Painting – Without the Mess – Thin Stix Review

Painting – Without the Mess – Thin Stix Review

Painting can be extremely messy!

We host a bi-weekly art co-op at our house with some homeschooling friends. There are six kids ranging from two to eight years old. The older five kids do a pretty good job of following the instructions and not making a huge mess, but my rambunctious two year old is another story!

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Games that Go the Extra Mile – Enlivenze FlipStir Rainbow Pencils Puzzle Review

Games that Go the Extra Mile – Enlivenze FlipStir Rainbow Pencils Puzzle Review

Timing could not have been more perfect, one week before we left for our road trip to Arkansas, we received the FlipStir Rainbow Pencils puzzle from Enlivenze LLC!

FlipStir Puzzles Reviews
I am always looking for games for the kids to play on road trips, something that will break up the electronics overload that seems to mean road trip to a kid! It seems like every road trip I try to purchase one game for them to use in the car and in the hotel room during down time. Since it’s hard to travel with many pieces I look for games that are self contained and easy to play while moving. We’ve tried magnetic games, and while I think these will work well when the kids are a bit older, at their ages right now (7 and 6) the magnetic games eventually have pieces lost on the floor mats and whining kids because they cannot reach the piece.

For this reason I love games that have no pieces to lose! Which is why I absolutely love the games from Enlivenze LLC. When the FlipStir Rainbow Pencils puzzle arrived to review, the kids were more than excited to get to play the game.

It’s like the new rubix cube. The object of the game is to use the wand to move the pieces into the right place to create the puzzle.

I will be honest, this game is hard! Which means that the kids concentrate for a while before getting bored! Neither kid has been able to solve the puzzle, yet, but that hasn’t stopped them from trying. They pick it up many times a day and used it quite a bit on our road trip as well.

FlipStir Rainbow Pencils Puzzle - Modern Momma Musings

There are five FlipStir games to choose from, and every time you play it’s a little different! Because the pieces will never move just the same way, it will always be a new challenge!

The games range in level and theme. There are two levels for your players and for each there are a few different choices. They have Rainbow Pencils and Tyrannosaurus Rex for the level one games, as well as Solar System, Statue of Liberty and Periodic Table for level two players.

The Enlivenze LLC FlipStir games are meant for kids 7 and up, although my 6 year old loved the game as much as his 7 year old sister. I can definitely see why this would be harder for a younger child to enjoy so I think the age range is accurate. The concentration and time to play is definitely not for the easily discouraged! Even I enjoyed taking a turn before the kids were antsy to get it back to play.

The game worked great on our road trip. It was easy to pack (small and simple). It was quiet so it was easily used while Sugar Plum was sleeping. It has also been used quite a bit at home, making it one of the kids favorites! Plus you can play it together or alone. The kids worked together to try and solve it, as well as by themselves. It’s hard to find a lot of games that are good for one person that are not electronics so this is a definite plus!

If you want to learn more about the Enlivenze LLC FlipStir puzzles you can read some great reviews from our Schoolhouse Crew Review Team here:

FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

And then check them out on social media!

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Road Tripping – Chicago with Kids

Road Tripping – Chicago with Kids

This will be a short one, as we only had a few hours – one night and half a day – in Chicago but here’s my opinion on what we did.

Road Tripping – Chicago with Kids

After driving most of the day, we checked into the Sonesta ES Suites in Schaumburg, IL. The hotel was large enough for us to spread out and was nice, but wasn’t extremely clean, however, most hotels at this price range especially in Chicago are about the same quality, so I wasn’t too upset about that part. We had a two bedroom (1 King, 2 Full Beds) which included a large living/kitchen area to spend a few hours in the evening. The next morning, breakfast was decent, nothing over the top but there was plenty to choose from and it was all good. Overall, I was happy with our stay and would stay again next time we are visiting with the kiddos.

The evening we arrived, we had dinner at Lou Malnatis in Schaumburg. This is our favorite place to get pizza in Chicago and we were not let down this trip either. Their pizza is buttery and crisp yet melts in your mouth. The sauce and toppings are delicious! I am actually craving their pizza now…yum! The fun thing about the Schaumburg location is the restaurant itself is in an old house. There is plenty to look at, but very crowded so be aware. It’s worth it though!

Road tripping with kids - Chicago - Modern Momma Musings Road tripping with kids - Chicago - Modern Momma Musings

After a good nights rest, we headed to the Shedd Aquarium the next morning. This is one of those tourist traps in my mind. In order to see everything, you have to spend a ton of money and even for our family of 4 (Sugar Plum is still free) to see the main exhibits we spent $100+ and I am always disappointed. There are a lot of fish but they are mostly river and lake habitats which are great but not so exciting. They do have a Beluga whale which was neat as it swam right past the glass and some penguins, a sea lion and a few other things. The dolphins were closed off as a new baby had been born that week so that was disappointing. There were a few touch stations which the kids really enjoyed, but really for the price I was not happy about our morning at the Shedd.

Road tripping with kids - Chicago - Modern Momma Musings Road tripping with kids - Chicago - Modern Momma Musings Road tripping with kids - Chicago - Modern Momma Musings Road tripping with kids - Chicago - Modern Momma Musings

After checking out of the hotel we headed to a little town in Illinois, Downers Grove which was on our way back home. We stopped in a darling downtown area and ate at Emmett’s Brewing Company. The food was good, the atmosphere was fun and the beer was good, but the service was awful! We waited forever to get our orders in and then to get the check at the end. The kids had a blast with the fun kids toys and coloring they were given and we were sitting outside so it was a bit better. But it still doesn’t make it ok. They were not busy at all so I really do not know what the issue was. I’d like to say it was just a bad day, but we were definitely left with a not so great outlook on the brewery which is really too bad!

Overall, Chicago was a fun additional stop. Next time we go to Chicago with kids, we will definitely skip the Shedd and try the Field Museum and the Adler Planetarium.

Road Tripping – Wisconsin with Kids

Road Tripping – Wisconsin with Kids

One of the many reasons I love homeschooling, is the ability to drop everything and take advantage of vacations. This past week, Brian had to do some work in Green Bay, Wisconsin. So while many other kids were finishing up their last week of school, we jumped in the car and took a road trip to Wisconsin with the kids!

Road Trip - Wisconsin - Modern Momma Musings

Road Tripping – Wisconsin with Kids

The trip from Kansas City, MO was 9+ hours so we split it up into two days of driving. Our first day we went from KC to Madison, WI.

Our first stop (other than gas related) was for dinner. We drove a bit out of the way to Potosi, WI to try the Potosi Brewing Co. in Potosi, WI. After reading a few reviews it sounded like a good place to stop and get a meal and a craft beer. The small town was cute and quaint and the museum looked like it would have been fun (if we’d had more time), however, the restaurant was just okay. For making a special trip in to try it, we were disappointed. The food was pretty bland and boring, and the service was just average. The restaurant was not very large and had no coloring or activities for the kids, but it wasn’t too much of a bar that it made us think twice about bringing our kids with us. We packed some coloring and books in our diaper bag just in case and it was good that we did. Potosi Brewing Co is not a stop we will be making again, but it was nice to get out, eat and start back on our way!

We arrived in Madison, WI late in the evening. got our hotel room at Staybridge Suites on the East side of Madison and it was a great find for our family. The suite worked well for our needs. With a bedroom, living area and kitchen, we had plenty of space to spread out and unwind. Once we got the kids to sleep, Brian and I had the living room area to relax before hitting the hay, as well. The only thing we wished was that we had gotten two queen beds instead of two double beds. Sharing with squirmy kids is hard in a small bed.

The next morning, we grabbed breakfast in the lobby and packed our bags back up. We opted for a late checkout which allowed us more time in the morning without having all of our bags in the back of our van.

Our first stop was the Geology Center at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. This was a must do on our list because we have two geology lovers. Sunshine loves all kinds of rocks and Mister Man is a bit obsessed with dinosaurs making the Geology Center a fun stop for our family. The free museum was put together very well. It was a small museum, but it was packed full of rocks, minerals, bones, and more. We were very impressed! This is a must do if you are traveling through Madison, Wisconsin and have geology lovers like we do. I would love to do this again with the kiddos in a few years and see how much more they would get out of it as they get older.

The Geology Center took about an hour, we definitely could have stayed longer, but Sugar Plum filled her drawers and I hadn’t brought the diaper bag with us… mommy fail.

After the Geology Center we attempted to try the zoo, however at 10:30am parking was non-existent. The zoo looked decent from the drive by, but we never made it in, unfortunately.

We did, however, find a great Botanical Garden – The Olbrich Botanical Garden. This was  great find! It was a perfect way to get rid of some energy and get some exercise while admiring the beautiful plants. The garden was very well put together and was fun for both kids and parents. It was a great time of year to visit, as the flowers were all blooming and it wasn’t too hot to be walking outside. The kids enjoyed seeing the frogs, insects, birds and flowers (can you say “great nature walk”) and Brian and I enjoyed the landscaping inspiration and the amazing floral scents around every corner! I would definitely recommend visiting the gardens for a fun few hours and the best part – it was free!

Road Trip - Wisconsin - Modern Momma Musings

For lunch we stopped at another brewery, Vintage Brewing Co.. The brewery was on the outskirts of the city making it easy for parking (a definite plus in Madison). The food was good, the beer was great, but the atmosphere of the restaurant was nothing special. We would stop again, but it is not a must do by any means.

After lunch we headed into Green Bay, Wisconsin for a few days. We arrived around dinner, so we checked in quickly at the SpringHill Suites Green Bay. We booked a two bedroom suite with two king beds. The hotel suite was spacious and set up well. There was a small fridge and microwave, bedroom with one king bed and detached bathroom and a half wall separating the king bedroom area. We put the two kids in the bedroom with the door. Sugar Plum slept in a pack and play in the open king room with Brian and I. As with the first night, it was easy to get the kids to bed and relax for a little while before heading to bed ourselves.

After checking in, we headed downtown for some fresh tacos at Vintage Cantina. We love going places that use local fresh ingredients and Miss Sunshine had been asking for tacos, so this was an easy choice for dinner. The restaurant is very quaint and not very kid friendly (no highchairs or kids menu). This made it a bit more difficult to make work for our family. The food was delicious, but it was very spicy and the kids had a hard time eating their choices – Grilled Swordfish and Green Chicken sans the jalepenos. Between the four of us, we ended up ordering quite a few of the tacos so we had quite a variety and I think the only one that wasn’t too spicy for the kids was the Fried Avocado taco. That being said, Brian and I thought the tacos were delicious! I would definitely go back… without kids. After dinner the kids took a swim in the pool and then headed to bed.

The next morning we headed to the Green Bay New Zoo. This was something the kids were looking forward to especially because we didn’t get to do the zoo the day before. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as I was expecting. There were some great exhibits, the lions were right next to the glass which was neat, and they had a great children’s petting area. But the giraffe’s were off in the corner and not interested in being fed, which was something the kids were really looking forward to. The wolves were no where to be seen in their cages and it was much smaller than I was expecting. That being said, I really think we are spoiled with the great Kansas City Zoo we visit often. It’s just hard to compare other zoos.

Road Trip - Wisconsin - Modern Momma Musings

After the zoo we headed towards the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary but by the time we arrived the storm clouds were heading in so we decided to take a nice drive down the coast of the bay. This was a beautiful drive, especially with the incoming storm.

After driving for a bit while Sugar Plum napped we grabbed a quick lunch and headed to the Neville Public Museum. This was one of the things on my if we have time list. We had time and I am so glad we made the stop. The kids had a blast. There was a great journey through time and a wonderful kids discovery area. Even the temporary exhibit, Life and Death at Fort Howard was fun. They were in the process of putting together their Ice Age exhibit and we got to take a sneak peek and ask a few questions. It was really neat to see the exhibit before things were set in place.

Road Trip - Wisconsin - Modern Momma Musings  Road Trip - Wisconsin - Modern Momma Musings

Road Trip - Wisconsin - Modern Momma Musings Road Trip - Wisconsin - Modern Momma Musings Road Trip - Wisconsin - Modern Momma Musings

After a little down time at the hotel we headed to dinner at Titletown Brewery. This was a great brewery and restaurant. The beer was good, the food was delicious, the environment was fun and the kids had fun too. We were impressed by the service and food and would definitely go back again.

The next morning we headed off to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary. I wish we would have had a full day to spend here! It was even better than the zoo! The animals were up close and playful and the nature trails were full of little areas to see even more. As we walked through the main path there were many areas to explore, including playgrounds, animals, and interactive learning areas. The kids loved the playful otters, the wolf at the window and touching the deer. We took a nature walk on one of the trails and were excited to see many frogs and birds, plus the walk was beautiful. After walking a bit, we took some time to cool off inside the nature center. This was an experience on it’s own. The many touch and feel areas, playground exploration and live animals made it a great place to spend a bit of time. We spent 2.5 hours at the sanctuary and didn’t even get to the birds and waterfall area! Sometimes I wish I would just do all the free things in a city first!

Road Trip - Wisconsin - Modern Momma Musings Road Trip - Wisconsin - Modern Momma Musings Road Trip - Wisconsin - Modern Momma MusingsRoad Trip - Wisconsin - Modern Momma Musings Road Trip - Wisconsin - Modern Momma Musings Road Trip - Wisconsin - Modern Momma Musings Road Trip - Wisconsin - Modern Momma Musings

Brian finished up around lunch and so we headed back to the hotel to pack up and get on the road to Chicago.

We decided on a quick lunch at Leatherheads Brewery on the way out of town. This was a fun place and the kids enjoyed it as well. The food was very good, they were very kid friendly and we had a nice lunch before a short drive down to Chicago for the night and next day.

Overall, I would definitely go back to Wisconsin, we had a great trip and made so many great memories!