these people as well for inspiration, tips and Black family joy!

1. Me @hereweeread

2. @jeanellnicolereads

3. @rattlesandheels

4. @mymotherhoodmagic

5. @_colorful_stories

6. @justmeomaya

7. @imsuzettesays

8. @readlikearockstar

9. @apron_education

10. @schoolathomeandbeyond

11. @polishedplayhouse

12. @puzzlehuddle

13. @rahmarodaah

14. @thevitamindproject

15. @mayasbooknook

16. @mommyweek

17. @firstname.basis

18. @twolightsacademy

19. @arethoseyourkids

20. @mybusybeesandme

Your turn: Did this list help you discover new people to follow? Who are some of your favorite Black parents to follow on Instagram who value the importance of reading with their children? Feel free to share in the comments as I’m always looking for new like-minded people to connect with.

children's books

31 Days of Women’s History: Download this Printable To Celebrate Women (and Girls) Who Persisted

March is Women’s History Month – a time to celebrate the accomplishments of women trailblazers and also inspire a new generation of young women and men. How do you plan to celebrate Women’s History Month this year? I hope some of you will take time this month to post about women on social media, share women’s stories with family and friends, and ensure that women’s impact on history and society is valued and commemorated.

31 Days of Women's History Printable

Just like last month for our Black History Month printable, we are celebrating again with another coloring printable!

To create this printable, I collaborated with Briana James of Notebooks and Nibbles, a talented Art student who reached out to me on Instagram and Latoria Williams from 1FirstCashAdvance online lending company, an open-heart woman who loves to support people. She’s currently building up her portfolio and asked to collaborate. I gladly accepted her offer after seeing her amazing work! Get in touch with Briana, give her a follow on Instagram, and support her as she continues to build up her art portfolio. It was such a pleasure to work with her and help support her at the same time.

This coloring printable is a fun way to celebrate 31 days of diverse, inspirational, female leaders. It features women and girls who are strong and brave leaders, authors, politicians, inventors, humanitarians, women’s rights activists, and activists for other causes. You can enjoy this coloring page printed in various sizes from 8.5 X 11 up to 24 X 36 if you’d like jumbo poster size.

Each day during the month of March (or any time of the year), color in one woman until the whole poster is complete. If there are books written about any the women, feel free to read them on your own or with your little readers. Otherwise, take time to research any of the women you may not be familiar with.

31 Days of Women's History Printable

Some of the women featured include: Jacqueline Woodson, Anna May Wong, Maria Tallchief, Serena Williams, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Wangari Maathai, Jazz Jennings, Mari Copeny, Michelle Wie and more!

Happy Reading & Researching!




family fun

The Library of Things: Amazing Free Perks Your Local Library May Offer

Today libraries offer library card holders so much more than just something to read. For anyone on a budget, there are amazing perks and services available to take advantage of with your library card.

For example, my daughter learned how to use the sewing machine for free at our local library. They made adorable fabric place mats and she’s so proud of how hers turned out. Although she already knows how to sew by hand, I also signed her up for the hand sewing class at the library.

Here are some of the other perks and resources available at different libraries across the country:

  • Check out tools from the tool-lending library
  • Check out toys for children ages 2-6
  • Discounted or free passes to local attractions
  • Foreign language classes
  • Seed library to try out seeds in your garden or windowsill planter
  • Borrow infrared thermometers to improve the efficiency of your home
  • Try out podcasting microphones and equipment
  • Borrow board games
  • Learn a new skill by taking free courses online
  • Borrow knitting needles for your next knitting project
  • Check out a telescope!  (My local library has one you can check out and borrow)

When I asked my Instagram community for some things their libraries offered, here are a few responses I received:

I checked out a telescope!

We’ve checked out power tools for home projects.

All time favorite library experience was the library that will order any book from Amazon and have it delivered to your house if they don’t already have it at the library and then you just turn it into the library when you’re done! Who knew!!

My local library has a 3D printer and some amazing kids STEM activities!

The most unique thing we offer is dinner and a movie at the library. The library is transformed into a restaurant with decorations, candles, music playing, etc. Our teen volunteers work as servers.

We checked out a state parks pass from our library to go camping for free.

We LOVE our library! We’ve checked out board games, video games, toy kits (like musical instruments and building blocks), and even a coding robot! Ours now offers local museum and zoo passes to check out too, which is great for families with a tighter budget.

We do so many great activities at our local library from having a Pinterest live class, learning macrame to making 80’s crafts. I love trivia nights. I have learned how to knit with my arms. We had adult science night and we had fun making rockets and testing them on a summer night.

Our library has a “nature backpack” with a parking pass to the state parks, animal and plant ID books, and binoculars.

My daughter went to a week of summer camp at the library. The theme was Spellbound. They did all sorts of magical activities: writing in invisible ink, making wands, and reading stories about magical creatures.

Ours offer free tutoring to children, by certified teachers, during the week and on Saturdays. Our public libraries also offer movie nights, and theater performances. Without their help I couldn’t have the books, audio books, music and films my students enjoy in the classroom. I’m so grateful for public libraries!

At my previous library gig we offered circulating bakeware! It was a lovely way for people to test different baked goods or create a treat for a loved one (or themselves!) without having to pay 20 to 30 dollars to procure the baking dish. We made some delicious cake donuts using a donut pan from the library.

We love our library. Next week we are taking a Toddler Music Class in Spanish at our library.

As you can see, you don’t have to be an avid reader to enjoy everything the library has to offer.  I encourage you to check with your local library and see if they also have a Library of Things you can check out besides books and audiobooks.

Your turn: Are you a regular library user? Let me know the most unusual or interesting thing you ever did or checked out from a library.

family fun

Halloween 2019: The Costumes Our Family Wore

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you click a link and purchase something. Please check out my disclosure policy for more details. All opinions are my own!


Dressing up for Halloween isn’t just for kids—our family (excluding my husband) enjoys making it a family affair.  Maybe one year I’ll get my husband to dress up with us as an entire family.  Wishful thinking?  Maybe.  Halloween just isn’t his thing and that’s okay.  As for me and the kids, I like to come up with creative and inexpensive costumes each year.  Check out our 2019 Halloween costumes below.


Let’s just all agree my daughter Madison stole the show!  There is nothing better than a creative and inexpensive costume that will turn heads.  Amiright?! My daughter and I had this costume picked out since last Halloween after scrolling on Pinterest for unique ideas.  Once I saw this costume, how simple it was to re-create and how much my daughter loved it, I knew it would be a winner and it was!  Everyone absolutely LOVED her costume and she received so many compliments.

To re-create this costume.  Grab a t-shirt, a picture frame from The Dollar Tree and a little non-toxic face makeup and you’re done.  We ordered this t-shirt and this non-toxic face makeup.


Who says Waldo can’t be a Black boy?  This Where’s Waldo costume for kids absolutely KILLS me and I LOVE it!  It was my hope that at least one of the kids would be a bookish character so I was thrilled when my son chose to be Waldo.  Barrington loves all of the books in the Where’s Waldo series so it was only fitting to pair his costume with the latest Waldo book for Halloween.

To re-create this costume.  We ordered this Where’s Waldo costume.  We also used a pair of blue jeans and black boots that my son already owned.


If you’re feeling crafty and you love books.  This Halloween costume may be for you (hello, DIY!).

When it comes to Halloween costumes, I’ve always been the do-it-yourself type. Mainly because I don’t like the selection of costumes I see in stores. Especially for women and girls. But also because I like to create.  I’m not sewing savvy enough (yet) to make a whole costume from scratch, but adding little pieces or DIY-ing certain parts? Oh yeah. I can handle that.  That’s why I was all over this costume when I saw the idea online.

This costume was super simple to create. I bought this plain green t-shirt and these green jeggings.  Green felt, red felt, white letters, a foam board and a dowel from Micheal’s, and a headband from The Dollar Tree. I cut out some leaves and an apple and done! I grabbed our copy of The Giving Tree off our bookshelf to complete the look.

Sharing Halloween with your kids, whether they’re babies, toddlers, or older kids can be such a fun experience especially when you’re all dressed up and feeling festive.

So, take your pick from these Halloween costume ideas or come up with your own to create happy memories on Halloween night!

Which of the Halloween costumes listed above would you like to try (if any)? Tell us in the comments section!

family fun

The Kids’ Book of Paper Love + A Giveaway!

Disclaimer: Workman Publishing sent me a copy to check out and is partnering with me for a giveaway!


From the editors of Flow magazine
by Irene Smit & Astrid Van Der Hulst
Release October 15th, 2019
Recommend ages 7-14

About the Book

A surprise on every page!

Brimming from cover to cover with projects and other paper surprises, The Kids’ Book of Paper Love, from the bestselling editors of Flow magazine and books, is a bounty of a book that begs to be folded, cut up, collaged, doodled on, and shared.

Loop paper strips into a paper chain. Snip out bookmarks. Fold a paper house. Make photo booth props—a silly mustache, a crown—to pose with friends. Bind up a DIY storybook and use it to sketch out adventures and dreams. Construct a paper flower bouquet, a paper terrarium, a fortune-teller with prompts like Lend someone a book and tell them why you recommend it.

The Kids’ Book of Paper Love is from the bestselling editors of Flow magazine and books including A Book That Takes Its Time and 50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful, Ordinary Life. Now Flow enters the children’s section for the first time.  Take a look at the video below to see the book in action!


With this book, kids will enjoy HOURS OF UNPLUGGED FUN and the pleasures of paper.  The Kids’ Book of Paper Love invites children to write, craft, play, and share in a completely screen-free way. Each page throughout the book can be folded, cut up, collaged, doodled on, and shared.  We enjoyed cutting out our own bookmarks, making DIY photo booth props, and making a paper “boredom buster”.  We plan to do the paper chain activity to countdown the days until Christmas this year!  This is such an amazing book that can be enjoyed so many different ways.  Ready for your chance to win a copy?  See the giveaway details listed below.

Visit the website to learn more about the book.

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The Kids’ Book of Paper Love Giveaway

family fun

The Easiset Way to Learn How to Play Chess for Ages 5 – 105: Brainblox Family Fun Chess

Disclaimer: My family received a free Family Fun Chess set from Brainblox to review and enjoy with our family in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

If you’re like me and have little to no experience playing the game of chess, you may be wondering how to teach kids to play chess when you don’t even know how to play yourself! Thankfully, Brainblox is here to help! They recently introduced a beautiful Family Fun Chess set to their product line and it’s so great.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me talking about it recently in my Instagram stories.  I also hosted a giveaway in partnership with Brainblox where we gave away one chess set to a lucky winner.

What is Family Fun Chess?

It’s a color-coded, FUN, learn-as-you-play game for kids and adults to learn chess!

When it’s your turn, simply roll the Chess Cube to see which piece to move! The Reference Cards make it easy to learn-as-you-play, while the full-color Instruction Book and videos tell you everything else you need to know.

The chess set includes:

  • a folding wooden chess board
  • 32 wooden chess pieces
  • 2 reference cards
  • a full color chess book
  • a wooden cube

Learning how to play chess the “Family Fun” way was very easy to understand for me and my kids.  We found the reference cards to be super useful in helping us all understand how each of the chess pieces are able to move on the board during the game.  I also appreciate the fact that Brainblox included instructions for playing chess the standard way too.  This will come in handy once we’ve fully grasped the rules of chess and are ready to move on to learning how to play standard chess.

The thing I love most about learning to play chess and teaching my kids to play is all of the benefits associated with understanding the game.

Here are just a few of the benefits of playing chess:

  • increases concentration and memory
  • helps with paying attention to detail and strategic thinking
  • improves problem-solving and spatial skills
  • exercises both sides of the brain

Even more importantly, I find learning to play chess alongside my children to be much more meaningful because offers quality time and experiences that we will remember for a lifetime. If you’re sold on learning to play chess with your little ones, you’ll first need to get your family a chess set.  If you can’t already tell, I’d highly recommend the Family Fun Chess set from Brainblox.  It makes a great holiday or anytime of the year gift for ages 5 – 105!

Not ready to invest in a chess set of your own yet?  You can also look into local chess clubs for kids in your area.  Find out if your child’s school or your local library has a Chess Club. That’s a great place to start, so kids can get basic instruction and have peers to play with.  There are also many online resources and apps available to use too.  You can choose to play against friends, connect with other players at your level, or get live or virtual tutoring.

Your turn:  Do you or your children know how to play chess?  Are you excited to learn about the Family Fun Chess set from Brainblox?  Feel free to share in the comments.