Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fun at the Holland Aquatic Center

Disclosure: I was given passes to come visit the Holland Community Aquatic Center for a honest review. All opinions in this post are 100% mine.  

September has been a busy month for us. Not only did we have the chance to go to the Michigan Renaissance Festival, we also the opportunity to go to the Holland Community Aquatic Center.  We used to live in Holland when the kids were little. They were young enough when we moved away that they do not remember the town very well.  Holland is such a fun place to visit and only a couple of hours away, so we were excited to go back for the day.  We had not had a chance to go to the aquatic center before we moved, so this was the first time we went. 

When we pulled up to the center it reminded us a little bit of a school. We noticed how nice everything looked as we walked into the building.  The woman that greeted us at the front desk was very nice. She told us a little bit about the center, and then directed us to the locker rooms. 

I brought Kara, and her best friend to swim. I was not really sure what to expect at first, and if two teenage girls who are not big swimmers would have fun, but it turns out I had nothing to worry about. They ended up really enjoying themselves.  They are also in a goofy picture face phase so most of their pictures  look like this. 

The pool was divided into multiple areas.   The inflatable obstacle course was in the deep end of the pool.  Because it is in the deep end, for safety reasons guests need to pass a swim test before getting on it.  

In the middle part of the center there is a lap pool.  It is open for people who want to swim laps.  It is also where they give the swim tests to the guests who want to use the deep end of the pool.  The zip line is only available on certain days and not up the day we were there. 

In the shallow end of the pool, there is a giant water slide.  Do you see the dolphin on the right side of the picture.  He is showing how tall you need to be to go down the slide. (48") The person in the red T shirt next to the dolphin is one of the lifeguards.  All areas of the aquatic center had lifeguards watching over the guests.  The girls loved the slide and went down it several times.  On the left side of the picture you can see a round area.  This is vortex pool, which spins you around in a circle.  Children under 48" need an adult with them to go in this part of the pool.   I did not need to worry about the girls in the vortex pool,  Kara is three inches taller than me.  

This was my favorite part of the swim area. A 12 foot diameter spa that you can not get in unless you are 16 years or older.  The girls were a bit bummed they were not old enough to use it.  I may have teased them a bit while I was in it without them. ;) 

Their favorite area to play in was the water playground.  They loved standing in the fountains and under the tumble buckets.  They are actually under them in this photo.  I did find it kind of funny that they loved the area designed for little ones.  Guess they are not as grown up as they like to think they are.  We were all glad we went, and will hopefully visit again soon.

If you are interested in visiting the Holland Community Aquatic Center they are open various hours through the week.  They do close temporarily for swim meets, so it is always best to check ahead the hours it will be open on the day you want to go.   In addition to open swim time in the splash zone, they have a variety of classes and are available for parties.  The cost of entry is between $4.50 and $5.50 per person  depending on it if is a one time visit or a splash pack (groups of 4 or more)  If you live in the Holland Public School District there is a $1.25 discount.  For more information, be sure to check out the website HERE.

Also be sure to check out this special deal for a coupon for a buy one get one free admission pass
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Friday, September 25, 2015

Dare to Share #182

It is Friday night, and you know what that means.. 
It is time to Dare to Share!! 

This past week was a busy one.  We finally had the chance to go to the Renaissance Festival.  I shared about it with a lot of photos in my post Our Visit to the Michigan Renaissance Festival.

On Sunday, I had a special friend come over and make Mini Halloween Cupcakes. I introduced you to my friend in this post, as you might be seeing her a lot more on my blog in the future.  

I also had a chance to share the five Dare to Share Features of the Day from #180 at the beginning of the week..  I adore this DIY Witch Hat Headband by Crafts Unleashed

Love Smores? How about Ooey Gooey Smores Cookies by Eat, Pray, Read, Love

Your kids would love Edible Witch Cookies by The Simple Parent

Need some fun lunch ideas for your Minecraft fan? Check out Minecraft Bento Box Lunch & Snack Ideas by AtttaGirl Says

I love these Bushels of Apples Sugar Cookie Cups by Growing up Gabel

My co-host Kim from Kandy Kreations has some fun ideas on who to throw a LEGO Family Dinner party. This would be a lot of fun for the LEGO lovers in your life.  

Now it is time for this week's party.  You are able to link up anything you would like to share. If you are chosen as a Dare to Share Feature of the Day your post will be featured on the blog and my social media. This party is also seen on Kandy Kreations for double the exposure.  Kim also chooses features for her blog and social media.. 

Link up and HAVE FUN! 


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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mini Halloween Cupcakes

Decorating ideas for Halloween cupcakes

It is time for me to make an introduction.  You might have noticed in Our Visit to the Renaissance Festival post that there is a little girl you have not seen before in my pictures. She looks a little bit like my daughter Kara, but is a bit younger than you remember Kara to be.  Six months ago, this  special little girl came into my life.  For now, I am not going to use her first name, because I forgot to ask if it was okay.  I will just use the initial B. How she came into my life is kind of crazy. It is one of those stories that you know that a higher power has to be  involved.  B's dad and I grew up, and graduated together three hours away in another state many years ago.  We knew each other back then, but not really well. About a year and a half ago I saw him comment on a mutual friend's post. He did not have his profile picture up yet, so I clicked on him to see if there were any recent pictures.  I was in for quite a surprise!! He had on his profile that he went to church in the very town I was currently living in. I contacted him, and we found out we have been living in the same area for many years! Neither one of us had any idea, and had not crossed paths in the 11 years we were both here.  We then talked on Facebook for about a year. Not all the time, but once in awhile.  He mentioned we should go get ice cream some time. I agreed, but for whatever reason it did not happen.  This past March I took my daughter to the movies during a special free film festival.  Right before the movie started, I saw him walk in with his daughter.  They ended up sitting two rows directly behind us. After the movie, we talked for a bit. I met B, but she was pretty shy that day. When we said goodbye,  we said we would talk again soon. Two weeks later, I ran into him again.  We didn't run into each other in 11 years, but then do twice in just a couple of weeks?!.. Hmmm.  He invited me to visit their church for Easter.  I went, and I really liked it. I now go to the same church. B's dad and I found out we have been living very similar lives the last several years, and really understand what each other has been  going through. We started talking more, and seeing each other at church.  Over the summer, B. and her dad were a huge help. They helped me a lot with the endless move, and we started to do fun things together too.   B. and I are a lot alike. She loves to make things, do crafts, and bake. She came into my life at the perfect time. I have been struggling a bit with my oldest daughter graduating, and moving away. My younger two are also getting older, and will be graduating within a few years as well. They often do not want to do things anymore. For the last 19 years, all I have known is being a mom, so  the transition has been difficult. B. wants to do all the fun things that I used to do with my own kids.  She has become like a "bonus daughter" to me.  We have made a lot of plans for the next few months, so hopefully you will see of B in more of my posts. 


I let B. choose what she wanted to make when she came to my house for the afternoon. She really liked the Blue Velvet cake mix. The plan was to make Blue Monster Cupcakes.  When she saw all my various candies, sprinkles and frostings, she changed her mind.  We then decided to use the mini cupcake pan to make bite size treats. 

She used a combination of white regular frosting with Wilton color mists, and Icing cans with tips. She then used different kinds of sprinkles, and candy to make several creepy cupcakes.  

I think it was more fun to see what she came up with, instead of making all of the cupcakes the same.  She enjoyed it so much that she decorated all 53 mini cupcakes.. (3 disappeared before they could be frosted.. LOL!)  Our favorites are the cupcakes with the bones and the eyeballs.  They all tasted great, and we made a memory.  
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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Our Visit to the Michigan Renaissance Festival

Disclosure:  I was given tickets to visit the Michigan Renaissance Festival  and give an honest review. All opinions are 100% mine.  

Do you remember a couple of weeks ago when I posted about the special deal on tickets for the 37th Annual Michigan Renaissance Festival? (the deal is still good for a few more weeks!)  This past weekend we finally had the chance to go.  Each weekend there is a different theme.  My son really wanted to go to one of the Highland Fling Weekends. This weekend was Shamrocks and Shenanigans, an Irish version of the Highland Heavy Games. Irish Dancers performed  in addition to a lot of other Celtic entertainment.  
There were five of us who went. Two grown ups, two teenage boys and preteen girl. One of the teenage boys and the girl had gone before, but the rest of us had no idea what to expect. Parking (which is FREE) is in a field, and then you walk down a  long path through the woods to the front gate.  Right away we noticed a lot of people were dressesd in all kinds of costumes. A lot of the costumes were traditional Renaissance outfits, but there were also a lot of other very creative people out there.  We saw some unicorns, fairies, and even a Pikachu. You could pretty much wear just about anything and you would blend in.  I was dressed as a mom in jeans and a sweatshirt.. :)  

As we walked into festival, we saw Crannog, a band that played traditional Irish, Scottish and Medieval music.  There were many little shops all around, with all kinds of things to look at.  Almost immediately one of the teenage boys disappeared into a shop. He had been there before, and had an idea of what he was looking for.  Since the other two kids were not really into browsing, we decided to see what else we could find.  

Right away we saw the petting zoo. Being animal lovers, the preteen girl and I had to go in and see them. This one was her favorite. It was a very sweet, and good natured. There were also some baby goats, a few lamb, a llama and a calf.  There were brushes available if you wanted to brush the animals, which she did. 

We were hoping to take a peek in the castle, but there was a wedding going on so it was closed to the public. We thought we might come back  later on, but we got busy doing other things and forgot. 

On a nearby stage we stumbled upon the Ric Roc Zoo and his "dumb show".  His show is true to it's name. It was pretty dumb, but it was also funny. He brought up volunteers from the audience for parts of the show, and they were really funny too.  He did some impressive juggling and balancing tricks that we all enjoyed. When his show was over he announced that his next show was "the stupid show" with different tricks. 

While walking through another part of the village, we stumbled across this familiar face.  He was happy to pose for pictures with the guests. 

We caught the tail end of the Manolete Pyro Gyro Show. We were definitely entertained by the part we did see. 

We then went to the joust field, because it was time to see the joust. This was definitely the favorite part of the festival for all three of the males in our group.  It was a lot of fun to watch for us females as well. The two knights on the left were the good guys, the ones on the right not so much. 

There were three rounds in the joust.  The winner of the first round, and the winner of the second round went head to head in the third round. The losers of the joust were not very happy with the outcome, and challenged the winners to a rematch.  A match that would be to the death!  We were told to come back a few hours later to see the "final" joust, and to find out which knight would actually survive. 

There was a little over an hour before the final joust, so we went to see a few more attractions. Us girls wanted to see the live mermaid at Mermaid Lagoon. The guys decided they would go watch some of the Highland Heavy Game events while we waited in line. There was a little bit of wait to meet the  mermaid, but we enjoyed looking at all the themed murals submitted by festival guests that lined the path.   The mermaid was very nice and chatted with each of the children in her special language.  She also gave each of them a special pebble from the bottom of her tank. We were told when we left that there would be other mermaids to visit if we wanted to come back.

There was still a little more time after visiting the mermaid, so next we went to the fairy house garden. When the festival first started in August, guests were encouraged to submit a fairy house for a contest. The houses were all so different from each other, but very creative. This was one of our favorites, a treehouse for Tinkerbell. 

For the final joust we sat in a different area with a better view of the action. The Queen was present for this event. She tried to talk some sense into the knights, as there must be a better way to fight for their honor instead of fighting to the death. As expected, the knights disagreed.  

I don't want to give away how the joust ended, just know that it was action packed.  There was fighting on horseback and on the ground.  There was a final winner, and all of the knights do come back to life, so that they may fight again each weekend.  

I did not get any pictures of the food, but there is a lot of choices to choose from.  There is everything from giant turkey legs, to burgers, soup, and ice cream. There are even pickle vendors selling giant pickles. For adults who like alcoholic beverages, there are also several places were you can try out your favorite beers and wine.  

If you would like to go to the Michigan Renaissance Festival an experience it for yourself there is still time.  It runs through Oct 4th  This upcoming weekend is the Harvest Huzzah which has a BBQ competition and festival.  On Sunday the 27th, there will be Pie Wars for those who love pie.  On Friday Oct 2nd, there is a special Festival Friday with an after hours Masquerade Ball, and free admission for military.  If you have a sweet tooth, you may consider going to Sweet Endings,  That weekend there will be a chocolate festival with free samples, a cupcake crusade, and fencing competition.  More information about each of the weekends, times and directions and can be found on the festival website HERE.

We all very much enjoyed our day at the festival.  If you go, we think you will too. 
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Monday, September 21, 2015

Dare to Share Features of the Day (#180)

I know I said I would be posting features over the weekend.  I ended up having unexpected plans on both days.  I was also able to work on two new posts for this week, because of those plans.  We made it to the Renaissance Festival, and I  baked cupcakes with a special friend of mine.  (more to that story later :)) 

I was so hard to pick features. There are just so many great projects each week!   I picked five that I think you will really enjoy.  

Isn't this little witch adorable wearing her  DIY Witch Hat Headband?!  You can see how to make with this tutorial by Crafts Unleashed

I love Smores so when I see a cookie called Ooey Gooey Smores Cookies, I am in! You can find the recipe over at Eat, Pray, Read, Love.

Here is another cookie that the kids will love to help make and eat.  Witch Hat cookies by The Simple Parent.

If you have a child who loves Minecraft, you will have to check out these Bento Box Lunch and Snack Ideas by Attagirl Says.

I hope to go apple picking very soon. I could not help but notice these super cute Bushel of Apples Sugar Cookie Cups by Growing up Gabel

Thanks everyone for linking up to Dare to Share!! 
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Friday, September 18, 2015

Dare to Share #181

It is Friday night, and you know what that means.. 
It is time to Dare to Share!  

It was our first full week of school, and it went pretty well.  Dance and robotics started back up.  We had our open house/meet the teachers night where I went through the kids schedules.  My daughter also got her Homecoming dress at a special place we have locally during Homecoming and Prom called Cinderella's Closet.  Tonight I met with some of my friends from church, and tomorrow I am finally going to the Renaissance Festival. 

I was able to share some posts this week.  

Early in the week, I shared more about Back to School and Everything Else

If the timing works out, I will be going back to an old hometown and visiting their aquatic center.  If you live in Michigan and want to know how you can get buy one get one free passes, check out my post A Special Deal for the Holland Aquatic Center.

For those of you who like to buy your Halloween costumes, I also shared the Top 10 Kids Halloween Costumes for 2015. There is also a coupon to use on Costume Express.  

My co-host Kim from Kandy Kreations  recently went to Brick Fest Live.. We loved it when it came to our town awhile back as well.  She has put together some of her favorite Lego Party ideas.  

With everything going on this week, I have not had time to features from the party yet. I will be posting them this weekend!  

Now it is time for this week's party. You are welcome to share anything that you would like to share.  If you are chosen as a Dare to Share Feature of the Day,  your post will be featured on the blog and social media.  This party is also seen on Kandy Kreations for double the exposure. Kim also chooses features for her blog and social media.  

Link up and HAVE FUN!  


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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Top 10 Kids Costumes for 2015

Disclosure: This post contains affliliate links.  I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Now that my kids are a bit older, they not as interested in dressing up for Halloween anymore. My youngest is still considering dressing up this year, and I might help a family friend with a costume which makes me happy, but we have not clue what either one will wear yet.  When I saw that there was a lot of the top 10 costumes for this year, I had to check it out. Many were based on popular movies that have been out recently. We loved the Descendants and Inside Out, and are happy to see that made the list.  Do you see your favorite on the list?  

 Costume Express has pulled together their list of top 10 kid’s costumes which includes Disney’s Descendants, Star Wars, Paw Patrol, Big Hero 6 and more. Check out the full list below to see if your child’s costume is included. Additionally, Costume Express is offering 15% off sitewide with code AFCCXP15 at checkout. Whether your child’s costume is on the list or you find another great costume on the site, be sure to use code AFCCXP15 to save 15%.

Disney's Descendants: Kids Mal Isle of the Lost Deluxe Costume

Halo: Kids Master Chief Muscle Costume

Disney Inside Out - Classic Disgust Costume For Girls

Batman The Dark Knight Rises Muscle Kids Costume 12-14

Paw Patrol - Chase Toddler/Kids Costume

Jurassic World Indominus Rex Costume For Kids

Star Wars Darth Vader Child Costume

Avengers 2: Age of Ultron Deluxe Iron Man Mark 43 Kids Costume

Big Hero 6: Deluxe Baymax Muscle Costume For Kids

Avengers 2 - Age of Ultron: Deluxe Kids Captain America Costume

Browse the full selection of all of the hottest costumes for the entire family at CostumeExpress.com !

What does your child want to be for Halloween?  

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