Friday, March 3, 2017

Harlem Globetrotters: Coming to Charlotte! {Giveaway} 

The Harlem Globetrotters are coming to Charlotte! Our guy gets so excited because they always come to town around his birthday! He's a Basketball player himself and just loves the joy The Harlem Globetrotters bring to the court! 

The Original Harlem Globetrotters are preparing for their action packed 2016-2017 tour! They will be in Charlotte March 25th at Halton Arena at UNC Charlotte.  There are two shows, one at 2pm and the other at 7pm.  During their 2017 World Tour, the famed team will feature a star-studded roster that includes Big Easy Lofton, Ant Atkinson, Hi-Lite Bruton, Thunder Law, Bull Bullard andCheese Chisholm – plus female stars TNT Lister and Ace Jackson*– the Globetrotters’ one-of-a-kind show is unrivaled in the world of family entertainment. Every game will showcase incredible ball handling wizardry, rim-rattling dunks, trick shots, hilarious comedy and unequaled fan interaction. Join Globetrotter stars after the game where they will stay for an autograph, photograph and high five session for fans (subject to availability).

The Harlem Globetrotters® are legendary worldwide, synonymous with one-of-a-kind family entertainment and great basketball skills for the past 90 years. Throughout their history, the Original Harlem Globetrotters have showcased their iconic talents in 122 countries and territories on six continents,often breaking down cultural and societal barriers while providing fans with their first-ever basketball experience. Proud inductees of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Globetrotters have entertained hundreds of millions of fans – among them popes, kings, queens, and presidents – over nine thrilling decades. Sponsored by Baden Sports, Harlem Globetrotters International, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Herschend Enterprises, the largest family-owned themed entertainment company in the U.S. For the latest news and information about the Harlem Globetrotters, visit the Globetrotters' official Web site: and follow them on Twitter @Globies.

This is an event we look forward to every year.  Jay brings his friends, or a grandparent and we have a blast.  Don't miss it, it's not just a game it's a fun afternoon of entertainment.  Here's a sneak peek of the fun we've had over the years!  As a very special treat we have something for our readers!  Not only will we be taking our boys this year, we will also be giving away 4 tickets to the show on the 25th at 7pm to one lucky reader!!

Please tell us who you will be bringing if you win to be considered as a winner. Giveaway ends on March 20th at midnight and winners will be notified via email. Once we choose a winner we will give you 24 hrs to respond and then we will go to who's next in line. Extra entries to anyone who shares on social media. You must tag "The Playful Mom" in all posts to be considered!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey presents Out of this World {Giveaway}

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® invites fans in Charlotte to engage in a new circus experience. Ringling Bros. and Barnum &Bailey Presents Out Of This World is a cosmic voyage that takes families to space to witness incredible acrobatic performances on various planets introduced through lead characters and a good versus evil story line. “By adding the element of ice, we’re bringing speed and motion to an already thrilling, multi sensory performance,” said Feld. “Throughout the show, families won’t know where the floor ends and the ice begins. In the same way, parents won’t know what’s more amazing: what is happening in front of them or the look of wonder in their children’s eyes.”, said Alana Feld, Executive Vice President of Feld Entertainment and Producer of Out Of This World.

5…4…3…2…1…BLAST OFF with Ringling Bros.® one hour before the show launch at the Starseeker's Early AccessTM - FREE with your ticket. Be part of an immersive experience from the moment you enter the arena until the time the show begins! In this unique pre-show experience your family will see Ringling Bros. performers up-close and have exclusive access to personalized autographs! Get an incredible sneak peek through exclusive content from backstage at The Greatest Show On Earth®. Jump in and have fun at the Ringling Bros. interstellar dance party. Clown around with the cosmically hilarious Ringling Bros. Clown Alley. And travel from planet to planet in an immersive concourse experience that will prepare you for intergalactic fun that is truly Out Of This World! Go behind the scenes at the Animal Open House. Open to all ticket-holders, one and 1/2 hours prior to showtime. Learn about circus animals, see how they live, eat, and play.

Show Schedule

Wednesday February 1 at 7 pm

Thursday February 2 at 7 pm

Friday February 3 at 7 pm

Saturday February 4 at 11 a.m., 3 pm and 7 pm

Sunday January 5 at 11 a.m. and 3 pm

 You can buy your tickets HERE.

Wouldn't it be great to win a pack of tickets? Well I have some exciting news for you! One lucky winner will be selected to win a Family 4 Pack of tickets to The Greatest Show on Earth for Thursday February 2nd at 7pm. How awesome is that?!

All you have to do is leave a comment below with what Planet you would want to visit if you could go on your very own Cosmic voyage! Extra entries for any social media shares: Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter! Winner will be chosen Tuesday morning, 1/31/17.

I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I receive these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Advanced Screening: Moana in South Charlotte {11/16} {Giveaway}

From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli’i Cravalho) meets the once-mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “The Princess & the Frog”) and produced by Osnat Shurer (“Lifted,” “One Man Band”).

So, our family has a tie to Hawaii, Maui to be exact and we just can't wait to see this movie in the theatres!  We've been seriously counting down the days!  When I heard the same team from The Little Mermaid and Aladdin were working on this I got even more excited!  Those are two of my all time favorites.

As a special treat to The Playful Mom readers, I have 10 passes (each admits 2) to the Advanced Screening at Regal Stonecrest at Piper Glen in South Charlotte this Wednesday night at 7pm!  As most advanced screenings you will need to arrive early!  They give out more passes than seats and I want to make sure you get to see this awesome movie before anyone else!  

To enter, please comment below with 3 things that you are thankful for besides you're amazing family of course!  Entries need to be in by Tuesday at 6pm {11/15} to be considered!

Like MOANA on Facebook:
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Visit the official MOANA website here:

MOANA sails into theatres everywhere on November 23rd!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

{Waitlist Only} Advanced Screening: TROLLS Charlotte, NC {Giveaway}

From the creators of Shrek comes DreamWorks Animation's Trolls, a smart, funny, and irreverent comedy about the search for happiness, and just how far some will go to get it. This hilarious film transports audiences to a colorful, wondrous world populated by the overly optimistic Trolls, with a constant dance in their step and a song on their lips, and the comically pessimistic Bergens, who are only happy when they have trolls in their stomachs.

Utilizing music to further the film's narrative, the Trolls soundtrack is produced by Justin Timberlake and features five original songs including songs by Justin Timberlake and Gwen Stefani in addition to a number of classic hits from the 60's - 80's. 

As soon as we heard Justin Timberlake's "I got this feeling" over the summer we've been anxiously awaiting the date to see this movie!  I had tons of Trolls as a little girl and am so excited to see this come back around!  As a special treat for our local Charlotte readers I have sets of tickets for an Advanced Screening this Saturday 10/29 @ 11am at the Regal Stonecrest location off of Rea Rd.

I only have a select amount of passes so please only grab them if you're sure you can make it.  These tickets do not guarantee you a seat, it's a first come first served event, so arrive early to secure your spot!  I'll be there with my family so be sure to say hi!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Disney On Ice: Follow Your Heart is coming to Charlotte! {Giveaway}


Disney on Ice Presents: Follow Your Heart!  Follow your heart straight to adventure at Disney On Ice! Just keep swimming with Dory and new pal, Hank from Disney/Pixar’s “Finding Dory” as they set out to find her parents. Cheer with the Emotions from Disney/Pixar’s “Inside Out.” Venture to wintery Arendelle where Olaf and Kristoff help reunite Anna and Elsa and learn love is the most powerful magic of all. See the Disney Princesses achieve their dreams through bravery, kindness and perseverance. And celebrate true friendship with the “Toy Story” gang. Make unforgettable memories with Mickey and your Disney friends when Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart skates into your hometown!

This is a huge favorite at our house, we haven't missed one year of it and our oldest is 10 years old!  They will be in Charlotte at the Spectrum Center, Wednesday September 28th-Sunday October 2nd.
Buy your tickets HERE

As a special treat for my readers, I have one Family 4 pack of tickets to giveaway for Thursday, September 29th at 7:00pm.

To enter please list your favorite Disney movie in the comments below!  For extra entries share on social media (Twitter, Instagram or Facebook), be sure to tag @theplayfulmom in all of your posts!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Birth Story of Baby Jude {Part 3}

This part, the actual crazy labor part is where it gets a little fuzzy, partly because I was still coming down off of the Stadol that I spoke about HERE.  I remember parts here and there before I started pushing, seriously y'all, that medicine took over my brain and parts of my labor are just missing.  I remember my water breaking because I kept saying "I peed on myself, oh my gosh I'm so embarrassed I can't believe I peed myself" knowing good and dang well I had a catheter in.  And the nurses giggling and saying, "no you didn't sweetie, your water broke and we're going to need you to start pushing soon."  

This is the part where the details slip my mind and I'll just tell you the one detail I can and always will remember was the CRAZY intense pain.  I was so upset because by this point I had been given my epidural and yet again, just like with Jayden, it didn't take.  So I felt every single painful moment.  Once I started pushing, it didn't take that long.  I do remember at one point the nurses and doctor telling me he was right there and that I just needed to give a few more good pushes and he would be here.  And me looking at my husband and just crying my eyes out and saying "I can't do this, please just tell them we need to do a c-section, I just can't possibly do this."  And the most encouraging words ever followed, "you don't have a choice, push."

I was exhausted, I was in so much pain and could feel everything and just remember thinking he can't come out, there isn't enough room, I can't possibly be dilated enough because this just doesn't feel right but for some reason everyone is yelling at me to push.  I let my doctor know my feelings about this and she wasn't having it and gave me a real quick come to Jesus meeting and said, "Kristen, I need you to hear this, you HAVE to push, He is right here, almost out and his shoulder can get stuck, I just need you to take whatever you've got left and just push, it's almost over."  And in that moment I pushed more to prove them wrong, I didn't feel like he was ready to come out.  I pushed as hard as I possibly could and there he was, sweet baby Jude.  The nurses patted me on the back and said, "good job mama, you did it."  They took Jude over to be weighed and I remember being upset because in those few minutes after he was born I didn't hear any crying and I just kept saying to Brandon "just check on him, make sure he's breathing.  Grab the camera, get photos." As soon as they announced his weight I felt pride in knowing that I worked hard my entire pregnancy to watch my carbs and sugars and I didn't end up with a 10lb baby, like they were thinking. 

I was ready for a nap, because it literally took everything out of me to push him out.  But in that moment, they handed me our sweet little miracle and every bit of exhaustion drained out of my body and I was overwhelmed with emotion.  I looked at him with tears in my eyes and said, "I am so glad you're here.  You have no idea how long we've waited for you."

Jude Stanley Downing was born at 12:46pm June 7, 2016.  He weighed 8lbs 11oz and was 21 inches long.  We couldn't love our perfect little miracle from God more.

I felt so much better after this delivery than I did with Jayden.  My back was sore from the epidural and I hated sleeping in the uncomfortable bed but overall I was feeling okay.  Our visitor list was small.  Our first visitors arrived just 2 hours after he was born, Big Brother Jayden and Grandpa Mack (Brandon's dad).  Jay was still in school, had field day that day and stayed with Grandpa that week.  Seeing his face beam with pride as he came across the room and laid eyes on Jude just made my heart burst.

Their first official selfie together...

We were then visited by Nana (Brandons Mom), Cheri and Paxton.  Brandon and I were both so thankful to his parents for taking care of us and Jayden.  I can't tell you how many times we sent his mom to our house to grab something else we forgot.  And by 7 pm everyone had left and it was just the 3 of us.  It was surreal, we were so overwhelmed by the way God had provided for our little family.  Just another moment in our life where we saw firsthand how God's way was better than our way.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Carowinds fires up the grill for Bands, Brews and BBQs! #CarowindsBBB

When it comes to the South you can count on good sweet tea, craft beers and delicious BBQ.  Foodies can feast like a pro beginning July 29 as Carowinds fires up the grill for its second annual food and beer festival, Bands, Brews and BBQs. It will be held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from July 29 through August14 and is included with park admission.

Guests can follow the smell of barbecue to food booths near Harmony Hall and choose from a variety of smoked meats paired with Chow Chow. Park goers can sample everything from beef brisket to turkey wings to duck, and top it off with one of many variations of sauces ranging from sweet to tangy to mustard and downright vinegar. My personal favorite was Harmony Hall's very own Sweet Tea BBQ sauce, YUM!  What goes better with barbecue than a nice, cold brew! Guests 21 years of age or older will be able to choose from our amazing selection of craft beers from several Carolina breweries. And for dessert? Some good ol’ homemade banana pudding! 

“We’re so pleased to bring back Bands, Brews and BBQs for another year at the park,” says Kris Suita, Carowinds executive chef. “We’ve brought together three favorites under one roof- food, brew and music. Mix that with world-class rides and attractions, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for fun.”

In addition, visitors can try their luck at Beer Pong and Beer Slides and take notes as representatives from Cabela’s show grillers how to smoke meat at home. To purchase beer or food for Bands, Brews and BBQs, guests will need to buy tokens from a token booth inside the park located near Harmony Hall. With Brews at 4 tokens a can and food choices: Pork, Beef or Poultry for 3 tokens each.  

After spending a hot day at the waterpark, Brews and BBQ was just what this mama wanted!  Such a great way to end the evening!
To find out more about Bands, Brews & BBQs, see a complete band line-up for the event, or to purchase Carowinds tickets, visit

Guests can share #foodie pictures using: #CarowindsBBB. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Birth Story of Baby Jude {Part 2}

With Jayden, I was a day past my due date, got to the hospital after Midnight and was admitted a few hours later around 3 am.  After painful contractions, two epidurals, pitocin, being totally out of control (picture kicking, screaming, oxygen mask) and 16.5 hours later Jayden was born at 9 lbs 12 oz and I said aloud that I'd never do that again.  

Baby Jayden (born the size of a two month old, ha!)

Fast forward 10 years and there I was, 38 weeks pregnant, up getting Jayden ready for school and going through our normal morning routine when I started feeling painful contractions.  I remember Jayden going on about not being able to find something and I mumbled under my breath that I was having contractions and he was a big boy and could handle it himself.  Not the best parenting moment, but in my defense I was in pain and come on, he IS 10 years old.  I started timing my contractions and kept telling Brandon I felt like today might be the day but refused to rush to the hospital.  We had an appointment already scheduled that day at 1:30 pm for an NST (Non Stress Test), and I told myself I'd just take a nap just in case this was THE day and I'd bring it up at my appointment.  The contractions didn't stop and I wasn't able to sleep much, it was a combination of pain and panic.  Right before we left for the appointment I started packing my hospital bag (something I thought I would get done later that week), and asked Brandon what he wanted me to grab of his.  He shrugged me off and said, "we live 20 minutes from the hospital, if you do get admitted I can just come home and grab what I need."  Which I threw dagger eyes in his direction and told him once we are at the hospital he wasn't going to leave me.  So needless to say we threw a bag together, grabbed the already packed diaper bag for baby, placed his carseat in the car and headed to the doctors office.  
My contraction app, after many close contractions this is what popped up!

We got to the office and they hooked me up to be monitored and I let them know my contractions were consistent and about every 7-10 minutes apart.  At some point the doctor came in, saw I was in the middle of a large contraction, ripped the sheet from the machine and told me to follow him to the exam room.  There he let me know that they wanted to send me over to the hospital for more testing because they saw that my blood pressure was high, something I didn't have an issue with my entire pregnancy.  So it was now 3pm and we were headed to the hospital.  Thankfully we have an awesome Father that was able to pick Jayden up from school at a moments notice, Grandpa Mack to the rescue!  

They admitted me to the hospital where I was then hooked up to another monitoring machine for the next hour.  Brandon and I were sure they were going to send us home, another false alarm.  We were taking silly photos, making jokes about obnoxious yearbook and field trip prices and telling Jayden over the phone that we were fine.  Then a nurse came in and I knew the moment I saw her face something wasn't okay.  She let us know that my blood pressure was rising, they noticed protein in my urine and they were ready to get me into a birthing suite because they realized I had preeclampsia.  She told me, "you will be having this baby in the next 24 hours".  I thought, what a weird thing to say, how can she know when he will be arriving?  So we made it across the hall to our room and called our family to let them know what was going on.  My emotions were all over the place.  I was terrified, because I had no idea what the risks were with preeclampsia, I just remember Kim Kardashian had it (don't judge me for keeping up with the Kardashians).  I was angry, because I had a birth plan.  I was much younger when I had Jayden, naive and didn't do any research so I let the doctors take over my birth that time.  This time I didn't want to stay in my bed, I wanted my birthing ball, I wanted to use different techniques to handle my contractions, I didn't want to use Pitocin or any heavy pain medication.  All of these wants of mine were thrown out the window, and I was in pure panic mode because I no longer could control what or how this labor was going to go.  Jayden came and visited after school just to check on us and say hi, it was nice to see his smiling face and helped calm my nerves a little. He brought me hugs, and a flower in a Burger King chicken fries box.  

An hour or so after they left, the doctor came in and told me the baby was still up to high, and that they were going to insert a balloon catheter in order to widen my cervix so that baby could start to make his way down.  Which let me tell you, I thought my spacer in the roof of my mouth when I had braces as a kid was painful, nope, this was WAY worse.  I was in so much pain, so very uncomfortable and an emotional mess.  I kept telling Brandon with tears in my eyes "this isn't what I wanted, at all."  As my contractions continued I was in more and more pain and asked for something to relieve me that was stronger than Tylenol.  The nurse suggested Stadol, which I of course knew nothing about, but she explained that it would work really good at first but decrease it's abilities each dose.  I didn't care, just give me something!  Whoa, let me tell you, NEVER ever would I take that again.  It made me so loopy and out of control of my body and I was saying things to the nurses I normally wouldn't say and I couldn't get myself to stop saying things.  I didn't like the way I felt, I could still feel pain and was frustrated.  They finally came in and removed the catheter the next morning and let me know that around lunchtime we would be ready to start pushing.  I was exhausted, I barely slept (they checked my blood pressure ALL night long) and I was emotionally numb at this point. Every time a nurse or a doctor asked me a question I just said okay, I was ready for the labor to be over and to be able to hold our sweet baby boy.   

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Birth Story of Baby Jude {Part 1}

This time around I had Gestational Diabetes, again.  They detected it early, at 8 weeks, and I was on a restricted diet from day one.  At first it was a bit of a nightmare and really messed with me and brought me back to my days with an eating disorder.  Here I was obsessing over everything I ate, my whole day was planned around the food that was going in my mouth and what my blood sugar monitor might say.  With that, I was considered a high risk pregnancy and with that I had more monitoring.  In the last 4 weeks I was going to the doctors office every week, twice a week, one day was an ultrasound and follow up and the next day was an NST and a follow up.  I was spending 6 hours at the doctors office every week.  It was nice to be able to monitor our little guy so closely and make sure he was healthy.  We were told from day one that I was due on June 20th but would be induced June 10th if things didn't move along on their own. 

At our last appointment (Friday, June 3rd) the doctor let me know that the baby was still too high, and that he would like to see me again June 13th (3 days after my projected induction date), and we would discuss a new induction date from there.  I was bummed leaving this appointment because I was sore, my feet were so swollen it was hurting my ankles to walk, and I was ready to meet our little guy. That afternoon we went and met baby Colby, who was originally due a couple days after Jude, who arrived 5 weeks early and was in the NICU.  Seeing his sweet face and talking with Alex really put everything in perspective.  The doctors know what they're doing, they've monitored me so closely, so far, so I needed to chill and trust what they say.  I actually posted a photo from that afternoon saying something along the lines of "I apologize in advance for all the belly shots over the next couple of weeks, I'm embracing every last moment."  Not knowing, that was my LAST belly shot and that Jude would be making his appearance, sooner rather that later.

With this birth I had so many plans and really wanted to skip as many medications as possible, especially Pitocin.  So, with that said, I wanted this baby to come on his own and skip having to be induced.  So Sunday, June 5th, I took to Facebook and asked for natural ways to induce labor, from friends.  I was told everything from take a walk, to sex, to taking supplements.  That night we took a 30 minute walk as a family, up and down our road.  Nothing strenuous, mild incline, and I drank plenty of water.  If anything, it felt nice to get out of the house with the boys and our doggies and move around. 

If/Then on tour in Charlotte this week! {Review}

Haven't we all sat and wondered about our choices in life, what if we had done this instead of that, what would have changed?  If/Then tour explores a rarely seen split narrative with the main character Elizabeth to show just that.  If I'm being honest, it took me half of the first half to realize there was a split narrative.  I was a bit confused about her getting a job in one scene and then the job going to someone else in the next.  Once I finally caught on to the split narrative I was hooked.  The main character Elizabeth asks the very question, "what if?" and from there we see her life split into Liz "the fun and free spirit" and Beth "serious career first/love second".  Each side shows it's perks and how one choice really can make all the difference.

I was a little bummed to find out Idina Menzel wouldn't be a part of the cast touring in Charlotte, but was more than pleasantly surprised with Jackie Burns performance.  Her incredible chops in every musical number and tenderness in every scene has you falling in love with Elizabeth's character.   I can't forget to add that Anthony Rapp as Lucas and Tamyra Gray as Kate were equally as stunning. 

I've never been emotionally pulled into a show like I was with If/Then.  I felt myself tearing up during, "Hey, Kid."  A number about the emotions you feel once your child is born and all these thoughts overwhelm you about who they'll grow up to be and if you're ready to be a parent.  Maybe it's because it was my first night out of the house since we had our baby boy six weeks ago, emotions were running a little high!  And then again during "I hate you", you are drawn into Liz's character and empathize with her heart breaking as her husband leaves for deployment.

The show is playing in Charlotte at Belk Theatre until July 24th, if you haven't bought tickets be sure to grab them HERE.  It is 2 hrs and 40 minutes long with intermission.  This is a great show for a date night, or a night out with the girls, because of language and adult content this is not one for the kids. 
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