Friday, March 20, 2015

Our surprise #DisneySide birthday party!

I received free products in order to host a Disney Side @ Home Celebration.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

For months we've been planning our very first family trip to Orlando.  The only thing is, we've had to keep it a secret from our son.  We wanted to wait until his 9th birthday to spill the beans.  So when I was chosen to host a Disney Side @ Home Celebration I was stoked because I knew exactly what we would do. 

We invited our closest friends and family to a local restaurant, the boys favorite, Buffalo Wild Wings.  Everyone got there about 10 minutes before my husband and son walked in.  Our son believed it was just the three of us coming to dinner and he was extremely surprised!  We had 24 people come out to celebrate our boy and we are so blessed to have so much love around him!  Every guest went home with a goody bag filled with coupons from a few of Disney's sponsors, Photo paper, Disney luggage tags, Mickey & Minnie themed treats and a family tree to complete at home.  We played some Disney trivia, and were surprised at how much our family and friends knew!

So thankful that my kit included a Mickey cake pan.  Our friend, and fellow blogger, Kerry not only came to celebrate with us she also made our amazing Mickey cake.  It tasted just as good as it looked!! 

To end the evening, we had our boy open our gift for him.  I included a poem on the envelope of the card to kind of explain the contents of the box.  Excuse the horrible hand writing, I wrote it on the fly minutes before guests started to arrive.

The box included three Disney themed t-shirts and a LEGO luggage tag.  At the end of the box he picked up the envelope and read it again and then it clicked and he said, "Am I going to Disney?" we shook our heads yes and he said, "REALLY?  YAY!!!"  This look alone was worth all the wait and the planning! 

The party couldn't have went better, and we are so thankful we were able to incorporate so much of our Disney Side in our surprise party for our boy!  So, Walt Disney World, The Downing's are coming for you this May!  We can't wait! 

I received free products in order to host a Disney Side @ Home Celebration.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

It's halftime folks! {Personal}

Wow, 9 years old.  We've reached halftime with you!  Just 9 more before you start choosing which college you will attend.

This year's favorites:

Food: Mommy's Chicken and Dumplings (same as last year)
Sport: Basketball (same)
TV Show(s): Once Upon a Time, Under the Dome and Shark Tank
Best Friend(s):  Samuel, Jacob H, Kenan and Kalon
Teacher: Miss Seamster (hasn't changed since 1st grade)
Song: Jealous- Nick Jonas
Singer: Ed Sheeran 
Book(s): "The Magician's Nephew"
Toy(s): LEGOs
Movie(s):  I am Sam, Big Hero 6, Mr Peabody & Sherman
When he grows up he wants to be: "In the Air Force just like my Uncle Chase, I wanna fly planes and protect our country."

As I went through pictures over the last year I realized how many great memories were made.

This year you:
  • probably read close to 100 books, no joke.  
  • were baptized.  You sang with the children's choir at Elevation Church and One7 ministries. You also brought over 15 friends to church with you, we love seeing your passion to spread the Gospel. 
  • volunteered your time to help others (we love your generous heart)
  • became a Godbrother.  Paxton is a lucky boy to have you to look up to.
  • attended your first concert: Elevation Worship at Time Warner Cable Arena
  • visited: Raleigh, Sanford and Lake Lure
  • played Basketball
  • lost: PawPaw {your great grandfather}
  • played Minecraft, Pokemon Omega Ruby and Disney Infinity
  • fell in love with your Uncle Chase, he's probably your favorite person besides mommy and daddy.
Yes, there were sassy attitudes, tears, many fights about cleaning your room and more in between but those are the highlights. You are such an amazing kid.  We are inspired by your huge heart for others and can't wait for you to be a Big Brother!  You amaze us every single day and remind us how lucky we are to be your parents.  We can't wait to see what the next year will bring!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Beat the heat this summer with $1 movies! {2015}

It's back!! This is one thing we look forward to every year. As much as we love Summer, some days we love to beat the heat and stay in the AC and enjoy a movie favorite for $1!

The 2015 Summer Movie Express runs for 9 weeks with select titles playing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the summer. Start time is 10 am, and I always suggest getting there a little early because Summer Camps like to show up for these and the theatres fill up fast! These are great for younger kids too, because if they have a total meltdown half way thru the movie, you're only out $2!

They start in Charlotte and Huntersville June 16th, but please see your local theatre for program start date. Admission to these films during the Summer Movie Express is only $1 and a portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute.

Showing by week:

1 Nut Job PG
1 Annie PG
2 Earth To Echo PG
2 The Boxtrolls PG
3 Paddington PG
3 Turbo PG
4 Rio 2 G
4 How to Train Your Dragon 2 PG
5 Mr. Peabody & Sherman PG
5 Book Of Life PG
6 Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb PG
6 Penguins of Madagascar PG
7 The LEGO Movie PG
7 Dolphin Tale 2 PG
8 Muppets Most Wanted PG
8 Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day PG
9 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles PG-13
 9 The Spongebob Movie PG 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Dreaming in LEGO {Giveaway}

We're surprising the boy in a few days with a trip we've been planning to LEGOLAND in May and we just know he's going to flip out.  We'll spend the night in the new Hotel and then spend the day at the park.  With May being so far away we're excited we have Brick Universe right around the corner!  Just 15 days away!  Brick Universe will be in Raleigh March 28th and 29th! 

If you have a LEGO lover in your family, this is THE event to be at!  We had such a blast at Lego Kids Fest last year and we were told a lot of the fun is coming back!  Well, I have a treat for one lucky reader!  A 4 pack of tickets!  Take the family, take your friends, take your neighbor, your choice!  It's a guaranteed fun day! 

Respond here with your favorite character from the Lego Movie and if you haven't seen it yet, you should!  EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!  Giveaway ends March 20th!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Free Easter Bunny Pictures with Portrait Innovations {Giveaway}

This post is sponsored by Portrait Innovations. Compensation was received in exchange for sharing this promo and giveaway.

Easter in our family, is an awesome celebration of Jesus’ resurrection and fun with the family!  We host an Easter egg hunt every year for our friends, and the kids have such a great time.  This beautiful weather we've been having really has me excited for Spring!  Next week, we will be going to see the Easter Bunny at Portrait Innovations for free photos!

FREE professional portraits with the Easter Bunny will be taken Monday, March 16th from 3-6 p.m. at Portrait Innovations studios in Charlotte, Gastonia and Huntersville.

The Easter Bunny will visit Portrait Innovations studios located in Charlotte at the Promenade on Providence Shopping Center, Huntersville at the NorthCross Shopping Center and Gastonia at Gaston Mall. Each child will receive three free high resolution images with the Easter Bunny on a CD.   We will be heading to the NorthCross location Monday!

As if that isn't awesome enough, Tuesday, March 10 through Sunday, April 12, Portrait Innovations will have a great Spring-time offer that includes 43 Portraits and 5 Spring cards for just $19.99, plus a FREE 16x20 Wall Portrait. Coupons for this deal can be found HERE.  That's SUCH a great deal!  Great way to get Spring portraits for the grandparents and other family!

I haven't had my sons Spring portraits done in so long and I'm excited to see the all new Spring background's and props!  Looking for some inspiration for your next session at Portrait Innovations? Check out all of their great Pinterest Boards HERE!

For more information about getting Easter Bunny Portraits at a Charlotte-area Portrait Innovations, click here and connect with Portrait Innovations on their social media channels!

As a special treat for one lucky reader, a $100 Portrait Innovation giftcard!  Enter to win below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Showing your child Grace when they act Graceless

I feel like a broken record.  For the tenth time this month we are arguing over him cleaning his room.  Keep in mind, he's eight about to be nine and this shouldn't be as big of an issue as it is at his age.  Or so I keep telling myself.  Usually, I get frustrated enough that I just complete it myself but this time we have decided, as his parents, to stick to our word and make him do it himself.

This is day nine that he's been asked to clean the same messy room.  Two hours go by and I check out his room and his definition of clean is no where near my definition or really anyone's definition of clean.  He's spent more time reading things he found, making LEGO creations or just fooling around then actually cleaning.  At this point, I am taking this much more personally than I thought I would.  "If he spent his time picking up instead of messing around this could be done.  After all I do for him, how dare he just not care enough to keep his room tidy.  Does he know how much his father and I sacrifice for him to have all he has or for him to do all the things he gets to do?  This is inconsiderate, how could he be so Graceless?"  Then I start thinking about the surprise Disney trip that we've been planning and how much I don't think he deserves it now.  I'm getting really upset, more than I should have in retrospect, and I just tell him to forget it and just go to bed.  I walk into the living room and just start sobbing.

It's at that moment that my best friend texts me and we start comparing our "kid stories".  I go into mine and telling her about how upset I got and how I just am feeling overwhelmed and out of options.  It's then that she texts me back and says, "I remember when you were just a few years older than he is now and you getting in trouble for the same exact thing.  How your parents would get on to you about cleaning your room and they'd find you in the floor looking at pictures, reading notes or just singing to your CD player."  OUCH.  I know it wasn't her intention to sting me, but those words did.  And it wasn't because they were mean or malicious, it's because they were true.

The same exact issues I've been getting on to my son about, are the same exact issues I had as a child.  I remember being so easily distracted and genuinely feeling really bad when so much time had gone by and I had barely made a dent in my room.  In that moment, I realized, who am I to not show him a little Grace?  Grace: undeserved mercy.  He's trying, he's made many efforts, he's actually stayed in his room for two hours trying to clean just to please us as his parents.  And all I can give him is harsh criticism?

How can I not show my son the same Grace that God shows us every single day?  I mess up, I fall flat on my face, I don't measure up to all the potential God has placed on me, but does he make me feel bad about it?  Does he point out my flaws?  Or does he embrace me?  My God loves me, unconditionally, he shows me Grace.  And I am so thankful for that Grace because I'm hard enough on myself, I couldn't carry that burden too.

So, as I recollected myself and preached a little to myself  I went back in his bedroom turned on the lights and just hugged him.  I told him I was sorry for being so hard on him and that I recognize how much work he put into his room and that I understood what it meant to be distracted.  I told him after school we would work on it together.  I won't do it for him but I will help guide him.

I am writing this for the overwhelmed mom, the mom who feels like her kids just aren't getting it, the mom who feels like maybe she failed somewhere.  Being a mom is the toughest job on the planet, and we are so hard on ourselves and sometimes we mirror that onto unrealistic expectations for our children.  Remember to give a little Grace.  I'm a mom, I'm human and sometimes I get it wrong.  But there's something beautiful about finding a message in the mess you make. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Harlem Globetrotters coming to Charlotte! {Giveaway}

Our little man is a lucky boy, the Harlem Globetrotters come to town every year right around his birthday and right after basketball season is over. This year they will be in Charlotte, NC March 28th at Halton Arena at UNCC, at 2pm and 7pm!

The Globetrotters will face a great challenge this year, as the infamous Washington Generals are more determined than ever to match the franchise’s historic last victory over the Globetrotters nearly a half century ago. It has been five years since the Globetrotters and Generals have faced off, as the Generals have been searching far and wide for the best players to retool their roster and have been preparing for one thing: victory over the Globetrotters.

Not only will we be taking our boy, we will also be giving away 4 tickets to one lucky reader!!

Please follow ALL the steps on the Rafflecopter form to be considered as a winner. Giveaway ends on March 18th 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.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 23, 2015

Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starts in Charlotte tomorrow night!


One of the most enduring shows of all time, Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber’s JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT is coming to Charlotte, the irresistible family musical about the trials and triumphs of Joseph, Israel’s favorite son.

The new production will feature Broadway/television star Diana DeGarmo (Hairspray, Hair) as The Narrator and Broadway star Ace Young (Grease, Hair) as Joseph.

Retelling the Biblical story of Joseph, his eleven brothers and the coat of many colors, this magical musical is full of unforgettable songs including "Those Canaan Days," "Any Dream Will Do" and "Close Every Door." Book your tickets and be part of the magic!

See more HERE

Performance Schedule

Tue, Feb 24 at 7:30 PM
Wed, Feb 25 at 7:30 PM
Thu, Feb 26 at 7:30 PM
Fri, Feb 27 at 8:00 PM
Sat, Feb 28 at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM
Sun, Mar 1 at 1:30 PM and 7:00 PM

I've always wanted to see this show but am really excited to see some of my favorite American Idol alums in a Broadway show!  This will make a great date night or a fun show out with the kids. 

Show's social channels:
Facebook page:…
Twitter list of cast:…/lists/joseph-us-tour/members
Instagram: Follow Diana at @ADaisyADay and Ace at @TheRealAceYoung

Friday, February 20, 2015

Foodie Friday: DIY Emoji/Emoticon Cookies

 Let me first start off with saying I DON'T BAKE.  Not, that I can't bake, I just have always chosen not to.  I've always thought there were too many steps involved and let's face it, it makes a big ol' mess!  I've tried making Christmas cookies every year with my son and they always come out in huge blobs and my son decorates them anyways.  

Just so happens our church is in the middle of a sermon series titled "Moodswingers".  It's a wonderful series about what the Bible says about controlling our emotions before they control us.  All of the creative materials for this series has been made of fun emoticons.  So this week we were signed up to bring snack for our eGroup (couples bible study) and I got the bright idea to make something emoticon themed!  Y'all, I baked!!  I made these adorable Emoji cookies!  And if I can do it, you can too!


1 pkg of Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
1 egg
1 stick of butter
Flour (for non stick purposes only)
2 tubes of yellow icing
2 tubes of black icing
and whatever other color icing you want to use to decorate your favorite emoticons/emojis


Pour mix, egg and butter into a large mixing bowl and use the medium setting on your hand mixer for 2 minutes or until it's mixed up well and doesn't stick to your hands when you pull it out!

Then, I rolled out my dough in small sections and cut 6 circles at a time.  I will note that I put plenty of flour down on the cutting board and some on my dough and that helped the dough not stick to my rolling pin.  I have a ton of cookie cutters but ended up using the top of a drinking glass to get these "mostly" perfect circles.  I placed the cookies on a cookie sheet with non stick aluminum foil and set my oven for 350 and baked them for 6 minutes.  Once they're done baking let them cool for at least 30 minutes before you start decorating.  Once you frost them with the yellow icing you're going to want to wait about 10ish minutes to let the icing sit before adding any new colors on top.  This is where YOUR creativity comes in and you can choose which emoji faces you love best! 

Have fun and be sure to share your creations on social media and tag me @theplayfulmom so I can see your awesome creations!

*This post was not sponsored by any of the brands mentioned or photographed, I just loved these items and suggested them!*

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Challenger Sports - British Soccer Camps coming to a city near you this summer!

Yes, it's cold outside and yes, colder days are coming but I'm already looking forward to sunny days and have have already started looking at camps for our son.  We tend to go with camps that will keep him active and teach him something new as opposed to just dropping him off somewhere to play games all day.  I was excited to hear that the Challenger- British Soccer Camp is going to be in our area this summer!

British Soccer Camp is the most popular camp in North America - 150,000 campers! With an innovative curriculum that develops skills, speed and confidence in players ages 3-18, British Soccer Camps provide boys and girls with the rare opportunity to receive high-level soccer coaching from a team of international expert's right in the heart of their own community. In addition to teaching new skills and improving game performance, each British Soccer Camp provides lessons in character development, cultural education and is the most fun your child can have learning the sport they love!

Enroll you child in a British Soccer Camp today and receive a Free British Soccer Jersey - Sign up during Early Registration and we will immediately ship you a great looking British Soccer Jersey! PLUS - enter code FMG15 and we will include a bonus Challenger water bottle.

Check out this video with your little one and see if they get just as excited as my son did!  He can't wait to attend!

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